Last time in The Gentrification Aesthetic, we covered why we might not want investors/capital to totally dominate the project of development. Development being the repurposing and reshaping of the urban environment, from opening a restaurant to building an apartment complex. If we accept that premise, what alternatives do we have? The basic idea is that as you lower the requirements of both financial and human capital for development, smaller and more independent entities can do a larger portion of said development. Instead of giant real-estate developers being responsible for the conversion of a home into a 12 unit apartment complex…


You’ve seen it happen. The cutesy old shops replaced by “modern” sans-serif black text on a white background juice bars. The colorful and varied street replaced with steel and glass. This is not gentrification: it’s the gentrification aesthetic. Others have written about this better, but gentrification can occur even as the facade of a city remains unchanged. When that facade does change, it is the result of gentrification, not the cause. Gentrification is about displacement and rent increases, the market conditions (usually as a result of insufficient housing supply) that force old residents out. However, there is still an interesting…


Modern web design is highly oriented towards making the digital environment maximally legible. Designers want a site to be easy to use. They want users to be able to navigate to their destination in the minimum number of clicks. The designer wants the discovery of new destinations to require as little effort as possible, relying on algorithmic suggestions in order to (quite effectively) direct the user towards content the user will enjoy. These are all things that seem like obviously good goals for a designer, and they grew out of an era where websites were often cluttered and confusing. A…


Year after year, global CO2 levels reach unprecedented heights. As CO2 levels rise, so does global temperature, and we are faced with catastrophic consequences for the world. As a result, there have been a variety of proposals brought forward as to how we can address this unprecedented problem. Some in the US have proposed so-called “Green New Deals” that revolve around a total restructuring of the US economy in order to reduce domestic CO2 production. However many have noted that in fact the US accounts for only about 14 percent of global carbon output, with that number falling regularly. …


Why have so many online social networks failed to form healthy communities, and instead gained notoriety as hostile spaces? I argue that the reason these platforms have failed is because they didn’t learn the lessons taught by the High Moderns when humans were first faced with the challenge of engineering alongside systems that were built through millennia of natural evolution. In a chaotic environment such as human social relations, a different engineering approach is necessary to ensure that more good is done than harm. To gain the skills necessary to make these projects a success we need to learn from…


Why is plot armor bad? The answer is generally obvious, because it reduces the capacity for drama in a story. If the reader knows that a character can’t die, it restricts the avenues for the author to provide a credible threat. However, upon closer examination there is some complexity in what exactly plot armor is and how it functions. In reality, there are almost no stories where the main character can die, except right at the end. Why then, do some stories have what feels like stronger plot armor for the protagonist or important supporting characters. …


Stoicism, or life strategies in that sphere, are something that often gets positive attention. I’m referring to the wide variety of advice that is along the lines of “look for the silver lining” and “laugh off the small things”. At the core, the stoic mindset is the recognition that we have control over our emotional responses to things through the way we frame them, and that we can get quality of life improvements “for free” by better managing our own emotions.

I’ll say up front that I think most people would benefit from giving their emotions less control over their…


I — Background

Discord is a popular online chat platform, that started as a tool for video game players to communicate. It acted as a replacement for other preexisting tools like Teamspeak. However, in a relatively short time the combination of powerful moderation tools, easy startup time, and simplicity of use placed it as a popular tool for providing a live environment for many kinds of communities. As of 2017 the platform was receiving roughly 1.5 million new users each week. The in depth analysis of why Discord has seen such success as a home for online communities is an…


I. The fundamental attribution error is a well known psychological phenomenon wherein people are likely to ascribe external motivations to their own failure and external motivations for the failures of others. This has a variety of factors, and is a well studied concept, however I intend to focus on one aspect of this common problem. One explanation for the FAE is that it results from the simple truth that we know our own situations better than those of others, and fail to take into account the uncertainty in predicting the internal state of another person. This attempt to distill certainty…

Adrian Smith

I’m a software developer in Sonoma County. I like fantasy novels, Slate Star Codex, and art that knows what it is.

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