Episode 20 - Mindful Cyborgs: The Beginning -- A Look Back at 2013

 HOSTS :

Monkey (Chris Dancy) 
Spider (Klint Finley) 
Cheetah (Alex Williams) 

 GUESTS :

SHOW NOTES :

 

 none

 

News:

Lost Year in Tech : argument is most trends were bad or overhyped, not a lot interesting or legitimately new

  • Bitcoin
  • Big data
  • Amazon drone
  • Stories that cast tech industry in bad light
  • Arrogance of silicon valley
  • etc 

Alex: less about technology, more with how it fits with humanity

2013 was the “collapse of the super-node, rise of mini super-nodes”

Chris saw more people swearing in headlines and online, more stories about culture and culture-lite, more about belief systems and theories

Tim Draper wants to make Silicon Valley it’s own state 

  • “And call that state Elysium??”

Conferences with disclaimers

#1 show of the year - Attentionalism, Netocracy, and the All-Consuming Flame of To(day)morrow with Alexander Bard

Main points of discussion based on Alexander’s theories:

  • Netocrats vs Consumtariat

  • Attentionalism overtaking capitalism

Klint doesn’t think it’s a new economy, but new ways people achieve elite status.  But ‘on to something’ in terms of that divide (tech-savvy, creative, interesting Netocrats vs. those that aren’t)

Artistic world with technology?

Klint’s new and first published piece of fiction

Dark Night of the Cyborg Soul -- Chris and Klint dove in to their experiences with depression

Nathan Jurgenson 

  • Digital dualism

  • Documentary-style vision

  • People talk and phrase things as if talking about social media when talking about IRL event

Chris live posted body stats while keynoting in London

Klint riffs on impermanence

Chris’s Dark Night was 18 months in to meditation practice.  Would get so sad and disconnected from all hope.

2013 Chris got okay with all going down

“As long as you are breathing, there is more right with you than there is wrong, no matter how ill or how hopeless you may feel.”  -John Kabat-Zinn

Alex: in a crowd, I count how many are looking at their phones.  Find concerning.  Too immersed?

IRL Fetish:  when offline, other’s around you are still plugged in and telling you information, and offline person often thinking about what they will do when online.  “Real life is where you get your facebook photos” -girl on bus

Distraction Addiction:  effects of blended reality, encourages people to try to disconnect.  Disagreement is how important those things are.  Can agree on “just design tech better.”

Nathan: fetishize disconnected state, pathologize people connected.  Becomes way to try to prove that you’re better than someone else.

Playing with phone during takeoff and landing

Words of the show 2013:

  • visions - unusual competence in discernment or perception; intelligent foresight
  • prophesy - to predict with assurance or on the basis of mystic knowledge
  • void - completely empty
  • commons - refers to the cultural and natural resources accessible to all members of a society, including natural materials such as air, water, and a habitable earth. These resources are held in common, not owned privately. The resources held in common can include everything from natural resources and common land to software. (from Wikipedia)
  • hustle - to move or work in a quick and energetic way;
    • or, from urbandictionary:
      • a) make money doing something slightly shady
      • b) dance from the 70's
  • paradigm - a distinct concept or thought pattern
  • object - anything that is visible or tangible and is relatively stable in form
  • micro-aggression - the idea that specific interactions between those of different races, cultures, or genders can be interpreted as small acts of mostly non-physical aggression.
  • disillusionment - a feeling of disappointment resulting from the discovery that something is not as good as one believed it to be.
  • performative - being or relating to an expression that serves to effect a transaction or that constitutes the performance of the specified act by virtue of its utterance
  • worried-well - people who are healthy but are worried about becoming ill and so take medication or see a doctor when they don't need to
  • pathologizing - regard or treat (someone or something) as psychologically abnormal or unhealthy.
  • contemplative - expressing or involving prolonged thought.
  • monastic - of or relating to monasteries or to monks or nuns
  • precariat - in sociology and economics, precariat is a social class formed by people suffering from precarity, which is a condition of existence without predictability or security, affecting material or psychological welfare as well as being a member of a Proletariat class of industrial workers who lack their own means of production and hence sell their labour to live. Specifically, it is applied to the condition of lack of job security, in other words intermittent employment or underemployment and the resultant precarious existence.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Precariat
  • electromyography - a technique for evaluating and recording the electrical activity produced by skeletal muscles.
  • big pharma - pharmaceutical industry
  • MONDO2000http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mondo_2000
  • Fractalnoia (Present Shock)

 

“It’s a strange time to have multiple selves” - Alex

 

Alex is reading Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen 

“When Dr. Leo Liebenstein's wife disappears, she leaves behind a single confounding clue: a woman who looks, talks, and behaves exactly like her. A simulatcrum."

