I Yo Therefore I Am

//by Ryan Taylor//

I downloaded the app “Yo” over the weekend, wondering what all the fuss was about. For those of you not in the Yo-know, Yo is a program that allows its users to…well, it doesn’t allow users to do much beside reduce all communications to an electronic caveman grunt in the mode of Jesse Pinkman.

In other words, people can send push notifications to one another displaying the eponymous “Yo”. Another key feature is the creepy voice that utters the word.

To make the obvious Breaking Bad joke: I assume a hidden Easter egg button will transform the app into Yo Bitch!

Released on April Fool’s Day of this year, the app was initially considered a joke by the public. Yo, however, recently attracted $1.5 million in venture capital, sending the message that the app is no laughing matter. If it’s not an elaborate ruse, then what is the draw of Yo? For starters: Yo users can send Yos to any of their friends who have the app.

Okay. What else?

Well…well that’s it.

Did I mention that the app is now valued at over $5 million?

(I’m as puzzled as you are.)

So I decided to take “Yo” for a spin. I downloaded the app (for free), and in seconds I was ready to Yo.

Too much?

Anyway, when you open the app it first asks you to “sign-up.” After figuring out a tastefully offensive username and a numeric password, “Yo” introduces him(her?)self.


After ‘tapping here’, Yo offers some justifications for its own existence (more on such things later).


Or you could just say good morning, like a normal human being. But where’s the fun in that? Maybe it is true what John Lennon sang:

Yo is real, real is Yo
Yo is feeling, feeling Yo
Yo is wanting, to be Yo’d.

And fear not, lest you thought sexting would remain a chore:

IMG_1989If nothing else this app should streamline bootycalls.


Love in a Time of Crystal Displays

//by Keith Warren//

I haven’t really seen myself since New Year’s Day, twenty-thirteen.

I’ve been in love with a different mirror since then.

Sure I looked in my bathroom mirror in that time, but only ever with the vainest intentions. Beholden, in a culture of images, to the images of cultures arranged in pixels on the screens.

One held in hand, one in the next room. Another in earshot.

Anxious concern of how will I be perceived?

Situation A… Situation B… Situation C…

Not much concern for the future and more a concern for some other place, but that’s not here.

Some other place ISN’T. HERE.

I guess you might say it’s just the landscape, now, but that’s still so vague because what it is is all the tools we, the animal, are wielding while inhabiting space in our fields of being.

The tech is now an ever-present plasma display screen, mainlined into our psychical heads-up display. Big stuck pixels swiss cheesing mental faculties.

It’s somehow, now, pushing toward total saturation. The external world crashing in on us. A solid white tsunami noise wall of data. All the wall space is getting colonized by the empire of the screen.

I mean that both metaphorically and physically, by which I mean of course mental walls and walls as in brick walls. Walls of city buses painted with HBO shows and sexy new night club nights, because night clubs rent out space between time walls too. Medium-rise buildings rent entire facades to toilet paper campaigns, do Charmin bears shit on cinderblocks? Seemingly yes.

Inside a loud world, clamp hands over ears. Shield the searing brightness, clamp them over eyes and isolate, inward.

Don’t think of true self, persistent self. Think instead of instances of personae, slides or stills, that flash across mind’s eye.

Overestimate how much better are some times, underestimate other times. Would so much rather be doing [other thing] right now(!), also sprach the novelty license plate frame.

Then feel defeat because here and now isn’t there and now. Somewhere else isn’t here.

Imagine the alternative and picture life otherwise. Keep the journey to or from that point outside the frame. Reduce it out of the equation entirely. The hypothetically simultaneous ‘other’ self is far more exciting––the mysterious other path but implied.

A separate simultaneous world disappoints by design. We cannot possibly achieve it. We cannot be both here and there, and now.

But still I only looked at myself vainly, jealous of other instances of myself. And never once, it doesn’t feel like, did I stare down the barrel of my own life, straight into my own eyes. I saw gaunt eyes in an otherwise healthy face. I see that I’ve changed my posture for the stronger; my whole attitude and energy more natural. Fluid. But not advancing.

Sometimes you trick yourself into having someone else look at you so you don’t have to. You can see it all already anyway.


Sell Your Memome Into Slavery

Wired reports on a new app called Citizenme which will help users consolidate all the data there is to track and sniff about us, as we go about generating it. “Spy on yourself and sell your own data,” Wired concisely puts it. Yes it’s a real app in development.

