Jaron Lanier said something interesting about optimism

A few years ago I read Jaron Lanier’s book “You are Not a Gadget,” and I felt like I was listening to someone with a rich understanding of technology take a fairly critical view of it – a position not as many people were arguing at the time. Lanier is fully entrenched in Silicon Valley and big-tech, but he is also a thoughtful voice who often questions the less scrupulous ways internet technology is “helping” us. When Google and Facebook let their profits take precedence over their ethics, Lanier counters with accessible arguments of why the ethics matter more. In a recent interview with Kara Swisher on the “Too Embarrassed to Ask” podcast, Jaron said something that jumped out at me for the way it subverted common thinking about criticism, and its relationship to optimism & pessimism. When criticism is poorly expressed, it’s just complaining, or being mean, or being …

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Magic and Loss

Magic and Loss: The Internet as Art by Virginia Heffernan My rating: 3 of 5 stars I decided to read this after hearing the author on the Recode Media podcast and reading some of her shorter pieces in the Times over the years. There’s a lot to think about in Magic & Loss – I enjoyed the lucid language and often insightful commentary. The homage to the death of the telephone was wonderful, and the quick take on ‘science’ writing in the mainstream media was funny – but there were also a share of flimsy moments (did she really just try to summarize a billion photographs on Flickr by talking about the style of two users?) I found myself occasionally waiting for more substantive technical discussion (maybe I’m conditioned to expect it in any writing about the internet) but I guess the ‘internet as art’ premise doesn’t leave room for …

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on Netflix Instant Programming, vol. 1 – “Zeitgeist”

The amount of video available to watch instantly on the Netflix streaming service is impressive. Much of it is perfectly entertaining, some is very informative documentary filmmaking, and bits are awful and forgotten creations hanging off the cliff of relevancy. In this first volume of reviewing what’s out there, I watched the Zeitgeist movie. Zeitgeist was first mentioned to me in 2007 by a classmate. I thought it sounded interesting but didn’t bother watching until I noticed its availability on Netflix.   The first part of the movie discusses religion and I found it to be a generally objective and inoffensive report. ┬áDevout Christians are sure to take issue with the presentation of Jesus as a continuation in the “Sun God” myth, but as someone who has never strictly followed any religion, I didn’t immediately reject this suggestion. When the film steers into 9/11 conspiracies in part two, however, my …

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