Lots of email newsletters have been pushed out this year. So many are a collection of links, maybe some marketed goods, rarely long-form. But, where’s the conversation? Where’s the resulting products from those conversations? The convos to the concepts to the creations?
Been a year trying something different with Avanceé. Part of this has been an alternate signal in the newly formed “bucket of links at the cost of your email.” Perhaps it’s not a problem to be open to a different path. Eigenwilligkeit a friend says. Yet maybe… it is the better path if something valuables to be hewn from this.
Forward isn’t exactly following the roads already made.
Should there be more branches like Micro.Blog, Mastadon, etc.? Should silo be defined by the niche more than the signal?
Or, is the responsibility of those who carve new roads in media and product do something new, while resonating with pieces of what is familiar from the old? It sounds philosophical but it’s not. Disruption first has to break its own chains before it can point liberty towards others’.
Each conversation is another lesson in what others might do or want to do in order to make steps forward. The most common theme comes from the peeling off of the stated problem to what the actual issue might be. Then sketching across an ocean of possibilities, guiding the direction of something simpler, something which may be better — even if we didn’t build anything to get there.
This is is Avanceé
A conversation turns to what its participants do for a living. A few questions around similarities and differences, then a path opens — “how do you step forward?” The resulting conversation is a back and forth of lessons. Some are clear, some require leaning on past experiences to stitch a relatable context. And then, the common theme arrives. The insight which was not forced upon the conversation reveals itself as a matter of the real course of productivity. This manifestation is the onus on which “work” finds its definition. It is here where Avanceé begins to articulate a simpler message, or a simply clearer one.
Those conversations bend reality. We keep bending, then start sketching.
What’s more often the case is that there isn’t enough time to think about the how and why one works. It might be done for reasons of reputation, deadline, or experiment, but its done as a part of what feels necessary to meet an attainable goal. That ideal state — experience — is what we listen for. In the heartbeat of working we are listening for how companies and their employees design their space, or experience another’s space. We listen for what they have agency towards, and what might be taken away. Between and around those artifacts, the desired expereince speaks loudly. Filtering the noise, we offer a solution which might need nothing more than a glance, or something purposefully built.
Design solves a problem. Art raises a question — @pak
Then there’s what’s built for that space. To take a conversation’s resolutions, and then create a manifestation of it which improves the state of someone’s or some team’s workspace — that part is the engineering of what had been complex into something that no longer is. For better and worse, there’s nothing about the tooling which is set in stone. That’s because what might be reengineered isn’t always software, its often also behavior and perception. We built, or draw up the detailed plans of what another builds, and then turn it loose to empower that conversation to become reality. Repacking the relationship of technology to humanity, the results land with the shape of “we should have always done it this way.”
Imagine packaging a way that understands why somebody does what they do, how they could do it differently, the benefits of being different and rapidly showing them the value and the extensibility of those lessons.
This is Avanceé.
How might you take your next steps forward? Let’s chat and find out.
Feels a bit as if this was a week of momentum gained. There was clarity regarding Avanceé (in communicating product, purpose, and value). Clarity for some regions who voted (some still being determined). And even some clarity for the way some companies will go about reporting their progress going forward. Seems like clarity is the theme to have been part of the exhaust of what’s transpired this week. Perhaps then, the selection of links on this week will offer an ability for more items to clearly come into view.
Ways of Seeing via Tom Critchlow
Sequencing is the New Microscope via PostHaven
Meet the People Hacking the Bodies for Better Sex via CNet
Pseudoarchaeology and the Racism Behind Ancient Aliens via Hyperallergic
We Thought the Incas Couldn’t Write; These Knots Change Everything via New Scientist
Researchers Defeat Most Powerful Ad Blockers, Declare a ‘New Arms Race’ via Motherboard
And a few from here:
Concept (full): Hiking Workout for Apple Watch
Perceiving Productivity Normally
Weekends in A Snap Space
Links for 9 Nov
Previously posted a small portion of this concept
Using an iPad to teach how to use a PC changes perceptions and behaviors of productivity
Over the past month, have been working with a long-time client on changing the methods used to teach a few base-applications. A previous shift, from published workbooks to organization-specific content (lived within their servers within the apps being taught), greatly increased skills retention and workshop engagement. This recent change leverages Office 365 and OneNote, using the iPad to teach those applications from OneNote’s perspective. It invites a different discussion about information transfer and retention for day-to-day tasks. This has initially proved to be quite insightful (the instructor’s view). However there is more to explore for those persons who want to employ the iPad or similar against their normal workflows — which this method of teaching seems to be exposing more of.
