If digital connectivity provided the spark, it ignited because the kindling was already everywhere. The way forward is not to cultivate nostalgia for the old-world information gatekeepers or for the idealism of the Arab Spring. It’s to figure out how our institutions, our checks and balances, and our societal safeguards should function in the 21st century—not just for digital technologies but for politics and the economy in general. This responsibility isn’t on Russia, or solely on Facebook or Google or Twitter. It’s on us.
“I think network effects are great, but in a sense they’re a little overrated. The problem with network effects is they unwind just as fast. And so they’re great while they last, but when they reverse, they reverse viciously. Go ask the MySpace guys how their network effect is going. Network effects can create a very strong position, for obvious reasons. But in another sense, it’s a very weak position to be in. Because if it cracks, you just unravel. I always worry when a company thinks the answer is just network effects. How durable are they?
Marc Andreessen in an interesting interview with Elad Gil.
”The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. That is real freedom. The alternative is unconsciousness, the default setting, the “rat race” – the constant gnawing sense of having had and lost some infinite thing.”
”When a thousand people believe some made-up story for one month, that’s fake news. When a billion people believe it for a thousand years, that’s a religion, and we are admonished not to call it fake news in order not to hurt the feelings of the faithful (or incur their wrath).”
Yuval Noah Harari, Observer, 5 August 2018.
If you had to rate your satisfaction with your life so far, out of 10, what would you score?
“I like the number eight. When you turn it through 180 degrees, it becomes infinity.”
Hans Ulrich Obrist, quoted in the Financial Times, 4/5 August 2018.
LATER Clive Page emails to point out that the trick only works if you rotate 8 through 90 degrees! Which is embarrassing for the esteemed FT sub-editors, not to mention this blogger!
”Boredom is the feeling that everything is a waste of time; serenity is the feeling that nothing is.”
”We may be competitive social animals, but we co-operated our way to the god-damned moon”.
Robin Hansom and Kevin Simler in The Elephant in the Brain: Hidden Motives in Everyday Life.
“Cars are a luxury, not a right. We should treat them as such.”
”More than 90% of people opted in”. Yeah, sure. They clicked ‘I agree’ to make it go away.
”If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer. This is because lies, by their very nature, have to be changed, and a lying government has constantly to rewrite its own history. On the receiving end you get not only one lie—a lie which you could go on for the rest of your days—but you get a great number of lies, depending on how the political wind blows. And a people that no longer can believe anything cannot make up its mind. It is deprived not only of its capacity to act but also of its capacity to think and to judge. And with such a people you can then do what you please.”