De omnibus dubitandum
12 Mar 2009
Sorry for the late heads-up, but I only just heard about it. Apparently this week is Read an Ebook Week – March 8 to 14.
“Read an E-Book Week is a not-for-profit week set aside to inform the public about the pleasures and advantages of reading electronically. Authors, publishers, vendors, the media and readers world-wide are welcome to join in the effort. We encourage you to promote electronic reading with any event.”
As part of this ebook promotion week you can download free and discounted ebooks. Be quick though, only a few more days left in this Ebook Week.
3 Dec 2008
Cory Doctorow and Ben Rosenbaum have co-written a novella for inclusion in the Fast Forward 2 SF anthology. This novella, called True Names, has now been released independently as a freely downloadable Creative Commons licensed work.
It’s a fantastic piece of speculative fiction, revolving around the struggles of sentient programs running on galaxy-devouring self-replicating nanomachine-computronium. It contains Matrix-esque mindbends of simulations-within-simulations and ends with a mightily satisfying twist.
If you’re at all into post-Singularity sci-fi, this story is highly recommended. The PDF of this awesome novella can be downloaded here.
(Via Boing Boing)
17 Oct 2008
Seth Godin’s new book Tribes is just out.
I wrote a case study that got included in the casebook (page 124 – “David and I”) and I’m excited to see it in there. I was skeptical at first about this triiibes.com experiment, but I’ve come to see the value of it. There are a lot of intelligent, inspiring people in there who freely share their tips and ideas.
I hope that this tribe will continue to exist for a long time to come, as it’s become a valuable part of my online social groups.
16 Aug 2008
I recently finished reading a book that has changed my life. Not in a evidently significant way, as I’m not the kind of guy that believes in radical changes. Well, sometimes I do, but generally I’m more in favor of subtle tweaks and improvements.
This book has inspired such a subtle tweak, but one that has, befittingly below the surface, made a huge impact on how I approach things.
The book in question is Het Slimme Onderbewuste (the smart subconsciousness) by Ap Dijksterhuis. So far it’s only available in Dutch, which I consider to be a huge disappointment. A book of such profound insight and significance should be available for all the world to read.
The core message of the book is that the subconscious mind, all those mental processes that we are unaware of but that do occur, are actually vastly more powerful, influential and significant than we believe. The conscious mind gets all the credit for our intelligence, our decision-making capabilities, and our creativity, while actually the subconscious mind is responsible for most of those things.
Naturally, due to the nature of the conscious and subconscious parts of our mind, we are unaware of the power of our subconsciousness. That is precisely why we so stubbornly believe our consciousness to be the seat of our mental abilities.
The author demonstrates, through countless outcomes of experiments he and others in his field have performed over the past several decades, exactly why the subconscious mind is so much more powerful and important in our daily lives than our conscious mind. Anecdotes from great thinkers like Newton and Einstein tell us that their greatest ideas came not from deep conscious contemplation but from the efforts of their subconscious minds.
What the book taught me is that we can safely rely on what we often call ‘instinctual’ decision making. It’s not instinct but actually our subconscious mind telling us what to do. Most often this turns out to be the right decision and runs counter to what our conscious train of thought would have led us to decide.
We cannot always rely so blindly on our subconscious mind, and Ap Dijksterhuis tells us this as well. Sometimes the conscious mind rightfully deserves to be in the driver’s seat. But most of the time it doesn’t, and isn’t, but still claims it is.
I don’t think I need to elaborate here on the power of subliminal messages that are ignored by the limited bandwidth of the conscious mind but which the subconscious mind, so vastly more capable, picks up effortlessly. The book spends a great deal of time on priming and subliminal influences, and this is must-read material for all marketers.
I can only hope that this eye-opening work will receive a proper English translation soon.
19 Jun 2008
4. The Kindle does a fine job of being a book reader, and a horrible job of actually improving the act of reading a book. This is a surprising design choice, I think, and a mistake. Here are three simple examples of how non-fiction books on the Kindle could be better, not just cheaper and thinner:
- Let me see the best parts of the book as highlighted by thousands of other readers.
- Let me see notes in the margin as voted up, Digg-style, by thousands of other readers.
- Let me interact with hyperlinks and smart connections not just within the book but across books
I can think of ten others, and so can you. Instead of making this a dead end (like a book) they could have made it a connector (like the web).
If the next-gen Kindle could do that, and gets rid of its ridiculous DRM, I’d seriously consider getting one.
22 May 2008
PZ Myers talks about two book lists that feature books that ‘screwed up the world’. Like PZ, I can’t help but disagree with more than half of those two listings. Glaring omissions aside, how can you condemn The Prince? It’s a fantastic piece of work, exposing the ruthlessness and brutality of politics and war.
In any case it inspired me to make my own list of Books That Screwed Up The World. If you know me, this won’t contain many surprises:
I could go on but I’ll spare you my bleeding-heart socialist atheist ramblings. Additional suggestions for this list are welcome in the comments.
18 Apr 2008
New book on my wishlist: Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering.
Many countries around the world block or filter Internet content, denying access to information–often about politics, but also relating to sexuality, culture, or religion–that they deem too sensitive for ordinary citizens. Access Denied documents and analyzes Internet filtering practices in over three dozen countries, offering the first rigorously conducted study of this accelerating trend.
The Internet is not as free and open as we’d like to believe. Totalitarian regimes are not alone in censoring online content, the west does it as well. And more and more it’s becoming acceptable.
With much of the traditional media already bowing to political and corporate interests, is the Internet the next channel to fall under the spell?