Added the author and underwater archaeologist and Daniel Lenihan to the list of notable alumni of Guilford College. It is wrong in the extreme that Dan was not only missing there, but remains missing in Wikipedia as well, with a single small exception where he gets mentioned with a dead-end link. I also want to add Stephen Lewis, a two-Fulbright scholar, authority on many subjects and one of the smartest (and funniest) people I have ever known. Dan, Steve and I were all in Guilford's Class of 1969. We also grew up only a few miles apart.

"Digital Disruption" is a hot topic at @OnPointRadio. So let's talk about that for a post or few. 

The problem with "disruption" is that it suggests impact from one direction, and calls to mind Newton's laws of motion when we look for effects. Those tend to be two-dimensional: balls dispersed on a pool table when struck by a cue ball, a ship exploding toward the sky on the horizon when hit by a torpedo. The effects of new technologies are more complicated and subtle than that.

Lauding disruption as a virtue (which Silicon Valley has been doing for decades) also tends to excuse collateral effects, including destructive ones. It tends to ignore collateral opportunities as well.

What Marshall and Eric McLuhan do with their Laws of Media is provide a way of discovering effects of disruption (caused by a new medium or technology) refracted in four different directions, each best visited as questions for which many answers are possible: What does a new medium (or technology) 1) enhance, 2) retrieve, 3) obsolesce and 4) reverse into once it fully succeeds? (These are formally called the Tetrad of media effects.)

I suggest a few answers in those four directions in Have We Passed Peak Phone? and The Actually Distributed Web, but will give it a longer and more thought-out treatment in the book I'm writing.

Reading:

Two videos I need to watch when my eyes are ready:

Since there seems to be a run on eclipse glasses, here's helpful hint: head to the hardware store and get welders goggles with a rating of 14 or higher. They'll do the same thing, and many are still out there, mostly because they're not yet called "eclipse glasses." 

Look also for "brazing" and "safety." More here from Mr. Eclipse.

After paying for her meal and getting up to leave, the patron says to the restaurant's proprietor, "I'm so glad you operate a Christian restaurant!"

The proprietor replies, "Thank you, but we welcome guests from all faiths, or none at all."

"Oh."

"But I'm curious. What makes you say we're a Christian restaurant?"

"The check said, "Thank you Jesus."

"Ah. Your server is named Jesus."

"Oh."


Fantastic thread on the best Top 40 stations of all time, at Radio Ink.

Interesting that Top 40 was less mainstream than one might think in those late great heydays (or decades) of the format, in the 50s and 60s.

Most of the stations listed there were small, and some were even tiny. The early Top 40 "giants" were lesser signals on AM dials. The big signals were mostly devoted to "middle of the road" or "MOR" programming: chatty talk, pop standards, news and farm reports. ABC broke ranks when it went top 40 with its giants in New York and Chicago: WABC and WLS. WMCA in New York, WPGC and WEAM in DC, KQV in Pittsburgh, WIL in St. Louis, KHJ, KRLA and KFWB in Los Angeles... these were all secondary signals in those towns. In smaller cities like Roanoke, Syracuse, Santa Barbara and Winston-Salem, the top stations were as small as they get. WROV, WOLF, KIST and WAIR, respectively in those cities, were all on "graveyard" channels (1230, 1240, 1340, 1400 and 1450), all limited to a max of 1000 watts by day and 250 watts by night. And, since those channels were the most populated, "skywave" interference from the rest of the stations on those channels shrank coverage even more.

FM changed everything, of course. And now both satellite radio (SiriusXM) and Internet streaming are to music radio like vultures to carrion.

I’m trying the Beaker browser now. Sez the site, "Beaker is a peer-to-peer browser with tools to create and host websites. Don't just browse the Web, build it."

Interesting sign of our times: it’s ready on Linux and Mac, and “coming soon” to Windows.

The video on the Beaker index page (above) is a good intro, and then leads to Jeremy Ruston’s video of TiddlyWiki+Beaker.

(I haven’t seen Jeremy in years, but we got a lot of hang time when we were both working for JP Rangaswami at BT.

Key to Beaker is dat.

More in Github about dat-http. Specifics:

An HTTP transport/storage provider for Dat, allowing replication of Dats over normal HTTP connections from flat files on the server. Currently only supports read operations, write operations coming in the future (open an issue if you need this).

The entire .dat folder must be available on the server for this to work. Point this at the root url where the .dat folder is and you can use this to do replication.

This is implemented as a storage provider, conforming to the https://www.npmjs.com/package/abstract-random-accessAPI. That may seem counterintuitive, as this provides a networkworking transport but implements a storage provider API. However, in Dat you can wrap a storage provider in a Hyperdrive instance to turn it into a network transport.

I’ve added the Beaker browser to the “privacy protection” section of the VRM developments roster.

This whole thing needs a big re-arrange. If you want to help, talk to me. Thanks.

Yo @MacSales, et. al... I'm looking for a pre-current vintage MacBook Pro with a Retina screen, maximum solid state memory (1-4TB), an SD card reader and MagSafe power connector. Leads welcome. Thanks.

Great photo feature on the very late WFBR/1300, once a landmark radio station in Baltimore. I hope the owners of the space (it's upstairs over an old theater) preserve at least the control room, which appears to be museum-worthy.

The signal, by the way, is still at 1300am, radiating from a new transmitter as WJZ, a sports station.  The call letters were salvaged in 2004 by an unrelated station in the Baltimore area.

I made a funny and completely innocent comment (like a host on a talk radio show might make) under a post at RadioInk, and it didn't appear.

My experience with the agent was fine. She did a good job. 

My advice to your customer service system, completely aside from my last exchange with it, is to publish, both on the Web and on the myDish app, a list of channels outside of any bundle, so customers can put together a channel line-up that is as close to à la carte as possible. That way customers can base their plans on what they actually want, rather than on the bundles you offer.

Also, please don't prompt a customer to pay when the customer already has autopay, and your system knows it. Prompting for payment by default is rude, looks greedy and clueless, and only gets in the way of whatever the customer is looking for. 

Thanks!

My street is in one in the north end of Manhattan's grid, flanked by high-rises, each a henge of air conditioners protruding from windows. The hood is residential, a mix of Orthodox Jewish, Dominican and other religions and ethnicities, some apparent but most not. Collars are a mix of blue and white. No rich people, or at least not so one can tell. All the retail action faces the street and absent of brand names the world knows. There are no corporate headquarters and no buildings with doormen. Our street is a block away from the main retail action, meaning most of the traffic is pedestrian: people walking their kids or their dogs, hurrying to or from one of the subway portals, or walking slowly toward or back from one of the parks that have benches. 

The larger apartment buildings here have supers: guys who live on the ground floor, know everybody, and keep things fixed. The super next door is serious and friendly, smokes constantly and rarely smiles. He's called Smiley. His brother-in-law is the super of another building on the street. That guy is relentlessly cheerful and has a nickname I forget, though he greets me by name. The two of them have been on their jobs for seventeen and thirty-five years.

