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Arts Culture Life & Philosophy Productivity & Work

Through the wire

The world grows numb to the air of distraction. We’ve left the world of 2-D consciousness in exchange for the anesthesia of the brite lite’s bits and bytes.  

Freedom to do anything is the freedom to do nothing. Technology makes us more curious and ever-more cautious. But like a video game, unfettered space uses up attention and propels excess consumption.

The inability to disconnect and steer clear of the shiny object suffocates our attention. Restraint, on the other hand, is why limits are also so magnetic. They help us protect against an addictive environment. 

As we gravitate toward constriction, we stymie the possibilities of distraction.

We do more crucial work in stillness and silence than we do fritter time away in the tangled wires of freedom.

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Politics & Society Tech

Collisions of thought

It’s not about how much information we consume. One can suck all the information out of the Twitter firehouse and learn nothing. 

News makes our brain fat. 

After all, it was Aldous Huxley who forewarned that we’d drown in excess entertainment and not care about anything else. Writes Neil Postman in Amusing Ourselves to Death

“Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance.”

Neil Postman,Amusing Ourselves to Death

TV and social media silence thought — our opinions quickly become someone else’s. The attention merchants intend to monetize on such passivity through ads. Retweets are endorsements.

But we can still take a proactive stance on the balance of ideas thrown at us.

An ambient awareness keeps the excess noise at bay as we learn to listen and absorb the world’s texture. Our goal is to replace the enormous dent that screens instill in our thoughts with a perspective we call our own.

The more ideas collide with one another, independent or externalized, the tighter authenticity clicks into place. The thinker makes their own rules.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Psychology Science Tech

Information is the sum of parts

The brain is just a collection of tangled wires with neuron connectivity levels. We call its output ‘information’ because we need some way of describing chemical synchronicity.

The computer works the same way.

On the inside, it’s a collection of chips and wires with various voltage levels. What we see on screen is what we label as information.

Information is the same name we give to brain chemicals and computer voltage to describe organized chaos. While negative beliefs and rusty chips impair memory, the function of the thinking mind or active motherboard set rules for action. 

Furthermore, the conflict and synchronization between man and the machine (i.e., science fiction) continue to be the mother of invention.  

Information is the sum of parts, and it allows us to go beyond the robot. 

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Life & Philosophy Social Media Tech

Creativity as existence

We do nothing until it’s too late.

You’d think such calls for immediacy would drive us into action.

Passivity begs for a slap in the face.

The way to light life back up without a disaster first coming into your path is to avoid the contagion of disengagement.

Television and social media are low bandwidth activities that dull the brain into inanition.

Detach yourself from the comfort of the stream, the ludic loop. Get unstuck from the madness that is pure entertainment. 

The urge to create turns loafers into participants.

“Life is trying things to see if they work.”

Ray Bradbury

It takes energy and discipline to escape the lure of doing nothing. It also takes persistence to move forward towards your attractors. Continued effort and belief wins out in the marketplace of ideas. 

Instead of being an active consumer, decide to entertain yourself on the broad view of what you can do. 

Throughout all choices and chapters in life, doing the work makes life worth living — inward and outward, freedom all at once. 

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Culture Life & Philosophy Tech

Bottled and unbranded

No one cares about your personal brand. It’s not your responsibility to dedicate thumbs to impression management.

The screen begs for cracks.

Authenticity thrives in abundance — people want to appear real (re flawed) as they are in life. That’s why filters are dead, and lenses are all the rage.

You exist to shock, stand out, to make people laugh and cry with the silliest and rank of faces. Every day is Halloween, drowning in masks dead and gone.

It’s hard enough to cultivate authenticity in a world that rewards conformity. Don’t dumb it down.

Refuse to be a punchline for sameness. We’re all weird. The unique shall inherit the earth.

Caption this to your next selfie: “Don’t take it all so seriously.”

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Culture Tech

Nothing is random

Discoverability will forever be twisted in the maw of internet algorithms.

Nothing is ever truly random. We are data’s significant other with a bullseye on our back.

Facebook has been triangulating our data for years, matching our likes with the highest bidder. Designers, copy-writers, and marketers work together to create internet ads that strangle our attention into a click-hole.

