LibrarianShipwreck

"More than machinery, we need humanity."

Be Afraid! But not that afraid? – on Climate Doom

People on social media would have really hated Cassandra. Her constant barrage of doleful warnings would just be dismissed of as hyperbolic and unhelpful. Those who did engage with her, … Continue reading

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How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Machine – a review of Aaron Bastani’s “Fully Automated Luxury Communism”

Flung back in time, to the year 2063, Captain Jean Luc Picard finds himself escorting a 21st century woman, Lily, through the starship Enterprise. As the year 2063 sees humanity … Continue reading

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How to stay cool in a library

According to numerous scientific studies, as well as ample anecdotal evidence, it is hot in the summer. Furthermore, as recent headlines from around the world attest, this particular summer is … Continue reading

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Who needs Black Mirror when you have reality? – on Black Mirror’s Fifth Season

At its best, Black Mirror presents quietly tragic portraits of people trying to navigate life in high-tech societies. At its worst, Black Mirror is a crude parody of itself that … Continue reading

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“And here we are” – on HBO’s Chernobyl

Audiences are used to watching cities being destroyed. From earthquakes to tornadoes, from devastating industrial accidents to wars, from giant rampaging monsters to legions of valiant heroes who wind up … Continue reading

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Stop Using “Google” as a Verb

Here is a hypothetical for you: imagine that someone asks you a question to which you do not know the answer. However, it is the type of question that you … Continue reading

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How to prepare for qualifying exams (or, how to read too many books in seven months)

Few aspects of pursuing a PhD are simultaneously as mundane and as Herculean as preparing for qualifying exams. What makes this task rather unexceptional is that it generally consists of … Continue reading

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“Cover Your Tracks!” – A Critique of the Privacy Project from The New York Times

Whatever you say, don’t say it twice. If you find your idea with somebody else: deny it. He who didn’t sign anything, who didn’t leave an image Who wasn’t there, … Continue reading

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The Whale and the CEO – a Review of “The Inventor Out for Blood in Silicon Valley”

If you knew where you were going You would halt. If you knew What is planned for you You would look around you. – Brecht   Few are the things … Continue reading

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“No one wants to see disaster coming, but those who look, do.” – A Review of “The Uninhabitable Earth”

“Don’t be a coward. Have the courage to be afraid. Force yourself to produce that amount of fear that corresponds to the magnitude of the apocalyptic danger.” – Günther Anders … Continue reading

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Between Salvation and Doom – Notes on the Green New Deal

At a time when their fall was certain – On the ramparts the lament for the dead had begun – The Trojans adjusted small pieces, small pieces In the triple … Continue reading

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How Many Books Does a Person Need?

“The acquisition of books is by no means a matter of money or expert knowledge alone. Not even both factors together suffice for the establishment of a real library, which … Continue reading

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From Megatechnic Bribe to Megatechnic Blackmail: Mumford’s ‘Megamachine’ After the Digital Turn

Without even needing to look at the copyright page, an aware reader may be able to date the work of a technology critic simply by considering the technological systems, or … Continue reading

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“The End of the World by Science” – an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “La Fin du Monde par la Science.” Part 1

Remember these last words, they are the entire story of man in the past, they will also be his entire story in the future. – Eugene Huzar Translator’s Introduction Near … Continue reading

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Why the Luddites Matter

Chant no more your old rhymes about bold Robin Hood, His feats I but little admire I will sing the achievements of General Ludd Now the Hero of Nottinghamshire – … Continue reading

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Understanding Fascism – making sense of dark times – a reading list (expanded 10/20/17)

“No other method exists for acquiring knowledge about the human heart than the study of history coupled with experience of life, in such a way that the two throw light … Continue reading

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An island of reason in the cyberstream – on the life and thought of Joseph Weizenbaum

The juxtaposition between the potential of technology and its actual manifestation can be rather jarring. Tools that promise to make tasks easier are used to automate people out of their … Continue reading

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Choose Very Carefully: a Review of Black Mirror – Bandersnatch

