Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 8 Jan 11 07:25
Ted, your last post slipped in while I was composing my Internet rant. I wouldn't say that I'm optimistic - I'm agnostic. The "radically unstable" situation that Bruce describes is complex, and like complex weather it can be hard to predict accurately, though computer technology has made weather prediction more accurate... maybe we need sociopolitical weather reports driven by sophisticated algorithms crunching numbers, though I wouldn't know how to source those numbers. I'm learning to observe, listen, reserve judgement. Given my Buddhist and Gurdjieffian predilections, I'm also observing the observer, and that's a real puzzle. Memories pop into my head, and I can't imagine how I managed to hold them for so long. And I'm not sure how real they are - I've learned that memory is suspect. Literature preserves memories, and as Bruce says, "it's very valuable to share a written experience that people have had for two centuries." I realize that when I read a book, I'm recreating the author's experience in my head, where it resonates with my own, two sets of experiences mingling and producing a new internal experience. When we read a book over, it's not the same experience we had when we read it before, and it's not the same experience the author had, in writing it. It's a new experience. We all have limited "cognitive surplus," as Shirky would say; limited time and mindshare. This is why social media has been so troublesome for marketing people, who were confident that mass mindshare would be committed daily to a predictable and manageable set of channels - television, radio, newspapers. Now it's fragmented across a bazillion channels of Internet media - blogs and social networks, email lists, forums like this one, online media channels like YouTube and Flickr, online channels for formerly mass media like Hulu and Netflix. When there are limited media channels, there are also predictably limited ways that people experience media and messages, therefore more social and cultural coherence. Television gave us that coherence, or instance. Now we're clustering in social and cultural niches, common understanding is harder to reach across niches. Politically, we're polarized. We don't know how to hear and synthesize opinions from other camps, other strains of thinking. So many spend their cognitive surplus in echo chambers...
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 8 Jan 11 07:41
From Kieran O'Neill, via Facebook: The Evgeny Morozov article Ted linked raises an interesting divide in the world regarding data privacy. Where countries like the US, Russia and China (slightly more so the latter two, but only slightly) are actively pursuing technologies to facilitate eavesdropping on their citizens' data and communications, others, like Canada and the European Union, have been passing laws strictly limiting the ways in which government (or any other individual) can use a person's information. How do you see this divide developing over the years to come? I'm certainly very aware, living in and having lived in countries with data protection laws, that I at least have legal recourse in those countries regarding use of my data, whereas any data I send South of the border (from Canada to the US) is fair game....
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 8 Jan 11 07:42
From Reid Harward, via Facebook: When I want to connect with the past, I do it through JSTOR, not Facebook. However, to do that I have to have some sort of relationship with a school, to cover my library fees. It bothers me that not everyone has this opportunity. What about the idea of free education for the global masses? Has the internet failed to make good on this promise? What sort of emergent behavior would we see in a world where education was democratized on a global scale?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 8 Jan 11 07:54
Reid, there was a relevant presentation at SXSW last year, on "Universities in the Era of Free." I blogged about it: http://weblogsky.com/2010/03/27/sxsw-2010-notes-universities-in-the-era-of-fre e/ More and more structured knowledge sources are moving online. For example, you can get a degree through online studies at the University of the People: http://www.uopeople.org/. MIT has its Open Courseware: http://ocw.mit.edu/index.htm. Less formally and less structured, there are the Ted Talks: http://www.ted.com/talks. And check out Sal Khan: http://www.khanacademy.org/press/fortune and his Khan Academy: http://www.khanacademy.org/ From the Fortune article about Khan: "Khan Academy, with Khan as the only teacher, appears on YouTube and elsewhere and is by any measure the most popular educational site on the web. Khan's playlist of 1,630 tutorials (at last count) are now seen an average of 70,000 times a day -- nearly double the student body at Harvard and Stanford combined. Since he began his tutorials in late 2006, Khan Academy has received 18 million page views worldwide, including from the Gates progeny. Most page views come from the U.S., followed by Canada, England, Australia, and India. In any given month, Khan says, he's reached about 200,000 students. 'There's no reason it shouldn't be 20 million.'"
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 8 Jan 11 08:10
Responding to Kieran on privacy, and with limited time: that word "privacy" is probably too vague to be meaningful. I think the question of who should and who does know what about whom is complex and can vary with context. Privacy might be better addressed through a set of specific cases. For example, airport body scanners, which are a kind of technology mediated strip search. Will these save lives, and are they therefore justified? Or have we gone too far?
