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).

xxvii

A tablet doesn't really enable one to fully run one's own affairs on one's own terms. A personal computer is designed so that you own your own data. PCs enabled millions of people to run their own affairs. The PC strengthened the middle class. Tablets are instead optimized for delivering entertainment, but the real problem is that you can't use them without ceding information superiority to someone else. In most cases, you cannot even turn them on without giving over personal information.

He shies away from what I think is the larger problem here, which is that tablets make it very hard for you to go under the hood. They are expressly designed for an easy-to-use UI at the expense of allowing the consumer to understand how it all works. You're not encouraged to tinker or write your own commands. If you want to build an app for it, you'll have to get a separate development device.

—p.xxvii Introduction to the Paperback Edition (xxi) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago

A tablet doesn't really enable one to fully run one's own affairs on one's own terms. A personal computer is designed so that you own your own data. PCs enabled millions of people to run their own affairs. The PC strengthened the middle class. Tablets are instead optimized for delivering entertainment, but the real problem is that you can't use them without ceding information superiority to someone else. In most cases, you cannot even turn them on without giving over personal information.

He shies away from what I think is the larger problem here, which is that tablets make it very hard for you to go under the hood. They are expressly designed for an easy-to-use UI at the expense of allowing the consumer to understand how it all works. You're not encouraged to tinker or write your own commands. If you want to build an app for it, you'll have to get a separate development device.

—p.xxvii Introduction to the Paperback Edition (xxi) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago
2

Instagram isn't worth a billion dollars just because those thirteen employees are extraordinary. Instead, its value comes from the millions of users who contribute to the network without being paid for it. Networks need a great number of people to participate in them to generate significant value. But when they have them, only a small number of people get paid. That has the net effect of centralizing wealth and limiting overall economic growth.

he makes a good point but doesn't quite get to cosmic brain status: valuations are arbitrary and, at heart, political. Instagram is "worth" a billion dollars because Facebook decided it was, and we can only imagine that Facebook decided accordingly after running cost projections on how much more money it could get from advertisers in the long run. But that is an inherently subjective measure that takes into account how many years of revenue Facebook is looking at (i.e., how deep its coffers are right now); fantastical projections about Instagram's ability to attract and retain users in the future; and arbitrary decisions about how much to charge advertisers. Ultimately, Instagram is worth a billion dollars because enough people decided it was. Rather than accepting this valuation as God-given and trying to divide up this amount among Instagram's presumed contributors, we should question the idea of Instagram being worth anything at all.

Instead, his solution seems to be (and I think he clarifies it over the next few chapters) that we should pay all Instagram users who contribute anything to the service. Even if you could convince Facebook that it was worth doing this, I don't see how this will solve the winner-takes-all problem (you already see this with influencer marketing).

—p.2 Prelude (1) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago

Instagram isn't worth a billion dollars just because those thirteen employees are extraordinary. Instead, its value comes from the millions of users who contribute to the network without being paid for it. Networks need a great number of people to participate in them to generate significant value. But when they have them, only a small number of people get paid. That has the net effect of centralizing wealth and limiting overall economic growth.

he makes a good point but doesn't quite get to cosmic brain status: valuations are arbitrary and, at heart, political. Instagram is "worth" a billion dollars because Facebook decided it was, and we can only imagine that Facebook decided accordingly after running cost projections on how much more money it could get from advertisers in the long run. But that is an inherently subjective measure that takes into account how many years of revenue Facebook is looking at (i.e., how deep its coffers are right now); fantastical projections about Instagram's ability to attract and retain users in the future; and arbitrary decisions about how much to charge advertisers. Ultimately, Instagram is worth a billion dollars because enough people decided it was. Rather than accepting this valuation as God-given and trying to divide up this amount among Instagram's presumed contributors, we should question the idea of Instagram being worth anything at all.

Instead, his solution seems to be (and I think he clarifies it over the next few chapters) that we should pay all Instagram users who contribute anything to the service. Even if you could convince Facebook that it was worth doing this, I don't see how this will solve the winner-takes-all problem (you already see this with influencer marketing).

—p.2 Prelude (1) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago
8

[...] People are not just pointlessly diluting themselves on cultural, intellectual, and spiritual levels by fawning over digital superhuman phenomena that don't necessarily exist. There is also a material cost.

People are gradually making themselves poorer than they need to be. We're setting up a situation where better technology in the long term just means more unemployment, or an eventual socialist backlash. Instead, we should seek a future where more people will do well, without losing liberty, even as technology gets much, much better.

Popular digital designs do not treat people as being "special enough." People are treated as small elements in a bigger information machine, when in fact people are the only sources or destinations of information, or indeed of any meaning to the machine at all. My goal is to portray an alternate future in which people are treated appropriately as being special.

mostly agreed, though he does not justify his fear of this "socialist backlash", either here or later in the book--I think he just presumes the reader will share that fear. I guess he did write this book way before DSA's recent explosion in membership & in popular culture, so maybe his views have shifted since then?