Manipulated comes from manus: hand We see ourselves manipulated and hope in this way to come to grips with our reality When it was really still hands manipulating us manipulation … Continue reading

January 10, 2019 · 27 Comments

My Favorite Books from 2018

Few will mourn the passing of 2018. To be frank, it was a year in which many disastrous and unfortunate things occurred. Granted, it takes a remarkable commitment to looking … Continue reading

December 28, 2018 · 3 Comments

A Disastrous Year – Reflections on 2018

“There is nothing more frightful than to be right. And if some, paralyzed by the gloomy likelihood of the catastrophe, have already lost courage, they still have a chance to … Continue reading

December 20, 2018 · 3 Comments

“The End of the World by Science” – an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “La Fin du Monde par la Science.” Part 4

“Why constantly elevate the edifice of civilization, and heap Pelion on Ossa? Do you still want to climb to the sky, do you not remember the lightning bolts of Jupiter, … Continue reading

December 10, 2018 · Leave a comment

The technology giants didn’t deserve public trust in the first place

Amazon may have been expecting lots of public attention when it announced where it would establish its new headquarters – but like many technology companies recently, it probably didn’t anticipate … Continue reading

November 19, 2018 · 7 Comments

“The End of the World by Science” – an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “La Fin du Monde par la Science.” Part 3

Symbols and myths, mysteries, in a word, were the essential formulas by which antiquity hid the truth. Sacred veils, so impenetrable that they reached us without there having been a … Continue reading

October 31, 2018 · 2 Comments

How to Reserve a Seat in a Library

Not unlike New Year’s Day, the start of the academic year is a time during which many people try to establish the routines and behaviors that they hope to stick … Continue reading

September 5, 2018 · 1 Comment

“Striving to minimize technical and reputational risks” – Ethical OS and Silicon Valley’s guilty conscience

Considering how proudly they declare that they are designing the future, technology companies seem almost comically bad when it comes to anticipating the consequences of the things they create. While … Continue reading

August 24, 2018 · 19 Comments

“The End of the World by Science” – an English translation of Eugene Huzar’s “La Fin du Monde par la Science.” Part 2

“If you could understand, like me, the power that man has acquired in only the last hundred years, you would be frightened by it, and my predictions would not seem … Continue reading

August 9, 2018 · 4 Comments

The Courage to be Afraid – a review of Roy Scranton’s “We’re Doomed. Now What?”

“If people are not aware of the direction in which they are going, they will awaken when it is too late and when their fate has been irrevocably sealed.” – … Continue reading

July 18, 2018 · 6 Comments

Challenging the Tech Companies from Within

“The myth of technological and political and social inevitability is a powerful tranquilizer of the conscience. Its serve is to remove responsibility from the shoulders of everyone who truly believes … Continue reading

June 28, 2018 · 7 Comments

All watched over by machines – a review of Yasha Levine’s “Surveillance Valley”

There is something rather precious about Google employees, and Internet users, who earnestly believe the “don’t be evil” line. Though those three words have often been taken to represent a … Continue reading

June 8, 2018 · 14 Comments

“Why don’t you go live in a cave?” – when technophiles cry troglodyte

Someone came to the stones and said: Be human The stones replied: We are not hard enough yet – Erich Fried[i]   1) Regardless of where arguments about the impact … Continue reading

May 18, 2018 · 10 Comments

Techlash! What Techlash?

In the early 1990s an assortment of activists and academics banded together in an attempt to challenge the direction in which high-technology, and infatuation with it, was taking society. And … Continue reading

April 27, 2018 · 10 Comments

The Nerd and the Inured

There’s no point being vague about it: Mark Zuckerberg won. Considering what could have possibly awaited the Facebook CEO when he testified before Congress he got off easy. Despite the … Continue reading

April 12, 2018 · 4 Comments

Facebook – to delete, or not to delete?

‘Who rules here?’ I asked. They said: ‘The People naturally.’ I said: ‘Naturally the people but who really rules?’ – Erich Fried, “In the Capital.”   1. While many things … Continue reading

March 22, 2018 · 7 Comments

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