4.29.2001

ALL A DREAM?

Q: Who was that masked economy?
A: The Loan Arranger

The New Yorker Online (finally) - Conversation - The New Economy
Given how quickly expectations have changed, we asked two of our writers, Malcolm Gladwell
and James Surowiecki, to discuss, via E-mail, whether the "New Economy" ever really existed...


    [Gladwell:] ... what is distinctive about our age has almost nothing to do with technology, per se;
   it has to do with ideas. In the past forty years, we have come to a startling and important
   intellectual consensus around the world: we have decided, more or less, that markets are
   the best way to organize an economy. And we have decided that collective political and
   administrative structures should carry out an insurance function—that is, make sure that
   cars and workplaces and environments are safe. To me, the rise of, say, workmen's compensation
   in the United States, in the twentieth century, represents a social and conceptual revolution
   that puts the bells and whistles of the Internet age to shame. The "New" Economy? I'll take
   the Great Society any day...


Found via Waterloo Wide Web.

4.28.2001

NOT OUR TYPE OF MOVIE

The problem of how to make movies about typing more interesting...

Ian Frazier makes fun of the "Techno-Thriller" movie genre in the May Atlantic Magazine.

   KEYS: Click-click-click. Click ... click ...

   Shot of the fingers moving over the keyboard. Extreme close-up of right index finger moving
   slowly, slowly, to the Enter key. It pauses above the Enter key for several seconds. Then it
   hits the key.

   Burst of loud, suspenseful music. Sudden close-up shot of computer screen. Flashing, in greenish
   computer type on the screen, the words ILLEGAL OPERATION ILLEGAL OPERATION ILLEGAL OPERATION...


There is a dissertation or two waiting to be written here, comparing how astonishingly well computers
work in movies and how ploddingly they work in real life. They are the secret agents of the
machine world.

Ian Frazier is one of our "anything by-" authors. We particularly recommend his books "Great Plains" and
"On The Rez."

4.27.2001

NEW NETFUTURE ISSUE

Netfuture #120 (April 24, 2001) is out...
Technology and Human Responsibility


CONTENTS
---------
    Quotes and Provocations
        Branding the Branders: Turnabout Is Fair Play

    Beyond Elite Globalization (Steve Talbott)
        The case for a tripartite society

DEPARTMENTS

    Announcements and Resources
        The Recovery of Meaning: A Lecture and Workshop

Quote from "Branding the Branders: Turnabout Is Fair Play":

    Klein cites the activists in Seattle and elsewhere: "Clearly these people
    don't believe they can change the world through shopping". I know what
    she means: not through "just shopping", and not through more and more
    shopping. But, in a fuller sense, changing the world through shopping --
    through their choices about what to buy and not to buy -- is exactly what
    the activists are struggling to do. And when it finally dawns on the
    population at large that, with every buying decision, we nudge the world a
    little bit in this direction or that, then the branders will have been
    transcended at their own game.


[Klein is Naomi Klein, author of No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies]

There is also a No Logo website.

And Ned also recommends the NetFuture topical index

4.24.2001

UTOPIA STUFF

Link via Caterina.net

The New York Public Library - Utopian Literature: A Selective Bibliography

An excellent chronological bibliography from a great library.

4.23.2001

PIGS REALLY DO FLY

It's Beltane again. Time to celebrate King Lud's victory over the scream
(from "Lludd and Llefelys" of the Mabinogion) with an exchange of luddite gifts...

The Luddite Gift Guide (Net LuGG) recommends:

Human-Powered Paper Automata From Flying Pig

   "A quirky range of unique card and paper moving models. Our animated automata make
   unusual gifts for all the family and with free shipping anywhere in the world..."


The newest model: Ewe Boat.

4.22.2001

THEN IT ASKED FOR SARAH CONNOR...

From the Guardian Unlimited (UK) via Follow Me Here

Robot with living brain created in US
James Meek, science correspondent

Wednesday April 18, 2001

   Researchers in Chicago have built a cyborg, a half-living, half-robot creature which connects the brain
   of an eel-like fish to a computer and is capable of moving towards lights...

4.18.2001

FRONTIER HOUSE UPDATE

From Common-Place.

Talk of the Past
Go West, Sensitive New-Age Guy

Jill Lepore

   The frontier of Frontier House is not a boundary between savagery and civilization.
   It's the boundary between an emotionally shabby, technologically bountiful now and an
   emotionally vital, technologically impoverished then. "I have been looking for this
   kind of opportunity to be a catalyst for a new trajectory to my life, propelling me in
   new directions like a comet around a star," writes one New York applicant. Frontier
   House families don't need Frederick Jackson Turner;they need Robert Bly. The last
   frontier? The endless frontier of the self.


