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 “internet” (206)
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."
Jason Kottke, of kottke.org fame, was one of the early bloggers, one of the first bloggers to go pro, and one of the few solo bloggers still going. If you know Kottke.org, then you love it. How could you not? If you’ve never heard of it, you can thank me later. This episode examines what it means to be a publisher on the web for 20 years as well as the discipline required to find cool stuff on the web every single day (almost).
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.”
Craig Mod is a writer and photographer. His podcast is On Margins.
“You pick up an iPad, you pick up an iPhone—what are you picking up? You’re picking up a chemical-driven casino that just plays on your most base desires for vanity and ego and our obsession with watching train wrecks happen. That’s what we’re picking up and it’s counted in pageviews, because—not to be reductive and say that it’s a capitalist issue, but when you take hundreds of millions of dollars of venture capital, and you’re building models predicated on advertising, you are gonna create fucked-up algorithms and shitty loops that take away your attention. And guess what? You need to engage with longform texts. You need control of your attention. And so I think part of what subverted our ability to find this utopian reading space is the fact that so much of what’s on these devices is actively working to destroy all of the qualities needed to create that space.”
Inside the OED: can the world’s biggest dictionary survive the internet? — podcast | News | The Guardian
For centuries, lexicographers have attempted to capture the entire English language. Technology might soon turn this dream into reality â—but will it spell the end for dictionaries?
You type in a url and you get a website. But how did you get that website? What are all the little steps that happen when you request a page and (hopefully) see that page in your browser? Julia Evans breaks down how the internet works and gives us an amazing introduction to computer networking.
Julia is a software developer who lives in Montreal. She works on infrastructure at Stripe, gives talks and has published a collection of awesome free programming zines.
Claire L. Evans, Author of Broad Band- The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet | Internet History Podcast
Claire Evans is the author of the new book: Broad Band The Untold Story of the Women Who Made the Internet. This is the best tech history book I’ve read in a while and you know I read them all. Of special note, considering our 90s-heavy focus on this podcast, the book includes the stories of Word.com, which was a competitor to Feed.com (which we’ve previously covered) and Women.com which was a competitor to Ivillage (which, again, we’ve spoke at length about). But you also get an amazing portair of tech in the 1970s, hypertext as a movement outside of the web, and stories about amazing women like Grace Hopper and Jake Feinler.
The Father Of The Internet Sees His Invention Reflected Back Through A ‘Black Mirror’ : All Tech Considered : NPR
The titans of Silicon Valley have a grand vision of the future. But they have a tendency to miss the downside of their inventions — think cybercrime and online harassment.
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