Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 4 Jan 13 01:33
*I'm sure there's some gloomy reason why this latest news from Belgrade is really terrible for everybody, but I'm too lazy to think that up. *Oh wait: it's about jets, so it's carbon-loading, it's climate-crisis. There, it really is a pretty morbid business after all, so I hope the local doomsters are happy now. "Serbia's Belgrade Airport records busiest year in history "EX-YU Aviation News - 04.01.2013 (((There really ought to be "EX-YU" tshirts, pennants and bumper stickers; the tourist trade is missing a good bet here.))) "Belgrade Nikola Tesla Airport recorded its busiest year on record since opening its doors back in 1962. Nikola Tesla Airport welcomed 3.363.919 passengers, a 7.7% improvement on 2011. "As a result, Belgrade surpassed its previous busiest year, 1987, when it saw 3.311.951 passengers pass through its doors. Besides an extensive domestic and European network at the time, the airport also offered direct flights to Africa, Asia, Australia and North America. "Furthermore, that same year, JAT Yugoslav Airlines (((Why do they still call it that?))) handled 4.531.000 passengers. "Belgrade Airport recorded a busy December. It handled 224.869 passengers compared to 217.684 in 2011, an increase of 3.3%. This is despite a significant drop in the number of operated flights. A total of 3.202 arrivals and departures were recorded, down from 3.425 the year before. Belgrade has retained its position as the busiest airport in the former Yugoslavia...."
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 4 Jan 13 05:57
Bryan Alexander just posted this on Facebook: "Last night I dreamed that Amazon.com was hiring nuclear engineers." Meanwhile, from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/01/01/irans-supreme-leader-behind-enemy-lin es-with-new-facebook-page/ "Amid all the discussions about launching a halal or national Internet in Iran, Ayatollah Khamenei, the Supreme Leader, took everybody by surprise with a new Facebook page launched on December 13, 2012. We are talking about the same Facebook, which for most Iranian citizens to access requires special software or a Virtual Private Network to bypass the countrys strict filtering! The news became official on December 15 when Mr. Khameneis Twitter account, believed to be run by his office, promoted the page by posting a link to it. According to The Guardian, Khamenei's official website has not yet confirmed the existence of the page, but the conservative news site Baztab reported that the account was run by his office."
Ed Ward (captward) Fri 4 Jan 13 06:02
Apropos of absolutely nothing said in the past half-dozen posts, I wanted to note that as soon as I saw the link, I downloaded Bruce's new book Love Is Strange (and not just because Mickey Baker died this year), and started reading it last night. I'm now on Location 1517 of 6876, 22% of the way in, and, except for having to report those numbers, which essentially tell me nothing, I'm enjoying it a lot. Okay, carry on...
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 4 Jan 13 06:55
http://openthefuture.com/2012/05/the_pink_collar_future.html *I'm a little unclear on how robot labor is supposed to create a new pink-collar class of feminized empathy workers. It seems to me about as likely that a dissolving middle class would simply return to its origins as the household servants of the privileged rich. Scratch a one-percenter, find an illegal nanny. Being a live-in foster mom is an empathy and emotional-awareness job for sure.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Fri 4 Jan 13 07:20
I really enjoy reading history -- especially HISTORICAL history, histories that are themselves really old. For instance, here's "Manners, Customs, and Dress During the Middle Ages, and During the Renaissance Period," By Paul Lacroix (1806-1884.) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Lacroix Here Lacroix is describing why Dark Age feudalism cracked up around 1100 AD, as cities and urban politics began to spread out of Italy. Obviously something like that really happened, you can study surviving buildings, material objects, read surviving political and financial records, you can see that a lot of people who used to be dirt-poor serfs are becoming citizens, and so forth. It happened, it's historical truth. But, as Jamais puts it, "Why?" What's the reason, where's the causality? What were the trends? What made that happen? Lacroix says (in English translation): "Two strong impulses, originating from two totally dissimilar centres of action, irresistibly propelled this great social revolution, with its various and endless aspects, affecting all central Europe, and being more or less felt in the west, the north, and the south. On one side, the Greek and Latin partiality for ancient corporations, modified by a democratic element, and an innate feeling of opposition characteristic of barbaric tribes; and on the other, the free spirit and equality of the old Celtic tribes rising suddenly against the military hierarchy, which was the offspring of conquest. Europe was roused by the double current of ideas which simultaneously urged her on to a new state of civilisation, and more particularly to a new organization of city life." *Sounds so great! You're reading this description of a great social ferment, you get all swept up in the majestic Hegelian scope of it... However.... "impulses" "centres of action" "irresistible propulsion" "great social revolution" "aspects" "partiality" "a democratic element" "innate feeling" "barbarian characteristic" "free spirit" "double current of ideas" "urge" "new state" "new organization" *What