We are reminded of the Denver TV critic who mused that the next reality show to follow
"1900 House" might be "Plague House."

Link found on The Common Reader.
COMMON CENTS WEBSITE

Finally a common cents website answers the question what would a million, a
billion, a trillion, etc. pennies look like?

The MegaPenny Project by kokogiak media

But there remains the question: what does Sky King's "neice" penny look like now?

Link found on Kottke.org.

4.17.2001

THE REAL INTERNET TAX...

Turns out, there really was an internet tax...it was just one of those
lottery-type taxes, but without any benefits for parks or senior citizens...

From Suck.com - Conservation Of What Matters

   At its peak last spring, the Nasdaq's total market capitalization -- that is,
   the total value of all companies listed on the world's tech-heaviest stock
   exchange -- had risen to $6.7 trillion. A couple Barron's cover stories and
   some self-fulfilling panic later, the whole thing's worth less than $3
   trillion. That means nearly $4 trillion dollars (more than twice this year's
   entire Federal budget) has vanished in just 12 months. Gone. Vamoosed.
   Flushed. Sink-holed. In the words of the AOL Guy: "Goodbye."


There are approximately 100 million households in America. Calculate your share...

4.16.2001

TATTERED COVERAGE

Put the book down, raise your hands, and back away slowly...


   The Tattered Cover Book Store has announced that it will appeal to the Colorado
   Supreme Court a court order requiring it to turn over to police information about a
   customer's book purchases. In April Tattered Cover owner Joyce Meskis and her attorney,
   Dan Recht, persuaded the police to delay the execution of a search warrant for the
   information and won a temporary restraining order pending a hearing in the Denver
   District Court. On October 20, Denver District Court Judge J. Stephen Phillips narrowed
   the scope of the warrant but ordered Tattered Cover to reveal the contents of one of its
   shipping envelopes that police had removed from the trash of a suspected drug dealer.
   "If we turn over this information, our customers will start wondering if we would ever do
   the same to them," Meskis said. "It will undermine their confidence that we will do
   everything we can to protect the privacy of their purchases, and make them afraid to buy
   controversial titles. That would be a tragedy for our readers--and for free speech. This
   issue is not about the Tattered Cover standing in the way of a police investigation; it is
   about the First Amendment rights that citizens have in our democracy."
[more]

Joyce is right. Read her Open Letter on the First Amendment.

Then support the Tattered Cover by buying a book from them - 1-800-833-9327.

Find an interesting title in their online newsletter...

Tell them Ned sent you.
THE OTHER RIGHT MEAT

This from New Pages weblog

In: YES! A Journal of Positive Futures
"Right Livelihood Resources" by Kari McGinnis

   How can you design your work life so it is an expression of your gifts and makes
   a contribution to the world? How can you make your time at work meaningful?


And what about the question of Left Livelyhood?
I CAN'T DO THAT, DAVE

Noted: Computers Ltd: What They Really Can't Do by David Harel

Slashdot review by Jon Katz

   What can't computers do? Why don't we hear more about their limitations, along with the
   mushroom clouds of hype about their limitless capabilities? By now, the public might well
   expect computing to restore the environment, cure cancer, prolong life and reason through
   the world's most complex and intractable problems...


Cold water.
NOTED
From Salon.com

Follow the money
From shrimp farms in Thailand to electric blanket makers in Maine,
one woman's journey rips the lid off the "global economy."

A book review and interview of author Barbara Garson By Andrew Leonard


   ...why peasants in Thailand pay the price for bad loans made by Citibank and
   Chase Manhattan, or why the unrestricted flow of billions of dollars around the
   a ceaseless search for higher and higher rates of return ends up benefiting very
   few people.


The book: Money Makes the World Go Around: One Investor Tracks Her Cash Through
the Global Economy, from Brooklyn to Bangkok and Back


Barbara Garson is also the author of The Electronic Sweatshop : How Computers Are
Transforming the Office of the Future into the Factory of the Past
and All the
Livelong Day: The Meaning and Demeaning of Routine Work
.

4.14.2001

WWMD (What Would Martin Do?)

