THE EARLY YEARS MATTER

THE EARLY YEARS MATTER

24th October 2018OffByRiseNews

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Freed from prison after 6 yrs, in Nov 2014. Passionate about Iran, technology, and theory. I sat down at the small table in the kitchen of my 1960s apartment, nestled on the top floor of a building in a vibrant central neighbourhood of Tehran, and I did something I had done thousands of times previously. I opened my laptop and posted to my new blog. This, though, was the first time in six years.

And it nearly broke my heart. A few weeks earlier, I’d been abruptly pardoned and freed from Evin prison in northern Tehran. I had been expecting to spend most of my life in those cells: In November 2008, I’d been sentenced to nearly 20 years in jail, mostly for things I’d written on my blog. But the moment, when it came, was unexpected. I smoked a cigarette in the kitchen with one of my fellow inmates, and came back to the room I shared with a dozen other men. That evening was the first time that I went out of those doors as a free man.

Everything felt new: The chill autumn breeze, the traffic noise from a nearby bridge, the smell, the colors of the city I had lived in for most of my life. Around me, I noticed a very different Tehran from the one I’d been used to. An influx of new, shamelessly luxurious condos had replaced the charming little houses I was familiar with. New roads, new highways, hordes of invasive SUVs. Large billboards with advertisements for Swiss-made watches and Korean flat screen TVs. Two weeks later, I began writing again.

Some friends agreed to let me start a blog as part of their arts magazine. Six years was a long time to be in jail, but it’s an entire era online. I’d been told how essential social networks had become while I’d been gone, and so I knew one thing: If I wanted to lure people to see my writing, I had to use social media now. So I tried to post a link to one of my stories on Facebook. Turns out Facebook didn’t care much. It ended up looking like a boring classified ad.

THE EARLY YEARS MATTER

It became clear to me, right there, that things had changed. People used to carefully read my posts and leave lots of relevant comments, and even many of those who strongly disagreed with me still came to read. Other blogs linked to mine to discuss what I was saying. There were no real apps, certainly not how we think of them today.

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Instead, there was the web, and on the web, there were blogs: the best place to find alternative thoughts, news and analysis. I was in Toronto, and my father had just arrived from Tehran for a visit. We were having breakfast when the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I was puzzled and confused and, looking for insights and explanations, I came across blogs.

THE EARLY YEARS MATTER

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Then, on November 5, 2001, I published a step-to-step guide on how to start a blog. Those days, I used to keep a list of all blogs in Persian and, for a while, I was the first person any new blogger in Iran would contact, so they could get on the list. Every morning, from my small apartment in downtown Toronto, I opened my computer and took care of the new blogs, helping them gain exposure and audience. The breadth of what was available those days amazed us all. It was partly why I promoted blogging so seriously. I’d left Iran in late 2000 to experience living in the West, and was scared that I was missing all the rapidly emerging trends at home. Quran that I thought about a lot during my first eight months in solitary confinement.

THE EARLY YEARS MATTER

In it, a group of persecuted Christians find refuge in a cave. They, and a dog they have with them, fall into a deep sleep. They wake up under the impression that they’ve taken a nap: In fact, it’s 300 years later. The hyperlink was my currency six years ago.

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Stemming from the idea of the hypertext, the hyperlink provided a diversity and decentralisation that the real world lacked. Blogs were cafes where people exchanged diverse ideas on any and every topic you could possibly be interested in. Since I got out of jail, though, I’ve realized how much the hyperlink has been devalued, almost made obsolete. You’re encouraged to post one single hyperlink and expose it to a quasi-democratic process of liking and plussing and hearting: Adding several links to a piece of text is usually not allowed. One photographer friend explained to me how the images he uploads directly to Facebook receive a large number of likes, which in turn means they appear more on other people’s news feeds.

Some networks, like Twitter, treat hyperlinks a little better. Others, insecure social services, are far more paranoid. You can put up a web address alongside your photos, but it won’t go anywhere. Lots of people start their daily online routine in these cul de sacs of social media, and their journeys end there. But hyperlinks aren’t just the skeleton of the web: They are its eyes, a path to its soul. More or less, all theorists have thought of gaze in relation to power, and mostly in a negative sense: the gazer strips the gazed and turns her into a powerless object, devoid of intelligence or agency.

