It would always end this way...

"issue": 065

Lately we’ve been seeing a string of pay-per-view fights featuring social media celebrities. The most recent being Bryce Hall and Austin McBroom. Where Bryce got the corn knocked out of him.

And it’s so obvious to me, like excruciatingly so. I have an old note that states “all status games end in e-commerce”. A simple understanding that the digital will always reverse back into physical manifestations once it’s big enough. The reality that the cap on the digital status arena must turn into a putting on by the audience… an ever more measurable continuation of the game.

Today I’d amend that previous statement to “all status games end in e-commerce or war”. This is at the root of every conflict ever.

Chatting with Luca about this probe, he called out how the influencer soccer and basketball games don’t hit the same because it’s team based. We need to see the 1:1 action, for the emergence of the title holder. Very Finite & Infinite Games… aka the cheat codes.

A little more literally — if TikTok is a social royale on a continuous loop towards FYP dominance, those titles are ever fleeting. It’s simply too fast of an environment, with little control. This truth has pushed performative identity to the absolute edge. And the most edge environment for competition is evergreen: blood-sport.


It’s the most human thing, and the best part is that you can hate watch it. While still generating pleasure for all involved.

I’m not going to give too much of my moral opinion here. Other than this is a direct continuation of the values set into the status seeking competition first laid out in the system’s design.

Copying Chinese Consumer Tech

In my twitter drafts I have this thing I’ve said for a while:

If you’re trying to copy/paste things over from Chinese consumer tech

You literally just don’t understand the nature of cultural progression and it’s relationship to technology

I don’t know how much I want to expand on this point. To me it’s evolutionary. We have an entire country that has a technological culture that bunny-hopped (in terms of personal computing at scale) straight to mobile. What this does just from an HCI point of view and the ramifications on mass interactive psychology is staggering.

To believe that the answer to American consumer progress, is adopting Chinese cultural output is both intellectually lazy and culturally uninspiring.

Sonic Peaks

This past weekend was properly absurd in the city.

I’ve been in an early 50 Cent wave, and I kept trying to imagine what it was like at parties during “peak 50”. I have very clear memories of the vibe during peak Drake runs.

I don’t think we are currently in a peak anything right now, it’s too soon post-covid vibes. Everyone is just horny to be out and could care less.

Reading “Just Kids” by Patti Smith, she depicts my neighborhood of Clinton Hill so precisely during her time. It was the summer of Love, of Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde, of xyz.

Our cultural environment and production is so explosive and egalitarian in some ways… today you can’t say anything of a unified culture. The only thing we share is that it is the summer of coming out of Covid. All shared realities end there.

It is the summer of anything I can pull up to show you as the summer… and you just have to accept that as reality.

While finishing up this newsletter, Luca was telling me about early Disney cartoons with characters smoking. And the scene editing they’ve done since the cultural attitude around smoking has shifted.

And it started a very classic chat between us on how the cultural values of the time are most crystalized by what we believe is permissible to show to our children.

This model, where content production took serious labor and capital to create and distribute… we have a very top down approach of what is permissible. But today, that is a very different story.

Where the media environment is one where interface can compress and remix Backyardigans’ audio to a video joking about sex… yeah I don’t know where that leaves us — other than a hyper sense of loaded agency in determining our values actively during consumption. Or to let the format overtake us… idk

I don’t do edits really, so excuse typos and things that don’t make sense.

Thanks so much for giving me your attention. I hope it was worth it, if not… unsubscribing will not hurt my feelings, and will give you back time you literally cannot have back.

Much love.

Live in the light

wrapping light

"Issue": 064

Currently, I am laying across a giant bean bag underneath the large windows of the Eternal office. The light is soft. Clouds almost seem still from my angle, perhaps I’m not allowing myself to look at them long enough. There are no other lights on in the space. Everything is being touched by what comes through the glass.