Our building is too small to have a super, so that's kind of my job, meaning I'm the one who calls the landlady, or that she calls if she's wondering how to replace a broken washer or air conditioner for the lowest possible cost, knowing I'll take care of that.

All this is preamble to a story typical of living here, featuring a one-liner uttered by Smiley.

When the first heat wave came a couple weeks ago, one of our window air conditioners crapped out, and I replaced it. Being busy with other stuff, I left the dead AC on our small balcony, waiting for me to deal with New York's very specific requirements for disposing of deceased appliances containing chlorofluorocarbons. I wanted to make sure I did this the Right Way, so I asked Smiley about it one morning when we ran into each other on the sidewalk.

"Don't call the city," Smiley said. "Call Ted."

"Who's Ted?"

"You've seen him around here. Greek guy."

What I love about that exchange is that I actually knew who Smiley was talking about while having never spoken to the guy, and having had no clue that the guy was Greek.

"You mean the guy with the huge key ring on his belt who has all that stuff roped to a van?" I said.

"Yeah. Hold on."

Smiley took out his phone and called Ted. Later Ted retrieved the dead air conditioner.

This is one of the many informal ways cities work, and I love it.

If you want to know more about those informalities and their importance to all of civilization, I have four recommendations.

First, see Abacus, a perfect documentary about a bank in Chinatown that was all but crucified by the government for the sins of giant banks that mostly went unpunished (while some were quite rewarded) after the mortgage crisis of 2008. It's the true story not only of the bank's (literal) trials, but of the neighborhood it serves, and how the very human vernacular of business is so much more essential within the weave of civilization than anything corporate giants or governments do, though they get almost all the attention. (I also visited this fact in Small is the New Big.)

Second, see Citizen Jane, the Battle for the City, a documentary about fights between Jane Jacobs, the best friend cities ever had, and Robert Moses, the massively influential planner and builder of roads, bridges and parks, who completely re-shaped New York (mostly for the worse) while modeling for the country trashing of public transportation and handing over transport responsibilities to cars and trucks.

Third, read The Power Broker: Robert Moses and the Fall of New York, by Robert Caro. It is huge, deep and thoroughly readable; yet it still cannot convey—because nothing can—the full scope of Moses' influence on all the world's cities, even today.

Fourth, follow Bubkes, the blog of Stephen Lewis, who studies, photographs and writes about cities and their people with a depth of understanding and care that has few equals. You will never encounter a better docent in your browser.



A thousand years ago, Dave Winer said market share is a head trip

I like head trip. It means "the state of being zoned out" or "an act performed primarily for self-gratification." It's pure vernacular from another time, but what the hell.

Main thing is, it applies to data. Here's how data works as a head trip for big companies. They actually think:

  1. Because data is valuable —
  2. More is better, so Big Data is more valuable than little data. Also a competitive advantage. A way to keep up with the BigCo Joneses.
  3. To obtain Big Data that's useful in the marketplace, companies need to hoover up personal data about, and from, every actual or potential customer they can, everywhere and every way they can.
  4. They should use this hoovered data to fill their data lakes and then refine data from those lakes to into marketing goop to throw at "the right person" in "the right place" at "the right time," aimed by #martech and #adtech machinery.
  5. Data refining should include ML (machine learning) and AI (artificial intelligence) because, well, they're what's cool right now.

And here is the default head tripping among many #customertech developers:

  1. All this hoovered personal data is rightfully ours alone. Taking it without our permission is a privacy violation.
  2. Europe agrees, and says so with the General Data Protection regulation (GDPR), which will start punishing companies for hoovering personal data without personal permission, starting in May 2018.
  3. In fact we can do more with our personal data than any company can, especially when all they're trying to do is sell us stuff and most of the time we aren't buying a damn thing.
  4. So we need ways to keep and control our personal data, and to use our own ML and AI when we do put it to use.
  5. Since companies have an appetite for personal data, and that data has value to them, we should get in on that market, somehow. Or create a new one that isn't dysfunctional.

All of which is fine, actually except for the near-exclusive focus on data.

What tripping on data misses is the need for agency, which is why I wrote Customertech Will Turn the Online Marketplace Into a Marvel-Like Universe in Which All of Us are Enhanced, after I wrote the lists above, which I didn't want to lose and have now posted here.

This is from two emails I sent yesterday. I'm not ready to post something complete about it yet, because my mind isn't made up. Still, worth sharing::::

I’ve recently become convinced that we — the world — made a huge mistake by starting with the Web as the first widespread application on the Internet. Specifically, we made a bad decision by basing the Web on client-server rather than peer-to-peer. Client-server is a mainframe legacy. It’s a slave-master arrangement.

Peer-to-peer is what the Net was designed to be, and still is, at the protocol level where it came into existence and still persists. We need to re-frame our thinking there, no matter what we build.

…and…

...take a look at Brad Burnham’s post on Union Square Ventures’ investment in Protocol Labs. Note that he's wanting to invest in protocols rather than platforms.

Also take a look at what I said in Giving silos their due, and to the comments as well, especially Michael Elling's. Phil Windley’s Decentralization is hard—maybe too hard is also a good response.

My point with the last two paragraphs is that my mind is not made up on whether or not a platform approach is a Good Thing, though I am beginning to think there are Better Things.

I am convinced, however, that we went way wrong with the Web as a platform by basing it from the start on client-server (aka calf-cow), which (to leverage McLuhan) retrieved the mainframe, which retrieved the monopoly, which retrieved the feudal system.

Hence the headline.

I welcome your thoughts.

[Later...] Best so far is from Dave, via this tweet back toward Fractional Horsepower HTTP Servers, posted twenty years ago. In a second tweet he adds, correctly, A kitchen is client server too, but we scaled them so bigcos don't own them all. It's more that we're lazy. We like TV. McDonald's.

I also just added an image, of silos.

On the second day of Woodstock, while the thunderstorms were rolling through, my pregnant then-wife and I (married way too young, still in college) had packed up our picnic by the Hudson in Palisades Interstate Park, and were driving north on the Parkway there, when we stopped to pick up two very wet young women who had their thumbs out under one of the overpasses. Turns out they were going to Woodstock. So we drove them there: a trip of about 90 miles.

As we approached, there was a traffic jam of cars leaving the scene, the drivers warning us that the festival was just a big bummer: shitty sound, no toilets, mud everywhere. But the girls were excited to be there, so we dropped them off and drove home to Hackensack (another 90 miles).

One thing I remember about the drive up was that the two girls were devoted followers of Murray Bookchin. Haven’t thought about him since, but for some reason I remember his name but not the girls’.

They did write us later to thank us, though, and say they had a great time. Wish we’d stayed too.

Day 2 of Conference on the Podcast at Columbia, which I've just shortlinked as http://bit.ly/podconf. I'm live tweeting it through Little Pork Chop and live blogging it here. 