Replacing Productivity’s Definition?
iPad doesn’t just replace, it changes . The question gets asked each time a new model or major software update happens because the voices speaking about the platform and hardware are too far removed from what others do for. The end of the Mashable 2018 iPad Pro review says it nicely:
…It’s such an intimate creation process that it made me realize that Apple’s not merely trying to change my or your old habits. Apple’s not trying to make the iPad Pro a laptop replacement because the device isn’t one. It’s trying to do something bigger: invent a new way of creating for a new generation that is not bound to the old computing laws of clicking a mouse…
Not being bound to former methods is a invitation to think better about the jobs to be done for computing devices. And for much of what the complaints levy (moving files from one physical or virtual share to another, command-scripts for said files, approval queues, etc.), work is more like moving chairs around and a sense of control, that really isn’t work at all for most. The work is in figuring out what someone else needs to move their chairs around.
When Normal Isn’t
It is fairly normal to think about the perspective of a producer when thinking about productivity. As a matter of defining work, the perspective of a person producing the work is the only perspective that matters when doing the work. That said, what is normal about productivity might not be so normal at all. The ways in which people come up with solutions to do the job that is required, is a mix of creativity on top of the framework that defines success measures for the business. If the creativity can be repeated, it becomes a part of that framework,no longer defined as creative (definition: being a unique behavior unseen or unapplied previously) by the worker. If the framework cannot injest the behaviors, or those behaviors become detrimental to the operation of the business, then creativity as a facet of work becomes relegated to being pushed outside of the company.
So, then, what really is work? Or rather, what more aligns with the perspectives of what it means to have computing as a tool to aide/do behaviors considered productivity because we are instinctively creative?
This is one of the questions this experiment is looking to answer. However it also seems to be running alongside similar thoughts from others as it relates to connecting the “jobs to be done ” with the experience those jobs are to enable.
Might be a weekend, but pressing forward deserves play spaces not always as linear as a weekday’s newsfeed
Perhaps the entrance of a new series of iPads is not a reason to be ancy about the potentials and downsides of various technologies. But, one can’t help but look at all of the data, all of the micro and macro movements caused by this level of connectedness, and wonder if we aren’t simply evolving humanity, but also manifesting a clearer sense of what it means to be human.
Such is one of the reflections wrought by this week’s readings. Perhaps those shared here will evoke a sense of something wider and deeper for you also:
Editing A Game with Apple Pencil
Parents Have Posted 1300 Photos of Their Children by the Time They Are 13 via MIT Technology Review
Data from Millions of Smartphone Journeys Proves Cyclists Faster in Cities Than Cars and Motorbikes via Forbes
Facebook Human Rights Impact Assessment: Facebook in Myanmar (PDF)
The Macro Report: October 2018
And a few from here:
Avanceé Teams with Tymbals
Links for 2 Nov
Avanceé announces a teaming with Tymbals, an Edge Design House.
Meaningful design is impactful, sustainable, ethical, and (can also be) profitable. Embracing this ethos, Tymbals has reconnected with its own design ethos, enabling companies and movements to understand that “an investment in design is an investment into the future of enterprise value”. Demonstrating this investment, Tymbals has brokered a new partnership with Avanceé (and Inkadoo); using their enhanced design experience to change the positioning, technology, and growth prospects of their clients.
For more information, visit Tymbals or contact Avanceé
It is often said that more data is a good thing. Whether that data is relevant or irrelevant almost doesn’t get talked about as often. Nor, does it get spoken about what happens after the data is exhausted, or there is no more relevance to collecting so much data. Chances are, the links shared this week will cause a similar state of personal and organizational reassessment — just because there’s data present, doesn’t mean there’s progress gained.
