Tag Archives: Raw Thought

Raw Thought: Aaron’s Patented Demotivational Seminar

Want to actually make a difference? You’ll have to buck the system instead of joining it.

– Aaron Swartz, March 27, 2007

Aaron’s Patented Demotivational Seminar

(from his “Raw Thought” Blog)

Let’s say you’re a US Supreme Court Justice, able to change the laws of the world’s only superpower with the stroke of your pen. Well, big deal. Had you not been appointed to the Supreme Court the President who appointed you would have found some other judge who would have made the same changes to the law. Yeah, you get to wear a robe and feel powerful, but when you look at the cold, hard, scientific facts, you’re not making a lick of difference in the world.

Want to actually make a difference? You’ll have to buck the system instead of joining it.

Here’s the whole post from March 27, 2007:

Thousands of people out there are willing to give you a motivational seminar, but only Aaron’s Patented Demotivational Seminars are going to actually admit they demotivate you. I’ve collected thousands of actual facts from real scientists and the verdict is in: people don’t matter, except for a couple of rare exceptions, and you’re not one of them. Sorry.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we? The universe is a bunch of random particles shooting through space following a handful of simple laws. Through completely random and unintentional properties, some of those particles bounced together to form you. But, I swear, it was a total accident. They didn’t even realize they were doing it at the time and if they knew they’d probably feel kind of guilty about it.

For a long time, it was pretty clear that most people didn’t matter. The average person didn’t leave their town or village and so only interacted with a small handful of people who lived near them, most of whom found them annoying. The Internet has changed all that. Now the average person doesn’t leave their computer and so only interacts with a small handful of spammers who read their LiveJournal, most of whom find them annoying. Luckily for posterity, their LiveJournal will probably disappear within their lifetime due to a hard drive crash or some other kind of poor server maintenance.

But let’s say you want to make a difference in the world. You can learn a skill and go into a profession, where you get bossed around and told exactly what to do by people more powerful than you. (Obeying them is called “professionalism”.) It’s completely futile; had you not gone into the professional (or if you decide to disobey orders) they would have found someone else to do the exact same thing.

The same is true even if you’re the one giving orders. Imagine about the most powerful job you can think of. Let’s say you’re a US Supreme Court Justice, able to change the laws of the world’s only superpower with the stroke of your pen. Well, big deal. Had you not been appointed to the Supreme Court the President who appointed you would have found some other judge who would have made the same changes to the law. Yeah, you get to wear a robe and feel powerful, but when you look at the cold, hard, scientific facts, you’re not making a lick of difference in the world.

Want to actually make a difference? You’ll have to buck the system instead of joining it.

*****

Come to this year’s Aaron Swartz Day Weekend at the Internet Archive!

Remembering “Raw Thought” at Aaron Swartz Hackathon in 2013 In Buenos Aires

Aaron Swartz Hackathon 2013 at HackLab Barracas

hackaton-500x281The team at last year’s Aaron Swartz Hackathon at HackLab Barracas had a great event last year. They translated articles from Raw Thought with mates in Mexico, Guatemala, Chile and Spain, drank beer, scanned books, joined the inauguration and close of HackLab Florida, took sexy pictures, and streamed video while it all happened.

As Nicolas Reynolds, on of the Buenos Aires organizers, explains: “Last year we organized a local version of the Aaron Swartz Hackathon, teaming up with HackLab Florida, which was celebrating its inauguration that same day at Cooperativa Libertad.”

“It was a nice and quiet night.” Nicolas said. “We tested our then new book scanner and shared a few beers. For collaborative translation we used Etherpad Lite, an awesome tool to write documents while building consensus on them. Our main activity was translating selected articles from Raw Thought, Aaron’s blog, that we organized together with other hacklabs and hackerspaces from Latin America and Spain,” Nicolas elaborates. “Our favorite was “Democracia exponencial” (Aaron’s original ‘parpolity’ post in English), where he shows in numbers how an bottom-up assembly democracy would work.  It turns out that only five levels of assemblies composed by 50 people each are enough for 300 million people to self-govern!”

Nicolas and his team are hosting another Buenos Aires Aaron Swartz Hackathon this year.