They were going to build a fantasy island together, a floating libertarian utopia where outsiders like them might finally feel at home. They were two walking contradictions: Peter Thiel, the billionaire Facebook investor torn between his Christianity and fleshy gay parties, and Patri Friedman, the commune-dwelling offspring of America's "grandmaster of free-market economic theory." But the Thiel-Friedman professional partnership has come to an end, and right in the media spotlight.
Above is what one early conception of the Internet looked like. It was called the "Mundaneum" (which sounds like a collection of Martin Amis's literary criticism) and it was invented by Paul Otlet (1868-1944), a Belgian lawyer who every so slightly missed the dotcom bubble and died hollow and penurious during World War II. According to the New York Times, Otlet started out with a cumbersome card catalog to store all the world's useless information, then anticipated a paperless network of "electric telescopes" that would archive "millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files." Oh, and he sort of invented the hyperlink, although his version had brains and sass:
The book Year Million explores several possible scenarios for the universe a million years from now. Some of these possibilities aren't happy! Rats running the world, gray goo wiping out life on Earth. I just want to read the kick-ass ones! Because predicting the future at such a distance is almost like picking superpowers; your usual analytic skills are stretched to the point of absurdity. For example, some of the essays predict humanity evolving into shapeshifting superbeings; another predicts we will build baby universes. But the most immediately relatable describes a brain-embedded "Internet on crank," albeit one that might be clogged with spam. Actually, wouldn't that be possible in a couple of centuries?
Hooray! A bunch of eccentric rich people are striking out to create their own sovereign nation in the middle of the ocean! Again! You may remember back in the 60s when a pirate radio broadcaster occupied a sea-bound fort 6 miles off the coast of Great Britain and declared it the Principality of Sealand. (It's for sale, btw.) But while that little adventure in sovereignty was merely for kicks, Wired reports today on a venture much more exciting for its batshit reasoning, impressive backers, and fantastic scope.
"Although the validity of Carl Johan Calleman's scholarship has been called into question by John Major Jenkins and others, it is interesting that Calleman predicted the current year (November 2007 to November 2008) to be the year of Tezcatlipoca — sinister deity of black magic and the jaguar — marked by economic collapse, war, and other threats." [Reality Sandwich]