Quick Guide: How to Refresh Your Body and Mind over the Weekend
For most of us the weekend means free time to do things we really love — or maybe just time enough to run through long lists of chores we don’t have time for during work days. We need to find a balance between productivity and relaxation to make our weekend routine more pleasant and refreshing.
You can make the best use of your time this weekend by relaxing, but staying socially and physically active at the same time. But how, you’d ask?… What tips can we use to get more out of our weekends and not fall asleep on Sunday night feeling depressed and not ready for the week ahead? Here is a quick guide on how to make your weekend more fulfilled and refreshing. Enjoy listening and have a great weekend!
@entrylevelrebel via Inc
You work like a maniac at your business all week, so what do you usually do come Friday? If you simply flop down on the sofa, you’re certainly not alone. But take a minute and check out a simple strategy for restorative weekends, which the busiest and most successful people swear by.
by @jacquelynvsmith via Forbes
Successful people know that time is too precious to be totally leisurely about leisure. They are not going to waste their time by thinking about how to spend their time. Learn how to take charge right away!
via The Muse
It’s no secret — we all love to be in bed. It’s the ultimate place of relaxation, where you’re completely free from the stresses of the day. If you try to maximize your time in bed, listen to smart tips on how to stay productive without leaving your bed.
by @delistraty via The Atlantic
Here is a quick, useful piece of advice on how to improve your family relationships during the weekend.
via Men’s Journal
The ultimate thing you need to listen to before the weekend come is a decade-by-decade guide to getting stronger, faster, fitter, and healthier as you age. Stay fit and happy!
Technology can enslave us. Can it also set us free?
Is it time to start creating technology to ‘think’ more like we do?
Since its inception just over 20 years ago, we’ve come to think of the internet as something other than real life, as if we toggle back and forth between the ‘virtual’ digital realm and the ‘real’ physical world. It’s true — the digital and the physical are not the same, but isolating the online from the offline fails to capture the fact that our lived reality is the result of a constant meshing of these spaces in our lives. Life is continuously shaped in very deliberate ways by the internet and new technology — changing the ways we communicate, compute, dine, entertain ourselves, travel, and even how our brains are wired.
As such, sometimes it feels hard to escape technology’s influence. The technologies we’ve built in tandem with the web are deeply entrenched in how we interact with the world today — ‘pics or it didn’t happen’; ‘let me Google that for you.’ With the tap of a button we can contact anyone around the world no matter where we are; we can navigate any road or off-road with built-in GPS systems in our cars and phones; and we can even obtain advanced degrees from educational institutions online.
Smartphones and other digital devices seamlessly connect us to even the farthest reaches of the globe, but they also have a way of disconnecting us from our own physical selves.
We often try to disconnect entirely from our devices, attempting to mitigate digital distractions in our lives by taking intentional breaks, ‘unplugging’ and finding ourselves ‘alone in the woods’ from time to time. But this mentality does us a disservice by attributing blame to technology itself and implying our own powerlessness over our devices. On a connected planet, we can’t escape technology — we have to manage it.
The mind and body mechanized
The Edge’s “reality club,” an annual informal gathering of intellectuals coming together to discuss some of the most challenging questions we face in the modern world, recently took up this question: “How is the internet changing the way you think?” This prompted a discussion between industry leaders, scientific researchers and psychologists abroad. In one response, scientific author John Brockman theorizes how new technologies continually shape our experiences and realities.
“New technologies beget new perceptions. Reality is a man-made process. Our images of our world and of ourselves are, in part, models resulting from our perceptions of the technologies we generate. We create tools and then we mold ourselves in their image.”
We use technology to create bridges all around us, striving to connect everything, everywhere — even connect to what’s going on inside of our own bodies. We use technological frameworks to interpret natural systems so that we can better understand the utility and order of complex things. In other words, we think of the brain as a computer, or the heart as a pump — superimposing mechanical structures onto our own, flesh organs. But, these frameworks limit our understanding of our physical selves to numbers and measurements.
Could we shift our thinking from this data-centric perspective and invest in technologies designed to help us connect at the core with our basic human nature? If so, what is our responsibility to be progressive in the way we think about building these products? In what constructive ways can technology interact more directly with our body and our senses?
