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October 2019

4 posts from November 2019

Do you imagine yourself possessing art?

When I was just a kid, I was eager to buy art. For me, that meant getting cheap junk at the county fair, as long as it was attractive and handmade. My mother usually bought reproductions at home furnishing stores, but I preferred the real thing, even if it was lower quality. 

Many people see art as unaffordable, but if you open your eyes to everything 'handmade' (even if made on a computer or in a machine shop), you'll see so many opportunities to support artists. Most of these pieces are functional. And if they get a little tattered or broken, we shouldn't feel guilty about throwing them away. The money we spent on them was valuable to the artist, even if the art doesn't survive long. 

Medium: Why do people buy art?, 2014-May-9 by Amrita Chandra

People didn’t recognize themselves as art buyers. The art establishment has done a number on people, painting a picture of an art collector as someone who dresses in black, spends their evenings in minimalist white cube galleries and drops thousands of dollars on pieces at the drop of a hat. 


How to be a pragmatic dreamer, from Tanvir Aman

Here's a really good trick for making sure that you're chasing the right dream. Think about something you'd love to do, but ALWAYS ask does it solve a problem? Whose problem? How would that work? 

Tanvir has a cool new company called Dunyha, an innovative real estate firm that integrates home sharing and home ownership. Check it out: 

Kivo Daily: Movers and Shakers Interview with Tanvir Aman, 2019-Nov-1 by Dillon Kivo

Kivo: What piece of advice do you wish someone had given you at the start of your career?

Aman: I wish someone had told me that rather than just focusing on what you are passionate about, try to find a way to connect it to a real-life problem. It’s great that you have a great idea, but if you find a way to use it to contribute to your neighborhood, community, society, your life, or anyone else’s, then you are onto something considerable.

We all should be pragmatic dreamers. Thinking about what we’re passionate about is the first step. The second is trying to figure out which problems we can solve and how they fit into real-life, how to connect our ambition with reality to make a tangible difference.


Yes, Austin, there is such a thing as Social Physics

The work of Alex Pentland has been valuable to me, and I once carried a copy of his book Social Physics to a meeting of technology innovators, including Austin Fatheree. Most of the people in this meeting had degrees and experience in math, science and engineering. 

They were repelled by the idea of 'social physics.' They thought it was blasphemous to put the two words together! I have never been sure of their issue because their reaction was clearly emotional. I assume they saw physics as reliable and social interactions as unpredictable. And that is true, as this article by Hannah Fry wonderfully explains. 

The New Yorker: What Statistics Can and Can’t Tell Us About Ourselves, 2019-Sep-9, by Hannah Fry

... a Belgian astronomer and mathematician named Adolphe Quetelet analyzed the numbers and discovered a remarkable pattern.... 

He developed the idea of a “Social Physics,” and began to explore the possibility that human lives, like planets, had an underlying mechanistic trajectory. There’s something unsettling in the idea that, amid the vagaries of choice, chance, and circumstance, mathematics can tell us something about what it is to be human. Yet Quetelet’s overarching findings still stand: at some level, human life can be quantified and predicted. We can now forecast, with remarkable accuracy, the number of women in Germany who will choose to have a baby each year, the number of car accidents in Canada, the number of plane crashes across the Southern Hemisphere, even the number of people who will visit a New York City emergency room on a Friday evening.... 

[However, there] is so much that, on an individual level, we don’t know: why some people can smoke and avoid lung cancer; why one identical twin will remain healthy while the other develops a disease like A.L.S.; why some otherwise similar children flourish at school while others flounder. Despite the grand promises of Big Data, uncertainty remains so abundant that specific human lives remain boundlessly unpredictable. [Emphasis added.]