Saying it in a different way…. awesome!
Sherry Turkle and Bill Moyers both know how to pay attention in a conversation.
"Moments of more, lives of less…" - talking about our phones and connectivity.
Vi Hart does a pretty magical thing with her latest. A half-hour mathemusical journey through Stravinsky’s “The Owl And The Pussy Cat”, copyright law, and how 12 tone compositions can create some pretty killer geometric art.
And because I think about things like this, now some thoughts on how this relates to YouTube videos in general: I have a lot of ideas and reactions rolling around in my head about this video, because it’s so out there compared to what is being done on the ‘Tubes. It’s sparked many conversations among my science writer and video friends. It’s not perfect, and it’s not for everyone. But it’s definitely good, and definitely out of the ordinary.
Here’s the bottom line for me: It’s so important that people push the envelope for what’s “expected” when it comes to YouTube videos. Just because 3-minute webcam, jump-cut vlogs have been the staple format of online video for half a decade (for both necessity and stylistic reasons) doesn’t mean that everyone should make their videos like that. Just because Henry Reich draws stuff doesn’t mean everyone should draw stuff. Just because Michael Stevens monologues doesn’t mean everyone should monologue. There is no “right” way to make a video. Just like in radio, you shouldn’t set out to make the next Radiolab, you should set out to make the next thing that you think could be as important as Radiolab.
If more people break the molds, then maybe someone will say “Oh, I can totally do that, because I have an idea, and I could make it work.” That means not being afraid to make videos beyond 5 minutes long. That means not being afraid to tell stories instead of just delivering information. That means not being afraid to do anything, really, and just seeing what works, and what doesn’t work, and not feeling bad about any part of this process.
Vi’s video is one of those experiments. More important than anything I just learned about math and music theory, I can’t wait to see what people do next after watching this.
More from the 2013 Meaning Conference in the UK this month. Great stuff. More coming.
Lee Bryant, Who Is Building The Institutions Of The 21st Century?
Lee spoke at Meaning 2013 (I was there last year) and offers a great deal of foundational insights about the future of work. One of the deepest thinkers and practitioners out there.
Wonderful ideas about management and business structure.
ain’t nobody got time for that
I first met Nilofer at a conference where she knocked me over with her observations about the changing world of business. And since then I have returned to her writings at the Harvard Business Review and other publications as a source of new ideas.
Nilofer Merchant is the…
In Britain, students don’t begin paying off their loans until they find stable employment, and the cost is in proportion to their earnings. Australia similarly ties the cost of paying off the loan to the income of the graduate. In Denmark, education is considered a right by the people and an investment by the government, and is therefore free. Some students are even offered a stipend by the government to defray costs. Norway has a similar system of higher education, and in Sweden, students pay only a small fee.
In America? The university is considered a commodity, one that can easily be purchased by the wealthy, but not the poor. These approaches represent a fundamentally different cultural attitude: elsewhere, education is a public good, an investment or a right; in the U.S., it’s a privilege reserved for wealthy elites …
America in 2013… : another weakened empire telling itself stories of its exceptionalism while it drifts towards apocalypse of some sort, fiscal or epidemiological, climatic-environmental or thermonuclear. Our far left may hate religion and think we coddle Israel, our far right may hate illegal immigrants and think we coddle black people, and nobody may know how the economy is supposed to work now that markets have gone global, but the actual substance of our daily lives is total distraction. We can’t face the real problems; we spent a trillion dollars not really solving a problem in Iraq that wasn’t really a problem; we can’t even agree on how to keep healthcare costs from devouring the GNP. What we can all agree to do instead is to deliver ourselves to the cool new media and technologies, to Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg and Jeff Bezos, and to let them profit at our expense.
Technovisionaries of the 1990s promised that the internet would usher in a new world of peace, love, and understanding, and Twitter executives are still banging the utopianist drum, claiming foundational credit for the Arab spring. To listen to them, you’d think it was inconceivable that eastern Europe could liberate itself from the Soviets without the benefit of cellphones, or that a bunch of Americans revolted against the British and produced the US constitution without 4G capability.
We find ourselves living in a world with hydrogen bombs because uranium bombs just weren’t going to get the job done; we find ourselves spending most of our waking hours texting and emailing and Tweeting and posting on colour-screen gadgets because Moore’s law said we could. We’re told that, to remain competitive economically, we need to forget about the humanities and teach our children “passion” for digital technology and prepare them to spend their entire lives incessantly re-educating themselves to keep up with it. The logic says that if we want things like Zappos.com or home DVR capability – and who wouldn’t want them? – we need to say goodbye to job stability and hello to a lifetime of anxiety. We need to become as restless as capitalism itself.
The sea of trivial or false or empty data is millions of times larger now. Kraus was merely prognosticating when he envisioned a day when people had forgotten how to add and subtract; now it’s hard to get through a meal with friends without somebody reaching for an iPhone to retrieve the kind of fact it used to be the brain’s responsibility to remember. The techno-boosters, of course, see nothing wrong here. They point out that human beings have always outsourced memory – to poets, historians, spouses, books. But I’m enough of a child of the 60s to see a difference between letting your spouse remember your nieces’ birthdays and handing over basic memory function to a global corporate system of control.
