The first question when trying to explain a Hegelian take on algorithmic inference and quantified self is: do I understand Hegel well enough? The second question is: does anyone? Then a realization: of course someone else does. My next instinct is to make an excuse: my technical understanding of the subject-matter at hand means I have spent most of my time NOT learning Hegel. That’s probably not true — or, rather, that’s probably not a totally valid reason to not be up on my Hegel. This is not the point.

The point is that, from what I understand, exploring the Hegelian master/slave dialectic, especially as framed by the Hegelian triad, might help us see something very important about the way our new corporations recognize us and us, them. It might also help us understand the futility in our drive to become those corporations: for us slaves to become those masters. Not to bum you out — that is not the goal here. The goal is for everyone to acquire something new.

I’m going to try to present everything here in small bite-sized pieces. I want it to be accessible and digestible. Think of the following as a project in itself. So for the next 4,750 words, let’s see if we can’t learn some things and better appreciate at least a very small part of Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s work, the importance of making art, the value of hackers to our culture, and if there’s any hope for us all.