Category Archives: Media Arts

Becoming Antifragile – How To Gain From Disorder

 

Image Credit: Andre Faria Gomes

Image Credit: Andre Faria Gomes via Slideshare: Antifragile: Lessons Learned

“Wind extinguishes a candle and energizes fire. Likewise with randomness, uncertainty, chaos – you want to use them, not hide from them. You want to be the fire and wish for the wind.”

-Nassim Taleb

Last week I gave a talk at the monthly Catalysts Collective event here in San Francisco on the topic of antifragility. The following points are highlights from my talk.

To understand the premise of Antifragile – Things That Gain From Disorder there are three key areas to consider.

We know what it means to be fragile – to be easily broken. Another way to interpret it is to be damaged by disorder. The world’s banking system is a good example – something left vulnerable to chaos, randomness, and uncertainty.

After the state of fragility comes resiliency. Things that are resilient have the ability withstand disorder. Imagine a structure built to withstand earthquakes. When an actual earthquake occurs, the building (hopefully) remains standing. It does not change.

A great story of being resilient is the phoenix. The phoenix may rise from the ashes, but he rises only to become what he once was before. 

The final state Taleb focuses on is the state of being antifragile.

Antifragility is when something benefits from disorder. While startups are known to harbor an improbability of success, when viewed in increments success happens as a result of randomness, chance, volatility and instability. 

When viewed from the macro level, the startup economy benefits society as a whole. It creates room for opportunity and innovation. Things like volatility and instability are required in order for them to achieve the point of contribution at scale. This concept can be applied to the contribution of individuals too – organic things, like muscle mass, require some level of instability or challenge in order to grow.

I believe that being antifragile is essential for personal revolution.

Some benefits of being antifragile include:

  • Increased confidence
  • Welcomeness to change
  • The allowance of discomfort
  • Possessing a growth mindset versus a fixed one.

Here are  ways to become antifragile:

  • Think of perceived failure as opportunity
  • Lean into fear
  • Embrace community
  • Listen to yourself and to others
  • Seek opportunities
  • Build a strong baseline
  • Use the barbell strategy.

The barbell strategy is a method presented by Taleb. Consider the image of a barbell. The maximum amount of risk you’re willing to take goes on one side. It’s balanced by Maslov’s basic needs (food, water, safety) on the opposing end.

This is a very basic introduction to the basic concepts of Antifragility. If you’d like to learn more, I recommend checking out the book itself or visit the following blogs that present nice summaries and applicable tips for becoming antifragile.

Taylor Pearson – Antifragile Book Notes

StartupBros – How You Can Profit From The Unknown: Becoming Antifragile

Buy – Antifragile: Things That Gain From Disorder (Amazon)

Beyond Meditation: Improving Brain Health And Performance

Image Source: Medicalxpress

Brain health is a fascinating topic. We know so little about our brains yet they drive everything we do. Meditation and the concept of mindfulness are popular topics, yet we don’t understand how we arrive at the benefits that everyone talks about. It’s probably safe to say that the majority of us don’t know how our brains actually work.

The good news is that we’re in new period of health and wellness where doctors can accurately see how our brains function, and even pinpoint the specific areas where our brains malfunction. This is very different from the traditional, assumption-based approach to making diagnoses in mental health. We are also learning that in many cases, real treatment doesn’t require the help of chemical drugs in order for us to find balance or heal.

 The Brain That Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D. is an informative read that focuses on brain elasticity. He presents the concept that that we can redesign our brains by understanding how they work from a mechanical perspective.

For example, you know when you have trouble recalling a memory, or a specific word? Blame it on the gradual neglect of the brain’s attentional system. In short, our brains become noisy. When this happens, the signal for a new memory can’t compete against the background electrical activity of the brain. This causes a signal-to-noise problem.

Using practical explanations paired with real-world stories, Doidge covers topics ranging from healing through neuroplastic therapy to everyday practices for preserving our brains.

In Change Your Brain, Change Your LifeDr. Amen calls out the main issue with  mental health today – we are “throwing medication-tipped darts” at issues unproven through science.

