M12: The Metaverse and its critics; Winter 2022 edition
Data + Money + Cities = World
Happy new year everyone and to the first post of 2022. I will continue writing about the metaverse; a project that I started in the fall of 2022 with this post 👇🏾
If you know someone who’ll appreciate these essays, forward it to them!
City → Planet. Writing → Code
"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times;" so started Dickens' 'A Tale of Two Cities.' Dickens wrote those lines in 1859, but the sentiment remains the same in 2022, except that the city straddles the world.
The Metaverse (or as I am calling it: the Interverse 👆🏾) demonstrates the best and worst of humanity in abundance, for there has never been a technology more capable of bringing us together or tearing us apart. I believe the interverse is the culmination of the two biggest technologies for organizing human collectives in recorded history: cities and writing, with the city → planet (see planetary urbanization) and writing → code. The ongoing pandemic (as of Jan 2022) illustrates the interverse in a nutshell: a global city affected by a global pandemic decoded by a global scientific collective.
As always, the underlying puzzle remains 'what is the human condition in the anthropocene?'
I started my exploration of the interverse with a series on identity and how it's being reconfigured.
If identity is being molded, who is doing the molding? And how & where? That's a question for the next few months. TLDR;
Identity is being molded by flows of data and value (AI, money and other Web3 developments) and digitally enhanced physical locations (the city)
Writing for Reading
What can you expect?
I will be 'writing for reading,' i.e., writing posts as a way of summarizing what I am reading on data/cities/money etc. Here are a few books (in no particular order) that I am reading to get a grip on the interverse:
They are my go-to references for the key topics:
What's left? Can’t leave without mentioning the flow of energy, which lurks behind any discussion of data, information and value:
And finally, a couple of perennial favorites:
In reading these books simultaneously, I want to trace a computational line connecting minds-cities-data-digital-physical.... — so that we can ask these questions in parallel:
Is the mind a computer?
Is the city a computer?
Is the world a computer?
No, they are not computers. But they aren't not-computers either. Code isn't a 'model' of the world. Nor is it the world itself. Code is somewhere between map and territory. But what is the spectrum between the thing and its image? There's a concept or two waiting to be discovered on the middle path between reality and its representation.
The Publishing Plan
Short updates twice a week while I'm in book reading mode: emails Monday and Friday evening my time, could be Tuesday/Saturday morning for you.
Next essay: this Friday