Here’s another fantastic episode of Sean Carroll’s reliably fascinating Mindscape podcast, featuring Cory Doctorow. Doctorow is incredibly good at distilling huge ideas down to clear, concise language. And he does a very good job of explaining the structual probelms presented by technology without being hand-wavy or overly angry. There’s a lot to be said for a level headed discussion of how algorithm-driven platforms work, where they come from, and why they are troublesome. He calls the current state of the internet “5 big websites showing pictures from the other 4”. That’s a brilliant distillation of how the promise of the early web has been hobbled, and converted into a factory farm for a small group of corporations. However, he also points out that the tools to return the web to its diverse glory still exist as does the desire. Just knowing that makes the present and near-future dystopian predicament seem less intractable, and possibly even solveable.
Here’s some of his recent fiction. Affordances is a quick read that revolves around AI, algorithmic platforms, and how they can be passionless and structurally discriminatory, while still retaining the capacity to be manipulated for both good and bad. It’s part of a Slate’s Future Tense channel which is also worth a look.
I’ve got a pretty well developed Field Notes addiction. I just ordered the Autumn Trilogybecause I can’t help myself.
Starlink is coming. I love Elon. He’s like the modern equivalent of Tesla to the rest of the tech industry’s Edison. He’s got this big-vision, utopian, mad-science vibe that I find both entertaining and endearing. I don’t know if its true or not, but I always have the sense that his first passion is the idea rather than how it can be monetized. Its a subtle difference but, if true, an important one.