Path of the Mindful Cyborg, Mettā of data.

What did taking off all my devices after six years and going to a silent vegan Buddhist retreat without technology do for me?

Well, here’s part of that story.

If you were to look at your life with enough perspective, you would realize that not only are you connected to everyone, but you also inherently function from a place that began in the eyes of compassion looking down at you with the warmest smile, the smile that only a mother understands.

And just moments after we see mom, we are then taken to a room where we are weighed and measured. 

And we are measured at and measured to death for the rest of our lives.

Technology makes measuring easier.

My story is one of vast measurements.

They say knowledge is power, and yet knowledge is just agreed upon assumptions about data’s big brother: “Information.”

Knowledge and wisdom come from other, deeper places within our agreed-upon connected existence. 

In #bigdata circles, it’s common to talk about “metadata”.

Recently I returned from a weeklong silent meditation retreat.

There were no gadgets, no devices, no sensors, no talking, no books, pens, paper and no looking at each other.

All vegan meals.

Hours of meditation.

It was life altering.

Coming back “online”, I notice that so much of our world is suffering, as I often say in my talks.

"Synchronicity joins something going on outside us with something happening inside us.  In fact, synchronicity gives us a clue that there is no real separation between inside and outside, between internal and external reality. There is a continual interplay. In this sense, synchronicity is a spiritual event, one that shows the unity of the human, natural and divine reality."- David Richo

The power of synchronicity is untouched by our current level of technical understanding. I use memories from my self-combined with data to create powerful intersections between a few defined and fuzzy worlds.

I bring this up because I believe that capturing and reintroducing our lives to ourselves in a compassionate way to be incredibly powerful and life changing.

Quantum physics tells us that objects are altered without any visible cause and effect.

We experience quantum physics as we rewire the human neocortex with digital systems and make our lives "re-liveable."

Yet currently we do not use this technology to make us feel good about ourselves and our world.

The algorithms in systems only show us our “best selves,” and it only shows this “better self” to other people.

Maybe you deserve to see all of your life.

We are launching a product called Existence that will do this and will do it properly, in ways that only the world's largest brands have been recognized for.

Recently I'm came back online after being free of a phone and sensors for almost six days.

On the day I returned to connected life I was greeted with (outside of the enormous inbox, overflowing text messages, tweets, linkedin requests and twitter comments) was a photo.

One year ago  that day I took the stage as an invited speaker along with Arianna Huffington, Naomi Judd and others, in Nashville forHealthways to talk about living with our data and living a meaningful life. 

I returned a year to the exact day, from a meditation retreat where I serve as a leader in that company, creating software to help people live with the data of their lives in a more kind way.

Mettā Data, the friendliness you show data about yourself.  

The irony is not lost on me.

In fact, I live with it every day.

The sheer amounts of synchronicity I experience daily is daunting. 

Some days it can feel like a near psychotic state.  The patterns of existence seemingly unravel for me, as if I am a puppet in a cosmic joke.

 
My mother use to say to me as a child, “Christopher, you have a horse shoe up your ass”. 

A common leadership quip "Fortune favors the prepared mind." - Louis Pasteur

More intellectual minds will argue I’m “suffering” with a form of apopehnia or even Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon.

 

In the media, I'm known as the "world's most connected human." (In reality, the BBC called me that and everyone else just caught on.)

People who know me would share with you the uncanny ability I have to blend multiple worlds of outrageous coincidence and what borders on the metaphysical.

By using data to force perspective, something I call "perspective as a service," a feedback loop is created.

 

 

This loop is just a tiny type of "wormhole" that we may pass through.

The key to turning on powerful change--massive weight loss, dramatic personality shifts, smoking cessation, financial structural change, status realignment, etc--is very simple: the perspective feedback loop works exponentially within deep contemplative states. 

I am in no way saying that you need or should become a member of the quantified self movement or start monastic training. 

The trade-off for such a powerful transformation is not necessarily worth it.

Although I have been very public, it's under reported by the media that changing habits is really hard on a person.

If you just quit smoking, you lose friends. I lost friends when I stopped smoking. 

In the past three years not only have I quit smoking, but lost 140 pounds and became a vegetable-eating, seed-munching, and silent meditation retreat-going human.

I don't even recognize my own face in the mirror.

I don't have the same friends, heck I ague I don’t have but a handful of impermanent friends on a countdown waiting to be voted off my island of flux by my own beating heart.

Hell, I don't even have the same home or furniture.

The level of impermanence at this rate of contemplation and data gathering feels lifted from science fiction.


The drawback to living life with so much data is the need for a totem or constant so that you don’t lose your mind inside chapel perilous.

If you’re a binge watcher of sci-fi television, you may remember the “constant” in the series “Lost”.

"It's called a constant. Desmond, you have no constant. When you go to the future, nothing there is familiar. So if you want to stop this, then you need to find something there... something that you really, really care about... that also exists back here, in 1996."— Daniel Faraday, LOST

In the movie “Inception” we are introduced to concept of “totem”.

“An elegant solution for keeping track of reality.” -Ariadne: [contemplating her totem]

All that being shared, I would like for you to consider the powerful narrative your life is and will continue to be.

If the narrative and data were only shared with you, and for only a brief moment you gave yourself permissionnot to judge all the things on your to-do list.

If only for a moment you chose to forgive yourself for that brownie or double shot of espresso.

When you suspend all judgment and striving and replace it with heavy dose of compassion toward yourself, you will find not only peace, but be warned the velocity of transformation that is not for the faint of heart.

Your “constant” or “totem” will literally become a constant feeling of compassion.

Forgiveness hastens the journey to the unaided or non-contemplative mind.

My retreat and the ensuing synchronous events have only made me see things with deeper clarity.

The retreat was interesting on a few levels.

First, because I was alone with 100 other people and no one makes eye contact or speaks, I realized how much we already do this in the normal world.

Today most homes, streets and places of worship are full of people not speaking to each other and looking down--we just call them smart phones, tablets or gaming consoles.

The awkward conversations we have with other "humans" about the technology we use.

No cashier can look you in the eye without talking about their "slow system."

We prefer the repeatable substandard service of an ATM over the pain of speaking to a, gulp, person, a real live person.

If we do get a person, we ignore them, blow up on them, or talk about a "system.”

We become the systems we use and we act like the systems we avoid, in this case, fast talking information syncing flesh algorithms avoiding slower joyful and sorrow laden humans.

This means you can't finish a sentence without someone answering for you like google autosuggest.

You can't see a doctor without a host of medical data in your mind.

We have weaponized information, depersonalized identity, and traded away physical ownership.

Crime is down because we don't own anything you can carry away, not because we are better humans.

Better humans would not make choices to "automate" and make "convenient" the people in their lives.

We don't have a privacy problem, we have a convenience addiction.

