With so much of our time spent with computers and the internet, we ought to think about the quality of our digital lives. What makes for a good digital life? How do you achieve it? What should we do to improve it?
Wealth is usually described as an abundance of tangible things. Fancy cars, a big house, a boat, and lots of money—that sort of thing. Wealth as it relates to our digital lives though is different.
Few limitations exist on the contents of our digital life. Information on pretty much anything is available instantly. Communication is possible with anyone, nearly anywhere, at any time. The internet is available to billions of people (and growing) and access to broadband connections is increasing. That’s not to say it’s equitable, but it’s not like there’s an internet only for Billionaires.
What does it mean to have a rich digital life when there is already abundance?
- Signaling as a service
- Digital status symbols arise from homogeneity
- Our digital lives are siloed
- The internet has American values encoded
- Black and Hispanic people have less access to broadband internet than White people
- The metaverse is the ultimate company town
- Stock and flow
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Sometimes there are topics that are triggering, even tweets from people you follow that you genuinely want to see. Heavy use of mute words significantly improves the day-to-day experience.
There was a meme in on Twitter that you should unfollow VCs and follow artists. With the advent of NFTs however, art Twitter is now filled with crypto hawkers that can be quite grating. (Photographers seem to be immune to this so far—is there not NFT photographs?).
I’ve been thinking more about how to live a rich digital life and what that means in a world of abundance. The following is a work-in-progress list of principles that are starting to form. (Epistemic status: low).
AI augmented tools for creative processes like writing (ChatGPT) and drawing (StableDiffusion, DALL-E-2) establish a new baseline for content. This is a step change for many industries where the value will get competed away (e.g. everyone can compete in editorial SEO). That means that there will be an even higher premium for unique knowledge that is, by definition, not replicable by advancements in general AI tools.
There are many different layers to the web that people inhabit. The small, closed communities that exist within chat groups and apps like Slack are free from the industrialized public spaces that giants like Facebook and Twitter inhabit. On the cozy web, people can have better conversations with like-minded people.
Our attention is highly fractured and leads to a constant feeling of restlessness. To quote author Rebecca Solnit, “a sense that we should be doing something else, no matter what we are doing.”