Photo by Denis Cherim from his "Coincidence Project".

Strange-face Illusions

October 28th, 2017
During Interpersonal-Gazing and Personality Differences of Spirituality

Via National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine: "Strange-face illusions are produced when two individuals gaze at each other in the eyes in low illumination for more than a few minutes. Usually, the members of the dyad perceive numinous apparitions, like the other's face deformations and perception of a stranger or a monster in place of the other, and feel a short lasting dissociation. In the present experiment, the influence of the spirituality personality trait on strength and number of strange-face illusions was investigated. Thirty participants were preliminarily tested for superstition (Paranormal Belief Scale, PBS) and spirituality (Spiritual Transcendence Scale, STS); then, they were randomly assigned to 15 dyads. Dyads performed the intersubjective gazing task for 10 minutes and, finally, strange-face illusions (measured through the Strange-Face Questionnaire, SFQ) were evaluated. The first finding was that SFQ was independent of PBS; hence, strange-face illusions during intersubjective gazing are authentically perceptual, hallucination-like phenomena, and not due to superstition. The second finding was that SFQ depended on the spiritual-universality scale of STS (a belief in the unitive nature of life; e.g., 'there is a higher plane of consciousness or spirituality that binds all people') and the two variables were negatively correlated. Thus, strange-face illusions, in particular monstrous apparitions, could potentially disrupt binding among human beings. Strange-face illusions can be considered as projections of the subject's unconscious into the other's face. In conclusion, intersubjective gazing at low illumination can be a tool for conscious integration of unconscious shadows of the Self in order to reach completeness of the Self."

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A wonderful game by David O'Reilly
October 4th, 2017

Everything is the latest work by David O'Reilly. It is simply mind-blowing. Play it or watch a Let's Play, but don't miss it. Via Wikipedia: "Throughout the game, quotes from philosopher Alan Watts are given to the player. [...]

OReilly described the game as 'about the things we see, their relationships, and their points of view. In this context, things are how we separate reality so we can understand it and talk about it with each other'. He also considered Everything to be a continuation of themes he had introduced in Mountain. Later, OReilly described his hope for players of the game: 'I want Everything to make people feel better about being alive. Not as an escape or distraction, or arbitrary frustration, but something you would leave and see the world in a new light.' Besides the ideas of Watts, OReilly said that Everything's approach and narrative includes Eastern philosophy, continental philosophy, and stoicism. [...]

An 11-minute trailer for Everything won the Jury Prize at the 2017 Vienna Independent Shorts film festival in May 2017; due to this, it is on the longlist for consideration for the Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards, making it the first video game to qualify for the Oscars."

One of the quotes by Alan Watts in the game: "Let's get this clear. If there is any such thing at all as intelligence and love and beauty, well you've found it in other people. In other words, it exists in us as human beings. And as I said, if it is there, in us, it is symptomatic of the scheme of things. We are as symptomatic of the scheme of things as the apples are symptomatic of the apple tree or the rose of the rose bush. The Earth is not a big rock infested with living organisms any more than your skeleton is bones infested with cells. The Earth is geological, yes, but this geological entity grows people, and our existence on the Earth is a symptom of this other system, and its balances, as much as the solar system in turn is a symptom of our galaxy, and our galaxy in its turn is a symptom of a whole company of other galaxies. Goodness only knows what that's in."

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Oil painting by Ken Flewellyn.

Feel the feeling

A new study reveals the best coping mechanisms for stressed kids and teens
August 6th, 2017

Via Quartz: "'In this new work, we found that when the subjects used adaptive strategies, like looking at a problem in a different way, engaging in problem solving or pursuing constructive communication, they were better able to manage the adverse effects of stress,' Compas says. 'Those who used maladaptive strategies like suppressing, avoiding, or denying their feelings, had higher levels of problems associated with stress.' [   ]

'Stress is the single most potent risk factor for mental health problems in children and adolescents, including depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress syndrome, eating disorders, and substance use,' Compas says. 'But the good news is the brain is malleable. Once positive coping skills are learned and put into practice, especially as a family, they can be used to manage stress for a lifetime.'"


God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
Courage to change the things I can,
and the Wisdom to know the difference.

[ Latest additions ]

The UX in Motion Manifesto

Creating Usability with Motion

May 26th, 2017


Via Medium: "The following manifesto represents my answer to the question — 'As a UX or UI, designer, how do I know when and where to implement motion to support usability?' [...]


After over fifteen years studying motion in user interfaces, I have come to the conclusion that there are 12 specific opportunities to support usability in your UX projects using motion.


I call these opportunities The 12 Principles of UX in Motion, and they can be stacked and combined synergistically in a myriad of innovative ways.

