Image for post
Image for post

Watch the film here: https://vimeo.com/358238055

One of my favorite sequences in “I Wish You Would,” Ryland Walker Knight’s short(ish) new and deeply affective film, finds the camera following the lead character, Stanley, as he walks down an Oakland street drinking a case of Pabst. The camera moves with him as if it’s there with him — as if, perhaps, we’re there with him.


Image for post
Image for post

The great Stoic, Epictetus, urged people to imagine their future as a way to move through it gracefully. Say you’re going to a friend’s party. Imagine who will be there, what things you’d say that might offend (for better or worse), that might inspire, how you’ll pace your drinking, how much you’ll eat. For Epictetus, imagining a future helps us navigate who we are, what we want, and what we’ll become.


A system that has to rely on philanthropy to fix the outcomes that that system creates is, well, insane — and obviously not sustainable as a quick look around reveals. So let’s use our clever tech — decentralized smart contracts — to engineer a different economic engine with better outputs.

Image for post
Image for post

I saw this a few months ago and, I have to admit, I thought it was a joke: “UC San Francisco launched a new research initiative aimed at discovering the root causes of homelessness — and solutions to end it — thanks to a $30 million gift from Salesforce (CRM)…


This episode eloquently articulates the violence — the fascism — at the heart of “sides.”

Which side are you on? It seems like a fair question. There are arguments and battles everywhere. So, c’mon, which side you are on? Pick one!

But that’s one of those insidious questions that behooves us to interrogate it. Most conspicuously, the question can only come after the terms of the discussion have been established and sides drawn; otherwise, there’d be no sides to choose from. To ask the question, then, is to assume that we all agree to the establishment of a) the terms…


Image for post
Image for post
Photograph by Paula May

The internet has of course decentralized communication. News and information no longer flow through few centralized sources: they come every which way. And this has inaugurated all kinds of changes in how we understand information, how we interact with each other, how we live day to day.

But the internet remains centralized. Companies build server farms that act as storage and way stations for the flow of this information. This creates security risks as all your data is sitting on servers that are waiting to be hacked. It also creates an ease of censorship: YouTube can pull videos as it…


Image for post
Image for post
In “The Leftovers,” knowing and identity come from the stories we tell on the personal, societal, and cosmic planes and the ways those stories intersect and resonate. Life is competing narratives of sense without resolve.

So, yes, this essay has spoilers. But what’s a spoiler, exactly? And do they matter? “The Leftovers” is an odd beast that is at once highly expressive, leading with affect, sentiment, and feelings. In fact, its affective intensity is downright relentless even, or especially, as it’s inflected by strong, incongruous music choices.

“The Leftovers” deploys strong music choices that inflect the action and feeling in endlessly surprising ways. The music rewrites the story we’re seeing, another “fact” within the epistemological and ontological act of storytelling.

At the same time, the show is fundamentally driven by narrative twists and turns. In…


Image for post
Image for post

Privacy as a Red Herring

So I recently watched the Netflix documentary, “The Great Hack,” which purports to reveal the nefarious things Facebook and Cambridge Analytica have done with our data. It seems these companies used our information to sell us things — in particular, to sell us a world view that supported a certain candidate in an election. Egad!

What the film, in its achingly obvious and predetermined sanctimony, fails to talk about is that these companies — Facebook and Cambridge Analytica along with Google, 23andMe, etc — sell our data without sharing any of the wealth with us…


Image for post
Image for post

Jargon is a tricky thing. I come from academia with a doctorate in rhetoric specializing in postmodern, French, and German philosophy — which is just to say I know of jargon, both its pleasures and pains. I’ve also been developing brand strategies for tech companies over the last 21 years and all tech is mired in its special dialects.

On the one hand, it’s easy to poo poo jargon as somehow unnecessary — all those wacky words and phrases seem at best, silly, at worst, exclusionary. On the other hand, jargon is not only efficient for those within the community…


With a philosophical — and existential — interest in decentralization, the rise of the Internet in the 90s excited me. And then disappointed me. But then blockchain and true decentralization came along and its truly radical possibilities got me excited.

Image for post
Image for post
Art by Julie Mehretu

In 1998, I finished my doctorate in Rhetoric at UC Berkeley where I’d studied the beautiful, peculiar logics of making sense in a world without a center, without any absolutes or fixed points, without a ground. …


https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=45&v=M4eS2SceeFk

Long before I ever walked academic halls, I had a certain image of the professorial life that, when I think about it, came predominantly from Animal House. It was a place of equal parts play and thought.

Later, I’d read William Burroughs and my imagination blossomed (I substituted “professor” for “writer”): As a young child I wanted to be a writer because writers were rich and famous. They lounged around Singapore and Rangoon smoking opium in a yellow pongee silk suit. …

Daniel Coffeen

Former Berkeley Rhetoric prof turned…what? Anatha Comms. Wrote this, too: https://www.amazon.com/Reading-Way-Things-Towards-Technology/dp/1785354140

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store