Ainigmology is the study of culturally induced confusion.

A new art genre emerged in the late 20th Century that epitomizes Ainigmology. This genre’s defining characteristic is that it exhibits important subject matter in a way that appears informative, while intentionally creating confusion. The irony of displaying important ideas in ways intended to confuse leads me to name this genre ainigmatic-irony (or ainigmirony).

The multi-guest-satellite-tv-interview is a classic manifestation of ainigmironic art. A magnificent spectacle to behold, this captivating display features experts, who have much to share on desperately urgent topics, yelling over one another in a farcical comedy of pseudo-discussion…


Interacting with strangers is ending, thankfully. (Artwork by Matt Pettigrew)

In 2018, Google’s introduced Duplex, a software program capable of making phone calls in natural, human-realistic conversational language. When Duplex made that first phone call, onlookers understood the profound possibility: no one has to talk on the phone again, ever.

The software disruption of phone calls carries broad implications for society:

  • Hey Google, order my pizza.
  • Hey Google, call grandma and wish her a happy birthday.
  • Hey Google, handle all my incoming and outgoing calls so I never have to talk to strangers, ever

Interacting with strangers has always been a problem for humanity. Our species evolved within the context…


The ultimate health monitoring device will be something you sit on

Photo by bady abbas on Unsplash

Technology is causing major shifts in how we manage our health.

One of these shifts is from infrequent to continuous health monitoring. Biometric tracking was once reserved for annual checkups, but can now be done passively through your smart watch or ring.

As a result, lifestyle recommendations are also shifting from generalized to specific. Your phone’s health tracking apps are more accessible and applicable than the food pyramid and exercise posters at the doctor’s office.

Perhaps the best example of growing accessibility and personalization is the fact that genome…


The decline in a network’s value can be steeper than its incline

Metcalfe-Hall artwork: the decline potential of Metcalfe’s Law was coined as Hall’s Law.
Metcalfe-Hall artwork: the decline potential of Metcalfe’s Law was coined as Hall’s Law.
Artwork by Matthew Pettigrew at Digital Absurdist

Metcalfe’s Law asserts that a network’s value increases in proportion to the square of its nodes.

For social networks like Facebook, each additional user improves the overall experience of existing users, through adding relationship opportunities, idea sharing, interactions, etc.

As more people join, the network becomes more valuable, thereby attracting new members, which in turn adds value to the network. The network effect is self-reinforcing, and the reason why social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram have risen dramatically in terms of user growth.

To date, Facebook has amassed 2.7 billion monthly active users (MAU), up 12% from…


The future of sports is increasingly digital.

A hundred and fifty years ago grown men began playing with balls.

This was the advent of professional ball sports. Whereas archery, horseback riding and fencing carried at least some semblance of practical utility at the time, ball sports would have seemed more or less pointless to onlookers.

Ball sports were physical pointlessness… but they were great.

Fifty years ago grown men began playing with pixels on screens. This was the advent of E-Sports. …


Take a moment before exchanging appreciating assets for depreciating assets

Buying EVs with crypto is very 21st Century. (Artwork by me.)

Tesla now sells vehicles for Bitcoin, marking yet another milestone in Bitcoin’s history. However, this deal warrants special consideration.

Tesla is among a growing list of companies that have recognized Bitcoin’s value proposition, reflected not only in their proposal to sell vehicles for Bitcoin, but in their purchase of $1.5B of Bitcoin and their assertion that any earnings in Bitcoin will not be converted to fiat.

Tesla wants to hodl Bitcoin.

Exchanging bitcoins for Teslas is a novel, but fundamentally different transaction than legacy purchasing arrangements.

Dollars for Teslas is…


A justification for Tesla’s valuation

In early 2021, Tesla surpassed the valuation of the next 13 biggest automakers combined.

Combined!

The only way to truly understand Tesla’s value is to recognize that it stands to disrupt more than just car manufacturing, but also solar panels, charging networks, trucking, software and energy storage.

However, among all these industries perhaps the most lucrative sector that Tesla is disrupting, and the driving reason for its astronomical valuation, is that of parenting.

Over the years Tesla has quietly positioned itself as the must-have parenting enhancement device of the 21st Century. With its launch of…


Photo by Yong Chuan Tan on Unsplash

In 1633, Galileo was put before the Roman Inquisition to renounce his support for the unacceptable idea that the Earth revolves around the sun. It wouldn’t be until 1822 that the Catholic Church permitted this idea of heliocentrism. Today, it is unthinkable to suggest that the Sun revolves around the Earth, given the overwhelming evidence.

The Overton Window is the range of acceptable topics that can be discussed in a group. When someone openly discusses a topic that is outside this range, they are shunned or cast out for publicly expressing an unacceptable view.

When speaking of UFOs, the Overton…


Market pressures incentivize adding more automation to online shopping. Drone deliveries could be the next frontier.

Photo by Diana Măceşanu on Unsplash

Santa Claus flies around on Christmas Eve, landing on rooftops to deliver packages to good girls and boys. Soon, drones may fly around on Christmas Eve, landing on front yards to deliver packages to parents who forgot to buy presents.

In 2016, Amazon Prime Air was developed as an autonomous drone delivery service. For orders weighing less than 5 lbs and customers within 10 miles of a participating fulfillment centre, a drone could fly a package direct to the customer within 30 minutes.

This…


Big name bets were made. As cash inflates, Bitcoin entices.

In the summer of 2020, NASDAQ-listed business intelligence company Microstrategy purchased 21,454 bitcoins for $250 million, spread over 78,388 transactions. They have since added 16,796 bitcoins, for a total investment of $425 million.

These moves are milestones in a growing list of public and private companies that are adding Bitcoin into their capital allocation strategies, many for the first time in 2020. Square’s $50 million Bitcoin announcement in October is just the latest high-profile company to join.

The emerging trend in corporate Bitcoin investment begs the questions, why Bitcoin and…

Matthew Pettigrew

Writer, animator and creator of digitalabsurdist.com + YouTube Channel.

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