Finding a new app can be some serious junky fun. Right now, I'm in that joy of new discovery phase with Flipboard.
I'm not a regular web-surfer. I have friends who do that for me, and send me links to funny cat videos, interesting articles, or the latest game or app for my iPhone. So, for me, Flipboard is sort of a revelation. I am now an official web-surfer.
Flipboard has done a few things for me. First, I am now more overtly aware of the endless nature of the www. It is a black hole through which all of Earth's sentient beings have fallen. Second, as ridiculous as this sounds in 2013, it is so much fun to surf the internet!
Each Flipboard square o' internet site spills out crumbs into a forest of topic. It is guiltless permission to indulge your short attention span. To gorge on dopamine. To excise all boredom from existence.
And then! Full stop. You find cake. You want to eat the cake. Only one tap away is the cake. The nibbhana. The source wherefrom the crumbs did fall.
I realize I've mixed up fairytales, cautionary tales and metaphors, but that's sort of what web surfing is all about, isn't it? It is both completely random and completely intentional.
This morning, I was flipping along and got caught by a hook on Slate. I almost missed it, there, stuffed under a full upper-fold size photo of a McDonald's Big Mac (CEO claiming to eat at McDonald's everyday. right.).
However, the story was right up my alley, combining an inherent commentary on capitilism and marijuana. It was called, "The Starbucks of Pot." I had to read this one so I tapped the link, and there it was, a full article on slate.com discussing Jamen Shively's "...plans to open chain stores offering a uniform, high-end product that satisfies America's craving for a mild buzz...'Yes, we are Big Marijuana,' Shively, 45, brazenly told reporters..."
Shively actually told reporters that he is going to establish "...an industry that does not exist yet." (Id.) OMGLMFAO! Where the hell has he been for the last 50 years? Anyway, I digress.
Mind you, there is a long list in the "Content" section of Flipboard and it is easy to get carried away and just add and add sites until the pages of square-inched websites turns into a vast field of grids that you can flip through with no hope of ever focusing on anything whatsoever.
And, this is where anxiety starts to settle into the back of your mind.
You start to realize that you are not actually floating in a stream of soothing soundbites of information. In fact, your biological mother-board of a brain over-heats in its vain attempts to synthesize and categorize everything you see, hear and read on the www. Like it could!
Couldn't it? Shouldn't it?
No! But don't you worry, don't you fret! "Pocket" is here! Ahhh....Pocket. My savior. My redeemer. Hit the little weird symbol for share (which reminds me of one of those wooden chemistry sets) and voila! Anxiety abated.
On the other hand, Pocket is just another layer of Flipboard. Inside my Pocket is a growing grid of square-inched articles and photographs and videos -- these square-inched items may scroll instead of flip, but here comes that sneaky whir of anxiety again...
The black hole issue is a bit more personal. There are hundreds and thousands of internet sites and bloggers out there who are sharing information, insight and commentary. This is the marketplace of ideas that I spoke of in my prior blog post (May 24, 2013, Response to Alon Shalev and the Detractors of the Melting Pot).
Turkey explodes in a tornado of demonstrations - over a park? Huh? There are any number of first-hand accounts coming out live over the internet. You can get your answers immediately. For eg., my friend Alon again:
I want to be a part of all that is good about the internet. I want to dive into the melting pot soup that is the WORLD. All sentient beings on Earth obstensibly have access to the internet - or will at some point in the future. If there is a future for humanity (not cynical, just realistic at this point - see myriad internet commentary, book reviews and articles related to over-population and capitalism's unique ability to morph with the needs of the times, i.e. how to deal with too many humans with too few resources).
Half of what I save into my Pocket are reference items: movies, restaurants, cultural events to check out. The other half are brainy and stimulate a very primal need inside of me to investigate the state of humanity as it relates to humanity.
I mean to use "relates" as a transitive verb - what humanity is or will become as a result of creating a world-wide melting pot, or marketplace, of ideas and cultures. The idea that woke me up in elementary school and told me to join in the frey - to maintain my absurdly curious mind and apply it tenaciously to every being and everything. This marketplace of ides that is the very foundation of this grand democratic experiment commonly referred to as the United States of America (whether or not that experiment is failing is not a topic of discussion in this blog post).
I also mean to use "relates" as an instranstive verb - the relationship that is being established between humanity and itself - as it starts speaking to itself, looking at itself. The unique opportunity that is the www for each of us to know the world not just through our own unique aperture and perspective, but also through anyone else's unique aperture and perspective.
This seeking of mine on the internet - starting with email in the early 1990's (that's when I started on Hotmail) to the moment and modality in which I currently reside -- Flipboard, Pocket, Blogspot -- has been random. You know, you get lost trying to find Havaianas flip-flops on-line but it leads to an article about Castro which teaches you something about revolution.
This time, a friend points me in the direction of a cool new app like Flipboard - an internet surfing tool - and my natural and abundant curiosity (just ask my friends how many times I say "why" per day) gets to flipping and tapping and Pocketing and reading and watching what is happening all over the world in billions of minds everywhere.
Curiosity is said to kill the cat - but what if the cat needs to be killed (I'm not suggesting cats should be killed - I have two as the name of my blog and the photo avitar clearly shows). Perhaps curiosity can kill ignorance, complacency, lethargy and stagnation? What if that is true?
I am, in a random manner, leading myself through a maze of facts and perspectives that lead me to a point of critical mass inside my mind--an "aha" moment where I know what I want to share with you - you being humanity and me being humanity when we are all part of a world wide web.
Alas, there usually comes a point when the 100% absorption rate of a new app bottoms out, and then disappears. Almost as fast as it appeared. The Velveteen app icon will get thrown into the woods of lost memory to make room for another app.
Maybe Flipboard and Pocket will go that way, but I will have learned something new - not just new facts or ideas - but about what makes me groove in this world. And, that is ireplaceable.