Friday, March 26, 2010

algorithms, filters and social networks

from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung 20.03.2010, via Sign and Sight's from the Feuilltons feature

Jürgen Kuri assistant editor-in-chief of c't, explains why web filters are so important, and why only social networks have the power to counteract the Google algorithm: "Algorithms are not moral and not intelligent. Algorithmic filters lead to mainstreaming, which smacks of the Matthew effect: "To all those who have, more will be given". 

Things that are known are strengthened by repetition and more versions of the same; the unknown things and things that don't conform are blended out. But user behaviour on social networks demonstrates that filters can work differently. The network of relations between circles of friends on Facebook and groups of followers on Twitter, creates a social filter of tips, links, retweets, statements and comments."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

be your own futurist

Professional futurists continue to make outstanding contributions toward the development of understandings of the future, but is futures thought limited to this select group? Definitely not! With a do-it-yourself attitude, and leverage of the right resources, anybody can become an effective futurist. Here's why:

  1. Nobody knows the future – don't trust anybody who says otherwise. The world is changing at an accelerating pace, and it's simply getting harder and harder to imagine what will happen next, let alone 20 years from now. We are all white belts when it comes to approaching the future. We have never been there before, and it is hard to model a world that does not exist yet. What futurists provide is their "best guess" — hopefully supported by quality research and trends analyses.
  2. Futuring is easier than you think. While some futures research methodologies, such as the Delphi method, require an element of professional experience and expertise, many others are easily done — and should be done — by just about anybody. Environmental scanning, for example, involves simply exposing yourself to as much data and information on a broad range as possible (i.e., reading as many newspapers as you can, daily). The futures wheel is related to mindmapping, and can be easily done within individual or group settings. Jerome Glenn and Theodore Gordon wrote an excellent volume on methodologies used by futurists, Futures Research Methodology Version 3.0 (Available at For do-it-yourself futurists or those wishing to explore the field, it is an excellent resource that will get you going.
  3. We are all futurists. Few activities are as natural and universal among humans and human cultures as storytelling. We use stories to share our memories and imaginations of events that have happened or will happen. We use stories to share histories, fables and myths of the past. We also use stories to share visions of and for the future — including goal setting, promises of change, narratives of how we improve ourselves, and even apocalyptic nightmares. Even in our sleep, we often dream about future scenarios. Futurists explicitly tap into our stories and the power of storytelling to share their visions and dreams. So can everybody else.
  4. You can access the same information as professional futurists can. Unless if you're divining knowledge from an isolated and highly controlled information source, the ubiquitous availability of data and information in today's networked society mean that you can easily and cost-effectively build up your knowledge base of future trends. Moreover, you are welcome to join the same professional societies that professional futurists participate in, such as the World Future Society, providing you with the same connections and access to professional society-level knowledge they have.
  5. We all create the future. Futurists do not create the future, everybody does. Time may move forward, but the future does not just "happen." Rather we share a responsibility to ensure that the futures we create are positive (ideal outcomes for humanity, the world, etc.). Moreover, in our interconnected world, we cannot disconnect from our futures. We cannot "futureproof" an organization. Nor can we find ways to fight it as individuals. Rather we can harness our inner futurists and lead in the creation of futures of our own design.
Cheerfully cribbed from Education Futures, "Five secrets futurists don't want you to know" by 

Friday, March 05, 2010

getting cognitive

The inaugural issue of Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Cognitive Science is out, including 

Brian T. Edwards in Watching Shrek in Tehran: The seen and the unseen in Iranian cinema. "Econo-Jihad": Jihadist terror organizations have set economic terrorism as their new target, intending to harm and paralyze Western economies, the United States in particular. 

Warning: Your reality is out of date: Samuel Arbesman introduces the mesofact. 

Jami Attenberg reviews Reality Hunger: A Manifesto by David Shields (and more and more and more and more and more and more 

and more and more and moreand more and more and more and more). 

How locavores could save the world: The latest yuppie craze could do more than just cut emissions — it might also help feed the poor. 

From Fast Company, how much longer can shopping malls survive? A look at how health care is no stranger to the reconciliation process (and more). 

Dress Code: Tony Perrottet goes behind the rumor that Hoover wore women's clothing

The Tribe That Bites: Allison Gaudet Yarrow on the unlikely rise of the Jewish vampire

Modernizing the idea of the great French salons — elegant gatherings of intelligentsia — a Toronto businessman's soirees are provoking thought about how city and country can be run.

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

2010 Municipal Election Results

Results courtesy of the Mountain View Telegraph, sweet, even if I looked for them last night. See article remaining area election results.

Electioneering is over ~ time for candidates and voters to move on and work together to achieve all the worthy goals brought forth during the campaign.

We should continue to remind them, don't you think? Transparency in government, infrastructure upgrade, increased efficiency in delivering public services, training, community programs and events, youth, promoting locally owned small businesses, sustainability, tourism, recycling, green energy,

Posted via web from Meanderings

Monday, March 01, 2010

Publishing will always need its gatekeepers

via Culture | by Robert McCrum on 3/1/10

It's all very well for the writers, but where will editors and publishers fit into this brave new digital world?

Last week I wrote about the new freedoms and opportunities a contemporary writer can enjoy, and even benefit from. Inevitably, some of the subsequent posts raised the question of editors and the role of publishing houses in this new environment. Since I used to work as an editor (at Faber), and think I understand what's at stake, I thought I should address this now: it turns out to be a good moment.

By chance, there are two contributions just in on this subject: first, a cri de coeur from Carol Baron of Knopf at the Huffington Post (I'll come to that in a minute); second, a brilliant piece by my old friend Jason Epstein on the future of book publishing in the digital age in the New York Review of Books. I recommend both: in their different ways Barron and Epstein signal a significantly richer and smarter engagement than heretofore with the reality of change in the world of books.

While Epstein is a deep thinker in this field, Barron was responding impulsively to a complaint by one of her author friends that "there is no editing any more". She, naturally, rejects this, and it's certainly an old complaint. As far as I can recall, people have been moaning on like this for the last 30 years, possibly longer.

The previous age of books is always seen as the golden one. In that fabled time, a generation of Maxwell Perkins clones walked the aisles of the great publishing houses, lost in the quest for split infinitives or dangling participles, or engaged in extracting the angel from the marble of the heroic first draft, as in the case of Thomas Wolfe, author of the sadly forgotten classic Look Homeward, Angel (by the way, my guess – based on experience – is that, yes, there was a generation or two who worked very hard on improving writers' manuscripts, but that Wolfe's example is the exception not the rule). Much of what Baron describes as the editor's function now – her "10 things", once choosing the book and editing the book have been dealt with – strike me as having more to do with in-house PR. The role of the editor is not what it was: everyone concedes that. So much for the microcosm. When we turn to the big picture, we find Jason Epstein.

His clear-eyed pragmatism is refreshing: the world has changed, irreversibly and forever. The great publishing giants and their old ways are increasingly redundant. And yet there is still the inescapable fact that writers sit alone in rooms, putting words on paper, or on screens.

In respect of "the difficult, solitary work of literary creation", Epstein says "the cost of entry for future publishers will be minimal" without the overheads of traditional, multilayered management. The devolution of gatekeeping from centralised corporate publishers, he argues, has already begun, with the emergence of "semi-autonomous editorial units" (what some people call "imprints"). These, Epstein believes, indicate the way of the future.

In other words, whatever the innovation on the instrumental side of the delivery system, there will still have to be a measure of mediation, or gatekeeping. I share with Epstein the view that whatever the hopes of the blogosphere for communal projects, the fantasy that the contents of the digital cloud can be mashed up to form "a single, communal, autonomous intelligence" is just that – strictly for the birds.

Epstein is, I think, right to note that, long before and long after Gutenberg, literary form has been typically conservative. The act of reading is a reflective and solitary pursuit that abhors distraction. The act of writing is also a lonely business: it takes place in small rooms, in solitude, and (typically) in silence.

It's hard, if not impossible, to imagine a radical new literary paradigm that might change that. For the moment, writers still need intermediaries: the job description will change, but the function remains broadly the same. © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Posted via email from Meanderings

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