Tag Archives: technology

Doin’ It With Kwaisi France: Flash Squad Pt. 3

squad

Part 3 of my conversation with Andre Borczuk of Flash Squad talking technology, diversity, rap and politics. Part 2 is here.

Flash Squad

At Flash Squad, our goal is to create a more personal world. That means that Andrew and I want to share as much of ourselves as possible so you have a friend in us when things are dark in your life. That means we build apps that make technology more human, because we see technology as the way to spread love as far and wide as possible. It means that we want a world where you are free to express yourself because you’re greater the way you are than the way society wants you to be.

Kwaisi and I had a great conversation about technology serving humans (and not the other way around!), about the power of diversity, about rap and about politics. We made an app that, with one button tap, you can be with the people you love doing the things you love. We have markets that you can choose the goods and services you want, and a government that can reflect the will of the people. I want everyone who listens to know that regardless of what you believe about the world, YOU have the power to change it.

If I can only get one thing across, it’s that you have way more power than you give yourself credit for, and the best way to flex that muscle is to get out there and do something. Finger paint. Yodel. It doesn’t matter: since you are inherently good, as long as you’re expressing yourself truly, you are driving towards a better future for us all.

There will always be haters. There will always be negativity. There will always be those who try to cast the shadow of doubt on your dreams. But remember that shadow exists because of light, not the other way around. When you shine bright enough, those shadows fade to the faintest of whispers. The goal isn’t to stop the haters; the goal is to succeed in spite of them.

Andre Borczuk

Doin’ It With Kwaisi France: Flash Squad Pt. 2

flash

Part 2 of my conversation with Andre Borczuk of Flash Squad talking technology, diversity, rap and politics. Part 1 is here. Part 3 is here.

Flash Squad

At Flash Squad, our goal is to create a more personal world. That means that Andrew and I want to share as much of ourselves as possible so you have a friend in us when things are dark in your life. That means we build apps that make technology more human, because we see technology as the way to spread love as far and wide as possible. It means that we want a world where you are free to express yourself because you’re greater the way you are than the way society wants you to be.

Kwaisi and I had a great conversation about technology serving humans (and not the other way around!), about the power of diversity, about rap and about politics. We made an app that, with one button tap, you can be with the people you love doing the things you love. We have markets that you can choose the goods and services you want, and a government that can reflect the will of the people. I want everyone who listens to know that regardless of what you believe about the world, YOU have the power to change it.

If I can only get one thing across, it’s that you have way more power than you give yourself credit for, and the best way to flex that muscle is to get out there and do something. Finger paint. Yodel. It doesn’t matter: since you are inherently good, as long as you’re expressing yourself truly, you are driving towards a better future for us all.

There will always be haters. There will always be negativity. There will always be those who try to cast the shadow of doubt on your dreams. But remember that shadow exists because of light, not the other way around. When you shine bright enough, those shadows fade to the faintest of whispers. The goal isn’t to stop the haters; the goal is to succeed in spite of them.

Andre Borczuk

Can You Please Chill With The “Emoji Sensitivity” Obsession?

Do we really need emoji diversity?
Do we really need emoji diversity?
Just this morning, I finally caved into getting the latest iPhone software Update. Part of me was unsure of as to why I needed to get another update already, and another part of me was just too lazy to get it done up until today. But a HUGE part of me was not looking forward to this new Emoji update. All I had heard, read, and seen about this update was how “diverse” it was, which seemed to be both a bad and good thing.  

To me, it just looked too complicated for my taste. I’d compare the hunt for the right emoji to trying to find something specific in TJ Maxx or Century 21: an anxiety attack waiting to happen. A helpful article on Bustle.com helped point out exactly what changed on this emoji menu, and it helped me navigate my way through exactly what was causing an uproar of mixed reactions. Now, emojicons offer racially diverse characters, family portraits of all kinds (straight couples, gay couples, only children, all girls, all boys, etc.), more flags, and more gadgets. You’d think people would be pleased with this. 

Twitterverse Response

Some of the twitter rants highlighted in various articles regarding this update were commending Apple’s attempt to accommodate literally EVERYONE (almost) in emoticon equality, and some people seemed downright disturbed by this effort. Some of the reviews are just hilarious. Even my own personal twitter research has brought up people either complaining about how stupid the update is or how great it is that Apple is providing people with emojis that now appeal to them. 

After seeing all these reactions and seeing how much of an effort Apple has made to please everybody, it only makes me see how damn picky and sensitive as a society we have become. People are actually getting upset or a silly little application modification? Who was actually upset in the first place? Never once did it ever cross my mind to actually get offended that an emoji with olive skin and black hair wasn’t provided for me. When the update came out, I was more concerned with the fact that my selection just tripled and my text responses wouldn’t be as immediate or “personalized.” Maybe I would have liked to see more food options, but that’s just because it’s always on my mind, and I think 4 varieties of cookie emojis is a reasonable request. Also, I can’t help but be a little confused as to why the default emoji people now look like we’re selecting from a bunch of Simpsons characters or Lego people. And no, I did not associate it with the nonsensical “Asian” stereotype of having “yellow” skin. 

