There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself. —
Henry David Thoreau(via stoweboyd)
betaworks: Betas Work -
The past few months have been a little extra-busy at betaworks. While our studio companies continue to grow at a fast pace, a handful of builders (hackers in residence) have been heads-down creating a new wave of products.
Now, we’re entering a new stage of building that we’re very excited to…
This is rad.
There’s cute, and then there’s a perfectly timed photo of an adorable harvest mouse climbing a dandelion.
Photo by Matt Binstead, via My Modern Met
Not to be all “Merlin Mann” or anything, but, maybe somebody will find this useful. I was recently asked to talk about how I think about the infamous Inbox Zero these days, and here’s what I said: In my view, the titular ‘zero’ in Inbox Zero is not about the number of email messages that are sitting in your inbox at a given time. And, contrary to popular opinion, it’s absolutely not about spending hours of your precious day trying to achieve that empty inbox at any cost. That’s just monkeyballs. Given that every inbox necessarily represents a source of incompletion in our lives, any potential source of new input that we invite (or even permit) into our world presents a never-ending challenge that we may choose to frequently address, but which we must accept we can never even begin to control. Because, honestly, all of that blobby corpus of unknown, undefined, and incomplete stuff is, at the heart of the matter, what makes anything into an “inbox.” It’s all just… stuff. It’s stuff that we don’t know about. Or, it’s stuff we haven’t made a decision about. It’s stuff that we may or may not find useful or interesting. It’s stuff that may or may not be anything we can even do anything about. But, it’s also stuff that, regardless of its theoretical value, can and will constantly distract us from seeing and doing all those things that we already know are empirically valuable. Yet, somewhere in the back of our minds, we can feel that gnawing sense that we need to compulsively dive back into our inboxes or risk…well, practically everything. But, to me, it’s essential to acknowledge and accept that the dreaded prospect of having to make all those unknown hundreds or thousands of little decisions that might eventually get us out of an inbox is ultimately what makes any inbox—email or otherwise—so goddamned difficult and potentially distracting as a force in our lives and work. For me, the real ‘zero’ in Inbox Zero is more about consciously managing the amount of our attention that we commit (or, far more often, cede) to thinking and worrying about what may or may not be piling up while we’re away doing the real work of our lives. Which is to say: the Real Work that’s not, in this instance, about fiddling with email or drearily suffering the daily fusillade of random requests and information bombs that get lobbed our way. Put to best use, Inbox Zero is merely a philosophical practice of learning to be parsimonious about which and how many inputs we allow into into our lives—and, then, to responsibly but mindfully tend to those inputs in a way that is never allowed to hinder our personal commitment to doing the work that really matters to us. Once you’ve dedicated yourself to making the things you love, every inbox can and should become a well-monitored servant rather than a merciless master. Because, at the risk of sounding a little fruity, I believe that a life in which we habitually abandon the known Good Things in order to helplessly stab at ““managing”” a nebulous morass of chaoses that we can never control is not much of a life at all. — kung fu grippe: On Chasing the Right “Zero”
― John Cage
Embedded in the game is a classic immigrant story. Mario and Luigi are Italians in a strange land, blue-collar workers who travel back and forth between an above-ground mainstream and various undergrounds, moving through worlds (or class strata?) accumulating stuff, strength, and respect, all in a quest to get to a big house where they’ll liberate a beautiful woman — the final stage of the class-passing dream. Along the way, they hustle and fight and scrape to collect artificial performance enhancers (mushrooms, fire flowers) and currency (all of which can extend their lifelines), banging their heads against rocks to get ahead. They quickly learn the only thing more important than timing is artful cheating: With the prevalence of warp zones, shortcutting the system is part of the superstructure. As the landscape becomes more treacherous and competition more fierce, they find that they can no longer survive without the “boost” of mushrooms and invincibility stars. In the final stages, they race against the clock in abject desperation, roided-out addicts making stupid, careless mistakes in their frenzy to ascend just one more level. Maybe they find and save the princess in the end, but at what cost? It could be a lost Godfather sequel. It could be Scarface. —
The Strange Case of the Super Mario Bros. Movie - Grantland (via Jason Goldman)
I have a longstanding fondness for tales of moviemaking disaster (“Hearts of Darkness,” about the torturous production of “Apocalypse Now,” is one of my all-time favorite documentaries), and this article about 1993’s shockingly clueless/soulless film adaptation of “Super Mario Bros.” is a great one. I particularly like the above attempt on the author’s part to put herself in the shoes of one of the film’s succession of non-gamer screenwriters and extract a film-able narrative from the game. I often play the same game of “armchair script doctor” when I’ve just seen a particularly shoddy adaptation of something.
