Tag Archives | Internet

How Muzak Shaped A Conformist America

Tonya Riley via All That is Interesting:

Although it might be easier to ignore in an age where nearly ever American carries thousands of songs in their pocket, the unmistakable sound of Muzak still haunts us all. An estimated 100 million people (nearly a third of America’s population) are exposed to Muzak’s background music each day, whether in an elevator, on hold with the cable company or elsewhere. Although the Muzak brand technically went bankrupt in 2009 and lost its name in 2013 after new owners moved in, its technology set the stage for almost a century of bland, instrumental music that became the soundtrack to postwar America and continues to this day.

Muzak was founded in 1934 by former Army General George O. Squier, who had led the U.S. Army’s communication efforts during World War I. Squier was elected to the National Academy of Science in 1919 after his patented multiplexing system allowed for multiple signals to be transferred over one phone line.

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The Future of Work: We Have Been Here Before

Nana B Agyei (CC BY 2.0)

Nana B Agyei (CC BY 2.0)

Paul Saffo via Pacific Standard:

The latest entry in a special project in which business and labor leaders, social scientists, technology visionaries, activists, and journalists weigh in on the most consequential changes in the workplace.

This is not the first time society has fretted over the impact of ever-smarter machines on jobs and work—and not the first time we have overreacted. In the Depression-beset 1930s, labor Jeremiahs warned that robots would decimate American factory jobs. Three decades later, mid-1960s prognosticators offered a hopeful silver lining to an otherwise apocalyptic assessment of automation’s dark cloud: the displacement of work and workers would usher in a new “leisure society.”

Reality stubbornly ignored 1930s and 1960s expectations. The robots of extravagant imagination never arrived. There was ample job turbulence but as Keynes forecast in 1930, machines created more jobs than they destroyed. Boosted by a World War, unemployment dropped from a high of 25 percent in 1933 to under two percent in 1944.

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10 Nordic Principles for a Hyperconnected Planet


The Nordic think tank, Demos Helsinki, has created 10 principles for the so-called “Internet of Things.”

Here are the first three:

Planet Earth is becoming hyperconnected. This transformation is called the Internet of Things, Connected Devices, Programmable World, and many other names. As a result, we are at a major crossroad. What are the conditions under which this change becomes the guiding development of our time? How can we support positive change and use technology to create a better world?

Demos Helsinki has identified 10 principles to guide development towards a hyperconnected, sustainable planet. Our claim is that if these principles are not followed, our hyperconnected planet will have a more dystopian than utopian future.

We’re using the principles to construct an index for comparing nations, cities, and companies, and providing them with recommendations about how to do this correctly.

I. The Parity principle

In order for hyperconnectedness to be a truly significant development, it has to play its part in solving the grand challenges of our times – It must solve bigger problems than it causes.

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The Grateful Dead were decades ahead of their time

Over the Fourth of July weekend, the Grateful Dead performed a farewell series of shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field, celebrating 50 years as a band.

Reading about these final sets brought me back to the 1970s, when I attended a New Hampshire summer camp as a boy.

During those summers, I’d noticed that my counselors were steeped in the culture of the band. It wasn’t just endless discussions of shows, songs, versions of songs and surprising set lists (Would they ever play Dark Star? Would Phil ever sing again?); it was also a dedication to the ethos of understated generosity, environmental stewardship and a nonjudgmental attitude to other people’s lifestyles.

That was the spirit of the band and their fans, known as Deadheads.

Even then, the band was an outlier in a music industry that has always enjoyed a fair dose of control over artists, imaging, marketing and ticket sales. And the almost stereotypical image of the money-grubbing music executive of the midcentury rock-and-roll era (exemplified by Tom Hanks’ character in the 1996 film That Thing You Do) seems, in retrospect, quite accurate.… Read the rest

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EmDrive Back in the News


Paul Gilster via Centauri Dreams:

Martin Tajmar (Dresden University of Technology) offers a paper entitled “Direct Thrust Measurements of an EmDrive and Evaluation of Possible Side-Effects” in his presentation on apparent thrust produced by the test device. As he told WIRED (which announced that The ‘impossible’ EmDrive could reach Pluto in 18 months), the current work will not close the story. From the paper itself:

The nature of the thrusts observed is still unclear… Our test campaign can not confirm or refute the claims of the EmDrive but intends to independently assess possible side-effects in the measurements methods used so far. Nevertheless, we do observe thrusts close to the magnitude of the actual predictions after eliminating many possible error sources that should warrant further investigation into the phenomena. Next steps include better magnetic shielding, further vacuum tests and improved EmDrive models with higher Q factors and electronics that allow tuning for optimal operation.

