“One of the reason I am fascinated by Google Maps and apps like Foursquare is not because they solve a very real problem, but instead, for me they are a living test bed of an Internet that is shape-shifting in real-time, is data rich and hyper-personalized to such an extreme that it can predict what comes next almost automagically. It is a network that uses connectivity to its extreme and offers the impossible.”—40 Kilometers | @Om
“If Westminster is locked into a paralysing neoliberal consensus it is partly because the corporate media, owned and staffed by its beneficiaries, demands it. Any party that challenges this worldview is ruthlessly disciplined. Any party that more noisily promotes corporate power is lauded and championed. Ukip, though it claims to be kicking against the establishment, owes much of its success to the corporate press.”—How the media shafted the people of Scotland | George Monbiot | Comment is free | The Guardian
In the context of cloud computing at least, corporate authority is limited to the extent that online operators like Amazon, Google, or Facebook must abide to the basic tenets of law. In the case of Ethereum, the authority of the code cannot be questioned, nor can it be repealed by the law. In that sense these challenges are actually more similar to the issues emerging with the advent of autonomous agents – such as evolutionary software viruses or (though perhaps limited to the realm of science-fiction for now) intelligent robots with an autonomy on their own — than they are to traditional P2P applications.
Ethereum and other blockchain-based applications might well liberate us from the tyranny of large online operators. We just need to make sure that we don’t exchange that for the “tyranny of code”: rules dictated and automatically enforced by the underlying code of an online platform that only exists in the “ether”…
The widespread hatred of what’s happened with Facebook, in particular, is a constant gripe not just for users (I finally deleted my personal Facebook account, and kept only the fan page) but also marketers, who have developed huge followings that they now have to pay to reach. But as was pointed out by a speaker at the conference, this is all the fault of myself and my colleagues:
"We’re the problem! We broke Facebook. They had to switch to promoted content because we were spamming people with garbage. ‘Here’s a picture of the sun! Do you YOU like the sun? ‘Like’ this picture of you like the sun!’ WE ARE THE PROBLEM."
“I asked one, an old friend I hadn’t seen for at least 10 years, why he’d be voting yes. “I changed my mind quite a while ago. For me it’s about the way Britain has gone - the extremes of wealth and poverty that people down south seem comfortable with, the dominance of the privately educated people in all walks of life, the rise of UKIP, the talk of leaving the EU and a Labour Party that I don’t really recognise any more”.”—Scotland’s Decision
“They herald a cultural movement among the young which may become part of the history of our time … For those with eyes to see it, something important and heartening is happening here. The young are rejecting some of the sloppy standards of their elders … they have discerned dimly that in a world of automation, declining craftsmanship and increased leisure, something of this kind is essential to restore the human instinct to excel at something and the human faculty of discrimination.”—New Statesman | From the archive: The Menace of Beatlism
The Web I want doesn’t have DRM in its standards, because the Web I want doesn’t believe it’s legitimate to design computers so that strangers over a network can give your computer orders that you aren’t allowed to know about or override.
Unfortunately, the W3C has caved to Netflix, the BBC and other big rightsholders who insisted that this become part of the HTML5 standard. Now that DRM is going to be in every browser as standard, any Web-capable computer will have software whose flaws are illegal to report (because disclosing information that can be used to break DRM is illegal all over the world), and will become reservoirs of long-lived vulnerabilities ripe for exploitation by voyeurs, identity thieves, creeps, spies, cops, and corrupt governments.
“We quickly realized that the tech-centric narrative of privacy just doesn’t fit with people’s understandings and experience of it. They don’t see privacy as simply being the control of information. They don’t see the “solution” to privacy being access-control lists or other technical mechanisms of limiting who has access to information. Instead, they try to achieve privacy by controlling the social situation. To do so, they struggle with their own power in that situation. For teens, it’s all about mom looking over their shoulder. No amount of privacy settings can solve for that one. While learning to read social contexts is hard, it’s especially hard online, where the contexts seem to be constantly destabilized by new technological interventions. As such, context becomes visible and significant in the effort to achieve privacy. Achieving privacy requires a whole slew of skills, not just in the technological sense, but in the social sense. Knowing how to read people, how to navigate interpersonal conflict, how to make trust stick. This is far more complex that people realize, and yet we do this every day in our efforts to control the social situations around us.”—danah boyd | apophenia » What is Privacy?