—p.8 Motivation (7) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago

[...] People are not just pointlessly diluting themselves on cultural, intellectual, and spiritual levels by fawning over digital superhuman phenomena that don't necessarily exist. There is also a material cost.

People are gradually making themselves poorer than they need to be. We're setting up a situation where better technology in the long term just means more unemployment, or an eventual socialist backlash. Instead, we should seek a future where more people will do well, without losing liberty, even as technology gets much, much better.

Popular digital designs do not treat people as being "special enough." People are treated as small elements in a bigger information machine, when in fact people are the only sources or destinations of information, or indeed of any meaning to the machine at all. My goal is to portray an alternate future in which people are treated appropriately as being special.

mostly agreed, though he does not justify his fear of this "socialist backlash", either here or later in the book--I think he just presumes the reader will share that fear. I guess he did write this book way before DSA's recent explosion in membership & in popular culture, so maybe his views have shifted since then?

—p.8 Motivation (7) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago
9

An amazing number of people offer an amazing amount of value over networks. But the lion's share of wealth now flows to those who aggregate and route those offerings, rather than those who provide the "raw materials." A new kind of middle class, and a more genuine, growing information economy, could come about if we could break out of the "free information" idea and into a universal micropayment system. We might even be able to strengthen individual liberty and self-determination even when the machines get very good.

I mean this is true but it's the centrist's way out. It's the Hillary Clinton route: overly focused on the middle class and not inspiring. It might be better than the alternative of the middle class slowly dying, but if we're in such a dire situation that that's actually a possibility, why not consider the more radical project of abolishing classes entirely?

—p.9 Motivation (7) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago

An amazing number of people offer an amazing amount of value over networks. But the lion's share of wealth now flows to those who aggregate and route those offerings, rather than those who provide the "raw materials." A new kind of middle class, and a more genuine, growing information economy, could come about if we could break out of the "free information" idea and into a universal micropayment system. We might even be able to strengthen individual liberty and self-determination even when the machines get very good.

I mean this is true but it's the centrist's way out. It's the Hillary Clinton route: overly focused on the middle class and not inspiring. It might be better than the alternative of the middle class slowly dying, but if we're in such a dire situation that that's actually a possibility, why not consider the more radical project of abolishing classes entirely?

—p.9 Motivation (7) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago
15

If information age accounting were complete and honest, as much information as possible would be valued in economic terms. If, however, "raw" information, or information that hasn't yet been routed by those who run the most central computers, isn't valued, then a massive disenfranchisement will take place. As the information economy arises, the old specter of a thousand science fiction tales and Marxist nightmares will be brought back from the dead and empowered to apocalyptic proportions. Ordinary people will be unvalued by the new economy, while those closest to the top computers will become hypervaluable.

but NO accounting is EVER complete and honest. That is literally the whole idea behind surplus value, which is the key concept that fuels capitalism. the best we could hope for is some middle ground between "complete and honest" accounting and the free-for-all situation we have now, where corporations sacrifice some of their profit margin in exchange for paying users the minimum amount of money necessary to keep them happy.

His solution to ordinary people being "unvalued by the new economy" is to propose that they be undervalued instead. which is, of course, standard centrist spiel, but hardly the audacious proposal I was expecting from a book like this.

—p.15 Motivation (7) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago

If information age accounting were complete and honest, as much information as possible would be valued in economic terms. If, however, "raw" information, or information that hasn't yet been routed by those who run the most central computers, isn't valued, then a massive disenfranchisement will take place. As the information economy arises, the old specter of a thousand science fiction tales and Marxist nightmares will be brought back from the dead and empowered to apocalyptic proportions. Ordinary people will be unvalued by the new economy, while those closest to the top computers will become hypervaluable.

but NO accounting is EVER complete and honest. That is literally the whole idea behind surplus value, which is the key concept that fuels capitalism. the best we could hope for is some middle ground between "complete and honest" accounting and the free-for-all situation we have now, where corporations sacrifice some of their profit margin in exchange for paying users the minimum amount of money necessary to keep them happy.

His solution to ordinary people being "unvalued by the new economy" is to propose that they be undervalued instead. which is, of course, standard centrist spiel, but hardly the audacious proposal I was expecting from a book like this.

—p.15 Motivation (7) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago
16

Even the most successful players of the game are gradually undermining the core of their own wealth. Capitalism only works if there are enough successful people to be the customers. A market system can only be sustainable when the accounting is through enough to reflect where value comes from, which, I'll demonstrate, is another way of saying that an information age middle class must come into being.

at least he does recognise this fact! and he does address UBI proposals later on (though skeptically). the only problem is his teleological approach of capitalism no matter what the cost ...

—p.16 Motivation (7) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago

Even the most successful players of the game are gradually undermining the core of their own wealth. Capitalism only works if there are enough successful people to be the customers. A market system can only be sustainable when the accounting is through enough to reflect where value comes from, which, I'll demonstrate, is another way of saying that an information age middle class must come into being.

at least he does recognise this fact! and he does address UBI proposals later on (though skeptically). the only problem is his teleological approach of capitalism no matter what the cost ...

