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robertogreco : hivemind   10

You Are Boring — The Magazine
"Everything was going great until you showed up. You see me across the crowded room, make your way over, and start talking at me. And you don’t stop.

You are a Democrat, an outspoken atheist, and a foodie. You like to say “Science!” in a weird, self-congratulatory way. You wear jeans during the day, and fancy jeans at night. You listen to music featuring wispy lady vocals and electronic bloop-bloops.

You really like coffee, except for Starbucks, which is the worst. No wait—Coke is the worst! Unless it’s Mexican Coke, in which case it’s the best.

Pixar. Kitty cats. Uniqlo. Bourbon. Steel-cut oats. Comic books. Obama. Fancy burgers.

You listen to the same five podcasts and read the same seven blogs as all your pals. You stay up late on Twitter making hashtagged jokes about the event that everyone has decided will be the event about which everyone jokes today. You love to send withering @ messages to people like Rush Limbaugh—of course, those notes are not meant for their ostensible recipients, but for your friends, who will chuckle and retweet your savage wit.

You are boring. So, so boring.

Don’t take it too hard. We’re all boring. At best, we’re recovering bores. Each day offers a hundred ways for us to bore the crap out of the folks with whom we live, work, and drink. And on the Internet, you’re able to bore thousands of people at once.1

A few years ago, I had a job that involved listening to a ton of podcasts. It’s possible that I’ve heard more podcasts than anyone else—I listened to at least a little bit of tens of thousands of shows. Of course, the vast majority were so bad I’d often wish microphones could be sold only to licensed users. But I did learn how to tell very quickly whether someone was interesting or not.

The people who were interesting told good stories. They were also inquisitive: willing to work to expand their social and intellectual range. Most important, interesting people were also the best listeners. They knew when to ask questions. This was the set of people whose shows I would subscribe to, whose writing I would seek out, and whose friendship I would crave. In other words, those people were the opposite of boring.

Here are the three things they taught me.

Listen, then ask a question
I call it Amtrak Smoking Car Syndrome (because I am old, used to smoke, thought that trains were the best way to get around the country, and don’t really understand what a syndrome is). I’d be down in the smoking car, listening to two people have a conversation that went like this:

Stranger #1: Thing about my life.
Stranger #2: Thing about my life that is somewhat related to what you just said.
Stranger #1: Thing about my life that is somewhat related to what you just said.
Stranger #2: Thing about my life…

Next stop: Boringsville, Population: 2. There’s no better way to be seen as a blowhard than to constantly blow, hard. Instead, give a conversation some air. Really listen. Ask questions; the person you’re speaking with will respect your inquisitiveness and become more interested in the exchange. “Asking questions makes people feel valued,” said former Virgin America VP Porter Gale, “and they transfer that value over to liking you more.”

Watch an old episode of The Dick Cavett Show. Cavett is an engaged listener, very much part of the conversation, but he also allows his partner to talk as well. He’s not afraid to ask questions that reveal his ignorance, but it’s also clear he’s no dummy.2

Online, put this technique to use by pausing before you post. Why are you adding that link to Facebook? Will it be valuable to the many people who will see it? Or are you just flashing a Prius-shaped gang sign to your pals? If it’s the latter, keep it to yourself.

Tell a story
Shitty pictures of your food are all over the Internet. Sites like Instagram are loaded with photo after photo of lumpy goo. What you’re trying to share is the joy you feel when the waiter delivers that beautifully plated pork chop. But your photo doesn’t tell the story of that experience. Your photo rips away the delicious smell, the beautiful room, the anticipation of eating, and the presence of people you love.

Instead, think of your photo as a story. When people tell stories, they think about how to communicate the entirety of their experience to someone else. They set the stage, introduce characters, and give us a reason to care. Of course, that’s hard to do in a single photo, but if you think in terms of story, could you find a better way to communicate your experience? How about a picture of the menu, or of your smiling dinner companions? Anything’s better than the greasy puddles you have decided any human with access to the Internet should be able to see.

Expand your circles
Several years ago, my wife and I went on a long trip. We had saved a little money, and the places we were staying were cheap, so we could afford private rooms in every city but one. Guess where we made the most friends? In Budapest, where we were jammed into a big room with a bunch of folks, we were forced into situations we never would have sought out. I wouldn’t have met Goran, the Marilyn Manson superfan who was fleeing the NATO bombing of Belgrade on a fake Portuguese visa. Or Kurt, the Dutch hippie who let us crash on his floor in Amsterdam. Stepping out of your social comfort zone can be painful, but it’s one of the most rewarding things you can do.3

As you widen your social circle, work on your intellectual one as well. Expose yourself to new writers. Hit the Random Article button on Wikipedia. Investigate the bromides your friends chuck around Twitter like frisbees.

