I have 20 minutes so let’s Kerouac this newsletter… Only instead of benzedrine, it’s LaCroix. And instead of an all-nighter, it’s before watching TV and hoping kids stay in their beds. But I digress.
The oddest part of this newsletter is that you, dear reader, primarily read this in your email inbox. I’m used to Twitter where there is an immediate feedback loop between hitting “Tweet” and everyone’s reactions. I didn’t realize how much I’d grown used to this until I hit send on my last newsletter and received no dopamine in return. Putting aside the fact that that is probably not a good thing for my neurotransmitters, I found it a good reminder about how weird the “online world” really is. The fact that I’m connected to so many other people by electromagnetism, electronics and glass is something that I don’t know how to fully grasp: If I tweet that I’ve been arrested, I’m pretty sure I’ll get a faster response than if I call my family. What does it mean that I can tweet a question and get the pulse of the world?
Now, I realize it’s not fully “the world” but a biased sliver. But it’s way more than I’ve ever had access to… The online world is my intellectual home.
When I grew up in Mexico City I had about as good a setup as a kid in the 80s could have. We had a school library, a bookstore about 30 minutes away with a pretty good book selection in English and Spanish, I had some pretty smart adults around me and the Encyclopedia Brittanica that was only a few years old. Between my set of adults, their friends and the encyclopedia I had basically all I needed to answer most questions. My main source of novelty was TV (then satellite TV) and the broader knowledge of my school friends… When we’d visit Texas we’d go to Borders and stock up on books… I was a lucky kid.
Fast forward a few decades, the way I access and consume information is completely unrecognizable. Many of you reading this, I’ve never met, you’ve never met me and yet here we are. The scale, variety, immediacy, and quality of information are all beyond my wildest dreams from growing up. Hell, they’re beyond my wildest dreams 10 years ago. Remember the first Kindle and how crappy it was? Remember trying to use the mobile browser on an old Blackberry?
It’s so easy to forget how vastly different the world we live in has become. It moves faster than we can comprehend. Caught in the gyre… Only thing I feel certain of is it will go faster. The speed of creation, consumption and feedback will only increase. Our modes of communication will evolve.
I keep returning to the concept from this story, Glyphish from the book “A history of the future in 100 objects”. A quote to entice you to read the full thing:
“Glyphish began as a very basic system to convert physical gestures into symbols by means of electromyograph sensors woven into active clothing. These sensors, like the ones I'm wearing right now, detected the precise movements of wearers' fingers, hands, arms, shoulders, and facial expressions, and abstracted them into glyphs that would accompany silent text messages (SMSes). Let’s turn it on. Ah, and there I've made the glyph for 'amused tolerance'. (full story here)
And of course with the increased immediacy will come an extra need to disconnect. We need mental boundaries or we’ll burn out. Maybe it’s “mental time zones” that are recognized and respected. Complementary elements. Periods of feast and famine. Or maybe it’s more balance… We’ll see.
Until next time…