For Your Consideration – 11

“Looking for Something Useful to Do With Your Time? Don’t Try This”:

“He also dreamed up the useless machine, although the name he gave it was the “ultimate machine.” His mentor at Bell Labs, Claude Shannon, built one and kept it on his desk, where the science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke spotted it one day. “There is something unspeakably sinister about a machine that does nothing—absolutely nothing—except switch itself off,” Mr. Clarke later wrote, saying he had been haunted by the device.”

Adaptation from Douglas Rushkoff’s Present Shock:

“This is the digital trap: Instead of teaching our technologies to conform to our own innate rhythms, we strive to become more compatible with our machines’ timeless nature.”

“Turtles From Shells”: More from Rushkoff.

“The rest of our digital media force a different kind of presentism on us: the now-ness of immediacy and simultaneity. The disorientation everyone blames on “information overload” may in fact have less to do with the amount of data we are being asked to process than the number of simultaneous people we are being asked to be.”

“A Fork of One’s Own”:

“The technological leaps that interest Wilson—from spear and skewer to fork and knife, say, or from pounding stone and grinding mill to food processor—are, obviously, inextricable from the cultural leaps that moved Homo sapiens from cave to settlement, which is to say to agriculture and, with it, to concepts of wealth, property, and the kitchen.”

Excerpt from Viktor Mayer-Schonberger and Kenneth Cukier’s Big Data:

“The era of big data challenges the way we live and interact with the world. Most strikingly, society will need to shed some of its obsession for causality in exchange for simple correlations: not knowing why but only what. This overturns centuries of established practices and challenges our most basic understanding of how to make decisions and comprehend reality.”

“Victorian England made the strongest locks in the world—until an American showed up and promised he could pick them”:

Hobbs had done more than pick a few locks; he had picked the nation’s psyche. “[I]n this faith we had quietly established ourselves for years,” wrote the Times, referring to the country’s interrelated sense of technological superiority and safety, “and it seems cruel at this time of day, when men have been taught to look at their bunches of keys and at their drawers and safes with something like confidence, to scatter that feeling to the winds.”

“The Google Glass feature no one is talking about”:

“The most important Google Glass experience is not the user experience – it’s the experience of everyone else. The experience of being a citizen, in public, is about to change.”

“The Wrong Way to Discuss New Technologies”:

“The reasons to oppose technology defeatism are simple: It downplays the utility of resistance and conceals the avenues for seeking reform and change. As a result of technological defeatism, concerns and anxieties about various technologies are recast as reactive fears and phobias, as irrelevant moral panics that will quickly fade away once users develop the appropriate coping strategies and upgrade their norms. But is anxiety about technological change such a bad thing? And does it always imply technophobia?”

“Three Differences Between an Academic and an Intellectual”:

“The second difference between an academic and an intellectual is the familiar difference between a specialist and a generalist, the academic being the specialist and the intellectual the generalist. There are those who think that an academic who sometimes writes for a popular audience becomes a generalist on those occasions, but this is a mistaken view. A specialist may make do as a popularizer by deploying his specialized education with a facile style. A generalist must write from the full breadth of a general education that has not ended at graduation or been confined to a discipline.”

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