It’s been a while since I wrote this letter.

That’s for a lot of reasons, some of which are listed below. I’m in a liminal place in my life and I need to unfuck my head for a while. I’m sure I’ll regain the confidence to try to explain the whole world. Sooner or later.

In the meantime, I’m working on a new letter. It’s called Augmented Intelligence , and it’s about a much smaller subject: interfaces. If you like SCIOPS, you’ll probably like this. You can find it at robotface.substack.com .

It’s in response to a challenge by an internet acquaintance. I’m highly responsive to peer pressure, so it’ll probably even come out weekly!

If you’re curious what happened to SCIOPS, I wrote some thoughts about it on Twitter. Reprinted here for posterity(ish):

I have functionally stopped writing my newsletter, though I have not told anyone that it is over

why is this? because podcasting is easier than writing? because covid apocalypse makes apocalypse newsletter obsolete? because I’m not confident enough in my worldview to share anymore?

I’ve begin to kind of hate newsletters, perhaps. I get a lot of them, was tipped off early to Republic of Newsletters. there are too many, now, and the vibe has changed

One long-time writer, has turned his formerly-interesting letter into an occasional screed blasting everyone who’s not as woke.

He’s not wrong, even. Just… angry, and long-winded, and self-righteous.

I’m afraid SCIOPS has gone the same way. I don’t want to be that guy

When I started writing it, I wanted to be an expert. It’s hilarious, looking back, because the style was so unsophisticated. This is why “Medium posts” are so cheesy: they’re the enthusiastic raving of the neophyte.

I wanted to be Your Guide to the Cyberpunk Apocalypse. How absurd: can you imagine how annoying that person would be? The guy who keeps pointing out “that’s an advertisement, see, they control your mind through the pattern of lights and sounds, they’re targeting you by your data”

then for a while I was trying to keep up with the News Cycle. trying to ride the cryptocurrency wave the right way (take the money and the good ideas and run) instead of getting caught in the tulip bubble. it worked for me, although not in a big enough way to last 🙄

finally it settled into a monologue, bouncing between sermon and comedy, following my erratic mood.

I felt a pattern emerge: 1000 words is enough to give an introduction to a topic, but not enough to dive deep. yet how can I expect someone to read an email longer than that?

I don’t have the mad-dog vigor of the investigative journalist. I don’t have the STS degree or the SV friends to demand academic respect for my thoughts. I’m just another internet weirdo trying to make sense of the world.

basically a street maniac with End of Days sign

I don’t want to be an expert, actually. I don’t want to be a preacher. I barely want to be a writer – such a limited bandwidth medium! (he said, on Twitter)

I do have a useful worldview. I want to share it. but it works because I’m still learning. “a foolish consistency”…

I think the topical nature of the “newsletter” is the culprit.

“a newsletter? what’s it about?”

substack exacerbated this by commoditizing the newsletter. the decision to subscribe was based no longer on “who are you?” but “what does your product do for me?”

on Twitter you follow

people , not topics. the topics arise from the interaction of the people.

not that I’m a huge fan of Discourse. but it’s certainly more rewarding than writing an essay, putting a stamp on it, then dropping it into a sinkhole and waiting for a response

more immediately rewarding, anyway. obviously a heap of essays is more satisfying to look back on than a bunch of replies and threads and snarky QTs

alternative explanations abound, though.

Twitter has me locked in a dopamine loop, maybe, and I can’t get long form thoughts together without the instant boost of hitting “send” on each paragraph

maybe it’s just because I have a steady, healthy relationship with someone who will listen to me rant and joke and sermonize all day.

a conspiracy to stop my writing, orchestrated by Big GF

or

the topic of SCIOPS (namely, psyops) is now actually the content of psyops produced by actual PSYOPS teams. infectious conspiracy brain is a tool of the conspiracies of control, to make it seem as if they’re more powerful than they are, and to muddy the waters on other ops

a conspiracy against me, manufactured by Big Conspiracy

conspiracy-industrial complex

because SCIOPS is about dark wizards fucking with your mind, and because so many minds are infected with different exotoxic memes, I end up having to talk vaguely about the mental atmosphere, rather than digging into specific brainworms

and because SCIOPS is “about something”, i have refrained from writhing the things that it’s not about. like the last two years I spent founding a bookstore in my hometown. or the bizarre code experiments I cook up on the weekends. I should have been documenting those

Thank you, all, for reading all these years. I’ll be back.

Max