And we have to track all this stuff, because the economic basis of today’s web is advertising, or the promise of future advertising. The only way we can convince investors to keep the money flowing is by keeping the most detailed records possible, tied to people’s real identities. Apart from a few corners of anonymity, which not by accident are the most culturally vibrant parts of the Internet, everything is tracked and has to be tracked or the edifice collapses.
What upsets me isn’t that we created this centralized version of the Internet based on permanent surveillance.
What upsets me, what really gets my goat, is that we did it because it was the easiest thing to do. There was no design, forethought, or analysis involved. No one said “hey, this sounds like a great world to live in, let’s make it”. It happened because we couldn’t be bothered.
Making things ephemeral is hard.
Making things distributed is hard.
Making things anonymous is hard.
Coming up with a sane business model is really hard—I get tired just thinking about it.
So let’s take people’s data, throw it on a server, link it to their Facebook profiles, keep it forever, and if we can’t raise another round of venture funding we’ll just slap Google ads on the thing.
"High five, Chad!"
"High five, bro!"
That is the design process that went into building the Internet of 2014.
“Had the Obama team brought in its old campaign hands in the first place to run the launch, there would have been howls about cronyism. But one lesson of the fall and rise of HealthCare.gov has to be that the practice of awarding high-tech, high-stakes contracts to companies whose primary skill seems to be getting those contracts rather than delivering on them has to change. “It was only when they were desperate that they turned to us,” says Dickerson. “I have no history in government contracting and no future in it … I don’t wear a suit and tie … They have no use for someone who looks and dresses like me. Maybe this will be a lesson for them. Maybe that will change.””—Obama’s Trauma Team: Inside the Nightmare Launch of HealthCare.Gov — Printout — TIME (via deathbeard)
“America can’t even manage its own affairs. We ignore our own gathering energy crisis, telling ourselves the fairy tale that shale oil will allow us to keep driving to WalMart forever. We paper over all of our financial degeneracy and wink at financial criminals. Our infrastructure is falling apart. We’re constructing an edifice of surveillance and social control that would make the late Dr. Joseph Goebbels turn green in his grave with envy while we squander our dwindling political capital on stupid gender confusion battles. The Russians, on the other hand, have every right to protect their interests along their own border, to protect the persons and property of Russian-speaking Ukrainians who, not long ago, were citizens of a greater Russia, to discourage neo-Nazi activity in their back-yard, and most of all to try to stabilize a region that has little history and experience with independence. They also have to contend with the bankruptcy of Ukraine, which may be the principal cause of its current crack-up. Ukraine is deep in hock to Russia, but also to a network of Western banks, and it remains to be seen whether the failure of these linked obligations will lead to contagion throughout the global financial system. It only takes one additional falling snowflake to push a snow-field into criticality.”—
James Howard Kunstler is like the urban planning community’s crazy uncle.
Part of me wants him to get better meds, but the other part watches with a guilty enjoyment, waiting to see if he can get through dinner without dumping the mashed potatoes into his hair again while screaming about how we’ll all be sorry when the oil runs out and we’re forced into slavery, cannibalism, or both.
“The “Terminator” franchise proposes a future in which humans are fighting against Sky Lab, an Artificial Intelligence. At least that’s what the humans think they are fighting. An alternative way to think about this future, is that there is no Artificial Intelligence. Instead, the elites have separated themselves from the proletariat and have begun a genocidal war against them using killer drones. Which future is more likely? A menacing singularity or a group of resistance fighters being hunted down by drones from an unknown enemy? I imagine that it must feel a lot like the latter in Afghanistan. Polls show that 92% of Afghans have never heard of 9/11. They are presently fighting a war with no history, and no future.”—
“The American Army pilot Hugh Thompson had moral courage. He landed his helicopter between a platoon of U.S. soldiers and 10 terrified Vietnamese civilians during the My Lai massacre. He ordered his gunner to fire his M60 machine gun on the advancing U.S. soldiers if they began to shoot the villagers. And for this act of moral courage, Thompson, like Snowden, was hounded and reviled. Moral courage always looks like this. It is always defined by the state as treason—the Army attempted to cover up the massacre and court-martial Thompson. It is the courage to act and to speak the truth. Thompson had it. Daniel Ellsberg had it. Martin Luther King had it. What those in authority once said about them they say today about Snowden.”—Chris Hedges (via azspot)
“Of all the myths and falsehoods that Republicans have spread about President Obama, the most pernicious and long-lasting is that the $832 billion stimulus package did not work. Since 2009, Republican lawmakers have inextricably linked the words “failed” and “stimulus,” and last week, five years after passage of the Recovery Act, they dusted off their old playbook again. “The ‘stimulus’ has turned out to be a classic case of big promises and big spending with little results,” wrote Speaker John Boehner. “Five years and hundreds of billions of dollars later, millions of families are still asking, ‘where are the jobs?’ ”
The stimulus could have done more good had it been bigger and more carefully constructed. But put simply, it prevented a second recession that could have turned into a depression. It created or saved an average of 1.6 million jobs a year for four years. (There are the jobs, Mr. Boehner.) It raised the nation’s economic output by 2 to 3 percent from 2009 to 2011. It prevented a significant increase in poverty — without it, 5.3 million additional people would have become poor in 2010.”—NYTimes.com (via azspot)