I think, rather than report on what people are saying, I'll say what I'm thinking as a result of what people on stage are saying. So here goes.

I like that there are things being discovered with podcasting that can't be done with radio. Or haven't been done, anyway.

I like calling podcasting an art form, sort of. But not sure something so broad can be called that. There are lots of art forms within television, radio, print and the rest. Should be in podcasting too.

I agree that criticism does help form a canon, and that there are downsides to that as well. One is premature formalism. Podcasting doesn't need that yet. Too early, too small, too non-standard (and that's a good thing).

The topic is poetry. "Is it an efficacious form?" My own answer is yes. See http://searls.com/whitman.html.

The podcast playing is on GarageBand. The reason I haven't done more podcasting yet is that I haven't mastered either GarageBand or Audacity. Help welcome. Minimal results so far are at http://podcast.searls.com .

I have my doubts that podcasting and commercial sponsorship actually go together. I would rather give money to podcasters (as we do to Chris Lydon's Radio Open Source) than endure the personal hawking of products by podcasters, as I get (hate to say, but being frank here) from Mark Maron, Ben Walker and others.

Death is a topic now, via Rachel Zucker onstage. Too deep and close for me to liveblog about as an audience member, but admiring Rachel's raw courage talking about this.

"Then the election happened" has now been said, in various ways, a number of times at the conference. No denying how consequential that election was, and still is. Here are the Top 10 Most Consequential Events in my lifetime. 

Rachel: Is there something you can't write about? Something you can't say? After the election, answers changed. "How can I change the systems I am interested in changing?"

Me again: no form of writing has an economic model. To speak of any human capacity as something with an economic model is to reduce that capacity to something inhuman: a machine. This is a tendency relic of the machine age we still haven't left.

I am fasting today, and very hungry. Just saying.

Audience: we all need to be hearing each other and sharing each other. Also: we could use a Pulitzer for new media criticism.

Speaking of criticism, my thoughts about rating people. Rachel just noted it also yields gatekeeping.

One reason I don't publish poetry is that I don't welcome criticism. Not sure why. I have no problem with it toward my writing and photography.

Race has come up. It saddens me that race is such an huge and awful factor in human history and suffering. Human beings are all different from each other in countless ways. The countlessness of those ways is also what makes us human. Amidst that huge sum, race is so trivial. It's a human failing that we pull it out and make it such a giant thing. But.... there it is. And we have to deal with it.

Rachel: "I was some adjective I didn't know existed."

Lunchtime. Good side conversations. One is with Sovana Bailey McLain (@solartsnyc), whose podcast is also a radio show, State of the Arts. And she has a blog too. The station she's on is WBAI, which has gone through (says Wikipedia) turmoil and change for many decades. 

So I have an idea. It's one WBAI won't like, but it's a good one: Sell the broadcast license, keep everything else. WBAI's signal on 99.5fm is a commercial one, because it's on the commercial part of the FM band. This NY Times report says an equivalent station (WQXR when it was on 96.3fm) was worth $45 million, in 2009. I'm guessing that WBAI's licence would bring a bit less because the market isn't as strong. Simply put, radio listening is moving to new rectangles, and the competition is every other 'cast in the world. Even the "station" convention is antique. On the Net there are streams and files, stuff that's live and stuff that's not. From everywhere.

WBAI (or its parent, the Pacifica Foundation), should sell the license while the market is still there, and use the money to all kinds of next-generation radio, all kinds of new ways.  Keep calling it WBAI, but operate outside the constraints of limited signal range and FCC rules. There ya go.

Just tweeted these:

1/6 Lunch questions & observations

2/6 at The Unplugged Soul: A Conference on the #Podcast...

3/6 What are the best tools for #podcast production & consumption?

4/6 #Podcast production: Garageband? Audacity? Anything collaborative?

5/6 #Podcast consumption: iTunes, RadioPublic, Stitcher, Tunein. Which are best for controlling choices & listening offline?

6/6 Interesting how some podcasters onstage seem not to grok the need to hold the mic close, and not to pop every P.

Body language. Lots of people listening to a compelling podcast with a couple fingers over their mouths . What are they not saying?

What I just live tweeted: 

1/5 It is now clear to me how, compared to #podcasting, the conventions of radio in general, and public radio in particular, are limiting.

2/5 Radio production limits: the clock, segments, signposting. "The clock defines the work." —Jonathan Hirsch of ARRVLS.

3/5 "Need a nuanced, complex and more advanced view of what the public is (than we get from public radio)." News back, people front.

4/5 "We spend a lot of time advancing coverage, and not as much time advancing the people we cover." (Something like that.)

5/5 Ed McCabe: "I have no use for rules. They only rule out the possibility of brilliant exceptions."

I didn't connect The Kitchen Sisters to Lost & Found Sound: http://www.kitchensisters.org/stories/lost-found-sound  The obvious was not apparent to me. Great stuff.

I have dozens of reel to reel tapes, hundreds of cassette tapes, hundreds more micro cassettes, Sony MiniDiscs, videotapes in many formats, MP3s, .MOVs, Skype calls... My only request to my heirs is that they not throw any of it away, but give it to somebody who can respect and make sense of it. Much of it is far from junk.

Just posted these through pork.io on Twitter via @dsearls:

1/5 Kitchen Sisters: "The future of listening is looking." #podcasting

2/5 It took 200 hours for the Kitchen Sisters to mix War and Peace and Coffee. #podcasting

3/5 "Radio can be such a theatrical medium"—Kitchen Sisters #Podcasting

4/5 "We try to collaborate with as many people we can... Who glues your community together through food? —Kitchen Sisters

5/5 "You have to be daring, and get up close... You like your listeners close. Keep closeness in mind."—Kitchen Sisters #podcasting

Links: 

http://www.kitchensisters.org/hidden-kitchens/war-and-peace-and-coffee/

http://www.kitchensisters.org/fugitivewaves/a-secret-civil-rights-kitchen-georgia-gilmore-and-the-club-from-nowhere/

http://www.kitchensisters.org/stories/sonic-memorial-project/

https://toe.prx.org/

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=3048030

http://www.kitchensisters.org/hidden-kitchens/operation-hummus/

https://www.nytimes.com/column/the-daily

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/04/06/podcasts/the-daily/the-daily-with-trump-in-the-oval-office.html?_r=0

http://www.npr.org/podcasts/510318/up-first

https://soundcloud.com/chapo-trap-house

https://twitter.com/chapotraphouse

http://www.octalkradio.net/Pages/HistoryofPodcasting.as

https://www.google.com/search?q=doc%20searls%202004%20podcasting

Ben Walker thanks the public radio bosses for helping make podcasting by pushing out and ignoring podcasting. "There are no bad dumb radio bosses." 

