Two Be

You're either an observer or capturer, an introvert or extrovert, a doer or a dreamer.

But in all cases you can also be both, simultaneously: a photographer, an ambivert, a scientist.

People pigeonhole themselves into personalities based on their natural instinct. They refuse to leave their comfort zone. As Darwin taught us, however, those who adapt survive.

Every situation requires a different posture. It's your job to use whatever mindset is best suited for the moment. Otherwise, you can expect to stay in the same place.


Technology gouges the past to recreate tools for modernity. Case and point: VHS Cam, an iOS app that provides an 80s-like video camera lense.

Here are some of my recordings from this morning.

The timestamp converts the past quickly into the present. The "Play" button signals its nowness.

In the era of mobile phones with amazing camera technology, it's cool to have an app that takes us back to a time when we shot ugly videos.

Is Everybody on the Same Page?

Yes, and no. You can be on the same page but still disagree with the group. Some would call this immoral; others would call it being a team player.

"The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function." - F. Scott Fitzgerald

However, there comes a time when forced consensus runs its course. Colin Powell resigned from the Bush administration because he was tired of selling lies to the American public about Iraq's nuclear program. Kodak kept selling film despite the plea from its 24 year old employee to start selling the digital camera he created.

Narrow-mindedness is no excuse for continuing to reap the benefits of wrongness. Sometimes decisions are black and white. Agreeing to disagree avoids suffering fools.

Realer Than Real: How Social Media Is Evolving

Social media has evolved from edited real life to raw real life, from filtered photos on Instagram to in the moment videos on Snapchat. But there are more subtle changes happening as well.

Instagram is where you go to catch the highlights, the best scenes from someone's journey. People used to over-filter their photos to make everything appear beautiful. Today, most users prefer to keep their images unfiltered or slightly retouched. Not only does it feel more authentic but #nofilter photos also get the most likes.

Teens are also using Instagram as a live-journal, elaborating on their pictures to give them more context. Blogging is becoming popular again.

While Snapchat projects reality, it too contains elements of staging. I've seen people, myself included, do at lest least 3-4 different takes until they get that video selfie just right. So there's still an element of perfectionism in Snapchat too.

Snapchat and Instagram are popular social networks because they complement reality and fulfill the desire to share. Everyone wants to be heard and feel important. Determining which app to use though depends on the story you want to tell. Projecting a little bit of edited reality while still making the content appear raw seems to be the aim.

Interesting Reads: Sacrificing the right to walk, the "creative apocalypse" that never came, the paradox of forecasting, and more

I'm looking to make some changes to the newsletter. In the meantime, here's some of the more interesting pieces I stumbled across this week.

Arts & Culture

We are sacrificing the right to walk

Nietzsche knew it. So did Steve Jobs. Jerry Seinfield and Maria Kalman are also advocates. Walking is not only meditative, it's good exercise. The LA freeway may have once been considered "a work of art" but now it's one big traffic jam. Walking is cool again.

“Walking is a complex interconnection of cognitive processes and sensory inputs. The transfer of information from foot to brain, between the inner ear and visual reception, is mind-bogglingly difficult to calculate.”

The Creative Apocalypse That Wasn’t

Napster devalued the price of music but it also birthed more musicians. The same thing eventually happened to all art. Devices like the Go Pro and the iPhone make it easy for anyone to be a photographer or writer. On top of this, the cost to promote the work on the Internet is nothing. What separates the real artists from the 'amafessionals' is the commitment to the work.

“From the consumer’s perspective, blurring the boundaries has an obvious benefit: It widens the pool of potential talent. But it also has an important social merit. Widening the pool means that more people are earning income by doing what they love.”

+ Diplo chimes in: "technology has never really benefited the artist, it’s always benefited the audience."

Philosophy & Productivity

A Short Course in Superforecasting

All believing is betting. That's why probability is a tough game. But you can still make some good bets based on the evidence. For example, there was high likelihood that Bin Laden was staying in a compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. However, the case for going to war in Iraq was based on insufficient evidence of Iraq's nuclear weapons. Hindsight is 20/20?

“history doesn't offer control groups. Everything is counterfactual.”

Social Media & Technology

Social Media Digest #10: Giphy enables easy GIF creation, the top 25 apps in America, and more

Social Media Digest #10: Giphy enables easy GIF creation, the top 25 apps in America, and more

  1. There's never really been an easy way to create GIFs on your phone. Giphy unveiled GiphyCam this week to help simplify that process. With Facebook adopting GIFs in the feed, it finally looks like GIFs will have a home beyond Tumblr. Here's me walking my dog underwater.

2. Quartz published the top 25 apps in America based on monthly unique visitors. Not surprisingly, 8 of the top 10 are owned by either Facebook or Google. My question is: who's still using Apple maps?

3. The popular Newsletter Skiimrevealed this week how it's obtained 1.5 million subscribers. The secret sauce behind its success has been the durability of email and strong social media advocates, what it calls the Skimm’bassadors.

