Some articles and ideas found over the past week that I either enjoyed or that moved me:
The Tinderization of feeling – by Alicia Eler and Eve Peyser, for The New Inquiry
“Living with a sense of overwhelming choice means exerting an insane amount of emotional energy in making the most banal decisions. What should you watch on Hulu tonight? Make a Facebook status asking for recommendations. Tweet the question to your followers. After perusing for an hour, settle comfortably into Seinfeld, which you’ve seen a million times before. Wonder whether you made the wrong choice. Do it again anyway. There is some comfort in sameness.”
In an article packed with bracingly familiar observations that surprise you and at the same time make you think “Oh. Right.”, warning flares go off about superficiality vs. insight, freedom vs. investment.
“Dating apps facilitate rapid connection and constant communication, but trusting someone still takes as long as it ever did. So Tinder demands a certain amount of emotional dissociation — to distance oneself from emotions by treating connecting to others as a game. The only criteria is to choose and choose fast, choose as many as you want, choose so many you’re not even making a choice. This simplicity can provide sweet relief.”
Tinder is more than a dating app, claim the authors. It is turning us into binary creatures that trivialize choice and make all decisions on a left-swipe/right-swipe basis. Complex decisions become easy, shorn of emotional involvement. And easy decisions become complex, in the search for something better.
“Tinderizing can surpass romantic relationships, and if you get sucked in, you can find yourself living in a yes/no, chill/ignore, 0110101011 existence. You’ll find yourself stuck on Amazon or Yelp for hours, looking for the perfect dustbuster or the best Japanese restaurant in your area, unwilling to choose because there could be a better option ahead in the information stream.”
A brilliant wake-up call to the sobering consequences of delightful convenience and the fast-paced appification of our social and commercial lives, the article offers a suggestions for a potential remedy: share the experience, invest emotionally in the binary decision, and keep it all in perspective.
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The digital materiality of gifs – by Sha
A fascinating romp through the history and future of .gifs – love them or hate them, they are increasingly a part of our media language, so you might as well learn something about where they are and where they’re going. There’s some weird stuff going on in the “meme economy”.
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A Bitcoin Believer’s Crisis of Faith – by Nathaniel Popper, for The New York Times
Has Bitcoin failed? Mike Hearn thinks so. In a long, somewhat bitter and worrying piece, he announces his resignation from Bitcoin activity.
Here you have Nathaniel Popper’s gripping summary of Mike’s decision and the tension that led to it.
“The current dispute… is a reminder that the Bitcoin software — like all computer code — is an evolving product of the human mind, and its deployment is vulnerable to human frailties and divergent ideals.”
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How SnapChat is targeting the over-35 crowd – by Paresh Dave, for the LA Times
“Almost everyone I talk to, it’s their niece that shows them Snapchat.”
Yup, it was my niece that showed me SnapChat. And yup, I find it fascinating. I’m still trying to figure out how it works, but the immediacy of it grabs you. And the fact that you only get to see the message, image or video once makes it so much more like a conversation. It also, strangely, easier – no need to carefully craft anything at all, because it’s there for a fleeting moment and then it’s gone. Much more “genuine”. And I totally understand how it would lower inhibitions and raise expectations.
Sure, there’s the seamy side. But it’s so much easier to “connect” than on Facebook or even Whatsapp. And there’s charm: National Geographic videos, Sweet, The Food Network…
Even the Wall Street Journal (not so charming, but you know what I mean.)
“Business reasons also are fueling other types of interest in Snapchat. New York magazine reported that Wall Street bankers like Snapchat’s self-destructing chat feature. University admissions officers have used it as a recruiting tool. Marketers, of course, are trying it.”
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How to use search like a pro – via The Guardian
One of the most useful tip sheets I’ve read in ages, I didn’t know some of this stuff.
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Some weird cool stuff from CES 2016
… which will no doubt soon be must-haves.
An alarm clock that wakes you up, not with beeps and trills, but with the smell of brewed coffee or freshly baked croissants.
An app and coffee machine that reproduces any photo on the surface of your latte.
And a whole lot more. There’s a lot of ingenuity going on out there. Whether there’s a business case to back it up, that’s a different story.
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A sad week
My favourite… eulogies is not the right word… for two greats who passed away this week:
Thank you Mr. Bowie – full of heart-warming anecdotes that make you feel grateful to have been witness to a little piece of the impact he had
My favourite Alan Rickman role – totally agree, Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility is my favourite of his performances, too.
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Smoke and bottles – via Bored Panda
Wow. Artist Jim Dingilian fills empty glass bottles with black smoke, and then using brushes and small tools attached to dowels, erases the smoke to leave haunting and misty images.
“When found by the sides of roads or in the weeds near the edges of parking lots, empty liquor bottles are artifacts of consumption, delight, or dread. As art objects, they become hourglasses of sorts, their drained interiors now inhabited by dim memories.” Beautiful.
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Two things I enjoyed this week:
- The web app Coffitivity – it provides the stimulating (geddit?) background buzz of a coffeeshop. Ideal for when you’re feeling really tired and about to doze off but you have to finish an article. You can even choose between morning coffee shop, lunchtime murmur, and university adrenalin. Soothing and addictive. A bit like coffee, really.
- The podcast Note to Self – about the “human” side of the internet. Manoush Zomorodi provides interesting anecdotes and insight into how being always connected affects our lives, our choices, our habits. This week I listened to her painful elimination of the game Two Dots from her phone. And the exhilaration of keeping it off. Been there, done that.
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Have a great, sunny (even if only metaphorically) weekend!