The first time I saw Netscape was in the spring of ’94 on a friends 486. I shortly thereafter acquired a Pentium 75 ($5000!!!) with a 750 meg hard drive which is what a CD holds. My bandmates and I were stoked but somewhat bummed that 15 uncompressed songs or so would fill up the entire drive. It wasn’t until 2005 that I acquired all the gear required to record multitrack at home but in those short ten years the music industry was ravaged by downloading. We now live in a world where most of the pie goes to the lucky few who win the popularity lottery on YouTube or Mysapce. Everyone else has to deek it out in a vicious game of elbowing. There isn’t an indie band out there that doesn’t want to make it big and leave the gear hauling and shitty couches and fifth rate flea bag hotels behind. Those who say otherwise are lying! Anyways best of luck to them all as CD sales have collapsed and though iTunes keeps the flame burning it flickers precariously in the winds of change for the worst… Long gone are the passion, the anguish, the critique, the self-immolation of the music Cobain, Grohl and Novoselic unleashed on the world. Music has since shifted from a force capable of spearheading social, political and economic change to nothing more than a mere commodity consumed as a social fashion accessory at its best to a porn-like, fetishistic obsession at its worst.
Netscape and Mosaic went viral in 94/95. It really was the threshold of pre-Web and post-Web for most people which also marks a very important shift for the music industry. In a sense Cobain’s passing was the death knell of the music industry’s business model. Nirvana is widely recognized to have “saved” rock and roll but in essence Kurt wasn’t interested in being the son of Rock and so took it down with him to the grave. Let us pray that one day he may be resuscitated to save us from our musical sins.
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Reprinted without permission from http://www.ft.com
Review by Christopher Caldwell
Published: May 30 2010 21:16 | Last updated: May 30 2010 21:16
The Shallows: What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains, by Nicholas Carr, Norton, $26.99
The subtitle of Nicholas Carr’s The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our Brains leads one to expect a polemic in the tradition of those published in the 1950s about how rock ’n’ roll was corrupting the nation’s youth; or in the 1970s about how television was turning kids into idiots; or in the 1990s about the sociopathology of rap music. But this is no such book. It is a patient and rewarding popularisation of some of the research being done at the frontiers of brain science. Carr has lately found it harder to concentrate on the serious reading he used to love. He is taken aback by the number of smart people who no longer read books. He puts the blame on the mental habits we have all learnt on the internet.
As Carr reminds us, thinkers from Plato to Marshall McLuhan understood that our tools affect our thoughts. The invention of clocks changed our conception of time. Space has looked different since we invented the map. When failing vision forced Friedrich Nietzsche to take up typing instead of writing longhand, his prose style changed radically. Our tools and our skills change us because using them forms new connections in the brain. We have come to understand just how adaptable the brain is. Literate people’s brains look different from those of the illiterate. Scans taken in the 1990s showed that the typical London cab driver – who must acquire and retain “the knowledge” of all the streets in his enormous city – has a dramatically enlarged posterior hippocampus (the part of the brain where such information is stored and used).
This “plasticity”, as neurologists call it, sounds like good news. Discovering the right stimulus or tool might open up some new “circuit” that will allow us to read foreign languages more easily or learn calculus. But changes in our brains can just as easily shunt neurological traffic towards worthless things: an addiction, for instance, or an idiotic video game.
That is more or less what is happening, according to Carr. Books, he says , “are in their cultural twilight”. People spend 30 per cent of their leisure time online. In the early days of the internet, it was natural to think – or hope – that the hours required for this new pursuit would come out of television viewing. That did not happen. TV is holding steady. It is reading that is being pushed out. What is the neurological consequence? (more…)
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Okay so let me get this straight..
While one hand is desperately trying to get a grip on the consequences of Too Big To Fail Financial Institutions the other hand is busy pushing ahead with the wonderful, “efficient” (man people do LOVE that word) technology of Cloud Computing which essentially derives it’s power from the economies of scale made possible by storing information in a handful of ginormous data centres instead of proprietary hardrives and servers. The Data Industrial Complex (pretty much anything to do with computing which these days touches on EVERYTHING) is trying hard to convince us that very soon we will only need a mobile phone or access to a “dumb” terminal to deal with all our computing needs.
Granted most of us already have a good chunk of our lives up there in the sky(net) but we still keep copies on our computers at home. Will laptops and desktops completely be replaced by tablets and mobile phones? I don’t see why not. If they don’t disappear completely, clunky 20th Century computing hardware might just find a niche use for itself, very much like turntables post CDs and ipods. (more…)
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Posted in The Prime Mover, Too Much Information, tagged Artificial Intelligence, don't believe the hype, Douglas Adams, G-Force, Google, Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Internet, Zoltar on April 16, 2010|
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We call it “The Internet” or “The Web”. But don’t you think we need a name with a bit more weight behind it?
Douglas Adams got it right when he wrote in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy that “Earth is the Computer”. And he named it Deep Thought; which is pretty good but not nearly serious enough.
I don’t think even he could have imagined at the time how prescient his literary flight of fancy would turn out to be. The amount of data that is presently stored in the world’s computer servers is mind boggling and even unsettling when you consider that most, if not all, digital paths run through Google.
And like the human brain, only a small fraction of this data, and the myriad switches and servers that connect it, are being analysed and used in any meaningful way…so far!
The special report, “Data Data Everywhere” published in the February 2010 issue of The Economist makes for some interesting reading in this regard.
It all got me thinking that we need a better name for the Information Super Highway. After all it will continue to evolve and become more and central to how we live our lives. And what a better name to call it than Zoltar! (more…)
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