Be wrong (Epilogue to The fool)
May 2, 2012
3 minute read

I could not leave an article like The fool without adding a positive spin on things.

If living in a parallel universe is lonely, sometimes unnerving, there is a greater picture to consider. History works in cycles, and in the grand scheme of things, details do not matter.

So what if the predominant school of thoughts condemn your way of life? So what if your entourage insist that your plans are impossible? Who are they to judge you?

Men and women have been censored, executed, assassinated because they disturbed the quiet ways of a given society. Only decades later, morals had slid sufficiently for their doings to be not only accepted, but encouraged and recognized as norm.

I have never called for violence, and I never will. I have a profound disinterest for destructive initiatives because, independent from all ethical considerations, I am convinced they are a waste of time.

When newer structures, social constructs, are formed, the old ones die quietly with their disciples as time passes by. That said, in order to avoid repeating our ancestors’ mistakes, it is useful to understand the existing infrastructure of society. A feat easier said than done, unfortunately.

Generation of the glitch

The industrial revolution prompted the need to replace human effort with machinized operations so as to take advantage of certain resources in a more efficient fashion. While it did have a significant impact on social conditions, the basic premise was to leverage mechanisms, allied with human ingenuity, to further the efficiency of exploitation.

A regrettable side-effect of this transition is that my generation has spawned in a world where the odds are stacked against us. Most exploitation markets have been optimized, and thus locked down. How would you go about disrupting telecoms? The oil industry? Drug supply? And so on and so forth.

As a result, many start-ups restrain themselves to services rather than exploitation. It’s as if there was just enough room left for young entrepreneurs to dabble in business while staying out of lines of work that “really” matter, ie. that are essential to life.

I like to call our generation the generation of the glitch. Sometimes, when watching a video in a compressed format like MPEG-4, H.264 of VP8, there are encoding errors, resulting in peculiar visual artifacts. For example, instead of changing the scene, there are gray and purple areas, deformed in the same fashion as the actual scene.

Even without knowing the internals of modern video codecs, one can intuitively learn about the existence of I-frames and motion vectors, merely by meticulously observing the glitches in the system.

I think most of modern society can be reverse-engineered in this fashion. There are parts of the economy that are taught in schools, and there are parts that are negotiated around tables by a minority. We only learn about those when things go awry: I’ll take for example the recent near-collapse of the Eurozone.

There is a lot to learn, when your goal is to consciously lay the grounds of education, industrial processes, political systems for the generations to come. The first order of business for anyone willing to undertake this should be, in my humble opinion, to reverse-engineer oneself.

Chances are, nobody is going to come along and tell you to do something great with your life. You will be sold the good, and the careful. The average, and the safe. Aspiring to the great leads to insecurity, and lots of questions.

Good news is, you need to wait for no one to start building the world of tomorrow.