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Aesthetics Media

Day 748 and Molly Millions

I’ve been rewatching the excellent Amazon adaption of William Gibson’s The Peripheral. I’ve said if before but no single artist has had a bigger impact on my aesthetics than him. As the father of cyberpunk, his impact looms large over the computing industry.

Molly Millions is a cyborg in William Gibson’s Sprawl Trilogy which includes the famous Neuromancer. A dark brunette, she has mirror shade eyes and razors under her nails. Molly is first introduced in the shorty story Johnny Mnemonic which became a Hollywood thriller with the same title. In the movie, Molly is renamed as Jane but is fundamentally the same character.

The cover of William Gibson’s Neuromancer with Molly Millions.

In Johnny Mnemonic we have an entirely new aesthetic for Molly Millions as Jane. The brooding inaccessible brunette is replaced with a curly haired blonde played by Dina Mayer.

Dina Mayer as Jane in cyberpunk style.
On the far left, a strong jawed and sharp featured Jane in a cyberpunk bar
Dina Mayer as Jane

I personally loved Dina Mayer’s energy in Johnny Mnemonic. She brought a kind of girl next door folksiness that brought a lot of humanity to the problems of being a cyborg. She was light where technology dictate a darker aesthetic. Cyberpunk needed a Betty. I assume some of this is related to the creative direction of photographer (of Men in Suits fame) Robert Longo but it could have easily been Dina Mayer’s rising star in Hollywood. I hadn’t thought much beyond it until I watched the Peripheral.

But now all I can see in the Peripheral is how much Flynn Fisher (as played by Chloe Grace Moretz) looks like Dina Mayer’s Jane. In my fantasy, it’s like I’m seeing the first woman Willian Gibson ever loved. It almost makes a romantic of me imagining a world where a curly haired blonde mattered to him. But the essence shared by Moretz and Mayer is hard to deny.

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

Chloe Grace Moretz as Flynn Fisher

I see a lot of little similarities between the two actresses but it’s ultimately the affect. The bold lip and the harsh pulled back hair is contrasted in softer moments with wild curly halos and warm inviting features. Flynn is a southern girl. I’ve got no idea if Jane had a heritage. But now I’ll always wonder why the dark mirror shaded women of Neuromancer became a blonde.

Categories
Internet Culture Media

Day 685 and Brainworms

I am very good at media. It’s a passion as well as one of my few hobbies that has stood the test of time. If I wanted a regular job I think I’d enjoy for more than a couple year stint I’d probably pick publicist. I say this add context to the topic I plan to discuss.

Because I’m so experienced (and also naturally talented) at the attention disciplines, I can spend time consuming information that isn’t mentally or emotionally hygienic for the average person. I have outstanding informational immunity. I stare into the abyss so others don’t have to. I monitor it all, from extremist groups to the most normie mainstream media. I have always made my living by intaking and organizing information.

Unlike your drunk uncle or wired Gen Z nephew, I can withstand information environments designed to “pill” you and hijack your dopamine responses without ill effect. Frankly I’m disappointed I’m not a literal William Gibson character as I certainly feel like Cayce Pollard existentially.

So I hope you take me seriously when I say I think it is time for all of us to pull back from extended raw regular Twitter consumption for a little bit. It has become an info-hazard rapidly and almost accidentally as its new management attempts to reinvigorate features and drive cost cutting (some of which I support). I don’t know if it is going to collapse or get reinvented but Twitter as it is right now is unstable.

The degradation of features and rules of engagement is happening too quickly and unpredictably for me to surf continuously like I have in the past. Context collapse is pervasive. There are gaping holes in informational hierarchies from experiments to both nerf and boost accounts through verification chaos. Responses from trusted accounts don’t make it to my alerts. I used to browse on reverse chronological non-algorithm view but it appears so broken in my feed it’s unclear how or why things are being surfaced.

And these concerns barely scratch the surface. Twitter’s immune responses to competing agendas, trolling and chaos agents are broken as the duct tape and physical labor of its team has been slashed. Raging information infections that typically remain contained to their ecosystems are spreading to main feeds. You cannot control your information environment when it is collapsing all around you.

