The Daily Zen #17 "How to be Creative in One Simple Step"

by Linus Edwards


I haven't written a Daily Zen since February 28, 2014, and haven't written any post on here since May 13, 2014. I've gotten a few people tweet at me as to what happened and why I stopped posting. I had been pretty consistently posting on VintageZen for about a year, but after that time it started to become a chore. I felt I was running out of ideas and getting tired of the "Apple tech scene." So I put it on hiatus, but kept the possibility I could always come back to it some day, even if that meant continuing to pay Squarespace every month. Anyway, I'm not coming back regularly right now, but still thought I'd throw something out in the wide ocean of the internet and hopefully occupy someone's mind for a few minutes. Let us begin.


Everywhere I see blog posts and books and podcasts about "how to be more creative." This is big business and many people make their living teaching you all the ways you can be more creative and tap that creative potential that's waiting to burst out from inside you. What exactly they mean by creativity is usually very ambiguous and can encompasses all kinds of things, from actually making truly unique works of art, to simply being more productive with your time.

Everything about this is bullshit.

Creativity isn't something that can be taught. It's not the same as teaching someone to be more productive, it’s different. I see creativity as actually thinking differently about the ways things are done, and creating new and unique ways to do those things. This is something creative people do naturally and I don't think you can teach it. Picasso didn't read a blog post on creativity and suddenly realize he should be painting more abstractly. James Joyce didn't take a 10 day seminar on creativity before writing Ulysses. These people simply created things because they were creative. It wasn't something they learned, it was something they did.

Yet people eat up these "how to be creative" articles and books and think they will suddenly be able to see the world differently and be super creative. But instead of making them creative, they simply start obsessing over theories of creativity and completely forget about actually doing creative things. It becomes a masturbatory act instead of something they do outside themselves. They start to actually think that because they read a blog post about creativity, they actually were creative that day. Usually these types of people are some of the least creative people you will meet.

Creativity is simple and being creative can be broken down into a single step:

If you want to be creative, just fucking BE CREATIVE!


Old Painting of the Day: The Starry Night by Vincent Van Gogh. Obviously a masterpiece. I saw it in person at the MOMA in New York City a few years ago. I'd highly recommend you do the same.


If you vehemently disagree with this post, please tweet me about it and start a roaring Twitter debate. Thank you!


Why I Think Apple Bought Beats

by Linus Edwards


So the huge news the last few days in the tech sphere has been the rumored acquisition of Beats Electronics by Apple. After the rumor got out, the speculation has been rampant from all ends of the internet. Everyone seems to have an opinion. It's an interesting issue to examine given Apple's current place in the music industry. Beats has always been seen and now you are doing this. Really, you are fucking doing this all out, like a real tech blogger. The opinion piece on the news of the day that hasn't even been officially announced. Yeah, no, go on, keep it up, lets see how this goes.

There are many questions that have arisen from this rumored acquisition, including whether the Beats brand will remain independent, what executives will move to Apple, and how exactly the two companies will merge? I personally see this acquisitions as symbolizing a new wave of come on, really? Are you a member of Apple's board? Do you have some deep connections to the inner workings of Beats? Who the fuck are you lowly wannabe tech blogger who has some vague notions of what you think Silicon Valley is like, while you've never even been there.

What the fuck, stop interrupting me with your criticisms, this is my blog, not Twitter! I like talking about tech, I enjoy speculating on things, what's wrong with that?

Ok good, I think I've broken you out of your head just a bit now. First, there's nothing wrong with speculating about tech acquisitions, but is this really worth your time? Couldn't you be doing other things, things maybe slightly more worthwhile? Writing about things you actually know about? Being creative in some way?

I just want to write about tech and what everyone I follow in the tech sphere is talking about. That's why I got into this community in the first place! If I didn't want to talk about this stuff, I'd leave and find a new community.

I know, I know. I'm you of course. But why not talk about it in some unique way, or talk about some tech issue that others aren't? Why do you have to regurgitate the same talking points every other blogger is discussing? This story has been told from a thousand different angles, is your blog post really adding anything new? Or you just typing out words and thoughts that no one much cares about or will remember in a week, just on the off chance some bigger fish tech blogger might link to you.

Fuck you and your proselytizing and judgment. It's my blog and I can write about Beats if I damn well want! Ok, lets go... so I think the acquisition is great for Apple for a couple reasons. The first is the cultural philosophies of the two companies match up very well, to the point Beats has been on record that it was tremendously inspired by Apple. Come on now. I also think the streaming music service that Beats has created is a giant missing piece in Apple's music strategy. Really, Apple's music strategy? Apple has been faltering with gaining the mindshare of the music culture and needs to break down those walls to reach the untapped youth market. What are you even talking about here? Have you ever sat down in front of the mirror and contemplated your life to this point and wondered if you really, deep down to your core, care about the business practices of Apple?

Why do I have to care about it deep down to my core? Why can’t I just enjoy writing and discussing this as a hobby, as a way to unwind. Why does everything have to be unique and great, some things are just things that exist in the world. So just leave me alone and troll people on Twitter, ok?

Fine, I'll leave you to write your blog post. I'm only trying to help.

Good, thank you. Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, so the $3.2 billion asking price represents a insignificant amount from Apple's cash hoard that might not effect its standing in Wall Street and... oh fuck, he's right isn't he...