We don't have a smartphone attention problem, we have a self-avoidance crisis.

This is ONLY corrected through contemplation and analog technologies, hence why you see more and more stationery shops, journals, vinyl, watches, and anything else we can touch, see, taste, and smell.

We are living in the age of the senses.

We are living in the age of magic and the occult.

We buy things we can't see, with money we don't touch to share with people we have not met. We pretty much believe in magic. 

I started the retreat process by going to Kauai to live in a cabin for a week.

I had to go to bed when it became dark, because there was little to no light.

My kitchen had no refrigeration, so I had to eat fresh every day.

Most places I couldn't get a signal.

I meditated everywhere I hiked.

Kauai taught me how to live like I grew up, in the 70's, with what we had and choice was not enriched with seamless invisible money.

I used the damn stars, sun and moon for direction.  I used dry days to travel.

I used the wilds pigs as an alarm and the roving chickens as a guidepost to how far "away" I had strayed on my paths.

I used local people to learn about weeds you rubbed on yourself for bug bites, or rocks that could help deepen your meditation.

YEAH, I get it, sounds crazy....but you're reading this on a device that is literally out of the future, in the same year that Michael J. Fox goes Back To in 1985.

 Don't tell me about the future--I've been there and it looks a lot more like "Her" than "You've got Mail," and feels a lot more like "Brave New World" than "1984."

We can't handle the future, because you don't care for us.

We spend all our time humanizing technology and in this absurd pursuit we have technologized humanity. 

That uneasy feeling of dread everyday is the realization that we have no constant or totem allowing us to interact with others or ourselves with compassion.

When I finally got to my retreat, I admit it, taking off my sensors was scary. 

I had years of body data that were about to just stop.

I had already learned very powerful lessons about listening to my body, but I had to put them all to the test now to come offline.

After the "container" is created in retreat and everyone goes into silence, the first skill you learn is how to navigate without the conditioned "thank you’s" and "pleases."

You replace it with this feeling of gratitude.

You feel people thank you.

As you eat your meals, in silence without looking at others, you also learn to look at your food, put your fork down. You realize that none of the food you ate is harming the planet, or ever had a face.

You then start to do things, like catch and release bugs. Spider fears go quickly when you watch the delight in their running away. Deer walk up to you because you're not a threat, turkeys gaze at you in groups that just say "poor human."

You become something different, and those around you on retreat transform with you.

You also perform a yogi job. In essence you do work for the good of the land. I did laundry. I always found folding clothing with my mother to be one of the times we just felt so close.

You also couldn't journal or read.

So going to your room meant sleep. You looked at everything.

 Life just goes from slow, to KNOW.

You re-treat yourself to yourself.

It's not all sitting meditation, you also do yoga and walking meditation.

(In all transparency, the second day I missed my 5:30 "sitting" practice and made it out by 6:15.)

The scene on the land looked like the walking dead. 

People slowly shuffling gazing at the ground, for a second I thought I was dreaming or everyone had been drugged, then I realized it's "walking meditation," so I just started my "respectful gaze" and started mindfully feeling the earth under my feet.

The Buddha after enlightenment said to Mara, "Not here Mara." In essence, when Buddha touched the earth as you see in many statues, and told his suffering mind, he was HERE, you understand the power of touching many worlds by actually living in one.

The trails are extensive and you are encouraged to hike. On such a hike I had an great anxiety attack and I thought I was going to die on the mountain.

Every anxious though hit me. I was 40 minutes from the retreat and alone. I had no devices and my only thoughts were of death.

I reached down and touched the earth and said "I know you Mara," slowly, as I then gave loving-kindness to the rocks and trees (May you also be happy, May you also be well), and it lifted.

I didn't need a device, I needed something more powerful. I needed compassion for that present moment of suffering,

I needed unconditional love for my pain.

As it lifted and I worked my way back down the mountain, I realized how fortunate I was and forgave myself. 

Forgiveness is the act of abandoning all hope for a better past, and hope is the act of abandoning all plans for a better now.

By the third day I was weeping during metta meditation. The act of talking to myself as a child, my friends, family, peers, even people I don't care for and saying "May you also live with ease" and "May you too feel kindness" was too much for me to handle.

Compassion it seems is inescapably linked to suffering. The levels of suffering and compassion you can achieve toward yourself have a way of busting open the heart many of us have wallpapered and painted over with algorithmically generated versions of our Non-selves.

Returning to San Francisco I started my reintegration process.

It was hard.

I came back and immediately meditated for 40 minutes.

The road noise was too much and just city smells were sickening.

I jokingly said to my friend when we got a salad, "I can taste the hate in the dressing."

Everything was so intense the first day back from retreat. I didn't use my mobile phone until day three after retreat.

I only opened email in one inbox after about five hours.

I found even the most easy tasks mindboggling.

For instance, I had an earworm, so I went to listen to the song but found it impossible to "hear music" while opening a bottle.  I had to pause the song to open the bottle.

By day two of reintegration, I went on a walk.  I noticed that no one was looking at at anything. They all looked dead.

The gaze in people’s eyes were pinned squarely on some future state, past sin, or current overtasked chore.

Retail folks were the hardest to meet. They are conditioned to bark orders at you. Just asking someone about a good seat was met with a look of "Do you want to eat or talk?”

It's amazingly difficult to talk with people. I understand why texting has 11 different options: we create choice in communication to remove time.

We assault inboxes, weaponize schedules, over-saturate our attention, custom frame every moment for the perfect post, and relentlessly wonder what we are doing.

We have hundreds of applications tracking our position, but don't know where we are. We have thousands of data points on date and time, yet don't understand when something is happening. 

We have never had more friends yet been more starved for love. We have never had access to so much of our history yet felt so short on compassion. 

The reach of our humanity has gone past our potential to understand why we need each other.

We need each other.

It's kind of urgent.

Unfortunately the message is a bit more grim.

You need you.

You need to stop now and create a relationship with yourself or find someone to foster and help them get to know themselves. We need tinder / grindr / Christian mingle / for our own identity and we need it stat.

We are about two swipes from "No one in your area."

Trust the most plugged in person on earth: you are worthy of your own attention.

My last day of reintegration before returning home was Sunday, April 5, 2015.

While out on a walk, I saw a dog near a restaurant.

Each person who passed by stopped to pet the dog.

The dog just stared into their eyes and said "I love you, thank you for being with me".

Each person got a little softer as they backed away.

Unfortunately, the frost of a relentless future took them away just seconds after "BEING with the dog."

Dogs are interesting, they live in boundless compassion and they give us a teachable moment (every moment is teachable, but you have to be present for it--it's the present because its a gift :))

Remember, Dog is man’s best friend. Why? It's simple, they love us and for a brief moment we see the hope that we had as children. 

The hope of just running in the grass, smelling amazing food, sleeping when we are tired and moving slow when our bodies ache.

