The-Melancholy-of-Subculture-Society (Link Bibliography)

“The-Melancholy-of-Subculture-Society” links:

  1. #japan-and-the-internet


  3. 2002-gibson











  14. #gibson-mud-2


  16. ⁠, Paul Graham (2003-02):

    I know a lot of people who were nerds in school, and they all tell the same story: there is a strong correlation between being smart and being a nerd, and an even stronger inverse correlation between being a nerd and being popular. Being smart seems to make you unpopular. Why? To someone in school now, that may seem an odd question to ask. The mere fact is so overwhelming that it may seem strange to imagine that it could be any other way. But it could. Being smart doesn’t make you an outcast in elementary school. Nor does it harm you in the real world. Nor, as far as I can tell, is the problem so bad in most other countries. But in a typical American secondary school, being smart is likely to make your life difficult. Why?

    The answer, I think, is that they don’t really want to be popular. If someone had told me that at the time, I would have laughed at him. Being unpopular in school makes kids miserable, some of them so miserable that they commit suicide. Telling me that I didn’t want to be popular would have seemed like telling someone dying of thirst in a desert that he didn’t want a glass of water. Of course I wanted to be popular. But in fact I didn’t, not enough. There was something else I wanted more: to be smart. Not simply to do well in school, though that counted for something, but to design beautiful rockets, or to write well, or to understand how to program computers. In general, to make great things. At the time I never tried to separate my wants and weigh them against one another. If I had, I would have seen that being smart was more important. If someone had offered me the chance to be the most popular kid in school, but only at the price of being of average intelligence (humor me here), I wouldn’t have taken it.

    Much as they suffer from their unpopularity, I don’t think many nerds would. To them the thought of average intelligence is unbearable. But most kids would take that deal. For half of them, it would be a step up. Even for someone in the eightieth percentile (assuming, as everyone seemed to then, that intelligence is a scalar), who wouldn’t drop thirty points in exchange for being loved and admired by everyone? And that, I think, is the root of the problem. Nerds serve two masters. They want to be popular, certainly, but they want even more to be smart. And popularity is not something you can do in your spare time, not in the fiercely competitive environment of an American secondary school.

    …This is the sort of society that gets created in American secondary schools. And it happens because these schools have no real purpose beyond keeping the kids all in one place for a certain number of hours each day. What I didn’t realize at the time, and in fact didn’t realize till very recently, is that the twin horrors of school life, the cruelty and the boredom, both have the same cause.



  19. #paul-graham-nerds-2









  28. 1996-nelson.pdf


  30. https//





  35. Charity-is-not-about-helping#fn11





  40. 2012-henrich.pdf: ⁠, Joseph Henrich, Robert Boyd, Peter J. Richerson (2012; sociology):

    The anthropological record indicates that approximately 85% of human societies have permitted men to have more than one wife (polygynous marriage), and both empirical and evolutionary considerations suggest that large absolute differences in wealth should favour more polygynous marriages. Yet, monogamous marriage has spread across Europe, and more recently across the globe, even as absolute wealth differences have expanded.

    Here, we develop and explore the hypothesis that the norms and institutions that compose the modern package of monogamous marriage have been favoured by cultural evolution because of their group-beneficial effects—promoting success in inter-group competition. In suppressing intrasexual competition and reducing the size of the pool of unmarried men, normative monogamy reduces crime rates, including rape, murder, assault, robbery and fraud, as well as decreasing personal abuses. By assuaging the competition for younger brides, normative monogamy decreases (1) the spousal age gap, (2) fertility, and (3) gender inequality. By shifting male efforts from seeking wives to paternal investment, normative monogamy increases savings, child investment and economic productivity. By increasing the relatedness within households, normative monogamy reduces intra-household conflict, leading to lower rates of child neglect, abuse, accidental death and homicide.

    These predictions are tested using converging lines of evidence from across the human sciences.

    [Keywords: cultural ⁠, monogamy, polygyny, marriage, norms, institutional evolution]


  42. ⁠, Bruno Gonçalves, Nicola Perra, Alessandro Vespignani (2011-06-27):

    Microblogging and mobile devices appear to augment human social capabilities, which raises the question whether they remove cognitive or biological constraints on human communication. In this paper we analyze a dataset of Twitter conversations collected across six months involving 1.7 million individuals and test the theoretical cognitive limit on the number of stable social relationships known as Dunbar’s number. We find that the data are in agreement with Dunbar’s result; users can entertain a maximum of 100–200 stable relationships. Thus, the ‘economy of attention’ is limited in the online world by cognitive and biological constraints as predicted by Dunbar’s theory. We propose a simple model for users’ behavior that includes finite priority queuing and time resources that reproduces the observed social behavior.







