Tag Archives: Culture

Culture and society

Gehlen’s Moral & Hypermoral

Moral und Hypermoral (1969) is the final work of German philosopher Arnold Gehlen (1904–1976), today somewhat forgotten except among German philosophy students and niche conservatives. I confess that I started reading him myself only recently, obviously far too late. He’s well worth a recommendation, and in this spirit I append a translation of the beginning […]

Religion & Life Strategy

The nature and dynamics of world religions by Nicolas Baumard & Coralie Chevallier (2015, also as PDF) examines archaic religions, current world religions, and the ongoing decline of religiosity in rich countries by the light of life history theory, here applied to the varying circumstances of human societies rather than the evolution of different species. […]

Digital Longevity

Digital storage is extremely compact and offers exact, rapid, and nearly cost-free replication through infinite iterations, whether to another digital storage medium or a playback device for human readers (watchers, listeners). This is obviously quite fantastic and caused a great deal of existing and new content to move to digital storage and onto the Internet. […]

Robert Ardrey’s Hunting Hypothesis

Robert Ardrey (1908–1980) was not only a noted playwright but also the author of four influential books on evolutionary anthropology. If you’ve never heard of him that’s because he was an outsider of the academic establishment, both as an amateur and as an early critic of the ludicrous Marxist propaganda known as the “blank slate” […]

Sarah Perry’s Cooperative Ignorance

Sarah Perry’s monumental essay on Cooperative Ignorance makes a compelling point that when interacting with other human beings (as opposed to indifferent nature), it is often beneficial to be deliberately ignorant or otherwise constrained in one’s options. In this overview I’ve compiled a few highlights; read the whole thing when you can make the time. […]

Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies

The Collapse of Complex Societies (Cambridge University Press 1988; paperback 1990, 250 pages, ISBN 978-0-521-38673-9) is Joseph A. Tainter’s magnum opus and deservedly considered a classic. Tainter packs an overview of explanations of collapse, analyses of historical cases, and his own overarching theory into one slim book, soberly argued from quantifiable data yet quite readable. […]

Stack Overflow: Quality by Quantity

Programmer Q&A site Stack Overflow has attracted legions of volunteer moderators (including privileged users possessing various editing capacities) with a “gamified” reputation system, but the quality of this moderation is increasingly coming under attack. A thread on Stack Overflow itself asked in April 2014, Why is Stack Overflow so negative of late? I’ve been using […]

Published Opinion Fractures

Le journalisme est un enfer, un abîme d’iniquités, de mensonges, de trahisons, que l’on ne peut traverser et d’où l’on ne peut sortir pur, que protégé comme Dante par le divin laurier de Virgile.– Honoré de Balzac, Illusions perdues (1843) Not only is journalism hell, it hardly pays anymore either. NiemanLab’s Ken Doctor recently published […]

Return of Patronage

Who will pay for intellectual works that are easily copied over the Internet, and why? I think the strongest component will be voluntary payment, a.k.a. patronage, and it’s already much more common than generally admitted. The core distinction is the following: People will pay after “consuming” (listening, reading, watching, playing) a work if they decide […]

Robot Writer News

Computers still struggle to master the Turing test, but that doesn’t matter for low demands on writing quality. In today’s sampling of publishing news we learn that this includes social networks, professional journalism, and scientific conference proceedings. The Scientific Bot In February, science publishers Springer and IEEE were forced to retract over 120 papers from […]