You can hack reality, not just computers. Social codes and norms operate in many situations – and like a successful software hack – hacking reality is about finding alternate routes, testing assumptions, and freeing your mind to do things differently. Reality hacking requires the courage to take a step outside of your comfort zone. The techniques in this guide are tried and trusted methods developed by Jay Cousins, reality hacker extraordinaire, and inventor of the Betabook – a supremely simple reality hacking tool.
Hack Asking for Directions
- Approach a friendly looking local person in the street.
- Ask for help locating your goal. Be polite.
- Have the local draw you a map in your Betabook indicating how to get where you’re going.
BONUS: if you are in a country where you don’t speak the language, draw a picture of your goal together with a question mark in your Betabook. This often does the trick.
- Draw a picture in your Betabook to help you explain a complex idea or concept to your conversation partner.
- Your conversation partner now has a wider range of responses to your communication. They can respond by adding to your drawing, erasing parts they want to change, or simply pointing to parts that need clarification.
BONUS: this method will also allow you to hack communication with your grandparent in the case that the batteries in their hearing aid are losing power.
- Write down every thought that is in your head in your Betabook until you can’t think of any more things to write down.
- Take a picture of your “brain dump” and wipe the surface of your Betabook clean.
- Now you can proceed with your day free of the thoughts that were consuming your attention, comforted by the knowledge that you can return to that thought process later once you have more perspective.
BONUS: this method is especially effective before bed for getting a good night’s sleep after a stressful day.
Hack Writing Drafts
- Write your first draft in your Betabook. Write it outside for extra inspiration.
- Take photos of your first draft with your phone and save them in Evernote.
- Sync Evernote to your iPad and write your second draft using the iPad’s voice-to-text feature in Evernote.
- Sync your second draft in Evernote on your iPad to Evernote on your laptop and polish your final draft using your keyboard.
BONUS: this much context switching during the writing process reduces repetitive stress injuries. You improve your posture by sitting or standing in a different position for every step. You use different muscle groups by changing the actions you take with your hands.
Hack Business Cards
- Have your new acquaintance write their contact details (legibly) in your Betabook.
- Have your new acquaintance hold up your Betabook just below their chin.
- Take a picture of your new acquaintance holding your Betabook.
BONUS: by taking a picture you will save important context information (such as how they look and where you met) which will help you when following up with your new acquaintance in the future.
Hack Boring Meetings
- Draw a picture of a clock in your Betabook.
- Casually place your Betabook in the center of the table for all to see. Don’t explain your actions.
- People will naturally respond to the image of the clock with thoughts of time management.
BONUS: you may make new friends at work if the meeting ends ahead of schedule. You can also draw other things, such as birds flying away, hourglasses, or funny faces.
- Use your special Betabook plastic (sorry, this was only available during our Kickstarter) to transform the backside of your laptop screen into a rewritable surface.
- Use your new rewritable surface on your laptop to communicate about your interests, projects and passions when sitting in a coworking space.
- Magically meet new people now that you are broadcasting important information.
BONUS: for more adventuresome results try this technique in public places. You can also use your Betabook itself for this hack.
- Write a protest slogan on your Betabook (or Betabook Pro for a bigger effect).
- As the mood of the protest changes, dynamically react to the situation by writing new slogans in your Betabook as needed.
- At the end of the day wipe your Betabook clean.
BONUS: This is an ecologically sound alternative to traditional picket signs which often end up in the garbage after the protest is over.
Hack Betabook Itself
- Use your special Betabook plastic (sorry, this was only available during our Kickstarter) to modify your Betabook.
- Add a second or third surface to the front or back of your Betabook.
- Alternately, use a wet-erase marker to draw a template on your Betabook for use completing a routine task.
BONUS: share your hacks with the Betabook community and make friends with other reality hackers.
This post was originally published on KS12 on December 8, 2014.