@emilybell tweet: podcast genres : 1. Men going on about things. 2. Whispery crime 3.Millennials talking over each other 4. Should be 20 minutes shorter

Just posted these:

1/11 "Nothing lights a fire like a dream deferred." — Langston Hughes, sourced by the Kitchen Sisters at the Pod Conf.

2/11 Q: What will happen to #podcasting as an archival medium?

3/11 Interesting concept: popup archive. @prx is one example of a gatherer.

4/11 Nobody saying: When Earth gets blown up like Alderan, will any of the archives matter?

5/11 Big props going out to @Radiotopia.

6/11 "Its par to the journey to get a lot of "No"s. But you can #podcast for not a lot of money, and get an audience. Not true with #radio.

7/11 Thought: When they edit my life down to a one hour show—or one of any length—what will be left? And lost? Nearly all, either way.

8/11 Kitchen Sisters giving props to @RadioPublic, whose librarian curates for you.

9/11 Q about what technology might obsolesce podcasting. Good one. I don't know. Makes me want to source McLuhan & formal cause (look it up)

10/11 Kitchen Sisters: earbuds put you there. Presence is strong. (I think was the point.)

11/11 FWIW, I don't think the phone is a radio dial. None of the apps do it for me. Except maybe the @BBC iPlayer, just for the BBC.

Q: How do you see podcasting changing broadcast radio? And vice versa.

Short answer: This American Life alone has been huge. The less formal presentation. Raising the quantity of music on NPR. Has the potential to "bust the clock." NPR said they thought listeners wanted short form. Turns out not to be the case.

The first podcast summit (at least as I see it) will happen today, when two fathers of podcasting at its most original and best—Dave Winer and Chris Lydon—will co-star in the opening conversation at Conference on the Podcast at Columbia. I'll be there too. Can't wait.

In Journalism and the Braintrust, Dave unpacks what makes Chris's Open Source podcast the best in the business. And believe me: it is. Nothing else comes close.

Other links: 

- conference blog

- Benjamen Walker's Theory of Everything podcast. (He'll be talking at the conference too.)

- Podcatch.com, Dave's great way to listen to best-of podcasts as if they were radio. (At least as I see it.)

- Earliest Lydon podcasts, compiled by Dave.

It is essential to recall that Dave prototyped podcasting (which he also made possible through RSS 2.0, standardizing the way podcasts are syndicated) with Chris. The two worked together as a team when both were hanging at Harvard's Berkman Klein Center. I was a hanger-on for both, which probably also helped get me involved with the BKC in the years following.

BTW, I have a podcast too. It has to be the least frequent ever. I'll get it up and running when I figure out Audacity, or something that makes producing them easier. 

First in that queue will be a long-overdue interview with Stephen Lewis of Bubkes.org. I fucked up editing it not long after recording Steve on Skype in October 2013. I feel worse about that than anything else in my life, because I let an old friend down very hard by not finishing it. Somewhere I do have the original recordings, though. So perhaps all is not yet lost.

Some context setting here.

I'm in the front row at Data & Society (@datasociety)in New York, about to live blog Databite No. 96: Maurizio Ferraris and Martin Scherzinger on the topic Post-Truth and New Realities: Algorithms, Alternative Facts, and Digital Ethics

You can watch the whle thing here: https://twitter.com/datasociety/status/852249279196516352

Maurizio apparently doesn't tweet, but Martin does, at @ScherzingerM, and so does the moderator, Robyn Caplan @robyncaplan .

Maurizio is up first, talking deep and clever shit. Between his accent and not being able to see his slides through Martin and Robyn, it's going to be hard to keep up. But here goes...

I now have three new favorite fuzzwords: ironization, de-sublimation and de-objectivication. Somehow these lead to post-truism or Post-(s)tru(c)thrualism. then to (yes, he says this) bullshit.

On the slide now: Documentality. Object=recorded act. Inflation of documents. Used to be on paper, and now on zillions of mobile devices. 

Book: A crisis of Truth, by Richard Firth Green.

The Web is a gigantic construction of documents. It's primarily for recording, and not just a communication. Its primary action is to move to action, not to transmit.

The Web is real, not just virtual, and it's emerged, not construction.

The web is primarily mo... missed it. Mobilization, maybe.

Documediality + mediality instead of capitalism. Fact checking and reputation not part of the problem.

Documediality is still not aware of the power of the Web.

We need a practical reason for the Web.

Martin is up now. Says if you start typing "Are women," Google's autocomplete will finish with "evil." Just tried this, didn't work, but I'm bad at following commands. Or anything, which will be a problem here, because I thought, or hoped, that Martin would be less intellectual and clearer than Maurizio, but he's even more intellectual and speaks three times faster. Trying to keep up...

Something about a false dichotomy. Post-modernism, antonymic human knowledge... Michael Pence (though not the VP, but I'm not sure)... 

This is the most intellectual talk I've been to in years, and I go to a lot of intellectual talks. Working hard not to have my mental gears stripped. Failing badly.

"You demote the friction of document encounter, and elevate (something) to theory." Did I just hear "false conjuncture?"

I like "the status of irrefutable." Way too much of that, yo.

"Is (something) realia (re-alia) ...something post-truth fact?"

I want to play back this guy at 1/4 speed.

"A true fact but deeply problematic." 

"Viral formation that functions like cancer or cholera." Been writing about that myself here. More specifically, here. More recently here.

"Artifacts of false witness." Good one.

"These are indifferent to our ... " Something about social objects that behave like gravity." 

Note: we no longer have gravity on The Giant Zero. Thus spake my wife, who is smarter than me about this shit. And pretty much everything else. 

He asks a question about "socially constructed truth" that we have to deal with as if it is real.

Is there an emoji for truth? Just asking. 

"Is the real structure of society ... intentionalist?" (Did he say "intentionalist"? Hard to tell through his accent and my high-mileage ears.) "Society is not a place where people (something) each other. It's a place where people (something else) each other." I can't tell whether a word he uses is "poor" or "cruel," but it is probably neither.

"Because they decided to do this, they don't know what is happening." (He did say that. I think.)

"You can't say who invented traditional music. You can say the same for religion, politics." Yay! I understood that one!

I've lost weight, but my ass still hurts on this hard chair. That's just truth. Wanted to weigh in on that.

"So the question of financialization." Was there one?

"Grant writers are advancing the notion that this is about neurogenetic diseases... executed... Spotify is interested in beat induction technology... production this kind of platonic object... the question is how it gets financialized." Um...

"Google wants to keep culture free. But there is always a price to be paid... they are all parasites for monetization... ways in which subjectification... the old model of code... contort our bodies... some kind of panopticon ... we know we're being watched, but we behave as if we aren't."  

I'm not. I see mindfuck eyes everywhere.

The paradox for "us in the humanities" is that the Macedonian teenagers hacking the election with adtech is that they did if for money rather than politics. I think he said something like that. I know from elsewhere that it's true. Nothing post- about it.

Q&A time. 

I want to say "Can you repeat all that stuff  veeerrrryyy slllooowwwllllyyy?"

