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Apr. 29th, 2016

"If we continue to compare ourselves to other women, who we are and what we have will never be enough.

The bigger problem with comparison, however, isn’t just that it hurts our perception of ourselves, it’s that it’s actually counterproductive to connection and sisterhood. When we compare ourselves to others, we aren’t appreciating them—we’re challenging our own worthiness.

We’re also harboring negative feelings about why we don’t look like them, and those feelings often end up reverberating off of the women against whom we’re comparing ourselves. This breeds resentment, jealousy, and disconnection.

When we compare what we have to what someone else has, we rarely see the full picture. We might think someone “has it all” and lust after their figure or their looks, but we don’t know about the darkness that they might have to battle each day, the struggles that they must overcome. We don’t have to fight their demons. Not to mention, we don’t have their genetics, which plays a huge role in the way our bodies develop.

This tendency to compare has painful consequences when it comes to how we show up in the world. We wind up placing much of our focus on someone else’s world, rather than being fully present in our own. Inevitably, we miss out on the opportunity to live in the moment."

- Neghar Fonooni, "You Are More Than Your Body (Fat)"

Apr. 27th, 2016

"Looking at the difference between the good and bad VR, I started to glean some insight into the nascent artform. No one has even come close to mastering the medium, but it’s clear that holding on to the traditional rules of storytelling is a surefire way to make disappointing VR...

...Cinematic VR necessitates breaking the traditional construct of a linear story that hits certain beats: this happens, then this, then this. Good immersive content doesn’t just deviate from this pattern, it flips it on its head. Instead of plotting moments on a timeline, it builds a world for the viewer to experience on their own. Instead of trying to control what the viewer sees or feels, the filmmaker is sculpting a time in space, where everything that happens in between the beats is part of the story too."

- Meghan Neal, "How Traditional Storytelling is Ruining Virtual Reality Film"

How to Be an Artist With a Day Job

"...a Washington Post article found that roughly 1.4 million people were making a living as artists in the United States. We don't know how many people in the country are attempting to be career creatives, but the total population is about 320 million. By the way, those 1.4 million are nearly all white and have a median salary of about $30k, which for many of us doesn't even qualify as a living wage. More people are incarcerated in America than are making that level of a "living" from art.

...Welcome to the world of creatives with day jobs, populated by the vast majority of artistic people. But among the broken dreams is a world in which you can not only survive, but thrive. You don’t have to be cynical and bitter, you can be optimistic and realistic. Yes, realistic optimism is an actual thing that involves recognizing harsh realities while understanding how to make the best of them. This post isn’t about giving up on your dreams, it's about embracing the journey to achieve them. It's also about accepting the reality that you may never be able to work on your number one creative passion full time. Here’s how you can live like that and be happy."

- "How to Be an Artist With a Day Job," Evan Brown

Why Chat Sucks for Shopping

"If we were to replicate the current chatbot paradigm in real life, the shopper would begin by walking up to a salesperson and saying “I want a pair of white sneakers that cost under $100,” to use the infamous Buzzfeed example on Facebook Messenger shopping. If a salesperson pins you down while you’re in browsing mode and asks you to define your precise needs and price range, is it likely to make you more interested in shopping or to make you move on to the next store? Does the idea of a shoe store where all shoes are hidden behind a wall, where you would have to tell the salesperson your price range and shoe specs in detail, after which they would bring you individual pairs of shoes to assess, appeal to you? Or does it sound like a circle of Hell from Dante’s Inferno?"

- "Shoppers Browse, Chatbots Don't: Why Chat Sucks for Shopping"

(yes, this is a little bit of self promotion! Give it a read and let me know what you think.)

Apr. 16th, 2016

"...if you’ve ever found yourself wishing for this actress’s waist or that singer’s legs, remember this: The media’s concept of the ideal woman’s body isn’t static. Whoever People magazine deems “most beautiful” this year is just a representation of what has bubbled up in the cauldron of pop culture. That silhouette of the “ideal woman” has been put through a series of fun house mirrors (fashion, movies, pop music, politics). It also changes year over year, so the physical qualities we embrace today are often at odds with those from previous generations.

To prove our point, we’re taking a closer look at body ideals over the last 100 years—which shows that, as they say on Project Runway, 'In fashion, one day you’re in, and the next day you’re out.'"

- Maria Hart, "See How Much the 'Perfect' Female Body Has Changed in 100 Years (It's Crazy!)"

(Some really great infographics in this one!)

