Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 6 Jan 11 03:22
*I guess I should get all worried about the gun shows and the ammo shortage anecdote... But that's what the US offers the world. Guns and ammo. The US spends more on military gear than everybody else put together. The US is spending Chinese credit on military gear. *It doesn't seem too surprising that a nation with these habits should be really into the produce. It's like the Swiss and clocks, or the French and cheese. *There aren't any tough, armed, right-wing militias in the US shoving people off the sidewalk. The US doesn't even have soccer hooligans. The Tea Party is amazingly nonviolent, even by American political standards. They don't occupy buildings, they don't get teargassed, they don't burn churches or car-bomb the opposition party. *Their spiritual leader is this daffy Aimee Semple McPherson creature from Alaska -- she's not some kind of jackbooted Mussolini. The Tea Party is not remotely scary. Bonkers, yeah; physically intimidating, no way.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 6 Jan 11 03:36
*The Brazilians are buying a lot of guns. They're seriously beefing up the Navy and the Air Force. This Brazilian pugnacity is kinda overlooked by leftie fans who admire their green and working-class sentiments. *The Chinese are also boosting their Navy quite a lot, but the Chinese are in a tough neighborhood. It's a little unclear to me who the Brazilian Air Force is supposed to blow up. Their worst security problems are in the jungles and inside their own cities. They've got zilch to do with Mach 4 dogfights. I confess myself a little puzzled by this. *It may be that they're buying this stuff just to boost their own arms industry. Because they do make arms -- especially cute little urban tanks / armored cars -- and yeah, they sell plenty of 'em. Weird warthog-like armored cash-cars have a heavy presence in the streets of Sao Paulo; they seem as common as fireplugs.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 6 Jan 11 04:33
Two big shows in the U.S.: Congress is in session, and the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show is under way. It's debatable which of these two should or will get the most attention. Congress is full of Tea Party newbies all full of worldchanging piss and vinegar, convinced that they can fix government by pruning budgets and programs, not quite realizing yet how constrained is their power, and that the grand old party they're in bed with drinks 'way too much, and wets the bed every night. Meanwhile CES opened with a speech by Microsoft's Steve Ballmer, who was focused on selling "interactive entertainment," what we used to call games, via Xbox 360, Xbox Live, and Kinect, which "have made 2010 the best in our history." Ron Forbes followed, addressing the pressing questions du jour, like "when is Xbox gonna support Netflix and Hulu Plus?" Netflix is offering unlimited streaming movies and television shows at $7.99 per month, diverting the mass audience from broadcast and cable television to a commercial-free environment where you can stream content 24/7 on demand. You can potentially be wired to content and games every minute of the day, insulated from the world at large, without thinking a single unique thought of your own. Welcome home, Neo. On the other hand, many are also wired to partisan news channels, drive-by conversations on TWitter and Facebook, short form digital video from YouTube et al. There's a f2f social culture evolving, too - meetups, events, and parties coordinated online, feeling like crowds though often only 30-40 people here and there. Freelancers who otherwise have nothing in common share coworking spaces where everybody's some variation of web developer or social marketing maven. Elsewhere in academic and incubation environments entrepeneurs are scratching their niches, looking for new ideas, new games, new forms of media, new ways to source and package energy... something that will sell in a world where pockets once heavy with coin are feeling drained. It's all so fragmented. The monkeys in our heads are rattled, they're bouncing and swinging out of control. Streams of thought block awareness of the moment. We're somnambulists in a world of persistent dreams that are not necessarily our own. The voices in our heads are not inherently our own, and not inherently friendly. And there are so many of them. This is timely: "There is a growing mountain of research. But there is increased evidence that we are being bogged down today as specialization extends. The investigator is staggered by the findings and conclusions of thousands of other workersconclusions that he cannot find time to grasp, much less to remember, as they appear. Yet specialization becomes increasingly necessary for progress, and the effort to bridge between disciplines is correspondingly superficial." Oh, wait - that was Vannevar Bush in 1945.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 6 Jan 11 04:40
