Tags: culture

(Xrisk 101): Existential Risk for Interstellar Advocates | Heath Rezabek - Academia.edu

Exemplars proposing various solutions for the resilience of digital data and computation over long timeframes include the Internet Archive; redundantly distributed storage platforms such GlusterFS, LOCKSS, and BitTorrent Sync; and the Lunar supercomputer proposal of Ouliang Chang.

Each of these differs in its approach and its focus; yet each shares with Vessel and with one another a key understanding: The prospects of Earth-originating life in the future, whether vast or diminishing, depend upon our actions and our foresight in this current cultural moment of opportunity, agency, awareness, ability, capability, and willpower.

The Internet That Was (and Still Could Be) - The Atlantic

A fantastic piece by David Weinberger on the changing uses of the internet—apparently in contradiction of the internet’s original architecture.

Some folks invented the Internet for some set of purposes. They gave it a name, pointed to some prototypical examples—sharing scientific papers and engaging in email about them—shaping the way the early adopters domesticated it.

But over time, the Internet escaped from its creators’ intentions. It became a way to communicate person-to-person via email and many-to-many via Usenet. The web came along and the prototypical example became home pages. Social networking came along and the prototype became Facebook.

Domain Stories | Citizen Ex

The fascinating tales behind Top Level Domains as part of James and Nat’s Citizen Ex project. So far there’s .scot, .cymru, and .ly, with more to come.

Paul Ford: What is Code? by Paul Ford

It seems grossly unfair to refer to this as an article. It’s a short book. It’s a very good short book; lucid and entertaining in equal measure. A very enjoyable read.

It is, unfortunately, surrounded by some distracting “enhancements” but perhaps you can use your cleaner-upper software of choice to route around their damage: Instapaper, Pocket, Readability, whatever works for you.

A few quick links and thoughts on big web problems – Baldur Bjarnason

The system makes the website. Don’t blame the web developer, blame the organisation. A web developer embedded in a large system isn’t the one making the websites.

To make a progressively enhanced website that performs well and loads quickly even on slow connections, you need to first make an organisation that values those qualities over others.

They Write the Right Stuff

This article first appeared in Fast Company almost twenty years ago. It’s a fascinating look into the culture and process that created and maintained the software for the space shuttle. It’s the opposite of Silicon Valley’s “move fast and break things.”

To be this good, the on-board shuttle group has to be very different — the antithesis of the up-all-night, pizza-and-roller-hockey software coders who have captured the public imagination. To be this good, the on-board shuttle group has to be very ordinary — indistinguishable from any focused, disciplined, and methodically managed creative enterprise.

Changing culture | susan jean robertson

Susan points out some uncomfortable truths. It’s all very well for us to try and create a culture of performance amongst designers and developers, but it will all be nought if we could change the minds of people higher up the chain …who currently just don’t care.

I think she’s spot on when she points to this possible solution:

I think what I’m asking is, who will be the game changer in this conversation? Who will be the large, bulky site that will work towards performance and make it happen and then we will all point to them and say, see they did it. It seems to me that that is what it takes. Much like we pointed to ESPN and being able to use CSS for layout or The Boston Globe and being able to do responsive at a large scale, who will we point to for the performance overhaul?

Mutant Materials and Video Spaces: 20 years of MoMA on the web

Much of the web’s early cultural and design history is at risk, despite efforts by the Internet Archive and renegade archivists. One of our realizations after 20 years on the web is that our responsibility isn’t just to the new; we also need to preserve what’s been built in the past.

Alex Feyerke: Step Off This Hurtling Machine

I love this talk.

Alex takes a long-zoom look at the web and our technology stacks, from ’60s counterculture to start-up culture, touching on open source and the indie web along the way.

Want to help prevent online bullying? Comment on Facebook

Proving something that Derek Powazek told us 15 years ago:

When we clearly show what is and is not acceptable, the tone does change. People who want to share thoughtful comments start to feel that theirs are welcome, and people who want to spew hatred start to realize theirs are not.

D’hear that, Reddit?