All important things are measurable — or are they?
Linda Stone, once vice president of Microsoft and an influential thinker in digital life, thinks that technology itself could bring us back to the body, rather than further obscure our understanding of it. She points to supportive technologies — an umbrella term for passive, ambient and non-invasive tools built to help us feel what’s happening within our bodies.
Stone emphasizes that with ‘quantified self’ technology we assume that what we can easily measure is what matters, and if we can measure behavior we can change it. Fitness and weight loss apps like RunKeeper, FitBit and Nike + measure data, such as height, weight, caloric intake, physical activity and heart rate. The operative theory here is that if we improve our numbers we will gain insight into our bodies so that we can take better control and manage them. But in order to work, these apps — and the wearable tech that facilitates them — still rely heavily on a much less tangible metric: willpower.
In response to the ‘Quantified Self’ movement, Stone’s research explores how new technologies create new social behaviors, and how supportive technologies in particular could redefine innovation and the relationship between the ‘user’ and technology. These emerging technologies could empower us to become even more self-reliant and to cultivate our own capacity to tune into our bodies in physical, mental and emotional ways.
In her speech at the MIT Media Lab earlier this year, Stone argued that in our obsession with numbers and tracking, we continue to move further away from the wisdom of the body. “Technologies to Support the Essential Self” introduces a new way of thinking about technology as it relates to humans. Relying primarily on sensory input to connect us to our psycho-physiology, biometric computing can be used to support health and well-being. The goal is to develop products that allow more passive and ambient technologies using biofeedback from light vibration, pulse, sound, and temperature to enable our own conscious sensing and feeling. Although the primary relationship between the user and the technology is sensory, data is integral in mediating this relationship— “the numbers are in the background informing the light, sensory experience, and vibrations.”
The budding ecosystem of ‘Essential Self’ technology
In its nascent stages, non-invasive supportive technologies have already begun to emerge, as some tech companies prepare to build behind-the-scenes biometric data and insights into lifestyle products. F.lux, one of the first ‘Essential Self’ technologies on the market, provides software that syncs directly with your computer’s clock to support the best quality of light at different times of the day to match your natural circadian rhythms. Computer screens and other self-luminous devices emit blue wavelength light. Spending time in front of this bright light at night interrupts your melatonin production. As melatonin is vital in regulating your sleep/wake cycle, your risk of sleep disorders and disease increases significantly when this hormone is suppressed. But f.lux doesn’t simply dim the brightness of your computer— it works in the background to automatically adjust the color temperature of your screen, to the effect of acclimating the light from your computer to the light in your natural environment.
In concert with self-tracking devices, supportive technologies could become powerful in combating illness, preventing disease and injury, and improving quality of life. Apple, Google and Samsung are setting the stage for developing non-invasive health monitoring tools, experimenting with sensors for wearable devices that could measure glucose levels in diabetics. In particular, Samsung is reportedly working with startups to build a traffic light system that flashes blood-sugar level warnings to advise the user. Still, small companies began exploring this type of biofeedback technology in wearable products before the tech giants came onboard. Initially built in 2011, the BioForce app for precision performance tracks an athlete’s heart rate variability through non-invasive, integrated technology to measure the body’s ability to recover from stress, shedding insights on anticipated performance and immune system function. The app analyzes heart rate variability in the background and flashes different colors of light to indicate how much stress the user could tolerate that day, allowing athletes to more optimally tailor their training to their current physical state.
From mood-enhancing software to life-saving products, the potential applications of these technologies are limitless. What if we could build personal UV-sensing wearables for the outdoors that would alert the user at which point their continued sun exposure would increase their risk of DNA damage? Or imagine an iteration of our own product, Umano, that could one day integrate cortisol sensors to detect a user’s stress levels to personalize a playlist, mediating stress hormone production and improving mood.
The past 30 years of technological advancement have focused heavily on productivity and communication. We have an opportunity now to take a step back and examine the role technology plays in our lives — that is, our living. As product builders in the tech industry, what can we do to promote healthy relationships with technological devices? Where do human desire and new technology meet in the product sphere? As humans, we crave experiences that engage our senses and emotions and empower us to live full lives — not shackled to our devices.