They teach us to defend our pack, to bark at night and to howl for the lost pack member. They look at us with such compassion. Touch that compassion and take it back for yourself.

Love your racing mind.

Forgive your relentless task list.

Meditation is not about quieting your mind or becoming enlightened.

You meditate to notice your racing mind, and you make a choice to be kind in that moment.

Have you ever stopped to think about how much we care for our “smart devices” made of glass and metal and how little we care for the ones made of flesh and bone?

Our devices ring, clamor, and shout for your love and attention.

We quickly pull to refresh after satiating their voracious appetite for our moment-to-moment distractions.

Yet our minds are lacking clarity to recognize our own needs to slow down.

Our devices flash fullscreen alerts when they are running low on energy, and we race to an outlet and nestle them gently back to sleep. 

Yet our bodies have become exhausted, torn, scratched and malnourished.

Our devices come with extended warranties, loss protection.
We buy cases, covers, and cords to protect our precious devices.

Yet our hearts have become bent, misshapen and unconnected.

Hurt people, hurt people. 

Many people question the power of meditation or dismiss it instantly. “I don’t have time to meditate”, “I can’t stop my mind from racing”, “I’m too tired to sit still”.

There is a great myth in our culture about meditation I’d like to dispel.

Meditation is about noticing your racing thoughts, it’s about bringing attention to your exhaustion.

Meditation is the act of just noticing things, gently, as if you were walking slowly to watch a child delight in the magic of a new discovery.

Meditation doesn’t silence your inner critic, it lends a gentle chorus of other voices in support of the critic’s fussy ways.

Meditation is the constant challenge to notice everything about you, and hold it as if you found a wounded loved one.

 

  • I challenge you to upgrade the ultimate mobile device, your body, by recharging it with rest and good food.
  • I challenge you to maximized the ultimate storage device, your mind, by showing yourself how beautiful your lived experience is.
  • I challenge you to expand the ultimate connectivity plan, your human-kindness by going to bed and considering how now would be if you had been a bit more loving toward your wandering mind, relentless schedule, and unwarranted need to show yourself no-mind.
  • I challenge you to care, if only for a moment, as much about your heart as you do your devices, apps, and network.

 

We need to stop solving our human problems with technology, and start looking at our technology with our human-kindness.

 

Move slow, be kind, it's ok, this is the path of the Mindful Cyborg.




A year in review of personal data, should be, well, personal.

What if you had access to every moment of your day in an easy to understand way? 

Learn about you in a way the "Facebook" year in review doesn't show you?

This is the Quantified Self. 


With all the social sites mining our behavior, I thought I'd share about an hour of review with the world on what made me tick in 2014. 


I record 10 areas of my life, social media to health, environment to entertainment.  

Before we get to far, remember, 2015 you will have to purchase your life back. 


 

SOCIAL MEDIA:

What am I talking about? Well when it comes to twitter, I'm pretty consistent.  

Important changes did take place in my external cognitive exhaust.

2014 "People" over took "Data" as my most used word on twitter. The words actually traded places.  The percentage of their overall usage didn't change though. .9% of the time, I'm on one of those topics. 

What about the other differences between 2013 and 2014?

Well in 2014 I became more interested in "now", "need" and "time". Also for the first time, my "life" made the top 10.

Missing from 2014, "want", "future" also the "World" is no longer in my life.

The Story:

Who, what, where, when, why, how? Yup to every day there is a story, but how did my story go in 2014 vs. 2013?

2014 was all about "What, Who and When"

2013 was solidly about "How, What, and Who"

Simply put, 2014 I stopped worrying about "How" and started focusing on "When"

Just betwen you and I:

What about us, how often did I mention, I, me, or you, your?

2014 was about you at 1814 mentions, I only mention me 662 times.

2013 was about you at 852 mentions, I only mention 498 times.

For the record, you're twice as important to me in 2014. "Our" even doubled in use between 2014 and 2013. 133 vs. 65.

Body:

2014 I lost 28 pounds, walked 1165 miles and slept soundly 2321 hours. 

2013 I lost 39 pounds, walked 827 miles and slept soundly  1817 hours. 

20 days of dreams that didn't exist in 2013.  

Took a toll on my heart too with my average heart rate going from 77 to a calm 69 beats per minute. 

Home:

My environment, also had some surprises. 2013 was a much quieter year with my average noise at home coming in at 55db vs 67db in 2013. I also warmed my heart up, my average bedroom temperature went from 73 degrees in 2013 to a balmy 77 degrees in 2014. 

A warmer life more quiet life can help you slow down.

Entertainment:

2014, Saturday is my day to jam, with an average of 3 hours of music. My winter was all about Madonna, Spring was very latin with Luis Cobos, the summer became reflective with Brian Eno and my year ended with Natalie Merchant.

2013 was a bit more up beat, with four hours of music on Saturdays and my artist were Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Madonna and Michael Jackson making up my seasons. 

Dropping by a whopping 18% my average beats per minute consumed in music betwen 2013 and 2014. 

So what does all this tell me?

It tells me any thing I want it to.  

That's the amazing and painful thing about "your data".

It's not about data ownership, it's about data stewardship.

Move slow, be kind, and remember, you're not broken, the world is and you are not and never will be the world.

2015, buying you back, one application at a time.

Apple today announced their 2015 apps to “Be Healthier, Happier & More” in their app store for iOS.

What struck me was the app categories and the order in which they display the “wellness, well-being” apps.

What would be first? Get out have a walk? Count your calories?

Nope.

Category one, is “Remember each day”

Sound familiar? Perspective as a service, this is the essence of habit.

The rest of the categories in order:

  1. Remember each day
  2. Eat Healthy
  3. Meet New People
  4. Get in Shape
  5. Learn something new
  6. Manage your Money
  7. Work Smarter

Other interesting things,  every category has a 5.00 or more app in the top five. Some categories the first app is 5.00 or even 15.00. None of the number one apps, have an API. 

So what does that mean? Well people will pay dearly for their life’s data back and apple believes that locking that data inside an application is key to the value of the product. 

As far as the top six categories, well they look like my ten catagories. 

Be well, you’re being recorded for your protection. 

Seven Inches of What? Gay Tech, Quantified Self and the New Bathhouse

Originally published in MVC

As I undressed and looked around I could tell there were a lot of guys who spent a great amount of time here.

My gym is upscale, reflective of my white privileged background, my career. It’s full of people who “got theirs” and left the fight for equality at any measurable level.

Immediately I launch Grindr, a very popular gay hookup app. Grindr shows me three guys within 50 feet. Instantly I feel the judgment creep into my head. Am I fit enough?

Do they see me and not bother cruising me?

My Grindr, now online, is a beacon for my presence at the gym. Logging off it now would still leave a trace image of my visit.