James Turrell is my favorite artist, I don’t believe this is a secret by any means. More and more, I’ve been thinking about my relationship to light. How it makes me feel, the different sources I receive it through, how every app bends light to communicate something.

James has talked about light as a form of therapy on several occasions. His quaker roots reinforcing this value.

In my own understanding and spirituality, God is referenced as light throughout the Bible. And this, I must believe, is my attraction to the pureness of the medium and its inherent properties.

Lately, I’ve been incredibly frustrated by my computing devices. For no discernible reason… but today I was meditating on why the pixels that emanate from our screens have both the draw of many light forms — yet feels so incredibly different.

In expressing this frustration and meditation to my girlfriend, she brought out the ways we are looking to avoid the very light that we seem to be constantly consuming. Blue light glasses, dark mode… dark mode in particular feels compelling to pull at because of the level of demand we require this design style be integrated across every digital product we touch.

Continuing, she then mentioned the potential recognition that this consumption is unhealthy yet we find ways around it (dark mode) in order to stay in the light… although we are manipulating it.

This made me return to this piece by @flowerstructure.

As they currently exist, I often describe phones as "basically vending machines".

Think about it: Small rectangles encased in glass, displaying an array of colorful and beautiful packages, each promising bite-sized hits of pleasure/dopamine, each “cheaply” priced (and in many cases, free) — this is a vending machine.

This is a contemporary personal computer.

I personally do not believe vending machines orient people towards better living. I have personally never been satiated by food that comes out of a vending machine.

We now are suspecting that light knows when we’re looking.

Yes it has different behavior when we are looking.

It almost imbues it with consciousness.

— James Turrell, on Charlie Rose Show

There’s so much to pull out of that quote. But it made me think about the nature of technology to reflect itself back to us, and in turn that promoting further development alongside us (human progress). Very “What Technology Wants” by Kevin Kelly… but the thought of light being aware and the nature of digital products… pixels shooting between us…

There’s simply too much to unpack there.

But I want us —anyone working within technology, particularly software— all to be aware of the power that we have. Shaping light and sharing it… scaling it…

Are we creating vitamin d, or dehydrating and burning those we meant to nourish?

I don’t do edits really, so excuse typos and things that don’t make sense.

Thanks so much for giving me your attention. I hope it was worth it, if not… unsubscribing will not hurt my feelings, and will give you back time you literally cannot have back.

Much love.

Live in the light

1:1's & Corporate Anxieties

"Issue": 063

*extreme Kanye voice* // “We don’t hope. We just do.”

Lately, I’ve viewed my role as a founder-ceo as a facilitator-editor. I think 1:1’s are a primary tool for facilitating.

Deeper than what Eternal - the product people hold in their hand is, before I can philosophize on the merits of real time digital presence… The most important job I have, is making Eternal the best place to work. Where everyone feels that their peers are some of the most talented folks they’ve ever met. And collectively, we are doing deeply meaningful and creative work together.

There’s a lot that goes into this that I enjoy doing with Luca. Everything, from the outside that may seem trivial like making the new office a spot that genuinely feels dope to come to daily — to most recently, a religious follow through on 1-on-1’s.

Every management book from “High Output Management” by Andy Grove to the rewrite by Ben Horowitz talks about the need for 1:1’s. But in my time before Eternal (working at JUMP Bikes & Dreams), 1:1’s always felt like a checkup appointment on the daily mechanics of work. Very ~ open and say ahhhhhhhhh ~

What are we, as founders and (let’s just say) management, trying to do with 1:1’s?

I’m not going to give you my personal model for 1:1’s, because it’s mine. And I also don’t think it’s a universal formula. It works for me (for now) and I don’t want to mislead you into thinking it’s some silver bullet. It won’t be… this work is deeply human. There’s never a formula when pulling at that which is human.

I will lay out what I think we are trying to get out of 1:1’s and help you to ideally become a stronger founder or manager + individual contributor if you’re sitting on the other side of the table. This is equally about managing up as it’s about running a meaningful process.

