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Internet Culture

Day 234 and Information Poisoning

Do you ever read a tweet and check the person’s mutuals to make sure you understand the context?

Because I follow a number of extremely different communities with wildly different priors, it’s actually quite a challenge to see if someone is black pilled, red pilled, tankie or neo reactionary.

I consider it crucial to keep a balance of crazies in my timeline lest I accidentally get pilled by one group simply by mere exposure bias.

That’s a good argument for following as diverse a group as possible. A full timeline is one with a thousand biases blooming. This is good for keeping an open mind but it is also a protective technique known as flooding the zone. It is much harder to determine where one’s sensibilities lay if they consider counsel from all.

The downside is that we call people out for following “wrong think” in some corners. The only way to inoculate against that risk is heavily telegraphing that you follow all kinds. Impossible to show purity so to protect from any charges you muddy the waters.

I’ve noticed that progressive tech & red pillers are especially gnarly about policing for thought purity. It is relatively easy to fight back against, but then you have to be committed to seeing ALL zeitgeist which is exhausting.

I had to stop consumption for 48 hours last week. Floating above the discourse generally stokes my creativity. I live on the energy of the zeitgeist. But a few issues (vaccines & Kabul) are so upsetting that I just had to stop and recenter.

I think I have what might be labeled natural immunity to discourse. It doesn’t usually hurt my emotional state. For me, discourse functions more as a barometer of positions I follow to indicate long term movements.

Very rarely does it overcome my long term stakes. When it does it’s usually because I have information poisoning. It doesn’t happen too often. And I can shake it fast. But it’s not easy to cultivate for most people. I think it might be innate. That natural immunity I mentioned. Some people just have a higher tolerance for information toxicity and flow rates. Best to find out what yours is and to sense in others their informational environment as well. It’s edge.

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Internet Culture

Day 226 and Brain Prostitutes

When you sell your intellect for a living you cannot afford to have a stupid day. When I was younger I sold my time but as I got older I got paid for my ideas. Or as one of my favorite anonymous Twitter accounts Becoming Critter said I’m “a brain prostitute.”

There isn’t a union for idea whores so when your mind has a sick day you are fucked. Not idea fucked, no, because then you’d get paid. If you can’t produce a good idea you’ve got nothing to sell. I personally found this entire concept of knowledge worker as as brain prostitution to be pretty amusing. It kind of takes the wind out of your sails if you’ve decided being a “knowledge worker” makes you better than other types of labor.

We’ve decided that selling your mind is higher status than selling your time but I think it’s all just a a clever way for the capital class to move labor into categories that produce better returns. If someone has found it beneficial to employ you, either for your time or your ideas, it’s because it’s worth more than you are getting paid.

I like that the intelligentsia is lying to themselves about being bourgeois. Doing practical things like running a grocery was beneath them. So they had to invent some exciting distinction that convinced everyone that selling ideas made you a better class of person than selling lettuce. I’m not really sure how Marx would see all of this but it seems like if you aren’t capital then you are still labor.

But I guess now that we’ve got rid of hereditary aristocracy the need for more elaborate distinctions for how we determine our betters is clear. The market demanded a rebrand. Personally I like idea whore better but I can see why we went with knowledge worker.

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Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 222 and OOO

I’m out of the office. I’m OOO. I’m not available. I’m off the grid. I’m on vacation. I’m on leave. I’m out sick. I’m out for family.

Whatever your reasons, the idea of being unavailable, actually being unavailable is increasingly at odds with reality. It’s rude to not be available. People notice if you are on social media dicking around after all. And I’m always fucking off on Twitter. And that means I am default available right?

I have an app that allows people book time with me without the hassle of checking in called Calendly. The theory is you maintain times you are available and you avoid a bunch of back and forth. The reality is I don’t maintain it. Virtually no one ever uses it except a couple close business partners. Because of that lack of integration into my workflow, the app is rarely ever booked unavailable. I don’t really use it or maintain it but a few folks have the link and being polite and nice, they try to use it rather than bother me asking if I’m around. Then it’s a comical back and forth of me explaining that no I again forgot to alert the app I wasn’t available. Again. Exactly the sort of interaction the app is supposed to help you avoid. It’s fucking embarrassing and it’s happened a half dozen times.

