Chris Dancy www.twitter.com/servicesphere
Klint Finley www.twitter.com/klintron
Alex William http://techcrunch.com/author/alex-williams/
*****TOP STORIES & SHOW NOTES*****
Google stole Microsoft’s smart contact lens http://www.wired.com/business/2014/01/google-lens-microsoft/
Issac Asimov’s Robbie http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robbie_(short_story)
The Last Question http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Last_Question
-equivalent of the twitter endless scroll
-Douglas Rushkoff http://www.rushkoff.com/present-shock/
Ray Bradbury The Veldt http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Veldt_(short_story)
Automation for Entitlement
Equanimity with you and your tech; with you and your evolving behavior
Technology made us more aware, harder to focus?
Mindfulness became necessity for Chris because of being overwhelmed by information
Alex to CIO of Safeway: would love to have all your prices in your store constantly
CIO of Safeway: nah
Human API http://humanapi.co/
-Usurped the app store
-All these connected apps using Moves data
“2014 is the year people are going to become aware, wake up, and demand a relationship to their information” -Chris
Tomorrow’s Future Today http://tomorrowsfuturetoday.com/
-People should get paid
-Community picks speakers
Alex’s story on Docker http://techcrunch.com/2014/01/21/docker-raises-15m-for-popular-open-source-platform-designed-for-developers-to-build-apps-in-the-cloud/
CIO of Intel Kim Stevenson https://twitter.com/Kimsstevenson
-Team of people making her social happen
Quality and Attentionalism
Weird Twitter - phrase of the week http://www.buzzfeed.com/jwherrman/weird-twitter-the-oral-history
Dandruff in the 70s
Dentist on her wall has posters for botox
*****WORD OF THE WEEK*****
Weird Twitter: Maybe best summed up by an example
@fart: i saw an ad on craigslist once that said “free firewood, u collect it” so i wrote the guy and said “bud you just wrote an ad for the woods”
@dry_hugs: *whips empty tallboy at fence* fuck man, i dunno. i just wish... (*long drag of cigarette*) ...i just wish i could interact with more brands
*****TWEET OF THE WEEK*****
Rob Horning @marginalutility: core logic of consumerism is that all praise must simultaneously invoke insecurity
SXSW - March 7-16, 2014 Austin, TX http://sxsw.com/
Theorizing the Web - April 25-26, 2014; Brooklyn, NY http://theorizingtheweb.tumblr.com
Buddhist Geeks - Contemplative Tech Conference, April 11-13, 2014 San Francisco http://www.buddhistgeeks.com/conference/
Cyborg Camp - MIT Media Lab - August 2014 - Boston, MA
*****THANK YOU / FIND US*****
AARON JASINSKI: Artist work for the mindful cyborgs http://www.aaronjasinski.com/
ROSS NELSON: Brown Hound Media for mixing http://brownhoundmedia.com/
GOOGLE PLUS: http://plus.google.com/u/0/communities/1…97482352220770025
STICHER RADIO: http://www.stitcher.com/podcast/chris-dancy/mindful-cyborgs?refid=stpr
Mindful Cyborgs, contemplative living in the age of quantification, augmentation and acceleration, with your hosts Chris Dancy and Klint Finley.
CD: Welcome to Mindful Cyborgs, episode number 24. Hello, Klint. Hello, Alex.
KF: Hey, guys.
AW: So good to hear you guys’ voice again.
CD: I know. It seems like it’s been at least a week. Hey, we talked a little bit about the movie Her last week and in that same vein, another movie that’s kind of getting some buzz with the transhumanist crowds, which – I think transhumanists are basically Buddhist Geeks or Mindful Cyborgs. Have you guys seen the trailer for the Johnny Depp movie Transcendence?
AW: I haven’t, no.
KF: No, no.
CD: So basically, somebody thought it was a good idea to make a movie like Ray Kurzweil. Basically, Johnny Depp plays this – I don’t want to say mad scientist; that’s unfair to scientists and actual mad people. Who basically finds out he’s dying and then they upload him, then of course like any other kind of crazy sci-fi movie, he becomes too powerful and that sort of thing. But there just seems to be a lot of movies this year about some sort of freakish AI killing off humanity or making love to it. I just was wondering if you had any thoughts on what is this shift in movies that are really hardcore future of tech – not really future of human relations.