Fuck You Money

by Linus Edwards


I think most of us have the far off dream of somehow obtaining enough money to last us the rest of our lives, without ever having to work for "The Man" again. Some people like to refer to this kind of windfall as "fuck you money." Usually it's the lottery scenario where you win a $100 million Powerball jackpot. That's the easiest scenario to imagine because it literally could happen to anyone - no skill, no work, no talent involved. You simply pluck down $2 at a convenience store and suddenly have more money than 99.9% of people in the world. Other scenarios include writing a best selling novel, forming a business that takes off, or inheriting millions from a long lost rich uncle. These all float through our minds at random points while we wonder if our lives are being wasted sitting at a desk at 2 PM on a Wednesday afternoon on a warm summer day.

I'll freely admit I want this fuck you money. I'd love to never have to work a 40 hour a week job again. I could travel the world, meet interesting people, do things that I could never contemplate doing in my current life. Suddenly my life would gain those 40 hours back and I could use them to expand my mind and live my life to its limits. The money would be freedom to me, not simply a means to obtain gold plated silverware or a garage full of Italian sports cars. Material possessions are of course alluring, but really I crave the freedom to live my life as I would want to live.

Yet, as I write this, I can imagine a starving person in a third world country and how if they ever somehow read this they'd think I was an ungrateful, privileged American. They'd be right too. I already have a good job and make enough money to live comfortably. Yet I want even more? And not just a little more, but millions and millions more. I want enough to never work again. Isn't that just laziness? Am I deluding myself into thinking having this money would change my life, or really do I just want to be a glutton who never has to contribute to society ever again and can live off my money until I die fat and happy?

I don't know, and really I'll never need to know or have to make any decisions in regards to having millions upon millions of dollars. The chances I'd ever have fuck you money are astronomically small, and it really is just a pipe dream. Even if I somehow won the lottery and got the money, would I even look back to this article and contemplate things, or just go wild and forget all about my past self? I think most adjust so quickly to having this kind of money that they literally become different people, removed from their former lives. Usually they don't become happy, but are just faced with an entirely new set of problems to deal with.

In a lot of ways we shouldn't wish this kind of money on ourselves. Yet, it's almost impossible not to always want it, even if it's secretly hidden deep in our psyches. It's always that lingering yearning for something different than what you currently have, the dream in the distance.

I'm reminded of the story of Ronald Wayne. He was one of the original co-founders of Apple, along with Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak back in 1976. However, after a few months he worried about the liability he could have by being associated with the company and sold his 10% share for $800. Yes, you read that right - eight hundred dollars. In the years after he left, Apple skyrocketed and eventually that 10% share would have been worth literally billions of dollars.

Where is Wayne now?

He's living in a mobile home in Nevada, where he sometimes goes to the casino or tinkers with his stamp and coin collection. He claims he is happy and doesn't regret giving up on billions of dollars, but you wonder if secretly the dream of what could have been eats away at him. What would his life had been like? Would he have lived it more fully, explored more of the human existence, not have ended up in the a mobile home in the desert, waiting for his time to come?

That's the gnawing thought that eats away at most of us as we go about our days. We get up early, go to work, come home tired, do chores, watch TV, and sleep. Are we really living, or merely going through the motions? Will we end up that old man in the desert some day, sitting on our porch and regretting the missed opportunities of our younger days? While it's unlikely we could obtain billions (or even millions) of dollars, maybe there is more we could be doing. That's what the question of fuck you money should inspire, what do you really want to be doing with your life?


Numbers

by Linus Edwards


Let's do a thought experiment - imagine if Twitter changed its service so that the number of followers one had was completely hidden from public view. So when you encountered a person on Twitter and looked at their profile, you'd have no idea if they had 5 or 50,000 followers. Would that change how you used Twitter? Would that change how you decided to follow people or what weight you gave to their tweets?

What if we went further and simply got rid of all numbers on Twitter, public or private. No one would know how many followers they themselves had, no one would know if their tweets got favorited or retweeted. People would simply talk to each other and see what they had to say, without having to worry about all the metrics that have become so commonplace on social networks. You'd still have indications of whether you were popular or if people liked things you tweeted, but they'd be more natural and less robotic.

In real life we don't go around with the number of our friends plastered on our forehead. We don't have metrics to figure out how many times the joke we told at a party was then retold to others. We interact more naturally than that, and it has worked for thousands of years. We actually are forced to observe others to determine if we like them, instead of distilling their entire self down to a number. We don't know everything about everyone all the time, and that can be a good thing. The unknown can spur us on to find out more and seek out people we might not have interacted with if we saw they only had eleven followers.

However, I see the counter-argument that these numbers are simply a short-cut, a way to quickly determine social dynamics without having to really understand social dynamics. You can tell immediately if a joke is funny by the number of favs and retweets the joke gets. You don't have to pick up on any social cues anymore, it's simply mathematics. I'm sure this appeals greatly to people that are bad at socializing in real life and like the more simplified set-up that boils things down to clear and obvious data points. It's probably not a coincidence that computer geeks are the ones that created these systems.

But, ultimately I don't think this distillation of socializing down to numbers is a good thing. I do realize I might just be living in the past and have some idealized view of social interactions before the internet. However, I think these numbers are stripping a layer away from our humanity that is important. When we focus more on the numbers and less on the actual people behind the numbers, we lose something. Our interactions become skewed towards getting those numbers, and socializing becomes more a video game with a set goal, rather than simply enjoying people's company.

What's the solution though, can this trend be reversed?

I think if someone did create a new social network similar to my thought experiment, without any stats or metrics, that might help eliminate this phenomena. People would sign up and start interacting with others, not knowing how many followers they had on the service or whether their posts got shared or liked. They’d start to care more about the actual interactions, because that’s all there would be. I'm not sure this network would be successful, but at least it would be something different and pull us ever so slightly back into reality.