Identity is the New Money

Thoughts on Identity is the New Money, by David Birch. 126 p. London Publishing Partnership, May 2014. Despite its provocative title, I didn’t finish this book with a precise understanding of how money will be replaced by identity; but along the way there were several interesting points regarding the advancement of mobile technology as a payment mechanism, and the implications for digital identity and privacy. The brief case studies indicate international efforts to make digital identities are further along than the USA’s, but no one is making great strides in adoption just yet. I was left with questions about the book’s central idea, which is not a necessarily a bad thing when reacting to this kind of abstract premise. Was he saying I’ll be able to buy goods and services based on how many facebook friends I have? That the social graph alone will prove my ‘credit-worthiness’ and earn me whatever I need that I …

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the Four Hour “Lorem Ipsum”

What would I do with the extra thirty-six if I only had to work for four hours, every week? In Tim Ferris’ book, The Four Hour Workweek, the answer to that question is given less attention than the ‘how-to’ guide for finding oneself in such a quandary. As he recounts his own experience, the author presents the alternative ‘new rich’ lifestyle of time spent dwelling nomadically through Europe, learning languages, and adopting several new ‘kinesthetic’ activities per year as the alternative to cubicle-dwelling wage slavery. For a creative mind, some of the ideas might be poisonous to accept – Ferris proposes a ‘physical product’ driven business as the only path to a life of R&R; he argues that selling widgets, gidgets and gadgets is the easiest framework for removing oneself from the day-to-day operations of a financial enterprise. Artists, singers, athletes, counselors, teachers, beware – there are no four hour workweeks in your future, if you can’t outsource …

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Trendy Tech Article Round-up

Half of my cognitive load on any given day is spent fighting the urge to read EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE on the internet. Fortunately, some make it through my productivity filter, and I allow myself to read them. Lately I’ve been using the very cool application Pocket to save things I want to read later. Several pieces grabbed my attention this week. Each touched on the start-up culture in which I work, but I didn’t feel like the target audience – they all hinted direction at a reader on the outside of the tech world: Rolling Stone’s big interview with Bill Gates, the NY Times Magazine’s ‘Silicon Valley’s Youth Problem‘, and two from the Wall Street Journal – ‘Success Outside the Dress Code‘ and ‘Have Liberal Arts Degree, Will Code.’ Mr. Gates’ most interesting statements revealed his thoughts on morality, religion, and government, but he also answered questions about the current state …

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on The Facebook Effect

I decided to read David Kirkpatrick’s book, The Facebook Effect, because I wanted to rationalize my somewhat recent decision to ignore a product that has become one of the most widely used in the world, achieved staggering valuations, etc. So here is my rambling reaction to the book, and my latest thoughts on Facebook in general: There are reasons I want to like Facebook. I love sharing photos, reading opinions, and the little dopamine spritz that comes with any online interaction. Mark Zuckerberg even seems like a decent guy, at the very least a champion of my generation in leadership and business acumen. When I go all the way back to 1984 to compare our lives’ paths, starting with his birthday about 3 weeks before my own, it’s impossible not to be awed. Although we probably took the same spelling lessons in 4th grade, and maybe asked similar questions in …

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on Monopoly, and OKcupid

I have been reading one of John McPhee’s essay collections with a friend, and we came across his piece on Marvin Gardens, the Atlantic City neighborhood featured in the Monopoly board game. The essay portrays a distinction between wheeling and dealing in the fake world of Monopoly, and the real-life depressed economic condition of A.C., New Jersey. McPhee characterizes the familiar streets of the city, like Baltic and Mediterranean Avenues, the Boardwalk and Park Place – as completely derelict, empty of the wealthy optimism they represent in the game. We both found it interesting that a game could represent, in such a different way, the condition of an actual thing – in this case, a city. I realized I could extrapolate the thinking a bit more and apply it to online dating – is the dating website OKcupid very different, in terms of attempting to recreate reality, from Monopoly? A. …

