Libertarian kryptonite

Read to the end for Rosamund Pike opening a pineapple with her bare hands

Hi everyone! A quick bit of business before we get into the garbage.

After about a year of Extra Garbage Day content, I’m going to start experimenting with something new. Many of you have said, “enough with the interviews!” And many of you have also said, “I don’t want four days of Garbage Day a week, I just want three!” *brand on Twitter notes app apology voice* I am listening. Going forward, I’ll be experimenting with putting original reporting behind a paywall at the bottom of a regular email. I still think that’s the content that makes the most sense to charge for (unless there’s serious demand for some kind of meme-related advice column or a reader questions Q&A format 👀). So starting next week, expect to see some bonus content regularly sprinkled throughout.

If you’re interested in checking that out, as well as getting access to the very excellent Garbage Day Discord, hit the green button below.

Cryptolanders Inevitably Implode Over Age Of Consent

It’s a story as old as time. A group of financially independent young men find each other on the internet. They realize they all have similar libertarian beliefs and decide they should start their own nation. They then convince a bunch of other men, usually ones who aren’t so financially independent, to buy into this scheme to support their dream of building the perfect libertarian state. And it doesn’t even matter what kind of internet community of men we’re talking about. This will happen anywhere.

Twelve years ago, Redditors tried to organize Reddit Island and then last year did it again! You put enough men together in a chatroom, they will try and build their own sovereign state. This is, essentially, the main engine behind things like the doomsday prepper industry or far-right American militias.

But there tend to be a few things that really screw these projects up. First, libertarians, inherently, don’t work together very well. Second, even if they do manage to organize themselves, they typically can’t amass enough capital to buy a piece of land that they can turn into their own country. Buying an island or an abandoned oil tanker or whatever is expensive and complicated. But even if everything else goes right, there is one thing no group of online free market weirdos have ever been able to agree on. Once the topic is even mentioned within a group of libertarian men, it will cause so much infighting and drama that it inevitably destroys the community and implodes whatever shared goal they were trying to accomplish. And that topic is, of course, age of consent laws.

Which is exactly what threw the Cryptoland project into chaos this weekend.

If you missed Cryptoland, you can watch the, uh, trailer for it embedded above. It seems like some versions are being pulled off YouTube, but, as of this morning, this one was still working. If this goes down, you can also watch it here.

Cryptoland is what’s called a decentralized autonomous organization, or DAO, which are cryptocurrency-backed communities that tend to not be decentralized, autonomous, or even very well organized. If you’re new to this world, a DAO typically picks a goal — in this case, buying an island in Fiji for crypto traders to live on — and then generates a crypto token, which then people can buy. That token acts like a share of a stock. Buying a token gives you access to the community behind the project, which is typically hosted on Discord, and usually also gives you voting power. Basically, imagine a chatroom structured like a stockholders meeting.

On Friday, I wrote about the inherent conflict of interest with these kinds of communities. If everyone has a financial stake in the success of a DAO, yes, it means you can really whip up support quickly — like the ConstitutionDAO from last year — but it also means that things can spin out of control without anyone wanting to be a dissenting voice.

Cryptoland was founded by crypto evangelists Max Olivier and Helena Lopez. The idea was to raise enough capital to buy an island for digital nomads. The trailer they put out is indecipherable from satire, but it does express some very real trends within the cryptocurrency community. I have a podcast episode about this if you’re interested in going deeper down the rabbit hole. Crypto investors have made themselves unimaginably wealthy in currencies that aren’t attached to a specific country and they’re beginning to understand what kind of possibilities that creates in terms of where they can live.

I started poking around the Cryptoland ecosystem over the weekend. I wanted to get a sense of how “legit” this whole thing was. They had a white paper (that they’re calling a “why paper” lol), but they’ve since restricted access to it. But they’re using multiple tokens to support the project. There are CRYPTOLANDer tokens and King CRYPTOLANDer tokens. Hilariously, you cannot buy one if you’re a US resident. The King CRYPTOLANDer tokens are what you use to buy one of the 60 parcels of land that they’re selling. The parcels are being sold for 319 ETH, which, as of this morning, is a little over a million dollars. From what I can see, all of the parcels are still available for purchase. The Cryptoland Discord has about 12,000 members, though very few are active. Over the last few days, it has also filled up with non-investors who have signed in just to troll it.

