simondlr #20 - Cyberpunk and Experimental Land Rights in VR

One of my favourite things growing up, was watching the Travel Channel, and in particular: Globe Trekker. I felt like I was travelling along with hosts such as Ian Wright and Megan McCormick all over the world.

Growing up at the tip of Africa, meant that any international travel away from the continent was *very* far, and *very* expensive. The only way to see South Korea, USA, Japan, and India was through the TV. Being into computers, technology, and gaming, I often marvelled at cities in Asia. Tokyo was so far beyond what life was like in a small town in South Africa. It held all that I enjoyed as a teenager: the *future* in all its abundance.

We were all always behind, technologically. Some people are still stunned when they hear that whilst places like South Korea had 100mb internet, I used 56kb internet until I was 18: in 2007. And so, because this was out of reach, I always dreamed of being somewhere where the future was happening. The only way I could get that was by crawling through internet forums, learning to make games, and reading the latest gaming magazines.

Real life was boring. Slow. Old.

The other extreme was sci-fi, cyberspace, coding, gaming, creating. Even though I didn’t have access to cyberpunk literature of the 80s and 90s, I fell in love with that aesthetic. It represented that extreme: surfing the bow wave of future shock.

As I’ve been writing a cyberpunk-adjacent novel, I’ve been thinking a lot about how this influenced what I enjoy about those worlds. The most important part, I feel, is that cyberpunk, even though it’s often dystopic, provides a refuge in its vastness and diversity. In a city that stretches forever, there are corners in it where you would find those who are like you, and those who would tell you a story. As Nerdwriter1 explains it of Ghost In The Shell: cyberpunk seems adept at creating heterotopias. Places of ‘otherness’.

It provides a sense of scale where anyone could safely get lost in. That’s why, in its sometimes dark aesthetic, it’s like a blanket of clouds: comforted by it, and not having to face the brightness of mundane reality.

This establishing shot at the end of the first episode of Altered Carbon creates that feeling.

There’s a lot more here, especially in the way cyberpunk has changed over the years (eg, moving away from a critique of present time through a lens of the future, to mostly being an aesthetic). I have more to learn, more to read, and more to write!

Thus: it’s not a surprise that I enjoy still thinking at these frontiers. What is more cyberpunk than talking about experimental land rights in VR?

I jotted down ideas on how one could approach a COST/Harberger Tax Zone & a Bonding Curve Zone in Cryptovoxels. Land would grow and shrink as demand for it grows and shrinks.

I also gave a talk on at RadicalxChange on this intersection between fiction and experimental economics. It describes how I designed the economics of the city in my upcoming novel. It contains no spoilers. It’s somewhat of a prequel-as-a-talk. (Not sure why the thumbnail is incorrect).

Also had a lot of fun talking about Harberger Tax and collectibles with the Wildcards team.



The intersection of creators & new economics is one of my favourite areas. The Rally team seeks to experiment here too: using bonding curves and other collectibles to push the boundaries of how fans connect and support creators. PS. Found this project through Jarrod Dicker who has been on fire recently with excellent takes on the creator/passion economy. Recommended follow.

AI Coding?

Digged this example of using GPT-3 to help someone code. Think it could definitely, as-is, serve as a great problem-solving companion. It can help show you a solution space even when it might not write correct code.

Jacob Collier

I recently discovered Jacob’s music and it’s just incredible. I’ve been a hobbyist musician for years and this makes me excited all over again about music. He manages to play with harmonies on a scale unlike anything I’ve seen. Also: he is just incredibly infectious. A rare find. Worth checking him out if you haven’t yet.

RAC & Zora

Speaking of the creator economy, Zora spoke with musician, RAC about this intersection. Lots to explore still.

Self-Adjusting Stablecoins

Been following recent experiments in self-adjusted stablecoins. These projects change monetary supply based on certain changes/influences in its own economies. Check out Ampleforth, Saga, and Frax.

That’s all friends. Remember to catch a sunset. :)