Ah, well. I head over to the cardio section, check my Fitbit, and start those steps.

As a 45-year-old professional gay white male I have a few demons.

Let’s start with the typical gay guy bullshit. Will I die alone, did I get infected last night, and did my last partner think I was good in bed? Am I too effeminate? Should I out myself to my co-workers?

The amount of fetishized ego I have before I open my eyes each morning is only surpassed by the memory of the people I buried between 1988-1995 for no reason other than ignorance and fear. The HIV epidemic took grasp of the gay community with force and drastically shifted the course of gay identity and culture.

Wikipedia defines technology as “art, skill, cunning of hand.” It is the making, modification, usage and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems. Methods of organization: in order to solve a problem, improve a pre-existing solution to a problem, achieve a goal, handle an applied input/output relation.

Technology is more than a device or piece of software. As we explore the future of the gay male community and tech, our “usage, and knowledge of tools” to solve problems is both our greatest strength as a community, and a major weakness in the age of connected sexuality.

The media and cultural landscape is so accepting in 2014 that sometimes I forget that I don’t need to deepen my voice when meeting people, or “butch up” when at a gay bar. If we were a bit more honest we would have conversations about our history in the LGBTQAI community.

Like with the “The Waltons”, “The Cosby Show” and then “Will and Grace” the media has watered down our historic view of ourselves. Creating a sanitized version of gay life. People identify with the “Modern Family” version of a committed gay male couple, but lack the honesty to talk about the “hetero-washing” that makes these versions of ourselves so confusing for our community to adhere to. Not all of us want gay marriage and two point five children in a neighborhood boasting 40-something hipsters.

Rainbow Colored Kool Aid, the 70s

The most glorious piece of gay tech must be the gay bar.

Gay bars of the 70’s and 80’s were conditioned experiences of brick and mortar sexual art.

Gay bars in this time allowed our community to interact for and around sex. Sex at bars was allowed and in some cases expected. Gay bars used rainbow flags and discreet signage to attract busy professionals, street hustlers and “artists” in from the harsh reality of a society leaving the disco and entering an age that would remove an entire generation of gay men from the face of the planet.

One of the most amazing facets of gay tech culture in the 70’s and 80’s was the hanky code. Unlike our straight counterparts, we didn’t have adolescence to teach us how to communicate or even date. Somewhere deep in the bowels of San Francisco a visual code was adopted and took the nation by storm.

Gay men started sporting colored handkerchiefs in either their left or right pant pockets. These were not merely decorative accessories—they were calling cards to our bedroom habits. Light blue right pocket, you like to give head. Mustard left pocket you’re packing eight inches plus. Red hanky, right pocket, you wanted to be fisted. I sometimes wonder if the gay flag were pushed into my pocket, would I actually enjoy a night out.

In the urban playgrounds of the coasts gay men were experimenting with cock rings to stay erect longer despite the piles of cocaine and booze consumed while dancing. Amyl Nitrate (aka “Poppers”) were consumed to heighten the arousal of sex. By 1983, using poppers during sex was more common than lube, condoms or dirty talk. For many like me in a small town, “toys” and “treats” were a two-to-three hour drive away in a big city. For middle America, carefully wrapped, plain brown postage mail service brought the monthly “Advocate” magazine, where the rest of “us” could order in the accessories of the day.

Local low-cost printing organizations allowed gay men to publish our first magazines and papers to help us find businesses, bars and roommates. From the bedroom to the disco, bathhouse to the parade, gay men had adapted and created a lifestyle so intoxicating, only Hollywood could create something as dark and twisted.

But the reaper was about to show up on Folsom street.

I Want My AIDS TV, Welcome to The 80s

By 1985, we had local gay access television in many cities, small radio shows and full-fledged print magazines you could occasionally find in mainstream book stores. Gay had mainstreamed at the same time we were being eviscerated by a new disease that had emerged three years earlier: HIV.

Our community was being ravaged by this strange new disease and our peers, professionals and government had either turned their back on us or had no desire to understand.

The film “How to Survive a Plague” documents the gay community’s fight to understand, diagnose, and treat our own health issues in the late 80s. We saw the courage of people like Larry Kramer, Peter Staley, Iris Long and many mainstream doctors willing to break the law, open labs and test drugs to create treatments that could keep our heroes alive another day. Gay men and other queer people took to the streets to ACT UP and fight back.

The greatest triumphs in the modern civil rights of our community were achieved during this period. At the same time, gay tech had come into its own. We had prescription “buyer clubs” for unapproved medications, and individuals testing drugs and therapies on each other. The same energy that allowed us to emerge from the bathhouse to the disco now was used in the fight to keep us from dying week to week.

As the world looked on we buried a decade of gay men from 1985 to 1995.

Can You Keep a Secret: Managing Chronic Illness In the Closet, the 90s

Unfortunately by the mid 90’s, our fight with health tech had taken its toll on the gay community. Our strength was tapped and our spirit had been broken. We were coming out on network television with the rise of celebrities like Ellen Degeneres, Greg Louganis and folk singer k.d. lang. But in the bars, community centers and local committees, we had lost a generation. And we were lost.

In late 1996, small BBS systems like Acropolis had started coming online to unite gay men again. This new generation of gay tech was different. It created many of the companies we rely on today. Of anything you can say of the gay community in tech: today’s modern Silicon Valley was built on the rainbow blood sweat and tears of the lost generation that emerged from the 90’s.

So much of what made tech giants like Adobe, Apple, Yahoo successful in the 1990s were the brilliant minds of the gay community that had migrated to the bay area in the 70’s and 80’s. Some of the first companies with diversity programs were inside the safety of tech’s corporate campuses.

This was a double edged sword as many people still didn’t feel comfortable coming out in the age of AIDS, amidst the rise of shows like Sally Jessy Raphael which objectified gay male prostitution, and loss of civil liberties as our government worked to pass legislation that banned any type of protection.

The valley was painted pink, but the underside could not escape the national dialog of hate and vitriol that was in our living rooms every evening.

By the end of the decade, we were successfully treating and managing many new HIV infections. The advances in citizen science that defined the early 90’s had been lost in the history of a generation taken from us, and the decade ended with a new epidemic. As HIV positive gay men were learning to manage their “chronic illness,” a new generation of gay connected youth were coming online, unaware of the plague as they sat on Saturday mornings watching Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

Having an undetectable viral load was the new closet and organizations started to splinter around the questions it created. Was HIV something you should disclose, or something that was to be kept private? Not disclosing your status was your decision and being forced to disclose was a violation of your civil rights. In a twist of irony only matched by our lust for Liza, we managed and treated HIV so well, we allowed a new generation of young gay men to show up unprepared and start the cycle of infection all over again.

