837
Always On
> instead what seemed required was a kind of ironic disavowal of disavowal with regard to our online presentation: The tone foregrounds the idea that we all must put on an act that fools no one.

​> Among the historical antecedents,

​> They reinforce the idea that people should always be working by providing another arena for invidious comparison, self-branding, and optimization. But something more subtle may be happening as well. Social media platforms, like all technologies that mediate the self, “heighten consciousness,” in media scholar Walter Ong’s words. But if earlier technological developments, like writing, heightened consciousness to extend the self, newer technologies may heighten it to a point where it no longer sustains the self but undermines it.

​> writing — the “technologizing of the word,” as Ong described it — distanced us from the flux of immediate experience and expanded consciousness into space and across time. The diary could be considered paradigmatic: It makes subjectivity an object of reflection, both in the moment of composition and for future readers as well.

​> is to see at least some aspect of yourself suspended in time and space.

​> The audience’s resulting dispersal through space and time leads to a sporadic and unpredictable set of interactions, which can anchor habits of continual checking or an intensified susceptibility to push notifications (part of how platforms try to elicit compulsive engagement). The result is that we can’t help but be aware of ourselves through these platforms as continual performers, moment by moment.

​> What kind of self derives from this condition? Imagine a wedding photographer who circulates, trying to capture candid images of spontaneous or unscripted moments. “Act naturally,” they might joke, before encouraging everyone to “pretend I’m not here,” ironically vocalizing the impossible possibility to diffuse some of the pressure of doing as they say. Now imagine that you are that photographer, but that it is also your wedding. And imagine also that the wedding never ends.

​> To borrow sociologist Erving Goffman’s terminology, broadcasting on social media amounts to a substantial expansion of what he called our “front stage,” where we are consciously and continually involved in the work of impression management

​> But they have really mastered the art of transforming the backstage into another front stage.

​> We can understand backstage experience, then, as a respite not only from the gaze of an audience but also the gaze we must fix on ourselves to pull off our performances.

​> The algorithms that ostensibly reveal what your “true” or “authentic” self would choose for itself feed off the very exhaustion that the platforms generate, offering refuge from the burden of identity work in the automation of the will.

​> Life needs the protection of nonawareness.
l-m-sacasas  identity  social  reflection  burnout 
6 minutes ago
Understanding Makes the Mind Lazy
> platforms have to act as though their algorithms work and don’t work at the same time, and this equivocation fosters a paranoia about how algorithms work.

> The point of advertising, after all, is not to nail down what people are, as if that were static; it’s to shift currents of demand, to alter behavior patterns. But the logic of data profiling uses the past to repeat it as the future.

> This mystification is not an unfortunate side effect; it’s the value Facebook adds. Users are isolated from each other so they can feel as though they are the implied subject of all the discourse they experience on the site — so that they can be targeted in “one-to-one brand building” campaigns. Users get to feel important, singled out, worthy of decoding, and at the same time they get to interpret whatever they read through the lens of “Why did the algorithm choose this for me? What does this say about me and my tastes?” But that works only through an effort of disavowal: You have to feel that the algorithm is right enough to cater to you but not powerful enough to control you (even while it controls all those “indoctrinated peers”).

> In this London Review of Books essay about Brexit,William Davies offers this description of accelerated finance:

> The mentality of the high-frequency trader or hedge fund manager is wholly focused on leaving on better terms than one arrived, with minimum delay or friction in between. To the speculator, falling prices present just as lucrative an opportunity as rising prices (given the practice of ‘shorting’ financial assets), meaning that instability in general is attractive. As long as nothing ever stays the same, you can exit on better terms than you entered. The only unprofitable scenario is stasis.

> In a sense, platform paranoia is akin to market volatility; it reflects and promotes a high-frequency trading of sorts in various propositions, accelerating cycles of belief and skepticism as we churn through a much higher volume of information. Advertising is more likely to be effective amid these conditions, where it seems that everybody and not just marketers is being manipulative and deceptive.

