Temporary Social Media:

Do we need to con­tinue to assume that social media con­tent needs to be for­ever? I’m curi­ous as to what hap­pens to iden­tity if social media empha­sizes less endur­ing record­ings and instead some­thing more tem­po­rary. It would be iden­tity less con­cerned with itself as a con­stant “arti­fact”, a less nos­tal­gic under­stand­ing of the present as a poten­tial future past and instead an iden­tity a bit more of the present, for the present.

The step back:

We hold a prob­lem in our minds and it fre­quently exists nowhere else in as descrip­tive a form. That can be really dif­fi­cult, because things we hold in our mind and nowhere else have the ten­dency to change sub­tly every time we exam­ine them, like read­ing a book in a dream. Trying to hold a detailed, com­plex idea in your mind for extended peri­ods of time is basi­cally impos­si­ble with­out progress that allows you to trans­fer the idea to some­thing con­crete and stop remem­ber­ing it.

Dyson: We have cre­ated this expand­ing com­pu­ta­tional uni­verse, and it’s open to the evo­lu­tion of all kinds of things. It’s cycling faster and faster, and it’s way, way, way more than dou­bling in scale every year. Even with the help of Google and YouTube and Facebook, we can’t con­sume it all. And we aren’t really aware what this vast space is fill­ing up with. From the human per­spec­tive, com­put­ers are idle 99 per­cent of the time, just wait­ing for the next instruc­tion. While they’re wait­ing for us to come up with instruc­tions, more and more com­pu­ta­tion is hap­pen­ing with­out us, as com­put­ers write instruc­tions for each other. And as Turing showed math­e­mat­i­cally, this space can’t be super­vised. As the dig­i­tal uni­verse expands, so does this wild, undo­mes­ti­cated side.

Wired: If this is true, what’s the takeaway?

Dyson: Hire biol­o­gists! It doesn’t make sense for a high tech com­pany to have 3,000 soft­ware engi­neers but no biologists.

From a Q&A between George Dyson and Wired’s Kevin Kelly.

The Anti-Dropout:

It’s true (and excit­ing) that so much knowl­edge has moved online in the past decade. I can learn basic pro­gram­ming via Treehouse. I can learn web design in a course on Udemy. But what if I want to learn about the physics that drive hard­ware per­for­mance? The mate­ri­als sci­ence behind the next gen­er­a­tion of wear­able com­put­ing? Or what about how to bring elec­tron­ics man­u­fac­tur­ing back to the United States? There are real, fun­da­men­tal sets of knowl­edge that are still locked up in tra­di­tional academia.

To know is to speak correctly

I’m still work­ing my way through Foucault’s The Order of Things and have made slower progress than pre­vi­ous weeks. Busy weeks at work and lots of travel will do that. As I was work­ing through my notes from the last 100 pages this quote caught my eye:

To know is to speak cor­rectly, and as the steady progress of the mind dic­tates; to speak is to know as far as one is able, and in accor­dance with the model imposed by those whose birth one shares.

I par­tic­u­larly like those first six words. To know is to speak cor­rectly. Has a nice feel­ing to it.

New! New! New! (not yet)

When you let it be itself, every­thing on the Internet belongs to every­thing else. The walls tech peo­ple try to raise, to con­vince investors that there’s dol­lar value there, are fake. They don’t hold any­thing behind them that has any last­ing value. The only things that stand a chance are things that flow. And for that, the walls get in the way.