Reinforcement Learning with Prediction-Based Rewards via Open AI
An Isolated Country Runs on Mobile Money via Wall Street Journal
IBM’s Old Playbook via Stratechery
Apple’s New Map via Justin Oberine
Commentary: Why I Stopped Wearing A Bike Helmet via CyclingTips
Rationale and design of a large-scale, app-based study to identify cardiac arrhythmias using a smartwatch: The Apple Heart Study via American Heart Journal
Seth Molson is Designing the Future, One Show At A Time via Hackaday
And a few from here:
Wireframing: Portal Layout Concepts
Intuitive As Design
Links for 26 October
Arguing for intuition over prediction or known indicators? Yes and no.
In between a clearly identified problem and its “so obvious” solution is the chasm called opportunity. It is within this space so many projects live and die. Some of the better ones become well-known, not just for an ability to solve the initial problem, but for those people on its edges to also find providence towards a solution. In conversations with many about the goals for Avanceé, its clear that the problem space is one in which many just have a hard time articulating what exactly might be the issue. Not because they aren’t knowledgeable about the issues, but because clarity is a perspective, not a destination, for so many problems.
A project noticed over the weekend, Modulz seems to want to give voice to some of the problems encountered by those who are in developer and design spaces, but find the gap between demonstrating the solution and building it has too many layers. The product should be impressive when it ships. For (a not small amount of) developers and designers, it will address a very real problem in communicating clearly what the solution(s) is supposed to entail. A programmatically accurate representation of the solution, with the roadmap attached to those tasked with the tools to make the traveling smooth. It is strategically and practically correct as a design method. It isn’t living within the framing of intuition — that’s a good and bad thing.
When we share the concepts and designs from past projects, we are deliberate in sharing those pieces which sit on the side of softer-content. Scribbles, basic shapes, and low-fidelity representations of what has been eventually created leaves room for the story around what the design was supposed to communicate. This isn’t by accident. What many want to know is “what does their solution look like,” not “what is my problem not clearly stating” or “what am I not asking about the problem I’m communicating.” These questions aren’t supposed to be the basis for marketing an unknown entity. Yet, Avanceé is purposely running on that side of the track because opportunity rarely finds itself communicated in the initial conversation. Often, its in the perspective of the problem. A but more intuition than mapped prediction.
Modulz and similar approaches to enabling designers and developers to more clearly articulate solutions are an opportunity. However, this clarity comes best when leveraged with a piece of that “gut” feeling. If we were to take the term AI as augmented intelligence, then we would see that platforms like Modulz should exist not so much to make structure more explicitly understood, but augment what designers and developers do by intuition — see the problem and the solution from a different perspective. One which enables them to advance past the constraints of the issue, to the clarity of what is empowered when the problem’s core is answered.
What should we better do now that we understand the uniqueness of the world in which we live? Not that everything is by chance, there are certain mathematical principles which have been found to discover some of the most obscure aspects of this world. But, when we are presented items we thought were unique, and now find they are less so, how do we enable a better response? This week’s links presents the struggles within such a framing; and possibly measures to find order within the squalor.
Digital Mindfulness, Can It Exist via Read Write Respond
Jony Ive on the Apple Watch and Big Tech’s Responsibilities via Financial Times
Wearable Technology and Blindness — A Look at the Tap Keyboard
A New IKEA Report is An Unsettling Look at Life in the 21st Century via Fast Company
Two Hundred Fifty Things An Architect Should Know via Michal Sorkin
And a few from here:
Inventing the Other Stuff
Concept: Sunday Thought Continued
Experience Strategy & Engineering Complexity
Links for 19 Oct
Sunday Thought via Twitter
In between the actual projects taken up by this Avanceé banner, there’s some intentional thinking space given to creating or exploring items in a fuller fashion than perhaps where some of those projects might travel. Sometimes, this comes out fully expressed into a concept or process that’s mostly useful to others (for example, the SmartTrip Apple Watch Concept App spoken about on a few occasions). These expansions of thought, process, and tooling take their own direction, oftentimes coming into nothing, or needing a bit more discipline, knowledge, or resource-capacity to come to a clear conclusion. However, its intentional to keep these. They inform Avanceé’s direction, as well as how this effort continues to be shaped forward.