  49. 1975-lemasters-bluecollararistocrats.pdf

  50. 1974-levison-theworkingclassmajority.pdf




  54. Drug-heuristics#algernons-law







  61. 2010-peen.pdf

  62. 2014-sariaslan-2.pdf: ⁠, Amir Sariaslan, Henrik Larsson, Brian D’Onofrio, Niklas Långström, Seena Fazel, Paul Lichtenstein (2014-07-22; genetics  /​ ​​ ​correlation):

    People living in densely populated and socially disorganized areas have higher rates of psychiatric morbidity, but the potential causal status of such factors is uncertain. We used nationwide Swedish longitudinal registry data to identify all children born 1967–1989 (n = 2361585), including separate datasets for all cousins (n = 1 715 059) and siblings (n = 1667 894). The nature of the associations between population density and neighborhood deprivation and individual risk for a schizophrenia diagnosis was investigated while adjusting for unobserved familial risk factors (through cousin and sibling comparisons) and then compared with similar associations for depression. We generated familial structures using the Multi-Generation Registry and identified study participants with schizophrenia and depression using the National Patient Registry. Fixed-effects models were used to study within-family estimates. Population density, measured as ln(population size/​​​​km2), at age 15 predicted subsequent schizophrenia in the population (OR = 1.10; 95% : 1.09; 1.11). Unobserved familial risk factors shared by cousins within extended families attenuated the association (1.06; 1.03; 1.10), and the link disappeared entirely within nuclear families (1.02; 0.97; 1.08). Similar results were found for neighborhood deprivation as predictor and for depression as outcome. Sensitivity tests demonstrated that timing and accumulation effects of the exposures (mean scores across birth, ages 1–5, 6–10, and 11–15 years) did not alter the findings. Excess risks of psychiatric morbidity, particularly ⁠, in densely populated and socioeconomically deprived Swedish neighborhoods appear, therefore, to result primarily from unobserved familial selection factors. Previous studies may have overemphasized the etiological importance of these environmental factors.

  63. 2012-cannon.pdf












  75. 2011-taylor.pdf




  79. 2008-sugiyama.pdf

  80. 2010-barton.pdf


  82. 2012-barton.pdf

  83. ⁠, Berman, Marc G. Kross, Ethan Krpan, Katherine M. Askren, Mary K. Burson, Aleah Deldin, Patricia J. Kaplan, Stephen Sherdell, Lindsey Gotlib, Ian H. Jonides, John (2012):

    Background: This study aimed to explore whether walking in nature may be beneficial for individuals with major depressive disorder (MDD). Healthy adults demonstrate significant cognitive gains after nature walks, but it was unclear whether those same benefits would be achieved in a depressed sample as walking alone in nature might induce rumination, thereby worsening memory and mood.

    Methods: Twenty individuals diagnosed with MDD participated in this study. At baseline, mood and short term memory span were assessed using the PANAS and the backwards (BDS) task, respectively. Participants were then asked to think about an unresolved negative autobiographical event to prime rumination, prior to taking a 50-min walk in either a natural or urban setting. After the walk, mood and short-term memory span were reassessed. The following week, participants returned to the lab and repeated the entire procedure, but walked in the location not visited in the first session (i.e., a counterbalanced within-subjects design).

    Results: Participants exhibited statistically-significant increases in memory span after the nature walk relative to the urban walk, p < .001, η(p)(2)=.53 (a large ). Participants also showed increases in mood, but the mood effects did not correlate with the memory effects, suggesting separable mechanisms and replicating previous work.

    Limitations: Sample size and participants’ motivation.

    Conclusions: These findings extend earlier work demonstrating the cognitive and affective benefits of interacting with nature to individuals with MDD. Therefore, interacting with nature may be useful clinically as a supplement to existing treatments for MDD.

  84. 2013-white.pdf: ⁠, Mathew P. White, Ian Alcock, Benedict W. Wheeler, Michael H. Depledge (2013-04-23; nature):

    Urbanization is a potential threat to mental health and well-being. Cross-sectional evidence suggests that living closer to urban green spaces, such as parks, is associated with lower mental distress. However, earlier research was unable to control for time-invariant heterogeneity (eg., personality) and focused on indicators of poor psychological health. The current research advances the field by using panel data from over 10,000 individuals to explore the relation between urban green space and well-being (indexed by ratings of life satisfaction) and between urban green space and mental distress (indexed by General Health Questionnaire scores) for the same people over time. Controlling for individual and regional covariates, we found that, on average, individuals have both lower mental distress and higher well-being when living in urban areas with more green space. Although effects at the individual level were small, the potential cumulative benefit at the community level highlights the importance of policies to protect and promote urban green spaces for well-being.

  85. 2013-alcock.pdf


  87. 2014-nieuwenhuis.pdf

  88. ⁠, Chih-Da Wu, Eileen McNeely, J. G. Cedeño-Laurent, Wen-Chi Pan, Gary Adamkiewicz, Francesca Dominici, Shih-Chun Candice Lung, Huey-Jen Su, John D. Spengler (2014-08-29):

    Various studies have reported the physical and mental health benefits from exposure to “green” neighborhoods, such as proximity to neighborhoods with trees and vegetation. However, no studies have explicitly assessed the association between exposure to “green” surroundings and cognitive function in terms of student academic performance. This study investigated the association between the “greenness” of the area surrounding a Massachusetts public elementary school and the academic achievement of the school’s student body based on standardized tests with an ecological setting. Researchers used the composite school-based performance scores generated by the Massachusetts Comprehensive Assessment System (MCAS) to measure the percentage of 3rd-grade students (the first year of standardized testing for 8–9 years-old children in public school), who scored “Above Proficient” (AP) in English and Mathematics tests (Note: Individual student scores are not publically available). The MCAS results are comparable year to year thanks to an equating process. Researchers included test results from 2006 through 2012 in 905 public schools and adjusted for differences between schools in the final analysis according to race, gender, English as a second language (proxy for ethnicity and language facility), parent income, student-teacher ratio, and school attendance. Surrounding greenness of each school was measured using satellite images converted into the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) in March, July and October of each year according to a 250-meter, 500-meter, 1,000-meter, and 2000-meter circular buffer around each school. Spatial Generalized Linear Mixed Models (GLMMs) estimated the impacts of surrounding greenness on school-based performance. Overall the study results supported a relationship between the “greenness” of the school area and the school-wide academic performance. Interestingly, the results showed a consistently positive statistically-significant association between the greenness of the school in the Spring (when most Massachusetts students take the MCAS tests) and school-wide performance on both English and Math tests, even after adjustment for socio-economic factors and urban residency.

