One thing everyone agreed upon was that that the “signal to noise” ratio for feedback (incorporating all pro/amateur/literary critique/”you suck” e-mail) for any creative work on the Internet is astoundingly low. So the question remains – as a creator of any subjective work on the Internet (comics, films, poetry, bonsai kittens) – how can one filter the responses one gets to get useful information out of the mire? Read more
Man I love Scott Kurtz. I’m not sure of anyone else who has that unique blend of high quality output I can’t resist – and then the occasional personal post that can just send me screaming around the bend wanting to rant and rage.
I suspect that it will come as a shock to absolutely no one that filtering the internet is almost impossible, and there are a wide range of public and private options to circumvent filtering. As well I know many (I suspect most) major media outlets use VPNs, or other secured on-line platforms to submit their stories… obtaining web content through this “protected corridor” would be trivial.
More interesting to me than the global hand-wringing going on (which gives the impression that the Chinese government has all the power in this equation) would be if more organizations would publicly come out and state that filtering web access based on URL or even content keywords would have absolutely no impact whatsoever on their operations, or their ability to access whatever information they want while in Beijing.
Heck, why isn’t a major news outlet vowing to take a stand and provide their own encrypted internet corridor for any accredited journalist who wants to use it while in Beijing? Then we’d have a story.
[Edit 07/30/08 - Only hours later it looks like The IOC knew China had no intention of honouring their commitment - and even did a deal with them allowing this. While making the IOC seem unusually feckless, even by IOC standards, it doesn't change my underlying position. If the media is truly outraged, let's see them stand up and resolve the situation publically (instead of privately). I have no doubt they'd start getting tossed out of the country left and right, but it would be a lot more interesting to see the IOC try to worm it's way out of that situation with a "well we're only concerned about the sports themselves".]
I’m a long time proponent of so-called hard science-fiction. While I generally enjoy fiction in all it’s forms, there is something uniquely interesting, and often eye-opening, about those well versed in esoteric (sometimes impenetrable) subsets of the science community trying to extrapolate the cutting-edge developments of their fields into ethical, moral, or straight-adventure tales.
It’s telling that one of two physical pulp-and-paper magazines I still subscribe to is the venerable Analog. While Wikipedia may be right that it can be “a bit puritanical”, I have never picked up an issue that didn’t contain at least one story or science article that made me reconsider a pre-conceived notion about the universe we live in, or our place in it.
George Dyson’s “Engineer’s Dreams” is a great story, but also a great example of this unique blend of fiction (and also how hard it is to find a venue to publish such works). It blends the history of computer sciences, approaches to computer logic, and examination of Google network topography to construct a fictional tale about man’s ever shifting view of what a “computer” is. It actually just occured to me that it’s an interesting counterpoint to Cory Doctrow’s “0wnz0red” (a 2003 Nebula finalist) in that “0wnz0red” examines what application of computer logic could do to alter our concept of “human” and “Engineer’s Dreams” is the inverse.
Both are excellent stories that raise interesting questions. So you should go read them.