First question is about computer vs. mathmatic code. Deep somethingization of mathematical objects.... Huh?

Robyn translates to the panel: "How are we constructing truths?"

"Mathematics is technology." Something about competence without comprehension. I like that. Not sure why. Maybe because I almost understand it.

"Using symbols without a clear idea about how we're doing it."

"The realm of technology is much wider than we can imagine.... and this gives a good answer... Kant said in order to act we need a concept. Such as of a table when we look at one.

These guys come across to me like those musicians who understand and love atonal music, and can play it very very fast.

"What kind of social text is mathematics? What kind of object." Alex Galloway talks about a screen layer.

Something about a neutrality stance. "The screen layer is hierartized." (Did he say that? No idea.)

Something about "the way they cluster things." Asynchrony or hetero(something), numero(something), heteromophology... different sort from the (something) projected on the screen layer. Holy fuck. What?

"Modeling human perception... requires a different gaze into how the algorithms work." And something about being theory laden.

A good question from Cathy O'Neil, mathbabe about making all this shit simple. Please. (hell, if she doesn't get what they're saying, it can't be gotten. srsly.)

"There are different modes of selecting, heirarctizing..." Cathy ain't buying it. I don't know what's being sold.

Q: We can point to choices being made that have far-reaching effects. Another Q about capital biasing truth production, bolstered by an ad model that does construct an ecosystem where it is possible for these two sets of alternative realities to exist simultaneously. That was a good one.

A: Algorithms create regularities, but truth is not regular.

Something about the capitalism of a like in Facebook. Because the goal of a like is not money, but is to be recognized. Is that sane or insane, to be recognized? If you want to understand what is happening—this is important—(something I can't understand, but has something in it about surviving, I think).

Keep analytic layers provisionally apart before we bring them together. Keep financialization apart from the social layer and what's projected on the screen, and then how it functions as a mathematical object. The bias is transversal from something about "secrete" and "bias." I think. Sure I got some of that right and most of it wrong. But man, I'm trying. I do know it matters.

An aside: the sense I get from Data and Society is that women are in charge now. I mean, of everything. Hope so, anyway.

Q about severe limitations on people taking up code... creating classifications for algorithms. "Does that make sense?"

No.

The way Cambridge Analytica combining the combination of (something about logic, deconstructing, the OCEAN method...) The difference with political profiling is that what you need to do is not buy what they want (as with normal commercial brain-hacking), but a politician. Can be 86% accurate.

Done. Clapping now. Happy hour.



I don't just like Google Maps on my phone. I depend on it, almost utterly, for all kinds of useful travel information: what combination of busses and subways to take, where the traffic is bad and how to route around it, where the good coffee shops are in the vicinity of some appointment I just arrived at a half hour early. The list goes on, and is infinitely long.

It's nice, I guess, that Google Maps is integrated with other stuff on other devices, sort of. But boy, the labor sometimes required to make things work together can start at annoying and end up at aversive, pretty darn fast.

Take for example a few minutes ago, when I looked at Google Maps in the Chrome browser on my laptop, to see about how far away my next appointment is from where I am now, in London.

First, after finding directions, Google Maps asked me if I wanted the directions I just found sent to my phone. I said yes. Then it told me I had to open the Google app on my phone and say yes to a prompt. So I opened my Google app (which I almost never use), rather than my Google Maps app (which would seem to make sense). After a long time passed (about a minute or so), the prompt came up. After I said yes to the prompt, it took me to the front page of the app, which looks like the Google News app, but isn't. The app then gave me three pieces of Trump clickbait and an ad that said "Get the AOL app."  Meanwhile the directions on the Google Map on my laptop disappeared. I find nothing in my Google Maps app, so I have to enter the destination over again there.

So I go to the calendar on my iPhone. While the address is there, I can't copy it. If clicking on it actually worked, I know Apple would open its own Maps app, which I wish were as good as Google Maps, but still sucks (after how many years?). So I have to memorize the address, enter it in Google Maps and take it from there. Which I just did.

None of this is terrible. In fact some of it is freaking miraculous. But it's still a pain in the ass, value-co-subtract for Google and Apple, and yet another lesson in why we need integration to happen at the individual level, outside of anybody's silo.

We drove up to Boston two days ago, but we're not driving back. We're riding on a bus. That's because our car, a 2000 VW Passat wagon, developed fatal transmission problems, and had to be put down.

For some perspective, consider this: All My Rides is a blog post I put up almost ten years ago, listing all seventeen cars I had owned or driven as if I owned them. (For example, cars owned by my parents or my wife.) That list stayed good until yesterday. The Passat was the 17th. But it's not the last, because we do need #18, soon.

I'll miss that car. It was comfortable, handled perfectly, and was remarkably noise- and trouble-free for many (but not all) years. It was also ideal for hauling stuff around: far more roomy than most modern SUVs, which sacrifice cargo space for muscular-looking bodywork (and poor visibility through pinched windows and around wide roof pillars).

What's next? I don't know. I'd like another wagon, and I don't want to spend a lot of money. The Passat was only 5 years old and cost just $5k when I bought it, and I'm looking to spend in the same range again.

On Craigslist in New York, there are lots of VW (mostly Passat) and Audi wagons in the $5k and under range, some with less than 100k miles. I'm also interested in the Scion Xb, a box on wheels that I've driven a few times and like a lot. Lots of those in the same price range. None as cushy as the two German makes, but still appealing. And far less trouble-prone and expensive to repair. Advice welcome.

Yesterday at Harvard I live-tweeted 20 Questions on Shock Events with Heather Cox Richardson using Dave's new Electric Pork tool.  It was great to be able to write numbered tweets and to discover in the process how to make them coherent, I still miss live blogging, though. Among other advantages, I can go back and correct errors. 

While it's cool that tweets can be followed up on, with corrections, (as Heather did for one of my errors here), and to convey thanks (as she did here), and that Twitter does provide a place where some interesting volleys can take place, it's still one company's silo, and a very limited and limiting say to communicate and to spread the word (whatever the word may be). 

But hey, we're still getting this Internet thing off to a start. We can, and will, do better.

Today's blizzard in New York turned out to be four inches of slush. No surprise. It's almost always like that here. A big tease ("A foot to twenty inches of snow!"), then a big disappointment. 

It'll be great for skiing in New England and Upstate. Meanwhile, it sucks for sledding, just like it always does.

Bonus link: You Can't Sled on Slush.

Jeff Bezos wants to deliver shit to the moon.  Elon Musk wants his rocket to at least visit Mars. NASA has long been planning to "expand humanity's presence in the Solar System," starting with Mars.

Love the ambition. As an old science fiction freak, I salute all of them. I am convinced that the highest ambition of of our species should be to take our place in the League of Aliens. For that, these are good moves in the right direction.

But I don't think we're qualified. Not yet.

