Space Time Computer

Prisoners of the present. Victims of the past. Slaves of the future.

Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

It is Saturday when I am writing this newsletter. Therefore I don’t know what happened Sunday. I don’t know if A$AP Rocky is still in Swedish prison. I don’t know if Julian Alaphilippe managed to protect his yellow jersey in the Tour de France stage to Foix Prat d'Albis.

My excuse for writing the newsletter beforehand is holiday. I am taking a week away from the every day life. Usually I’d be bringing my laptop with me everywhere, also when going on holiday. But this time I have decided to let the computer rest back home.

The early computers were gigantic. Back then no one could possibly bring a computer with them on holiday. The computers would take up entire rooms, so people were walking inside the computers to operate them. Not something you’d easily fit in your airplane hand-luggage.

Recently I read about the early computer history. Where the Internet was developed for a desire to share military information across distances, the early computers were driven by a desire to predict the weather. Understanding the weather was important for military actions and for agriculture, it was quite literally a matter of life and death.

In many ways it seems to have worked. Thanks to the impressive improvement in processing power and the increase in data collecting sources, humans started to be able to predict the weather quite reliable. Weather forecasts provided farmers with the knowledge of when to harvest and military strategists with information of when they should not plan an airborne strike.

In many ways technological progress has become a way for knowing the future. Given enough datasets, a computer should be able to predict what is going to happen next. Provide the computer with all the available data from each of the bike riders in Sunday’s Tour de France stage and it should be able to reliable predict if Alaphilippe is still wearing the yellow jersey when you are reading this.

If a prediction goes wrong, we are not questioning the process of how we came to the forecast in the first place. Instead we work on getting even more and better data. We send satellites to space and put sensors in everything, everywhere.

The early computers were so big that you could step out of them. Today’s computers are so small that we cannot. I might have left my computer behind, but I still have my phone in my backpack and every time my passport is scanned or my credit card is charged, an overwhelming amount of computers are informed.

Today technological development is happening at an incredible pace. Again and again I hear technologists being surprised about how soon new technology is commercially available. We invented the computers to predict the future, but part of me think that when the first human stepped into the computer we lost both the future and the past.

For better and worse, today a late-night tweet from a president can change global politics. For clearly worse, today’s CO2 emissions are changing the global climate, making the weather more extreme and more unpredictable (and large parts of the world unliveable for plants, humans and animals).

Today we might switch on the light and work all night. We might bring our laptops with us and work from anywhere and connect to people everywhere. But where people in the past could confidently predict the professions of their offspring, I highly doubt that many people 10 years ago would have predicted that “YouTuber” would be the dream of the young people across the world in 2019.

The difference between weather and climate is decades. Where the weather is the day-to-day state of the atmosphere, the climate is the weather averaged over periods of up to 30 years. Did we sacrifice predicting the climate in our urge to predict the weather?

The Conference

Earlier this summer Cecilia made my week by asking us to curate a session on the social web for this year’s The Conference. It gave me the opportunity to connect with a few of the people who’s articles I have been sharing in this newsletter and invite them to join us in Sweden.

Last week the last speaker confirmed and I am butterflies all over for having them share different perspectives on the next wave of the social web. We have not announced any of the speakers yet, but if you read these three articles you might be able to guess who’ll be joining us.

  1. Self-discovery Happens Upon Revisiting Things You’ve Accumulated Over Time.

  2. Behind Twitter’s Plan To Get People To Stop Yelling At One Another

  3. Why I'm Excited About Decentralized Social Networks

It you have nothing else planned for Aug 27-28, please do join us in Malmo.

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and I’m one of the founders of co-matter. You just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

As always a big thanks to the seven Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajAntal, SørenDriesMikkelTina & Angela!

<3

K

For No Reason

How Much Time Do We Have Left Ft. Pussypedia

Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

Two weeks ago I was attending Tech Open Air in Berlin. Hosted next to the Spree river at the old radio center of the DDR, the conference has one of Europe’s most unique venues for bringing people together. The location breathes history, not convention center.

I was there with work as we were hosting a podcast studio together with Samsung NEXT. Since my teammates had everything planned and under control, I for once had the opportunity to be at a conference without facilitating, speaking or organizing. Instead I could sit and observe.

In 2019 there are many ways to connect with people. On a stressed day I’d probably say there are too many ways to connect as I jump between conversations on WhatsApp, Telegram, Messenger, LinkedIn, iMessage, Slack, Email, Hangout, Zoom and Twitter. Just writing this list makes me feel exhausted and overwhelmed.

I worked many years with a film festival. Film festivals grew out of a clear need: films were made on large rolls of print. To create and transport these prints were extremely time consuming and costly. Therefore the film industry started to organize common meeting points where buyers, press, distributors and other industry people could watch more films at the same trip.

