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Aesthetics Internet Culture

Day 758 and Two Sides

I somehow missed watching the Mandalorian when it came out. My husband isn’t really into Star Wars and I’m a Star Trek person so as just missed it. I started watching it today for the first time and I’m experiencing it somewhat fresh of its original release context.

But I’ve got a vague memory of the culture war issues that it triggered at the time. Somehow Gina Carano got coded to team red and champion of the downtrodden right wing. I honestly couldn’t tell you why except I think she mouthed off on Twitter. She sacrificed her career as a main character on prestige Disney tv show for shitposting. She thought she had social latitude that she just didn’t when working for Big Mouse. Shockingly naive if I’m honest.

That somehow everything has a side in the culture wars is a real tragedy of our time. Because a couple years pass and whatever dumb stunt that got you put on team red or team blue probably gets forgotten. Normal people have moved on and the discourse gets digested eventually into common knowledge. Memory is a fickle thing. Madeleines and Proust or something in that direction.

If you are team red you go into an alternate universe where apparently being a dick with a right wing slant on YouTube gets you 50 million dollar media deals. I assume there are as many opportunities as now being on team red is a real badge of honor and whole media ecosystems arise because it’s an actual demographic. Shocking somehow to some people but I guess I’ve always lived adjacent to team red. I’ve be always known you could make money on that audience.

I suppose the real tell is that if you are team blue you don’t really change ecosystems at all if you pick their side in the culture war. You get to maintain your plum gig at Disney. You do not have Ron DeSantis gunning for you. I hear that woke mobs come to get you but I’ve never actually seen it in action. The worst part of my chaotic evil leftist Twitter bubble stops at Taylor Lorenz though I am aware that a murky left exists beyond Chapo Trap House and I know about Tankies.

It just seems so strange to take sides in any of this nonsense if your aim is to make a living as a performer. Sure maybe you can cater to one niche or another. But really isn’t the whole point finding the things that bind us all in the human experience? I always assumed art was meant to transcend whatever petty shit happened while making it.

Categories
Preparedness

Day 738 and Little Things

I’ve come to appreciate the little luxuries in life in the aftermath of the pandemic. The Great Weirdening was in full bloom just as the world shut down into a global viral pandemic. The things I took for granted from 2015 are now treasured joys to be relished privately and also on social media. Dooming for the clout.

We are all performing elaborate acts about how we are flourishing, but in reality we’ve all had a number of rebirths and realizations. A lot of people suddenly stopped giving as many fucks and the downstream effects have been a calamity.

Everyone knows this has happened but pet theories as to why and it’s implications are rampant. We’ve fractured into conspiracies depending on what media ecosystem we spend the most time in. I know a lot of extremely online shit because I spend time on Twitter. We all have different scapegoats.

This is also all colliding with the great Jankening. All those people giving fewer fucks. Well, it shows up in what we make. And a lot of products and services got worse. Sometimes subtly. It tugs at your mind that so many little things don’t work like they used to work.

I am happy to fight for what’s mine. But I am fighting harder to get the experience I want. So I notice it when something goes right. When a meal is a bit better than you expected. And quality of service was better than it has a right to be. When maybe something is a throwback to a simpler time. When shit worked. I cherish the things that are genuinely good. I don’t want to lose them.

Categories
Emotional Work Startups

Day 719 and Step By Step

I was discussing my goals for 2023 with a friend today. They wanted to know if I was planning on making any New Year’s resolutions. I told them that I wasn’t in the habit of using a new calendar year for making big changes.

Generally speaking if I want to do a thing I just start. I honestly feel like it’s far too intimidating to declare yourself to be some kind of fundamentally new person that will, as of a certain arbitrary day, make huge life changes. It’s too much pressure. One of my rules for biohacking is to only change one variable at a time. And I don’t make big changes to it either. 10% a week is good enough for most goals. Anyone familiar with the magic of compounding knows that small changes add up to big numbers.

Which isn’t to say that I haven’t started big life changing projects on January first. If you count back from 719 you will notice I first began writing on January 1st 2021. I did indeed resolve to write every day. But I hadn’t intended it as something I’d keep up for a specific amount of time. I’d hoped I’d practice my writing for thirty days and I allowed myself a little fantasy about how amazing it would be to write for a thousand days.

