An Un-unified Theory of Firsts

Why Codebrief is different, and death to Zuckerberg’s global community.

It’s generally recognized that the first blog was started by a Swarthmore College student in 1994. I didn’t go to Swarthmore. In fact, I didn’t know how to spell it until three minutes ago. Apparently someone got a few marbles stuck in their mouth trying to pronounce “Swathmore” and now we have what US News calls the third best liberal arts institution in this country.

At least I created a blog before US News did. I’m not entirely sure what this blog is for yet, but we’ll figure it out soon enough. I bet when US News got its start in 1948 it didn’t think it’d end up as a floundering publication on some amorphous network called the World Wide Web, having ceased actually printing a physical product in 2010 AD, solely existing to tell malleable and impressionable young teens that 5.4% of applicants were admitted to Harvard in 2016. I didn’t go to Harvard either.

Most likely, this’ll be a blog of thoughts about technology, society, the law, and what it means to be an individual in an age of connection. If Mark Zuckerberg himself asks me if I’m building the global community I want, I must listen, right? Technology’s influence on our lives and what society should do about that influence will be the unifying theme. Oh, and since it’s hot, bitcoin.

Is this Zuckerberg’s idea of a Global Community? It sure is mine!

Mostly, I’ve noticed a gap in the way tech and pseudo-legal issues are covered. Every single issue has become a tribal, give nothing and take everything proposition. Net neutrality! Fake news! ICOs! These tend to be complex issues with more moving parts than Taylor Swift has love songs. We shout the same buzzwords back at each other, typically on social media, not knowing where they come from or what they mean. If we’ve identified a problem with the technology we use, what we’ve actually identified is a problem with the society in which that technology came to be. Technology does not shape society; society shapes technology in its likeness. More precisely, technology is a reflection of ourselves. My view is that technology, like fashion, music and other forms of expression, moves in cycles. My goal is to communicate a sense of optimism around this cyclical nature of technology: If indeed it moves in cycles, then it’s up to society to create the primitives necessary to harness human ingenuity as it’s done time and again throughout history. In modern history, this means learning from moments such as the creation of the Internet, the transistor, radio, etc.

I’ve yet to find a blog that aptly engages with the most pertinent technology issues of the day, attempting to explain them from a pragmatic legal perspective. It can’t be that hard, can it? In the first year of law school, we’re inundated with jargon, lingo and other bullshit to alienate those who don’t know the right buzzwords. Sure, other professions do the same thing. But, because legal literacy gets to the very fabric of our society and the rules that govern us, it’s important it be engaging for all. Specifically, the technology that’s in our hands and the laws that are in the air are constantly colliding. So, I thought I’d write about it.

As Roald Dahl once wrote: “I guess you think you you know the story/ You don’t. The real one’s much more gory.” And if it’s good enough to open a Kanye album, it’s good enough for my blog. Dialogue can’t happen in 280 characters or “moment of realization” LinkedIn posts from “influencers” and “thought leaders.” And honestly, I don’t even know what Facebook is anymore (wait, that’s right, it’s that global community!). This blog will uncover all technology has to offer: the beautiful, dark, twisted, and of course, the fantastic. If Zuck has a Cinderella-esque vision of a cohesive global community, this blog simply asks its readers to wake up from the fairy tale, if only for a few minutes a day.

 

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