When you expand your social and intellectual range, you become more interesting. You’re able to make connections that others don’t see. You’re like a hunter, bringing a fresh supply of ideas and stories back to share with your friends.

The Big Bore lurks inside us all. It’s dying to be set loose to lecture on Quentin Tarantino or what makes good ice cream. Fight it! Fight the urge to speak without listening, to tell a bad story, to stay inside your comfortable nest of back-patting pals. As you move away from boring, you will never be bored."
interestingness  interestedness  listening  scottsimpson  2012  uniqueness  hivemind  echochambers  noise  howtolisten  howto  storytelling  cv  homogeneity  diversity  exploration  interviewing  instagram  twitter  blogs  blogging  podcasts  dickcavett  boringness  interested 
october 2013 by robertogreco
TED talks are lying to you - Salon.com
"What our correspondent also understood, sitting there in his basement bathtub, was that the literature of creativity was a genre of surpassing banality. Every book he read seemed to boast the same shopworn anecdotes and the same canonical heroes. If the authors are presenting themselves as experts on innovation, they will tell us about Einstein, Gandhi, Picasso, Dylan, Warhol, the Beatles. If they are celebrating their own innovations, they will compare them to the oft-rejected masterpieces of Impressionism — that ultimate combination of rebellion and placid pastel bullshit that decorates the walls of hotel lobbies from Pittsburgh to Pyongyang.

Those who urge us to “think different,” in other words, almost never do so themselves. Year after year, new installments in this unchanging genre are produced and consumed. Creativity, they all tell us, is too important to be left to the creative. Our prosperity depends on it. And by dint of careful study and the hardest science — by, say, sliding a jazz pianist’s head into an MRI machine — we can crack the code of creativity and unleash its moneymaking power.

That was the ultimate lesson. That’s where the music, the theology, the physics and the ethereal water lilies were meant to direct us. Our correspondent could think of no books that tried to work the equation the other way around — holding up the invention of air conditioning or Velcro as a model for a jazz trumpeter trying to work out his solo.

And why was this worth noticing? Well, for one thing, because we’re talking about the literature of creativity, for Pete’s sake. If there is a non-fiction genre from which you have a right to expect clever prose and uncanny insight, it should be this one. So why is it so utterly consumed by formula and repetition?"



"Using Vincent van Gogh as an example, the author declares that the artist’s “creativity came into being when a sufficient number of art experts felt that his paintings had something important to contribute to the domain of art.” Innovation, that is, exists only when the correctly credentialed hivemind agrees that it does. And “without such a response,” the author continues, “van Gogh would have remained what he was, a disturbed man who painted strange canvases.” What determines “creativity,” in other words, is the very faction it’s supposedly rebelling against: established expertise.

Consider, then, the narrative daisy chain that makes up the literature of creativity. It is the story of brilliant people, often in the arts or humanities, who are studied by other brilliant people, often in the sciences, finance, or marketing. The readership is made up of us — members of the professional-managerial class — each of whom harbors a powerful suspicion that he or she is pretty brilliant as well. What your correspondent realized, relaxing there in his tub one day, was that the real subject of this literature was the professional-managerial audience itself, whose members hear clear, sweet reason when they listen to NPR and think they’re in the presence of something profound when they watch some billionaire give a TED talk. And what this complacent literature purrs into their ears is that creativity is their property, their competitive advantage, their class virtue. Creativity is what they bring to the national economic effort, these books reassure them — and it’s also the benevolent doctrine under which they rightly rule the world."

[Update: Alan Jacobs, in response to the first passage above: http://text-patterns.thenewatlantis.com/2013/10/one-weird-trick-to-unleash-your.html ]

"I’d like to suggest an answer to this question: the problem is that there’s actually no such thing as “creativity.” It’s a made-up concept bearing no relation to anything that exists. It’s a classic case of what the Marxists used to call “false reification.” Let’s never speak of it again."
creativity  class  ted  tedtalks  2013  elitism  gatekeepers  hypocrisy  alanjacobs  marxism  hivemind  innovation 
october 2013 by robertogreco
Meta is Murder. Writing and lesser things by Mills Baker. Look at the masterpiece, and not at the frame —....
Look at the masterpiece, and not at the frame — and not at the faces of other people looking at the frame.

"Vladimir Nabokov in his lectures on Russian literature, opposing the primary type of academic and popular criticism: what we might call the demographic-reactive type. The overwhelming majority of opinion derives less from any internal response to a work of art (or political idea or cultural trend) than from what sorts of reactions we imagine on other faces looking at the frame, as it were.