Improve Your Workplace Wellness for Better Results
Another work week just began. Some of us are already stressed out. Not many would say that the office is a joyful place of rest and relaxation. Indeed, most of us would agree that we have stressful jobs. But have you ever taken the time to brainstorm about the things that could actually change your life in the workplace for the better? Is it just a pleasant atmosphere? A creative and smart team? A potential promotion? The more comfortable and confident you are at your workplace the better results you achieve. We want to talk about all these - everything that increases job satisfaction and productivity and help improve your workplace. Here are the best tips! Just click on the play button to listen!
You might think that motivation should just drop out of the sky like magic but it never really does. In fact we can create motivation for ourselves. Here, we’ve got 7 tools for finding motivation for you.
Healthy competition and a fight for a promotion is a good thing. But before you fill your next leadership position, make sure you’ve developed the right habits. So here are five things that will help you climb as high as your talents will take you.
Written by @sarahang5
We definitely can’t force creativity, but the proper working surroundings can help put us in the right frame of mind so that we can find great solutions. In addition, research shows that creativity can be learned, just like any other skill. So listen to smart tips on how to spark creativity naturally!
Listen to how an Espresso Machine can influence team building and why it may also boost productivity.
Written by @greatist
Even though there are 364 new emails in your Inbox and the next conference call starts in exactly five minutes, you’ve got plenty of time to relax. Luckily, we’ve rounded up 40 ways to relieve stress in just a few minutes or less.
Social Media and the Meaning of Life
New(ish) thoughts on New Media and the Existential Dilemma
by guest writer, Kevin Ferguson
A few weeks ago I visited home for my mother’s 50-somethingth birthday. Apart from seeing the family together, my mom wasn’t too pleased about another year passed. When we were at dinner my younger sister Erika, 17, asked her why she wasn’t excited about it. Predictably, she said that all birthdays do when you get to her age is remind her that she’s one year closer to death. In response to this, my dad pulled his squre napkin off his lap and onto the table.
“Erika, imagine this napkin represents 100 years.” He folds it in half and creases it, then reopens it. Pointing to the line, he says, “Your mother and I are here.” He folds a crease about at the edge of the napkin. “This is where your brother and sister are.” He folds an even smaller crease. “And this is where you are.” He folds a crease at the end, 25 years or so thick. “This is 75 years, the average lifespan. See the difference?” He said, pointing to all our lines, “We’re running out of napkin.”
"Squandering time is a luxury of profligate youth, when the years are to us as dollars are to billionaires."
Existential psychotherapy, of which I am no expert, suggests that all our inner conflict—internal struggles with our hypocrisies, our self-perceived shortcomings, our frustrations with our failures to Get The Girl, etc—come from the confrontations we have with the givens of our simplest, most basic problem: the fact that we exist.
Now, this may seem like a fairly obvious posit, but bear with me. The four basic problems, called the Ultimate Concerns, that we face are these:
1. The inevitability of Death
2. Freedom and the ethical consequences of our choices
4. Ultimate aloneness
These are pretty big problems to be sure, but luckily we don’t often confront them. In fact, we spend most of our lives simultaneously doing our best to ignore them completely, and to solve them. It’s only when we come into direct confrontations with our failures to solve them—50-somethingth birthdays, for example—that we get a little anxious.
Humans tackle the challenge of overcoming the Ultimate Concerns in fairly predictable ways. We solve our anxiety about the Grim Reaper by ignoring and then denying his relevance to us, even mocking him by skydiving or hang-gliding or going on roller coasters, convincing ourselves we can conquer the unconquerable.
The problem of freedom of choice is solved pretty automatically by our brains; we justify our every decision as the right one—sure, we screwed up, but we learned from it! Through the biases of our faulty and self-serving memories our brains rewrite our personal histories, shifting blame and spotlighting success in order to make us the heroes of our personal narratives (for what other archetype could we be?).
Meaninglessness is only a problem when we face what seems like severe injustice. How could friend/neighbor/loved one get cancer/have a heart attack/get hit by a drunk driver/etc? He/she was such a nice person… Sometimes we turn to a higher power (who works in mysterious ways) or just have general faith that ‘everything happens for a reason’ to solve our crises.
