Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page

The Economics of Blogging and The Huffington Post – NYTimes.com

The Economics of Blogging and The Huffington Post – NYTimes.com.

 

The Carr-Benkler wager relates to the economic significance and sustainability of “free” or volunteer content contribution, with Benkler arguing on behalf of volunteer peer production, a k a, “free” content contribution, vs professional (and implicitly for fee) work.

2011 was supposed to be the year when the wager is to be called….

 

 

I.B.M.’s Watson – Computers Close In on the ‘Paris Hilton’ Problem – NYTimes.com

I.B.M.’s Watson – Computers Close In on the ‘Paris Hilton’ Problem – NYTimes.com.

It’s an interesting point, and IBM has earned the feather in its cap. But it’s really silly to think that the contest means anything beyond the immediacy of the sophistication of the hardware demonstrated.

And if there is anything to take from this it’s probably simply that our present education system is lousy, or that factoids do not make the human, or that the biggest dirty secret about what makes humans human is that they are cheap. Historically, humans have been by and large cheaper than beasts of burden (when those were available) and beasts of war. Humans can mostly follow instructions better than, say, a cat, but probably not as well as a smart border collie (and they are all smart). Ask a shepherd which he’d rather have: a stupid human or smart dog.

What has made humans distinct is the effort put into that question by religious organisations that have sought to distinguish humans from everything else; and not all religions, of course, have done this. Indeed, numerically speaking, most have not. So we can look instead to the very simplest fact of human distinction, and it’s simply the conscious boasting of it (“I am, I think, I am, I think!”), coupled with humans’ amazing ability to hang around, decade after decade, while even the smartest dog will never see its third decade.

I.B.M.’s Watson – Computers Close In on the ‘Paris Hilton’ Problem – NYTimes.com

I.B.M.’s Watson – Computers Close In on the ‘Paris Hilton’ Problem – NYTimes.com.

It’s an interesting point, and IBM has earned the feather in its cap. But it’s really silly to think that the contest means anything beyond the immediacy of the sophistication of the hardware demonstrated.

And if there is anything to take from this it’s probably simply that our present education system is lousy, or that factoids do not make the human, or that the biggest dirty secret about what makes humans human is that they are cheap. Historically, humans have been by and large cheaper than beasts of burden (when those were available) and beasts of war. Humans can mostly follow instructions better than, say, a cat, but probably not as well as a smart border collie (and they are all smart). Ask a shepherd which he’d rather have: a stupid human or smart dog.

What has made humans distinct is the effort put into that question by religious organisations that have sought to distinguish humans from everything else; and not all religions, of course, have done this. Indeed, numerically speaking, most have not. So we can look instead to the very simplest fact of human distinction, and it’s simply the conscious boasting of it (“I am, I think, I am, I think!”), coupled with humans’ amazing ability to hang around, decade after decade, while even the smartest dog will never see its third decade.

The Civil War – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com

The Civil War – Interactive Feature – NYTimes.com.

 

The NY Times’ timeline is really very useful; and important in this year.

 

Satellite image shows U.S. blanketed by winter storms – Yahoo! News

Satellite image shows U.S. blanketed by winter storms – Yahoo! News.

Toronto is somewhere under that.

 

 

Al Jazeera English: Live Stream – Watch Now – Al Jazeera English

Al Jazeera English: Live Stream – Watch Now – Al Jazeera English.

 

The reportage is brilliant, the massive actions confirming my profound optimism in the people’s finally shrugging off the mantle of the 20th century, but in watching this real act of democracy–people’s will manifested politically, albeit with a simple demand lacking in a coherent (so we are told) aftermath (what comes next? that seems to be motivating state & military politics now)–I am reminded of the similar but very tragic Burmese uprising of a couple of years ago. You know: the one that focused, was personified by the shooting death of the Japanese news photographer, Kenji Nagai, in September 2007. The junta ruling Burma is still in power and although there has been some positive movement, it’s not been nearly enough and the status quo pretty much obtains.