Minimalism "not really minimal"

no

Kyle Chayka hates minimalism, a consumer product like any other, a class signifier, a "slightly intriguing perversion, like drinking at breakfast" for the insincere global elite.

...an outgrowth of a peculiarly American (that is to say, paradoxical and self-defeating) brand of Puritanical asceticism, this new minimalist lifestyle always seems to end in enabling new modes of consumption, a veritable excess of less. It’s not really minimal at all. ...

...it comes with an inherent pressure to conform to its precepts. Whiteness, in a literal sense, is good. Mess, heterogeneity, is bad — the opposite impulse of artistic minimalism. It is anxiety-inducing in a manner indistinguishable from other forms of consumerism, not revolutionary at all. Do I own the right things? Have I jettisoned enough of the wrong ones? In a recent interview with Apartamento magazine set against interior shots of his all-white home in Rockaway, Queens, the tastemaker and director of MoMA PS1 Klaus Biesenbach explained, “I don’t aim to own things.” ... it takes a lot to be minimalist: social capital, a safety net and access to the internet.

It seems a bit confused on the relationships between different things and people calling themselves "minimalist," and the snark verges on how dare you – but yeah, fuck Soylent.

These are great tweets, also:

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A place to easily publish encrypted messages on the web

seriousbiz

The Encrypted Page Maker lets you paste in a HTML document, pick a password, and then hosts the resulting page at its own site. Simple public publishing, with the source code available in the page source.

The contents of you page is compressed using LZString.js and optionally encrypted using mjsCrypt.js, and stored in the hash of a loader URL. The page loader reads the contents of the URL hash and decrypts and expands the page, setting the value of body.outerHTML. Scripts will work as they are compiled and executed after the page is loaded. Cookies and localStorage will not work between pages as they are both wiped clean when the page loads.

The encryption is unproven, and may only act as a deterent. This page and the loading pages are served over HTTP without SSL so do not trust it with actual confidential infomation. This is a toy. I hope you can have fun with it. All source code is freely avaliable in the page source.

I hope you like long URLs! The author has some other cool toys at their homepage -- Ascii to Icon is great. Read the rest

SpareOne: emergency cellphone powered by AA batteries

spareone

SpareOne Emergency Phone is a basic cellphone powered by AA batteries. This gives it a relatively short time on a charge, but means that it will have a charge after being stuffed in a drawer or glove box for months.

I came across this during my search for the perfect basic phone, but be warned: it has no display, and therefore no text messaging. It has a glow-in-the-dark keypad, a 10-number phonebook, and an "SOS" button that sends texts to 5 contacts with your location.

The AT&T GoPhone model is 3G and costs $60 at Target stores, or $50 at Amazon. Some users report that AT&T doesn't really understand the gadget; be sure to activate it according to the handset instructions, not AT&T's instructions, which require you to receive a text message.

A 2G GSM model, requiring only a single AA battery, is officially available only in the UK, for some reason. Perhaps because it's a pain to activate on an off-brand carrier and US carriers periodically expire your minutes on SIM-only plans. But it's offered in the US for $30 on Amazon if you fancy your chances.

Something tickles me about the first-aid medical design. Read the rest

Brutalist websites

brutalist websites

Brutalist websites: "In its ruggedness and lack of concern to look comfortable or easy, Brutalism can be seen as a reaction by a younger generation to the lightness, optimism, and frivolity of todays webdesign."

An evocative (if imperfect) word for the combination of considered minimalism and retro-HTML design that's coming into vogue as a reaction to the overtracked bloat of the modern web. I'll take it! But "brutalism" doesn't seem to account for the nostalgic component that suffuses a lot of the entries, even if the materials match. Brutalism didn't look like something from 20 years ago until it was 20 years old.

P.S. There are many ways to view Boing Boing, but ASCII is worstbest. Read the rest

How to make a minimalist stereo with an old phone and a $20 amp

system-small

After a lifetime of Walkmans and iPods and computer speakers and all that, I thought: why don't I just get a standalone stereo like a normal person? To sit down and listen to music that isn't stereo-fielded inside my own head or competing with error messages on a screen.

