Good Reads: Emerging Trends
Why the past 10 years of American life have been uniquely stupid. It's not a just a phase. Here. TL/DR: He uses the story of Babel as a metaphor for modern times; quoting a few highlights:
Is MrBeast for real? Inside the Outrageous World of YouTube's Cash-Happy Stunt King. Here from Rolling Stone. Short answer: sort of.
- We are disoriented, unable to speak the same language, or recognize the same truth. We are cut off from one another and from the past.
- Once social-media platforms had trained users to spend more time performing and less time connecting, the stage was set for the major transformation, which began in 2009: the intensification of viral dynamics.
- Social media has both magnified and weaponized the frivolous
- “Politics is the art of the possible,” the German statesman Otto von Bismarck said in 1867. In a post-Babel democracy, not much may be possible.
- What would it be like to live in Babel in the days after its destruction? We know. It is a time of confusion and loss. But it is also a time to reflect, listen, and build.
But in truth, the main character of MrBeast’s channel is not actually MrBeast himself. It is cold, hard cash. Money — piles, sheaves, gobs of it — takes center stage in nearly all of his videos, proffered as a balm for all of the world’s problems to the gig-economy scrappers and hardworking single moms who star in his videos. In one, he tips a waitress at a hot-dog joint $10,000 for two glasses of water; in another, he gives more than $100,000 to people who lost their jobs in the pandemic. Much of the appeal of MrBeast is predicated on an updated version of the Horatio Alger story; the idea that with a little bit of luck, you too could one day run into MrBeast on the street and walk away thousands of dollars richer.
ApeCoin & The Death of Staking. Here by Cobie. One of the most important reads in web3 this week. He describes what staking used to mean and now what it commonly is in practice using ApeCoin, or the official currency of the Bored Ape Yacht Club, as in this illustrative example:
"Somehow, over time, the word ‘staking’ has been repurposed and redefined. Instead of receiving rewards for contributing to chain security with collateral at stake, modern “staking” just seems to mean idk we give you more coins as a reward if you don’t sell your current coins lol.
These modern staking mechanisms do not have any function in the ecosystem to which they belong. They don’t do anything in any practical or technical sense. They don’t make an ecosystem more robust. They are a shell game, using the name of a different thing to obfuscate their actual purpose, which is to encourage less selling.
Simply paying users for not selling, payment received in the same asset that they are not selling, seems like pretty late-stage in the games of ponzi creation."
The rise and fall of Crypto Culture. Here. This article makes the same point but on a more theoretical basis which I agree with:
Crypto culture has strangled crypto ethos.
I have long been vocal on my disdain of crypto culture, and my love for crypto ethos. Reading that might sound weird, but crypto ethos is concept like self-sovereign rights, self custody, self empowerment. Crypto culture is concepts like wealth, entitlement, enrichment, and ego.
DALL·E 2 and The Origin of Vibe Shifts. Here. Good piece. Punch line below.
"The leading edge of aesthetics will probably always involve human skill, even if the methods we use to channel that skill will change dramatically. When it comes to relative-performance games, we should think of AI tools more like an instrument that can be played well or poorly, and less like a replacement for humans. If all that mattered was absolute performance, then sure, the AI would be able to perform well enough to get the job done without human intervention. But when it comes to status games, relative performance is what matters. And human+AI is probably going to beat AI alone for a long time."