> How we are targeted is always incomplete and inaccurate, but these inaccuracies in themselves can still drive and reshape behavior. Being targeted itself affects the targets, regardless of what is targeted at them, or if anything hits.

> They want to sell control over that connection, the moment at which your feelings become actions in the world. (Advertisers understand that link between feeling and acting entirely as a matter of “conversion rates” — when you actually buy something.)

> When we remember our lives authentically, we ask a fundamental question: Why did I remember this thing, at this moment? The “Why now?” question gives memory its meaning. Facebook randomizes and decontextualizes memory and detaches it from our current self. And why would I want to know what I looked like 10 years ago?
rob-horning  targeting  facebook 
10 hours ago
Karen Uhlenbeck, Uniter of Geometry and Analysis, Wins Abel Prize
> Uhlenbeck, who was born in 1942 in Cleveland, was a voracious reader as a child, but she didn’t become deeply interested in mathematics until she enrolled in the freshman honors math course at the University of Michigan. “The structure, elegance and beauty of mathematics struck me immediately, and I lost my heart to it,”

​> Mathematics research had another feature that appealed to her at the time: It is something you can work on in solitude, if you wish.
karen-uhlenbeck  math  abel-prize  isolation  solitude 
12 hours ago
The New Social Network That Isn’t New at All
> It can be more than just a creative endeavor: Newsletters can make a fine one-person business.

​> To be clear: I don’t intend to give up my low-grade Twitter addiction. I have built meaningful friendships on the platform, and it’s been a pathway for people to discover my work.

​> Instead, I’ll save it for my newsletter following — the one that belongs to me.
newsletter  mike-isaac  substack 
13 hours ago
“Sleeping” Under The Sheets
> Even as I grew out of midday naps, I had to find creative ways to stay up reading past my bedtime.

​> As a young bookworm, almost nothing could stop me from reading when I was supposed to be doing anything else, sleeping included.
jillian-meehan  reading  childhood  sleep 
15 hours ago
“muscle recruitment mostly...this is heart of why observed peak VO2 consumption in cyclists < runners < nordic skiers. More muscle recruitment = higher absolute VO2 max uptake.”
> muscle recruitment mostly...this is heart of why observed peak VO2 consumption in cyclists < runners < nordic skiers. More muscle recruitment = higher absolute VO2 max uptake.
steve-mieczkowski  vo2  cycling 
15 hours ago
How Much Money Means You Don’t Have to Worry?
> A little struggle never really hurt anyone, but too much struggle can strangle anything. Even a 30-year relationship. My parents argued constantly about bills for the last 20 years of their relationship, maybe especially when the argument wasn’t about the bills. I watched their marriage burn until it fizzled out into two adults who lived under the same roof and only communicated through their four kids.

​> The things people forget about when they try to tell you money can’t buy happiness.

​> Really, in the end, all I want is enough money to never worry about money. I just don’t know if that amount exists.
caragh-poh  money  finances  salary 
16 hours ago
“(like it says in the thing, this is an in-progress piece of something much longer/bigger I'm working on and a lot of these ideas are still me spitballing/working through stuff, so if it feels incomplete, well, that's the fun of a newsletter I guess)”
“(like it says in the thing, this is an in-progress piece of something much longer/bigger I'm working on and a lot of these ideas are still me spitballing/working through stuff, so if it feels incomplete, well, that's the fun of a newsletter I guess)”
helena-fitzgerald  in-progress  newsletter  drafts 
22 hours ago
“Meritocracy -- granting access to valuable resources on the basis of impartial tests of competence like the SATs -- is not egalitarian, because financial resources can be put towards getting better at any skill. The rich will tend to do better than the
“Meritocracy -- granting access to valuable resources on the basis of impartial tests of competence like the SATs -- is not egalitarian, because financial resources can be put towards getting better at any skill. The rich will tend to do better than the poor by default.”
sarah-constantin  sat  testing  college-admissions 
yesterday
The Hidden Variable in Opportunity Cost
> This changes how impact is calculated, and how you should think about opportunity cost. If you aren’t considering pace, you will be misled into thinking that time isn’t relative, which is an expensive miscalculation (sort of like in Interstellar, when they get stuck on the water planet and 1 hour = 7 years).