Natasha Lampard, Friday, 27 March 2015

A long-zoom look at life, work, and success.

I’m not usually a fan of portmanteau neologisms, but I really like Tash’s coining of the word longtrepreneur.

Culture Ship Randomizer · A gravitas free zone.

For when you just have to name something after a Culture General Systems Vehicle …or maybe a General Contact Unit.

Someone tell Elon.

Infovore » Joe Chip’s problem was never his door

Objects that talk are useful, but objects that tattle aren’t.

The Smithsonian’s Cooper Hewitt: Finally, the Museum of the Future Is Here - The Atlantic

Remember Aaron’s dConstruct talk? Well, the Atlantic has more details of his work at the Cooper Hewitt museum in this wide-ranging piece that investigates the role of museums, the value of APIs, and the importance of permanent URLs.

As I was leaving, Cope recounted how, early on, a curator had asked him why the collections website and API existed. Why are you doing this?

His retrospective answer wasn’t about scholarship or data-mining or huge interactive exhibits. It was about the web.

I find this incredibly inspiring.

What the Web Said Yesterday

A profile of the wonderful Internet Archive.

No one believes any longer, if anyone ever did, that “if it’s on the Web it must be true,” but a lot of people do believe that if it’s on the Web it will stay on the Web. Chances are, though, that it actually won’t.

Brewster Kahle is my hero.

Kahle is a digital utopian attempting to stave off a digital dystopia. He views the Web as a giant library, and doesn’t think it ought to belong to a corporation, or that anyone should have to go through a portal owned by a corporation in order to read it. “We are building a library that is us,” he says, “and it is ours.”

As a new developer | Charlotte Spencer’s Blog

I’m not a new developer, but I can definitely relate to this. In fact, when I’ve spoken to any developer about this, it turns out that everyone feels overwhelmed by how much we’re expected to know. That’s not good. We should open up and talk about this more (like Charlotte is doing here).

Abstractivate: Systems Thinking about WIT

As always, systems thinking makes a lot of sense for analysing problems, even if—or, especially if—it’s a social issue.

Internet Under Fire Gets New Manifesto

There’s more than a whiff of Indie Web thinking in this sequel to the Cluetrain Manifesto from Doc Searls and Dave Weinberger.

The Net’s super-power is connection without permission. Its almighty power is that we can make of it whatever we want.

It’s quite lawn-off-getty …but I also happen to agree with pretty much all of it.

Although it’s kind of weird that it’s published on somebody else’s website.

Egyptology can help us future-proof our culture – Grayson Clary – Aeon

A look at long-term cultural and linguistic preservation through the lens of Egyptology.

The Hummingbird Effect — How We Got to Now

How the printing press led to the microscope, and chlorination transformed women’s fashion—Steven Johnson channels James Burke.

Perennial Design, by Wilson Miner · Issue 4 · The Manual

A deeply thoughtful piece (as always) by Wilson, on the mindset needed for a sustainable way of working.

When we start with the assumption that optimizing for rapid, unbounded growth is a goal, we immediately narrow the possibility space. There are only so many choices we can make that will get us there. The same choices that made annual monoculture and the shopping mall the most efficient engines for short-term growth and profit are the same qualities that made them unsustainable in the long term.

There are more ways to scale than growth. There are more ways to deepen our impact than just reaching more people. What if we put just as much effort into scaling the impact of our work over time? Can we build digital products around sustainable systems that survive long enough to outlive us, that are purpose-built to thrive without our constant cultivation?

Hypertext as an agent of change | A Working Library

The text of Mandy’s astounding dConstruct talk.

Marvellous stuff!

Why You Want a Code of Conduct & How We Made One | Incisive.nu

A great piece by Erin on the value of a code of conduct for conferences, filled with practical advice.

Once you decide to create a code and do it thoughtfully, you’ll find the internet overflows with resources to help you accomplish your goals, and good people who’ll offer guidance and advice. From my own experience, I can say that specificity and follow-through will make your code practical and give it teeth; humane language and a strong connection to your community will make it feel real and give it a heart.