Awesome "twitter-age" British scifi miniseries Black Mirror 

Excitement over Alan Turing getting a pardon pissed off Chris

  • “lots of people sharing are homophobic in daily lives”

  • homosexuality is still criminal in many countries

  • Alex: would have been better if UK gov admitted shame and disgust with actions

  • “Don’t all of a sudden get all Gay and Mighty on me”

 

Department of Defense released 170 pg manifesto on 25 year plan to make unmanned weaponry

 

 WORD OF THE WEEK : 

 Impermanence - The term expresses the Buddhist notion that all of conditioned existence, without exception, is in a constant state of flux (wikipedia)

 EVENTS : 

  •  SXSW  - March 7-16, 2014 Austin, TX (POSSIBLY SEE KLINT AND CHRIS PRESENT) 
  • Cyborg Camp - MIT Media Lab - August 2014 - Boston, MA
  • Buddhist Geeks Conference - October 16-19 2014; Boulder, CO

 THANK YOU / FIND US :

 PREVIOUS SHOWS :

 TRANSCRIPTION :

 

Mindful Cyborgs, Contemplative living in the age of quantification, augmentation and acceleration, with your hosts, Chris Dancy and Klint Finley.

 

CD: Welcome to Mindful Cyborgs. Hi, Klint.

 

KF: Hey how’s it going?

 

CD: Good. We just released chicken fries to APIs the final of the extravaganza that was like 8 shows out of Defrag and we’re joined today by someone we’ve been joined with before Alex Williams. How are you doing, Alex?

 

AW: I’m great, Chris. How are you? Hey, Klint.

 

KF: Hey, how’s it going?

 

AW: Good.

 

CD: So, Alex, we thought because sometimes Klint and I can’t be around we’ve been trying to get Alex to commit and still a no because we’re all still in our Buddhist closets some things and cyborg closets, but Alex I think it’s kind of unofficially official you’re in the third house now, right?

 

AW: Come in.

 

CD: You’re in. All right. And your spirit animal is?

 

AW: Cheetah.

 

CD: Cheetah and I’m monkey. Now, Klint, you weren’t there for the not so secret epic party that happened on a mountainside - I can’t even say the person’s name - during Defrag.

 

KF: Yeah, I think I picked spider during the last podcast.

 

CD: All right. So, we got spider and cheetah and monkey. So, guys, let’s catch up and get to the news because this is going to be an epic show because we’ve got a lot of stats and a lot of data to cover and shows to review. So, Klint, why don’t you kick off? You said there were a couple of stories. One I didn’t get a chance to read but everybody I follow was tweeting about the [00:02:00]. Well, what’s that all about?

 

KF: Well, the argument is that [audio skip] were either bad or over-hyped for example Bitcoin, Big Data I don’t know somehow the rest of the world kind of picked up on Big Data finally towards the end of last and this year so it also kind of brought along I guess the debunkers who also finally started to pay attention to this big buzzword.

 

The Amazon drone non-story I think was another example. If it wasn’t, it should have been [audio skip] then realizing it’s actually just total bullshit. And then some of the other thing this year were the story took a lot of the . . . just cast tech, the tech industry in a really bad light and a lot of the stories that we kind of talked about the arrogance of Silicon Valley [audio skip]. I’m kind of looking at all that [audio skip] look like a bad year for tech. Not a lot of new. This argument wasn’t a lot of interesting, legitimately new things coming out. Just a lot of people piling on to a few trends.

 

CD: Would be new but what would make Christopher Mims happy I wonder.

 

KF: I would argue that quantified self is a pretty interesting thing this year. I guess it’s not a new trend in 2013 but there were some pretty interesting things that we’ve talked about this year.

 

CD: I don’t know. We had Ernesto on. The movement’s been around since 2008. Everybody talks about [00:03:40] top quantified self resources but to me I kind of figured it was mainstream when I saw this literally the 65 year old woman at Tokyo Joe’s with a BodyMedia on. She might not even have known the term “quantified self” but she was measuring. So, strange.

 

AW: Seems to me like it’s not as much about the technology anymore as it is about how does this fit with humanity and I think that’s the big question right now. Technological milestones come and go and perhaps this year didn’t have as many milestones or didn’t have the excitement of year’s past but to me the discussion is starting to shift more toward what does this mean for me, what does this mean for us as people and how we’re going to balance the powers that have such control over such large [00:04:34] of technology. I hate that word but I’m going to use it and have such financial control and so what does that mean really for all of us out there.

 

And so the interesting things to me then is like how are these new technologies going to fit with our view of humanity and I think beneath that there is an endlessly fascinating story. I think Quartz is looking at the headlines and they make an argument that can be defended and it makes an argument of their own that technology is a funny thing and innovations come and go and you don’t know really what is going to affect the future or not but it kind of all swells up.

 

So, that to me is like the more interesting story is these developments underneath the surface because I still think there’s really interesting things that are emerging that I think are a lot of fun that are going to kind of transform existing technologies that we have now. I’ve been really hooked on this Meatspace, this app developed by this application engineer from Mozilla which is like snapshot combined with animated gifs. So, you have like this ephemeral chat session but every time you leave an update you also like pose for the camera and leave an animated gif. It’s almost better than video. There’s no audio so you don’t have to listen to the person and it all goes away.

 

CD: You guys hit on a couple of interesting things. What I noticed - I think you’ve explained this story, Klint. I’m trying to read it but now that you’ve said it, it makes sense. 2013 was really about almost the collapse of the super node, right? So, these people who are like super connectors almost like okay, I’m connected enough and like the rise of these kind of mini-super nodes and then you talked about what does this mean for humanity, I saw more people swearing online and swearing in headlines.