"If a man reasons and thinks soundly, no matter what path he follows in solving these problems, he must inevitably arrive back at himself, and begin with the problem of what he is himself and what his place is in the world around him." - George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff "You are perfect as you are, and you could use a little work." - Shunryu Suzuki-Roshi
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 6 Jan 11 04:54
Two comments from Julian Bond, via Facebook: Bruce: "We can take some comfort in discussing the State of the World, rather than the state of the USA." Well said. This is something that bothers me every year when the discussion starts global but frequently ends up being about the USA. Given that it's an American (living in Belgrade) talking to an American (living in SF) with an au...dience of mostly Americans I guess this is not so surprising. It irks though because the English language internet is so dominated by US websites, people and thinking that I look forward to some truly global thinking in these discussions. Bruce: "Now the Europeans really do seem to be acting old". As a Brit I have to think twice about what you are referring to. But then I remember that Britain is not really in Europe. ;) We've been so cosmopolitan for so long that institutionalised racism seems a minor issue compared with other European countries. And we didn't quite succumb to the state sponsored, job for life, pension forever mindset that actively discourages entrepreneurs in a sea of bureaucracy. Of course we have our own problems and had a huge hand to play in the banking meltdown. It's not all good, just different.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 6 Jan 11 05:05
*Yeah man, iPad Surface Kinect Android! *It's great to have outlived the era of the "personal computer." I don't know anybody whose computer has an airgap and is entirely "personal." Even if this mythical guy existed, how would I ever learn about him? *Lately I've been reading (of all things) Isaac D'Israeli's CURIOSITIES OF LITERATURE. Super-geeky lit-blogger guy, our Mr. D'Israeli. It's pretty clear that he was overwhelmed by the bulk of the world's intellectual minutiae a full century before Vannevar Bush.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 6 Jan 11 05:49
Cliff Collard was telling me yesterday that a single iPhone is more powerful than the combination of all the Apple IIes that were produced. Here's the Project Gutenberg link for D'Israeli's work: http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/d#a6393 I can relate to D'Israeli, as described by his son: "He was himself a complete literary character, a man who really passed his life in his library. Even marriage produced no change in these habits; he rose to enter the chamber where he lived alone with his books, and at night his lamp was ever lit within the same walls. Nothing, indeed, was more remarkable than the isolation of this prolonged existence; and it could only be accounted for by the united influence of three causes: his birth, which brought him no relations or family acquaintance; the bent of his disposition; and the circumstance of his inheriting an independent fortune, which rendered unnecessary those exertions that would have broken up his self-reliance. He disliked business, and he never required relaxation; he was absorbed in his pursuits. In London his only amusement was to ramble among booksellers; if he entered a club, it was only to go into the library. In the country, he scarcely ever left his room but to saunter in abstraction upon a terrace; muse over a chapter, or coin a sentence. He had not a single passion or prejudice: all his convictions were the result of his own studies, and were often opposed to the impressions which he had early imbibed. He not only never entered into the politics of the day, but he could never understand them. He never was connected with any particular body or set of men; comrades of school or college, or confederates in that public life which, in England, is, perhaps, the only foundation of real friendship. In the consideration of a question, his mind was quite undisturbed by traditionary preconceptions; and it was this exemption from passion and prejudice which, although his intelligence was naturally somewhat too ingenious and fanciful for the conduct of close argument, enabled him, in investigation, often to show many of the highest attributes of the judicial mind, and particularly to sum up evidence with singular happiness and ability."
Engaged, confused and self-righteous (robertflink) Thu 6 Jan 11 06:24
>He not only never entered into the politics of the day, but he could never understand them.< When shall we again have such leaders?