A thousand days seemed like an impossibility at the time which is why I allowed the fantasizing. My pragmatic side said just get started and see if you can keep going. And I did. I put one foot in front of the proverbial other for two years. Now I’m relatively confident that if I want to do so I’ll make it to a thousand days.

I approach most goals like this. I had a fantasy that I could make it as an investor. I was a founder so I thought let’s wire some small angel checks. We were already committed as a family to being startup operators so why not combine our skin in the game with a little more capital risk with our network.

I never envisioned myself raising a fund and making some big announcement about how I had a venture fund. I just started learning by doing. I cut checks. I ran some special purpose vehicles. And this year I decided to one-step-at-a-time go about raising a rolling fund. I am just doing the thing one day at a time. And it’s going well. Amazing people are coming on board. I am confident I’ll reach my goals just by putting one step in front of the other.

If you’d like to join me my goal is to raise $500K per quarter. I’ve got folks like Joel Spolsky of Stack Overflow and Michael Pryor of Trello so you will be in good company. You can read the fund overview here. Yoican sign up on Angellist through the above link or get on a call with me and we can discuss the fund, our portfolio construction and my thesis. Because I intend to work through the holidays because it remains one day at a time.

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 718 and Change

As I supposed is natural towards the end of a calendar year, I am thinking of the ways this year has changed me. I will surely look back on 2022 and think that was a year where a lot happened.

I expect a lot to keep happening in the future. If anything 2022 will feel slow by comparison. You can already feel the present speeding up can’t you? That sense of anxiety you feel all around you is a collective state of future shock. Our endocrine system has been pumping cortisol on overdrive as we desperately try to sensemake the chaos. And it’s only getting worse.

Yes I’ll remember that this is the year I moved to Montana. I’ll remember it as the year I really began to formalize my investing. I’ll remember it as the year I laid the groundwork for huge personal life changes. I’ll remember it as the beginning of a new chapter.

But I’ve really got no idea how fast this thing is going to go. We’ve got a recession and geopolitical power struggles and commodities concerns and climate chaos and who knows what’s next. But I think if you are nimble and can adjust fast you might just surf this wave. I’d be prepared to wipe out. But I think it’s going to be a good ride.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 716 and Slightly Embarrassed

I spent my entire day on Twitter. I’m not embarrassed by that to be clear. It felt like a vacation day. And even though I live in a majestic mountain paradise, I will spend my time off inside looking at my phone.

Yes it was absolutely gorgeous day in Montana. I marveled at the playful pinks of the sunrise over the mountains in our backyard while drinking coffee. And then I got back in bed and on my phone. And you better believe I fucking doomacrolled.

I just gorged myself on cheap attention calories. Gimme that dopamine drip. I did not even try to modulate my consumption pattern or prevent myself from going into fight or flight. It was goblin mode. I’m still not embarrassed.

But Twitter is a fucking mess. Watching people go tribal on Elon Musk is worse than people going tribal on the president somehow. Maybe because it feels more personal to me? Don’t get me wrong Trump felt existential, but Elon Musk is personal.

And it’s fucking embarrassing watching people react to him and his decision making. Here it is my industry’s moment in the spotlight. The technology industry showing itself as a keeper of common goods and open discourse right? Absolutely fucking not. We’ve shat the bed. Old management was incompetent sure. But new management is not an improvement.

I went into Twitter being purchased by Elon Musk modestly optimistic. He’s our guy right? He’s one of us. He likes startups and capital and technology. He reads the same science fiction as me. We’ve got friends in common. This is what it’s like to be a fan of the home team right?

Well fuck me sideways it has been going poorly. The site is pretty broken but I’m over that. It’s just the constant mayhem. Dave Kellog termed it adhocracy. Some random bullshit happens and the whole website has to lurch around conspiracy theories and rationalization.

It has frankly not been a fine showing for techno-libertarians. Not sure about showing up for a monarch executive now that you’ve seen your civil rights up for terms-of-service revisions by fiat huh? I’ve always thought the neo-monarchists to be dickriders but that’s a sentence that’s only comprehensible to the terminally online. And yes I should go outside and touch snow. I’ll do that now.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 704 and Nothing Is Real

One of my favorite science fiction series is Ian M Bank’s Culture series. Attempting to give a basic premise is a bit of a disservice to the sweeping space opera, but the TLDR is advanced artificial intelligence has spread humanity’s descendants to the stars in a massive pan-galactic utopian civilizational diaspora.