I’ve never quite got to grips with social networking. Sometimes I get Facebook friend requests from complete strangers, with no message attached, and I wonder if they have confused me with someone else. I usually decline.
I’m also similarly confused by Linkedin. Why would an executive in an oil company want to connect with an impoverished bookseller from Sussex, unless they needed to be reassured that they’ve made the right career choice. It would be good if people had to explain why they want to connect.
Another annoying trend is the tendency for social networking sites to try and pull all of our telephone and email contacts. I can’t see the sense of this, because it is only natural to compartmentalise the people we know into different groups. Most of us have a public and private persona and never the twain shall meet.
Paglen ended his lecture with an amazing anecdote worth repeating here. Expanding on this notion that humanity’s longest-lasting ruins will not be cities, cathedrals, or even mines, but rather geostationary satellites orbiting the Earth, surviving for literally billions of years beyond anything we build on the planet’s surface, Paglen tried to conjure up what this might look like for other species in the far future.
Billions of years from now, he began to narrate, long after city lights and the humans who made them have disappeared from the Earth, other intelligent species might eventually begin to see traces of humanity’s long-since erased presence on the planet.
Consider deep-sea squid, Paglen said, who would have billions of years to continue developing and perfecting their incredible eyesight, a sensory skill perfect for peering through the otherwise impenetrable darkness of the oceans—but also an eyesight that could let them gaze out at the stars in deep space.
Perhaps, Paglen speculated, these future deep-sea squid with their extraordinary powers of sight honed precisely for focusing on tiny points of light in the darkness might drift up to the surface of the ocean on calm nights to look upward at the stars, viewing a scene that will have rearranged into whole new constellations since the last time humans walked the Earth.
“Blaming a lack of technological positivity in fiction — especially when there is so much technological positivity in our daily lives — discounts the deep significance and increasing value of dystopian fiction and its ability to keep us on our toes in our day-to-day lives. It’s important to note that positivity happens a lot more often in dystopian fiction than Solana describes: take the cancer-defying medical equipment in Elysium, for example. Those stories are often more about how powerful people use tech to oppress others. To suggest that limiting the human imagination and intellect in order to improve a problem born of ignorance in the first place is absurd and, frankly, dangerous.”—Actually, society needs dystopian sci-fi more than ever (Wired UK)
“The show begins with the family watching Itchy and Scratchy. They announce that the show is coming to an end and the entire family gasps in horror. They then announce that the last episode will be aired in a years time, and until then, a contest will be running; this contest will offer the winner the chance to write what will happen in the finale. The entire Simpson family applies. Krusty is in charge of choosing the winner. He falls in love with one of the Simpson’s idea and puts it in winners box. He makes a mistake though, he puts all five of their ideas in the box by accident. He goes on his show to announce the winner and pulls out five cards out of the box. Stumped, he reads all five names out, "Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie." Flash forward a year later and Bart is in class describing his take on the Itchy and Scratchy finale to Milhouse, while showing us Itchy and Scratchy with Bart’s voice-over. He finishes and the class is silent, Edna Krabappel is staring at him and says, "After-school detention." The scene then cuts to the power plant and Homer is describing his finale to Lenny and Carl. He finishes, a bell rings and he gets in a radiation suit. The scene cuts to a supermarket and Marge is describing her take to Helen Lovejoy, she finishes and strolls Maggie in the trolley to another aisle. Here, Maggie sees the unibrow baby and starts describing her take via waving and motioning. She finishes and the scene cuts to Lisa, she begins describing her take to Sherri and Terri. She finishes and picks up her saxophone to go to music practice. She walks in the music room sits down and then sees the time. She realises the show is going to be on in ten minutes. She plays the Itchy and Scratchy melody on her sax and bolts out. It cuts to Bart, he’s writing on the black board: "I will not talk in class ever again" he hears a bell, realises the time and runs out. Cut to Homer holding some plutonium at a conveyor belt when a bell rings at the plant and he too realises the time and runs off, dropping some plutonium. Cut to the supermarket and we see Marge and Maggie checking out and running through the exit doors. Cut to a birds eye view of their home and we see everyone rushing to take a seat in the couch. They look at each other, they smile, the Itchy and Scratchy music plays, and it cuts to credits.”—How would you like to see The Simpsons end? : AskReddit
“"Fitting street lamps with complex sensors—and hooking them up to a larger network that controls the city—will have implications far outside of lighting," the article explains. "If a street lamp senses a sudden rush of people in an area that’s usually deserted at night, police could be tipped off to go check the area out." And, by extension, those streets could be dramatically flooded with blazing incandescence, transforming the city’s infrastructure into a kind of giant police spotlight.”—BLDGBLOG: Right to Light
While in Hawaii on a quest for the perfect wave, I once bumped into a psychiatrist who asked me where I came from. She gave a sigh of respect at my answer. “England!” she said, in a dreamy kind of way. “You are so lucky!” How so, I asked, far more in love with Hawaii. “Because in England you can be miserable and nobody minds. They expect you to be miserable over there.”
