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Metaphors we believe by: the pantheon of 2019

In the past, gods and demons allowed us to talk about phenomena that we didn’t fully understand. During the Enlightenment, we tried to kill them and explain everything in reductionist scientific terms. But it feels to me like we’ve come full circle. We’re back to using oversimplified metaphors to wrap our minds around the uncontrollable complex systems we’re embedded in. Who are the “gods” of 2019, and what can they teach us?

A mediocre Ribbonfarm starter guide

There’s no real beginning or ending to Ribbonfarm. It’s an infinite middle. This is my own personal starter guide.

You can handle the post-truth: a pocket guide to the surreal internet

I know I’m not alone when I say that I can feel the gap between my world and my parents’ world widening. They barely know what memes and influencers are — and yet, our culture is being completely re-shaped by them. How do reality bubbles get created and distorted, and how might we begin to bridge the divides between them?

The spreading of threading

We’re witnessing the rise of a new online medium — the threadweb. It started on Twitter, but its logic is quickly expanding to other parts of the internet. What are its origins, and how might it change the way we consume content in the future?

The Eye Roll Test

Why do words and phrases lose meaning over time? How can we keep our most treasured ideas from going stale?

Fools and their time metaphors

Digital calendars were supposed to make us feel at peace and in control. Instead, we feel scatter-brained, anxious, and over-booked. How have these tools shaped the way we think about time? And how might we free ourselves from the prison of the Gregorian grid?

Smartphones, superstition, and the postmodern condition

In the not-so-distant past, we diagnosed people who feared they were always being watched with paranoid schizophrenia. Now, that same fear is just a realistic understanding of how the world works. What are we to make of this shift?

The market for mindfulness

Until recently, I assumed that mindfulness was a relatively new development in American life—a product of the West’s recent obsession with yoga and Eastern mysticism. Now, I’m beginning to realize that this is not our first rodeo. What can we learn from previous revolutions in thought, and how might we make sense of the underlying patterns in our ideological evolution?