So I looked Elon Musk talks to TED and I came out with a mixture of empathy for man and surprise at the depth of his self-importance. Since their subsequent decision to buy Twitter, most journalists I know have been predicting the end of the Internet as we know it or insisting that no one cares about Twitter except journalists. If you’re not a journalist, help me here: Who’s right? Please comment on the comments. In the meantime, here’s the update.
When misinformation and hate speech spread on social media, most people are happy to blame the platforms. Users who post and re-post these toxic stuff? They are unfortunately being manipulated by algorithms. If this is your opinion, let me ask you this: when the platform is a giant online clothing retailer, the manipulative incentive is ultra-low prices and the damage is the environmental impact of kilotons of clothing disposable, do you still think it’s mostly the company’s fault, or are its greedy customers just as guilty?
This is an implicit question in the profile of Vauhini Vara de Shein, the Chinese ultra-fast fashion retailer. If you don’t have teenage children, you may not have heard of it, but among American teenagers, Shein (originally “SheInside”) is the most popular e-commerce site after Amazon. Over a 12-month period, it included 1.3 millions Separate clothing designs: 50 to 100 times more than other fast fashion rivals and several times cheaper. Vauhini’s story is a list of the brazen business practices you might expect from a cheap clothing retailer (copyright infringement, lax labor and safety practices, opaque supply), but as she points out, though the growing attention forces Shein to clean up his act, Other players are likely to intervene to undermine him, as he did with his competitors. “In the absence of well-enforced regulations that adapt to the rapidly growing practices of global e-commerce companies,” he writes, “the burden of making fashion more ethical will continue to fall heavily on individual consumers, a strategy that will surely fail “.
This leans toward one of our central motivating questions here at WIRED: What does it really take to bring about positive change? One could see some hope for the garment industry by looking at the food industry, which has spawned entire sub-industries that address the ethical and environmental concerns of consumers. If you can be a vegetarian, vegan or locavore, you can be … well, I guess the first thing we need is a word for someone with a clothing ethic: sustainable? wear and tear? durability? (Suggestions in the comments, please.) Certainly, if more people bought more ethically, they could at least some clothing manufacturers to reduce emissions and use less synthetic and toxic materials and more recycled and recycled. Or you can just rent your clothes instead of storing a closet full of things you’ll never wear again.
But just as all vegans and locators and gatherers in the world cannot change the incentives of the wider food system to feed so many people in the cheapest and most cost-effective way possible, an army of life-saving clothing buyers second-hand and community-focused design experts won’t. make a dent in the fast fashion supply chain for themselves. Governments, pushed by voters, will have to step in and declare cheap wires a danger to public health.
Beyond the Web3 bubble
A few months ago I asked at a WIRED staff meeting, “Can we write a guide to ‘good’ cryptography?” By that I mean, what good will blockchain-based technology be after the psychedelic fair of NFT auctions and DeFi Ponzi schemes sink into a giant cloud of digital glitter mushrooms? Judging by your comments on my latest post, you all want to know too.
I’ve been asking this question to almost every promoter of Web3 and the gurus of decentralized governance and venture capital I’ve come across in the last few months. I’ve talked to very, very smart people who can’t think of one thing to do with a chain of blogs that in practice can’t be done more easily and simply with something else. Of the rest, the most compelling answer I’ve been able to get is essentially that Web3 technology is less important than Web3 movement: an interest in new models of decision-making, ownership and social organization that will have lasting repercussions even if the blockchain itself is a useless solution for all of them. Which one … maybe I’ll buy it? Or at least find it intriguing.