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 6 Jan 11 09:11
Isaac D'Israeli wasn't a political leader, just the father of one. My guess was that the guy was an undiagnosed Asperger's case. But this book of his is the product of all that fetishistic reading (in four or five languages). And it's not lit-crit, it's just the "curiosities"-- the freaky stuff. Poe read the book. Hawthorne read it. It's scarcely a "book" at all, it's more like some primer for erudite dandyism. Obviously it's got nothing at all to do with the State of the World in 2011, but it sure makes reading a Twitter stream a lot more approachable. Plus, it's chock-full of off-the-wall anecdotes I never heard of, and many are by no means "literary." One of the most interesting parts of it is hearing D'Israeli gossipping about the freaky habits of dropout bookworms who are much, much weirder than he is. For instance, there's a pen-portrait of the Librarian of the Grand Duke of Tuscany, and the guy is basically a mole. Lives in narrow tunnels of books, sleeps on books, eats on books. Knows the location of every book crammed in his mansion through some kind of geek radar. I'd been meaning to read this book for ages... then got it off Google Book Scan. Of course.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 6 Jan 11 09:21
One can moan about the difficulty of keeping up with current events, but then there's the past. There can only be more and more past. How can anyone keep the assorted doings of humanity straight in their head? It's like a vast heap of detritus struck by earthquakes. It's agonizing to hear D'Israeli referring offhandedly to hugely-famous period figures who are almost completely forgotten now. Famous preachers. Romance novelists. "The famous philosopher Bayle, who died so nobly..." At one point D'Israeli refers offhandedly to knowing Byron, and it's obvious that Byron is some kind of annoying young punk -- the kind of writer you're better off not hearing about.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Thu 6 Jan 11 09:36
This is what it once used to mean to be "literary," as D'Israeli points out. "We, count and senator, for us and our College, declare Francis Petrarch great poet and historian, and for a special mark of his quality as a poet, we have placed with our hands on his head a CROWN OF LAUREL, granting to him, by tenor of these presents, and by the authority of King Robert, of the Senate and People of Rome, in the poetic, as well as in the historic art, and generally in whatever relates to said arts, as well in this holy city and elsewhere, the free and entire power of reading, disputing, and interpreting all ancient books, to make new ones, and to compose poems, which, God assisting, shall endure from age to age." Petrarch's composed poems are in pretty good condition in this remote age, but the idea of some aristocrat putting some leaves on your head so that you have "the free and entire power" to read books in some town... Well, I guess that's even more freakily archaic than using carbon paper in a manual typewriter. Although, not by a lot. D'Israeli says that the pleasant custom of crowning Poets Laureate with Laurel died out, basically because of grade inflation. Laurel was pretty cheap as foliage went, so pretty soon every passing blog commenter wanted a crown of his own. Then, nobody did. A lot of the curious guys in this book are martyrs to capital-L Literature, and they're dying for something vast and slow and powerful, that bears very little resemblance to anything that modern writers do.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Thu 6 Jan 11 12:53
When blogs appeared, many decried the low quality and trivial focus of much of the writing, but I was blown away by how many really good writers broke surface, absent the print world's barriers to publication. Pre-web, we saw zines and small book publishers churning out an unprecedented massive flow of interesting if not great writing, much of which moved to the web as webzines and blogs started to appear and get traction. At this point I'm not sure how I feel about this explosion of valuable content. They say cream rises, but if there's a real glut of cream, you can be drowning in it. And it's as if the literary world has no shape... a mass of erudite prose has splattered against the face of the world, Sherwin Williams-style ... how do you sort it out?
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 6 Jan 11 13:43
Well there's the tools: filters,feeds,aggregators,scrapers,search engines,networks,subscriptions,etc. and who know's what's next? All part of our new digital learning experience. Little late in the day for someone as old as me, but I'm taking an online class from Howard Rheingold in order to learn how it all works and how to make it work for me. I'm just going to focus on one or two areas of interest to concentrate on and rely on the curation and collaboration of others. Twitterstream helps out there and I'm sure more sites will come. Quroa is already taking off from Twitter. It's like being let loose in a candy shop - have to resist the urge to have it all, or you just get sick. So, in an interesting way all this info overload may well help us all become more inter-dependent on one another. Worth a shot! Nothing else is working.
gmoke (gmokecamb) Thu 6 Jan 11 16:54
Bill McKibben is mulling the idea of an ongoing global brainstorm on local, practical climate change solutions and adaptations. Something like that is inevitable if only through such organizations as ICLEI on a municipal level. Congress is getting all the press and I'm not seeing a lot of coverage of the CES this year. Even on boingboing, this year's edition seems to be getting mostly yawns. Maybe this is a technological plateau before the next ascension to a whole nother level. It does seem as if we are living in a cover band world. The Tea Party Congress bids fair to be a rerun of the Contract Congress. Hopefully, that means there will be an Obama boom the way there was a Clinton boom. But let's skip the blue dresses and semen stains this time around please. I wonder when Bruce is going to head East and report on China, South Korea, India, Indonesia, and Japan. In a Viridian flashback, it might be good to visit Australia as well.
