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Building a blueprint for a better brain by tinkering with the code.
March 24th, 2021
Software eats the world. We hear this, but what exactly does it mean? We hear about our ‘data’ being gathered, used, sold, and worry about an obscure relation to privacy. We hear about automated jobs and the cries of Neo-luddites. But what what exactly is the main mechanism which software consumes right now?
The most common and one of the most useful forms of software consumption is best understood through the idea of unbundling and re-bundling. Take Instagram for example. Where did all our photos exist before Instagram? Or rather, how many places did our photos exist before Instagram, and how accessible were those places. The answer, of course is that photos existed in endlessly numerous places and had virtually zero accessibility. But that set of photos still represents a particular human dataset. It just wasn’t organized, and it was scattered. What a platform like Instagram does is it unbundles that dataset, that is it creates an incentive for that data to be gathered, and then it re-bundles that data in an organized and very accessible way.
Most software eats the world by unbundling an unorganized or inaccessible analog dataset and re-bundling it into an ultra-accessible form that is highly organized, often in conveniently flexible ways.
While everyone is looking for ‘the next great idea’, the digital revolution is probably better thought of as an episode of spring cleaning for the human species. We are slowly unpacking the messy closet and reorganizing it in a way that doesn’t take up so much space, and most importantly, makes all that stuff at lot more useful.
The brilliant marketing slogan for the iPod perhaps encapsulates the whole idea the best:
1,000 songs in your pocket.
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