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 8 Jan 11 10:59
DOJ's court order for Twitter's release of WikiLeaks tweets is a real thrill:http://techcrunch.com/2011/01/07/twitter-informs-users-of-doj-wikileaks-court- order-didnt-have-to/. At least Twitter got the judge to release the gag order. About as much as you can hope for these days. This relates to the Open Internet, data privacy, and the "pipes". I don't think anyone can post anything anymore without being aware that it is all pretty much retrievable and the ISP's will cave. It's a business after all. I hope we all learned from the '60's and '70's in Chicago, Seattle, Prague, and Tiananmen Square in the '80's that you can't throw stones at tanks. Low Orbit Ion Cannons don't work either.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 8 Jan 11 11:03
Jon earlier in Inkwell.vue you hosted a conversation about Digital Habitats, much of which went right over my head at the time. I just want to put a link here because it is pertinent,bears re-reading, and is open to all...https://user.well.com/engaged.cgi?c=inkwell.vue&f=0&t=386&q=0-
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 8 Jan 11 17:06
Thanks for posting that - it was a great discussion about stewardship of technologies and communities. Nancy White is a longtime great friend, and an incredible source of knowledge about technologies for collaboration. We should post a link to her website: http://fullcirc.com. Online communities are everywhere, and when you read the various "best practices" guides, you realize those are all things we learned on the WELL two decades ago... the practices haven't changed, because people are people. The patterns don't change that much, either. For instance, a blog post with comments is not that different from an initial post followed by responses here on the WELL.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 8 Jan 11 17:26
Back in post #36, Bruce said "there aren't any assassinations, which America used to be so famous for." Looks like you spoke too soon.
Brian Slesinsky (bslesins) Sat 8 Jan 11 17:52
I'd disagree that dead people aren't around in the modern Internet, but they do need live people to represent them and promote them and write the Wikipedia article. The source material is a search away, once someone gets interested in it and explains why others should care.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sat 8 Jan 11 19:27
I also take Bruce's point about great lit. I've been rereading Marcus Aurelius' Meditations, admittedly because it's free on Google Books. It is fresh and pertinent in every way and I've been thinking I need to reread some of the Greeks and Shakespeare again. Also been reading a lot of History these past few years, mainly Middle Eastern, Asian, and am starting on Indonesia. Woefully ignorant in all those areas. As the global villages develop, I know I need to lose this American-centric viewpoint that is so embedded in my brain. Afraid of Bollywood and another obsession and my brother is hooked on South Korean soap operas. It's all graspable these days. There really is nothing new under the sun, and trite as it may be, the more things change, the more they remain the same. Unless we really go posthuman and AI's. Bruce, if I remember correctly, you put the AI argument to bed, with something like "we are analog, they are digital". I'm wondering if the lines of development are going to result in some super AI that has some kind of self-awareness (although not human consciousness) that posthumans would plug into or visa versa? Sort of the whole idea in reverse. I had my aluminum foil hat on as I wrote this last paragraph:)
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 9 Jan 11 02:38
*Hmm. Oh well, so much for the lack of American guntoting political assassinations. *This should be pretty lively. Even Wikileaks is taking a back seat.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 9 Jan 11 02:47
"He was ready for war. He was not playing around," Joe Zamudio told CNN. "He was going to keep shooting. It was not over. He had just ran out of bullets." http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/01/08/several-people-shot-at-arizona-store-poli ce-official-says/?hpt=T1 I was tempted to connect this with the New Year's Day conversation I mentioned earlier, where a guy in rural Travis County, Texas told me he and others were stocking up on guns and ammo, and the revolt's coming. Then again, this could be just another solo nut job with a gun. From that same CNN blog, quoting the Pima County sheriff: "The anger, the hatred the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately, Arizona has become the capital. We have become the mecca of prejudice and bigotry."
