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Aug
21st
Wed
permalink

The Pace of Modern Life

                                                                                      — xkcd, 2013.

Jul
2nd
Tue
permalink
The Trinity of Authoritarianism: surveillance, censorship and propaganda.
Evgeny Morozov, a writer and researcher who studies political and social implications of technology, The Net Delusion: How Not to Liberate The World, Penguin, 2011, p. 82-84.
Jun
7th
Fri
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image
Marshall McLuhan was a Canadian philosopher of communication theory (1911-1980), The Medium is the Massage 1964, Gingko Press, 2001 p. 12.
Apr
23rd
Tue
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Today’s news consists of aggregates of fragments. Anyone who has taken part in any event that has subsequently appeared in the news is aware of the gross disparity between the actual and the reported events. We also learn frequently of prefabricated and prevaricated evens of a complex nature purportedly undertaken for the purposes wither of suppressing or rigging the news, which in turn perverts humanity’s tactical information resources. All history becomes suspect. Probably our most polluted resource is the tactical information to which humanity spontaneously reflexes.
Buckminster Fuller, an American engineer, systems theorist, author, designer, inventor, and futurist (1895-1983), Synergetics, Macmillan, 1975.
Mar
3rd
Sun
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'News is to the mind what sugar is to the body'

“Afraid you will miss “something important”? From my experience, if something really important happens, you will hear about it, even if you live in a cocoon that protects you from the news. Friends and colleagues will tell you about relevant events far more reliably than any news organization. They will fill you in with the added benefit of meta-information, since they know your priorities and you know how they think. You will learn far more about really important events and societal shifts by reading about them in specialized journals, in-depth magazines or good books and by talking to the people who know. (…)

The more “news factoids” you digest, the less of the big picture you will understand. (…)

Thinking requires concentration. Concentration requires uninterrupted time. News items are like free-floating radicals that interfere with clear thinking. News pieces are specifically engineered to interrupt you. They are like viruses that steal attention for their own purposes. (…)

[F]ewer than 10% of the news stories are original. Less than 1% are truly investigative. And only once every 50 years do journalists uncover a Watergate. (…) The copying and the copying of the copies multiply the flaws in the stories and their irrelevance.” “
Rolf Dobelli, Swiss novelist, writer, entrepreneur and curator of zurich.minds, ☞ Rolf Fobelli: News is to the mind what sugar is to the body, Lapidarium notes
Feb
23rd
Sat
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The middle ages did not care much for alphabetical order, because they were committed to rational order. To the medieval mind, the universe [is] a harmonious whole whose parts are related to one another. It was the responsibility of the author or scholar to discern these rational relationships — of hierarchy, or of chronology, or of similarities and differences, and so forth.
Matthew Battles, a senior researcher with metaLAB (at) Harvard, Library: An Unquiet History, W. W. Norton & Company, 2004.
Jan
22nd
Tue
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All collected data had come to a final end. Nothing was left to be collected. But all collected data had yet to be completely correlated and put together in all possible relationships. A timeless interval was spent doing that.
Isaac Asimov, American author and professor of biochemistry at Boston University, best known for his works of science fiction and for his popular science books, (1920-1992), The Last Question, Columbia Publications, 1956, cited in John Battelle's The Search
Jan
21st
Mon
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A database can be listed; a human mind has to be stimulated.
Dave Snowden is a Welsh academic, consultant, and researcher in the field of knowledge management, The Ashen Model, (pdf), p.4. (tnx johntropea)
Dec
30th
Sun
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”[Google] creates as much data in two days — roughly 5 exabytes — as the world produced from the dawn of humanity until 2003, according to a 2010 statement by Eric Schmidt, the company’s chairman, who later declared that he didn’t “believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable, and recorded by everyone all the time.
Pamela Jones Harbour is a former commissioner of the Federal Trade Commission, The Emperor of All Identities, The New York Times, Dec 18, 2012. (Illustration: David Rowe)
Nov
17th
Sat
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The Algorithm: Idiom of Modern Science

“The Algorithm's coming-of-age as the new language of science promises to be the most disruptive scientific development since quantum mechanics. (…)

Computer is a storyteller and algorithms are its tales. (…) Computing is the meeting point of three powerful concepts: universality, duality, and self-reference. In the modern era, this triumvirate has bowed to the class-conscious influence of the tractability creed. The creed’s incessant call to complexity class warfare has, in turn, led to the emergence of that ultimate class leveler: the Algorithm. Today, not only is this new “order” empowering the e-technology that stealthily rules our lives; it is also challenging what we mean by knowing, believing, trusting, persuading, and learning. No less. Some say the Algorithm is poised to become the new New Math, the idiom of modern science.” “
Bernard Chazelle is the Eugene Higgins Professor of Computer Science at Princeton University, The Algorithm: Idiom of Modern Science, Princeton 2006
Oct
28th
Sun
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Alex (sandy) Pentland: Reinventing Society In The Wake Of Big Data

“While it may be useful to reason about the averages, social phenomena are really made up of millions of small transactions between individuals. There are patterns in those individual transactions that are not just averages, they’re the things that are responsible for the flash crash and the Arab spring. You need to get down into these new patterns, these micro-patterns, because they don’t just average out to the classical way of understanding society. We’re entering a new era of social physics, where it’s the details of all the particles—the you and me—that actually determine the outcome.