An idea — lightly expressed — will rarely garner much of a view. An idea with something behind it, something tangeable such as code, interactive screens, physical textures, etc. does more to the psyche. These are the elements of the other parts of what it means to do something out-of-the-box. Where a new box is created, and instead of skating to where the puck is going, there’s a new field made with altogether new rules. Is it necessary that every new idea does this? No. But, can inventing beyond current perspectives be done any other way?
Knowledge, experience, and creativity can join together and make nothing much more than noise. Or, it can have the affect of resetting the field. The theory of disruption flows down this line. And so does any applications of change and risk management. Creativity is the most intentional of these buckets. Knowledge is recognized, with experience accounted for. Creativity arises from the output of these projects and either informs what might have been a foolish journey from a fruitful one. Lightly or harshly expressed, intentionally thinking of ways to get outside of what’s familiar doesn’t just have the effect of inventing “other stuff,” but also the effect of shaping what others only later come to understand.
Coming to the halfway point of October with all indications that the holidays will have as much lights, noise, and perspectives as ever. There’s a wonder with some if this year’s holiday season will land more on the side of taking a deep breath, or just waiting for the next shoe to drop. In whatever case, weather swings and sings along with familiar and unfamiliar themes in this week’s links.
Jeff Hawkins is Finally Ready to Explain His Brain Research via NY Times
Steph Curry and the New Palm Want You to Forget Your Phone via Fast Company
Is this Finally the Beginning of the End for the Password via Popular Mechanics
Helm Is A Personal, Private Email Server via The Verge
A few lights posted here as well:
Revisualized: MODT Transit Ticket App
Experience Strategy & Engineering Complexity
Links for 12 Oct
Came across a few terms when looking further into some of the problem spaces of digitally-augmented teams and organizations: experience strategy and complexity. Both of these terms speak to both the problem to be addressed, and the opportunities which lie at solving them. However, they might do so from differing perspectives and roles.
Experience Strategy really is the “strategy and planning” end of design. It is also the aspect closest to the emotional response of the client/customer. Experience strategy builds off of the other three aspects of user experience (if we are using the pictured matrix to define/describe UX).
Complexity is expressed throughout the three other squares within this matrix.
For Interaction Design, you are expressing everything from the physics of movement (screens, textures, colors, time-between-endpoints, etc.) to how those physics are programmed in such a manner to be testable and consistently deployed.
For User Research, the benefit of feed back to drive measured and unmeasurable outcomes cannot be overstated. But, until there is enough research to inform strategic decisions, nothin about what’s measured in the experience can have lasting value.
For Information Architecture, the structure of information, even down to the tone of language and the formatting of page/screen layouts informs the experience. Strategy is leveraged not just in what has been measured and works, but also in what has been transformed as media and mediums rise and fall in use/acceptance.
Augmenting processes and teams with tools and behaviors which have digital (both connected and not) means dealing with both experience and complexity. The challenge of process is not being bogged down by complexity, while not turning a blind eye towards its friction and impacts. The friction noticed within experience strategy enables the opportunity for solutions which seem simple on reflection, but are layered in how they arrived to that perception.
This isn’t a roadmap towards a better solution, but more like the gravel on the path. Mapping user experience around these skills and perspectives enables Avanceé to better address team and market challenges. But, also enables Avanceé’s clients to best express their problem areas so that a clear measure of success can be seen and achieved.
Thoughts about the next waves, and the impending dooms, which have been brought forth not just by our actions, but our inactions. Sometimes, these steps forward with communications, media, transportation, and other spaces seem so great. Then there is that macro view in which they are just a smaller part of a bigger narrative. There’s much about macro and micro views with this week’s links. Perhaps even, there might be a view into how we transition from this wave to the next to take away also.
How to Program Your Job via The Atlantic
A Font That Helps You Remember What You Read — Sans Forgetica via Techxplore
These Satellite Images Reveal Cities in Extraordinary Detail via Next City
Orwell Knew: We Willingly Buy the Screens That Are Used Against Us via Aeon
The Death of Google by Lauren Weinstein (PDF)
And a few from our end:
Why I Use Earn.com For A Contact Form
#inktober - Case Management Flow
The Augmented Reality of eBikes
Drawn using Paper by 53 on iPad Pro.