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 9 Jan 11 03:02
http://www.boingboing.net/2011/01/08/youtube-videos-of-ar.html *Well, if there's any accuracy to these transcripts, this poor guy is schizophrenic. I'm seeing strenuous efforts to pin a political allegiance on him. But he's incoherent. *There must be some broken reason that he picked on a politician instead of shooting up a school or workplace. Wonder what that was.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 9 Jan 11 03:28
I just spent some time surfing news reports, and nobody seems to have a handle on they guy's motivation; given the twisted logic in his online comments, that may be hard to assess. This shooting punctuates the emergence of a particularly nasty political era, and it's hard to separate what's happened from Sarah Palin's "targets" and something like this: http://www.boingboing.net/2011/01/08/Screen-shot-2011-01-08-at-11.43.jpg
Nick Pugh (nick) Sun 9 Jan 11 03:46
This link does a decent job of gathering the pieces without jumping to conclusions. http://azstarnet.com/news/local/crime/article_78272a23-fe75-5bee-ba38-f8171cda 3fb7.html I wish someone could explain his definition of literacy, seems to play a central role. Also interesting, the media grasping to make sense of his list of favorite books on MySpace... "He lists among his favorite books "Mein Kampf" and "The Communist Manifesto". But he also includes a broad variety of other titles, including: "Animal Farm," "Brave New World," "To Kill a Mockingbird," and "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"."
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 9 Jan 11 06:55
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/pakistan/8248162/The-killer-of- my-father-Salman-Taseer-was-showered-with-rose-petals-by-fanatics.-How-could-t hey-do-this.html *Now there is a political assassination. Enthusiastic crowds shower the assassin's paddywagon with rose-petals. I don't think Jared's gonna much of this treatment. Jared's gonna get showered with ugly-paint, and then pinned to the other side for partisan advantage. *Atheist, communist, fascist, gold-bug, Palin fan -- not to mention staunch science fiction reader -- Orwell, Bradbury, Huxley... Jared's wits were so scattered that he seems to have touched and defiled everything. *I once had a long bus-ride with a reeking, sweaty, jittery madman who had clearly once been a formidably intelligent and very well-read scholar. It seemed pretty clear to me that it had been a long time since anybody had been able to indulge him in a conversation. Although, he couldn't really "converse," because his cognitive deficits no longer allowed him a coherent train of thought. There was something pitiful yet majestic about that guy. He was like a fragmentary Roman ruin. *The bus driver asked me if the guy was dangerous, or if he was troubling me. Well, maybe he was. He could have been "dangerous." He was mad. *This man was grateful that I talked to him -- or more or less at him, anyway. The depths of his illness could relieve him from human loneliness.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 9 Jan 11 06:56
http://www.iranian.com/main/2011/jan/death-prince *In other political assassination news, the youngest son of the Shah of Iran has just shot himself. You'll notice that even though Ali Reza Pahlavi gunned HIMSELF down (in the USA of course, because that's where the handguns are) a partisan argument still breaks out about him, and every interested party brings tar-babies and ouija boards.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 9 Jan 11 06:58
*This Twitter subpoena (not formally a "subpoena" apparently, but a network-mapping effort by the DOJ to understand the Wikileaks phenomenon) has made my Tweeple realize that they've got some personal skin in the game. 637,000 people transformed from idle keyboard-tappers into a suspect global dissident class. Given that there are maybe six hardcore Wikileaks dudes, that's quite an achievement. *I wrote an article about Wikileaks a while ago. I got some minor flack about that, because I was expressing my general dread and sorrow about the situation, rather than taking some firm partisan stance that clears it all up. Well, it ain't gonna get all cleared up. A brouhaha like this one could rank with Monica Lewinsky or the Dreyfuss Affair. Sum it all up at this point, and you're like somebody pontificating in a sawgrass marsh in the Everglades. *I'm waiting for the next big leaky shoe to drop, and I don't think it'll have anything to do with Assange. It's gonna be somebody else, likely some newfangled cyberwar intelligence service, who is watching from the shadows. They're seeing just how much fun and mischief there is in leaking big heaps of purloined government data. *Why DDOS the likes of Estonia if you can torment them more effectively by making them "transparent?" *The Department of Justice wants to make the Wikileaks Tweeple "transparent." You can see how much they like that. *It sure gets tiring to watch social struggles when everybody defines themselves as the inspired mavericks on the side of the angels. Where's the good-old-fashioned evil? Even Al Qaeda wakes up every morning with a prayer for justice on their bearded lips. They gotta stock up those rose-petals for a sworn bodyguard who would shoot his own boss at the mall.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 9 Jan 11 07:51