You are going to get brain worms if you are not careful. If even a twenty year professional with exposure to the darkest corners of content (from 4chan to Gawker to groypers) no longer feels safe in this information war zone than you might want to consider restricting your own consumption for your own mental and emotional safety. I’ve decided to cut down on browsing until the platform stabilizes. I’m rebooting my email inbox and newsfeeds. I am choosing to open news apps directly rather than waiting for my networks to surface news. I just don’t feel safe drinking from the raw feed on Twitter right now.

In other words, if it’s not safe for me then it is definitively not safe for you.

Categories
Media

516 and Shoot the Puck

There is a Canadian comedy called Letterkenney that has absolutely won my heart. It has snappy writing that shines through characters that are given real depth over multiple seasons. It’s funny as shit and absolutely vulgar. I couldn’t recommend it more highly. It’s about a small town living and being a hick, but that’s almost besides the point.

The show had an ancillary character, Shoresy, played by the creator of the series Jared Keeso ,who is a foul mouthed hockey player. Shoresy was spun out into its own series and recently premiered. I binged it over the long weekend with my husband. I won’t spoiler any of the plot, it except to say it’s got one of the strongest season endings I’ve ever watched.

What started as a truly disgusting bit of scatalogical humor ends up being the basis for a show with real heart. I found myself getting teary eyed as a story of teamwork unfolded. There is some classic underdog (literally the team is called the Bulldogs), tropes but you genuinely don’t mind. The emotional journey still works.

I’m a startup person so I’ve got a soft spot for watching something messy come together. And nothing is messier than a team that is dysfunctional. You root for them. As teams coalesce and a sense of identity forms, you cannot help but root for the improvement.

I’ve got a theory that the emotional rollercoaster of that process makes you prone to latching into aphorisms and simple wisdom. Its got something to do with the humility that comes from learning shit and being being bad at that shut. I suspect because everything is so chaotic when it’s new. The process of “becoming” so simply do mind shattering that koans and just-so story pearls of wisdom have added weight. They anchor you in the chop of uncertainty.

For Shoresy, the aphorism that tugged most on my heart strings was “you can’t score a goal if you don’t shoot the puck.” A simple sports metaphor so evocative you probably saw it on Naval’s Twitter account. Well ok maybe in just in second stringer venture capitalist sincere post. Clearly Ted Lasso isn’t the only sports sitcom show that can teach us something about becoming our most best empathetic selves.

Categories
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.

Categories
Aesthetics Media

Day 456 and Timing

I always get a kick out of my writing days with good numbers. I celebrate every hundred posts. I notice the palindromes even if I don’t log them in posts. I revel in the repetitions. So naturally today’s numerical sequence tickles at my limbic emotional responses. My conscience mind says “oh patterns” and I feel capable and intelligent.

Noticing shit is nominally my job. I was obsessed with William Gibson’s Cayce Pollard in Pattern Recognition. The trend spotting cosmopolitan consultant with an allergy to brands inspired my foray into fashion. I wanted to be her so much that I once bought a Pilates reformer because she practiced it. I remain dedicated to the craft of knowing what is coming around the bend.

There was a time when I wanted to be the sort of person who capitalized on each and every shift in mood, zeitgeist or vibe. I’d be sure I could be queen of a given wave. But in truth I’ve come to think I’m better at spotting “the thing” early than being the person that manifests it’s adoption. I prefer to notice early, place my bets, and watch “it” unfold now.

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Internet Culture Media

Day 431 and 9 Lonely Hours

I was excited for the time difference working in Frankfurt. It’s GMT + 1 which makes it six hours ahead of New York and a whooping nine hours ahead of San Francisco. I had this idea that I would enjoy getting in a full day before any of my American collaborators. Imagine the productivity gains!

But I’ve actually found it lonely. The silence of my social media has felt anything but, well, social. I adjusted immediately to the time difference without any jet lag. I woke up at 7am with the sun on my first day. And then I realized my California compatriots wouldn’t be awake till 4pm my time. Shit.

It’s not as if I have no one to talk to during these hours. I have founders in Europe and collaborators that are in these central time zones. But Twitter and my media news diet is strangely quiet in the early hours. It’s almost eerie. There is something disquieting about waking up before the news roundups hit my inbox. Like the world isn’t awake yet. Except obviously in Europe everything has stashed already.

I had no idea just how much my information environment depended on American filtering. It’s not that I was unaware that I was consuming a heavy diet of American media, but most of my news diet enters my feed through the East Coast media centers and is propagated through the lens of Silicon Valley. The Twitter friends I spent the most time with were clearly mostly American.