Apr. 15th, 2016

"[League of Legends] had recognized that toxic behaviour was a major drag on players' experience, and they wanted to solve the problem with science...

To tackle it, Lin needed to make sure that he had a good picture of where such toxicity was coming from. So he got a team to review chat logs from thousands of games each day and to code statements from players as positive, neutral or negative.

The resulting map of toxic behaviour was surprising. Common wisdom holds that the bulk of the cruelty on the Internet comes from a sliver of its inhabitants — the trolls. Indeed, Lin's team found that only about 1% of players were consistently toxic. But it turned out that these trolls produced only about 5% of the toxicity in League of Legends. “The vast majority was from the average person just having a bad day,” says Lin. They behaved well for the most part, but lashed out on rare occasions.

That meant that even if Riot banned all the most toxic players, it might not have a big impact. To reduce the bad behaviour that most players experienced, the company would have to change how players act.

Lin borrowed a concept from classic psychology. In late 2012, he initiated a massive test of priming, the idea that imagery or messages presented just before an activity can nudge behaviours in one direction or another..."

- Brendan Maher, "Can a video game company tame toxic behaviour?"

Chatbots

OK, so, the rise of chatbots.

You go online into a text interface and type in commands in order to get information or services.

....um, weren't GUIs invented specifically to get AWAY from that?

Apr. 11th, 2016

Want to know how to be more confident?

There’s an easy answer: Don’t.

Yeah, it’s a trick question. But we’ve all been led to believe that self-confidence or self-esteem is the answer to everything. It’s not. In fact, research shows it’s the cause of a lot of problems.

We don’t need more self-esteem. We need more self-compassion.

- Eric Barker, "How to Be More Confident: 3 Secrets Backed By Research."

Facebook: the tipping point?

"Meanwhile, a new report from The Information passes on internal Facebook data that appears to confirm what GlobalWebIndex reported last fall and what many Facebook users have anecdotally reported seeing: A decreasing percentage of Facebook users are choosing to frequently update their statuses or otherwise share their own content (for example, upload photos/videos taken from their phones). Just 57% of Facebook users accessing the app each week posted in a given week, and only 39% posted original content."

- Eric Jhonsa, "Facebook Takes on YouTube and Tries to Halt a Sharing Decline"

Apr. 9th, 2016

"The most memorable V.R. experience I had at the convention came in that last category, courtesy of the massive German enterprise-software company SAP After I strapped on a Samsung Gear smartphone headset and a pair of headphones, a British-accented female voice began to speak. “Welcome to your SAP Digital Boardroom,” she said, as a trio of virtual green screens appeared and quickly filled with bar graphs, pie charts, and other analytic tools. She told me that I could reach and access all the data in my company’s past and present, encouraging me to pull down whatever spreadsheet I desired. At the mention of “spreadsheets,” I ripped off the headset. SAP had somehow created a V.R. experience that was more boring than an actual business meeting.

Nic Smith, the director of product marketing for SAP Analytics, explained his company’s rationale for creating something in V.R. Yes, he acknowledged, they wanted to connect to Silicon Valley’s zeitgeist, which he referred to as its “idea fabric.” But, he said, SAP also believed that V.R. had real potential as a business solution. “Imagine total transparency to data across entire organizations, increasing the ability to make rapid decisions,” he said, describing the ability to reach out and virtually touch an analytic. “Maybe it’ll spur a new generation of executives who’ll opt to skip the meeting to view it in virtual reality. It is the art of the possible.”

Perhaps Smith is correct, and virtual-reality boardrooms will replace real ones in the future. His company isn’t alone in seeing possibilities. But then, you hear similar rhetoric whenever Silicon Valley invests in a new technology that promises to change the way we work and live. (Tablets! Google Glass! The Internet of Things!) Often, what we actually get is a solution in need of a problem, even as organizations feel compelled to adopt it in order to stay relevant.

In the short term, at least, the results are often poor. When the iPad came out, in 2010, businesses and organizations, buoyed by rhetoric about the tablet’s world-changing potential, rushed to create tablet strategies. Fundamentally, though, not much changed. The food-service industry, for example, was modestly affected by the introduction of tablet-based cash registers, but attempts to shift to tablet-based ordering did little to transform the dining experience, beyond filling many airports with sticky screens. Schools, governments, and nonprofits that invested heavily in tablets, in the belief that they were the future of education, have mostly seen results ranging from flat to disastrous."

