Jon sez, "When conjuring up the future, why do writers and filmmakers so often imagine Northern California as an edenic utopia, while Southern California gets turned into a dystopian hellscape? While Hollywood, counterculture, and Mike Davis have each helped to shape and propagate this idea, Kristin Miller traces its roots back to the 1949 Ernest Callenbach novel Earth Abides. Her essay follows the north/south divide in science fiction films and literature through the decades, and explores how it's continued to evolve. In the accompanying slideshow, Miller photographs stills from sci fi movies filmed in California, held up against their filming locations, from 1970's Forbin Project to 2011's Rise of the Planet of the Apes. It shows not just the geographic divide in SF, but also how our futures have evolved, and how movies have the ability to change how we see our surroundings in the present."
Northern California-as-utopia, on the other hand, is strongly linked to the countercultural movement of the sixties, with its guides for technologically advanced back-to-the-land living. One can read Ernest Callenbach’s influential novel Ecotopia (1975) as the possible future seeded by Whole Earth Catalog. Ecotopia is a fictional “field study” of a future Pacific Northwest society that has split from an apocalyptic United States and is governed according to ecological principles. While much technology has been abandoned, the Ecotopians have selectively retained public transit, electric cars, networked computers, and improved recycling (Callenbach was a longtime resident of Berkeley). Ecotopia‘s themes were later picked up and elaborated in the eco-feminist tales of Ursula K. Le Guin’s Always Coming Home (1985), a cultural anthropology of latter-day Napa Valley-ites who have returned to indigenous ways; Starhawk’s The Fifth Sacred Thing (1993) about a pagan, nonviolent San Francisco threatened by southern biological warfare; and Octavia Butler’s Parable books (1993, 1998) where refugees from the LA wasteland grow a new eco-religion, Earthseed, in the forests of Mendocino.
Postcards From the Future [Kristin Miller/Boom] (Thanks, Jon!)
Google continues to put together the pieces of an enterprise software company partner program around its cloud products. On Thursday it announced further refinements of the cloud platform program — announced two years ago — adding three tiers to its services and technology partners.
The top-level Premier tier gets additional, um, “premier” services in addition to the branding, partner relationship-management contacts and online training that are available to mid-level “Authorized” partners. At the bottom rung is the entry-level “registered” company that gets online resources and training.
Services partners include systems integration and value-added reselling (VAR) partners like SADA Systems and L Tech and technology partners, which tend to be vendors and ISVs like Google’s inaugural cloud partner RightScale; devops kingpin Chef and KiSSFLOW. Technology partners tend to fill gaps in a company’s product, provide add-ins, and that sort of thing.
No one doubts that Google has the scale and resources to mount a credible public cloud challenge to market leader Amazon Web Services and up-and-coming Microsoft Windows Azure. But some Google watchers still doubt that the search giant is truly serious about what they characterize as a side business. That’s one reason Google needs partners with experience migrating customers from on-premises deployments to the cloud.
The program news comes out of Google’s Partner Conference in San Francisco which drew about 700 partner companies, according to the VAR Guy. Google’s been building a small army of partners across its offerings, including companies like Cloud Sherpas to push Google Apps against Microsoft’s one-two Office/Office 365 punch.
Expect the noise around Google Cloud to heat up later this month at the Google Cloud Platform Live event in San Francisco, to be hosted by SVP Urs Hölzle. That event will kick off the day before AWS Summit at Moscone Center, which is probably no accident. Hölzle will also speak at our Structure Conference in San Francisco in June, as will Amazon CTO Werner Vogels.
Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:
Of Bitcoin and doxxing: Is revealing Satoshi Nakamoto’s identity okay because it was Newsweek and not Reddit?
If you don’t spend a lot of time on the internet, or in forums on websites like Reddit and 4chan, you might not have heard of the term “doxxing,” but it is becoming more and more relevant, especially as the media and journalism become something that anyone can engage in, not just accredited professionals. In the latest incident to highlight the practice, Newsweek tracked down a man it believes to be the creator of Bitcoin — a 64-year-old named Satoshi Nakamoto — and published details about his personal life, along with a photo of his house and car.
To many, this probably sounds a lot like a fairly normal story: A man who may (or may not) have created one of the first real “crypto currencies,” an invention that could destabilize the entire global banking and payments industry — and a man who may be worth half a billion dollars or so, based on his reported personal holdings in Bitcoin — is revealed to be an aging model-train enthusiast living in San Bernardino, California in a modest two-storey home. When confronted by a Newsweek journalist about his past, he becomes angry and calls the police.