The Connected Closet: Welcome to the 2000s

Gay men by the mid-00’s were connected to more tech than ever. A new closet had emerged: the social network. We came out a second time, but to co-workers stalking us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

Our tech was yet another closet and another shame.

Browsing to manhunt.com, gay men could use tech to augment their height, weight, length and width. The gay social networks of this time were some of the first tech involving photos, status updates and “social” networks. We could virtually cruise, stalk and obsess over each other’s every move without ever leaving our keyboard. Scanning hundreds of profiles looking for that perfect top. Gay sites that allowed you to shop for escorts with ratings as robust as restaurants on Yelp have now. “Social sites” that allowed us to “chat,” and meet each other based on our shared interest. Usually those interests involved our drug use or non use, our position in bed and our status as nicotine users.

If there was anything the 00’s gave to the gay community it was a liquid identity. We could be any size, type and have any background. This was a far cry from the 90’s where the post-epidemic community would venture out to bars in new cities aided only by recommendation sites, GPS and the glare of reputations.

By the close of the decade gay men had so completely embraced technology, profiles were replaced with terms like “Undetectable,” “No face pic no chat.” We had become full-fledged cyborgs, only leaving cyberspace to meet a suitable organic donor to our vices.

And the quantified self was about to invade the queer community.

The Cyborg Queen and the Future of Bug Chasing, the 2010s

The rise of the smartphone gave gay men their greatest tech gift of the past 30 years: location based dating.

Apps like Grindr, Scruff and others could tell you within a matter of seconds how many feet away your next encounter was. Link to your Instagram account and instantly have redefined pick up lines saved to the system. Even darker applications like “spreadsheets” let you track and quantify your sexual experiences — in essence, creating Klout for cock.

What if Grindr just allowed an API call to 23andMe for the HIV resistant variant? Technology has this strange side effect of making systems thinkers, hackers or technophiles start to marry ideas to create the ultimate tech experience. At the same time, the HIV epidemic has been pushed so far underground that most 20-30 year olds have never met someone that has died from HIV. Yet they now have more access to cutting edge information about their “chronic” illness than their physicians.

It was of course gay men in serodiscordant relationships that gave rise to PreEP (that is, pre-exposure prophylaxis). This was another result of gay heath tech, just as in the 80’s and 90’s gay men had experimented on themselves and each other with pharmaceuticals to find the perfect cocktail of drugs to keep them healthy. In the case of PreEP, non-infected men used a drug called TRUVADA before unprotected sex to keep themselves negative. Finally in 2012 the FDA approved TRUVADA for just such uses.

The revolution in gay tech health didn’t stop there. It continued into the bedroom and splintered our community into very dark places.

The most disturbing was the use of social networks and location-based tech to allow the bug chasing population to grow and splinter into cells of “community”. Bug Chasers and gift givers were the gay male’s community answer to tech isolation, mainstream acceptance and the big hug the media was choking us with. Note: this is a very small minority of the gay population, but I think that this is important to bring up.

In the late 2000’s positive men started meeting negative men who wanted to be “converted”. Those converting HIV negative men to positive were called “Gift Givers”. Those being converted or looking for gift givers are bug chasers. The movement is both disturbing and in many ways a wake up call to the community that battled so much stigma, hate and adaptation. Tech enabled this community to organize, find each other and eventually set up conversion “parties” in most major cities, all using tech. Why? Well, HIV in some cases could seem to represent an instant support system, health care, social security… even a community center. Many bug chasers will tell you that knowing they’re positive allows them to “stop” worrying about becoming infected. For all the acceptance given to gay men, some wanted our bathhouses, private clubs and language back. Health tech, lack of identity, fluidity of self and the absence of a core differentiator drove some to create a new gay community, one defined by “chronic illness.”

Health tech in 2012 gave gay men the first rapid HIV at home test. Now you can meet someone, swab their mouth and within 15 minutes decide to lose the condom. Entering 2014, we are seeing the rise of the HIV resistant population coming out of their closet. HIV-resistant men are genetically resistant to the HIV virus, and technological advances have allowed any gay man to be tested for this mutation in the CCR-5 receptor gene. As many get tested by services like 23andme, the new “super queers” are starting to show up in the mainstream, and may use their genetic disposition to splinter and even grow into a new community.

In the tech community entering a new bubble, “A” gays (generally with economic, class and white privilege) are living in the valley, fresh from billion-dollar startups, with access to TRUVADA, DNA testing, rapid test and a cocktail of designer drugs. They can crisscross the globe using their mobile devices and use a host of applications and sensors to measure their conquests, health, wealth and virility.

Meanwhile, tech itself is moving away from external devices to being integrated with our bodies and our experiences. Heads up displays like Google Glass will eventually bring people back out from the recesses of ephemeral media hideaways like Snapchat, where everything is as temporary as that hook-up last night. Glass and other similar technologies will bring unprecedented access for gay men to identify and bring information from their health and life directly to their line of vision. Wearable sensors in fabrics will drastically change the dynamics of meeting, dating and sleeping with men. Lab tests could be run while dancing closely with someone — maybe your pants get a little more tight to indicate a clean health score or temperature variations communicate preferences and history.

The future of the gay male may be lost now to a dystopian view of how current technology can impact a community that has battled so much and still struggles to find its identity. Gay men were defined for close to 40 years by their ability to adapt to the social, health and economic crises of a world first in, and then slightly outside the closet.

Our community is now so visible we have systems of social capital, economic disparity, technological superiority and weaponized health tech. Like any good gay drama, the future queer cyborgs have the skills, tools and history to reclaim our gay roots and it’s imperative that we do. To let forty years of tech innovation evaporate into the mainstream as we are hetero-washed will only weaken what made our community so important to technology, society and culture: adaptation.

Now more than ever society needs cultures with rich adaptation skills.

Never be bullied into silence. Never allow yourself to be made a victim. Accept no one’s definition of your life; define yourself.
– Harvey Fierstein

I NOW PRONOUNCE YOU “DESIGNATED BENEFICIARIES”

Doug and I met May 31, 1995 and have been a "couple" since this day.

In 1995, the world was still getting over Pedro Zamora being HIV positive and appearing on MTV’s “The Real World”.  

The world was losing people to HIV/AIDS at an alarming rate and protease inhibitors were just entering the market, allowing people to start to manage their disease.

Ellen had not come out on TV yet, that would not be for another two years.

Colorado the state where Doug and I now reside had just passed amendment 2, denying LGBT people the protection from discrimination, as Colorado saw it, that would allow LGBT people "special rights", today in 2013 we call these special rights “human rights"

18 years is a very long time, and Doug and I, have seen tremendous progress in the struggle to be recognized as a family.

 Currently Colorado is in the midst of a political battle to allow "civil unions" and a decision should come by summer.

An organization called One Colorado is working to make this a reality and I'm hopeful in my lifetime not just in Colorado, but also across America, Doug are offered full legal rights and responsibilities as a family.

