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Internet Culture Uncategorized

Day 541 and Doomscrolling

I love internet culture. While I’m an American, if there were citizenship for the internet I’d consider myself fully naturalized. Millennials aren’t natives like Gen Z, but we definitely moved online when we were kids. I’m a proud immigrant to the internet.

I engaged in one of the internet’s proudest exports yesterday. After the news about Roe v. Wade hit I was glued to my phone watching for tractions. I spent easily five or six hours Doomscrolling. I’m not proud of it but what else are you going to do when American implodes around a topic as emotional as abortion? Do something sensible like go for a walk. Nah.

Doomscrolling probably doesn’t have a an exact IRL analog. If town squares were still a thing that existed, maybe we’d crowd in and listen to people scream and heckle the town criers. Maybe it’s more like going to the mall and chatting up your peers.

Though I can’t really imagine anyone engaging in the kind of brawling that goes on when Doomscrolling turns reactive. And boy was it reactive when this mess hit America. People were feeling a kind of way. I saw various colors of shock. That surprised me as all I had felt for years was cynicism curdled into disgust. It has been clear where some demographics wanted the issue to land. We had taken too much for granted.

I’ve got an ambition to stay off the internet for a bit. But I know that my reflexive habits will put me back on Twitter if I don’t monitor my usage constantly. When I am anxious I like to surf sentiment. Taking a gauge gives me some sense of false control. That if I can just read the tea leaves right that maybe I’ll protect myself.

But it isn’t really that is it? You know at any minute you could be treated like a second class citizen. That unbearable cruelty could be casualty meted out on your body. And that so many people simply do not care about that pain. And fuck me if that doesn’t shatter your faith in humanity a little.

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Internet Culture

Day 536 and Keeping Tabs

I sometimes forget that other people read what I write. That makes me pretty comfortable just saying whatever I like in public. It’s not like anyone cares right? As someone skilled in the dark arts of marketing, I know getting anyone to pay attention to anything is a shit ton of work. Surely I am speaking into the void.

As I don’t actively promote my writing in any commercial way, my assumption is that the one Tweet I send daily with a link isn’t garnering a large audience. I know that I have a big presence on social media but I’m not a celebrity so I’ve never felt particularly scrutinized. No one is keeping tabs on me.

So I’m often surprised when someone has read what I’ve said. Not because it is a secret but because I know just how hard it is to get attention for anything in this world. And yet people do pay attention.

And since my husband loves to joke that I’m incapable of lying, I worry that I’ll get myself in trouble by saying so much of my truth online. If I’ve done something in my life the chances are good I’ll immediately discuss it. Which is a recipe for being main charactered.

Dissembling is not one of my talents. This isn’t to say that I’m not capable of crafting a narrative. I think facts exist in a context and I’ve got no problem articulating my worldview based on my own specific context. But telling an outright lie? There is a reason I don’t play poker. So I guess I might be stuck with saying my truth online as I’ve got neither the skills nor the talent to hide it. But if you are reading you are more than welcome to comment, email, @ Tweet me or find online.

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Internet Culture

Day 521 and Lots of Words

Today is the second day in #1000WordsofSummer. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a program run by Jami Attenberg. I am not using my daily writing exercise to “count” for it as they are separate experiences in my mind. So now I suppose I’ve really opted myself into a very prolific two weeks of writing.

I wanted to begin on my story when I first woke up. I had ideas for plot points and details running through my head. But I had some other work that is due on Monday so I put my head down and pushed through everything else so I could get to my science fiction.

I considered writing the thousand words first but I don’t like the idea of using writing to procrastinate for some reason. I’d prefer to get the main tasks down and out of the way. Then my fun writing gets it be a treat and serve as a carrot to get other deliverables done.

So I got my power point done and then I went straight into my short story. I did an edit pass and that somehow added in an additional 700 or so words as different parts got more fully realized. I sketched out some plot points and areas I wanted to explore. That was another 300. It was much easier going for second try than the first. W

hich is a very good argument for just doing something and not judging it. By the time you come round for the second try, you will have learned some tiny sliver of something. And that little something slowly over time makes it all easier. The struggle is the work.

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Internet Culture

Day 520 and A Thousand Words

I’ve done a lot of writing that isn’t for this blog recently. And it’s mostly been about DAOs and corporate governance. My talk for Consensus involved a fair amount of original writing and research. If you want a preview of it it just went up today. To be honest I was tempted to just repost here to count for today as it’s very good. I hope you will read it.