This is clearly an opportunity for me to branch out my information diet and my social circle. I’m grateful for the reminder. But I can’t help being a little sad that for a month I’ll be so offset from what I know and love. But it’s also exciting.

Categories
Media

Day 429 and Not Unique

I’ve always assumed that Americans were, well, kind of the worst, when it comes to racism. Maybe it’s because we don’t generally lie about the fact that it’s an issue in our media. It feels like half of our news is about race.

Sure Twitter gets indignant about “the discourse” and regular folks get angry at being called racist for shit like voting for Trump. But like in general it’s not news that Americans have trouble with race. It’s kind of a given stereotype. We get more about being labeled a racist than we get about actually racist behaviors.

But you always assume that your problems are the most acute. I had a misguided unconscious bias that Americans are uniquely plagued by racism. But even within a few days of being in Germany I am reminded Americans aren’t the only ones who practice “casual” racism in every day situations.

I’ve noticed grocery clerks keeping an steady eye on brown shoppers. I’ve seen glances and grimaces when groups of men speaking another language go by. (Albanian in this case). And I’ve overheard conversations complaining about immigration and resources and costs. And then there are the journalists discussing the war in Ukraine and how unimaginable it is that Europe could be at war. Isn’t that something that only happens elsewhere? As if the Baltic and Balkan stated weren’t absolutely European too.

In some ways it’s comforting to see this play out somewhere that isn’t my home. It’s just human behavior. Ugly horrible behavior but not unique to anyone or any place.

Categories
Aesthetics Media

Day 366 and Auld Lang Syne Motherfuckas

I’ve got a routine with this blog. I’ll write my post. Then I’ll tag it and hit publish. But before I put it on Twitter for everyone to see, I text it to my friend Phil. He doesn’t always respond. I doubt he’s read every single post. Even I haven’t. But he’s the first person to get a link. I’m not entirely sure how I established this routine but it might have something to do with a video series called The Burg. Let me explain.

Back when Phil and I were idiots in our twenties, we lived in Williamsburg Brooklyn. It used to be the hipster neighborhood. And because the creative class is what it is, someone decided to make a short video series about living there because narcissism. Phil and I were obsessed with this series. It was before professional quality had become a worthwhile investment for YouTube content so we didn’t have endless options. The show felt like it was meant for us. Someone actually bothered to script and shoot a show about solipsist hipsters in our own neighborhood.

The show made a special new year’s episode. In it the characters play a game where they do absolutely unthinkably cruel thing to their friends. But it all must be forgiven at midnight because “Auld Lang Syne motherfuckas!” Their tradition is you have to forgive each other no matter what has been done. The song demands it apparently. It’s actually a really beautiful meditation on friendship and the capacity we have to hurt the ones we love the most. Also hipsters are assholes.

Now because Phil and I were idiots as kids, we also did unthinkably cruel things to each other. Just like on The Burg. We had massive blow ups. We didn’t speak for a few years. But somehow we started a tradition of sending each other the Burg’s Auld Lang Syne episode at midnight every New Years. I guess we knew we needed a ritual to find a way to forgiveness. Without it we would have drifted apart. With it we’ve been friends for fifteen years.

We are long past those volatile years thankfully. But we still text each other Auld Lang Syne as the year turns without fail. I went so far as to download a copy of the episode in case the cloud isn’t a safe space for it anymore. I have to have to accessible to send to Phil at the stroke of midnight.

So this is a roundabout way of explaining why Phil always gets the link first. A habit I also started fresh on a New Years Day. He’s the first person I start fresh with on New Years. He embodies the spirit of forgiveness and new beginnings for me. So every day now he gets a link. He probably wishes he didn’t. But Auld Lang Syne motherfuckas! He’s got to forgive me.

Categories
Media Politics

Day 331 and No Going Back

We were never getting rid of the downstream effects of the pandemic. All the joking about the “before times” was just our collective psyche exhibiting normalcy bias. There is no going back. Inequality is rising and people are struggling and attitudes have ossified. Not because of some bizarre conspiracy but because you can’t put toothpaste back in the tube.

Every restriction and panic is just another day where the world gets more unfair and the prepared and the wealthy have more moves than those at the bottom. And so more people suffer and the gyre widens.

