Well Made

Ep. 145 Becoming good ancestors with Kevin Kelly

April 15, 2021 · RSS · Apple Podcasts

In his blog post titled My Life Countdown, Kevin Kelly cites a friend's philosophy of approaching your life's projects in 5-year chunks. His newest project, Vanishing Asia has broken this 5-year rule, clocking in at 5 decades. 

Every one of his trips to Asia in the past fifty years has led to this 1000-page, three-volume book, capturing 9,000 photos. Kevin is known for being an eloquent futurist, a purveyor of tech and cool tools, and the founding executive editor of Wired. So at first glance, this project may seem like a departure from his work. But in this, his second visit on the Well Made podcast, Kevin shares how this 50-year visual anthology taps into what it means to plan for a payoff that will come after your lifetime.

 Becoming good ancestors
 Becoming good ancestors

“We can cherish something without having to stop what's coming next.”

 Becoming good ancestors
 Becoming good ancestors

5:20 Over the 50 years it's taken to photograph Vanishing Asia, Kevin Kelly has become a great photographer by moving quickly and stealthily, while also knowing when to wait and wait and wait for what Henri Cartier-Bresson called “The decisive moment.”

Most of these moments are not images meant to stand alone, but instead Kevin thinks of them each as notes in a symphony. 

13:04 Kevin offers tips on becoming "embedded" into a place to capture genuine moments. “I much prefer it when I'm invisible." He also shares his photographer superpower.

Kevin often found himself capturing vanishing innovations as they were disappearing. While it was his mission to immortalize these moments, he pulls some examples of traditions that may be better left in the past. 

26:08 Kevin zooms out to globalism and how, now that we're reliant on it, there's no turning back. Despite the speed at which moments can ripple from one hemisphere to the next, Kevin says that true long-term thinking requires less appreciation for the instant payoff. Future efficiencies, often look inefficient from a short-term view.

32:57 Kevin identifies the paradox of short-term efficiencies being required to solve long-term problems. What does it look like when we embrace, invest, and pursue solutions that we won't see within our lifetime? 

Also mentioned in the episode

You can find this and all future episodes on iTunes, Google Play, and here on the Lumi blog. This episode was edited by Evan Goodchild.

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