My latest for Pull Request, on the metaverse.

As readers likely know by now, I think the decoupling of information from the movement of matter, bits from atoms, to be the most significant event of the past century.

Its capstone will be the metaverse.…
It's hard to understand now how odd our real-time world really is.

As a historical counter-point, timezones weren't invented until late in the 19th century, and weren't legally required until WWI. Things and information just didn't move fast enough until then that it mattered.
I'm old enough to remember letters, which is how most people communicated over long distances until as recently as the late 90s.

Having our eyes and ears in everyone's pockets (and vice versa) is utterly unprecedented. We're still getting our heads around it.
The oddest disconnect, hyper-accelerated by the internet, is between our inner worlds of thoughts and beliefs, and the outer world of geography and politics.

Who we are as people no longer has any connection to the colored square on the map we're standing on.
This might seem almost trite, but the implications are severe.

Historically, our narrative reality followed the contours of language, culture, and political borders. Only cultural in-betweeners or refugees would ever navigate entirely divergent worldviews as part of life.
90% of the drama on here (outside of the purely personal) is people reeling at other people's wholly distinct (to not say hostile) way of looking at the world.
We're not meant to re-affirm and defend our narrative framework 24/7: it's exhausting and anxiety-producing.
The net result is people opting out from doing so, and retreating into their virtual worlds rather than confronting a confusing physical one.

An anecdote: a friend of mine pulled his kids from Loudoun County and will homeschool rather than creating consensus with his neighbors.
The metaverse--by which I mean everything from VR to this service--is the final triumph of the virtual over the physical.

OP below will be able to choose what world they live in, and the politically opposed will choose the opposite.

Politics get weird when reality becomes optional though.

To the extent we have any common goods left--civic infrastructure, a legal system, public education--there will be immense narrative wars and a total inability to come to any consensus or collective action.
In our society of spectacle, the only hard, non-optional realities left are war, the markets, and elections.

Elections are such jarring slaps in the face because suddenly the illusion comes crashing down (and cognitive dissonance kicks in to rescue your worldview from reality).
There's no Luddite return to the status quo ante; no amount of content moderation will get us back to national narrative consensus.

Perhaps, instead of culture following the contours of politics, politics must follow the intangible contours of our virtual culture(s).
A true escape into the metaverse would mean a repudiation of geopolitics as they currently exist. Could we design virtual polities around our virtual politics?

Possibly. But I think the 'the Gods of the Copybook Headings' might still have some surprises.…
Reminder to join @balajis and I discussing just this topic tonight at 9pm Pacific on @getcallin. It's bound to get weird.…

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More from @antoniogm

11 Nov
The Basic Attention Token (BAT) is @brave's crypto solution for online ads.

I think it's mostly wrong, but wrong in interesting ways worth discussing (and which reflect common misconceptions about the ad tech world).

Anyone want to steelman it?
@brave For starters, they diagnose 'inefficiency' as one of the problems of digital advertising: the 'wrong' players (GOOG, FB) are winning, and the 'good guys' (NYT, media) are losing.

That's the exact opposite of what happened.
Media becoming *more* efficient--i.e., not being forced to pay NYT's outrageous $10 CPM or whatever--is what killed many media companies. While indeed there's spend lost to middlemen, it's hard to claim inefficiency is what characterizes ad tech vs. the old world of 'rate cards'.
Read 16 tweets
11 Nov
If only ‘targeted advertising’ worked as well as those who’ve never done it think it does.
I can't believe I'm getting on this tired horse again, but for the obvious rebuttal of 'then why do companies spend money on it?', you have to understand that even now digital advertising, with all the 'targeting' in the world, is an improbable statistical fluke.
A marketing team would be high-fiving if they managed to get their clickthrough rate from .5% to 2% through the use of smart targeting. All else equal, that means a 4x in revenue. Woot! Huge success...we are marketing gods.
Read 6 tweets
10 Nov
As was announced earlier today, I'm joining @JoinLincoln as a fellow.

I know this might seem a bit random given the entirety of my knowledge and experience of DC comes from one season of 'House of Cards', but there's method this madness.…
@JoinLincoln My goal with both Chaos Monkeys and Pull Request was attempting to bridge the chasm between tech and everything else. It's perhaps one of the necessary delusions of Silicon Valley to ignore the power centers of NYC and DC, but that’s an increasingly unsustainable delusion.
@JoinLincoln To riff on Trotsky: Techies may not be interested in politics, but politics is interested in them. We’ve reached a point of almost universal disdain and resentment of technology; it’s perhaps the only bipartisan position left in our national politics.
Read 10 tweets
4 Nov
In the longer view of things, liberalism might actually be one of the most unstable systems of government ever tried.
Consider that the government of the current US constitution, the longest-running experiment in democracy since the ancient Greeks, is about as old as the Chakri dynasty of Thailand, and much younger than many other long-lived regimes.
It's entirely possible liberal democracy only obtains in a very narrow set of short-lived conditions, and naturally tends to devolve into previous political forms the moment those conditions disappear (cf. Fukuyama's final chapter in 'End of History').
Read 4 tweets
4 Nov
How does the two-century-old Western experiment in liberalism end? In blood and fire at the hands of fascists and autocrats?

No. In declared races, genders and hairstyles at corporate marketing events.
It's astonishing how quickly this happened. From the civil rights and women's rights movements of the 60s/70s/80s creating the most equitable and fair society in human history, to backsliding into racial and gender identity as definitive in something like a single generation.
Is it worth racializing everything for the tiny fraction of the audience that will get anything out of this?

This is the issue with the overweening empathy of (post-Christian) wokeness: there's no way to apply the brakes and say 'enough'.

Read 4 tweets
28 Oct
First in a new Pull Request series on the New American Right.

There's a vision of post-Trump conservatism being dreamed up by academics and writers, and it's fusing with workaday politics. I'm setting out to understand it.

Part 1 lays out the terrain.…
This was partly spurred by a NYT piece that dropped on this burgeoning movement (which I've been following for a while and includes some people I know), which both thrust the scene into the mainstream light and also caused a bit of a ruckus within it.

'Post-liberal'....just think about that phrase for a second.

When's the last time a US political faction considered jettisoning what currently passes for liberalism?

Well, read on:
Read 9 tweets

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