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on the Humanities

A recent article in the Wall Street Journal asked – “Who ruined the humanities?” The writer’s premise is that students of art and literature are at a disadvantage when studying at a university, where a rigid pedagogy is imposed on works that should be considered personally and at leisure, thus leaving the students with no real benefit upon graduating but having soaked up and learned to reproduce the opinions of professors. The article is rich with opinion and gives an interesting history of literature studies that I didn’t encounter at all during my years of college. He writes: Only a knave would applaud the falling-off in the formal study of books that cultivate empathy, curiosity, aesthetic taste and moral refinement. But the academic study of literature leads to nothing of the sort. Every other academic subject requires specialized knowledge and a mastery of skills and methods. Literature requires only that …

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a Year Without Books, Maybe

Everyone seems to have a theory about how to interact with books, from Kafka and his “frozen sea” to Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – “Put down that book you’re using as a shield.” I’m turning 29 next week, which means I’ve got one year left before I’m thirty. Thirty is about five years away from senility and a wheelchair, according to my research. For most of my twenties, I’ve been an impressively compulsive reader. I have a dozen books I’m half-reading at any given time, and I’m on Amazon once a week filling up my shopping cart with more that I don’t buy, or do and don’t have time to read. I hear an interview with an author on NPR and decide their book is exactly what I need to understand my life at this precise moment, or I’m provoked after stumbling on a subject I had never considered before. I download …

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on Taking Sips (of Books) (part 2)

Last May, I published a list of all the books (42) I had sampled on Kindle.  The editors of WordPress featured the post on the ‘Freshly Pressed’ section of the WP homepage, bringing thousands of readers here and prompting hundreds of comments. The suggestions that readers left the comments were helpful, but not totally followed. From the first list of samples, I ended up buying 6 of the books – 5 on the Kindle, and one in paperback. The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien What Technology Wants – Kevin Kelly Aleph – Paulo Coelho Alone Together – Sherry Turkle Beautiful Testing – Adam Goucher The Four Loves – C.S. Lewis Two I finished reading – Lewis and Turkle – the rest I’ve begun but haven’t finished. (Tolkien 35%, Kelly 51%, Coelho 17%, Goucher 77%) I’ve also finished  probably 15 others that weren’t sampled or on the list. I have continued my habit …

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On the Hunger Games

I finished reading the Hunger Games, too late to see the movie when it first opened, but better late than never.  On the surface, without any analysis, its a simple, entertaining, well-paced read.  In discussion it could easily open up topics like modern entertainment and gender roles. Like ‘1984’,’ Fahrenheit 451′, or more recently, ‘A Super Sad True Love Story’, ‘Games’ portrays the authorities of the future as inconsolable. Like ‘Lost’, ‘Castaway’, and ‘The Beach’ it also gives nature and human survival a furious posture. Like ‘the Truman Show’ it warns against the relentless nature of celebrity. I was a bit skeptical about the innocent sexuality of the characters, who were otherwise ferocious murderers and survivalists. In many works of gratuitous violence, examples of extreme sexuality are also present – ‘..Dragon Tattoo’, ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Clockwork Orange’.  A world where characters murder each other is more imaginable if they aren’t concurrently experiencing a kiss for …

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On Taking Sips (of Books)

Since I first got my hands on a Kindle, I’ve liberally abused the “Sample This Book” feature available in the Kindle Store.  In the last two years, I’ve downloaded and read samples of dozens of books. Here’s an incomplete compilation of the samples I’ve acquired, which are surely all very interesting books worth a full reading… but we are only given so much time, right? If anyone reading has a suggestion for which of these I should follow through to their conclusion, let me know in the comments…  Punk Rock Dad – Jim Lindberg Things Fall Apart – Chinua Achebe Bossypants – Tina Fey Mental Models – Indi Young In The Plex – Steven Levy Guitar For Dummies – Jon Chappell Understanding Marijuana – Mitch Earleywine The Hobbit – J.R.R. Tolkien What Technology Wants – Kevin Kelly Aleph – Paulo Coelho Alone Together – Sherry Turkle What I Talk About …

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