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OneZero
The undercurrents of the future. A publication from Medium about technology and people.

Bad Ideas

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Illustration: Janet Mac

Bad Ideas

Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

In October 1973, Gerald Oster, a biophysicist turned artist, published a paper in Scientific American about a curious auditory illusion: If you play two slightly different frequencies through a pair of headphones, one in each ear, the brain will “hear” a third frequency, creating a pulsating beat that isn’t present in the original audio. …


Bad Ideas

Illustration: Mushbuh

Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

Inearly 2013, software engineer Rob Rhinehart wrote a blog post about how he had stopped eating food. Instead, he was consuming a meal replacement powder of his own design. He called it soylent.

Within a few months, Rhinehart launched a very successful crowdfunding campaign and, over the course of four years, took on over $75 million in venture capitalist (VC) funding…


Bad Ideas

Illustration: Janet Mac

Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

“You have to get rid of the idea that you can ‘disappear from the internet.’ It just doesn’t exist.” This is what Frank Ahearn, a private investigator who specializes in helping people disappear, told me when I asked how I could erase my digital self.

After years of tying my real name to just about everything I do on the internet…


Bad Ideas

Illustration: Joe Melhuish

Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

Over the past few months, dopamine fasts have cycled through the wellness media hype cycle. First introduced on Reddit in 2016, then refined and popularized by psychologist and venture capitalist Dr. …


Illustration: Jordan Speer

Bad Ideas

Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

Twitter users love to joke that they “can’t believe this website is free.” But the website hasn’t really been free since 2010, when Twitter introduced the promoted tweet. The average Twitter user might not be paying anything, but the brands are. Twitter reported $702 million in advertising revenue in Q3 of 2019, an 8% increase over 2018.

That money results in…


Bad Ideas

Illustration: Minet Kim

Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do, and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

Most of us are familiar with binge watching and speed reading, but there’s a relatively new mode of conspicuous consumption that’s emerged in recent years: podfasting. First profiled in 2017, podfasters love listening to podcasts so much that they’re speeding them up — 1.25x, 1.5x, and even 2x speed — in order to fit more into their day.

Podfasters often…


Illustration: Evan Weselmann

Bad Ideas

Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do, and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

We all believe we spend too much time on our phones. Parents post about it on Facebook. Teens meme about it on Twitter. Tech executives tout the promises of technology while simultaneously boasting about their digital detoxes and refusing their own children screen time. …


Bad Ideas

Nobody’s perfect — not you, me, nor the massive tech industry. We’ve all had our fair share of bad ideas over the years.

In 2007, it was a bad idea to take on thousands of dollars of student loan debt to work in media, an industry that would implode just over a decade later. In 2003, it was a bad idea to build a website that let users rate the attractiveness of women. Terrible ideas abound. Looking toward 2020, we’re another year older, but it’s hard to say we are another year wiser.

Normally, this column, “Bad Ideas,” deals in…


Illustration: Brennon Leman

Bad Ideas

Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do, and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

On the internet there exists a group of people who really love typing. Not writing or posting, but the raw, mechanical act of typing. They spend hours playing competitive typing games like TypeRacer and Nitro Type in an effort to push the limits of what’s possible on a keyboard.

Some, like Sean Wrona — who brought competitive typing briefly into the…


Illustration: Jordan Speer

Bad Ideas

Welcome to Bad Ideas, a column in which we examine the practical limits of technology by considering the things you could do, and then investigating exactly why you shouldn’t. Because you can still learn from mistakes you’ll never make.

Every day, millions of people go on Twitter and tweet bad things. People pretend to be an orange juice brand with depression, or engage in fantasies about elected officials. Others tweet bad opinions so that they can write newspaper columns about being yelled at for their bad opinions. …

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