 

I saw more stories about culture or culture light. The stories about kind of the crazy stuff that happen at conferences or on sexism and racism and homophobia. I saw more stories about people’s belief systems and feelings and there seems to be this kind of epic battle brewing for 2014 over how badly can you offend me. I tweeted out earlier in the week 2014 I think this will be the year that humanity goes on trial online because it doesn’t seem like there’s anything that can happen that we can’t just attack and that’s not new but what is new is the reasons around it are getting to be very, very, very kind of hyper political and polarized. Do you guys notice any of those?

 

AW: The polarization is quite apparent to me at least. I think that the story at the end of the year just last week about Tim Draper saying that Silicon Valley should be its own state to me is a real sign of that polarization.

 

CD: What do we call that state, Elysium?

 

AW: Yeah, and that’s just to me an effort to really consolidate the power of the rich into one super state. I think that’s a clear example of the polarization.

 

CD: Klint, did you . . . we had Shanley on. She’s one of the shows we’re going to talk about in a bit but you saw some of the things that happened at conferences. Defrag opened up their conference with a whole section on there will be no talk of this and there will be no [00:08:05]. Conferences with disclaimers, there’s a O’Reilly conference coming up called Solid and when you apply one of the things they ask you is are you gay, black or are you one of these things that we don’t normally have on stage because we’re going to instantly give you more credit in consideration.

 

When I filled out the Solid to speak at Solid, I thought to myself wow, this is kind of crazy. What did they call it back in the 60s and 70s when they moved people through government ranks because they were minorities? Affirmative action. There’s digital or affirmative action happening. It’s just really strange.

 

AW: Digital affirmative action, yeah.

 

KF: Yeah. It feel like it’s really late for it to be happening. When you said affirmative action happen everywhere else decades ago, there’s also an argument to be made that things are actually -

 

CD: Worse.

 

KF: - worse outside of the tech industry but I’m glad that all these things are getting more attention. I don’t know how it’s all going to play out but there’s definitely a strong reaction against all of it as well. The more women that speak out the more just misogynistic douchebag guys also like react to it and actually kind of double down on being pricks and I don’t know where it’s all going to end up. I don’t know if there’s a better way of addressing the issues.

 

I think that a lot of times people get carried away with attacking individuals over tweets rather than thinking more about the big picture but at the same time usually people need to be called out on for what they say. So, I don’t know [00:09:45].

 

CD: Who was that PR person she tweeted about AIDS?

 

KF: Oh yeah. I don’t remember her name.

 

CD: I saw the tweet and I’m like okay and then I went back and some blogger had collected all her tweets from like 2 years’ worth of like her kind of question of content and yeah, as a body of work yeah maybe she’s a little bit dicey but I don’t know. There is a coming super witch hunt online and I just can feel it in my bones.

 

KF: Yeah. Well, it’s not coming it’s here. It feels like people are really . . .

 

CD: You think?

 

KF: Yeah. She wasn’t the first person that something like that happened to. There was . . .

 

CD: No, I think it’s going to get like really crazy worse. I go back to watching Shanley. I love her. Some people I like and I follow and respect looked at who I was following and said “Why are you following Shanley?” and like came after me. I’m like “What does it matter to you?”

 

KF: Yeah, she is really hyper polarizing in that way.

 

AW: Shanley is also a real fighter and that’s to me what’s important about Shanley she really fights what she believes in and I like to see more people fighting what they believe in and I think there is a corollary here to the civil rights movement when people were afraid to speak out and when people started to speak out, then you started to see change and Shanley is one of the first who started to speak out and I think in a very positive way.

 

I’ve known Shanley since ’08 or ’09 when I was at ReadWrite web and Shanley once pitched me and she wanted me to come to a conference in New York. She was working for a PR firm and I’ve always liked the people who work for PR firms are usually young women and you know that they are in a kind of a tough situation. It’s like they’ve got a pretty good paying job but really they’re given a list and they’re supposed to call it down and they’re supposed to then email incessantly until they get their numbers.

 

You know that a number of these women are actually very, very bright and so I started talking to Shanley I started talking about APIs and I was just curious what she knew about them and she knew a lot and from that point then I had a different view and context about Shanley and who she is and she went on and she’s become a bona fide technologist and I think there’s just a lot more people like that. There are a lot more people like out there and I’d love to see more.

 

CD: If you could suggest some, I’d love to follow some more of them. But for those of you who would love to check out Shanley she’s at - I think she’s at Shanley online. But she was Episode 12 this year. Some other guy Shanley statistics guy she was one of our top 3 shows. So, our most popular show she was up in one of the top 3. She’s actually show #2. She was the second most popular show. That show was recorded in October. It was called “Power, privilege and the new working order” and actually the word for that show was my co-aggression.

 

That’s just a little bit of quantified self. That was actually also the highest heart rate recorded for any show I do. My heart rate was 91 bpm as average in that show so little bit of stats there and that show total plays so far since we recorded it a little over 2,600. So, interesting stuff for Shanley.

