Another Sunday, Another Naive Weekly - Observations From The Internet Wilderness.
A millennium ago Erik the Red was expelled from Iceland. He sailed to the west and discovered a large island. To attract people with the promises of a better life he named the island Greenland. It worked, initially.
Y2k was the end of history. Or at least we worried if our computers would be able to function as the millennium switched. The dot com bubble blasted, but it was 9/11 that became the burning image as the decade evaded.
In the ashes of the twin towers we woke up to a new political agenda; the war on terror. Our fears justified a global historical intrusion of privacy. We complained about Russian interference in our elections, but I am sure our own intelligence services celebrated the widespread adoption of social media and the smartphone.
While politicians were ordering drone killings, capitalists grew their fortunes above the clouds. Not since the 1920s have economic inequality been so stark. Pension funds and venture money flew to web 2.0 businesses, then to tech startups with a short period of blockchain companies.
Our brightest minds competed to get a job at companies harnessing our relationships for revenue. Initially using the platforms to get elected, now not even our politicians seem to have the power to enforce law on the non-negotiable, black-box driven tech companies.
As we venture into a new decade, I hope our fear of the stranger evolves into an appreciation of life. I hope for a decade with renovation over innovation, relationships over scale, cycles over growth, questions over answers, observations over interventions and poetry over breaking news.
If we don’t, I fear that Greenland will forever become green land. Happy 20s.
Internet Black Hole
Taylor Lorenz starts where she left off, being my favorite journalist covering Internet culture. In this New York Times article she covers the concept of influencer mansions, using a recently launched TikTok mansion called Hype House as the case.
Advertising Makes Us Unhappy
New research finds correlation between national happiness and advertisement spend. Basically the research suggests that the more advertisement people are exposed to, the unhappier they will become. [Insert sarcastic comment about the Internet]
I Love The 20s*
Raise your hand if you already had someone tell you that we are technically not yet in a new decade. Once you’ve come to the agreement that we are now in the 20s, then spend a few minutes reading WaitButWhy’s post welcoming us to the future before you wonder together with Hobbes if we have the brains for the technology we got.
What Will Happen In The 2020s
With a new decade* it is once again time for future predictions. I’d put my money on these by investor Fred Wilson, mainly because they seem to be strongly rooted in our current trajectories. If you think decade predictions are easy, check this Hacker News thread from December 2009.
My friends from Cybernauterne released a resolution generator. It is ugly and nerdy AF, and probably that is why I love it. What is your cyber-wellness resolution?
Jenny Odell - How To Do Nothing
Extremely clever book. Jenny is an Internet artist and art professor at Stanford University. She is also one of my favorite writers. This book is an extension of her popular talk/essay from 2017 and rarely have I read a non-fiction book where the chapters follow each other in such a logic order without being repetitive or boring. For me the book peaks when Jenny uses art and nature to reflect on our modern addiction to technology, fortunately this happens often throughout the book.
Timothy Morton - Being Ecological
With agriculture humans separated us self from nature. We became the subject, nature became the object. This separation has allowed us to apply our efficient mindset and extract economic value out of the world, ignoring the wider consequences. But we are not separated from nature, we are nature. This is how I’d sum up Tim’s book. Honestly a rather confusing read, where it is more glimpses than the whole that I’ll take with me. Yet I’d highly recommend it.
Gilles Clément - “The Planetary Garden” And Other Writings
In Tokyo I picked up an edition of The Plant magazine. I quickly fell in love with the photography, topics and writing, so when one of the articles quoted from Gilles’ essay The Planetary Garden I immediately ordered the book. I don’t agree with everything Gilles writes, but the three essays included in the book sparked unexpected conversations on topics like diversity and racism.
Many of you replied to last week’s newsletter. Thank you. I become really really happy for each and every single one of your replies (just ask Ana) and I promise to reply to all of you when I am back from holiday. Meanwhile, here are a few of your comments.
“I can relate to the neighbours paragraph. Definitely something that sucks about big city life... but we’re also conditioned to keep our doors shut and locked, so everyone is contributing to it. Since there is a day for virtually anything, maybe there can be one called Open Door Day - a day where you leave your door open so neighbours can come in.”
“I'm actually writing this whilst listening to some of the ongoing 36C3 congress talks, I attended the CCC Camp last summer in Mildenberg (6000 hackers spending 4 days together). It was super interesting to start exploring this seemingly parallel universe of community which goes about with technology in a different way. Although the whole event is very political and is extreme in all directions, it did show me that creative use of technology is still full of hope.”
Hi, I’m Kristoffer and you have just read Naive Weekly - Observations From The Internet Wilderness.
Csongor! You made my day when I received the notification that you became a paying subscriber. To everyone else, Csongor is the hardest working person in the Hungarian technology scene and his heart is as big as his smile is wide. We shared a turbulent year together and our conversations will stay with me till I die.
Last week this newsletter was sent to 277 subscribers, among whom (now!) 12 are kind enough to chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: Nikolaj, Antal, Søren, Dries, Mikkel, Tina, Aydo, Lukas, Hans, Csongor, Ida Marie & Angela!