(Update: Briana points out that this synopsis could almost match “Requiem for a Dream”)
I’d watch that.
This future is going to happen – and it is too late to debate. However, the problem is that Facebook is going to use all this data — not to improve our lives — but to target better marketing and advertising messages at us. Zuckerberg made no bones about the fact that Facebook will be pushing ads on Home. —
Why Facebook Home bothers me: It destroys any notion of privacy — Tech News and Analysis (via soxiam)
The air of resigned inevitability around invasive new technologies like Facebook Home and Google Glass is getting a bit depressing.
What is the worst case scenario of a world where all technologies are perfectly invasive, where privacy is absolutely destroyed? I know it’s not a very popular side of the debate to be on, but I think the words “privacy”, “invasive”, “destroy”, etc are creating fear, anxiety, and discomfort around an idea/direction of technology that is not actually going to hurt us… and with proper attention and care could be one of the most useful disruptions in our near future.
The Crazy Details About How Apple Is Going To Construct Its $5 Billion Spaceship HQ
Peter Burrows at Bloomberg Businessweek has new details on the construction of the building. It may not have been an Apple product like the iPhone or the iPad, but it still got the same treatment from Jobs’ obsessive eye for detail.
Here’s a sample of Jobs’ specifications:
- Burrows says, “Jobs wanted no seam, gap, or paintbrush stroke showing.”
- He wanted everything “polished to a supernatural smoothness.”
- Wood used inside the building is to come from a specific type of maple tree, and it can only be “heartwood,” which is the wood from the center of the tree.
- It will have six-square kilometers of bent glass, which will be bent at a factory in Germany, then shipped to California. The company doing the glass had to develop new machines for making it.
- Apple will pre-build bathrooms and cubicle banks then have them driven to the office and installed. This saves time and allows the construction to be more exact.
- Jobs didn’t want concrete floors, he wanted “a stone-infused alternative such as terrazzo, buffed to a sheen normally reserved for museums and high-end residences,” says Burrows.
- Jobs also wanted the seams where walls met to be 1/32 of an inch across, whereas the standard for construction is 1/8 of inch.
- He wanted the ceiling to be polished concrete instead of sound absorbing material. Apple also has a very specific plan for the concrete ceiling. It wants to pour ceiling molds on the ground, then lift it to the ceiling, an approach that is far more expensive.
There are nine or so principles to work in a world like this:
1. Resilience instead of strength, which means you want to yield and allow failure and you bounce back instead of trying to resist failure.
2. You pull instead of push. That means you pull the resources from the network as you need them, as opposed to centrally stocking them and controlling them.
3. You want to take risk instead of focusing on safety.
4. You want to focus on the system instead of objects.
5. You want to have good compasses not maps.
6. You want to work on practice instead of theory. Because sometimes you don’t why it works, but what is important is that it is working, not that you have some theory around it.
7. It’s disobedience instead of compliance. You don’t get a Nobel Prize for doing what you are told. Too much of school is about obedience, we should really be celebrating disobedience.
8. It’s the crowd instead of experts.
9. It’s a focus on learning instead of education.
We’re still working on it, but that is where our thinking is headed. —
Resiliency, Risk, and a Good Compass: Tools for the Coming Chaos | Wired Business | Wired.com
Notably, Joi talks specifically of applying startup-style thinking to conventional institutions, using landmine remediation efforts as an example.(via anil)
House Twitter is the most perfect: “Dark Wings, Dumb Words”
(via 12 Game of Thrones House Sigils for the Internet - CollegeHumor)
Count me in.
Commodity based, e.g. Gold
Politically based, e.g. Dollar
Math based, e.g. Bitcoin
I said that the world is absurd, but I was too hasty. This world in itself is not reasonable, that is all that can be said. But what is absurd is the confrontation of this irrational and the wild longing for clarity whose call echoes in the human heart. — Albert Camus (via fuckyeahexistentialism)