When people take a look at the change in attitudes toward gay rights or gay marriage, they talk about the example of people who came out, celebrities who came out. That has a pretty powerful effect. But even more powerful are all the friends and relatives, people you know. When it’s no longer some weird group of faggots on Christopher Street but actually people you know, that’s when attitudes change, and my presumption is the internet is going to be a big part of that. You’re going to be bombarded with news you wouldn’t necessarily have consumed—information, humanity, texture. I think Facebook, more than anything else, and the internet have been responsible for a large part of the liberalization of the past five or 10 years when it comes to sex, when it comes to drinking. Five years ago it was embarrassing when somebody had photographs of somebody drunk as a student. There was actually a discussion about whether a whole generation of kids had damaged their career prospects because they put up too much information about themselves in social media. What actually happened was that institutions and organizations changed, and frankly any organization that didn’t change was going to handicap itself because everyone, every normal person, gets drunk in college. There are stupid pictures or sex pictures of pretty much everybody. And if those things are leaked or deliberately shared, I think the effect is to change the institutions rather than to damage the individuals.
In the tradeoff between timeliness and timelessness, choose the latter. The zeitgeist rewards timeliness, but your soul rewards timelessness. Work on things that will last.
As much as I loved this article, and have been thinking about it this week, I leave this here as a reminder to write the counter-point to this quote. My current belief is that after timelessness comes a second stage of timeliness: attention to quality time with people and interests you love, independent from their longevity.
Similarly, bitcoin has a core technological innovation: The ability to publicly verify ownership, instantly transfer that ownership and do so without the need for a trusted third party. Just as the Internet brought the cost of disseminating information down by an order of magnitude, bitcoin brings the cost of transferring ownership down by an order of magnitude.
And of course, the counter-argument, via Charles Law: http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2013/12/why-i-want-bitcoin-to-die-in-a.html an excerpt:
Bitcoin’s utter lack of regulation permits really hideous markets to emerge, in commodities like assassination (and drugs and child pornography).
It’s also inherently damaging to the fabric of civil society. You think our wonderful investment bankers aren’t paying their fair share of taxes? Bitcoin is pretty much designed for tax evasion. Moreover, The Gini coefficient of the Bitcoin economy is ghastly, and getting worse, to an extent that makes a sub-Saharan African kleptocracy look like a socialist utopia, and the “if this goes on” linear extrapolations imply that BtC will badly damage stable governance, not to mention redistributive taxation systems and social security/pension nets if its value continues to soar (as it seems designed to do due to its deflationary properties).
As seems to always be the case in post-modernity, technology gives us something innovative and potentially dangerous. Our norms and institutions cannot keep up with the consequences. Thus, some people reap the upside. Others straddled with the downside can scarcely understand what’s happened to them. Yet in the long-run, society progress only through these innovations. (Maybe?)
Should we ever not open Pandora’s boxes?
Funny how the response to innovation always seems to go through the same 5 steps that grief does: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance.
The quicker you get to acceptance, the less you’ll have to be angry or depressed about later on.