And the rest of the week that was.
A note for all you Slow Build readers: I started this newsletter after leaving Politico about a year ago as a way of exploring all the many things I find fascinating and consequential about tech but that might not fit into other formats. The email newsletter as a vehicle was new (again) and exciting, and I was eager to explore what the medium could be made to do.
In the time since, I’ve really enjoyed writing Slow Build, and it’s made me a better thinker. But, frankly, it takes real time and momentum away from my main work, which is reporting and writing feature stories.
And so, in the coming weeks I’ll be hitting pause on Slow Build as a weekly newsletter. I’m keeping open the possibility of using it to connect with you all here and there down the road; this very likely won’t be the last time you see me in your inbox in this way. But I’ll be turning off paid subscriptions starting today (and making whole those of you who pre-paid).
Your support and willingness to give over your attention mean a lot. Always have and always will. Onward.
With debate heating up over what Washington can and should do about whatever the heck Web3 is – to whit, the Biden administration’s said to be on track to issue an executive order on both cryptocurrencies and the possibility of a central digital bank currency next week — Andrew Yang sees a place for him: leading a new distributed-autonomous-organization-driven lobbying effort called Lobby3. The pitch:
The biggest threat to Web3 succeeding in the long term, in my opinion, are ill-informed policies from leaders who have yet to understand the benefits of the future that is possible. We’ve already seen what this looks like. The broker definition debacle that transpired as part of the infrastructure bill that passed last year is a harbinger of what’s to come if we fail to properly educate and work with congressional leaders on the potential of Web3. We also have to avoid the politicization of this set of technologies and be seen as an industry like any other. The community needs an organization and a seat at the legislative table. As one prominent lobbyist told me, “if you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu.”
This is why I am launching Lobby3 – a blockchain-based fundraising effort and community aimed at building a powerful lobbying infrastructure that can bring the voices of Web3 to Washington DC. We have to ensure that any new regulations are mindful of the realities of Web3 firms and create an environment here in the US where innovation can continue to thrive.
—Inside “Web3 is going just great:” “I think a lot of people are so eager to innovate and make money that they aren't slowing down to consider the structural problems that really need considering.”
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, in an interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick, calls for a slightly different kind of distributed politics, one that deprioritizes personal ambitions:
Half this town, if not more, has been to a fancy Ivy League school. And so, as a consequence, everyone is, like, what chess pieces are being put down for what specific aspiration? I make decisions based on where I think people are and what we’re ready for, particularly as a movement. I think a lot of people sometimes make these decisions based on what they want, right? What I want is a lot more decentralized. I think it’s a lot more rooted in mass movements.
—And that starts with being able to delay quick dopamine hits — not a skill most of us have been perfecting of late:
This is where sometimes what I do is speak to the psychology of our politics rather than to the polling of our politics. What’s really important for people to understand is that to change that tide and to actually have this well of hope you have to operate on your direct level of human experience.
When people start engaging individually enough, it starts to amount to something bigger. We have a culture of immediate gratification where if you do something and it doesn’t pay off right away we think it’s pointless.
But, if more people start to truly cherish and value the engagement and the work in their own back yard, it will precipitate much larger change.
The organizing director for Rep. Ayanna Pressley explains what she means by “deep canvassing”: “We’ve learned a lot from other members of ‘The Squad.’”
Speaking of DAO’s, Politico’s Ben Schreckinger heads to Denver for a deep dive:
“This whole notion of a DAO is not a foreign concept,” declared one speaker. “This is how African villages and communities have been doing it for thousands and thousands of years. We’re just stripping down all these useless layers and going back to roots.” Down the street, H.E.R. DAO, a feminist developer collective, hosted a breakfast discussion on combating homelessness.
And speaking of CBDCs, Kenya’s exploring the possibility of creating its own, though it has to address why it’s an improvement on M-Pesa.
“Federal investigators spent years hunting for clues in the 2016 hacking of the Bitfinex cryptocurrency exchange, when thieves stole bitcoin now worth $4.5 billion. In the end, what helped lead them to two suspects was something much more quotidian: a $500 Walmart gift card.”
Everything old is new again: a reminder that back in 2001, Whoopi Goldberg was repping a cryptocurrency called Flooz that ended up collapsing. (via Tim O’Reilly)
The excitement around policymaking is almost always in the moments after ink dries on a bill creating something new. But if a benefit fails to reach the people it’s designed for, it may as well not exist at all. Making government benefits more accessible and efficient doesn’t usually get the spotlight. But it’s often the difference between a family getting what it needs to survive and falling into hardship and destitution. It’s the glue of our democracy.
Charlie Savage takes a swing at explaining why it’s so difficult for journalists to explain something like the strange case of a tech executive supposedly accessing White House data to prove a connection between the Trump presidency and Russia.
—The special counsel who set off the firestorm says the possibility that people would misinterpret the episode was no reason not to include his findings in court filings:
“If third parties or members of the media have overstated, understated or otherwise misinterpreted facts contained in the government’s motion, that does not in any way undermine the valid reasons for the government’s inclusion of this information.”
Inside the Beijing Winter Olympics’ information wars: “This is what Xi Jinping has called ‘telling China’s story well.’”
Twitter’s CEO is taking parental leave.
—But the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy has — for now at least — a new leader in Alondra Nelson.
Clearview AI says it’s on a mission to build up a facial-recognition database of a 100 billion images, on a planet of about seven billion people. Part of the pitch: ““At 100b images, almost everyone in the world will be identifiable.”
Amazon-type reviews but for how your Uber drivers see you.