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But in the world of webpages, gaze functions differently: It is more empowering. On the other hand, the most powerful web pages are those that have many eyes upon them. Just like celebrities who draw a kind of power from the millions of human eyes gazing at them any given time, web pages can capture and distribute their power through hyperlinks. Their gaze goes nowhere except inwards, reluctant to transfer any of their vast powers to others, leading them into quiet deaths. The consequence is that web pages outside social media are dying. I went to jail, though, the power of hyperlinks was being curbed. The Stream now dominates the way people receive information on the web.

The Stream means you don’t need to open so many websites any more. You don’t even need a web browser. You open Twitter or Facebook on your smartphone and dive deep in. The mountain has come to you. Algorithms have picked everything for you. According to what you or your friends have read or seen before, they predict what you might like to see.

But are we missing something here? What are we exchanging for efficiency? A most brilliant paragraph by some ordinary-looking person can be left outside the Stream, while the silly ramblings of a celebrity gain instant Internet presence. And not only do the algorithms behind the Stream equate newness and popularity with importance, they also tend to show us more of what we’ve already liked. These services carefully scan our behaviour and delicately tailor our news feeds with posts, pictures and videos that they think we would most likely want to see.

Popularity is not wrong in and of itself, but it has its own perils. In a free-market economy, low-quality goods with the wrong prices are doomed to failure. But opinions are not the same as material goods or services. They won’t disappear if they are unpopular or even bad. Today the Stream is digital media’s dominant form of organizing information. It’s in every social network and mobile application. Since I gained my freedom, everywhere I turn I see the Stream.

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I guess it won’t be too long before we see news websites organize their entire content based on the same principles. New, different, and challenging ideas get suppressed by today’s social networks because their ranking strategies prioritize the popular and habitual. Yes, it is true that all my posts on Twitter and Facebook look something similar to a personal blog: They are collected in reverse-chronological order, on a specific webpage, with direct web addresses to each post. My page must follow a uniform look which the designers of the social network decide for me. The centralization of information also worries me because it makes it easier for things to disappear. After my arrest, my hosting service closed my account, because I wasn’t able to pay its monthly fee. Most blogging platforms used to enable you to transfer your posts and archives to your own web space, whereas now most platforms don’t let you so.

But the scariest outcome of the centralization of information in the age of social networks is something else: It is making us all much less powerful in relation to governments and corporations. Surveillance is increasingly imposed on civilized lives, and it just gets worse as time goes by. The only way to stay outside of this vast apparatus of surveillance might be to go into a cave and sleep, even if you can’t make it 300 years. Being watched is something we all eventually have to get used to and live with and, sadly, it has nothing to do with the country of our residence. Ironically enough, states that cooperate with Facebook and Twitter know much more about their citizens than those, like Iran, where the state has a tight grip on the Internet but does not have legal access to social media companies. What is more frightening than being merely watched, though, is being controlled. Iranians, like most people in the world, are obsessed with new trends.

Utility or quality of things usually comes second to their trendiness. In early 2000s writing blogs made you cool and trendy, then around 2008 Facebook came in and then Twitter. Since 2014 the hype is all about Instagram, and no one knows what is next. Maybe it’s that text itself is disappearing. After all, the first visitors to the web spent their time online reading web magazines.

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Then came blogs, then Facebook, then Twitter. There’s less and less text to read on social networks, and more and more video to watch, more and more images to look at. Is this trend driven by people’s changing cultural habits, or is it that people are following the new laws of social networking? After all, the web started out by imitating books and for many years, it was heavily dominated by text, by hypertext. But the Stream, mobile applications, and moving images: They all show a departure from a books-internet toward a television-internet. The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.

When I log on to Facebook, my personal television starts. All I need to do is to scroll: New profile pictures by friends, short bits of opinion on current affairs, links to new stories with short captions, advertising, and of course self-playing videos. I occasionally click on like or share button, read peoples’ comments or leave one, or open an article. Sometimes I think maybe I’m becoming too strict as I age.