The final concern, on the other hand, is our most commonplace, and probably biggest, concern. Ultimate Aloneness, the fact that no matter what we do, we are alone in our own heads. Though here too we power through by finding friends and partners (imaginary or otherwise) to reciprocate capital L Love, even if this means that we stay in unhealthy or abusive relationships, allowing others to treat us poorly. Nothing is more frightening or hopeless than being alone.
"To be truly loved, to be remembered, to be fused with another forever, is to be imperishable and sheltered from the aloneness at the heart of existence."
Even if we push these four problems to the back of our heads, maintaining the facade of daily normalcy with a smile on our faces, our actions in life (and I include Social Media activity in ‘life’) make very obvious our core struggles, even if we aren’t immediately aware of our unconscious motivations.
Every action we take can be seen as motivated by the urge to solve one of these four problems. Tweets, updates, posts, blogs (guilty), shares, messages, are all screaming cries of “I EXIST!” Acts of creativity involve literally placing a part of yourself into the outside world, leaving physical evidence that you matter, you made a difference. Art couldn’t exist in a world of solitude.
"Repeat after me: I exist, I exist, I exist."
This is all natural, of course. People desire connection and yearn for evidence supporting the internal truism that they are important on this earth, that they, for one, matter. I’m not saying that Social Media is a problem. I don’t want to suggest (or even bring up) the possibility that we may be addicted to instant gratification, notifications, or that Social Media and maybe the internet in general has become a dangerous minefield of click-bait headlines, worthless, fraudulently architectured virility, and inspiration-porn. I wouldn’t know the first thing to say about that.
Luckily, Existential Psychotherapy suggests that we can, in the end, face our problems and embrace the givens of our existence. We can accept our eternal solitude and the inevitibility of our own demise. We can celebrate the freedom to choose our own paths and determine meaning. If we can manage this, we can we live our lives without stress or anxiety.
I’d like to think it’s possible, but I have my doubts. I hope so, for all our sakes, because my dad was right—we’re all running out of napkin.
The Connected Future Starts In Your Living Room
The modern living room is a mess. And not with just dishes, food wrappers and old magazines.
We’re talking about desktops, laptops, tablets, handhelds, and the many cables and peripherals that divide them. Even when you’re on the computer, you glance tediously at your phone, checking text messages, reading redundant notifications. There are speakers systems, new and old, with different types of connectivity. Let’s not even talk about game systems, DVD players, and other bulky vestigial boxes. And in the corner, at the center of this storm of technology, is the massive, underused Television.
There should be a better way; a cleaner, simpler way to integrate all this clunky hardware into one effective lifestyle.
At Umano, we’ve been working towards that goal: a seamless, wireless, connected experience. Google, and every other tech company with plans for surviving the data-driven future, has been working feverishly towards integrating software into everyday life, to make computing more natural and reduce the clutter. We like to talk about that at Umano because it’s completely in-line with our vision: a seamless relationship with our media, such that people can go about their busy lives without sacrificing the luxury of learning new things every day. It’s, in part, why Google spent $3.2B on Nest back in January, to work on a smart home infrastructure. But it’s also why they put so many resources into Glass, into automobiles, and home sharing – and why Umano has been with them every step of the way. As of this week Umano is now officially Google cast-ready, simultaneous with lots of exciting new announcements about the Android platform at Google I/O.
For Umano, integrating with Google’s Chromecast extension is the latest in many early-stage collaborations with the type of software that frees you up to do other things while still reading the news you care about. Umano is already on Google Glass, and is an early partner in Android Auto – which means soon you’ll easily be able to connect Umano to your car. And with Chromecast, it’s even easier to listen to the news when you clean, cook, or just relax on the couch – no headphones necessary. Umano believes strongly in this vision of connectedness; of flexible access and unencumbered computing. And with everything from wearables to a connected living room experience, we are well on our way to achieving this.
With all this in mind, here’s a vision for the connected home, inspired by the efforts of Android and iOS. If you had all the time and technology to set it up, what would your connected lifestyle look like? Close your eyes and imagine:
First off, if you’re home, there’s no reason you shouldn’t stay “logged in,” across all platforms. From there, you should never be losing data, for any reason. If your laptop crashes, you can simply keep working from whatever other device is most comfortable. Everything seamless. Notifications from all your devices will show up in the same place, wherever you are looking at the moment. And above all, no more time spent plugging and unplugging cables. The connected living room treats technology as furniture; everything tasteful, purposeful, and uncluttered.