ARE those? Can any of these be measured? Do they have any objective existence as actual phenomena? Would anything in this reasoning change if you just switched them around at random, so that the "characteristics" were the "elements," while the "aspects" were the "partialities"? Are they falsifiable? Are they in any way predictive? "Greeks plus Celts make a Renaissance." Okay, how do you know that? What's wrong with, positing, "French plus Byzantines make a Renaissance?" I don't want to be a big philistine about Lacroix's writing -- like I say, I read heaps of history, and I even have a taste for art and literary critique, not to mention postmodern theory -- but if you want to be a big-picture "social futurist" instead of some squinty trend-reading numbers guy, you're in a tarpit of this stuff. We may think we're doing better 'cause we're "cyborg anthropologists," but will the passage of a hundred years deal with that coinage kindly? I have to wonder.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 4 Jan 13 10:23
My Reality Augmented colleague Tyger AC posted an summary of 2012 cyborg news and trends here: http://spacecollective.org/Wildcat/8121/ReBeComing-Human-2012-an-Optimistic-Pe rspective He quotes CNN re our colleague Amber Case (http://edition.cnn.com/2012/12/05/tech/cyborg-anthropology-amber-case/?hpt=hp_ c3): Cyborg anthropology is the study of the interaction between humans and technology, and how technology affects culture. Mobile technology allows one to stand almost anywhere in the world, whisper something, and be heard elsewhere. These devices that live in our pockets need to be fed every night require our frequent attention. In only a few years these devices have become stitched into the fabric of our everyday lives. Phones offer us respite from the boredom of waiting in lines, but they also inhibit us when they run out of batteries. In traditional anthropology, somebody goes to another country, says: "How fascinating these people are! How interesting their tools and their culture are," and then they write a paper, and maybe a few other anthropologists read it, and we think these cultures are very exotic. Cyborg anthropologists step back from the modern world and look at the everyday life and how the people around us are influenced by technology in everyday life.
Roger Weeks via E-mail (captward) Fri 4 Jan 13 10:50
<130> "We may think we're doing better 'cause we're "cyborg anthropologists," but will the passage of a hundred years deal with that coinage kindly? I have to wonder." Cyborg, and indeed all the other words we've created that start with cyber: cyberspace, cyberwar, cybernetics, cyberpunk - all of them sound very dated to me. Very 20th century, as it were. The prefix is even older than our modern usage of it, but I associate all of these words with the cold war and the futurism that flourished then. Should we really be using them to talk about the future?
Susan Sarandon, tractors, etc. (rocket) Fri 4 Jan 13 11:21
What Is HotWired? HotWired is new thinking for a new medium. We call it a cyberstation, a suite of vertical content streams about the Digital Revolution and the Second Renaissance with an integrated community space. -- HotWired FAQ, 1994
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 4 Jan 13 12:50
<captward>: I agree about overuse of "cyber" then and now, and I don't use it very much, but I think "cyborg" is a good and useful term that'll stay relevant. I first saw it used in a comic book, I think in the early 60s; then and thereafter most uses I saw assumed that a cyborg was a human implanted with enhanced technology, or perhaps percolated (like the replicants in "Blade Runner") in labs, a combination of organic and artificial parts. In a 1990s conversation with my former FringeWare partner, genius coder Paco Nathan, talking about Menstat (software he developed for tracking ovulation cycles) and projecting the development of what we now call "quanitified self"), I realized that anyone using digital technology could be considered a cybernetic organism, or cyborg. The definition of the term could be broader, an enhancement doesn't have to be implanted within (or built with) the organism. From that point on, the term seemed to me more relevant and substantial.
(Jeff Kramer) O o . o O (jeffk) Fri 4 Jan 13 20:25
I wonder if 2013 is the era when software bots finally become useful. I've been working on some technology related to them, and it seems like there's some almost-ready-for-early-adopter level technology about to break through. I've been playing with weavrs a bit, though they're more of a social gizmo, I think they're giving people a sense that maybe the time is right. <http://www.weavrs.com/find/> I've got a SXSW talk this year about bots that present as human, and as research I read a copy of Andrew Leonard's Bots (which I found in my garage while cataloging a bunch of stuff to give away to my friends). In it he goes into the history of MU* bots and IRC bots, and quotes Negroponte and a bunch of folks from the early 80's dreaming about having bots that would control your house or whatnot. It seems like the API economy and the Internet of Things and the cloud means that all the pieces are in place to actually make that happen. As an aside on the sharing economy, put up over 300 items, and only managed to give away a tenth of that. My takeaway was that people don't really want more stuff, they want the visceral and emotional experience related to aquiring it, and reading through a huge web page of books just doesn't give that thrill. A book you find for $1 in the bargain bin of a used book store is a lot more attractive than one of your friends cast-offs.
