A piece of Banksy artwork — the 2006 ‘Girl with Balloon’ — spontaneously shredded through its picture frame at Sotheby’s auction house after it had just that moment sold for £860,000 (about $1.2 million dollars as of this writing).

Banksy is brilliant.

Ending Malaria

Megan Molteni of Wired Magazine cracks open the Crispr gene-editing process relative to eliminating malaria (a fifteen year process) in mosquitoes.

I’m curious what unforeseen changes will occur in the ecology as we mold our environment at a genetic level. Everyone agrees that ending malaria is a good thing. But good things are relative in Mother Nature. Ecologically, events cascade in often unforeseen fractals — an evolving, invisible calculus catalyzed by technology.

I’m sure educated, brilliant people are connecting the dots of these events. The challenge is the dots are moving and mingling in unusual Gestalts. As Tim Berners-Lee, the man who created the hyperlink, might say, “one thing leads to another.”

Facebook’s Fallacy

Facebook will partner with the National Democratic Institute and the International Republican Institute to combat “fake” news. Previously, Facebook elected to eliminate human editors, replacing them with algorithms oriented to maximize user engagement (re: enhance revenue through outrage). Now, Facebook is enlisting the assistance of politically motivated entities to better polish the sheen on its news content.

This is like inviting the fox into the henhouse with a bib, a fork, and a ‘do not disturb’ sign hanging on the door — the fox doesn’t even need the fork or the bib. Bias will inevitably bleed into decision-making. Facebook’s insulation in Silicon Valley and its own culture seems to have completely skewed its viewpoint on reality. This sort of thinking validates my decision to leave that toxic platform for the greener fields of self-publishing through WordPress.

UPDATE: Kara Swisher, writing a prescient op-ed piece in the New York Times called “A Wise Man Leaves Facebook”, agrees that Facebook needs its nay-sayers. Diversity of perspective and thought is a key element for any organization’s growth.

Leave No Dark Corner

Matthew Carney, Chinese correspondent of ABC News Australia, conducts a wonderfully pointed piece of storytelling concerning China’s soon-to-be imposed Social Credit System. Disturbing technology. How will this be misused? More so, a Chinese citizen suggests it makes her feel safe. At what cost?

“Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.”

Ben Franklin, (though slightly out of context)

While we are experiencing Aldous Huxley’s nightmare over here in the States, the Chinese are colliding with George Orwell’s vision of the future

Amusing Ourselves to Death

“The clearest way to see through a culture is to attend to its tools for conversation.”

Marshall McLuhan

I’ve plunged head-first into Neil Postman’s Amusing Ourselves to Death. While it’s far too early to glean any sort of revelation from the book, it’s easy to read the tea leaves of a great thinker, a prescient storyteller, and a prophetic educator.

The zenith of his first argument teeters from McLuhan’s quote above, intersecting with Native American smoke signals as an uncomplicated form of communication. Smoke cotton-balls ballooning into the sky could not contain sophisticated philosophies or debate; only raw, simple information.

It’s fascinating how similar network access is to that simple act, exchanging smoke for transluscent blossoms of radiation to convey our thoughts. We are, all of us, igniting the atmosphere with our collective rumination, tattooing the invisible skin of the world with fire.

UPDATE: No one wants a great book to end.

The main argument Postman makes is: communication through imagery is a poor replacement, both socially and culturally, for communicating through typography. He positions various points to defend this hypothesis throughout the book, from televangelism to photography to politics. His arguments are insightful, carefully deconstructing purpose to expose intent. 

The challenge is that it’s hard to trust words these days. The vast majority of communication legwork is handled nonverbally. There is a reason that publishing photos through Instagram or Facebook is so popular — photos tell the story quickly and efficiently. A few clicks and you’re done as opposed to constructing icon after icon composing word after word to form a sentence to craft a coherent thought or story.

Sadly, we are trading craft for convenience.