Among the Disrupted – NYTimes.com

This is the end…I might also recommend the beginning at the link below – thick reading but worthy.

Aside from issues of life and death, there is no more urgent task for
American intellectuals and writers than to think critically about the salience,
even the tyranny, of technology in individual and collective life. All revolutions
exaggerate, and the digital revolution is no different. We are still in the middle
of the great transformation, but it is not too early to begin to expose the
exaggerations, and to sort out the continuities from the discontinuities. The
burden of proof falls on the revolutionaries, and their success in the
marketplace is not sufficient proof. Presumptions of obsolescence, which are
often nothing more than the marketing techniques of corporate behemoths,
need to be scrupulously examined. By now we are familiar enough with the
magnitude of the changes in all the spheres of our existence to move beyond
the futuristic rhapsodies that characterize much of the literature on the
subject. We can no longer roll over and celebrate and shop. Every phone in
every pocket contains a “picture of ourselves,” and we must ascertain what that
picture is and whether we should wish to resist it. Here is a humanist
proposition for the age of Google: The processing of information is not the
highest aim to which the human spirit can aspire, and neither is
competitiveness in a global economy. The character of our society cannot be
determined by engineers.
“Our very mastery seems to escape our mastery,” Michel Serres has
anxiously remarked. “How can we dominate our domination; how can we
master our own mastery?” Every technology is used before it is completely
understood. There is always a lag between an innovation and the apprehension
of its consequences. We are living in that lag, and it is a right time to keep our
heads and reflect. We have much to gain and much to lose. In the media, for
example, the general inebriation about the multiplicity of platforms has
distracted many people from the scruple that questions of quality on the new
platforms should be no different from questions of quality on the old
platforms. Otherwise a quantitative expansion will result in a qualitative
contraction. The new devices do not in themselves authorize a revision of the
standards of evidence and argument and style that we championed in the old
devices. (What a voluptuous device paper is!) Such revisions may be made on1/8/2015 Among the Disrupted ­ NYTimes.com
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other grounds — out of commercial ambition, for example; but there is
nothing innovative about pandering for the sake of a profit. The decision to
prefer the requirements of commerce to the requirements of culture cannot be
exonerated by the thrills of the digital revolution.
And therein lies a consoling irony of our situation. The machines may be
more neutral about their uses than the propagandists and the advertisers want
us to believe. We can leave aside the ideology of digitality and its aggressions,
and regard the devices as simply new means for old ends. Tradition “travels”
in many ways. It has already flourished in many technologies — but only when
its flourishing has been the objective. I will give an example from the
humanities. The day is approaching when the dream of the democratization of
knowledge — Borges’s fantasy of “the total library” — will be realized. Soon all
the collections in all the libraries and all the archives in the world will be
available to everyone with a screen. Who would not welcome such a vast
enfranchisement? But universal accessibility is not the end of the story, it is
the beginning. The humanistic methods that were practiced before
digitalization will be even more urgent after digitalization, because we will
need help in navigating the unprecedented welter. Searches for keywords will
not provide contexts for keywords. Patterns that are revealed by searches will
not identify their own causes and reasons. The new order will not relieve us of
the old burdens, and the old pleasures, of erudition and interpretation.
Is all this — is humanism — sentimental? But sentimentality is not always
a counterfeit emotion. Sometimes sentiment is warranted by reality. The
persistence of humanism through the centuries, in the face of formidable
intellectual and social obstacles, has been owed to the truth of its
representations of our complexly beating hearts, and to the guidance that it
has offered, in its variegated and conflicting versions, for a soulful and
sensitive existence. There is nothing soft about the quest for a significant life.
And a complacent humanist is a humanist who has not read his books closely,
since they teach disquiet and difficulty. In a society rife with theories and
practices that flatten and shrink and chill the human subject, the humanist is
the dissenter. Never mind the platforms. Our solemn responsibility is for the1/8/2015 Among the Disrupted ­ NYTimes.com
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substance.
Leon Wieseltier is a contributing editor at The Atlantic and the author of
“Kaddish.”
A version of this article appears in print on January 18, 2015, on page BR1 of the Sunday Book
Review with the headline: Among the Disrupted.

Among the Disrupted – NYTimes.com.

