BITES // 04.04.19

Every month we collect eight of the best pieces of content published on the web and share them with you, because we believe that the most extraordinary thinking is inspired by looking to unexpected places. BITES is a reading list for those who want to bring a little of the outside, in.

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1. HYPNOTIZED BY HOMEWORK

You would know if you were in a cult, right? The signs would be obvious, your allegiance to your charismatic leader would be clear, and you might even get to drink some kool-aid. Right? Or is it possible that American classrooms have been indoctrinating us into history’s most pervasive cult ever: “the cult of homework?” Today’s teachers are doubling down on the same methods that were used by their teachers before them, giving our kids more homework than ever, and probably killing our collective imagination in the process.

2. A SLOWER DIMENSION OF TIME

An unending stream of “breaking news” in our feeds has shifted our perception of time; the pace at which our reality is unfolding keeps accelerating. The result: we’re less capable of taking the time to appreciate the details in life (you might even be skimming over this very newsletter!). No more “stop and smell the roses”; now it’s “quick, tell me what I need to know about those roses” (thanks, internet!). Perhaps some digital detachment, or an “internet cleanse,” is the only way to regain our sense of time.

3. LOOKS CAN BE REVEALING

Never judge a book by its cover. Except, you could probably tell how people feel about polarizing issues like premarital sex and gay marriage just by looking at them. It turns out that being beautiful influences how people feel about hot issues like those around sex, suggesting that an individual’s perceived attractiveness can have notable implications for their morality. I’m sure you are a verrrrry moral person.

4. YOU KNOW THE DRIL

“Dril, as a writer, does not simply capture the ways we think and talk: he is also helping to shape them.” If our culture has moved onto the internet, it seems reasonable to suggest that online writers be considered for our highest literary honors, like the Nobel Prize in Literature. Maybe it’s only fitting–dare I say necessary–that internet poets and trolls (even, and perhaps especially, those in between), like Dril, be regarded as serious Nobel nominees.

5. ALGORITHMS GOT THE RHYTHM

An algorithmic app called Endel just beat you to a record deal with Warner Music and it’s bound to change the landscape of music forever. Endel can take factors like your location, time, and weather to create “reactive, personalized soundscapes” that set the vibe. And with a rise in demand for contextual playlists, try beating an algorithm that can currently produce 600 tracks “with a click of a button.”

6. SNEAKER CULTURE REPROGRAMMED

Air Jordans changed shoes forever. Not only did they immediately and utterly disrupt the basketball court, they became a distinctive symbol across a surprising variety of subcultures. In particular, Air Jordans infiltrated the 80s punk and skate scenes to become “the Chuck Taylor of a new generation.” And with collaborators like Virgil Abloh, Travis Scott, Aleali May, and Nigel Sylvester, it’s no wonder these basketball shoes continue to transcend the game of basketball.

7. GENERATION GENERALIZATION  

In an effort to connect with consumers, marketers have bucketed entire swaths of people into self-fulfilling stereotypes, arguably making them more difficult to understand. We invented the millennial so we could sell it stuff and now all dollar signs point to a shiny, new animal: Gen Z. Digital Natives, the Founders, Gen Edge, iGen, the Vacants: call them what you want, you will inevitably get them completely wrong.

8. THE SCIENCE OF LUCK

Does luck exist? If so, how do lucky things happen to us? Why aren’t we lucky more often? If we could talk to the architects of life, they might tell us that engineering luck is a constant and meticulous psychological negotiation: they might say “lucky is fun, but too lucky is unreal.” So if you were hoping fate would present you with the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn how game designers program serendipity, then you’re in luck.


TAKEAWAY:

We’re all brainwashed. Well, much of human behavior tends to follow coding we don’t even realize exists. The world around us informs our biases, our biases become the foundation for understanding the world around us, and so on and so forth and forever as these feedback loops help reinforce a culture of misunderstandings. It’s only when we stop to recognize the underlying programming guiding our decisions that we can learn to unplug, recalibrate, and possibly even deprogram to think for ourselves.  

MORE WHERE THAT CAME FROM

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