“Art is something that happens inside us. We look at things in the world, and we become excited by them. We understand our own possibilities of becoming. And that’s what art is.”—Jeff Koons to The New York Times (via whitneymuseum)
This is big in the Grinder community. Most people start off by implanting magnets in their fingertips, which gives you the ability to feel magnetic fields. Your fingertips have lots of nerve endings jammed into one area and they are really sensitive to stimuli. Magnets twitch or move in the presence of magnetic fields, and when you implant one in your finger you can really start to feel different magnetic fields around you. So it is like a sixth sense. At first you will be waving your hand around appliances, probing fields like someone looking for a light switch in the dark. After a few days or weeks you will almost forget you have the implant because your brain has fully incorporated the sense into your normal world experience. When you sleep you will notice that even your dreams have changed to include the sense. You can now perceive an otherwise invisible world.
This makes many curious about all of the other things happening around them that they can’t see and they want more. So let’s expand on the magnet thing. We can buy all kinds of different sensors to detect heat, radiation, radio signals, wifi, whatever you want. If we wrap a wire around our implanted finger and attach that wire to our new sensor, we find that the wire creates a small magnetic field to the beat of the sensor. This of course makes our magnet twitch, and now we can feel heat from a distance, feel wifi, or whatever.
Why limit ourselves to feeling these sensations? We have other senses we can induce synesthesia in. I got some media attention in June of 2013 after I implanted headphones in my tragus to do just that. I had some practical reasons for doing this in addition to my thirst for exploration. A few years earlier I suddenly became legally blind in one eye. Lenses cannot correct it and my original eye doctor informed me that the other eye was likely to follow, at which point I would be legally blind, lose my job, etc. With this inevitability in mind I decided to be proactive. Ultrasonic rangefinders are devices used to determine how far away an object is. I knew that most blind people find acoustic variations help them identify the proximity of objects, so I figured I might be able to amplify this by converting rangefinder data into audio I could send wirelessly to my headphone implants. It turned out to be much more complicated than I thought, but that is a part of Grinding that I have come to appreciate. My setbacks lead me deeper into the rabbit hole of audiology where I discovered knowledge that has unlocked a thousand more possibilities.
I’d say that 25% of the people I talk to about sensory enhancement think it’s really cool and some go get implants themselves. The other 75% will nod their head and hope the conversation ends or they laugh and ask “why would anyone want to feel magnetic fields?” I get asked that question so much, and I still find it hard to articulate. They usually point out that “you don’t need it,” to which I counter “what if you lost the ability to taste? You don’t really need it to survive.” Ask anyone with an implant how they would feel if they lost the implant, and almost all of them will tell you they would miss it. A small bit of richness would be missing from their life experience.
Visible light is but a tiny portion of the greater magnetic spectrum that we cannot see. If we modeled the entire spectrum as a road stretching from LA to New York, the amount of visible light that humans can see would equal a few nanometers. Humans, from our allegorical caves, have nonetheless managed to form and test theories about things at the edges of perception but these discoveries took thousands of years. Where would humans be now technologically if we never developed sight? How long would it take us to theorize the existence of the aurora borealis or to hypothesize about the existence of stars? This reduction of input obviously cripples the rate of input.
So is the opposite true? Would expanding our senses accelerate our advancement? My answer is yes. Some Grinder friends of mine formed a team called Science for the Masses to discover if they could biologically push human perception of visible light into the near-infrared spectrum. This is a small increase, around 6% above our current abilities. The impact is dramatic. The new light allows you to see through fog and haze, tinted windows, and some clothing. Stars can be seen during day hours. Subtle changes in blood flow can be seen under the skin, allowing anyone to detect circulation problems and find clots. Seeing blood flow takes some of the guesswork out of determining what mood your date is in and lying becomes nearly impossible. Imagine how this awareness would have altered human history, politics, art, courtship, and relationships. Does human psychology benefit in a world where sincerity and emotional context can be seen with the naked eye rather than hypothesized or conjured? The new layers of info I’ve detailed above are actually just the tip of the iceberg. The real magic of sensory expansion comes from finding deviations and surprises that don’t fit within our scientific understanding because it makes us reconcile our mental models of the world with reality.
The way that magnets have moved from California New Age hippies in the 1980s to Seattle rockers in the 90’s to a Burning Man novelty to a major thread in the bodymod communities to, now, Grindr is kind of fascinating.
Trust on the Network = reliability, consistency, and speed.
Velo Labs, a startup who built skylock, a Networked bike lock, announced the pre-order of their product yesterday with a pretty rad video. However, the site wasnt able to handle the traffic and some people lost trust in the product.