From the Nation - Link via BookNotes

How the GOP Gamed the System in Florida
by JOHN LANTIGUA

   On July 10, 2000, in the midst of the presidential campaign, GOP candidate George
   W. Bush addressed the national NAACP convention in Baltimore and denounced such
   "new forms of racism" as racial profiling and redlining. But even as he spoke, a
   very old, traditional form of racism was being implemented in Florida: the
   disfranchisement of eligible voters, especially blacks, which helped Bush win that
   state and the election.


Where are the outrage, the demonstrations, the marches, the boycotts?

Also see the Ministry of Truth article in the same Nation issue:

Science or Politics? by TERRY J. ALLEN

More Bushevic terror.

4.13.2001

PAPERLESS (TREELESS) WORLD

From the NY Post: SURFER GURL By MARY HUHN (link via techdirt.com)


April 12, 2001 -- The latest news on the Great Paper Caper

   BACK in 1996, Internet experts were predicting the demise of newspapers,
   magazines, books - most printed material. The thinking was that in this new Information
   Age, all kinds of content and entertainment would be delivered digitally...

   In 1998, Americans consumed 101.2 million tons of paper, about 750 pounds per person.
   That's 16.6 percent more that they did in the pre-World Wide Web era of 1990...


As someone once wrote, the paperless office will follow close on the heels (and maybe be
stuck to the heels) of the paperless bathroom.
WARM MUZZIES

Link from Declan McCullagh's Politechbot.com

Thomas Jefferson Center announces annual "muzzle" awards

It's April 13. Happy Birthday, Thomas Jefferson!

For the 10th year in a row, the Thomas Jefferson Center for the
Protection of Free Expression
celebrates the birth of its namesake by
calling attention to some of the most egregious or ridiculous affronts
to free expression that occurred in the past year.

"There ought to be limits to freedom."
-- Presidential candidate George W. Bush

No comment.

4.11.2001

EH? E-IOU AND SOMETIMES WHY...

From E-Company Now via Plastic.com...

Boo! And the 100 Other Dumbest Moments in e-Business History

Just one sample:

   #18 A gentleman named Mitch Maddox legally changes his name to DotComGuy and
    spends a year living in a house filled with webcams, using only the Internet to
   interact with the outside world, an effort that conclusively proves ... um, nothing.


Becoming the wwwrong wwway Corrigan of the digital age.
TOO HOT TO HANDLE, TOP TEN...

From SFBG.com (San Francisco Bay Guardian) via Plastic.com

Project Censored names the top stories buried by the mainstream media in 2000.
By Gabriel Roth; illustrations by Lloyd Dangle

   THE STOCK MARKET went down, then up, then down again. Survivor's ratings went up, and up, and
   up. And the mainstream media never averted their gaze, afraid to miss a single bump or dip.

   Meanwhile, out of the frame, two trends remained constant in 2000: big corporations and the
   government continued to put profits first and people second - and people continued to fight back. But you
   wouldn't know that if you got your information exclusively from daily papers and TV news...
[more]

Reminds us of the famous headline from Not The New York Times: "Nothing Much Happening In
Africa Of Late."
BACK IN PRINT

Pavane by Keith Roberts (1968)

...imagine that Queen Elizabeth was assassinated in 1588. England in 1968 is
still Catholic and technologically backward. There are steam trains, complicated
semaphore systems (for network communications), but no electricity...

Anthony Burgess wrote, in his 99 Novels - The Best in English since 1939:
"The virtue of this work lies less in its ideas than in its invention of a modern
England that is still medieval: it is a striking work of the imagination."

See a review by L J Hurst.

One of the best of the alternative histories imagines a luddite world.
LUDDWEAR

With the weather warming, it's time to wear your heart on your sleeve again,
or more accurately your chest... It's getting on to t-shirt weather...

Our recommendations for luddish t-wear:

The "Question Technology" T from CPSR (Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility).

And our own "In The No" T.

Or, for maximum effect, a plain T, with nothing printed on it...
LUDDITE MUSIC

Of course there is...

For Example: The Luddites (of Detroit) Big, bombastic acoustic, Kinda klezmer,
Kinda punk, A few swing numbers, A little raunchy...

"Technology is bad when you forget about da humans"

With CDs, "100 Years of Lunacy" and "There'll Be Trouble Alright!" (and another
due this spring).

We like them, but we would.

For more luddite music, see TLR's music page.

4.08.2001

BLAME THE (PROPER) MACHINE

The voting disaster in the Florida presidential election was blamed in part on faulty
voting machinery. The odd, mumbling re-examinations and recounts which are now appearing
demonstrate another faulty machinery which deserves to be broken...

