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Posts Tagged ‘New York Times

Times predicts world-altering tech in ’82, still can’t figure it out

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Twenty-nine years ago today, a New York Times article reported on a National Science Foundation report predicting “a style of life defined and controlled by videotex terminals throughout the house.”

The article called it simultaneously “appealing and threatening,” and while it’s not quite videotex (which never really caught on) I think you’d have a hard time arguing that the videotex terminal the NSF mentioned hasn’t become the computer.

Yes, the Times, the United States’ hallmark newspaper, reported on the predicted rise of the internet, and only sort of figured how to leverage it financially and only did so recently. With the news media taking way too long to realize how important the internet is to their bottom line, and it is sort of (I do love journalism, after all) funny to see how the rise of technology was predicted, reported on and then ignored almost completely.


Written by Matt

June 14, 2011 at 4:09 pm

So Maybe Ed Whitacre Won’t Be Controlling Your Tubes

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According to the National Broadband Plan, the government foresees a future where we only have one high-speed ISP.

In the report, released last year, the FCC noted that cable companies are able to provide ever-faster internet and phone companies aren’t able to keep up due to outdated technology. This trend means that, eventually, there will only be one legitimate high-speed ISP in each municipality.

The fear is that eventually, everyone will have to use their cable providers for high speed internet, who, even by their own standards, are pretty much universally hated*. The phone companies will be out of the picture (well, except for Verizon and FIOS, I assume) because they just can’t keep up.

It’s an interesting insight into the rationale of the FCC: We need Net Neutrality to protect the ISPs from foisting their “managed services” on us (basically, no more Netflix, no more Hulu if we’re talking cable-based ISPs), which they will do once they achieve a “natural monopoly” and ISP competition goes the way of cable TV. Basically, we need Net Neutrality because the FCC screwed up in the first place.

The flip side to this is that people don’t hate their ISP they way they hate their cable provider – a statistic Net Neutrality For The Win noted in a study – and even the New York Times who usually walks in step with attempts at government regulation thinks competition is a better way to solve the problem**.

So maybe the old quote trotted out by every Net Neutrality supporter will finally go out of vogue since, evidently, it’s going to be the cable companies fucking us instead of the phone companies. Hey, it’s only been 5+ years.

*A little side note: Cable providers have been so historically awful at customer service that the FCC actually enacted guidelines in the early 90’s to try and improve customer service. Nice to see that worked out.

**Unfortunately I can’t find the link to the Op/Ed. I’ll keep looking, though. Keep in mind, it might be stuck behind a paywall.

Written by Matt

January 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm

Man, Julian Assange Seems Like an Asshole

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I always had my inklings about him after those rape and molestation allegations came out earlier this year, but recent behavior has really solidified it for me: Julian Assange is an asshole.

A profile of the man in Sunday’s New York Times lays out the reasons nicely. He has a sick sense of self-importance and a DIY aura of grandeur that keeps him from seeing any disagreement as a good faith disagreement. They are all attempts to destroy him, up to and including unwanted sexual advances on his part. These are not mistakes, no, no, these are deliberate attempts to destroy his credibility and bring down his game-changing website. The Times hails him as the Internet-era’s great font of inflammatory information, and while there is little to dispute about that there also happens to be little evidence to suggest that he sees himself as this day and age’s great transformative figure. A suave ladies man (“They call me the James Bond of journalism”), the true defender of Western Civilization (“Mr. Assange said America was an increasingly militarized society and a threat to democracy”), a man with near infinite intellectual capacity (he is in possession of “what friends call a near genius I.Q.”), and the Church of Wikileaks’ sole messianic figure (“I am the heart and soul of his organization, its founder, philosopher, spokesperson, original coder, organizer, financier, and all the rest.”)

Then he walks out on a CNN interview when asked about the criticism by his colleagues (minions?) and the rape allegations. Evidently he is alternating between these developments being dirty tricks to bring him down and a “If we’re not here to talk about my greatness, I’m leaving” type attitude. Whether he likes it or not these two things are part of Wikileaks, and when the Taliban finds, and inevitably executes, Afghans leaking Americans information, this surely will ingrain itself into Wikileaks mythology. I would expect Assange’s continued dismissal of these criticisms, as well, even when he is forced to confront them.

This kind of behavior does end up manifesting itself in people who do tend to operate on a higher intellectual level (one off the top of my head: Ayn Rand). “I’m awesome and thus deserve the respect and reverence of all those around me” seems to be a common meme among people like this. They become absolutely certain of their abilities and inflate their greatness disproportionate to their worth, think Crime and Punishment style delusions of grandeur. Not that Wikileaks isn’t important or great or changing the way journalists do their work (just like Atlas Shrugged remains a great and influential novel). It is entirely possible that in order to do the kinds of things Assange (and Rand) does (do) there is some kind of value to carrying yourself with so much arrogance it comes out in your sweat. Its what makes these people so interesting – and simultaneously makes them assholes.

Written by Matt

October 25, 2010 at 3:14 pm