He relies on a technology called SPECT  to discover which areas of the brain over or under perform. Unlike an MRI or CAT scan,  a SPECT scan shows the electrical activity happening within your brain as it functions. Based on this, he is able to find the cause of a problem through factual evidence.

A SPECT scan is expensive – it’ll set you back $3,500. In Change Your Brain, Change Your Life, he presents methods for anyone to improve their brain health. Treatment methods are broken into four core areas, or 4 overlapping circles, where we can take a balanced approach to assessment and healing.

  1. Biological – how your body actually functions. This is the physical aspect of how your brain and body work together. Factors include nutrition, exercise, sleep, hormones, genetics, and overall physical health.
  1. Psychological – developmental issues and how you think. This includes how we talk to ourselves, self-concept, body image, traumas, upbringing, and significant developmental events.
  1. Social – social support and your current life. This includes the quality of one’s relationships and current life stressors. For example, depression is often triggered by stressful life events involving others, and the health habits of the people with whom we spend time with have a dramatic impact on habits and well-being.
  1. Spiritual – your sense of meaning and purpose. Having a sense of purpose allows us to reach beyond ourselves to affirm that our lives matter.

Mental health is a topic we tread lightly, as though we are somehow considered “broken” or “weak” when addressed. The irony is that our brains are actually the CEOs of our bodies –  influencing every thought we have, each action we take and the behaviors we choose to express. If we treat mental health in a reactive way rather than a circumstantial one, we can break these taboos and become higher functioning human-beings in the process.

Public_Private

Public/Private

Public_Private

Public/Private is a game created to accompany two ongoing research projects undertaken in Mumbai, in cooperation with Partners for Urban Knowledge, Action & Research (PUKAR) and the Design Cell at the Kamla Raheja Vidyanidhi Institute for Architecture and Environmental Studies (KRVIA).

The goal of these studies is to explore the meaning and overall characteristics of privacy. The related interactive project, Public/Private, was created to continue that conversation by opening it up to a global audience.

For the phase 2 direction of the project, we thought a lot about specific locations and where one might go to seek privacy. We considered the correlations between when someone wants privacy versus when someone experiences privacy. We thought about what we wanted users to get out of the survey, and what sort of findings we’d hope to achieve.

With these considerations in mind, we think we came a little closer to the heart of the project.

Public/Private Interactive

Visit Public/Private

The game experience for Public/Private was designed and developed by Collective Assembly and Tom van de Velde.

Public/Private feature in Fast Co. Design

Portable Presents: The Curators Conference

I’m back in LA for a day before we’re off to Connecticut for the wedding of dear friends John and Sarah. And of course, to attend another conference, this time in NYC.

This one is particularly close to home. Not geographically, but because it pays homage to a topic — and general methodology — that I’ve always been passionate about and try to embrace every day.

As culture lovers, or for those who are simply curious, we all curate our interests and passions. Whether we feverishly collect recipes, indie artwork or shoes — and use Facebook, Tumblr, or Pinterest to do so — collecting and sharing content from across the web is a phenomenon that shapes our culture in many ways.  It’s a creative force driven by the people, and it influences everything from new typefaces to what we see on the runway.

There are folks who have created a living doing just that. They are storytellers, culture shapers, the new digital conservator. These creatives possess the knowledge and know-how to sharpen their method into a fine-tuned practice while turning their leadership skills into a brand, business, and voice.

Next week, some of these illustrious individuals will come together for one day to further explore the intersection of creative curation with modern culture.  Debuting as part of New York Fashion Week, the influential video and culture site Portable is presenting a day-long conference featuring leading creatives from the worlds of fashion, film, music, tech, and design.

Highlights include talks from fashion filmmaker and photographer Gia Coppola; Susie Bubble, Founder of Style Bubble; Josh Rubin, Co-Founder of Cool Hunting; and Phillipe von Borries, Co-Founder of Refinery29. Each speaker will discuss curation within their respective field, providing insight into their specific platform and how it shapes their practice.


The event is happening next Wednesday, September 5th at the Walter Reade Theatre at Lincoln Center in NYC.

A limited amount of tickets are still available here.

Check out the Portable.tv playlist on Spotify.