It turned out that she was a specialist in depression. I said, “But we’re in Hawaii—surely no one can be depressed here? Aren’t these supposed to be ‘The Happy Isles?’ Isn’t this the land of ‘aloha?’”
She pointed out to me that: (1) In Hawaii the same ratio of people are depressed as anywhere else; (2) The problem with Hawaii is that you are expected to be happy—by idiots like me, for example—so that when you are depressed, you are not just depressed, you feel guilty about being depressed too, so you’re doubly screwed; (3) And, finally, because Hawaii is technically the United States too, if you’re depressed, guilty and broke as well, when you’re supposed to be affluent, then you’re in triple trouble.
“Creative people in a wide range of fields keep hearing the ridiculous mantra that “content wants to be free.” The music industry is the worst offender. Many label execs tell artists—maybe the execs even believe it themselves—that musicians shouldn’t expect to generate income from their recordings. But no worries, mate, you will make it all up by selling T-shirts at your gigs.
The experts who offer this bad advice need to watch some more TV. While record labels have been shrinking, TV networks have reinvented themselves by selling content via a profitable subscription model. TV has reversed the trend: households once got it for free, but now they are willing to pay for it. Yes, you can still get broadcast TV channels without paying a monthly fee, but only seven percent of American households go that route.
Not only has TV switched successfully from “giving it away” to a subscription model, but the shift has also spurred a new golden age of television. The same economic pressures that are killing the music business have led to the highest quality shows in the history of the medium.”—Five Lessons the Faltering Music Industry Could Learn From TV - The Daily Beast
When most people think of Internet surveillance, they imagine government bureaucrats monitoring their emails and Google searches. In a March 2014 study, MIT professor Catherine Tucker and privacy advocate Alex Marthews analyzed data from Google Trends across 282 search terms rated for their “privacy-sensitivity.” The terms included “Islam”, “national security”, “Occupy”, “police brutality”, “protest”, and “revolution.” After Edward Snowden’s leaks about NSA surveillance, Tucker and Marthews found, the frequency of these sensitive search terms declined—suggesting that Internet users have become less likely to explore “search terms that they [believe] might get them in trouble with the U.S. government.” The study also found that people have become less likely to search “embarrassing” topics such as “AIDS”, “alcoholics anonymous,” “coming out,” “depression,” “feminism,” “gender reassignment,” “herpes,” and “suicide”—while concerns over these more personal terms could have as much to do with startling Google ads, the notable decrease observed in the study suggests the increased awareness of surveillance led to a degree of self-censorship.
In other words, people are doing their best to blend in with the crowd.
Barbecues, mainly. And this is part of it. Calling the dogs in, all limbs and sinew, the vermicular homebound patterns they weave in the scorch of the grass. The glint of the grill in the sun’s fire ellipse, its entirety as it bends toward hyphenate unyielding horizon. I like to soak the mesquite chips for at least half an hour. Then there’s the marinade for the brisket, or the dry rub, the laying on of hands. A replication of primeval violence. In your fingertips the harm of generations, the wish to make right, the failure to cleanse and absturge. Raw matter. Chile ancho, dried chipotles, paprika and salt, pulverized plant and rock, the sad spice and crumble of the earth’s red crust. I put the beef in a plastic bag for two hours before my guests come.