If we’re observant, we see that when we encounter something we have often hardly finished perceiving it when we begin to imagine how others might react, and how still others would react to that reaction, and only at last do we begin to react according to our own demographic allegiances or resentments. We carry our friends, but still more our enemies, with us in every judgment."
millsbaker  judgement  bias  criticism  2013  trends  self  allegiances  reactions  internet  opinions  opinion  frame  framing  selfhood  theself  performance  witoldgombrowicz  vladimirnabokov  swarming  flocking  hivemind 
march 2013 by robertogreco
The Sims designer creating new game for real life | Reuters
"I’ve had a couple of experiences where I realized that I’m surrounded by opportunities in life that I’m not aware of…I realized that we could build a system — if we had a situational awareness about you, about who you are, where you are, what time of day it is, how much money is in your pocket, what’s the weather like, what your interests are, etc. — that could make your life much more interesting.

If we had that much situational awareness about you and at the same time we were building this very high-level map of the world…all sorts of things like historical footnotes & people you might want to meet. I started thinking about games that we can build that would allow us to triangulate you in that space and build that deep situational awareness. There will be all types of games, but the key will be focusing the experiences, including multiplayer, within the real world and away from the fictional world that games currently invest in."
play  situationalawareness  context  awareness  situationist  situated  arg  gaming  2012  hivemind  games  willwright 
january 2012 by robertogreco
David Byrne's Journal: 12.14.11: "You 'Da Boss?" Collective Creation
"Others have preferred to view the social insects, not as social cities composed of individuals, but as single super organisms—more like one being made up of millions of semi-autonomous crawling “cells.” This would mean that these towering termite mounds and the tunnels of the ant colonies might represent the clothing or shell that belongs to a collective whole being…

If we make that leap, then we too can be seen as sophisticated works of “soft” architecture. Just like the cities of the ants, bees and termites, one would never imagine that our little cells would be able to individually make and organize a structure as complex as we are. If we reorient our viewpoint, and can see ourselves as a kind of ant colony, we get a frightening insight that maybe our sense of free will is not much more than that of the ants and termites. Our most beautiful cities, and maybe we too, are not much more sophisticated than those of the social insects."
deborahgordon  wikipedia  collective  collectiveaction  collectivecreation  nature  insects  occupywallstreet  ows  creation  art  music  indeterminacy  terryriley  johncage  buddhamachine  madlibs  williamsburroughs  exquisitecorpse  yvestanguy  joanmiro  manray  bernardrudofsky  hivemind  consilience  2011  freewill  timbuktu  architecture  socialinsects  networks  organisms  cities  creativity  collectivism  politics  society  economics  davidbyrne 
december 2011 by robertogreco
people clouds (tecznotes)
"I've only been conscientiously tagging my links for a few months, but already I'm starting to get a clear picture of the kinds of material I get from my friends. I love the idea that a nice stick-and-rock diagram can be made to sum up the specific expertise of people I know, and the topics I look for from each of them. ... Do you tag your links like this? Does it help you develop a sense for those in your circle who are go-to people for certain topics? Does it help you get through your daily reading to know what certain people are best at? Don't you wish that Delicious would let you check your own name for the hive-mind consensus about what you're good for? "
michalmigurski  tagging  tags  del.icio.us  diagrams  clustering  hivemind 
june 2009 by robertogreco
cloudmakers.org
"On April 11, 2001, Cloudmakers was founded as a discussion group for the interative web game centered around the film A.I. We officially solved the game on July 24, 2001. Though the original game, The Beast, has ended, Cloudmakers now serves as a clearin
arg  games  gaming  play  gamedesign  2001  ai  community  entertainment  microsoft  participation  hivemind  perplexcity  pervasive  marketing  interactive 
june 2008 by robertogreco
Kevin Kelly -- The Technium - Technologies That Connect
"To the degree that infrastructure, education, and trade can be decentralized, wealth will rise in proportion. To the degree that infrastructure, education and trade are centralized, poverty will remain."
economics  mobile  poverty  development  markets  politics  hyperconnectivity  hivemind  democracy  technology  connectivity  wealth  kevinkelly 
may 2008 by robertogreco
Kevin Kelly -- The Technium: The Bottom is Not Enough
"bottom-up hive mind will always take us much further than seems possible...Given enough time, dumb things can be smarter than we think [but] will never take us to our end goal. We are too impatient. So we add design & top down control to get where we wan
kevinkelly  smartmobs  hivemind  collaboration  wikipedia  jimmywales  clayshirky  citizendium  crowdsourcing  web  online  collaborative  design  elite  management  socialwebs  wisdomofcrowds  editing  editors 
february 2008 by robertogreco
Human Brain Cloud: Play
"a massively multiplayer word association "game" or experiment ... or something. The idea is that given a word, a player types in the first thing that comes to mind and the results are combined into a giant network."
collectiveintelligence  crowdsourcing  words  game  play  gaming  language  english  games  data  collaboration  collective  meaning  brainstorming  semantics  semiotics  semanticweb  languages  linguistics  hivemind  multiplayer  wordplay  visualization  thesaurus  mmog  mindmapping  mindmap  dictionary  folksonomy  dictionaries 
november 2007 by robertogreco

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