Cupcakes

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A Fly in the Heart of an Apple

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A Fly in the Heart of an Apple
A celibate, like the fly in the heart of an apple, dwells in a perpetual sweetness, but sits alone, and is confined and dies in singularity. – Jeremy Taylor

I read in the New York Times where Google’s anthropomorph Sergey Brin inhabited a machine and mingled with the students at Singularity U. – which is a pricey course in the tech and the culture of its namesake, into which I first (belatedly!) got suckered through Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, a heady dose of just a hint of Cory Doctorow’s pure awesome.

The Singularity is a period after which Moore’s Law–where the time it takes for technology to double its power–becomes so incredibly exponential that the world is thrown into a state of perpetual doubling, second-by-second, drip-dripping innovation. A point in time where the definition blurs – the shady distinction between what is Man and Machine.

It’s all very pseudo-fanatical: an almost-religion concocted out of a die-hard belief in the *good* in technology and a back-issue copy of Asimov’s.

I should have been put-off by the dollar signs. A nine-day run at Singularity U. can put an enthusiast back $25K, which sounds like good fare for a scientologist. Unfortunately, I am an unabashed fanboy, so between Google and Doctorow and Vannevar Bush and, honestly, back-issues of Asimov’s, I am increasingly caught-up and cultish …

– and fascinated with the humanity in what would be not all that definably human. Reverse engineer the machine-functional brain and you can digitize consciousness, back it up, distribute copies willy-nilly and not only contain–as Whitman told us–but BE multitudes. Outside of the technological and astronomical singularities, the Singularity of Being is irredeemably blasted.

Here is where the real science fiction comes around: I am incapable of fathoming that I would really have anything to say with myself; rather, unless there is a cohesive network infrastructure with an external sysadmin-on-high, once a “me” is booted-up from some common backup, our paths d i v e r g e.

– speculatively,

Michael.

Brainstorming w. Cory Doctorow

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Brainstorming w. Cory Doctorow
So I had the idea to supplement a display with a digital collection supplemented by novels licensed through Creative Commons, and on a whim–just to be honest: to see if it’d get through–I emailed Cory Doctorow (Little Brother / Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom [my thoughts] / I, Robot [etc ...]) to pick his brain for digitally likeminded authors, because I’d come out of the gooters (that’s google + gutters) with only the vast gutenburg.org-bible of lit in the public domain and fanfic.
He wrote that none sprang to mind – said authors are still pretty rare, and YA publishers will probably bottleneck creative commons.
“That said, I think it’d be pretty easy to find at least a back-catalog in ebook form donated by writers for use on library terminals only…,” — hmm, as through programs like Adobe Digital Editions, which requires the owner [say, the library] to manually authenticate the computers the files can be read on and printed from. The latter is the biggie – would authors let their ebooks be *printed*? Maybe – if for library programs only. Then Cory: “Hey, Michael! I wouldn’t want to use Adobe DRM (or any DRM!). I wasthinking more like, “Here’s a password-protected site that we ask you not to share access to …,” which made a lot of duhhh sense to me.
The other day, I accessed my Greenstone Digital Library for the first time through SSH via PuTTY, which required a headache and a beer and an entirely new prompt vocabulary as a crash course. The biggest obstacle among poorly budgeted and highly politicized smalltowners [re: libraries] against a digital collection beyond the scare around a whole new system of cataloguing is its cost.
I figure that if you could supplement a collection with works licensed in creative commons and those already in the public domain [the classics], then a library could build a pretty substantial (if modest) collection available through its website, racking-up the hit counter while sparing their savvy patrons the pain-in-the-neck of DRM.

Cory Doctorow is the best-selling author of Little Brother & loads more.

So I had the idea to complement a display with a digital collection supplemented by novels licensed through Creative Commons, and on a whim–just to be honest: to see if it’d get through–I emailed Cory Doctorow (Little Brother / Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom [my thoughts] / I, Robot [etc ...]) to pick his brain for digitally likeminded authors, because I’d come out of the gooters (that’s google + gutters) with only the vast gutenberg.org-bible of lit-in-the-public-domain and fanfic.

He wrote that none sprang to mind – said authors are still pretty rare, and YA publishers will probably bottleneck creative commons. “That said, I think it’d be pretty easy to find at least a back-catalog in ebook form donated by writers for use on library terminals only…,” — huh, as through programs like Adobe Digital Editions, which requires the owner [say, the library] to manually authenticate the computers the files can be read on and printed from. The latter is the biggie – would authors let their ebooks be printed? Maybe – if for library programs only. Then, Cory: “Hey, Michael! I wouldn’t want to use Adobe DRM (or any DRM!). I wasthinking more like, “Here’s a password-protected site that we ask you not to share access to …,” which made a lot of duhhh sense to me….

The other day, I accessed my Greenstone Digital Library for the first time through SSH via PuTTY, which required a headache and a beer and an entirely new prompt vocabulary as a crash course. The biggest obstacle among poorly budgeted and highly politicized smalltowners [re: libraries] against a digital collection beyond the scare around a whole new system of cataloguing is its cost.