I understand being against doxxing in general, but is there an argument that bitcoin's creator's identity isn't newsworthy? I don't get it.—
The term “doxxing,” which is derived from a slang word for “documents,” is used on Reddit and in other internet communities to refer to the process of identifying someone who doesn’t want to be identified — digging up personal and/or private or semi-private details about their life, and posting them on a public forum of some kind. This is also often referred to as “outing,” and it’s considered to be a somewhat hostile act, since it involves forcing someone to become more public than they want to, in a way they may not have volunteered for.Who determines what’s in the public interest?
Broadly speaking, this is what some users of a particular sub-Reddit did when they mis-identified one of the suspects in the Boston bombings (something CNN and other news outlets also did, it should be noted). It’s also what a Grantland writer did to Dr. V, who turned out to be a transgendered woman and subsequently committed suicide. And it’s what Gawker did to a controversial Reddit moderator named Violentacrez, a man they tracked down and forced to reveal his identity.
To some — including many professional journalists to whom I posed the question on Twitter — there is no similarity between what Reddit and other forums do and what Newsweek did with Satoshi Nakamoto. One is ethical and professional journalism at work on a matter of “public interest,” they argued, while the other is a mob of unruly and anonymous internet users who are just in it for the laughs (or “lulz”), and who like nothing more than destroying someone’s life by doing things like revealing personal information about the author of the Newsweek piece.If doxxing is reporting, everyone is doing it
But are these things really so different? Newsweek included many personal details about Nakamoto, including his work history and details about his extended family, and even his personal health — and they posted a photo of his home, one in which you could clearly see his address and the licence plate on his car. What if that man isn’t even the “real” Satoshi Nakamoto? Then an elderly man in poor physical health has been mis-identified as a Bitcoin multimillionaire, something that could have very real repercussions for him and his family.
Doxxing is the new name for reporting.—
Obviously, Bitcoin is a story with a ton of public interest attached to it. But is the exact identity and physical location of its alleged creator necessarily part of that? Reddit was attacked for using ham-handed methods to try and determine the identity of the Boston bomber, and for getting it wrong — but how do we know that Newsweek’s methods were any better? The story makes reference to record searches and the use of forensic investigators, but the bulk of the “evidence” for his identity remains highly circumstantial.
The reason I think it’s important to ask these kinds of questions isn’t because I believe that Reddit is or should be the model for everything journalistic (as someone alleged during a Twitter discussion). It’s because I think these kinds of questions are important for everyone to ask about what journalism has become, or is becoming — not just when it’s something from Reddit or Grantland.
More than anything, stories like Newsweek‘s piece on Nakamoto and Grantland’s piece on Dr. V. reinforce just how blurry the line is between revealing information “in the public interest” about a person’s private life, and forcing someone to become public in a way they never anticipated, and a way that could have real repercussions for them. That’s a discussion that’s worth having regardless of whether the person doing the revealing is a “professional” journalist or not.
Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:
Facebook rolls out a simpler newsfeed redesign a year after first try was scrapped due to negative feedback (Ellis Hamburger/The Verge)
Ellis Hamburger / The Verge:
Headed to 2014 SXSW Interactive in Austin this weekend? Cory, Xeni, Mark, and Pesco will all be there participating in a variety of sessions. Here's a handy guide:
* Saturday, March 8, 7pm - 11:30pm, Capitol Tower: "In the Future, Everything Will Work: A Cyberpunk Retrofest presented by EFF/EFF-Austin" with Cory Doctorow, Gareth Branwyn, Bruce Sterling, William Barker (Schwa) and Jon Lebkowsky
* Sunday, March 9, 3:30pm - 4:30pm, Omni Downtown: "Ingenuity: Hackathon Uncovered" with David Pescovitz, Mark Frauenfelder, Eric McClellan (Team Detroit), and Liz Boone (FM).
* Monday, March 10, 3:30pm - 4:30pm, Hilton Austin Downtown: "Community-Building: Better than Chemo" with Xeni Jardin, Alicia Staley, Deanna Attai, and Jody Schoger.
* Monday, March 10: 9:30am - 10:30am, Austin Convention Center: "Snowden 2.0: A Field Report From the NSA Archives" with Cory Doctorow and Barton Gellman.
