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


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In our search for easy answers, we give up control.

The evidence is overwhelming: we are far more powerful than the technology that is supposedly mind-controlling us. It’s not even close.

As I’ve discussed here and in many other places, we need to give ourselves more credit. Instead of passively accepting the idea that we’re all being puppeteered by some sort of menacing tech bogeyman, we can hack back distractions.

To be clear, too much social media can be harmful. No one disputes that too much of all sorts of good things can be bad, whether it’s too much news or too much booze.

But the popular narrative that distractions…

Hi, we live here now

Photo: tommaso79/iStock/Getty Images Plus

In December 2019—or as we now refer to it, the Before Time — the online magazine Man Repeller predicted that 2020 would be “the year of being not extremely online, not extremely offline, but rather medium online.”

An oversaturated 2019 left many of us reflecting on how we could have a more wholesome, balanced relationship with social media and our rate of online consumption in the upcoming year. “Medium online” offered a moderated approach to technology, using it for only practical and purposeful tasks and rejecting the rest. …

A photo collage of an empty bedroom, a portrait of Starcity CEO Jon Dishotsky, and a refrigerator with a welcome card.
From top left (clockwise): An empty bedroom from a Starcity residence in San Francisco, CA; Starcity co-founder and CEO Jon Dishotsky; a welcome card for new residents at Starcity is shown on the communal refrigerator. Photography: Jason Henry

Nonresidents must wear masks, and some residents are staying in their rooms

On the first day of October 2019, Julia O. Test moved into a Starcity co-living house in Los Angeles. Soon, the 34-year-old photographer was joined by more housemates, about a dozen people in all from their twenties through their forties.

In Starcity housing, everyone has their own bedroom — and in Test’s case, her bedroom suite came with a private bathroom. Otherwise, the housemates share cookware, kitchen utensils, and regular household supplies. They hang out in shared living rooms. They eat meals together in designer kitchens. Many use the same bathrooms.

“For me, it’s the right way to live: You…

‘You feel normal.’ ‘You feel normal.’ ‘You feel normal.’

The Tanaris Desert in World of Warcraft. Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Just about every day now I log onto World of Warcraft, and after about an hour or so, three words pop up in my chat window: You feel normal.

It’s become a daily ritual at this point. I play World of Warcraft, and World of Warcraft tells me that I feel normal. This has been a feature since the game launched in 2004.

World of Warcraft tells me that You Feel Normal not because self-care is so important these days but because of a mechanic called Rested Experience. If you spend enough time logged off, your character accumulates a double…


Why contemplating our mortality can be a powerful catalyst for change

Credit: francescoch/iStock/Getty

What would you do differently if you knew you were going to die tomorrow? When you look back before you say goodbye, what will you regret if you don’t make changes now?

Maybe you would muster the courage to quit your job or mend a broken relationship. Perhaps you would travel or finally pursue your dream to be an entrepreneur. Whatever the action, it would likely bring you closer to your authentic self.

On their deathbed, most people wish they would have had the courage to live a life true to themselves instead of trying to please others, according to…

The push to regulate or break up Facebook ignores the fact that its services do more harm than good

Credit: Amy Osborne/Getty Images

In an op-ed in the New York Times last week, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes laid out an argument for dismantling the social media behemoth, splitting it up via antitrust legislation, and (he hopes) paving the way for what he describes as a new age of innovation and competition.

Hughes joins a growing chorus of former Silicon Valley unicorn riders who’ve recently had second thoughts about the utility or benefit of the surveillance-attention economy their products and platforms have helped create. He is also not the first to suggest that government might need to step in to clean up the mess…

Scientist Michael Snyder tracked his own basic measurements for years. Now he’s released a study of over 100 people using similar data to make lifesaving discoveries about heart disease, cancer, and diabetes.

Illustration: Joseph Melhuish

Michael Snyder might be the most bio-tracked man in the world. He’s tested 14 of his “-omes,” such as the standard genome and microbiome as well as the less-well-known metabolome, transcriptome, proteome, immunome, and exposome. At any given time, he has eight devices on or around his body tracking his heart rate, blood oxygen, step count, blood glucose, radiation exposure, and even the surrounding air quality.

“It’s data galore,” says the Stanford University genetics professor on a recent Saturday afternoon at his office. Snyder is an animated talker and quick to laugh, with deep smile lines around his eyes. He…

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