I’ve broken the manifesto into 5 parts:

1. Addressing the topic of UI Animation — it’s not what you think

2. Realtime vs non-realtime interactions

3. Four ways that motion supports usability

4. Principles, Techniques, Properties and Values

5. The 12 Principles of UX in Motion"

[ Wunderkammer ]

The Future of Motion Design

Talk by Justin Cone @ FITC Toronto 2017

May 13th, 2017


Via YouTube: "Motion design (or motion graphics, if you prefer) sits at the busy intersection of graphic design, animation and filmmaking. Inextricably linked to technology, the discipline of motion design is constantly evolving, adapting to emerging media while pushing the boundaries of storytelling and communication.

Drawing on his 15 years as an enthusiast and professional working in the field of motion design, Justin Cone (founder of Motionographer), will gaze into his crystal ball and share his divinations with you. Expect practical, entertaining and possibly challenging insights. Also expect cats."


Thanks to Alexander Hanowski!

[ Wunderkammer ]

3 Simple Ways to Get More People to Respond to Your Emails

The right way to write emails to keep those responses coming

February 27th, 2017


Via Inc.: "Thankfully, the folks at Boomerang, a plug-in for scheduling emails, did a little study to see if the language people use to close their emails has any effect on the response rate. 'We looked at closings in over 350,000 email threads,' data scientist Brendan Greenley wrote on the Boomerang blog. 'And found that certain email closings deliver higher response rates.'


'Emails that closed with a variation of thank you got significantly more responses than emails ending with other popular closings,' Greenley writes. Here are the exact numbers: Emails that ended in Thanks in advance had a 65.7 percent response rate. Of emails that ended in Thanks, 63 percent got responses. The third most effective closing was Thank you with a 57.9 percent response rate. Across the board, Boomerang found that sign-offs that included some sort of expression of gratitude had a 36 percent relative increase in average response rate.


It's also worth exploring a couple of the lowest-performing sign-offs on the list. It turns out that ending your email in Regards or Best could be dooming your response potential. In the 350,000 email threads they examined, Boomerang found Best was the worst performer of them all.


Of course, the subject line, tone, length, and content of your emails matters too. You can't write a long-winded, confusing, and unkind email, then simply end with 'Thanks!' and expect a reply."

[ Wunderkammer ]

End of 2016

Celebrating ten life moments
31st December, 2016

Concert Matias Aguayo texted me an invitation to his Matias Aguayo & The Desdemonas concert at Gewölbe. I was kind of hesitant because of too much work... but it turned out to be the best concert for this year. Once again he reinvented himself. The crowd was around my age, and I am pretty sure we all flew in a kind of unheard, totally contemporary Joy-Division-ish nebula, and loved it.

Death Two of the musician who shaped my 20s died this year. Sometimes it snows in April is the anthem to the darkest hours of my twen love, but also to the rocket launch of some of the most amazing adventures I had in my life... yet. Outside is as bold as it gets using the mainstream media and music industry to show them the finger and feel self-confident in a creative, splendid, witty way. Cheers to everyone cottaging out there. Never bogart the J, my friend.

Encounter As an aging designer it is difficult to find something truly fresh or inspiring in design because I have seen so many ideas already. But David O'Reilly surprised me many, many times. That is why I am a huge fan. This year I met him in person at the Clash of Realities conference. My longtime comrade Björn Bartholdy introduced us. Thank you!

Film To see Toni Erdmann was a relieve on many levels. On one level I laughed so hard it really hurt – I was shaking, and released much stress at the same time. On another level it was a joy to finally see a good German movie. It has been years, or even decades?

Flashback Spend several days in Wuppertal this summer to visit my father at the hospital. Among other things I took a ride with my niece on the famous Schwebebahn. It has been three decades since I studied at the University of Wuppertal. The biggest impression this time were enormous road constructions which divide the whole city.

Master We have been talking for a couple of years but this year we finally nailed it, and the new Klang und Realität master program will start in April. It means a lot to me, and I am convinced that we created a contemporary piece of teaching. Thanks to Julian Rohrhuber!

Prodopa  Went to a quit-smoking-session at Cologne's university hospital. They promised a massive flow of Dopamine if we would quit. I did, and am still waiting for the Dopamine... Thank you Ulli Schumacher for believing in me!

Third eye It opened when I was in Berlin to celebrate the 80th birthday of my professor, Bazon Brock. I beefed it trying to cross a street... Spend the day in a hospital in the Kreuzberg neighborhood waiting for my stitches. Awesome new look. Thanks to Tristan Thönnissen for being a real friend!

Tribute My blud  Marcus Schmickler and I organized a week of concerts, and lectures to celebrate the 80th birthday of the great John Tilbury. It was simply mind-blowing, every minute of it. At the Cologne venue LOFT Tilbury played with Keith Rowe and Marcus Schmickler. The last 30 minutes of the concert were legendary. They played but they did not play, and the suspense almost killed the audience. In his last concert Tilbury played his Beatles adaptation for solo piano in the grand staircase of Museum Ludwig. We sat in the paradox of crying without being emotional.