Less repetitive stress, better posture
The phone is no longer the focal point; if you’re home, in the car, or at work, you shouldn’t have to be taking it in and out of your pocket constantly. Enter the smart watch: Having a classy-looking remote control and information source strapped to your wrist actually is starting to make a lot more sense than having a free-floating phone, which you’re always either trying to keep track of or feel radiating next to your groin. And imagine how much more you would video chat, if you could lounge and talk to someone from a flexible, in-wall screen. From a designer’s perspective, putting the internet on your wall actually makes a lot of sense. And giving you more options for physical interaction also means that the definition of work doesn’t necessarily include hunching over a monitor, your arm confined to the squares inches of the restrictive keyboard-mouse radius.
Easy to share
How many times have you given up on sharing something with someone, simply because a device wasn’t compatible or a screen wasn’t the right size? This is the idea behind Chromecast: creating a link between the small, medium, and big devices that fill different roles in our lives. No more sitting in a cramped group of people trying to watch a show on your laptop, or worse, iPhone. And if you’re looking at something on the internet, why shouldn’t you be able to share in an instant with everyone else in the room? This is why Chromecast is such a cool tool, especially with its new browser-sharing beta just announced this week.
And it’s not just about sharing with others; sharing with yourself is a thing, too. Have you ever carried your laptop around the house with you, perching it rashly on the kitchen counter? This shouldn’t have to happen either.
Some might say that a fully realized, connected and integrated living room is an unnecessary convenience; and for some, maybe this is the case. But for those that spend long hours watching, listening, reading, writing, coding, researching, designing, and building – and if you’re seeing this, that’s probably you – it’s more about good design, and really living in a way that’s healthy, intentional, and unrestricted. Maybe we haven’t reached this technological ideal quite yet – but one day the internet must evolve to meet its outer purposes, and in a more natural climate is where we’ll thrive.
Exciting New Ways to Use Umano for Android
Last week, Google wrapped up it’s annual Google I/O conference with some big announcements that we’re very excited about. Among the most exciting announcements were the debuts of Android TV, Android Wear and Android Auto. Google is making a very smart bet here: our first interaction with internet-connected devices starts with our own mobile devices. From that point on, every other device can act as an extension of the mobile experience. Android’s TV, watches and cars are the first examples of technologies that extend your mobile experience to work in new and exciting ways for the different situations you encounter daily.
At Umano, we’re jumping at this opportunity to extend your listening experience beyond your smartphone. Umano starts on your mobile device, but with the addition of new technologies that seamlessly connect your smartphone beyond its screen, we’re able to enhance your Umano experience in ways that better suit your everyday life.
Umano + Chromecast / Android TV
Google is making a huge effort to lead in the connected living room space. First came Google TV, then the Nexus Q, both of which found very little success. Finally last year, Google launched Chromecast: a tiny little device that turns your TV into an internet-enabled streaming machine. Building on this product, Google has released a brand new platform that brings Android to your TV.
Why does this matter for Umano listeners? News consumption shouldn’t be confined to the on-the-go experience, with your earbuds hooked into your mobile device. Imagine this: you wake up in the morning and want to get your news right away while you cook breakfast. Perhaps you want to share the most interesting stories with the rest of your family in the living room? Or maybe you just prefer listening to your news with surround sound. We’ve made that possible.
No longer do you have to fuss with connecting your phone to your speakers or home theatre setup! With the latest release of Umano for Android, you can now cast Umano directly to the big screen. This will work on any Chromecast connected TV and will already work with the newly announced Android TVs!
Umano + Android Wear
Android Wear, Google’s smartwatch platform, made its debut at Google I/O. The watch extends your phone even further by allowing you to receive and respond to notifications right from your watch. Rather than pulling your phone out for simple information like weather, transit times and other notifications, Android Wear simplifies your life by giving you all this information at a glance of your watch.
Umano already works with the latest Android Wear watches, allowing you to control the playback of Umano right from your watch. But this is just the beginning of Umano’s capabilities on the Android Wear. Stay tuned for more functions that will potentially allow you to add articles to your playlist, ‘like’ articles and maybe even comment on articles using voice commands!
