I Promise To Bring Back Positivity, If FCK Starts Winning Again.
Another Sunday, Another Naive Weekly - Observations From The Internet Wilderness.
It took me a couple of minutes to collect enough courage before I dared to cross the roads of Ho Chi Minh City. Never in my life had I seen anything similar to the six-lane road I was facing. Entire families on single scooters, run-down taxis and light-weight trucks moving constantly in between each other, down the road. No pedestrian crossing within sight, no promise of the traffic slowing down, and no other way to cross than just walking straight through the traffic.
Biking down the bike lanes of Copenhagen often takes me 10 years back to my first visit to Ho Chi Minh City. Even in these cold, stormy winter months we have now, the lanes in Copenhagen are packed with commuters, racing to and from work, bikers picking up groceries or transporting their kids in their wide cargo-bikes, or lycra dressed men taking their bikes on a gravel ride. It feels like pure magic that there are not more accidents.
Yet, something makes me increasingly uncomfortable on the lanes of Copenhagen.
Ten years ago in Ho Chi Minh City, there were no phones in the traffic. At least I have no recollection of them. Today on the bike lanes of Copenhagen it is an entirely different story. In the middle of the day, I’d bike behind someone thinking they are drunk, only to see that their questionable biking is caused by them scrolling Instagram, texting friends, or consumed by other life-important matters on their phones.
Biking while staring at your phone is dangerous, for yourself and everyone else. I don’t get why people can’t just focus on riding their bikes. Or for that matter, why people can’t do anything in public these days without staring at their screens. Whether it is walking down the streets, ordering a coffee or paying the groceries in the supermarket, people stare at their phones, ignoring the people right in front of them.
This week I learned from Why is this interesting, that the word ‘idiot’ is Greek and means a private person as opposed to a public person. The good old Greeks used the word idiot to describe a person who brought his private life into public spaces. And it made me consider if we should start to agree on some common decency of when, and where, we stare at our phones, and when we pay attention to the life around us.
“Life is all around us,
we live right in it,
do you pay attention?
It is magic!” — Hess Is More, Walksong
Internet Black Hole
The $10 billion Bezos Earth Fund
My Monday was a classic Monday. Jeff Bezos’ Monday was the announcement of a new $10 billion fund to fight climate change. Before we worship the Amazon founder, who, by the way, was the richest person in the world in 2018 and 2019, for his new fund, I think it is worth asking why the announcement completely ignored mentioning his business. In 2014, Naomi Klein commented on the hypocrisy of billionaires fighting climate change. Back then it was Richard Branson’s lofty promises Naomi questioned, but I do believe most of her concerns also apply to Jeff, whose wealth has been created by selling totally unnecessary crap, shipping with oil and gas around the globe. Or as AOC says, we don’t want your money, we want your power — and, might I add, a system that does not screw over the workers, the Earth and our kin.
What Happens After You're Cancelled
Common wisdom says that ‘there is no such thing as bad publicity’. Common wisdom should be reading Quinn Norton’s very personal story of what happened when the Internet turned against her. Quinn had just been hired as a writer at The New York Times when old tweets of her were taken out of context, resulting in her being fired and persona non grata among all other publishers. There are a lot of morals in this story, I don’t think I need to spell them out.
Real Time Person Removal
It is hard not to be both impressed and concerned when you see how smooth this open source script removes people from the video in real time. Click on the link and you’ll see it for yourself.
Nicholas Quah writes the best newsletter about the podcast industry. In this week’s edition, Nicholas managed to break the news that Patreon, the popular platform for creators to build paid memberships, has started to offer loans. With Stripe Capital and Shopify Capital already existing, it might not be too surprising that Patreon wants to leverage their unique access to information about who is likely to succeed as a creator. However, I can’t stop thinking that this decision is a step towards Patreon becoming a publisher/label, hereby directly acting against their prime maxim; the importance of creative freedom for the creators through direct income from their fans.
Escape The Apocalypse
I enjoyed moving around the icons on this post-apocalyptic website featuring different London based artists and made by Compiler. The site was launched as part of the fashion brand DB Berdan’s latest show titled ‘Scan to Escape’, with invitations and clothes featuring a QR code leading to the site. Not quite the level of Poolside.fm (aka best website of 2019), but big credit for the anti-UX design.
Big thanks to everyone who replied with inputs for Understory. I’ll be sharing your links over the next weeks, months and years. Please keep them coming, they are already enriching my RSS reader.
Nadia wrote some of my favourite Internet essays in 2019, including Hidden Cities and Not Knowing. She is a practitioner academic who have studied and written extensively about open source projects, working with companies like GitHub, Collaborative Fund and Protocol Labs. In late fall she joined Substack to support writers and her personal newsletter turned quiet, until this week when she fortunately returned to my inbox with Internet Friends. Ps. she was also the person behind the beautiful micro-grant project, Helium Grant.
Chris Ying & Rene Redzepi - You and I Eat the Same
I’ve a mad respect for everything my friends at MAD are doing. Therefore I started reading their first dispatch with high hopes. Unfortunately, this book really didn’t do it for me. I sensed the purpose of bringing us closer together through food, but in the end it felt more like a random collection of essays than a strong punch.
On a sidenote, this week I re-read Ursula Le Guin’s short essay The Carrier Bag Theory of Fiction. It is still some of the best writing I have ever encountered and I highly recommend it to everyone. If you search the Interwebs, you’ll find it online for free.
This week Inês reached out for the first time, replying to Wait a Minute. I always love reading your reflections on what I write and Inês’ email made me really happy. Here is a passage where she shares her love for Murakami:
“Murakami has some kind of magic effect on most of us. When I spend more than a few months without reading his books, it’s as if the world loses his grace. And when I start to look at the sky at night, looking for the moon, that’s when I know that my imagination is begging for some little extra Murakami magic.” — Inês
Hi, I’m Kristoffer and you have just read Naive Weekly - Observations From The Internet Wilderness.
… and hey, welcome to everyone who came this week due to Kristoffer’s subtweet. Kristoffer is the real roadside flower, just check his weekly newsletter (in Danish) and the best photo blog I ever followed.
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Photograph by me.