Red Light Progress
How Does Our Progress Reality Field Looks Like? It Shines Red Eyes.
Another Monday, Another Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.
I wake up at 03:30AM. My internal clock is still in European timezone, but my physical body is in Tokyo. Sleeplessly I gaze out the window of our hotel room. The window is pointing towards Shinjuku, one of the main shopping districts of a city totalling almost 40 million inhabitants.
There are nearly eight times as many people living in Tokyo as in Denmark, but except for a few districts, Tokyo doesn’t feel massive as you are walking around the many predominately low-rise buildings. Only when the night settles and you find yourself in higher altitude the endlessness of the city hits you. This is when the city blinks red.
The blinking red light of Tokyo took me back to Moscow. A few weeks earlier I was visiting Moscow for a couple of days due to work. Moscow is unlike anything I have visited before. Imagine a tree with unlimited space to grow: The trunk wide and the distances long.
Where Tokyo’s blinking red light comes from the top of buildings as a subtle warning to pilots that the city reaches for the sky, Moscow’s eternal red light is experienced on street level. Caught in constant traffic jam, you hardly see anything else but the rear light of the long line of cars in front of you.
While being the traffic jam is far from pleasant, it does offer you the opportunity to reflect on progress. Where commuting in Tokyo and Copenhagen is rather smooth, Moscow is a standstill. And according to the mayor it is one of the top problems to solve for a city in quick development.
It might be convenient to have our food and clothes delivered to our doorstop by Amazon, but the cities we live in are not made for current level of cars and trucks. In parts of New York, traffic is running slower today than one decade ago.
I acknowledge that human life on average has improved tremendously over the last decades. Enhanced hygiene, education, new technologies, liberal democracies and financial access has all contributed to a better life for people around the globe and today the distinction between developed and developing countries has almost vanished.
However, when I spend hours stuck in traffic, I start to think of other areas of human development where I am less certain if it is for the better. I think of the increase of loneliness and the decrease of empathy. I think of the stagnation of wages and rise of gig-workers without labour rights. I think of our diminishing knowledge of nature and the staggering debt and health care costs. I think of stress levels, insomnia and suicide rates.
Not all progress leads to green garden paths, some leads to tired red eyes.
The Internet Black Hole
Paris Marx who writes the astonishing Radical Urbanist published an article reflecting on the current hype of micro mobility. The promises of Silicon Valley based entrepreneurs and venture capitalists might not be as inclusive and democratic as we are told.
Elon’s Pickup Truck
If you have not already watched the live demo of Tesla’s Pickup truck, please take a few minutes to enjoy how it didn’t go as planned when the bulletproof car had stones thrown at its windows.
Pablo Rochat made real-sized Airpod stickers and placed them on the pavements. As a kid I used to tie money with a string, place them on the streets, hide around the corner and then pull the money towards me when someone tried to pick them up. Therefore I naturally love Pablo for making these Airpod stickers. Download the stickers for free on his websites if you want to have fun too.
Yancey Strickler - This Could Be Our Future
One of the Kickstarter founders wrote this easy book on creating a more generous world. Yancey calls it a manifesto. I’d call it a quickly read handbook for expanding how we think about progress. The first part of the book is a pop-historical account of Western capitalism, while in the second part of the book Yancey offers his new framework, Bentoism, for decision making. Before you buy the book, check his solid newsletter and if that resonates you’ll read the book in one sit.
A few weeks back I shared the link to Are.na’s Internet Garden project. You can’t submit plants anymore, but if you browse the 300 submissions you’ll be able to find plants submitted by Ana and Callie. Ps. thanks for sharing your submissions with me too!
Hi, I’m Kristoffer and you have just read Naive Weekly - Curated stories on Technology and Internet Culture.
I’m on holiday, so today’s newsletter might lack a bit of Internet coolness, but don’t worry, I too will be back.
As always a big thanks to the eleven Naive Friends who chip in every month or year to support me making time to write this newsletter: Nikolaj, Antal, Søren, Dries, Mikkel, Tina, Aydo, Lukas, Hans, mystery person & Angela!