Thursday, September 27, 2012

Look What I found!

Way back in 1998 I was involved in a project Called Newstrolls, an early blog created by a few people moving from the old Hotwired threads as it died away. I participated in many of the threads, as well as writing a few articles.

I long thought that those articles had vanished in the ether, but it turns out a project called The Wayback Machine had archived Newstrolls several times. There is a complete collection of the articles I wrote, from September 1, 1998 to January 7, 1999. After that, disagreements with the management led me to stop writing them, as I was very busy with my work and didn't consider it a rewarding use of my free time.

Here's a listing of the articles, as archived by

Bricks and Mortar January 7, 1999.

Just Say No! December 12, 1998.

Everything Looks Like a Nail December 4, 1998.

Counterparty Surveillance November 14, 1998.

Fools and Their Money October 13, 1998.

After the Near Miss October 3, 1998.

Cultural Engineering September 25, 1998.

The Potemkin Economy September 17, 1998.

Culture And Chaos September 10, 1998.

Margin Call for Crony Capitalism September 1, 1998.

Of course, it was a long time ago, and some of the subjects were sort of immediate: the Russian default, the Microsoft Anti-Trust Suit, Long-Term Capital Management, Internet development, and the contemporary state of political interference with the economy.

Many of the links are broken, and I've learned a lot about how humans work that I didn't know then. And, of course, it didn't have the sort of references my work from 2009 on did. But I put a lot of work into those articles, and readers who remember those times might enjoy them.

1 comment:

  1. Fun articles, they brought back some interesting memories of some interesting times. You've got a sound mind whoever you are, ArtK. I was however struck by the similarity of one of your points to a theory of mine that I've been tossing around for years:

    "There are two major, and essentially unsolvable, problems with central regulation. First, such regulation will always be done in terms of an underlying theory of operation, which may well be flat wrong, and even if correct when introduced, will quickly become obsolete as players learn to "game the system". Thus the theory itself will always have to be evolving and growing, and at any time will apply only to circumstances as they had been over the last few years. Second, any central system of control will be a constant target for "capture" by powerful special interests, whether political or commercial."

    I have to concede the intrinsic inefficiency and propensity for abuse of government, but there are also two major human needs facilitated by government, namely the forced internalization of externalities and protection of the weak. Even if one dismisses the latter as mere sentimentality in favor of a more single-minded pursuit of growth, the internalization problem will not go away.

    For example, property crime is encouraged by many factors including lax punishment, few barriers to entry (existing criminal networks/lack of private security), oppressive laws, desperation (poverty), and stratification*.

    Thus, social equality is a social good that limits the fiscal cost of security, the moral cost of draconian laws, and the existential risk of revolution. On the other hand too much social equality can limit the incentives that drive competition and growth and can even lead to reactionary frustration and conflict. So, surely there is a role both for markets to represent individual interests and for a union or trust to represent the public interest.

    *The higher the ratio of your neighbors assets to yours, the more profitable theft is purely from a cost-benefit-risk perspective. From an emotional perspective, jealousy and entitlement can undoubtedly play a role for the poor.

    Of course entitlement and exploitation can work the other way as well. After all, anyone can fall victim to the never-ending rat race that says any way to make a buck is fair game, especially if you work 80 hours a week in a high stress job or you only view your socioeconomic inferiors as lazy (either fairly or due to a lack of familiarity with the hardships of poverty).