With YouTube and Netflix, Wikipedia and Quora, Podcasts and Newsletters, Google Scholar and ResearchGate, that is hardly the case any longer. Knowledge and content is easily available anywhere, anytime. Even proprietary data is usually available with creative googling or visiting the darker sites of the Internet.

Yet the film festivals still exist. Yet technology conferences still exist.

It might have been because I just have had a couple of intense weeks and therefore was low on batteries and extra cynical. But for whatever reason, when I was sitting outside our podcast studio and observing the people passing by I felt that the vast majority was there for the same reason as me: work.

To be clear, there is nothing wrong in attending conferences for work, but there is a fine balance. The room quickly changes atmosphere if there is starting to be more people who attends because it is an excuse to take a day away from the desktop or because it is part of their boss’ marketing plan.

I strongly believe in the power of bringing people together, but it is hard to justify the CO2 and the time if there isn’t a higher goal with the gathering. Not all gatherings have to change the world, but the very least they should be driven by curiosity. Expensed entertainment is more than boring, it is irrelevant.

Six Stories on Technology and Internet Culture

1. Hidden Cities

A post about internet subcultures that are semi-public, but don't necessarily want to be found. Absolutely worth your time and make sure to subscribe to Nadia’s newsletter too, the latest edition covered different types of conversations, from brain dumping to scrapbooking.

2. How much free time do you have?

One of those small tools the Internet used to have millions of but somehow became less frequent. The premise simple: add what you spend your time on and the site will tell you how much free time you have left in your life. Afterwards you can start to consider how to spend it (see also Paul Graham’s evergreen essay ‘Life is Short’).

3. PUSSYPEDIA

Sapere aude!

4. Plant Parenthood

Continuing the plant theme with this article on raising plants. The highlight was the distinguish between the gardener and the botanist. My plant obsession level has reached a level where I truly believe the Internet would be a better place if it had more botanists.

5. We’re at Peak Newsletter, and I Feel Fine

I think everyone should start a newsletter. After having pushed my friend Aydo for the better part of a year, he last Friday sent me a private newsletter. It made me extremely happy. In a world with quick information that is filtered by popularity and algorithms, newsletters are a way for me to find curators I trust and where I actually get the news I want. When you read the article you’ll notice clever observations by Ann Friedman. She writes one of the best weekly newsletters and last week was hands down the best edition she has written yet - I saved at least 10 links from it.

6. TikTok Stars Are Preparing to Take Over the Internet

Speaking of conferences. Last week it was time for the annual Vidcon. For the past many years it has been all about YouTube, but apparently the hottest party this year was Tiktok. It seems we soon have a new social app to spend our time on. This one fuelled by $1 billion advertising dollar.

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and I’m one of the founders of co-matter. You just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

Last week Antal became the seventh paying subscriber. Antal is a good friend, and possibly an even better developer. Last week Twitter had a 10x moment. It started with an investor tweeting about how to spot a 10x developer. It spiralled into 10x everything, including 10x pets. I find the whole idea of 10x humans rather sick, but if I should pick any 10x people it would all of you reading my weekly nonsense.

As always a big thanks to the seven Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajAntal, SørenDriesMikkelTina & Angela!

<3

K

My Worst Nightmare

Two Billion The Truman Shows: Individual Nightmares and Collective Dreams

Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

It is different what we find scary. When I was in kindergarten, The Land Before Time would freak me out. I remember hiding in the back of the room while it was playing so I could easily sneak out without my friends noticing. To this day I’m still not sure if I’ve ever managed to watch any of the films to the end.

Fortunately with The Land Before Time I could close the door and leave the drama behind. Out of sight, out of mind. With The Truman Show everything was different. The Truman Show was the first film that changed how I perceived the world. For weeks after having watched the film I’d look for hidden cameras behind mirrors. I couldn’t stop questioning if my life was a TV show, with me being the unaware main character.

Crime, fantasy, horror, sci-fi… I had watched it all by the time I first saw The Truman Show, but none of it had managed to shake me up to the same degree as Jim Carrey living a peaceful life until he realized that it was all for show. It was not death nor war that scared me, it was the idea of living in a fake reality; a reality different from the people around me.

Twenty years ago I watched The Truman Show on TV. We only had one TV at home. It was a small black and white TV with only the public service stations. The TV was standing in the living room and there was no option to pause the film. If I had to pee or make pop-corn, I’d have to ask my family what had happened while I was gone.

Today I don’t have a TV any longer. A few years ago I had one for a short while, but otherwise my laptop and mobile phone have been my TV screens for the past decade. As a true millennia, I’ve cut the cable under the motto of “anywhere, anytime”. I don’t need any parent nor public broadcaster to decide what I watch, I want to make that decision myself.