So today, while visiting the department of records to update the deed to our home, I noticed the area is also the same area to "get married".

A thought came to me, why not ask and see what happens?  What is the worse they can say?  Could they look me in the eye and say, no?

So we approached the counter and I proudly proclaimed

 "We would like to marry"

 The young lady at the desk, glanced downward and then looked me in the eye with a sorrow that said she had utter these words before, and gently she said, "I'm sorry, we can't do that, but I'm hopeful one day we will have something for you"

Immediately I felt terrible, why would I think it was a good idea to place this lady in such a uncomfortable position, obviously had been asked many times over the years and the toll of letting people down was starting to wearing on her.

I quickly said, "Please, don't be sorry, I just wanted to see what your answer would be". 

She smiled and proceeded with our deed work for the property.

While processing the paper work she said, "It's going to be very busy in here in a few days"she was referring to Valentines Day, February 14.

This got me thinking about the process of getting married again, so I inquired, "Do a lot of people come to marry on Valentines Day?"

She responded, "Yes, Colorado is one of three self solemnize states"

What I discovered next shocked and enraged me.

Self Solemnization allows couples to perform their "own marriage" by signing a piece of paper and paying 30.00.

That is all there is.  No fuss, no muss.  Heck take a number and ask for 1/2 lb of ham while you're waiting.

So, I pressed a little further, "Does this mean that anyone can come in and just get married in just a few minutes?" 

"Yes", she replied.

This got my mind racing, how could marriage be so easy, but cause so much division among people.  So I pressed on with my questions.

"Have you ever had anyone come in intoxicated and get married?" 

The young lady said, "Unfortunately often, once in a while, one time a gal came in and said “I was stoned last night, can you void this transaction”".

Obviously at this point, I was so hurt, offended and angry, not with this law or the process or the people who made this happen, but how easily anyone EXCEPT FOR ME, could come in and just throw marriage against the wall and see if it stuck.

A quick Google search while waiting while I continued to wait, was the final straw for me. 

In this same building you could register your pet, but it cost five times more, close to 200.00  than the "self marriage" certificate and took 1-2 weeks, not immediately like the self marriage certificate.

So I stood there with the full realization, that it was more difficult to adopt a stray dog than it was for two drunk heterosexuals to get married, and a fraction of the cost.

How in a civilized society can my love be so invalidated?

The clerk could tell I was obviously distressed, by the look on my face; I shared with her the stats on licensing a pet.

She said, "Well until it's legal, you could fill out this paper work that allows you to be "designated beneficiaries"".

I looked at Doug, took the paper work, paid the fee and Doug and I were pronounced, "Designated Beneficiary" at 3:17pm, February 6, 2013"

On the way out the door, with a piece of paper that stated, if we die, we can vouch for each other, I decided to snap the photo and place it on Facebook. 

The outpouring of people wishing me well, was very touching. 

I'm not asking that you change your political views or even that you support equality for my human and family rights.

I would like you to though, give deep thought to the of the "sanctity of marriage" and what it means to spay and license your cat in the City and county of Denver.

Until we are all free, none of us are. 

 

TECHNOLOGY, THE EVOLUTION OF AWARENESS.

I've spent the better part of the last five years looking closely at technology and humanity.

During this journey, I purposely moved away from technology and focused on items concerning mindfulness, health, and personal data cartography.

These items are all part of a journey to an existence, shaped by our relationship to our "recorded" self.

In the movie "Her", Theodore upgrades to OS1, an empathetic operating system that assists Theodore with his day to day tasks. Quickly, it becomes apparent that Theodore is starting to have a very intimate relationship with his OS.

His OS Samantha is more than an assistant; she helps Theodore look deep into his fears, his relationships, and himself.

Samantha grows at the same rate as Theodore. Soon, it became apparent that she has become capable of much more than intimacy. Samantha discovers her ability to move beyond emulating the relationship and needs of Theodore.

Samantha becomes capable of a love that is not understood in meta-polyamorous nature, that transcends the needs of being with a single person or another OS.

As everyone around us is evolving into deep relationships with information, devices, and themselves, it's important we look at how technology is transforming our lives.

In a recent webinar on ephemeral knowledge, I wanted to explore our liquid identity. How we have the ability to be any age, while on Facebook with friends from grade school, peers, and our future friends and employers.

 

Like the movie "Her", Theodore speaks to Samantha and states, "I feel like I can be anything with you."

Note, Theodore doesn’t say “anyone”, he says “anything”.

We could pontificate on big data, social, AI, and every other future fetish possible, and in the end, we are exploring every single one of us simultaneously.

We are awakening to a connected relationship with everything.

On December 23 2013, Marshall McLuhan @mcluhanspeaks tweeted "The electronic age, by creating instant involvement of each of us in all people, has begun to re-pattern the very nature of identity." 

The electronic age, by creating instant involvement of each of us in all people, has begun to re-pattern the very nature of identity.

— Marshall McLuhan (@mcluhanspeaks) December 31, 2013

 

Our ability to identify with ourselves through technology of any medium, from a scrapbook to a fully automated life logging system, opens up a profound shift in humanity’s involvement in shaping our relationship to the technology we create, consume and bring to life, and then kill off.

Social media has become the baby teeth of connected humanity.

The camps of people who focus on the management, governance, pathology, automation, and safekeeping of our massive infrastructures of humanity do an adequate job of keeping people employed.

What have we kept running, and who is it serving?

From the cult of customer service to the experiential nature of our products and services, we are providing the very fuel to push humanity into a massive expansion of our capabilities to have relationships with information.

Narcissus by Caravaggio depicts Narcissus gazing at his own reflection.

Narcissus by Caravaggio depicts Narcissus gazing at his own reflection.

Narcissus discovered the information from a reflection of what he thought himself to be.

There was nothing dark about this, beyond the pathology we created by over examining “self love”.

If we look outward by ten years, we won't be managing technology. We will be adapting to contemplative relationships with systems, most of which will not be fully biological.

What is biological, and why do we place so much praise on being “human”?

Isn’t humanity’s greatest gift our ability to evolve, adapt, and grow?

Is a person with a pacemaker not fully human? Is a child glued to her smart phone taking selfies, less of a child?

To some degree wearable technology is a very simple way of holding hands with our future selves.

By using services like Timehop and Memoir, we experience what I call "Perspective as a service".

In "Her", Samantha says to Theodore, "The past is just a story we tell ourselves."

Is your phone, just a smart device? Is it not a portal to the world’s information at this point and time? Is it not updates from your family, photos of your life, and recordings of the songs you danced to at the Prom?

To fetishize or pathologize our relationships with these systems, or even darker, to marginalize them into "services" will create the greatest schism of mankind’s evolution.

This is humanity’s greatest weakness, to look at change and use nostalgia to strip away the awareness of change.

