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Culture Politics & Society Tech

The fate of click-bait

At the heart of the web’s self-destruction is contagious media: crazy cat pics and the entire Buzzfeedification of the internet.

Every site, even reputable ones, raced to the bottom because celebrity sideboob and stupid human and pet tricks drove clicks.

Writes Tim Wu in The Attention Merchants:

“Contagious media is the kind of media you immediately want to share with all your friends. This requires that you take pleasure in consuming the media but also pleasure in the social process of passing it on.”

“Contagious media is a form of pop conceptual art” in which “the idea is the machine that makes the art (LeWitt, 1967) and the idea is interesting to ordinary people.”

The clickbait craziness spawned an albatross of more ridiculous news, some of it fake news. As Zeynep Tufekci says in her TED Talk, “We’re building a dystopia just to make people click on ads.”

And now we’re living with the repercussions of confused algorithms and companies like Facebook and Twitter avoiding responsibility.

A cartoon by @lisarothstein. #TNYcartoons

A post shared by The New Yorker Cartoons (@newyorkercartoons) on

 

We are psychologically vulnerable to social media games. If we want stupid, we’ll get stupid. And anything that requires some thought and effort will fade away.

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Tech

Convergence is inevitable

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via Singularity

What’s missing: the smartphone. What’s next: the VR headset.

What are many application become one, rolled up into ital visions.

Digital convergence is inevitable.

The same sweep can be said for those other desk objects.

Categories
Creativity Tech

The Connection Machine that inspired Steve Jobs

The Connection Machine that inspired Steve Jobs #apple #stevejobs #tech #design #art

Product designer and mechanical engineer Tamiko Thiel turned computers into sculptures in the early 1980s before the Macintosh came out. Said Thiel:

“The general image of computers was IBM computers, racks of electronics. They looked like refrigerators or heating units. They didn’t have any identity”

Years later she found out that Steve Jobs wanted to hire her to design the NeXT computer. But she had already gone on to Germany to be an artist.

Nevertheless, her geometric reinterpretation of the computer continues to inspire the modern yet futuristic hardware designs we see in iPhones and gadgets today.

The Connection Machine machine now features in MOMA’s exhibition Thinking Machines: Art and Design in the Computer Age, 1959–1989.

Categories
Culture Daily Prompts Social Media Tech

Seeking an objective point of view

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Photo by Wells Baum

We are obsessed with the first-person because we live in a culture that emphasizes the individual. The selfie generation makes “I” the predominant jargon for almost everything we post on social media and talk about in real life.

Me-ness has shrouded our ability to step outside the self and see the world objectively. It’s not all about us. We view ourselves in the reflection of other people. The looking glass self is external. Writes Adam Price in defense of third person.


It worries me that we may be slowly losing the cultural ability or inclination to tell stories in third person. Why does this matter? Because, I believe, third-person narration is the greatest artistic tool humans have devised to tell the story of what it means to be human.

“I think therefore I am.”

Our inner-narrative predicts how we’ll act in real life. It controls the outer stage of actions. As narrators, we can be more thoughtful of how to talk to about ourselves despite the egotism reinforced by the dizzying pace of status updates. We find deeper meaning when we can see and express a world bigger than ourselves.

We constantly divide our attention between the first- and third-person points of view, between desiring the shiny object in front of us and figuring out what it means for us to take it: who else wants it, what we have to do to get it, and whether it’s worth taking it from them.

In Defense of Third Person

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Tech

A unit of imitation

Photo by Wells Baum

It was a mass of niches. In many ways, it still is a collection of echo chambers.

But the web feels smaller today than it used to. The big fish seem to drown out the rest of the noise. Tv is the web, the web is tv, constructed for the masses.

Meanwhile, the same-looking images reappear on Instagram: food porn, selfies, and sunsets, leaving scant room for variation. Perspective is hard to find.

Those with a unique point of view get lost in the shuffle, discarded idiosyncrasies of the Internet-factory era. The only difference now is that people can market to the micro. You only need 1,000 true fans to build a business out of the long-tail!

Nevertheless, the web appears to be a less human and little more robotic. It is predictable and stale, sameness portends scale!

What is the dark web if we can’t even see through the light?

Categories
Life & Philosophy Tech

Trust your internal compass

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One of the oldest surviving maps (the Babylonian Map of the World) is “about the size and shape of an early iPhone.” But it too was full of artifice and spin.

“The map is not the territory, said Polish-American scientist Alfred Korzybski. Maps are deceiving representations of reality. To quote the author Mark Monmonier of How to Lie With Map, “No map entirely tells the truth. There’s always some distortion, some point of view.”

Maps drive conquest, gentrification, taxes, and voting polls. Google Maps, as Google does, gives us the turn-by-turn directions to a final destination. But we trust GPS a little too much yet remain frustrated and bewildered when the software leads us into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on the way to Rhode Island.

And we thought Google had all the answers! Blame the humans, not the machines.

Faulty computer intelligence reminds humans that our devices are imperfect just like us and that perhaps, we should continue to leverage our internal compass.

image via giphy

Categories
Photo Challenge Photography photoJournal

Therapy friends

You can practice speaking in front of them. You can count them on to keep you in shape. You can always rely on their love and affection.

You may dislike some things about your dog but there are too many benefits that outweigh the costs of their barking and neediness.

My dog Tatlim (Turkish for sweetie) is the bravest Silky Terrier in the world. She is one cool cat…eh, dog, and a best friend.

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Categories
Creativity Photography Tech

Nick Turpin on the evolution of street photography

Images by Wells Baum

“You have to be physically and mentally present to recognize these things and be ready for them, to recognize that something special is happening on the street in front of you. That really is the skill. It’s almost more important than getting the photograph. It’s recognizing the significance of something.”

— Nick Turpin, How Our Changing Cities Are Transforming Street Photography

Our third eye, be it smartphone or standalone point and shoot camera, is only as good as the two we were born with.

Categories
Social Media Tech

“Pics or it didn’t happen!”

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Photo by Wells Baum

Social media is a machine of reciprocity. The more we share about our lives, the more likes, shares, and comments we expect in return. Notice us, we do exist!

But sometimes people divulge a little too much in their feeds and no one responds to their posts. When engagement goes silent, it leaves more questions than answers.

We document moments on social media to prove that they happened. But to what end? Such behavior can be a neurocognitive weakness, stuck in gear of a ludic loop.

Sharing on Instagram and Snapchat give our brains a quick squirt of dopamine, the same stimulation we get when we roll the dice at the casino or rats gets closer to the pellet.

Playing the social media game is a quest for human pleasure where like gambling, the risks can do more harm than good.

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Uncategorized

Think of technology as a verb, not a noun. It provides the tools, creative people provide imagination.

Red Burns, RIP

And her sage advice.