AW: Well, it’s perfect for Hollywood. I mean, love and death, that’s what – love and death and a struggle, some heroes thrown in; that’s Transcendence, right? That’s what the world is coming to. But I guess it comes down to – I guess we’ll have to see what the next film’s like, where they’re looking at the multiple identities of love and the multiple ways that transcendence can be changed over – you know, online.
CD: Alex, since our last recording, have you had a chance to check out Her yet?
AW: No, I haven’t.
AW: It just seems like these weeks just fly by so I’ll have to go check it out.
CD: We are in present shock. Klint, you sent me a great article about Google and the Microsoft Lens. I think your friend Cade wrote that?
CD: I’ve had a lot of people reach out to me about this, going, “Y’all look! They’re going to take over our eyeballs and they bought our nest thermostats!” I don’t know. What did you think about this whole Google contact lens from a couple weeks ago?
KF: I think a nest is a little bit more worrying because it’s more people are going to be – well, not necessarily worrying but more people are going to be using that so Google’s going to get a lot more data from something like that than they are from the diabetes monitoring contact lenses. But to go actually back to what you were talking about, about the fear that AI’s – this ties into it as well; just getting technology so much closer to the body, going to the surface of our eyes. We’re just becoming more and more intimate with our machines all the time and I think that’s where that fear of AI’s and that – that’s where those plots are coming from.
On the other hand, a lot of this stuff has been – a lot of these ideas have been around for a long time. I’ve just been reading some of Isaac Asimov’s old stories. I just read his first robot story, Robbie, and it’s all about a parent being afraid that her daughter is spending too much time with a robot companion, which you could totally transfer that to modern days; worried that my kid is spending too much time with her cell phone.
CD: Or on her Xbox, yeah. Insert Gadget X.
KF: Yeah. He also wrote a story – so Robbie was his first robot story. I think it was 1939. He also wrote a story in, I think, 1956 called The Last Question that was essentially a story about the singularity; about the hive mind, artificial intelligence thing that just lives in the – an alternative dimension of the galaxy after humans have become extinct, after humans have become immortal and then left their bodies and essentially just become some sort of thing. This is long before the word ‘singularity’ was on anyone’s lips. These fears and ideas and dreams have been with us for a long time.
CD: Well, I mean, you could go back even further. There are Buddhist principles about connected enlightenments. I mean, you can go back before Asimov. Technology’s technology. I think last week, we talked about distributed anonymous corporations so maybe this is distributed anonymous humanity next or whatever would be appropriate for that.
Something I wanted to talk to you guys about; you both have read or are familiar with present shock? I think, Klint, we basically started this show basically on the idea of the collapse of narrative. I experimented recently with an e-cigarette because I’m an ex-smoker and I just thought, “What is this? Is it healthy?” I didn’t want to read anything, I just wanted to buy it. It kind of blew my mind because as a smoker, I used cigarettes as units of time, right? That’s a break; one cigarette’s a break or enough time to get away from a few people and come back. But with an e-cigarette, there’s no time in it. You take it out of a box, you inhale the vapor and put it back in the box or set it down because it doesn’t burn anything. So I actually called their help desk and said to them, “How do I know how much to smoke?” because it doesn’t finish or there’s no end to the e-cigarette.
I just kept thinking about Rushkoff’s book the whole time; that all of these things – in the end of his book, he talks about firewood is just hundreds of years’ worth of sunlight stored up in a piece of wood that you then light and it goes very quickly, and how compressing time happens. Have you guys spent much time thinking about all these systems that are compressing time or making time just vanish in some way?
AW: Well, yeah, time is vanishing.
KF: It sounds like the e-cigarette then is like the equivalent of the Twitter infinite scroll. You don’t just read a screen or two of it, it just keeps going forever until the battery on your laptop runs out or something, or the battery on the e-cigarette runs out.
CD: Yeah, that’s the other thing. I don’t know about you guys but sometimes the battery indicator is almost like – I look at my battery indicator as how much more information can I get? Not even the amount of information but how much more time do I have? Batteries and that sort of information are kind of weird.