  89. ⁠, Park, Bum Jin Tsunetsugu, Yuko Kasetani, Tamami Kagawa, Takahide Miyazaki, Yoshifumi (2010):

    This paper reviews previous research on the physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku (taking in the forest atmosphere or forest bathing), and presents new results from field experiments conducted in 24 forests across Japan. The term Shinrin-yoku was coined by the Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries in 1982, and can be defined as making contact with and taking in the atmosphere of the forest. In order to clarify the physiological effects of Shinrin-yoku, we conducted field experiments in 24 forests across Japan. In each experiment, 12 subjects (280 total; ages 21.7 ± 1.5 year) walked in and viewed a forest or city area. On the first day, six subjects were sent to a forest area, and the others to a city area. On the second day, each group was sent to the other area as a cross-check. Salivary cortisol, blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart rate variability were used as indices. These indices were measured in the morning at the accommodation facility before breakfast and also both before and after the walking (for 16 ± 5 min) and viewing (for 14 ± 2 min). The R-R interval was also measured during the walking and viewing periods. The results show that forest environments promote lower concentrations of cortisol, lower pulse rate, lower blood pressure, greater parasympathetic nerve activity, and lower sympathetic nerve activity than do city environments. These results will contribute to the development of a research field dedicated to forest medicine, which may be used as a strategy for preventive medicine.



  92. 2019-mygind.pdf: ⁠, Lærke Mygind, Eva Kjeldsted, Rikke Hartmeyer, Erik Mygind, Matt P. Stevenson, Daniel S. Quintana, Peter Bentsen (2019-09-09; nature):

    Contact with nature is widely considered to ameliorate psychological stress, but the empirical support for a causal link is limited. We conducted a systematic review to synthesize and critically assess the evidence. Six electronic databases were searched. Twenty-six studies evaluated the difference between the effect of natural environments and that of a suitable control on the acute psychophysiological stress response. Eighteen studies were rated as being of moderate quality, four studies of low quality, and four studies of high quality. Meta-analyses indicated that seated relaxation ( g = 0.5, p = 0.06) and walking ( g = 0.3, p = 0.02) in natural environments enhanced heart rate variability more than the same activities in control conditions. Cortisol concentration measures were inconsistent. While intuitively and theoretically sound, the empirical support for acute stress-reducing effects of immersion in natural environments is tentative due to small sample sizes and methodological weaknesses in the studies. We provide guidelines for future research.

  93. 2000-cochran.pdf: ⁠, Gregory M. Cochran, Paul W. Ewald, Kyle D. Cochran (2000-01-01; genetics  /​ ​​ ​selection):

    Over the past two centuries, diseases have been separated into three categories: infectious diseases, genetic diseases, and diseases caused by too much or too little of some noninfectious environmental constituent. At the end of the 19th century, the most rapid development was in the first of these categories; within three decades after the first cause-effect linkage of a bacterium to a disease, most of the bacterial causes of common acute infectious diseases had been identified. This rapid progress can be attributed in large part to Koch’s postulates, a rigorous systematic approach to identification of microbes as causes of disease. Koch’s postulates were useful because they could generate conclusive evidence of infectious causation, particularly when (1) the causative organisms could be isolated and experimentally transmitted, and (2) symptoms occurred soon after the onset of infection in a high proportion of infected individuals. While guiding researchers down one path, however, the postulates directed them away from alternative paths: researchers attempting to document infectious causation were guided away from diseases that had little chance of fulfilling the postulates, even though they might have been infectious. During the first half of the 20th century, when the study of infectious agents was shifting from bacteria to viruses, Mendel’s genetics was being integrated into the study of disease. Some diseases could not be ascribed to infectious causes using Koch’s postulates but could be shown to have genetic bases, particularly if they were inherited according to Mendelian ratios. Mendel’s genetics and Koch’s postulates thus helped create a conceptual division of diseases into genetic and infectious categories, a division that persists today.The third category—diseases resulting from noninfectious environmental causes—has a longer history. The known associations of poisons with illness provided a basis for understanding physical agents as causes of disease. The apparent “contagiousness” of some chemical agents, such as the irritant of poison ivy, led experts to consider that diseases could be contagious without being infectious. Even after the discovery of causative microbes during the last quarter of the 19th century, many infectious diseases were considered contagious through the action of poisons, but not necessarily infectious [1].