I can probably find The Truman Show and The Land Before Time on Netflix. And if not on Netflix, then I can probably find them elsewhere. I can create my own world. And so can you. And so we do.

In 2019 we all live in some sort of fake reality; realities different from one another. The recommended films I see on Netflix are different from those you see. The news I see in my Facebook and Twitter feed are different from those you see. The shops I see in Google Maps are different from those you see.

Today we are all a blue dot showing our own location while navigating through a hyper-personalized world. Our living room TVs have become toilet break Youtube. Our public broadcasters have become commercial algorithms. Very rarely do we get to share a common reality. Did we just invent two billion The Truman Shows?

Four Stories on Technology and Internet Culture

1. The Global Economy Runs on Parties You’re Not Invited To

The Internet promised an equal playing-field. And sure it changed industries - especially in advertising where Facebook and Google accounts for the vast majority of revenue dollars. Farhad Manjoo wonders why people still flok to meet at industry gatherings in a world that supposedly should be flat.

2. Tristan Harris - US Senate June 25, 2019

These days there is a lot of talk about technology companies designing for addiction. I imagine the boards at Disney, Coca-Cola and American Tobacco being happy with the current focus of the zeitgeist. Tristan Harris is one of the pioneers of Time Well Spent, and when you accept the hyperbolic notion and remember that the world was born before the Internet, then it is actually a rather insightful testimonial Tristan does with the US Senate.

3. Emma Chamberlain Is the Most Important YouTuber Today

This week’s Internet Culture by Taylor Lorenz. By now I should probably recommend you to enable notifications for her new articles.

“Millennials are so curated, and Gen Z is very not,” said Adesanya. “Millennials used social media as a highlight reel … Gen Z is like, ‘Hey, this is what I’m doing right now, this is what I look like right now.’”

4. What we get wrong about religion

I read Casper ter Kuile’s newsletter religiously. Originally it was his writings on community that caught my attention, but I think it is his thoughts on religion that got me to stay. I’m the son of a pastor, so religion has been a part of my childhood. But where I as a kid tried to ignore this as much as possible, I’ve started to think of how it actually has shaped me. I found last week’s issue on faith as trust very intriguing.

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and I’m one of the founders of co-matter. You just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

As always a big thanks to the six Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajSørenDriesMikkelTina & Angela!

<3

K

Internet Monocultures

I should probably soon go on holiday before I become another angry, old, white man trolling the Internet

Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

Last fall I bought my first plant. Now my home hosts 43 plants. I think it is safe to say that I’ve become a plant person. I find myself praise the patience of letting the sun do the work and have started giving plants to friends and family, without or without their consent.

I’ve also started to spend more of my time in nature. Evening walks and weekend trips. Embedding myself into the deep forest in Sweden has become my way of logging out of the clutter and recenter myself. I’ve started not only to appreciate nature, I’ve started to notice nature.

For a period of my life, my window to nature was the Bliss computer wallpaper. You probably remember it as the Microsoft Windows wallpaper. I use to think it looked beautiful with the green hills and the bold blue sky. Today my perception of the same image has changed.

When I compare the green field of Bliss with that of a wildflower field, I quickly dream myself back to a time before industrial agriculture. I appreciate the quantity and ease in getting food, I acknowledge the importance of full-stomachs for human progress, but I think The Earth as a whole is suffering significantly from the monocultures we are creating.

Try to look around on your next drive through fields. Then imagine how this area was before it was cleared for farming. Imagine the small creeks, the butterflies, the trees and the animals. Not only did it look differently. It smelled and sounded differently.

While I believe we should do more to stop, and even counter, the monocultures we have created, I also think we should avoid making the same mistake in our digital universe. In the 90s an the 00s, the Internet was still a weird, vibrant and colourful place. It surely had flaws, just like the Internet today - and just like society in general. But it didn’t have the same centralization as we see today.

This week Cloudflare was down for a short period of time. During this period approximately 10% of all websites in the world didn’t work, including Down For Everyone Or Just Me. But it is not just our domain name service that is centralized, an estimated 80-90% of blogs and news sites run on Wordpress and the pattern is similar when you look at hosting, email services and basically anything else online.

As the Internet has matured, it went from millions of villages to a handful of megacities. Where the villages each had their own fauna, culture and norms, we are now all equally enabled and constrained by the same few templates. We have different profile photos, quirky bios and maybe even our own colour scheme - but you don’t even have to look twice to notice that it is all the same.

Four Stories on Technology and Internet Culture

1. Why People Pretend To Be Boomers In Facebook Groups

I remember listening to the Reply All episode about the fictional cleaning company running in a Facebook group, but I didn’t know that hundred of thousands of people daily engage in pretend Facebook groups. Top.