But I didn't want to spend any money, and certainly didn't want to obey that familiar, sinister calling to begin researching things. So I got some speakers from the thift store ($5), an old iPhone at the back of a drawer (free), a basic mini-amp I had lying around ($20 for the legendary Lepai will do). Voila! Works fine: the iPhone's in its dock; the headphone-out is connected to RCA stereo inputs on the amp.

The original iPhones are slow! They play songs just fine, though, and the decent music apps will still install over wifi. But I'm really posting this because when I took a photo, it struck me that the tableaux – thrifted vintage gear, an original iphone, a cult cheapo amp, on a metal cabinet against a whitewashed brick wall – represents exactly the sort of minimalism that seems to really annoy people on the internet. So I pulled my MacBook (12-inch with Retina Display) out of my 1950s school satchel (inherited from Great Uncle Etsy) and decided to tell y'all about it.

P.S. the iPhone is currently loaded exclusively with 1970s childrens' library music, an acid house remix of Philip Glass's score for Koyaanisqatsi that no natural-born American has ever heard, and albums by The Lickets. Read the rest

The ultimate minimalist wristwatch

watch

Jesper is offered as "the ultimate minimalist watch," reducing the psychological baggage of personal timekeeping to the simplest possible state by "opting out of telling time altogether."

Jesper’s perfectly-weighted 45mm plated gunmetal body, sapphire crystal glass, and lush genuine leather band create a striking affront to today’s excessive lifestyles. Changeable bands lets you easily switch between camel brown (pictured above), desert sand tan, and charcoal gray to complement any look.

It's real. It's $79. Read the rest

How minimalism brought me freedom and joy

james

I have one bag of clothes, one backpack with a computer, iPad, and phone. I have zero other possessions.

Today I have no address. At this exact moment I am sitting in a restaurant and there’s no place for me to go to lie down.

By tonight I will find a place to lie down. Will that be my address? Probably not.

Am I minimalist? I don’t know. I don’t care. I don’t like that word. I live the way I like to live no matter what label it has.

At any moment, you are exactly where you want to be, for better or worse.

A lot of people get minimalism confused.

This story is from James Altucher's website. He let us run it after we asked nicely.

It’s not necessarily a good way to live. Or a free way to live for many people. It’s just the way I like to live.

I like to be a wanderer. Without knowing where I am going to end up. To explore with no goal. To love without expectation.

For now. Maybe not for later. Maybe not yesterday.

“Does minimalism mean not having a lot of possessions?”

No, not at all. I think minimalism means having as little as you require. That means different things to everyone.

For me, having little means I don’t have to think about things that I own.

My brain is not so big. So now I can think about other things. I can explore other ways of living more easily. Read the rest

Is decluttering a disorder?

Leslie Garret looks at people for whom decluttering has taken over their lives. Read the rest

Man happy after cheap smartphone downgrade

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When his fancy, high-end Sony smartphone died, Abhishek Anand decided to replace it with a cheap $75 model. He's much happier, not least because it actually lasts a day on a charge.
If my ₹ 5000 Moto E lasts even for 6 months, it would have a much better ROI than my previous phone. Now that I have used both phones for a bit, with my usage patterns, it is simply not worth it to buy an expensive phone. Also, in pure economic terms, money invested is better than money spent on a depreciating asset ☺, so the gap between the two prices widens even more.
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Minimalist landscape maps

Michael Pecirno created a set of "minimalist maps" each showing the density of just one thing in the U.S. [via FlowingData] Read the rest

Making Shelter Simple: An Interview with Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn is the editor-in-chief of Shelter Publications. His latest book is Tiny Homes: Scaling Back in the 21st Century.

Avi Solomon: What do you see in your childhood that pointed you onto the path that your life took?

Lloyd Kahn: When I was a kid I had a little workbench with holes in it, and the holes were square or round or triangular. And you had to pick the right little piece of wood block and hammer it in with a little wooden hammer. And so I'd hammer with it, put the round dowel into the round hole, and hammer it through. And then maybe the most formative thing was when I was twelve - I helped my dad build a house. It had a concrete slab floor, and concrete block walls. And my job was shoveling sand and gravel and cement into the concrete mixer for quite a while. We'd go up there and work on weekends. One day we got the walls all finished, and we were putting a roof on the carport, and I got to go up on the roof. They gave me a canvas carpenter's belt, a hammer and nails, and I got to nail down the 1" sheeting. And I still remember that, kneeling on the roof nailing, the smell of wood on a sunny day. And then I worked as a carpenter when I was in college, on the docks. I just always loved doing stuff with my hands. Read the rest

