9 Easy Ways to Hack Yourself a Better Reality: An Illustrated Step-by-Step Guide

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

  1. Approach a friendly looking local person in the street.
  2. Ask for help locating your goal. Be polite.
  3. 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.

Hack Conversations

  1. Draw a picture in your Betabook to help you explain a complex idea or concept to your conversation partner.
  2. 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.

Hack Anxiety

  1. Write down every thought that is in your head in your Betabook until you can’t think of any more things to write down.
  2. Take a picture of your “brain dump” and wipe the surface of your Betabook clean.
  3. 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

  1. Write your first draft in your Betabook. Write it outside for extra inspiration.
  2. Take photos of your first draft with your phone and save them in Evernote.
  3. Sync Evernote to your iPad and write your second draft using the iPad’s voice-to-text feature in Evernote.
  4. 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

  1. Have your new acquaintance write their contact details (legibly) in your Betabook.
  2. Have your new acquaintance hold up your Betabook just below their chin.
  3. 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

  1. Draw a picture of a clock in your Betabook.
  2. Casually place your Betabook in the center of the table for all to see. Don’t explain your actions.
  3. 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.

Hack Coworking

  1. Use your special Betabook plastic (available in the “Maker” reward) to transform the backside of your laptop screen into a rewritable surface.
  2. Use your new rewritable surface on your laptop to communicate about your interests, projects and passions when sitting in a coworking space.
  3. Magically meet new people now that you are broadcasting important information.

BONUS: for more adventuresome results try this technique in public places.

Hack Protests

  1. Write a protest slogan on your Betabook (or Betabook Pro for a bigger effect).
  2. As the mood of the protest changes, dynamically react to the situation by writing new slogans in your Betabook as needed.
  3. 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

  1. Use your special Betabook plastic (available in the “Hacker Kit” reward) to modify your Betabook.
  2. Add a second or third surface to the front or back of your Betabook.
  3. Alternately, use a permanent 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.

You can find Betabook, Betabook Pro, and the special Betabook plastic on Kickstarter until January 12, 2015.

We’re Gonna Take You To “Another Dimension”


We got older. And as we got older we realized we had rules. Not the rules of our parents. Not the rules of some big corporation or government. Rules of interaction, of engagement, etiquette even. We had grown up in a world of magical objects – things with attributes, properties, menus and options. And slowly we introduced this magic back out into the world – at least on the surface of things. In our desperation for control in a world more and more out of control, we began expressing these rules about objects in our aesthetics. Guided by visions of a near future in which the real and the virtual would be seamlessly blended, we created prototypes and simulations with increasingly higher fidelity. Yet the tyranny of the frame prevailed. Our rules collided with systems of another dimension. Stubbornly, we carried on building the simulacrum. We gritted our teeth, we dug in our heels, and we fought to stay lucid as our dreams shimmered across legions of rectangles.

During the next several weeks we will producing our newest video essay “Another Dimension” during our artist’s residency in the Deutsche Börse Residency Program at the Frankfurter Kunstverein.

Another Dimension will premiere at the 2013 edition of the NODE Forum for Digital Arts on February 11th, 2013 at 8pm in the Frankfurter Kunstverein.

This video essay features the artists Dmitry Paranyushkin, Onyx Ashanti, Gabriel Shalom and Protey Temen.

A New Video Sprint: Introducing “Early Stage”

On October 5, 2012, we will join the 2012 class of Wieden + Kennedy’s Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE) in sharing our companies’ visions with investors, the media and the larger startup community at PIE Demo Day.

In a uniquely self-reflexive moment, Demo Day will also mark the public launch of our new process Video Sprint.

As participants in this year’s PIE class, we’ve had the chance to learn and grow alongside the other PIE companies. Our firsthand experience of the incubator has given us intimate access to the ups and downs of accelerating an early stage startup company. We’ve become embedded in the vibrant ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs, developers, designers, mentors, advisors and community members which make up the Portland startup scene, and we’re excited to share the story.

At the same time that we’ve become insiders at PIE, we’ve remained aliens in Portland. We’ve fallen in love with this city over the last couple months. The friendly people, tasty food, bike-friendly streets, well-designed signage, and direct access to nature – these have all been a welcome contrast to the day-to-day we’re used to in Berlin. While we’re looking forward to returning home in a couple weeks, we’ll be leaving a little piece of ourselves behind in Portland.

Early Stage

Why is Portland an interesting place to create a startup? How can we understand entrepreneurs and software engineers to be a new creative class? What roles do story and performance play in the creation of an enterprise? Following the true story of a group of aspiring startups in the Portland Incubator Experiment (PIE), in the context of Portland’s creative and technology ecosystem, KS12 introduces Early Stage, a Video Sprint in collaboration with PIE which starts a conversation on these topics and invites your participation.

Participate on Quora

We are working with questions from our interview process on Quora. You are invited to join the process by providing answers for these questions. We will be incorporating answers to these and other questions into the Video Sprint. Here are the questions:

Why is Portland an interesting place to create a startup?
How can we understand entrepreneurs and software engineers to be a new creative class?
What roles do story and performance play in the creation of an enterprise?
What can startups learn from an advertising agency about storytelling?
What can startup culture teach us about creativity?
How do crazy ideas grow into real businesses?

Participate on Twitter

You can also participate by sharing your thoughts as the project progresses on Twitter using the hashtag #earlystage and make sure to follow @ks12 and @piepdx as the story continues. We’ll be blogging the project here:

KS12 Story Labs: Current Hypotheses


Over the course of the next several weeks we’ll be testing out a number of assumptions and ideas as part of KS12 Story Labs. At the present moment some of the hypotheses for the near futures we can imagine include:

Cars will have voice-controlled augmented reality apps.
Children’s stuffed animal toys will come with APIs.
Wills will include passwords to websites.
Telepathic technologies will transmit wirelessly
Robots will perform talent management services.

It’s possible that we won’t act on all of these ideas, and even the ideas we decide to execute will undoubtedly mutate and evolve. Nonetheless we thought it might be interesting to share the directions we’re heading.

Do you have any hypotheses you think we should test?