And then this morning I decided why not jump into Jami Attenberg’s #1000WordsofSummer. It’s a two week community exercise in putting the proverbial pen to paper. I’ve been wanting to play around with writing science fiction as it’s my favorite genre.

I got down a thousand words about a a woman who is a sentiment analyst for a a bunch of DAOs in the 2070s. I wanted to explore what an alternative corporate governance structure fork from hierarchical limited liability corporations into decentralized autonomous organizations might look like practically. I’m not sure if it’s any good but I had fun with laying out some thought experiments.

She was probably stuck with low yield yoga and step side quests which wouldn’t do much to make up for the loss of her analyst pay. Investment DAOs paid better than scientific ones. Anyone that contributed to price discovery remained well remunerated. That had been true in her grandma’s day too.

My protagonist is trying to take a break from her workload but still needs to earn some side hustle to make up for the shortfall. I take you through her thought process on what to do. It’s mostly an excuse to riff on how we will sell different kinds of our personal data but maybe also get more in return. Lots of theory of labor value goofing off that I hopefully find a way to put into an enjoyable narrative structure.

It seems a bit crazy to take on an additional writing experiment when I already opt into writing every single day. But this blog has really evolved into a personal space to explore how I feel and what I’m working on. It doesn’t really build on itself in a natural narrative fashion. So I’ll keep poking away at a thousand words of fiction and see what happens. I can’t promise I’ll publish it but I may just put it out there for fun.

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Internet Culture

Day 510 and Lifeline

Many people used social media as a lifeline to connect with others during the pandemic. The Zoom family dinners or the video hangout Happy Hours were a staple personally and professionally. We livestreamed religious gatherings and conversational societies. We set up Discord servers for our favorite topics and Telegram groups for group chats. As it turns out the metaverse is already here and we migrated there during the pandemic years.

The trouble with expanding your subjective reality to include virtual spaces, is that you have massively expanded the surface area of your life. Your world becomes much larger when it’s virtual. Living in the metaverse opens up your neighborhood to the global village.

When you are confined to physical reality as your living space, your subjective reality remains the people you encounter in your daily routine. At most this might be a cosmopolitan city, but for most of us it’s a parochial circle of work, children and basic goods and services. Dunbar’s number suggests we top out at about 150 people.

Most people are awkwardly straddling some middle ground these days. News media expands our subjective reality a bit, and we Americans almost all participate in some online virtual community. If you are creative class it is a professional obligation. But largely we live a real life in our physical communities. We know what is going on in the outside world but we mostly live insular lives.

That is until a tragedy occurs. And at the rate we are going these days that means once every week or so. Suddenly the entire world is focused on one singular horror. Even if it isn’t your own horror in your own physical community your subjective virtual reality feels as if it did.

And this can really suck if the metaverse is a big part of your life. Especially if the metaverse is where most of your social contact happens. The lifeline to virtual communities is no longer expanding your world but merely expanding the surface area of grief during a shared public tragedy.

I am skeptical there is a solution for this problem of shared surface area during a tragedy. Bearing witness is a human instinct deeply coded into our cultures. The desire to be bound together is for better or worse, our reality as social animals. Taking our communities online just takes our culture with us.

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Internet Culture Startups

Day 509 and History Lesson

I’ve been working on a talk for Coindesk’s Consensus in June. I’m doing a talk for their Big Ideas stage that Alex cleverly named the InDAOstrial Revolution. I’m pretty excited about the topic as it’s science fiction & finance history and social organization. It’s basically all my favorites. A

The invention of corporations was a transformative innovation for human organizing, driving the growth of the industrial revolution. Can DAOs drive an equally explosive innovation cycle? Decentralized autonomous organizations, or DAOs, offer us a shift towards open and inclusionary entities for marshaling resources and energy. This session dives into their potential futures, including open web public goods, the end of doomer capitalism, techno-optimism collectives, and the possibility of a networked nation state. Come for the sci-fi vibes, stay for the boomer neoliberal skepticism and get a pleasant dose of economic history in the process.

I’ve been doing a little bit of deep diving into the history of the corporation and it’s role in American history in particular. And when I was procrastinating during my flu I watched Gilded Age. Just so you’ve got an idea of my mind set. And honestly it’s been a mind fuck.