Oversensitivity?

It blows my mind how much of an influence applications on our phones have on our lives now. Instead of worrying about classes or work or anything else that is worth our concern, people are staring at their phone screens worrying about what their selection of emojis are. It’s almost as bad as the “disastrous” moment when Snapchat removed the visible “Best Friend” feature, but I think being bothered by emoji diversity is a little more realistic and understandable than being mad that you can no longer creep on your friend’s most frequent Snap-friend.  

I’ve always thought people were a little too sensitive about things like race, body shaming, or anything else linked to a stereotype, but this has taken it too far. The fact that a phone application update broke headlines is laughable. Emojis officially speak louder than words, and Apple just can’t seem to make everyone happy.

The Times They Are A-Changin’ In The World

the times
Darwin in language?

 

GEORGE ORWELL ON LANGUAGE

Language provides us the rewarding ability to communicate. We form words and sentences to convey our ideas and emotions emphatically and simply, yet proper language has now become nearly archaic. Words are abbreviated for lack of patience, grammar is sheer nuisance, and emojis replace our true emotional state. Simple words are often thought to be too complex, not of this time. Numbers stand in for a single word’s suffix.
 
Language has ultimately been butchered by the Digital Age, and it doesn’t appear to be getting any better. George Orwell, prescient in his awareness of the changing times, criticized the notion that “any struggle against the abuse of language is a sentimental archaism, like preferring candles to electric light.”
 

THEY SAY CONVERSATION RULES A NATION

We reach each other with more ease than any other time, but this accessibility has hindered our mastery of communicating. We have everything to lose — meaning has long been forgotten. We confuse each other’s intentions and muddle sincerity, only to harbor mistaken feelings.
 
“Prose consists less and less of words chosen for the sake of their meaning,” argues Orwell, “and more and more of phrases tacked together like the sections of a prefabricated hen-house.” Orwell feared the death of language, and foresaw its nearing fate. The current state of communication would readily agree with that prediction, but instead of death, difficult as it may be to accept, language is undergoing a transformation.
 

CHANGE OR ACCEPT

We’ve come to accept that technology will forever remain a part of lives. It will continue to change our day-to-day habits, and evolve in ways we cannot possibly imagine. The Digital Age has left its mark on how we speak, read, and write, replacing the idea that television was behind the ‘dumbing down of America.’ 
 
The Atlantic’s Nicholas Carr argues that traditional methods of reading and writing have been broken by the intensity with which we skim the internet and fail to get through a single news article. That is the state of things. We forgo the beauty of language for lack of patience, and for the generations born into the technological craze, for lack of knowledge of anything else. Change is good, it’s a natural part of the human complex, but when we change for the worse we must question our values.

Communication Technology And Its Pitfalls

communication technology
It’s getting harder to disconnect from our real life relationships online.

 
NYT columnist David Brooks and I disagree on mostly… everything, but a recent column of his “Leaving and Cleaving” sheds light on the communication dilemmas triggered by technology. Today a breakup or unsalvageable friendship is mired in constant awareness — a self-imposed recognition of what the other is still doing.
 

SOCIAL COMMUNICATION

Today, we are all just a text, phone call, or Instagram like away. We’ve developed precarious dependencies on social media for affirmation, and rapid text message responses have become our key signal into one another’s level of interest. As Brooks asserts, “relationships are often defined by the frequency and intensity of communication between two people.” Once that frequency diminishes we take that as the fateful signal.
 

IMMEDIACY

Immediate gratification has permeated all aspects of our lives, including relationships. We’ve become accustomed to alerts on our phones symbolizing recognition of our message (or existence), resulting in unnecessary anxieties. “His name was once constant on his friend’s phone screen,” Brooks writes, “but now it is rare and the void is a wound.” The void, or ostensible emptiness, becomes the object we fear the most. If a relationship isn’t destined to last, the messages are destined to cease, and our fleeting, superficial sense of affirmation quickly dissipates.
 

RELATIONSHIP CHALLENGE

We are left with a challenge. How do our lives continue when we can never fully detach? Sure, an ending to any relationship takes time to recover from, but how do we truly heal when we still strategize our selfies in hopes that the other is still reviewing them? Not possible, and certainly why most people linger for too long.
 
Emotional pain is so much greater when a once intimate conversation fades away into simple banter, “emotional distance or just a void,” Brooks notes. Technology has made it all the more possible to indulge, to give in to the voices in our heads encouraging us to plead for continued intimacy or “doing the other embarrassing things that wine, late nights and instant communications make possible.”

MOVING ON

We must persevere against the communication technology that has made us overly-committed too soon, fearful and anxious, and unable or fully move on. Today we must learn that when relationships have reached their peak, they are sometimes meant to end. Difficult as it may be, we must have the courage to fully disconnect.

This Is The 2014 State Of The Union Address

State of the Union
State of the Union: where we at?

