Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page
I wandered lonely as a Cloud by Wm. Wordsworth
In reverse chronological order, and I should start, and finish by declaring that Blake’s London is probably the greatest poem written in English, an astonishing performance of economy and simplicity, of situation and relentless affect. There is no loss of immediacy; the opposite: things are too immediate. Wandering, picked up by Wordsworth less than 10 years later, is forcibly cheerful but at what cost!: people. In Blake, the sounds the calls the sensual all of his persona ties always to people, and without metaphor or translational escape. Baudelaire, nods to Blake, refutes Wordsworth, and all the poetic license of self indulgence, to imagine that in the sight and sound of isolated memory there were not always people.
Worth reading, along with Yanis Varoufakis‘ works & blog on the Greek situation–which is implicitly a critique of the European project.
I confess that I’m becoming a Felix S. junkie. He’s right about Apple and his critique of the clueless in their approach to Apple as a mere computer company competing with others is right on:
But if you look at what actual consumers are asking, it turns out that only an ultra-geeky minority is out there weighing up the relative merits of the iPad mini and the Galaxy Note. Note Nick Bilton, today:
Now that the Apple iPad Mini is here, I’m fielding one particular question from friends, family and readers: Which model should I buy?
The point here is that Apple has already done the work of persuading people to buy the iPad mini — it’s done it through many years of creating products which are a pleasure to use.
Which is why the bellyaching about the iPad mini’s pricing is very weird to me. Apple’s job, when it developed this device, was not to create something to compete with the Nook HD+. Rather, it was to build something which fit easily into the existing lineup, right between the iPod Touch and the iPad, and which would delight its customers as much as those two products do. The iPod Touch starts at $300; the iPad starts at $400. And the iPad mini, at $330, is right in between, where it belongs.
He argues a not unrelated point about Chipotle (CMG), where fool analysts (in particular, D. Einhorn) compare it to Taco Bell, in particular its higher-end Cantina. Einhorn is wrong to short CMG and even to imagine that consumers would consider as a choice Chipotle or Taco Bell, however fancier it pretends to get. The distinctions are categorical, and just because both are, to US consumers, “Mexican” “fast food” does not make them at all equivalent.
The issue is an evolution of what counts nowadays for many as a kind of class identifier. It’s not a simplistic one, but one whose thread is not easily broken and which weaves its adherents into a fabric of likes: a community of resilient consumers who rather than acting “rationally” (as Einhorn imagines it), act analytically, and seek to distinguish themselves, to prove their identity, not lose it.
The headline is seemingly accurate, and Salmon’s argument toward the end of the article about the consequences of the ruling (and process) to sovereign states merits attention. But those of us following the seemingly relentless path of the many (and often darklight) trade treaties that essentially favour not just industries but particular businesses….
As with so much produced by the P2P Foundation, or promoted by them, this new book sounds very interesting indeed.
And I am struck again by how much terrific work is being done in this area, which is as much about establishing level playing fields and markets as it is about enabling local and regional communities so that they can manage themselves–and thus become, in the end, better producers as well as consumers.
Keith Hampton’s work is quite interesting. His new paper, How new media affords network diversity: Direct and mediated access to social capital through participation in local social settings, in print in New Media & Society. Co-authored with my former students Chul-joo Lee (The Ohio State) and Eun Ja Her, addresses, as he puts it, “two important questions:
- Are people’s social networks (the real stuff, not just Facebook) less diverse as a result of their participation in mediated activities? In other words, does the Internet create silos?
- If ICTs are are associated with higher levels of diversity, how does the diversity associated with online engagement compare to the diversity associated with offline engagement (in public spaces, voluntary groups, church, cafes, neighborhoods, etc)?”