- David Sax, "The Breathless Rhetoric (And Prosaic Economics) of Virtual Reality"

Why Kik Thinks Chatbots will Kill Apps

'For people who want to create a bot, Kik offers a simple API that allows them to specify how the bot will behave: What it can do, what it will say, and what responses you can type in reply. For users, the bots can be summoned into any conversation with an "@" mention. So you might be making plans with a friend depending on the weather, and bring forth @weatherchannel to give you an update on the forecast. Then, the bot simply leaves your conversation—a telling, human-centered detail meant to teach users that bots are here to help rather than to listen passively to their conversations. "It's like asking a smart friend for an answer really quickly and not having them stick around," explains Mike Roberts, Kik's head of messaging...

Unlike most apps, which have had a hard time spreading because of how hard it is to get another person to download the app, chatbot should be able to spread virally, through natural conversations. "It's your friends who are going to teach you how to interact with bots," Roberts says. "And you're going to say, 'What is that magic thing you just did.' And then you have this whole new way to explore."'

- Cliff Kuang, "Why Kik Thinks Chatbots Will Kill Webpages"

Apr. 6th, 2016

"...Look, not all of it is Shakespeare, but a lot of it is really good. I’m finding it a bit difficult now to tell the difference between content created by a creative agency and that created by an 18-year old with a GoPro.

We have such an incredible advantage in this industry that we literally sell the best product in the world, one where the consumer actually wants to do our marketing for us, why are we fighting this?

I don’t think the biggest marketing challenge is technology, or which new social platform we’ll have to be on next. I think the biggest challenge is our own egos — in thinking that we’re smarter than the customer."

- Jesse Desjardins, "What if your customer was a better marketer than you?"

Apr. 3rd, 2016

"I assume that people look at a Buzzfeed story that did well about "These Are 27 Sandwiches That Are Better Than a Boyfriend," and think there must be some deep data science behind sandwiches, and sandwiches and boyfriends, right? Actually that requires a creative mind more than anything, you know?

That myth stems from people's desire to have a black and white explanation, a simple explanation. The reality is that things are more nuanced than you would like them to be, and more complicated than you would like them to be. And so it's the easy way out to have a very sort of simplistic view. The key is, when I speak to editors and people in general, they have a very healthy view of data. They understand there are many things data can tell them. But they also understand there are many things data can't tell them.

You have to use a lot of intuition and a lot of creativity, and the data is one part of the input you take in to think about why this could do well, why do people share it. The data never tells you why anything happens. Data will tell you, if you're very lucky, what happened. It won't ever tell you why. If you want to understand why, that requires a different set of skills, largely in your brain and in your heart. Why did this story resonate with people?

Reading comments is often a very good barometer—you can't only use comments, you can't only use data, you can't only use anything. You can't only use your own intuition, either. It has to be all of those things you use. When talking about things, "Oh, maybe it's this. Maybe it's that." Then we can test it. "Let's test whether or not this hunch I have is right based on something I've seen out there."

- "What BuzzFeed's Dao Nguyen Knows About Data, Intuition, And The Future Of Media"

Apr. 2nd, 2016

"Okay, time for an attitude adjustment. While writing your long-term goal, you were optimistic. You imagined a perfect future."

Now it’s time to get pessimistic. Imagine you’ve gone forward in time one year, and your project was a disaster. What caused it to fail? How did your goal go wrong?

Lurking beneath every goal are dangerous assumptions. The longer those assumptions remain unexamined, the greater the risk. In your sprint, you have a golden opportunity to ferret out assumptions, turn them into questions, and find some answers."

- Jake Knapp, "Good Products Start With Good Questions."

Apr. 1st, 2016

"Most of us use the terms fitting in and belonging interchangeably, and like many of you, I'm really good at fitting in. We know exactly how to hustle for approval and acceptance. We know what to wear, what to talk about, how to make people happy, what not to mention - we know how to chameleon our way through the day. One of the biggest surprises in this research was learning that fitting in and belonging are not the same thing, and, in fact, fitting in gets in the way of belonging. Fitting in is about asessing a situation and becoming who you need to be to be accepted. Belonging, on the other hand, doesn't require us to change who we are; it requires us to be who we are."

- Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection

Mar. 15th, 2016

COMPASSIONATE DISCRIMINATION. Having astute judgment without being
scornfully judgmental; seeing difficult truths about a situation or person
without closing your heart or feeling superior. In the words of Alan Jones:
having the ability "to smell a rat without allowing your ability to discern
deception sour your vision of the glory and joy that is everyone's
birthright."

