I watched the whole video, but with that 25 minutes of my time, also comes some of my thoughts about it:
I don't like how he talks about the gift culture, because if we all lived this way, there wouldn't be anyone to give gifts or hand such things out. It's not sustainable for an entire culture to live this way. He also says he takes from people's fields, which I think is rather minor, but think about that for a minute. He gives up money, but has no problem accepting gifts and taking from other people. That's not "natural", nor would I consider it really giving up money. He's just choosing not to spend it himself, and is still relying on society and other peoples money and work. Again, works for him just fine, but not sustainable for an entire culture to live this way.
He also directly compares the way raspberry bushes function to humans. He also says "worry is contrary to the laws of nature", which is another point I just don't buy. He'd be worrying quite a bit if he didn't have the kindness of strangers and dumpsters to feed him. He also talks about how people who are apart of society suffer from medical conditions more and that nature does a better job of keeping things healthy. No, it doesn't. Sure, people didn't used to have chronic diseases... because everyone was already dead by the time they hit 30. We're living longer, which is the main cause of what he talks against.
He focuses a lot on "eliminating worry and challenges", but also talks about being pretty dependent on others and brings up "gifting" constantly. And he acts like no one can value nature or show gratitude for it in life as long as they use money. I consider myself a Buddhist, and am grateful of many things on a daily basis. The sun, water, nature, animals, insects, everything. I don't need to live without money to appreciate those things, I'm not an awful person because I have a job and earn a paycheck, and I don't worry or really feel any challenges that I don't put in front of myself on purpose.
I dunno, I know you're crazy about this guy, so I don't want to poo-poo him too hard. But in my honest opinion this guy is an idealist. He's interesting to listen to, he seems happy doing what he's doing, and that all seems great. But what he talks about isn't sustainable for our whole culture or all humans. He's entirely dependent on gifting and handouts and gleaning, and mentions he tried living off the land but that it didn't really work for him.
Not everyone needs to give up money to appreciate life, and not everyone working a job is a slave or incapable of appreciating the same things he appreciates. And many of us, can give back to nature, and more importantly, can give back to people like him with our "evil money". :)
If you're looking for suggestions for future books, I've just had my novel Radium Baby published and I can arrange free copies for the Hubski book club. It's a comedy/adventure novel set amid the prohibition, radium baths, and Egyptological excavations of 1927 — there are enough robots, giant hornets, and cannibal bishops to satisfy anyone!
I can arrange some promotional days on Amazon so people can download it for free. All the Hubskiyites are so generous, the least I can do is share it. Let me know if you're interested! It could also make for some spirited discussion with input from the author.
and heyoo favicon https://www.dropbox.com/s/92erkgiwzk0ehwu/favicon%20%281%29....
Mitch was a comic genius and, from all accounts I've heard, genuine and kind to his fans. if you're already a fan and need any reason to like him even more, here's a great Reddit comment from a fan who met him and has kept in touch with his family to some degree. he posted a follow-up comment with some photos.
the above isn't his best performance or material, but it's still so good to see it.
I've been a squatter for more than 7 years but last year our right wing (Dutch) government decided to make squatting illegal. But there are still loopholes. My city (Eindhoven) had this eviction of a famous squatted bunker in 1990, in which all sorts of cultural events were being held. 300 policemen to get rid of 4 squatters who had walled themselves up inside plus some supporters out front and on the roof. http://www.eindhoven-in-beeld.nl/picture/number31734.asp After they demolished the building the lot stood vacant for more than three years. The mayor decided that future squats in this city could only be evicted if there was a real plan for building something else in its stead. So Eindhoven is the only dutch city where you can still squat. My squat where I used to live is still standing proud amidst 3 others for more than 20 squatted years. Our cultural centre that we squatted after the bunker was bought by us after 2 years with the loan of a friendly alternative bank. Squatting was the best thing I have ever done in my life. It made me what I am now. Independant, freethinking, DIY and very adventurous. We had the best parties, the nicest neighbours and an immense pride in what we were doing.