AW: I was thinking about what Klint was saying, thinking about Isaac Asimov, and it reminded actually me of a story by Ray Bradbury called The Veldt. I was just thinking about it in terms of what you’re saying, Chris; there’s this issue of – have we thought about time and time vanishing. In this – in The Veldt, this family lives in this automated house and it’s filled with all these machines that do everything for them; it cooks their meals, it clothes them, it rocks them to sleep. But the children are getting a little bit affected by this and they’re starting to play quite a bit in their virtual reality room.
Now, this is back in 1950 when he wrote this. What it’s able to do is connect with the children telepathically so they can play in this imaginary world but the imaginary world actually comes to life. It starts affecting the people – it’s affecting the parents in the house. But also, a big premise of this book is how the automation creates this change in behavior where actually anxiety is increasing, there’s less – people are not feeling that well. It’s because they are living in this automated house and it’s kind of driving them nuts. Because they now – because all that time they used to spend doing all those other things is now being done by the automated house.
CD: I was at a conference in Palm Springs with The Clinton Foundation. I had a question from the audience about all the automation I use in my life and the question, to your point, was slightly even darker. The guy said, “Don’t you feel slightly entitled?” I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “You have all these things just helping you and informing you and making your life easier. Don’t you feel entitled?” Like, wow, never really thought about it that way. Automation for entitlement; a whole other Mindful Cyborg mindbender.
KF: One of the critiques of Silicon Valley culture is all these people solving problems that 20-year old geeks have. Somebody described San Francisco as becoming an assisted living system for the young.
AW: Yeah but it’s interesting if you think about – I mean, I actually may remind you of this incident last night and how these devices can change time in an instant and change it for a lot of people. We were driving back to our house and we were coming down Alberta. I was driving pretty slowly because it’s a busy night and people just end up walking into the street without looking, right? So my wife’s like, “You’re going too slow.” I’m like, “I’m sure someone’s going to walk out in the street.”
So we get to this intersection of Alberta and MLK and sure enough, this guy walks into the crosswalk without looking. He’s looking at his phone. A car slams on its brakes and behind it, another car hits it in the rear. The guy on his phone just doesn’t even realize what’s happened and he keeps walking away. The two cars pull up and inspect the damage that was done and the guy walking away, I don’t think he even realized what had happened. These two other people now were totally impacted by this guy’s immersion into this device where he’s living in this almost kind of time, this other medium.
So I think it gets to the fact that yeah, okay, there’s a sense of privilege about automation and there’s a sense of privilege about using these devices but that doesn’t mean that only a few people are affected who have those devices. It can have an impact on time in multiple, multiple ways.
CD: I’d like to take a mindfulness slant on this concept of device immersion for a moment. As you guys may or may not know, the February 3rd issue of Time magazine has a cover, “The Mindfulness Revolution”.
KF: Oh, wow.
CD: It’s interesting, yeah. They just showed the cover; lovely lady on the front meditating or something. But I figure if Time’s putting mindfulness on the cover then obviously, when we started Mindful Cyborgs, we were – we all could feel something somewhere but for me, and I have to personalize this, when I am immersed in my devices, there’s a gentle awareness, “Oh, yes, I’m there and that’s what I’m doing” but then there’s a kindness to – “I don’t really need to overthink this” and to so many points that we’ve talked about on the show over the past year, oftentimes if I’m not on my phone or I’m not staring at a screen of some sort, I am thinking about those systems, kind of like the movie Her. When I realized, “Oh, look, I’m thinking about that,” I have to be really, really patient with myself because immediately, I think there’s something wrong with me, I can’t function in the real world like everyone else.
I think part of the show’s premise, the present shock and the other things that Klint and I talked about originally, was this ideology that – is there a way to have some equanimity with you and information and technology, but more importantly you and your evolving awareness of your behavior? Because I do believe that in many ways, this immersion in technology is making people aware of their behavior whereas many they were more on autopilot before and it’s not as unaware as it seems. Do you have any thoughts on that?