The project’s trailer got a lot of attention last week, but an incident involving the Cryptoland Twitter account was what really derailed this whole thing. Last week, Twitter user @widesauce asked the project’s Twitter what the age of consent would be on the island.

In a now-deleted response that you can read an archive of here, the account replied, “Mental maturity should be more than enough! ;)”

After deleting the tweet, the account posted a statement claiming that they didn’t understand the question and thought it was asking how old people would have to be to visit the island. They are also threatening to sue users who tweet about the controversy.

As one Redditor put it, the age of consent question is “Libertarian kryptonite,” and now the project’s Discord is overrun with both trolls asking if they’ll be allowed to legally murder people on the island and also seemingly-genuine supporters of the project who are actually curious what the consent laws will be. @widesauce has a whole thread you can read here where they got back into the Cryptoland Discord to ask if they would be allowed to date their cousin on the island.

So what’s the future for Cryptoland? Not sure. I don’t get the sense that there was much of a momentum behind the project to begin with. But, as I said, the impetus behind it is real. It’s not even the only private crypto island project in the works right now. Satoshi Island is another one that’s currently in development. It’s a private island in Oceania and is offering modular homes in exchange for citizenship NFTs, which, according to the website, do not provide a citizenship for Oceania.

These projects aren’t going away. We have an entire class of wealth holders now who have assets that are not connected to any particular country. And the biggest diehards among them are dreaming of a world where their assets are never converted back into a fiat currency. Whether it’s private islands or Martian colonies, these people will continue bucking against traditional ideas about citizenship and sovereignty. And a lot of it will be, at best, wildly embarrassing, and, at worst, Fyre Fest combined with a humanitarian disaster. But all it will take is one of these projects to “work” once. And when that happens, I’m not totally sure where this goes next. Though, considering what’s been happening with CityDAO, “an experiment in decentralized land ownership, starting with a 40 acre parcel in Wyoming,” we may be very far away from one of these projects actually working…

lol is that bad?

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A Good Tweet

Quote Tweets As A Political Strategy

John Scott-Railton, a senior researcher for Citizen Lab, coined a term in a recent series of tweets that I thought was interesting: “rage farming.” Scott-Railton used it to describe conservative Twitter accounts using angry quote tweets to make their content trend.

Let me explain what’s happening in the screenshots that Scott-Railton shared above because I think it’s an interesting framework for understanding where both Twitter and the American right wing are at the moment.

On January 7th, the @TexasGOP Twitter account shared a “meme” that said “if you can wait in line for hours for testing… you can vote in person.” Now, this is an objectively idiotic piece of content that makes progressively less sense the more you think about it. Is it saying that waiting in line hours for COVID testing is good? Is it saying that the people who would wait hours to get tested are the same liberal snowflakes who would care about voting rights? I’m, honestly, a little thrown by the whole thing. I mean, what if you didn’t have to do either?

I clicked into the quote tweets to see if I could better understand how conservatives were sharing the meme. I scrolled through thousands of quote tweets and I actually couldn’t find a single genuine share. Most of the quote tweets were from Michael Ian Black-tier liberal blue checks. lol imagine spending your Friday afternoon angrily tweeting at the @TexasGOP.

But the 10,000 angry quote tweets were enough to make the tweet start trending, which is exactly what the people behind the @TexasGOP wanted. They followed up the tweet with four replies: “wow, this made the pronouns in bio people big mad,” “Masks are dumb,” a link to donate, and a screenshot of the Trending Topic they made with the caption, “Only #4 on trending, cry more.”

Twitter’s always very excellent Trending Topic summary read, “Many react to a Tweet from the Texas GOP account which compares waiting in line for a COVID-19 test to waiting in line to vote.” Now, do I think that the managers of the @TexasGOP account are smart enough to purposely hack Twitter’s Trending Topics? Not really. But I do think they fundamentally understand that simply trending is all that really matters now. Like a teenager tweeting “McDonalds Sprite hit different tho” and then using the tweet to advertise a bunch of dildos in the replies, the right wing understands that making liberals angry makes conservatives happy and if you make enough liberals angry, you’ll trend, and if you trend, you can brag about it and link to your donation page.

Caroline Orr Bueno, a behavioral scientist doing a postdoctorate at the University of Maryland, had a good series of tweets about all of this, as well, which she calls “outrage baiting”.

