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Life

What are you to me?

Mirroring reality may be the expectation of technology, but that is not its purpose. Its purpose is to synchronize our real-life identity with our online presence while still differentiating the two worlds. 

One shouldn’t have to think about which territory they’re in: digital or physical reality. Actions and reactions should be all the same. 

But the medium is the message. 

We contain multitudes — we are more dynamic and potentially more conversant or expressive online through text than in person, and sometimes, the other way around. 

When we hide behind avatars, we can be whoever we want. People enjoy seeing visual variety just as they do candy-colored apps. But sooner or later, playing make-pretend catches up just as trolls eventually get caught.

Minus the invisibility cloak of the blockchain, the internet strips us of all anonymity. 

People crave digital truth serum. If we sense a false consciousness, the actor gets called out. Half-truths may harvest attention, but lies kill it just as fast. This is still a universe that double-checks veracity. Facts never expire.  

Honesty is the only metric that can be trusted in our tiny backwater of the vast web.

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Life

Are we still alive?

Somewhere upon the way of evolution, humans lucked out. We developed language. And we grew hands and fingers that allowed us to manipulate our environment.

But a bigger brain didn’t make us smarter or more conscious than our other animal friends.

Neanderthals had larger brains than humans, as too do dolphins and whales to this day. Despite their cranial superiority, the former died off, homo sapiens thrived, while the fish are confined to the water.

Meanwhile, humans built intricate tools. Says American neuroscientist Christof Koch, “human civilization is all about tools, whether it’s a little stone, an arrow, a bomb, or a computer.”

Given the advancements in technology and artificial intelligence, we may be too smart for our own good. By exploiting tools to think and to operate for us, we’re outsourcing our neurons and developing a kind of robotic consciousness.

Humans have turned into broken machines.

Our jobs make us feel important and shape our identity. What are people going to do when we no longer have to work and have bundles of free time instead?

Some of us may procrastinate and lounge while others will want to play like children with crayons again. We just might art ourselves back into life.

Ludic loop

In his blog post on breaking phone addiction, Erik Barker uses a quote from NYU marketing and psychology professor Adam Antler to explain why we keep checking our phones again and again. The process is called a “ludic loop.”

The “ludic loop” is this idea that when you’re engaged in an addictive experience, like playing slot machines, you get into this lulled state of tranquility where you just keep doing the thing over and over again. It just becomes the comfortable state for you. You don’t stop until you’re shaken out of that state by something.

So how we do we keep ourselves from going down the Facebook and Instagram rabbit hole? We employ a “stopping rule.”

It’s a rule that says at this point it’s time for me to stop. It breaks the reverie and makes you think of something else; it gets you outside of the space you’ve been in. The best thing to do is to use a declarative statement like, “I don’t watch more than two episodes of a show in a row, that’s just not who I am.”

As Barker points, you can also remove the dopamine hitting apps from your phone and replace them with something useful like the Kindle app to encourage more reading. And in the worst-case scenario, you can throw your phone into the ocean, or just leave it in an inconvenient place to prevent the urge to take another futile gamble.

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Life

Flashes of intuition

When we drop a coin in the dark, our first instinct is to look for the nearest lite brite (be it a streetlight or our phone) to find it. But the initial frustration of blindness provides enough luminosity.

We are victims of ignoring the obvious — the coin is often just below our feet. It is not lost. Sometimes, we’re even standing right on top of it.

Some things are not meant to be clear; obscurity is their clarity. We should not underestimate obscurity. Obscurity is as rich as luminosity.

Etel Adnan

It’s amazing the things we discover when just use our intuition pumps. Our predictive senses are immune to the best technologies.

On the grid, off the grid, curious what hides in the night. Yet we can imagine radiance all along. All we had to do was use our senses to look around first.

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Life

Thinking in the cracks

We think in the cracks all the time. We fill in the blank spaces throughout our day with either fodder or deliberation.

The observer internalizes the outside world to create meaning. Not every thought, of course, is worth marveling. Sometimes thoughts are just thoughts — they are arbitrary with no bearing on reality. Just as often though, those thoughts bleed into our creativity.

Boredom is an idea generator. If we were smart, we’d find more free time to liberate our brain cells from all the hyperconnectivity. Idleness removes our obligation to follow the whims of the algorithm. Doing nothing is a fertile activity.

Whether we’re on the move or still in the chair, the moments in between make or break our attention, which dictates how we go about our lives.

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Life

Humans are noticing machines

Humans are noticing machines

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to become a noticing machine. But it does take practice, exercising the eyes, ears, to stretch the thinking tool that is the human brain.

Noticing is an awareness, an alertness that calls to mind what the mind shouldn’t scan over. But the observant person shall not force it.

Perception is two-way street. It is neither aloof nor entirely effortful but open to the seeing the subtleties in the streams of everydayness. Sensing is natural, interpretation is artificial.

More than any other animal, we process data before letting the amygdala have its way. Patience is skilled emotional control.

The rest of our lives we seek a dependable calm that allows us to embrace the world.

Coping with ‘the colossal volume of memories’

iwatch hearts

In an interview with the Financial Times, Apple lead designer office Jony Ive points to one of the technological conundrums of our time: balancing ease with excess.

“We have such a high-quality camera with us all the time. But it becomes irrelevant if you can’t actually enjoy the photographs you’ve taken. Even 30 years ago there was always a box somewhere containing hundreds and hundreds of photographs. So this isn’t a new problem. What is a new problem is the sheer degree, the colossal volume of memories that we have recorded, and as important as the recording is the way of enjoying what you’ve recorded, and I think that’s something that’s just an ongoing experiment, and it’s an ongoing creative project for us.”

Smartphones make it too easy to capture and even easier to consume photos. Given the profundity of images, we don’t spend enough time reviewing them.

To quote Om Malik: “We have come to a point in society where we are all taking too many photos and spending very little time looking at them.”

The age of abundance combined with undeterred distraction poses an interesting creative problem that’s more complicated than storing boxes of photos in the attic, never to be seen again.

gif via Mashable

Underground bicycle parking systems in Japan

The robotic system, called the Eco Cycle, stores bikes 36 feet underground. It can store 204 bikes at a time.

To use it, you need to attach a chip to the front wheel of your bike that links to your Eco Cycle parking account. When you pull up to the Eco Cycle, it will recognize you’re a paying customer. Simply press the button and your will be taken underground.

Bikes are so ubiquitous in Japan that construction company Giken had to build an underground system to store them.

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