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The End of Cyberspace

In laying out his vision of the future in Shaping Things, Bruce Sterling employs two concepts that require a little decoding: metahistory and synchronic society.

Every civilization has a metahistory, a kind of internal cultural logic. One great flaw is that metahistories tend of see themselves as permanent; a contingent metahistory that allowed for the possibility of its own end— and was more thoughtful about how to avoid that end— would work better.

Our own current metahistory is damaging in its short-sigtedness and have yielded «slow crises cheerfully generated by people rationally pursuing their short-term interests.» (41) As Sterling puts it,

The 20th century’s industrial infrastructure has run out of time. It can’t go on; it’s antiquated, dangerous and not sustainable. it’s based on a finite amount of ice in our ice caps, of air in our atmosphere, of free room for highways and transmission lines, of room in the dumps, and of combustible filth underground. This is a gathering crisis gloomily manifesting itself int he realm of bad weather and resource warfare. It is the legacy we received from world’shaping industrial titans such as Thomas Edison, and Henry Ford, and John D. Rockefeller— basically, the three 20th century guys who guys us into the Greenhouse Effect. (131)

Its no use starting from the top by ideologically re-educating the consumer to become some bizarre kind of rigid, hairshirt Green…. The only sane way out of a technosociety is through it, in to a newer one that knows everything the older one knew…. That means revolutionizing the interplay of human and object. It means bringing more attention and analysis to bear on objects than they have undergone. It also means engaging with the human body and our affordances. (131-132)

The fact that we can insulate ourselves from the histories and consequences of our decisions, and that markets can assist us in that process (by reducing our relationships to things to price, and treating everything from the social consequences of abusive labor practices to the environmental costs of disposal of packaging as an «externality» that neither you nor the manufacturer has to think about), means that we can live in a state of blissful, deadly innocence.

Ironically, in the artifact era, when most humans grew their own food and made their own things— or were related to those who did— we knew a lot more about where stuff came from, and the consequences of making things poorly (of using unsustainable farming practices or building a shoddy furnace); but there were also few enough of us so that anything we did was likely to have very little impact on the world.

Our ability to change the world, intentionally or unintentionally, has far outstripped our ability to make sense of those changes. (Will history regard the internal combustion engine, and not nuclear weapons, as the greatest technological terror of the 20th century?)

To deal with this, «[w]e need a designed metahistory,» (42) and Sterling thinks it will

combine the computational power of an INFORMATION SOCIETY with the stark interventionist need for a SUSTAINABLE SOCIETY. The one is happening anyway; the other has to happen. (42)

It would be a synchronic society. Such a society

  • Has a temporalist perspective: it seeks to generate more time and greater opportunity, both at the micro-scale, and the level of civilizations. (To this society, burning fossil fuels is the height of folly.)
  • Sees sustainability as a process, not a fixed state;
  • Seeks the knowledge to deal with the inevitable unknowns;
  • Uses rapid prototyping-like methods to generate potentially vast inventories of solutions to copy and failures to avoid;
  • Treats objects as expressions of and generators of information, interesting not just for their obvious physical properties.

If we design that metahistory to exploit the power of spimes, which are «information melded with sustainability,» (43) we can create a dynamic by which we can preserve and learn from our history, thus giving us the chance to evolve our way out of the current mess. Spimes are especially important because they exist at:

the intersection of two vectors of technosocial development. They have the capacity to change the human relationship of time and material processes, by making those processors blatant and generalization. Every spime is a little metahistorical generator.

History is this technoculture’s primary source of wealth. As it transits through time, due to the principles of its organization, it will increase in knowledge, capability, wealth, and power.

But wait, there’s more….

Technorati Tags: Bruce Sterling, design, end of cyberspace, environment, physical, Shaping Things, sustainability, ubicomp

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The End of Cyberspace

  • «What… are the great new lines of development in the field of CAAD [computer-aided architectural design]? What will architectural education and practice look like in 2005 or 2010? This book’s section titles express our ideas.»
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The End of Cyberspace

I’m just back from three days in Seattle, where I was at a workshop organized by the World Business Council on Sustainable Development. During these workshops, I like to get out and take a walk during lunch: I find it helps my mental state to be able to walk around, get some air, and focus on things that aren’t post-its or roadmaps.

