Categories
Culture

Day 877 and Punch The Nazi Nerd

I want to rant too much today as it’s a holiday weekend and it’s all sunshine, apfelsaftschorle and pretzels but I need to rant a little bit.

Anyone with too much focus on the esoterica of life; the nerds, the dorks, the dweebs and the outcasts, has some baggage. I never felt particularly uncool as a kid because I moved around enough that I didn’t have a lot of past embarrassments to hold me back.

But I’ve met plenty of genius in my time and a lot of them carry deep hurt from how they were treated as kids. The trauma isn’t always healed. And hurt people hurt people.

We used to expect an even trade from our nerds. You’ve got righteous technical skills and understand how those changing tools will affect the culture of the world. You see a future and hack at it because you’ve seen the rules of the game. We need those rule breakers because they keep us honest. But we’ve got to keep them honest too. Life is a team effort and it takes all kinds of skills to pull off something great.

But if you are playing on easy mode, and the nerds have been on easy mode since we needed whiz kid scientists to fight the Nazis, then you don’t handle rejection too well. Everyone thinks they are owed something on the internet for being barely above a midwit. And they are probably right as we are living Idiocracy out there right now.

But you’ve got to have boundaries. Nowhere is that truer than with someone with a deep hurt. Probably why we have company politics and project managers and deeply angry women in startups who spend their whole ass lives managing the feelings of man-babies. It ain’t great for moral.

I don’t know why nerds are such children. Sometimes. Maine you had someone to clean up the hurt for you. Mommy mostly. Sometimes the head of NASA or maybe a spook. I don’t know where the bodies are buried in this land but I know they are somewhere. I know I enjoyed being a spoiled bitch more when I didn’t realize the enormous cost. Rationalize and reconcile what you can.

I don’t mind when nerds deliver us energy and weapons and the stars and whole new ways of self organizing. I’ve sided with them my whole life and nerds are my ancestral people. Witches and rocket scientists and trailer trashy.

But if a nerd pretends the consequences of living with others don’t apply to them you better be skeptical. But sometimes you do in fact need to punch a bully. Punching Nazi nerds in particular. The nerd bullies may need it the most. Remember it’s dweebs with delusions of grandeur who commit genocide and raise army for fascists. Banality of evil and all that. Happy Memorial Day.

Categories
Internet Culture Reading Startups

Day 872 and Synthetic Selves

I’ve been writing in public, on and off, for my entire adult life. First it was goofy tween personal made for myself on hosted social media like Livejournal & Geocities.

My younger years were filled with sundry hosted publishers that taught you just enough HTML & JavaScript to be a foot soldier in the ISP and browser war, but never quite encouraged you to gain the more foundational tools to host yourself independent of their network effects. Closed gardens of that era gave you a small plot of digital land to tend in their giant kingdoms. I never felt like I could homestead outside of their cozy walls on my own domain.

Those plots of writing yielded fruit though. And while it feels as if I only saved a small fraction of my writing over the years, I have hundreds of thousands of words.

I do have an archive of my collegiate blog which later turned into one of the first professional fashion blogs and spawned my first startup. I’ve got 872 straight days of writing saved from this daily experiment. And while I mostly auto-delete my Tweets I’ve also downloaded the remaining archives.

Why am I mentioning my written records? Because making a synthetic version of your intellectual self that is trained through your writing is now a possibility. I’d been introduced to Andrew Huberman’s “ask me anything” chatbot that was made through Dexa.AI and I thought I’d like that but for my own writing. So any founder or LP can get a sense of who I am by asking questions at their leisure.

We’ve come so far that it is an almost quotidian project for developers if you can provide enough training data and it looks as if I may have enough. Just by tweeting my interest I was introduced to chatbase.co, ThreeSigma.ai, Authory (great way to consolidate your content) and the possibility of knocking out a langchain on Replit. Aren’t my Twitter friends cool?

A big thank you to 2021 me and 2022 me which wrote so damn much. Click those links for my “best of” round ups. Hopefully I’ll have a synthetic self soon so you will have the option of asking it instead of hyperlink rabbit holing down endless inference threads.

My buddy Sean and I landed on “Phenia” as this synth’s name. He’s tinkering already. My husband Alex is already wondering what the heck is going on. But I see a pattern emerging. Phenia as in apophenia. A synthetic self capable of pattern recognition towards an inward spiral of infinite synthetic selves? Not a bad choice for a name at all. We can figure out a chat bot in a bit.