I’m not a historian but I think you can make the case that America had corporate governance before we had a functional state or federal government. In fact, this History of the Corporate Form from Fordham Law showed me the wildest fact I’ve ever seen. In America the corporation came before the state.

Other notable “joint-stock” companies, such as the Virginia Company, helped expand British control of North America. In fact, the Virginia Company established the General Assembly, which was the first legislature in North America.

The idea that some monarchy set a corporate charter up to extract commodities and that corporate organization led to a three hundred year experiment in self governance is astonishing. You really never can tell about an event’s downstream ripples. Our entire political way of life was downstream of property rights.

Of course, the reason I point this out is that how we organize and govern our resources and at what scale is what defines history. The ability to trust your goals and your investment will be executed, even if you are not personal overseeing it, is as it turns out a key innovation catalyst for all other technologies. The more efficient we are at at marshaling and deploying resources the further we get as a civilization.

The case I would like to make is that DAOs could help us unlock more sophisticated financing that enables ever further scale and coordination. If the corporation created American, can the DAO led other new nation states?

I can imagine a network state made up of sub-DAOs that provide interlocking economies. Some DAOs are responsible for infrastructure. Others are for services. Maybe we share some key responsibilities across one oligopoly for key social services like health care. The more something needs scale to succeed the more large scale collaborative behavior gets rewarded. I don’t doubt we can create some truly dystopian shit but also maybe it finally gets us to Mars.

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Internet Culture Media Politics

Day 482 and Vibe Shift

A month or so ago a piece written by a New York marketing executive titled Vibe Shift went viral among the chattering classes. The premise is that we are on the precipice of a cultural change that is upending everything from politics to fashion. And depending on your perspective, this shift might include crumbling dystopian decay or vibrant fuck it optimism. Or in the case of web3 absolutely both.

I think the Vanity Fair piece on the New Right is chronicling one of the first emergent vibe camps to emerge from the vibe shift. The article is a look at the art, intellectual environment and personalities of the “not quite conservative” new right. And it’s a largely positive even glowing send up.

If you believe the Citadel is a corrupt institution and moral moral crisis then the Vanity Fair piece should have been negative. It’s a surprise that it wasn’t. Not long ago we were subjected to intense narratives about the dangers of nRX neo-reactionaries and it’s infiltration of Silicon Valley. It was a real and urgent issue that the center of so much money and power might doesn’t align with the cultural values of media or academia. If you don’t speak this language the Citadel is code for the left leaning creative and cultural institutions like Hollywood, academia and media.

So why isn’t it a crisis any more that there is a new breed of influential “not quite” conservatives? If anything the right in America has shown itself to be capable of so much more than just boat parades and goofy hats. Some of these fuckers were expanding the Overton window on peaceful transitions of democratic power on January. It might actually be getting worse.

Except now the left fucking sucks too. Now I’m not justifying fascists. These Christian Nationalists are trying to roll back modernity and pluralism. Fuck them. They fuckers don’t even have a demographic majority. So it pains when I say the vibe shift is showing the left as the worst version of themselves while the right is showing a new cultural ascension.

To a lot of normal moderate people the left looks controlling, scolding, frigid, and conformist. Everything from mask politics to gender relations has started to make the left look insane. It’s entirely rational people would be seeking a vibe shift for something more welcoming.

My theory is we are about to see a massive resurgence of affection for all kinds of conservative hobby horses. Especially of vibes that used to be the province of the traditional left. Everyone is sick of being shamed while they go about living their lives. And whoever wins that vibe war will win America.

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Internet Culture Startups

Day 479 and High Agency

A corner of startup Twitter was discussing the relative ease of getting connected to power brokers in different industries today. The debate? Does good talent eventually finds its way to resources? The contention from Roon, otherwise known as Mr. Wordcel vs Shape Rotator, is that networking is less crucial in technology than in any other industry because it’s easier to find a way in.

While one can quibble with how true this is for all populations, it is truer than it’s ever been. A large swath of the startup ecosystem is readily available to anyone on social media. We are less constrained by geography and credentialism than we’ve ever been. This is partially because much of the wealth in the current generation came from building social networks or software that benefits from openness. An excellent overview of this is why good angel investing ecosystems prioritize welcoming newcomers by Alex Danco. Most investors want to be available.

But it’s still a challenge to find high agency and high talent people and there are far fewer of them than you’d imagine. And proving you are high agency and high talent isn’t always an intuitive process. Being able to assess if someone has the capacity to build is one of the hardest job a capital allocator will ever have. Judging markets and products and roadmaps is much easier than discerning if someone has the capacity to execute on their dream.

