The Mediated Life Is Not Worth Living

If you can figure out how to avoid the cognitive distraction, you might become the next big thing in technology. Help us all get there.


I spent last week in ephemeral Black Rock City, where on Saturday night I and 60,000 others stood within a ring of hundreds of vehicles transformed into spectacular art, and watched a gargantuan wooden effigy erupt, burn, and collapse, beneath one of the most ridiculously dazzling fireworks displays in ever. It was quite a moment. And I looked at the crowd around me and I thought to myself: what is wrong with these people?

The problem was that half the people around me couldn’t really appreciate the moment because they were too busy trying to capture it, in some crude or clumsy way. A forest of thousands of phones and point-and-shoot cameras protruded from the crowd, held by people with unrealistically optimistic expectations of their sensors’ low-light capabilities. Meanwhile, a camera on a boom swung back and forth from the burn to the crowd, who cheered as if on…

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