 

KF: It’s encouraging that that show was listened to so much because it shows how interested people are in this stuff right now whether they’re for . . . I don’t know what you would call it like reform or what I would call reactionary but one way or the other like people are definitely paying attention and I feel like that’s got to be the first step.

 

CD: Speaking of paying attention let’s talk about the #1 show of the year. I don’t know if this is a good thing or how it feels. I had so many people who spoke to me after this show going I could tell you were a fan and Klint was kind of skeptical but the show of the year ended up being Alexander Bard. The show was called “Attentionalism, Netocracy, and the All-Consuming Flame of To(day)morrow”. Close to 4,000 listens. It was show 14 recorded in November.

 

Actually, Shanley was the second highest heart rate. Alexander Bard was the highest at 93. And the word of that show was paradigm but, Alex, I don’t know if you had a chance to listen to that show but Alexander Bard is a Nordic internet philosopher and he believes that we’re in this time of uber connected creativity. So, basically, you can be really well known and you can be really rich but it’s all going to go away and all that’s going to really matter is if you’re actually kind of artistic and can you keep someone’s attention and he thinks we’ve left capitalism and we’ve moved into what he calls attentionalism and this economy of attentionalism basically there are two groups of people the netocrats which are the uber people can’t stop paying attention to them and then the consumeriat . . .

 

He said some very colorful choice words about what these people do online. Basically, how they’re just mouth breathers digitally. Thoughts on attention and . . . I mean, the attention economy is not new but the fact that he thinks that basically there are these two groups of people online which I think kind of goes back into this separation and polarity we feel about work and job and money.

 

KF: I still think that it’s not really a new economy insofar what we’re seeing is just new or different ways that someone achieves or retains their elite status but that said I do think he’s onto something in terms of that divide. We’ve talked about it over the last few episodes what to actually do about it a world where you have a relatively small group of tech savvy people. It really goes beyond being tech savvy as he points out and I like the use of the semi-artistic just having some means of actually grabbing and holding somebody’s attention for some amount of time.

 

CD: That really is the point. You can be tech savvy but that’s not really enough anymore. You actually need to be tech savvy and interesting which is scary for a lot of people because they start doing all those kind of [00:16:45] part of the show, am I interesting, what is interesting. I meet a lot of people I work with and in conferences ago I would do more online, I would be on Facebook or on Twitter but I don’t have anything to say and you got to go gosh, what can we do. I don’t even know what to say to someone when they say stuff like that to me “You are interesting”.

 

I always tell people especially people who want to tweet because everybody wants to tweet like Cray tweets that a year from now are little fortune cookies to yourself. If you can read your tweet a year from now and it doesn’t make you cringe, that’s a good tweet but like that’s how I treat it. All my tweets are little messages from the future because I have all these services repeating back to me.

 

I don’t know. Alex, do you have an opinion on this sort of thing?

 

AW: I think that Bard gets to something. I’m just reading about him. He’s quite the character out there. I think that maybe Bard to me is representative of kind of this community still of very much forward thinkers who are helping kind of try to define this time we’re in.

 

CD: Alex he actually on the show said that Google’s paying him to help them figure out how all this functions. I don’t about you Klint but when you said that on there I thought that’s pretty grand thing to say.

 

KF: Yeah.

 

CD: Wow! Okay.

 

AW: He’s also an artist and I think that’s noteworthy. I think we’re still lacking kind of this an art movement that kind of speaks to kind of this changing time we’re in in terms of literature and music and artistic works be it digital or otherwise.

 

CD: Speaking of artistic and literature, Klint, you got your piece up now and I finally did get through it. Amazing! But Alex just made me thinking there is kind of the gap in the artistic world between where we are technologically as a culture and what we’re seeing in art. It seems like it go super retro or it’s like completely modern with some type of strange filter or ephemeral nature or some type of weird . . . I’d love to ask Nathan about that but where can people find your piece, your fiction piece?

 

KF: Dreadfulcafe.com

 

CD: Dreadfulcafe.com. So, check that out and then our third most popular show for the year . . . we got a bunch of different ways we looked at this. We looked at just total numbers and we looked at total sound card numbers which we can get some interesting stats on like what countries and that sort of thing was the show with no guest interestingly enough and that was Dark Night of the Cyborg Soul.

 

That was show 11 with just over 2,000 listens since we recorded it. That show was really interesting because for Klint and I . . . I’m not sure Klint if you remember recording that one but we kind of dove into kind of some dark mindfulness and wasn’t really disillusionment as much as you can get pretty profoundly depressed when you or at least for me what the show was about was being slightly aware and paying attention it can feel pretty lonely.

 

KF: And it can also start to make you feel crazy.

 

AW: How so?

 

CD: I don’t know, Alex. We’re pretty sure you’re a cyborg. We never really questioned you on your mindfulness. We should have screened him better, Klint.

 

AW: I want to explore that because I think there’s something to it but I’m curious on how so from your perspective.

 

CD: It’s one of the first shows where we actually got hard into Buddhism and it was right after my Buddhist Geeks conference experience. We talked a little bit about what is human suffering and suffering was basically attachment to people, outcome sort of things.