I find it most useful to think of conversation as a creative process. Specifically, it's improv without the stage. It is a collaborative performance. A jam like jazz. Because you create an experience, emotional and cognitive, using a communicative medium, a complex blend of words and body language. There's rhythm, and image. Story. You play with social rules like the rules of genre. You are informed by your influences, and the content at play.
In this sense, we are all artists. What applies to art in the general naturally applies to conversation.
Similarly, practicing in another medium yields benefits to be applied in any other.
I spent a couple years learning how to play the guitar, but never with a drummer. One day, a drummer moved in with his drum. So we started jamming... and it sucked lol. But we were down there every other day, honing the process through experiment and experience. We began to understand one another. One day, we felt the music so thoroughly, it hits that sweet spot and it's like magic. The more I practiced, the more I let go, the more I genuinely enjoyed that process -- the easier it was to hit that sweet spot and really make something that pops. It became easy to drop into that mindset of letting go, of trusting the flow, of having fun with the sometimes awkward back and forth of working with another mind.
A jazz musician knows what 'be yourself' means.
I work a customer service gig, for tips. I jam all day using the same process except modified for conversation. I have a lot of fun, and I'm really good at my job. The trick is activating that creative process in people. Everyone knows how to be familiar: Hey how's it going? Good, how are you? I'm good, it's Friday. Oh yeah! Love it. -- it's the accessibility of the conversation, how to get into the groove, establish the meter. But the sooner you introduce a novel element the better, and it needs to be something they can play off of. Every Friday should be a holiday. And, it's about the way you hold yourself, the subtleties, always. That's something they can play off of too, because style is a type of content, an extension of the subject matter.
There's so much more to say about it, because the complexity of art and the creative process is staggering. I anticipate, "yeah but a work relationship ain't jamming." I tell ya, different genre, different expectations, same process.
Every year I get older I think I'm more fucked because I can't "work" the way successful people work. They're extroverts. They tweet five times an hour. They write serial novels in their sleep. They keep notepads, they use ToDo lists, they read "Getting Things Done" and slip into its prescription program like a silk-socked foot in a slipper. Somebody else has a deck of Brian Eno's Oblique Strategies they reach for. Someone else snarfs down LD-50 doses of Piracetam and Modafinil (in lieu of cocaine) and go off to sell their Startup to Google for eight figures. AND NONE OF THEM WORK FOR ME!
Mind Mapping software, Evernote, meditation, Ginko Biloba, polyphasic sleep, long walks in the woods, Exegesis therapy, eating proteins before carbohydrates, Pomodoro, I've tried it all: creativity techniques and productivity techniques and idea tracking techniques and confidence builders and motivation builders and they're all quackery.
Once or twice a year I discover something that, at first, I think is going to change everything. The "Hipster PDA" I transformed into my own version of Eno's Oblique Strategies (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oblique_Strategies), or my current flirtation with outlining software. I can't keep up with them, though. Using a fixed strategy to either come up with new ideas or keep track of them never works. Something about the method, or the software, or the user interface turns my brain into vanilla pudding.
In the long run, there have only been two things that worked. The first is from Ernest Hemmingway: Write Drunk, Edit Sober. The second is being a squirrel-brained idiot who bumps around Hubski and Reddit and Hacker News and Twitter until something clips the jumper cables from the car battery to my brain and I've written 4,000 words without having intended to.
I've easily spent several hundred dollars on Moleskine notepads and G3 pens, but whenever an idea occurs to me I've either forgotten I have them, or they aren't nearby. Instead, I have to rely on my memory.
I get an idea and realize that I don't know enough about the subject, so I begin to research. Spastically. I once paid $210 for a book, Origin of Life: Chemical Approach that reprints a slew of peer-reviewed papers about abiogenesis. Here's all I've read of it so far:
"The question 'what is the origin of life?' cannot be approached without considering the prerequisite question 'what is life?'. While the latter question has always been fundamentally related to philosophical reflections and, accordingly, to historical circumstances, the first question can be probed experimentally."
