The following is a collection of my favorite writing across the web, spanning a variety of domains. These are the authors and pieces I find myself coming back to, over and over again. I’ve organized them into four categories: Narrative Producers, Narrative Violators, ‘Decision-Making, Systems-Explaining’, and Digital Scarcity.
There exist atoms and nothingness, and all the rest is opinion.Demokritos of Abdera
The Double Bind, Alex Danco — Silicon Valley’s fuel is undifferentiation. If I could recommend one piece for anyone interested in venture capital, it would be this one. A good companion (also by Danco) is how founders and VCs make up the modern theocracy.
The Premium Mediocre Life of Maya Millennial, Venkatesh Rao — Millennials find themselves in a liminal state of precarity. Both meaning and financial sustainability are absent, but their signals are still there, framed by the Instagram grid.
you can handle the truth: a pocket guide to the surreal internet, Aaron Z. Lewis — The Internet gets weirder. Your personalized A.I, virtual reality goggles, and favorite tech entrepreneur can’t save you. Pop your reality bubble—and get meta.
A worldview that does not start with God must start with something less than God…Nancy Pearcey, Total Truth
The Meme Hustler, Evgeny Morozov — Anyone wondering how memes came to dominate Silicon Valley lingo—the reason you get hit with serotonin after hearing the phrases “open source” and “Web 3.0″—should look to none other than Tim O’Reilly. As history and tech’s concept of ‘participation’ show, they are also largely empty phrases.
Global Social Computer in the Cloud, Venkatesh Rao — I was a budding adherent of Cal Newport’s brand of digital minimalism (what Venkatesh lovingly refers to as “waldenponding”) when I read this, and it wrecked me. We can cede control of our attention in exchange for oracular power. And chances are, you already are.
After Authenticity, Toby Shorin — Our culture craves authenticity. Just look at our favorite commodities: a stagnant pool of authentic, handmade, artisan goods and clothing. At affordable prices, of course. As its obsolescence approaches, we must build a more active successor.
Come morning I found the day as I have found every other day—without relief or explanation.Mark Danielewski, House of Leaves
The Toxoplasma of Rage, Scott Alexander — Only events with low-certainty have signaling value, and they must invoke controversy to garner attention. Our internet threads are memetic capillaries, pumping with hot blood.
Inadequate Equilibria, Eliezer Yudkowsky — When it comes to pretty much any problem in society: “Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by
stupidity coordination problems.” This piece will explain why.
Don’t you think you’re just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic?William Vickrey
Open Assets, Walter Perry — Blockchain systems are intrinsically authoritative, based on consensus instead of consent. There is a better way to reify value, and the solution lies in semantics: Transactions-as-Nouns and Transactions-as-Verbs.
Token-Curated Registries 1.0, Mike Goldin — While I’ve also heavily criticized cryptosystems, a token-curated registry is the most elegant example of cryptoeconomic theory. Whether or not the TCR comes to life, this idea will inspire future technologies, just like classic works of science fiction.
Post-Venture Capital and the Crypto Nobel Prize, Matthew Stephenson — Combining non-fungible tokens with citizen science may be the first step towards an efficient market for ideas.