The City as Weakly-Escaped Reality

This entry is part 7 of 17 in the series Refactor Camp 2019

In this talk, Drew Austin revisits the thesis he developed in his old ribbonfarm post The Holey Plane, looking in particular at the Los Angeles built environment, and arguing that the Philip K. Dick definition of reality as “that which does not go away when you stop believing in it” does not actually hold as strongly as you might think for physical realities. Also riffing on my post The Design of Escaped Realities along the way.

Introducing Xenoreaction

This entry is part 6 of 17 in the series Refactor Camp 2019

In this raucous talk, Anders and Moritz perform… something full of memes and gaming and schisms and stuff :)

Value Investing in Cults and Religions

This entry is part 5 of 17 in the series Refactor Camp 2019

Next up, Toby Shorin talks about a framework for value investing in cults and religions, applying the metaphor of stock investing to think about investing in alt realities.

Escape’ Reality Presents – A Timeshare Opportunity

This entry is part 4 of 17 in the series Refactor Camp 2019

Next up, Nolan Gray looks at reality construction from a fractional ownership perspective.

Observability and Time

This entry is part 3 of 17 in the series Refactor Camp 2019

In this talk, Lisa Neigut talks about reality construction from the point of view quantum mechanics, pulling together the thinking of David Deutsch and Richard Feynman.

PermaPunk – Visionary Non/Fictions

This entry is part 2 of 17 in the series Refactor Camp 2019

In this next talk from Refactor Camp, 2019, Acre Liu talks about about putting permaculture and cyberpunk together in a single vision.

Becoming the Internet

This entry is part 1 of 17 in the series Refactor Camp 2019

We’re going to be posting the talks from Refactor Camp 2019 one at a time as a blogchain over the next next couple of months, in a pseudorandom order. First up, architect and software engineer, Damjan Jovanovic talks on how design works to create the world through the “transparency” of tools, and connects the creation of space through architecture with the creation of internet space.

Elderblog Sutra: 9

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Elderblog Sutra

A friend recently remarked that I seem to have become concerned with my “legacy” lately (in both past and future senses of the terms). It struck me as an understandable gloss on some of my current interests, but fundamentally off somehow. To think of this blog as my “legacy” seems not just laughably self-important, but a category error of sorts. The word legacy seems like a non sequitur in the context of my interest in my personal history/baggage/madeline-indexed memories. So I decided to probe the idea a bit, starting from the dumbest, most literal-minded angle I could think of: raw time accounting.

Apparently, the number of people who have ever lived is about 108 billion (so about 7% of all who have ever lived are alive today). At an average lifespan of say 40, that’s about 4 trillion years of homo sapiens years in the species historical memory bank. If you live to an average lifespan of say 70 years, your personal story will, in raw data terms, constitute about 16 trillionths of all subjectively experienced/enacted history. If you prefer objective, chronological time comparisons, your 70 years is about 5 trillionths of all time, the universe being about 13.2 trillion years old.

These two measures are the personal temporal equivalents of the pale blue dot, but much worse.

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Domestic Cozy: 8

This entry is part 8 of 10 in the series Domestic Cozy

Last time, I explored (with some crowdsourced help) how domestic cozy is a retreat from public life along four vectors: discomfort, danger, deprivation, and ceremony, or DDDC. I also proposed four archetypal spaces that domestic cozy is not like: airport, minefield, desert, and mansion. When you intersect those four qualities in a Venn diagram and try to label various intersections, you get a map of the negative space of domestic cozy. The residual public is at the center, surrounded by various pure and composite archetypal spaces.

What used to be a liberating crossing of a threshold, from the constraints of domesticity to the freedoms of public life, is now a complex descent, from the freedom of intimate spaces, into an imprisoning hell-of-other-people, via increasingly dank stages and levels. The Arrow of Freedom™ now points in the other direction. Escape now lies inwards.

What is left behind when there is this kind of systematic but incomplete retreat from particular aspects of a situation?

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Weirding Diary: 10

This entry is part 10 of 10 in the series Weirding Diary

It is now clear that the intellectual class has been caught entirely flat-footed on the wrong side of the Great Weirding in the US. Almost all discourses at higher levels of abstraction — national grand narratives, military, foreign policy, and economic doctrines, cultural canons, technological visions — are breaking down (generally following the “gradually, and then suddenly” Hemingway bankruptcy pattern). The institutions and social networks that are home to those discourses are also collapsing. So it’s not just the shallow, fast-paced narrative layer represented by the news media that is collapsing into noise and fakeness. The deeper, slower narrative layers underwriting the news (via access journalism) are also collapsing. The most vulnerable are what I recently dubbed “glamorous institutions” on Twitter, with the MIT Media Lab being Exhibit A of many to come.

I’m tempted to classify glamorous institutions as premium mediocre, except that most seem to lack the self-awareness that phrase signifies, and the concomitant healthy fear of their own fragility, and culture of preparedness for trouble. Glamorous institutions, unlike merely premium mediocre ones, have a dangerous tendency to buy their own bullshit, and believe in their own myth-making. This creates a false sense of security, and a characteristic set of vulnerabilities. Glamorous institutionalism believes there is peace. Premium mediocre institutionalism only pretends to.

I hope I’m wrong, but I suspect the MIT Media Lab will turn out to be merely the first of many dominoes to fall. What do we have to look forward to here, in this coming chapter of the Great Weirding?

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