Categories
Startups

Day 868 and Chunks

Amid all the panic about how artificial intelligence is rapidly replacing human work, we are hiding a dirty little secret. Humans are awful at breaking down goals into component parts. Anyone who has tried to use any type of project management software intuits this. Articulating clear, specific and manageable tasks is very hard.

Humans are inference driven, always integrating little bits of context and nuance. If your boss gives you a goal, the best path forward on it will depend on hundreds if not thousands of factors.

What’s your budget? What is your timeline? Who is on your team? Do you dislike someone? Want to impress another person? Is the goal to be fast? Is the goal to be good? Is the goal to be as good as possible as fast as possible with as little budget as possible? Trick question, quit your job if that last one true.

Knowing what we want, knowing the best path to achieving it, and knowing how the pursuit of those goals affect your family, friends, neighbors, enemies and adversaries, creates layers of decisions in a complex matrix of possibilities. This is easy for a machine to do if we’ve given them the right inputs, outputs, and parameters. Alignment isn’t all that easy.

I personally don’t believe most of us know what we want. Beyond a Giradian imitation of what our current culture deems valuable, and thus worthy of admiration, genuine desire is hard to pin down. And that makes it hard to have goals. Goals are required to have specific tasks. Specific preferences on how a task gets achieved narrow it down even further.

If I could simplify down every detail and desire and nuance and preference set and also align them with my wider goals, ambitions, and critical paths to achieving them you know I’d have it all organized on some kanban board. And if the AI can extract that from me and turn all my goals into discrete assignments and task chunks I’d happily go full Culture and let them run my entire life.

Categories
Finance Internet Culture Startups

Day 853 and Alignment on Our Consensus

Some narrative wars are being fought right right. Who owns the future and who gets to decide on what something is worth? That question is rippling through AI communities and crypto DAOs. And then the Federal Reserve raised another quarter point and Balaji explained probabilistic thinking and it went over everyone’s heads. And the beat goes on.

We are all looking at the consensus making in the market and applying our separate projections onto the great stage of guessing if you think you know what other people think everyone knows. What is common knowledge. Turns out calculus is useful!

You’d think the value of an honest days work would be common knowledge. But labor costs sure have gone up. Or maybe a gallon of milk. Politicians don’t know. How much do you get for a dollar? I’d like to know if you think it has changed. These are things you can evaluate yourself. You do not need a fancy expert. Though sometimes economists on Twitter will answer your questions.

But are we aligned on the measurements and valuations being used? What do you value vs Janet Yellen. I believe we have a right to ask for the people and technologies that run our lives to be accountable.

We have to agree on some collective civilization level norm on what we value and what the boundaries are on what things are worth and how we protect those valuable things.

It’s my personal opinion that we are all performing a bit of chaos magic as we ask that we align on a future that can collectively together build the most aligned consensus of agreement. Maybe it happens at the neighborhood level or maybe it’s a whole state. But we need to agree to some terms.

How gets to do that and how do we enable them? Maybe it’s humans. Maybe it’s humans guiding machines to make us more powerful. I myself believe that machines will need a valuation mechanism to sort priorities on our behalf.

People ask if I’m on team AI or team crypto. AI needs crypto to bridge the many different value sets and marketplaces together. Some of these types of value marketplaces may even be cultural values. That’s the goal of the network state. Align with the state that empowers your values. But then these states will also need to coordinate in various states of mistrust, distrust or if we dare trustlessness.

But aligning on how we govern and what rules we must abide by is a hard problem. We’ve relied on national liberty in America for a good while and it has produced many failures along the way.

But occasionally the utopians win a few rounds. Freedom does indeed reign it just takes a lot of fight. But we work to align as many of us as possible toward a consensus. Nobody said civilization was easy to maintain.

Categories
Chronic Disease Internet Culture

Day 851 and May Day

My husband Alex is currently being main charactered on Twitter for posting his distress that the cleaning service we use once or twice a month put his cast iron skillet in the dishwasher.

Spent a year seasoning this guy and a cleaner ran it through the dishwasher

As you will learn from a perusal of the 650 or so quote tweets, this Tweet is horror of privilege, class tensions and social inequality. Division of labor is bad and paying people to do a service you could do yourself is also (inexplicably) bad. It’s my opinion that this response is mostly fear that our capacity to earn a living through labor is diminishing. Happy International Workers Day!

