Social media divides democracy 

Image via NASA

Social media divides democracy by allowing people to filter their own world and ignore the stuff they don’t agree with.

Disagreement is the pulse of an open society. The more ideas we throw out there and discuss, the more likely we are to land on the most advanced solution.

Facebook killed openness and smothered curiosity along with it. One way to rebuild healthy dissent is through more democratic design.

In his new book, Harvard law professor Cass Sunstein proposes that Facebook should have ‘serendipity buttons’ that reveal the opposite side’s viewpoint with a click.

We are the sum of our parts, easily driven into stagnancy and sidedness through closed worlds. Nothing evolves through repetition. Variety yields results.

Newsletter: Known and strange things 👀

Image by Izzy Gerosa

web gems

  1. “The music you travel with helps you to create your own internal weather.” I’m reading Teju Cole’s essays from his new book Known and Strange Things
  2. In January 2010, a woman fell into a Picasso painting at MOMA and ripped a 6-inch hole in the canvass. Read what happens when you break an artwork.
  3. “Humans are rodents that made it through the dinosaur era.” Listen to the latest podcast ‘The Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum’ from BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time.
  4. Excellent piece of analysis from Economist Tim Harford on how CURIOSITY could help cure The Problem With Facts. Plus, author of The Complacent Class Tyler Cowen outlines why “The biggest challenge facing free societies today is our lack of belief in them.”
  5. 📺 Watch Dave Chappelle use a beautiful metaphor to explain how success can become a trap. Watch musician Ken Butler make instruments out of garbage including hockey sticks, tennis rackets, and golf clubs.
  6. We live in an era of the abundance of information, disinformation, but also information avoidance where “people select their own reality by deliberately avoiding information that threatens their happiness and wellbeing.”

digging in the crates

  1. Christian Scott is a jazz musician from New Orleans who along with his ensemble make up the Christian Scott Quintet. The band’s forthcoming album Ruler Rebel is album one of The Centennial Trilogy. | LISTEN to the lead single ‘The Reckoning.
  2. Arvo Pärt is Estonian composer of classical and religious music, known for creating his own minimalist style of “little bell” sounds which he calls Tintinnabuli. | LISTEN to ‘Silhouans Song.’
  3. The legend Goldie returns with his first album in nearly two decades, 22 years after his seminal release of Timeless. His new album The Journey Man drops this June. WATCH the full music video for lead single ‘I Adore You’
  4. Seb Wildblood is a jack of all trades. He runs South London’s house label Church and its imprint All My Thoughts in addition to DJing and producing his own music. LISTEN to ‘Wet Summer’
  5. In case you missed it, Gorillaz released 4 new music videos yesterday to tease their forthcoming album Humanz. 

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Have a great weekend.



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Collecting music in 2017

Image via Steinar Engeland

iTunes worked because it was essentially a spreadsheet where you could dump all your music and have it categorized by the basics of searchability: artist name, song name, album name, year, and so forth.

However, while iTunes excelled in organizing metadata, it wasn’t the place you searched for new music. Niche MP3 stores like Bandcamp and Boomkat, music blogs like Stereogum, and SoundCloud And YouTube we’re the go-to online record shops.

The music ecosystem is still fractured to this day. You’re never going to hear a track and play it back all in the same place. You platform-shift, finding a tune on YouTube but end up playing it back on Spotify where you keep your entire collection organized, or aspects of it.

The irony of paying for an all you can eat streaming subscription service is that you’re renting the music while you owned MP3s. The same can be said for Kindle books. Unless you own physical or the digital source file, you own nothing.

While music discovery is site agnostic — it doesn’t matter where or how you dig up new tracks — music collecting is anything but perfect. There is still no one-way to store and organize your collection. All of these MP3s of bootleg recordings and live shows you gathered back in the day won’t have a home until you spend hours or days uploading them into a cloud service.

The process of music discovery, collecting, and listening happens on an array of applications and a mix of file types. If you’re passionate about crate-digging, that’s just the way it is.

Incomplete paths

Image by Averie Woodard
Sometimes the path to discovery begins with a roadblock.

We end up going a different direction because our daily route is under construction.

Suddenly, that simple redirection refocuses our attention. Our surroundings appear new again. We’re woke.

It doesn’t take much to release the shackles of inattention and break free of our conscious automaton.

The second we think we’ve explored everything is also the moment our environment expands into more depth.

Routine is just a gesture to a ‘directed’ pathway that is the least straightforward. 

The roads we walk are as boundless as the desert. 


Curiosity: the cure for a post-fact world

Thinks for you. (Image via Frank Okay)

Lies are seductive. They linger because people are motivated to protect their tribal desires while the liars themselves will do anything to distract you from giving meaning to the facts.

Does smoking kill? Is the Trump administration complicit in Russia’s election hacking? It appears so, but both tobacco and party alike want you hanging on to your doubts. They rather you distract you with other stuff, like beneficent special research they’re funding or tweets to Snoop Dog and Nordstrom’s.

How do we get people to step outside their narrow window and look at the supportive evidence? As Tim Harford surmises, the key ingredient to opening eyes is curiosity.

“Facts rarely stand up for themselves — they need someone to make us care about them, to make us curious.”

Curiosity makes the facts juicer, the same way fear lights up your amygdala. It’s a sad state that the only way to get people’s attention in a post-fact world is by entertaining their senses. But the challenge in selling curiosity will be such.

Read The Problem With Facts