The SEC vs. Cryptocurrency: From Dante to Facebook

“The Securities and Exchange Commission, the multibillion dollar agency that safeguards investors, presently stands on the precipice of the layer Dante reserved for the indecisive. For, nearly a decade after Bitcoin burst onto the scene in 2010, there has been no concrete attempt at delineating purchaser from investor in the cryptocurrency market—indeed, it appears the agency is content to provide guidance regarding fraud and custody rather than defining products and attendant responsibilities for those soliciting funds for digital conversion.

“In the 14th century, Dante Alighieri forever shaped our vision of a retributive afterlife with his Divine Comedy. Tellingly, the first “level of hell” introduced therein was populated by those who could not decide (‘those who lived without occasion for infamy or praise’); to the celebrated Renaissance poet, those habiting the sidelines of history could hope for limbo, at best, in the final judgment.” […]    –J. Scott Colesanti, New York Law Journal, July 31, 2019

The Social Network of Dante’s Inferno

“The first product coming out from this crazy idea was “The Social Network of Dante’s Inferno“, presented in the 2010 edition of the “Arts, Humanities and Complex Networks” symposium of NetSci and then published in a 2011 special issue of the Leonardo journal. In this work we were moved by the question: is a network of characters following some particular predictive patterns? If so: which ones?

“So we took a digital copy of Dante’s Inferno, where all interactions and characters were annotated with extra information (who the character was, if she was a historic or mythological figure, when she lived, …). We then considered each character as a node of the network. We created an edge between two characters if they had at least a direct exchange of words. Normal people would call this “a dialogue”.

“The double-focus point of the Commedia emerges quite naturally, as Dante and Virgilio are the so-called “hubs” of the system. It is a nice textbook example of the rich-get-richer effect, a classic network result. But contrary to what the title of the paper says, we went beyond that. There are not only “social” relationships. Each character is also connected to all the information we have about her. There is another layer, a semantic one, where we have nodes such as “Guelph” or “Middle Ages”. These nodes enable us to browse the Commedia as a network of concepts that Dante wanted to connect in one way or another. One can ask some questions like “are Ghibelline characters preferably connected to historic or mythological characters?” or “what’s the centrality of political characters in the Inferno as opposed to the Purgatorio?” and create one’s own interpretation of the Commedia.” […]    Michele Coscia, Michele Coscia, 12 December, 2013

The Seven Deadly Social Networks

“Lust, of course, is Tinder. That’s easy. In Dante’s Inferno, a source of much seven-deadly-sin apocrypha, lustful souls are blown around forever like they’re stuck in a hurricane. Today they would be condemned to a similar cyclone—to swipe right forever but never get a match.

“Gluttony is Instagram. We hear sometimes of Tantalus, stuck in a pool below branches laden with fruit. His punishment was that the fruit always pulled away from his grasp, and the water always receded when he tried to drink. So it is with Instagram: The most tantalizing morsels pass in front of our eyes, and we can eat none of them.

“On to Greed. According to Dante, the greedy and avaricious are condemned to joust with each other using enormous heavy boulders, forever. What’s more, they are rendered unrecognizable—each soul appears as the blandest, dullest version of itself. Does that sound like LinkedIn or what? Mandelbaum’s translation put it particularly well:

… I saw multitudes
to every side of me; their howls were loud
while, wheeling weights, they used their chests to push.
They struck against each other; at that point,
each turned around and, wheeling back those weights,
cried out: “Hi, I’d like to add you to my professional network on LinkedIn.”

“Sloth was Zynga once, per Hoffman, but Zynga is no more. Now sloth is Netflix. I know that’s not a social network, but, eh.

“Wrath, according to Dante, was a twin sin to sullenness. He wrote that they both came from the same essential error: Wrath is rage expressed, sullenness is rage unexpressed. And he condemned both the sullen and the wrathful to the Fifth Circle—where, in a foul marsh, the wrathful attacked each other unendingly, without ever winning; while the sullen sat beneath the murk and stewed and scowled and acted aloof. Rarely has there been a better description of Twitter.

