The Internet is a Red Pill Dispensary

I very clearly broke my promise to “see you next week”. I deserve to be shamed.

Below, I take what I think might be a pretty mixed metaphor, and stretch it pretty badly. As I’ve done before, I figured I’d publish it as a snapshot of an idea-in-progress to reference and clean up later.

I would promise to get more anchored and concise with future posts, but you know by now that you just can’t trust me.

I.  The Hairpin Bend

Xianhang Zhang is constantly inventing terms that I wish I knew about ages ago. On Quora ~5 years ago, he casually dropped this answer that has stayed on my clipboard for (literally) years. Disclaimers later.

Libertarians, in my perception, are stuck in what I term a “hairpin bend”. That is, the people who are less wise than them are frequently indistinguishable from the people who are more wise than them.

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What I don’t know

I had a great year last year, although I didn’t return to publish much of anything here (3 pretty short posts in 2015).

The previous year (2014), I published 74 posts, some of which I was even pretty proud of. I felt that writing helped me to crystalize my thinking, even when I didn’t publish. When I did publish, the feedback was useful. I want that back this year. I’ll try for at least one post per week, on the usual topics. Whatever those are.

 

I

We consistently overestimate the power of our own judgment. There is no reason that you or I would have looked at the nascent automobile, airplane, radio, penicillin, or the internet, and understood any second-order implications that seem obvious now that they’ve happened. Few at the time had much of any idea, even for years after the idea’s conception. We have records of unimpressed or confused (or even contemptuous) responses by authority figures to these technologies as they developed. Many crackpot websites share quotes of these misjudgments to suggest that their particular wares are in the same category as other revolutionary, once-ridiculed technologies or ideas.

We also have many records of weird wishlists and wayward projections of where the “inevitable” and “totally not path dependent” technology tree will grow and blossom. Various tomorrowlands are forced to close by economic/technical constraints or changing priorities. (Vaguely related, and worth checking out: “Web Design: The First 100 years“, and observations on longing for closed technological frontiers.) Jetpacks and flying cars, etcetera.

In any of the common threads of “progress”- economic, technological, or ethical– there is no particular reason that a given person would be on what we today might consider to be the right side of history. I certainly have preferences. There is no law of nature defending my preferences into posterity.

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