Gaming Reality, Part 2
(Started this yesterday. Not sure how many entries there will be.) Civilization is a mirror. I don’t mean the real thing, by the way—that’s obvious—I mean the game. Civilization, the computer simulation game. In Civ, going from settler to civilization takes a lot of work. Hours, even. In the real world, millennia. Much of that work is accidental, which—it could be argued—creates...
Gaming Reality, Part 1
I just finished reading 11/22/63, by Stephen King. The gist: a schoolteacher named Jake is shown a time portal by a friend, Al, who discovered it in the back room of his diner. On their side, it is 2011. On the other side, it is 1958. Each trip made back to 1958, no matter how long it lasts for the traveler, only takes 2 minutes of 2011 time. Each re-entry to 1958 resets the previous one. Those...
Book Report: Earth Abides
So again, at the end of the twenty-second year, they gathered at the rock, and Ish with his hammer and cold-chisel cut 22 into the surface of the rock just below 21. They were all there at the rock, because the day was fair, and warm for winter, and the mothers had brought even the youngest babies. Then after the numeral had been cut, all those who were old enough to talk called out Happy...
Some Recent Publications
I’ve got some stuff to share… The UTNE Reader contacted my editor at PRINT requesting to re-print my column from the February issue, Future Daydream. We agreed to the re-print, which is in the July/August issue, available in stores now. They’ve run the piece as The Boy in the Bubble, which is an interesting title I think. Here’s a clip: “On the list of problems to...
Just a few things I've learned that are on my mind...
I’m nearing the end of my thirty-second year on this planet. There’s nothing particularly special about that, but as this year wraps up, I’ve been reflecting upon a few things that I’ve learned. These aren’t remarkable things. They’re things that if you’d have explained them to me at any point, say, after my seventh birthday, I’d have probably nodded...
Seeing Time, Part 6
“Cyberspace, especially, draws us into the instant.” (James Gleick, Faster, 286) …which is probably why futurism is dying right now. But I should probably qualify that, because words like future and futurism seem to be used all the time. The kind of futurism I’m talking about is the kind that involves imagination of the long-term variety, not the kind that involves relatively short-term...
Seeing Time, Part 5
(Now that I’m on to a fifth installment of this series, I realized I can just provide a link to all of them by linking to the tag, Seeing Time. Duh. I work primarily on the internet.) I also realize that titling these “Seeing Time” is a little grandiose when they should really just be called “random brain jazz after reading a really out of date tech book.” Just so you know...
Seeing Time, Part 4
For those late to the free-association party, Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 have been hastily dashed off to the web with little regard for coherency or an overall game plan. The nonsense continues here… “You are aware that the director of the Directorate of Time is something of a philosopher. He has written, ‘We experience time intervals as much shorter than when we were young.’ He even has equations...
Seeing Time, Part 3
…Part 1 was on Monday, and Part 2 yesterday. I’m just going to keep going with this until I’m sick of it. First, another quote from James Gleick’s Faster… “‘The historical record shows that humans have never, ever opted for slower,’ points out the historian Stephen Kern. We fool ourselves with false nostalgia—a nostalgia for what never was. Whenever we speed up the present, as a curious...
Seeing Time, Part 2
(…my last post being Part 1. I grabbed several quotes from James Gleick’s book, Faster, as I flipped back through it the other night, which is where this assembling series is coming from…) “Your sense of acceleration has not blinded you to the brevity of the present moment.” (273) This is the first sentence of the last chapter, titled The End. I’m still not exactly sure what it means. Sometimes I...
Seeing Time, Part 1
Today I was flipping through a book I read sometime in the last two years: Faster, by James Gleick. It’s been on my mind since I just started reading his newest book, The Information. This passage, in his Afterword, resonated more with me in this pass (apparently) than the first time I read it: “We struggle to perceive the process of change even as we ourselves are changing. After all, flux is our...
Networked Cities and Crumbling Infrastructure
I’ve been following the ongoing conversation around the internet of things and the networked city and have enjoyed it very much. (To follow along, check out—in no particular order—Really Interesting Group, mammoth, City of Sound, frog, The Infrastructurist, Berg, Dentsu, Stamen, and Quiet Babylon. Very light on Americans, by the way. Something to think and perhaps feel a bit of shame...
Ethical Technology, Part 5
Well, I think I’m winding down here. I can tell that I’m close to being out of things to say (for now, anyway); my mind has begun to wander back to my last multi-part monoramble on seeing time… Perhaps I’ll also resurrect that one sometime soon. In the meantime, the last few notes I had are probably not enough to chatter on about individually, so I’ll just briefly mention them here. * * * Is...
Ethical Technology, Part 4
So far, my ramblings have gone from monopolies of information to the filter bubble to the economics of the internet. Today, what about automation in general? Is is ultimately dehumanizing? Cyborgology had a good post recently about automation called Commentary on Race Against Machine, in which they noted that Norbert Weiner, mathematician, father of cybernetics and author of The Human Use of...
Ethical Technology, Part 3
Continuing these thoughts in a meandering sort of way (Part 1 → Part 2 → You Are Here). Yesterday I was talking about the filter bubbles that we are so easily caught within—especially on the internet, where an algorithmic approach to dealing with information begins with benign personalization, but can lead to a very real distortion of our worldview. The better the machine knows you, the more it...
Ethical Technology, Part 2
So, picking up on Part 1. The next thing that came to mind as far as ethics and technology are concerned is the filter bubble (as coined by Eli Pariser, author of the book of the same name). Whether done algorithmically or not, the filter bubble is the result of the intentional routing of relationships through conceptual filters, rather than real-world situations. This is another one of those...
Ethical Technology, Part 1
Last fall, I sat down for a cup of coffee and conversation with a new friend—someone who had been put in touch with me by a mutual friend of ours who knew that we had a shared interest in technology, ethics, and all the “big ideas” in between. Vance teaches this stuff—hes’s an Associate Professor of Philosophy and Chair of the Philosophy department at Guilford College—while I try to figure out how...
On Monday, Michael Babwahsingh wrote an inspiring post recounting his personal history with sketchbooks. Since I’ve known him, the sketchbook as a concept has probably come up in 90% of our conversations. As far as I’m concerned, this is as it should be. Suffice it to say that we’re both committed to the sketchbook as a vessel for offline thinking. We’re even sharing one...
I decided to start this again with a blank slate.