AW: Well, I think it comes back to what are – okay, so analyze this; what are we aware and what are we unaware of? I think it comes back to this concept of being ephemeral and trying to understand why, for instance, we need to record everything that ever happens, for instance inside of a company, and store it in some way. Yammer, for instance, is entirely archived and other technologies like it do that as well but the fact is, we actually have conversations, we only remember certain aspects of them and so – we remember the high points of the conversation or just something that strikes us individually as something of note. So I don’t know if it’s just the fact that we’re aware or unaware; it’s just that we’re – that things are – that there’s triggers that lead us to being more mindful of certain things in our life and it’s not just that – it’s not just everything that we have to be cognizant of.
KF: I guess to go back to the original question, mindfulness has been a hard problem for hundreds, thousands of years. Buddhism emerged, what, 2,000-some years ago. It was a hard problem then, apparently, and they didn’t even have digital clocks or television or cars or anything. So it’s definitely hard, no matter – whether you have the Internet or anything else. I can’t say, though, that – I don’t want to pathologize other people, as Nathan Jurgenson says; I can only talk about myself.
CD: Correct, correct.
KF: I think I’ve always had a little bit of an attention problem myself. My mind wanders a lot, daydream a lot, but I can’t say that technology has made me more aware, more – anyway, I just don’t think that it’s made it harder for me to focus.
AW: But your mind wandering is a form of awareness.
KF: Yeah, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing but I mean, that’s been – my mind wandering isn’t – I’m not necessarily aware of what’s going on in my immediate surroundings when my mind is wandering, is what I’m getting at.
AW: But you remember certain things. But you remember – there’s some things like you’ll go – if you think back through your day, you’ll remember – there are certain things you’ll remember and other things you just won’t recollect at all.
CD: So why do you guys think that Time feels this is cover worthy? Why do you think in 2014 we’re having a mindfulness revolution?
AW: It’s so funny because I was sitting in – I was in this think tank this week at – that Dell does. They call it a think tank and it was all about apps and application culture. There was a CIO from Stanford there and it was his last statement that he made. He’s like, “We all just have to remember to be mindful of who we are.” That’s something that he felt was summarizing the discussion. I keep hearing it come up over and over again. Just seems to have kind of risen as an issue in our consciousness. My wife was saying maybe it’ll – she was saying to me about being more mindful and about certain things. I don’t – why do things surface like that, I guess is the question. What is it about topics like that that suddenly become much more relevant to people, to the point where it reaches Time magazine’s cover?
CD: I mean, for me, I tell Klint this when we originally interviewed together. To me, it became a necessity because I felt overwhelmed by information and I just needed to understand awareness. I just needed to understand, “Okay, that’s just information. I don’t have to really look at it or do anything with it. I can just sit here.” But I think it says a lot. I’ve talked to a lot of people about what happened at Christmas this year in the United States. We had Christmas and New Year’s fell on a Wednesday and that’s happened – obviously it happened seven years ago. It’s happened throughout the past but I’ve never seen America shut down for two full weeks.
AW: It was nice.
CD: I’ve never seen everyone stop.
KF: It was really frustrating for those of us who didn’t stop because it was impossible to get anyone on the phone those two weeks.
AW: Yeah, I was working myself. It was slower, though. It was slower.
KF: Yeah. It was like squeezing water from a stone for me because I really didn’t want to be working. There was no news, there was no way to get comments from companies so it was just having to come up with stories and work and get them out and published with no motivation on my part and no external support, I guess, in terms of news or comment. It was brutal.
AW: It’ll be easier next year, maybe.
CD: I think officially, America’s entered the two-week holiday – I don’t think it’d ever go back. I think America’s forever – from this year on, off for two weeks.
AW: I hope so. I mean, time off is nice.
CD: I mean, do you guys remember this last year? It was sort of but not like this year.
AW: It’s the only time of year that I notice, especially over the past five years of my life, how much everything does just kind of really slow down.
CD: Yeah but this year, people just stopped, even people who didn’t take the two weeks off for Christmas. People who were supposed to be working weren’t around. I don’t know. I think there’s something there. I’d love to see some hard data from one of these social companies on activity this year versus the last five years over that same two-week period. Something was different this year.