Audrey E via E-mail (captward) Sat 5 Jan 13 00:56
Something interesting to add to the discussion of pink collar work: <http://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/trickle-down-feminism> "the conditions that have long defined domestic work and service workinstability, lack of training, lack of career pathways, low payare now increasingly the reality for all American workers, not just women. When we focus on equal access at the top, we miss out the real story, which historian Bethany Moreton points out, is not Oh wow, women get to be lawyers, but that men get to be casualized clerks."
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sat 5 Jan 13 02:43
If you don't like "cyborg anthropologist," how 'bout "furniture anthropologist"? http://www.fastcompany.com/3004140/steelcases-anthropologist-remaking-offices- create-happier-workers I don't worry too much about the corny prefix "cyber," because I figure that it will takes its just place among its many cousins: electro, automato, robo, jet-propelled, atomic, streamlined, radio-controlled, tele-whatever... They certainly lose their novelty, but that doesn't mean that the phenomena they describe go away. When everything is "cyber" then nothing can be "cyber," but "cyber" was and is a big change in the world. They do not evaporate, they just sink down within the great wheels of planetary change-gradient; that which was fashion will become a business, that which was business will buy into government, that which was legalized will become infrastructural, that which was constructed will become cultural, that which was cultural will decay into the Next Nature adulterated compost from which tomorrow's fresh shoots will emerge... Entropy Requires No Maintenance.
Gary Gach (ggg) Sat 5 Jan 13 09:51
[ elsewhere on the interweb, this, by <bruces> to budding sci-fi writers : http://zite.to/135BP4G
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Sun 6 Jan 13 01:23
Exciting new forms of labor under market-centric black globalization: Slavery. http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/12/slaverys-global-comeb ack/266354/
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 6 Jan 13 06:53
I sit surrounded by a backlog of mostly unread texts: almost done with Steven Johnson's interesting but forgettable _Future Perfect_, behind it Jon Ronson's _Lost at Sea_, an old still-undigested copy of Adbusters on "American Autumn," _Faster Cheaper Better_ by Michael Hammer, _The Fabric of Reality_ and _The Beginning of Infinity_ by David Deutsch, _Virtual Worlds_ by Benjamin Woolley, _Simians, Cyborgs, and Women_ by Donna Haraway, _The Pale King_ by David Foster Wallace, and old issue of "Parabola" on the subject of Attention, _Proust and the Squid_ by Maryanne Wolfe, several recent issues of the New Yorker, a new issue of Tricycle, recent issues of Wired Magazine, various books on web development, content strategy, specific platforms (Drupal and Wordpress)... and more scattered elsewhere around the house. I have two gigs that are both focused on website development, and spend much of my day reading and writing online as these books and periodicals are accumulating on the periphery of my time and energy. I blog irregularly like so many of my colleagues, uncertain who's reading, whether the time spent blogging is useful - would it be better spent writing for pay? Or working on a long-deferred book (or books, I have more than one idea). My original goal in life was to write professionally, and I've done that but never as my primary source of income. I wonder now how worthwhile the activity of writing is, when so much content is produced and so little of it read, even less read mindfully. I consider the predicament of new writers: it's unlikely that anyone not already established can command attention today. There's no way to establish the authority or quality of your writing, if you hadn't done so in the era of mass publishing, when it publication suggested that you had been vetted as worthwhile. Speaking of "mindfully," I followed Gary's link to io9 and found a marginal link to this article: http://io9.com/sherlock-holmes/ "How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes - and Have a Better Life." A fan of the Holmes persona, and contemporary versions (Robert Downey in the films, Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller on television), and having a Buddhist/mindfulness practice, I'd already made the same connection the article makes. It doesn't mention Buddhism, but says "...in order to break from that autopiloted mode, we have to be motivated to think in a mindful, present fashion, to exert effort on what goes through our heads instead of going with the flow." That's a core aspect of Buddhist meditation practice; it's also been adopted as a concept/method/trend within contemporary psychology: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mindfulness_(psychology) It's a challenge, practicing mindfulness while standing in the full firehose flow of diverse content online, in books and periodicals, through broadcast media and films. I'm a power consumer of media - I used to write a column called "Media Man," as a journalism student over 40 years ago, already into the potential for media convergence, setting myself up as a critic across media. It was exciting to follow the evolution of the Internet as a platform for all media, opening the means of production to all comers. But when everyone is talking, who's listening?