​> What used to take days, now took months. What used to take a conversation, now took six meetings.

> I had no choice but to quit, as every additional day was actually costing me months (relative to working on the outside).
alex-cornell  opportunity-cost  jobs  efficiency  impact  scale 
yesterday
Death by a thousand qualifiers
> How does anyone write anything for online, where you have to assume everyone is going to read everything you write in bad faith? I am so tired of wrapping every sentence in qualifiers and building the context for every statement. This could be 100 words, yet I am at 1500.
can-duruk  writing  qualifications 
yesterday
#81: 4:33 ‘til Infinity
> headphones reposition us each within our own unique reality.
drew-austin  silence  headphones  urban  cities  nyc 
3 days ago
Give Me What You Want — Real Life
> Companies don’t sell objects so much as they sell an idealized lifestyle, an opportunity for consumers to improve themselves by participating in the belief system that a brand evokes.

> might be understood as the Spotification of retail: Consumers pay by the month to receive a stream of algorithmically chosen goods.

> a commercial logic that prioritizes access over ownership, breadth over depth of consumption, and instant ease of use over more deliberate exploration as a prerequisite for enjoyment.

> One of the defining tenets of Spotification is what digital anthropologist Lane DeNicola calls a “shift from commodity ownership to commodified experience.” Paid subscribers to Spotify are not buying a bounded physical or digital item, writes DeNicola, but rather “a predetermined amount of time during which they have access to the entirety of the vast online library of music.” These subscribers are also buying limited-time, on-demand access to black-boxed algorithmic curation systems, which allows platform logic to take precedence over record companies’ conventional A&R concerns in the formation of taste and culture. Engagement with the wider platform and its algorithms replaces engagement with particular artists or songs as consumers seek to further develop their tastes, the better versions of themselves.

> and the promise of perpetual discovery.

> Stressed human beings, seeking more free and “personal” time, become the upper management for their own fleet of contractors; in Hochschild’s words, “the most intuitive and emotional of human acts … become work for hire.” This triggers a slippery-slope effect. “To finance these extra services, we work longer hours,” Hochschild explained in an op-ed for the New York Times. “This leaves less time to spend with family, friends and neighbors; we become less likely to call on them for help, and they on us. And, the more we rely on the market, the more hooked we become on its promises.”

> Yet this newfound flexibility ultimately becomes infiltrated by further anxiety over the vast opportunities that remain to become even “better,” in the pursuit of peak performance.
cherie-hu  spotify  subscriptions  consumerism  style  taste 
5 days ago
Why We Like Distractions
> We procrastinate to protect ourselves.​

> Distractions allow us to delay the moment of truth where we need to show who we really are, what we can really do, where we need to expose ourselves, prove ourselves, and ultimately face the mirror of reality.
procrastination  ia  distraction  writing 
6 days ago
What’s Next for Coda?
> when you build an amazing product that helps people be happier doing their jobs every day, you’ll find the customers you need to keep it going.

​> But that’s OK, because crushing anything has never really been a goal. Instead, we’re working hard to give you something really amazing. Something you’ll use every day. Something worth switching to.
panic  coda  editor  ide  mac 
6 days ago
The simplicity of dropping Google in 2018
> Switching off of Google in 2018 is easy because you’ve probably abandoned most of their products anyway, and the ones you’re still using are stagnating.
tom-macwright  google  fastmail  email 
6 days ago
Website Subscriptions Are Not Dead
> We should likely stop talking about RSS. We need to simply start calling RSS “Subscribing”.
nick-heer  rss  subscriptions 
6 days ago
Thirty
> I’d rather spend my time with my family or doing things outside or learning new things than making software every waking moment.