“The Deep State is the big story of our time. It is the red thread that runs through the war on terrorism, the financialization and deindustrialization of the American economy, the rise of a plutocratic social structure and political dysfunction. Washington is the headquarters of the Deep State, and its time in the sun as a rival to Rome, Constantinople or London may be term-limited by its overweening sense of self-importance and its habit, as Winwood Reade said of Rome, to “live upon its principal till ruin stared it in the face.” “Living upon its principal,” in this case, means that the Deep State has been extracting value from the American people in vampire-like fashion. We are faced with two disagreeable implications. First, that the Deep State is so heavily entrenched, so well protected by surveillance, firepower, money and its ability to co-opt resistance that it is almost impervious to change. Second, that just as in so many previous empires, the Deep State is populated with those whose instinctive reaction to the failure of their policies is to double down on those very policies in the future. Iraq was a failure briefly camouflaged by the wholly propagandistic success of the so-called surge; this legerdemain allowed for the surge in Afghanistan, which equally came to naught. Undeterred by that failure, the functionaries of the Deep State plunged into Libya; the smoking rubble of the Benghazi consulate, rather than discouraging further misadventure, seemed merely to incite the itch to bomb Syria. Will the Deep State ride on the back of the American people from failure to failure until the country itself, despite its huge reserves of human and material capital, is slowly exhausted? The dusty road of empire is strewn with the bones of former great powers that exhausted themselves in like manner.”—Mike Lofgren (via azspot)
The winner-takes-all dynamics of social on the desktop web do not appear to apply on mobile, and if there are winner-takes-all dynamics for mobile social it’s not yet clear what they are. There are four main aspects to this:
Smartphone apps can access your address book, bypassing the need to rebuild your social graph on a new service
They can access your photo library, where uploading photos to different websites is a pain
They can use push notifications instead of relying on emails and on people bothering to check multiple websites
Crucially, they all get an icon on the home screen. Any smartphone app is just two taps away - a desktop site can crush a new competitor by adding it as a feature with a new menubar icon but on mobile there isn’t room to do that. Mobile tends to favor single-purpose, specialized apps.
“In real terms, the minimum wage was much higher 40 years ago. Did they have worse employment, or better employment than us? Raising the minimum wage means that a lot of people have more money to spend, and spend it they do, because people earning that little spend every cent they have. So it increases demand. It decreases borrowing from payday loan places, which charge usurious interest, and that also increases spending, because payday loans very quickly cripple the buying power of those who take them.”—I’ve never understood why people care what the CBO says (via azspot)
“I would not use Glass while driving, but I did use the turn-by-turn directions app while my wife drove us to a party. I’m glad I was in the passenger seat. I spent so much time fiddling with Glass that I would almost certainly have veered off the road, driven through a stop sign, or worse. The issue isn’t taking my eyes off the road—it’s that Glass steals away my attention. AAA’s Martin backs me up, pointing to a growing body of research showing that “hands-free cell-phone use offers no safety benefits over handheld cell-phone use” and that “voice-activated texting or e-mailing is one of the most mentally distracting activities a driver can engage in.””—Google Glass Will Be a Huge Success—Unless People Find It Creepy | MIT Technology Review (via iamdanw)
“Social spending, also, is strongly and inversely correlated with guard labor across the nations shown in the graph. There is a simple economic lesson here: A nation whose policies result in substantial inequalities may end up spending more on guns and getting less butter as a result.”—One Nation Under Guard (via azspot)
“Thank goodness! I didn’t know if anyone was coming! Are you OK? Did you have trouble getting here? I baked these for your staff. You are always so nice to me when I have a question. I hope they don’t make you stay open long. I will check the new mystery shelves and then head home myself. Oh, dear, sweet boy! You remind me of my grandson. Try to stay warm. Yes, let’s go in.”—When a librarian struggles through storm and snow to open the building, and sees the seventy-two year old patron standing outside with fresh-baked cookies, and thinks to himself, you’re the reason why I tried. (via yahighway)
“The Internet exists to crap all over everything. And Flappy Bird is simple, silly, derivative, and casual-friendly, so it was sure to bring the self-styled Defenders of Gaming out of the woodwork.”—The Bottom Feeder: Why Indie Developers Go Insane
“Societies that once had democratic traditions, or periods when openness was possible, are often seduced into totalitarian systems because those who rule continue to pay outward fealty to the ideals, practices and forms of the old systems. This was true when the Emperor Augustus dismantled the Roman Republic. It was true when Lenin and the Bolsheviks seized control of the autonomous soviets and ruthlessly centralized power. It was true following the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the rise of Nazi fascism. Thomas Paine described despotic government as a fungus growing out of a corrupt civil society. And this is what has happened to us.”—Chris Hedges (via azspot)
“But what might happen to a homegrown Pussy Riot in New York? If, say, a politically conscious hip-hop group plugged in their amps near the altar of Saint Patrick’s cathedral in midtown Manhattan, you can bet that misdemeanor trespassing would only be the beginning. Given that US police often have such an easy time padding their charges – remember Cecily McMillan – it’s conceivable that an American Pussy Riot could face resisting arrest and assaulting an officer as well. That’s two years in jail, which is the same as the sentence handed down to Pussy Riot’s Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova.”—Cecily McMillan’s Occupy trial is a huge test of US civil liberties. Will they survive?| Chase Madar (via iamdanw)
[There is a] general principle of internet language these days that the more overwhelmed with emotions you are, the less sensical your sentence structure gets, which I’ve described elsewhere as “stylized verbal incoherence mirroring emotional incoherence” and which leads us to expressions like “feels,” “I can’t even/I’ve lost the ability to can,” and “because reasons.”