 

I think what’s interesting about the show was it was one of the shows were Klint actually dove in a little bit of his past and his experiences with depression and I dove into my mind which maybe I don’t know people found that really interesting but for me as I become or practice a level of awareness some days are better than others obviously I find people would be Alexander Pang would just masturbate all over those but it’d be profoundly disconnected.

 

Even without technology. I think this goes back to something that I heard Nathan Jurgenson say when we interviewed him. Social media’s strongest when we’re not on it because we’re obsessed with getting back to it. I can’t help observe the general populous even when they’re not on some form of technology fetishizing about getting back to some form of technology.

 

You can just see people stare . . . Nathan Jurgenson calls it documentary style vision and you can see people literally look at things as if it’s a picture and then describe them to you as if they’re a picture. People talk and phrase things as if they’re talking about social media even though they’re talking about an event and I’m wondering if you know in 2 years when people talk in numbers, when people talk in quantified self sense this is how everything was, this is how measured it was.

 

I don’t know. So, for me, Alex, I’m dealing with my own way. Klint pretty aware.

 

KF: We’ve already touched on that in the show where you pointed out these were the shows where I had the highest heart rate. You didn’t say these were the shows I was most excited about. You looked at it like the most quantified like possible way.

 

CD: Yeah. Only because we had that other show where I talked about when I was in London I posted my stats up on this when I was keynoting my heart rate movement and a bunch of other stats real time on the screen and I can’t remember who was on the show. I think Ernesto was on that show, Ernesto from the quantified self.

 

KF: I think it may have been one without a guest but that’s when I talked about emotional . . .

 

CD: Handicap digital emotions and what I thought was interesting about that, Alex, so now we’re talking about awareness and stuff but what I noticed about that show now we’re kind of going forward what we think people will be doing was when I did that it was first keynote I’ve ever done. Actually, that’s not true. I did Salesforce when I did a little bit of quantification so people could see my posture as I was presenting.

 

This woman came up to me afterwards and she goes “I just could not stop watching your heart rate while you were speaking and when you got kind of choked up, it just really moved me” and I’m like -

 

AW: Wow!

 

CD: I thought I kind of held it together. She goes, “Oh, no, you held it together but I could just see your body reacting to it” and I thought to myself, wow! I think I’m kind of freakish that I look at everything under this kind of data layer. Once Klint introduced me to this data exhaust. Sometimes I’ve to really be aware that people are organic and not look at temperature changes and light on their faces and also the kind of stuff that I look at.

 

I thought wow, she just looks at numbers and some people just look at numbers but then I thought well, maybe that’s normal. Maybe some people just love their dashboards and their cars. I don’t know. But if you’ve ever ridden in a Tesla, it’s info overload. It’s just like wow, there’s information everywhere in this car.

 

AW: So, for Klint how does that to you equate to depression?

 

KF: It doesn’t necessarily equate directly to depression. In my case I felt like it had more to do with anxiety as you start to become more aware of things in general. In my case it was less about data because I’m a bit less data obsessed than Chris but just the more you come to realize and accept . . . I guess maybe even before you reach acceptance but the more you realize how little you really know about the world, how little anybody knows about it, how it’s I guess kind of a Buddhist buzzword impermanent everything is the more you start to pay attention to that sort of thing and realize those sorts of things the more it can really start to wear on you after a while I guess.

 

CD: My data obsession is separate than my dark night because on this show I talk my dark night was directly 18 months into my own meditation practices where I while meditating or while groups with people and practicing really, really strong beginner’s mind or really accepting impermanence where I would become so sad and so deeply disconnected from any feeling of hope because I just thought gosh, will I ever know anyone again because I realize these people didn’t even have a relationship that I was starting to form with myself.

 

So, when I spoke to them, when I watched them wander in their minds and watched their hands fidget and little bit of sweat all the little things you notice were the cues. I thought my gosh do I have a relationship or am I just okay with okay it’s impermanence so it doesn’t matter. I’m not going to know you in a month and I think this was the year that I really became okay with it’s okay, everything’s going to die. I’m okay with that. This relationship, this podcast, this tweet nothing. It’s all going away and I’m really like going into 2014 I’m really coming to terms with I’m fine. It’s really that temporary. It doesn’t really make a difference.

 

Jon Kabat-Zinn says “If you’re alive, there’s more right with you than wrong with you” and I tell friends who call me sometimes depressed . . . I’m seeing a lot of people who are depressed lately who have no reason. I don’t know. I can’t say no reason but I tell them all the time the end is like when you’re dead so like everything else is fixable.

 

AW: Right.

 

CD: So, like just take a breath. Everything else is fixable. You’re still here with us.

 

AW: Right.

 

CD: Let’s get through those. I hope that cleared it up, Alex.

 

AW: I think it helps because I feel similarly so about the world we live in. I think especially people like us who are talking, who are thinking about this stuff all the time. It’s like I think a thinking process changes perspectives quite a bit. For me at least I try to live in the moment as much as possible but I find that the moments there’s variables. There’s different variations within that. So, for instance this is an engaging conversation and so I feel very much kind of alive right now.