Now, you're going to love this, but the $210 book, bought Brand New from Amazon, was printed upside-down. The cover of the book is upside-down in relation to its inner pages, so you have to flip it over to start reading. And there are many other books on my shelf that I bought in fugues of research frenzy but that I've yet to read. I didn't return it because I couldn't be bothered (it's still readable) and, I dunno, maybe a collector's item someday.
When I get into a Good State I pace up and down and imagine a conversation with a Straight Man, or an interview with a TV journalist, or someone like Benjamin Franklin transported forward in time, where I have to explain how something works. You want to know what that's like? Read this:
Now imagine that happening in your head with an imaginary daughter, or imaginary Ben Franklin wanting to know how antibiotics work, a dozen times a day.
Ben Franklin: "What was that pill you just swallowed?"
Me: "That was Amoxycillin, which is what we call an antibiotic and probably the biggest contributor to human health and longevity since Jenner's vaccine for Smallpox."
Ben Franklin: "How does it work?"
Me: "Well we figured out that most sickness was caused by germs, which are organisms so small you can't see them with the naked eye, much like if you imagined a kind of flea that was capable of infesting a regular flea. They're so small that their 'skin' is a very fragile membrane that we call peptidoglycan, and the penicillin family of drugs--which Amoxycillin is a member of--interferes with the production of it. When the bacteria try to divide--a process called b... b..."
(I grope around for my phone, or do a Cmd-T to open a new browser tab, and search for 'bacteria cell dividi...' AH! Binary Fission!)
This happens inside my head all the time, and the same imaginary conversations play-out many times over the course of months or years, prompted by some outside stimulus or another. Sometimes, as I play the scene back, I can answer my own self-asked questions with Google, while in others I am sufficiently excited enough that I rush to Amazon and buy a $200 book, only to have forgotten the imaginary dialog by the time it's delivered.
Inbetween those unproductive and semi-forgotten crackles, I occasionally churn something out worth publishing. Perhaps, with discipline and a Method (tm), I can be more productive, but I either haven't the willpower or all those methods sabotage the art.
And that's why, every year I get older, I think I'm more fucked than the year before.
One of the most surreal experiences in my life occurred in 1999 in the West-End Manhattan apartment of Richard M. Stallman's mother, where RMS was celebrating his birthday. The messiah of the Free Software movement himself poured me a glass of Guarana soda (not Bawls, btw, but some other brand he sourced from a bodega somewhere in the city), then spontaneously and maybe subconsciously practiced a few folk-dance moves, as if it was a nervous tick. I leaned over his shoulder while he taught Emacs LISP to an attractive Italian lady on his worn, smudged laptop, an external keyboard balanced on top of the laptop's presumably broken (or insufficient) keyboard. Later he and everyone at the party settled down, legs crossed, in the living room while he played folk tunes on a penny whistle, summoned from nowhere like a magician producing your card.
He gave me a GNU/Linux sticker to wear, featuring cartoon representations of the GNU Gnu and the Linux penguin dressed as superheroes in flight. He also gave me his business card, which he submitted in Japanese fashion by holding the card at both edges and presenting it with a polite bow--a slight but rapid lean from the hip.
You say that you're disappointed in Nelson's negative attitude, but he's not alone and I think it comes with the job of being a visionary. Stallman was a polite host, but very blunt and honest. I got into Stallman's party by way of a friend who was very active in the Perl community (as in the Perl programming language). Somebody had passed this on to Richard and he spoke up, asking if my friend could help steer the Perl community towards settling on a single Free Software license for the greater ecosystem rather than the mish-mash of GPL/BSD/Apache licenses they were using at the time. Alas, my friend had to confess that he wasn't that influential, to Stallman's visible disappointment. It was like my friend had instantly fallen off Stallman's radar to become just another warm body at his party.
If you imagine this kind of exchange happening every day for decades, of being the target of harsh criticism--only some of it intelligent or well considered--and routinely snubbed and denied credit for what has become a massive, mainstream cultural and technological movement, then you can see where the bitterness comes from.
In the second video, Nelson quoted Machiavelli: "There's nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in success than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things." The challenge to one's psyche is not so much about whether the new order can actually technically work, but the resistance of your fellow humans who don't "get" it, or are determined not to get it, a-la Sinclair's refrain: "It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on him not understanding it."
