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Scenes with Simon #1 - Core Core, IP Dragons, and Downtowns
Core Core, IP Dragons, and Downtowns
The first Scenes with Simon: a weekly newsletter about what I find interesting. From urbanism to crypto to art to music. An attempt to write & share more in a space that’s on my own terms (and not on whatever is happening over at Twitter atm). By taking it slower, you can sometimes do more.
Over the next few weeks I’ll be experimenting in different ways how to run this newsletter. It’s already been interesting how, in collecting stories throughout the week, some of them have grown larger than anticipated. Instead of news-by-the-hour as it would’ve been on Twitter, it’s nicer to capture a story in its entirety. It also allows one to pick up threads, replies, and connections between discussions. I’m still figuring how to attribute where I find these stories. Please bear with me as I navigate it.
The Permaweird & TikTok’s Core Core
It’s sometimes hard for me to divorce what I’m feeling in my personal life compared to what the world is broadly experiencing (we’re sometimes at odds with the ‘zeitgeist’). But, when I read articles like Venkatesh Rao’s “Permaweird”, in a strange way, it resonates. While I can’t always process and fully digest writings like Permaweird, it still presents an encapsulation of a feeling that I think many of us are aware of.
The Permaweird leaves us in a perennial state of frustrated urgency; a cortisol-saturated state of being with nothing to do and nowhere to go. And the longer it persists, the more the we begin to harbor the growing suspicion that perhaps there is no crisis as such. That for the most part, despite the snowballing weirdness, there is nothing in the circumstances for which a literal crisis response, in a biochemical fight-or-flight sense, is appropriate, either at an individual or collective level.
I’ve always suspected that the rise of nationalism is in part because of a rise in complexity: millions of competing narratives washing over each other from all corners of the Earth.
The end of history is perhaps best understood as a threshold of complexity beyond which the present is uninhabitable for collective imaginations at the scales we yearn for. Only atomized individuals and unsatisfyingly small tribes can make the journey from past to future.
Citing Bruce Sterling in the article, there’s a clear connection here to the rise of Core Core on TikTok.
It's a decade that feels the need to marinate in its own distresses -- doomscrolling as a way-of-life.
While we are still figuring this decade out, why not do what we do best? Make it into art. Core Core on TikTok is a trend where people on TikTok create videos of what it feels like to be on TikTok: endlessly scrolling *IN* “the feed”. Everything, everywhere, all at once.
I find it apt that if we’re talking about “The End of History”, that this genre is called corecore: as if it’s about everything. The end of the core. SceneScene. I can’t say that I fully understand what’s going on, but for now, I’m listening, watching, and paying attention.
Filed Under: tabletop, gaming, ip
A planned new license for D&D leaked that added onerous new demands on creators that build upon D&D, including having to register with them if you intend to sell *anything* AND by creating content, you also agree to license it to them, royalty-free. Even if you, as Wizards of the Coast, believe that you are owed more and you are doing it to protect yourself against competitors, it’s just so stupid to fight the player base. Here’s another great breakdown. What’s particularly noticeable is that even if D&D is as popular as it ever was, it believes it’s under-monetized. It might be true, but 1) hurting your player base to make more money is always bad, and 2) doing this right before your attempt at rebooting a film franchise from it?! As is always the case with unintended consequences, Paizo, a big competitor, announced that they will strengthen their existing licenses towards aiding creators and help open source the license so that more tabletop RPG creators can use it. Own goals everywhere. They’ve since rescinded it, but, commentary is not optimistic in the long term. As a web3/NFT creator, I have to laugh at how they are trying to rile up support by saying that they wanted to protect D&D from “those NFT people!”. WotC rolled a D20 and it came up a 1. Either way, it shows that you have to be *very* careful how you roll out changes like this. It was noticeable when I walked into a second-hand bookstore this week and found that what was on display was Pathfinder books, not D&D books. How projects navigate the line between IP rights + freedom is going to be interesting, particularly when at another end, many NFT projects are going CC0 (giving away all their rights).
Filed Under: housing, economy
Post-pandemic, it's interesting to see these proposals: trying to revitalise downtowns again alongside creating more housing. DC Mayor, Muriel Bowser, said the same. It’s particularly a problem in DC because most of the downtown offices are rented/owned by the federal government (a third of it). We’ll probably see a lot more of this in the future as it becomes evident that people aren’t coming back, full-time, to office work.
Filed under: youtube, starwars, andor
I loved Andor. Been absorbing a lot of Andor reviews and critiques. I enjoy this one because it showcases and compares it to the view that history is often not solely made by the myth of "great men".