Twitter has been so broken that it’s been a while since I’ve seen a context collapse happen to someone close to me. It’s been pretty fun. I’d almost forgot how ridiculous Twitter can be.

Now, of course, it’s impolite to drag someone on Twitter. But being upset that a professional fucked up a paid service is however kind of Twitter’s whole vibe. Being a cleaner is skilled work. You don’t put cast iron in a dishwasher anymore than you’d toss a wool suit in a dryer. But you can’t take knowledge for granted and Alex fucked up by leaving the pan on the stove.

Alex is sad for to have lost something he values. He is a talented chef and treats his tools with care. The seasoning came from a year of cooking. The skillet can be repaired but a year of cooking only gets replaced by a year of cooking. Loss is part of life.

But as this May Day viral Tweet indicates, any public display or experience that suggests you have privilege of any kind can quickly turn into a dim witted undergraduate seminar where it everyone is failing basic critical theory. Power is complicated.

I’m particularly amused by the jealousy on display as the reason we have a cleaner come once or twice a month is because I’m disabled. I have a chronic inflammatory spinal condition and my husband is my primary care giver. Typically disability is recognized in the wider pantheon of intersectionality as a disadvantage.

But intersectionality isn’t nearly as fun for dunking as inchoate rage. Much better to enjoy a little consequence free social opprobrium by laughing at those awful wealthy startup shitheads who pay for services. Fuck us!

I don’t desire any pity for my disability. But it would be silly to pretend that simply because we came into some money that I don’t have any problems.

Without treatment I was bedridden and unable to walk. So when we had some startup investments exit it was an relief to feel like we wouldn’t be in lifelong medical debt. We hire services as it allows us both to work. And I work because our medical bills are insane. Fun loop right?

Whatever you take away from this, I’d argue it’s good to care about power, community, skills, disability, labor and ending the culture wars. I’m glad this happened on May Day. We will continue pay a living wage to our skilled service providers. We are lucky it’s within our means. We pay $150 for three hours and we will continue to put our money into our community because that’s the whole point of rich assholes. Now go watch some Downtown Abbey.

Categories
Community Internet Culture

Day 850 and Complicated

I’m coming off of a very intense week having been in Texas at a conference. I have a lot of integration work I need to do on the ideas and emotions I was exposed to during the week. If you weren’t following along I talk about erasure, inclusion and summer camp among other topics and I’d definitely click on erasure if you haven’t read it.

I’ve got some complicated emotions on how the wider crypto industry and our ambitions for decentralization and power sharing will play out. There was a lot more building energy and a lot less fluffy grifts but trust in any of what is being built is at an all time low. And it’s basically our fault. So that’s always fun.

There was talk of throwing the governmental eye of Sauron onto the artificial intelligence community so crypto can catch a breather. I felt like this was exceptionally dangerous as an attitude as I believe crypto only really matters if artificial intelligence succeeds as machines need machine money.

I’ve been doing a lot of work to seed what I consider to be genuinely underserved communities who have been excluded from mainstream computing’s benefits as I think we all deserve a say in how currency and monetary systems will work in the future. The dissidents range from the transgendered sex worker to insular religious communities.

Power sharing remains a challenge for humanity and our incentive structures are producing a number of second and third order problems. I remain committed to a pluralistic community that maintains appropriate boundaries and liberties. But I sure don’t know how I reconcile that some folks are hellbent on domination and submission.

Categories
Community Startups Travel

Day 849 and “Oh I Follow You!”

I’ve been in Austin for Coindesk’s Consensus crypto conference. I’m flying home to Montana today after five intense days of work. But if the on the ground reception is any indication, I nailed this year with my talks and vibes. I might actually be good at my job.

Conferences can be tricky if you are a speaker. You’re obligated to hold attention & entertain while also getting across complicated topics like governance contracts. It takes energy and preparation to do it well.

This year I was a bit less academic than last year as Marc Hochstein and I hosted an interactive town hall which was spicy as hell and my loud carnival barker voice carried. A bit bigger than just a talk and I think it was a hit.

By the end the room was packed with folks passing by and stopped to see what we were discussing. A bunch of smiling energetic faces and a loud lady in a full length dress is a bit eye catching out on a convention floor stage. I got so much positive feedback.

