Explosive clouds and a desirable future

Last month I was writing about appreciating beauty. I think I understand a bit more what’s going on in my mind. I think I grew up immune from Stendhal Syndrome because I spent too much time in beautiful places.

In the last two years my life got a lot more sedentary. So I’m getting a lot less exposure to different kinds of beautiful places. This means that I have lower standards and I appreciate more what surrounds me.

Talking about being in awe, a couple of days ago I came across Cai Guo-Qiang and got obsessed with his work

I found this documentary on him, it’s really worth watching:

I still haven’t really found a way to articulate the ideas that this sparked in me.

The easiest way I found to explain this is starting from something Peter Thiel said some time ago.

There are currently three available concrete visions for the future in Europe:

  1. China - a technocratic government that is into mass surveillance and things like citizen cards in Hangzhou

  2. Sharia Law and Islam - a continent where women have to wear a hijab

  3. Green Dream - where people all ride around in Lime scooters, offset their carbon footprint and eat fake burgers

The first two futures are dystopian, the third is stagnant and uninspiring.

So the question is, is there a fourth option, a way out?

I don’t know how to answer.

The common thing between the available concrete visions of the future is that these ideas don’t accept compromises. One of the main criticism on liberal democracies is that they assume that it’s possible to have extreme political differences and live peacefully together. Ideas like the green future or the religious one don’t accept any compromise (you can’t save the world halfway - change the word of gods). The Chinese future instead is about making everyone homogeneous, so everyone can be tolerant of being the same.

Cai Guo-Qiang’s Sky Ladder seems like a good starting point for an alternative.

The image of these stairs has the potential to be transformed into something that can be desirable, accepts no compromise and that wants to spread.

Anyways enough with the rambling here’s a good interview on the topic with Thiel:

If you’re interested in the critique of liberal democracies skim through some of Carl Schmitt and Giorgio Agamben - Or wait for me to write about this

Launching Ye Combinator and applying to Y Combinator

One night a couple of weeks ago after a Kanye West tweet, I spent a night building yecombinator.com

It went somewhat viral within Twitter and filled me with the enthusiasm I’ve always had when building and sharing something with others.

The week after that I applied to YC 🤞, which was also fun to do

Series is out 🤩

In October last year, while at Intercom, I started working on Series. A visual builder to orchestrate all the messages companies send to users based on their behaviours.

The product just got released and I’m proud of it:

Debugging

I wrote a short blog post on how I think about debugging.

TLDR is when figuring things out it’s good to explain what you’re trying to do and why the output you’re getting is wrong. And the only thing you need to do is keep narrowing the errors to different possible causes.

Red cars are everywhere

When you’re thinking about something you’ll start seeing it everywhere (eg. if your arm is broken you’ll notice more injured people).

I think it’s important to keep this in mind to try and manipulate yourself to notice things that can make you happy or that can have long term positive effects on your life.

Communities

I like small communities of people that are obsessed with specific cultures. These cultures are generally based around either interests, personality and values.

The problem with these small communities is that it seems like they’re always moving.

I found an interesting description of the lifecycle of a community, the theory of Otters and Possums (original link)

Otters and Possums

Possums: people who like a specific culture

Otters: People who like most cultures

Here’s the cycle every community goes through:

  1. Community forms based off of a common interest, personality. In most cases it’s Possums doing this

  2. This community becomes successful and fun

  3. Community starts attracting Otters. These Otters see the Possum community and happily enter, delighted to find this interesting subculture.

  4. Otters grow more quickly in numbers than Possums (as they’re easier to find)

  5. Possums realise the community culture is not what it used to be and not what they wanted, so they try to moderate (kicking out some scapegoat Otter)

  6. The Otters like each other, and kicking an Otter makes all of the other Otters members really unhappy

  7. Unhappy people form a new subgroup

  8. Rinse and repeat

Other interesting links