Maybe this is all a natural evolution of a technology. But I can’t close my eyes to what’s happening: A loss of intellectual power and diversity, and on the great potentials it could have for our troubled time. I miss when people took time to be exposed to different opinions, and bothered to read more than a paragraph or 140 characters. That’s the web I remember before jail. That’s the web we have to save. One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out. The Pyramid Model for Supporting Social Emotional Competence in Infants and Young Children. We have developed extensive, user-friendly training materials, videos, and print resources which are available directly from this website to help early care, health and education providers implement this model. Visit our states page to find more information about any of our state partners or new resources and information for all states. NTI offers an in depth, intensive learning experience around the Pyramid Model framework for addressing the social and emotional development and challenging behavior of young children. In addition, the Internet presents us with retirement calculators, competing opinions from the mainstream media, financial doomsayers, unpredictable inflation, and a wide distribution of income and spending patterns between readers. Money Mustache, but how can I possibly know when I’ll have enough to retire myself, with a completely different lifestyle?

Well, I have a surprise for you. While the numbers themselves are quite intuitive and easy to figure out, the relationship between these two numbers  is a bit surprising. So your work career will be Infinite. So your working career can be Zero.

In between, there are some very interesting considerations. As soon as you start saving and investing your money, it starts earning money all by itself. Then the earnings on those earnings start earning their own money. It can quickly become a runaway exponential snowball of income.

Basic division of numbers game

As soon as this income is enough to pay for your living expenses, while leaving enough of the gains invested each year to keep up with inflation, you are ready to retire. I just made for myself to re-create the equation that generated the graph. So let’s take the graph above and make it even simpler. I’ll make some conservative assumptions for you, and you can just focus on saving the biggest percentage of your take-home pay that you can. The table below will tell you a nice ballpark figure of how many years it will take you to become financially independent. Stash to last forever, you’ll only be touching the gains, since this income may be sustaining you for seventy years or so. It’s quite amazing, especially at the less Mustachian end of the spectrum.

Are cable TV and Starbucks worth having two income earners each work an extra eight years for? The most important thing to note is that cutting your spending rate is much more powerful than increasing your income. So your lifetime passive income goes up due to having a larger investment nest egg, and it more easily meets your needs, because you’ve developed more skill at living efficiently and thus you need less. I did without even realizing it during my own younger years. The only reason Mustachians will remain a rare breed, is because this article will never appear in USA Today. So at the end of the year just need to review the online statements for card and bank. Recently this has been revolutionized by signing up for an account at Mint.

Same basic idea, but it lets me see up-to-the-minute spending that is automatically categorized into nice pie charts, etc. An Interview with Matt Cutts: Can the Government grow a Money Mustache? I like the simplicity of this. And as usual, the number of work years saved through small lifestyle changes boggles the mind. I’ll spend much less in retirement than I do now, because it costs me money to work, and I’ll retire to a cheaper city.

I agree, I love this post, its been specifically bookmarked and I visit it weekly. There is something very reassuring about the simplicity of the math. It’s amazing how small changes can drastically impact the number of years I need to work. I made many small tweaks to my lifestyle after this post. Each one worth less than 0. Visiting the page every week as a motivator is a great idea!

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Small changes are good, lots and lots of small changes are even better. Hate to be pedant but I ran the numbers and found that your explanation of how to calculate savings rate is a teeny bit misleading given there are all of these tax advantaged savings accounts out there. Total Savings is every single penny that has gone into a savings or retirement account, whether you have saved into a 401k or any other tax wrapper, including all employer matches, and obviously all taxed accounts as well. Hope that helps anyone as I was a bit confused at first when I was calculating my savings rate! It says that you have to add back any deductions to your take home pay.

If you do it correctly, your pay becomes equal to the denominator of your formula. Note that I include employer match as well. Perhaps MR MM could have been clearer on this point. All that said, I thought your post was very useful as the reader will REALLY grasp the concept after reading it! There’s a lot of confusion out there on this topic.

THE EARLY YEARS MATTER

You can save your own copy to change the numbers. MMM, feel free to post it in this post too if you want, or even improve on it and post it. MMM readers like spreadsheets, so I think some people will enjoy playing around with it. I sure have fun playing with numbers. 2 years in a row to retire!