So I looked Elon Musk spoke at TED, and I left with a mixture of sympathy for the man and wonder at the depth of his conceit. After his subsequent decision to buy Twitter, most of the journalists I know either predicted the end of the Internet as we know it or insisted that no one cares about Twitter except journalists. If you are not a journalist, help me here: who is right? Please weigh in the comments. For now, here’s an update.
When misinformation and hate speech circulates on social media, most people are happy to blame the platforms. Users who post and repost these toxic materials? They are unsuccessfully manipulated by algorithms. If this is your opinion, let me ask you this: when the platform is a giant online clothing store whose manipulative incentive is ultra-low prices and the damage is the environmental impact of kilotons of disposable clothing, do you still think that this is basically company fault? , or are his greedy customers also to blame?
This is an implicit question in Profile of Shein Wauhini Vara, a Chinese ultra-fast fashion retailer. If you don’t have teenage kids, you may not have heard of this, but among American teenagers, Shein (originally “SheInside”) is the most popular e-commerce site after Amazon. In one 12-month period, he showed 1.3 million individual clothing designs – 50-100 times more than other competitors in the field of fast fashion, and several times cheaper. Wauhini’s story is a detailed list of the sloppy business practices you can expect from a cheap clothing retailer: copyright infringement, lax labor and safety, non-transparent sources. other players are likely to step in to undermine it, as they did with their competitors. “In the absence of well-enforced rules that adapt to the practices of fast-growing global e-commerce companies,” she writes, “the burden of making fashion more ethical will continue to rest primarily on individual consumers—the strategy will surely fail.”
This ties in with one of our central motivating questions here at WIRED: What does it really take to bring about positive change? One can see some hope for the clothing industry by looking at the food industry, which has spawned entire sub-industries to satisfy consumers’ ethical and environmental concerns. If you can be a vegetarian, vegan or local you can be… well I guess the first thing we need is word for a person with a clothing ethic: sustainable? antivaster? lasting? (Suggestions in the comments, please.) Of course, if more people shop more ethicallycould have pushed some clothing manufacturers emission reduction also using smaller synthetic and toxic materials and more recycled and recycled those. Or could you just rent clothes instead of hoarding a closet full of things you’ll never wear again.
But just as all the vegans, locals, and foragers in the world cannot change the incentives of the wider food system to feed as many people as cheaply and profitably as possible, the saving army of second-hand clothing buyers and community-oriented design connoisseurs cannot. do. make a hole in the fast fashion supply chain on their own. It will take voter-driven governments to step in and declare cheap threads dangerous to public health.
A few months ago at a WIRED staff meeting, I asked, “Can we write a guide to a ‘good’ cryptocurrency?” By that, I meant: what will blockchain-based technology be good for after the psychedelic fair of NFT auctions and DeFi Ponzi schemes collapses in a giant mushroom cloud of digital brilliance? Judging by your comments on mine last postyou all want to know too.
I’ve asked this question to just about every Web3 advocate, venture capitalist, and decentralized governance guru I’ve met over the past few months. I’ve talked to some very, very smart people who can’t think of a single thing that can be done with blockchain that in practice couldn’t be done simpler and easier with something else. Otherwise, the most convincing answer I’ve been able to get is that Web3 technology is less important than motion: interest in new models of decision-making, ownership and social organization that will have long-term consequences, even if the blockchain itself proves to be a useless solution for all of them. Which…maybe I’ll buy? Or at least find it intriguing.
Anyway, Gilad Edelman decided to answer my question and returned with a report from ETHDenver, the epicenter of the decentralized future. “Most of these people came here to be among their people,” he writes. “I just came to try and understand them. And I think I finally did it.” Read his articlewhich beautifully articulates key questions about Web3 and decentralization and should help you look smarter when you’re talking to all your awkward Web 2.0 friends.
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