    …This tendency to dismiss infectious causation has occurred in spite of the recognition that (1) infectious diseases are typically influenced by both host genetic and noninfectious environmental factors, and (2) some chronic diseases, such as tuberculosis and syphilis, have long been recognized as being caused by infection. In this essay we analyze the present conceptions of disease etiology from an historical perspective and within the framework offered by evolutionary biology. We begin by analyzing the degree to which infectious causation has been accepted for different categories of disease over the past two centuries with an emphasis on (1) characteristics that make the infectious causes of different diseases conspicuous or cryptic, and (2) the need to detect ever more cryptic infectious causes as a legacy of the more rapid recognition of the conspicuous infectious causes. We then consider principles and approaches that could facilitate recognition of infectious diseases and other phenomena that are not normally considered to be of infectious origin.

  94. ⁠, Yolken, R. H Torrey, E. F (1995):

    The hypothesis that viruses or other infectious agents may cause schizophrenia or bipolar disorder dates to the 19th century but has recently been revived. It could explain many clinical, genetic, and epidemiologic aspects of these diseases, including the winter-spring birth seasonality, regional differences, urban birth, household crowding, having an older sibling, and prenatal exposure to influenza as risk factors. It could also explain observed immunological changes such as abnormalities of lymphocytes, proteins, autoantibodies, and cytokines. However, direct studies of viral infections in individuals with these psychiatric diseases have been predominantly negative. Most studies have examined antibodies in blood or cerebrospinal fluid, and relatively few studies have been done on viral antigens, genomes, cytopathic effect on cell culture, and animal transmission experiments. Viral research on schizophrenia and bipolar disorder is thus comparable to viral research on multiple sclerosis and Parkinson’s disease: an attractive hypothesis with scattered interesting findings but no clear proof. The application of molecular biological techniques may allow the identification of novel infectious agents and the associations of these novel agents with serious mental diseases.

  95. 1998-castrogiovanni.pdf

  96. 1997-torrey.pdf





  101. 2001-tsurumaki-pulpmag-04.html.maff

  102. 2003-murray-humanaccomplishment.pdf: “Human Accomplishment”⁠, Charles Murray


  104. DNB-FAQ


  106. Parasocial

  107. Terrorism-is-not-about-Terror

  108. 2005-murakami

  109. MLP








  117. ⁠, Andreas Pavlogiannis, Josef Tkadlec, Krishnendu Chatterjee, Martin A. Nowak (2018-06-14):

    [] Because of the intrinsic randomness of the evolutionary process, a mutant with a fitness advantage has some chance to be selected but no certainty. Any experiment that searches for advantageous mutants will lose many of them due to random drift. It is therefore of great interest to find population structures that improve the odds of advantageous mutants. Such structures are called amplifiers of : they increase the probability that advantageous mutants are selected. Arbitrarily strong amplifiers guarantee the selection of advantageous mutants, even for very small fitness advantage. Despite intensive research over the past decade, arbitrarily strong amplifiers have remained rare. Here we show how to construct a large variety of them. Our amplifiers are so simple that they could be useful in biotechnology, when optimizing biological molecules, or as a diagnostic tool, when searching for faster dividing cells or viruses. They could also occur in natural population structures.

    In the evolutionary process, mutation generates new variants, while selection chooses between mutants that have different reproductive rates. Any new mutant is initially present at very low frequency and can easily be eliminated by ⁠. The probability that the lineage of a new mutant eventually takes over the entire population is called the ⁠. It is a key quantity of evolutionary dynamics and characterizes the rate of evolution.

    …In this work we resolve several open questions regarding strong amplification under uniform and temperature initialization. First, we show that there exists a vast variety of graphs with self-loops and weighted edges that are arbitrarily strong amplifiers for both uniform and temperature initialization. Moreover, many of those strong amplifiers are structurally simple, therefore they might be realizable in natural or laboratory setting. Second, we show that both self-loops and weighted edges are key features of strong amplification. Namely, we show that without either self-loops or weighted edges, no graph is a strong amplifier under temperature initialization, and no simple graph is a strong amplifier under uniform initialization.

    …In general, the probability depends not only on the graph, but also on the initial placement of the invading mutants…For a wide class of population structures17, which include symmetric ones28, the fixation probability is the same as for the well-mixed population.

    … A population structure is an arbitrarily strong amplifier (for brevity hereafter also called “strong amplifier”) if it ensures a fixation probability arbitrarily close to one for any advantageous mutant, r > 1. Strong amplifiers can only exist in the limit of large population size.

    Numerical studies30 suggest that for spontaneously arising mutants and small population size, many unweighted graphs amplify for some values of r. But for a large population size, randomly constructed, unweighted graphs do not amplify31. Moreover, proven amplifiers for all values of r are rare. For spontaneously arising mutants (uniform initialization): (1) the Star has fixation probability of ~1 − 1⁄r2 in the limit of large N, and is thus an amplifier17, 32, 33; (2) the Superstar (introduced in ref. 17, see also ref. 34) and the Incubator (introduced in refs. 35, 36), which are graphs with unbounded degree, are strong amplifiers.

    …In this work we resolve several open questions regarding strong amplification under uniform and temperature initialization. First, we show that there exists a vast variety of graphs with self-loops and weighted edges that are arbitrarily strong amplifiers for both uniform and temperature initialization. Moreover, many of those strong amplifiers are structurally simple, therefore they might be realizable in natural or laboratory setting. Second, we show that both self-loops and weighted edges are key features of strong amplification. Namely, we show that without either self-loops or weighted edges, no graph is a strong amplifier under temperature initialization, and no simple graph is a strong amplifier under uniform initialization.

