All posts tagged Wise-Words

Filter Failure

Clay Shirky suggests that there’s no such thing as information overload, only filter failure. This is a very modern response to an older question. Futurist Alvin Toffler warned us about information overload, popularizing the phrase. It’s an extension of the idea of sensory overload, the idea that too much input could overwhelm and paralyze you. This is based on the faulty assumption that brains are information processing machines, and that we can overwhelm and crash them. …

Knowledge is too big, messy and wildly unsettled, just like the internet. “For every fact on the internet, there is an equal and opposite fact.” David [Weinberger] warns that there is nothing we all agree on – you can find someone willing to argue that 2+2 is not 4 (and, indeed, a quick Google search shows this to be true.) We don’t agree about anything, and David warns, we never will. “This doesn’t mean there are no facts – but it does mean that people are going to insist on being wrong.”

“Networked knowledge may or may not be truer about the world, but is is truer about knowing… This crazy approach to knowledge feels familiar to us, because it’s how we tend to know.” [Weinberger] closes with an observation that’s both hopeful and unsettling: “What we have in common is a shared world about which we disagree, not a common knowledge we share and can collectively come to.”

— snippets from Ethan Zuckerman’s heroic liveblogging during the book launch of Too Big to Know by David Weinberger.


How to Vacuum Form a Guy Fawkes Mask by Aram Bartholl / CC BY NC ND

I’m interested in collective being. I’m interested in making it easier for people to be public and social selves, as Martin Luther King certainly was. The risk is that if we turn everything into private property, it becomes harder and harder for us to have these common or collective selves, which is something we need.

In anthropology, there’s an interesting resurrection of an old word, which is the word “dividual.” So we live in a nation that values individuality; we live in a nation of individuals. But a dividual person is somebody who’s imagined to contain within himself or herself the community that he or she lives in.

So it would be nice if we began to have a better sense of how to own and circulate art and ideas, such that we could be present in our dividuality, as well as our individuality.

— Lewis Hyde interviewed for On the Media about copyright, the commons, and Martin Luther King Jr.

And Anonymous is organized not only around a radical democratic (at times chaotic and anarchic) structure but also around the very concept of anonymity, here constituted as collectivity. The accumulation of too much power—especially in a single point in (virtual) space—and prestige is not only taboo but functionally very difficult.

The lasting effect of Anonymous may have as much to do with facilitating alternative practices of sociality — upending the ideological divide between individualism and collectivism — as with attacks on monolithic banks and sleazy security firms.

— from Biella Colemann’s brilliant article about Anonymous, Our Weirdness is Free

Clopen = Closed + Open

Google has made much of Android being “open” for use by anyone and thus potentially better than the “closed” system of the Apple iOS world. But “clopen” would be a better way to describe Android, as some have, because it’s both closed and open at the same time.

— Danny Sullivan, For Consumers, Android Is More “Clopen” Than Open

Tech Criticism

At the end of this year I’m thinking about the need for proper criticism of software, alongside other arts like theater, movies, music, books, travel, food and architecture. It’s finally time to stop being all gee whiz about this stuff. Tech is woven into the fabric of our culture, as much as or more so than the other arts. And it’s headed toward being even more interwoven…

The goal would be to move away from the lone inventor myth and see tech projects as more like film production or a even more apt, a TV series. Software is a process.

— Dave Winer, We need to improve tech criticism. Here’s how.

It’s Own Thang.

It’s an incredibly exciting time to be creating things on the web. This year’s advances in browsers, standards, and smart thinking have enabled us to finally begin to web design. We’re no longer forced to think of the web as a digital reproduction of physical pages, but rather to finally embrace it as its own thing.

— Dan Cederholm, What I Learned About The Web In 2011 via Third Wave Berlin

Democratic Transport

A bikeway is a symbol that shows that a citizen on a $30 bicycle is equally important as a citizen on a $30,000 car. — Enrique Peñalosa, former Mayor of Bogata

Urbanized is a documentary by Gary Hustwit about the future of designing cities. A screening was organized last week by @mjays using Gidsy, the “marketplace for authentic experiences”. As my first Gidsy experience, it definitely seems like a fun, easy way to host cool events.

The film was filled with nuggets of wisdom, and some honest quips (“Now, you might not agree with me if you listen to NPR, but I love my backyard and my pool. And Phoenix is not the poster child of sprawl,” retorts an Arizona zoning official. Cut to the New Urbanist Ellen Dunham-Jones: “Sprawl is like pornography. You know it when you see it.“)

I was particularly impressed with Enrique Peñalosa, the former Mayor of Bogata, whose accomplishments included an extensive, modern bus route, bike paths, and restricted raised parking in the city. I’ll have to check with my aunt, a researcher specializing in environmental issues in Colombia, about Peñalosa’s true effectiveness, but in general the politician had a very democratic way of talking about transport.

“There are a lot of important things written in the Constitution. But the right to have a parking space is not one of them.” He smiles.

Buses have priority on our roads. Because if each citizen should have equal claim to public roads, then a bus with 100 people should have 100 times more space than a car with 1 person.

There were many more gems from Peñalosa and others, including an architect of a poor Chilean neighborhood, who advocates for participatory design:

In building these homes for the poor, we faced a decision. Do we put in a water heater or a bath tub? There is not space for both. Many architects and city planners proposed a water heater. But when we asked the residents, 100% of them chose bath tubs. Why? Because they do not have money for the heating bill. This is why participatory design is important.

I encourage you check out Urbanized! A smart film with inspiring ideas and an impressive look at cities around the globe.

Image courtesy Swiss Dots Ltd.

Ay, where’s the rub?

Frictionless sharing makes sharing meaningless.

via Mike Loukides, The End of Social

In the Flesh

The new magnetism of congregation seems universal…The web becomes not a destination in itself but a route map to somewhere real.

— Simon Jenkins, Welcome to the post-digital world, an exhilarating return to civility

PR Leaks