Jonathan Franzen, What’s wrong with the modern world
'We need to become as restless as capitalism itself', could stand as the motto of the globalist, late postmodern, neoliberal economy. But we are not becoming that, despite their plans and plots. Instead, we are drifting past their new normal, and into the postnormal, beyond their control.
Franzen — and many others — fail to see that it may require us getting immediately adjacent to total collapse to break their chokehold on the world. Otherwise, why would they let go, when they have everything, including the means to hold onto it?
To get there we will have to break the spell, sidestep ten thousand dilemmas, and decouple the incestuous bonds of economic complexity that deny the world is our commons and instead treat it like a vending machine.(via stoweboyd)
We experience cultural continuity with our parents’ and our children’s generations. Even when we don’t see eye to eye with our parents on political questions or we sigh in despair about our kids’ fashion sense or taste in music, we generally have a handle on what makes them tick. But a human lifetime seldom spans more than three generations, and the sliding window of one’s generation screens out that which came before and that which comes after; they lie outside our personal experience. We fool ourselves into thinking that our national culture is static and slow-moving, that we are the inheritors of a rich tradition. But if we could go back three or four generations, we would find ourselves surrounded by aliens — people for whom a North Atlantic crossing by sail was as slow and risky as a mission to Mars, people who took it for granted that some races were naturally inferior and that women were too emotionally unstable to be allowed to vote. The bedrock of our cultural tradition is actually quicksand. We reject many of our ancestors’ cherished beliefs and conveniently forget others, not realizing that, in turn, our grandchildren may do the same to ours.
Let’s focus on the next three generations and try to discern some patterns.
Generation X’s parents, the baby boomers, grew up in the 1950s. It was not unusual to expect to work in the same job for life. They seldom traveled internationally because it was expensive and slow, and their cultural environment was predominantly defined by their nationality — an extraordinary international incursion such as the arrival of Beatlemania in the 1960s was shocking precisely because it was so unusual.
With few exceptions, Generation X never had the job for life. Members of the generation are used to nomadic employment, hire-and-fire, right-to-work laws, the whole nine yards of organized-labor deracination. But they also grew up in the age of cheap jet travel, on a globe shrunk so small that 48 hours and two weeks’ average wages could take you to the antipodes. (In 1813, you could pay two weeks’ average wages and take 48 hours to travel 100 to 200 miles by stagecoach. In 2013, that can take you from Maryland to Hong Kong — and then on to Moscow.)
Generation Y’s parents are Generation X. Generation Y comprises the folks who serve your coffee in Starbucks and build software at Google. Generation Y has never thought of jobs as permanent things. Most Generation Y folks will stare at you blankly if you talk about loyalty to one’s employer; the old feudal arrangement (“we’ll give you a job for life and look after you as long as you look out for the Organization”) is something their grandparents ranted about, but it’s about as real to them as the divine right of kings. Employers like Google or Facebook that provide good working conditions are the exception, not the rule. Employers are alien hive-mind colony intelligences that will fuck you over for the bottom line on the quarterly balance sheet. They’ll give you a laptop and tell you to hot-desk or work at home so that they can save money on office floor space and furniture. They’ll dangle the offer of a permanent job over your head but keep you on a zero-hours contract for as long as is convenient.
On the other hand: Generation Y has grown up in a world where travel is cheap and communication is nearly free. Their cultural zeitgeist is less parochial than that of their grandparents, more global, infused with Japanese anime and Swedish heavy metal, as well as local media produce. This is the world they grew up in: This is the world that defines their expectations.
The problem is, you can’t run a national security organization if you can’t rely on the loyalty of the majority of your workers — both to the organization and to the state it serves. At one time, continuity of employment meant that the agencies at least knew their people, but there is now an emerging need to security-clear vast numbers of temporary and transient workers with no intrinsic sense of loyalty to the organization.
The NSA and its fellow swimmers in the acronym soup of the intelligence-industrial complex are increasingly dependent on nomadic contractor employees and increasingly subject to staff churn. Security clearance is carried out wholesale by other contractor organizations that specialize in human resource management, but even they are subject to the same problem: Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?
Charles Stross, Spy Kids
Charles Stross is the author of masterworks of sci fi like Accelerando, and he thinks like a futurist. Here his ruminations about the rapidly shifting work compact between the intelligence services and its workers in an increasingly Benthamite surveillance state is dark and dead on.
Today the Guardian reported that a change to section 702 of the FISA Amendments Act (FAA) appears set to allow for the searching of communication information of United States citizens. Previously, section 702 was restricted to communications of foreign individuals who were located outside of the United States at the, to quote the Guardian, “point of collection.”
United States citizens were outside the scope of section 702 authorization. However, that appears now to be potentially changed.
An image published by the Guardian’s James Ball – it was leaked by Edward Snowden – states that a change has been enacted to section 702, that “the FAA 702 minimization procedures approved on 3 October 2011 now allow for use of certain United States person names and identifiers as query terms when reviewing collected FAA 702 data.” In other words, the NSA now claims the authority to search databases for the communication data of United States citizens. (via NSA Reportedly Changing Section 702 Of The FISA Amendments Act To Search US Citizens’ Communications | TechCrunch)