The thing about being privileged is that it compounds over time. Every instance of success and every lucky break build on each other. The math is an inexorable process that leads to one conclusion. The rich get richer.

The reverse is true too. Every barrier, every bill, every setback, every issue compounds too. An object in motion stays in motion.

If this all seems very unfair, I regret to say there is absolutely nothing any individual can do about the physics of success. The best you can do is try to bring others up with you. Educate them on the logic of success and arm them so they can begin to compound their own.

You can’t do it at mass scale. Individual outliers will distort every set of rules and every game within a handful of moves and the accretion of influence begins anew. There is no such thing as revolution. There is only hoping you can enable enough people to change the direction for good. That enough people chose collectively to make better choices for each other.

Anyone who preaches anything other than individuals aiding each other in freedom will have to acknowledge that all systems are prone to corruption and self serving. There is no level playing field.

Some of us just have enough ego to think if it is our people and our tribe or our political party in charge we’d do it better. That’s a lovely lie and history is riddled with the graves of societies that fell to egos of Caesars and strong men. Humans wouldn’t be interesting without our sins. We have to chose to overcome them and accept responsibility for their consequences rather than put our problems at the feet of elites.

And this unfortunate logic can lead one of two ways for America. We can either accept the personal freedom and self responsibility of each other. Or we can get smaller as a nation. What’s more likely to happen is the inequality widens. The rich and productive will write their own destiny. They will take advantage of the sifting sands. New fortunes will be built on pandemic logic and technology.

And the insecurity of the chaos will erode the positions of most fragile members of society and they will fall further as we climb higher. We will force rules on them we don’t abide by. Masks, testing, vaccines, restrictions of movement become for thee but not for me. We will restrict their capacity because it doesn’t affect our lives. It’s corrosive and unequal and cruel. It’s entirely without empathy. And we are accepting that because our stars are rising. The money is being made off this societal transition. It’s already in motion.

Categories
Finance Media Startups

Day 299 and Hiring An Assistant

I’ve been thinking it is time to hire an assistant. Obviously I need help and the job would be working with me. But I want to train up someone who would like to acquire my unique set of skills. I’d like to mentor someone up on the startup ecosystem that I’ve spent the last fifteen years working through as a founder, operator and now venture investor so they too can take advantage of the incredible network of people that are building today.

I’m looking for someone that would like to get exposure to all the areas where I have expertise. You don’t have to know or even like all areas, obviously this would depend on the candidate, but what makes me an unusual player in startup and venture land is the weird mashup of specialties. So if you want to learn:

1. Angel & seed stage investing analyst skills
2. Media & hype (call it public relations if you must)
3. How one keeps your head on straight in a discourse laden zeitgeist chaos landscape

Then you might enjoy working with me. The goal of this assistant or analyst position would be within 2 years you’d go on to do what I do somewhere else & I’ll sensei you through that journey. I am where I am because of mentors and bosses that taught me the ropes.

As I work closely with my partner and husband Alex Miller you would get exposure to the operational and logistical side of investing as well as startup operations. He’s actually my inspiration for this job. His first job out of college was for Jason Calacanis. Without him none of the other jobs and connections would have been possible. And we owe him big time as without Jason we wouldn’t have Stack Overflow in our life.

I’ve only every met one person who has my particular weird blend of growth, media and investing. I do some traditional public relations and would love to pass that on to someone that could leverage it well for their own startups. But it is entirely in service to my investing and portfolio with the occasional other favor, so it’s much more portfolio services for our investments than a PR shop. But you’d learn our portfolio from the inside out as investment decisions and then figure out how to take these seed stage companies to market with the media. Which is a pretty unique thing so not a traditional gig.

Non traditional backgrounds are awesome. No degree requirements. No credentialism or social signaling. Disabled folks welcome. I’m also disabled so we do accommodations. There is no set schedule as I don’t work one so whenever you work best is great. Any location or geography is fine. Any time zone though I work on mountain. Degen anons with anime avis welcome (encouraged as I’d like someone fluent in crypto). If you are an anon avi who wants to get into crypto investing and figure out how to work the zeitgeist for your meme magic I am here to be your mentor. And then I’m an ideal world I’d be the first check into your startup as this is about the ecosystem. So if this sounds fun slide into my DMs on Twitter and tell me what the one thing you do better than anyone else.