This future transhuman utopia has finally reconciled humanity’s inherent lack of cognitive processing power and set about flourishing in other ways, while our various AI friends, the Minds, make sure we are kept fed, watered and sheltered in sundry starships, megastructures and planets.

The Culture regularly engages in wars and espionage as it absorbs new species and civilizations, sees others off to the enlightenment (called the Sublimed) and generally gets up to batshittery because sometimes AI is inscrutable. It very fun and if you’ve not read them there is no real order just grab a book and start. If you need a starting place go with Use of Weapons.

The Culture has been on my mind has we are enjoying something of a Cambrian explosion of artificial intelligence generative art tools including the open source Stable Diffusion, OpenAI’s DALL E, and Mid Journey. People have been having a blast creating all kinds of wild imagery. Our tools are rapidly outpacing us in their ability to generate reality.

But I’ll fully admit I didn’t think it was personally that fun to fuck around with until we got a text generator from OpenAI called GPTChat. Surprise surprise I’m more interested in the written word than I am in generative art. I made all kinds of dumb prompts.

And I’m definitely having a bit of a Neo in the Matrix whoa moment with the possibilities. Imagine how much gets automated when our basic communication mechanics are freed from squishy meat space. It’s a long way to a Culture Mind but I definitely had a moment where I thought oh fuck some of us baseline humans are going to struggle to adapt to a manufactured world that isn’t created primarily by other humans. What a fucking trip!

And now I cannot get the Beatles’ Strawberry Fields out of my head. The creative realities emerging from our human minds might not be the dominant ones within my lifetime. I won’t have a clue what is real or what is a fantasy created entirely by machine. And doesn’t that just demand a reassessment of how real is our reality in the first place.

Nothing is real
And nothing to get hung about
Strawberry fields forever

Strawberry Fields

Now the the Beatles were in an LSD phase but most of us are familiar with the glimpses of different realities that underline the shared sentiment that what if in fact nothing is real. But is it such a big deal? Our egos don’t need to get hung up about another tool to remake reality.

But we should be prepared to find out that our world and all our creations might be sharing space with some very strange new ways to mould reality. I cannot wait for the mind fuck personally. I hope I get adopted by a Culture ship with a name like Extentuating Circumstances or Nervous Disposition

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 702 and Fight or Flight

Being extremely online is physically quite taxing these days. We’ve got these amazing dopamine casinos that are constantly rolling out the exact animal attention our novelty wired brains crave.

And absolutely the entire world of causes is out there competing for your attention. Everything from sugar water to white nationalism is being sold on social media. And we are just click clicking away not even being concerned about how we are getting radicalized into redder or blacker pills. We are riding all kinds of unhygienic dick and I fear we’ve got some kind of STD that affects common sense.

And while I just made up an entire disease for comedic effect, I do think being steeped in a reactionary culture is bad for our bodies. We can’t always be in fight or flight. We cannot constantly pump the stress hormones. Too much cortisol is at the root of a thousand different inflammatory diseases. And trust me you don’t want one of those. It’s quite literally a pain.

Information warfare is being waged and your eyeballs are boots on the ground. And just like every other grunt in any other Great War, the powers that be think you are expendable.

And you’ve got to ask yourself if you think it’s worth dying for some other man’s culture war. Has he done something heroic for your life? Given you anything? Or is it just all a story being sold to you and from which, sadly, you profit little.

Categories
Culture

Day 700 and Focus

I’m noticing a latent fear in the startup management classes. How do we know if people are focused? Maybe it started with work from home skepticism. But now it’s become an all encompassing yet amorphous fear that nobody is focused anymore. And I have a theory.

It’s all projection. The fear is coming from inside the house. The world is so chaotic everyone is struggling to stay focused. This includes your manager. This includes your manager’s manager. Even your CEO is struggling to shake off the clinging entropy that emerges from constant crisis. And because shit rolls downhill everyone is now flailing around attempting to show they are doing their jobs even as they know they are failing. Even though it remains unsaid because it’s impolite to tell your boss he can’t focus.