Filed under: ai, books, publishing
AI and the effect on voice narrators. Sympathetic to the plight of creatives losing work, but also excited to see more indie publishers being able to produce audiobooks. It’s expensive!
Filed Under: twitter, mastodon, exit, decentralization
Quote from Cory Doctorow: "The ability to leave a service without paying a price is the best defense we have against the scourge of enshittification."
Filed Under: themeparks, nintendo, mario
I love theme parks. I love Nintendo. Would love to visit at some point!
Filed Under: m83, youtube, music, shoegaze
"Hurry Up, We're Dreaming" was an all-time great album. A classic. "Junk" wasn’t my thing. "DSVII" was fun and had some hits. Now this. Sounds. Incredible. It’s been on repeat all week. Had some epic runs on this.
WE ARE ADVENTURE!
Filed Under: nft, foundation, curation
I enjoy this take on web3 curation. A cross between a gallery and marketplace. Slowly moving into different spaces where the marketplace is NOT the primary NFT UX.
Filed Under: ai, economics
Interesting read. Real interest rates should rise during periods of explosive growth and if you think AI will do that in the next 30 years, long term interest rates should “signal” this. But, it’s not. I always feel these rationalist takes bet too much on markets being efficient. They just aren't.
Filed Under: everyday, art, nft
Noah Kalina became famous for his video where he took a photo of himself every day. It's still going, and now the entire collection is available as NFTs. I dig that it now has timestamped provenance added to it.
Filed Under: tokyo, walking, popup
Craig Mod, one of my favourite walkers and writers on walking, is doing another Tokyo pop-up newsletter! He walks Tokyo and posts about it every day through a newsletter. Once it is done, the newsletter + all addresses are thrown. It’s starting tomorrow. Subscribe!
Filed Under: nft, openedition
Instead of selling one unique NFT, many creators have been experimenting with instead selling an edition that’s open to be bought for a period of time. It’s cheaper and more collectors can buy it. It’s always been a trend (especially on marketplaces on Tezos), but recently it’s been picking up with services like Manifold + Zora making it easier to do so on Ethereum. Manifold doing $11m volume since October on open editions is great. It's good for collectors (cheaper). Is that enough to have it remain a trend? One to follow.
Filed Under: ai, art, ip
Quote from Mat Dryhurst: "As media becomes easier to produce, conjuring meaning and distinction becomes more elusive. Great art is socially determined, and is often found when and where that happens." I agree. AI art is just another playground for conversation.
Filed Under: aging
"At this stage, Sinclair says the discovery supports the hypothesis that mammalian cells maintain a kind of backup copy of epigenetic software that, when accessed, can allow an aged, epigenetically scrambled cell to reboot into a youthful, healthy state." Mind blown.
Filed Under: maps
One for the map nerds! (ht Herman).
Filed Under: bitcoin, energy
An interesting story. It's still one of the more interesting outcomes of a proof-of-work cryptocurrency: being able to arbitrage stranded & underutilized power sources. In this case, clean hydropower from a park in the Congo. It's still hard to wrap one's brain around. Could they have used the $200,000 instead to buy a Proof of Stake machine instead? Or put it into another investment? Yes, but, the fact that you already made the investment into a power plant means that using a system that relies on exogenous energy production to produce consensus, is desired. In other words, the fact that a proof of work cryptocurrency remains means that it indirectly fosters the production of new energy from new sources (that can be arbitraged). In this case, the park’s highest amount of arbitrage with a stranded energy source exists if, only if, proof of work exists. It does not have as much arbitrage with other systems. Is that right? Something I have to interrogate a bit more.
Filed Under: economics, housing, southkorea
Instead of paying rent, you give your landlord a large deposit. For the renter, it's useful if the foregone interest in investing the money yourself is less than the rent you would pay. The landlord likes it because they can leverage more (with more liquidity). It's a system that works decently when rates keep going lower (since new tenants will then pay a larger deposit than previous ones), but a disaster if rates rise (the landlord could start defaulting on the deposits). A really interesting system, but full of pitfalls, especially in volatile times.
Filed Under: music, vinyl
The music industry has always been so weird to me. Fans are so starved for ways to support their favourite artists that they are buying vinyl without owning a record player.
But here’s an even more ominous sign. Half of vinyl buyers don’t own a record player. They apparently bought the Taylor Swift album as a kind of memorabilia—something a little nicer than a band T-shirt.
Filed Under: eeaao
It's such a joy to cheer someone on who really sincerely care about their craft. Well deserved comeback. I can feed off this energy for a long while. In the era of the permaweird, the corecore and the everything, everywhere all at once, we all deserve a chance to show the world our best.
That’s it for this week. A bumper start! I’m excited for what’s to come. Thanks for subscribing.
Enjoy a sunset!
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