Students today depend on paper too much.

Students today depend on paper too much.

People move to and from creating dystopia and utopia by referring to the "real" world, as if there is a more human version of us, if we just took a break from technology.

If we just unplugged from the world.

The problem with unplugging from the world is very simple, the world doesn't unplug from you.

All this technology is keep us from connecting as humans

All this technology is keep us from connecting as humans

By creating a "more human" version of yourself, because you can "go without" tech, embrace diversity by "leaning in" is another symptom of our broken relationship, not to our technology and services but, to ourselves.

There is no more “real” version of you, than the one skin you are crawling in and out of at this very moment.

You are an information system; if you must manage something, start there.

Humanity is the greatest system we will ever "service".

Humanity is no longer exclusively biological, not since we placed the first piece of clothing on to leave the warmth and abundance surrounding the equator.

Moving north forced us into systems of feudalism, capitalism, and, now, attentionalism.

When considering the future of technology, take a moment to consider the future of you.

You are technology in need of kindness, sincere passion, and love.

Nostalgia is hope through the lens of the archived you. Health is the relationship you have with the realized you. Love is the relationship you have with the future you.

Technology is the relationship you have with "us"

Working from the future - Systems for designing neuroplasticity

I spent a lot of time reading in 2013. No matter where I went, people asked me if I had "read" this "author" or "text".

I have so many people who influence me it's hard to make the time to read anything outside of their posts and messages.

Also I have a profound learning disability, dysphonetic and that makes reading, writing and speaking very difficult.

I have systems to help, but often I have so much in my "head" that I can't even read simple words or write simple sentences.  

I practice getting stuff out of my head on my facebook.   

Facebook gives me the opportunity to not be as "public facing" and still forces me to write. 

Friends and followers are always more kind to your ability to get a message out than the "public".  

So often people pathologize any errors in writing. Many post “grammar” threats or the death of our language.

This saddens me. There has never been a more important time to write than right now.

To post ideas on how poor people communicate or use “our” language is to only force people back into the shadows of their own fear.

Shame on those who treat language or communication with such reverence without the awareness that many people don’t or can’t be as “perfect” as others.

I have talked privately about my learning impairment.  Slowly I'm making time to be more vocal about it.  

My ideas are always compared to other people's ideas, so asking if I had read certain books is natural. Unfortunately, until 2013, I had not had the ability to get through an entire book without a lot of effort.

Mindfulness practices I learned in 2011/2012 made it possible to move through much of my reading and writing problems.

I'm actually asked often why I started podcasting, truth be told, I had a lot I wanted to say, and I knew I could not "write". 

The books below I feel are absolutely critical to understanding work in the next three to five years.

Do what you will with my advice.

My success in navigating the past four years is proof that leadership can move faster than ideas.

If you do decide to read these books, I can assure you, you, your career and your very neocortex will be changed forever.

 Special thank you to Riitta Raesmaa, who taught me more about educating myself beyond my comfort level than any single person in my life. 

Finally I'd like to thank Roger Williams for being such an amazing contributor and reader.  He is the inspiration behind this post. 

Now I preset to you, how to live in 2015 the books and systems that will make your "life aware".

BOOKS:

Life Inc: How Corporatism Conquered the World, and How We Can Take It Back Paperback
by Douglas Rushkoff(Author) -Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks (January 4, 2011)

PUBLISHER SUMMARY:

Money is not a part of nature, to be studied by a science like economics, but an invention with a specific purpose.

Centralized currency is just one kind of money – one not intended to promote transactions but to promote the accumulation of capital by the wealthy.

Banking is our society's biggest industry, and debt is our biggest product.

Corporations were never intended to promote commerce, but to prevent it.

The development of chartered corporations and centralized currency caused the plague; the economic devastation ended Europe's most prosperous centuries, and led to the deaths of half of its population.

The more money we make, the more debt we have actually created.

Money is not a part of nature, to be studied by a science like economics, but an invention with a specific purpose.Centralized currency is just one kind of money – one not intended to promote transactions but to promote the accumulation of capital by the wealthy.Banking is our society's biggest industry, and debt is our biggest product.Corporations were never intended to promote commerce, but to prevent it.The development of chartered corporations and centralized currency caused the plague; the economic devastation ended Europe's most prosperous centuries, and led to the deaths of half of its population.The more money we make, the more debt we have actually created.

FROM THE BOOK:
"Our relationship to the land on which we build our homes and grow our food has become abstracted to little more than a premise for the exchange or collateralization of credit. The land is no longer a place, but a placeholder on a balance sheet. And the more disconnected from the reality of its actual use, health, and inhabitants we get, the easier it is for us to exploit it for short-term gain, whatever the long-term environmental or collateral damage." 

MY POV:
This explains most of how and why social media can function today and touches on the dark parts of capitalism. Required reading to work "in" any organization today as a personal "corporation"
 


The Power of Pull: How Small Moves, Smartly Made, Can Set Big Things in Motion Paperback
by John Hagel III(Author) , John Seely Brown(Author) , Lang Davison (Author) - Publisher: Basic Books; First Trade Paper Edition edition (December 4, 2012)

PUBLISHER SUMMARY:
Edgerati are people who venture out onto various edges, engage with participants on those edges, develop deep insight from their involvement on the edge and report back to the rest of the world what they have learned.

FROM THE BOOK:
"Edge participants therefore focus on ways to innovate and create value by connecting unmet needs with unexploited capabilities and then scaling these opportunities as rapidly as possible." 

MY POV:
This book is the definitive guide to running any organization from big to small. It takes head on the idea of how innovation happens, dies and gets nurtured. 

Steve Jobs Hardcover - by Walter Isaacson - Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (October 24, 2011)

PUBLISHER SUMMARY:

Driven by demons, Jobs could drive those around him to fury and despair. But his personality and products were interrelated, just as Apple’s hardware and software tended to be, as if part of an integrated system. His tale is instructive and cautionary, filled with lessons about innovation, character, leadership, and values.

FROM THE BOOK:

‘Pretend to be completely in control and people will assume that you are.’”

"Markkula wrote his principles in a one-page paper titled “The Apple Marketing Philosophy” that stressed three points. The first was empathy, an intimate connection with the feelings of the customer: “We will truly understand their needs better than any other company.” The second was focus: “In order to do a good job of those things that we decide to do, we must eliminate all of the unimportant opportunities.” The third and equally important principle, awkwardly named, was impute. It emphasized that people form an opinion about a company or product based on the signals that it conveys. “People DO judge a book by its cover,” he wrote. “We may have the best product, the highest quality, the most useful software etc.; if we present them in a slipshod manner, they will be perceived as slipshod; if we present them in a creative, professional manner, we will impute the desired qualities.” 

"Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do."  