In a recent conversation, it was asked why there’s such “friction” to contacting me/Avancee. For a little more than a year, I’ve been using a domain redirect to point towards Earn’s Bitcoin-powered contact platform. Not so much as a replacement for email, but as a replacement for the kind of communications which come via platforms like LinkedIn and others. For the most part, its been successful in what it filters. However, I do end up with some turned off from contacting/connecting because of it as that “front page.” So, per a recommendation of that conversation, here’s why I use Earn, and why this or similar might be a decent avenue for you also.
Header: Being My Own LinkedIn Experiment
As with many people, LinkedIn is a common place to “connect” with others who cross lanes with your professional dealings. And similar to others, I’ve had a LinkedIn profile for a long time — using as a resume-augmented space, a connection space, and a job search space. However, I’ve also grown weary of how LinkedIn and others monetize my use of their service and I receive little to nothing from that*. I’ve always thought of there being a better way to federate who I am to others, and have owned my own domain name and various web spaces under it for a few decades. Leveraging what I know about federation is a constant pull, especially in this age of GDPR, ad-based networks, dark profiles, and more.
Some time back, a company called 21.co showed up on a few social streams. Riding the blockchain-is-everything hype, these folks put together an interesting proposition: your inclusion on LinkedIn and other mail lists should compensate you, and the rising value of Bitcoin is the right way to leverage this. After investigating it, and consulting with some folks who are more knowledgeable about blockchain and alternate currencies than I, I put myself forward towards their platform.
*LinkedIn and other firms use premium and enterprise service levels to give access to profiles/personas (and sometimes to direct individuals). While using these services are free, to quote the saying, “if you aren’t paying for it, you are the product” often holds true. That’s not to say Earn is different in that manner; only that you have a chance to reap from whomever contacts you, or wants to add you to their contact list.
*My knowlege of these practices comes from work with a previous employer to which learning methods of how these platforms work was part of the primary role held.
Body: Implementing Bitcoin-powered Forms
The implementation on my end was simple. I signed up at 21.co (which later rebranded to Earn) and used domain forwarding to point a subdomain (contact.antoinerjwright.com) to that page. Once a person would come to that page, they’d have the option of:
Using the contact form to contact me
Requesting me to take a survey
Adding me to a mailing list
But, to do any of these, they would have to pay me. And only if I responded (to the message or survey) would they actually pay. The money is held in escrow for up to seven (7) days, then released if nothing is done.
So that means, if you were contacting me, you’d get the URL (contact.antoinerjwright.com) either via scanning my ring, from my business card, or because you went to one of the websites I manage; and then upon filling out the form, you’d have a button that says “Contact Antoine for $1. Now, that dollar could go to me, or be put over to one of six charities who have patterned with that platform. I’m no where near an internet celebrity, and so I made the choice that contacting me would cost $1 (changed it to $5 at one point, but that really didn’t do anything, so I changed it back).
That dollar would go into escrow and I would be notified both via email and through the Earn app that someone wants to contact me and has paid a dollar (or more). If it was a connection I wanted to make, I’d respond through the Earn interface, accepting the dollar and turning the communication into the normal email affair. If not, I’d reject, sending a friendly message, and the dollar would be returned.
Now, here’s where the Bitcoin bit comes into play. When I accept the dollar, it would go into my Earn profile but be converted into Bitcoin. Given that this isn’t the early days of Bitcoin, that’s ten-thousandths of a Bitcoin. But, it was something. The value of my Bitcoin “bank” would rise and fall depending on whatever was happening with Bitcoin. And at anytime, I could “cash out” to a Coinbase (and previous a few other) wallets. I’ve decided to keep things in Earn (for now) as I’m using this as an opportunity to learn how Bitcoin works, and whether the “value of connecting to me” really meets what I saw as an unfair proposition from sites like LinkedIn.
Footer: Emphasizing Value Over Contacting
Let me emphasize, I don’t harbor any ill will towards LinkedIn (Facebook, Google, or any others). I think there business models of enabling people to connect across physical and social boundaries makes sense. I just would like to see a bit of what they earn from my connections; and in some cases let that more immediately go into my pocket.
