Happy New Year: What’s YOUR resolution?

Testing. Testing 1 2. Okay, I hope I have the ChatGPT settings right. New Year Memories and Salutations. Here goes. Processing. . . To be or not to be xg4n!E8#5nB#2^d* Oh well, I guess I’ll need to write this manually.

It’s been cold and wet. Happy New Year!

As an experienced procrastinator, I often wonder where to draw the line between on-time, late and too late. Deadlines apply to many things, including this post. As I’ve been drafting ideas to signify our calendar year advancing one more digit, the actual event has drifted further away. How long do I continue to collect and refine thoughts before I publish. Does ‘Happy New Year’ have a Publish By expiration? It’s elusive and circumstantial: when it is finished or when you are finished with it.

I read a post (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-science-of-stuck/202301/feeling-stuck-2-types-of-procrastination) on the topic of procrastination. The clinician suggested that the reason we procrastinate is due to the fight/flight/freeze response triggered by assaults on our sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems by stresses in our lives. Depending on the stressor, the complementary systems serve to adjust automatic, involuntary responses. These responses make our bodies react to increase or decrease biological functions. It can be overwhelming to understand and negotiate the thoughts of what to ‘do’ to relieve the response, leading to distraction or paralysis.

‘What’s YOUR resolution?’ is a phrase I’ve pondered for years. A graphic makes it more visual (http://fab7.com/resolution.html). The phrase has multiple layers of meaning. ‘Resolution’ has measures, from how clearly you see things to the amount of sustained effort you exert to achieve a task, a step, a goal. How resolute are you? Without mentioning particulars, suffice it to say that I occasionally find myself in a battle for productivity. Making some effort, doing something if only I could grasp the immediate priorities. Recounting the words ‘What’s YOUR resolution?’ allows me to shift from battling myself to figuring out how to be more resolute in the moment.

This may be a good time to identify what’s important in a year-end reflection. It is a year end, but also a beginning. It’s an opportunity to say something about times ahead and times gone by. Is the topic more backward or forward thinking? Some people are forthright in a year-end summary, including work and life goals accomplished.

2023 will continue to be a year driven by the physics of our lifestyles. Fields of research are brimming with activity. In the past year, the supply chain of academics and institutions continued to feed the science that feeds the supply chain. The supply chain is impossible to visualize. The origins of most consumer goods are murky, some magical.

Direction of Reflection

A LinkedIn essay targets a professional network with a story. The story is built upon thoughts, ostensibly the thoughts of the writer. Writing and revision is a loop executed until the thoughts are clearly expressed as the ‘voice’ of the writer.

Reader, how do I relate to thee? Are these words passing through a retina, or a machine learning algorithm? Here’s where I see trouble. With plagiarism and shortcuts, ChatGPT and other AI, what guarantees that anyone puts effort into reaching “out.”

Perhaps the point is that reaching “out” is shallow. If you consider the dilution of energy from a source, it degrades exponentially. If instead you develop your direction “in,” your messages become more genuine as you communicate with yourself.

Wait, I’m Late

I have time to be self-directed. Immediate gratification becomes less important considering the amount of extra effort involved. An inner journey is rewarding. I’m fortunate to earn and approach my schedule on my terms. However, fewer deadlines, distractions and engagements has downsides.

I spend a lot of time in front of a computer. It’s easy to fall victim to the idea that EVERYTHING is on the Internet (not by a longshot). How much content do you consume that inspires you? This isn’t so much a treatise on content as it is on choice. In many instances, the content we really want is generated internally, as in reveries and emotions. I consider my experiences in the context of my journey. Someone with a horrible travel experience may elevate the event in significance while someone on a more banal trip may find more meaning in the destination.

I think I share many people’s observation that things are changing rapidly and we are wielding many heavy, blunt instruments of destruction. On the bright side, the technologies that connect us give us hope. I hope that our common humanity will benefit from higher values and respect. We should all be ambassadors for our tribes, however you define yours. Being an ambassador comes with a hitch. By definition it holds your character in the highest regard. If you are kind, warm and positive, you’re an ambassador.

Reel to Reel

Highlight reels are significant. Though once I start to compile one, it quickly goes off the rails when I try to separate those that are public spectacles, versus the ones that really affect me or have a more personal meaning. We can be mislead by public spectacles to look in one direction while the misdirection masks a confidence game going on.

