HOW to live life in beta 0.2 – why you’re a cyborg

Vector sign for how to live life in beta article - person next to a number "zero point two"

SO yesterday I talked about why we need to live life in beta. Why we need to consider ourselves an ever-changing and unfinished product in our personal and professional lives. Today is the first part of how to live life in beta.

If you missed it yesterday, you could really do with checking out Why You Must Live Life in Beta. In it, I sum up the disparity between how we evolve and how our ideas evolve. Spoiler alert: our ideas are running way ahead of how we naturally evolve .. and its changing how we get jobs and how we do them.

The trick, then, is to be ready and to embrace change.

Today, I explain the first stages of doing that.

How to live life in beta – as a cyborg

First off we need to close the gap between ourselves and the world as it evolves around us.

We need to start using it to our advantage. This will help us keep up with the constant change of the world around us. To be in “beta” right at our very root.

Essentially, we have to accept we are cyborgs. Now that sounds horrible and bleak, but it is not.

It’s actually quite exciting.

Why?

Because we swiftly realise we now have two brains: the organic brain inside us, and the cyborg brain extended outside of us.

Inside out

What is outside of us is now a part of our inner processes. Our minds. Forget, for a moment the panic of how TV might induce a meditative “alpha wave state”, or how the mobile phone might be lessening our attention spans. I think those are signs of something else: the internal work of the mind – the super-fast file-browsing of memories and ideas – is being carried out more externally now than ever before. And so it should be: we all have access to the total sum of human intelligence through our phones and tablets. And it’s not just knowledge but our thoughts and feelings as well. We take it with us on the go and constantly interact with it.

And as our inner mind becomes a part of the outer world more and more through these devices  this knowledge and feeling becomes a part of a huge melting pot.

In short, our tools have evolved to become extensions of ourselves as a collective human race. The result of this externalisation? A huge meeting of minds.

But there’s something important to remember: developers like Google and Apple are constantly changing the nature of these external ‘mind’ devices. Their products are, effectively, “always in beta.”

Which means that an extension of who we are is equally in beta.

Harnessing the cyborg mind

So part of how to live life in beta is to use this new, external mind to the best of its ability. To embrace the fact it is constantly changing, constantly improving.

But also we have to appreciate that – like our organic minds – it’s constantly distracting, and it can be unreliable and let us down.

Let’s start with the extension of the mind that is always with us – our phones.

Chances are your phone is a smartphone. You need to audit this. It needs good housekeeping like your organic mind. To be the new beta you, you have to check it for its potential.

  1. Go through your phone and list the apps you use.
  2. Immediately delete any apps that you don’t use.
  3. Look at those you do use. Are any a bit forgotten? Did you “start” Twitter than leave it unloved? Is your LinkedIn profile neglected? Are there any other handy gadgets that would make you more efficient that you haven’t used in a while?
  4. Go to the store page on each of those apps, and read the literature and watch the videos. These apps will have updated by a huge amount since you started using them. For example, Facebook updates something important several times a year. Acquaint yourself with the new functionality. See these apps through fresh eyes.
  5. Take a moment to brainstorm each app. Are there uses for these apps you haven’t used before? How do they help you find information or link to people in a new way?
  6. Try something new with each app in the next week. It doesn’t have to be a new function, just something you haven’t explored yet. It even could be something archaic, like the poke function on Facebook.
  7. Audit your phone for apps that are taking up your time. Use apps like this one to see which apps are taking up your attention.
  8. Regularly read tech blogs. Google them – Mashable and Engadget are not bad starts.

You’re probably looking at me at this point and asking – isn’t this article all about how to live life in beta?

Well yes, yes it is.

How to live life in beta – why the cyborg mind matters

So why did I ask you to mess with your phone?

Because the cyborg mind matters. There is a lot of books all about what the organic mind needs. Book after book on how the mind needs to be kept clear, how it can be run optimally. A lot of advice talks about how the organic mind needs to be linked to other minds to be socially healthy.

But right now the ever-changing starting point also needs to be the cyborg mind. If someone told you your physical mind was changing, you’d jump right onto the task. You’d know that you need to be properly aware of who you are. You’d appreciate that this ever-changing mind alters your capabilities. It alters your view of the world.

So this is true of the cyborg mind. The world is changing through it. Your social networks are in flux, and soon your workplace will be very different – all because this technology constantly changes. It changes the way people think, view and assimilate things.

Using my suggestions, you will be able to keep present in this mind. You will be aware of its mechanics. Think of the part called Facebook – it connects us to everyone we know. But are we using it properly, are we connecting with people using it in the most positive way?

And this is just stage one in how to live life in Beta. To be a constantly updating, unfinished product.

As you will see, nurturing the mind – being on the cutting edge of it – will enable you to stay connected and help innovate this brave new world.

But that is the subject of tomorrow’s post.