Book: Move Slow and Fix Things


#1

I’m planning to write a book over the next year. The working title is Move Slow and Fix Things. I’m not in love with this title; it will likely change; feel free to propose something better. Here are some other ideas: “Cryptopia”, “Bending the Curve” (inspired by Jaron Lanier).

I want to talk about the intersection of technology, economics, and politics/human systems/institutions. In particular, I want to explore how tools such as Bitcoin and Ethereum transform the relationship between the person and the machine, and between the institution and the person. This is in an absolutely primordial state right now, and I am totally out of my league, so I can use all the help I can get to make this a reality.

My motivation in writing a book is a. to explain to myself why I’m so excited about Ethereum and related tech, why I’m working on it, and where I think it’s going/how we get there, and b. to reframe the public discourse about tools like blockchain and Ethereum away from the token/scam/finance angle and towards the social angle which, IMHO, is much more important and has more potential to change the world.

I intend to do a TON of reading to prepare for this. I’ll use this forum as a place to share what I’m reading and my findings.

What follows is an early list of themes I’d like to cover in the book. It’s not quite an outline yet since it’s not in any particular order. Would love feedback!

  • The pace of change has quickened enormously in recent years and existing institutions are completely failing to keep up

  • The idea of the nation state is not that old in the first place and it has run its course. Is it time for something better? Can this be done incrementally? Put this in context: some history on the nation state, previous attempts, is this time different?

  • Everyday people - hackers - have more power than any group of people ever before in history to build and experiment and effect massive change.

  • The attention economy, fragmentation of attention, loss of a single uniting narrative, drifting apart as a people and as a nation, loss of the concept of truth and facts.

  • Mistrust of authority - and trust in general. What role does blockchain, and other “trustless” systems, have to play here? Is there such a thing as “trustlessness”?

  • Recognition of the fact that the “move fast and break things” hacker Facebook mentality doesn’t cut it anymore, that we’re playing with fire and with people’s lives and livelihood and data and that it’s time we grow up and act responsibly

  • Self-sovereignty

  • Social scalability

  • The importance of data and the monopoly effect it leads to

  • Data as labor, a la Lanier and Radical Markets


Writers' support group
#2

Super excited to read more! It is crucial that individually and as a community we are able to convey both points effectively.


#3

Hey Lane, this sounds like an interesting and worthwhile topic for a book.

Not to continue parading my own work, but I think the topic material on my masters thesis might be along the same stream (https://qspace.library.queensu.ca/handle/1974/24924), and incorporates some of the reading recommendations that I added in the other thread.

I think that MANY of the topics you talk about here I touch on in the piece, and would love to hash out ideas over conversations around any of them. I encountered the build fast and break things mentality a lot in my data collection, and I also have some concerns with that mentality when we start moving into social institutions etc.

However, I think we still need to build and break, maybe on a slower timeline. I would say though that I find it super valuable to build and break in the name of experimentation, but starting in some more periphery or pilot-style projects in this area. This is the approach advocated for by Weyl in Radical Markets as well, for example the concept of COST and using it on government owned land and spectrum auctions first to test things out.

One thing I talked about that you didn’t mention here was a transition to a much more decentralized sharing economy - so we’ve been somewhat trained to accept ideas of Uber and Airbnb, but they are still centralized businesses utilizing decentralized local economies. For my purposes, this was much more theoretically based in Karatani and his Borromean knot concept of society (Nation, State, Capital) as well as the evolution of modes of exchange… but I think it’s an interesting concept to think about as me move to decentralize aspects of society and distribute more power back to individuals.


#4

Hey @krisj! Just started reading it and I’m really enjoying it. Do you mind if I share it/refer to it publicly, tweet about it etc.?


#5

Hey @lane, go for it! It’s published on the research portal to be shared :wink: Glad you’re liking it so far!