 

I feel very alive when I’m writing a story that’s kind of making me think in a different way but I look at the dark side of things and that’s when I start to get little bit more I think depressed. I think for instance if you’re ever in a crowd I’m sure you guys do this but I do it quite a bit if I’m a crowd of people I count how many people are looking at their phones and it’s often. It doesn’t take you long to start really adding up the number of people who are looking at their phones.

 

I think that’s the part of me that I find . . . I find concerning is that we are getting too immersed in that.

 

CD: Let’s pull that apart because we had two guests this year that I think kind of really defined both sides of that spectrum. We had Alex Soojung-Kim Pang. I probably wrote his name but I know it’s Pang Alex, wrote a book called “The Distraction Addiction” and Nathan Jurgenson. And to me, Klinit, chime in quickly they represented either end of that spectrum, right?

 

KF: Yeah, definitely. Those are my two favorite shows of the year. I don’t have any heart data to back that up.

 

CD: Can you summarize for Alex because he wasn’t with us on those shows kind of Alex or Nathan’s point of view?

 

KF: Yeah. I think they’re at either end of a spectrum but I don’t necessarily think that they’re like opposed to each other. I think there’s some things they would disagree about some of the specifics but I don’t think that they’re like polar opposites or whatever. So, Nathan wrote a piece called IRL Fetish where he makes the case that there’s no such thing as online and offline. Everything is a blended reality now because like Chris was earlier when you’re offline you’re theoretically offline, you’re away from your computer, you don’t have your phone.

 

For one thing other people around you are still unplugged in very often like looking things up on their phones and telling you information and also you’re often thinking about what you’re going to do when you get back online. He quoted somebody he overhead like they’re on the bus say that real life is where you get your Facebook photos from or something like that.

 

Alexander Pang wrote the book “Distraction Addiction”. He talks a lot more about I think the effects of that blended reality and encourages people to try to disconnect. Both he and Nathan I think get into disagreement is how important that sort of thing is and [00:30:17] possible.

 

CD: Alex had also made the case that we just need to design tech better.

 

KF: Yeah.

 

CD: That’s the only place where I did want to choke him because people they’re on their phones all the time for God’s sake. Look how much electricity . . . you got your lights on all the time. I’m like what is this. Are you my grandfather from 1961? Of course they’re on their phones all the time but when you say if we just design tech better and it just was more a . . . something is simple and I love this. I think this is the classic example that friends Amber Case, Alexander Soo Pang all of our guests a really simple thing and if the recipe I saw this year they basically just used your hue lights and basically said if it’s cold outside the lights are bluer. If it’s hot out . . . do you know what I mean? So, just making the information accessible without getting in the way.

 

KF: Yeah.

 

AW: I think that’s it right there. There’s passive technologies.

 

KF: One of the other thing is that Nathan talks about was that we start to fetishize the disconnected state as well as pathologize people who are on their phones too much. He actually says in the article at the beginning that he wrote it while he was just outside, while he was disconnected from the internet. He has no problem with wanting to get away from the internet connection for a while but that it becomes like this way of kind of trying to prove that you’re better than somebody else.

 

Alex Pang agreed with that during the show too. As I recall he said now that people are spending tens of thousands of dollars to go unlike anti-technology retreats or whatever so that they can kind of brag about it to their friends is kind of [00:32:13] to what he’s talking about which is mostly just take a day off every week and read a book.

 

CD: I made that point at Defrag. If you’re upset that someone’s on their phone in front of you, you’re the one with the attention problem. I don’t know.

 

KF: It depends on who it is.

 

AW: I don’t know about that. I think you need to look inside. I think you need to look inside yourself. That’s what I’m always trying to do because it’s like if I’m looking at people all on their phones and try to think inside myself about okay, I’m seeing people on their phones. How does that reflect on me more than anything?

 

CD: But it doesn’t reflect on you. I think that’s the thing . . .

 

AW: No, my perceptions about those people being on their phone.

 

CD: My own awareness. This is where I think my own meditation and my own kind of Buddhist travels have helped me with this is I don’t know. I don’t know that that person just didn’t get a text saying there’s something with a family member. I don’t know that that person isn’t worried they’re going to lose their job tomorrow. There’s a lot of stuff I don’t know. So, I literally look at people and go, okay, that’s what you’re doing and that’s what I’m doing and we’re okay with this.

 

I worry more about the lost look when they just look at me and they can’t - well, partly, because they think what the hell is he talking about but let’s pretend they do know what I’m talking and they’re just I have no idea. It’s just like wow.

 

I don’t know if you guys have flown a lot but some of the freakishest behavior I’ve seen with technology is now that - I fly United - now, they’ve lifted the band on takeoff and landing. Oh my goodness! It is almost like a blatant flip the bird. Safety demonstration no one looking. I’m kind of old fashioned that way. If you’re going to put on a uniform and suck oxygen and fasten, I’m going to pay attention. I don’t know. Plus it’s kind of funny to watch them do it. I’m not saying it’s funny. Okay, safety demonstrations are funny. I’m going to say it.

