As January came to a close, we sent out the first actual edition of ‘Field Notes’ — Let’s start with a quick introduction.

So, I tend to read a lot. Mostly for work, which is one of the best parts about it for me, but also out of interest and, when time permits, to relax. What I like most about finding interesting stuff is going down these rabbit holes to find more interesting stuff.

The most interesting stuff, I share in these monthly newsletters called Field Notes. Topics range from science, design, and innovation to philosophy, art, and creative culture. Sometimes there’s a theme. There’s a theme this month for sure.

“Identity is the qualities, beliefs, personality, looks and/or expressions that make a person or group.” — Wikipedia

Identity is determining so many transitions society is going through currently. It colors so much of the decisions that literally limit our freedom of movement, that it’s worth looking at from a multitude of perspectives.

I didn’t intend to use this as a theme or anything, it just emerged after I listed all the reads I wanted to share. Let’s look at a few potential rabbit holes to dive in this sunny Sunday.

PATAGONIA X MARGARET THATCHER X SALESFORCE / DOCUMENT

Simon Denny is a New Zealand-born artist who lives in Berlin. In his work, he questions elements of technology and their effects on society.

I recently discovered his project called “Security Through Obscurity”. In this project, Denny combines sleeping bags typical for homeless people in San Francisco, and the Patagonia vests that Wall Street- / Tech bro’s wear, signaling they belong to their exclusive pack, with iconic scarfs that became the signature look of the Iron Lady.

For more on Simon Denny, here’s a podcast interview with him by Apollo Magazine.

SIGNALING AS A SERVICE / JULIAN.DIGITAL

Speaking of ‘signaling’ as a way of showing the world, or a certain group, your affiliation, or specific expressions of identity, here’s an interesting read I found a while ago, written by Julian Lehr.

Julian has one of the most interesting personal websites (calling it a “Lifelog”) I’ve ever seen, in which he quantifies his media consumption meticulously and shares fascinating articles. Signaling as a service is an essay he wrote himself, and it’s a must-read for anyone interested in luxury goods.

THE INTERNET DIDN’T KILL COUNTERCULTURE — YOU JUST WON’T FIND IT ON INSTAGRAM / Also DOCUMENT

Another interesting essay. On counterculture and how the way the mainstream consumes information (through online channels that are virtually all owned by a handful of people) means that alternative cultures emerge through alternative, less controlled channels.

But because channels are much more segregated and we therefore simply don’t see what’s going outside of “the GAFA Stack” (Google’s-, Apple’s-, Facebook’s-, Amazon’s platforms).

Two other very interesting reads, loosely connected, are “Algorithms Are Redrawing the Space for Cultural Imagination”, adapted from Ed Finn’s book “What Algorithms Want. And “The Era of Antisocial Social Media” by Sara Wilson. Both highly recommended.

PHARRELL WILLIAMS, MALCOLM GLADWELL AND KENYA BARRIS ON (BLACK) OWNERSHIP / OTHERTONE

Pharrell is back in the podcasting world, and what’s nice about that is that he obviously has access to some very interesting, otherwise hard to get guests, but he also is an interesting thinker and his interview style is extremely disarming.

Personally, I would love to see a bit more discussion in these conversations, instead of listening to people that agree with each other all the time and express how much they appreciate what the other is doing or making every 40 seconds. But to this conversation with Malcolm Gladwell (famous journalist and writer) and Kenya Barris (actor, director, producer, and writer) I listened twice.

Very interesting conversation with great insights on much needed black ownership and equity.

THE LIFE AND WORK OF THEASTER GATES / MONOCLE

Another very interesting talk, diving further into equity and ownership, and a last rabbit hole worth going down into if you don’t know about him yet, is that of the life and work of artist Theaster Gates.

As his website states; “Gates smartly upturns art values, land values, and human values. In all aspects of his work, he contends with the notion of Black space as a formal exercise”. Check out an extensive interview with Monocle here, or look up his episode of “Home” on Apple TV.

Guess that’s it for this month. This first edition got a little long, but there’s so much good stuff to share, and as Blaise Pascal famously said; “Je n’ai fait celle-ci plus longue que parce que je n’ai pas eu le loisir de la faire plus courte” (“I have made this longer than usual because I have not had time to make it shorter.”) 😶

That’s it. Till next time. Have a great February!