Read The Californian Ideology by Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron (Mute)
The California Ideology is a mix of cybernetics, free market economics, and counter-culture libertarianism and is promulgated by magazines such as WIRED and MONDO 2000 and preached in the books of Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly and others.

Lacking the free time of the hippies, work itself ho become the main route to self-fulfilment for much of the,virtual class’. 

They’re right that overwork and identification with work has become all too prevalent over the past several decades.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:11AM

Community activists will increasingly use hypermedia to replace corporate capitalism and big government with a hi-tech ‘gift economy’ in which information is freely exchanged between participants. 

I know the idea “gift economy” was around in the late 2000’s and even more prevalent in the teens, but not sure where it originated. This is one of the earliest sitings I’ve seen.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:15AM

In this version of the Californian Ideology, each member of the ‘virtual class’ is promised the opportunity to become a successful hi-tech entrepreneur. 

In retrospect, it’s really only made a much higher disparity between the top and the bottom.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:19AM

Almost every major technological advance of the last two hundred years has taken place with the aid of large amounts of public money and under a good deal of government influence. The technologies of the computer and the Net were invented with the aid of massive state subsidies. 

examples of government (public) funding for research and it’s effects
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:23AM

Americans have always had state planning, but they prefer to call it the defence budget. 

Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:24AM

Entrepreneurs often have an inflated sense of their own ‘creative act of will’ in developing new ideas and give little recognition to the contributions made by either the state or their own labour force. 

Techbro hubris
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:25AM

When Japanese companies threatened to take over the American microchip market, the libertarian computer capitalists of California had no ideological qualms about joining a state-sponsored cartel organised by the state to fight off the invaders from the East! 

A good example of so-called capitalists playing the do as we say and not as we do game.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:27AM

In American folklore, the nation was built out of a wilderness by free-booting individuals – the trappers, cowboys, preachers, and settlers of the frontier. Yet this primary myth of the American republic ignores the contradiction at the heart of the American dream: that some individuals can prosper only through the suffering of others. The life of Thomas Jefferson – the man behind the ideal of `Jeffersonian democracy’ – clearly demonstrates the double nature of liberal individualism. The man who wrote the inspiring call for democracy and liberty in the American declaration of independence was at the same time one of the largest slave-owners in the country. 

Some profound ideas here about the “American Dream” and the dark underbelly of what it may take to achieve not only for individuals, but to do so at scale.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:29AM

Working for hi-tech and new media corporations, many members of the ‘virtual class’ would like to believe that new technology will somehow solve America’s social, racial and economic problems without any sacrifices on their part. 

In retrospect, this has turned out to be all-too-true.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:31AM

Slave labour cannot be obtained without somebody being enslaved. At his estate at Monticello, Jefferson invented many ingenious gadgets – including a ‘dumb waiter’ to mediate contact with his slaves. In the late twentieth century, it is not surprising that this liberal slave-owner is the hero of those who proclaim freedom while denying their brown-skinned fellow citizens those democratic rights said to be inalienable. 

This is a powerful example
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:33AM

Abandoning democracy and social solidarity, the Californian Ideology dreams of a digital nirvana inhabited solely by liberal psychopaths. 

And nearly twenty years later, isn’t that roughly what we’ve got? (aside from the digital nirvana, which didn’t work out so well.)
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:35AM

Read - Reading: Behavioral Economics When Psychology and Economics Collide by Scott Huettel (The Great Courses)
Lecture 8: Ambiguity—The Unknown Unknowns
In behavioral economics, “ambiguity” refers to conditions in decision making in which we do not know and cannot estimate the probabilities of potential outcomes. Here, investigate three circumstances in decision making that produce ambiguity: “hidden information,” “asymmetrical knowledge,” and “unfamiliar contexts.” Then, learn a two-step approach for dealing effectively with ambiguity.
Finished lecture 8 on ambiguity
Interesting applications to insurance here and some good reasons why the market and capitalism won’t help fix some problems.

  • 33.3%
Read a thread by Imran Khan (Twitter)
📖 I’m 10% done reading Economy, Society, and Public Policy by CORE Team

Finished chapter one. I like that this text has so many linked resources, but some of the links to the sister texts make me think I’d be getting a deeper and more technical understanding by reading them instead of this more introductory text. Still, this has some tremendous value even as a refresher.


