and why print is special to us
Today I’d like to introduce my friend Emily Liu, the Editor-in-Chief of Kernel Issue 2. We’re sharing links to articles, as we do almost every week in the Microdoses, but this week… they’re Macro. In other words, we have recommendations from Emily and Jasmine on pieces that stand out to them, with bonus content of a blurb on why they’re worth reading.
Non-coincidentally, this is the type of work we hope ultimately resides in Kernel—thought-provoking, well-written, accessible, something you’d send to a friend and say hey this is cool. Our pitch form is open until Monday — we’d love to hear from you!
☁ … macrodoses
There’s a plastic storage bin under my bed that I fondly refer to as my “treasure box,” a name originally coined by my mother. Scattered among the birthday cards and other sweet mementos I’ve collected over the course of my life are seven journals, ranging from the standard Mead composition book to the fancier bound Moleskine.
The first entry in the first journal is dated “DAY 1. JUN 23 2003. MONDAY.” with a misspelled weather report: “Cludy.” The pages have all turned yellowish gray. It seems like the spine could easily give way.
And yet, these physical journals and the memories within them have lasted the test of time more so than any digital archive of mine. Facebook photos, iCloud drives, a USB (remember those?) — whether from corrupted files or my careless deleting, all of these bytes have since returned to bytes.
This is why Kernel, as a print publication and a space for critically imagining the future, means so much to me. We’re interested in ideas with longevity, analysis that addresses current issues while accounting for expansive timelines. We know the future that we want, but how do we get there? Let’s find out together.
— Emily Liu, Editor-in-Chief, Kernel Issue 2
☀️ Emily’s Recommendations
Peter Thiel, who is at this point a figure in every industry, has extended his influence throughout American society — he’s the former CEO of PayPal, the creator of the Thiel Fellowship, the cofounder of Palantir, and more recently, the donor of $15 million to J.D. Vance in the Ohio Republican Senate primary race. And yet, as Weigel writes, “Who Peter Thiel is does not really matter. What matters about Peter Thiel is whom he connects.”
While these two articles are both in conversation with separately published books, Weigel’s and Thompson’s own analyses of Thiel’s network and how he wields his power is clear. They zoom in on Thiel’s strategy of controversy (because even negative attention benefits him), and how an attention to the “unpleasant and boring business of looking through the muck of old business dealings” can be the secret to taking down an enemy (because someone has to do it). Whether it’s the PayPal Mafia or Hulk Hogan and anyone with a bone to pick with Gawker Media, Thiel connects them to serve his own aims. In Thiel’s country, political endorsements and millions in campaign finance contributions come hand-in-hand, a billionaire can bankroll a lawsuit that bankrupts a media company, and contrarianism is both a media and a business strategy.
Designed by artist Brian Miller and sci-fi writers Tochi Onyebuchi and Madeline Ashby, this series of posters with accompanying flash fiction stories shows us a snapshot of the world in 2071. The visions that they explore include: a mosquito population that has increased due to climate change but has been bioengineered to help humans collect data and deliver vaccines; an international team that works to bring a baby to full term in space; and a research station cultivating mangrove forests to mitigate climate change. Imagination is a muscle — and exercising this to envision alternative futures is critical to paving the path forward.
This deeply researched and data-driven report shows how authoritarian regimes across the world have shut off internet access to control dissent and to preserve power. Guest weaves a wide range of topics throughout this article: the linguistic hegemony imposed by the Russian government in the use of “special operation” instead of “war” to describe the ongoing invasion of Ukraine; the physicality of the internet in its thick fiber-optic cabling laid in seabeds and how this makes it vulnerable to both accident and attack; the internet as a public good run on private systems, with a global infrastructure subject to local laws and norms; the policy of “digital sovereignty” laws. Through this all, the language is accessible — nontechnical readers can still understand the conflicts at hand, and the article even has a toolbox of definitions for terms such as “packet,” “internet protocol,” and “internet exchange point.” But best of all, the article ends with an epilogue titled “We’re still here.” This forward-looking analysis on how to maintain a free internet despite digital and political suppression shows readers why this reporting matters and to prepare us for what’s to come. Guest writes, “This is often what’s holding the free internet together: Individuals, NGOs scraping together their funding, embattled independent media clinging on. It is, Younis said, what keeps her going. ‘We’re still here.’”
Ishiguro’s dreamy writing in this dystopian science fiction story introduces us to Klara, a solar-powered Artificial Friend. She is chosen by 14-year-old Josie, a child living with a serious illness, to be her companion. In my Goodreads review from 2021, I wrote “I am obsessed with the way that this novel borrows artificial intelligence to tell a wholly human story,” and Jessica posted in December that she “[doesn’t] think this is really about AI at all.” The specific technology of artificial intelligence was far from the main point of this novel, but it leaves a deep impact on the way that the humans in the story relate to Klara. (For a range of opinions here, Jasmine left a review saying “it was ok but never let me go was better.” 😅)
🚗 Jasmine’s Recommendations
“Squad Wealth” is an iconic essay / meme / manifesto for a better digital economy: one that resists atomization and neoliberal individualism, one where small groups of artists / homies / whatever can pool the precarity of creatordom, making cool shit together and sharing the upside. They conceive of technology not as an end, but an infrastructure: the “API” by which squads coordinate, transact, and make their outputs economically legible. And insofar as McLuhan was right, the magic of this piece is that the medium is the message: “squad wealth” was co-written by a group of friends who totally eschew scholarly convention for personality, and it’s so so worth it.
Jason Prado is Head of Product at The Driver’s Cooperative, a worker-owned ridesharing platform. In this straightforward blog post, he discusses his personal experiences navigating Silicon Valley’s best intentions, critiquing design thinking (“anti-democratic”), technological determinism (“incremental”), and folk technologism (“excessively distrustful”). After refuting these approaches, Prado outlines an alternative:
Rather than just imagining what tools and features workers fighting for self-determination might need in the abstract, being part of a real workers' struggle sharpens our senses and keeps us on the right path. It allows us to test our theories fast enough to meaningfully improve them. And by being embedded in a real workers' struggle, we will give a shit enough to bring all our talents to bear.
This post is the ultimate theory-to-practice story: one that makes clear why he’s doing what he’s doing and how others might join too.
I come back to this poem over and over. Depending on my mood, I think of surveillance – or heartbreak.
aka Jessica’s Recommendations
Did someone say crypto crash
Something something AGI (pls click through these tweets, the embed thumbnail does not do them justice)If you told me that a neural network made up this graph and caption I'd believe you
Jon Bois @jon_boisMany would have you believe that cryptocurrency is collapsing, but those who have closely studied the history of these markets have seen this before – and they know that earnings are poised to shoot through the roof. Here’s what’s really going on. https://t.co/nxqbx5VNQL
💝 closing note
This is also a note from me, Jessica, that I’d love to also know what you’re all reading or find exciting! Me, Emily, and Jasmine are definitely Article Friends (the one in a friendship that’s always texting links to a new article and the other person’s like… ok thanks but I haven’t read the last 5 articles yet) and I’m very curious about what Reboot’s Article Friends are reading. I’m so serious — feel free to dm our twitter or email me (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
Brb investigating all our childhood journals for ridiculously cute misspellings,