This happened again this week when I had explicitly intended to take off all of it as I’m recovering from a medical procedure. My brain is a bit foggy and I forgot to ask my husband, who more often than not is forced into managing my ineptitude with logistics, to make sure the damn app knew I wasn’t available. He’s got an elaborate system of multiple calendar applications that all talk to each other and sync up and if I just put “OOO” into one of them then all the apps would know. I’m too stupid to actually manage any of it. I figured eventually I’d hire an administrative assistant I deal with it when my schedule became more complex. But it isn’t that complex yet and I didn’t think to block the calendar after my procedure. Which makes me feel like an idiot. Why is it so hard for me to manage a damn calendar?

And such is my emotional block with being unavailable that I am literally writing a post about it rather than simply deleting the app entirely and texting my friend and partner back that I’ve fucked up again and the app was incorrect. Again.

Maybe it’s because I really want to be the kind of person who is available. That I’m the sort of person who is consistent and has routines that can be relied upon and thus has calendars which reflect the reality of my availability. That I am the kind of person who manages their application layer, personal data and thus has promptly corrected for any changes that may have occurred to my routines and seen to it that it percolates into the operating system of my life. Maybe this is why I’m obsessed with manners and class this week. It’s just a Freudian unconscious embarrassment that I’m bad at manage a calendar.

Alas it doesn’t really matter. I’m not the sort of person with a calendar. I’m the sort of person who will write a thousand words about the culture of availability, the way we mediate we our time and attention with technical applications, and my own emotional relationship to the acronym “OOO” rather than text back “actually I’m out this week!”

I’m counting on this being amusing rather than irritating in this particular instance as despite it seeming like I’m around and available, I’m actually extremely out this week and depending on my recover the next two. I hope it will be funny when I tag them on Twitter and share this post. Because it’s actually extremely embarrassing for me.

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Finance Internet Culture Media Politics

Day 219 and Crypto’s Publicist

Most industries have interest groups. Publicists, lobbyists, and spokespeople weave together stories, talking points and preferred legislative agendas. Anyone or any group is free to discuss why their preferred business or issue is worthwhile and convince others of their view. We have a marketplace of ideas. Sure, not all interests are good but anyone is free to promote what they believe in. So why aren’t we doing anything for our cause in the crypto community? I say it’s time crypto had a publicist.

Not every country allows for this. The crypto community has an obligation to recognize that when we fight for our own interests it isn’t just we who benefit. The entire world benefits from open, decentralized and permission-less systems. What we do benefits everyone who wants to live in a freer world. It’s time crypto had our own activist DAO to protect and promote our values.

I am proposing the formation of an activist DAO promoting the use of crypto. Our goal is to advocate for positive popular culture narratives about crypto. We vote on our issues, stories and key initiatives through the DAO’s native governance tokens. The DAO will hire publicists and communication professionals to promote our stories in mainstream media along with commissioning content meme-ers and creators to share opinions. Policy is crucial but public perception is faster and pushes the right policy down the right.

As place holder I’ve purchased CryptoCommsCoalition.org. The Crypto Communication Coalition. I am working on a shared collaboration doc in Google Sheets to collect input, feedback, and priorities. Anyone who is interested can participate in our effort. Email me Julie @ crypto comms coalition dot org or DM me on Twitter.

We need DAO creation specialists, legal experts, memers, streamers, Reddidters, governance folks, publicists, lobbyists, fundraisers and a thousand other specialists I haven’t thought of yet. This won’t be easy but it’s an eating our own dog food moment for crypto. We can use our own tools to advocate in a participatory, transparent and open way for our own interests. If banking and big oil can can afford publicists then so can we. gmi.

Categories
Finance Startups

Day 216 and Annihilation

My parents were hippies. Thanks in particular to my mother’s great interest in the spiritual world, I spent time in ashrams, communes and retreats as a kid. One was a great big sprawling former summer camp in the Catskills. I adored spending time there.