Umano + Android Auto
Lastly, Google announced the debut of Android Auto, its in-car operating system, launching with over 40 car manufacturers and media partners. At Umano, we are extremely excited to work as an early partner in this initiative to bring you the best in-car Umano experience possible. Look forward to more announcements on this initiative as we continue to work towards making Umano easier to access from any context in your daily routine.
Let us know what you think! Tweet to us: @umanoapp, or visit us on Facebook here. Happy listening!
The Future of News: Without Humans
by Will Butler
I DON’T ASK MY FRIENDS where they read the news anymore, because at this point I don’t expect that they do at all. As a journalist, I’m the first to admit that my own news consumption is unusually high, but I know I’m not the only one who sometimes wonders if anyone is reading. Absurd as it may seem, we’re hurtling toward a future, as both producers and consumers, of human-less news.
The famous fake-news masters at The Onion launched a new site last week called ClickHole. It elicited a big response, not only in that it’s very funny, but hits home a point about how frothy the news cycle has become. The irony is that ClickHole, even as a parody of clickbait sites like BuzzFeed, is going to generate a lot of traffic, and only further marginalize so-called “serious” news sites. The question is, can serious news stay alive?
The news, spread thin
News, as a term, doesn’t mean much anymore. At one time, it meant unheard information; knowledge that was previously unpublished, otherwise inaccessible, actually “new.” Now it means what ever gets around most and fastest. But even though there’s more good-quality information about the world, it’s become harder to find it and keep track. Today, if you want to figure out what’s going on in your world, in your community, or even inside your body, you must be willing to dive into a maelstrom, a recycling bin of information. Then, because the web deals in such immense quantities, you have to practice your own quality control, parsing what’s good and relevant.
In a weird sort of chicken-and-egg situation, it’s gotten harder to feel in-the-loop the bigger the web expands. A low bar for content and unlimited publishing capacity has developed to serve what is apparently higher demand, but our individual ability to take in news has not changed. We still have the same attention spans. Hence, being relatively “well-informed” has become a part-time job.
According to data published by the New York Times last week, media doesn’t need humans the way it used to. Print media has not recovered since the 2008 recession — a whopping 400,000 jobs have been lost — and digital media, which would presumably pick up the slack, took on only 75,000 jobs. That’s not just 75,000 people doing three times the work. It’s also 325,000 less conscious humans thinking about what matters to us as people. Consciousness is not scalable.
The future is here: the self-driving car is on our streets, the 3-D printer is churning out human skulls, and there’s even an app for doing your laundry. We’re not in danger of acute extinction quite yet — but we as humans have to figure out where we fit in.
Ambivalence and the news-normal
What we have now is an incredibly casual and haphazard relationship with the news. News outlets don’t really have audiences anymore. Legacy publications are waning, and even the home page is dying, Most people I know only read about current events that they “stumble” onto, and even then they rarely engage with it. Paradoxically, people still spend all day on the internet! So if we’re not reading the news, what exactly are we doing?
Clicking: on what’s most immediately satisfying, what’s emotional or evocative, and most of all, what’s personally relatable. The Click, though it’s been derided as a casual and meaningless action, is still a measure of our humanity.
Facebook’s relationship with news is both laughable and totally integral to its survival. The “News Feed” changed the way we catch up on stuff, but it’s easy to forget that, in a very real sense, you’re being fed. New developments in the world outside of Facebook are what keep people coming back to Facebook, and now, with even more in-feed ads, news still drives revenue. The valuable headspace we have for information technology is being commanded, not by Mad Men-style advertisers, or even our friends really — our attention spans are owned by algorithms, and most of us are ambivalent to this fact.
But instead of acknowledging this ambivalence and trying to learn something from the new click-drivers of our day, most news outlets have dismissed clickbait as some sort of jerry-rigged carnival ride with frivolous appeal, racking up dollars like a cheat code in “The Sims.” But clicks are very real, and getting people to click on news — and ultimately stay there — is the everyone’s goal now. In that, there’s a lot to be learned, even from parody sites like Clickhole.