From social media profiles to the fitness trackers we’re now strapping to our bodies, it’s all data gravy, baby. It’s all very valuable too, and now an app lets users sell their own data into the great gaping maw of marketing, where the app makes its commission, right at the welcome gate to the maw. It begins with the obvious info from social media sites, then the service plans to expand as:

the [Citizenme] team wants to… integrate far more information, including location data, statistics from health trackers, or your even genome, via services like 23andMe. That would let you learn far more about your online self and how advertisers perceive you, while providing still more data you eventually could sell.

Continue reading

ECONOMIST: The tragedy of the Arabs

Opened up the wifi connect window at a major coffee chain today. The day’s marquee news article was this one from July 5th, published in the ever durable Economist. It details the failures of the Arab people. What it really comes down to, the wise western rag says, is that the Arabs are really just a rubbish people. Religion, that’s no excuse.

I loved this sentence–– not so much for it’s actual implications–– but for its consistency with my ideas about the July 4th drone stunt:

Military support—the supply of drones and of a small number of special forces—may help keep the jihadists in Iraq at bay. That help may have to be on permanent call.

So the drone exits its pupation phase, metamorphosed into a sentry of freedom and democracy both at home and abroad. Drones are here to help, and they are here to stay.

Makes me wonder about a term to describe a process that’s the opposite of “metastasize”…like, benastasize?

I’m flailing here.

ECONOMIST: The tragedy of the Arabs

Sweet Drone Alabama

A drone flown through July 4th fireworks.


Theatrics of war inverted, a stunt that signposts our passage through the looking glass, beyond which lies the soft & fuzzy era of drone friendliness.

Impressions of war always arrived emblematically on our western screens. The dreary access to gruesome imagery pushed us toward panic, once or twice. Ish.

We might’ve agitated for sweeping changes. Some regime shuffling was hinted at but ultimately nothing came of it.

Now the screen’s been flown through emblems of war, and boy are they pretty. Shock, awe, hearts, minds––all in one fell battery-operated swoop.

Drone friendlies ascending, so beginning our slumber tucked sweetly under the siren serenade of global war’s symphony.

Summer night’s breeze, LED’s twinkling high overhead, dark sky widens of all the humming. Floating first violins of death, surveillance, and free internet.

We’d be lost without our GPS, someone says in the distance.

Let’s grab a beer at the revolution, bro.

Google Barges, or Mister America Float On By

Jon Stewart’s latest show covered a story about the Google barges popping up on either US coast. One’s moored in San Francisco Bay, the other sitting in Maine’s Portland Harbor. For want of a manifest, media offered asinine speculation as to the concealed cargo. Señor Stewart handles his bread and butter:

Source: The Daily Show

This got my wheels a-spinnin’. A search yielded a WaPo article: Google’s crazy barge scheme: your complete guide. Check out this bit:

A Bay Area TV station has said the barge will be a marketing center for Google Glass, the wearable computer that connects to eyeglasses. Business Insider has suggested the same thing. An anonymous source told CNET that the barges will be stores that float from city to city via river (emphasis mine)

Um, that tip was anonymous for a reason, guys. What is this, a tabloid? Can we go ahead and not write an obituary for journalism? Think twice about the idea that Google wants to send barges adrift down our waterways, slanging augmented reality headgear to America’s riverfront communities. This report demands suspension of disbelief that might be required to view movie sequels Robocop: Houseboat! or Minority Report on the Mississippi.

Headline pizzazz is not gotten by a ‘new Google data centers’ story, it’s true. But the whole piece is bunk when reporters have no insight into the question, Why floating? 

My guess: finance. Specifically, high frequency trading (HFT). The winning edge in HFT is so vanishingly small that, paradoxically, physical space comes back into play. If Google were to float these barges way out into the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, they’d succeed in putting relay centers smack dab in between the west coast and the Tokyo Stock Exchange, the east coast and the London Stock Exchange. The cash that mega-banks would put up for a Google server at sea is—oh my god wait for it—unfathomable.

In support of my speculation I offer this, a Reuters piece published in May of this year. The article talks HFT with Mike Persico, CEO of high-tech network infrastructure company Anova Technologies:

Asked what might come next, Persico mentioned the use of drones and barges to create a transatlantic wireless network (emphasis mine).  

*Gulp*. Welp, I sure didn’t wake up wishing for a haunting vision of space-age militarized finance this sunny morning, but, there it is.

Mr. America, try to hide the product of your savage pride.