Long-Term Internet

I'm still processing everything.

But I was reminded of an old thought I had.

To me, the internet is two-faced. On one side, it's instant. It's the moment. News, events, experiences travel at lightning speeds. 

On the other, it's history. It's forever. It remembers everything. The perfect archive. 

One of the things I'm thinking right now. Our short-term memories are being exploited. There's so much sensory overload. (I'm thinking specifically about political news right now.) That it's impossible to process anything meaningfully. 

Apathy replaces overload. Inaction replaces want to change. 

A challenge I haven't given genuine thought is how to hold on to the instant moments that actually need reflection. That need interrogation.

We're letting so many things slip by because the noise to pushing everything to the side. 

The Fall of Experts

I fully admit the irony of a random guy on the internet writing on his blog to complain about the fall of the Expert. 

I even acknowledge the quiet tragedy that I built my career on non-expertness. I stumbled into art after switching majors from science. Which means I'm mostly trained in art, but also now sorta educated as a scientist with no credentials. And then I stumbled into design. Only took like three courses while studying abroad officially. I also fall ass backwards into programming. It was fun in high school to make websites, and make TI-83 games. And now I'm an UX designer after trying a bunch of design-like jobs, and then taking the title after a few years. 

So my entire life has been blindly trying things like an non-expert amateur.

And yet I lament the death of Experts today. 

It seems Colbert struck a fundamental philosophy of our times in that "truthiness" is enough these days. Even preferred. 

We question our doctors. We distrust leaders. We don't listen to researchers.

While we WebMD our own rashes, nominate people that "we would like to have a beer with," and casually explain climate change at the dinner table. 

I wanna blame the internet. Not for everything, but for a lot of it. 

Like take this blog post, for example. Who the fuck am I? What the hell am I talking about? What sources am I referencing? (FYI: none. Well, random articles I've skimmed over the years to be precise.) 

So today I write the most tragic of eulogies. As a non-expert quoting no sources, I pour one out for all the Experts out there. R.I.P. 

"Sorry for the mess"

I get it. Ultimately, I get it. I think.

But I still always have to process it through when I go to someone's house, and they always say "Sorry for the mess."

And most of the time, it isn't. But they say it anyways.

And even if it is. I'm okay with that. Messy is sorta normal. 

When I lived I alone, I wasn't messy. I'm also a strange human being. 

But I get that other human beings are messy. So it weirds me out that those human beings apologize for a normal state of things. 

But again, I get it. I think. 

It's a quick gesture to tell other people that their intentions is to put guests in a best situation of comfort and consideration. So a messy place can seem inconsiderate. 

Sure. I guess. But we're all fine. Everything's fine. And a little messy. That's normal.

People are weird. Nice too. But really weird.

Experience as an Object

Beyonce. Kanye. Frank Ocean.

Surprise drops. Video albums. Super Bowl mash-ups. Tweets about album titles. Tweets about changing album titles.

On the simple pessimistic hand, it's PR in overdrive. A highly-curated sequence of marketing to remind people to consume music.

But more interestingly, it marking what the world has transitioned to over the decades. As said consumers, it seems to be an absolute deluge of media being produced today. 

There isn't a feeling or narrative that you can't seem to get in your preferred dosage. Want to laugh, or be scared, or feel joy? Sure, in 90-minute, 60-minute, or 30-minute increments? On the go? Grab a 15-minute podcast. Not enough time for that? Here's a 6-second Vine (well, for now at least.) Do you want that in video, in song, in a book, or maybe VR? 

It almost feels saturated in those formats. So I wonder if music today is inadvertently pushing the attributes of the media. 

Suspense, horror, comedy, happiness, sappiness--all fairly available these days. But what about surprise?

Eight episodes at 60 minutes equals eight hours. A film is 75-90 minutes. Youtube, maybe 5-15 minutes sure.

But what about months? Or even years? (Books can get there. I'm looking at your R. R. Martin. And serialized television, but how many stay rosy fresh? Ahem, Friends?)

Anyways, I found myself fascinated by the Kanye experience leading up to the release of Pablo. It was something I couldn't get with just House of Cards. Or Harry Potter.

It was a twisting winding path inside a brain that was firing in real time. Maybe some was premeditated, maybe to build "brand." But overall it was enjoyable. It was believable to see him work through album titles. It was fun to see everyone else take guesses and try to dissect the psyche in real-time. 

The sporadic SNL appearances. The ever-changing track list. The songs that were maybe going to be on the album, and then turns out it was just a random song. (Anyone remember Paul McCartney?) Heck, even the random changes on his website were fun.