What makes us connect
As of late we’ve levied some guilt on BuzzFeed quizzes, Upworthy links, listicles and quick lifestyle advice, because we know that they’re designed as clickbait. But there’s a lesson to be taken from what makes these items appealing. Most of the time, it takes something abstract, something not connected to the reader, and plugs it into their life. We are constantly matching stimuli with our own experience, and it’s not an easy thing to do. We click on “Which Disney Character Are You?” because it simplifies that struggle, bridges the gap from something abstract to our own experience. These items aren’t valuable in the way that in-depth reporting or analysis is, but they do succeed in that they make us feel connected to the publication; they generate real human loyalty. And that’s what the news needs.
I’m not saying serious news sites should take the bait and give over to quizzes and lists. Rather, they need to infuse the news with the basic things that make us click, instead of fighting the most normal tendencies of human nature. Whether you like the content or not, BuzzFeed, FOX News, Vox, and others have fully embraced and engage with human instincts in their headlines — playing to human fallibility, assumption, generalization, self-interest, and even the fascination with the macabre to draw people in and convince them of why the news is relevant.
Atlantic editor Alexis Madrigal wrote a post last week about a new era of news startups — sites that have defined 2014 so far. These sites, like FiveThirtyEight, Vox, The NYT Upshot blog, and others, proffer “data journalism,” tag-based journalism, “analytical journalism,” and on and on. Madrigal describes it as “method journalism”:
“In a world where traditional beats may not make sense, where almost all marginal traffic growth comes from Facebook, where subscription revenue is a rumor, where business concerns demand breadth because they want scale… a big part of the industry’s response this year has been to create sites that become known by how they cover something rather than what. (With the implication: And then they can cover anything that looks viral.)”
I think he’s right, but also misses a crucial point. In this obsession with method and content, personality and humanity has been almost drained from the conversation. What goes viral, what generates traffic, subscriptions, and real business — it’s not necessarily breadth or scale or an algorithm or even a specific subject — it’s what we feel connected to as humans. Madrigal strikes at it, a bit, calling it the decline of the “newspaper voice,” but doesn’t acknowledge that this trend of “explanatory” or “data” journalism really has no voice at all.
There are no alarm bells to sound. We’re not losing our humanity. People still find things to relate to and stimulate them, it’s just not always called “the news” anymore. What matters to us, what rings true, what we find useful, is constantly being displaced. We click on what connects, and we always will, even until there’s no such thing as a “click” anymore.
The New Resolve: Stay Productive This Summer
Americans work an average of 45 hours a week — but did you know that most consider about 17 of those hours to be unproductive? Having a productive day without feeling rushed is a struggle, and the more free time well spent, the happier you will feel. This week, we’re offering a menu of articles not only covering healthy habits, but exploring the science behind what makes these habits so effective and sustainable. Illustrated with examples drawn from ordinary life, these pieces of advice are appealing, practical, and easy ways to amp up your productivity and help you relax when it’s needed.
10 Things Healthy People Do Before Going To Work Every Day by @paulaswork
If you really want to feel invigorated and ready to tackle the day ahead, try these simple morning tips and you’ll never go back to hitting the snooze button again!
Roundup, June 13: Dying from Bullets, Political Beliefs, and Other Mysteries of the Universe
Wow, hey: Today is both Friday the 13th and a full moon. So for something truly frightening, read Mat Honan’s day-in-the-life of the Dystopic Smart Home. As Vox points out, the moon-friday thing will not happen again for thirty-five years. Which means… maybe nothing? Either way, let’s run down the week in anticipation of this meta-cosmic-superstitious-confluence/the weekend.
Roundup, June 6: Snowden Wins, College Sucks, and Technology… Continues
Hello and welcome to the end of the week. And what a week it’s been! Lots of news happening, and also lots of old news masquerading as new news. Here are some takeaways. Take them and go forth!
Apple is still important.
The World Wide Developers Conference happened on Monday, like it does every year. Before the iPhone, it was something that really nerdy guys like myself livestreamed from their bedrooms on summer mornings because their mom was at work and they didn’t know how to skateboard. But now, there’s a really good argument for “the general public” actually caring about this stuff. Namely, because our lives increasingly run on the type of software that’s introduced at these events. So what went down this week?