Yesterday I meant to go to the waterfront, and the new Seattle Public Library main branch, designed by Rem Koolhaas and OMA. I never made it to the waterfront.


via flickr

SPL is one of the most amazing buildings I’ve seen in years. I think it’s as impressive as the Sydney Opera House, though for different reasons. It’s just a shame it’s constrained by its site, and is surrounded on all sides by other buildings; at the same time, that downtown location and accessibility is critical to its success as a working library.


Looking down from the 10th floor, via flickr

The most striking thing about it is the amount of energy the program devoted to, well, books. It’s interesting to compare the building to another well-known modern public library closer to home. When it opened a decade ago, the San Francisco Public Library was criticized for being a building that wasn’t really very book-friendly. (Not only that, but author Nicholson Baker, whose Vox is one of the most brilliant pieces of erotic writing ever, wrote about a large-scale destruction of portions of the SFPL book collection.) Indeed, SFPL was basically out of space when it opened; and its high-minded schizophrenia about what a library would be in the future resulted in a building that’s hard to navigate and make sense of.


Living Room, via flickr

In contrast, the Seattle Public Library is designed with the assumption that it has to be a space in which physical, printed media and electronic resources coexist, and are used by librarians and patrons alike for the lifetime of the library. As Koolhaas later explained (in the beautifully-produced book about the library), «Our ambition is to redefine the Library as an institution no longer exclusively dedicated to the book, but as an information store where all potent forms of media— new and old— are presented equally and legibly.» (11)


Mixing Chamber (signage by Bruce Mau) via flickr

This is clearest in the fifth floor Mixing Chamber, which is «located at the interface between the Library’s physical and virtual collections» (111) (the main entrance is on the third floor, and the stacks start on the sixth). The Mixing Chamber also pulls together reference specialists, with the aim of minimizing the number of steps patrons have to go through to get questions answered or find resources. (Koolhaas architects Joshua Ramus and Dan Wood visited other libraries, and searched for a David Halberstam book or federal document; it usually took them six stops, thanks to the «infernal matrix of materials, technologies, [and] ‘specialists'» that define the conventional library.)


Mixing Chamber, via flickr

As the book puts it, «The Mixing chamber is… a trading floor for information ochestrated to fulfill an essential… need for expert, interdisciplinary help. The Mixing Chamber consolidates the library’s cumulative human and technological intelligence: the visitor is surrounded by information sources.» (38)


Living Room, via flickr

Koolhaas and Ramus also make the good point that there’s been a tendency with recent libraries to create spaces that are completely generic, that could just as easily be reference departments or conference rooms or stacks. This reflects a lack of faith in the future of libraries, and tends to result in spaces that are uninspiring, and quickly become crowded and confused. In contrast, they’ve created a combination of spaces, some quite flexible and dynamic (like the main entrance and Living Room), and others with a more fixed program (the stacks, most notably). The result, I think, is a wonderfully varied and interesting building, and one that beautifully captures— and serves— the current hybrid state of libraries. architecture, endofcyberspace, library, Seattle

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« August 2009 | Main | October 2009 »

15 posts from September 2009

  • «FutureNovo provides a forum and tools designed to promote foresight and dialog about future technology.» Yet another abortive Web 2.0, wiki-like project. What is about futures that makes us think these things should work? Clearly there’s some desire there, but why do these projects run aground?
  • Look at your computer setup and imagine that you hooked up a 3D printer. Instead of printing on bits of paper this 3D printer makes real, robust, mechanical parts. To give you an idea of how robust, think Lego bricks and you’re in the right area. You could make lots of useful stuff, but interestingly you could also make most of the parts to make another 3D printer. That would be a machine that could copy itself.

Hear, hear:

For almost two decades, when we imagined the future, we imagined ourselves tapped into cyberspace via our deck alongside Case, the protagonist in Neuromancer.

[To the tune of Alban Berg Quartet, «String Quartet Op.132 No.15 in A minor: III. Molto adagio,» from the album Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets (Disc 7) (I give it 5 stars).]

I suppose it was inevitable: coathangr, which describes itself as «social networking for your pants.» Less whimsically, it also says it’s a «social network for sharing fashion advice,» and finding people who share your fashion taste.

It would be interesting to see how the system is used. Does it actually encourages better fashion sense? Is it used maliciously by people giving intentionally bad fashion advice?