Digital Amnesia - YouTube

A documentary on our digital dark age. Remember this the next time someone trots out the tired old lie that “the internet never forgets.”

If we lose the past, we will live in an Orwellian world of the perpetual present, where anybody that controls what’s currently being put out there will be able to say what is true and what is not. This is a dreadful world. We don’t want to live in this world. —Brewster Kahle

It’s a terrible indictment of where our priorities were for the last 20 years that we depend essentially on children and maniacs to save our history of this sort. —Jason Scott

Valley of the Meatpuppets | superflux

Slides and transcript from Anab’s terrific dConstruct talk.

2030: Privacy’s Dead. What happens next? - YouTube

Tom Scott’s energetic dConstruct talk.

Improving Reality 2014 — Visibility Is A Trap

Lighthouse are putting on their Improving Reality conference again this year. It’s the day before dConstruct. Come to both!

Sana’a (Idle Words)

A new essay from Maciej on Idle Words is always a treat, and this latest dispatch from Yemen is as brilliantly-written as you’d expect.

Good, Form & Spectacle - design & cultural heritage

The brilliant George Oates has started a new design company with an emphasis on cultural heritage: “explicit notes to the future, local archives of global content.” Watch this space

Keren Elazari: Hackers: the Internet’s immune system | Talk Video | TED.com

Did you see Keren at dConstruct 2012? Well, here she is at this year’s TED conference delivering a barnstorming talk on hacker culture.

Powerful Ideas Need Love Too!

Alan Kay’s written remarks to a Joint Hearing of the Science Committee and the Economic and Educational and Opportunites Committee in October 1995.

1995 Vannevar Bush symposium: closing Panel

So Doug Engelbart, Alan Kay, Ted Nelson, and Tim Berners-Lee walk into a panel…

Laser Age / The Dissolve

A great series of articles on the sci-fi films of the ’60s and ’70s:

The Laser Age examines a rich period in the history of science-fiction filmmaking that began in the late 1960s and faded away by the mid 1980s.

…all wrapped up in a nice responsive design too.

The Console Living Room : Free Software : Download

Here’s a nice Christmas gift from Jason and the archinauts at the Internet Archive: tons of games for living room consoles of the early ’80s, all playable in your browser, thanks to emulation in JavaScript.

What Screens Want by Frank Chimero

Frank’s fantastic closing talk from this year’s Build. There’s a lot of great stuff in here about interaction design, and even more great stuff about what’s been happening to the web:

We used to have a map of a frontier that could be anything. The web isn’t young anymore, though. It’s settled. It’s been prospected and picked through. Increasingly, it feels like we decided to pave the wilderness, turn it into a suburb, and build a mall. And I hate this map of the web, because it only describes a fraction of what it is and what’s possible. We’ve taken an opportunity for connection and distorted it to commodify attention. That’s one of the sleaziest things you can do.

STET

From the lovely people behind Editorially comes STET:

A Writers’ Journal on Culture & Technology

Thoreau 2.0 - XOXO Conference Talk

Maciej’s talk from this year’s XOXO—excellent stuff!

The Hole in Our Collective Memory: How Copyright Made Mid-Century Books Vanish by Rebecca J. Rosen in The Atlantic

Copyright correlates significantly with the disappearance of works rather than with their availability.

The Omega Glory

Michael Chabon muses on The Future, prompted by the Clock of the Long Now.

dConstruct: Artists grapple with the culture of technology surveillance

Honor’s piece for The Guardian on this year’s dConstruct.

Three themes from dConstruct 2013

A smart and thoughtful write-up of dConstruct from Lee, pulling together three emergent themes:

  1. how we interact with machines and each other,
  2. how we co-evolve with machines, and
  3. making the invisible visible.

A great, thought-provoking day that proved, once again, that there are many brilliant, generous minds working in or around the future of technology and human experience today.

dConstruct 2013: “It’s the Future. Take it.” | matt.me63.com - Matt Edgar

This is a terrific write up of this year’s dConstruct, tying together all the emergent themes.

The apparent difficulty of living in my head, freelancing, working for large organisations and then descending in to paranoia.