AW: So there’s something I want to bring up. Actually, Chris, I was thinking about our conversations when I was talking to this person who is the CIO at Safeway. He was at this think tank and I said to him, “You know, I wanted to ask you a question. I wanted to ask you a question.” I said, “What I would really be able to love – to have is just all the prices of all the products in your store on an ongoing basis so I can constantly see what your – how things are being priced.” He said, “Are you crazy?!” He’s like, “We’re not going to give you that information!” It was just such an interesting reaction because he was saying “This is our information. We’re not going to share it with you. We’re keeping this to ourselves.”
CD: Well, it was Safeway that got me on that kick. I went to them and said, “Give me my year’s worth of purchases” and I finally – the only thing I could get out of them was printed receipts they sent me in the mail. I was like, “Send me a spreadsheet or something.” No. If you want to solve America’s obesity problem, let people see what they’re buying at the grocery store, when.
AW: Are there new services emerging, I want to ask both of you - Klint, you probably might know about this - that are saying – because the whole question of storage came up; how it’s just a mind bending problem for a lot of companies because they just have no idea how they’re going to keep managing it. Are there services out there that are saying, “Okay, just give us all your – give us all that garbage data that you have and we’ll dispose of it for you” or “We’ll take that data off your hands so you don’t need it – so you don’t have to waste lots of systems for it”? Are you guys seeing any services like that; that are providing that kind of service? They’re kind of like garbage haulers for data.
CD: I mean, I know personal services like that; Human API and Moves are the two that come to mind. It reminds me of something Klint talked about last week with these people writing systems on top of systems. Both of those systems will take all your garbage – I don’t think it’s garbage but all your personal information and they don’t do anything with it for you but they give it over to developers who then can develop applications on it.
To me, the most astounding thing is that no one’s talking about what Moves is doing. Moves has usurped the App Store in a really strange way. You go into the Moves app; there’s all your activity for the day, how fast you walked and biked or ran and where you went to. Then you click on the Other and then you go in there and it says ‘Connect Apps’ and then there’s all these connected apps. I’m like – obviously it then takes you out of the App Store but they’ve got all of them in their system. All those apps are people using Moves data to create other applications. Human API does the same thing with all of your health applications, including 23 And Me. You don’t get anything but then developers write stuff on it, you can buy their software.
So I kind of coined this crazy time ‘humanity as a platform’. Corporate-wise, Alex, I don’t know if someone’s doing anything.
AW: It just seems like there’s – I mean, I’m not thinking market need or anything; I’m just curious because it seems like there’s – obviously there’s just a lot of data that companies will never, ever actually use because they’ve already – it’s almost like the leftovers. It’s like you cook all your food in your kitchen and they might come in packaging but you don’t need that packaging anymore. You’re not going to store that packaging so you put it in the garbage or you put those vegetable peels in the compost. It seems like data’s becoming the equivalent of all these things in our lives. Seems like there’s going to have to be ways we can think of it differently instead of just throwing it away all the time.
CD: To me, I’ve been saying for a year now, 2014’s going to be the year that people are going to become aware and wake up and demand a relationship with their information. I don’t know what it’s going to take, I don’t know what the trigger’s going to be but people are going to be like, “That’s mine.”
KF: Yeah, it’s going to have to happen at some point when people – I mean, one of the things I keep coming back to if aside from the privacy concern, is just if somebody’s making money off your data, you should be getting a cut of it beyond just use of a service. Facebook is using your data to do stuff. Why are we not all shareholders in Facebook? The usual answer is, “Well, you get to use Facebook to upload your photos and tag things and annoy your friends,” but why are we not actually literally getting paid to us Facebook if they’re deriving value from us?
CD: It’s funny, this whole idea of capitalism and information. One of the things - I’m not really doing a plug although it’s going to sound like one - a year or so almost was I started a conference called [unclear 24:38] Today. One of the things that was important to me was (a) we didn’t pick speakers; people’s networks picked speakers, but the other thing was people should get paid. I wanted to make sure every single person got paid and I just – because of the same thing. You go to conferences and a lot of speakers are unpaid but it goes back to this idea of this really strange hinterland we’re in right now between knowledge work information and data, and who’s getting paid and who’s not. I can’t – is it app.net that’s kind of the Twitter clone? It makes you wonder if app.net paid you some small transaction fee to use their service if people wouldn’t just flock to it.