Watch Bill Gates Drink Water That Was Sewage 5 Minutes Before | IFLScience

More than 2 billion people across the world are affected by not having access to clean water or proper sanitation, resulting in the death of over 700,000 children each year. Solving this problem isn’t as simple as installing sewer or septic systems, as they require more energy and infrastructure than could be effectively maintained in many developing countries. Waste from the latrines most commonly used in these areas are left untreated and merely dumped into local rivers and other bodies of water, where it will contribute to the spread of disease.The latest venture from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation seeks to resolve this problem by creating a wastewater treatment method that eliminates disease-causing sewage from the environment and converts it into clean, drinkable water. The steam engine-powered device is called the Omniprocessor, manufactured by Seattle-based Janicki Bioenergy. The Omniprocessor can convert human waste into clean, drinkable water in a matter of minutes, while producing energy to incinerate the remaining waste solids and leave 250 kilowatts to spare. The resulting ash does not have an odor and will not contain disease-causing microbes.Using the waste from 100,000 people, the Omniprocessor will produce 86,000 liters of water per day, enough for 43,000 people. Though there is a deficit in supply and demand, this will be a tremendous relief for people in these areas. This isn’t meant to be strictly charity, but a means of creating self-supported economies.“If we get it right, it will be a good example of how philanthropy can provide seed money that draws bright people to work on big problems, eventually creating a self-supporting industry. Our foundation is funding Janicki to do the development,” Bill Gates wrote on his blog, Gatesnotes. “Our goal is to make the processors cheap enough that entrepreneurs in low- and middle-income countries will want to invest in them and then start profitable waste-treatment businesses.”The pilot Omniprocessor will be installed in Dakar, Senegal later this year. There are over 2.4 million people in Dakar’s metro area, with 24% living without electricity or running water. Gates notes that this will not be a quick fix to such a widespread problem, but it is a good start.Of course, anyone can sit around and talk about how great this system will be. Gates, understanding that actions speak louder than words, decided to show his confidence in the efficacy of the Janicki Omniprocessor in no uncertain terms: by drinking water that had been raw sewage just five minutes prior.

via Watch Bill Gates Drink Water That Was Sewage 5 Minutes Before | IFLScience.

This Is The Video CNN Will Play When The World Ends

Thirty-four years ago, at the launch of Ted Turner’s Cable News Network, the founder made a grandiose and specific promise about his newly created round-the-clock operation. "Barring satellite problems, we won’t be signing off until the world ends," Turner declared. And in anticipation, he prepared a final video segment for the apocalypse:

We’ll be on, and we will cover the end of the world, live, and that will be our last event. We’ll play the National Anthem only one time, on the first of June [the day CNN launched], and when the end of the world comes, we’ll play ‘Nearer My God To Thee’ before we sign off.

People thought he was joking. We have proof that he wasn’t. Below is the never-before-seen video the last living CNN employee will be required to play before succumbing to radiation poisoning, the plague, zombies, or whatever crazy end Turner saw coming.

It lives on CNN’s MIRA archive system, under the name TURNER DOOMSDAY VIDEO. Reflecting its status as an artifact, not to be used except in the ultimate emergency, it’s in standard definition, with an aspect ratio of 4:3, perfect for the cathode-ray tube televisions of the 1980s.

via This Is The Video CNN Will Play When The World Ends.

Marriott plans to block personal wifi hotspots – Boing Boing

Marriott is fighting for its right to block personal or mobile Wi-Fi hotspots—and claims that it’s for our own good.

The hotel chain and some others have a petition before the FCC to amend or clarify the rules that cover interference for unlicensed spectrum bands. They hope to gain the right to use network-management tools to quash Wi-Fi networks on their premises that they don’t approve of. In its view, this is necessary to ensure customer security and to protect children.

The petition, filed in August and strewn with technical mistakes, has received a number of formally filed comments from large organizations in recent weeks. If Marriott’s petition were to succeed, we’d likely see hotels that charge guests and convention centers that charge exhibitors flipping switches to shut down any Wi-Fi not operated by the venue. The American hotel industry’s trade group is a co-filer of the petition, and Hilton submitted a comment in support: this isn’t just Marriott talking.

But there are big guns in opposition, including Google, Microsoft, and the cell industry’s trade group, the CTIA. Even Cisco’s “support” of the Marriott petition seeks to minimize the extent to which a rule clarification would affect most users.

Earlier in 2014, the FCC fined Marriott for jamming the Wi-Fi networks of guests, exhibitors, and others at the Gaylord Opryland resort in Nashville. The hotel chain agreed to pay the FCC $600,000 in fines and create a compliance plan, with regularly filed updates, for all its properties.

via Marriott plans to block personal wifi hotspots – Boing Boing.