“Envy makes people so desirous of what they don’t have that they become blind to what they have. That’s Pinterest. I don’t have a joke about it.

“And what about pride, the weightiest sin? Hoffman said it was Facebook, but I’m not so sure. Pride is sometimes considered the sin from which all others flow: the belief that one is essentially better than all one’s neighbors. It is, I imagine, something like telling everyone else they’re bad at what they do and then saying “ping me.” Pride is Medium.

“If Facebook doesn’t represent pride, then, what is it? Some theologians recognized two other sins beyond the original seven. The first was Vanity or Vainglory—an unrestrained belief in one’s own attractiveness, and a love of boasting. That’s Facebook.

“But the second of the new sins was Acedia, a word we have now largely lost but whose meaning survives somewhat in melancholy. It is the failure to do one’s work and take interest in the world—a cousin to boredom, exhaustion, and listlessness. It is the Hamlet Feeling. It is the feeling of Tumblr, it is the feeling of Deep YouTube—it is the feeling of the afternoon Internet.” […]    –Robinson Meyer, The Atlantic, May 9, 2016

Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell and the Internet Inferno

“I’ve seen several references to various social media apps and the Seven Deadly Sins, but as I consider the darkness that seems to breed in social media circles — from teen bullying on Snapchat and Instagram, to Twitter trolls threatening female reporters in India with rape and abuse, to child pornography on the Dark Web and the children who suffer miserably, literally living in hell for predators’ public pleasure — Dante’s Inferno comes to mind, and how this ancient story from 1300 might actually describe our reality right now, as we enter the Information Age of our human development.

[. . .]

“Unfortunately our technology is held hostage by the worst of us. Until we can turn the technology around and use it against those who commit such evil, we can’t get out of the woods. However, Dante and Virgil do make it out of Hell. Interestingly the poets cross through the barren wasteland and to the river of forgetfulness, emerging from Hell on Easter morning.

“I find it interesting that they must forget the darkness in order to leave Hell and make their way to Heaven, where true connection, love and solidarity await. What must we forget in order to fulfill the promise of the Internet and the idea of a globally connected world?

“Our hate? Our jealousy? Our anger? Our fear? Our ignorance? Our greed? Our lust? Our mistrust?

“I imagine so. In the meantime, our experiences online seem to be on one hand accelerating and enabling those who wish to sow the seeds of discontent and on the other hand bringing us together, enabling the collection and sharing of information and knowledge, and making us aware of those places and people in our community who are in need. If we can rid ourselves of our lower natures and focus on the fact that when we’re online, we’re actively creating a world together, perhaps someday we will hold Beatrice in our embrace, and finally find human connection at the deepest, most satisfying level.”    –Nicole Sallak Anderson, “Dante’s Nine Circles of Hell and the Internet Inferno,” Medium, October 25, 2017

The 9 Circles of Hell On Social Media

“Welcome to Dante’s Inferno for the 21st Century.” […]    Michael Blackmon, BuzzFeed, October 13, 2013

The 9 Circles of Millennial Hell

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here. This is a dead zone. (Effing AT&T…)
– Dante Alighier-ish

“Dante’s Divine Comedy was written in the 14th century with his uber-Catholic, Italian counterparts in mind. While the allegory of the afterlife lives on in modern culture, the Inferno would probably look slightly different were it typed out on an iPad.” […]    –Laura Stampler, TIME, July 30, 2014

10th Circle of Hell: iTunes

Tenth-Circle-of-Hell-iTunes-2015

This image was posted by user TadhgKelly on Imgur in 2015.

Beatrice: A New Social Network Platform Focused on the Italian Language

beatrice web platform italian language social network screenshot

“La battaglia per la difesa e la diffusione della lingua italiana si sposta ora sui social. A due anni dal successo di ‘Adotta una parola,’  la campagna volta a sensibilizzare le persone verso un utilizzo più corretto e consapevole della nostra lingua, la società Dante Alighieri lancia una nuova iniziativa.