The CIA did not invent the concept of coming up with ludicrous, flaw-filled ways to kill someone. Around 1530, artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne wrote a treatise on gunpowder-enhanced warfare that featured suggestions for (and illustrations of) bombs and rockets carried on the backs of birds or cats. Scholars generally agree none of these ideas ever came to fruition. If, for no other reason, than an animal-carried bomb is liable to set your own camp on fire, rather than that of the enemy.
Forbes has brought forth its annual string-of-zeroes-envy/porn-list of the world's gazillionaires. Missing from the list is Eike Batista, recently the seventh wealthiest individual in the world who lost over 99% of his wealth in eighteen months and his assets are being sold off.
Is he a victim of class worfare?
ClickZ asks a number of industry leaders what they expect the biggest topics of conversation at this year's South By Southwest will be. Unsurprisingly, wearables is a popular theme.
My husband was at a party last week and got frustrated when all those around him had their noses buried in the glow of their smartphones while they talked to him and each other. He finally just walked out. It is a time of technological wonder, when our devices can go with us anywhere and we can constantly be reached and reach others. But the connections right in front of us become a secondary (or tertiary, etc.) priority. Somehow it now seems OK to be having a face-to-face conversation with one person while having a text conversation with someone else and simultaneously scrolling through Facebook to see what others are doing. Emily Post would have been disgusted.
I recently read The Big Disconnect: Protecting Childhood and Family Relationships in the Digital Age by clinical psychologist Catherine Steiner-Adair with Theresa H. Barker and was horrified by how much I saw of myself and my family and friends in the authors' case studies. Steiner-Adair is a clinical instructor in the Department of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and an associate psychologist at McLean Hospital. I reached out to Steiner-Adair because I wanted to better understand how to take control of our technology instead of letting it control us. The conversation was good timing for me as Reboot’s http://nationaldayofunplugging.com">National Day of Unplugging begins this Friday night and I'm the spokesperson. But this was the chance for me to listen to someone else urging us to pause and consider the benefits and risks of technology.
Schevitz: You and other experts have said that children today feel second in importance to their parents’ digital devices.
Steiner-Adair: Kids talk about their parents’ screens with the same language and feelings of frustration and jealousy as when they talk about sibling rivalry. “You like your phone better than you like me.” Part of growing up is learning that you aren’t the center of the universe every minute of every day, but children need to know they matter to us, and the message we give our kids when we’re constantly taking any call from anybody about anything is that everybody else is more interesting than you, anybody else is more interesting than you.
You talk about “mini moments of disruption.” What does that mean?
A mini-moment of disconnect is when, at the sound of the “ping!” or ringtone, at any moment we abandon the people we are in conversation with, engaged with, dining with, and remove ourselves to the land of elsewhere. We all do this, and our kids are doing it, too. We’ve gotten so accustomed to turning away in these mini-moments of disconnection that they have changed the nature of being together.
The implications are potentially quite profound. When we don't expect to be fully present to the other person and we don't expect the other person to be fully present to us, we don't connect with the same kind of vulnerability, openness and depth. In the same way that when you’re talking to somebody at a party and you watch their eyes look over your head, you watch them scan the crowd and you know they’re not with you, they’re not as interested in you, and then the conversation stays at a very superficial level. Your connection with one another has just changed.
Families are facing the struggle of balancing the benefits of technology with the problems that come along with constant connection. How do you advise families to disconnect together (to connect)?
The question I hear most on the road is, “How do we begin to reboot how we use tech so we don't have so many mini-moments of disruption?” Based on research, what we know about child development, and what kids tell me matters most to them, you can start by creating some screen-free zones in your home and family life. I offer specific tips on my website, but for starters think: mealtime, bedtime, and personal talk times.
The first reaction of many parents to a fussy child, even babies and toddlers, is to hand over the phone or iPad. What are we doing to our children?
Of course the distraction works brilliantly, but there’s a huge problem in that solution, which is that you’re stimulating the child rather than calming them down. You teach them that the way to get through difficult moments in life, when you're tired or cranky or bored, is to have pings and whistles and stimulation coming at you. Children may come to prefer that and it gets in the way of doing what they need to do which is learn to calm themselves down, relate to others face-to-face and play in real life. Just because something’s easy doesn't mean it’s safe or developmentally appropriate.
We’re all so dependent and glued to our phones, and they can become such an extension of who we are, that we’re in denial about the impact of giving children under the age of two the smartphone, games and apps.