There is something amusing about being in a Christian family who has decided to study Kashmir Shivaism in an old Borscht Belt resort. But it was thanks to these adventures in expanding our minds and spiritual horizons that I learned about Shiva the Destroyer. And Shiva has had a profound impact on how I think about startups.

I won’t get into the full theology of Shiva but he creates, protects and transforms the universe. His power is set against the goddess Shakti (sorry Parvati can’t get into your whole deal) for a kind of death and creation in one balanced whole. To this day, I chant Shiva’s mantra “Om Namah Shivaya” when I mediate. It more broadly has a meaning of the “universal consciousness is one” which I tend to interpret as ego death. Shiva is the destroyer of my ego for which I am grateful.

The idea that creation and destruction were interlinked, and indeed matched, spoke to me as a child. Some kind of pre-rational understanding of the first law of thermodynamics. Energy is neither created nor destroyed. Maybe Shiva and Shakti are just godhead metaphors for the eternal spiral of creation and destruction that we’ve come to dimly understand thanks to the study of physics. I’m neither a theologian nor a physicist.

But I am a business person. Shiva lead me to appreciate the economist Joseph Schumpeter. You see, metaphysics aside, I took the lesson that destruction wasn’t inherently bad quite to my heart. That sometimes, for new things to be formed in the world, old manifestations needed to be destroyed or transformed. Schumpeter’s gale or, more commonly, creative destruction, held my imagination.

I thought to myself “dismal science my ass!” Economics has dedicated an entire discipline to the study of apocalypses and the utopia’s that are created in their wake and we call it good business management. Wealth by way of eschatology. Obviously I was hooked.

According to Schumpeter, the “gale of creative destruction” describes the “process of industrial mutation that continuously revolutionizes the economic structure from within, incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one”

Startups are known for their creative destruction. Small changes and innovations slowly, and then all at once, implode and destroy old ways of doing business. if we are lucky more wealth is created in the process. Sometimes enough to change entire cultures and people for the better. And sometimes not. But if there was ever going to be a god of startups I think it would be Shiva.

Categories
Biohacking Emotional Work

Day 215 and Leisure

I’ve got a bad relationship with work. Since I was a teenager I’ve been compulsive about the idea of hard work. I don’t know how I got to have a problem with the Protestant Work Ethic but it seems likely I developed it long before I read Max Weber and found it’s comforting rationalizations about work’s inherent morality.

I’m fascinated by things like commodity aesthetics, the history of consumption, and theories of leisure & status. Partially because I got a kick out of supposing I was a better person than those wretched lazy types. I wasn’t so sophisticated to sneer “rentier” class as kid but I was well on my way to veneration of hard work and productive capital. An economics degree finished the job.

This was compounded by growing up in a family that worshipped the culture of Silicon Valley. The innovation of computers and the people that worked all hours to bring their creativity to the world were the most important people on the planet. They hadn’t quite crossed the cultural rubicon of power that the tech industry has now, but the power of making the future was hard work and heady stuff even before it captured the mainstream. I wanted to change the world like the people my father admired

There was a time when computing and automation raised questions of a new era of leisure. If we could move all of the work we’d previously done manually to automated systems perhaps humans could ascend to The Culture of Ian M Bank’s novels. In a distant future of abundance, sentient AIs run industry and production, so humanity can do, well, whatever it likes.

But we haven’t achieved a post scarcity world. If anything accumulating resources and showing you’ve done it by the rules of the meritocracy makes hard work even more crucial. You’ve got to play and win two games. You’ve got to make the money and show you’ve demonstrated the proper status while doing it. It seems like leisure is losing the battle quite soundly.

