Augmented Humanity and the Story of Stuff

January 29th, 2011 § 0 comments

[Status Update:] Last week I made a brief mention that the minimalism movement was coming to a close (ahem, “Fuck Minimalism“.) This caused a whole bunch of interesting reactions from all over the web –dozens of blog posts, thousand of tweets. My favorite is Josh’s well-thought-out essay on how the leadership of movements shift over time.

Some complained of not having a voice in the conversation. If you don’t have a voice, it’s because you aren’t on Twitter and/or don’t have your own blogging platform. No problems, only solutions: get on Twitter so you have a voice — not just here, but in the world. A tweet can be 10x the power of a blog comment. A blog post can be 100-1000x the power of a blog comment.

This blog doesn’t have comments because I want to encourage you to use more powerful broadcast channels to communicate.

I’m only able to engage in certain mediums (mainly Twitter) because I spend most of my day in the world learning and engaging with real human faces and bodies.


The biggest question for many people seems to be simple: if minimalism is over, why are we still living out of backpacks and having a great time? I’ll attempt to answer that question in this blog post.

There’s been a lot of talk lately in the circles I frequent about human 2.0, cyborgs and augmented humanity. For awhile I decided to try and call this new type of human a cyborg, but the problem with using that word to define a movement is as @mikeschu said: “it brings up images of Robocop.”

People don’t want to look like machines, so the term cyborg (while more correct than you would think) alienates them and you.

So, I’m shifting gears and turning to the term Eric Schmidt (the soon to be former CEO of Google) used at DLD2011: augmented humanity. We’re essentially still humans, it’s just that some of us have access and the ability to use superhuman mental tools, and others are being left behind or caught up in the noise.

Truthfully, augmented humanity looks very much like regular humanity. All of the changes are happening in the backend.

I’ve been delving deeper into the implications of augmented humanity on the As I noted earlier on the blog a few times, I can only really talk about surface information here on the public blog. Teaching advanced mental cybernetics requires a commitment from both the teacher and the student –the uninitiated can be damaged by the information overload.

Here’s a brief quote from Kit Eaton‘s Fast Company article on Schmidt’s talk to bring you up to speed on the huge changes taking place in how we interact with our world. The entire article is not long if you want to learn more.

From Fast Company: “Computers, Schmidt thinks, can, when used ubiquitously and interactively and with cloud-like access to remote supercomputer powers can give us “senses” we didn’t know were possible. “Think of it as augmented humanity” he suggested.”

[Please note that Eric Schmidt talks about all of these changes taking place “in the future” to be safe (so people don’t panic about Google’s tremendous power over our culture — IMO a good influence.) Reality is that for a large and growing percentage of us these changes have already taken place or will very soon.]

One of the key points that Schmidt brought up is that children now only have two states of being: asleep and online. There are no new disconnected humans being brought into this world — kids are being wired in from an incredibly early age to be part of collective consciousness. We will be blown away by the tremendous power that children have over the world — my generation’s power over the Internet will pale in comparison to the next.

We can try and run from this idea –and many are running. We can turn off the Internet, put our fists in our ears and scream “lalalalala” in an attempt to deny that we were assimilated into a world-wide super-organism.

The problem is that denying it is just going to make your life miserable, because increasingly the people who are fluent in the language of modern cybernetics are racing past those who are not in their ability to achieve amazing things.

The ability to achieve amazing things using the expanded mental tools available to augmented humanity are directly related to why we stopped caring about physical objects.

The reality is that you didn’t become minimalist because you wanted to, you became minimalist because of human evolution.

The adoption of technology gave you instant access to everything, instant knowledge of any location, instant ability to communicate with anyone anywhere in the world began to make stuff look like tremendous burden. This is the shift that Amber Case describes in her Ted Talk from physical tools to mental tools.

So we just got rid of it all and took off for a world-wide adventure the likes of which humanity has never seen.

This is why I’m taking The Art of Being Minimalist off the market on February 11th 2011, because it simply isn’t accurate anymore. It was at the time, but we’ve evolved past the understanding that I had when I wrote the e-book a year ago.

Anyone living out of a backpack traversing the world, exploding minds and bodies in this new world of endless ideas isn’t a minimalist at all. You’re an augmented human, a hybrid child of technology and biology.

…and you’ve got some crazy potential to do amazing things. I can’t wait to see what you’re up to next.

You’re really fraking beautiful too.


There are three subscription options for this blog now.

1. (the best) is to follow and interact with me on Twitter.

2. (kind of dated option in this day-in-age) is to sign up for email updates or RSS.

3. (the deepest) is to sign up for the which requires a commitment. The delves deep. Right now the monthly subscription, but it will go up to $25 at midnight EST on February 1st 2011. Anyone who signs up now will be locked in at the $20 rate unless they unsubscribe.

I’ll be sure to let you know a few hours in advance if you follow on Twitter.

The best way to understand my ideas is not to just follow me on Twitter, but follow everyone I follow too. This action taps you into a collective mind that will bring you up to speed much faster than a single mind can ever hope to accomplish.

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