I have a lot of admiration for Reverend Dan Catt.

I don’t want to be in a position where I say “Hey, I’m working at Google, no no, don’t worry, the good bit of Google”, because goodness knows I did enough of that at Yahoo.

Improving Reality 2013

The line-up for this year’s Improving Reality conference looks great (as always).

It’s the day before dConstruct so why not come on down to Brighton a day early and double your fun?

A Few Notes on the Culture by Iain M Banks

I’ve linked to this before, but with the death of Iain M Banks it’s worth re-reading this fascinating insight into The Culture, one of science fictions’s few realistic utopias.

The brief mention here of The Culture’s attitude to death is apt:

Philosophy, again; death is regarded as part of life, and nothing, including the universe, lasts forever. It is seen as bad manners to try and pretend that death is somehow not natural; instead death is seen as giving shape to life.

The New Aesthetic: James Bridle’s Drones and Our Invisible, Networked World in Vanity Fair

James gets profiled in Vanity Fair …which is, frankly, kind of weird.

It’s also so bizarre to read about his SXSW New Aesthetic panel as being such a pivotal moment: there weren’t that many of us in the room.

Iain M Banks’ Universe

Francis Spufford—author of the excellent Backroom Boffins—writes a cover story for the New Humanist magazine remembering Iain Banks with the middle initial M firmly to the fore: it was Iain M Banks—and his creation, The Culture—that took the seemingly passé genre of space opera to new heights.

Break the Page

A lovely site with thoughtful articles on the long-term future of the web.

There’s audio too, which is unfortunately locked up in the unhuffduffable roach motel that is Soundcloud, but I’m hoping that might change.

An acquisition is always a failure

An acquisition, or an aqui-hire, is always a failure. Either the founders failed to achieve their goal, or – far likelier – they failed to dream big enough. The proper ambition for a tech entrepreneur should be to join the ranks of the great tech companies, or, at least, to create a profitable, independent company beloved by employees, customers, and shareholders.

Teenage Diaries Revisited

Fascinating fodder for Huffduffer:

Beginning in 1996, Radio Diaries gave tape recorders to teenagers around the country to create audio diaries about their lives. NPR’s All Things Considered aired intimate portraits of five of these teens: Amanda, Juan, Frankie, Josh and Melissa. They’re now in their 30s. Over this past year, the same group has been recording new stories about where life has led them for our series, Teenage Diaries Revisited.

Ten tips guaranteed to improve your startup success by Anil Dash

It’s a big ask, but if you can action these ten tips from Anil, your startup will crush it.

Why Americans Are the Weirdest People in the World

A truly fascinating and well-written article on how changes are afoot in the worlds of psychology, economics, and just about any other field that has performed tests on American participants and extrapolated the results into universal traits.

Given the data, they concluded that social scientists could not possibly have picked a worse population from which to draw broad generalizations. Researchers had been doing the equivalent of studying penguins while believing that they were learning insights applicable to all birds.

Mark Lynas » Lecture to Oxford Farming Conference, 3 January 2013

This is a superb talk by Mark Lynas who once spearheaded the anti-GM movement, and who has now completely changed his stance on genetically-modified crops. Why? Science.

You are more likely to get hit by an asteroid than to get hurt by GM food. More to the point, people have died from choosing organic, but no-one has died from eating GM.

The Web We Lost - Anil Dash

Oh, my! This excellent, excellent post from Anil Dash is a great summation of what has changed on the web, and how many of today’s big-name services are no longer imbued with the spirit of the web.

Either you remember how things used to be and you’ll nod your head vigorously in recognition and agreement …or you’re too young to remember this, and you won’t quite believe that is how things worked.

This isn’t some standard polemic about “those stupid walled-garden networks are bad!” I know that Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and LinkedIn and the rest are great sites, and they give their users a lot of value. They’re amazing achievements, from a pure software perspective. But they’re based on a few assumptions that aren’t necessarily correct. The primary fallacy that underpins many of their mistakes is that user flexibility and control necessarily lead to a user experience complexity that hurts growth. And the second, more grave fallacy, is the thinking that exerting extreme control over users is the best way to maximize the profitability and sustainability of their networks.