KF: It’s the model of the distributed autonomous corporation, in a way. Essentially, by using it, you’re getting – you’re being paid in some way. Unfortunately, if you’re just running it on your phone or on your laptop, you’re probably – Bitcoin, for example. You’re probably never actually going to earn any Bitcoin just running the app on your laptop. You have to have a super computer to mine Bitcoin. Essentially, anybody – all the users, though, are in some sense co-owners of it because – and once you do have some Bitcoin then you are a shareholder in Bitcoin.
CD: But it makes me wonder, Klint, going back to our Upstart from last week, why couldn’t I go into Upstart and say, “Hey, I want $30,000 to buy servers or processing space through Amazon and I’m going to use distributed autonomous computing and y’all will get a bit of that.” It just becomes this kind of side industry.
KF: It could happen.
CD: Freakish, yeah. Any other news stories you guys found in the last week? Any Tweets you saw? We usually do Tweets of the Week. Any interesting Tweets?
AW: Well, I was just going to say I worked on a story this week and it just continues to be of interest to me. It’s this whole story about Docker. To me, for the larger context, we talked about Docker provides this container, essentially, that developers can use to push data into, for instance, a Cloud service and it automatically syncs. So instead of – as opposed to something like VM where the virtual machine is below the OS, Docker sits on top of it and so then it can be – it’s very lightweight, distributes very, very fast. I think that’s going to be one of the big things of 2014 for developers.
But what’s striking to me is how much it illustrates how fast things are moving now and how much of a demand there is for things to be – to move even faster and faster and faster and to be so much more immediate than ever before. It reminds me of a lot of the conversations that we have about the Mindful Cyborg. How fast is it getting? How fast is fast anymore? How quickly are we trying to update things and to the point – is there any instance where we’ve reached that limit? I don’t know. I think Docker for me raises a lot of questions about those kinds of things. I’m curious on you guys’ perspective.
CD: For me, I don’t know. The whole idea of speed and can things get faster; I mean, I’ve given up on trying to figure out how fast they’re going to end up going because at the current rate of evolution and technological change, I see people coming slightly unglued. I’m sure they will go faster. I’m working on – sometimes I feel like a fireman, running into a digital burning building and telling people, “Come on, come on, come on, come on! Get out!” Docker and all those services like that are just going to be able to enable more of that.
I’m just going to hasten back to that – sorry to keep going back to this awareness thing but back to a deeper relationship with what’s important to you and how kind can you be to yourself. Because things will get faster but you have a choice on whether you allow you to take that and make that something that you hold onto and that you feel like you need to keep up with or it’s something that you just have a relationship with; this Buddhist thing where you put a cup of water and put a bunch of salt in it, ask the student to drink it. When they drink, they say, “This tastes terrible!” You go to a lake, pour that glass into the lake and then take another glass. It’s just how much. You really just have to be mindful of that kind of concept.
Sorry to go on a side rant there. Klint, speeding systems, speeding up?
KF: I ended up with two completely different angles on it. One is a big part of that is just things getting easier. Docker doesn’t just speed up this – bringing these things online, it makes it easier to do. Something like Ruby on Rails has done the same sort of thing; it makes it much quicker to create an application, a Web application, and thus far, that hasn’t – I mean, to come back to our things about automation and displacement of people, that hasn’t put anybody out of work yet because it just has more applications to build constantly. There’s this demand for more and more stuff so there’s no – it’s been very easy for them – the demand for development has just been increasing so much that the tools that make it easier haven’t started to put developers out of work yet.
But I do still wonder – I mean, a lot of people think that that’s one of the things that is going to be a safe job in the future, is software development, but I do wonder at what point does it become so easy to build apps and at what point is so much of our – of the app infrastructure already built?
CD: May 2017. I’ll just call it.
AW: Well, actually, I was speaking to Jolie O’Dell who writes for VentureBeat about this and she believes, and I’m thinking there’s something to think about; that the collapse of this app culture that’s driving all this venture funding in the Valley will come as we reach – as we get closer to this point where there is such a – where the numbers of people who can actually develop skills is such a point that the number of people who actually can develop, actually with skill and expertise, is still very – there’s still very few.
