samedi 9 août 2003
"Thursday, ministers from 34 nations and several nongovernmental organizations are meeting at the State Department to lay the political foundation for pulling together disparate systems of sensors - from 'floats' gathering data deep below the sea surface to satellites in Earth's orbit. The idea is to create a more tightly linked set of tools for tracking and forecasting environmental changes that can affect fisheries, agriculture, water resources, and climate.
The 'Cooperation: Earth' (Christian Science Monitor) article was in 'rebecca's pocket'.
"If successful, the effort would be historic."
The "trouble" with Rebecca Blood is that, apart from writing good books about blogging, she can fill her own log in a day with more data nuggets than some people can fully digest in three.
Hardly surprising then, that in mid-July, she wrote about her Acquired Attention Deficit Disorder. But in so doing, she turned out some material I am still meditating on.
"We are moving into a post-literate society, where pattern-recognition will replace the linear thinking of the current period. This doesn't require a rejection of reading as a mode of understanding--pre-literate Greece, after all, gave us the basis for our current mode of thought.
In some respects, Marianne's generation embodies post-literacy, except that my kid, and one or two of her friends, read books as voraciously as I did when I was their age.
"At high dosages, 'always on' may become counter-productive but at least it's easy to correct. The Web and email combine to create the biggest distraction machine ever invented. (I've long predicted," Rebecca says, "that in the near future, being unplugged will be the status symbol. As our environments become increasingly frenetic, uncluttered time and space will be a luxury few can arrange.)"
Pattern-recognition is undoubtedly a part of modern journalism. The sheer volume of information an agency news editor has to process in an hour could be handled no other way.
But it is only a part of the job. At Amazon UK, one reviewer, Andy Barnes, is scathing about 'Scoop':
"Waugh's lampooning of an African state in chaos is supposed to provide a biting insight into the politics of that region (in the 1930s) but reads as it was written, as an ignorant diatribe by an upper middle class writer with nothing new or unique to say. This may appeal who don't like to think to hard about their politics. It is not a political satire. It is full of cheap shots and obvious stereotypes."
If you want to be politically correct, Barnes is right about Evelyn Waugh's shots and stereotypes, but for many journalists, there has been nothing fundamentally "new or unique" about the profession since 'Scoop'.
Journalists still have a weather eye out, like global warming watchers, for changes in the pattern, and especially exceptions to the rules. 'Man bites dog.'
My sixpenny copy of the 'The Press', one of the first paperback Penguin Specials, by Henry Wickham Steed, belonged to my grandfather.
I devoured it again a few years ago. It's out of print and shouldn't be:
"People are bewildered and disheartened. They, especially the young, throw themselves into every kind of sport and amusement, the riskier the better. Many of them try to keep themselves 'fit,' though few of them could answer the artist's question to a sturdy young fellow who had answered how the artist could get on without exercise, and had said: 'It takes me all my time to keep fit.' 'Fit for what?' enquired the artist. Many become 'air-minded,' heedless of crashes, or drive 'sports cars' at breakneck speed. Their elders dance 'hot jazz' or seek mental exercise in doing 'cross-word puzzles.' In regard to public affairs they have no reasoned standpoint; and in politics, which ought to mean care for public affairs, they have no well-thought-out creed. Nationalism, as such, they do not find wholly satisfying. Communism attracts comparatively few, while the appeal of its milder version, Socialism, has lost glamour. Still less does Nazism or Fascism strike them as a panacea. Of liberal principles they know too little to find in them a source of inspiration though unconsciously most of them are liberal in tendency. While pacifism is alien to their temperaments, the senselessness of war estranges them. They seek something bigger than themselves to which they can devote themselves--and seek it in vain. Literature and the pulpit, politicians and Parliament, philosophers and scientists offer them pebbles in place of bread, and the growing mechanisation of life curtails their opportunities for creative activity.
Wickham Steed had no ADD problem and demands - in paragraphs like that - the same of his readers. Nearly needless to say, in 1938, his pressing case that "the problem of the Press is the central problem of democracy" was written partly because he saw what Adolf Hitler was up to with the media and the neighbours.