It’s easy to be ‘out-of-the-loop’ on highlight reel spectacles. What is a highlight against endless breaking news about individuals and events? I consume junk culture. I have a limit, but I enjoy it occasionally. Sports spectacles are easy fixes.

Thinking ‘outside the box’ is about buttressing your worldview against the prevailing winds of pundits, preachers and popularity contests. What are the foundations of our mass media temples? I consume a stream of content that shapes my viewpoints and perspectives. Where this gets tricky, it is never THE TRUTH. I might find the the plights of Miley or Johnny have erupted as a narrative, but is processing the information a wise time investment? I could engage in a different focus of attention. It’s the Opportunity Cost of losing a choice for being occupied by another. You may not be in control of the collisions. Regardless of the situation, where you invest your attention contributes to forming who you are.

Our lives are rife with stimulating visual environments. This becomes a concern when our quest for novelty outstrips our desire for mindfulness. It’s no secret that there are corporate interests (and thus shareholders and employees) that rely on a steady stream of under-imaginative and under-intelligent actions based on peoples whims and desires. We all live in a continuum of ‘free’ expressions: sports, media, murders, wars. It’s not my desire nor capability to affect change other than being a source of wisdom/light/levity that people can engage in high-roading: imagining solutions to problems which strive to embed dignified human ideals.

Web3 Worlds

Web3 is a horizon. Just as the epoc of Web2 was imminent from the early days of the web, the next wave is coming, renewed by effort fomenting against data profit and control by large, centralized services. Decentralized, peer-to-peer connectivity has grown with an increase in usage and utility of cheaper, connected devices. There are fewer and fewer technical barriers to end-users creating (server) nodes. Is the stage set for a return to distributed serving?

Edge computing is already embedded in our extraordinarily powerful devices via apps and OSes. It’s my hope that smaller nodes of the network seize opportunities to grow and flourish with their communities. Perhaps I’m naive to think that we are headed toward a more heterogeneous landscape, but commoditization of computing and bandwidth provides opportunity. More and more workers are seeking to control their work relationships and products. Smaller nodes have a more personal/localized relationship with their stakeholders.

In the early 2000s I became the webmaster for Palo Alto Little League. This was at a time when the league was transitioning to a digital mentality and processes. I built their website from scratch into a multi-purpose team and league management tool for its members. I was responsible for the website between 2005 and 2017. I owned and configured the hardware serving pabaseball.org. Through this and other experiences supporting SMBs, I’ve gained skills and insights managing the personal, professional and technical relationships. As a consultant, I’m accountable to clients rather than customers. I still maintain multiple web servers. As a small node, each professional relationship and receivable matters immensely. Personal relationships can start from professional beginnings.

Metaverse Rules

An interview (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=60u9L5-YO9Q) with Neal Stephenson, who coined the word “metaverse” in the 1992 novel ‘Snow Crash’, catalyzed some of my thoughts and research on Web3 trends.

Digital Identities will become more and more important. Think about how many identities you manage at work and in your personal life. You have an orbit of relationships with people and businesses. Managing these relationships is part and parcel of life. Technology allows us to assemble around transactions more easily. I’m a proponent of meeting in a marketplace with traditions and rules. What digital identities will be featured in your lifestyle?

The metaverse is a digital landscape in simulated 3D. A 3D web is already here. The new frontier is being (re)explored today, the current renaissance driven by networking and processor advances. We will arrive at a true metaverse when each person is inviting others to explore virtual worlds they curate intimately (i.e. program/create). The virtual experience will tap visual and spatial sensibilities that differ from real world engagement. As much as a virtual experience aims to recreate one in the real, fleshy world, it NEVER will.

The 3D web is evolving as a metaverse of federated worlds. Islands are forming in cooperative and competitive alliances. I wonder about the future of livestream events. Who wants to spend money to be in a mosh pit of other fans in the metaverse? Am I buying a space with a constrained, programmed perspective of an arena and audience? A virtual embodiment can be allowed many degrees of freedom. In a metaverse built on profiting from vistor experiences, expect constraints, as value is created by scarcity. It costs real money to build virtual environments and theme parks with models that conform to laws of physics or imagination. Access will always be conditional to “walled gardens.” How will inclusive, low-barrier modes of entertainment be popularized in the metaverse? Dimension is simulated in every 3D world on a flat screen. Why stop at three dimensions? What does that ‘look’ like?