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Thu 6 Jan 11 19:41
Ran across this today: "But the web is not just some kind of magic all-absorbing meta-medium. It's its own thing. And like other media it has a question that it answers better than any other. That question is: Why wasn't I consulted? http://www.ftrain.com/wwic.html I'm wondering if online social gadgets are going to go out of fashion in 2011.
bill braasch (bbraasch) Thu 6 Jan 11 19:51
I'm seeing more texting, as little phone as necessary and occasional posts to Facebook, mostly travel or event photography, as the social media of the twentysomethings around here (Oakland / San Francisco). Mafia Wars, Farmville etc. are for the parents to play 'on break', I suppose. I read last week that Mafia Wars is now a prison game played on smuggled in phones. What's to lose if you're already in the joint? My son says they broke Facebook when they let us on. Thus we have texting.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Thu 6 Jan 11 20:02
I get that from my kids too. They don't even answer their phone anymore, just text and use mobile and rarely use the Internet.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 7 Jan 11 02:14
"Abundance breaks more things than scarcity," as Clay Shirky once abundantly said. I used to be involved in the paper fanzine scene, so I was never much daunted by the supposed "barriers to entry" in publishing. If you ever read a "slush pile" for a traditional publisher, you became instantly aware that there were legions of people writing -- even intelligent and hard-working people -- whose writing just didn't deserve any attention from publishers. It was no use making that stuff widely public, because only twenty people would read it -- and they'd be the guy's relatives, who would think, "Wow, my cousin, the published writer!" Now we got blogs (for the time bein). The "writing" there is not what blogs have ever been about. The writing doesn't much matter in blogs; the blogging matters. The writing in my own blog isn't much good. My blog's 'writing" consists mostly of wisecracks, sarcastic complaints and You Go Girl. It's the LINKING that is important in a blog, not the "writing". The screen-size snippets of prose are in a supportive position to the work of the blog as an entity on the Internet. Nobody goes to my blog to read Bruce Sterling's sparkling prose. They just whip through the updated torrent of eldritch curiosities there. "My cousin the Augmented Reality guy." "My cousin the Design Fiction guy." Nobody reads all of it; my blog is like a cigar-box full of pinned, still-living bugs. If they find something hip they haven't heard about, then they click on that and vanish. Sometimes they link back to it. If I stopped performing that blog, everything in it would swiftly linkrot and die. Nobody's gonna read that blog in 20 years, although I wrote books 20 years ago that are still read.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 7 Jan 11 02:20
As blogging has grown older and the bandwidth has increased, more and more blogs are non-textual, ever less writerly. In theory, my blog could become a "vlog" where I don't type one word, but just stare into the laptop camera and deliver the parenthetical wisecracks as literal offhand remarks. It could be a podcast, or a Tumblr. With some work I could probably shoehorn my blog into my FlickR set. Here's a great modern blog. It's all about a young, hip Jewish woman in New York dressing up and talking about her clothes. It's hysterically funny, and utterly beloved by its readers, and it could never have existed in any analog medium. http://www.manrepeller.com/ Even the fashion magazine press loves this young woman; they hire her to write, sometimes. She's indeed a pretty good "writer," but without the pictures of the clothes and the links to her daily adventures, there's nothing much there. The text alone could never sustain that scene she has created.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 7 Jan 11 02:22
The bigger blogs are struggling hard to destroy their original format now. It's no longer about a democratic voice for the lonely pamphleteer shut out by analog publishing. Nobody cares about that, that is over. For Gawker, it's about the optimal "post-blog" as an aggregated branding vehicle. http://lifehacker.com/5701749/why-gawker-is-moving-beyond-the-blog Gawker is trying hard to saw off the ladder rungs under them, and to act more like a feisty TV network. That's all about creating NEW barriers to entry, where Joe Blogger can't get a word-in because Gawker has a professional skill-set and a uniquely designed interface... It's a platform for post-blog expression, a platform, like Facebook or Twitter or maybe Fox News. Once you control the platform, the "writing" takes care of itself. Nobody seeks out the "great writing" on Facebook pages. There's never been a literary MySpace anthology. "The Best-Written Blog Posts of 2008," who would ever look at that? It would be like seeking out the best-orated CB radio monologues and issuing a vinyl record.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 7 Jan 11 02:25
There is no end-game in sight to the techno-transitions here. The "post-blog" may well destroy the blog, but there's no stability at all in the "post-blog." The WELL has more stability than any of these high-bandwidth metamediated entities. Because the WELL is cheap to run and it's stopped fitfully struggling to keep up. While volatile stuff like Facebook, Gawker, Twitter -- man, the Cloud is waiting for them. The "post-web" is waiting, the Cloud. And the Cloud is gonna do to the Web what the Web did to the Net and what the Net did to the Information Superhighway and what the Information Superhighway did to the Arpanet. That is, well, abundance breaking things -- over and over again. Mostly what it breaks is the earlier febrile efforts to exult in or rein in the abundance. It breaks what is already broken. The story is one of endless pioneer shacks that had vast potential, but were never much more than electronic frontier shacks -- "obsolete before plateau," disrupted before anybody could get really good at doing it. The favela falls down, and you pick up the cracked and scattered bricks and rebuild another favela. It may be a really colossal gold-rush favela that's drained the life out of all the rural villages, but the streets have no names and there's no mayor. There is no continuity; there is no heritage. It's a slum rather than a civilization. It lacks a literature. Life in a favela is not a dashing pioneer adventure, it's a hustle, an endless grind. A grind, sometimes broken by earthquakes. If you attempt to name the streets and create a mayor, everybody packs their hammocks and runs away as fast as they can.