 

Have you guys been on a plane and seen how people react now that you don’t have to you can use devices on takeoff?

 

KF: No, because I have not been paying attention.

 

AW: Me neither.

 

KF: No, seriously, I have not watched a safety demonstration in years.

 

AW: I’ve been busy fiddling with my phone.

 

KF: I’m usually reading a book.

 

CD: And that’s the other I’m upset about is all the magazine subscriptions I’ve kept for like 5 years to read during takeoff and landing, I now have no purpose for them.

 

AW: Exactly. That’s when I’m reading my books and I’m like oh, I could read my book during the takeoff and the landing.

 

CD: Amazon didn’t kill Barnes & Noble. Now, that we can actually . . . paper was killed by takeoff and landing devices.

 

All right. I want to go through something kind of fun for you guys. So, we usually do a word of the show. Each show we have like a word we just pick a random word and I’ll read you the words from this year and you can maybe pick a word that you think is interesting. Some of these I can’t pronounce. I’m so sorry I’m going to mess some of these up but prophecy, void, commons, object, hustle, performative, disillusionment, pathologizing, precariat, contemplative, paradigm, monastic, worried well, micro-aggression, Mondo 2000, electrorockgraphy - I can’t pronounce it - and fractalnoia. So, those were the words for the year.

 

AW: What’s the last one?

 

CD: Fractalnoia. Our very first show we talked about Present Shock, Douglas Rushkoff’s book.

 

AW: Ah, oh good. Okay. I was going to get to that one when we were just in the last part of the conversation the present shock.

 

CD: So, let’s maybe end on Present Shock. That’s how we started this year.

 

KF: Yeah. If you kind of get back a little bit, I think that for me a big part of the issue with all of the permanently connected state is the sense of anxiety that it all creates what Rushkoff calls Present Shock. That’s why I think that this idea of like disconnecting is so appealing but it’s hard because even when you’re disconnected the things that we’re producing the anxiety to begin with don’t really go away. Your job is still there with you possibly getting laid off from it.

 

Your family is still out there possibly having health problems that you may or may not know about. So, it’s a strange time to be alive I guess.

 

AW: It’s a strange time to have multiple selves I think as well.

 

CD: Yeah. Identity I think is huge. I don’t know. I’ve kept people who’re using bit strip basically to communicate their every waking moment. I don’t know what bit strips are. I’ve never used them but I see them as avatars on Twitter now. I think they started on Facebook but identity is so fluid. I don’t think I’ve ever seen identity as fluid as it is because of fractalnoia in these connected states and how easily you can slip in and out of.

 

There is this great little . . . I don’t want to say it’s great but there’s this interesting little application I found that Star Trek . . . I can’t remember the name. I’ll put on the show notes. But basically if someone favorites your tweets, you can basically take over their Twitter account and while I can allow someone to take over my Twitter account and navigate my Twitter account for one or two tweets. So, let’s them slip in as me. Not with my credentials but basically through this interface they put in something they want to tweet me.

 

I did it to this gal named Jenny [00:37:57] up out of Portland and I thought to myself, that’s just pretty wild that there is . . . how you’re allowed to do it is if someone’s favorited or you favorited their works, you both opt in and say, yeah, I’ll let you start and they call it start piloting. I’ll let you start pilot my Twitter account.

 

AW: So, who is that then? So, once that happens is that you or is that her?

 

CD: It’s her acting on my behalf because I gave her permission.

 

AW: So, who is that then? When you read that a year later who is that?

 

CD: I’ve no idea. It kind of blew my mind when I did it last month.

 

AW: So, that leads me to think of this word that I’m thinking a lot now is this simulacrum, right? And I actually just picked up this book last night that I’m reading of Atmospheric Disturbances by Rivka Galchen. And the premise is that - I’m reading here - “When Dr. Leo Liebenstein’s wife disappears, she leaves behind a single, confounding clue: a woman who looks, talks, and behaves exactly like her”. That’s the simulacrum.

 

CD: Are you watching Black Mirror? You guys have to check out Black Mirror. You can get it on [television].

 

KF: Yeah, I’ve seen it. Are you talking about the episode with the robot based on Tweet.

 

CD: Yeah, that episode blew my mind. There was one line and I’ve actually got it at a presentation I’m doing this year where his girlfriend says . . . this guy passes away and she has him reconstituted based on his social media activity. She says to him, “Gosh, you look so good!” and he goes “Well, I intended to take only the most flattering pictures of myself. So, this is what you got”. I’m like wow, I like that. I really like that.

 

Yeah, that’s such good stuff. Literally, there’s so much going on that’s why Mindful Cyborgs I think is a fun show to record with you guys.

 

AW: It’s a great show. I want to thank you for having me a part of that.

 

CD: Oh no, I can’t wait, cheetah. I don’t want to end without mentioning two pieces of news and just kind of get you guys’ feedback on it because they both kind of . . . they both made my body change. I won’t put an emotion name on it. The excitement people had over Alan Turing get a pardon I’ll just say that pissed me off.

 

AW: Yeah, right.