2. Bonsai Brands

The author argues that the boom of direct to consumer companies that are flourishing have problems scaling beyond a certain size. I think he might be right, but I also think it doesn’t really matter. Maybe not every company has to become a global mega company?

3. There’s an Algorithmic Reason You Should Reply ‘Yes’ to Every Facebook Event

Short read about the complex issue of responding to Facebook event invitations from friends. It also made me dream of re-launching The Hive - maybe it could be my “fight monoculture” side-project in 2020.

4. How To Build For Diversity And Inclusion

I spoke with Sabrina Faramazi from Feminist Internet about how to get started with building for diversity.

“Don't be another tech product in a long line of failures that could've catered to the real 'mainstream' instead of just middle-aged, middle class, white men.”

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and I’m one of the founders of co-matter. You just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

As always a big thanks to the six Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajSørenDriesMikkelTina & Angela!

<3

K

No Eyeballs Watching

Would You Behave Differently If There Was No Self-Made Panopticon Surrounding You?

Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

Last week Mikkel wrote in his newsletter that he wished he would write more often. In his packed days, Mikkel claimed that brutal force is needed to keep writing regularly. Otherwise it simply won’t happen.

Writing this newsletter is among my favorite activities of the week. Yet it has been a real struggle the last weeks. We’ve been busy with co-matter and my personal life has been flourishing taking up more time and energy. Everything something I am happy for, but also something that has forced me to push down this newsletter on the priority list.

Naive Weekly is in no way a popular newsletter. You are around 250 people subscribed, with a modest, yet steady opening rate of 50%. The newsletter is a personal outlet; something that keeps me reading, forces me to structure thinking and ideally stop me from continuously repeating myself.

The value I gain from writing the newsletter is therefore almost only intrinsically. I get to learn new things, improve my writing and occasionally make a new friend when one of you hit reply and comment on something I wrote.

I agree with Mikkel that force is required to write the newsletter. There is no way I’d have managed to write the last three-four newsletter had it not been because of the six people who have decided to become paying subscribers to this newsletter. It increased my commitment to them, I simply couldn’t just skip a week.

But I think there is more blocking us from writing than only coercion. I’ve started to build certain expectations to myself for the newsletter. I would not just want to write something random and incoherent. It is weird, because these expectations have nothing to do with my motivation for writing in the first place.

However, it is not only my self-made expectations and format that holds me back. I get slightly stressed out if I notice that the opening rate has fallen from 50-52% to 42% on a particular week. Although these external metrics have nothing to do with my motivation for writing Naive Weekly, they start to slip into my thoughts and are probably influencing headline, text, links and everything beyond more than I’d like to admit.

I often wished that it would be possible to switch off the dashboards for what we do online. All the email clients I’ve tested for this newsletter always have a dashboard where metrics are the emphasised. And whenever I create a new website, installing Google Analytics have been my default behaviour.

Feedback loops are important for improving and continuing. I become really happy whenever someone replies to what I write and I also appreciate when someone hits the like button that is hidden somewhere. So I don’t want feedback to totally disappear, I just wished it was based on something else than opening and click rates. I think we would get a more diverse Internet, with a wider variety of stories and more people publishing regularly.

Five Stories on Technology and Internet Culture

1. Amazon to Open 10 Pop-up Shops in UK Town Centres

I wonder how this will go down in the history books. Online store disrupted physical stores to create new physical stores. It deepens the trend towards monoculture of the Internet. On the positive side, maybe we can revitalize streets and neighborhoods.

2. These Influencers Aren’t Flesh and Blood, Yet Millions Follow Them

There are a few made-up personalities on social media platforms with millions of followers. What strikes me as weird in this story is that we consider this weird in the first place. Consumer behaviour has for a long time been shaped by made-up personalities - from Santa Claus to Harry Potter.

3. Welcome to the Era of Branded Engagements

Last week an influencer proposal made waves on the Internet. In short: an influencer couple made a deck about their (surprise) proposal and shared it with brands to offer them a one-of-kind brand engagement. I wouldn’t want to be in their shoes. The distinction between what you do for yourself and for earning money seems rather slim.

4. The Problem With “Content”

Not everything we write should be a transaction. Not everything we write should aim to convert a reader into a customer. This article inspired me for this week’s intro.

5. $1 billion for 20,000 Bay Area homes

Google just announced a bigger plan to provide more housing opportunities in the Bay Area. It is nice to see large scale pushes towards affordable housing. However, this is obviously not philanthropy. There must be things we can learn from the past. Does anyone know good readings on “company towns” (e.g. Detroit)?

Naive Weekly

Hi, I’m Kristoffer and I’m one of the founders of co-matter. You just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.

As always a big thanks to the six Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: NikolajSørenDriesMikkelTina & Angela!

<3

K

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