Ed Ward (captward) Fri 7 Jan 11 03:01
>>Nobody seeks out the "great writing" on Facebook pages. Although this isn't what you meant by that, one of my Facebook friends, a graphic designer, got to playing with the 420-character status-update limit, creating little snapshots with words that had a lot of power. Being a designer, one day he made a fake book cover called 420 Characters. I asked him if there were such a book, and he said only in his mind. I asked my agent if there'd be a market for the first book created exclusively on Facebook, and now 420 Characters will be out this fall.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 7 Jan 11 05:48
*I'm quite the Twitter fiend myself, but I rather doubt that even an exceedingly witty 140-character compilation of the coolest things ever from a billion users is gonna outlast Petrarch. *I could print out a Lulu book of my blog in short order... but I wouldn't read it myself, so why force that on others? *I don't wanna have this problem taken as some kind of crotchety chiding of "bad content." That's certainly not my point. Because, as I pointed out earlier about my own photographs, I'm a major offender there. Seven thousand mediocre photographs! *And I'm not gonna get any better in that line of work, because I can't be bothered. In theory, I could get a better camera and maybe take classes and become more technically capable, but I don't care. Photography is not my metier, my heart's not in it, and I never got involved in it until the barriers-to-entry crashed abjectly, and it got so cheap and easy that lazy, indifferent meddlers could pitch in. And I'm a proud one of their membership. *I don't intend to stop uploading photographs, either. Even though there are billions, torrents every day, and I can't keep up even with photoes from my circle of friends and relations. *On the contrary, I'm drifting into doing videos. *If the barriers to fabbed production keep crashing, I may be doing objects, pretty soon. I did a lamp once. It wasn't all that great a lamp, but if I could do weird generated lamps by waving my hands over an interface, man, the world might be deluged in lamps. *Check these out: http://blog.ponoko.com/2011/01/06/ten-best-articles-on-furniture-lighting/ *Lotta cardboard there; lotta mulch. Humble materials, a lot of cheap code. Very contemporary. Very Favela Chic.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 7 Jan 11 06:18
<bslesins> on "Why Wasn't I Consulted": Doc Searls, carrying forward thinking from the Cluetrain Manifesto he co-authored, has created Project VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) at the Berkman Center at Harvard: http://blogs.law.harvard.edu/vrm/. The point, from the "About" page: 1. To encourage development of tools by which individuals can take control of their relationships with organizations especially in commercial marketplaces. 2. To conduct research on VRM-related theories, usage of VRM tools, and effects as adoption of VRM tools takes place. WWIC made me think of that. It also made me think of a multimillion-dollar web development project I worked on, where in meetings I thought I made good sense about what we should be doing, but a young and very confident other guy was always more persuasive, and mostly proved wrong (the project eventually failed). After the project died, I was hiking with someone who had been in the meetings and asked why people so often when with the other guy's advice. "Well, that was always obvious to me," he said. "You tried to be collaborative. You were consulting people, asking them what we thought we should do, as you offered your ideas. He just told them what to do, and they did it." He was forcefully directive, and I was collaborative and sought consultation. I've seen this a lot since then, so I don't agree that people want to be consulted. Some probably do, but many more just want to be led by someone who's very positive, confident, and charismatic. *** <bruces> Re. abundance on the Internet - David Weinberger talked about this, "the plenum," at Fiber Fete in Lafayette, Louisiana last February: http://www.hyperorg.com/blogger/2010/04/23/fiberfete-and-plenums/ His followup blog post is worth reading in full (and I suspect some of this will be in the book he's writing). Here's a longer excerpt: "These abundances are not merely quantitative. They change the nature of what they provide. And they refuse to stay within their own bounds. For example, we go online to get information about a product, probably through a mobile device. There we find customer conversations. These voices are not confined to giving us product reviews. We are also ubiquitously connected to pragmatic advice, to new businesses and institutions that compete with or make use of the item were engaged with, to governmental and legal information. If people are unhappy with the product, they may use their online meeting spot as a way to organize an activist movement. "In other