> Now when I work on things on the side, it’s because I want to.
sam-soffes  birthday  30 
6 days ago
Try the Opposite
“Our habits tend to fall into local maxima. We choose well compared to similar alternatives, but ignore options that are totally different yet possibly better. Machine learning algorithms avoid local maxima by occasionally testing random permutations, with techniques like simulated annealing.”
allen-pike  habits  opposite  local-maxima 
7 days ago
“i have been one of those that sent the email more often than I should have, and it took me way too long to realize those outcomes arent great either not sending it can, at least, prevent/postpone the cognitive weight of working through whatever gets st
“They had to develop cultures of safety. That often means specific social safeguards.

Those ‘ossified corporate structures’ that Silicon Valley hates so much because they ‘keep you from moving fast’? Yeah, a lot of them exist to keep top brass from doing hideously stupid things.”
james-dennis  friendship  communication  email 
7 days ago
I Don’t Have the Bandwidth
> BAD METAPHORS is an ongoing series that takes a critical look at the figures of speech that shuttle between technology and everyday life.

> In the gentle shrugging off of blame, “bandwidth” as metaphor becomes a useful distortion, since there is no regulatory body assigning us an emotional frequency spectrum.

> When we discuss feelings and relationships in terms of “bandwidth” we are treating them like megabits of information.
sophie-haigney  friendship  burnout 
8 days ago
Ecological Imagination
> That is why we need to stop discussing “the environment” and “nature” as if it was outside the world inhabited by humanity.

​> If we are animals, evolving within the complex dynamic of our ecosystem, then our fate is about how well we function within that ecosystem, not about escaping to other planets after trashing this one.

​> Today the global industrial economy is destroying ecosystems, leveling mountains, and spewing hydrocarbons and toxic chemicals into the air and water, and it is not doing all these things to magnanimously create “jobs” or to improve the lives of humans in general. It is doing these things to make profit for financial investors. This is not about civilizational “progress”, it is about justifying continuing inequality and ecocide.
climate-change  society  ecology 
9 days ago
Fundamental Truths
> Those steps climb upward to some unknown but presumed better end

​> When you strip everything away what are those few things that remain true throughout every incremental technological advancement. It’s no longer a staircase on a timeline, but a single immutable point.

​> Truths that are inherently long term, inherently valuable—and the foundation for meaningful innovation.
rebekah-cox 
9 days ago
obligation
> dragging last night’s hair and last night’s outfit past fresh-faced soccer moms already awake to face the day.

> It’s true that obligation in love is unavoidable, but it’s also one of the best gifts romantic love offers; our selves who turn toward obligation are generally our best selves, willing to do what is difficult over what is available, willing to pull up out of our habits and into our better potential. The obligation of romance has the capacity to teach us to do this in a larger sense. It acts act as a lesson in accountability. At least I know that it has for me.
helena-fitzgerald  valentines-day 
9 days ago
Why Mailbox died
> For me, the genius of Mailbox was twofold. First, using it simply felt faster than any email app I ever used. It pre-fetched messages in the background; whenever you opened it you could start dealing with the daily horror of your inbox right away. Second, using it was satisfying in a way no other email client was: every time I swiped my fat thumb on a message, banishing it to the archive, the email turned a lustrous green. Mailbox was good for dashing off quick replies, but it was best-in-class for cleaning house. Every time I found myself standing in a line, I’d open up Mailbox and positively murder my inbox. Mailbox turned you into an email assassin.
casey-newton  email  dropbox  mailbox  acquisition 
10 days ago
Reflecting on My Failure to Build a Billion-Dollar Company
> But I was accountable to our creators, our employees, and our investors–in that order.

> That’s what I told every new hire and every investor. I didn’t want to become a serial entrepreneur, and risk disappointing another customer base.

> and this was the first time in my life when the present year felt worse than the last.

> There was a path to an independent business, not beholden to the go-big-or-go-home mentality I signed up for when I raised money.

> So instead of pretending to be some sort of product visionary, trying to build a billion-dollar company, I’m just focused on making Gumroad better and better for our existing creators. Because they are the ones that have kept us alive.