What are we doing? How are we doing? How are you doing?

At the core, this is about making work meaningful for the individual. It’s a tremendous privilege to build a company, build the mutual respect that comes with hiring, to genuinely want to do a thing.

And yet… we ruin this time and time again.

How do we get in the way of meaningful work? What even is meaningful work?

I would define it this way: an individual’s ability to see the relationship from the agency they have over their direct work to the manifestation of an organization’s goals they mutually believe in.

Plenty gets in the way of this. Organizational bloat. Role’s that are non-critical / not feeding into any core loops. Not giving individuals the agency required to produce great work. Management’s inability to communicate high level strategy. An individual contributor simply trying to coast for a paycheck and get out of there at 5pm.

But at an early stage, when culture is still malleable and getting set with each day that passes. These can’t be excuses. You can’t have bloat at 8 people. You can’t coast at 8 people. That’s automatic failure, and you should be able to feel that immediately. (bluntly said, fire them if this is true)

At early stage, I think that meaning comes with shared clarity. Like a mirror that collects dust from the movement around it, clarity is a daily audit.

No matter how many design specs exists. Trello cards get added. Clarity can quickly distort into navigating a funhouse if you’re not careful. You should have more slash-through’s than ideas on docs, always.

At the core, 1:1’s are about pulling out the shared collective anxieties. Whether that anxiety is about shared strategy or an individual’s direction within it… we are all becoming together.

What I’ve learned, very quickly is that silent fears tend to be shared fears. And it can snowcrash your execution, slowly, parasitically, and then you’re in a situation. You never want to be in a situation.

If your job as a manager/founder/etc is to run at the most important problems & you believe your team is hyper-capable. You should hold their anxieties seriously.

On the other side of that coin, IC’s cannot live in fear of relaying this information up-chain. There’s a lot that goes into that ability to communicate transparently to management.

Reminds me of the one scene in Silicon Valley where Hooli’s middle out platform is hella delayed, and Gavin thinks they’ll have a video platform ready for a huge launch but the further down the chain you go, the more you realize they are several months off target.

We must pull out the anxieties through intentional conversation. Create the space for that to be expressed. Cross reference the anxieties to see what the shared through-line is. Address that as a team.

This part is incredibly important. You can’t death grip crafting solutions in isolation.

Again, if this team was assembled for their collective ability. This too is part of their job. Grant agency for the team to work through the shared anxieties they are experiencing. The solutions and articulations that will result from this will be far more organic. It’s the difference between a collective body that reaches an answer vs a top down answer that the body is being forced to accept… this is what happens far too often. Which doesn’t increase buy-in, nor clarity. And is ultimately useless at best, and an accelerant to the already present anxiety at worst.

I am now realizing how I’ve only pulled on one thread within the new found awareness I’m currently experiencing with 1:1’s. And I want to stop writing to move on to other work.

I think I focused so much around the idea of collective silent anxieties, because it’s one of those traits that can rear its head in so many ways within an organization. It’ll distort communication up chain, it’ll create misalignment across different parts of the project, it’ll weaken execution on design, people won’t feel as confident as they should feel, people won’t have fun in a more general sense… and this compounds!

So I’m going to put a pin in it here, and hopefully come back to make this a wider series.

I don’t do edits really, so excuse typos and things that don’t make sense.

Thanks so much for giving me your attention. I hope it was worth it, if not… unsubscribing will not hurt my feelings, and will give you back time you literally cannot have back.

Much love.

Live in the light

Boys Don't Cry

"Issue": 062

My writing and reading pace has slowed considerably. Perhaps because I’ve been in a slight crypto hole where everything moves 10x the speed of the natural world… so sitting down to read or write legitimately feels like a slow motion exercise.

So this will be one of those exercises you take place in to simply complete an exercise. And that will be ok. Here’s a little brain dump to force me to write.

A playlist you can listen to while you read.

