inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #101 of 156: 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...
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #102 of 156: 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....
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #103 of 156: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #104 of 156: 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.'"
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #105 of 156: 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?
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #106 of 156: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #107 of 156: 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-
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #108 of 156: 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. 
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #109 of 156: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #110 of 156: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #111 of 156: 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:)
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #112 of 156: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #113 of 156: 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."
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #114 of 156: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #115 of 156: 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
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #116 of 156: 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"."

 
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #117 of 156: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #118 of 156: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #119 of 156: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #120 of 156: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #121 of 156: 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.
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #122 of 156: 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."
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #123 of 156: 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".
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #124 of 156: Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 9 Jan 11 08:39
    
Amy Davidson, in The New Yorker:

"But this isn’t just on Arizona; that state is not the only quarter of
the country in which a sort of extremism has taken hold—and 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 Giffords’s or her state’s, and it was—not
only because, while she was the target, others were killed, but
because our political culture was attacked and (again, with the caveat
that the gunman’s precise motives and soundness of mind aren’t known)
was also implicated. Congressmen John Boehner and Eric Cantor, and
Senator John McCain, all released statements that had a word in common:
“horrified.” It’s a proper word—this is horrifying—and undoubtedly a
lot of people used it Saturday. But to the extent to which it’s 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
  
inkwell.vue.400 : State of the World 2011: Bruce Sterling and Jon Lebkowsky
permalink #125 of 156: 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. We’ve 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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