State of the Union Address replay

State of the Union fact check

State of the Union

We have our highest graduation rate in three decades. There have been eight million new jobs created over the past four years, and we currently have the lowest unemployment rate in 5 years. We had the strongest five year stretch in farm exports in our history. The Iraq War is ending after 12 years. Three million more people have health insurance now. The manufacturing sector is rebounding, and the housing market is booming. Childhood obesity is down for the first time in 30 years.

Choices

2014 could be a breakthrough year for the country. We are better positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on earth. Washington D.C. must decide if they want to help or hinder the progress we are trying to make. Questions on the size of government date back to the founding of the country. When democracy is prevented, whether it’s a shutdown of the government or endangering the full faith and credit of the United States government, American people get hurt.

Governing

Congress has passed a budget on a bipartisan nature. Washington should be focused on investing in the nation’s future while lowering the deficit. There should be a focus on creating jobs, not crises. People are tired of stale political arguments.

Income Inequality

America is about opportunity for all. If you work hard and take responsibility, you can get ahead here. If you honor the dignity of work, hard work will pay off. However, corporate profits and stock prices have never been higher while wages have remained stagnant. Upward mobility has stalled. Most people are working just to get by, or not at all. We can reverse these trends by speeding up growth, strengthening the middle class, and creating more ladders into the middle class. Success should not be determined by the accident of birth, but on the merits of the individual. We live in a nation where the son of a barkeep can be the Speaker of the House, and the son of a single mom can be President of the United States. Opportunity is who we are, and access to good jobs is part of that opportunity. Some will earn more than others. No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty.

Executive Authority

The president pledged to work with Congress or through executive orders to effectuate change. The executive branch has created programs to train 400,000 veterans and military spouses. 150 universities, businesses, and nonprofits are working together to reduce inequality and to increase access to education-an effort spearheaded by the executive branch.

The Future

Companies say they intend to hire more people, and manufacturers are thinking of insourcing. We can reform taxes on businesses and rebuild infrastructure with savings from tax reform. Congress will finish the transportation and waterways bill to save 3 million jobs. Businesses will be connected to research universities to create jobs in hi-tech manufacturing. There will be trade promotion to protect workers’ environments and open new markets to new goods made in the USA. Federally funded research that helped Google and Facebook should be restored. Patent reform bills should be passed so companies can stay focused on core competency rather than litigation.

Energy

The President has made a commitment to energy reform. The all the above energy strategy is working. Natural gas is emerging as one of the best routes into the future. Cut red tape and build new fueling stations. Strengthen air, water, and protection for federal lands. The United states is a global leader in solar power. Every four minutes, another home goes solar. Smarter tax policy will steer $4 billion away from fossil fuel industries who don’t need it, and towards cleaner renewable energy. Energy reduction has also been a focus. New fuel efficiency standards for cars and trucks in an effort to drive down imports and gas prices.

Climate Change

The debate is settled. Climate change is an acknowledged fact. We have reduced our carbon footprint more than any other nation on earth, and will enact further carbon pollution reduction measures.

Immigration

Our broken immigration system needs to be fixed. Immigration reform will shrink the deficit by $1 trillion. Immigrants coming here and contributing to the work force makes us a more attractive place to do business.

Jobs

Workers must be equipped with the necessary skills to compete in today’s marketplace. American Job Centers are examples of the types of effective reforms needed in American job training. This includes on the job training, apprenticeships, and the connection of companies to community colleges in designing training.

Women In The Workplace

Women make 77 cents on the dollar men make. There should be equal pay for equal work. A woman should be able to have a baby without sacrificing their jobs.

Minimum Wage

Five states have passed a minimum wage referendum on their own. The president raised federal minimum wage to $10.10. Minimum wage is worth less than what it was originally worth. America deserves a raise.

Unemployment

There must be reforms to unemployment insurance, but until then, we must restore what just expired. CEOs have said they will give the long term unemployed a chance.

Savings and Investment

The EITC doesn’t do enough for single workers who don’t have kids. Let’s do more to help save for retirement. MyRa is a new type of bond that encourages saving.

Education

Access to a quality education and improving standards of our education are the president’s priority. Race to The Top has raised expectations and performance. Problem solving, critical thinking, science, technology, engineering, and math are what’s necessary for the new economy. The reforms to education have been challenging but effective. However, we are not reaching enough kids, nor are we reaching them in a timely manner.

Pre-K

High quality early education is a must. 30 states have raised pre-k funding on their own.

College

High schools will be working closer with colleges in developing curriculum. There is also support for an initiative to cap student loan payments to 10% of income.

Healthcare

Look to conservative Kentucky to see the effect of Obamacare. We had a broken healthcare system. Preexisting conditions used to preclude many Americans from obtaining the care they needed. Health insurance reform means getting sick does not have to equal bankruptcy. Nine million have signed up for insurance through Obamacare. No woman can be charged higher premiums simply for being female. We have added years to medicare financing while keeping premiums flat and lowering prescription drug costs for seniors. Criticisms of reform should be specific so they can be addressed.