    Figure 1: Evolutionary dynamics in structured populations. Residents (yellow) and mutants (purple) differ in their reproductive rate. (a) A single mutant appears. The lineage of the mutant becomes extinct or reaches fixation. The probability that the mutant takes over the population is called “fixation probability”. (b) The classical, well-mixed population is described by a complete graph with self-loops. (Self-loops are not shown here.) (c) Isothermal structures do not change the fixation probability compared to the well-mixed population. (d) The Star is an amplifier for uniform initialization. (e) A self-loop means the offspring can replace the parent. Self-loops are a mathematical tool to assign different reproduction rates to different places. (f) The Superstar, which has unbounded degree in the limit of large population size, is a strong amplifier for uniform initialization. Its edges (shown as arrows) are directed which means that the connections are one-way.
    Figure 4: Infinite variety of strong amplifiers. Many topologies can be turned into arbitrarily strong amplifiers (Wheel (a), Triangular grid (b), Concentric circles (c), and Tree (d)). Each graph is partitioned into hub (orange) and branches (blue). The weights can be then assigned to the edges so that we obtain arbitrarily strong amplifiers. Thick edges receive large weights, whereas thin edges receive small (or zero) weights

    …Intuitively, the weight assignment creates a sense of global flow in the branches, directed toward the hub. This guarantees that the first 2 steps happen with high probability. For the third step, we show that once the mutants fixate in the hub, they are extremely likely to resist all resident invasion attempts and instead they will invade and take over the branches one by one thereby fixating on the whole graph. For more detailed description, see “Methods” section “Construction of strong amplifiers”.

    Necessary conditions for amplification: Our main result shows that a large variety of population structures can provide strong amplification. A natural follow-up question concerns the features of population structures under which amplification can emerge. We complement our main result by proving that both weights and self-loops are essential for strong amplification. Thus, we establish a strong dichotomy. Without either weights or self-loops, no graph can be a strong amplifier under temperature initialization, and no simple graph can be a strong amplifier under uniform initialization. On the other hand, if we allow both weights and self-loops, strong amplification is ubiquitous.

    …Some naturally occurring population structures could be amplifiers of natural selection. For example, the germinal centers of the immune system might constitute amplifiers for the affinity maturation process of adaptive immunity46. Habitats of animals that are divided into multiple islands with a central breeding location could potentially also act as amplifiers of selection. Our theory helps to identify those structures in natural settings.






















  139. ⁠, Dan Wang (2017-06-25; sociology  /​ ​​ ​preference-falsification):

    …competition is fiercer the more that competitors resemble each other. When we’re not so different from people around us, it’s irresistible to become obsessed about beating others.

    It’s hard to construct a more perfect incubator for mimetic contagion than the American college campus. Most 18-year-olds are not super differentiated from each other. By construction, whatever distinctions any does have are usually earned through brutal, zero-sum competitions. These tournament-type distinctions include: SAT scores at or near perfection; being a top player on a sports team; gaining master status from chess matches; playing first instrument in state orchestra; earning high rankings in Math Olympiad; and so on, culminating in gaining admission to a particular college. Once people enter college, they get socialized into group environments that usually continue to operate in zero-sum competitive dynamics. These include orchestras and sport teams; fraternities and sororities; and many types of clubs. The biggest source of mimetic pressures are the classes. Everyone starts out by taking the same intro classes; those seeking distinction throw themselves into the hardest classes, or seek tutelage from star professors, and try to earn the highest grades.

    There’s very little external intermediation, instead all competitive dynamics are internally mediated…Once internal rivalries are sorted out, people coalesce into groups united against something foreign. These tendencies help explain why events on campus so often make the news—it seems like every other week we see some campus activity being labeled a “witch hunt”, “riot”, or something else that involves violence, implied or explicit. I don’t care to link to these events, they’re so easy to find. It’s interesting to see that academics are increasingly becoming the target of student activities. The terror devours its children first, who have tolerated or fanned mimetic contagion for so long.

    …I’ll end with a quote from I See Satan Fall Like Lightning: “Mimetic desire enables us to escape from the animal realm. It is responsible for the best and the worst in us, for what lowers us below the animal level as well as what elevates us above it. Our unending discords are the ransom of our freedom.”

  140. ⁠, Eugene Wei (2019-02-19):

    [Meditation on what drives social networks like Instagram: status and signaling. A social network provides a way for monkeys to create and ascend status hierarchies, and a new social network can and succeed by offering a new way to do that.]

    Let’s begin with two principles:

    1. People are status-seeking monkeys
    2. People seek out the most efficient path to maximizing social capital

    …we can start to demystify social networks if we also think of them as SaaS businesses, but instead of software, they provide status.

    Almost every social network of note had an early signature proof of work hurdle. For Facebook it was posting some witty text-based status update. For Instagram, it was posting an interesting square photo. For Vine, an entertaining 6-second video. For Twitter, it was writing an amusing bit of text of 140 characters or fewer. Pinterest? Pinning a compelling photo. You can likely derive the proof of work for other networks like Quora and Reddit and Twitch and so on. Successful social networks don’t pose trick questions at the start, it’s usually clear what they want from you.

    …Thirst for status is potential energy. It is the lifeblood of a Status as a Service business. To succeed at carving out unique space in the market, social networks offer their own unique form of status token, earned through some distinctive proof of work.