On a more serious note, this is a good example of what Jyri Engstrom calls «object-centered sociality:»

the term ‘social networking’ makes little sense if we leave out the objects that mediate the ties between people. Think about the object as the reason why people affiliate with each specific other and not just anyone. For instance, if the object is a job, it will connect me to one set of people whereas a date will link me to a radically different group. This is common sense but unfortunately it’s not included in the image of the network diagram that most people imagine when they hear the term ‘social network.’ The fallacy is to think that social networks are just made up of people. They’re not; social networks consist of people who are connected by a shared object. That’s why many sociologists, especially activity theorists, actor-network theorists and post-ANT people prefer to talk about ‘socio-material networks’, or just ‘activities’ or ‘practices’ (as I do) instead of social networks.

[To the tune of Alban Berg Quartet, «String Quartet Op.132 No.15 in A minor: I. Allegro sostenuto — Allegro,» from the album Beethoven: The Complete String Quartets (Disc 7) (I give it 5 stars).]

I seem to have an article in Disegno industriale 39. I can’t read it, but it seems to be there. Hooray!

[To the tune of The Police, «When The World Is Running Down, You Make The Best Of What’s Still Around,» from the album Message In A Box: The Complete Recordings (Disc 2) (I give it 3 stars).]

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« September 2009 | Main | November 2009 »

19 posts from October 2009

  • In the late fifteenth century, clocks acquired minute hands. A century later, second hands appeared. But it wasn’t until the 1850s that instruments could recognize a tenth of a second, and, once they did, the impact on modern science and society was profound. Revealing the history behind this infinitesimal interval, A Tenth of a Second sheds new light on modernity and illuminates the work of important thinkers of the last two centuries.
  • «Mindstorm brings everyday surfaces and spaces to life with its range of innovative interactive solutions. From restaurant tables and shop displays to exhibition stands and meeting room walls, our technology enables companies to create compelling collaborative experiences.»
  • «Visionpool er et stærkt procesværktøj, som er designet til at skabe maksimal involvering i forandringsprocesser. Med Visionpool kan du indrage alle i din virksomhed i at skabe resultater — hurtigt.»
  • «It is the academic’s job in a free society to serve the public culture by asking questions the public doesn’t want to ask, investigating subjects it cannot or will not investigate, and accommodating voices it fails or refuses to accommodate. Academics need to look to the world to see what kind of teaching and research needs to be done, and how they might better train and organize themselves to do it. But they need to ignore the world’s demand that they reproduce its self-image.»
  • «Imagine the cityscape of the future. Forget skyscrapers studded with undimmed lights. Instead, think of crystal whites and luminous blues forging the city’s silhouette. Picture a city that sucks in carbon and uses bacteria harvested from dead fish to light the darkness. The city as a living character will no longer be a literary conceit, but a reality. From metaphor to concrete in one generation.»
  • «Saffo has spent the past two decades staring into his crystal ball and seeing just these sorts of contrasts. Once director of the Institute for the Future think tank, he now teaches at Stanford University, alma mater to the founders of Google and many of the technology world’s hottest stars.»
  • «As our surroundings have evolved over the centuries, so too have our navigational strategies and conceptions, shaped most recently by urbanization and the advent of high-speed travel.

    «We’re now on the cusp of an even more dramatic change, as we enter the age of the global positioning system, which is well on its way to being a standard feature in every car and on every cellphone. At the same time, neuroscientists are starting to uncover a two-way street: our brains determine how we navigate, but our navigational efforts also shape our brains. The experts are picking up some worrying signs about the changes that will occur as we grow accustomed to the brain-free navigation of the gps era.»

  • The brains of London cabbies have outsized rear hippocampuses, because they are required to painstakingly learn the byzantine lanes and byways of the Old World city. Not true for most of us — and especially not in the age of the GPS, writes Alex Hutchinson in the Canadian magazine The Walrus.

    Hutchinson says that with the digital navigational tool well on its way to becoming standard in every car and on every cellphone, “experts are picking up some worrying signs” about brain atrophy “once we lose the habit of forming cognitive maps.” Research is showing people, their heads in abstract spatial realms, flummoxed finding their way around in the real world.

  • «Not long ago, I started an experiment in self-binding: intentionally creating an obstacle to behavior I was helpless to control, much the way Ulysses lashed himself to his ship’s mast to avoid succumbing to the Sirens’ song. In my case, though, the irresistible temptation was the Internet.»