Data Visualization Reinterpreted by VISUALIZED on Vimeo

Peter Saville talks about the enduring appeal of his cover for Unknown Pleasures.

I like to think of all the variations and mashups as not just tributes to Joy Division, but tributes to Jocelyn Bell Burnell too.

Stories from the New Aesthetic : Joanne Mcneil

A lovely piece from Joanne on storytelling, identity and the internet.

The fetishization of the offline, and a new definition of real

A good recap of the recent online/offline/does-it-really-matter discussion …although it does lend a bit too much credence to the pronouncements of that king of trolls, Nicholas Carr.

How to Kill a Troll - Incisive.nu

What Erin has written here makes me want to be a better person.

The Coming Technological Singularity

Vernor Vinge’s original 1993 motherlode of the singularity.

The Myth of Cyberspace – The New Inquiry

There is a there there after all.

The IRL Fetish – The New Inquiry

The backlash against the backlash against connectivity.

Welcome to the Future Nauseous

I, for one, welcome our Manufactured Normalcy Field overlords.

timoni.org - I love the internet.

This is a beautifully heartfelt post from Timoni:

Every day, I feel things because of the internet, and that’s amazing. Humans have been using abstracted communication for thousands of years, but it’s never been so instantaneous, never so capable of bringing folks of completely different backgrounds together in conversation. This is a huge step. Good job us.

The Jig Is Up: Time to Get Past Facebook and Invent a New Future - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

An excellent longish-zoom article by Alexis Madrigal with an eerily accurate summation of the current state of the web. Although I think that a lack of any fundamentally new paradigms could be seen as a sign of stabilisation as much as stagnation.

The inadmissible assumptions - Charlie’s Diary

Yes! Charles Stross speaks the unspeakable: that advertising is fundamentally “wrong”.

He’s right, y’know.

An Essay on the New Aesthetic | Beyond The Beyond | Wired.com

Bruce Sterling writes about the New Aesthetic in an article that’s half manifesto and half critique.

Grab a cup of tea or hit your “read it later” bookmarklet of choice for this one—it’s a lengthy but worthwhile read.

This time, more than any other time

A cautionary tale from Stuart. We, the makers of modern technology, are letting people down. Badly.

We’re in this to help users, remember: not just the ones who think as we do, but the ones who rely on us to build things for them because they don’t know what they’re doing. If your response is honestly “well, he should have spent more on a phone to get something better”, then I’m exceedingly disillusioned by you.

Thinking About Futurism | Science & Nature | Smithsonian Magazine

A collection of articles on the tricksy art of Futurism from—amongst others—Bruce Sterling, Annalee Newitz, and Matt Novak, creator of the Paleofuture blog.

Earth Station: The Afterlife of Technology at the End of the World - Alexis Madrigal - Technology - The Atlantic

The wonderful story of an odd place:

The Jamesburg Earth Station is a massive satellite receiver in a remote valley in California. It played a central role in satellite communications for three decades, but had been forgotten until the current owner put it up for sale, promoting it as a great place to spend the apocalypse.

One Cut - jonronson’s Space

This is one of the best pieces of journalism I’ve read …and it just happens to be posted on a blog. Please read it, particularly if you are a voter in the UK.

yongfook - Design is Horseshit!

There’s a good point buried in this tirade.

Here’s a more positive spin: with this much horseshit, there’s gotta be a horse in there somewhere.

Simon Collison | Colly | Journal | My digital preservation utopia

Colly’s thoughts on digital preservation are written in a lighthearted tongue-in-cheek way but at least he’s thinking about it. That alone gives me comfort.

We Are Historians | 1sixty

A beautiful reminder that by publishing on the web, we are all historians.

Every color you choose and line of code you write is a reflection of you; not just as a human being in this world, but as a human being in this time and place in human history. Inside each project is a record of the styles and fashions you value, the technological advancements being made in the industry, the tone of your voice, and even the social and economic trends around you.