4. Pew reports this week that people are hooked on Instagram with "59% of Instagram users are on the platform daily, including 35% who visit several times a day." Facebook still reigns champ.

5. Facebook revamped its 'Notes' feature to get more of its users blogging. Not surprisingly it looks a lot like Medium. The timing is ideal since blogging and reading long-form seems to be becoming popular again.

Last Notice

"Be a first class noticer." - Warren Bennis

More important than the ability to see, hear, and observe is to notice. Noticing is the art of picking up on subtleties.

  • Notice the trepidation in someone's voice.
  • Notice the computer screen that needs to be wiped.
  • Notice when someone gives you a desultory nod or becomes bored listening to you.

Noticing is a prompt to create emotion. It redirects a conversation into one that's less transactional and more meaningful. It intends to show others what they missed, including the obvious and mundane.

Often unseen and often unheard: Notice.

Reconsider the Obvious



Do the obvious.  Write what people want to hear.  Take the picture people want to see on Instagram.  Do whatever everyone else is doing.

Seeking consensus thwarts creativity.  Conformity taints the art.  By following the likes and retweets, you'll just be another cog in the system of popularity.

Perhaps when everyone's going one way, you should think about going the other.  Doing the exact opposite steers a new path to fresh thinking.  Give them what you want.

Teach Something

It's one thing to share what you know. It's another thing to teach how you do it.

People are interested in process. They don't necessarily want to steal the way you do it but understand how it's done so they can attempt to replicate it and then create their own version or mashup. Remember: Everything is a remix.

If you're looking for some inspiration about "how" to do things (draw a ladder, make a pinhole camera, or make hummus), check out Creative Morning's new "Skills" page.

"What will you teach the world?"

To Meander...

Meander with purpose. Meander like jazz music does through a hip hop track. Be the improvisational sample that augments the whole but retains the ability to stand on its own.

Meander like a snake slithers in and out of the tiniest gaps. Push on with a quiet purpose, just enough that others hear you but don't get in your way.

Meander, not just to be another layer in someone else's business but to be an important piece. Find the holes and fill them in with a distinct touch that's noticeable only to deft ears.

Quality shines wherever there's enough light.

One More Cup

Names divide people.  The Aussies call McDonalds "Mackers."

Once you realize we're all talking about the same thing just in different ways you can move on from misunderstanding. 

Not everything homogenizes the world like a Coca-Cola.  The more interconnected and borderless we are (thanks Internet!), the more we need unique identifiers to make us stand out.  

The differences in language may be subtle but they're important, otherwise all world culture is the same.   

Broken by Accident

The only time you drop your phone is when you remove its case. That's not actually true, of course.

People exaggerate things because they need a reason to explain their own failures, even if they're committed by accident.

Bad timing isn't preventable. It just happens.

Imagine all the things that go well most of the time. Paradoxically, trying to prevent unfortunate events will only increase their likeliness of happening.

You're better off just living and letting go. Shit happens. Deal with it.

Social Media Digest #9: Facebook as a paid service, how to avoid mindless social media use, the man that invented the digital camera, Snapchat is the new autograph, and more

  1. Should Facebook offer a paid service in exchange for no ads and complete privacy? Facebook made 3 billion dollars last year in advertising revenue. Even if Facebook offered a paid service that also brought in billions of dollars, there would still be people that would want to use it, aka sell their data to advertisers for free. Facebook users are the product. Ironically, we continue to feed the machine and gain nothing from it but a forum for keeping in touch with friends. What Rihanna says...

  2. If you want be more mindful of your social networking habits (re: mobile addiction), you simply have to delete social apps off your phone to prevent any temptation to mindlessly scroll the feeds.

“When we twiddle about on our phones, refreshing feeds for countless social networks we don’t learn anything. All we get is bite sized snippets of useless information.”

Consider adopting some of these strict iPhone usage rules.

3. Disrupting your own company wasn't always a popular thing to do. Just ask the Kodak employee that invented the digital camera in 1975.

“They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set.”

Just substitute television set for mobile phones and you get Instagram, Kodak's replacement.

4. Technology is changing relationship culture. The people that complain about how Tinder ruins dating are the same dinosaurs that complain that the Internet has done more harm than good to friendships. There's no escaping the Internet's app interconnectivity. New habits evolve with technology until they become the new norm.

5. After attending a store event this week for work, this is something I've noticed: Snapchat, not Twitter nor Instagram, is the new autograph.

Snapchat Is the New Autograph

Hand-written autographs are dead. Even digital autographs are transforming.

The digital autograph used be a retweet or an Instagram post with a celebrity. The new autograph is a Snapchat selfie with the celebrity's doodle.

Who knows, maybe the future autograph will be consist of celebrities trading customizable emojis with their fans?

Whatever it is, the autograph itself is more impermanent than ever. It's a stamp used to declare a social moment rather than a personal memory that you cherish forever.