+

COMIC INTROSPECTION. Being fully aware of your own foibles while still
loving yourself tenderly and maintaining confidence in your ability to give
your specific genius to the world. To paraphrase Alan Jones, Dean of
Grace Cathedral: following the Byzantine ploys of your ego with
compassion and humor as it tries to make itself the center of everything,
even the center of its own suffering and struggle.

+

NOT HAVING TO BE RIGHT. Fostering an ability, even a willingness, to be
proven wrong about one of your initial perceptions or pet theories; having
an eagerness to gather information that may change your mind about
something you have fervently believed; cultivating a tendency to enjoy
being corrected, especially about ideas that are negative or hostile.

+

RELENTLESS UNPRETENTIOUSNESS. Possessing a strong determination to
not take yourself too seriously, not take your cherished beliefs too
literally, and not take other people's ideas about you too personally.

+

JOYFUL POIGNANCE. Feeling buoyantly joyful about the beauty and
mystery of life while remaining aware of the sadness, injustices, wounds,
and future fears that form the challenges in an examined life.

- Excerpt from "Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism," Rob Brezsny

Mar. 11th, 2016

"A bit more than a year after its release, the Echo has morphed from a gimmicky experiment into a device that brims with profound possibility. The longer I use it, the more regularly it inspires the same sense of promise I felt when I used the first iPhone — a sense this machine is opening up a vast new realm in personal computing, and gently expanding the role that computers will play in our future...

As I argued recently, the F.B.I.’s battle with Apple over encryption should prompt deep questions about a future of Internet-connected devices spread around our homes. Amazon has strong privacy protections in the Echo. It doesn’t stream anything without the wake word and it has a physical mute button that electrically disconnects the microphone but, as with all groundbreaking technology, there is no doubt we are entering new territory here."

- "The Echo from Amazon Brims with Groundbreaking Promise," Farhad Manjoo

Mar. 10th, 2016

"At its core, the success, resiliency and profits of the Pay TV business itself stems from the fact that cable is essentially a feed. By offering consolidated, single-input access to all television networks, MVPDs ensure that consumers can change feeds with the mere click of a button and almost no interruption in the consumption experience.

Yet, just like the child who wakes up one day to find themselves with a new, younger sibling, traditional media companies are facing the emergence of new, louder, and needier competitors for attention. Netflix, YouTube, the major social networks, and scores of new digital brands may have started small, but they’re quickly becoming the dominant feeds in the lives of tens of millions. And it shows..."

- "After TV: Video's Future will be Bigger, More Diverse and Precarious Than Its Past," Matthew Ball and Tal Shachar

Mar. 9th, 2016

If, like me, you've beaten yourself up because your arms won't fit into items of clothing - the issue might not be you. Banana Republic just revealed that some of their clothing items had sleeves that were too small for the average woman to fit her arms into.

Mar. 9th, 2016

"It’s hard to know what to do with the fact that you can buy shoes studded with over four hundred diamonds in a world where hundreds of thousands of people are dying of diarrhea. Sure, frivolous displays of wealth seem ugly—I think we can all agree that the rich kids of Instagram are a bunch of worthless ass wipes who deserve years of chokeholds—but locating the exact horizon of frivolity seems impossible. We might feel bad about our own indulgences, but since we’re not, as a society, giving up our Himalayan finishing salts anytime soon, no individual person has a strong incentive for self-sacrifice. However you might feel about the injustice represented by a $300 meal, it’s quickly replaced by the real prime directive of human behaviour: don’t be weird about the stuff your friends do.

The most beautifully decorated house I’ve ever eaten in was owned by a professor who earns a living writing, smartly, about capitalism. I know a lot of people back home who occasionally post socialist screeds on Facebook yet wear extremely expensive clothing they can’t really afford. These people cultivate considered displays of wealth in a way that betrays cognitive dissonance: you want to look prestigious but also look like you don’t care about crass mainstream commercial standards, or vulgar common culture. So the pricy shirts are oddly sacklike, made of lovely material resembling cheap sweatshirt fabric, or the alcohol is quirky Chartreuse rather than a big California cabernet, or the haircuts are strange but the shoes are amazing.

This is a weird juxtaposition: people desiring the appearance of mainstream wealth buy imitations of rich people things, but people who want to look like they’re above all that buy very costly clothing that elegantly attempts to say nothing. You avoid stuff that seems characteristic of the moneyed, but you still spend a lot of money."

- "A Century of Fakers," Sasha Chapin

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