CD: There’s still very few and Alexander Barr would say, Alex – I know you weren’t with us on that show. He would say that once you commoditize coding skills to that point, really the people are going to stand out. We really start to see attentionalism rear its ugly head, right? So then you’re dealing with people who are artistically design gifted, people who are meta-message and communicationally gifted and just the people who get by on day-to-day stuff.
I mean, look at how many – sometimes I struggle with topics on this show but I had one of the – the CIO of Intel, or one of them, her name’s Kim Stevenson, on one of my shows a couple years ago. She has an entire team of people trying to get her out there and get her recognized as all the innovative stuff that Intel’s doing around their own internal infrastructure. My take away from that was, “You’re the CIO of Intel. I don’t think you really need this massive social profile.” But that’s not true. Now, I’m not saying that just – a team of people that are making that happen.
So you have to wonder, should coders – they’ve got Get Hub and things like that but at what point do people just need to say, “Part of my full-time job is making sure I have a full-time job and people know that I have a full-time job”? But the whole thing seems slightly scarily skewed. The people who come to me and ask about – and they don’t call it attentionalism but just about presence and does presence play a role in success? I don’t have any safe answers for anyone anymore.
AW: I think the point here too is that – I think as well as that, there is a point where actually quality does go down. The innovation – we’ve seen such innovation over the past several years but if everyone can code then is there a tendency then to hire people who are beginning coders and don’t code very well? Then the quality goes down and then they make less money and then this venture funded world starts to implode a little bit.
KF: Yeah. Well, I was going to say about quality and attentionalism is that part of – I mean, part of it is if you’re doing good work, people are going to pay attention, unless you’re just really actively hiding from people. In a lot of ways, what – I mean, I think the best thing to do is to not necessarily be out there just trying to beat your own drum all the time; it’s just to put – do good work and put it out there where people can see it. If it’s – so there’s a certain amount of skill of just knowing where the right place to do that is.
CD: And right time.
KF: Yeah. I mean, if you’re a programmer right now, that means Get Hub. If you’re a tech journalist, it means probably trying to get your stories on Hacker News or something, where people are going to see them. It ends up just – just thinking about my wife, the crafter. A few years ago, everyone was on eBay and now everyone’s on Etsy. It’s just knowing where the market is and then – but it still comes down to having a quality product people want or being a good writer, being a good programmer.
CD: Being good.
KF: Yeah. There’s just only so far branding is ever going to – advertising is ever going to take you.
CD: Yeah, and I think all the people I know that have done really well with attentionalism – and I’ve got a very skewed view of this because I don’t have that many, because I’ve only got so much attention. But they’ve all done really good work. I mean, just really, really quality stuff. Klint, I go back to what you were saying. Look at some of the stuff people produce. They fall in two categories; people who are not producing anything, who are just reshowing what we all know, going back to our Google conversation and stuff, and then there’s the people who – I think there was a reason – what did they call that – Strange Twitter? What was it called last year?
KF: Weird Twitter, yeah.
CD: Weird Twitter. I think there was a reason Weird Twitter became such a zeitgeist for a while. I think we’re going to see a real return to ‘Weird Something’ this year. I just don’t know what form it’s going to take.
AW: I’m looking forward to Weird Something.
CD: That’s probably the word for the week. Last week was ‘distributed autonomous computing’; maybe this – the phrase of the week is ‘Weird Twitter’. We’ll close out on a Tweet that I mentioned – and you guys know I’m cheating on you with Michael Kotay, right?
AW: Yes, we noticed that.
KF: I heard, yeah.
AW: I was hanging out with Kotay this week.
KF: Kotay is cheating on us with you!
CD: That’s a good point. That’s a good point.
KF: Polyamorous podcasting.
CD: Yeah, I’m the Her of polyamorous podcasts!
KF: How many other people are you talking to right now, Chris?
AW: Who else are you podcasting with?
CD: I’m actually recording 1,100 podcasts at this very moment with other people!
AW: And you’re talking to us in every one of them.
CD: So something I brought up that I just think was great this week from Rob Horning. He Tweeted out, “Core logic of consumerism is that all praise must be simultaneously invoke security.” Let me say that again with – smoother. “Core logic of consumerism is that all praise must be simultaneously invoke insecurity.” I just really thought that was kind of – I loved it because I just played with for a while, because the idea that consumerism must simultaneously invoke insecurity; I just thought that was really good. So much consumerism for myself was stemmed originally from insecurity but now it just stems from need to understand and explore all these different little things we get involved with. But consumerism I think in some ways has become as dark as connected capitalism. Do you guys have any thoughts on that Tweet or consumerism or insecurity in general?