For children under two, the limits are clear and simple: Kids that age should not be on screens, period. Infants and toddlers need to engage with people, need to learn to self-soothe. The American Academy of Pediatrics has gathered all the science. We should be listening to it.
Beyond even the basic problem of the amount of time people spend online and on their digital devices, we see that most people don’t use their phones to call anymore, they mostly text others. How is that impacting interpersonal skills?
This is the first generation of tweens, teens and young adults, who are losing out on developing and strengthening their capacity for one of most essential forms of human connection: the capacity to listen to one another’s tone of voice; to be moved by the affect that we hear—the feeling we hear in tone of voice. As one high school girl described the paradox to me: we’re the most connected generation in history, “but we suck at intimacy.” Kids can text to each other 24/7 but do they know how to be vulnerable? Do they know how to express sadness or even love and other deep emotions? The capacity to be vulnerable, to be open, to be honest, to show that you care, to have dinner conversation. It’s having a big impact on interpersonal skills for some people. There’s a real range.
When people shut off their tech devices, they often feel anxious about what they are missing. I feel it myself. How do you suggest people deal with this?
When people shut off their tech devices and feel anxious, it’s a fear of missing something. We’ve all developed a weird psychological dependence on our smartphones. Just like the toddler who has to learn eventually how to transition off the blankie to go to school and know that they’re OK in the in the world without it, we, too, often have to calm ourselves down and reassure ourselves that we’re OK if we don’t have our phones; our kids are OK if we don't have our phones. God forbid, if something happens, people will find us. So often when you hear the little ping, it engages that part of us that feels needed, or worries about an emergency. We have to reclaim some balance that takes us off chronic high alert. We have to learn how to outsmart that aspect of our smartphone that makes us feel anxious if we go out the door without it. Or if we’re on a vacation and we’re not constantly checking emails. You want to talk back to your anxious self. Remind yourself that it’s a mindset.
If your mindset is that you always need to be online or you’re missing something, the opposite way to think about it is: I’m giving myself the freedom to be full engaged in whatever it is I’m doing and everything else can wait. I’m choosing to be fully present at this dinner party, at this movie, at this lunch, this walk with my friend. It can wait. It can wait.
Looks like Dish’s internet TV deal with Disney may open the floodgates for news about similar arrangements: Reuters is reporting that DirecTV is in negotiations with Disney about also launching an internet-based TV service with programming from ABC and ESPN. DirecTV’s retransmission agreement with Disney is up soon, so the timing couldn’t be better.
Story posted at: reuters.com
To leave a comment or share, visit: DirecTV next in line to get internet TV rights from Disney
Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:
Robotic, Department-of-Defense funded, and power performance enhanced — high-tech replacement limbs make for great photos and video clips. And the people who wear them — often veterans, or well-off patients going through an inspirational recovery after an eye-popping accident — make for great media storytelling. But those stories don't represent the vast majority of amputees, writes Rose Eveleth at NOVA Next, and the high-tech prosthetics that get all the attention aren't always the best option to meet everyday needs.
In one study that explored the needs of amputee farmers, the researchers interviewed a man who was given a myoelectric arm—something that is not only expensive, but also completely unsuited for farm work. Myoelectric devices cannot get wet or dirty, two things that are nearly guaranteed during a day of farming. The farmer in question simply kept the arm in his closet—a $100,000 device sitting there gathering dust.Radocy’s body-powered hand can outperform even the most advanced myoelectric hands. It’s not just farmers for whom specialty electric devices aren’t quite right either. When it comes to everyday users, myoelectric arms or microprocessor knees, for all their amazing technology, are sometimes not the best option. Radocy, an upper limb amputee, is an advocate for what are called body-powered prostheses. Rather than being controlled by a computer or sensors, a body-powered arm is far more like a series of bicycle brakes—the arm is strapped to the users body, and connected to a series of cables. By twisting his body one way or another, Radocy can open and close his hand. The system may seem low-tech, but Radocy argues that when it comes to performance, his body-powered hand can outperform even the most advanced myoelectric hands.
"Maybe stop trying so hard to find shortcuts to "hack" your life. The best things are hard. Invest in the journey. Just sayin'."
Jonathan Shieber / TechCrunch:
I am The Whistler, and I know many things, for I walk by night. I know many strange tales, hidden in the hearts of men and women who have stepped into the shadows. Yes... I know the nameless terrors of which they dare not speak. So tonight, I tell you this story.... If you lived near a west coast CBS radio affiliate between May 16, 1942 and September 22, 1955, you probably heard The Whistler, or at least knew of the radio mystery series that was somewhat in the style of the better-known franchise, The Shadow. If you missed it, you can catch up on Archive.org, with selections from 1942, 1943, 1944, 1945, 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949, 1950, 1951 and '52, or browse through a collection of 502 episodes.