Heck, I was in a bathroom where I overhead an attendee discussing the panel the next day with a gentleman who was also panelist. The attendee raved to the panelist and said “that chick” really held everyone’s attention on topic. A good performance all around.

I called Consensus a “summer camp for adults” as it all your crypto friends get together for it. An expensive paid conference with a lot of talent and speakers makes for excellent serendipity. I felt like I made new connections and even a new friend or two.

It felt easy as in a small community someone like me gets to enjoy the benefits of niche fringe micro-celebrity. I kept hearing over and over “I follow you on Twitter” along with “she’s so funny on Twitter she says the shit you are thinking.” I’ve got to admit it feels good.

And I think it was fun for Alex who spent part of the week hearing folks tell him that while he’s great (and everyone loves his homesteading adventures) but they are really more excited to meet his wife. Dare I say I’m a trophy wife?

It’s super fun when your internet frens and parasocial relationships come together in actual reality. We were all happily saying “oh I follow you” to each other all week. I miss everyone already. But I’m happy to be home in Montana.

Categories
Community Internet Culture Startups

Day 848 and Summer Camp

I’m not a camp kid. I’m told there exists a group of kids whose formative summer experiences are at summer camp and I’ve watched enough American television to have the gist of the genre. It looks fun.

Professional conferences appear to offer a similar experience to adults. You have a yearly event or two that gets together various sets of old colleagues and professional teams that then overlap with social and affinity groups. I’ve been at Consensus which is one of crypto’s many conferences but somehow one of its most inclusive.

It’s a bit of a crossover event where a lot of different factions put aside their differences and ask why the fuck are we here and what the fuck are we even building anyway. And the answer seems to be every kind of kid you’d expect at summer camp. We are building a pretty inclusive place with a lot of weirdos.

You’ve got the academic nuanced protocol dorks, the tradfi to defi chads, the solar punk regenerative commons open source projects, developer tool companies, analytics firms and graph data scientists, privacy and OpSec nerds, and even the baroque online misogynists. And me, who is, I guess, a chaos magic witch or a pre-seed venture investor if you are nasty.

Crypto is for everybody and sometimes we aren’t thrilled by everyone who shows up but we do our best to make sure everyone is included in the effort. Maybe we even help cool down the radicals and maximalists right? Maybe we can reach a consensus?

Everyone who is here this year is down for the fight. There are a millions reasons why skepticism of centralizing authority and panopticon states is good. Mostly it comes down to insisting on finding a trust layer that we can all agree on. Even if you are a racist weirdo online.

And I’d imagine most marginalized identities can understand the basic skepticism how big institutions. I’ve only got a few issues (disability and gender come to mind) and even I see how institutions turn a blind eye to our needs if we don’t stand up. So we’ve got to agree on a common set of civilizational rules. If a state can’t do that then we better build alternatives fast. Trust layers matter.

So I’m glad that I’m in an aligned fight for those basic ideals. We are fighting for a consensus in a pluralistic world. Because that’s one where we can all prosper. And speaking as someone at summer camp for utopians, it feels pretty good to be optimistic. Just give us a decade or two to keep fucking around and finding out. With enough of us competing we will get there.

Categories
Community Startups

Day 847 and Erasure

I hosted an interactive town hall for Consensus this afternoon. The topic was the path forward for building communities online, offline and IRL with cryptocurrency, decentralized autonomous organizations and maybe even network states.

I’ve been working on this town hall for several months. I worked with Marc Hochstein to refine the thesis question, build the flow and topics, bring together speakers from unique ecosystems and projects, and horse trade the various bit of social capital required to get interesting content out the door. I worked hard on it. I felt I was one of the owners of the panel.

Builders of new types of communities – online, IRL, and hybrids – roll up their sleeves and discuss how they’ve addressed challenges from 60,000-foot strategy to immediate on-the-ground tactics in a zero-trust world with high trust expectations. Topics include: governance and accountability; organic scaling through consensus (who and what decides on whether it is achieved); the architecture of sustaining and driving loyalty; navigating regulatory hurdles; uncertainty around novel governance structures; and managing information and workflows around who and what is trusted.

