- z2013-11-22- Balaji Srinivasan Cloud Exit
Balaji Srinivasan anticipates a tech-culture Exit from mainstream BigGov to the Cloud. (Exit Voice And Loyalty, Free State Project)
While our ancestors had America as their ultimate destination, it is not immediately obvious where those seeking opportunity might head today. Every square foot of earth is already spoken for by one (or more) nation states, every physical frontier long since closed. With our bodies hemmed in, our minds have only the cloud — and it is the cloud that has become the destination for an extraordinary mental exodus... This discrepancy between our cloud subculture and our physical surroundings will not endure indefinitely. Because the latest wave of technology is not just connecting us intellectually and emotionally with remote peers: it is also making us ever more mobile, ever more able to meet our peers in person.
Cloud formations are starting to take physical shape in the form of long-term friendly communities that are geographically colocated, like Campus, Embassy Network, and the Rainbow Mansion. In some ways this isn’t anything new — the twin ideas of co-living in the same house or Co Housing with separate houses in a shared Commun Ity have been around in Denmark since the 1960s and the U.S. since the 1860s. It is simultaneously straightforward and radical to note that when cloud formations take physical shape, neither their scale nor duration has an upper bound. There is no scientific law that prevents 100 people who find each other on the internet from coming together for a month, or 1,000 such people from coming together for a year. And as that increases to 10,000 and 100,000 and beyond, for longer and longer durations, we may begin to see cloud towns, then cloud cities, and ultimately cloud countries materialize out of thin air.
So when it comes to the constraints on mobility imposed by the physical world, the rule is simple: when goods themselves can’t be digitized, our interface to them will be.
Taken together, we are rapidly approaching a future characterized by a totally new phenomenon, the reverse diaspora: one that starts out internationally distributed, finds each other online, and ends up physically concentrated (OffLine).
He gave a talk on this topic in October at Y Combinator Startup School: Silicon Valley’s ultimate exit. Is the US the Micro Soft of Nation State-s?
Chart of group size/duration, including potential future structures.
- z2005-03-14- Eggers Interview
Fresh interview with Dave Eggers. Eggers recently spoke to The Onion A.V. Club about the stress of fame, the purpose of literary critics, why he writes and publishes what he writes and publishes, and of course, gorillas.
- z2003-03-13- Dave Eggers Advocate
Just read Dave Eggers' 2000 interview with the Harvard Advocate. You expressed many of the feelings I used to have, when I was in high school and college, about some of the people I admired at the time, people who at some point disappointed me in some way, or made moves I could not understand. So I took a few passages from your questions - those pertaining to or hinting at "Selling Out (SellOut)" - and I used them as a launching pad for a rant I've wanted to write for a while now, and more so than ever since my own book has become successful... Oh how gloriously comforting, to be able to write someone off... One less thing to think about. Now, how to kill off the rest of our heroes, to better make room for new ones?... The only thing worse than this sort of activity is when people, students and teachers alike, run around college campuses calling each other racists and anti-Semites. It's born of boredom, lassitude. Too cowardly to address problems of substance where such problems actually are, we claw at those close to us... The thing is, I really like saying yes. I like new things, projects, plans, getting people together and doing something, trying something, even when it's corny or stupid. I am not good at saying no. And I do not get along with people who SayNo. When you die, and it really could be this afternoon, under the same bus wheels I'll stick my head if need be, you will not be happy about having said no. You will be kicking your ass about all the no's you've said... No is for wimps. No is for pussies. No is to live small and embittered, cherishing the opportunities you missed because they might have sent the wrong message... What matters is that you do good work. What matters is that you produce things that are true and will stand.
Dec'2013: Tom Scocca thinks this is Smarm (cf BullShit). Eggers is full of shit. He is so passionate, and his passion has such rhetorical momentum, that it is almost possible to overlook the fact that the literal proposition he's putting forward, in the name of large-heartedness and honesty, is bogus and insulting. Do not dismiss ... a movie? Unless you have made one?
- z2012-04-26- Moretti New Geography Of Jobs
Enrico Moretti's new book is The New Geography Of Jobs 0547750110
Arnold Kling loves it. Coming Apart totally out of the water, replacing Murray's moralistic sociology with solid economics.
Also, Bryan Caplan should be worried. Moretti comes down very hard in favor of the benefits of education, notably College Education, and those of us who are on the skeptical side of that debate will have to pay attention to his analysis.
