Life Is Short (But Let’s Ignore It)

The web’s a wonderful place (most of the time). Every so often you come across a blog post that makes you stop and reconsider. A good example of that was ‘The Tail End’ on the consistently brilliant ‘Wait But Why’ site.

We all talk about how little time we have to do the things we love (we all have the same). We all keep putting things off for a later date (and never do them). And one of the characteristics of most people that keeps us sane is that we kind of assume we – and those we love – are invincible. Sure, we know that can’t be the case on an intellectual level. But most of us don’t live each day expecting it all to end.

I’ve read a fair bit of stoic philosophy over recent times (right there’s a phrase I would never have imagined my younger self uttering). Everyone should at some point read Seneca’s letter On The Shortness Of Life. And I personally think there’s a real benefit from adopting the memento mori approach.  Perhaps you think it’s morbid – this constant reminder that all things come to an end (yes, including you). But that’s very much missing the point. It’s about perspective, balance and humility, removing the fear of losing physical possessions and generally just learning to reflect, instead of reacting.

But that’s for another day…Today I wanted to share two images from that great post. The first is one perspective on a human life with each year represented by a square:-









The second is a similar visualisation but showing roughly how many days of life the writer Tim Urban had spent living with his parents – and how long might be left to spend time together.

He writes:

It turns out that when I graduated from high school, I had already used up 93% of my in-person parent time. I’m now enjoying the last 5% of that time. We’re in the tail end.

His lessons? Live near the people you care about. Prioritise those you care about above all else. And always go for quality time.

I read it a few years ago and it stuck in my head. I hope it does the same for you.

He also did a TED talk ‘Inside the Mind of a Master Procrastinator’ a few years back that’s worth a watch.

Festive Drones Take Off (When Will Santa Upgrade?)

It used to be the case that the focus around this time of the year was only ever on one type of flying machine, usually piloted by a rather rotund chap in a red suit who by all accounts manages to remain jolly despite working the night shift and dealing with strict deadlines and the mother of all rush hours.

But those days appear to be fading fast and it looks like Santa’s going to have to get used to a little more air traffic in the future. Increasing numbers of early adopters unwrapped parcels under the tree yesterday morning to discover new consumer drones before taking them out for a quick festive spin – often with not entirely unexpectedly disastrous results.

I’ll be posting a larger article on drones, their near-term potential and an analysis of some of the legislative hurdles and opportunities in the not-too-distant future. But until then, despite the fact that I’ve written about them before a number of times, I thought it was time to share another great drone video. Filmed in Edinburgh back in 2013, it’s a great example of what’s possible – already.

D’Andrea suggests that by developing this athletic playfulness in quadcopters, the result – in exactly the same way as the process of play serves to develop capabilities in young children – will be that the existing capabilities of machines more generally could be extended.



Glenn Greenwald: Why Privacy Matters

As we approach the end of 2014, a year in which privacy, surveillance and data protection continue to be ever-present themes below the surface of every Bitcoin conference and talk that I’ve been to, I’m finally now getting around to reading ‘The Snowden Files: The Inside Story of the World’s Most Wanted Man‘.

As we all know, regardless of your views, it’s an astonishing story. I’ll be sharing my thoughts on various aspects of the story more fully on this blog in the future – but in the meantime, here’s a recent TED talk given by Glenn Greenwald, one of the key journalists that broke the Snowden story eighteen months or so ago. If you’ve ever struggled with any variation of the “only people with something to hide crave privacy from surveillance” line of thinking, you’ll find it useful I think.

Greenwald quotes Rosa Luxembourg: “He who does not move does not notice his chains”.

How true.