I figure that if you could supplement a collection with works licensed under creative commons and those already in the public domain (the classics), then a library could build a pretty substantial (if modest) collection available through its website, racking-up the hit counter while sparing their savvy patrons the pain-in-the-neck of DRM.

Sometime over the next week I think I’ll start work collecting public-domain and CC YA oriented works to supplement the library programs with online analogues at the BL[ing]–”the Bradford County Public Library Youth & Teen Services 2.0″ that Could Use Some Color!–and at the end of my semester with Dr. P J[orgensen], when [if] I’ve my head around Greenstone, I’ll transfer the “collection” to the digital library I will have built through the University.

In the singularity, the “cure for death” is a series of digital backups …

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Ported from S-is-For-Somewhere.
Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom

Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom

On Wednesday I [legitimately] finished Cory Doctorow’s Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom (available in loads of downloadable formats [free]) – read as an etext on my ipod touch. I’d argued before my uncertainty that the broadly sermonized smell and weight of a book-proper was all it was cracked-up to be, but now I’ve first-hand experience. Honestly, I am not too voracious a reader; I’m easily distracted by my own projects and bright lights, so reading’s always been a thrill of convenience during the inbetweens in my day. So, it took me a couple weeks to swipe through it, but that’s with the ability to adapt my random-reading to my random-taste, sifting between maybe seventeen novels (most from the public domain) I carry around – in my pocket.

Down & Out made me rehash machine functionalism, which I was briefed-on during an Intro. Philosophy course, and the haunting potential that we could digitally replicate human consciousness. Doctorow’s “cure for death” is a series of digital backups coupled with tissue restoration; in the Singularity, death means having lost a day, a week, a year-at-most – but an hour-long data-dump will bring you up to speed. Flashbake –


Etc.: I’m still half-diligently working toward a Glimmer Train deadline, and I’ve almost finished drafting an article for the Bradford Telegraph re: the future of book banning. I’ll throw-it up here in a jiffy. I am writing a reflection paper on As We May Think, and — even though I tend to totally rush through those — I think I may start web-publishing my gradwork as it comes around.


Kristen loved Lisa See’s Peony in Love, so I am going to smother her with Snow Flower & the Secret Fan (which I loved, re: “nu shu” secret phonetic writing developed by women) in an hour or so. — and googling those, I had no idea Lisa See had written so many novels.

Print, beware! — &c — “pure digital”

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[ported from S is For Somewhere]

– have been participating in fairly entertaining trolling on PubLib (Public Library Listserv) (entitled: “Missing the Boat (or at least Getting Wet)”) regarding the threat of irrelevance to libraries who resist digitization. Trust me, while it sounds dull (lowercase-d) in hindsight, when at an isolated reference desk, defaming sacred cows at an institution of cattle herders relieves the pure and outright Dull (capital-d).

Caveat: — I was taken aside by the director (my thread above in question) and warned about my usage of “ad nauseum” when paired with customer service.

Anyway, I now read in Ars Technica that

Even if print survives the next subscription renewal process, it’s clear that Nordin doesn’t think it can continue indefinitely. ACS’s experience has been that, given the choice, enough of its readers prefer digital that print becomes hard to maintain.

“Once you start printing less than 1,000 of anything, you really have to question your business model,” Nordin said.

The options for making print work better are also unpalatable; “No one wanted to give up color—nobody wanted to dial the clock back—and nobody wanted to add author charges for color.

“Obviously, we’re somewhere on the road to pure digital,” Nordin concluded. Still, even with an insider’s view, he was hesitant to predict the trajectory of the transition. “We really don’t know where [we are on that road], and we’re waiting to be guided by our customers.”

which, I’m guessing, Nordin’s thinking right.

Zamyatin’s tangible threat that 2+2=4 [yikes]

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Originally @ S-is-For-Somewhere

I’m admittedly biased against DRM-locked digitized books and audio, and so when it was announced that Amazon–which, otherwise, I like a ton–axed copies of 1984 from owners’ kindles, I was less at odds with the particular action than what it meant & symbolized regarding threats to ownership and autonomy in the digital culture.

Skim “Why 2024 Will Be like Nineteen Eighty-Four: How Amazon’s remote deletion of e-books from the Kindle paves the way for book-banning’s digital future” published @ Slate.

Amazon deleted books that were already available in print, but in our paperless future—when all books exist as files on servers—courts would have the power to make works vanish completely. Zittrain writes: “Imagine a world in which all copies of once-censored books like CandideThe Call of the Wild, and Ulysseshad been permanently destroyed at the time of the censoring and could not be studied or enjoyed after subsequent decision-makers lifted the ban.” This may sound like an exaggeration; after all, we’ll surely always have file-sharing networks and other online repositories for works that have been decreed illegal. But it seems like small comfort to rely on BitTorrent to save banned art. The anonymous underground movements that have long sustained banned works will be a lot harder to keep up in the world of the Kindle and the iPhone.