For me, this is an experiment towards Bitcoin, how much friction people will tolerate towards connecting with others, and what it means to put a monetary value towards non-personal connections. We’ve more or less grown the internet on the backs of advertising supported models, and so something along the lines of permissioned-access and federated information works against what we’ve become used to. There is more friction in what I’m doing simply because its not what we are used to be doing.
Breadcrumbs: Engineering Connections
In order to get a better view into this experiment, I’ve been slowly removing my contact interactions from LinkedIn. There’s one guy I know who has left LinkedIn completely, but I’m not yet ready to do that. I’ve gone as far as to put into my bio there that my URL (which points to my Earn profile) is the only way I’d accept a contact. Further still, I’ve stopped accepting contact requests from recruiters, and lean heavily on connecting with persons there I’ve met personally or established a baseline relationship with (and I’d rather they not be in my phone book in some cases). Earn has enabled this kind of experience where I’m thinking a good bit more about the value of connecting to others, and not being as open as an email form, but also not being inaccessible either (I consult and freelance, can’t afford to be that inaccessible).
Having explained myself, I don’t imagine that it makes the decision to contact me easier or harder. But, it does give some boundaries to the friction which has been noticed. I plan on using Earn (even after its acquisition by Coinbase) until Bitcoin fails, Earn goes away, or I’m satisfied with the lessons. So far, I’ve been exposed to a number of blockchain ICOs and other alternate currencies that spin my mind in all kinds of ways. It is impressive, and disheartening. We’ve allowed contacting one another to swing towards a friction-less level, but done so at the cost of parts of ourselves. Earn seems a means to swing that level back; and if it means some friction until others get it, then that’s ok. I’m used to doing things before others.
If you’ve read this and would like to experiment/move to Earn, you can sign up here (this is referral link).
If you’ve read this and would like to engage me for consulting to (re)engineer complexity, such as what I describe here, for you or your organization, you can do so here.
There are methods and plans for all kinds of endeavors, but the joy in the remix and release is usually more fulfilling to the core of the creator than the core of the consumer. It all works out to a kind of personal efficiency. What’s becomes efficient, optimized, maximized, and/or simplified is received by both. That’s part of what goes into sharing this week’s links that is:
Where in your mouth letters are formed via Twitter & Language Base Camp
Three-Way Brain to Brain to Brain Interface via MIT Technology Review
Data Factories via Stratechery
Microsoft Retools Surface like for Productivity Vision via Fast Company
How China Used A Tiny Chip to Infiltrate American Companies via Bloomberg
QWERTY Days Are Almost Over via Wall Street Journal
We posted a few items this week, leveraging a bit more longer-thought items, but will only highlight the key pieces (follow here or on Twitter for the smaller snippets shared throughout the week):
Brigadoon Annapolis Transcripts: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
Concept: SmartTrip for Apple Watch
The Augmented Reality of eBikes
Talking w/client about offline options for a future project & remembered the innovative approach of @the__disconnect — given the environment of asking persons to own their attention, perhaps this is more of a necessary innovation 🤔 thedisconnect.co
Final installment of the notes which led to our Brigadoon Annapolis lecture on Digital Humanism.
View Part 1
View Part 2
View Part 3
I’ve mentioned the term agency a few times in this talk, and that’s more or less the core of what digital humanism design means. How are we using these tools in order to better understand what we do right and wrong? Some of this will come from putting information together with others — think along the lines of “wisdom of the crowds” or “communities dominate brands.” Both of those are excellent books by the way. Some of this will come from getting back in touch with how others are impacted by our actions or inactions. Yes, design is also attention to empathy. Lastly there’s this matter of trust. Trust is the name of the game right? We don’t have an economy without trust. We don’t have a basis for reputation and value without trust. We have possibilities becuase of trust. So let’s dig into why these three matter, and how we design humanity because of these three.
Pardon me if I say it like this, but sometimes I feel as if we speak about collaboration more as it is a theology rather than its a condition of our psychology. As someone bent a bit more towards the artistic end of the spectrum, collaboration takes on the duality of positive and negative interactions. This could be as simple as a design critique of a new application, all the way to a series of conversations which develop better lifestyle decisions for those engaging in public services. Collaboration is the way to go if you want to embrace success today. And no better is that seen than within many of the services we use.
