Like to Copy, Like to Buy

Word of mouth is the most trusted form of marketing. Both your friends and influencers on social networks convince you to buy stuff.

But a room of anonymous people can also impact your purchase behavior.

Everyone's got a Suburban because it's the most ubiquitous car in the neigboorhood. Everyone's got a dog because the entire apartment does too.

Buying is fitting in. Comparison prompts the urge of fulfillment. People are built to copy other people.

Newsletter #57: Why Little Kids in Japan Are So Independent, 2015 with Brian Eno, Walking Paris, and more

Arts & Culture

Why Little Kids in Japan Are So Independent

Independence. Competition. Guns. There's more than a few reasons why American parents don't let their 9 year old kid take the subway by themselves. But Japanese culture has a tighter sense of community trust.

A child out in public knows he can rely on the group to help in an emergency.

2015 with Brian Eno

You have to eat. You have to cloth yourself. You have to move. These are essential needs. Everything else: your food preference, type of clothes, and walking style are all examples of stylization.

"Art is everything you don't have to do." - Brian Eno

Oil paintings by Abbey Ryan

Abbey Ryan has created a painting every day for the last 8 years. She's living proof that working on a labor of love can be a meditative practice. You don't need to fell inspired to do the work, especially if you do it for yourself.

What is important is what my daily painting practice means to me. Spending time pushing paint around is a way of life. Some days are a challenge, but for eight years, this vocation has enriched my heart and mind and soul, and this inspires me to continue painting as often as I do.

Philosophy & Productivity

Practicing Empathy

If someone makes fun of you, fault their ignorance.  If someone shares a selfie on Instagram and Facebook, let your cynicism go. Instead of getting annoyed at things you dislike, build up some empathy.  Try to understand where people are coming from and why they do as they do.

Instead of sticking to my cynical judgements about people who take selfies, empathy helped me understand the behavior and motivation behind it. Once you understand that and connect that dot with human nature—the desire to belong and be seen, the hit of dopamine that rushes in the brain when you get a like—you really can’t be angry about it. It’s being human.

The Flâneur Discovers Paris, a Step at a Time

Aimless walking in a big city is just about the best thing there is, especially if that city is Paris. The French call this "passionate wanderer spectator" a flâneur. There are two rules to flânerie: Rule #1 don't look away from passerby and #2, slow down.

You have to surrender to the present.

Social Media & Tech

On the blog: An App for Everything

There's no reason to leave the house when you can summon everything with an app.

New Music

Episode 67 | Tunes of the Week

  1. FOLD 'Dreamscape' (Kassem Mosse Remix)
  2. LAKIM w | Sango - Açúcar
  4. Rezzett – Goodness
  5. Do£ Boy - Smoke Drink And F22k (GPWW Premiere)
  6. Danny Seth - Safe (Prod. Zach Nahome)

> Peep the playlist

Thought of the Week

I’m not a fucking genius. I work my ass off. — Lin-Manuel Miranda

Undergraduate Admissions

Below are some of the interview questions prospective students get asked at Oxford University. With today being the day High Schoolers predetermine their lives by taking the SATS (jk), I thought I’d answer a few.

Is it easier for organisms to live in the sea or on land?

It depends on the number of competitors that live in each area. However, the human species intensifies the 'survival of the fittest' on terra firma. Humans start wars.

What makes a short story different from a novel?

Short stories can be as long as a Tweet, a blog post, or a 30-page PDF. The plot gets revealed sooner. A novel works more like chess, where multiple stories can be happening at once. Novels are long and tend to only be finished if the reader is interested or entertained. One writer's novel can be another's short story, and vice versa. Length is perspective.

What is ‘normal’ for humans?

Normal for humans is having a brain. What separates humans is their propensity to follow. Humans are either lemmings or weirdos, with ambiverts hustling in between.

Work as Failure Prevention

No one cares about nor remembers success. They only look for failure, since that's something to talk about and gives them the leg up. If you just talked about the things that went well, it goes, then there wouldn't be any room for improvement.

Yet people rarely get praised for the right decisions and always get called out for the wrong ones. Success thinking is a paradox. It focuses more on preventing failure instead of celebrating progress.

Fear of getting fired. Fear of underperforming. Fear of disapproval. Fear of making mistakes. If fear drives your work, then you've already given someone the keys to your destiny.

Stressing failure and blame and not giving enough credit ensures good work never sees the day of light.


When in doubt talk about the weather. It's a neutral, non-offensive topic that seems to be on people's minds all the time. What's so appealing about the weather is that it's one of the things technology can't control.