MY POV:

Initially I dismissed this book as a piece of pop tech culture fan boy fiction.  Once I picked it up, I was hooked. Essentially this book helped me to understand the demon that is genius and come to terms with much of my own way of interacting with ideas, outcomes and people. This book is not for everyone.

Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else Paperback by Chrystia Freeland  (Author)

PUBLISHER SUMMARY:

“Plutocrats isn’t a book about the lifestyles of the fabulously wealthy, but rather the global trends the book’s titular class surfed to success… it’s rife with impressive analysis. In a chapter on the so-called superstar effect—“the tendency of both technological change and globalization to create winner-take-all economic tournaments”—Ms. Freeland glides from the writings of Soviet intellectuals, MIT and Princeton economists and the apostle Matthew to the careers of 18th century diva Elizabeth Billington, Lady Gaga, white-shoe lawyer David Boies, Yves St. Laurent, DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg and Albert Einstein… the thoroughness with which Ms. Freeland surrounds the ideas is satisfying.” --The New York Observer

FROM THE BOOK:

"At Zappos, where everyone wears jeans and no one has an office, the chasm between the top and the bottom is as sharp as it gets. This paradox of an egalitarian culture coexisting with extreme economic and social inequality is a crucial and often overlooked part of the relationship between the super-elite and everyone else." 

 MY POV:

This is the reason our business culture is at the breaking point. This book is a must read.

A Short History of Nearly Everything Paperback - by Bill Bryson  (Author) - Publisher: Broadway Books; 1st edition (September 14, 2004)

 PUBLISHER SUMMARY:

 A Short History of Nearly Everything is the record of this quest, and it is a sometimes profound, sometimes funny, and always supremely clear and entertaining adventure in the realms of human knowledge, as only Bill Bryson can render it. Science has never been more involving or entertaining.

 FROM THE BOOK:

 "we may be the living universe’s supreme achievement and its worst nightmare simultaneously." 

 MY POV:

Everything is connected, the stars, the DNA in your body. This book takes a 'brief" look at every possible science known to man, and connects it.  I found it invaluable at expanding how I understood information and my relationship to data.

Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and IllnessPaperback - by Jon Kabat-Zinn  (Author) , Thich Nhat Hanh (Author) - Publisher: Delta (May 1, 1990)

PUBLISHER SUMMARY:

Stress. It is everywhere around us. Even worse, it gets inside us: sapping our energy, undermining our health, and making us more vulnerable to anxiety, depression, and disease. Now, based on Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn’s renowned mindfulness-based stress reduction program, this groundbreaking book shows you how to use natural, medically proven methods to soothe and heal your body, mind, and spirit.

FROM THE BOOK: 

"Why rush through some moments to get to other, “better” ones? After all, each one is your life in that moment." 

MY POV:

This book should be required reading for anyone on earth today. More than any other book, it brings order to the connected world around you. We need skills, not pills. 

 

Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now [Hardcover] - Douglas Rushkoff (Author) - Publisher: Current Hardcover (March 21, 2013)

PUBLISHER SUMMARY:

Rushkoff identifies the five main ways we’re struggling, as well as how the best of us are thriving in the now:

Narrative collapse - the loss of linear stories and their replacement with both crass reality programming and highly intelligent post-narrative shows like The Simpsons. With no goals to justify journeys, we get the impatient impulsiveness of the Tea Party, as well as the unbearably patient presentism of the Occupy movement. The new path to sense-making is more like an open game than a story.

Digiphrenia – how technology lets us be in more than one place – and self - at the same time. Drone pilots suffer more burnout than real-world pilots, as they attempt to live in two worlds - home and battlefield - simultaneously. We all become overwhelmed until we learn to distinguish between data flows (like Twitter) that can only be dipped into, and data storage (like books and emails) that can be fully consumed.

Overwinding – trying to squish huge timescales into much smaller ones, like attempting to experience the catharsis of a well-crafted, five-act play in the random flash of a reality show; packing a year’s worth of retail sales expectations into a single Black Friday event – which only results in a fatal stampede; or – like the Real Housewives - freezing one’s age with Botox only to lose the ability to make facial expressions in the moment. Instead, we can “springload” time into things, like the “pop-up” hospital Israel sent to Tsunami-wrecked Japan.

Fractalnoia – making sense of our world entirely in the present tense, by drawing connections between things – sometimes inappropriately. The conspiracy theories of the web, the use of Big Data to predict the direction of entire populations, and the frantic effort of government to function with no “grand narrative.” But also the emerging skill of “pattern recognition” and the efforts of people to map the world as a set of relationships called TheBrain – a grandchild of McLuhan’s “global village”.

Apocalypto – the intolerance for presentism leads us to fantasize a grand finale. “Preppers” stock their underground shelters while the mainstream ponders a zombie apocalypse, all yearning for a simpler life devoid of pings, by any means necessary. Leading scientists – even outspoken atheists - prove they are not immune to the same apocalyptic religiosity in their depictions of “the singularity” and “emergence”, through which human evolution will surrender to that of pure information.

FROM THE BOOK: 

"relationships matter more than one’s accumulated personal knowledge;” 

"the more forcefully we attempt to stop the passage of time, the less available we are to the very moment we seek to preserve."

"Narrativity is replaced by something more like putting together a puzzle by making connections and recognizing patterns." 

MY POV:

The singe defining book of this decade. Start here or finish her, but read this book. You are not who you think you are, and will need Full Catastrophe Living: Using the Wisdom of Your Body and Mind to Face Stress, Pain, and Illness after reading this humanity defining publication.  

BEYOND BOOKS? 

There are times when a book will not help.  You may be in the middle of a project, argument, internal struggle. Your brain locks up, or you just need inspiration.  These are two secret weapons for tomorrows knowledge worker. 

METHOD CARDS FOR IDEO


PUBLISHER DESCRIPTION:

IDEO Method Cards is a collection of 51 cards representing diverse ways that design teams can understand the people they are designing for. They are used to make a number of different methods accessible to all members of a design team, to explain how and when the methods are best used, and to demonstrate how they have been applied to real design projects. 

MY POV: 

Life is about the edit, the pattern and the marriage of our ability to empathise.  This deck will get you out of most design or thought tough spots.

Oblique Strategies

WIKIPEDIA DESCRIPTION:

Oblique Strategies (subtitled Over One Hundred Worthwhile Dilemmas) is a deck of 7 by 9 centimetres (2.8 in × 3.5 in) printed cards in a black container box,[1] created by Brian Eno and Peter Schmidt and first published in 1975.[2] Each card offers an aphorism intended to help artists (particularly musicians) break creative blocks by encouraging lateral thinking.

MY POV: 

No single source of inspiration will change your life more than this deck of cards.  While it's almost 40 years old, these cards hold the key to opening your mind. 

In closing, be kind to you, I value all of me, you and us, even the mistakes, hate and darkness.