<113> From that same CNN blog, quoting the Pima County sheriff: "The anger, the hatred the bigotry that goes on in this country is getting to be outrageous and unfortunately, Arizona has become the capital. We have become the mecca of prejudice and bigotry." Well that's not helpful. Living in Phoenix, I have to rant. We aren't the mecca of anything but old folks who like to golf and immigrants who want to work the jobs no one else wants or is willing to do. And, for the most part, we all get along very well. Our crazy Immigration bill, which even we don't understand, is a knee-jerk response to Washington's inability to address the problem. The recent failure of the Dream Act is just one more example. The political fact is that we are going to need even more immigrants to fill these jobs and it is hypocritical for Washington to pretend otherwise, 20 million, yes million!, more according to recent forecasts:http://www.rapidimmigration.com/1_eng_immigration_facts.html It's no coincidence that our own Janet Napolitano is head of Homeland Security. Phoenix is becoming, if not already, the major U.S. center for drug smuggling from Mexico. We have more than 230 DEA agents stationed here to deal with the problem and they are losing the battle every day. You could expel all the immigrants and it would not change that fact.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 9 Jan 11 07:54
And we don't think of them as immigrants. They are our neighbors, our co-workers, our friends and our children and grandchildren's friends. Only politicians call them immigrants.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 9 Jan 11 08:13
In the U.S., we keep our rose petals close to the vest. Dick Armey, leader of the Tea Party, on ABC's This Week: "Why did this fella do this? The answer will come from psychology, not from sociology or political science . We really want to understand deviance and danger in this country. We should apply the correct field of study, the correct disciplines and tools of understanding, with rigor and responsibility, not just exercising pop sociology out of our hip pocket." I.e. "I know a bunch of amateur thinkers are going to call this an effect of Tea Party rhetoric, but don't blame us. We may be meaner than hell, but we're not crazy."
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 9 Jan 11 08:16
What happened in Tucson is a tragedy by any definition. Jon and I have both alluded to what we're hearing from otherwise 'normal' people. I think it's an undercurrent to the political non-conversation this country has been having for the last 10 years. These people don't identify with any party, they consider themselves to be patriotic - what does that even mean anymore? - Americans who love their country and sense they are losing their voice and any hope for their and their children's way of life. (Cue Dylan's Ballad of a Thin Man here). Washington's broke and none of these clowns who co-opt middle America's fears are going to fix it. The system does not work.About the only products we export are guns, planes and missles and Eisenhower's warnings about the military-industrial complex have come home to roost. Welcome to Dystopia. And I'm still optomistic. It may have to get worse to get better, but better is our only choice - here and globally. If nothing else, Bruce and Jon, you have given me a more sober look at our possible futures. It's going to be a longer row to hoe, but "inch by inch".
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 9 Jan 11 08:39
Amy Davidson, in The New Yorker: "But this isnt just on Arizona; that state is not the only quarter of the country in which a sort of extremism has taken holdand a sort of contempt, which has not been entirely confined to one side or the other, or to madmen as opposed to ostensibly sane ones. Obama said that the tragedy was broader than Giffordss or her states, and it wasnot only because, while she was the target, others were killed, but because our political culture was attacked and (again, with the caveat that the gunmans precise motives and soundness of mind arent known) was also implicated. Congressmen John Boehner and Eric Cantor, and Senator John McCain, all released statements that had a word in common: horrified. Its a proper wordthis is horrifyingand undoubtedly a lot of people used it Saturday. But to the extent to which its meant to convey surprise, it may not be quite right." http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/closeread/2011/01/a-shooting-in-arizona. html#ixzz1AYadVCLU
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 9 Jan 11 08:48
Also in The New Yorker, George Packer writes that "many conservative leaders, activists, and media figures have made a habit of trying to delegitimize their political opponents. Not just arguing against their opponents, but doing everything possible to turn them into enemies of the country and cast them out beyond the pale.... This relentlessly hostile rhetoric has become standard issue on the right. (On the left it appears in anonymous comment threads, not congressional speeches and national T.V. programs.) And it has gone almost entirely uncriticized by Republican leaders. Partisan media encourages it, while the mainstream media finds it titillating and airs it, often without comment, so that the gradual effect is to desensitize even people to whom the rhetoric is repellent. Weve all grown so used to it over the past couple of years that it took the shock of an assassination attempt to show us the ugliness to which our politics has sunk." http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/georgepacker/2011/01/judging-from-his-in ternet-postings.html#ixzz1AYccT5DT
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