On Hiring

In the past couple of weeks at Eternal, we’ve doubled the full-time team size. I consider our team to be the best “product” Eternal has ever crafted. I believe that I am an exceptional CEO, purely off of my confidence that I have one of the most exceptional teams in New York.


Running a hiring process at an early stage company is hard enough. Running that during a pandemic increases that. Running that when you can’t have the physical elements of play in the room to get a vibe for the person + they pick up a vibe from the current team… you get the picture.

Some Thots:

Every hiring process is a running ad for the company. Candidates should be able to go through the process, get denied, and still have generally positive feelings about the experience and company itself. I don’t believe this is an unachievable task.

Hiring is a full team process, yes I spend maybe 80% of the day devoted to organizing, initial chats, vetting… but it will always come down to “who are my future peers”. However, there are many ways a team can muck up a candidate’s experience.

Recently friends that are recruiting have told me stories of interviewers not having their camera on, visible lack of interest in the conversation at hand, and other unacceptable story pieces. You have to set these ground rules during the interview process, as it is a direct reflection on the culture.

You have to be ready to say “no” to friends. It sucks, but that’s part of the reality. It destroys me every time.

Transparency in the process, and decision making. From day 1, a candidate should know how many jumps it’ll take to get across the river. And if they don’t make it, they should know exactly why. Take the time to write it out, and keep it as non-personal as possible. I’ve never taken the time to send genuine feedback to someone, and them not appreciate it.

Obviously sometimes the answer is as simple as “we didn’t like them”. That’s a completely fair reason in my opinion. In early stage work, you should vibe with the folks within a sub-10 person team.

On Body & Communication

Generally, I’m a pretty heady person. It’s how I perceive a lot of what I’m experiencing. Lately, for reasons beyond me, I’ve been feeling many things through my body.

It’s clear when something doesn’t sit right. When the touch is off. If I don’t want to be somewhere, if I want to stay with someone longer. I don’t feel a need to intellectualize it.

It is, because I say it is.

And this has pushed me towards an unapologetic mode of communication… which has allowed me a new level of agency that I’ve appreciated the self-recognition of.

On Team Agency

It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do. We hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.

— SJ

I think that it’s very natural, early in a startups life, for the founders to hold a death grip on many core functions. And it’s one of those weird startup-y things I feel as though doesn’t get talked about at all within the blog posts on “execution” — which is the transition into trusting your team.

It’s an odd one because you can never half trust something. You either believe the center will hold, and you walk across, or you don’t. A bridge not tested, is hardly a bridge at all.

We built the bridge together for a year. 4 months ago I walked across it. And I’ve never been happier. We’ve never been stronger.

On Drones

I really think that drones might be the perfect computing pet. It can follow me seamlessly, like a dog. It can allow cinematic levels of capture, without breaking anyone out of the “scene”. Spectacles will definitely go full AR heads-up display. But I think that, Snap being a camera company, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were working on a drone.

Drones are more vibey than we think…

On Black Sonic Environment

Something I’ve been thinking about is rap/hip hop at large roots in electronic production. And how it’s become the dominant American sound scape. How we may be already living in the start of a Black American “futurism”… today.

On Miami & Twitter

Embrace that every city is a technology city on a different timeline. It is all technology… it is all moving in every direction always.

There are plenty of things we can discuss ranging from inclusive community to the hollowing out of the middle class to personality driven capital. Those are all well and good dialogues to hold.

But at the core, Miami as a technology hub is/will be beautiful and disgusting. Like every tech hub before and after it.

The narrative arrow was shot, and the constant memefication only makes it stronger.

Separately, I had a funny weekend down there and I’m sure I’ll be back again.

On Last Night

Last night, a friend asked what I’m most religious about.

I said beauty.

I don’t do edits really, so excuse typos and things that don’t make sense.

Thanks so much for giving me your attention. I hope it was worth it, if not… unsubscribing will not hurt my feelings, and will give you back time you literally cannot have back.

Much love.