I personally use follow up as my first heuristic. This is partially because I maintain open DMs so literally anyone can and does reach out to me. If someone is able to regularly show up and engage with me and show progress they are better than 90% of people. Honestly go ahead and try! I really am here to help.

You’d be shocked at how often someone pitches me and then I never ever hear from them again. And it’s not because I missed the boat (this happened once to me this year). It’s generally because people are waiting for someone else to act. And this is where people fail. The first rule of startups is figuring out how to create momentum. If you are waiting for me to cut a check you’ve already lost.

I’d like to do a whole post on this topic but I’ve been struggling to get the bulk of it on paper as I’ve got a migraine coming on. But rather than put the post off, I organized an introduction of the subject and put down my first heuristic. Which is ironically exactly what I look for in founders and builders. Did you make some visible amount of progress no matter how bad? Did you put it out into the world? That’s better than most people!

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Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 471 and Masculinity

Much as I cannot stand Tucker Carlson, the man has a gift for getting attention. I came across a truly marvelous advertisement for a new special he produced called “the end of men.” Which, sure, well trod territory if you are extremely online but probably new to his older Fox News audience. The ad is being mercilessly mocked on social media for being homoerotic.

I spent probably an hour this morning discussing the semiotics of this video. It’s just a fascinating cultural artifact of based extremely online masculinity. It claims to be about the decline of testosterone. But what it’s really selling me is an aesthetic about what makes a man.

It’s got the back to the land postlapsarian agrarianism. It’s got raw milk. It’s got meat. It’s got raw eggs being chugged. It’s got blacksmithing and lifting tires. There are ice baths. There are infrared saunas. There is infrared on dicks! Ok that last one was aesthetically out of left field, but it makes for a stunning Messiah image where a guy appears to be charging his dick. He is RISEN! Happy Easter folks.

All of these subculture callouts are speaking to specific niches of men online. There are men who promote raw egg. There are men who promote raw milk. There are the biohackers. There are the Stoics. There are the sun on balls advocates. Being based and pilled is actually an extremely complex signaling exercise.

Much of it in service to reclaiming and owning modern manhood in the face of a feminized world. Testosterone loss is it’s defining through line. I’m sure it could be argued that this obsession is part of the wider discourse on gender identity and the fight between it’s cultural and it’s sexual basis. I just don’t really care because men being pussies is kind of endemic and it’s not a partisan issue.

I myself am sympathetic to the based trad masculinity types. Their aesthetics often overlap in groups in which I’m an enthusiastic participant. The voice over in the ad is discussing hard times that are nearing, giving a little call out to doomer culture. I also believe traditional skills will be necessary in a more chaotic world. I think being prepared is a social good.

I am also a big fan of localism in food and am a drinker of raw milk and eater of pasture raised steak. I use cold therapy to manage my inflammation, which yes sometimes means ice baths. I schedule time in the sun to set my circadian rhythm. And yes I care about my own hormonal balance and rhythms.

I’m not a big fan of fascist curious fan boys like Tucker owning some of my spaces. It’s amusing that back to the land homesteaders have gone from being coded leftist hippies to now being coded as conservative and right wing. Rural living is now contested space. So is healthy living. And honestly that’s really fucked up. Health should be for everyone. But sure let’s laugh at how the video is gay.

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Internet Culture

Day 469 and the Discourse

On the one hand, the discourse today is horrible. Elon Musk threatening to buy Twitter is breaking people’s fucking minds. On the other hand, it’s the height of culture to be so singularly obsessed with a topic of such little consequence. The zeitgeist is full on psychotic.

This isn’t about free speech. Fuck that. No one gives that much of a shit about corporate governance that they’d super impose a civilizational problem like free speech onto securities law. This isn’t an episode of Billions. In except that both make me want to scream “that’s not how this works, not how any of it works” into the void.

This is all an elaborate publicity stunt to feed the narcissism driven logic of markets obsessed with celebrity and personality. Because everyone knows what everyone knows, pricing discovery is a function of lurching forward a narrative for the vox popli. Except everyone is convinced they are uniquely brilliant so they can’t possibly also be manipulated by the transparent agitprop. Yeah yeah sure I’m a galaxy brain too. We’re all playing 4D chess. Everyone is winning and the markets only go up.