“Dal nome della musa del Sommo Poeta nasce così Beatrice, la nuovissima piattaforma Web, volta a sensibilizzare le persone a condividere le proprie idee, diffondere una più ampia conoscenza del lessico italiano, tenere sotto controllo l’uso di determinati termini, e più in generale diffondere la varietà espressiva della nostra lingua nel modo della comunicazione a livello internazionale.

“Un progetto all’insegna della partecipazione e della creatività che ha come preciso scopo quello di promuovere e rendere sempre più vivo il nostro idioma non solo in Italia, ma in tutto il mondo. ‘L’idea è quella di sfruttare l’enorme rete fisica che la società Dante Alighieri possiede in tutto il mondo trasformandola in rete virtuale,’ spiega Massimo Arcangeli, curatore del progetto.

“Una volta creato il proprio profilo, l’utente avrà la possibilità di invitare i propri amici, avviare discussioni, proporre idee, postare commenti, immagini e video. Potrà, inoltre, organizzare la propria bacheca, inviare messaggi, gestire il proprio sito personale o quello della parola di cui è custode e allo stesso tempo interagire liberamente con altri utenti. Infine, avrà anche la possibilità di mettersi alla prova testando il proprio italiano, attraverso giochi di parole ed esercizi, per individuare e incrementare il livello di conoscenza acquisito.”    –Francesca Berti, “Arriva ‘Beatrice’ e la lingua italiana diventa social,” Blog di Innovazione, April 23, 2014

Nine Circles of Hell: Front End Development for Sharepoint

“My condolences.

“If you’re reading this book, it can logically be assumed that you’ve been tasked with completing a project that involves working with Sharepoint; in fact, it’s probably safe to make the assumption that you’re a front-end developer who stumbled upon this text after hysterically Googling ‘MICROSOFT SHAREPOINT SOME1 PLS HELP,’ tears streaming down your pudgy cheeks, fat fists wildly bashing the keyboard of your MacBook Pro.

“All is not lost, my friend. I found myself in exactly the same position some time ago; well, aside from the crying, anyway. What are you, some kind of wuss? Christ.

“The fact of the matter is that up-to-date, clear-cut information on front-end development for Sharepoint is frighteningly difficult to find. Sharepoint itself is chock-full of bad practices and front-end code taboos that will leave you scratching your head (and potentially crying, since you’ve apparently shown a propensity for doing that, Nancy).

“Furthermore, Sharepoint’s default front-end code (that is, the HTML, CSS, and JS that are used by default within a fresh install of Sharepoint) is so horrific that you’ll likely begin immediately assessing how to rewrite or overhaul the existing code in a desperate attempt to bring it in line with modern web development standards.

“Don’t panic. I’m here to help.” — J. Ky Marsh, J. Ky Marsh, 2012

Read the rest of the guidebook here.

“Three Lost Cantos From Dante’s Inferno”

three-lost-cantos-from-dantes-inferno “XXXV: Cell-Phone Users
The users of cell-phones in quiet places
Have merited scorn from all classes and races.
They talk to their pals with cocky assurance
While you bury your head in your book with endurance.
The gestures they make are of course unavailing
It looks like unseen taxis that they are hailing.
Their punishment, as each millennium passes,
Is to be drowned out forever by the braying of asses.”

“XXXVI: ‘Reply-to-All’-ers
We came to the furthest reach of hell-
A place that email users know well.
The woman or man whose unmitigated gall
Causes him or her to hit “Reply all”.
I don’t mean to work myself into a snith
But they ought to know better-it clogs server bandwidth.
For these folks a punishment fit for their crimes-
They’re surrounded and hounded by fast-talking mimes.”

“XXXVII: Credit Card Coffee Buyers
The lousy cup is called a “tall”–
the cost of it is rather small.
Those who chose to charge the price
In this ring are treated not-so-nice.
If plastic was the tender you used to pay
While the time of those in line wasted away
You will for eternity be burnt like toast
With free trade coffee, decaf dark roast.”    –Con Chapman

Available to read on Fictionaut.com (posted July, 2010).

Contributed by Patrick Molloy