“Because rhythm has direct access to the unconscious, because it can hypnotize us, enter our bodies and make us move, it is power. And power is political. That is why rhythm is always revolutionary ground. It is always the place where the organic rises to abolish the mechanical and where energy announces the abolition of tradition. New rhythms are new perceptions.”—Robert Hass, as quoted by Richard Jackson in A Brief Poetics (via ringtales)
“We’ve been asking ourselves at USV if we should be purchasing coins in some of these “genesis block sales” instead of our normal appetite for Series Seed and Series A shares. I think the answer is ultimately yes, but we are most certainly entering into unknown territory in the process.”—
At some point we will all have a reason not to fund the next ‘big thing’ because the next big thing starts out as an idea that competes with something you or the vc, or syndicate you are looking at or already funded 6 months or 6 years ago.
“I am firmly convinced that invention in something that happens over long periods of time, by lots of very smart people, playing each others’ ideas against each other. I think there are very few eureka moments, very few genuinely new ideas.”—Marc Andreessen (via meganq)
They were the first company that I knew of that had testing built in the DNA of their company. They were going after the holy grail of social search (which IMHO twitter is the current winner) and then sold to Google which shut down the service.
This post isn’t really about them but I was reminded about them 2 weeks ago when my buddy Peter tweeted on the day Jelly launched publicly:
My buddy Micah has shared his thoughts and early reactions to Jelly that I think is common amongst the early adopter crowd.
Jelly UX is dumb
What I find fascinating most in the early days of Jelly is watching how the questions evolve.
People are still playing with it, testing the limits and seeing what kind of questions works and which don’t.
Once people get out all the dumb questions out of their system, they will start using it for more important question.
This form of play in the UX is important for creating a strong bond with the product. Think about all the dumb questions you don’t think twice about asking Google.
Jelly UX is smart
Intention and action are really important to cultivate in a fleeting mobile environment.
The disappearing nature of the questions forces intention.
If you’ve ever experienced the painful Tinder accidental swipe left of a hottie, then you know that this is a big deal.; it forces the user to pay attention instead of the habit of just casually glossing over facebook/instagram feeds and not taking action.
In order to pay attention to something, you need to take a deliberate action and follow a specific question. This is a strong data point for engagement [notify you to come back to the app] and interest [know which questions to show you in the future].
Forcing photos with every question is another strong design decision.
People process images better than text.
Forcing every question to have an image primes the user with context + excitement
Jelly has potential
There’s still alot more that needs to be done but the potential is HUGE.
Twitter’s potential wasn’t realized until Summize focused their energies on Twitter search. I think at scale, Jelly search can be a juggernaut. But time will tell if they even go in that direction.
What will be interesting to see is if Jelly opens up an API or they can go about building a massive network alone. They already are doing simple associative processing the facebook and twitter graphs but can they do it on the context side.
Either way I’m smitten by their potential and wish them well.
Just realized what I love about @askjelly It exemplifies the ethos of “you are not alone in this world” which is world changing
“Snapchat is a product built from the heart – that is the reason why we are in Los Angeles. I often talk with people about the conflicts between technology companies and content companies – I’ve found that one of the biggest issues is that frequently technology companies view movies, music, and television as INFORMATION. Directors, producers, musicians, and actors view them as feelings, as expression. Not to be searched, sorted, and viewed – but EXPERIENCED.”—Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat
“I believe that software, and in fact entire companies, should be run in a way that assumes that the sum of the talent of people outside your walls is greater than the sum of the few you have inside.”—
“In life, you will become known for doing what you do. That sounds obvious, but it’s profound. If you want to be known as someone who does a particular thing, then you must start doing that thing immediately. Don’t wait. There is no other way. It probably won’t make you money at first, but do it anyway. Work nights. Work weekends. Sleep less. Whatever you have to do. If you’re lucky enough to know what brings you bliss, then do that thing at once. If you do it well, and for long enough, the world will find ways to repay you.”—Jonathan Harris via SwissMiss
“I went around and showed people what I’d done and said, “Hey, I made Watch the Throne, I made this amount of music for the past 10 years, I have this level of visuals, this level of communication, I can sell this many albums, and I also have these new inventions. Will anybody help me out?” I met with 30 billionaires, 30 companies, and basically everyone said, “Fuck you.” I said, “How could this happen? How could not one person want to invest in these different ideas?” I mean, if I grouped up with three guys in a basement and started a new tech company that was very similar to another tech company down the street, but it just so happened that I had a few more followers than the other guy, then I could get all the investment in the world and value my company at a certain amount. But then I have another idea and the entire world will say fuck you? Now, that is about money and power …”—Kanye West