Contrast this with first-generation internet language, demonstrated by LOLcat or 1337speak, and in general characterized by abbreviations containing numbers and single letters, often in caps (C U L8R), smilies containing noses, and words containing deliberate misspellings.
We’ve now moved on: broadly speaking, second-generation internet language plays with grammar instead of spelling. If you’re a doomsayer, the innovative syntax is one more thing to throw up your hands about, but compared to a decade or two ago, the spelling has gotten shockingly conventional.
In this sense, doge really is the next generation of LOLcat, in terms of a pet-based snapshot of a certain era in internet language. We’ve kept the idea that animals speak like an exaggerated version of an internet-savvy human, but as our definitions of what it means to be a human on the internet have changed, so too have the voices that we give our animals. Wow.
“Smarm, on the other hand, is never a force for good. A civilization that speaks in smarm is a civilization that has lost its ability to talk about purposes at all. It is a civilization that says “Don’t Be Evil,” rather than making sure it does not do evil.”—On Smarm
“An entire political agenda—privatization of government services, aggressive policing, charter schooling, cuts in Social Security—has been packaged as apolitical, a reasonable consensus about necessity. Those who oppose the agenda are “interest groups,” whose selfish greed makes them unable to see reason, or “ideologues.” Those who promote it are disinterested and nonideological. There is no reason for the latter to even engage the former. In smarm is power.”—On Smarm
“Supplemented only with a table of contents and marginal notes, a final copy in the shape of a box of selected paper slips extracted from the collection goes to the typesetter—without having been rewritten. What comes back are the new book and the box of paper slips, to be returned to their respective places—namely, the excerpt cabinet and the bookshelf. Hence, the data circulate between two different agencies. The excerpt is selected from the book—to be made, as an excerpt of the excerpts, into yet another book.”—Highlighted by Josh DiMauro in Paper Machines (History and Foundations of Information Science) by Krajewski, Markus
“…I understand what the president is trying to say, and I do think that, you know, the instinct is good. They are trying to protect the privacy of people. But it’s important to remember that, you know, the thing here is that the Fourth Amendment isn’t about when you search records, it’s really about the point of collection. The Fourth Amendment is very clear that you can’t walk into people’s houses and collect all their papers and then, you know, as long as you put them in a drawer and don’t look at them, it doesn’t actually count as being invasive to people’s privacy. If we want to have a strict understanding of the constitutional protections that Americans have, we really need to ensure that we aren’t engaged in dragnet surveillance programs that collect information on people who aren’t suspected of any crime. That’s, in many ways, the core complaint that people from both sides of the political spectrum have about this program, in addition to ongoing concerns that it’s frankly not proven to be useful in seven years.”—Rainey Reitman (via azspot)
“In this, as in so many other parts of contemporary politics, members of the self-identified center are in some important sense unable to accept opposition. Through smarm, they have cut themselves off from the language of actual dispute.”—On Smarm
“As a result of unilateral liberation from the bound book, freely interconnected slips of paper expand the intersections and so increase the connectivity of possible relationships. Thus, the material of the scholar’s machine awaits skilled interrogation in the shape of addressable aggregations of paper slips kept in appropriate boxes.”—
“By contrast, the scholar’s machine allows two different applications. First, it serves as a memory aid. Bit by bit, it receives excerpted materials in order to fix them in a suitable place. Faithful to the adage that stored means forgotten, it offers an arrangement against the irreparable loss of the addresses that in turn point at content.”—
“The architecture of the idiosyncratic scholar’s machine requires no mediation for, or access by, others. In dialog with the machine, an intimate communication is permitted. Only the close and confidential dialog results in the connections that lead an author to new texts. When queried by the uninitiated, the box of paper slips remains silent. It is literally a discreet/discrete machine.”—Highlighted by Josh DiMauro in Paper Machines (History and Foundations of Information Science) by Krajewski, Markus
"Before a visitor clicks on a link, he hovers over that link. Between these two events, 200 ms to 300 ms usually pass by (test yourself here). InstantClick makes use of that time to preload the page, so that the page is already there when you click."