Annotations from Unit 1 Capitalism and democracy: Affluence, inequality, and the environment

Government bodies also tend to be more limited in their capacity to expand if successful, and are usually protected from failure if they perform poorly.

They can expand in different ways however. Think about the expansion of empires of Egypt, Rome, and the Mongols in the 12th Century. What caused them to cease growing and decrease? What allowed them to keep increasing?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:50PM


Capitalism is an economic system that can combine centralization with decentralization.

How can we analogize this with the decentralization of the web and its economy?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:50PM


Market competition provides a mechanism for weeding out those who underperform.

Note how this has failed in the current guilded age of the United States where it is possible for things to be “too big to fail”.
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:50PM


First, because capital goods do not fall from the sky: all countries that have successfully moved from poverty to affluence have done so, of necessity, by accumulating large amounts of capital. We will also see that a crucial feature of capitalism is who owns and controls the capital goods in an economy.

Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 03:11PM


Yet some things that we value are not private property—for example, the air we breathe and most of the knowledge we use cannot be owned, bought, or sold.

Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:49PM


We should be sceptical when anyone claims that something complex (capitalism) ‘causes’ something else (increased living standards, technological improvement, a networked world, or environmental challenges), just because we can see there is a correlation.

Great and ridiculous examples of this can be found at https://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 08:59PM


Figure 1.16 Graph with y-axis that jumps around in scale

Note the dramatic inconsistency of the scale on the left hand side. What is going on here?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:23PM


Firms should not be owned and managed by people who survive because of their connections to government or their privileged birth: Capitalism is dynamic when owners or managers succeed because they are good at delivering high-quality goods and services at a competitive price. This is more likely to be a failure when the other two factors above are not working well.

Here is where we’re likely to fail in the United States by following the example of Donald Trump, who ostensibly has survived solely off the wealth of his father’s dwindling empire. With that empire gone, he’s now turning to creating wealth by associating with the government. We should carefully follow where this potentially leads the country.
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:31PM


In some, their spending on goods and services as well as on transfers like unemployment benefits and pensions, accounts for more than half of GDP.

What is the Government’s proportion of the US GDP presently?
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:34PM


James Bronterre O’Brien, told the people:‘Knaves will tell you that it is because you have no property, you are unrepresented. I tell you on the contrary, it is because you are unrepresented that you have no property …’

great quote
Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 09:53PM


Yet some things that we value are not private property—for example, the air we breathe and most of the knowledge we use cannot be owned, bought, or sold.

Annotated on February 10, 2020 at 04:49PM

Listened to The three C's of historical economic growth by Candace Manriquez Wrenn and David Brancaccio from Marketplace

The economic boom of the 19th century cannot be attributed to capitalism alone, according to Professor Homa Zarghamee.

This interview is part of our “Econ Extra Credit” project, where we read an introductory economics textbook provided by the nonprofit Core Econ together with our listeners.

For most of human history, the standard of living remained flat, not changing much from year to year, even century to century. Until the Industrial Revolution, that is, when the world population and standards of living skyrocketed.

Read Disruption’s legacy by Martin Weller (blog.edtechie.net)
Clayton Christensen passed away yesterday. I never met him and he was by many accounts a warm, generous individual. So this is not intended as a personal attack, and I apologise if it’s timing seems indelicate, but as so many pieces are being published about how influential Disruption Theory was, I would like to offer a counter narrative to its legacy.
One of the most important points here:

It legitimised undermining of labour – the fact that Uber, Tesla, Amazon etc all treat their staff poorly is justified because they are disrupting an old model. And you can’t bring those old fashioned conceits of unions, pensions, staff care into this. By harking to the God of Disruption, companies were able to get away with such practices more than if they had simply declared “our model is to treat workers badly”.

Originally bookmarked on January 29, 2020 at 06:38AM

Read Lemon socialism (Wikipedia)

Lemon socialism is a pejorative term for a form of government intervention in which government subsidies go to weak or failing firms (lemons; see Lemon law), with the effective result that the government (and thus the taxpayer) absorbs part or all of the recipient's losses. The term derives from the conception that in socialism the government may nationalize a company's profits while leaving the company to pay its own losses, while in lemon socialism the company is allowed to keep its profits but its losses are shifted to the taxpayer.