The Press reflects all this disjointed aimlessness and ministers to it without rising above it. Here is a chance for a newspaper-maker of vision with an ideal and purpose of his own, both of which he might hide in his heart lest they be mocked by fools before he could vindicate them. The newspaper I dream of would reflect the distractions of modern life no less faithfully than existing papers reflect them, but it would treat them as distractions, not the things that matter. It would search out the truths behind those appearances and proclaim them, sparing no shams, respecting no conventions solely because they happened to be conventions, giving honour where honour might be due, but calling cant and humbug by their names.
It would be quite fearless. It would not 'hedge' in its treatment of thorny subjects; and if, as would be inevitable, it made mistakes, it would avow them. (...)" (pp 245-6, Penguin Books, 1938.)
For his "newspaper-maker of vision", these days I'd look rather to some of those groups forming what Rebecca calls "clusters" on the Net. I mentioned this notion of hers back in April, along with her misgivings about them.
Only in one respect now, do we all look further than Wickham Steed. While the Web may evolve beyond recognition in my lifetime, computers and internet access evidently offers the individual who can afford it and make the time unparalleled "opportunities for creative activity", as well as for games and amusement.
J.D. Lasica today passes on from Karen H. an ironic take on "the battle over media consolidation" as preached, but not practised, by the Chicago Tribune. There is no basic difference between this small empire and the ones that developed in Wickham Steed's lifetime. Some, indeed, are the same.
It is simply a matter of scale.
9:42:43 PM link
"Hot story, means big bucks.
Hmmm ... flash in NY hits Toys R Us on wednesday.
Thursday, in Toronto, Toys R Us again!
There's never been a good idea that hasn't been hijacked by corporate guerilla (sic) marketers.
Most people told the man who shouts "YOU'RE BEING USED" at Flashmob.info: "So What?" Why think too hard about thoughtless fun?
One idea I liked, mentioned in a "Mammoth ... Round-Up (Smart Mobs) as I slumbered last night, was the Antimob one at the end.
Parisians have done this since France invented holidays for everybody. Eleven of the 13 apartments I can easily see across the back garden are completely shuttered up.
But they don't regard it as performance art, keep it up throughout August, and the tourists haven't been told about the ghost town idea.
One place is most unkind. Due warning. The piece at GPSter/Geograffiti is called "Wankmobs vs Barfmobs".
GPSter seeks to give weblife to a passably interesting concept:
"Since time immemorial, people have stared up at the heavens and wondered:
"what if I could use my GPS location to leave data right here for others to see?"
7:44:23 PM link
This is a last shot across the bows of Apple France and their paymasters across the Atlantic. A first and final one in public. Twice privately warned, they privately said "so sorry"!
Why, in the name of all the gods they worship in California, should buying a very expensive new product from Apple be like playing a non-fatal game of Russian roulette?
"Don't expect a rapid repair," one technician told me yesterday. "I'm not allowed to mend it. There are no 'special dispensations' except for VIPs. Apple's very fond of VIPs, but for the likes of ordinary people like you and me..."
Marianne's PowerBook G4 is the second Mac in four I have bought partly dead straight out of the box, the tape and all the foam.
If you're mean enough to count the Indigo iMac that a dealer took back for another one in May 2001 because it wouldn't even start up, that makes three rotten Apples out of five in the past six or seven years. Had the first one not been completely dead, I wouldn't have had an instant replacement.
Are we expected to tolerate a 60 percent failure rate?
What's wrong with the PowerBook?
A sleek and gorgeous machine refuses to spit out (... and the remainder of this gauntlet, thrown down to "les irresponsables" at Apple France and their masters, is on another page.
For once, I'm ready to start a fight. Details and reasons are too long for newsreader programmes. [Rant edited for length, and posted to 'Blogcritics' (blogroll) on Aug 10.]).
1:03:43 PM link
nick b. 2007 do share, don't steal, please credit
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a blog behind the log
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what are you so afraid of?
could it be three simple words?' - Feist)
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who is this guy?
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shopping with friends