I’ve been pushing all year to get back to hard work. I’ve worked hard at my health. I’ve committed myself to biohacking. But really what if the obsession with working myself to the bone is killing me? I’ve been completely relaxed as I prepared for a medical procedure this week. I’ve never felt better. Which forced me to ask myself if maybe I better come to live leisure like the way I have loved work. It might be a much better life for me. The future sentient AIs might approve as well.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 214 and Their Rules

If he wants to play their game, then he has to learn their rules.” – Downton Abby

I’ve been on a bit of a kick with taking notes for my grand unified theory of shitposting. Naturally I’ve been obsessed with the British aristocracy melting down during modernity in Downtown Abby. A great deal of class implosions make for excellent drama. Class and it’s privileges are crucial to understanding who can get away with what. And I’m becoming rather sure that shitposting is a way of changing the rules, through satire, of who gets to accumulate social capital.

I own a reasonably good library on the intersection of class, wealth, and capitalism. I suspect that sort of preoccupation isn’t that odd of a leaning when you come from family that jumped from working class to bourgeois and had set its sights even higher for their children. And it’s reasonably amusing that I file the topics together in my head and on my bookshelf.

Class, Greed, Liquidated, Capitalism and of course Zizek.

Money has never been the determining factor for class, but the American preoccupation with capital has led us to develop elaborate social mores to try to distance that we have overlapped wealth and status into the term “upper class” in this county. We don’t have peerage so things like taste and creativity has come to dominate. We absolutely hate the nouveau rich and disdain people with bad taste.

I spent a number of years working in “style” which is the overarching set of professions that dominate who has class. I worked for luxury houses, founded a cosmetics brand and even did marketing for a very high end gym. All of the kinds of things you can buy to demonstrate you have good taste and thus are worthy of being considered upper class.

Honestly it seems easier to have to learn the manners of the aristocracy than to have to bother with keeping up on style. At least those assholes had a consistent dress code. But an elaborate set of social distinctions overlaying signifiers on who has taste and credentials is fundamentally more accessible. Hipster are social progress.

Showing you’ve got the capacity to read social signals has lead to a lot of weird shit. Our current preoccupation with critical theory for one. But it’s opened up class status to people who are capable of demonstrating their understanding of what it takes to occupy their place on the ladder. And yes I think shitposting is the new Harvard degree or house in Newport. I guess it’s no weirder than marrying someone with an estate on a cold island off the coast of Europe.

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Aesthetics Internet Culture Startups

Day 213 and Kobayashi Maru

I don’t believe in the no-win scenario

Captain Kirk

If you cannot win by playing by the rules, then change the rules. If you are nice Iowa farmboy named James you will probably get away with it. Or a cartoon character named Calvin with a stuffed tiger named Hobbes. There is no cheating in Calvinball because the rules are constantly changing.

I’ve been thinking a lot about shitposting this past year as it becomes a kind of social sport in venture capital and startup Twitter. I’m a big fan of the shitpost as I think making elaborate “jokes but not quite jokes” can be an exercise in vulnerability and honesty.

But who gets to be honest and what rules will be broken if the wrong person says the true thing is quite telling. I have a medical procedure that is going to take a lot out of me this week so I’ve been resting at home in preparation. This has meant I’ve watched a lot of television. I’ve been binge watching Downton Abby the period drama about Edwardian Aristocrats coping with changing social standards as modernity bears down on them. It’s a drama about “manners” which please lots of agonizing over who and what is right and proper. The class structures are so codified they are literally written down. No seriously they kept books about peerages! Check out Burke’s. Fucking wild.

It all seems a bit ludicrous as an American but I’ve got to imagine social institutions I consider completely normal will look utterly baffling in a hundred years too. And much of the way those social mores change is when someone decides that playing by the rules is a no-win scenario. Sometimes the game is so codified that no one but people who have been trained and advantaged their entire life can be winners. When that happens the only way anyone else can win is to change the rules.

Or as Spock might have said to Kirk. “You cheated.” But is it cheating when it’s a no win-scenario? If by changing the parameters the game you open up entirely new possibilities maybe it’s a good thing. Sure, Star Trek does an excellent job of showing us the emotional and moral limits of never having to face failure and it’s consequences. But what if without rejecting the premise of the Kobayashi Maru you could have never known success or change?