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 09:36
That's one of the big problems right now. There is so much data, so much connectedness, that now matter how well you tool and filter it down to your own particulars, it's still too much! So, how do we attack that problem? Is there an app for that? Would that even change the 'too much' problem? I doubt it. It's only going to increase exponentially. I think we're going to have to explore other options in how we deal with data and networks going forward. I don't have an answer for that. Personally, I'm dialing everything down and stepping back from it all; trying to reassess and integrate this deluge into my own future(s). How are other people dealing with this?
Nathan Stack via E-mail (captward) Sun 6 Jan 13 11:28
From what direction does research in media filtering seem most promising? -Google's search bubble -Applying tools for a group that has extreme issues with filtering information from noise and applying to general population -App store noodles on the wall approach by developers -Digging through existing technology like spamblock and applying it broadly Did I miss any other approaches to the problem
Jon Lebkowsky: Errata (jonl) Sun 6 Jan 13 11:41
In my post <134>, I erroneously addressed began my response to <132> with an assumption that it was <captward>'s, but it was his post of a comment sent by Roger Weeks from off-WELL.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 6 Jan 13 11:45
<tcn> asks, in <141>, how we attack the problem of so much data and connectedness - the problem of overload. Earlier in the discussion I referred to the concept of the "wicked problem": "... a problem that is difficult or impossible to solve because of incomplete, contradictory, and changing requirements that are often difficult to recognize. The term wicked is used, not in the sense of evil but rather its resistance to resolution. Moreover, because of complex interdependencies, the effort to solve one aspect of a wicked problem may reveal or create other problems." http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wicked_problem
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 11:57
(Slippage) Nathan, I don't want to sidetrack this conversation, so I'll give a brief response and be done with it. (jonl) and I are both fans of Howard Rheingold and have taken his MindAmp classes, where he really gets into "tools" and what's available. Much of that has been recapped in his book Netsmart:How to Thrive Online (http://tinyurl.com/co6ndxz). Meanwhile I've been musing on Tim O'Reilly's current mantra: Create more value than you capture. All that aside, the big issues remain: global warming, climate change, economic disruption, on and on. Are we going to have a world where I can continue to play on the Internet? What's it going to look like? How can I help to change and shape it? Back to Bruce and Jon.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sun 6 Jan 13 11:59
(More slippage, waving at Ted...) I think "wicked problem" also applies to Nathan Stack's question, in <142>, about media filtering. Filtering technologies are problematic: they're supposed to help us access the information we really want/need, but they also potentially exclude information that we might also want or need to see (because algorithms are imperfect), and as Eli Pariser has pointed out, they'll tend to feed us information that we find agreeable, excluding information that might (productively) challenge our thinking. So I'd like to see research into fuzzier filtering methodologies, and into the kind of digital literacy required to see in and around filters. Some of us assumed that the Internet would provide many perspectives, and that we could build a model of the world closer to the truth by seeing it through many lenses. I'm not sure that works, and I'm more sure that it doesn't work if your aggressively filter...
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 12:11
Congrats Bruce and Jon, this conversation already made it to the Atlantic...(http://tinyurl.com/bqxqq46)
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 12:14
(waving back) <fuzzier filtering methodologies> Love it. I can see a new app already, 'FuzzyFilters', the race is on :)
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 13:44
Not to worry, our phones will save us! Doc Searles has a lot to say about Android as a Life Management Platform (http://tinyurl.com/ac95zr2). Tho I think he may want to revise that now that Samsung is moving away from Android and teaming up with Intel (http://tinyurl.com/bharvqp) All good for open source.
Roland Legrand (roland) Sun 6 Jan 13 15:19
We discussed so many developments already, but I'd like to add another one: education. Will we witness this year the breakthrough of the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) both in their more institutional format (Coursera, edX, Udacity...) as in the more distributed and open-ended formats (Stephen Downes, George Siemens, ds106...)? What does it mean for the conventional universities (a number of the most important ones are involved in the MOOC-development) and their business models? Will they go the way of print media formats, and what does it mean for education & society?
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