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The Secret Agents Who Stake Out the Ugliest Corners of the Internet

The Atlantic reports on the Agents whose job is to find the real threats amongst all that trolling out there on the Interwebs:

When President Obama launched his Twitter account in May, people noticed his rapid accumulation of followers, a silly back-and-forth with President Clinton, but also something more serious: the number of hostile and threatening messages directed at the president.

Dallas DA - CPA Visits U.S. Secret Service

Sifting through those messages to determine which, if any, need to be taken seriously is the responsibility of the Secret Service Internet Threat Desk, a group of agents tasked with identifying and assessing online threats to the president and his family. The first part of this mission—finding threats—is in many ways made easier by the Internet: all you have to do is search! Pulling up every tweet which uses the words “Obama” and “assassinate” takes mere seconds, and the Secret Service has tried to make it easier for people to draw threats to its attention by setting up its own Twitter handle, @secretservice, for users to report threatening messages to.

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The Internet is Making People Mad as Hell


Back in September of 2014, Newsweek ran this article: The West’s Greatest Threat is the ‘Lone Wolf’ Terrorist, Say Security Experts. The article mentions that, “Jean-Pierre Filiu, professor of Middle East studies at Paris School of International Affairs…is sceptical about the term ‘lone wolf’ in its purest sense, because only very rare cases – like Norway’s Anders Breivik – involve no outside help at all, but he says the threat from IS figures is becoming big.”

The term “outside help” is left undefined.

Last week, I came across this article: GOP senator warns of threat of ‘imminent’ terror plots. “…Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, said he has no doubt a lone wolf attack will eventually be successful in the U.S. The terror threat environment has shifted from terrorist groups focusing on complex terror plots like the 9/11 attacks to smaller-scale attacks carried out by lone wolves who may have been inspired by groups like ISIS.” It basically says that since individual (and presumably Isis-inspired Muslim) terrorists don’t coordinate with anyone else, they are simply harder to anticipate, and capable of “slipping through the cracks” in security.… Read the rest

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Virtual Reality is the Future of Religion

Dali_Crucifixion_hypercubeRev. Dr. Christopher Benek via H+mag:

25 years ago most people didn’t imagine that the Internet would reshape the way that they existed on a day-to-day basis. 25 years from now people will think about Virtual Reality the same way we think about the Internet today – we won’t even be able to imagine our global existence without it.

One of the largest beneficiaries of this technological development could be the global church because VR is going to change the way that Christians participate in worship.

The main impact that VR is going to have on the global church is that it is going to, one-day, enable Christians to easily gather from a variety of places without being in the same physical location.   This will enable persons who are homebound, sick, caregivers, without transportation, on vacation, or severely disabled to participate in worship with the larger community of faith without needing to leave the place where they are physically residing.

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Ellen Pao Tells Us What It’s Like To Lose Her Job Due To Trolls

Ellen Pao. Photo: Christopher Michel (CC)

Ellen Pao. Photo: Christopher Michel (CC)

Ellen Pao. Remember her? So far this year she’s lost her gender discrimination lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins and famously been booted from the CEO role at reddit. She’s blaming it on trolls, writing an op-ed at the Washington Post:

I have just endured one of the largest trolling attacks in history. And I have just been blessed with the most astonishing human responses to that attack.

What happened to me while head of the popular online forum Reddit for the past eight months is important to consider as we confront the ways in which the Internet is evolving. Here’s why:

The Internet started as a bastion for free expression. It encouraged broad engagement and a diversity of ideas. Over time, however, that openness has enabled the harassment of people for their views, experiences, appearances or demographic backgrounds. Balancing free expression with privacy and the protection of participants has always been a challenge for open-content platforms on the Internet.

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Electronic Frontier Foundation celebrates 25 years of defending online privacy

EFF Photos (CC BY 2.0)

EFF Photos (CC BY 2.0)

Maria Korolov via CSO Online:

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is the digital world’s top watchdog when it comes to privacy and free expression.

But while cops and firefighters are often ready to retire after 25 years on the job, protecting citizens, the EFF has a full agenda as it celebrates its 25th anniversary today.

The EFF was founded in 1990, when the Web still had just one webpage. Its first major case was one in which the U.S. Secret Service, hunting a stolen document, raided a company’s computers, computers that were also used to run an online bulletin board, and read and deleted those users’ messages.

The company, Steve Jackson Games, and some of the users of that bulletin board, thought that the government overstepped its warrant.

The situation inspired former Lotus president Mitch Kapor, Sun Microsystems employee John Gilmore and John Perry Barlow, cattle rancher and Greatful Dead lyricist to form the EFF and represent Steve Jackson Games and their users against the U.S.

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