I think shitposting might be a bit of social Calvinball or some social media variant of the the Star Fleet ethics test. People with some power use it to great effect. But a lot of people with some talent and an eye towards improving their social position leverage shitposting. They change the rules of what can be said. They make a game of truth telling and shift the rules of the game. This isn’t a finished theory by any means but as I’m determined to slowly think my way through a grand unified theory of shitposting you can expect a lot of notes and works in progress on the topic here.

Categories
Internet Culture

Day 212 and Notes for A Unified Theory of Shitposting

Yesterday I was fucking around on Twitter, as I am prone to doing. I made a barely sit-com worthy joke about divorced guy energy.

You ever notice how women thrive in the aftermath of divorce but men implode? Why is that?

My husband Alex replied with a searing burn “don’t worry, I’ll be fine” response and we were off to the races with all our mutuals dunking. I was howling with laughter. The two of us were trading zingers and watching the DMs roll in from friends.

Obviously the undercurrent of any thread on social media got dark very fast. So quickly I ended up putting out resources for men who were struggling in the replies. The amount of pain on display was enough to make you want to donate to the first domestic abuse charity I could find.

So why is it that I can shitpost about a topic and come away unscathed, indeed it was a fun and entertaining night for both myself and Alex, but others melted down? I think it might be about class and social signaling. It takes a lot of social capital to shitpost. And those that shitpost on the most socially contentious topics are demonstrating their social capacity to discuss whatever they want without consequences. I can shitpost because I’ve got enough social capital to do so.

One theory I’ve got is that shitposting is a backlash to Ted Talks, super serious reverential coverage in glossy business magazines, and the proliferation of HBS style “business” books. We’ve had an saturation in performative professionalism.

Once it became unclear that every self seriousness biography or magazine puff piece was placed by professionals to make their clients look like geniuses (visible effort undermines certain kinds of status) the savvy social seeker knew they needed a more authentic way to telegraph in-group power. The next logical step was demonstrating that you were so smart, so powerful and so connected you didn’t even need to demonstrate it. Hence the shitpost.

The weirdest part of “shitposting” being an actual status symbol in venture capital is that a couple of billionaires are going to see me and Alex making jokes about divorced guy energy and this will only increase our status. Which is ludicrous on its face ans yet absolutely true.

This isn’t even a flex on my part (though it obviously is a flex) as it is now accepted that having a following for saying whatever you like gives you a leg up in startups. A friend likened it to “dressing down” or the practice of wearing causal clothing even in formal settings. It shows you are so powerful and wealthy you don’t need to give a fuck about manners. Shitposting on Twitter is like wearing ripped jeans at the country club.

I want to explore this topic in more depth so this post is just some sketch notes. But I wanted to get it down and organized so I hope it’s alright to have some half baked ideas. It’s my blog so I figure it’s fine b

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Emotional Work Internet Culture

Day 208 and Boundaries

It’s fairly common to struggle with boundaries. The desire to come through for everyone is strong, but not half so strong as the fear that if you set a firm boundary, then no one will accept you for where you are and what you want. What if love is only ever available on someone else’s term? This is a terrible fear straight from our inner child.

We’ve turned loyalty into a obligation test. But how perverse is that? “If you love them, set it free” is a culturally touchstone for a reason. We want the freedom of choosing our the loyalty that works for us. And we know each demonstration of loyalty means nothing if it wasn’t in consideration of the other person’s boundaries, needs and desires.

I suppose this hit me today because I’ve been astonished to see athletes like Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles holding their boundaries firm. They loyalty to sports, their countries and to us as fans only matters if it’s given freely and with joy. They owe us nothing, so when they do perform as their most elite selves, it’s what’s most beautiful and courageous thing. It’s a feat without ego. Those victories come in freedom.

Prioritizing one’s boundaries and well-being doesn’t need any apology or explanations or attempts to change yourself to fit another, if someone requires obligation on their terms it’s natural to feel invaded.

It’s the most loving thing in the world to set out what you actually want and need. It’s always the right thing to do. We don’t own each other. We each get to choose what’s best for us. And that fear we won’t be loved if we stand firm? Let it go. We always feel safest and most cared for when we know what we are offering is genuinely wanted.