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Aug
21st
Wed
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The Pace of Modern Life

                                                                                      — xkcd, 2013.

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
26th
Mon
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[Tim Berners-Lee] told me about his proposed system called the ‘World Wide Web.’ And I thought, well, that’s got a pretentious name.
Ian Ritchie is co-chair of the Scottish Science Advisory Council, a board member of the Edinburgh International Science Festival and the chair of Our Dynamic Earth, the Edinburgh Science Centre, The day I turned down Tim Berners-Lee, TEDGobal Talk, July 2011
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Jerry Mander on the replacement of human images by television (1978)

“The power that television images have to replace imaginary images that you created yourself operates in all realms of external-image information. All of our minds are filled with images of places and times and people and stories with which we’ve never had personal contact. In fact, when you receive information from any source that does not have pictures attached to it, you make up pictures to go with it. They are your images. You create the movie to go with the story. You hear the word “Africa” and a picture comes to mind. (…)

The question is this: Once television provides an image of these places and times, what happens to your own image? Does it give way to TV image or do you retain it? (…) China, Africa, Borneo and the moon. How about life under the sea? Life in an Eskimo village? A police shoot-out. (…) Dope smugglers. A Russian village. A preoperation conference of doctors. An American farm family. The war room of the Pentagon. Ben Franklin. The Battle of Little Big Horn. The FBI. The Old South. (…) Ancient Greece. Ancient Rome. The Old West.

Were you able to come up with images for any or all of these? It is extremly unlikely that you have experienced more than one or two of them personally. Obviously the images were either out of your own imagination or else they were from the media.

Can you identify which was which?

Most of the people in America right now would probably say that the images they carry in their minds of the Old South are from one of two television presentations: Gone With the Wind and Roots. These were, after all, the two most popular television shows in history, witnessed by more than 130 milion people each. And non of the 130 million was actually in the Old South. (…)” “
Jerry Mander, American author, Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television (pdf), Morrow, New York, 1978, p. 242-244. See also: Memory and Forgetting, Radiolab, 2007
Mar
5th
Mon
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“A paradox: the same century invented History and Photography. But History is a memory fabricated according to positive formulas, a pure intellectual discourse which abolishes mythic Time; and the Photograph is a certain but fugitive testimony; so that everything, today, prepares our race for this impotence: to be no longer able to conceive duration, affectively or symbolically: the age of the Photograph is also the age of revolutions, contestations, assassinations, explosions, in short, of impatiences, of everything which denies ripening.” “
Roland Barthes, French literary theorist, philosopher, critic, and semiotician (1915-1980), Camera Lucida: Reflections on Photography, Hill and Wang, 1994. (Illustration source)
Nov
21st
Mon
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Look what is coming: Technology is stitching together all the minds of the living, wrapping the planet in a vibrating cloak of electronic nerves, entire continents of machines conversing with one another, the whole aggregation watching itself through a million cameras posted daily. How can this not stir that organ in us that is sensitive to something larger than ourselves?
Kevin Kelly, writer, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and a former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, What Technology Wants, New York: Viking, The Penguin Group, 2010 cited in Playing the Infinite Game, Reality Sandwich
Sep
29th
Thu
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Tim O’Reilly on the Birth of the global mind

“Computer scientist Danny Hillis once remarked, “Global consciousness is that thing responsible for deciding that pots containing decaffeinated coffee should be orange.” (…)

The web is a perfect example of what engineer and early computer scientist Vannevar Bush called “intelligence augmentation” by computers, in his 1945 article As We May Think” in The Atlantic. He described a future in which human ability to follow an associative knowledge trail would be enabled by a device he called “the memex”. This would improve on human memory in the precision of its recall. Google is today’s ultimate memex. (…)

This is man-computer symbiosis at its best, where the computer program learns from the activity of human teachers, and its sensors notice and remember things the humans themselves would not. This is the future: massive amounts of data created by people, stored in cloud applications that use smart algorithms to extract meaning from it, feeding back results to those people on mobile devices, gradually giving way to applications that emulate what they have learned from the feedback loops between those people and their devices.” ”

Tim O’Reilly, the founder of O’Reilly Media, a supporter of the free software and open source movements, Birth of the global mind, Financial Times, Sept 23, 2011 See also: ☞ Vannevar Bush on the new relationship between thinking man and the sum of our knowledge (1945)
Sep
20th
Tue
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Jeff Hammerbacher: ‘The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads… That sucks.’

