Notes from Pete
This was written for my newsletter, but it’s also pretty bloggy, and there isn’t a service that reliably does both email and RSS, so…
I’m going to try something new. Short blurts of things I’ve noticed or thought about. Paragraphs somewhere between a tweet and a blog post. Let me know how you like it.
I got a diagnosis last week from the autism referral centre. I have Strong Autistic Traits. This means I don’t have autism by a medical definition, but if you were to rank everyone by how autistic they are, I’d be right next to the Asperges gang. Which is broadly what I suspected, though I wanted to be sure. My reasons for doing this were several but centre around starting to identify patterns in my behaviour over the last 20 years which I’d just written off as quirks or depression symptoms, particularly during periods of stress, such as, oh, putting on a 3 month art show. One pattern was a real disconnect between how I think I’ll deal with or react to an outcome and how I actually do. This diagnosis is a case in point. I thought I’d be all over it, reading books and making strategies, but I’ve kinda filed in away to be looked at later. I really don’t know myself, it seems. But then, who does?
If you think you might be autistic, here’s the standard test my doctor gave me. I scored 33, which is one above the minimum for a referral.
The Black Hole Club, an artist group I’m a member of, has their launch show next Friday at Vivid and I have an art in it. Open from 6-8pm with performances. I’m honoured to consider this bunch of freaks my peers. Here’s the poster.
Alan Butler did a Twitter-rant about artists being encouraged to use social media and how they probably shouldn’t. Yes, there are exceptions, and he’s talking about the corporate social platforms, not the actual internet, but it’s a good counter to the narrative we’ve been fed over the years. Yes, I’ve been complicit in that at times, but in my defence I’ve tried to emphasise the internet as way to rewire society in interesting new ways and to find and share knowledge and ideas. A collaborative space, if you like, which I genuinely believed could be advantageous for artists making work. I got the hell out of that business once the PR people took over and it all became a metrics game. Anyhoo, I’d love to see Alan run a social media workshop for artists at some “innovate and create” conference, not just because it’d be hilarious.
Buried in one of Dan Hon’s long (but always intriguing, so don’t let that put you off) newsletters - this one, to be specific - was a nice paraphrase of Pamela Drouin saying algorithmic sorting of social media feeds such as Instagram is “the breaking of wayfinding”, as in it’s impossible to navigate a space when non-explicit navigational cues keep shifting and changing. I quite like this metaphor. It reminded me of the Gruen Transfer, “the moment when consumers enter a shopping mall or store and, surrounded by an intentionally confusing layout, lose track of their original intentions, making consumers more susceptible to make impulse buys.” A shopping mall is an objectively aggressive space with hard echoes and bright lights. This makes the shops themselves feel more welcoming. I wonder if the same thing applies to commercial social media platforms - by making the experience confusing people seek refuge in the adverts. It does feel like we’re in some weird conflict with business models sometimes.
Fiona, my partner in life and love, launched a new project this week. Observed City is a monthly newsletter rounding up news and information on navigating the data-driven world we find ourselves in, with an emphasis on our home city of Birmingham. The first edition went out today. If this is your sort of thing, please subscribe and let her know what you think. It’s supported by the Mozilla Open Leaders programme which puts open collaboration at the heart of everything, so if you want to get involved, do!
Instapaper Faves (aka, articles I marked as good in my Instapaper account)
- 12 Things Everyone Should Understand About Tech by Sir Anil Dash, Grand Admiral of the Internet. Always worth listening to Anil.
- Bitcoin Is Ridiculous. Blockchain Is Dangerous by Paul Ford. Soon this whole nightmare will be over, but in the meanwhile…
- No one’s coming. It’s up to us. Dan Hon nicely articulates the growing unease over the limits of technological optimism, starting with a lovely bit of personal history.
- Art Won’t Save Us by Anna Khachiyan lays into the art world’s pathetic attempts to deal with Trump and by extension populist political horrors.
- My Woody Allen Problem by AO Scott is a nice companion piece to Claire Dederer’s What Do We Do with the Art of Monstrous Men? That frame from Manhattan gets creepier every time I see it.
That’ll do for now. If you’re wondering about Instructions for Humans be assured I am writing things. A lot happened and it needs a proper chunk of words to tie it all up. This may take a little while. Especially when I
waste spend time on stuff like this.