Don’t Reach For The Phone First. Make Art

For the writer, it’s been said that the best thing to do upon waking up is grab the pen… or at least the keyboard, and empty out all your earliest thoughts or journal away the sins of yesterday. It’s a great method for any artist that is meant to really help get into the right kind of artistic mindset for the rest of the day.

These days, first thing I’ve been reaching for is the cell phone.

I have this grand compunction to know what time it is, even though I have gone out of my way to do the kind of work that is not time sensitive. I don’t have a place to report to by a certain time, nor do I have any specific deadlines I’m trying to reach. “Knowing the time” on the clock does little to help me at all, yet I keep reaching over as soon as I’m awake. I’ve been here before… Instead of being on “world time,” the intervals of reality where events happen when they happen and people awaken and choose to move with their needs and their hearts; I find myself on “corporate time,” the time invented to create a schedule to move items by rail that would allow people 200 years ago to coordinate and make a lot of money.

Continue reading “Don’t Reach For The Phone First. Make Art”

Is humanity regressing?

PAUSE YOU who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day. ― Charles Dickens, Great Expectations 

IN THESE LAST FEW DAYS, I have been visiting a lot of weird thoughts. I know that might be an unusual thing to post on a blog. Then again, people post all kinds of weird everything now, and so much of it (to me) seems rather… Ah… How to put it? Attention-grabby-seeky. Exhibtionism and narcissism and Internet kind of seem to go together, now. Did it used to be this way, all the time? I mean, did it? I thought blogs were for propagating new and fresh thinking, or interweaving, rather, with new and fresh thought, sharing and open web-bing our way to something bigger, better. More artful. Than what we have become, or are in the midst of becoming.

Or maybe this is just the usual kind of stuff that comes with aging.

Cynicism.

‘You sound a bit jaded.’

But. Do I? Or is it really kind of boring, now? Boring conversations. Boring meetups. Boring blind dates. BORING ART. That is probably the saddest, to me. Going all over the world and not seeing anything that is truly intriguing. But maybe that’s just because the real art isn’t in the galleries or the places where you used to think it was. Because, like science and media, even art people have to play a certain kind of tune to get their funding. This tune tires me. I think it’s designed for a set of people who, quite frankly, are out of context and irrelevant to me. I realized I must write the kinds of books I want to read. And so I do, from time to time. Slow going, this kind of jam. But important, I think.

Because… I don’t want to regress. Pros and cons, right? Technology?

I love the internet for helping me find others. But I hate it for overwhelming us with lots and lots and lots of mostly noisy blasts of ‘look at me.’ I think the ‘I had a baby’ and ‘I just got married’ posts are my least favorite, but there is the cynicism again. I think people are doing this to get attention. Why does the world need to know? I remember letterpress. I remember postage. I remember the feeling of crispness of putting pen to paper, long fountain pen letters. I miss those. Not because writing in this way I’m writing to you now is super different. It’s just way, way, way less… Intimate. Isn’t it? And without a boundary like limited edition of 1, which is what a letter is, there is a loss, necessarily. Of quality. This year, I’ve been thinking a lot about Quality. Following up on some old threads inspired by Zen and the Art of Motorcyle Maintenance, and then, after, poems by Tagore (and Gitanjali, especially). More stuff came into my world after arriving in Asia four years ago. More from the East that is hard to bring up, because it’s so locally important but not taught elsewhere. The whole thing about Western arrogance, Western riches, Western imperialism in all kinds of ways makes me very tired, from this angle on the old life, ‘over there.’ I guess this is such a giant topic that it’s impossible to continue without sounding like I’m not ever going to revisit. I will. Just, not in public like this. This kind of really… Ah… Comment-starting stuff is where I will put my things behind private walls. So that our comments add to one another, instead of troll.

***

BEFORE THIS BLOG ACCIDENTALLY got deleted, it had lived for 10 years as a kind of open question. A sort of question mark on a permanently blank page. The aesthetics of this blog are always going to be about possibility, spacemaking, and creating rooms for dialogues… Some of them online, some offline, of course, but… This used to be a kind of sharing spot. Then it got deleted. Then I started making private posts all over the place. I guess because of… Fear. Fear of showing too much of my real self. Fear of not looking this enough or that enough. Then someone tells me this blog is intimidating. Then I think, ‘Huh. That was not my intention.’

The rest of this post is a bit of backstory. On the evolutions from design to blogging to the new stuff. Skip to the questions at the end, if you like, and do leave a comment. Listening.

Going into the private rooms was mostly a result of, I think, the kind of warp in the Internet that makes it impossible (or so it seems) to locate thoughtful and original people whom I love to connect (and interconnect). I guess I am starting to wake up to it, now. That you cant’ stick your head in the sand. It’s not going to get better just because I turn off my screens and cover them with towels or placards that say, for example, ‘We have reliable motorbike, private car, bicycle for rent and sale.’ Well. Today I’m not in the market to buy a motorbike, but thanks for the info. INFORMATION. OPTIONS. These are what get in the way. In my opinion, that is. According to me, that is. I mean, who am I? Who am I really? But if I start to show up as an ‘I’ then I add to the collection of nonsense that is one-person’s opinion and not a collection of thoughts that are given a chance to percolate, in conversations… Together… And if humanity is progressing it is only because we can work together, truly collaborate, with the systems and technologies at hand. instead of texting useless strings of pizza emojis. Or. Maybe that’s just where it goes. (I guess I’m sounding like a grump. Sorry. I don’t meant to. The super young generation looks at me like, ‘What? What’s the big deal?’ But. I guess. I’m not sure. I’m writing my not-sureness. Is that… Even done anymore? Logic-boxes are such a drag. Even after the quantum theory of the world was proven to be right, in 1982. EVEN THEN. Sheesh. Do we really love the status quo that much? What the? WHY?)