From the American Politics Journal
HOW THE MIAMI HERALD LIED ABOUT THEIR OWN RECOUNT - a Guest Editorial By Paul Lukasiak

   The widely anticipated release of the results of the Miami Herald
   recount of Florida undervotes finally happened on April 3rd. The results of the recount demonstrate that under
   most rational scenarios, Al Gore would have won the Presidency. According to the data, far more people cast a
   vote for Al Gore than for George W. Bush. And the results strongly suggest that Gore would have won any
   statewide recount done under the auspices of the Florida Supreme Court.

   But the Herald headline, and lead tell a different story. They say that Bush would have won if the recount had
   gone forward.

   How did the Herald justify its headline, and its lead? They did it by...
[more]

Link via Curmudgeon.
NOTED: MYDEMOCRACY.COM

A new book: Republic.com by Cass R. Sunstein
Hardcover - 224 pages (January 29, 2001)
Princeton Univ Pr; ISBN: 0691070253

Democracy, Sunstein maintains, depends on shared experiences and requires citizens to be
exposed to topics and ideas that they would not have chosen in advance.
[-Amazon.com description]

Link via a posting on Metafilter.com

   Contrary the ideal of free information and exposure to new ideas on the Internet, the author concludes
   that in online communities, people choose to associate with people who share similiar opinions, which
   subsequently radicalizes their opinions and shuts them out to opposing voices. Food for thought

         -- [posted by ktheory]

The tragedy of the uncommons.

4.07.2001

NOTED: WHEN TECHNOLOGY FAILS...
It looks like the next Whole Earth Catalog, but it's really an informative, how to book for
self sufficiency or what in its most extreme form is called "survivalism."

When Technology Fails: A Manual for Self-Reliance and Planetary Survival by Matthew Stein
Paperback - 424 pages (December 1, 2000) Clear Light Pub; ISBN: 1574160478

   When Technology Fails is an encyclopedic volume about self-reliance and sustainability that provides
   basic introductory and how-to information on a wide variety of subjects, including future trends,
   survival, renewable energy, alternative healing, sustainable agriculture, and green-building
   technologies. Each chapter also includes a "Whole Earth Catalog" style reference guide to the best
   books, organizations and web sites relevant to the chapter's topics.
[Amazon.com book description]

When Technology Fails website

Suggestion: buy one of those crank-up flashlights to read it by...
TERMINATOR GERMINATOR
Is Monsanto the likely source of Ice-9?

From Freezerbox.com

Terminator Redux BY MICHAEL MANVILLE
SCIENCE | 04.05.01

   This is where the Terminator came in. The patent for gene expression allowed Monsanto to create plants that don't
   have seeds. Entire crops, every year, would commit suicide, and farmers would have no choice but to buy
   more seed the next season. The technology alarmed a number of genetic researchers, including the Union of
   Concerned Scientists, who worried about the possibility of Terminator plants accidentally cross-breeding with
   conventional varieties, leading to the sterilization of entire species. But such concern was admittedly
   speculation--the real outcry arose over the technology's social implications...


Seeds that say, "I won't be baaak!"

4.06.2001

ANNALS OF GECKOBOTICS
Now, a bot to climb walls for you...

from: Technology Review, April 4, 2001

Extreme Robotics By Alan Leo

   Enter the Geckobots -- small, wall-climbing robots inspired by the agile lizard...
   "It's way cool," says Polly Pook, director of research at iRobot, where the top
   brass say "cool" frequently and with gusto. "We looked at cockroaches, frogs,
   ants. But geckos are the most efficient climbers ever studied."


Polly Pook? A member of the way legendary pooka family?

Whatever...TLR recommends the best of Pooka literature, Flan O'Brien's At Swim-Two Birds,
the novel that proves the comic impossibility of hypertext novels...

4.02.2001

THE INTERNET IS TOAST
Killer App Department News:

From The Register via Follow Me Here

Java Toaster prints weather forecast
- By: Andrew Orlowski in San Francisco

   ...a final year Industrial Design student at Brunel University has designed a unit that
   grabs the weather forecast, and burns it onto a piece of bread. Mark One doesn't reproduce the full
    glory of weather maps - such as isobars and cold fronts - on your toast just yet, and instead displays an
   appropriate symbol: a cloud, sun or raindrop. But it's seamless and doesn't take any longer than a
   regular, or dare we say 'legacy' toaster.


Story (with toast picture) via BBC.

But... can it fly?