No weather gets more press than that which hits the East Coast. The media is already hyping Hurricane Joaquin. In a deep, twisted fantasy the media outlets want to see it happen because it gives them content to talk about.

Storms also give social users something to discuss. Armed with mobile phones and Instsgram, everyone becomes their own storm chasers.

We can’t control the weather but we can use it to control a conversation.

BTW, they discovered water on Mars.

To Put a Name to a Face

Everyone wants to put a face to a name but more often people end up applying a predetermined name to a face.

People exist as adjectives before we get to know their names. We identify them by the way they look and style themselves. That person is attractive. He or she dresses well. That man needs a desperate haircut!

It’s human nature to prejudge an anonymous person. Even the most open-minded people have to control their own bias.

That's why we have to go deeper. More than looks, more than style, even more than a name, is character. We have to get to know other people before we can make a judgment about them.

What's on the inside of the person's face? Your character is also their center of attention.

Brian Eno on Culture, aka the "Creative Arts"

You have to eat. You have to cloth yourself. You have to move. These are essential needs. Everything else: your food preference, type of clothes, and walking style are all examples of stylization.

Nobody sports a random haircut. Nobody likes all types of music. Art is both a cultural personalization and presentation. Art enables adults to continue to use their imagination like kids.

Fashion is play. Movement is play. Music is play. Your way of speaking is play.

"Art is everything you don't have to do." - Brian Eno


Get Physical

"Work is force times distance." That's the basis of perpetual motion, aka physics. The faster something move, the warmer it gets.

To put it another way in the scheme of life: You don't get something for nothing. Output generates the pace of change.

The best part is about motion is that you don't have to get the chemistry right before taking action. You just go and let the laws of movement teach you where to go next.

If you're reaching for a goal, you'll need to keep the faith because there will be impediments along the way that try to weaken your energy, discourage your spirit, and make you quit.

When in doubt, keep working, keep moving. Success is a constant drip.

An App for Everything

There's no reason to leave the house when you can summon everything with an app.

  • You can explore the world with Snapchat. Open the app today and you can watch South Koreans celebrate Chuseok.

  • You can order all kinds of food and have it delivered in just a few clicks.

  • You can get a first level education by googling a syllabus and gathering information. YouTube can help further your education.

The Internet is the largest interconnectedness machine that does everything for us. You can do whatever you want with it without ever leaving the couch. Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard only make the virtual experience even more real.

The Internet doesn't care how you experience the world, in virtual reality or in real life. The Internet wants to flatten the world so that the same opportunities exist everywhere.

But with massive opportunity becomes equal responsibility. It takes discipline to use the Internet as a learning tool. The Internet intends to connect you with like-minded people, stimulate discussion and curiosity, and make it possible to achieve your ambitions.

It's too easy to mistake the Internet as another passive experience like TV. A little Snapchat browsing is fine here and there. Everyone needs down-time. But life is much richer than channel surfing.

We don't need an app for everything, to do nothing of true importance.

Don't Stress the Technique

Stress or boredom? You can't have both. But each offers its own valuable lesson.

Boredom triggers you to try something new. It's the reason people find new jobs or new hobbies or new apps.

Stress triggers you to seek certainty. It wants you to scratch the itch off the unknown.

Boredom and stress can both backfire of course. Accepting boredom risks complacency. Excess stress leaves you paralyzed and hurts your heart. But nothing is worse than stressing out because you're bored.

Go for a walk. Cook. Do something. Move something.

"In Real Life"

  • Art shows
  • Fashion shows
  • The movies

Scarcity and newness and/or history drive interest.  You don't go to an art gallery with an expectation to take the piece of art home.  The closest you'll get is the postcard or the picture on your camera.

You don't watch a fashion show with the intention of ever owning any of the clothing.  It's too expensive and not even out yet, although celebrities do seem to find a way to get their hands on them before anyone else.

You don't go to the movies because you can watch that same film at home on the couch via Bittorrent.  You go the movies to see a flick on the big screen, something you can't replicate at home unless you're Peter Jackson who owns an iMax movie theater in his backyard.  

We consume spectacles more often than the things themselves.  That's why people are excited about virtually reality/3D via Oculus Rift or Google Cardboard.  These are the tools that will bring us even closer to the things we'll never own or the places we'll never go.  

All we want to feel is the emotion.  That's what creates memories.  Tangible or not, the vicarious experience may be just as good as the real thing.