I was proud of my first question as I felt qualified to ask having once been the founder and leader of an organization. Conway’s Law is a familiar adage in software design. Simply put, what we build is a reflection of who we are and how we communicate with each other. So I opened the town hall with this as the thirty thousand foot view.

If what we build is a reflection of the organizations that build it, then crypto is a reflection of this room. Assuming you believe our goal is to economic and monetary solutions for everyone willing to align with our reformation, are we living up to this ambition?

We had a lot of ground to cover. Issues of institutional distrust, transparency, governance, and decentralization’s promises for inclusion. But reactivity means we go to base emotions. An older woman asked the panel (not me though) why there weren’t more women on the panel. Needlessly to say I took that personally. Ain’t I a panelist?

I just brought the hammer down on this poor woman who wanted to call my panel a “manel” because lady it’s fucking erasure I worked for months to bring this group together, I’m on the stage as an expert, and you think don’t I count?

She said I was the moderator. Which like yeah it’s my fucking show because I have the expertise to bring the leaders together as I’m a peer. I shut it down as we had deeper questions on what inclusion than Boomer feminism or Girlbossing woke-ism can manage.

The beauty of Bitcoin and Ethereum and the ecosystem of L2s like Stacks is any of us can validate what’s going on. There is no “man” or patriarchy or systemic oppression keeping you out of learning and using the tools. Maybe they reflect their builders who haven’t always been inclusive but now all of us together can earn and build like anyone else. We can make our tools reflect us by insisting on being seen.

I regularly have my background and expertise and existence questioned by everyone. And I just keep showing up. So I’d like to say sticking a girl on a panel does nothing for inclusion. But being a woman who organized a serious (ly) weird town hall on community should also mean my experience counts as much as anyone else’s.

I want everyone to count. You count. I count. Your gender or sexual orientation doesn’t discount you unless you discount yourself first. I regularly make sure I’m seen and I want you seen too.

The way to count is by speaking up and making sure that men aren’t the only ones who contribute. Don’t want to make your gender or sex a thing?

Go ignore gender & sex and & identity entirely and be an anon with a Milady pfp. I came to crypto to be a sovereign of my own body and choices. It’s your choice. None of us are victims.

I was amused as dozens of women came up to me after with enthusiasm about how we do inclusion in crypto because we don’t need to be restricted by Girlbossing or Boomer feminism. We include ourselves as the system is inclusive by design.

Decentralized systems include us all. And that’s a future they can’t exclude us from. Do you want to categorize every identity into perfect little corporate identities and slogans. I don’t. We can build a future where we are free to be you and me. Ok Boomer?

Categories
Startups

Day 846 and Serendipity

Last night I arrived in Austin for my favorite annual cryptocurrency event called Consensus. If you are participating please consider coming to my interactive town hall on Thursday at 1:30pm where we have an hour of panel & audience discourse on the future of trust & community.

I am excited for this panel as I feel like I’m ready to own my experience as a professional community builder. It’s been a job in the social media era for a bit. But it’s only recently that we’ve realized the ecosystem of builders is tightly knit together by a tapestry of overlapping passions and competencies. It’s lots of different kinds of nerds.

We arrived earlier than expected which enabled us to go to an event with Jon Stokes (I was slightly more excited to see his wife Christina but Jon knows I adore him too). While we had lots of folks discussing heady issues like the network state, it is most joyful for me to discuss the more human aspects of life in a community. Who was looking after the kids and which one of our neighbors is housesitting. Practical daily living things felt like the natural connection of humans beings working together.

From there we went to a dinner with one of our most cherished real ones Ben Huh. The man knows food so I was thrilled to be feeling healthy enough to stay out and enjoy a meal with a table of deeply weird unabashedly themselves people. When we did introductions the question was “what is something you are obsessed with right now?”

The answers were wide ranging. High temperature cooking, textile pattern making, reality dating shows on Netflix (not for the record me but I am also obsessed), showing up as you are, sewing the perfect custom dress shirt, raising goats, riding tractors, reading science fiction mind bender The Three Body Problem, and mastering nervous system regulation (this one is me).

I felt like everyone I saw that night was one of my fellow travelers. The serendipity of overlapping passions and curiosity showed me so many ways I connect with diverse humans. I encountered politics as disparate as reactionary fascist and shitlib standard as everyone comes to grip with a future that feels as yet unwritten. There is a lot of serendipity on the frontier. It’s nice to be reminded that the future is built together.