KF: I mean, it sounds right on. It’s the way advertising has worked for a long time; just make you feel inadequate. You need a particular product. It reminds me – a friend of mine who’s a little bit older than me – and this is something that wasn’t even on my radar; I kind of remember seeing some of these commercials when I was a kid, but anti-dandruff shampoo. Dandruff was apparently in the late ‘70s or early ‘80s or something the scourge of humanity. If you had dandruff, no one would want to talk to you.
AW: It was Head N Shoulder ads!
CD: Actually, it was Selsun Blue. Selsun Blue was the one that made you a sick monster if you were flaky.
AW: Yeah, my son – I’m still affected by it. My son said he has dandruff, I was like [gasp].
KF: Yeah. What’s funny to me is I hardly even think about that. Who cares if somebody has dandruff? That’s a thing that happens. It’s like everybody farts, everybody has dandruff. I don’t know.
CD: The only time you need to worry about dandruff is if it moves, it’s not dandruff.
KF: Yeah, yeah.
AW: It’s a censor.
KF: It was just a way to make somebody want a product that no one wanted before. It just preyed on – it created insecurity that didn’t exist.
CD: We’re all over the map on this show but speaking of things – I’m not sure if you guys have seen or experienced this. When I was at my dentist the other day, my dentist on her wall now – this is on the insecurity tip here. My dentist on her wall has posters for Botox. She now has been licensed by the United States facial whatever it is. She can actually do Botox on you and I thought to myself, “My dentist shouldn’t be doing Botox or at least advertising it.” It made me kind of uncomfortable in some kind of strange way that was – are you trying to make people feel insecure? What’s really going on? Whatever. It’s like I Tweeted a couple weeks ago. I was with an über driver who dropped me off and pulled his Moustache out of his car and started moonlighting on lift. It’s like how many ways can we crush – can we collapse as many services to get funding into our lives as we can?
KF: Reminds me of something Tim Malley wrote about the sharing economy of just – AirBNB’s kind of being held up as this great example of how well this sharing economy idea works but he points out that if the economy wasn’t so bad, fewer people would probably be willing to rent out a room, go to that level of inconvenience to rent out a room, just for a little extra money. That’s like with your dentist; it’s almost certainly that doing Botox is a low overhead, high margin – not necessarily low overhead but a high margin thing that she can add to her dentistry business as a way to bring in more revenue. So it’s exactly the same thing as AirBNB or being one of those Moustache drivers; everyone’s under so much economic stress right now that we’re willing to do stuff that we’d never originally – we never would have considered doing before.
AW: It might be something going on in the dentist community about how to market to people’s need for making themselves beautiful because our dentist now has a booming business in providing – in braces, right? People come in, all these adults come in and they get braces.
CD: That was the thing, Alex. Last year, she started offering InvisiLine after just being a general dentist and now she’s doing Botox. I know next year I’m going to walk in and she’s going to offer to wax me. I just don’t know at what point it stops.
AW: It’ll be up to you. It’ll be up to you to decide when to stop, Chris!
CD: Okay. That’s a good point. By the way, I’m also seeing 1,100 dentists simultaneously.
AW: Right now! Right now!
CD: Right now, at this moment, I’m with 1,100 –
AW: That reminds me of the movie [Dento Ass 42:17], right?
CD: [Dento Ass]!
AW: Have you seen it? Have you seen it? We’ll talk about it next week.
CD: Okay, next week, which is in about three minutes. Alright, thank you so much, Klint and Alex. It’s been great. We’ll see everyone for Episode 25 of Mindful Cyborgs. You can check us out all over the Web, all our other good stuff. We’ll be at the Buddhist Geeks Cyborg Camp, South by Southwest, a bunch of other fun stuff. Thank you, Aaron Jasinski for the great artwork and Ross Nelson at Brown House Media for mixing the show. We’ll talk to everyone soon. Thanks, guys.
KF: Thanks. Bye.
AW: Thank you.
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