a month of reading

So February and most of March have been filled with studying and reading. I highly recommend udacity for some free learning, easy sign up and the courses are made up of YouTube vids and tutorials – works for me. Been learning Visual Encoding and playing with dimple.js as part of the Introduction to Data Science.

Been reading lots too – started with “Philosophy of Boredom” by Lars Svendsen which is an academic paper turned into a book so quite heavy going but very interesting. Are you aware of how much you do that is out of boredom?

“A utopia cannot, by definition, include boredom, but the ‘utopia’ we are living in is boring.”

Next up was “The Path” by Michael Puett which is along the lines of a large-print self-help book based on readings of ancient Chinese wisdom. Each chapter draws lessons for modern life from a particular Chinese thinker – Confucius, Mencius, Zhuangzi, Xunzi, Laozi – and you reach the end wondering why life is so complicated and why can’t it be this simple.

Finally “Irresistible” by Adam Alter which i am half way through and can’t wait to read more. The crux “People have been addicted to substances for thousands of years, but for the past two decades, we’ve also been hooked on technologies, like Instagram, Netflix, Facebook, Fitbit, Twitter, and email—platforms we’ve adopted because we assume they’ll make our lives better. These inventions have profound upsides, but their appeal isn’t an accident. Technology companies and marketers have teams of engineers and researchers devoted to keeping us engaged. They know how to push our buttons, and how to coax us into using their products for hours, days, and weeks on end.”

Behavioural Addiction will become a very prevalent phrase as we wake up to the mass addiction we have all got.

a guide to our future

“A Guide to Our Future” by Paul Mason – the most interesting and informative book I’ve read this year. Capitalism is dead and neoliberalism is trying to keep the status quo but the technology revolution is reshaping our notions of work and value. Change is upon us and it is not a third world war even if Hilary and the neocons push that agenda – it is the removal of that elite, that 1%. It is the intervention and weaning off of the petroleum addiction we have had for the last 70 years, opening our eyes to see that it is the simple things in life that bring happiness, not how many channels you have access to or what your latest app does.

One of the most common comments amongst the 1% is “China shows capitalism works better without democracy” – which is scary because it suggests the last 100 years of western democracy has failed and the actual desired state is a bastardised socialist state – a form of communism?

Paul Mason’s book helped me understand how we got to here, what the current agendas are in play around the world and gives an insight into where we are going. It is disturbing reading as it made me realise a chunk of my history lessons were hugely distorted and potentially lies, it shows how much we are lied to by our governments, media and institutions and shows how greed and power drive everything humans do.

Definitely worth a read if your head isn’t firmly stuck in the sand.



Outdoor Gallery at Leith Walk Studios

messing around with the new trailer for Leith Walk Studios “outdoor gallery” opening on the 1st August 2016.

There is still a bunch of wall space and areas for installations if there are any visiting artists or anyone in Edinburgh that wants to contribute.

most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face

The question of identity has changed from being something you are born with to a task: you have to create your own community. But communities aren’t created, and you either have one or you don’t. What the social networks can create is a substitute. The difference between a community and a network is that you belong to a community, but a network belongs to you. You feel in control. You can add friends if you wish, you can delete them if you wish. You are in control of the important people to whom you relate. People feel a little better as a result, because loneliness, abandonment, is the great fear in our individualist age. But it’s so easy to add or remove friends on the internet that people fail to learn the real social skills, which you need when you go to the street, when you go to your workplace, where you find lots of people who you need to enter into sensible interaction with. Pope Francis, who is a great man, gave his first interview after being elected to Eugenio Scalfari, an Italian journalist who is also a self-proclaimed atheist. It was a sign: real dialogue isn’t about talking to people who believe the same things as you. Social media don’t teach us to dialogue because it is so easy to avoid controversy… But most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face. Social media are very useful, they provide pleasure, but they are a trap.

Zygmunt Bauman

More from him http://elpais.com/elpais/2016/01/19/inenglish/1453208692_424660.html

the age of creativity

Does the creative process slow down as you age and do you “loose it” when you hit middle age? I like Degas take on it – “Everyone has talent at 25,” which is true, “the difficulty is to have it still at 50.”

 briefly looks at this in http://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2015/nov/15/seven-ages-of-an-artist-laura-cumming which is worth a read for Carmen Herrera quote in the final paragraph. Enjoy.