—p.16 Motivation (7) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago
20

In the event that something a person says or does contributes even minutely to a database that allows, say, a machine language translation algorithm, or a market prediction algorithm, to perform a task, then a nanopayment, proportional both to the degree of contribution and the resultant value, will be due to the person.

this is literally impossible to do well (by any measure) and i feel like i'm having a stroke just thinking about this. i don't even know how to express the degree to which this proposal makes no sense

—p.20 A Simple Idea (19) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago

In the event that something a person says or does contributes even minutely to a database that allows, say, a machine language translation algorithm, or a market prediction algorithm, to perform a task, then a nanopayment, proportional both to the degree of contribution and the resultant value, will be due to the person.

this is literally impossible to do well (by any measure) and i feel like i'm having a stroke just thinking about this. i don't even know how to express the degree to which this proposal makes no sense

—p.20 A Simple Idea (19) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago
35

The recent breakdowns of finance can be understood as the symptoms of a fallacious hope that information technology can make promises on its own, without people.

that's one way of looking at it, but i think his POV is way too mediated by technological considerations ... there are more fundamental political/economic elements at play, which he glosses over (he never mentions the geopolitical reasons behind the ascent of financialisation in the first place)

—p.35 Money as Seen Through One Computer Scientist's Eyes (29) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago

The recent breakdowns of finance can be understood as the symptoms of a fallacious hope that information technology can make promises on its own, without people.

that's one way of looking at it, but i think his POV is way too mediated by technological considerations ... there are more fundamental political/economic elements at play, which he glosses over (he never mentions the geopolitical reasons behind the ascent of financialisation in the first place)

—p.35 Money as Seen Through One Computer Scientist's Eyes (29) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago
38

Marx wanted something that most people, including me, don't want: a committee to make sure everyone gets what's best for them. Let's reject the Marxist ideal and instead consider the question of whether markets can be counted on to create middle classes as a matter of course.

if by committee he means central state that's accountable to the demos, then why not???? how is this worse than having what you get in life determined mostly by your conditions of birth????

and this neoliberal focus on middle classes is driving me mad. you can probably sense my exasperation by how much less effort i'm putting into these comments over the course of the book

—p.38 The Ad Hoc Construction of Mass Dignity (37) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago

Marx wanted something that most people, including me, don't want: a committee to make sure everyone gets what's best for them. Let's reject the Marxist ideal and instead consider the question of whether markets can be counted on to create middle classes as a matter of course.

if by committee he means central state that's accountable to the demos, then why not???? how is this worse than having what you get in life determined mostly by your conditions of birth????

and this neoliberal focus on middle classes is driving me mad. you can probably sense my exasperation by how much less effort i'm putting into these comments over the course of the book

—p.38 The Ad Hoc Construction of Mass Dignity (37) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago
43

The prominence of middle classes in the last century actually made the rich richer than would have a quest to concentrate wealth absolutely. Broad economic expansion is more lucrative than the winner taking all. Some of the very rich occasionally express doubts, but even from the most elite perspective, widespread affluence is best nurtured, rather than sapped into oblivion. Henry Ford, for instance, made a point of pricing his earliest mass-produced cars so that his own factory workers could afford to buy them. It is that balance that creates economic growth, and thus opportunity for more wealth.

Even the ultrarich are best served by a bell curve distribution of wealth in a society with a healthy middle class.

this passage is basically a plea to rich people to convince them that middle classes are good for them. this is such an obvious economic fact that it's hilarious he even has to include it at all (not a joke at his expense; he is absolutely right to include this, because a lot of fiscal conservatives don't seem to realise it)

it's just funny for someone like me to read this, because my immediate conclusion is not "ah yes, cool, let's keep the middle class then" but rather "abolish classes"

—p.43 The Ad Hoc Construction of Mass Dignity (37) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago

The prominence of middle classes in the last century actually made the rich richer than would have a quest to concentrate wealth absolutely. Broad economic expansion is more lucrative than the winner taking all. Some of the very rich occasionally express doubts, but even from the most elite perspective, widespread affluence is best nurtured, rather than sapped into oblivion. Henry Ford, for instance, made a point of pricing his earliest mass-produced cars so that his own factory workers could afford to buy them. It is that balance that creates economic growth, and thus opportunity for more wealth.

Even the ultrarich are best served by a bell curve distribution of wealth in a society with a healthy middle class.

this passage is basically a plea to rich people to convince them that middle classes are good for them. this is such an obvious economic fact that it's hilarious he even has to include it at all (not a joke at his expense; he is absolutely right to include this, because a lot of fiscal conservatives don't seem to realise it)

it's just funny for someone like me to read this, because my immediate conclusion is not "ah yes, cool, let's keep the middle class then" but rather "abolish classes"

—p.43 The Ad Hoc Construction of Mass Dignity (37) by Jaron Lanier 1 year ago