We do, most of us anyway, yet not with the strength of our fathers. They saw the marvels of science transformed into technology: railroads, steamships, antibiotics, the airship, the plane, radio, television and last but not least, the Internet.
Yet at the same time, children are no longer safe roaming the streets, we are aware of every crime, villages that once had a vibrant cultural life are now transformed into TV watching drones and then plugged into the Internet. And let’s not forget the atomic bomb or even the conventional bombing that hit Guernika, Amsterdam, London and destroyed Hamburg and Dresden. Last but not least, an increasingly endangered nature.
Science is not really about that. Science is knowledge. But, the fact is, most of us judge science not by its capacity to predict anything, nor by being structured or follow any method, but by the cool things it brings to us.
A profound shift in the basis of competition has occurred. Today, competitive advantage in many businesses lies in the ability to capture unique information about customers – information that is not accessible to other vendors. For example, airlines develop frequent-flyer profiles that are not accessible to other airlines.
Banks use information about balances and individual funds flow to market various financial products to their customers. Even grocers create loyalty card programs in order to build and act on proprietary profiles of their customers.
In infomediated markets, infomediaries hold these customer profiles on behalf of the customer and, subject to the customer’s privacy preferences, make them available to appropriate vendors willing to pay to access them.
Digital security is a trade-off. If securing digital data were the only concern a business had, users would have no control over their own computing environment at all – the Web would be forbidden territory; every disk drive would be welded shut. That doesn’t happen, of course, because workers also need the flexibility to communicate with one another and with the outside world.
The current compromise between security and flexibility is a sort of intranet-plus-firewall sandbox, where the IT department sets the security policies that workers live within. This allows workers a measure of freedom and flexibility while giving their companies heightened security.
That was the idea, anyway. In practice, the sandbox model is broken. Some of the problem is technological, of course, but most of the problem is human. The model is broken because the IT department isn’t rewarded for helping workers do new things, like finally passing the N.Y. Regents exam or studying for an advanced degree, but for keeping existing things from breaking. Workers who want to do new things are slowly taking control of networking, and this movement toward decentralized control cannot be reversed.
How should a fiction writer use the web? Should I limit myself to the plain text? There are powerful reasons to do so. Art thrives in boundaries. A communication needs a channel that both the writer and reader can understand. In a way, boundaries are a common comfort zone.
When these limits are breached, the readers are not really sure of what’s going on, nor the writers. I don’t think anybody is yet sure of what this whole online fiction writing would turn out to be; if it finally turns out to be something.
Cinema, before Eisenstein and Chaplin, was not meant to be an art. Just an amusement for the less cultivated. I believe online fiction writing is passing through the same process; only more complicated. You could use a blog, a newsgroup, a wiki, twitter, a social engine or even combine all those resources together. And then there are text, photographs, video, interactivity, links, comments…
Hmm… so his method gotta be hard, serious stuff, just look at that face. I think I’ll pass.
Fear not my young apprentice, they are only four simple rules anybody can use. One of the good things about René is that he believed good sense was available to all. Anybody can become a scientist, just by thinking the right way.
Rule 1: Do not accept anything as true, unless you have no doubts about it. In other words, make sure you have understood everything. Now, if you haven’t, then note down your doubts.
Rule 2: Split those doubts up in as many simple parts as possible. For example, let’s suppose you have trouble making sense of the following paragraph of the US Constitution:
I was innocently browsing along Amazon.com today when it struck me how many dumb book titles there are. Here I’ll share with you a handful of the bizarre books I found:
1. Book #1: Cheese Problems Solved
This book Cheese Problems Solved is a must-have for anyone who faces chronic problems with cheese. For $249 (no, that’s not a typo) it better solve a heck of a lot more problems than just ones caused by cheese…
2. Book #2: How to Read a Book
At 426 pages, How To Read a Book may not be for beginners or people who have never read before.
When I was a kid I had no imaginary friends; I have an imagi-Nation. The Sovereign Duchy of Borgonnia. You see I was born in Tenerife but lived in Gran Canaria. So what, you say? So there is an unhealthy rivalry between the two islands. Living in Gran Canaria I was always the chicharrero (”fish eater”) and when I went to my grandparents’ island on Tenerife I was the gofión (”gofio eater”) or even the traitor.
So I developed a strong distrust for anything that sounds like nationalism of any kind. And, I grew up without roots, nation wise. Now you know why I had an imaginary nation. You can guess its drawbacks. Let me share its benefit.
You know one of the things kaizen is good for is increasing the quantity of your production. In my case I was quite concerned about two things: how much time I should run and how many posts I should publish.
Somehow, I was envisioning slowly raising both counts. Which is good. Problem is, where’s the limit? Kaizen is about continuous improvement, right? Yet does that mean a continuous increase in production? The question seemed a challenge to kaizen, indeed to any productivity method or system until I realized a simple truth:
Do you remember the first time you ate yogurt? I certainly do, because they came with a free toy. Yogurt and packed cereals were a novelty in Canary Islands back then. Something unknown they needed to present to reluctant parents and children alike.
Somehow it worked, because to this day I eat yogurt; toy or not toy. (As for cereal I quickly returned to the traditional gofio).
But the guys at Philosophers’ Notes are braver: they are giving a load of free yogurt, I mean, subscriptions.