> Instead of freaking out about how ‘small’ Gumroad actually is (like I thought they would), our creators have grown more loyal. It feels like we’re all in this together, trying to do earn a living doing what we love.
sahil-lavingia  gumroad 
10 days ago
Layers
> And yet for all that power, the basis of these world shaping ideas is really very small and fundamental; layers seated directly on top of fundamental truths: life and death, attention as identity, and the arrow of time. What’s striking to me is the magnitude of impact created through these different layers because of their proximity to something very fundamental. There is little to no opportunity depth, there is only vast potential upward.

> The future will be catalyzed by those exposing fundamental truths and created by those who are willing to thoroughly understand and leverage the power of those truths directly. But those truths will be far easier to find when you are looking for the layers obscuring them from view.
rebekah-cox  technology 
11 days ago
New Feelings: Screen Protectiveness
> Using my phone and computer might feel like nothing more than the static of passing time, but all the micro-decisions I make as I search and swipe and scroll are secretly valuable commodities. Every time I touch a device, I leave a trail of digital DNA that can be used to reverse-engineer some version of me that is used to sell me things.

> There is a context for each of these. But there is no one explanatory key to unlock the cryptic, boring mess of the whole. For everything that lives on my computer and phone, the only common denominator, really, is me.

> Something I’ve noticed in my Instagram feed lately: the influencers seem exhausted.

> It’s not like leveraging authenticity is a new thing, but what strikes me about this version of the trend is how much explanation the smallest acts of self-conscious unraveling involve. The caption-to-photo ratio is off the charts. It takes a whole essay to comfortably give up some of the rough work it takes to be a person.

> The kinds of digital particulates and residues that turn up in our devices aren’t the things we might normally stake our identities on, but the fact of their being recorded imbues them with new meaning.

> I read the minor riot of imperfections in my Instagram feed as a heartfelt backlash against the toll it takes to both produce and consume mediated lives.

> More cynically, I might call it a race to vulnerability in the new competitive landscape of monetized self-exposure. Either way, I get where the impulse comes from — I indulged it only a few paragraphs ago. It’s not like I’m really showing you all the curiously boring stuff that’s in my phone; I’m only telling you about it. And I’m making sure you know that I know how boring it is, before you reach your own judgments.

> Despite my better knowledge, my devices still feel like private spaces.
suzannah-showler  devices  vulnerability  social  data  privacy 
11 days ago
I’ve moved from New Zealand to Oxford England
> I usually get where I’m going by leaving where I've been.

> It wasn’t simple sadness that made me cry, but overflowing appreciation
derek-sivers  england  new-zealand  moving 
11 days ago
I May Be Quiet But I Have Plenty To Say
> I was — and still am — that girl.

> I am the girl who can’t stand in line for coffee without repeating my order to myself in my head, over and over, until I’m finally at the cash register. I am the girl who sometimes takes too long to respond to texts, DMs and emails because I am drafting out a decent reply. I am the girl who teachers consistently push to “participate more” because I don’t raise my hand enough in class. I am the girl who struggles in conversations with people I haven’t met before — and even those I have.

> I may be the quiet girl, but I have plenty to say. Just let me gather my thoughts first.
jillian-meehan  introversion  writing 
11 days ago
Goodbye, Google
> When a company is filled with engineers, it turns to engineering to solve problems. Reduce each decision to a simple logic problem. Remove all subjectivity and just look at the data. Data in your favor? Ok, launch it. Data shows negative effects? Back to the drawing board. And that data eventually becomes a crutch for every decision, paralyzing the company and preventing it from making any daring design decisions.

> But I won’t miss a design philosophy that lives or dies strictly by the sword of data.
douglas-bowman  design  data  analytics  google  departure 
11 days ago
Stating the Obvious
> That’s the sort of stuff I often write about, too. I’m not writing groundbreaking stuff, but I am trying to make some connections I (and you) might not have otherwise made. It might sound obvious when you read it, but my hope is by writing it down, by giving it a name, whatever obvious thing I write about becomes just a little bit more tangible.
jason-brennan  named-concepts 
12 days ago
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