Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘Kevin Kelly

Ecolinks!

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Still working through a backlog of open tabs. First up: ecology and the environment.

* There’s no such thing as clean coal. Just ask the Coen brothers. Also at Grist: dealing with the fact of environmentalism’s soft public support.

As I have argued before, our attention to wide but weak public support is misplaced, leaving us vulnerable to the cycles of an ADD media and alienating our potential core. It is increasingly evident that the vast scale of climate risk provokes a number of numbing psychological responses — pre-conscience cognitive dissonance and buffering in various forms — which exacerbates the usual forces of diffusion.

The only means by which a worldview and solution that is significantly at odds with majority public opinion may be driven onto the public agenda is through the agency of “a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens” — in other words, a determined, partisan core.

* George Will: still lyin’.

* ‘Hacking the planet: The only climate solution left?’ First up: a sunshield. I guess it’s true what they say: from the dawn of time mankind really has yearned to block out the sun.

* Sympathy for the Unabomber? Don’t open any packages from Kevin Kelly for a few days.

* Times Square and several blocks of Broadway are being shut down to cars for most of the year in the name of traffic management and pedestrian malls. Awesome.

* Nuke your city. Via BLDG BLOG (which has a lot of examples) and io9. Of course, we’ve already done Durham.

Random Links

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A few random links of the sort that’s been crowded out by Obamania.

* Kevin Kelly is looking for evidence of a global superorganism.

* Fire > language: Humans built fires 500 thousand years before they could speak.

* Haruki Murakami: “We are living in the future now, in a kind of science fiction – 9/11 itself was kind of unreal to me, those images of planes diving into the buildings. I felt like I stepped into the wrong world.” I’ve felt that way about nearly everything since the 2000 election, to be honest.

* The Apocalypse according to Dan Clowes.

* Cosmic apocalypses at Discover.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 8, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Day -5 News Roundup

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Day -5 news roundup.

* Evolution has been demonstrated in laboratory conditions. This is actually a pretty impressive experiment involving 12 separate E. coli colonies over twenty years; after three mutations and 40,000 generations, one of the lines developed the ability to eat citrate. More discussion at Daily Kos.

* Robert Pinsky on the poetics of Zork.

I believe that the poetics of Zork and its modern descendants tell us more about the literary potential of the computer than we could learn from any amount of ambitious literary theorizing. At the beginning of Zork, the player-reader faces a small, empty house, on a barren plain: a visible territory that can be walked over by entering a handful of keyboard commands. But ah! — after looking under the carpet, and opening the trapdoor, and descending and entering the tunnel: then one sees the world of Zork unfold outward into an immense network of concentric chambers, looping passageways, branching and terraced corridors. The map of this voluminous (if monotonous) universe was itself gigantic. Primitive though this world was, it would become absorbing, even transporting. A successful artist recently said to me, looking back on a time of great psychological stress, “Zork kept me alive.”

* Carville floats Al Gore for VP. I think this is a fantastic idea whose excellence is mitigated only by its sheer impossibility.

* Everyone’s linking to the J.K. Rowling Harvard speech. I think it’s mandatory.

* Kevin Out of Control Kelly introduces me to a new term: scenius, the specie of genius devoted to mastery of a cultural scene.

Scenius is like genius, only embedded in a scene rather than in genes. Brian Eno suggested the word to convey the extreme creativity that groups, places or “scenes” can occasionally generate. His actual definition is: “Scenius stands for the intelligence and the intuition of a whole cultural scene. It is the communal form of the concept of the genius.”

Individuals immersed in a productive scenius will blossom and produce their best work. When buoyed by scenius, you act like genius. Your like-minded peers, and the entire environment inspire you.

The geography of scenius is nurtured by several factors:

• Mutual appreciation — Risky moves are applauded by the group, subtlety is appreciated, and friendly competition goads the shy. Scenius can be thought of as the best of peer pressure.
• Rapid exchange of tools and techniques — As soon as something is invented, it is flaunted and then shared. Ideas flow quickly because they are flowing inside a common language and sensibility.
• Network effects of success — When a record is broken, a hit happens, or breakthrough erupts, the success is claimed by the entire scene. This empowers the scene to further success.
• Local tolerance for the novelties — The local “outside” does not push back too hard against the transgressions of the scene. The renegades and mavericks are protected by this buffer zone.

Scenius can erupt almost anywhere, and at different scales: in a corner of a company, in a neighborhood, or in an entire region.

* And even President Bush admits he’s been a terrible, terrible president. Well, almost:

In an exclusive interview, he expressed regret at the bitter divisions over the war and said that he was troubled about how his country had been misunderstood. “I think that in retrospect I could have used a different tone, a different rhetoric.”

Phrases such as “bring them on” or “dead or alive”, he said, “indicated to people that I was, you know, not a man of peace”.

He’s absolutely right, of course—it’s his rhetoric that was the problem.

Written by gerrycanavan

June 12, 2008 at 2:17 am

Internet as Copy Machine

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Written by gerrycanavan

March 6, 2008 at 4:26 am

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