The Social Graph is Neither (Pinboard Blog)

This post from Maciej might initially seem negative but read it through to the end: there’s a very powerful positive message.

The New Patterns of Culture: Slow, Fast & Spiky

A thoughtful piece from Matt on the changes in cultural transmission that we should be embracing instead of bemoaning.

PROTECT IP Act Breaks The Internet on Vimeo

If you live in the States, please, please, for the love of the internet, write to your representative at fightforthefuture.org/pipa

Innovation Starvation | World Policy Institute

A rallying cry from Neal Stephenson for Getting Big Stuff Done.

The Deleted City

This is quite beautiful. An interactive piece that allows you to dig through the ruins of Geocities like an archeologist.

Such wanton destruction! I’ll never forgive those twunts at Yahoo.

Fuckers.

Science fiction, fantasy, design and cultural invention | Design Culture Lab

Asking what the difference is between science fiction and design fiction. The answer may be …usefulness.

My speech to the IAAC | Ben Hammersley’s Dangerous Precedent

A great speech by Ben Hammersley that ties together multiple strands of life in the 21st century.

The shape of our future book — Satellite — Craig Mod

Craig has written down his dConstruct talk, the one that completely polarised opinion. Personally, I loved it.

Times Higher Education - Memory failure detected

A worrying report on the state of digital preservation and the web, specifically in the UK. Welcome to the memory hole.

The Technium: Why the Impossible Happens More Often

A wonderful reminder by Kevin Kelly of the amazing interconnected world we live in, thanks to network effects.

History, our future - Preoccupations

A superb post by David that ties together multiple strands of personal digital preservation through homesteading instead of sharecropping.

Escaping the Digital Dark Age

Stewart Brand wrote this twelve years ago: it’s more relevant than ever in today’s cloud-worshipping climate.

I’d like to think that it’s ironic that I’m linking to The Wayback Machine because the original URL for this essay is dead. But it isn’t ironic, it’s horrific.

Why We Need the New News Environment to be Chaotic « Clay Shirky

Clay Shirky takes a long hard look at the present (and future) of newspapers and—more important—of journalism. A good read.

Archives & Museum Informatics: Museums and the Web 2010: Papers: Cope, A.S., Buckets and Vessels

Here’s one to add to Instapaper or Readability to savour at your leisure: Aaron Straup Cope’s talk at Museums and the Web 2010:

This paper examines the act of association, the art of framing and the participatory nature of robots in creating artifacts and story-telling in projects like Flickr Galleries, the API-based Suggestify project (which provides the ability to suggest locations for other people’s photos) and the increasing number of bespoke (and often paper-based) curatorial productions.

Post-Artifact Books and Publishing — by Craig Mod

Take some time out to read this. Read all of this. Craig’s thoughts on the nature of publishing today:

Digital’s effect on how we produce, distribute and consume content.

BBC - BBC Radio 4 Programmes - The Reith Lectures

The entire archive of the Reith lectures is now online for your huffduffing pleasure.

Frank Chimero’s Blog - The Storm and The Line

A beautiful dose of perspective from Frank.

Why Preserve Books? The New Physical Archive of the Internet Archive | Internet Archive Blogs

Brewster Kahle explains how and why the Internet Archive is keeping physical copies of the books it digitises.

Open science: a future shaped by shared experience | Education | The Observer

A nice summation of the open science movement, courtesy of Bobbie.

In a Brooklyn Loft, Twitter Stars Find Common Ground - NYTimes.com

A profile of those whacky Brooklyn Studiomates.

One Terabyte of Kilobyte Age | Digging through the Geocities Torrent

A blog devoted to sifting through the gems in the Geocities torrent. This is digital archeology.

Google can’t be trusted with our books | Simon Barron | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk

The threat to Google Videos shows businesses are not suitable cultural custodians — they can’t be held accountable to the public.

The Technium: What Books Will Become

Kevin Kelly asks “What is a book?” and provides some thought-provoking answers. There’s some inspiring crystal-ball gazing in here.

Tom Armitage on Vimeo

Tom talks about “Things Rules Do.”