  • For years critics have railed against these cultural complexes as pointlessly grandiose expressions of vanity — a poisonous brew of architectural egotism and excessive wealth that was destroying America’s urban centers. Why all the fancy forms, they argued? Wouldn’t the money be better spent on something more valuable, like schoolbooks?

    Yet as the dust settles on the last of these projects, what begins to emerge is a more complex image of America’s cultural values at the birth of a new century. The formal dazzle masks a deeper struggle by cities and architects to create accessible public space in an age of shrinking government revenue and privatization. At their most ambitious, they are an effort to rethink the two great urban planning movements that gave shape to the civic and cultural identity of the American city.

  • «Nearly everyone reads. Soon, nearly everyone will publish. Before 1455, books were handwritten, and it took a scribe a year to produce a Bible. Today, it takes only a minute to send a tweet or update a blog. Rates of authorship are increasing by historic orders of magnitude. Nearly universal authorship, like universal literacy before it, stands to reshape society by hastening the flow of information and making individuals more influential.»
  • «The trend [in adoption law]… is toward openness, a growing “right” to know. I am not against this trend. I simply want to give not-knowing its due. I like mysteries. I like the sense of uniqueness that comes from having unknown origins (however false that sense may be).»
  • Her great 2003 essay on computer versus human memory. «[E]ach new computer has enough disk space to hold everything you’ve ever stored on all the computers you’ve ever owned in your life. The equivalent would be a new house that, every time you moved, would be so much larger than all your past houses that all the furniture you’ve ever purchased would follow you, indefinitely…. everything—the rug you picked up at a garage sale after a tipsy brunch, that secondhand dining table bought hurriedly after the divorce—all of it, no escaping it, the joy or humiliation of every decorating decision you’ve ever made, the occasion that brought each object into your life perpetually, unflinchingly present: the brutality of the everlasting.»

Just found an online reprint of Ellen Ullman’s wonderful 2003 essay «Memory and Megabytes,» originally published in American Scholar. It’s one of my favorite short pieces ever, and started me thinking about the differences between human and machine memory.

Though her recent New York Times op-ed on adoption and knowing your family history is great, too:

I am not against … the trend… toward openness, a growing “right” to know. I simply want to give not-knowing its due.

I like mysteries. I like the sense of uniqueness that comes from having unknown origins (however false that sense may be).

[To the tune of Dead Man’s Bones, «My Body’s a Zombie for You,» from the album Anti Sampler Fall 2009 (I give it 1 stars).]

About a year ago I wrote about Web 2.0 as a time machine for my generation, and my suspicion that «mine may be the last generation that has the experience of losing touch with friends.» This concerned me because

when it comes to shaping identity, the ability to forget can be as important as the ability to remember. It’s easy to implore people not to forget who they are; but sometimes, in order to become someone better, you need to forget a little bit.

Likewise,

Forgetting insults and painful events, we all recognize, is a pretty healthy thing for individuals: a well-adjusted person just doesn’t feel the same shock over a breakup after ten years (if they can even remember the name of Whoever They Were), nor do they regard a fight from their childhood with anything but clinical detachment. Collectively, societies can also be said to make decisions about what they choose to remember, and how to act toward the past. Sometimes this happens informally, but has practical reasons: think of national decisions of avoid deep reflection on wars or civil strife, in the interests of promoting national unity and moving forward.

The idea that digital and human memory work differently, and that we fail to recognize the difference between the two at our peril, is something I’ve been writing about for a while. So I was very interested to see a review by Henry Farrell in Times Higher Education of Viktor Mayer-Schoenberger’s new book Delete: The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age. It sounds like a book I need to read… or at least footnote!

At its heart, his case against digital memory is humanist. He worries that it will not only change the way we organise society, but it will damage our identities. Identity and memory interact in complicated ways. Our ability to forget may be as important to our social relationships as our ability to remember. To forgive may be to forget; when we forgive someone for serious transgressions we in effect forget how angry we once were at them.

Delete argues that digital memory has the capacity both to trap us in the past and to damage our trust in our own memories. When I read an old email describing how angry I once was at someone, I am likely to find myself becoming angry again, even if I have since forgiven the person. I may trust digital records over my own memory, even when these records are partial or positively misleading. Forgetting, in contrast, not only serves as a valuable social lubricant, but also as a bulwark of good judgment, allowing us to give appropriate weight to past events that are important, and to discard things that are not. Digital memory — which traps us in the past — may weaken our ability to judge by distorting what we remember.

