Over at the New York Times, Amanda Hess writes about The Existential Void of the Pop-Up ‘Experience’. (This came out in September and has been sitting my tabs waiting to be blogged about since then. Oops.) It’s an interesting look at the panoply of “pop-up experiences” that have been popping up [sic] lately, where it’s all about the curated, Instagrammable experience. It kind of gets at something I noted when I lived in the Bay area: people doing things less for the participatory doing, and more for the being seen doing. You hear folks talking about their “platform” and “personal brand” and the optics of things. Even things we do to appear authentic end up being to some degree performative. (As an aside, Lindsay Ellis has a recent and excellent video talking about this from the perspective of video blogging, called Manufacturing Authenticity (For Fun and Profit!).)
The central disappointment of these spaces is not that they are so narcissistic, but rather that they seem to have such a low view of the people who visit them. Observing a work of art or climbing a mountain actually invites us to create meaning in our lives. But in these spaces, the idea of “interacting” with the world is made so slickly transactional that our role is hugely diminished. Stalking through the colorful hallways of New York’s “experiences,” I felt like a shell of a person. It was as if I was witnessing the total erosion of meaning itself. And when I posted a selfie from the Rosé Mansion saying as much, all of my friends liked it.Amanda Hess
I don’t know, maybe I’m just not the target demographic, and I’m just an old curmudgeon who doesn’t “get” it. But there’s something that feels kind of funky about these manufactured, curated experiences. Hmm, that’s not fair: We’ve always curated experiences, chosen how we present things at both small and grand scales. I think there’s a distinction: there’s participatory interaction, and then there’s performative interaction, and these pop-ups seem to fall into the category of the latter more than the former, and that leaves us feeling… empty.
Over at Washington Monthly, Roger McNamee discusses How to Fix Facebook – Before It Fixes Us. It’s a good read, and while I may not agree with all of his suggestions, there’s some very astute observations in there:
This is important, because the internet has lost something very valuable. The early internet was designed to be decentralized. It treated all content and all content owners equally. That equality had value in society, as it kept the playing field level and encouraged new entrants. But decentralization had a cost: no one had an incentive to make internet tools easy to use. Frustrated by those tools, users embraced easy-to-use alternatives from Facebook and Google. This allowed the platforms to centralize the internet, inserting themselves between users and content, effectively imposing a tax on both sides. This is a great business model for Facebook and Google—and convenient in the short term for customers—but we are drowning in evidence that there are costs that society may not be able to afford.
I’m going to try and not keep harping on this — there’s plenty of other things to think about and talk about. I’ve been an advocate for the “indieweb” for a long time, and the current realizations over how algorithmic content curation (with no one driving, no less) through single sources might not have been such a great idea certainly help vindicate the desire for a “smaller,” more independent web. That said, I’m painfully aware of some of the gaps in the indieweb space: many tools have an incredibly high bar for getting started, and several parts of the stack frankly just aren’t getting a lot of attention (the state of web galleries is the source of a semi-annual lament). If we’re going to make a serious stab at “making the internet smaller again,” there’s still a lot for us to do.
24 Ways to Look Like an Awesome UX Designer. 🤣
24. Tap your Macbook keys hard when in a meeting
While in a meeting and everyone has their Macbooks open. When you’re typing and have completed a sentence, whack your return key like you’re a bloody Pianist. It’s make a good noise and sounds like you’ve just finished an important sentence, to an important person. If someone comments laugh that you’ve broken a few keys in the past.
The Ultimate Guide to Being an Introvert, by James Altucher. There are a lot of things I identify with in this post (surprise surprise, I’m also an introvert), and I appreciate that he calls out a common misconception about introversion: “
Being an introvert has nothing to do with being shy. Or being outgoing or not outgoing. Or being socially awkward. All it means is that some people recharge when they are by themselves (introverts).”
Found via kottke.org. As Jason points out, I think a lot of us can sympathize with that desire to connect and socialize with others, but getting drained to the point of being at a loss for words.
25 habits that will make you a writer by Shaunta Grimes — ignore the terribly clickbait-y title, the advice is actually pretty good. A lot of it may come off as pretty obvious (write every day), but I think it’s still worth a read, and includes some links to some other good books and resources. (Also, pretty relevant regardless of whether your chosen medium is writing or painting or sculpting, or any number of other creative outlets.)
Autumn of Indie Game Markets, Danc over at Lost Garden providing an insightful and frank look at the state of game markets right now. There’s an ebb and flow to markets like this, and the season metaphor he uses seems quite apt.
Over on her site, Jessica Abel has a series of articles going discussing creativity, and getting out from under your idea debt (I like the term):
The Pain With No Name by Abby Covert over at A List Apart, talking about Information Architecture (IA), an aspect of UX that often gets overlooked, but is (imho) hugely important as we get more and more overwhelmed with information throughout our lives.
7 Things I Did to Reboot My Life by Wil Wheaton. It’s a good read, and resonates a lot. Something I should be doing myself, I imagine.
Last autumn, A List Apart had some posts discussing mental health. The Couch Cone of Silence is a good read discussing an important topic (namely, how to be respectful of friends and coworkers who are dealing with some mental/emotional issues).