    …Most of these near clones have and will fail. The reason that matching the basic proof of work hurdle of an Status as a Service incumbent fails is that it generally duplicates the status game that already exists. By definition, if the proof of work is the same, you’re not really creating a new status ladder game, and so there isn’t a real compelling reason to switch when the new network really has no one in it.

    …Why do social network effects reverse? Utility, the other axis by which I judge social networks, tends to be uncapped in value. It’s rare to describe a product or service as having become too useful. That is, it’s hard to over-serve on utility. The more people that accept a form of payment, the more useful it is, like Visa or Mastercard or Alipay. People don’t stop using a service because it’s too useful.

    …Social network effects are different. If you’ve lived in New York City, you’ve likely seen, over and over, night clubs which are so hot for months suddenly go out of business just a short while later. Many types of social capital have qualities which render them fragile. Status relies on coordinated consensus to define the scarcity that determines its value. Consensus can shift in an instant. Recall the friend in Swingers, who, at every crowded LA party, quips, “This place is dead anyway.” Or recall the wise words of noted sociologist Groucho Marx: “I don’t care to belong to any club that will have me as a member.”










  150. 2020-sauer-howcameoturneddlistcelebsintoamonetizationmachine.html: ⁠, Patrick J. Sauer (2020-03-17; economics):

    These formulas have turned an obscure idea that Galanis and his college buddies had a few years ago about making more money for second rate celebs into a thriving two-sided marketplace that has caught the attention of VCs, Hollywood, and professional sports. In June, Cameo raised $50 million in Series B funding, led by Kleiner Perkins (which recently began funding more early stage startups) to boost marketing, expand into international markets, and staff up to meet the growing demand. In the past 15 months, Cameo has gone from 20 to 125 employees, and moved from an 825-square-foot home base in the 1871 technology incubator into its current 6,000-square-foot digs in Chicago’s popping West Loop. Cameo customers have purchased more than 560,000 videos from some 20,000 celebs and counting, including ’80s star Steve Guttenberg and sports legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. And now, when the masses find themselves in quarantined isolation—looking for levity, distractions, and any semblance of the human touch—sending each other personalized videograms from the semi-famous has never seemed like a more pitch-perfect offering.

    The product itself is as simple as it is improbable. For a price the celeb sets—anywhere from $5 to $2,500—famous people record video shout-outs, aka “Cameos”, that run for a couple of minutes, and then are delivered via text or email. Most Cameo videos are booked as private birthday or anniversary gifts, but a few have gone viral on social media. Even if you don’t know Cameo by name, there’s a good chance you caught Bam Margera of MTV’s Jackass delivering an “I quit” message on behalf of a disgruntled employee, or Sugar Ray’s Mark McGrath dumping some poor dude on behalf of the guy’s girlfriend. (Don’t feel too bad for the dumpee, the whole thing was a joke.)

    …Back at the whiteboard, Galanis takes a marker and sketches out a graph of how fame works on his platform. “Imagine the grid represents all the celebrity talent in the world”, he says, “which by our definition, we peg at 5 million people.” The X-axis is willingness; the Y-axis is fame. “Say LeBron is at the top of the X-axis, and I’m at the bottom”, he says. On the willingness side, Galanis puts notoriously media-averse Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch on the far left end. At the opposite end, he slots chatty celebrity blogger-turned-Cameo-workhorse Perez Hilton, of whom Galanis says, “I promise if you booked him right now, the video would be done before we leave this room.”

    …“The contrarian bet we made was that it would be way better for us to have people with small, loyal followings, often unknown to the general population, but who were willing to charge $5 to $10”, Galanis says. Cameo would employ a revenue-sharing model, getting a 25% cut of each video, while the rest went to the celeb. They wanted people like Galanis’ co-founder (and former Duke classmate) Devon Townsend, who had built a small following making silly Vine videos of his travels with pal Cody Ko, a popular YouTuber. “Devon isn’t Justin Bieber, but he had 25,000 Instagram followers from his days as a goofy Vine star”, explains Galanis. “He originally charged a couple bucks, and the people who love him responded, ‘Best money I ever spent!’”

    …After a customer books a Cameo, the celeb films the video via the startup’s app within four to seven days. Most videos typically come in at under a minute, though some talent indulges in extensive riffs. (Inexplicably, “plant-based activist and health coach” Courtney Anne Feldman, wife of Corey, once went on for more than 20 minutes in a video for a customer.) Cameo handles the setup, technical infrastructure, marketing, and support, with white-glove service for the biggest earners with “whatever they need”—details like help pronouncing a customer’s name or just making sure they aren’t getting burned-out doing so many video shout-outs.

    …For famous people of any caliber—the washed-up, the obscure micro-celebrity, the actual rock star—becoming part of the supply side of the Cameo marketplace is as low a barrier as it gets. Set a price and go. The videos are short—Instagram comedian Evan Breen has been known to knock out more than 100 at $25 a pop in a single sitting—and they don’t typically require any special preparation. Hair, makeup, wardrobe, or even handlers aren’t necessary. In fact, part of the oddball authenticity of Cameo videos is that they have a take-me-as-I-am familiarity—filmed at breakfast tables, lying in bed, on the golf course, running errands, at a stoplight, wherever it fits into the schedule.