 

CD: That’s great but . . . and then it was really interesting. Two days later it was like all of these people were going, what about [00:40:22] good you get it, right? So fine. The other thing the Department of Defense like 2 days before Christmas releasing 170 page manifesto on their 25-year plan to make unmanned weaponry. I’m like, wow, that’s pretty ballsy. Oh well, I’ll just leave it at that.

 

AW: The tech leaders saying can’t happen soon enough.

 

KF: So, what pissed you off about the Turing pardon?

 

CD: Because there were a lot of people sharing it who are pretty homophobic in their day to day lives and maybe they just didn’t realize they just saw a headline “Alan Turing gets a pardon”. So, that’s the first thing that made me angry. I know some of these people who were really excited about this. I’m like you know he’s gay. He’s getting a pardon for being gay and like that’s a big deal and the second thing was homosexuality is still criminal in a lot of countries and Uganda’s killing people. I don’t know. I just think there’s a profound disconnect and maybe I’m heavily vested because I talk funny and I like flowery cologne but get over yourselves.

 

AW: I think it would have been better if fans said we are so ashamed.

 

CD: That and apology.

 

AW: Yeah, and we are so outraged by our own behavior and this is such a reflection on who we are and we need to think about this deeply and have a long discussion about it and decide what we’re going to do.

 

CD: I’ll be excited thinking of Oscar Wilde a pardon.

 

AW: Yeah.

 

CD: Yeah, let’s do that. It kind of infuriates me also that I know once the Olympics comes people are going to be freakin’ out all over again. Part of me is upset because gosh, I hate the LGBT, AIQ and all the other letters we have added to this thing is kind of mainstream now and everybody’s suddenly a queer expert. Sorry, I feel like Shanley in this respect. You’re not a queer expert. I’m a queer expert. I know what it’s like to use hanky codes, right?

 

AW: Right on. Right on.

 

CD: I’ve done this, all right? So, don’t sit there all of a sudden get all gay and mighty on me.

 

AW: This is an awesome one. It’s great to hear.

 

CD: Sorry Klint. Klint, are you happy that Turing got a pardon?

 

KF: I’m glad it finally happened. I didn’t see a lot of homophobic people tweeting that they’re happy about it. Mostly I saw people being like it was too little too late and it’s like yeah obviously but it’s like at least something happened eventually. It’s mostly pointless. It’s such a just token gesture but I don’t know. I didn’t think it was anything worth getting upset about one way or the other either.

 

AW: I think another way to look at it is that yeah, it’s a token gesture and everything else but it’s out there now. It’s out there and once it’s out there there’s no taking it back and that means other people are like have heard it and whether they believe in it or not they tweet it. Now, that’s out there. So, I think there’s something to say about that when any kind of company, any individual makes some statement that seems like a token of gesture. Well, it’s out there now and that has an impact of its own.

 

CD: Yeah. All right guys. Great show! We always kind of end this show with kind of events and some thank you. So, any place we can find you guys officially or unofficially over the next few months?

 

AW: I’ll be in the Valley in January. I’m doing something with Dell some brainstorm kind of event. That’s all I have planned right now.

 

CD: Nice!

 

KF: I don’t think I’ve got anything coming up that I know about until like October where the Mindful Cyborgs at the MIT Media Labs. Not Mindful Cyborgs, cyborg camp at the MIT Media Labs.

 

CD: It might be renamed by then. We don’t know. Stranger things have happened. I got our little official list we put on the website. By the way we have a website. It was another interesting stat from this year. Most of our listens come from iTunes and SoundCloud but then Technoccult your site, Klint and then APIs and ServiceSphere and then something I’ve never heard of called Mp3skull.me which scares me just in the name.

 

Check out Mindfulcyborgs.com. We’ve got all the show notes but we distribute it everywhere. Alex is over there and everything else. We’ve an events page where you can meet any one of us so if you’re ever out and about. I’ll be at the Humana Challenge. So, I’m talking to a bunch of doctors on Palm Springs on January 15th. I don’t know why. No, I am. It’s very nice of them to ask me. And then RootsTech which is a big genealogy conference in Salt Lake on February 5th. Some of us will be at South by Southwest. I don’t you guys might slip out there. That’s in March.

 

AW: I’m moderating a session at Southwest.

 

CD: There you go. And then if I have to kidnap Klint go to theorizing the web in April out in Brooklyn. It’s Nathan’s conference.

 

KF: Oh, I like to go there.

 

CD: Being sponsored by Snapchat. Yeah, it’s going to be hot and then we got cyborg camp MIT in October and then we got Buddhist Geeks October 16th. So, a lot of stuff coming up. I’m sure I’ll have a lot pretty now and then.

 

Gentlemen, I just saw you both in Portland. It’s an honor and a pleasure to know both of you and consider you friends and peers and everything else. It’s been a great 2013.

 

AW: Thank you Chris. You as well. And I’ll hope to see both of you soon.

 

KF: Yeah, see you next year.

 

CD: All right guys. This is Mindful Cyborgs 2013. It was good year. Go be kind to yourself.

 

KF: Thanks guys. Bye.

 

AW: Thanks.

 

 

CD: Later.