(April 2, 2018)
Happy Easter and Happy Passover to everybody around the world.
Spring is here. The flowers are blooming, the weather is warming up, and I couldn't be happier about it. Plus, it's Masters week – my favorite golf tournament!
This week's email features a new book review and explores two up-and-coming celebrities, both of which intrigue me from the sociological perspective.
Then, we end with a North Star Podcast update.
New Book Review: Orality and Literacy
I'm on a mission to understand the history of human communication.
Writing transformed human consciousness. It's the foundation of logic, democracy, and abstract thinking. Through writing, humans escaped from the chains of memory, the significance of which is impossible to overestimate. This book review touches many topics — from the history of paper to the invention of the alphabet, to the future of human communication.
"Speech, the universal way by which humans communicate and transmit experience, fades instantly: before a word is fully pronounced it has already vanished forever. Writing, the first technology to make the spoken word permanent, changed the human condition.”
"Invented in the 15th century, the alphabetic letterpress transformed religion, birthed the Enlightenment, and paved the way for the industrial revolution."
"To kids, digital orality is not a second language – it's second nature."
New Snippet: Picasso's Bull
I love watching artists pursue perfection.
Great art isn’t just about what you see; it’s also about what you don’t see. Great artists focus on the essence of an idea or an image.
Editing is over-looked and under-appreciated, and great artists cut out what may have cost days, months, or even years of effort.
Here’s my favorite example. Picasso once tried to capture the fundamental spirit of a bull. Through a series of progressively simpler images, he moves from complexity to simplicity.
Coolest Things I Learned This Week
Lil Miquela is a computer-generated celebrity and a virtual musician.
Bizarre and innovative, she’s building an army of Miquelites:
"I'd like to think my fans and I are closer than some friend groups.”
"Instead of stars only "pushing" content, the new era of stars are involving the community and also "pulling" ideas from them too."
"Her digital life is her entire life; her presence in the world starts and ends in the digital space, where she lives as an expertly crafted 3-D cyborg, a humanoid that teeters the line between reality and sanity.”
"Miquela’s identity is very real. She has a specific style, an inexplicable transparency in her personal life (relationships and all), and an empowering sense of self that is practically palpable. She shares all her experiences with her fans, never positing herself as something she isn’t, making her something of a generational internet role model.”
I joke that Marshmello is the biggest artist you’ve never heard of. According to Spotify, he’s the #4 most popular musician in the world right now. He’s a faceless brand (the public doesn't know his real identity) with a worldwide audience.
Musicians aren’t just musicians anymore. As I’ve written before, modern musicians require a cacophony of talents: they're brands, performers, storytellers, media channels, and community builders. Marshmello's YouTube cooking show averages more than 200 million monthly views.
"If you’ve got a presence, if you’ve got fans, there are many ways to make a buck, not only recorded music. But you’ve got to think outside the box. And seemingly only the young people are able to do this.”
“If they’re not watching you, they’re watching somebody else."
Bryson DeChambeau is the most interesting golfer in the world. He’s a golfing scientist with an unprecedented approach to the game.
I love his mindset. Calling it now! Bryson will transform the way the game is taught and the way it is played.
"Regardless of whether a player is orthodox or unorthodox in style, that player must find and trust his individual way.”
"It's not talent, it's just practice. If I wanted to learn Arabic or Russian, I could. Or tie my shoes in a new way, I could. Why? Dedication. I'm not really smart, but I'm dedicated. I can be good at anything if I love it and dedicate myself. And I love history. I love science. I love music. I love golf. I love learning. I love life. I love trying to be the best at anything and everything."
I have a special affinity for following Bryson because I once competed against him in a junior golf tournament.
Spoiler alert: he beat me by 15 shots :)
Photo of the Week
This week, I recorded a podcast with Sara Dietschy, one of my favorite YouTubers.
As you can see from my smile, I love recording these podcasts. It motivates me to learn and lets me connect with people that I never otherwise would. Some guests become friends or mentors.
The interview preparation is intense, but enjoyable.
Every guest sends me a list of books, people, ideas, and experiences that’ve shaped their worldview. I spend 10-15 hours preparing for every interview; sometimes more, sometimes less. I read their favorite books, listen to their favorite podcasts, and consume their content.
Best of all, it makes it much easier to connect with the guest and develop a friendship with them.
The podcast with Sara will go live this week.