Let's look again at Blogging 1.x, which Dave (dad of 1999.io, which I'm using here) led, starting in the last millennium. I was one of Dave's earliest users, blogging at doc.weblogs.com, which is still up, thanks to Dave's durable code and the hosting largesse of Jake Savin (@jsavin).

Here is one day in the life of my blog back then, chosen at near-random: September 18, 2001. In it, as you see, I used the blog as a way to share thoughts and work on many subjects, as an accessory to my other work as a journalist.

All of us bloggers were in the midst of processing 9/11 at that time. That event happened only a week earlier and cast a prevailing angst over everything, kind of like the Trump Phenomenon does today. The whole period makes for some very interesting reading, and I encourage readers to click on various dates around then on the blog's calendar. Even though many links are rotted away, it's a good window into a time, and into the dawn of blogging's golden age, which seems to have come and gone: not away, but... somewhere. Not sure yet.

Some provisional thoughts, off the top of my head:

1) Blogging was originally something individuals did for themselves and their readers. While most of us used platforms, those were not "social," or located inside giant silos. Even after Blogger (one of those platforms) was eaten by Google, most of the blogs there (at blogspot.com) were personal. Still are.  Wordpress blogs are also still kinda the same way, but Wordpress' design encourages essays rather than shorter posts such as I had at weblogs.com. Since '07 I've been blogging mostly at doc.searls.com and projectvrm.org, both at Harvard, which uses Wordpress. 

Medium, which Dave calls the Web's Central Park (a good analogy) is a publishing more than a blogging platform. It has a nice UI, outstanding import capabilities, and is remarkably simple and easy to edit, and yields attractive results.  But it's also a silo and still a startup, with the risks that accompany both.

Twitter was called "micro-blogging" in the early days (see here), but then "tweeting" took over as the prevailing vernacular, and the Venn overlap with blogging was reduced to linking and little more. (Example: tweeting links to blog posts.) I tweet mostly via @dsearls, and mostly to share links or spread news of some kind. Fo example, last night I tweeted a link to a photo gallery of the doomed bust of Francesco Franceschi, the namesake of a steep 18-acre Santa Barbara hillside park. Francesco's bust, carved into the crest of a sandstone boulder a century ago, is imperiled by recent rain storms and dramatic erosion in many places, including the slope right under his rocky nose. The tweet alerted three local news outlets. One of them, @Edhat, picked it up. This drove about a hundred readers to my Flickr site, for what that's worth. Far as I know, it hasn't saved Francesco. 

2) We lost something big when Twitter and Facebook replaced blogging for many bloggers. The biggest loss was readership. My original blog had between 5000 and 20000 visitors per day, most of which arrived via their RSS readers. I had a very strong sense of connection with those readers, and that's gone now. My two main current blogs get reads in the dozens to hundreds per day. But then, I don't blog daily any more, because Wordpress doesn't make that easy, and I'm too busy with other stuff.

When I do post on my Wordpress blogs, I often run the same posts on Medium, where they typically get a few hundred views. Some go over a thousand, with actual reading running about half that. On Twitter I have 23,700 followers, a handful of which see any of my tweets, given the firehose-y nature of Twitter and tweeting. I can count clicks on shortlinks I've created using Bit.ly, and those run in the handful range, per tweet. Posts at https://www.facebook.com/docsearls also tend get at most a handful of likes or comments (and often none at all), even though I have more than a thousand friends there.

I posted many times per day on my old blog because it was easy and I could feel the readers there. I want to do that again here, but don't yet sense the readership or the interactivity. This is my fault, because I haven't gotten into the groove yet. Instead my groove right now is writing a book.

It's also just harder to blog when there is very little sense of connection anywhere outside of tweets and retweets, which all have the permanence of snow falling on water.

Repartee with friends and relatives is what Facebook seems best for But it doesn't go where I used to blog.

Many of the bloggers who were active in the old days are still active, but on Facebook. I also know some group conversations about Subjects That Matter happen on Facebook and Linkedin, but going to either feels to me like going to a loud hall in an old building with no food and bad art on the walls, where groups of people gather, mostly to yell toward each other over the din.

3) I think Marshall McLuhan has a lot to say about all this. His Laws of Media, for example, form a Tetrad (foursome) of Media Effects, posed as four questions:

a) What does the medium enhance?

b) What does the medium make obsolete?

c) What does the medium retrieve that had been obsolesced earlier?

d) What does the medium reverse or "flip into" when pushed to extremes?

Here's a stab at what blogging did, back in the decade:

a) It enhanced journalism.

b) It made obsolete emailing of some kinds. I used to call blogging "email that's 'cc:world'".

c) It retrieved diaries

d) It reversed or flipped back to vanity publishing

IMHO. Just saying.

Here's my whack at "social media," notably Facebook and Twitter: 

a) They enhance social connections (reconnecting people to friends and relatives, and generating much more social interaction.

b) They obsolete blogging, and possibly journalism (or at least journalism as we knew it) as well. (I think Trump knows this instinctively, and uses social media to re-characterize mainstream journalism as the “enemy” of the very social network that put him in office, and is increasingly becoming a tribe. See d below.)

c) They retrieve gossip, functioning as a worldwide backyard fence.

d) They reverse or flip us back into tribes and tribalism, isolating conversation inside echo chambers and making us blame other groups. The Wall Street Journal's Blue Feed/Red Feed shows clearly how isolated and opposed those tribes are becoming.

Since the tetrad are posed as questions, there can be many answers. I'm still a visitor to the McLuhan oeuvre, even though I've been reading a lot in it. So please don't take my answers as anything more than a way I've followed toward understanding just a bit of What's Going On. Love to hear what others think.

Meanwhile I'll try to blog more here.

Bonus fact: my body of photographic work on Flickr, in excess of 65,000 shots, gets 4,000-10,000 visits per day, and is past two million visits since I started it in 2005. My Medium post titled Dear Adobe, Please Buy Flickr is by far at the top of my readership list, with 12,800 views, 9,100 reads, a 71% read ratio and 409 recommends. Neither Adobe nor Flickr responded, so that worked out.



The best marathon reading of anything, ever, was Tolstoy's War and Peace, on WBAI in New York, in 1971. The Pacifica Radio archive describes it this way:

On December 6, 1970, more than 170 people from all walks of life came together to read from one of the great novels of all time, over the airwaves of Pacifica station WBAI 99.5 FM. Nearly five days later, the legendary actor Morris Carnovsky read the famous last words to Leo Tolstoy's War and Peace, ending what was at the time the longest continuous broadcast in radio history. One of the more ambitious radio broadcasts ever undertaken, with one of the largest casts, listeners struggled to stay awake so as not to miss a single sentence, and emptied New York bookstore shelves in pursuit of a companion novel for this historic reading.

The cast of readers included Dustin Hoffman, Ann Bancroft, Mel Brooks, Julius Lester, Abbie Hoffman, William F. Buckley, Buck Henry, and dozens of others.