Live in the light

Memetic Arrows & Narrative Currency // part 1?

"Issue": 061

In the highest sense, I care deeply about the nature of progress. The belief that we can design progress, intentionally, and it fuses with our environment. An ever cycling constructed collective-selves we place and hand down to our next of kin. Until that reflection is too distorted for them to recognize, and they build again.

Progress, as an abstract, has been going through a sort of meta-renaissance of discussion and focus. How we define and measure such a thing in the macro sense — life expectancy, economic production, blah blah blah.

One thing I still haven’t heard yet, listening to Tyler Cowen and the likes, is the spiritual awareness of one’s environment and how it impresses upon them. Both consciously through their participation, as well as subconsciously through their very… passing through.

I believe that this is why McLuhan has had such an impact on many of us. The understanding of the entire working over of a medium on the individual and collective.

As we tend to freely define ourselves as technologists, we have an almost hippocratic oath like responsibility to understand the nature of our accelerated ability to terraform our lived experience through our design materials of choice… namely, for the past 20 years, software.

I’ve been turning over the “software is eating the world” meme for a little bit of time. Why did it have to happen,?,? because it had to happen. And I keep coming back to this idea that humans are terraformers. As Peter Thiel laments, we’ve slowed in our progress in the world of atoms. There’s many potential reasons as to why… but my primary one is that pre-internet-software we terraformed our environment by first putting intention and plan and law into writing. Setting out from the script, the series of actions necessary to move atoms around. Software had to eat the world because it was set to become the unified language of the world. Without this shared language, there was no terraforming to be done. Code is law, setting new batches of atoms firing around that were previously somnambulant. Over the past few years a new awareness has been born, seeing the effects of this retribalization in dazzling clarity… or maybe swirling stupefaction…

Crypto is one of the bleeding tools of our strange terraforming environments that has been gripping me with a new sort of obsession as of late.

My warning right here is that this is not a cohesive piece. I don’t know what it is. There’s a lot of scatter shots of thoughts/probes.

Our environment is capital. Like blood running through our body, it is a known invisibility that maintains us, propels us. What makes capital act, what is the sequence of events, how close is capital to lived reality…

Now I got you in my space
I won't let go of you
Got you shackled in my embrace
I'm latching on to you

When I first started writing this (which feels like a year ago in internet time), Disclosure could have accepted 1.34 SOCKS in exchange for the “Disclosure Face”. This was beat by a 7.5 WETH bid.

Mmmmmmmmmmm the environments we find ourselves in. Where this makes perfect sense. We’ve retvrned. There is value in seashell, and I should be able to trade it for corn.

On SUSHI I made a BAO-WETH pair. The story of filling a Pixl town is the current wave. We went full archeological dig for the first generative art NFT, saving kitties from the moon. Dylan Field sold his CryptoPunk for an equivalent of $7.5m… we’re out here.

In short, we’ve made currency feel less like currency, and closer to that which we have an intuitive understanding of. Narrative.

We shoot memetic arrows through environment. As it travels, it disintegrates or fattens. Some memes are built to hold capital direction in perfect form… retreat to Miami being a good example.

Capital continued to flow into the meme, the first tongue-in-cheek stance turned into an all at once flooding. Greeted openly by the Mayor himself.

We live in an age of capital abundance. This isn’t without recognition of the nature of distribution of said capital, simply that, it is everywhere. Capital moving, is the least interesting part of any story. Because it is the final reactionary layer to compounding of previous narrative.

Currency is simply another design material, embodying decision making… it’s a kinetic force. The very idea of stagnation that can take hold is the scourge of progress. This is an infinite game, to stop moving capital would be to spoil the fun. There always has to be more, and there’s always a place to put it.

So if capital is the base of the current environment, readily available to be exercised, what is the edge?

