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North Star Podcast

May 3, 2018

Listen Here: iTunes | Overcast | PlayerFM Keep Up with the North Star Podcast Summary

Today’s guest is Kyle Chayka, a Brooklyn based writer who has been published in New York Times, Verge, Business Week and more. His studies in International Relations at Tufts University led him to live in Beijing, where he initially noticed the impact social platforms were having on internationalization.

In 2015 he wrote his essay, Welcome to Airspace, dissecting the effect of the growing decentralized geography born from technology and digital platforms.

Kyle Chayka regularly questions the future of society as the internet becomes commodified through brand ecosystems. His article archive can be found on his website, as well as information on his upcoming book regarding the allure of minimalism, The Longing for Less. Aside from his writing endeavors, Kyle is the founder of Study Hall, a freelance journalist collective coordinating office space and live events for independent writers while promoting a digital community. 

In this conversation, we talk about the dangerous impact social platforms are having on cultures around the world and how living in the future has become a daunting lifestyle. Why can we visit coffee shops on opposite sides of the world with the same ambiance and aesthetic?

We talk about the effect of the digital nomad movement on cultures, countries and politics and the future impact of this lifestyle on the world.

And finally, we discuss how the internet has created a commodified identity, where humans are failing to interact successfully within this so called utopian future. You can read Kyle’s essay, Welcome to Airspace, and search his article archive on his blog, linked below.

Related Articles That I've Written Quotes

“The problem is that all the coffee shops look the same no matter where you go.”

“There’s a decentralized geography in the world now that exists mostly because of technology and digital platforms. The coffee shop theory of Airspace is that all these coffee shops look the same because all of the same people are going to them, no matter what country they are in.”

“The way you game the system is by trying to look like everything else that has a good rating.”

“Beauty to me is different ways of aesthetic appreciation and not just looking for beauty in things that aren’t stereotypically beautiful.”

“The future is this catastrophe.”

“People are moving into places they don’t understand or don’t engage with the local community and that can be super destabilizing.”


Find Kyle online:

Kyle’s Blog





Read Kyle’s articles:


Welcome to Airspace (1:37)

Reign, Supreme (31:15)



Mentioned in the show:

Kinfolk (2:28)

Brian Eno Music for Airports (26:05) 

Rent The Runway (28:49)

Airbnb (43:39)

Bleep (44:39)

Neo Yokio (48:35)

Everlane (57:19) 

Gucci (59:05)

Lot (1:00:41)


Show Topics

1:40 The inspiration behind writing Welcome to Airspace, his essay about the decentralized geography occurring in the world as a direct effect of technology and digital platforms.


4:13 Kyle’s connection between Airspace and rating based platforms like Foursquare and Airbnb


5:10 How Kyle’s initial passion for aesthetic and art was established and how he fell in love with the idea of different perspectives inventing new ways of looking at the world


8:03 Kyle’s definition of beauty and how he gained his appreciation for things that aren’t stereotypically beautiful


9:28 How architecture has shaped Kyle writing career and his opinion on humans’ inability to avoid being impacted by architecture as an art form


11:28 Why Kyle’s writing focus is on architecture and how it encompasses the entirety of the human experience


12:15 Kyle’s take away from medieval art as a representation of the same globalization happening today


15:50 How fashion is the fastest moving cultural form as a direct result of digital platforms instantly exposing what is fashionable to cities on the opposite side of the globe


17:42 How national identities are becoming more blurred as cosmopolitan cities in different countries become more and more like each other and distinct from the conservative cities surrounding them


19:40 Kyle on the reason why the digital nomad has become a global trend


21:08 Kyle’s opinion on the long term consequence of the digital nomad lifestyle as it gentrifies countries and promotes political agendas and urban spaces to be built around long term tourists instead of the local population


22:30 How social media is the driving force behind decentralized geography and how the cro-nut can be invented in New York and sold in Beijing within the same week


27:30 Why social platforms are an intersection between identity and ambiance and how users are taking advantage to brand themselves and their companies


31:15 Kyles thoughts on Supreme and how it’s a constellation of markets and experiences


33:14 How the internet has become a commodified place where things aren’t accessible and systems are implemented to exchange identity for monetization


34:16 Kyle’s observation of what was the future ideal and what is the future reality


38:03 How humans are interacting with these future needs and where the next step is for understanding and fixing the problems they are creating, such as the Bitcoin trend


40:20 The new dystopian idea of getting into brand ecosystems and staying in them for years by having one company sell a consumer everything they need to live and commodifying another person’s identity


43:47 Kyle’s experiences in Bejing, China and how it shaped his futuristic perspectives on internationalization within new communities and artistic influence


47:03 Kyle’s opinion on how digital platforms are manipulating identities yet giving users the most freedom they have ever had to express themselves


52:36 Kyle on the shift from TV and radio programs controlled by one CEO to on demand platforms that removed the boundaries 


53:53 Kyle on his book Longing For Less and the shift behind minimalism across lifestyles, music, architecture and philosophy

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To listen to other episodes or learn more about the North Star, you can connect with me directly at and you can always reach out on Twitter at david_perell. And if you enjoyed this episode, you’ll like Geoff’s Manaugh’s perspectives on how technology is changing architecture in the Burglars, Buildings and Blueprints North Star episode.

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