Flash Fiction: a complete story
in one thousand or fewer words.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Edge: The Question of 2010

Background, Edge Foundation: "the mandate of Edge Foundation is to promote inquiry into and discussion of intellectual, philosophical, artistic, and literary issues, as well as to work for the intellectual and social achievement of society."

This organization felt that in the early 20th century, literary intellectuals effectively started calling themselves the intellectuals, thereby booting others out of the club, including the likes of John von Neumann, Albert Einstein, and Werner Heinsenberg. Edge wishes to reverse that trend and is taken quite seriously by luminaries. Among other activities, Edge proposes the "question of the year" and invites intellectuals to respond.

The Edge annual question for 2010 is: how is the Internet changing the way you think? Already they have 167 responses (scroll down) from notables, including palenotologists, physicists, evolutionary biologists (yeah, Dawkins), Facebook "platform managers", the president of the Royal Society, various artists, the co-founder of wikipedia...and Alan Alda.



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Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Victorian Internet

Here's an interesting article from Ars Technica about the Victorian Internet, telegraph network of the 187os. It seems little has changed since then. Though we have broadband (no snickers from you time travelers from the future!) and the Victorians had the narrowest of narrowband, they had control freak/net neutrality issues similar to our own. In this article you'll read about the rigging of elections using the telegraph systems (including copying private telegraphs to the senders' political foes), Enron-like scandals in the railway business (the necessary partner of the telegraph system), the manipulation of stock in Western Union so that a speculator could buy control, and deals to force all newspapers to use the AP network.

Says the author:

In many ways this story is far field from our contemporary debates about network management, file sharing, and the perils of protocol discrimination. But the main questions seem to remain the sameā€”to what degree will we let Western Union then and ISPs now pick winners and losers on our communications backbone? And when do government regulations grow so onerous that they discourage network investment and innovation?

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Day the Internet Died

Yesterday we had a story about YA apocalyptic fiction. Today's post is about another sort of apocalypse, the day the Internet died. How would people react if the whole network of networks collapsed and couldn't be rebuilt for a lifetime? No doubt, many would feel a deep loss or disabling disorientation. Many avid readers and writers would feel like they couldn't function. Many personal relationships that existed only through Internet connections would collapse with the Internet, with the people involved having no way to find out who was behind that screen name or goofy email address.

Cracked.com asked for Photoshopped pictures that would illustrate how we would react if the Internet died. I found this by way of SlashDot.

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Slashed to death? An Apology from the Web Gods

How many times have you cursed the web gods when your browser went astray after you mangled the web address/URL by omitting the two slashes (strokes) or using the accursed backslashes? How many times have you had to take a cough drop after telling someone a URL: "it's ach tee tee pee colon backslash backslash...no, freakin' Microsoft...that's forward slash forward slash gee oh oh gee ell ee dot cee oh em....What, you want me to repeat it? That's ach tee tee colon forward slash....forget it.

Modern browsers have helped by automatically inserting the slashes/strokes, but they still lower our "user experience."

One of the top web gods would like to apologize for the web URL slashes. The slashes/strokes weren't really needed. Sorry about that. (Give the guy a break. As the Australian IT article suggest, the guy invented the world wide web and deserves a Nobel Prize.)

It's good that he's a Brit. If he were an American, we'd be suffering from constant class action suit commercials on the television.

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Saturday, June 27, 2009

Hulu Bests Fox with Simpsons in Advertising Rates

This is not a bellwether event, perhaps, since demographics plays such a vital part in interpreting it, but the cost of advertising during "The Simpsons" is now higher on Internet service Hulu.com and TV.com than on the Fox network by about twice. This PC World article (by way of SlashDot) exposes other issues which make interpretation difficult: 37 seconds of advertising during an online show versus 9 minutes during a TV/cable broadcast, smaller online viewing audience, and others. No doubt, the chins of many network executives are being scratched contemplatively.

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Simon and Schuster's Crossword Puzzle Play

This topic is an example of the expanding influence of the Internet on traditional media noted in today's earlier post. Simon and Schuster is offering a daily crossword puzzle application for iPhones and iPod Touches. On the surface, this seems like a good idea. However, the syndicates of puzzles and games for daily newspapers can jump all over this, if they haven't already.

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Listen to the Doctorow: Internet's Transformation of Popular Media

Cory Doctorow is a Sci-Fi writer and uber-Internet citizen, as editor of BoingBoing, the number one blog on the Internet according to Technorati's top 100. Here is his take on how the Internet will affect various media, including newspapers (in big trouble), big-budget movies, music and books. Regarding newspapers, he says:
The imminent collapse of the American newspaper industry has spawned entire gazeteers' worth of high-minded handwringing about the social value of newspapers and the social harm that their disappearance will unleash. It's probably all true. I love the smudgy old devils, from the headlines to the funny pages....
Regarding books:

...First, the quantity and variety of titles carried outside of bookstores has radically declined, thanks to the rise of national big-box chain stores, who do all ordering from a centralized database....

The other problem is that we're increasingly conditioned to read short blocks of text...in radically different form than you generally find between covers. Combine this with the sheer amount of read-for-pleasure text available at one-click's distance on the Net, and even those of us who worship books find ourselves reading fewer of them....

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Reading in the Digital Age

Did Christopher Columbus bring cell phones to the Indians? Apparently not. A digital librarian used this example of a seriously flawed Internet article to teach school children a healthy respect for the information and disinformation found on the Internet. This is the third of three articles in the NYT about reading in the digital age.

Previous articles [1 2] examined the debate over the value of reading on the Internet versus reading in print and how educators are using video games as bait to lure children to read.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

The End of Solitude

The End of Solitude, a bit of nostalgia for the pre-social-networking days, by William Deresiewicz: as everyone seeks more and broader connectivity, the still, small voice speaks only in silence

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