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Popping the Bubble: How to Escape the Social Media Echo Chamber

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This past election has left most millennials in a cloud of surprise.  I know that on my own Facebook news feed there was a very anti-Trump/pro-Bernie vibe.  In the months prior to the election, my outlets for social media were bombarded by very specific opinions against the reality TV billionaire.  All I heard were calls to “feel the Bern”.  To me, and I think to most people my age, it appeared unanimous that Trump would lose.  However this was not the case.  So what happened?

One issue with social media is that it’s prone to creating echo chambers: places where our ideas are reaffirmed by the consensus of our networks.  Don’t like one particular friend’s libertarian view?  Easy.  Unfollow them.  This ability to unfollow, paired with algorithms that curate content towards to your taste depending on what you like/react to, creates the walls that seal us into comfort zones with like-minded people.  It traps us into a biased reality; a bubble that prevents us from ideas different than our own.  Here are three simple ways to combat the bubble, and allow for the diffusion of ideas.  No one’s saying it’s easy, but those who do are the guardians who keep the dialogue open during difficult times and with controversial ideas.

Actively like and react to diverse new sources and pages

Much of the power and control that users have over their social media is in curation.  Your feed is curated according to the content you interact with.  Simply being aware of this fact can make help make you more conscious about how and what appears in your feed.  If you’re not seeing a lot of diversity in content, maybe try interacting with new stuff.

Watch out for confirmation bias 

Does it always sound like you’re right?  When you log onto your Facebook, does every status update and shared article resonate with your own beliefs?  It’s easy to be drawn by the gravity of people who support your ideas, but to keep an honest perspective on the state of the world, you need to balance out what you expose yourself to.

A wise person once said to me “you like that author’s opinion?  Then try reading their opposer’s book.”

Never Unfollow

The “unfollow” feature is meant to be used in times of dire offense.  It’s understandable that a person be unfollowed because they are insulting or harassing.  The problem is that in some subjects like politics and religion,  people can resort to both of these behaviors.  Because people tend to hold political and religious beliefs close to their hearts, opposing views often respond with even more hostility.  Usually in these cases people unfollow not because of the idea itself but because of the primitive and often negative ways people try to convey them.

What makes unfollowing such a bad option is that it closes the dialogue between big contrasting ideas.  If you unfollow a friend who disagrees with you, you’re basically choosing not to hear their side.  Does doing this really make you the bigger person?  When we choose to stop the flow of information, we are also choosing to remain within the bubble.  Break free by practicing these three simple guidelines.  Humans aren’t always the best at communicating, but at least keeping an open ear and an open heart leaves the door open to a more harmonious reality, one that actually reflects the ideas of the world, and the people who hold them.

 

 

What's up!? I'm Katrina. I'm wandering, collecting, witnessing and learning. I'm drawn to all things found at the intersection of art and technology. If I could go back in time, I think I'd be best friends with Mark Twain, Nikola Tesla and Cleopatra. When I'm not obsessing about the human endeavor or the nature of time, I'm probably cooking or dancing.

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New Jersey Loosens Up on Magic Mushrooms

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New Jersey becomes the recent state to declassify possession of magic mushrooms. Lawmakers added the provision to lessen penalties for psilocybin, the active chemical, to a marijuana bill in November at the last minute. The provision was removed from the bill but would be voted on separately later. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy signed the bill in early February, reducing the classification of the drug.

Magic mushrooms have been illegal on the federal level since 1970. The Controlled Substance Act lists magic mushrooms as a Schedule 1 narcotic. This is the most criminal category of drugs due to their high potential for abuse. Psilocybin lists along with heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine.

The bill declassifies possession of up to an ounce of mushrooms from a third-degree crime to a disorderly persons offense. It reduced penalties from up to 6 years in prison to a maximum fine of $1,000 or six months in prison. This is not to be confused with decriminalization. Decriminalization removes the potential for jail time.

Advocates cite studies that claim that psilocybin may have helpful applications for cancer and HIV patients. It can also treat depression. Researchers at Johns Hopkins University posted findings from synthetic psilocybin trials. The trials show that 71% of their patients experienced a clinically significant response to the treatment. 54% of the patients recorded a total remission. Doctors also cite that there is no risk of overdose or addiction.

