photo from Pexels by artist Angela Roma
a rambling essay by Joshua Brown
also titled "On the Over-complication of Terms Regarding Humans and Their Relationships"
photo from Pexels by artist Jess Bailey Designs
There is not one internet. There are nodes, and there are people who map ways between those nodes. Some ways connect more nodes than others. But it is up to certain individuals and the analog organizations they populate to draw those ways.
Google became rich and powerful because someone, a human, drew or bought interesting, useful or productive ways.
Where am I getting this language from? Recently (about 2 months ago) I started participating in a project called OpenStreetMap.org, which is a single node in the world (technically analog and digital, but for how I interface, it's a digital node). What makes this node interesting is that it allows individuals from around the world to map nodes, ways and areas and license that work in such a way that other individuals (and the analog organizations they populate) can use that work freely and creatively.
Why is this interesting? Well, legal systems that defined individuals, property, relationships and groups in the analog world have done a terrible job in the digital world. Allowing anyone with access to a computer or smartphone to define nodes, ways and areas in a non-legal way allows people to express their subjective and objective experiences in the analog world in pictographs that, then, other people can interpret in subjective and objective terms.
photo from Pexels by EKATERINA BOLOVTSOVA
What does this look like? I often travel by foot, so my subjective and objective experiences are shaped by nodes, ways and areas that are relative to a pedestrian's strengths and weaknesses. I can walk between concrete barriers and because I am agile enough, I can hop over gates and fences. On OpenStreetMap.org, I can map nodes like gates and ways like footpaths through the woods. Mapping gates might be objective to my experience as a pedestrian, but to an anthropologist, gates and fences could be a much more subjective point of interest. An aggregation of the maps in given areas could inform certain subjective hypotheses to said anthropologists.
Why is this post called "One Locust?" I personally listen to a lot of podcasts and one that I find particularly interesting is hosted by a comedian named Sam Tripoli called the "Tin Foil Hat Podcast" in which the host refers to his audience as the "swarm." Also, a Christian podcast, called "Canary Cry Newstalk" often criticizes the notion of the internet hivemind, and if that is a subjective interpretation by me, at least they tease the idea of it.
A swarm is an area. A swarm is also a node. But a swarm is not a way. There can be ways in a swarm. The swarm can move along a way. But a swarm is not a way.
I am a node. Maybe in some weird abstract, scientifically objective terms, I am an area, but I am not a way.
Analog human ways are objectively hard to map and subjectively, may be impossible to map. Memes are ways, they are an interesting shared connection between nodes and areas. But memes are very hard ways to map. If someone shares a meme, and someone views that meme, that does not necessarily map as an objectively useful way.
Participating in a meme has happened consciously and unconsciously for all of human history. A lie can be a node but it can also be a way.
My participation, as conscientious as I've tried to be about morality and ethics, philosophy and objectivity, in swarms is part of a long history of humans acting collectively to continue producing offspring.
I can judge political activists, the fundamentalist religious, statist collectivists, and any other number of nodes and areas in society. But to judge rightly or righteously is to determine a way, not a node or area.
For example, if I'm mapping an area as a pedestrian, I will judge other's mapping of ways much differently if they are autodestrian (car-centric minded.) But those people mapping ways for experiencing the world as blind or deaf may judge my mapping of ways differently as well.
photo from Pexels by artist Thirdman
The beauty of this node, OpenStreetMap.org, is that while it is convenient to share certain nodes, ways and areas, it is not mandated in any way. My subjective and objective additions to the project/server are welcome as a pedestrian because they can inform autodestrian and accesidestrian (those making maps to improve accessibility for blind, deaf, etc.) nodes, ways and areas as well.
Why is this interesting? I think for several reasons, especially relating to the economy and how we conceptualize public and private "entities."
Growing up, I was informed by Kent Hovind, CS Lewis, John Bunyan, and eventually Bill Cooper, Alex Jones and G. Edward Griffin. A powerful metaphor was drawn between Alice in Wonderland and the Wizard of Oz stories and monetary policy. Especially related to legal definitions of "persons" and maritime law. I found these arguments compelling as a young person, mostly because I didn't see anyone challenging the arguments.
Here's a breakdown of the argument: gold is the ultimate money and always has been. The creation of the Federal Reserve is a smoke and mirrors event to convince normal everyday people that they can give up their "true sovereignty" (gold) and live happily under the false notion of financial "sovereignty" the Federal Reserve offers them (cash.)