words, Clay Shirky is right: The Net makes it ridiculously easy to form groups. In fact, when your information medium, communication medium, and social medium are all precisely the same, its ubiquity will make it hard not to form groups. For example, if your child has a bad cough, of course youll go online. Of course youll find other parents talking about their kids. Your information search has become a communicative enterprise. Because youre now talking with other people who share an interest, your communication is likely to spawn a social connection. These plenums just wont stay apart. "Furthermore, many of these networked groups will be hyperlocal, especially within localities where connectivity is ubiquitous. As we get more of these locations, hyperlocal networks will connect with other hyperlocal networks, creating superlocal networks (although I have no idea what I mean by that term). "These plenums will affect all of our institutions because they remove obstacles to our being more fully human."
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 7 Jan 11 06:56
I gave a give minute talk at Ignite Austin last year on the history and future of media, called "Future Social" - http://il.youtube.com/watch?v=kpiPv8bs1Ug. It was just a few minutes, but with a lot of research and thought behind it, and I've been thinking more about it ever since. Media started with words and conversation, then there was writing, and then we had the insight that we could capture and replicate the written word, so we started creating books, very scarce because they were hard to replicate by hand. Then the printing press was invented, and books became less scarce - but you still had to have a press to make a book or a pamphlet or magazine, newspaper, whatever - so there was that barrier to entry. With scarcity, we created a lot of formalism around publishing. Anyone could write, but only the best meaningful purposeful writing was "accepted for publication." Hence the growing, often immense slush piles of the world. What started as conversation evolved to become carefully considered product, and only until we had low cost, mass market means of production - "desktop publishing" - did that start to change. As in the zine world, where anyone with a computer and a bit of savvy could produce a publication and find ways to circulate it... all this was catalogued in Mike Gunderloy's great zine, Factsheet Five (which Bruce was talking about at an Austin Writer's Club meeting the night we had our first f2f meeting in the late 80s - wasn't long before I was publishing a zine myself, FringeWare Review, and writing for Factsheet Five). Zine publishers never made any money, in fact many were operating in the red and publishing as a labor of love or lust, so when the web appeared as a form of publishing with even lower barriers to entry, paper zines became webzines. bOING bOING is perhaps the most famous example - moving it to the web saved not just money, but time (Mark Frauenfelder was busily working at Wired Magazine by then). Then came blogs and social media, all more conversational - we came full circle. I came to think of mass media as an aberration, an effect of scarce means of production - people really want to have conversations. Reading a book or periodical was a poor substitute, because it was one way. And I agree with Bruce. If you're in a conversation, and someone in the conversation behaves like a published piece - talks on and on about some subject - that seems wrong. While we were more focused on one-way publication, we learned to write long sustained pieces, like a long investigative piece or book, and those are still valuable, there's no substitute for them. But, increasingly, we see mindshare committed to shorter bits of writing, as Bruce says, with links and pointers. We surf from piece to piece, spending less time on any one. The venues that capture our attention and mindshare, like Facebook, do so by offering us a variety of conversations. Part of the genius of Facebook and Twitter is that they limit posts, mandating shorter forms. Facebook also limits what we see, by offering us a selective stream of posts as our default view, though we can still see the raw stream. That incidentally means that nothing you post is likely to be visible to all of your friends - some algorithm within Facebook is deciding what you'll see. In the words of Elvis Costello, I used to be disgusted by this, but now I'm amused. In abundant information environments, I know that filtering of some kind makes sense. Rather than give you a way to do it (as in Twitter, where you can follow a list that's a sub of the universe of all the people you follow), Facebook decides for you what you see as default, how dare they? "Why wasn't I consulted!" In fact, I bet most are fine with an algorithm that filters for them. Like the people who don't want to be consulted, would prefer to be led.
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