It changed my life. I read and re-read War and Peace many times after that (though not in recent decades). 

Apparently the original is not available. (Does it even exist? It'd be a shame if it didn't.) But you can buy a copy of a two-hour re-visit, in two pieces, here and here.

I bring it up because I think there is no way, short of literature or poetry, that any of us can get our heads fully around the massively strange, attention-sucking, opinion-inducing all-tantrum Trump presidency.

Those inclined to wonder if Trump is actually leading us somewhere would do well to take in Tolstoy's argument in War and Peace against the Great Man Theory: one I am sure Donald Trump subscribes to. It is thanks to Tolstoy that I see Trump winning the White House as today's equivalent of Napoleon winning the Battle of Borodino, and his troops occupying Moscow as winter sets in.

Washington is Trump's Moscow. He won't "drain the swamp" from Washington any more than Napoleon drained winter from Russia. But big things are indeed afoot. There is a revolution going on, and it's a digital one. During the election, Trump took great advantage of digital technology, especially social media. Better to think of Trump, however, as a phenomenon that would never have been possible in the pre-digital world. In that sense he is less a product of himself than of his time and place: one that is very new to all of us, and we're only beginning to understand.

From David Foster Wallace's This is Water: "There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, 'Morning, boys, how's the water?' And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, 'What the hell is water?'" The water in which we now swim (right here, right now) is digital. It's not spoken word, or written by hand, or printed, or broadcast. It's something else. Trump was lucky to be lifted by its tide. 

But that doesn't mean he knows what he's doing with it. In fact, it's pretty clear that he hardly has a clue about how the office he occupies actually works, or what it was designed for.

So I don't think he'll be able to enjoy the same success in the White House as he enjoyed getting there. Because the digital world is one in which all of us can participate, and all of us have agency. That alone may prove to be more than any leader can handle, especially one with Trump's flaws.

So we'll see how it goes. If the Internet is the world's largest clue exchange (and it is, among a zillion other things, most TBD), maybe something like democracy will come out the other side. Or maybe some kind of massive self-mutating crazyocracy where everything will be way more fubar than it already is. Time and space will tell.

Mother Jones used to have a great slogan: “You trust your mother, but you cut the cards.”

One mother I trust is Cory Doctorow, who posted The White House closed its public comment lines, so activists launched a tool to call Trump properties instead yesterday in BoingBoing. Pull quote: "The White House closed its public comments line has been closed for four days now; Trump says that people who want to leave a comment for the President can write a Facebook message instead.”

Nowhere in the comments is there any disagreement with that. But I cut the cards anyway, and called the White House at 202-456-1111. Then I recorded what the greeting there said. Here are the opening lines

"Thank you for calling the White House comment line. The comment line is currently closed, but your comment is important to the President, and we urge you to send us a comment online at www.whitehouse.gov/contact, or send us a message through Facebook Messenger. For government information by topic…”

The full URL is this: https://www.whitehouse.gov/contact. There is a form to fill out there, and a place to enter one’s comment. The same page can also be reached by going to https://www.whitehouse.gov/ and clicking on the “Participate” heading, which brings down a menu with “Contact the White House” on it, which goes to the page above.

I'm guessing that Facebook Messenger yesterday (when the BoingBoing piece went up) was the only way one could send a comment to the White House then. And it could be that President Trump told people to use Facebook Messenger. (I looked and can’t find evidence of that, but maybe he did.)

My point with this: in Our Time of Constant Outrage, we need to check all the facts we can, which change over time. In other words, cut the cards. 

I also think we need to budget our outrage and be as strategic as possible in dealing with the real damage Trump's wrecking crew is doing, on a pretty much constant basis. Especially since, as Glenn Reynolds says here, he's playing us. (The word for how is gaslighting. Another word: trolling.)

Cory's piece shares one tactic: "Revolution Messaging's White House Inc is a tool that connects your phone to the main switchboard of a random Trump property somewhere in the world, because 'Until Trump steps away from his businesses for real, their property is no different from the Oval Office.'"  The BBC relays the same advice

Yet I sense that doing the usual lefty things will mostly play into Trump’s short-fingered hands. We need to budget our outrage and come at the problems he causes from angles that enlarge our constituency. Meaning we need people who voted for Trump to fight him too. They have plenty of reason already.

So, toward that goal, here’s one possibility, which I offer without comment:

https://www.caracaschronicles.com/2017/01/20/culturejam/

From The End of Cloud Computing, by @peter_levine, @a16z:

"We are returning to an edge-intelligence distributed computing model that's absolutely thematic with the trends in computing moving from centralized out to distributed."

“We are absolutely going to return to a peer-to-peer computing model where the edge devices connect together creating a network of end point devices not unlike what we sort of saw in the original distributed computing model.”

Good stuff. I'd add that we also need maximized individual agency at those distributed "end points," which should really be "start points."

[A newer version of this post is in Medium at http://bit.ly/trvtsg.]

 In The New York TimesIn New Jersey, Only a Few Media Watchdogs Are LeftDavid Chen writes, "The Star-Ledger, which almost halved its newsroom eight years ago, has mutated into a digital media company requiring most reporters to reach an ever-increasing quota of page views as part of their compensation."

That quota is to attract adtech placements.

Adtech is called advertising and looks like advertising, but it's a different breed. That breed is direct marketing, a cousin of spam descended from what we still call junk mail.

Like junk mail, adtech is driven by data, intrusively personal, looking for success in tiny-percentage responses, and oblivious to massive negative externalities, such as wanton and unwelcome surveillance and filling the world with crap.

Here's one way to tell the difference between real advertising and adtech:

  • Real advertising wants to be in a publication because it values that publication's journalism and readership, and enjoys sponsoring the publication.
  • Adtech wants to push ads at readers anywhere it can find them.

Here's another difference: 

  • The world of journalism supported by advertising has a finite size, because there is a limit to the supply of journalism. 
  • The world of content supported by adtech has no size limits, because there is no limit to the supply of content. Worse, adtech incentivized maximizing content production, so there are more places ads can run.

Journalism is also limited to some degree by its ethics and the cost of producing ethical products.

Content generation has no ethics, and the cost of producing it is very low. Without the ethical limits of journalism, content production is free to create any kind of content that attracts eyeballs and clicks. Hence fake news.

Standing up a fake news site is dead simple, as The New York Times just reported. So is making money at it, as Buzzfeed reported, days before last year's Presidential election day in the U.S., in How Teens In The Balkans Are Duping Trump Supporters With Fake News.

Simply put, fake news has a business model, and that model is adtech. 

In the old advertising-supported publishing world, journalism was what mattered most. In the new adtech-supported publishing world, content is what matters most.

The Faustian bargain ad-supported journals made was in trading journalism for content production, and trading read advertising for adtech.

As I wrote in Separating Advertising's Wheat and Chaff, what happened in the process of that bargain was that "Madison Avenue fell asleep, direct response marketing ate its brain, and it woke up as an alien replica of itself."