Group chat, Slack, project management, MBAs, networking events, Amazon referrals. All of these (and more) are stages of collaboration. Collaborate however is a verb. It has an end result. Without agency of oneself, that end-result becomes muddled. And so you collaborate on a project, but the end result is a dark UI pattern keeping you from cancelling your Amazon account. Oh, you’ve embraced the theology, but in doing so, you’ve diminished the agency of those you’ve likely collaborated with.
Wait. That makes collaboration come across as a bit morbid. It isn’t. Its the action of a tool in this humane toolkit. Let’s move forward…
Regardless of how much you might collaborate with others, there’s always the perspective of the other person. How will they be impacted by your decision to do xyz? This question is really more of an aftershock of design — that is, what empathy is being employed to drive this action? We hear about empathy usually from a lack of it or it being considered inappropriately. Emojis are made, and people would like to use them, but they are all yellow faces with commonly Caucasoid features. A company supports veterans by employing them, but only places themselves in neighborhoods where veterans have done well for themselves financially and socially. A retail company employs seniors and people with disabilities, but leaves their public website and pay systems inaccessible to those with diminished sight and motor capabilities. Empathy isn’t exactly an uncommon topic. It just happens to have been given a bit more of a view due to how collaborative we’ve become.
Being collaborative is just one end of the continum. We realize our humanity not only in the context of one another, but also in the context of knowing ourselves. This tension, or friction, is how we come to define living, define humanity. When an item is able to tug on our sense of self, adding to what we already value about ourselves, then we say that it “gives life” that it “enhances what it means to live” or that it “follows with a pursuit of happiness.” The challenge of collaboration is therefore a challenge for an against such a personal metaphor of what it means to live. How can I embrace what it means to be along with others when I am also challenging with what it means to embrace what I am today? This tension is humanism, or rather, it is within this tension that we figure out what it means to become more human by each moment.
Continuing a sharing of the notes which led to our Brigadoon Annapolis lecture on Digital Humanism.
View Part 1
View Part 2
Filters, Awareness, Noise, & Poise
There’s that “design” word again. You see, this constellation of devices is simply the colors on a palette, tossed against the canvas of my life, aiming to make a decent picture of what life I’ve been living. Thing is, all of this connectivity, all of these services and their implications, these are merely a negotiation of noise and poise. Humanism is a philosophy of agency — a freedom to determine collective and individual movement. I’m leveraging my meger economic standing, alongside some quick knowledge of connected services, to create the life that works best for myself and others in this age. Digital humanism simply meaning that I’m using sand and electrons to come to this place of agency rather than theology or philosophy.
I think we’ve heard it termed by a few magazines very well: there’s a war for our attention, and the technology tools we wield are the protagonists and antagonists. If you are a “techie” then, there’s a good chance you welcome the additional filters devices and services may offer. You learn coding to build your own, or scripting to manipulate others. You ascribe to open source philosophies if your viewpoint is access and ability. You take to decentralization if you’ve noticed the levers of control are stacked against you.
If you aren’t a techie, you’ve got the other side. Tools work when they do. You opt for putting technology in its place, and most of the time, its not in the space of taking over your attention. It feel more like noise when the conversation happens. Perhaps something like the adults in the Peanuts cartoons, “blah blah blah.” Ultimately understandable, but not without several moments of intelligible babble. Reading manuals, babble. Understanding terms of service, cookie and privacy notices — babble. And don’t even get to talking about cryptocurrencies, 2FA, artificial intelligence, and machine learning. It is all noise.
For me, and people who are oriented similar to myself. It has been towards these topics we’ve found a deliberate sense of poise (instead of noise). Not so much to understand all of it, but to flow with what is and isn’t important about them. When people ask about my Oura Ring for example, I don’t go into the levels of machine learning which correspond to some of the leading-edge understandings about the narrow application of data on wellness. I’ll speak instead about how its helping me understand sleep and the implications of one bad sleep night. I’m not so much confident in what I know, but comfortable in what I don’t know and let both shape how I’ll employ agency to live forward.
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