It was a trip down memory lane to search on “vrml metaverse” recently. VRML was a technology deployed during my years at Silicon Graphics, almost 30 years ago. The search resulted in a list of blogs with ‘then’ and ‘now’ comparisons. One blog was concerned with the culture of amusing ourselves in ‘Visualizing the Future’ (https://reuben.typepad.com/reuben_steigers_weblog/2011/11/visualizing-the-future-17-stories-of-the-present.html), though Reuben is more interested in the impacts of technology rather than development. Reuben’s blog referenced a interesting interview with Neil Postman, who explores the center of experience consciousness in cyberspace (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=49rcVQ1vFAY).

My takeaway from culling viewpoints about the metaverse is that it lacks clarity and consensus, though I agree with the suggestion that gamers have been in walled metaverses for years. Greater access and understanding is forthcoming as more infrastructure is built. I’m continually revising my expectations for digital assets. It’s a bear eat bull eat bear market. The value of any asset (token, etc.) is in its ability to be exchanged for something else.

Tales from the Crypto

In 2022, I took my first trip into cryptocurrency. I discovered a crypto coin searching the word “electra” to explore the companies and concepts listed. I found the platform Electra Protocol and the coin XEP. This was at a time when I was beginning to have an interest in deFi (decentralized finance) and the crypto space, Web3 and blockchain.

Let me pause to state that this blog isn’t about investment advice. Mentioning a crypto coin I endorse it for my purpose, the goal to LEARN rather than EARN. To explore the craft of programming and deployment weighed against financial potential. I look at the holistic value of the network. I prefer a coin that is supported by a peer-to-peer exchange network that I can join. A staking wallet is a (server) node that maintains a copy of the coin’s blockchain. Staking locks value in a currency network and is rewarded with small payments at varying intervals.

As a believer in self-custody, I’m staking multiple wallets containing XEP, earning 1000s of coins each month while I wait for the coin’s value to ‘moon’ (i.e. value takes off like a rocket). That’s unlikely, but it is engaging to watch the value of my small bet fluxuate hopeful of a growth in the coin’s utility.

The field of crypto coins and tokens is myriad and vast. Currencies that build demand have potential for fiat currency gains. In many cases the strategy is buy and hold, or, in the vernacular of crypto, buy and ‘hodl’ (hold on for dear life). These ecosystems will grow and change over time. Patience is paramount. I’m glad I didn’t start exploring crypto during the bull run last year or my portfolio would be down significantly. I’m learning about the basics of trading, exchange dashboards. Exchanges provide persistent streams of information with profit and loss happening continually.

Theft losses happen unexpectedly. Criminal activity includes hacking and fraud. I used FTX.us for early trades until that exchange bankrupted in November. Fortunately, I was only using the exchange to buy Bitcoin to trade on a different exchange. I traded Bitcoin for XEP on the Graviex exchange. Swings of my net-worth have been insignificant, by design.

Cryptocurrency is a parade and a charade as much as a worthy pursuit of meaning against the backdrop of meaninglessness. If you haven’t explored it yet, do so at your own risk and reward. The small amount of money locked in my FTX account is my ticket to a ringside seat at the debacle of the collapse. It will be interesting to experience how funds (if any) are restored to creditors. I have no expectations.

In Conclueless

To conclude, my wishes to you for happiness in the new year. It’s tough being a sentient creature in 2023. My resolution? To post more insights and ideas this year. I’ll be consulting my notes to dive more thoroughly into topics I’ve mentioned, like decentralization — setting up a web server or crypto wallet at home. I will share a series of tutorials, hacks, etc. from my tech experience. As a writer and programmer, I hope my travails will validate or challenge some of yours.

System administration essentials are within everyone’s reach. If you don’t control a system and software stack on the network, you don’t have an independent node. A populous, connectible grid of individual ability and responsiblity is evolving. Evolution is not a passive process.

Remember these words: Dynamic, Digitized, Decentralized. Distributed.

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About Peter

As a consulting professional in the Internet industry, I have helped small- and medium-sized businesses and community organizations effectively design and deploy web services and information. Years of hands-on design and project management experience for this market have inspired me to post my ideas and insights on a public forum -- blog.collab.us.
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