It is to satisfy that alien replica that the Star Ledger now wants an "ever-increasing quota of page views" more than the journalism that was once its stock in trade. And why the paper is now itself something of an alien replica.

That alien replica also doesn't care that it is driving people into mutually hostile echo chambers, as The Wall Street Journal's Blue Feed / Red Feed demonstrates.

Want to save journalism and the democracies that depend on it? Re-brain Madison Avenue and the CMOs that are still drunk on digital. Bring back real advertising.

To help with that, go back and read Don Marti's Targeting failure: legit sites lose, intermediaries win.

Yesterday, while I was hanging out in line with a friend and other freezing passengers about to board a Megabus from New York to Boston, people passed the time sharing stories of many intercity bus transport failures. Examples:

— Tires blown. One bus kept going until passengers in mutiny got the driver to stop.

— A bus with a blown tire that still had enough other tires to finish carrying it the last mile to its destination, but instead had to sit while a car with a mechanic dispatched from headquarters came out, an hour later, to inspect the bus and say it was okay to proceed.

— A bus that jammed under a railroad trestle while the driver was lecturing a trainee on best practices. (One of my stories.)

— A bus that caught fire.

— A bus driver who had no navigation instrument to help when a traffic jam forced the bus onto surface streets, so a passenger with a phone and a map app (my wife in this case) stepped up to co-pilot the bus, getting cheers from the rest of the passengers when the bus finally arrived.

Now our son is in a failed bus from Ohio to New York, waiting for a replacement to arrive at a rest stop.

Bonus link.

In Pew's Americans Name the 10 Most Significant Historic Events of Their Lifetimes, my generation unsurprisingly puts the Vietnam War at #1. 

So I thought I'd list the ten most consequential events in my lifetime, at least according to me. YMMV. Here goes:

1. Climate change. Nothing out-matters it, for every species and the planet itself. That the topic hardly matters to the species contributing more than any other to climate change does not suggest good outcomes, unless you're rooting for an end to everyone and everything. (Which, in the long run, is a winning bet.)

3. The Vietnam War. Ended the U.S.'s role as a postwar peacemaker and nation re-builder. Started the U.S. on the path of interventionism from which it has too rarely veered since then. Also caused the Sixties, the Generation Gap, Nixon 2.0 and other distractions.

3. Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy assassinations.  Set civil rights back perhaps a century or more. We're still suffering from it. I cannot convey how dispiriting the loss of those leaders was for anybody who worked to escape the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in the U.S. Both assassinations also took nonviolence off the table as both a virtue and a strategy. No person or movement of much consequence has picked it up since. And hey, maybe Robinson Jeffers was right in The Bloody Sirestark violence is still sire to all the world's values. (Interesting data.)

4. The 9/11 attacks. A sucker-punch against the U.S. that worked exactly as its masterminds intended, provoking the U.S. into one war after anotehr. I can't begin to describe all the awful ways this has worked out so far.

5. The personal computer. The first proof that a technology formerly plied only by large organizations in central ways would prove far more useful and beneficial for all when distributed out into the hands of individuals.

6. The Internet. Reduced to zero the functional distance between everybody and everything connected through it, and at costs that round to zero as well. If personal computing was the first shoe to drop, this was the second, because it also proved that a technology once belonging only to central powers was far more useful and beneficial in the hands of everyone.

7. Rock and Roll.  A bastard child of rhythm & blues and country & western, it remains the classical music of our time, to be played for centuries hence.

8. Personal data. Of full value only when today's broken B2B market for personal data is replaced by a C2B one, run by customers for their own benefit first and for the benefit of business second. When that happens, the Attention Economy will collapse and The Intention Economy will emerge.

9. 11/9: The Trump election of 2016. Not the man but why. In War and Peace, Tolstly said that history caused Napoleon, rather than vice versa. So perhaps history called forth Trump. As with Napoleon, the consequences will be large and enduring.

10. Watergate. It changed politics and journalism, to name just two institutions, for decades to come, if not forever.

Bummed to hear that Jim Lowe died. Still, he had a good long life.

Jim was one of the greatest disc jockeys of all time. Nobody knew more about the American Songbook, or did a better interview with the greats.

He was also a good performer. His song "Green Door" was a Number One hit, back in the Fifties.

I just got an email from Demand Progress that begins this way:

Friend, It’s unbelievable.
Journalists reached out to nine major tech companies asking if they would help the Trump administration build a national Muslim registry, and only Twitter said no!

Text in a box with a Sign This Petition button says, "UNBELIEVABLE: 8 out of 9 tech companies won’t rule out helping Trump build a national Muslim registry."

The footnote at the end of the passage leads to Of Nine Tech Companies, Only Twitter Says It Would Refuse to Help Build Muslim Registry for Trump, by Sam Biddle, in The Intercept.

In the body of that piece it says seven of the other eight companies either "declined to comment" or had "no answer." Not that they "refused" to do anything. The eighth, Microsoft, said “We’re not going to talk about hypotheticals at this point,” and pointed to company PR boilerplate. That's also not quite "refusing."

So let's be clear. Not answering one journal's question is not the same as "won't rule out helping Trump..."

While it's good for Demand Progress (and the rest of us) to demand that other companies match Twitter's position, it's not good to twist a story like this one into saying what it doesn't. Especially at a time when journalism itself is becoming more and more lost and discredited. 

Here is my answer to the question Why do so many liberals still seem to think Obamacare is a success? on Quora:

All the well-voted answers are good ones.

I’ll just add a bit more for the purpose of clarity and perspective.

Health care in the U.S. is an insurance business. That means it is mostly B2B (business to business), not B2C (business to consumer). As individuals and families, we may tend on the whole to pay a portion of our largest medical expenses (doctors, hospitals, clinics, drugs), but most health care costs are paid by employers. And they are paid to insurance companies. While we should be stakeholders in this discussion, we are not.

There are only two paths around the current system, neither of which the U.S. has been willing to take.

One starts with the assumption that health care is a right and not a privilege, and to have the government manage the whole thing, to control costs, harmonize technologies and maximize accountability to the individuals who receive care. This includes “single payer,” and is what most developed countries do.

The other starts with the assumption that health care is not a right, and to make the system, as far as possible, into a B2C one, in which everybody is on their own and insurance is available to individuals in large risk pools of their own making, rather than being tied to employers. This is more consistent with the direction the world is going, with more people both independent and self-employed.

The elephant in both rooms is risk calculations based on big data about every individual. When risk data (including DNA) about individuals can be fully (or sufficiently) known by insurance companies and health care providers, it will be possible for both to guess rather well what the forward costs of care for those individuals will be. There are no easy answers to what comes next, who should be responsible for what, or what the institutional frameworks should be. The one clear thing is that none of the existing or current imagined systems can fully deal with it. And that all political positions, especially those sustained by habit, loyalty and emotion, will mislead discussions.