Claude Shannon was a mathematician, electrical engineer, and cryptographer known as “the father of information theory.” In the pantheon of cool people who made the modern information era possible, he’s right up there. Today, we’re going to talk about Shannon’s life with Jimmy Sony and Rob Goodman, authors of a great biography of the man called A Mind At Play, How Claude Shannon Invented the Information Age. Especially you software engineers out there, if you don’t know who Claude Shannon was, get educated. You owe your livelihood to this man.
Tagged with “technology” (451)
On the current “tech lash”: Doctorow welcomes the tech lash we’re seeing, because “on the one hand, we’re very worried that a small coterie of unaccountable technologists can write code that changes the lives of billions of people for the worse. But it seems like the mainstream of the critique of that won’t, or can’t, contemplate the possibility that a small group of people might write code that would change people’s lives for the better. That may be the way, or part of the way, that we hold tech to account—by having our own tech, by seizing the means of information.”
We do need to build a better web: He continues, arguing that there are “companies with a fair degree of impunity to just make ads more invasive, more surveillant, more crappy, and more dangerous. Gathering all that data and warehousing it means that you put it at risk of being breached or subpoenaed or in some other way commandeered and then used against the people who you are advertising to.”
Go forth and learn from Larry Lessig: Harvard Law school professor and founder of the Creative Commons, Lessig is key here, as Doctorow references: “Larry says that the world is influenced by four forces: 1) code, what’s technologically possible, 2) law, what’s legally available, 3) norms, what’s socially acceptable, and 4) markets, what’s profitable.”
How we build a better web: Cory makes a two-prong argument on how we build a better web, which starts with a way to “sort the sheep from the goats or the willing from the unwilling…1) we should always design computers that obey their users or owners when there’s a conflict between what that person wants and what some remote entity like, say, a government or a police force or an advertiser or whatever wants. 2) Part two is that it should always be legal to disclose defects in computers. So, if you discover that there’s a problem with a computer that other people rely on, you should be able to warn them even if the manufacturer would prefer that you not.”
On privacy, data breaches, and a new business as usual: Doctorow opines that we’re not at a watershed moment because: “When the next crisis comes, it reaches an even higher peak. More people care about it and they care about it more intensely. When the crisis passes and the new normal asserts itself, it’s a new normal in which the crisis is more salient yet. That’s how we attain change.”
The good and bad of technology in the long history of the internet: Doctorow says this is nothing new: "That consciousness has been there since the very beginning, really. No one founds a group like the Electronic Frontier Foundation because they think technology is going to automatically be great. The reason the Free Software Foundation and EFF and other projects try to think about the social implications and how technology could be made safer for human habitation is because of this dual sense that on the one hand, technology held an enormous power to change the balance in social justice struggles and to make people’s lives much better.
"At the same time, it held an enormous power to make people’s lives much worse and change the balance of power so that it favored the already powerful. Technology has done both. If there’s a real criticism of the techlash it’s that it decides that only one of those things is real. They’re both real. Technology has given us community and it’s given us kindness and it’s given us all kinds of joys and human flourishing. It’s taken those away, too."
Aleks Krotoski explores the unforeseen consequences of a frictionless digital life.
It’s the life we’re told we want, where we just shout at a device and our needs are met as quickly as the supply chain allows. Aleks Krotoski explores frictionless digital living.
But is there value in friction? Aleks hears from someone who’s life depends on it, mountaineer Andy Kirkpatrick. He has a reputation for stacking the odds against himself as much as possible; long routes, often climbed alone in the worst of conditions. Back on the ground Andy also needs friction to not get complacent, accept others views without question, to keep moving forward.
Without friction we risk falling prey to what economist Umair Haque describes as the infantilisation economy. One where we are diminished by being able to have our every need met by Amazon’s Alexa. And the cost isn’t just to us but also to the army of digital serfs peddling about in all weathers with those trademark boxes on their backs. Its a future that was foreseen as far back as the late 19th century by the likes of Nietzsche in his descriptions of the ‘last men’ a humanity living the most vanilla of existences without challenge or ambition to change.
Nothing sums this up better than the food replacement industry. No time to shop, cook, chew? Get everything you need nutritionally in a drink like Soylent or Huel - all in the name of efficiency. Its a world that fascinates anthropologist Jan English-Luek who for over 20 years has been observing trends in silicon valley.
Ultimately Aleks will ask what we’re saving all this time and effort for and do we ever reap the benefits? Or does it just keep us where the digital world wants us, consuming in ever more efficient ways.
1x I’m your host, Andy Clarke, and I’m writing a Hardboiled Web Design book about Art Directing for the Web. You can find out more about that at stuffandnonsense.co.uk/books. Over the next few weeks and months, I’ll be discussing art directing for web with my guests, some of the most experienced art directors and designers working on the web today.
In this episode, Dan Mall and I discuss Art Directing the Web.
Corey Pein took his half-baked startup idea to Americaâs hottest billionaire factory â and found a wasteland of techie hustlers and con men
In this episode of devMode.fm, we talk to web veteran & founder of the Web Directions conference, John Allsopp. We talk about the origins of the web, including many technologies you may never have heard of. John drops some fantastic tidbits from the perspective that only someone who has seen it all can offer.
We also meander through a philosophical discussion of the current and future state of the web development industry. Are certain jobs in the web development world in danger of becoming obsolete? Join us for a fun and far-ranging discussion!
Technology writer Claire Evans talks about her new book “Broad Band: The Untold Story of Women Who Made the Internet.”
How did cyberpunks and activists affect the tech industry? Do we understand the history of the internet? How much of what we know comes only from a man’s perspective? This week, Claire L. Evans tells us about her new book, Broad Band, and the women who created the internet.
There Were Women In The Room: This week Paul Ford and Gina Trapani sit down with Claire L. Evans to chat about her new book,
Broad Band: The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet. We discuss the impact of online communities, how weird the dot-com era was, and the stories of the women who made things work. We also get a window into Y△CHT’s future project — the Broad Band Musical!
2:29 — Claire: “[This book is] a corrective if you will, of all the books we’ve all read and love about Silicon Valley, and the garage-to-riches stories of entrepreneurship… These are the stories about the women who were in the room the whole time, and nobody asked about them.”
5:06 — Paul: “Women get forgotten from activist histories too, and it was kind of an activist scene in the early days.”
5:22 — Gina: “Weird was welcome, in a way that is no longer the case.”
7:03 — Claire: “My big takeaway is how little we value long-term care and maintenance when it comes to building things… I profile Stacy Horn, who founded Echo BBS in the late 90s. It still exists. And she has devoted 25 years of her life to fostering and caring for this community. … She’s taking care of something, because she’s responsible for a community, and I think that’s really beautiful.”
8:24— Claire: “We mythologize the box, but it’s the users that change the world; it’s what you do with it. The culture work, the development of making things worth linking is almost as important as making the conventions for linking.
8:24 — Gina: “It’s broadening the definition of what making the web was. It wasn’t just about standardizing protocols and running code, it was about building the places where people wanted to come and connect and share.”
9:07— Paul: “Moderation…it’s critical, it’s key to these communities but it doesn’t get as much appreciation as ‘I wrote a page of code.’”
20:51 — Claire: “We’re all very siloed in the contemporary media landscape.”
Companies take a deep dive into the stacks of a sci-fi library to find out how we might react to new tech.
Prepare for liftoff. In this episode we go deep into space: into the known unknowns we’ve explored, and the unknown unknowns that lie ahead.
Page 1 of 46Older