  156. ⁠, Matt Lakeman (2019-10-27):

    ⁠, a British TV series running from 2003 to 2015, starring David Mitchell and Robert Webb as a pair of miserable, co-dependent roommates living in Croydon, London, is the most realistic portrayal of evil I have ever seen.

    …We see this all not just by watching Mark and Jez go about their day-to-day lives, but by hearing their inner thoughts through voice-over monologues, which more often than not, reveal their actions and words as either cynical attempts to avoid facing their own failings, or desperate lies to obscure their true intentions, goals, and personalities.

    This is what makes Peep Show so brilliant. It doesn’t just portray evil realistically, it portrays the root of evil realistically. Mark and Jeremy cause bad things to happen to their acquaintances, co-workers, friends, loved ones, family members, and most of all, themselves, because they are consumed by their vices. Not just the classic vices like gluttony and lust, but cowardice, evasion, hypocrisy, and apathy, all born from a rarely acknowledged, yet omnipresent self-loathing. These are vices that aren’t loudly announced by violent psychopaths or easily identified in scary individuals, but vices that sneak up on ordinary people, latch on to their psyches, and take over their lives.

    Also, it’s one of the funniest TV shows I’ve ever seen.

  157. ⁠, Matt Lakeman (2018-12-31):

    I’ve written a couple of book summaries on here over the past few months, and this one for will be the most difficult. ’s autobiography is a sociological summary of Appalachian American culture, and by extension the culture of poverty across America, which uses his own life as a case study. The book is basically a series of linked anecdotes with only occasional introspections thrown in, so I’ll try my best to lay out Vance’s story, and integrate his claims and arguments.

    …You know that classic Republican straw man about poor people? It goes something like—

    “In the glorious modern American capitalist economy, all people can pick themselves up by their bootstraps and make a good living if they really want to. The only way to fail is to not try hard enough. Poor people are all lazy loafers who would rather take drugs, rack up illegitimate children, and become welfare queens, than work an honest day in their lives. It’s their own damn fault they’re poor.”

    Vance argues that this straw man is basically true.

    Yes, of course it’s more complicated than that. There are external factors at play that makes the lives of his fellow hillbillies in Appalachia worse, like the collapse of American industrialism. But underlying the depressed economies, high unemployment, underfunded schools, and shoddy welfare networks, are simply a lot of bad decisions made on an individual level…Only a very select few hillbillies “make it” in the sense of achieving a stable, middle-class lifestyle. J. D. Vance is one of those few. He starts off the book saying that he feels ridiculous writing a memoir because his “greatest accomplishment” to date was graduating from Yale Law School. Yet, as he walks the reader through his life, it becomes more and more apparent just how amazing that feat is…I was aware of all these stereotypes before reading the book, but seeing them so fully fleshed out really brought home how scary it is. These people probably aren’t evil… but a lot of them are kind of bad. Or at least foolish. Or at least make really stupid decisions all the time. Somehow, that’s even scarier than being evil, or at least it’s harder to fix.

    …Vance consistently stresses that by raw material standards, nobody in Middletown was doing that badly. Yet they were miserable, depressed, addicted, and hopeless anyway.

    For instance, when Mom was with her first husband, the toothless hillbilly guy, they could be considered solidly middle-class. Mom was a nurse, her husband was a truck driver, and together they made over $100K per year with two kids in a low-cost-of-living region of America. And yet financial problems were always one of the biggest triggers of family screaming matches. They were deeply in debt because both Mom and the husband bought multiple new cars per year, they ate out every day instead of cooking, and they purchased a below-ground swimming pool. The house was already mortgaged, but was falling into disrepair due to lack of upkeep, while they repeatedly crashed new cars, and burned through meager savings with credit card fees. Vance’s family could have been fine. His parents could have lived comfortably, had good savings, and started a college fund. And maybe if they did, the stress wouldn’t have driven Mom and husband to break up, and Mom wouldn’t have turned to drugs, etc. But it didn’t turn out that way.

    Throughout the book, I had a question that I wished Vance would have answered directly. Are hillbilly values the problem, or hypocrisy against these values?

  158. ⁠, Matt Lakeman (2019-06-10):

    [Personal memoir of growing up in the rural US northeast and losing a friend to heroin overdosing. Despite living in a stable and relatively well-off white middle-class family, the friend ‘Jack’ had always suffered health problems and severe social anxiety, especially compared to his accomplished popular younger brother. Jack was never truly happy, and clashed with his brother, who resented his problems and the drain on parents. In high school, Jack gravitated to a group of bad peers who began drug use, existing in a constant malaise. A chance injury and painkiller prescription led to an addiction, and then heroin. His parents invested enormous amounts of effort into rehab and monitoring Jack and trying to get him launched on some sort of real higher education and career, if only a trade, but Jack was uninterested and kept returning to drugs in between endless video game playing. This destroyed the family finances & relationships.]

    I’m a libertarian who thinks all drugs should be legalized, including heroin. But I have to admit that learning what Jack’s addiction did to his family made me understand the “Drug Warrior” perspective better. Unless an addict has no social connections whatsoever, his addiction will hurt others. The stronger the connections, the worse the pain. If the supporting friends and family members hold on tightly enough, it will destroy them. Derrick described the five years of being with Jack through his addiction until his death as a “living hell.”