[To the tune of Sukhwinder Singh, «Marjaani Marjaani,» from the album Saavn Celebrates Bollywood (I give it 3 stars).]

  • «We’ve rounded up eight of the latest in office designs from around the world, showing how architects are attempting to turn the mundane into the marvellous, creating commuter-friendly communes that don’t destroy the spirit.»
  • Philips shares the fruits of a project that imagines the future of food, 20 years from now.
  • «Objectified is a feature-length documentary about our complex relationship with manufactured objects and, by extension, the people who design them. It’s a look at the creativity at work behind everything from toothbrushes to tech gadgets. It’s about the designers who re-examine, re-evaluate and re-invent our manufactured environment on a daily basis. It’s about personal expression, identity, consumerism, and sustainability.»
  • Writing and reading — from newspapers to novels, academic reports to gossip magazines — are migrating ever faster to digital screens, like laptops, Kindles and cellphones. Traditional book publishers are putting out “vooks,” which place videos in electronic text that can be read online or on an iPhone. Others are republishing old books in electronic form. And libraries, responding to demand, are offering more e-books for download.

    Is there a difference in the way the brain takes in or absorbs information when it is presented electronically versus on paper? Does the reading experience change, from retention to comprehension, depending on the medium?

  • It’s an experiment that has made back-to-school a little easier on the back: Amazon.com gave more than 200 college students its Kindle e-reading device this fall, loaded with digital versions of their textbooks.

  • Kott and others like him are social networking refuseniks: people in their 20s or early 30s who have gone off the grid, eschewing the ecology of Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and the like. In Washington, refuseniks are not exactly operating in isolated, Luddite worlds: One is in a dance company, another is a rapper/hip-hop singer, another is a Georgetown undergraduate.

  • The report, previewed in a speech by Thomas Fingar, the U.S. intelligence community’s top analyst, also concludes that the one key area of continued U.S. superiority — military power — will “be the least significant” asset in the increasingly competitive world of the future, because “nobody is going to attack us with massive conventional force.”

From Newsweek:

For those of us who carry iPhones, this shift to a persistent Internet has already happened, and it’s really profound. The Internet is no longer a destination, someplace you «go to.» You don’t «get on the Internet.» You’re always on it. It’s just there, like the air you breathe.

[To the tune of Future Sound of London, «Room 208,» from the album Lifeforms (I give it 2 stars).]

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Previously I’ve blogged about Harry Potter and the Internet of Things, and argued that the Harry Potter series could inspire a generation of designers and technologists to create devices that behave like magical objects, and further break down the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds.

So I was struck by a ScienCentral News article about a new e-paper that invokes Harry Potter:

Hollywood needs pricey special effects to make Harry Potter’s magical world come to life. But one bit of movie magic, Harry’s full-motion-video newspaper, may not be so far from reality…. Purdue University’s David Janes is using nanotechnology to create a high-tech display that could be used for a newspaper that updates itself, complete with moving pictures. «So instead of seeing a static picture on your newspaper headline, you would actually see a character talking at you. Certainly I think this would be a way to do that,» says Janes…. Janes’ group uses transparent transistors containing tiny nanowires to light a flexible screen. «I guess in my mind the thing that it directly replaces is the thin-film-transistors that would be the actual drivers behind your LCDs, or your plasma televisions,» says Janes. «We will no longer be constrained by simply having this rigid, glass panel we hang on our wall or our desk, and we’ll be able to wrap displays around other things.» It also happens to be transparent, so manufacturers could be embed it in clear surfaces like windshields, or even your eyeglasses, because everything from the nanowires to the electrodes has been fabricated using transparent oxide materials.

«If you’re sitting on a train or on an airplane, you could just watch videos directly through your eyeglasses, and not have a separate display you carried with you,» says Janes.

Technorati Tags: digital-physical, displays, end of cyberspace, epaper, Harry Potter, interface

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The End of Cyberspace

Previously I’ve blogged about Harry Potter and the Internet of Things, and argued that the Harry Potter series could inspire a generation of designers and technologists to create devices that behave like magical objects, and further break down the boundaries between the physical and digital worlds.

