we stare rapt into its bright light

The smartphone is an intimate device; we stare rapt into its bright light and stroke its smooth glass to coax out information and connect with others. It seems designed to help us achieve Westin’s functions of privacy*, to enable emotional release and moments of passive reflection. We cradle it in bed, at dinner, on the toilet. Its pop-up privacy policies are annoying speed bumps in the otherwise instantaneous conjuring of desires. It feels like a private experience, when really it is everything but. How often have you shielded the contents of your screen from a stranger on the subway, or the partner next to you in bed, only to offer up your secrets to the data firm tracking everything you do?

~ Amanda Hess, excerpt from “How Privacy Became a Commodity for the Rich and Powerful” (NY Times, May 9, 2017)


Notes:

Does just asking the question make you feel ill?

Try to pinpoint the last time you took a purposeless walk through the late spring breeze, when there was no itch in your hand to reach for a mobile device, and you felt like the wind and sky around you had nothing to disclose to you other than the vast and mysteriously sympathy of existence itself. Was it 2007? Or as far back as 1997? Does just asking the question make you feel ill?

~ Michael Brendan Dougherty, from I write on the internet. I’m sorry. (The Week, May 1, 2007)

 


Art: Eiko Ojala with “I found my silence“. The Estonian artist famous for his paperwork released a new personal project with no clue on what media is used in it. This could be a beautiful mix of paper, photography and illustrations but we are gracefully confused, but incline to paper. The only thing we know – it is beautiful (via DesignCollector)

Everyone knows this. Everyone knows what it looks like.

Everyone knows this. Everyone knows what it looks like. I can’t count how many pieces I’ve read about how alienated we’ve become, tethered to our devices, leery of real contact; how we are heading for a crisis of intimacy, as our ability to socialise withers and atrophies. But this is like looking through the wrong end of a telescope. We haven’t just become alienated because we’ve subcontracted so many elements of our social and emotional lives to machines. It’s no doubt a self-perpetuating cycle, but part of the impetus for inventing as well as buying these things is that contact is difficult, frightening, sometimes intolerably dangerous Your favourite part of having a smartphone is never having to call anyone again, the source of the gadget’s pernicious appeal is not that it will absolve its owner of the need for people but that it will provide connection to them –connection, furthermore, of a risk-free kind, in which the communicator need never be rejected, misunderstood or overwhelmed, asked to supply more attention, closeness or time than they are willing to offer up.

~ Olivia Laing, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone


Photo: Luca Pietrobono with smartphone

All dust and flashing hooves

hooves-dust

Certainly, being in the moment would seem impossible in our culture’s time-fissioning present, our iPhoned, Facebooked, Googled, Twittered restlessness, our desperate fear of missing the latest morsel of information, our attention never more than a nanosecond from seduction — our discontinuous, du jour present, a Smithsonian so densely packed with experiential exhibits that no lingering look, no settled examination, seems permitted. No sooner do we settle into a moment than another gallops by, all dust and flashing hooves.

~ Jerry DeNuccio, from “A Moment.” Just as you’re ”in” the moment, another moment comes. What to do?. 


Notes: Quote – Thank you Beth at Alive on All Channels. Photo: Richard Baxter (Harcourt, Australia) with Spirit Dance

 

Trick or Treat?

The New Yorker cover


Source: The New Yorker (See other Halloween covers at this isn’t happiness)

 

Growing more itchy and agitated by the day

Sven Birkerts

“Sven Birkerts is an anxious man. By turns he is frightened, terrified, alarmed, filled with dread. On one occasion he shudders in his core; mostly he is just plain worried. What concerns him, a concern he is eager to transmit to us, is the rapid spread of computer, Internet and telephone technologies and more specifically what those technologies are doing to our minds. Forever glued to screens of one kind or another, clicking compulsively on the links others provide for us, we are losing the ability to concentrate, growing more itchy and agitated by the day, allowing our consciousness to be fragmented and dispersed.”

~ Tim Parks. Read his full NY Times review of Sven Birkerts new book here: “Changing the Subject: Art and Attention in the Internet Age.”


Amazon’s Book Summary: “After two decades of rampant change, Birkerts has allowed a degree of everyday digital technology into his life. He refuses to use a smartphone, but communicates via e-mail and spends some time reading online. In Changing the Subject, he examines the changes that he observes in himself and others–the distraction when reading on the screen; the loss of personal agency through reliance on GPS and one-stop information resources; an increasing acceptance of “hive” behaviors. “An unprecedented shift is underway,” he argues, and “this transformation is dramatically accelerated and more psychologically formative than any previous technological innovation.” He finds solace in engagement with art, particularly literature, and he brilliantly describes the countering energy available to us through acts of sustained attention, even as he worries that our increasingly mediated existences are not conducive to creativity. It is impossible to read Changing the Subject without coming away with a renewed sense of what is lost by our wholesale acceptance of digital innovation and what is regained when we immerse ourselves in a good book.”