“What is different about psilocybin, compared to other mood-altering drugs or pharmaceuticals, is the enduring meaning and belief changes that can occur. People feel ‘reorganized’ in a way they don’t with other drugs,” says Roland Griffiths, a Neuropharmacologist at Johns Hopkins

New Jersey lawmakers first saw legislation for psilocybin only months ago and quickly passed a bill. The same cannot be said for marijuana. The state has been grappling with the issue since 2014. The State Senate moved to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults, but Governor Murphy has yet to sign the bill. Disagreements over the penalties of people under 21 put off the signing.

Of the crawling nature of the issue, Gov. Murphy says, “This hasn’t been an easy fight, nor has it happened as quickly as I would have liked, but we are in a better place, a smarter place, and a more just place than ever before.” 

New Jersey is only the latest state to put forth legislation for psilocybin. Colorado was the first to loosen restrictions back in 2019. Oregon passed legislation in 2020, as well as some major cities such as Washington D.C. and Somerville, Massachusetts.

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Business

Best Unlimited Graphic Design Companies Of 2021 (+25% Promo)

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Top unlimited graphic design companies featured image

Looking for an alternative to a freelance graphic designer or trying to scale your business using your existing team? A new wave of companies who call themselves “Unlimited Graphic Design Services” are disrupting the creative industry, providing a solution to what is usually an expensive and unpredictable task. Here’s what their offerings have in common:

  • Monthly subscription model
  • 24-48 hour turnaround time
  • Work with their vetted team of designers
  • Unlimited design requests
  • Cancel anytime

Which Provider Should You Choose?

We’ve done the homework and curated a list of Unlimited Graphic Design providers for you and also negotiated special deals on your behalf. You can see them all below and decide which one fits your needs.


Unlimited Graphic Design Providers

What Does Unlimited Graphic Design Mean?

These unlimited graphic design services have a monthly subscription business model. That means you can sign up and cancel whenever you like. What sets them apart from your typical freelancer, agency, or in-house designer is you gain access to a workflow that is designed to be quick and to the point.

You’ll communicate with their team through Trello, email, or an online platform. The option given is dependent on the company you choose. For example, only a small selection of services provide a custom built online platform for their customers.

Once you’re connected to their workflow, you can begin submitting as many design requests as you want. Although they all claim “unlimited”, it generally means you can “create” unlimited design requests. It doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work on them all at once. Usually, they just work on one design at a time. When one completes, they start the next design.

The usual turnaround time is between 1 – 2 days, and that’s just for the first draft. It doesn’t mean your entire request is complete. If you don’t like it, you can request as many revisions as you want, and that will take more time. So it can take up to a week to actually get the design complete if you have a lot of revisions.

Another thing to keep in mind is content. You need to be able to have everything ready and provide all the content needed in order for their designers to get started.

Are they worth it?

If you have a lot of design needs, they’re definitely worth it. Being it’s a monthly recurring investment, you’ll need to make sure that you have the need for an ongoing graphic design service. This graphic design service model is comparable to outsourcing a designer yourself, except much of all the management work is done by the company. The quality of designs and turnaround time also tends to be significantly better when outsourcing a designer yourself.

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Business

Review: The Truth About 99Designs

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Getting graphic design work done can often be a challenge. Where do you even start? Hiring a full-time graphic designer is expensive and risky. Hiring a freelancer online can take a bit of time. And often times, your designer works in a completely different timezone, making collaboration near impossible.

That’s where 99Designs come in. The company offers a talent-sourcing platform where you can create a design contest and have designers from all over the world submit their entry. You pay 1 flat fee for the contest and guaranteed many drafts. Sounds too good to be true? Let’s find out!

99designs Review

In order to review 99designs accurately, we prepared several projects to submit on the platform. These projects are things that we actually have a need for and may use if the design results returned are good enough.

We’ll go through the entire process that 99designs laid out and follow all rules and instructions given to us. Upon receiving the design work, we’ll pass it around internally to 10 people in our office and simply give a yay or nay. Whatever the results are, will be the numerical grade given. Let’s begin!

What 99designs can do?

In short, just about anything but they’re limited to just graphic design. In our quick 99designs analysis, they offer the following design services:

  • Logo & identity
  • Web & app design
  • Business & advertising
  • Clothing/Merch
  • Illustrations
  • Packaging
  • Books & magazines
  • And more…(the remaining categories are a bit obscured or too niche to list)

It’s a fairly extensive list and seems like if you’re a new startup or business, they’ll cover most of your initial design needs.

What 99designs CANNOT do

As the name implied, 99designs only offers graphic design. They can design a website or app for you, but you will need an independent development team to code it. 99designs also currently don’t offer content support, which isn’t that unusual. Whatever you want designed, you’ll need to provide all of the content before hand.