In this world, Lincoln issuing currency (greenbacks) during the Civil War was an essential meme to disestablishing gold.
How does this all tie in to a fun mapping project on the internet in 2022 though? Several years ago, I started questioning the "gold is money" paradigm, not because I heard some great argument by some charismatic leader, but because I began to piece together some of my own cognitive dissonance around money and my actual real life, not lofty ideals. In short, I was realizing an aversion to pragmatism was my weakness.
Then I started to hear arguments from Peter Thiel and David Graeber. Then I voted for Donald Trump and watched interesting things happen in the economy. I still don't fully understand post-modernism, but I started to see "manifesting" as a possible hypothesis for what was happening.
Just a reminder, all these names I've mentioned are nodes. Each human individual at an individual time in history are nodes, every book they write, every piece of content they produce, speech they make, all of these are nodes. And you can draw ways between their own nodes, and you can draw ways between their nodes and other influencers nodes.
Of course, as I said, nodes, ways and areas can be subjective or objective. And discussing subjective definitions can help us draw information about objective details.
For instance, in my early childhood medical records, I found that doctors learned and noted my subjective experiences and then measured specific objective metrics related to correlated subjective "symptoms" to better understand my medical conditions.
Paralleling back to the economy, we experience many subjective fiscal symptoms. For example, it is subjective to choose between buying a car and saving that money. Inflation, although an objective metric, is experienced almost entirely subjectively. There are no modern tools, even with our advanced applications that allow us to experience inflation objectively.
photo from Pexels by artist Tima Miroshnichenko
There is some magic that the Federal Reserve is involved in, not magic in the spooky, superstitious sense but in the smoke and mirrors sense.
When you go to a bank (a financial area and a physical node), you see a FDIC warning (each placard is a node). These placards are part of a legal system (a defined set of nodes, ways and areas) and a public perception control (meme) system (a loosely defined set of nodes, ways and areas meant to influence sentiment and subsequently behavior.)
Leaving these words undefined is what gives us the ability to conceptualize more relationships moving forward. For example, transportation, cryptocurrencies, employment, logistics, sectarianism, all of these can be open source mapped by individuals actually affected or involved, then decision making can be informed by drawing from those rudimentary but useful maps.
Why do I find this so compelling at this moment in time specifically? I think that a lot of us are already doing this mapping to some level. For example, I think Youtube itself and other social media platforms to lesser degrees is a giant mapping scheme, everyone can post some more or less authentic story of their life and we as content consumers can watch them succeed or fail and modify our behavior accordingly. No, not in some profane, non-nuanced way, but in a subversively gut-following way. Sometimes overtly emulating and sometimes covertly undermining the creator.
This is why I personally am still curious about what happened with Bitconnect. Not just the cognitive dissonance of having supported a platform that many people called a ponzi scheme and a scam, but because, at least to me, at some subjective level, Bitconnect was an interesting node, with many interesting ways and a unique area of influence in the economic and even political areas. Specifically with the ways you can draw between Bitconnect and Bitcoin, Bitconnect and the FBI, Bitconnect and the Christchurch shooter, Bitconnect and Vitalik Buterin and so many more.
For example, when you try to draw a node at the grocery store item milk. Then you draw a node at the corresponding fiat price of that milk. Then you draw a node at the corresponding fiat to bitcoin satoshi equivalent. Then you do that every day for 14 years.
Then you draw ways between those nodes.
What interesting relationships will you find?
Advertising uses jargon like "cpm."
Politicians use jargon like "unemployment."
Historians use jargon like "January 6 was a terrorist attack on the Capitol"
photo from Pexels by artist Karolina Grabowska
The jargon is there to turn off your brain from the data. Look at the data and you will see that there was only one person killed at the Capitol on January 6.
The beauty of the swarm is that it is made up of an individual locust acting in its own self-interest and determining its own course of action, informed of course by those around it.
Some locust are on the inside, some on the outskirts, some going north, some veering west. And in our modern age it's important now, maybe just as important as it's ever been for us to map our little nodes, ways and areas, whether they be fundamentalist, ecumenical, radical, trolling. All of them, because we are really through the looking glass at this point. All of the propaganda, all of the public relations, all of the group psychology and all of the psy-ops are going to be uncovered.
The feet of iron and clay are going to be shattered.