What happened? To real life? Let’s make space for real life, then. Is that even… A thing? Like, does this really have to be. Need, now? I am learning: it DOES. So. Let me try. I am trying to gather handfuls of new and different others to connect. To get us talking again. Like it’s still the 90s. You just go, and you show up, and you are there, and it’s real. And there is no, ‘Oh, let me see what other options I have.’ Or FOMO. Or anything involving instant access to information online. There was not that much online, at least not for me, back then. And I miss those days. I miss just laughing and talking. I have been to the weirdest meetup now, of my life. Oooo. Creepy. I won’t ever do it. That’s a lie. I will. Banning something unconditionally is not in keeping with the whole ‘out of my comfort zone’ thing. But hey. I’m good. I’m hosting, again. I’m organizing S P A C E stuff. Sometimes in cities that aren’t my usual stomping grounds. Hanoi, for example. On Wednesday. This. Feeling good, quiet. Calm. Viet Nam. Processing things. Writing, for the inner circles.

Your thoughts? Is humanity regressing? Is technology making us nutty? Is real life so intense? Do people not know how to socialize without their phones to introduce them first? If yes, why. If not, tell us about the positives. I am listening. Comments are open for a time. Kindly go ahead.

Bitcoin 101: How does the alternative currency stack up?

This Q&A was originally published in DK’s weekly eZine, S. P. A. C. E.

RECENTLY ON TWITTER I ASKED about options for transferring funds online. That’s how I got introduced to cryptofinance expert Raffaele Mauro.

In an email Q&A, he helped me understand how Bitcoin stacks up.

Here is how our conversation went:

Easy Bitcoin
Easy Bitcoin

‘SMALL AND GEEKY.’ Learning about Bitcoin from cryptofinance expert Raffaele Mauro (@Rafr). Here is a Q&A, in which he helped us understand in simple terms why Bitcoin is misunderstood, and the vastness of its potential.

AS: What is the ONE thing you wish everyone could grok about Bitcoin, something that most people simply don’t see/know right now?

RM: The most important thing that most people don’t see is that Bitcoin is not just another form of money or digital currency. Potentially, it is the ‘economic layer of the internet,’ a new protocol with huge potential impact like SMTP was for email/messaging. Beyond that, the blockchain, the technology behind Bitcoin, opened a gigantic space of exploration for a new wave of decentralized applications.

AS: What hurdle is keeping us laymen from grasping the potential of Bitcoin?

RM: Four reasons: 1) Bitcoin is not the most convenient solution for most day to day, traditional transactions in developed countries; 2) The design of most Bitcoin applications is poor and not user friendly, complex operations are accessible only to techies; 3) Cool applications and platforms are still in their embryonic form and there are no standards; 4) The Bitcoin community is still small and geeky.

AS: I’ve been reading about blocks. What would you say is the drive for Bitcoin miners to do the work they’re doing? Will they stand to make a ton of Bitcoin? Curious what’s the incentive for people who are doing the work to lay the infrastructure for this. And is it big enough, I wonder, to build something truly interesting?

RM: Yes, today miners and mining farms are mostly motivated by the economic incentive. There is still a small number of miners who are motivated by the intellectual excitement (understanding software & hardware challenges) but generally speaking, small scale mining is not sustainable. On the other hand, there is an entire space of developers and contributors to the community where the intellectual challenge could be the main motivator with potential economic gains as a side effect (generating skills useful for Bitcoin companies).

AS: This next one is really open-ended. If you could change anything at all (sky’s the limit here) about the way people buy and sell and trade in any currency, what would that one thing be? Why?

RM: Currency operations should be like email: fast, easy and accessible to anyone.

AS: Sounds idyllic. Any drawbacks?

RM: Bitcoin has several drawbacks

  • Rigid monetary supply (on the same time a benefit and a drawback) and therefore high volatility
  • Technical vulnerabilities (examples: 51% attack, block size problems)
  • Transaction speed
  • Despite its decentralizations, there are strong network effects and “third parties” are still re-created
  • Inequality
  • More recently: flame wars among developers

AS: What can we expect to see next?

RM: I see 4 potential scenarios:

  • BASIC. Cryptofinance as sub-industry of Fintech innovation
  • OPTIMISTIC. Blockchain as the new payment layer of the Internet, like SMTP for email Internet of Things powered by blockchain technologies
  • PESSIMISTIC. Bubble & crash in cryptoasset (second mega-bubble) Bubble & crash in VC in vestments in Bitcoin startups
  • UTOPIAN/DYSTOPIAN. Decentralized technology radically disrupts governments, organizations and financial institutions


To learn more, check out at Raffaele Mauro’s Slideshare presentations >

Other thoughts?

What do YOU think? What else is out there, what’s on the horizon?

And if you are using Bitcoin, how is it working? Lessons learned? —AS

This Q&A was originally published in DK’s weekly eZine, S. P. A. C. E.