And that also means you need to do all the proofreading as well. Whatever you submit to be designed, will be designed. The designers usually won’t comment or question your grammar mistakes. So be sure to double and triple check all your content before submitting it to be designed.

Another thing to note, 99designs cannot deliver on time. The delivery runs on a rather flexible schedule that can take up to 2 weeks or longer. So if you need something done fast, 99designs may not be the best solution, even with the expedited delivery add-on purchase.

99designs’ ACTUAL pricing

When we audit 99designs’ pricing structure, we found a few of their categories to be confusing. Categories such as Logos, Web & app design, and Business Advertising can be misleading or vague. For example, when choosing a logo design, you might think you have to buy one of their packages that starts at $349. But with a bit of patience and knowing where to navigate, you can actually just buy a single logo design without any add-ons.

To avoid confusion, I’m going to break down a few of the categories below just so you know exactly how things are priced.

4 Different Tiers

After you fill out the first page of the project brief, 99designs will ask you to pick a tier. The lowest tier will give you the fewest number of design submissions and will usually be assigned to junior artists. Meanwhile the more expensive tiers get more design submissions and often given to more experienced designers.

The price breakdown below assumes you’re going with the lower price tiers, since that’s what most people tend to choose.

Logo & identity prices

Logo alone: $299
Packages: 5 packages offered between $349 – $599

Web design, Website Re-design, and WordPress Theme design prices

The $599 promotional price is NOT for an entire website design or re-design. This is just for ONE page. If you want multiple pages to be designed, 99designs will charge you PER PAGE. The more pages you want designed, the most it will cost. However, you’ll get a steeper discount per page if you request multiple pages at once.

As of now, 99designs only offer up to 5 pages designed initially. If you need more than 5 pages designed, you’ll likely need to hire a designer from 99designs afterward to continue working on the project.

1 page = $599.
2 pages = $749.
3 pages = $899.
4 pages = $1049
5 pages = $1199

Landing page design prices

Landing pages are charged at a flat rate of $349 since it’s just 1 page. There are no options for multiple pages. If you want additional pages to be designed afterward, you’ll have to create another $349 landing page contest, and that’s not cost-effective. If you have a landing page with multiple pages, you’ll have to cough $599 for the web design package.

App design prices

For the advertised price of $599, you are NOT getting an entire app designed. You’re paying PER page of the app to be designed. The more pages you want done, the more it’ll cost. But it’s the initial page design that will cost the most. The more pages you need done, the cheaper it is per page to be designed.

1 screen = $599
2 screens = $699
3 screens = $799
4 screens = $899
5 screens = $999

Business & advertising

The prices for Business & advertising are all over the place and might not make any sense. For example, why does it cost $299 for an Album cover design…when it costs only $199 for a Podcast cover? They’re both square dimension graphics with basically the same requirements. If you need an Album cover design, you can just request a “Podcast cover” to save money.

Anyway, here’s a breakdown of what you can get at each different price points.

Starting at $149: Billboard, Tradeshow banner, Banner,

Starting at $199: Postcard, Flyer, Leaflet, Direct Mail, Poster, Podcast cover, Signage, Menu, Website header, Resume, Word Template, Tradeshow Booth, Other business advertising

Starting at $299: Album cover, Brochure, Booklet, Pamphlet, Email, Email newsletter, Powerpoint template,

Starting at $349: Car/truck/van wrap

Starting at $599: Infographic

Extra Add-ons

In addition to the base cost of the project, you can pay for additional add-ons.

Dedicated support: For a price of $129 extra, you can have access to dedicated customer support should you run into any problems.

Guaranteed: This doesn’t cost anything, but it basically negates your 100% money-back guarantee with 99designs. The reason they offer this is because how designers are paid. Often times, they’re paid pennies for participating in your design contest. Out of possible 20 – 30 design submissions, they will only get paid a reasonable fee IF you choose their design.

If you request a refund, no one gets paid. Therefore, if you choose this option, designers have more confidence that there’s a stronger chance you’ll commit.

Here’s what 99designs promises if you choose to negate your guarantee.

  • Have more designers participating
  • Receive 50% more designs on average
  • Get a wider range of creativity

Private contest: This $59 add-on gives you the assurance that your design/intellectual property won’t be leaked onto Google or used by designer. Designer will sign an NDA to ensure they protect your privacy. You can even use your own NDA.

Duration: Typical turnaround for 1st draft is 4 days. Need the design in a hurry? Pay a small fee for expedited delivery.