“After a couple years at Facebook, Jeff Hammerbacher grew restless. He figured that much of the groundbreaking computer science had been done. Something else gnawed at him. Hammerbacher looked around Silicon Valley at companies like his own, Google (GOOG), and Twitter, and saw his peers wasting their talents. “The best minds of my generation are thinking about how to make people click ads,” he says. “That sucks.” (…)

"Any generation of smart people will be drawn to where the money is, and right now it’s the ad generation," says Steve Perlman, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who once sold WebTV to Microsoft for $425 million and is now running OnLive, an online video game service. ” (…)

Hammerbacher: “If instead of pointing their incredible infrastructure at making people click on ads,” he likes to ask, “they pointed it at great unsolved problems in science, how would the world be different today?” “
Jeff Hammerbacher, founder and the Chief Scientist of Cloudera, one of Facebook’s first 100 employees, cited in Ashlee VanceThis Tech Bubble Is Different, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, April 14, 2011
Jul
29th
Fri
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Privacy is not something that can be counted, divided, or “traded.” It is not a substance or collection of data points. It’s just a word that we clumsily use to stand in for a wide array of values and practices that influence how we manage our reputations in various contexts. There is no formula for assessing it: I can’t give Google three of my privacy points in exchange for 10 percent better service.
Siva Vaidhyanathan, cultural historian and media scholar, currently a professor of Media Studies and Law at the University of Virginia, cited in James Gleick, How Google Dominates Us, The New York Review of Books, August 18, 2011
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A “filter bubble”— “a unique universe of information for each of us”, meaning that we are less likely to encounter information online that challenges our existing views or sparks serendipitous connections. “A world constructed from the familiar is a world in which there’s nothing to learn,” Mr Pariser declares. He calls this “invisible autopropaganda, indoctrinating us with our own ideas”.
Jul
17th
Sun
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Is the Internet in the tool kit of natural selection? That is, does the Internet alter our fitness as a species? Does it change how likely we are to survive and reproduce? Debate on this question is in order, but the burden is surely on those who argue no. Our inventions in the past have altered our fitness: arrow heads, agriculture, the control of fire. The Internet has likely done the same.
Donald Hoffman, Cognitive Scientist, UC, Irvine; Author, Visual Intelligence, The sculpting of human thought, Edge, The world question Center 2010, Page 6 (wildcat2030)
Jul
15th
Fri
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Walter Benjamin on the Internet’s Impact on Cultural Memory

“Media are not just instruments [of which] we are in charge, [instruments] that we use like a hammer. Media predetermine the way we think of the world. (…)

A man who concentrates before a work of art is absorbed by it. (…) In contrast, the distracted mass absorbs the work of art.” “
Walter Benjamin, German-Jewish intellectual, who functioned variously as a literary critic, philosopher, sociologist cited in UAH Professor Dr. Rolf Goebel Discusses the Internet’s Impact on Cultural Memory, The Exponent, Nov 11, 2010
Jul
6th
Wed
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Cyberspace: A new universe, a parallel universe created and sustained by the world’s computers and communication lines. A world in which the global traffic of knowledge, secrets, measurements, indicators, presences never seen on the surface of the earth blossoming in a vast electronic light.

Cyberspace: A common mental geography, built, in turn, by consensus and revolution, canon and experiment; a territory swarming with data and lies, with mind stuff and memories of nature, with a million voices and two million eyes in a silent, invisible concert to enquiry, deal-making, dream sharing, and simple beholding.
Michael Benedikt, Ph.D. in mathematics, Professor of Computing Science at University of Oxford, (1991), cited in David Bell, An Introduction to Cybercultures, Routledge, 2002, p.7.
Jun
23rd
Thu
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Kevin Kelly: ‘We are moving from the culture of the book to the culture of booking’
"Imagine a future where instead of lending someone a book, you lend them your bookmarks. Where your notes, annotations and references are synchronized across platforms and applications. Where your bookmarks belong to you, and a record of every book you read is saved and stored securely, no matter how or where you read it."

— James Bridle, who is developing Open Bookmarks

Viewing a book as a process rather than artifact. (…)

We are moving from the culture of the book to the culture of booking. Our focus is no longer on the book, the noun, but on booking, the verb — on that continuous process of thinking, writing, editing, writing, sharing, editing, screening, writing, screening, sharing, thinking, writing — and so on that incidentally throws off books. Books, even ebooks, are by-products of the booking process. (…)

Booking produces relationships. Booking is a process that connects readers, authors, characters, ideas, and stories into complex webs. There will be a million ways to weave these relationships.”

Kevin Kelly, writer, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, and a former editor/publisher of the Whole Earth Catalog, Post-Artifact Booking, The Technium, 19 June 2011