Welcome to Bookmarker!

This is a personal project by @dellsystem. I built this to help me retain information from the books I'm reading. Currently can only be used by a single user (myself), but I plan to extend it to support multiple users eventually.

Source code on GitHub (MIT license).

[...] the only entry into the “job market” is through a university education that requires one to take on “freely” this debt. As Lazzarato notes, though, this debt takes out an advance on our future: who can afford to take a few years off to volunteer when one immediately graduates into dunning notices for student loans? Who can decide to be a doctor in poorer communities when only a more remunerative post will allow one to pay down one’s monthly student loan payments? And why don’t I deserve a high-paying job? After all, I, and no one else, has invested so much to get me to this point. After spending so much, don’t I deserve to make much more? Gone are the days where our best and brightest go on to serve in the Peace Corps or help NASA send human beings to the moon, since there are ever more apps to be made and financial products to be invented. In this way, our possibilities close before us. [...]

Company of One: The Fate of Democracy in an Age of Neoliberalism by Peter Gratton 5 months ago

[...] the only entry into the “job market” is through a university education that requires one to take on “freely” this debt. As Lazzarato notes, though, this debt takes out an advance on our future: who can afford to take a few years off to volunteer when one immediately graduates into dunning notices for student loans? Who can decide to be a doctor in poorer communities when only a more remunerative post will allow one to pay down one’s monthly student loan payments? And why don’t I deserve a high-paying job? After all, I, and no one else, has invested so much to get me to this point. After spending so much, don’t I deserve to make much more? Gone are the days where our best and brightest go on to serve in the Peace Corps or help NASA send human beings to the moon, since there are ever more apps to be made and financial products to be invented. In this way, our possibilities close before us. [...]

Company of One: The Fate of Democracy in an Age of Neoliberalism by Peter Gratton 5 months ago

[...] neoliberalism’s basis in financial capitalism, not manufacturing, means economics has no other end than itself. There are simply no values outside of this — no “interest” one would have other than maintaining one’s own market efficiency. The emblem for this is the internet economy, where companies that have never produced a profit (and never will) are famous for being famous, valued for being valued, and thus trade at stock prices well ahead of those dinosaur companies still producing widgets. Uber had its IPO in December valued at $40 billion, even if it plans to profit from entrepreneurs “liberating” the value of their cars by driving them as taxis. No matter — Uber’s early investors will largely have cashed out by the time institutional investors, such as pension plans, are left on the hook for its future negligible value.

i don't quite fully agree with this theory but it's an interesting perspective

Company of One: The Fate of Democracy in an Age of Neoliberalism by Peter Gratton 5 months ago

[...] neoliberalism’s basis in financial capitalism, not manufacturing, means economics has no other end than itself. There are simply no values outside of this — no “interest” one would have other than maintaining one’s own market efficiency. The emblem for this is the internet economy, where companies that have never produced a profit (and never will) are famous for being famous, valued for being valued, and thus trade at stock prices well ahead of those dinosaur companies still producing widgets. Uber had its IPO in December valued at $40 billion, even if it plans to profit from entrepreneurs “liberating” the value of their cars by driving them as taxis. No matter — Uber’s early investors will largely have cashed out by the time institutional investors, such as pension plans, are left on the hook for its future negligible value.

i don't quite fully agree with this theory but it's an interesting perspective

Company of One: The Fate of Democracy in an Age of Neoliberalism by Peter Gratton 5 months ago

The consumer is not, as in a previous era of liberalism, a purported equal trader on a market — leaving aside the problematic basis for thinking this ever came about — but a “capital” among others, an entrepreneur most often providing free labor that creates value for others. If the laborer in the factory was the paradigm of alienation in a previous era, today in the West s/he is the freelancer: signing up for one project at a time, often free of charge in order to gain experience or “clips” and without the social safety net of a pension or guaranteed healthcare coverage. We are each a company of one, committed to doing what used to take whole enterprises: we provide our own customer service, do our own investments and taxes, act as our own travel agencies, and, for those lucky enough to have 401(k)s and healthcare, pick and choose among competing options that we once left to the experts. “There’s an app for that!” also means “you’re on your own.”