Many service jobs are embedded only in local trade. Every city needs to have an export sector. You can think of this export sector as providing the "foreign exchange" that enables the city to import and the profits with which to support the local service sector. Moretti sees a pattern in American geography. Cities that export innovative products and services are thriving. They also have more jobs and higher-paying jobs in the non-locally-tradable sector. Meanwhile, cities that (used to) export manufactured products are declining. (see Cities And The Wealth Of Nations)
Also, the way he goes about illustrating his points is captivating. He takes on Richard Florida's "cultural creatives" theory by describing Berlin, where the culture is avant-garde but the economy does not produce enough exports to sustain itself (it gets by on tourism and government transfers). Moretti describes the change in job structure through the lens of a Philip Roth novel, and this approach works well.
Jun'2012 update: Russ Roberts interviewed Moretti. Here's a listener's guide.
Jul'2012: John Tamny reviews it. Enrico Moretti’s The New Geography of Jobs makes the essential case in support of individual mobility, and for doing so is easily the most important read of 2012. The Cal-Berkeley economic professor’s book is extremely necessary for politicians and commentators alike, and it is despite some conclusions from the author that make very little sense. But before addressing some of the book’s wrongs, it’s worthwhile to address just why it’s so worthwhile... Perhaps the most useful myth that Moretti eviscerates is the one about capital migrating to low-cost workers. This one’s long been very popular and is rooted in the belief that the U.S. economy will soon be hollowed out by workers in India and China willing to do high value work for next to nothing. It’s to some a scary thought, but also utter nonsense... Population Density, or “thick” clusters of workers is a frequent theme in Moretti’s book. Once again, this is a book about the geography of jobs. Though commentators think companies and entrepreneurs seek out cheap labor, in truth they regularly migrate to the San Francisco-s and Boston-s of the world precisely due to the density of workers in those locales possessing the abilities they’re in search of... Sadly for such a wonderful book, Moretti offers up a number of solutions and makes a number of presumptions that are logically false. They by no means wreck a book that this writer highly recommends, but they perhaps blunt the quality of reasoning within.
- z2013-11-25- Smil Interview
Clive Thompson interviews Vaclav Smil (one of Bill Gates' favorite authors). His nearly three dozen books have analyzed the world’s biggest challenges—the future of energy, food production, and manufacturing—with nuance and detail. They’re among the most data-heavy books you’ll find, with a remarkable way of framing basic facts.
In every society, manufacturing builds the lower Middle Class (Job Creation). If you give up manufacturing, you end up with haves and have-nots and you get social polarization. The whole lower middle class sinks... Innovat Ion usually arises from somebody taking a product already in production and making it better (DAndD)... Only two countries have done this (training) well: Germany and Switzerland. They’ve both maintained strong manufacturing sectors and they share a key thing: Kids go into Apprentice Ship programs at age 14 or 15.
Can IT jobs replace the lost manufacturing jobs? No, of course not. These are totally fungible jobs. You could hire people in Russia or Malaysia—and that’s what companies are doing. (Off Shoring)
We’re a society that demands electricity 24/7. This is very difficult with sun and wind (Alternative Energy). Look at Germany, where they heavily subsidize renewable energy. When there’s no wind or sun, they boost up their old coal-fired power plants. The result: Germany has massively increased coal imports from the US... The basic problem was that we rushed into Nuclear Power. We took Hyman Rickover’s reactor for submarines and pushed it so America would beat Russia. And that’s just the wrong reactor. It was done too fast with too little forethought.
So all we’ve got left is reducing consumption. But who’s going to do that? My wife and I did. We downscaled our house (Single Family Home). It took me two years to find a subdivision where they’d let me build a custom house smaller than 2,000 square feet.
Meat eaters don’t like me because I call for moderation, and vegetarians don’t like me because I say there’s nothing wrong with eating meat. It’s part of our evolutionary heritage! Meat has helped to make us what we are. Meat helps to make our big brains. The problem is with eating 200 pounds of meat per capita per year (Three Food Rules)... Some countries that grow lots of pork, like Denmark and the Netherlands, are either eliminating Anti Biotic-s or reducing them. We have to do that. Otherwise we’ll create such antibiotic resistance, it will be just terrible.
- z2013-11-15- Brand Gentry Biohacking
Stewart Brand, president of the Long Now Foundation, joined Eri Gentry, cofounder of the Bio Curious Hacker Space in Sunnyvale and a research manager at think-tank Institute for the Future, for a wide ranging conversation about “Life 2.0” at Techonomy 2013, moderated by Andrew Hessel, a distinguished researcher at AutoDesk. (BioTech)
When synthetic biology pioneer Andrew Hessel wonders aloud what the next killer biotechnology app might be, 74-year-old Stewart Brand quips, “Resurrection.” Considering that Brand, the tech industry and ’60s counterculture legend, is exploring the use of recovered DNA for repopulating the earth with hundreds of thousands of woolly mammoths, millions of passenger pigeons, and other extinguished species, bringing humans back from the dead might not be so far-fetched. Our capabilities in biology and technology are “moving from the impossible to the expensive to the routine,” he says.
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