Social media algorithms are limiting creativity and subliminally controlling your world view (Ming Thein | Photographer)

First things first: there’s no image of any sort in this post, which is rare for me. It’s a silent protest against the fact that whether this link and thus its contents get disseminated to people who subscribe to my social media feeds (FB, IG, Twitter) and read or not is almost entirely down to some self-curating algorithms. The alarmist and provocative title are deliberate attempts to play the game (explained further on). It has nothing to do with whether you subscribed to my feeds or not. Only a small portion of the total population of posts or images published by people you follow actually shows up on your feed. This has been verified by several people and a simulation account I set up and subscribed to several sources; sure enough, at the start, you see a lot of posts from your ‘new friend’, but not long after – they virtually disappear. It isn’t because they haven’t been making content, it’s much more sinister than that.

The algorithms keep changing, though. They have to: again, to maintain popularity, relevancy and ultimately user base (necessary to justify ad rates to corporate spenders) – you have to keep the content diverse enough to grow the audience. You can’t keep showing the same stuff again and again even if it’s popular; the algorithm must allow for some genetic diversification to avoid the visual equivalent of inbreeding. But since we’re not at the point of programs sentient enough to determine if we find something wildly different interesting or not (or at least controversial enough to drive viewership) there still has to be human interaction in the coding. That human interaction reflects the biases of the creator – it must, because it’s impossible for any of us to be entirely objective or even objective relative to a larger audience. As a result, the algorithmically curated feeds now show what’s currently popular to the home base where the majority of the algorithm’s code is written. Unsurprisingly, this is remarkably US-West Coast-centric.

What a surprise. The digital nomadic lifestyle has consequences but not for those living it.

The appeal is obvious. Digital nomads present selective pieces of themselves on Instagram, YouTube, and personal blogs. Everything they do is alluring. If you only looked at social media, you’d think they were paid to chill on the beach. Of course, those looking to replicate their lifestyle only see what digital nomads want them to see. Who doesn’t want to show their most appealing self online?

But selective presentation covers up— or completely ignores — the less appealing aspects of calling your MacBook your office. Many digital nomads had significant privilege before pursuing such a lifestyle, privilege that allows them to avoid the potentially negative aspects of location independence.
..
Digital nomads look for locales that are inexpensive (by Western standards), where they can easily outspend residents to maintain a quality of life that would be difficult to achieve on local salaries. Chiang Mai, Thailand, and Bali are some of the leading destinations for those seeking a location-independent lifestyle. Predictably, developers in these areas begin to chase Western money.Digital Nomads Are Not the Future by Paris Marx in Medium

Former Republican federal prosecutors discuss how if President Trump were anyone else, he would have been charged with obstruction of justice based off the information released in the Mueller Report.

Let Go of Comparison by Otto von Münchow

Remember what Ralph Waldo Emerson once wrote: “Do the thing you fear, and the death of fear is certain.”

Throughout our lives, forces can push us toward or away from reaching our creative potential: a teacher’s compliment, a parent’s tolerance for tinkering, or an environment that welcomes new ideas. What matters most in the end, though, is this: your belief in your capacity to creative positive change and the courage to take action. Creativity, far from requiring rare gifts and skills, depends on what you believe what you can do with the talents and skills you already have. And you can develop and build on those skills, talents, and beliefs. After all, Hungarian essayist György Konrád once said, “Courage is only accumulation of small steps.”

I started my photography journey in 1987 with a college course that included developing prints in a dark room (anyone remembers those?). I switched to digital in 1999, shooting on a Sony DSC-S70 point-and-shoot. I bought my first DSLR in 2006.

I have been working at this craft for over thirty years and though I can see that my skills have improved, I am just not happy with the results.

I often feel inadequate when I compare myself to other photographers such as David Cleland, Patrick LaRoque and Olaf himself. I know it’s a destructive and discouraging habit. Somewhere in the back of my mind, there is a voice saying “You’ve been at this for a long time. Why are you stil producing this crap?”.

Olaf’s blog post left me with much to ponder. I shall be doing some intense introspection this week to find ways to slay this “monster”.

cameras
Shooting Sideways by Otto von Münchow (In Flow with Otto)

Shooting sideways is a way to ensure that I, as a photographer, do not get stuck in my photographic vision, but rather seek new ways to express myself. The more experienced we become in our art, the more we run a risk of sinking into some standard routines. We know what works, and we apply this knowledge in our creative endeavour. And in so doing we actually stop being creative and our art becomes rather boring.

I think projects like these are important for getting one out of a rut and stimulating the creative juices. But sometimes it can lead to angst and frustration. My Nikon broke at the start of 2018 and a few months later my client abruptly ended my consulting contact (no explanation given) after 5 years. So I was without a camera and I did not want to spend money on a replacement until I was working again. During that time a friend loaned me her father’s Canon EOS 5D Mk III and EF 70-200mm lens.

Previously most of my photography fell into the “wide” range — 12-35mm — with the occasional foray into the 50-200mm. After several months of being restricted to 70-200mm, I am frustrated to the point where I don’t pick up the camera anymore. I know this because my wife commented that I leave the camera at home on every outing.

Being restricted to heavy 70-200mm prevented me from doing landscape photography, it prevented me from doing street photography (a 70-200mm is too conspicuous in the small town suburbs of New Jersey), and the camera + lens was too heavy to go “walkabout”.

I miss my 11-16mm, my 18-55mm, and my 35mm prime!!