So I was struck by a ScienCentral News article about a new e-paper that invokes Harry Potter:

Hollywood needs pricey special effects to make Harry Potter’s magical world come to life. But one bit of movie magic, Harry’s full-motion-video newspaper, may not be so far from reality…. Purdue University’s David Janes is using nanotechnology to create a high-tech display that could be used for a newspaper that updates itself, complete with moving pictures. «So instead of seeing a static picture on your newspaper headline, you would actually see a character talking at you. Certainly I think this would be a way to do that,» says Janes…. Janes’ group uses transparent transistors containing tiny nanowires to light a flexible screen. «I guess in my mind the thing that it directly replaces is the thin-film-transistors that would be the actual drivers behind your LCDs, or your plasma televisions,» says Janes. «We will no longer be constrained by simply having this rigid, glass panel we hang on our wall or our desk, and we’ll be able to wrap displays around other things.» It also happens to be transparent, so manufacturers could be embed it in clear surfaces like windshields, or even your eyeglasses, because everything from the nanowires to the electrodes has been fabricated using transparent oxide materials.

«If you’re sitting on a train or on an airplane, you could just watch videos directly through your eyeglasses, and not have a separate display you carried with you,» says Janes.

Technorati Tags: digital-physical, displays, end of cyberspace, epaper, Harry Potter, interface

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The Onion reports on low sales of Sousaphone Hero:

Despite a catchy 1890s soundtrack and realistic-feeling game play, Sousaphone Hero, the third installment of Activision’s massively popular Guitar Hero video game franchise, sold a mere 52 copies in the United States in its opening week, the company reported Monday….

Sousaphone Hero offers two dozen public-domain marches, including 1893’s «The Liberty Bell,» 1896’s «Stars and Stripes Forever,» and 1897’s «Entry of the Gladiators.» The bulky sousaphone-shaped controller coils around the body, and players wear white spat-like foot coverings fitted with sensors that monitor synchronized marching steps. As with the fret buttons on Guitar Hero’s guitar peripheral, the sousaphone controller’s three valves are color-coded to match on-screen notes the player must hit.

What’s notable about this is that haptic game controllers are now familiar enough to be parodied. You can only get the joke if you’re familiar with the Wii or Guitar Hero, and therefore can more clearly imagine how much something like Sousaphone Hero would suck.

Technorati Tags: end of cyberspace, games

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At the Institute, a couple of us have been talking about the declining perceived value of anonymity as one of the big impacts of Web 2.0. Social software (however you want to define that slippery term) encourages sociability by giving people stable identities, even if they needn’t be identities that track back to a person in the physical world.

I think one of the consequences of the growing centrality of online identity is a growing recognition of how anonymity didn’t work online: while there’s an argument that it allowed marginal people to be heard in online conversations that they never could have joined in real life, it also served as a cover for— or even promoted— bad behavior, as this t-shirt succinctly put it:


[from Penny Arcade Store]

I was thinking about this recently while driving on the freeway, and having to put up with various drivers doing 80, occasionally passing saner drivers by zipping onto the breakdown lane. One of the reasons this kind of behavior happens on the highway is that if you do something bad on the highways, you can essentially drive away from the consequences of your actions. The odds are incredibly small that you’ll be chased down, much less have anyone remember you at a time when they can do something to bring you to account. Contrast this to a small town where everyone recognizes your car, sees you in the coffee shop, and damn well is going to have a word with you if you cut them off on the road.

[via ack/nak]

Technorati Tags: end of cyberspace, internet

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  • The Center for Catastrophic Risk Management (CCRM) is part of the University’s response to recent disasters—and efforts to anticipate future calamities. CCRM was started by the Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society, and has become part of the Institute of Business and Economic Research to emphasize the interdisciplinary nature of its research team.
  • A team of amateur sky watchers has pierced the veil of secrecy surrounding the debut flight of the nation’s first robotic spaceplane, finding clues that suggest the military craft is engaged in the development of spy satellites rather than space weapons, which some experts have suspected but the Pentagon strongly denies.
  • Socio-Digital Systems (SDS) aims to use an understanding of human values to help to change the technological landscape in the 21st century. Beyond making us all more productive and efficient, we ask how we can build technology to help us be more expressive, creative, and reflective in our daily lives.