Muji's background music

Muji sells high quality generic products at inexpensive prices; think Ikea with better taste and a Japanese flavor of minimalism. This is its background music. Bruce Sterling: "More starkly minimal than the muzak from lesser outlets of capitalism." Read the rest

Superminimalist movie posters

You may be fond of creating minimalist movie posters, which cleverly boil down a whole production to a single distinctive, cinematic motif. I'm afraid Slacktory's Jed Stoneham has you all conclusively beaten. Read the rest

Pull-out furniture and moving dividers cram a good-sized apartment into a 450sqft Manhattan studio

A New Yorker with a $235,000, 450sqft studio apartment in Manhattan paid $70,000 to remodel it with a series of clever, well-thought-through dividers and pull-out furniture that makes very good use of the space, effectively giving him a guest-room as well as a good-sized kitchen and bedroom

Tiny Origami Apartment in Manhattan (via Runnin' Scared) Read the rest

Travel without baggage

Kevin Kelly has posted a piece on his Technium blog about four modes of no-baggage travel:

1) Total Nada

2) Just Pockets

3) Day Baggers

4) Minimalist Borrowers

Total Nada. In this mode you take your passport, a toothbrush, some cash, a cell phone, the clothes you are wearing, and that's it. It's pretty radical. You have to be in a certain zen state to enjoy this, but like many things, once you jump in it is not hard to do. This mode is great if you are drifting, going with the flow, and not trying to do anything else. If your travel entails producing something, you'll need tools (keyboard, or cameras, or books, or maps, or hand tools), which takes you out of this mode.

But a number of folks sail off this way every year. For one example, Jonathan Yevin travelled for a month in Latin America in Total Nada mode. He wrote of his adventures in Budget Travel. (That's him [above] with all his luggage.):

I just completed a month-long, bag-free trip through Central America. I ran the full length with nothing but the clothes I was wearing: cargo pants, maroon T-shirt, and gray fleece tied at the waist. On my person was an American passport, a Visa credit card, about $50, a toothbrush, a tiny Canon digital camera with extra battery, a Ziploc bag of vitamins, and a copy of The Kite Runner, whose chapters I tore off as I read them. Begging for toothpaste, it turns out, is a great way to make new friends.

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Simple Science: Minimalist examples of scientific concepts

Linda Dong, a friend of mine in the design department at CMU, has been working on this series of photos and videos demonstrating basic scientific concepts. What sets them apart from the rest is the attention to detail in her work: it's clean, simple, and usually on a plain white background. She even got some time on the school's scanning electron microscope to get images of a bug's eye and some pollen. I like the photos like this one representing potential energy:

Although they may not perfectly convey the concepts to people who aren't familiar with them already, these could probably be shown in a classroom setting and get the point across with a little explanation. These are more conversation starters than full descriptions, but they certainly made me look!

Simple Science by Linda Dong Read the rest

Rolf Potts is traveling around the world with no luggage

In a recent Boing Boing guest post, I talked about Neo-Minimalism and the rise of the Technomads. Both terms describe a wide array of practices relating to reducing the stuff you own and becoming more mobile.

In what is potentially the most minimal "technomadic" experiment ever, Rolf Potts (author of one of my favorite travel/lifestyle books Vagabonding) has set out on 6-week, 12-country, round-the-world trip without a single piece of luggage.

His trip is sponsored by ScotteVest (covered frequently here in the past), and yes, it's kind of a stunt. But it's also a super interesting experiment in travel minimalism. Exactly how much do you need to bring with you to get by on a trip like this?

I've written before about how travel is a great way to help you pare down and figure out what you truly need.

This no-baggage adventure will be more than a stunt to see if such a thing can be done: At a time when intensified travel-stresses and increased luggage fees are grabbing headlines, it will be an experiment to determine how much we really need to bring along to have the trip of a lifetime. What items, if any, are essential to the enjoyment of a journey to other countries? How does traveling light make a trip cheaper, simpler or easier (or more difficult)? What lessons from this no-baggage adventure might apply to day-to-day life—both on the road and at home?
The trip started in New York City, and Rolf has already made his way through Europe. Read the rest

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