It’s not just that corporations have speech, as Justice Kennedy argued in Citizens United, a case Brown cites as a prime example in her book. Those who do speak think of themselves more and more as corporations in a do-it-yourself culture. Make bad investments? Choose the wrong healthcare plan? Buy a home on which your bank is owed more than the house is now worth? This is just the risk that comes with newfound economic freedoms. But as we spiral in student loan, credit, and mortgage debts, we are decidedly unprofitable companies of one. The corporations take all the profits; we take all the risk.

i like this. relevant for book

Company of One: The Fate of Democracy in an Age of Neoliberalism by Peter Gratton 5 months ago

The consumer is not, as in a previous era of liberalism, a purported equal trader on a market — leaving aside the problematic basis for thinking this ever came about — but a “capital” among others, an entrepreneur most often providing free labor that creates value for others. If the laborer in the factory was the paradigm of alienation in a previous era, today in the West s/he is the freelancer: signing up for one project at a time, often free of charge in order to gain experience or “clips” and without the social safety net of a pension or guaranteed healthcare coverage. We are each a company of one, committed to doing what used to take whole enterprises: we provide our own customer service, do our own investments and taxes, act as our own travel agencies, and, for those lucky enough to have 401(k)s and healthcare, pick and choose among competing options that we once left to the experts. “There’s an app for that!” also means “you’re on your own.”

It’s not just that corporations have speech, as Justice Kennedy argued in Citizens United, a case Brown cites as a prime example in her book. Those who do speak think of themselves more and more as corporations in a do-it-yourself culture. Make bad investments? Choose the wrong healthcare plan? Buy a home on which your bank is owed more than the house is now worth? This is just the risk that comes with newfound economic freedoms. But as we spiral in student loan, credit, and mortgage debts, we are decidedly unprofitable companies of one. The corporations take all the profits; we take all the risk.

i like this. relevant for book

Company of One: The Fate of Democracy in an Age of Neoliberalism by Peter Gratton 5 months ago

That situation resembles feudalism more than a bit, with the added freedom (read: risk) that individual drivers don’t even have the status of serfs. They are “free” to choose their lords, to whom they don’t even belong. The platform is an adventure in extreme forms of expropriation set against the backdrop of a slowing economy, what Marxist economist Robert Brenner calls “the long downturn” since the 1970s. [...] There’s still a centralized federal government, but its authority is attenuated by platform monopolists. The platform confuses capital-flow and social form, rearranging the relationship of profit to community (and therefore class), and of intelligence to organization. With the incumbency effect that massive data hoarding affords companies like the Four, we appear to be looking at something like a set of smart monopolies [...]

Delete Your Account: On the Theory of Platform Capitalism by Leif Weatherby 10 months, 2 weeks ago

That situation resembles feudalism more than a bit, with the added freedom (read: risk) that individual drivers don’t even have the status of serfs. They are “free” to choose their lords, to whom they don’t even belong. The platform is an adventure in extreme forms of expropriation set against the backdrop of a slowing economy, what Marxist economist Robert Brenner calls “the long downturn” since the 1970s. [...] There’s still a centralized federal government, but its authority is attenuated by platform monopolists. The platform confuses capital-flow and social form, rearranging the relationship of profit to community (and therefore class), and of intelligence to organization. With the incumbency effect that massive data hoarding affords companies like the Four, we appear to be looking at something like a set of smart monopolies [...]

Delete Your Account: On the Theory of Platform Capitalism by Leif Weatherby 10 months, 2 weeks ago

In their emphasis on the digital world’s medievalism, Foer and Galloway surprisingly join a chorus of Italian Marxists and cultural theorists who think the digital economy has brought a form of pre-modern economy back into capitalism. Rent has returned to a central role, as Carlo Vercellone argues. When growth levels off, ownership takes precedence over entrepreneurship. Rather than producing new value, the platforms simply coordinate virtual properties and charge for their use. But the properties are not in meatspace or cyberspace alone, which means the owners can set the rent at will. Think of Uber, which is only now beginning to try to create a more stable set of drivers (something like employees). Trying to keep drivers driving means negotiating with them, but the results are not encouraging. By denying their status as a firm with employees, Uber devolves the risk of enterprise onto their “contractors,” and then argues those contractors should be loyal to the platform’s internal, algorithmic assessment of its own success, since their ability to drive at all is based on Uber continuing to exist.