The constant chaos that is tugging on our collective capacity to focus is quickly eroding our entire social contract. Not because no one does their jobs anymore. But because we want to be set up to succeed. Because “doing your job” is a point of pride for most people. We like to reliable even if we know there are limits to what we can deliver. So collectively we are hyper vigilant for fraud even as we lack all accountability to each other because we’ve got to protect ourselves first. Self care right?

I don’t see how we get out of this state of fight or flight without a significant changes to culture. Surveillance capitalism isn’t very effective at driving value. It is very good at exacting any drops of it from people attempting to maintain their own dignity. See for instance the railroad workers who have no flexibility in their scheduling. Now with added Congressional oversight!

Categories
Emotional Work

Day 693 and Thanksgiving

I’ve got so much to be thankful for this year. And it’s the first time since the pandemic began that I’ve felt optimistic about where I’m going with my life. Even if I’m a bit of a doomer, I remain a believer in the human capacity to figure shit out. The road to tomorrow is long and bumpy so best plan ahead.

I’ve had a certain worldview for a while. That we may have some hard years ahead of us to earn back the heights of our boom. Nothing in life is free. And we dined out on energy and resources that had hard costs.

But I prepared for the possibility that life might be harder. I got us to our homestead in Montana this year. To think before this year we’d never owned a piece of property before. It just wasn’t a possibility for so long and then we bounded up on the flush years and found a way to realize some gains.

So I’m grateful that on this cycle of the churn I’ve played it well and fair and I’ve set my family up to work and thrive during hard times. We didn’t get over our skis but neither did we fail to prosper. And for that I am grateful. I am thankful to have been able to play to higher standards but also not gotten eaten by the bigger beasts of capitalism.

I suppose it’s also no accident that I’ve also felt I’ve been thriving in my personal life. I’m so thankful to have made progress on becoming more myself this year. It will probably in hindsight be a demarcation between some of the compromises I made in my youth and some of the boundaries that have led to maturity now.

The more I let go of old copping mechanisms and become more myself, the better I do at achieving my goals. And I hope I can remember this lesson every day. If I can do that I will always have something to be grateful for in my life. And on this turn of the wheels I am offered another chance to defy the odds.

Categories
Culture

Day 690 and Status Games

Noblesse oblige. Literally translated from the French as nobility obligates. It’s commonly understood to mean that aristocracy has a responsibility to act graciously towards the civilization which has granted them status.

It’s a turn of phrase I’ve written about before, specifically how in our post modern times, we are challenged to understand who is pursuing a life of virtue and what their obligations may be to the rest of us.

No one is sure if they are nobility or peasantry. No one is noble or good. Which means nobody deserves anything they get. Which is about as close to the war of all against all as I can imagine. Hobbes would be pleased.

JFredrickson.com Day 45

Humanity has always been rather clever at inventing new classes. We need fresh blood from the bottom to keep revolutionary sentiment in church. Every century we are finding new ways to fight it out for new types of status and virtue.

Business values money. Old money values class. The intelligentsia values intellect. Hipsters value taste. The religious value faith. And around we go with status games as we trade social capital for actual capital just so we can get something to eat.

There is always an emerging new game that upsets the underlying order. The printing press destabilized the church and its priestly cast. The internet destabilized the media and it’s editor cast. You know the drill.

Right now there is a massive internecine fight over which order rules over Twitter. And depending on whose camp you fall into you are probably signaling different things. And that lack of shared cultural values is leading to some pretty silly reactions. A lot of dickriding is happening across every major faction.

Which if you take away the reactionary specifics, is totally understandable. If one class of person values money but the competing group values taste than you aren’t really fighting for the same things. Different values are different.

But you’ve got to be careful with your own reactions. Ask yourself if you are responding out of some shared cultural loyalty that is overshadowing your own common sense. Your attention is valuable and powerful people recognize your attention for the commodity that it has become.

Don’t buy into bullshit just because it’s your team. The chance that someone is making a buck off of your attention sure ain’t zero. And America being a free country and all means you shouldn’t be living enthralled to someone else’s priorities.