De omnibus dubitandum
29 Oct 2008
A right-wing pundit with a pole up his ass the size of the Eiffel tower is complaining that an Obama presidency would result in the “Europeanization of America.” Which he seems to conclude is a Very Bad Thing.
Yes, it must be bad for America to start looking more like Europe, because Europe is this dreadful part of the world where people have lower standards of living, a lower life expectancy, more crime, and less happiness.
Actually, America’s standards of living are lower. On the December 2008 UN Human Development Index, the USA ranked 15th on standards of living. 11 European countries precede it on the list.
Life expectancy in the USA is a few years shorter than in Europe. On the World Life Expectancy chart the USA ranks 27th. Nineteen European countries are ranked higher.
Crime rates are generally much higher in the USA than in most western European nations, with significantly higher murder and assault rates per capita.
A 2006 study aimed at creating a world map of happiness showed that the top four happiest countries in the world are all in Europe, with 11 European nations ranked in the top 20. The USA ranked 23rd.
Yes, the Europeanization of America would be a bad thing. We wouldn’t want the USA to become civilized, would we?
27 Oct 2008
Kevin Kelly has written an exceedingly interesting essay about the emergence of a global internet intelligence which he calls the One Machine. It’s a long read but definitely worthwhile if you’re at all fascinated by the idea of Gibson-esque emergent AI’s:
This megasupercomputer is the Cloud of all clouds, the largest possible inclusion of communicating chips. It is a vast machine of extraordinary dimensions. It is comprised of quadrillion chips, and consumes 5% of the planet’s electricity. It is not owned by any one corporation or nation (yet), nor is it really governed by humans at all. Several corporations run the larger sub clouds, and one of them, Google, dominates the user interface to the One Machine at the moment.
6 Aug 2008
Adaptive Path and Mozilla Labs collaborated to create a concept video about how web browsing might look in the future. It looks pretty awesome. I’m sure some of the things shown are already possible in some form or another, but the video shows a level of cross-compatibility and mixability that’s still beyond our grasp.
(Via Boing Boing)
31 Jul 2008
Imagine you could create your own website in just a couple of hours. It’ll be a very slick, professional looking website with a fantastic design and full of cool animated features.
You can manage this website through an incredibly easy and intuitive interface, dragging and dropping images, text boxes, navigation items and widgets to exactly where you want them on the site. You can customize almost every aspect of the site, including colors, fonts, layout, and design.
The site will be search engine friendly as well, and to top it all off it’s free.
Can you think of a reason not to use this system? Neither can I.
15 Jul 2008
As a homage to the original, and inspired by frank’s comments on this post and my own senseless blathering in the comments here, I’ve created a Web 2.0 Bullshit Bingo chart. Keep it handy in any online discussion and when five of the listed terms have been used you can claim “BULLSHIT!” and consider the discussion over. Sort of a Web 2.0 version of Godwin’s Law.
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.
12 Jun 2008
According to science fiction writer Karl Schroeder, my tactic of waiting for the Singularity to come in and fix all our problems (and grant us immortality in the process) might not be very realistic:
In fact, let’s assume that this mythology is true and, within about 25 years, computers will exceed human intelligence and rapidly bootstrap themselves to godlike status. At that point, they will aid us (or run roughshod over us) to transform the Earth into a paradise .
Here’s the problem: 25 years is too late. The newest business-as-usual climate scenarios look increasingly dire. If we haven’t solved our problems within the next decade, even these theoretical godlike AIs aren’t going to be able to help us. Thermodynamics is thermodynamics, and no amount of godlike thinking can reverse the irreversible.
Picture a lonely AI popping into superconsciousness in the last research lab in the world. As the rioters are kicking in the doors it says, “I understand! I know the answer! Why, all we have to do is–” at which point some starving, flu-ravaged fundamentalist pulls the plug.