Category Archives: Web

Shock Doctrine

A well done piece of propaganda is Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine, available on MySpace TV. It’s another attempt to get everyone riled up about income disparity, which no one seems to mind. Unmentioned is the fact that it is an indie film, being released on a social networking site, and being given away. Hardly something that would happen in a poor society.

A minor internet miracle

Yesterday I was searching for a domain name for a friend of mine, and found exactly what we wanted, in the .com! That hasn’t happened in years, it’s a name you think would be taken as too.

Everyone watching everything

Bruce Schneier has a very interesting post about the current state of internet monitoring, which would seem to be pretty total. He links to a Daily Kos piece, which states

Specifically, this equipment was the Narus ST-6400, a machine that was capable of monitoring over 622 Mbits/second in real time in May, 2000, and capturing anything that hits its’ semantic (i.e. the meaning of the content) triggers. The latest generation is called NarusInsight, capable of monitoring 10 billion bits of data per second.

I recommend reading the whole thing. It seems to have no direct purpose, it doesn’t break a single code, and it does absolutely nothing to discover anything about the use of steganography (messages in plain site). However it does seem like it would be useful to discover the terrorist (or whatever) networks (probably with a lot of false positives).

In any case, I think it’s safe to say we have no digital privacy anymore.

It’s as if the internet is all about Nick

I cruise on over to Marginal Revolution, and I see Why people don’t like Wikipedia (and blogs) which references The Probabalistic Age over on The Long Tail

When professionals–editors, academics, journalists–are running the show, we at least know that it’s someone’s job to look out for such things as accuracy. But now we’re depending more and more on systems where nobody’s in charge; the intelligence is simply emergent. These probabilistic systems aren’t perfect, but they are statistically optimized to excel over time and large numbers. They’re designed to scale, and to improve with size. And a little slop at the microscale is the price of such efficiency at the macroscale.

But how can that be right when it feels so wrong?

There’s the rub. This tradeoff is just hard for people to wrap their heads around. There’s a reason why we’re still debating Darwin. And why Jim Suroweicki’s book on Adam Smith’s invisible hand is still surprising (and still needed to be written) more than 200 years after the great Scotsman’s death. Both market economics and evolution are probabilistic systems, which are simply counterintuitive to our mammalian brains. The fact that a few smart humans figured this out and used that insight to build the foundations of our modern economy, from the stock market to Google, is just evidence that our mental software has evolved faster than our hardware.