Discussing Elon is tedious now

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Elon is up to more stuff. And it’s so tedious to talk about.

Elon-as-a-proxy

Yup, after considerable drama, Elon is now the owner of Twitter. A few shares that I had were liquidated and delisted from NASDAQ, so I am $20 richer from my investing schemes, as Elon is $31B poorer.

If you have been living under a rock, Elon has made moves to join Twitter’s board of directors, offered to buy the company, escalated to enact a hostile takeover, did not like what he saw inside, and tried to get out of the deal, the Twitter board did not let him off the hook, and he finally bought the company. For quality coverage, I recommend Matt Levine’s opinion column on Bloomberg.

For more than a year now, I refrain from discussing Elon, as it becomes impossible to avoid a conversational minefield. Any opinion on the man and his ventures quickly becomes a proxy for some of the most heated debates our society faces right now:

  • Is capitalism an ethical way to organize individuals? Is one person allowed to amass such a fortune and enjoy the spoils of such public success?
  • Conversely, is doing a good thing while getting rich at all possible? Aren’t people claiming to do both really lying?
  • No committee, government body, or voting scheme “allowed” Elon to garner so much influence. Should that be possible? Should we have some checks in place?
  • Technological progress is pushing the world into Extremistan in the Taleb sense: People who succeed can enjoy disproportionate returns, but it becomes harder to be “moderately” successful. Is this the future we want?
  • Has tech been covered without due diligence? We were promised all these breakthroughs that would make society a better place, and most of them went nowhere. Who should we trust?
  • As I wrote in Climate Care Industry, “ringing bells”, condemnations, and hostile language of the climate debate are not helping to further its goals. Huge swaths of the population turned numb and distrustful towards the cause, including the promises of electric cars and solar panels.
  • All of Elon’s companies are famously very demanding places to work in, and yet SpaceX and Tesla are both top choices of the engineering students. Should we allow people to do rewarding work in exchange for personal costs? At 22, are they too inexperienced to make that tradeoff?
  • I am sure this Twitter acquisition will add some fun topics to the universe of Elon: Social Engineering, Free Speech, Media & Technology overlap.
  • He sets unreasonable expectations on what one person should be able to do during the day. I am proud when I manage to put together this newsletter.

At this point, discussing Elon becomes counterproductive: It becomes a tangled mess of opinions about a broad area of topics that really have little to do with the man himself. The only way out is to take it with a smile, and I am so here for it. And so are others.

Last week, two actors posed as “laid off employees” in front of the Twitter HQ, sharing hilarious interviews. One of them – Rahul Ligma, carried a cardboard box and an autobiography of Michell Obama. As reported by the Verge:

“Ligma” is, of course, also an internet hoax designed to elicit the response “lick my balls” from people who are in on the joke. That didn’t stop multiple outlets, inluding CNBC and Bloomberg, from running headlines Friday saying that laid-off Twitter employees were leaving the building carrying boxes.

Elon (father of 10!) is also not taking the matter very seriously, seizing the opportunity to make a cringy dad joke. After the acquisition, he carried a sink to the Twitter HQ to “Let that sink in“:

Why does Twitter matter at all?

Twitter has a disproportionate influence on the press and public debate compared to other rising networks – particularly TikTok. Facebook is often blamed for polarization of society, but you rarely see journalists referring to something they read on Facebook.

Twitter continues to be the easiest way for very popular and busy people to interact with everybody else without becoming overwhelmed. It requires less attention to react to 280 characters, so it can be used by people whose attention is scarce. There is no risk of getting drawn into a stream-of-consciousness narrative or having to watch a 45-minute meandering video to join the conversation (as a sidenote, I am working on a tool to transcribe videos, so you don’t have to watch them). You can do so in 10 seconds. For a trigger-happy Elon whose attention is already fragmented, it is a perfect home.

Everyone who matters already is likely to already be on Twitter, so that’s where journalists are searching for scoops and stories. That’s where they interact with their readers, keeping the platform popular.

As I wrote in Trying out Twitter, it is a perfect platform to try out ideas and polish your writing. Despite popular sentiment, if you do not engage in politics and do not follow people who do, your Twitter feed can be a very cozy experience. Here is my recommendation.

A thing I did

I wrote a WordPress plugin for the Logseq note-taking tool. It makes it easy to write my posts there and publish them to my blog while retaining formatting and internal link structure. Have a look here if you use Logseq.

A thing I’ve seen

Have a look at the website of shitbowl.com, “The algorithmically powered in-home physical caching platform

Our journey.

In the summer of 2016, my girlfriend and I received a gift that started a revolution in the world of in-home physical caching. To her, it was an antique blown-glass display piece. To me, it was and always will be shitbowl.

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I write about the psychological and technical aspects of the Internet, focusing on remote work, online economy, and cognitive load. Every monday.

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