“Outrage trolls don’t want dialogue, and you aren’t going to get one. They exist to waste your time and your followers’ time, to pollute your feed, to distract you from more important issues, and to make you angry enough to say something you regret,” she wrote. “In our media environment, attention is currency. It doesn’t matter if that attention is positive or negative — all that matters is that you’re clicking, viewing, commenting, sharing, and driving ad revenue.”

I’m not totally sure I believe that all attention is useful, but I do think that the American right wing understands that Trending Topics are a launchpad that run on a dumb enough algorithm (with lazier enough moderators) that they can use it to dominate the online conversation and then crowdfund off of it.

Fan Fiction Helps Keep A Language Alive

This was sent to me by a reader named Erika and was spotted by Twitter user @DIYferret. Chinuk Wawa is a pidgin language from the Pacific Northwest of America. It was used in the 19th century for trade along the Columbia River. It contains vocabulary from the Chinook family of indigenous languages, as well as French, and also English loanwords. Chinuk Wawa started to die out in the first half of the 1900s, before making a small resurgence in the last few decades. A 2010 census found there were a little over 600 native speakers left.

Well, a user named santigold96 has been publishing fan fiction in Chinuk Wawa on fan fiction mega-platform Archive Of Our Own. The view counts are small on the stories, but there are over 300 different works that have been published in the language. It’s super cool.

You’re probably wondering what kind of fan fiction is being written in Chinuk Wawa. Well, most of it appears to be about Game Of Thrones, of course! Jaime Lannister/Brienne of Tarth fanfic, to be exact. There’s sadly no way for me to translate any of the stories with Google Translate, but I will say that one of the ones that I clicked in on had a NSFW filter on it. So make of that what you will.

UPDATE: I found this out after sending out the email today. This is a weird one. Not all of the fics written by santigold96 appear to be in Chinuk Wawa. Some are also in Zulu. There’s some debate about what’s happening here exactly. If you know, let me know!

An A.I. Makes Some Pokémon

I wanted to highlight this before I left for vacation, but I kept running out of room. I’ve made a couple big buckets for Garbage Day coverage areas for 2022 — crypto/Web3 (obvz) and TikTok’s For You page being the two biggest — and one thing I’ve keeping an eye on closely is A.I.-generated art and media. It feels like in the second half of 2021 there was a lot of progress being made in that space and I’m fascinated by what artificial intelligence is being used to create. I suspect that emergent A.I.-generated media will be as weird to us as the first algorithmic content was 10 years ago.

Remember when everyone was trying to argue that personalized quiz results and silent autoplaying videos were going to be the future of media? And now we have Netflix TV shows and movies, which were likely produced using algorithmic user data, winning major awards. So I assume we’re only a few years away from similar proclamations being made about an artificial intelligence generating some kind of weird sensory input that makes teenagers so addicted to it that they stop eating or whatever.

Anyways, if you’re interested in cool A.I. projects, you should absolutely follow the account embedded above. Woolf does a lot of great and really fun experiments like this and, honestly, some of those Pikachus aren’t half bad!

A Robot Sex Tumblr Is Using The Platform’s Monetization Tools

In September, Tumblr announced that it would be rolling out monetization tools. The feature is called +Posts and it basically acts as a paywall that you can put content behind. The decision to roll out the feature, like any new widget added to the Tumblr stack, was controversial. The platform’s passionate (and traumatized) user base briefly tried to go on strike and spent weeks spreading all kinds of misinformation about the feature before finally deciding to show their displeasure by just simply not using it.

I use Tumblr every single day and follow about a thousand blogs and I have only seen one user actually experiment with it so far. That is, until this weekend, when I learned of another account that was using it.

Long-time Garbage Day readers may recognize this blog. I mentioned them in a post in 2020. It’s called arobotmadeforjerkinu and it’s a fetish account that writes pretty NSFW erotica about robots. It, apparently, has decided to start using Tumblr’s +Posts feature.

A lot of posts from arobotmadeforjerkinu go viral because no one can tell how serious they’re meant to take the account. A few years ago, the account was photoshopping fake captions on animated GIFs of celebrities extolling the virtues of having sex with robots. It’s all very strange. But I guess one thing that is clear is that the project is serious enough to start using a paywall.

If you’re a Tumblr user who is either using this feature or has seen someone else using it in a cool way, let me know!

An Excellent Booster Shot Incentive

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