Women of the world take over This year I supported three extraordinary women to become full professors. — Step by step, and we are not there yet. Consider Madonna's speech as Billboard Woman of the Year if you need more information.

So, here we are... And what is next?

[ Wunderkammer ]

The Fortifying Commons

by George Monbiot

December 17th, 2016


Via George Monbiot: "We were promised unending growth on a finite planet. We were told that a vastly unequal system would remove all differences. Social peace would be delivered by a system based on competition and envy. Democracy would be secured by the power of money. The contradictions were crashingly obvious. The whole package relied on magic.


Because none of it works, there is no normal to which to return. [...]


How do we respond to these crises? Raymond Williams said 'to be truly radical is to make hope possible, rather than despair convincing'. [...]


There are many points at which I could begin, but it seems to me that an obvious one is this. The market alone cannot meet our needs, nor can the state. Both, by rooting out attachment, help fuel the alienation, rage and anomie that breeds extremism. Over the past 200 years, one element has been conspicuously absent from the dominant ideologies, something that is neither market nor state: the commons.


A commons is an asset over which a community has shared and equal rights. This could, in principle, include land, water, minerals, knowledge, scientific research and software. But at the moment most of these assets have been enclosed: seized by either the state or private interests and treated as any other form of capital. Through this enclosure, we have been deprived of our common wealth. [...]


The restoration of the commons has great potential not only to distribute wealth but also to change society. As the writer David Bollier points out, a commons is not just a resource (land or trees or software) but also the community of people managing and protecting it. The members of the commons develop much deeper connections with each other and their assets than we do as passive consumers of corporate products.


Managing common resources means developing rules, values and traditions. It means, in some cases, re-embedding ourselves in the places in which we live. It means reshaping government to meet the needs of communities, not corporations. In other words, reviving the commons can act as a counterweight to the atomising, alienating forces now generating a thousand forms of toxic reaction."

[ Wunderkammer ]

How liars create

...the illusion of truth

November 20th, 2016


Via Mind Hacks: "Repetition makes a fact seem more true, regardless of whether it is or not. Understanding this effect can help you avoid falling for propaganda, says psychologist Tom Stafford.

Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth, is a law of propaganda often attributed to the Nazi Joseph Goebbels. Among psychologists something like this known as the illusion of truth effect. [...] 


If repetition was the only thing that influenced what we believed we’d be in trouble, but it isn’t. We can all bring to bear more extensive powers of reasoning, but we need to recognise they are a limited resource. Our minds are prey to the illusion of truth effect because our instinct is to use short-cuts in judging how plausible something is. Often this works. Sometimes it is misleading.


Once we know about the effect we can guard against it. Part of this is double-checking why we believe what we do – if something sounds plausible is it because it really is true, or have we just been told that repeatedly? This is why scholars are so mad about providing references – so we can track the origin on any claim, rather than having to take it on faith.

But part of guarding against the illusion is the obligation it puts on us to stop repeating falsehoods. We live in a world where the facts matter, and should matter. If you repeat things without bothering to check if they are true, you are helping to make a world where lies and truth are easier to confuse. So, please, think before you repeat."

[ Wunderkammer ]

Technology Will Replace Many ..., and Other Professionals

by Richard Susskind and Daniel Susskind

October 18th, 2016


Via Harvard Business Review: "The claim that the professions are immune to displacement by technology is usually based on two assumptions: that computers are incapable of exercising judgment or being creative or empathetic, and that these capabilities are indispensable in the delivery of professional service. The first problem with this position is empirical. As our research shows, when professional work is broken down into component parts, many of the tasks involved turn out to be routine and process-based. They do not in fact call for judgment, creativity, or empathy.

The second problem is conceptual. Insistence that the outcomes of professional advisers can only be achieved by sentient beings who are creative and empathetic usually rests on what we call the AI fallacy — the view that the only way to get machines to outperform the best human professionals will be to copy the way that these professionals work. The error here is not recognizing that human professionals are already being outgunned by a combination of brute processing power, big data, and remarkable algorithms. These systems do not replicate human reasoning and thinking. When systems beat the best humans at difficult games, when they predict the likely decisions of courts more accurately than lawyers, or when the probable outcomes of epidemics can be better gauged on the strength of past medical data than on medical science, we are witnessing the work of high-performing, unthinking machines.

Our inclination is to be sympathetic to this transformative use of technology, not least because today’s professions, as currently organized, are creaking. They are increasingly unaffordable, opaque, and inefficient, and they fail to deliver value evenly across our communities. In most advanced economies, there is concern about the spiraling costs of health care, the lack of access to justice, the inadequacy of current educational systems, and the failure of auditors to recognize and stop various financial scandals. The professions need to change. Technology may force them to."

[ Wunderkammer ]