If you're wary of just diving into the unknown, here are a few short plot summaries, sorting the episodes alphabetically by title.
If you want to these episodes in easier-to-download collections, Archive.org offers 30 CD-sized "certified" ZIP-compressed collections (certified that the episodes are properly identified and labeled).
During Ted Hake’s June, 1981 visit, Maurice Sendak explained that "Outside Over There" completed his trilogy and was inspired by his fear, at the age of four (in 1932), of being kidnapped as was the son of Charles Lindbergh. Maurice related that he was too young to understand that kidnapping poor Jewish children from the streets of Brooklyn would not be profitable for anyone. However, his obsession only deepened w/the sensationalism surrounding the 1935 Hauptmann trial. In fact, Maurice told Ted during his visit that among his top wants was one of the miniature souvenir wooden ladders created and sold by an enterprising Flemington, NJ. local to the trial visitors looking for a souvenir. It took Ted 29 years, but Maurice got his ladder in 2009. Maurice's personal version of the famous ladder used in the Lindbergh baby kidnapping is shown on the opening pages of "Outside Over There" being carried and used by the goblins.
Baker University in Baldwin City, Kansas, is offering a Summer biology field research program designed for a diverse mix of able-bodied students and students with ambulatory disabilities. Eight students will spend a month in the trees, studying water bears and learning that being wheelchair-bound doesn't have to be an impediment to doing biological field research.
On March 7th, 2014, Star Wars: The Clone Wars series comes to a close with the release on Netflix of the Lost Missions, 13 final episodes that represent a shortened season 6. Hyping the release is a nearly three minute long trailer which reveals, among other things, foreshadowing of Order 66, the secret order to eliminate the Jedi programmed into the clone army, and of force ghosts, among trying to help tie the prequel films together.
Bonus: The 22 Movie Peripheral Characters that the Clone Wars shined the spot light on. (spoileriffic!)
Two college students invented an adapter that allows 3D printers to print in full color for less than $100
3D printing is generally a monochrome affair. Full-color printers are expensive, so the more casual user is likely stuck printing in one or two colors.
Cédric Kovacs-Johnson and Charles Haider, both chemical engineering undergraduates at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, say they have come up with a solution: a sub-$100 device that upgrades desktop 3D printers to print in a full rainbow of colors. They call it Spectrom.
The system is compatible with fused deposition modeling 3D printers that use a standard-size spool of filament. FDM printers melt string-like plastic bit by bit and lay it down in layers to create an object. Spectrom adds dye to the plastic as it melts, allowing printers to shift between colors.
“What we find really innovative in our approach is we went back to the roots of paper printing and we said, ‘How did they accomplish a range of colors?’” Kovacs-Johnson said. “We can print everything from dark blue to pink to red and everything in between.”
Desktop 3D printer makers have generally gotten around the one color problem by adding more than one print head. botObjects, a desktop printer maker that has been teasing the community for years with its full-color printing abilities, has revealed that its machine works by combining different pre-colored filaments.
Spectrom doesn’t require a specialized printer to work. The idea is that you install it on your existing printer and you’re ready to go. Your computer outputs code that tells the device when to switch between colors, and your printer operates as if it was printing with a regular filament spool.
The duo didn’t arrive at the method immediately. During a year and a half of development, they tried combining different colors of filament and different dyeing methods. They experimented with both ABS and PLA plastic.
“It was just a whole ton of trials before we looked at something and said, ‘Oh! That works exactly how we thought,’” Kovacs-Johnson said.
Their invention won them two first place prizes at UW-Madison’s Innovation Days competition last month. Haider and Kovacs-Johnson now have a patent pending for Spectrom and are looking at bringing more people onto the team. They are considering working with larger companies or launching a Kickstarter campaign.
Haider said that at the end of the day, they are hobbyists too, and as a result are focused on making sure it is compatible with any printer.
“We want to get it out to as many people as possible,” Haider said.
Related research and analysis from Gigaom Research:
Science journalist Colin Schultz writes about how boys who know next to nothing about menstruation become men who are uncomfortable with and/or dismissive about the normal bodily functions of their friends, lovers, and wives ... and why that's a problem education can solve.
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