Mark J. Green coined the exact phrase in a 1974 article discussing the utility company Con Ed.

Read Privatizing profits and socializing losses (Investopedia)
Privatizing profits and socializing losses refers to the practice of treating company earnings as the rightful property of shareholders, while losses are treated as a responsibility that society must shoulder. In other words, the profitability of corporations are strictly for the benefit of their shareholders. But when the companies fail, the fallout—the losses and recovery—are the responsibility of the general public. Popular examples of this include taxpayer-funded subsidies or bailouts.
Read What’s the LMS Worth? by Jim LukeJim Luke (EconProph)
Herein, against my better judgement, I wade into the Great Instructure social media wars of 2019. Last week, Instructure Inc., the publicly traded (NYSE: INST) company announced it had agreed to go private and sell itself to private equity firm Thoma Bravo. For people who teach in higher education this is big news. Instructure, is the current name for the company founded in 2008 that created and sells the Canvas LMS. Canvas in the last decade has toppled the previous king-of-the-LMS’s, Blackboard. Canvas is now widely reported to have largest market share of higher ed LMS market at least in North America. Moodle, the open source system, appears to dominate outside North America.

Capitalists and market-thinkers inevitably seek to enclose the commons, privatizing benefits and externalizing costs onto society.

It’s nice to see this reminder every now and then.
–highlighted December 09, 2019 at 09:00PM

Some pragmatic and solid analysis here. Better than some of the FUD I’ve seen bandied about.

Liked a tweet by #AbolitionMeansNoPrisons#AbolitionMeansNoPrisons (Twitter)
This is an interesting economic idea…

👓 The mindfulness conspiracy | The Guardian

Read The mindfulness conspiracy by Ronald Purser (the Guardian)
The long read: It is sold as a force that can help us cope with the ravages of capitalism, but with its inward focus, mindful meditation may be the enemy of activism

🎧 Economic Ripples: Hospital Closure Hurts A Town’s Ability To Attract Retirees | NPR

Listened to Economic Ripples: Hospital Closure Hurts A Town's Ability To Attract Retirees by Blake Farmer from NPR | Nashville Public Radio

When a rural community loses its hospital, health care becomes harder to come by in an instant. But a hospital closure also shocks a small town's economy. It shuts down one of its largest employers. It scares off heavy industry that needs an emergency room nearby. And in one Tennessee town, a lost hospital means lost hope of attracting more retirees.

Here’s a great example of why pure capitalist competition doesn’t work in areas like health care and education in large swathes of America. Small communities like this one often have only one option of a hospital to go to, and often they don’t even have that. And many health care issues don’t allow for direct competition and choice because they are emergent and one can only go to the closest provider with their fingers crossed.

📑 ‘The goal is to automate us’: welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism | John Naughton | The Guardian

Annotated 'The goal is to automate us': welcome to the age of surveillance capitalism by John NaughtonJohn Naughton (the Guardian)

As it turns out his vision perfectly reflected the history of capitalism, marked by taking things that live outside the market sphere and declaring their new life as market commodities.  

🔖 The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff

Bookmarked The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power by Shoshana Zuboff (PublicAffairs; 1 edition)

Shoshana Zuboff's interdisciplinary breadth and depth enable her to come to grips with the social, political, business, and technological meaning of the changes taking place in our time. We are at a critical juncture in the confrontation between the vast power of giant high-tech companies and government, the hidden economic logic of surveillance capitalism, and the propaganda of machine supremacy that threaten to shape and control human life. Will the brazen new methods of social engineering and behavior modification threaten individual autonomy and democratic rights and introduce extreme new forms of social inequality? Or will the promise of the digital age be one of individual empowerment and democratization?

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is neither a hand-wringing narrative of danger and decline nor a digital fairy tale. Rather, it offers a deeply reasoned and evocative examination of the contests over the next chapter of capitalism that will decide the meaning of information civilization in the twenty-first century. The stark issue at hand is whether we will be the masters of information and machines or its slaves.

book cover of The Age of Surveillance Capitalism by Shoshana Zuboff

Can’t wait to get this…

On first blush, I’ll note that the cover looks a lot like that of Pikkety’s Captialism in the 21st Century. Certainly an interesting framing by the publisher.