We live in a unique time in our society: Cameras are everywhere, but we can still see them. Ten years ago, cameras were much rarer than they are today. Ten years from now, they’ll be so small, you won’t even notice them.
If universal surveillance were the answer, lots of us would have moved to the former East Germany. If surveillance cameras were the answer, camera-happy London, with something like 500,000 of them at a cost of $700 million, would be the safest city on the planet.
We didn’t, and it isn’t, because surveillance and surveillance cameras don’t make us safer. The money spent on cameras in London, and in cities across America, could be much better spent on actual policing.
Contains a nice example of how this enables optimistic concurrency control. If you’re not clear on why you need to care about all this, follow the links in Choosing Consistency for background info, especially on the CAP theorem.
Stanley Kaplan graduated No. 2 in his class at City College, and won the school’s Award for Excellence in Natural Sciences. He wanted to be a doctor, and he applied to five medical schools, confident that he would be accepted. To his shock, he was rejected by every single one. Medical schools did not take public colleges like City College seriously. More important, in the forties there was a limit to how many Jews they were willing to accept. “The term meritocracy—or success based on merit rather than heritage, wealth, or social status?wasn?t even coined yet,” Kaplan writes, “and the methods of selecting students based on talent, not privilege, were still evolving.”
That’s why Stanley Kaplan was always pained by those who thought that what went on in his basement was somehow subversive. He loved the S.A.T. He thought that the test gave people like him the best chance of overcoming discrimination. As he saw it, he was simply giving the middle-class students of Brooklyn the same shot at a bright future that their counterparts in the private schools of Manhattan had. In 1983, after years of hostility, the College Board invited him to speak at its annual convention. It was one of the highlights of Kaplan’s life. “Never, in my wildest dreams,” he began, “did I ever think I’d be speaking to you here today.”
The truth is, however, that Stanley Kaplan was wrong. What he did in his basement was subversive. The S.A.T. was designed as an abstract intellectual tool. It never occurred to its makers that aptitude was a social matter: that what people were capable of was affected by what they knew, and what they knew was affected by what they were taught, and what they were taught was affected by the industry of their teachers and parents. And if what the S.A.T. was measuring, in no small part, was the industry of teachers and parents, then what did it mean? Stanley Kaplan may have loved the S.A.T. But when he stood up and recited “boo, boo, boo, square root of two,” he killed it.
“Monotony is the dual of modelessness in an interface. ln a modeless interface, a given user gesture has one and only one result: Gesture g always results in action a. However, there is nothing to prevent a second gesture, h, from also resulting in action a. A monotonous interface is one in which any desired result has only one means by which it may be invoked: Action a is invoked by gesture g and in no other way. An interface that is completely modeless and monotonous has a one-to-one correspondence between cause (commands) and effect (actions). The more monotony an interface has for a given task space, the easier it is for the user to develop automaticity, which, after all, is fostered by not having to make decisions about what method to use.”—The humane interface: new directions … - Google Books
“Beer helps to prevent cancer and heart disease. Milk helps to cause cancer and heart disease. Beer helps to prevent Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Milk helps to cause Alzheimer’s and Dementia. If, after reading this, you still think that milk is good for you, you might consider the possibility that Dementia has already set in. Wipe that mustache off your face and put on a smile instead… have a pint of beer today. I plan to; in fact, I think I’ll go crack a cold one right now.”—Beer is liquid bread
“Normally, at this point, I would simply disqualify Kingston as a vendor, but I’m more persistent than that. It’s disconcerting that a high-profile, established brand would stand behind such irregular components. Who is to say SanDisk or Samsung wouldn’t do the same? […] I decided to do more digging to try and find ground truth.”—On MicroSD Problems « bunnie’s blog. Set aside a few minutes to read the whole thing, it’s worth it.
“Europeans spent centuries selecting for the poorest honey-producing bees; American beekeepers took these hives and began shipping them around the country, often multiple times a year, in order to propagate the growth of a farming industry that, as it grew, only put further stress on the bees that sustained it; farmers worldwide doused their crops with pesticides that weakened the bees’ immune systems; and the bees were weakened even more by the very pollen diets the monoculture crops provided. So what we have to make sense of, then, against this history, is how the 18 known bee viruses, 19 different classes of pesticides, and countless stressors of modern beekeeping all fit together…”—Yellow, Black, and Blues: A look at our agricultural past may explain why honey bees around the world began disappearing three years ago. SEEDMAGAZINE.COM
ReadWriteWeb has a weblog post that ranks highly in Google’s search results for “Facebook login”. The comments on the post are filled with complaints from confused people who think that this is the new Facebook login page.
It’s funny, yes, but it’s a fascinating glimpse at just how confused many people are about how web sites and browsers work. They don’t use bookmarks, they don’t type “facebook.com” in the location field. They just Google for whatever they’re looking for and assume the first result is correct.
I didn’t believe Gruber until I followed the link and started reading the comments. Wow.
I guess a lot of people who hit the “I’m Feeling Lucky” button really aren’t all that lucky.
Now I feel obliged to post a “Facebook login" link to help ReadWriteWeb get back to the top of the Google results.
“I’ve been thinking about Jeremy Toeman’s Will Normal Folks Ever Use Twitter? A related question is: “Will normal folks ever use feed readers?” I suspect the answer to both questions is No. This might signal a new kind of stratification in society.”—ongoing by Tim Bray · The Listening Engine. I can’t help but see this stratification as a failure on our part.
“nobody wants to hang out in the club that was cool 3 years ago, but only your dad goes to now”—Will Normal Folks Ever Use Twitter?. Well, that’s not fully accurate, since clearly your dad wants to hang out there. Twitter was once that club, and I wouldn’t mind seeing it become that club again. Not every website needs to be (or even should be) successful with the 18-24 demographic.
“I would like to step back from the debate about whether the decision enhances our First Amendment freedoms or hands the country over to big-money interests, and read it instead as the latest installment in an ongoing conflict between two ways of thinking about the First Amendment and its purposes.”—What Is the First Amendment For? Insightful analysis of Citizens United v. FEC is rather hard to come by, as most writers simply rehash the issues rather than explore the decision. Whatever your opinion of Fish may be, this one is worth reading.