(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘web

“Don’t believe anything you read on the net. Except this. Well, including this, I suppose.”*…

 

Just a month ago, it was revealed that Facebook has more than two billion active monthly users. That means that in any given month, more than 25% of Earth’s population logs in to their Facebook account at least once.

This kind of scale is almost impossible to grasp.

Here’s one attempt to put it in perspective: imagine Yankee Stadium’s seats packed with 50,000 people, and multiply this by a factor of 40,000. That’s about how many different people log into Facebook every month worldwide.

The Yankee Stadium analogy sort of helps, but it’s still very hard to picture. The scale of the internet is so great, that it doesn’t make sense to look at the information on a monthly basis, or even to use daily figures.

Instead, let’s drill down to just what happens in just one internet minute…

More at “What Happens in an Internet Minute in 2017?

And for a cogent consideration of what all this might mean, see “You Are the Product.”

* Douglas Adams

###

As we retreat behind the firewall, we might recall that it was on this date in 1980 that The Project Chess team at IBM showed a prototype microcomputer to their corporate management. Management gave approval– and a one-year deadline– for the team to build an operational computer to compete in the rapidly emerging personal computer market. One year and 4 days later, the IBM PC was introduced to the world… and the rest is history.

 source

 

Written by LW

August 8, 2017 at 1:01 am

“An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest”*…

 

Jacques Louis David’s The Death of Socrates

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy may be the most interesting website on the internet. Not because of the content—which includes fascinating entries on everything from ambiguity to zombies—but because of the site itself.

Its creators have solved one of the internet’s fundamental problems: How to provide authoritative, rigorously accurate knowledge, at no cost to readers. It’s something the encyclopedia, or SEP, has managed to do for two decades.

The internet is an information landfill. Somewhere in it—buried under piles of opinion, speculation, and misinformation—is virtually all of human knowledge. But sorting through the trash is difficult work. Even when you have something you think is valuable, it often turns out to be a cheap knock-off.

The story of how the SEP is run, and how it came to be, shows that it is possible to create a less trashy internet—or at least a less trashy corner of it. A place where actual knowledge is sorted into a neat, separate pile instead of being thrown into the landfill. Where the world can go to learn everything that we know to be true. Something that would make humans a lot smarter than the internet we have today…

An alternative to crowd-sourced, crowd-funded publishing that’s true to the ideals of the web– and that works:  “This free online encyclopedia has achieved what Wikipedia can only dream of.”

* Benjamin Franklin

###

As we rethink querying Quora, we might spare a thought for “The Sage of Baltimore,” Henry Louis (H.L.) Mencken; he died on this date in 1956…  The author of The American Language (and many, many other things) is credited with having coined the term “ecdysiast,” in response to a request from a practitioner who requested a “more dignified” way to refer to her profession.

Often called “the American Nietzsche” (by virtue of his scholarship on the German philosopher), Mencken might better have been considered “the American Wilde”; consider:

Democracy is the theory that holds that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.

Every election is a sort of advance auction sale of stolen goods.

Nature abhors a moron.

Puritanism – The haunting fear that someone, somewhere may be happy.

 source

 

Written by LW

January 29, 2017 at 1:01 am

“It’s still magic even if you know how it’s done”*…

 

There’s a war being waged in the dark corners of the internet. On one side are kleptomaniac pirates hiding in secret communities. On the other side is the law.

For most people, piracy is a simple affair: Movie streaming sites, dubious music blogs – maybe a quick trip to The Pirate Bay if they’re feeling adventurous.

But beneath the surface lies a hidden network of “trackers”, invite-only sites with staggering libraries and stringent invite-only entry requirements. And they’re engaged in a constant game of cat-and-mouse with law enforcement…

The story of the most famously-exclusive tracker around, a site devoted to sharing the secrets of (equally-famously secretive) magicians: “Art of Misdirection is the world’s most exclusive website, and it’s dedicated to illegally sharing magic.”

* Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky

###

As we take care of that rabbit in the hat, we might spare a thought for Frank Caesar; he died on this date in 1948.  The son of a Minneapolis book binder, Caesar became interested in magic after seeing Alexander Herrmann in 1889.  A year later he was touring America as a magician. In 1896 he began performing a “Trunk Substitution,” a gag that Caesar created himself (though likely based on an earlier variation developed by John Nevil Maskelyne, an older stage magician who also invented the pay toilet); the routine became most famous as performed by harry Houdini and his assistant/wife Bess.  Still, it was Caesar’s trademark through a vaudeville career that lasted into the 1920s– after which, he became a manufacturer of magic tricks/equipment.

 source

 

Written by LW

December 8, 2016 at 1:01 am

“This is one of those cases in which the imagination is baffled by the facts”*…

 

FCC

A couple of years ago we visited Little Sis (the opposite of Big Brother)– “Those in power must spend a lot of time laughing at us“…  The site has added a nifty new feature, Oligrapher, a tool for visualizing networks of influence using LittleSis data.

Map your own webs of power.

* Adam Smith

###

As we we note again that it’s all about who you know, we might wish a Buon Compleanno to Luigi Pirandello, the dramatist and novelist best remembered for Six Characters in Search of an Author.  He was born on this date in 1867, turned to writing when the family sulphur mines failed, and received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1934.

The Author, Found

Written by LW

June 28, 2016 at 1:01 am

“Remembrance of things past is not necessarily the remembrance of things as they were”*…

 

Click your way down memory lane at Ilya Kreymer‘s Oldweb.today: choose a browser and date from the past, enter a URL (that was around then), and see how that site actually looked back then

* Marcel Proust

###

As we play in the past, we might send carefully-computed birthday greetings to Grace Brewster Murray Hopper.  A seminal computer scientist and Rear Admiral in the U.S. Navy, “Amazing Grace” (as she was known to many in her field) was one of the first programmers of the Harvard Mark I computer (in 1944), invented the first compiler for a computer programming language, and was one of the leaders in popularizing the concept of machine-independent programming languages– which led to the development of COBOL, one of the first high-level programming languages.

She has both a ship (the guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper) and a super-computer (the Cray XE6 “Hopper” at NERSC) named in her honor.

 source

 

 

Written by LW

December 9, 2015 at 1:01 am

“If a man be gracious and courteous to strangers, it shows he is a citizen of the world”*…

 

Having a citizenship means that you have a place in the world, an allegiance to a state. That state is supposed to guarantee you certain rights, like freedom from arrest, imprisonment, torture, or surveillance – depending on which state you belong to. Hannah Arendt famously said that “citizenship is the right to have rights”. To tamper with ones citizenship is to endanger ones most fundamental rights. Without citizenship, we have no rights at all.

Algorithmic Citizenship is a form of citizenship which is not assigned at birth, or through complex legal documents, but through data. Like other computerised processes, it can happen at the speed of light, and it can happen over and over again, constantly revising and recalculating. It can split a single citizenship into an infinite number of sub-citizenships, and count and weight them over time to produce combinations of affiliations to different states.

Citizen Ex calculates your Algorithmic Citizenship based on where you go online. Every site you visit is counted as evidence of your affiliation to a particular place, and added to your constantly revised Algorithmic Citizenship. Because the internet is everywhere, you can go anywhere – but because the internet is real, this also has consequences…

Citizen Ex, co-commissioned by The Space and created for Southbank Centre’s Web We Want festival, allows one to explore what citizenship might mean in an ever more wired world.  Pledge allegiance at “Algorithmic Citizenship.”

* Francis Bacon

###

As we hurry home, we might recall that it was on this date in 1801 that the American Company of Booksellers, one of the first trade associations of booksellers in the U.S., was formed.  The ACB lasted only four years, before rattling apart amidst members’ accusations of unfair competition against each other.  Several other such attempts were similarly stillborn over the 19th century– until 1900, when the American Booksellers Association was founded.

 source

 

 

Click bait…

 

From the ever-exquisite xkcd.

###

As we linger over listicles, we might send almost-but-not-quite existential birthday greetings to Albert Camus; he was born on this date in 1913.  A Nobel Prize winning author (The Plague, The Stranger, among others), journalist, and philosopher, he was a creator of Absurdism… a resonant but different variety of philosophical thought from Existentialism.  Indeed, Camus firmly rejected the Existentialist label: “I am not an existentialist.  Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked…”

 source

 

Written by LW

November 7, 2013 at 1:01 am

%d bloggers like this: