All items about society


In this video lecture, neuroscientist and fiction writer David Eagleman speaks for two hours about how the Internet, and how humans are connected to it, provides six essential steps to avoid the collapse of civilization. The steps are pretty obvious in retrospect:

  • Try not to cough on one another
  • Don’t lose things
  • Tell each other faster
  • Mitigate tyranny
  • Get more brains involved in solving problems
  • Try not to run out of energy

It’s well presented, reminiscent of James Burke’s Connections and The Day The Universe Changed. Well worth the nearly 2 hours of the lecture.

Fossil frog, by kevinzim on Flickr

We’re rethinking many of the fundamentals on which our society is based: identity theft, privacy, employment background checks, freedom of speech, and the burden of proof. But the elder statesmen of the high courts aren’t keeping up.

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Twitter - Bird with Follow Me Sign

Back in mid-2008, Twitter was just another Web 2.0 application. Industry watchers were beginning to take notice of its million or so users and speculate if it might be the start of something bigger, but most people hadn’t heard of it or didn’t “get it”. Here at Bitcurrent we pondered the rise of microblogging and the scaling problems ahead, noting a few teething problems along the way.

Towards the end of 2008, people outside of tech circles began to take notice, especially when it became a key form of communication during the Mumbai terror attacks in November. In December it became clear that Twitter was not just another social site, but a protocol for a new form of communication. By the end of the year, people were exploring all sorts of new uses for Twitter, and the Twitter pantomime was born.

But 2009 was the year that Twitter really took the world by storm.
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Somewhere around 1999, I first saw a URL in a movie trailer. That confirmed for me that web technology had reached the mainstream. Clay Shirky points out that really interesting social capital applications emerge not when new technology is created, but when that technology is so mainstream as to be boring. He cites U.S. “citizen voter” applications designed to document suspicious voting practices, but is quick to emphasize that these were inspired by their low-tech predecessors in Africa.Twitter names in the credits of a Russell Howard show

Recently, I noticed something equally mainstream about a new class of technology: its appearance in movie and TV credits. As this screencap shows, the credits for @bbcgoodnews (which, I’m pretty sure, features @notrusshoward) include Twitter usernames.

Which got me thinking:
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