About Alis

Alis Franklin is a thirtysomething Australian author of queer urban fantasy. She likes cooking, video games, Norse mythology, and feathered dinosaurs. She’s never seen a live drop bear, but stays away from tall trees, just in case.

Neverending, allconsuming.

In tech, I’ve met a lot of people who are motivated by the idea that they’ll get rich. And some of them, to be clear, absolutely do get rich. There’s probably more of a chance of that than in many industries, although to be clear, the people who already have wealth and power will generate more than you in the process. But leaving inequitous power laws aside, when you get a big, fat check at the tail end of an acquisition or IPO, what happens then? Do you suddenly become happy? Is your life worthwhile? Or do you find yourself trapped on that treadmill, either in order to maintain that lifestyle or to quieten the internal voice you’ve developed that tells you to keep working? I’ve noticed that of all the millionaires and billionaires I’ve met – and I’ve met quite a few now – none has radically changed their life. Even the billionaires, who have more means than any of us will ever see, go back to the office day after day. Despite their unfathomable wealth, they’re as trapped as anyone else.

Ben Werdmüller on the grind.

2021-10-20T07:01:00+11:0024th October, 2021|Tags: |

Switch.

What I think is interesting about both systems and lucid dreaming resurfacing on TikTok is that, unlike the otherkin headmate mod drama of Tumblr or the brony tulpa psychosis of 4chan, younger internet users now are adapting these ideas to fit a platform that is much more closely tied to who you are irl. Ten years ago, it was much easier to play with these kinds of ideas because the internet was still a mostly faceless place. If you wanted to run an otherkin blog with six other personalities you believe are living in your body, there was really nothing at stake. Same with talking to other anonymous people on Reddit about trying to manifest a cartoon girlfriend with your mind.

In 2021, however, we’re seeing young people experiment with the same ideas, but with a lot more at stake socially. And the fact that they’re willing to endure harassment and film themselves doing so, in my opinion, speaks to something larger about how the internet affects how we both see ourselves and the world around us. This isn’t to say this is good or bad, but I think it’s notable that these ideas are becoming less fringe. I, also, don’t think it’s an accident that a lot of these ideas are appearing on a platform like TikTok that has augmented reality filters built into it. The internet has always allowed us to imagine different identities and realities and as technology becomes better, those alternate digital identities and realities will only become more real to us. Until, perhaps, they won’t feel like alternate realities at all anymore.

Ryan Broderick on the post-otherkin future.

2021-10-19T12:40:37+11:0022nd October, 2021|Tags: |

The trap.

I think the fundamental mistake we made is that we set up the wrong financial incentives, and that’s caused us to turn into jerks and screw around with people too much. Way back in the ’80s, we wanted everything to be free because we were hippie socialists. But we also loved entrepreneurs because we loved Steve Jobs. So you wanna be both a socialist and a libertarian at the same time, and it’s absurd. But that’s the kind of absurdity that Silicon Valley culture has to grapple with.

And there’s only one way to merge the two things, which is what we call the advertising model, where everything’s free but you pay for it by selling ads. But then because the technology gets better and better, the computers get bigger and cheaper, there’s more and more data — what started out as advertising morphed into continuous behavior modification on a mass basis, with everyone under surveillance by their devices and receiving calculated stimulus to modify them. So you end up with this mass behavior-modification empire, which is straight out of Philip K. Dick, or from earlier generations, from 1984.

It’s this thing that we were warned about. It’s this thing that we knew could happen. Norbert Wiener, who coined the term cybernetics, warned about it as a possibility. And despite all the warnings, and despite all of the cautions, we just walked right into it, and we created mass behavior-modification regimes out of our digital networks. We did it out of this desire to be both cool socialists and cool libertarians at the same time.

Jaron Lanier on the damage of insecure men.

2021-10-19T12:34:09+11:0020th October, 2021|Tags: , |

Enclosed.

Ellen Wood argues that the origins of capitalism lay in the enclosure movement in England, during which wealthy elites walled off the commons and systematically forced peasants off the land in a violent, centuries-long campaign of dispossession. This period saw the abolition of the ancient “right to habitation”, once enshrined in the Charter of the Forest, which guaranteed that ordinary people should have access to the resources necessary for survival.

Suddenly, England’s peasants found themselves subject to a new regime: in order to survive they had to compete with each other for leases on the newly privatized land. And the leases were allocated on the basis of productivity. So in order to retain their access to leases, farmers had to find ways to extract more and more from the earth, and from labour, even if it was vastly in surplus to need. If they didn’t, and if they lost their leases, they could face starvation. And of course this same force, the imperative of ever-increasing productivity, was at work also in the industrial sector.

In other words, the birth of capitalism required the creation of scarcity. The constant creation of scarcity is the engine of the juggernaut.

The same process unfolded around the world during European colonization. In South Africa, colonizers faced what they called “The Labour Question”: How do we get Africans to work in our mines and on our plantations for paltry wages? At the time, Africans were quite content with their subsistence lifestyles, where they had all the land and the water and the livestock they needed to thrive, and showed no inclination to do back-breaking work in European mines. The solution? Force them off their land, or make them pay taxes in European currency, which can only be acquired in exchange for labour. And if they don’t pay, punish them.

Scarcity is the engine of capitalist expansion.

Jason Hickel on scarcity.

The problem isn’t a lack of resources. The problem is intentionally inefficient distribution . . .

2021-09-28T08:52:48+10:004th October, 2021|Tags: |
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