Reasoning about markets and classes may get you half of the way there, but it’s this new capability of looking at the details, which is only possible through Big Data, that will give us the other 50 percent of the story. We can potentially design companies, organizations, and societies that are more fair, stable and efficient as we get to really understand human physics at this fine-grain scale. This new computational social science offers incredible possibilities.

This is the first time in human history that we have the ability to see enough about ourselves that we can hope to actually build social systems that work qualitatively better than the systems we’ve always had. That’s a remarkable change. It’s like the phase transition that happened when writing was developed or when education became ubiquitous, or perhaps when people began being tied together via the Internet.

The fact that we can now begin to actually look at the dynamics of social interactions and how they play out, and are not just limited to reasoning about averages like market indices is for me simply astonishing. To be able to see the details of variations in the market and the beginnings of political revolutions, to predict them, and even control them, is definitely a case of Promethean fire. Big Data can be used for good or bad, but either way it brings us to interesting times. We’re going to reinvent what it means to have a human society.” “
Alex (sandy) Pentland, PhD, the Toshiba Professor at MIT, a serial entrepreneur, and is one of the most cited authors in computer science, Reinventing Society In The Wake Of Big Data, Edge, Aug 30, 2012.
Jun
3rd
Sun
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I’ve long suspected, based on observations of myself as well as observations of society, that, beyond the psychological and cognitive strains produced by what we call information overload, there is a point in intellectual inquiry when adding more information decreases understanding rather than increasing it.

[Nassim Nicholas] Taleb’s observation that as the frequency of information sampling increases, the amount of noise we take in expands more quickly than the amount of signal might help to explain the phenomenon, particularly if human understanding hinges as much or more on the noise-to-signal ratio of the information we take in as on the absolute amount of signal we’re exposed to. Because we humans seem to be natural-born signal hunters, we’re terrible at regulating our intake of information. We’ll consume a ton of noise if we sense we may discover an added ounce of signal. So our instinct is at war with our capacity for making sense.
Nicholas Carr, American writer who has published books and articles on technology, business, and culture, A little more signal, a lot more noise, Rough Type, May 30, 2012.
May
20th
Sun
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I think the Net generation is beginning to see knowledge in a way that is closer to the truth about knowledge. (…) Knowing looks less like capturing truths in books than engaging in never-settled networks of discussion and argument. (…) This new topology of knowledge reflects the topology of the Net. The Net (and especially the Web) is constructed quite literally out of links, each of which expresses some human interest. (…) And that’s the sense in which I think networked knowledge is more “natural.” (…)

To make a smart room — a knowledge network — you have to have just enough diversity. (…) There is no longer an imperative to squeeze the world into small, self-contained boxes. Hyperlinks remove the limitations that objectivity was invented to address.
—  David Weinberger, Ph.D. from the University of Toronto, American technologist, professional speaker, and commentator, interviewed by Rebecca J. Rosen, What the Internet Means for How We Think About the World, The Atlantic, Jan 5 2012.
See also: ☞ The Difference Between Online Knowledge and Truly Open Knowledge. In the era of the Internet facts are not bricks but networks
Apr
14th
Sat
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“As fiendish little gadgets conspire to track our movements and record our activities wherever we go, producing a barrage of pictures of everything we’re doing and saying, our lives will unroll as one long instant replay.

There will be fewer and fewer of what Virginia Woolf called “moments of being,” intense sensations that stand apart from the “cotton wool of daily life.”

In the future, not getting any imagery or story line or content is going to be the equivalent of silence because people are so filled up now with streaming video,” said Ed Schlossberg, the artist, author and designer who runs ESI Design. “Paying attention to anything will be the missing commodity in future life. You think you’ll miss nothing, but you’ll probably miss everything.”

Schlossberg said that, for a long time, art provided the boundary for silence, “but now art, in some cases, is so distracting and intense and faceted, it’s hard to step into a moment. Especially when you’re always carrying a microcamera and a screen all the time, both recording and playing back constantly rather than allowing moments of composition and stillness when your brain can go into a reverie.” (…)

[Michel Hazanavicius]: “I compare it to the zero in mathematics. People think it’s nothing, but actually it’s not. It can be very powerful.” “