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    I have no idea what I just read.

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      The niche political philosophy “neoreaction” (more) applied to code. The creator of the political group “Mencius Moldbug” is also the creator of this software under his state name “Curtis Yarvin”.

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        Great links, thanks. Urbit is such a cool system, and a year ago I had it running on my laptop and it really was fun to play with. But the political undertones and associations prevent me from taking it seriously and actually using it.

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          I think most of the political undertones have been taken out. If you still have your tickets they’ll still work.

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            Speaking of political overtones: tickets. My searching only turned up some conversation rather than docs, but are “tickets” permission granted deliberately and individually by the network owner for your right to exist on the network? And some, when issued, allow the recipient reduced power to grant access? Are they revocable? Are tickets a temporary invite system or permanent feaure?

            (Also, not worth its own comment elsewhere in this discussion, but is ) intentionally missing from the ASCII rename?)

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              I figured the parent post was referring to the political banners, which are being retired. There are certainly political questions involved in designing a system like urbit, see: http://urbit.org/preview/~2015.9.25/materials/whitepaper#-from-personal-server-to-digital-republic.

              For a thorough discussion of tickets, see: http://urbit.org/preview/~2015.9.25/materials/whitepaper#-network-and-pki-architecture. In short: you can think of the network structure like countries, states, cities and buildings. You get your apartment from a building owner, and the building owner gets his building from the city and so on. Once you have started your urbit it can’t be revoked. With a planet you can ticket moons which at the moment don’t have any kind of reduced access. The thinking is that planets are people and moons are devices, but we’ll see what happens.

              Tickets are definitely a permanent part of the system, and for the time being we just happen to be the only people issuing them. That definitely will not be the case forever.

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                I think the omission of ) was a mistake. We’re not that crazy! Hoon definitely uses both ( and ).

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          I work on the project and I’m glad to answer any questions you might have.

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            What i got is “this does everything” and “this is everything”. I think it’s a white paper for the concept of God.

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            If you’re going to go full APL, go full APL. Don’t reuse ASCII symbols with different names, use better symbols. When I see % I’m going to think “percent” even if you rename it.

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              You have a point, but it’s surprising how quickly the new names take hold when you start using them. I see a % and think ‘cen’.

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              This whole thing is insane, of course, but there are some cool ideas.

              • I commented on the Kelvin version scheme a couple weeks ago as being a neat idea (back when all we had was the leak a year prior)
              • Their musings on syntax geometry, specifically how it relates to differences between imperative and functional programming, are pretty insightful
              • I can’t think of another project that includes, in its scope, a fundamental rewrite of how we communicate. See the renaming of every ASCII char.

              Can’t say I’m ready to get in on the ground floor of this, but I’m excited to see where it goes!

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                “Do users want their own general-purpose personal cloud computer?”

                I think that by now it is clear that the answer is a resounding “no”.

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                  I’m not so sure about that. Sometimes it takes a significant push toward certain ideas before value becomes apparent. Personally I think Urbit is speaking to a very serious need for individuals to regain control of the network. Not everyone knows how to express their frustration with the current everything-as-a-service model that industry has imposed – it’s very hard to have it any other way, even though so many other orientations are possible.

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                    The answer may be ‘no’, but how can we be sure? There isn’t an available option that’s easily usable by an everyday person.

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                      Yes, because it’s very hard to create one and there doesn’t seem to be much demand for it.

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                        I’m not sure if demand can be measured for something that doesn’t exist.

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                          Sure it can! Ever heard of KickStarter?

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                            Off the top of my head, two business terms for this are “market research” and “customer validation”. There are many more, to say nothing of hundreds of books on the topic. Business seems the most relevant, but other fields certainly express this concept and have ways of doing so.

                            I can sort of understand Urbit’s loner nerd desire to redo everything at once, except “right” this time, but I assumed the constant failure to cite existing any pre-existing work was pretension and not sheer ignorance.

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                              Thanks for the implication that we’re ignorant to prior work. Appreciate that!

                              I do understand that we aren’t doing a great job of explaining ourselves though, so it’s fair to be annoyed with how opaque the project seems. So, fair criticism. Let’s see if I can explain:

                              Clearly ours is a problem that many smart people have worked very hard on. Let’s pick a grab bag of contemporary examples: IPFS, tent.io and Ethereum. In all these cases the projects are taking on a single specific component of giving individuals control over their computing. These are all great efforts, and in some cases there are is some overlap in problems they are solving and things that Urbit handles. How does an ordinary user get all of these services running on the network in a place that they trust?

                              As I see it the closest “market research” is the early PC era, which we think about a lot and perhaps could cite more often. Today there are plenty of mainframes that live on the network, but nothing that resembles an Apple I. A unix box with an internet connection is usable by a developer, but it costs a lot of time and energy to bridge the usability gap between unix and user interface. So, rather than figuring out how to get a PDP on your desk we say: forget it, let’s just build a new and simpler layer.

                              The entire Urbit stack is <20KLOC. I have seen developers more or less fit the entire thing in their heads. This is a very different experience than dealing with the complexity of unix, and it addresses a pretty different market than that grab-bag of projects I mention above. In fact, we’d be really happy if we could interoperate seamlessly with those services such that it makes them easier for ordinary individuals to access and put to good use.

                              So, do people want open-ended tools that they can own and control? Well, historically, I think the answer is yes. But we don’t have such a thing that lives permanently on the network and is easily accessible. I can rewrite the unix running on my laptop, but I can’t fork the Facebook UI or send a message from Facebook to G+. Our hypothesis is that there’s simply a missing software layer that would enable us to build services as people actually want to use them.

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                                I’m sorry I was unclear: I did not mean to imply Urbit’s creators were ignorant, I meant to state it. I no longer see the project’s comprehensive failure to cite existing work as arrogance and ignorance is my new, current understanding.

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                                  Thanks!

                                  I’d be more than happy to hear or discuss the prior work you think we ought to be citing. I’d also be curious to understand it in terms of how you think it ought to effect the project.

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                                    I will not contribute to this crypto-facsist project.