This is my dumping ground for quotes and other stuff relating to the wonderful world of digital & communications.
For every £40 spent by the UK state sector, nearly £1 goes on information and communications technology; well over twice what we spend on roads
But where is the frontier in technology? … Picture the world as being covered by ponds, lakes, and oceans. You’re in a boat, in a body of water. But it’s extremely foggy, so you don’t know how far it is to the other side. You don’t know whether you’re in a pond, a lake, or an ocean.
If you’re in a pond, you might expect the crossing to take about an hour. So if you’ve been out a whole day, you’re either in a lake or an ocean. If you’ve been out for a year, you’re crossing an ocean. The longer journey, the longer your expected remaining journey….
So where are the places where technology is happening? Where is there room for the journey to continue? The frontier is a promising place, but also a very uncertain one. You can imagine a tech market where nothing is happening for a long time, things suddenly start to happen, and then it all stops. The tech frontier is temporal, not geographical. It’s when things are happening.
We should ask ourselves whether the right time to enter a tech industry is early on, as conventional wisdom suggests. The best time to enter may be much later than that. It can’t be too late, since you still need room to do something. But you want to enter the field when you can make the last great development, after which the drawbridge goes up…
there’s something comforting about these reports of iPod adoption by people who seem incongruous in the digital world. It paints a telling picture of how even the most cautious humans have been adjusting to the furious pace of the modern world. Ever since, say, electricity, society has had to endure a steady succession of disruptions in the name of progress. Forward-thinking folks have always embraced novelty and been quick to identify the virtues of an unexpected new technology. (Think of Edith Wharton, who by 1902 had equipped her Berkshire estate with electricity, telephones, and a hydraulic elevator, and who bought a motorcar two years later.) Some have always held back for a spell, either not seeing the necessity for something like a moving picture box in their home or feeling intimidated by the demands that this development might make on them. Eventually they come to see the value of the invention, and there is a moment in time — when the newfangled object has shift ed to a mass phenomenon but is not yet so common that using it draws no comment whatsoever — that unlikely people hop on the bandwagon
the inventor of the game of chess shows his creation to his country’s ruler. The emperor is so delighted by the game that he allows the inventor to name his own reward. The clever man asks for a quantity of rice… one grain of rice is placed on the first square of the chessboard, two grains on the second… each square receiving twice as many grains as the previous. The emperor agrees… The inventor winds up with 2 to the power of 63 grains of rice, or a pile bigger than Mount Everest. …
Their point is that in an era of exponential increase in the power of technology, things get only get really interesting in the second half of the chessboard.
Two hundred years ago this month, groups of artisan cloth workers began to assemble at night on the moors around towns in Nottinghamshire. Proclaiming allegiance to the mythical King Ludd of Sherwood Forest… the Luddites organised machine-wrecking raids on textile factories…
Contrary to modern assumptions, the Luddites were not opposed to technology itself. They were opposed to the particular way it was being applied. … Their protest was specifically aimed at a new class of manufacturers who were aggressively undermining wages, dismantling workers’ rights and imposing a corrosive early form of free trade.
George Balanchine… worked with Salvatore Capezio to develop and patent pointe shoes to produced the exact lines of the foot and leg he thought beautiful…
Laemmli argues that the new shoes forced dancers’ bodies to move in new ways. Dancers on this pointe regimen developed characteristically long, lean leg muscles. Balanchine also encouraged dancers to let the shoes remake their bodies, including developing bunions that gave the foot just the right line. And as their bodies were remade, dancers became “like IBM machines,” modern and indistinguishable. This had consequences for labor, too. For one, stars became a less central feature of dance companies as dancers became more interchangeable, and second, dancers came to spend hours working on their shoes — altering, gluing, and caring for them. In fact, in 1980 dancers threatened to strike — not over hours or pay, but for better pointe shoes, and better management of them.
Levy: Eric Schmidt has said that there are four horsemen of technology now: Google, Apple, Facebook, and you. Do you view Amazon in those terms?
Bezos: … one question to ask when you see a list like that is, who would have been on it 10 years ago? That will keep you humble. Go back to 1980. Who would you have predicted to be among the four horsemen of the personal computer era?…
Bezos: Right. And Intel, maybe. But you might’ve had Commodore, too, or Atari. There are always shiny things. A company shouldn’t get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn’t last.
In the last century or so, which industry has a habit of being hysterical and hyperbolic about copyright issues… and which has a history of being right. Let’s start about a century ago, with John Philip Sousa, the composer. In 1906, he went to Congress to complain about the infernal technology industry and how it was going to ruin music:
These talking machines are going to ruin the artistic development of music in this country. When I was a boy…in front of every house in the summer evenings, you would find young people together singing the songs of the day or old songs. Today you hear these infernal machines going night and day. We will not have a vocal cord left. The vocal cord will be eliminated by a process of evolution, as was the tail of man when he came from the ape.
Yes, the tech industry was going to kill music, because of “these infernal machines.”
(GOES ON TO TALK AT LENGTH ABOUT MANY MANY OTHER EG’S THROUGH HISTORY OF MEDIA INDUSTRY OVERACTION)…
So, when the RIAA and the MPAA insist that “something must be done!” as quickly as is humanly possible to deal with the “threat” of so-called “rogue sites” domestically and abroad, we say back to them: “let’s all take a deep breath.” And suggest that, perhaps it is they who are hysterically overreacting… as they’ve done for over a century.
In’69, Donald C. Wetzel for Docutel developed the first machines utilizing the cards with magnetic strips. Since Docutel was the first company to get a patent for this type of machine, the Smithsonian Museum gives them credit for being the inventors. The public was still wary of accepting and trusting money machines. … By’73, these machines were capable of issuing cash in variable amounts. By’74, the online networking component was added which led to ATMs as we know them now.
Today automated cash machines are more common than drinking fountains
At Google our heroes are Alan Turing and the people who worked on breaking the codes at Bletchley Park. It was probably the most inspiring and uplifting achievement in scientific technology over the last hundred years. I don’t think it’s an exaggeration to say that without Alan Turing, Google as we know it wouldn’t exist.’
When factory-produced paint was first made available in tubes in the 1840s, it transformed the practices of painters. Previously, paint-making had been part of the artist’s craft (a messy task, ideally handled by assistants): grinding pigments, measuring solvents, and decanting the resulting concoctions into containers (glass vials and pigs’ bladders were frequently used). The texture of the artist’s work was determined by the need to make paint, but the paints themselves also literally determined the palette, and even to a certain extent the subject matter, of their works. With the advent of cheap, manufactured tube paints, paint could be a sketching medium; it became easier to carry paints into the field to paint en plein air. Renoir even went so far as to say that without tube paints, the Impressionist movement would never have happened. Looking through new tubes, so to speak, nineteenth-century artists found a new way to look at the world. Rarely will you find an art historian who will complain about the damaging effects of manufactured paints, or talk about ready-made pigments as if they determined the course of nineteenth-century art in some limiting fashion. Technological innovation made possible a creative renascence in painting.
There are people who ride technology for as long as it can be ridden without falling over.