So here we are, next up surrounded by the internet of things to feed the system of ads. We invite zero ambiguity — we tell the system what we want, and it reports back.

Look around — we’re well-trained click monkeys forever melting into a spiderweb of Times Square.

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Science Tech

Dancing with the algorithms

We dance with the algorithms, yielding time-saving results. How else are we to discover all these gems in a sea of content? How are we to land on the right words in a swamp of choice?

From Spotify to Gmail’s suggestive text, we accept the computer’s recommendations to curate and speak for us. We allow the recipes to crunch down our tastes and our speaking patterns, essentially doing all the homework for us.

Playlists generate themselves; emails answers themselves. 

Yet, just as humans are poor decision-makers, the symphony of algorithms is also flawed. 

“An algorithm is an opinion embedded in math,” writes Cathy O’Neil in her book Weapons of Math Destruction (Amazon).

The computers and their code are often in over their heads, impractical, and sometimes stupid. Just ask Facebook — it takes a human to quell the dangerous idea virus that is fake news. 

The algorithm, written by humans, also requires human moderation. 

The ultimate balance of power is the intermixing of human neurons with the speed of computer nodes. Connecting humans to computers will supercharge decision-making in a fast-paced world. 

Thoughtless algorithms seem to know us better than ourselves, for now.

Categories
Life & Philosophy Tech

The art of doing nothing

Relaxation is an art, antithesis to our ‘always on’ culture.

But it takes work to do nothing. Those tiny hits of dopamine are addictive.

The route to super-consciousness is paved with roadblocks, the least bit unplugging from the maelstrom of 24/7 news and unnecessary push messages.

We crave novelty

Chasing the rectangular glow for entertainment produces intense cognitive clutter. All the engagement makes us less happy in the end.

Distracted into busyness, we begin to decay into inanition. We miss the events unfolding in our day, permitting evil to spread as a consequence of blindness.

When we’re interacting in excess, we miss out on recharging and thinking. Disconnection is the only way to put the mind back into the mix.

The goal is not just to relax, per se, but to be free from collecting screen souvenirs. What we want to strive for is long-term serotonin.

We fight for the present to turn idleness into concurrent exploration. Time ticks to the clock as the mind does to the brain. Breathe and stop, we can stave off the ludic loop.

Surrounded by accelerated context, moments of silence seem to be the only way to make anything click.

Categories
Culture Life & Philosophy Social Media Tech

Our fragile, famous lives

The cafe was the original newsfeed, a meeting place to exchange ideas and to find out what the heck was going on in the world.

The cafe was a place, other than a detached home, where Arabica beans filled people’s minds with sparks of aliveness. 

Exposure to high thought influenced great art. 

But then fame happened — the instant gratification of smartphones converted authenticity into the thrill of collecting views and hearts. 

How one in today’s age wants to be naked and famous yet maintain their privacy is lunacy. Fame and confidentiality is a zero-sum game. 

The cuckoo has been tik tokked into the dizziness of freedom. Infotainment sends the chicks back to the nest, amusing themselves to death through the “wisdom” of devices.

In a wreck of people and data, the clouds beckon us to pursue self-constraint. In a world devoid of scarcity, there arises a pandemic of sore thumbs.

Quarantined in such loneliness, the uncertain future compels us to go big on the internet stage. The domesticated strive through wires while Zooming in their underwear.

Categories
Arts Creativity

The Olivetti Valentine typewriter

An icon of 1960s pop-art design, the Olivetti Valentine typewriter was designed by Italian architect Ettore Sottsass and British designer Perry Ellis for the Italian company, Olivetti.

Sottsass covered the typewriter in red “so as not to remind anyone of monotonous working hours.” Its iconic red color was a precursor to the iMac, a machine that also differentiated itself from other computer products by offering a panoply of vibrant colors.

The late great music icon David Bowie was known to have one of the Olivetti Valentine typewriters in his own private collection.

The typewriter debuted on 14 February 1969, hence the name ‘Valentine’ and also existed in a neutral gray color as seen below.

The Olivetti Valentine typewriter
Photo: Twitter/dean_frey
The Olivetti Valentine typewriter
via twitter