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The Information Weekend: A Tech Shaman Rises in the Yucatan; a Guide to Surviving the Crypto Winter; and Why You Should Give ‘Cheer’ a Chance

Hi, welcome to your Weekend!

If you’re feeling some post-New Year’s malaise right now, you’re not alone. It’s only natural amidst a volatile week on the stock market, the onset of a potential crypto winter, and the forecast (on the East Coast, at least) of snowpocalypse.

But it’s good to know that you can ignore the doldrums and duck out to Tulum. There you can join a loose-knit spiritual community led by a serial tech entrepreneur named Ben Way, and engage in “shared meals, healing sound baths, guided meditation and spiritually inclined fireside chats.” 

Eyerolling aside, I found myself oddly moved by Zoe Bernard’s cover story on Way’s Temple of Light. It may be an “easy thing to mock,” as one Temple member readily admits, but there’s something aspirational about Way’s openness to weird, new ideas and his lifelong search for a higher meaning.

Give it a read, and let me know if you come away similarly uplifted—or if the malaise has only deepened.


the big read

Prayers of the Tuluminati: Down in the Yucatan, a Temple and Its Tech Shaman Chase Enlightenment

Ben Way—serial entrepreneur, investor, and seeker of higher truths—welcomes writer Zoë Bernard into the headquarters of his recently established spiritual community, the Temple of Light. The intention behind the retreat was to create what Way describes as a “catalyst,” a place to “bring people together for good.” It also happens to be a picturesque, party-friendly, de facto incubator and launchpad for Way’s various companies. “A lot of tech deals get done here,” he said. “Business and spirituality…are not mutually exclusive.” But, there are two things it’s not: “We are not a religion and we are not a cult.” 


How-to

A Survivor’s Guide to Braving the Crypto Winter

The Nor’easter isn’t the only mean-looking storm on the horizon. Stoked by fears of rising interest rates and the end of the ultracheap-money era, the price of cryptocurrencies plummeted this week, with the market shedding a trillion dollars from bitcoin’s all-time high. We may be entering “crypto winter,” defined as a sharp decline in cryptocurrency prices, followed by a prolonged decrease in trading. But have no fear: Margaux asked some veterans of crypto winters past for their go-to survival tips. 


decamped

After Winning a Buffalo, N.Y., Startup Competition, a Founder Trades Sand for (Lots and Lots of) Snow

In this week’s Decamped, Annie chats with Scott Wayman, CEO and founder of Kangarootime, a software company for child-care centers and preschools. Wayman moved from Long Beach, Calif., to Buffalo, N.Y., after winning the 43North startup accelerator competition, but he’s relocating his company for the long run. He loves Buffalo’s emerging tech scene... but could do without the weather. 


10 questions

Jacob Ward’s “The Loop” Peers Into the Black Box of Machine-Learning Algorithms and Returns With a Dire Warning

In our new series, “10 Questions,” we ask tech authors to pull back the covers on their recently released books. First up: NBC science and technology correspondent Ward discusses his new book, “The Loop: How Technology Is Creating a World Without Choices and How to Fight Back,” about the dangers underlying tech companies’ pattern-recognition algorithms.


The Endorsement

Reporter Annie Goldsmith on “Cheer” Season 2:

If it feels like the first season of Netflixs “Cheer” took place in a different universe, that’s because it did. I remember back in January 2020 chatting about Navarro College’s champion cheerleaders with colleagues in a full office and with friends in crowded bars.  Interestingly, the newly released second season is as much a show about the isolation of Covid and the ills of social media as it is about cheerleading. Stuck in lockdown and unable to compete in 2020, the show’s stars turn to apps like Instagram and Cameo to lucrative effect. But the platforms also exacerbate the disparities between the squad’s “Netflix stars” and their more or less anonymous teammates. (They also indirectly lead to the devastating downfall of star Jerry Harris, who faces child pornography and sexual exploitation charges after he allegedly propositioned minors on Snapchat.) Indeed, whether you care at all about cheerleading is beside the point when it comes to “Cheer.” Season 2 is a case study in social media fame and an anthropological look at how the Internet colors every decision that young people make. It paints an honest portrait of a truly changed universe. 



Watching: Grimes’ captivating music video.

Musician Grimes, the reining queen of fairy cosplay and “semi-separated” partner of Elon Musk, just released a new music video for her song, “Shinigami Eyes.” The video is can’t-look-away anime-nerd entertainment, with Grimes flashing light sabers and wielding crossbows while slithering around a technicolor digital dreamscape. Is this the Matrix or the Metaverse? We couldn’t say. But, either way, there’s more to come, as the song will appear on an upcoming EP called (what else?) “Fairies Cum First.”


Reading: The apps monetizing customers’ prayers.

Apparently everything can be mined for data—including your prayers. Buzzfeed’s Emily Baker-White writes about the rise of venture-backed prayer apps and how these companies share user data. Though it should come as no surprise at this point, it still feels alarming to learn that sites like Pray.com and Hallow record everything from their users’ location to the content of their prayers, pairing that data with third-party information revealing users’ gender, political affiliation, and income. The whole article begs the question, is no area of human experience sacred to Silicon Valley? And the answer, of course, is no. 


Noticing: A comprehensive dictionary of Gen Z-speak.

Sure, you may now know what “cheugy” means. But, can you define “mid,” explain the gorgeous gorgeous girls trend, or tell us why TikTok star Anna Sitar is “a ray of positivity”? That’s where In the Know’s exhaustive Gen Z glossary comes in, defining our cultural era’s most essential “trends, memes and influencers.” The repository (which is really just a link dump for the website’s archives, but who are we to complain?) is updated as new notable terms emerge. We’re waiting on entries for the #RaisedBy/Bang Bang Bang Bang trend and the “River Deep, Mountain High” song. IYKYK.


Makes You Think

Funding-round announcements are...the new festival posters? Only in the Valley, kids. 


Until next Weekend, thanks for reading!

—Jon

Weekend Editor, The Information


Jon Steinberg is the Weekend Editor at The Information. He is a former editor-in-chief of San Francisco magazine and senior editor at New York magazine, where his work won many National Magazine Awards.
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