There is a lot of buzz about a book called The Cluetrain Manifesto. I can’t tell if it’s about dotcoms, or about social forces in the Internet Age. But, they provided the whole book online, so I ciphoned it onto my Palm and I’m going to read it. I’ll keep you posted.
Speaking of books, here is my reading list for the coming months:
- 1984, by George Orwell
- The Future Does Not Compute: Overcoming the Machines in our Midst, by Steve Talbott. (See also the FAQ for his excellent ongoing email newsletter “Netfuture.”
- The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, by Robert Heinlein
- Shadows of the Mind: A Search for the Missing Science of Consciousness, by Roger Penrose
- To Say Nothing of the Dog, by Connie Willis
Alison came up with an interesting quote in her dissertation research on 12th century France:
Scholars of that time delighted in exploring complex interlocking patterns and eschewed univocal interpretations.*
As I hear more and more about this time period from Alison, I see why she studies history. It sheds light forward onto our own time. Would you describe our current ways of thinking as “eschewing univocal interpretations,” because I wouldn’t. I forget who said the following but I agree and I guess so would the scholars of 1100: the older I get, the more I learn that not only is it okay to hold contradictory beliefs, but the deepest, most important elements of life are bound up in such opposing truths.
*Stephan Borgehammar, “A Monastic Conception of the Liturgical Year,” in The Liturgy of the Medieval Church, ed. Thomas J Heffernan and E. Ann Matter (Kalamazoo, MI: Medieval Institute Publications, Western Michigan University, 2001), 18.
I’m starting to understand the news aggregator concept. It is the flipside of the blog. It addresses my earliest question about blogs: won’t everything I write just disappear into the void?
For non-geeks reading this, a news aggregator is a single program or web page that gathers together a generalized version of “headlines.” These can certainly include headlines, like from the BBC or AP wire. But they can also include postings or articles from any site that is “syndicated,” in a certain technical way, like this one is. You could ask your aggregator to pull in content from this very site, each time I update it. See how it provides the audience with the corresponding tool to the author’s tool of the blog? By the way, this very product, Radio, includes a news aggregator and so marries the two tools.
I was really looking forward to the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics tonight, but over the last few days I’ve been growing increasingly uneasy about what I might see there. As it turned out, after the initial voice-overs by Messrs. McKay (co-alum of my high school!) and Costas, I turned off the television. I’m only going to tune in when events I want to see are on.
My problem is nationalism, and the two forms it has taken since September 11th. First, is the lower-brow flag waving habit. There was actually a fight over allowing the flag from the top of the WTC to make an appearance during the ceremonies. Give me a break! If it wasn’t that important before 9/11, then it is exactly that important today, no more and no less. All people really mean when they wave these things around is “I’m part of something bigger than I am and I don’t have to assert my identity for a few minutes! Hooray!” My good friend Carl Sagan has a pretty good understanding of what’s going on here: the pre-human part of our brain controls this emotion. In fact, it’s reptilian. Don’t follow leaders or symbols blindly, you’re better than that.
The second and much worse problem is what Bob Costas said (paraphrasing): “America was thrust unexpectedly into the middle of history.” There is real feeling that this is an emotional time, and that to ham it up and make it one of the overtones of the Olympics is only natural. Bullshit! Events like what happened in NYC and in DC on the 11th happen ALL THE TIME, ALL OVER THE WORLD, AND HAVE DONE SO FOR MILLENIA. The fact is, we’re just not used to it, but that doesn’t elevate it over the concerns of other nations. There have been earthquakes in the last two years that have killed more people than those planes did, ten times over. There have been devastating wars and strife for all of history. To take this one event and treat it with so much melodrama just drives home to me that we, as a nation, do not care about anyone other than ourselves. It kind of makes you begin to understand the feelings of anger that pervade the third world…