I leave it to the reader to investigate his argument, but his conclusion surely resonates with those engaged in online community development and management:
The pervasive awareness afforded by many new technologies has more in common with a traditional village-like community than it does with individualized person-to-person contact. Pervasive awareness provides a shared history, familiarity of daily labor, shared context, density, and public life that is reminiscent of traditional village life. The fundamental difference between a village-like community and the person-to-network structure that characterizes contemporary networks is the possibility for personal networks that are larger and more diverse than at any time in human history. I go on to explore how newer technologies, such as “social search,” in which the use of the internet to search for information privileges or limit exposure to information
collected or accredited by members of a person’s social circle, may promote prevailing ideology and information while omitting important bridges, divergent views, and unique resources that exist between networks – possibly reversing the trend found in this paper and the advantages of network diversity.
What this means is of course… well, it won’t really alter how I others conduct our business. But what it does do is, for me, emphasize the nature of our commons-based community projects and, arguably, the expectations attached to them by our sponsors, say. I suppose that one way of thinking of it–at least the way I’ve long advocated–is that open source communities are not circles of friends but of colleagues and collaborators; and that though trust is the currency of any community, here it is stamped by the credit earned through accountable work and good-faith effort. Perhaps this is not too different from the kind of manners one would find structuring a Rousseau-vian social contract, where the public expectation speaks nothing to the inner man but everything to the obligation to live up to one’s dynamic in the world.
I’m reading this now…. and the point that’s really interesting, is that it’s been issued by the research division (working papers series) of the US St. Louis Federal Reserve Bank.
H-Net Reviews: Lisa Yun. The Coolie Speaks: Chinese Indentured Laborers and African Slaves in Cuba. I have not read the book yet–no time–but it strikes me as being really interesting. Henry Louis Gates recently completed a tour and examination of African slaves in Latin America, and it bears looking at, for in Mexico, at least, the African presence and interweave within the social braid is obligatorily forgotten, or rather, suppressed as historical and social fact.
Another text that discovered facets of Caribbean history I’d not really attended to had to do with the role the mosquito played in the region: JR McNeil’s Mosquito Empires. As most know, there was no malaria nor yellow fever nor their vector mosquitos prior to European slavetraders. Their advent laid waste to the native population–and it also decimated the Europeans, who took European wars of property and propriety to the region. As the reviewer, Jefferson Dillman, of UTexas writes:
It is astounding to consider that one of the largest factors in shaping the early modern Caribbean geopolitical environment was one of its smallest denizens. Yet that is exactly what J. R. McNeill argues in Mosquito Empires. In this learned and wide-ranging work, McNeill explores the role of the mosquito as a disease vector and its subsequent effect on how empires were gained, maintained, and lost in an era before the development of effective tropical medicine. From the decimation of malaria- and yellow fever-resistant native populations, the importation of African diseases and vectors, and the creation of mosquito-friendly landscapes to the role of disease in both protecting Spanish possessions in the Caribbean and in supporting revolutions against established powers, McNeill’s arguments are well crafted, thought provoking, and often ingenious.
The work of history and cultural critique has never been more interesting. The fields have abandoned the preciousness and theory choke of the post 1968 moment and refined itself to careful historical tracing and ruthless examination of its project *as* history, so it is not fleshed genealogy or fictionalized but uncontextualized fact.
This is an important evolution, for it’s not about the past, it’s always about the narrative–the constituting story of our present–that shapes our world and how we consider our role in shaping it. So if I have a notion that there was no meaningful role played by the mosquito in Caribbean history, then the way I approach certain things, like disease control, will differ. Sure, it’s a version of, “those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it,” but it’s one thing to tout an aphorism without meaning and it’s quite another to act knowing (more or less) what one is doing and why: with a fairly good understanding of the logical outcome.
“I apologize to Mr. Dotcom,” Prime Minister John Key said on Thursday, according to TVNZ. “I apologize to New Zealanders because every New Zealander that sits within the category of having permanent residency or is a New Zealand citizen is entitled to be protected from the law when it comes to the G.C.S.B., and we failed to provide that appropriate protection for him.”