From deities to data - "For thousands of years humans believed that authority came from the gods. Then, during the modern era, humanism gradually shifted authority from deities to people... Now, a fresh shift is taking place. Just as divine authority was legitimised by religious mythologies, and human authority was legitimised by humanist ideologies, so high-tech gurus and Silicon Valley prophets are creating a new universal narrative that legitimises the authority of algorithms and Big Data." [more inside]
In his follow-up to Sapiens, Yuval Noah Harari envisions what a 'useless class' of humans might look like as AI advances and spreads - "I'm aware that these kinds of forecasts have been around for at least 200 years, from the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, and they never came true so far. It's basically the boy who cried wolf, but in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." [more inside]
World After Capital by Albert Wenger [Work in Progress; GitHub; GitBook; PDF; FAQ] - "Technological progress has shifted scarcity for humanity. When we were foragers, food was scarce. During the agrarian age, it was land. Following the industrial revolution, capital became scarce. With digital technologies scarcity is shifting from capital to attention. World After Capital suggests ways to expand economic, informational and psychological freedom to go from an industrial to a knowledge society." (previously)
Dating Historic Images A key to using clues in photos to narrow down the date of construction for historic vernacular architecture, from University of Vermont's Landscape Change digital image project. [more inside]
On January 6th, 2016, The New York Public Library made over 187,000 digital items in the public domain available for high resolution download. NYPL Labs released a visualization tool to help people understand and explore the collection; another tool helps you mine all that sweet, sweet public domain data. [more inside]
In case you missed it Ethereum announced its first developer release a week ago. What is Ethereum? According to the video it's a "planetary scale computer powered by blockchain technology." Given the breathlessness, some skepticism is in order, but what if it purports to do on the tin is true? [more inside]
“But what shall we dream of when everything becomes visible?” Virilio replies: “We’ll dream of being blind."
Artist and film-maker, Hito Steyerl, asks us to stand shoulder to shoulder with our digital equivalents. Digital images are Things (like you and me) - a plethora of compressed, corrupted representations pushed and pulled through increasingly policed and capitalised information networks. If 80% of all internet traffic* is SPAM - a liberated excess withdrawn** from accepted channels of communication - perhaps it is in The Poor Image we find our closest kin? [more inside]
Mining the Mother of all Data Dumps We now have a relatively massive haul of digital data from the OBL strike. There are several forensic toolkits in use by the private (commercially available) and public sector as well as open-source. Best practices include inventorying all the sources, cloning the sources so as to not damage pristine data, recovering any partial or damaged content, making the cloned sources read-only, adhering to legally-admissible tools standards, and documenting everything. There is an excellent source titled Digital Forensics and Born-Digital Content from the Council on Library and Information Resources [pdf, Resource Shelf]. But what to do next*? [more inside]
Why Your Digital Data Could One Day Disappear HBS Working Knowledge has a Story (actually it's an Excerpt of Dark Ages II: When the Digital Data Die, by Bryan Bergeron) that says data stored on discs and other forms of computer storage are anything but permanent. Not only are the disks themselves the trouble (they last 5-20 years), the computers that read/write them are an added problem, tried opening a Commodore 64 file lately, or a 5 ¼ inch disc?
Have you heard about the SSSCA? It is the sequel to the universally-reviled Digital Millenium Copyright Act and is 1000 times more heinous. It would require that any device even remotely capable of transmitting digital data contain security hardware approved by the US Department of Commerce. I can't say I have ever heard of anything more ridiculous. Here is a draft of the bill.