Delete Your Account: On the Theory of Platform Capitalism by Leif Weatherby 10 months, 2 weeks ago

In their emphasis on the digital world’s medievalism, Foer and Galloway surprisingly join a chorus of Italian Marxists and cultural theorists who think the digital economy has brought a form of pre-modern economy back into capitalism. Rent has returned to a central role, as Carlo Vercellone argues. When growth levels off, ownership takes precedence over entrepreneurship. Rather than producing new value, the platforms simply coordinate virtual properties and charge for their use. But the properties are not in meatspace or cyberspace alone, which means the owners can set the rent at will. Think of Uber, which is only now beginning to try to create a more stable set of drivers (something like employees). Trying to keep drivers driving means negotiating with them, but the results are not encouraging. By denying their status as a firm with employees, Uber devolves the risk of enterprise onto their “contractors,” and then argues those contractors should be loyal to the platform’s internal, algorithmic assessment of its own success, since their ability to drive at all is based on Uber continuing to exist.

Delete Your Account: On the Theory of Platform Capitalism by Leif Weatherby 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Are these platforms skimming rent off capital and labor? Or do they represent a fundamental shift in economics, a new Industrial Revolution? [...] Cognitive capitalism, to use Yann Moulier Boutang’s term, might be less about allowing creativity to organize the economic cycle than about siphoning value from socio-cultural activity as such. [...]

he cites Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee as subscribing to the second view

Delete Your Account: On the Theory of Platform Capitalism by Leif Weatherby 10 months, 2 weeks ago

Are these platforms skimming rent off capital and labor? Or do they represent a fundamental shift in economics, a new Industrial Revolution? [...] Cognitive capitalism, to use Yann Moulier Boutang’s term, might be less about allowing creativity to organize the economic cycle than about siphoning value from socio-cultural activity as such. [...]

he cites Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee as subscribing to the second view

Delete Your Account: On the Theory of Platform Capitalism by Leif Weatherby 10 months, 2 weeks ago

[...] Thiel is our most articulate, forthright advocate of the power-law approach to individuality. He claims that freeing companies from competition will liberate them to make the kinds of advancements we need to conquer scarcity. But the lesson of the commercial web — where monopoly control undermines culture, in order to advance the interests of platforms and companies — makes me wonder why we should expect these monopolies to manage technological resources for the benefit of society at large, as opposed to only for themselves. If anything, Thiel’s forthright embrace of power-law principles convinces me that the contemporary understanding of antitrust law — where we look at its impact on consumers almost exclusively through prices — is insufficient. Antitrust law exists first and foremost to foster competition between companies, and we need to enforce it with that in mind. That’s not enough, of course. We also need to support — and engage with — cultural work, extend democratic values into more corners of society, and most importantly commit to an understanding of humanity that doesn’t reinforce aristocracy or hyper-elitism. Ultimately, it is human dignity, and not the power-law ethic, that deserves to be enshrined at the center of our politics, our technological ventures, and our society.

Citizen Thiel missing author 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] Thiel is our most articulate, forthright advocate of the power-law approach to individuality. He claims that freeing companies from competition will liberate them to make the kinds of advancements we need to conquer scarcity. But the lesson of the commercial web — where monopoly control undermines culture, in order to advance the interests of platforms and companies — makes me wonder why we should expect these monopolies to manage technological resources for the benefit of society at large, as opposed to only for themselves. If anything, Thiel’s forthright embrace of power-law principles convinces me that the contemporary understanding of antitrust law — where we look at its impact on consumers almost exclusively through prices — is insufficient. Antitrust law exists first and foremost to foster competition between companies, and we need to enforce it with that in mind. That’s not enough, of course. We also need to support — and engage with — cultural work, extend democratic values into more corners of society, and most importantly commit to an understanding of humanity that doesn’t reinforce aristocracy or hyper-elitism. Ultimately, it is human dignity, and not the power-law ethic, that deserves to be enshrined at the center of our politics, our technological ventures, and our society.

Citizen Thiel missing author 1 year, 2 months ago

Like culture, the word democracy can mean a lot of things, but anthropologist and political activist David Graeber hits upon a useful starting point in his book The Democracy Project when he writes, “It’s not even really a mode of government. In its essence it is just the belief that humans are fundamentally equal and ought to be allowed to manage their collective affairs in an egalitarian fashion, using whatever means appear most conducive.” From this standpoint, democracy is not a particular set of norms, such as elections or political parties, but a way of thinking. Thiel has a point about the power law — society is very unequal in a lot of ways. In effect, large businesses and venture-capital-backed startups are planning the future — just as the titans of the commercial web are planning life online. A democratic mindset looks at this and says that because imbalances might exist in someone’s circumstances — because they don’t have a lot of money, or because they’re marginalized socially in some way — doesn’t mean they don’t have a stake in society. And if someone has a stake in society, they deserve a say in how it’s run. It’s a simple matter of human dignity.

Citizen Thiel missing author 1 year, 2 months ago

Like culture, the word democracy can mean a lot of things, but anthropologist and political activist David Graeber hits upon a useful starting point in his book The Democracy Project when he writes, “It’s not even really a mode of government. In its essence it is just the belief that humans are fundamentally equal and ought to be allowed to manage their collective affairs in an egalitarian fashion, using whatever means appear most conducive.” From this standpoint, democracy is not a particular set of norms, such as elections or political parties, but a way of thinking. Thiel has a point about the power law — society is very unequal in a lot of ways. In effect, large businesses and venture-capital-backed startups are planning the future — just as the titans of the commercial web are planning life online. A democratic mindset looks at this and says that because imbalances might exist in someone’s circumstances — because they don’t have a lot of money, or because they’re marginalized socially in some way — doesn’t mean they don’t have a stake in society. And if someone has a stake in society, they deserve a say in how it’s run. It’s a simple matter of human dignity.

Citizen Thiel missing author 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] Thiel answers the problem of unemployment and underemployment only with vague gestures, spouting platitudes like “Properly understood, technology is the one way for us to escape competition in a globalizing world.” But technology is not magic. As Thiel himself observes, “computers are tools.” It matters a great deal who wields them. And that’s the problem. Thiel skips the most important part of the equation: who will control that technology and how they will use it. That’s what Thiel never quite admits: the power law he exalts isn’t about technology at all — as its name implies, it’s about power. Though Thiel often extols the virtues of individualism, his vision of the individual stems from his beliefs about the power law. In effect, he turns Pareto’s vision into something approaching a system of ethics. Under this power-law ethic, individualism consists of certain people exerting their power unchecked, the way the founder of a monopolistic business leverages the power that comes from cornering a market in order to escape the destructiveness of competition. But the power-law ethic offers very little to those who lack power to begin with.

Citizen Thiel missing author 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] Thiel answers the problem of unemployment and underemployment only with vague gestures, spouting platitudes like “Properly understood, technology is the one way for us to escape competition in a globalizing world.” But technology is not magic. As Thiel himself observes, “computers are tools.” It matters a great deal who wields them. And that’s the problem. Thiel skips the most important part of the equation: who will control that technology and how they will use it. That’s what Thiel never quite admits: the power law he exalts isn’t about technology at all — as its name implies, it’s about power. Though Thiel often extols the virtues of individualism, his vision of the individual stems from his beliefs about the power law. In effect, he turns Pareto’s vision into something approaching a system of ethics. Under this power-law ethic, individualism consists of certain people exerting their power unchecked, the way the founder of a monopolistic business leverages the power that comes from cornering a market in order to escape the destructiveness of competition. But the power-law ethic offers very little to those who lack power to begin with.

Citizen Thiel missing author 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] Like economic returns from Bay Area tech companies today, human enhancement technologies of the future will not be evenly distributed. If we’re now exercised over how the rich get privileged access to airline seats, imagine the reaction from le menu peuple when they see the callow Jared Kushners of tomorrow get brain upgrades while being infused with teenaged blood. Perhaps this explains why some of the United States’s wealthiest people are prepping for the day when the pitchforks come out — a veritable bonfire of the vainglorious — and they retreat to their converted ICBM silos and island compounds.

Silicon Valley’s Bonfire of the Vainglorious missing author 1 year, 2 months ago

[...] Like economic returns from Bay Area tech companies today, human enhancement technologies of the future will not be evenly distributed. If we’re now exercised over how the rich get privileged access to airline seats, imagine the reaction from le menu peuple when they see the callow Jared Kushners of tomorrow get brain upgrades while being infused with teenaged blood. Perhaps this explains why some of the United States’s wealthiest people are prepping for the day when the pitchforks come out — a veritable bonfire of the vainglorious — and they retreat to their converted ICBM silos and island compounds.

Silicon Valley’s Bonfire of the Vainglorious missing author 1 year, 2 months ago