The Lack of Flying Cars

David Graeber’s essay Of Flying Cars and the Declining Rate of Profit opens with a complaint that should resonate with all science fiction fans: Where, in short, are the flying cars? Where are the force fields, tractor beams, teleportation pods, antigravity sleds, tricorders, immortality drugs, colonies on Mars, and all the other technological wonders any … Continue reading “The Lack of Flying Cars”

Content Creation Without Publishers

For the longest time, spreading writing and music was a slow and expensive process. Writing had to be duplicated by clerks; music and other performance art had to be transmitted in person or in writing. Authors required generous patronage or considerable fame to enjoy widespread reproduction of their works, and usually derived no income from … Continue reading “Content Creation Without Publishers”

Hacking the Cloud

As cracking passwords and encryption by technical means is getting harder, the employees in charge of security become the weakest links in the chain. Social engineering hacks use a combination of publicly available data and expert bluffing to tweak confidential data out of customer service personnel. “Are you the LOD today?” contestant J.C. asked as … Continue reading “Hacking the Cloud”

Ubiquitous Robot Surveillance

Charlie Stross’s recent speech How low (power) can you go? is a fascinating and terrifying glimpse into a future where tiny computerized sensors have become ubiquitous thanks to ever-greater circuit density (Moore’s Law) and energy efficiency (Koomey’s Law). Stross performs back-of-the-envelope calculations for all his projections to ensure they are somewhat realistic, but in the … Continue reading “Ubiquitous Robot Surveillance”

Self-Links: Isolation and Promotion

Nicholas Carr’s When links turn inward discusses Mark Coddington’s recent study, Building Frames Link by Link: The Linking Practices of Blogs and News Sites. Carr’s post is a good read, but in the following I refer directly to the study. Coddington analyzes the links in political articles drawn from three sample sets: Six big mainstream … Continue reading “Self-Links: Isolation and Promotion”

The Portal Problem

Rick Anderson at The Scholarly Kitchen has recently published two excellent articles on what he calls “The Portal Problem:” what will happen to traditional portals of learning now that we have the Internet? The Plight of the Britannica examines the demise of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s print edition. As Anderson is quick to point out, this … Continue reading “The Portal Problem”