Wired

ajit johnson


Source: See others in this series by Ajit Johnson

And, it was quiet

coat-rain-fashion

Excerpts from Paul Jarvis’ commentary titled Why You Should Take A Social Media Sabbatical:

One of my clients told me that social media sabbaticals are the new treks through Nepal. Taking a social media sabbatical is trendy, takes some courage, and for most westerners, it’s outside the realm of possibility. But (thankfully for me), it doesn’t require as much physical fitness as a hiking the Himalayas…

When all the small gaps in our days are filled with refreshing or sharing, there’s no room left to just sit and breathe and let whatever thoughts that want to happen… just happen. There are more ideas—not fewer—when you remove noise…

There is no longer space in our lives. We can’t wait in line without getting on our phones. Or sit on a bus. Or eat. Or wake up. Or wait for an elevator. Or watch a sunset…

Extra, dangling seconds force most of us to reach for our pockets and pull out our tiny computers that connect to the Internet. We must scroll and react to whatever shows up on our screen, as if by some neurological impulse.

I’ve spent the last two months on a break from social. No tweets, no instas—nothing. I went an extra step and stopped sending newsletters or doing interviews, as well…

I went from a few hours a day on social to none.

And it was quiet.

Almost eerily quiet.


Photo: Sight-Management

Blog That? Top 20 reflections on 2014.

blog-blogging-funny

Here’s my top 20 blogging reflections on 2014, an update from my 2013 list:

  1. Grateful for: The Community. (Simply the Best.) Friends. Followers, Likes, Comments, Engagement, Banter, Re-blogs. Thank you.
  2. Appreciate: Infrequent notes from silent followers. Always surprising and inspiring.
  3. Take any posts back: No. (But, I do grimace at a few.)
  4. Viral: Yes. One share titled: Gate A-4. 845,000 views. 487 likes. 15 Minutes of Fame can be frightening. Glad to be back to the Man-Cave.
  5. Blogging Challenges: Staying fresh. (Not good enough. This one feels tired. Who cares?)
  6. Secret Sauce for High Quality Content: (1) Read. (2) A silent partner(s). (Thank you.)
  7. Wish I Had More Time for: Reading and writing. (Especially Reading)
  8. Awards: Grateful for the fellow blogger recognition but haven’t been able to pay it forward. (Sorry.)
  9. Who do you call at 3am (when you need blogging help): Todd. Mimi. Lori. BethCarol. Ray. And continuing mention of the bloggers who brought me to the dance: Kurt @ Cultural Offering & Steve @ Anderson Layman’s Blog. (Thank you all.)
  10. Important: Attribution for shares. Regrets? 2012 post without owner’s consent. Apologies extended and post revised.
  11. Best writing aids/apps: For me (amateur): Save your time and money. Skip ’em.
  12. Best App in Supporting Role: Evernote. For clipping, storing, composing. No close 2nd place finisher.
  13. Most useful Utility Apps: 1password. TextExpander. Snagit. DropBox or iCloud. (sync/backup critical)
  14. Best Reading/Content Apps: Feedly. Pocket. Kindle. Tumblr.
  15. Best blogs to follow: Authentic. Have opinion. High quality writing and/or content. Succinct.
  16. Wish I knew how to: (1) Write well (or better?). (2) Photoshop images. (No time. Limited competency.)
  17. Mac vs. PC: Mac/iPad/iPhone wins hands down. Syncing and stability worth price premium.
  18. Chrome vs. Safari: (for Mac Users)? Toss Up. Safari for integration/syncing. Google for speed and widgets.
  19. Niggling Nuisances: Spam. Self-linking. Haters. (Few) Guest blogger requests unrelated to blog theme.
  20. Why Blog? Why not?

Notes:

  1. Related Posts: (1) 2013: Top 20 Reflections on 2013: A Blogger’s Retrospective. (2) 2012: Two Years and Counting
  2. Image Credits (modified text). Original Source: Miguel Fernandez @ gengen-den-strich.com via Tanya Khovanova’s Math Blog

Humility is scarce and mediocrity flows from every direction

Bil_Zelman_Werner_Herzog

Q: Do you still not own a cellphone?

Herzog: I’m the only thinking person I know without one. I don’t want to be available at all times. Permanent connectivity isn’t my thing; I have always needed moments of quiet solitude for myself. There’s a Chinese poem from the Tang dynasty about someone describing a boat journey along the Yellow River and leaving his friend behind, a monk on a mountain, in the knowledge that they probably won’t see each other or have any contact for years. This man’s return, decades later, has an indescribable substance and depth. Compare this to standing in line at the airport, chatting on your cellphone to your loved one, who is waiting in the car park. There is too much shallow contact in our lives. I prefer to be face to face; I want the person I’m communicating with to be so close I can put my hand on their shoulder. Text messaging is the bastard child handed to us by the absence of reading.

Q: You use the Internet. [Read more…]

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