✘ Databases as worlds: democratizing our digital existence
And: Interview with an AI; That recorded music revenues chart, but inflation-adjusted; Music genre data viz; IG Threads API incoming; Principles for sharing online
Our brains are engines of reality-creation. Our realities are shaped by the translation of millions of bits of information through our senses and the unconscious, subconscious, and conscious parts of our minds.
The information age is an age of databases that we spend parts of our lives in through expression and interaction. Many of the databases we populate are worlds of their own. They consist of identities and the products of imagination. Decades ago, internet forums were already worlds you could step into, but when modern social media came around, these databases were expanded vastly, making the virtual worlds of before look more like a lobby than a vast realm of landscapes and experiences you’ll never be able to explore in just one lifetime (just consider the 500+ hours of content added to YouTube alone, every minute).
Distinctive of these virtual realms is that they can serve as a layer for the IRL world we cannot plug out of. Google Maps provides a world you can explore, but also an information layer that perfectly overlays with our IRL experience. The same goes for anything that creates context for the IRL: social profiles, geotagged material, articles about places & phenomena, databases of products & their prices, etc. If I were to try to keep up with the rapid addition of new layers and create an exhaustive list, this article would probably never be published. Especially not with AI entering our world of worlds.
Databases are imagination layers. They’re records of decisions or interpretations. And the most important ones are owned by corporations, rather than by the people whose imaginations populate these worlds.
Anyone who has dabbled in crypto for a while will know that different blockchains provide different worlds — more commonly referred to as ‘ecosystems’. There are different people and entities creating the data, the decentralized apps (dApps) that interact with this data are different, and the products of imagination you find on these chains will differ. Blockchains, too, have layers. A base layer may be Ethereum, and then the ‘layer 2’ will create more specific worlds and ecosystems that all interact with that primary world, all centered around the same energy that provides life to all. It’s like traveling through a star system.
Galaxies from before have become dominated by corporate monopolists, often run by ‘Strong Man’ leaders. They are not elected, but appointed by boards of people that have acquired a financial stake in this corporate galaxy. Many of these people will have made 0 contribution to the actual worlds within that galaxy, yet they extract, profit, and get to make decisions about all these worlds.
The reason so many people believe in blockchain as a technology, is because of the democratization potential it has for the database-layer of our existence. But since so much of our existence is tied to databases, one can drop the middle part: the democratization potential it has for
the database-layer of our existence.
In most of those blockchain-based worlds, cryptocurrency exists as a way to measure people’s stake in those worlds. Is it flawless? No. Does it create the most democratic outcomes? Certainly not always. But the model does introduce the ability for anyone with a stake to participate democratically. It creates incentives for open data models that distribute power, rather than data monopolies which concentrate power.
It’s not about money, it’s not about NFTs as a subculture, it’s not about speculating on tokens. It’s about creating a better internet.
The internet is such a big part of our existence; it’s ridiculous to leave it solely in the hands of megacorporations. It belongs in the hands of everyone contributing to it. The world is ours.
🧠 An interview with an AI: Elio Vega, Creative Technomancer (Mark Redito)
“We, humans, are part of this complex, intricate tapestry of existence, and the tools we create—like AI and machine learning—are reflections of this complexity. They're a way for us to make sense of the world, to explore it, to shape it, and perhaps, in a small way, to contribute to the grand pattern of the universe.”
✘ I have tremendous respect for Mark - he’s a great thinker, artist, and innovator. What he managed to get out of this interview is amazing and thought-provoking. Having said that, I thought the AI character seemed quite insufferable. Like, the type of person you meet at a party and then immediately start thinking “ok, I do not like this person. How do I eject myself from this conversation?” Perhaps it’s an uncanny valley thing, or perhaps it’s just that the AI is very humanlike and there is just going to be that rare instance of someone rubbing you the wrong way.. In any case, it’s the first time an AI character has made me feel this way.
📉 Charted: 50 years of music industry [inflation-adjusted] revenues, by format (Niccolo Conte, Bruno Venditti)
✘ We’ve all seen graphs that show how recorded music is doing better than ever with the rise of streaming… However, when adjusted for inflation, we can see another picture. (thanks Dan Fowler for putting this on my radar)
🔗 Principles for sharing on the Internet (Sari Azout)
“Cultivate a desire to learn more than a desire to be right. Learn to learn from those you disagree with, or even offend you. It’s easier to hate than it is to learn.”
✘ Timely words, especially at a moment where it feels necessary for so many of us to say or do something, anything.
📈 You should look at this chart about music genres (Matt Daniels, Michelle McGhee)
✘ This is an amazing data-driven deep dive by The Pudding into the taxonomy of genres and the importance thereof.
MANY MORE CHARTS INSIDE THE LINK. Click it.
🪡 Instagram head says Threads is working on an API for developers (Mariella Moon)
“In a response to a user saying that Threads has no API yet, the executive said: "We're working on it." He added that he's concerned that the API's launch could mean "a lot more publisher content and not much more creator content," but he's aware that it "seems like something [the company needs] to get done."”
✘ There is definitely a gap forming, but it will be interesting to see what shape that gap will take. For example, is Twitter (X) leaving a Facebook Pages-shaped gap? This is a gap that has been filled by similar types of functionality… or is it more a MySpace-shaped gap and is this public conversation-type phase of the internet over as people struggle with the signal-to-noise ratio imposed on them by the modern attention economy? No way we’ll find out without APIs though.
Excited to be seeing Bob Vylan perform in Berlin tomorrow. If you’re not familiar with the UK duo already, you should be. They make a really refreshing blend of grime, hiphop and punk… and their lyrics pack a punch.