Said another way, what is it that the environment is hurdling towards…

Mmmmmmmmm that assumes a timeline model. Maybe it’s more of a cauldron. Stewing. Waiting for a new protein to congeal around. Breaking through the meat to steam through. Have it sink back into the stew, provide flavor for the next and the next…

Maybe it’s hmmmmmmmm too many forms and shapes in my head now. Will sketch for next time.

We typically think that information is presented, a decision of capital is then put into motion… no no no. Maybe before, but that’s such a dead way of thinking about the kinetics of the present.

Narrative arrows shooting through the perfect meld of capital environment and the real edge being information. Capital now pushes new information reveals, not the other way around.

The story shoots from within, it gains capital as it tries to break through the informational membrane layer. Desperately trying to be part of the permanent environment.

Crypto is the first currency that can move at the pace of narrative. (Funny enough, in terms of trad finance, venture is a form of capital that has come to act narrative first. In a capital abundant environment, there’s no reason not to other than shame. Power laws typically solve for this.)

Fiat holds plenty of history, but history is the sum of completed finite games. That history is long, and muddied, and fought over. Formal history moves too slowly. Our awareness of potential history becomes similar to our awareness of camera, forcing us into pose.

This reminds me of how prescient “reality based community” really was.

That's not the way the world really works anymore... We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors...and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do

— unnamed official in the Bush administration

In order to take the actions the administration reasoned they needed to take, they had to move faster than history formation allowed. They became part of the bleeding edge of information and narrative. Filling in the gaps with their own actions and relaying it back to the analysts, while they filled in new gaps from fresh batches of actions.

In the age of diamond hands to the moon, 300% change within hours… only meme can compress that arrow into reaction-capital in time.

Meme is narrative x environment… cmprsd. (the basis of education? damn there’s a whole side quest we could go on about narrative currency and embedded education)

This marriage between meme, communal distribution speed of the internet, and currency cannot be understated in its current and potential impact to our environment.

What happens when we make currency slightly less, currency like. It softens… it becomes generative… We replace print & cut, with mine & pool. Our communities can generate for itself, exchange within itself, produce and distribute beyond itself. Squad wealth.

We are turning towards each other at an increasing rate for more and more needs.

I’ve been trying to organize everything good on DAO’s as possible. (prepping for a deep dive weekend)

The greatest lie the devil ever sold was to make you believe you’re on single-player mode. The social profile has exacerbated this to the tenth degree.

There’s this wave right now of abstracting and folding in our peers. At first this felt like a distortion. A too closeness of the subject. But again… it’s feeling more and more of a retvrn. The smaller knits we once set ourselves in, before the hyper-extended-accessibility of it all.

  • Social has increasingly turns our peers to our own entertainment.

  • OnlyFans turns our peers into our pornography.

  • Crypto turns our peers into our economy.

Perhaps we are in the middle of turning within the tetrad…

What is this strangeeeeee progress? What is it doing to us?

In this land of rented platform existence, it’s the least surprising notion that this new engine lives on proofs. Proofs of ownership, creation, identity, transaction.

(Ownership as expression concerns me for many reasons… Who owns the sun? Do we not all feel the warmth from its radiance. Is expression not the same? Does it not radiate from the motion of others in perpetuity.)

Perhaps we just want to own our stories. Record it. It’s all memory storage. Yes, we want proof. Proof we were here. Proof this interaction happened. We want our reality based community.

This happened. This really happened. We did this together, and it was beautiful, and it had value… real real value.

I don’t do this nearly enough. But all of these writings are the results of colliding minds with my beautiful peers. Off the dome, these were the friends that influenced this piece in some way.

Elena Burger | Toby Shorin | Justin Oullette | John Palmer

Tina He

I don’t do edits really, so excuse typos and things that don’t make sense.

Thanks so much for giving me your attention. I hope it was worth it, if not… unsubscribing will not hurt my feelings, and will give you back time you literally cannot have back.

Much love.

How often we think THIS is the final form as build. Passing through to pass through… this is all just passing through.

The chain is long before us and long behind us.

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