Author Archives: Ryan Parker

Chinese Social Media the past four years, China’s government and its far-reaching bureaucracy have embarked on a campaign to take back China’s weibo microblog scene from the masses, who have been using social media services to expose corrupt officials, circulate news, and air their opinions.And it’s working. According to a new study by media researchers based in China and the US, the government’s 176,000 microblogs are trying to control much of the discussion online, by offering official interpretations of public events, while contrary views are ruthlessly deleted by Great Firewall censors.

Wait, I’m confused. I thought the Chinese government was in the process of a massive anti-corruption drive? You would think that they would appreciate the extra intelligence on corruption among officials. Oh, ok, so by “anti-corruption” you mean “an excuse to control more value and purge the party of political rivals?” Ok. got it.

And then there’s this very hurtful conflation:

We in the U.S. are fortunate that our most popular social media site has a completely transparent and open system for what people see in their news feeds. Wait, what.


The opaque practices of social media companies in the U.S. are the same as controlling Chinese government censorship, right?  Well sure, that’s partly right.  But let’s put this another way:

In the U.S. do you have a right to speak your mind in social media and frequent whichever social media apps/sites you like?  Absolutely.  In America, that control is reserved for the individual.

In China do you have control over what you say and what apps and sites you frequent?  No.  That control is held by the government.  They will silence you and censor websites at their discretion.

It’s shameful to conflate the control businesses have over their products, which you choose to use, with governments that control your speech to the point that they will imprison and kill you (and do!) Let’s see if you notice a difference between the two:

America: 2AM, “Why isn’t anyone commenting on my FB post?  Is it showing up in anyone’s feed?”

China: 2AM, *Knock knock*  “Ms. Jiang, you’re coming with us.”

It is shameful to trivialize the threat of violence that the Chinese people constantly live under.  And it confuses people on how to best protect individual value.

Oh, and is there any wonder that the U.S. Senate would like to break down the protections of our speech and gain the same control over speech value that the Chinese government enjoys?

Drones and Controlling Sky High Value


Think of it as a sort of “global arbitrage” around permissionless innovation—the freedom to create new technologies without having to ask the powers that be for their blessing. Entrepreneurs can take advantage of the difference between opportunities in different regions, where innovation in a particular domain of interest may be restricted in one region, allowed and encouraged in another, or completely legal in still another. For example, the laws and guidelines for using drones or taxing bitcoin already vary widely across the globe, just as they do for ride-sharing services across different cities in the United States.

This was supposed to be how federalism worked. You should be able to use Bitcoin in Tennessee if Alabama won’t let you. But the Federal Government has transferred so much control over value from the States to itself, that States are left with quite little that they can offer to entrepreneurs.

Well, there’s a real possibility that advanced regions will essentially outsource or “regulate away” their own risk at the expense of less advanced ones. To get ahead, poorer countries may become more tempted to take on the very things wealthier countries are fencing out of their borders…a model like this one provides a much faster and more feasible way for developing regions to catch up.

As much as I wish this were true, I’m afraid it is quite naive. Yes, control of, say, what craft you launch in the air is valuable and developing countries could offer this value to budding entrepreneurs in exchange for locating their brain power in their countries. But, this value is so low down the value chain that it can’t compete with stable countries. Control of other value is so much more valuable: your life, your travel, your physical protection, your speech, legal certainty — all things that developing countries lack.

Steve Jobs <3 Value

A million dollars isn’t cool, you know what’s cool?  A billion dollars.  ~ Sean Parker in the Social Network

You know what else is cool?  Being able to tell Google who not to hire:

Okay, sure, doesn’t sound so cool now, but Jobs was predictably trying to control as much value (other people’s labor and mind share in this case) as possible.  As least Jobs thought it was cool:

Alan [at Google],

We’d strongly prefer that you not hire these guys [former Apple employees in Paris].



Uncomplicating Vladimir Putin

Modeling Vladimir Putin on Marginal Revolution

1. Putin is a crazy hothead
2. Putin is rational…He simply wills evil ends
3. Putin…pursues his evil ends effectively.
4. Putin lives in a world where power is so much the calculus…It is hard for we peons to grasp the emotional resonance that power has for Putin and for some of his Russian cronies.

It’s amazing how difficult the analysis of intention is when we don’t understand value. When we think that money is the only thing that has value, we are constantly befuddled when we see people try to control any other type of value. When you understand that control of any value has value, it all becomes very simple.

Can you imagine this analysis if, instead of controlling Crimea, Putin seized billions of dollars?

Why has Putin seized this money? Is it because:

1) Putin was bored and it seemed like fun.

2) Putin likes the color green. Perhaps the long winters in Russia depress him and the green reminds him of Spring.

3) Putin likes the portraits of presidents on the bills. They remind him of power and Putin craves and relentlessly pursues power.

It seems absurd in this context, doesn’t it?  Humans appreciate value.  Like to keep the value they have and try to grow the amount under their control.  Putin is human.  Crimea is valuable (millions of people, a port on the Black Sea, oil, commerce, etc.) Putin is trying to increase the amount of value he controls. Simple.

Our collective lack of ability to see anything but money as having value causes to vastly underprotect the other value we control. Control of things like: who we buy products from, who can give us a ride in their car, who we let stay at our house. We protect our money and vigorously resist tax increases but our money is only a small part of the value we control and we should vigorously protect the rest of the value we control as well. Ukraine failed to protect it’s value and now we are left trying to infer what “the emotional resonance that power has for Putin.”