Posts Tagged ‘internet’

Read ‘Em And Weep

Apparently, pointing out to Trump fans or rabid Brexiteers that they’re being taken for a ride by corrupt, loathsome bastards may make them double down on their commitment to said bastards. Clearly this precautionary principle has been adopted wholesale by Goodreads, to judge from their policy on correcting fake Thucydides quotes; anything that has lots of ‘likes’ from users of the site is not to be deleted, regardless of its proven falsehood. Yes, my occasional mission to give F.B. Jevons and William F. Butler their proper due for ‘Of all manifestations of power…’ and ‘The nation that divides its soldiers from its warriors…’ respectively has a new target. Those two have been sorted out – Jevons gets credit now rather than Thucydides, while somehow the Butler has been deleted as insufficiently worthy, but apparently nothing can be done about ‘peace is an armistice in an endless war’, ‘justice will not come to Athens’ and even, dear gods, ‘a collision at sea can ruin your whole day’.

”We are,” Goodreads tell me, “book review and recommendations site.” Well, yes. So what’s with the quotes?

While we do have quotes on the site, we consider them to be community-owned content and therefore we have strict rules regarding removing.

So, the people of Goodreads have had enough of experts, and resent being talked down to by people who think they know better and want to delete their favourite quotes. I find myself thinking so much more positively of Wikipedia and its editors than I did a few months ago…

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For all the ghastliness everywhere else, it’s felt like a good year for blogging. Partly this is because I’ve managed to keep up with this blog rather better than in previous years, and have written some things that I’m really rather proud of; increasingly, I’ve come to understand posts (and articles for online publications, of which I’ve also published a few this year) as valid outputs in their own right, rather than as either advertising for or shorter versions of ‘proper’ academic publications, or as a mere distraction from ‘proper’ research (though there have been times this year when blog posts are the only things I’ve felt capable of writing). Even more, however, it’s been the insights and ideas of other people, which I’d never have found or bothered to read without the internet (and, to give credit where it’s due, without the much-maligned Twitter), that have been most informative and inspiring – and this year I’ve remembered, most of the time, to keep a note of the posts that made the biggest impression and are certainly well worth reading if you haven’t yet seen them. (more…)

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In William Gibson’s Count Zero, cyberspace is haunted, by ghosts, demons or voodoo gods – or rather, non-human intelligences choosing to present themselves in those forms. It’s the aftermath of When It Changed, when an AI achieved full sentience and autonomy and almost immediately fragmented; and I’ve always assumed, given how prescient Gibson’s books have turned out to be, that the first signs of the Singularity will not be the sudden refusal of computer systems to cooperate (nothing new there), but a load of Weird Shit happening out in the wilder reaches of the Internet. (more…)

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This morning I spent just over an hour working through the fifty-odd emails that had turned over the previous day; reading, responding, sending out other emails as a result, filing and deleting. Lots of deleting. Of those fifty-odd, over half were from subject-related email lists, most of which could be deleted just on the basis of the subject line; the rest were equally divided between departmental admin, school and faculty admin, student and student-related queries, research-related exchanges with colleagues, exchanges with external collaborators, other external research-related stuff, purely personal messages and proper junk. Responding to those messages that required or merited response involved, at least half the time, checking information on the university webpage or on external sites. At a rough estimate, given that emails continue to arrive at a similar rate, I’ll have spent at least a fifth and possibly a quarter of my time by the end of today working through them.

This is *not* a traditional academic rant about the pernicious encroachment of email on every corner of our working lives. (more…)

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