99designs pricing review

Overall, the prices can fluctuate quite a bit depending on which tier you select and how many add-ons you buy. I wouldn’t say 99designs prices are cheap, because they’re fairly expensive for just 1 design. They are cheaper than hiring an in-house designer or a design agency, but there are definitely much cheaper options. The one benefit of 99designs’ model is that you get a lot of drafts for that price, so you have much more to choose from during each round of revisions.

How long it REALLY takes to get your designs

There’s 5 rounds total that you need to go through before you can get your design files. Each round can take anywhere from 1-2 days up to 14 days to complete. Most of that does depend on you. If you give feedback quickly, you’ll get your design files much faster. Here’s a breakdown of the 5 rounds.

Round 1: Qualifying round (4-5 days)
In this round, 99design sends your project out to all qualified designers in their talent pool. Designers can choose to accept or ignore your contest. Once enough designers have accepted your contest and submitted their design work, you move onto Round 2.

Round 2: Select finalists (4 days)
It’s probably 4-5 days now since you started the contest and your designs are finally in. You’ll have a lot of designs to choose from. Now you have 4 days to review the designs and select up to 6 designs that you like. Any designs you don’t select will be rejected. Designs you select gets to move onto the next round.

During this round, there’s a 99designs review feature that lets you share the submissions with others via a shareable link. You have 4 days to select your finalists! Once chosen, the contest will be moved to the 3rd round.

Round 3: Final round (3 days)
In this round, you’ll need to leave revisions for the selected finalists. Your finalists will work on as much revisions as you give them in this round. If you don’t like something, you can request more revisions and they’ll keep submitting. Keep in mind you only have 3 days for this round.

Round 4: Choose a winner
Contest is now officially over and a winner must be selected. In this round, you can create and send a poll to everyone you want feedback from to see which design is the best. You can only select 1 winner.

Round 5: Handover (5 days?!)
Your designer now has up to 5 days to hand over all of the design files and any copyright materials to you. Yes, you read that right. 5 days.

So…how long does it really take?

Let’s assume that you’re super responsive and you complete YOUR part the same day 99designs notify you…

Round 1: 4 days for all initial designs to come in
Round 2: 1 day to select finalists (because you’re responsive)
Round 3: 3 days for final round of revisions
Round 4: 1 day to pick a winner (because you want the files fast!)
Round 5: 1-5 days to get files

So you’re looking at between 10 – 14 days to complete a single design project. If you’re a new startup or business that doesn’t have strict deadlines to meet, this delivery window is perfectly fine. If you’re more established and looking for someone to help you meet an aggressive marketing schedule, 99designs may not work for you.

How to get QUALITY designs from 99designs?

If you’re coming to 99designs with a limited budget for graphic design, then chances are your results will vary. From my experience, the lower tier designers often just use templated graphics from Freepik or Envato.

If you want high quality designs from 99designs, here’s what you’ll need to do.

  1. Sign up for higher tier: Choose Gold or Platinum plans. They’re significantly more expensive, but that’s what you need to get experienced designer’s attention.
  2. Fill EVERYTHING out: When creating your project brief, do not skip any steps. Fill out as much information as you can and spend time creating a solid brief.
  3. Give additional examples: The last field on most form will ask “Is there anything else you would like to communicate to the designers?”. Use this opportunity to give more information. Also include even more examples of what you like and don’t like. This helps the designer narrow down your preferences.

Pros & Cons of 99designs

We’ll start with the PROS

  • Affordable compared to hiring an inhouse designer
  • No hiring or managing of designers. They do all of that for you.
  • Lots of designs to choose from for each round
  • One platform can cover most of your design needs
  • Easy to use platform
  • Clear indicator of how far along your design is
  • Offers a 100% money back guarantee

Now for the CONS

Who is 99designs really for?

99designs is best suited for startups, small businesses, entrepreneurs, and anyone just starting out. The prices are affordable and you get a lot of selections. Having 20+ drafts submitted to you is a great benefit, especially if you’re starting out and have no idea exactly how you want to brand yourself.

For larger businesses, marketing teams, and agencies, 99designs may not be the best fit given how expensive the bill will eventually be if you need 10+ designs per month. The 10 – 14 day delivery window can also be a major setback if you’re trying to meet deadlines.

  • Can get expensive if you have consistent design needs
  • 10 – 14 day delivery
  • Design quality is mediocre unless you’re willing to pay a premium
  • No real way to interact with designer except through feedback
  • Customer support is a paid add-on

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