    To start with, fighting addiction costs money. Jack’s family was solidly middle-class, with his father pulling in enough money alone for the mother not to work while affording a nice home, comfortable day-to-day life, and the occasional vacation. They were decently well-off, but not enough to sustain the hit of $150K+ of rehab costs. I noticed some of the effects from afar but didn’t get the full picture until after Jack died. First the family stopped going on vacations, then the mom got part-time work (which wasn’t easy while trying to keep Jack in Lockdown), then the father worked longer hours, and eventually they were draining their retirement funds and mortgaging their house. But monetary costs were nothing compared to the emotional toll. How happy can you really be on a day-to-day basis when you come home to where your heroin-addicted son or brother lives? Jack’s parents basically lost their lives. Every single day, every single minute, was oriented around Jack. They always had to know where he was, what he was doing, when his next Narcotics Anonymous meeting was, if they could afford that therapist, etc. The father no longer worked to build college and retirement funds, but to pay off debts. The mother didn’t stay home to take care of the house and kids, but to keep her son alive. Then there was the lying…The fighting became worse than ever. They weren’t physical anymore, not while Jack deteriorated and Derrick bulked up. Yet they were more vicious than ever. More personal…For years before then, Derrick’s life had inexorably been consumed by Jack. The instant Derrick showed his parents Jack’s track marks, his childhood ended. Jack became a black hole at the center of the family which sucked everything in. Money, energy, time, and attention only flowed one way. Derrick stopped being another son and was repurposed as an asset to be employed by his parents for Jack’s sake.

    …For me, the scariest part of learning Jack’s full story was realizing that he may have been acting rationally. I’m not saying that being a heroin addict is rational, and I’m not saying that Jack made good choices, especially not given the emotional carnage left in his wake, but… I think I understand why he kept going back to the drugs…I think everyone is aware of these shitty parts of life. But almost everyone is also aware of the good parts. Family, friends, and loved ones reflect our values and fuel our lives. Hobbies, passions, and maybe even work are outlets for our virtues that convert effort and inspiration into rewards. It’s not easy, but we all fight to make the good parts as big as possible while minimizing, mitigating, or maybe even ignoring the bad parts. I don’t think Jack was ever aware of the good parts. And I think his bad parts were intrinsically worse than most people’s…Jack was painfully aware that his future options were, “be a complete loser”, or “be a complete loser who feels really really good for a few hours every day.” He chose the latter.

    …One day, when Jack was 23-years-old, his parents left the house together to see a movie. It was the first time they had gone out together without Jack in six months.. The parents came home with a cheeseburger for Jack, and they found him in his room, passed out in his own vomit on his bed. His mother called 911 while his father tried to resuscitate him, but Jack was already dead. His cause of death was an overdose, though it’s unclear whether he accidentally took too much or hit a bad batch. After the wake and funeral and shock, Derrick admitted that he felt relief. It was finally over.

  159. ⁠, Matt Lakeman (2020-09-06):

    Prior to last month, I knew next to nothing about K-pop (Korean popular music) besides having heard a few songs in passing and the rumors of the industry’s infamous elements, most notably a string of high profile suicides over the last few years. As an American with no connection to music or South Korean culture, I wondered if I was getting an accurate picture of the industry or if I was being misled by the most lurid and morbid elements eagerly conveyed by the media.

    1. The Basics

      • “K-pop” is both a genre of music and an entire industry which “manufacturers” performers and their performance output (music, dance routines, shows, merchandise, etc.) in a highly systematized top-down manner
      • The global popularity of K-pop is extraordinary considering the relatively small population of South Korea, and the relatively small size of K-pop production companies
    2. The Product

      • K-pop’s industrial/​​​​​​corporate structure represents a Korean (and East-Asian) cultural alternative to Western pop and broader music production
      • K-pop stars and bands are manufactured and controlled by production companies in the same manner Western athletes are trained and traded by sports teams.
      • K-pop stars are crafted into idealized portrays of individuals by East Asian cultural standards
    3. The Fans

      • K-pop fandom is both more intense on average than Western fandom, and has a larger percentage of unhealthily obsessive fans
      • K-pop fandom is based on a parasocial relationship between fans and stars
      • K-pop stars are forced to abide by extremely restrictive behavioral norms to appease production companies and fans
    4. The Process

      • Trying to become a K-pop star is a terrible idea by any rational cost-benefit analysis
      • The process by which production companies train K-pop stars is abusive and depends on the ignorance of children/​​​​​​teenagers and clueless and/​​​​​​or malicious parents
      • Even after making it through the extraordinarily difficult audition and training process, the vast majority of K-pop stars will have short careers and earn little or possibly no money
    5. The Machine

      • K-pop is an extremely centralized, hierarchical industry, where structural, business, and creative decisions are almost entirely made by corporate management, rather than the performers
      • Raw creativity in the music production process is largely outsourced to Westerners who write, produce, and choreograph the music
      • The K-pop industry is subsidized and supported by the South Korean government, if not implicitly or explicitly directed, as a conscious form of soft power projection and social control.

    As you can tell, I came away from my research with a negative view of K-pop. I don’t think it’s the worst thing in the world, but I find its fandom to be unhealthy and its production process to be exploitative. That being said, there are undoubtedly many tremendous talents in the K-pop world and the cultural power of K-pop is remarkable.








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