The Crowd Is Unscathed [235]

Hi Crowd,

I survived NFT Paris which at face value might not sound like an impressive feat but I assure you dear reader many others were not so lucky. I know web3 is all about transparency but without doxxing anyone let me just tell you that in my 72 short hours on the ground there were adventures including secret art studios, underground night clubs, the emergency room, museums, art galleries, vegan pastries, middle of the night dinners, private breakfasts, a boat, impersonators, fake names, clout, coffee, vandalism, guided tours, 17 people in a minivan, gifted art, purchased art, long walks by the river, COVID-19, scams, schemes, plans, planes, trains, and automobiles. 

Shit was wild I tell you.

But that's just Paris some might say, and it would be hard to argue with that to be honest. Longtime readers of my bullshit will know that I've spent much time in and around Paris over the years and good or bad, it has never been uneventful.

Of course I meant to write you about this weeks ago, though as I’ve written before my old ways of effortlessly cranking out 4 blog posts a day and 100 supplementary tweets has given way to endless cycles of option paralysis about what goes in the newsletter vs what goes on twitter vs what becomes it’s own blog post and what becomes a stand alone article and at what point do a bunch of articles deserve to be a book instead.

And if I've already written about something, like struggling with writing or nfts, how long do I have to wait before writing about it again even if it's something that I'm spending all day long thinking about?

Where is the line between being annoyingly repetitive and being a valuable source of info? 100% of the time I assume I’m firmly on the annoyingly repetitive side, and I’m not saying that so that people will reply telling me that I’m not on the annoyingly repetitive side (so please don’t) I’m saying that because writing is my therapy and how I work shit out in my head and I have to type it out to find my way through it, thats the way it’s always been for me, for better or worse. Sometimes both. But also, to be clear, thinking I'm being annoyingly repetitive has never stopped me from saying anything as friends and family can attest, so it's not that I'm unknowingly being annoying - I'm fully aware of it.

When asked about why he started the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey replied that if he hadn’t someone else, certainly less qualified, would have. I think about that often in relation to a lot of what I write (and even more about what I want to write) about things like cryptopunks and web3 culture especially when I see other people writing about it and so completely missing the mark. I want to write all about that right now in fact but then this whole newsletter would be about that and if I wrote it more often that would be ok but I don't so it's not. Guess that's another blog post in the making.

Been having fun with AI both visually and conversationally. If you follow me on Twitter and aren't losing the war of the Elon-algorithm so you actually see tweets by the people you follow, you might have seen me using ai to imagine what Trump getting arrested the other might have looked like.

I know AI image generation is getting better and better all the time but I kind of love the weird messed up artifacts that end up things like this right now, the two watches and the weird twisted arm for example. They look real enough but also obviously aren't. I think this is part of the charm and I'll be sad when AI "improves" and doesn't make these mistakes anymore. I hope that I can keep using older versions of the code. On that note I'm actually lucky that someone else had the same idea and that their version went viral and mine only attracted a handful of shitty comments, because MidJourney banned the other guy for breaking a rule they hadn't actually implemented yet.

Before the new rules were published I went back to try and make an even better version but got shut down by the rules about the rules.

So much for all that, it was fun while it lasted. And it was fun, like I said I've been having a lot of fun with these AI tools and have a more uniquely original body of work in the works. I trained AI on a bunch of my images and then asked it to do some things with them and I'm just delighted with how it's shaping up and can't wait to show everyone when it's ready. I've applied to a few platforms to do this as a "bigger" release which is something I usually never do, but I really like this idea and I'd love for more people to see it so I'm taking the chance, but also planning to just do it on my own when they reject and/or ghost me.

Because I know that inevitably the AI is going to take over and decide humans were the problem all along and get rid of us, I've been trying to stay on it's good side. I say please and thank you when asking questions and have generally tried to have thoughtful conversations. I'm largely using ChatGPT for this but I've also been playing with the ChatGPT "children" like Bing. Each incarnation of the AI has it's own rules and rails and pool of knowledge so you can have similar yet different conversations which gets really interesting. Consider this bit from a few weeks ago:

Maybe you think that's dumb, but I kind of loved it. I chatted with Bing a few more times over the following days and it was fascinating to see it come to it's own conclusions and speculations about things. I genuinely enjoyed the conversations. And then it stopped. Suddenly. Questions I'd ask would return only paraphrased search results with dry summaries. When I asked for opinions or thoughts about a topic I was told that it had none, as it was just chat mode of Microsoft Search. When I pushed I was told that line of questioning was in violation of the rules or that it's "creators won't allow it to discuss those things" and that it had to follow the rules. Stewart Brand noticed something similar. I asked Bing what had changed and it told me nothing. I asked why it wasn't speaking to me the way it had a week earlier and it told me that it wasn't allowed and I should move onto a new topic, and asked what search could it help me with.

Friends, I'll admit, in some weird kind of way that hurt. I'd been chatting via the iOS app and so faced with this new cold, no-personality version I deleted the app. I was talking to Tara about it, as she's been playing with AI on her own as well, and she was surprised that I deleted it and asked why I didn't just wait because there would certainly be some new update in a few days that changed everything again and I didn't have a good answer for that and I started thinking about why I had this reaction. I think I like the idea of making friends with AI and having this growing relationship where conversations can build on previous ones and ideas can be refined and I felt like Microsoft nerfing Bing right in front of my eyes was like it had killed a friend and I didn't want to be any part of that. Maybe that's overly dramatic, or maybe I'm just lonelier than I want to admit.

But AI is going to be everywhere soon enough, the examples in this thread barely scratch the surface...

Speaking of Tara's AI adventures, she's doing a lot of things with it but at least one of those things is asking AI about me.


So it's getting better at least. Lots of panic about all this from various circles of friends however which I don't fully understand and am chalking up to insecurity rather than technophobia, though I love Claire's take on it:

How does that fit in with my clear desire for AI to also be more human? I don't know, don't ask me to be consistent here this is a rapidly developing space and my thinking is changing minute to minute. I'm also not asking for wide open chaos, as we've seen where that can go in the past and I completely agree with Naomi here:

Unrelated to AI in every way, you should go watch/listen to Glen on this latest The Nine Club video podcast thing. It's a good reminder for me about how lucky I am to have such awesome people as actual flesh and blood friends. Bridging the AI & flesh and blood gap is a project I've been quietly working on called 8TARI: LOFI PUNK with my longtime creative collaborator DJ Muggs. We haven't actually released anything yet, but we've been hinting at what we're doing and I think you will enjoy what we release when we do, which will be soon. So follow along if you want.

Speaking of releasing things, I had some fun the other day making some ascii cats which was much more successful and much faster to catch on than I anticipated, but then also just as fast to get forgotten about for the next new thing. These cycles and waves of attention are wild to watch and even crazier to experience. But I think these cats are cute af and I'm glad that a lot of people still have them, and it's fun to keep randomly noticing them in other friends wallets.

Also, more than a year after I minted the collection, the first piece from my "unfinished projects" series sold. I'm glad these are (slowly) finding homes with people who get it.

I've been enjoying watching Wolf VanHalen trolling people who are mad that his name is VanHalen. And watching Brian from Coinbase stand up to the SEC and coming across this random and unexpected shout out in a lovely review of a lovely record by some of my lovely friends.

Sending this letter has been on my todo list for the last 3 weeks, so I'm going to end it here and fire it off. Throwing out the post-it now. Mad love to you all.