It was multi-platform (I would have called it "multimedia" back in the 90s) in a way that was surprising. Would he show up on TV? Twitter? Someone else's Twitter? Music festivals? Fashion shows? 

A TV show at its finest is still mostly inside one rectangle in 30-60 minutes spurts. Ultimately quite familiar. 

A Kanye at his finest fires everywhere from rectangles to real life in spurts that are as long as his temperament allows. It's a new rhythm that I just haven't heard yet before. 

Apple, Transitional

That Apple event was weird. New Macbook Pros, but the tech specs, the ports, the price points…

Like I think I get it? Between that and the iPhone event, it seems like they're putting their future in wireless. No cords, all cloud.

And I think I'm fine with it? At this point, I hooked up my first NAS for backup. I keep an USB (old USB at this point) external drive, but only plug it in once a week for backup...backups. I keep both Apple iCloud and Google Photos (and real talk, also Facebook.) My music is on the cloud. 

When was the last time I plugged in my iPhone? 

So sure, I'll trust that Apple did their user research, and that I happen to fall within their personas. But what I'm confused about is transitions. Apple is in the absolute control of their world. They have the luxury of setting the pace. They were "slow"/"late" to the MP3 world, and the tablet world, and the digital watch world. (And they'll probably take their time on cars.)

What's weird though is given that I can't figure out their port deprecation plan. With all the USB-C ports on the laptops, Lightning feels like a mis-step. The non-mention of losing the mag-safe power plug feels weird. The drop of the SD card would be fine too if it wasn't in this mess of transitions. 

I've always trusted their long-range plans would justify short-term side effects. But what I didn't expect is that despite that Apple would mess up the mid-term execution. Looking back at the few years, it seems like that process could have been cleaner, neater, and...more thought-out.

30 Days for a Habit

With my buddy, we attempted a 30-day challenge. Him with writing, and me with exercise. 

We mostly did. We noted our skips. An early cold ruined the first streak. And then life events left very little time some days.

But they say it takes 30 days to build a habit.

For me, though, it took 30 days for me to realize I dislike habits. I like the dynamic nature of shifting activities, and finding novel things. I have little dogmatic attachment to routine. 

I hold to consistent execution of tasks. (Eh, not really.) But that's different from a habit.

The worst part of my day is brushing my teeth. Twice a day…every day? The worst four minutes on the daily. (And yeah, life is pretty peachy if that's all I have to complain about. I fully acknowledge and embrace my fortune.) 

But brushing is dumb. Wait, what were we talking about again?

Spectrum Expansion

Trends swing in pendulums. Saggy jeans swing into skinny. Hats go, come back, and go again. Facial hair…Christ, my hairless chin is out of phase right now…but I can wait it out. Easy. 

What I'm interested in is the stretching out the length of the pendulum. The swinging will be perpetual and ongoing. 

But what I want is to increase the distance of which things can swing. To me, that's when new things are created. 

Something like art, which eventually consumes and reflects all ideas and materials, is one of many barometers for this. I want to start seeing art projects that involve satellites, space, deep oceans. Projects that take a millennia to complete. But also projects that take microseconds. Projects that get bigger than we've ever seen, and also the smallest. 

The internet ushered in a new space of which to we replicated many trends. In my world of design, we already seen grudge, letterpress, minimalism, skeuomorphism, etc. But we're only at the tip of seeing how the internet will stretch the swings. Animation is nascent with stickers and emojis and GIFs. The grammar of speech and writing blurring is interesting.

But I'm not sure if we're realizing the ripples just yet. There's no rush, but I'm eager to see it. 

Building a City: Upwards and Outwards

I know little of city planning. I'm a mere spectator to the whole thing.

So from my very simplistic eyes, cities grow outwards or upwards. Dallas, LA, Minneapolis: outwards. Infinite dirt in all directions. NYC, Tokyo…upwards. Tall skyscrapers kissing the clouds. 

Most (all?) cities end up doing some ratio of both as the times dictate. 

And so I think about art, or science, or music, or (as usual) myself.

When I think of, say, music going upwards. I think of Mozart, Elvis, or Swedish producers. Pushing the technique and precision to such a high level. And then at times, music grows outwards. Glass, Hendrix, Miles Davis. Just plain simply brand new novel sounds. Something we just haven't heard before as humans. 

For myself, I love outwards. I like new combinations, new things, new new. Refinement is less of a concern for me. 

I would have bought the piano when everyone was practicing the harpsichord. Gone electric like Dylan. (For the record, I'm terrible at anything musical. So I would have gone electric, but nothing like Dylan.)

But I respect those who go upwards. I need upward people on my team. And outward people. I want my city to grow in both directions as much as possible. But mostly outwards. Because, you know, it's me.