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On moving back and forth



For Greek philosopher Socrates and his disciple Plato, we humans are fundamentally good.


There’s a natural tendency in us towards doing good and any evil we do stems from ignorance, from not knowing any better.


Being evil is being wrong, wrongdoing.


As naive as this might sound, it’d be hard to argue - unless we focused on fringe examples - against the claim that we all want to create as much ‘goodness’ as possible in our lives, and for those we care about.


We thrive to create value, and to become valuable.


But what this specifically means isn’t clear. We inherit blueprints and roadmaps, which shape and lead us in one way or another. They indicate the milestones to look for and move towards, and we use them to assess whether or not we’re on the right track.


So when, for whatever reason, life throws a spanner in the works and diverts from our plan, everything seems to go haywire and we can feel wronged.


Having attached ourselves to the map like we were one and the same, our identities take the hit and crumble down, making us feel a failure: inadequate, alienated and estranged as we may have to rebuild ourselves again.


Especially if we revert from a milestone we thought was claimed, ticked off, done and dusted. Perhaps single or unemployed again, we feel to be going backwards, and find ourselves once more in places we hoped to have moved away from permanently.


But as another philosopher, Heraclitus, said: you cannot step in the same river twice. Firstly, because the water in the river is always different. Secondly because you’re also never the same. You, as well as the river, are an ever-flowing process: always moving and changing.


In the ebbs and flows of life, we never really return to the same position we were previously in. We grow and evolve, learn from experiences, attempts and mistakes. Things inside us will have changed even when the situation feels familiar.

Unlike before, it’s probable that we now have a clearer idea of what we want from the situation and know how to make the most of it: we know what’s good for us.


Blueprints and models are useful but can also play against us when we don’t question them, and fool ourselves into thinking of an unrealistic, linear depiction of life progression. A map cannot represent the ever-flowing nature of life itself.


The map is neither you nor the territory, and confusing them is a risky business.


Our highlights this month

💡 Business

The Rise of Things Designed Just For You

Wired

Reflecting on recent trends in consumer behaviour, this article asks whether the customisation of goods designed just for us will be the Next Big Thing, and what this will mean for the artists of the 'creator economy'.


💻 Tech

Who pushes the button?

Aeon Magazine

From industrialisation to cold war control rooms to the latest iPhone, this essay gives us a whistle-stop tour of the seemingly humble button and its relationship with control. After all, who is it that gets to push the button?


✍ Language

What will be the language of our digital future?

Nanjala Nyabola, The Nation

A thought provoking essay on what happens if English continues to be the internet's default language. Nanjala Nyabola, author of Digital Democracy, Analogue Politics argues that, without online diversity, only a handful of people will dictate the fate of the world.


🔮 Trends

World Wide Wordle: What it takes to bring the viral game into other languages

Rest of World

Love it or hate it, Wordle has taken the internet by storm and game developers worldwide are wrestling with the intricacies of language to adapt the game from English into other languages including Portuguese, Turkish and Tamil.


🌐Web

Maendeleo: Mozilla’s Kiswahili Common Voice Work Continues

Mozilla

When Mozilla realised that neither Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, nor Google Home supported a single native African language, they set out to change this. Since last August, they've added 16 new languages and 4,600 new hours of speech to their Common Voice platform to make sure that voice-enabled tech serves everyone.