But Nelson, I fear, has to battle the former problem more than the latter. Technology geeks like us are easy to excite with brilliant and non-conventional ideas (look how fast BitCoin is growing, for example), but Xanadu and ZigZag imply enormous engineering challenges that may not be practical.
I'm reminded of something similar to ZigZag called the "Triadic Continuum", based on ideas of Charles Pierce in the early 20th century. Someone named Jane Mazzagatti took these ideas and developed the Triadic Continuum data structure at Unisys, patenting the bonkers out of it, and sometime after that a writer named John Zuchero wrote a book on her work called The Practical Pierce.
I do not recommend buying this book. Just don't. It provides a somewhat functional description of the Triadic Continuum, but it doesn't take long to get the idea that Zuchero had fallen head-over-heels for Mazzagatti; it's practically a love letter masquerading as a CompSci book. The data structure he describes seems like a good idea, but on closer examination is an orgy of linking data for the sake of it, with nothing that jumps out as a clear advantage over other techniques. It makes you spend an enormous amount of overhead on pointers and the cycles to follow them, but there aren't any clear techniques for making use of this linkage for anything other than storing and recovering strings.
In the same vein, Xanadu and ZigZag are an orgy of concepts that seem cool on the surface, but they trade an insane amount of overhead for benefits that may not be as useful or justified as Nelson imagines. It might be insanely cool if authorship data can be preserved every time you cut-n-paste a word or sentence from one document to another, linking the documents together in a Xanadian matrix of physical and semantic relationships that can distribute royalty payments every time a book or document is sold, automatically compile bibliographies and allow readers to leap from one related document, idea or word to another, but even if it was technically possible (particularly in respect to scaling), it might be a solution in search of a problem that doesn't exist.
Back in 2001 I built a web site that implemented bi-directional linking by using the "Referrer" field submitted with every HTTP GET request. The software I wrote kept track of these referrers, visited the pages to verify their existence and capture their title, then listed them at the bottom of each article I wrote. I also got it to support attaching backlinks to individual paragraphs (by appending "?p=#" in the URL you link to). I got written up in MIT Technology review for it! Unfortunately that site isn't online anymore, nor do I have plans to resuscitate it, but I announced the feature in an essay called "Ghosts of Xanadu", acknowledging Nelson's influence.
I think that many of Nelson's ideas are viable and valuable, but not all of them. Any time you have a visionary like Nelson, the world tends to treat their work like a smorgasboard that you can pick and choose from as you please. Ideas 1, 4, 7 and 9 work for me, but not the rest.
There have been many attempts to implement Nelson's ideas in code, but "pure" Xanadu isn't really in use anywhere. I think it may be worth cannibalizing it for some ideas, but not all of them. Which ideas are worth implementing should depend on your vision, though, not Nelson's.
Practically motivated, I would say rather.
Can you choose to smoke? Cigarettes, well, yes -- and in areas where the answer is no it's because smoking isn't good for those around you. So that's an oversimplification. Pot -- not yet, but cultural progression is actually on the side of Linus there.
Choose a large soda? In most places still, yes. And there is of course the (practical) argument that making our population healthier will be much cheaper in the long run.
Choose to own a gun? Yeah, you can. You just have to do some paperwork and not be insane (theoretically) -- imagine that.
Choose energy-inefficient solutions? In the long run, I think they're cheaper, and I know they're better for the environment. So to an extent you still have the right to be dumb and selfish, but you'll be taxed for it. (I'm a bit behind on this one, though, so don't take me as seriously.) The debate there isn't too culturally motivated, in any case.
Choose to honor God? Yeah. First amendment. What country is the author of this comic in, exactly? Choosing to not honor God isn't as easy at the moment, but we're getting there.
You can also choose an abortion. Or adoption. Or contraception. Or none of the above.
So I'm done over-analyzing this political cartoon which is designed to provoke such a response -- but I do think the author should visit Saudi Arabia and see if he finds it more or less to his liking.
EDIT: hubski is charmingly liberal.
I have no clue. I've just been sitting here reading through your old comments and shit for a while. Damn.