LibrarianShipwreck

Libraries, Archives, Technology, Impending Doom

Category Archives: Ethics

The future looks expensive

When times are grim, and menacing clouds literally gather on the horizon, it can be immensely reassuring to have some event that restores faith in the future. All that is … Continue reading

September 13, 2017 · Leave a comment

Living well in the technosocial world – a review of Shannon Vallor’s Technology and the Virtues

When new technologies are unveiled the conversation is usually dominated by excited comments regarding all of the things for which these newfangled devices or platforms will be good. This new … Continue reading

August 24, 2017 · 2 Comments

“Atomic warfare means universal extermination”

In 1946, Lewis Mumford penned an article in The Saturday Review of Literature under the none-too-subtle title “Gentlemen: You are Mad!” Over the course of two pages Mumford denounced as … Continue reading

August 9, 2017 · 3 Comments

A chip off technology’s block

Of the various characters who populate our computer dominated society, one of the most curious sorts is the “early adopter.” These are the figures found sprinting headlong to the frontier … Continue reading

August 3, 2017 · Leave a comment

The Apocalyptic Turn

It is a desperate deed to upbraid despair for despair makes our life what it is. It thinks out what we flee from. – Erich Fried 1) Thinking about apocalyptic … Continue reading

July 11, 2017 · 1 Comment

It’s time to fix things – a review of “Move Fast and Break Things”

When the topic of monopoly is raised the first person that many people will think of is Rich Uncle Pennybags – that icon of monopolistic wealth accumulation – with his … Continue reading

June 29, 2017 · 2 Comments

The users and the used

Woe be unto the tech company or platform that rolls out a new product or update and claims that it is in response to its users’ demands. For such action … Continue reading

June 16, 2017 · Leave a comment

“Thinking ad pessimum” – Notes Towards a Productive Pessimism

Even the Flood Did not last for ever. There came a time When the black waters ebbed. Yes, but how few Have lasted longer. – Brecht (“Reading Horace”)   1) … Continue reading

June 1, 2017 · 3 Comments

Who moderates the moderators? On the Facebook Files

Speculative fiction is littered with fantastical tales warning of the dangers that arise when things get, to put it amusingly, too big. A researcher loses control of their experiment! A … Continue reading

May 23, 2017 · 4 Comments

When real life emulates dystopia…it isn’t a good sign…

“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. Unfortunately, … Continue reading

March 31, 2017 · 3 Comments

Is Internet access a choice?

Sometimes the most interesting questions about how technology impacts society are raised unintentionally. Case in point: on Tuesday, March 7, 2017, Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) went on CNN to explain … Continue reading

March 9, 2017 · 2 Comments

The world according to Facebook

The majestic plural, the royal “we,” is deployed by individuals in high positions seeking to cast their own opinions as the views of a much larger group for whom they … Continue reading

February 17, 2017 · 10 Comments

Don’t like what you see? – A review of Season Three of Black Mirror

“The future is not a blank page; and neither is it an open book.” – Lewis Mumford 1. When the daily news takes on a particularly grim sheen it can … Continue reading

February 3, 2017 · 1 Comment

Understanding Fascism – making sense of dark times

“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

January 20, 2017 · 2 Comments

And the technophiles scramble…

“You still have to learn the ABC. The ABC says: They will get you down.” – Bertolt Brecht 1. The folksinger Woody Guthrie was known for putting the words “This … Continue reading

January 12, 2017 · 3 Comments

A Pessimistic Resolution

Every new year brings with it the promise of a fresh start, the promise that this year, unlike last year, we can finally get things right. Thus, the resolution-industrial complex … Continue reading

January 5, 2017 · 1 Comment

“I study the end of the world” – some personal reflections on 2016

“I think in view of all that has happened in the last half century, that it is likely the ship will sink.” – Lewis Mumford 1. What follows is a … Continue reading

December 29, 2016 · 6 Comments

Prescience and Pessimism

Truly, I live in dark times! The guileless word is folly. A smooth forehead Suggests insensitivity. The man who laughs Has simply not yet had The terrible news. – Brecht, … Continue reading

November 10, 2016 · 18 Comments

What could go wrong? Another question to ask of new technology

Those who spend a lot of time traveling by airplane steadily grow accustomed to the standard spiel issued by members of the TSA and airline personnel. Yet, recently, a new … Continue reading

October 20, 2016 · 4 Comments

Planned obsolescence comes for the headphone jack

Surprises are overrated. Well, probably not really, but such a shrugging sentiment seems warranted when it comes to the glitzy launch “events” held by tech companies. Lately, the things which … Continue reading

September 8, 2016 · 4 Comments

Back to school…with much to learn…

Regardless of the particular month, it is always the right time to learn. Nevertheless, as it marks the beginning of the school year, the end of August/start of September stands … Continue reading

August 31, 2016 · 1 Comment

Into and out of the woods – a review of Captain Fantastic

Supermarkets, strip malls, smart phones, school – for many, such are the unexceptional features of daily life. And though some people may occasionally experience dissatisfaction with the society in which … Continue reading

August 22, 2016 · 4 Comments

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

July 27, 2016 · 9 Comments

Rocks or ticker-tape? A review of Throwing Rocks at the Google Bus by Douglas Rushkoff

Digital technologies are often touted for their transformative potential. The Internet has made a massive amount of information easily accessible to its users, social media provides new ways of connecting, … Continue reading

July 21, 2016 · 1 Comment

AI and Drones and Bio-engineering, oh my! – A Review of A Dangerous Master by Wendell Wallach

Popular culture is lousy with tales of techno-science escaping human control. And as these stories — involving rebelling robots, murderous artificial intelligence systems, and genetically modified chimeras on a warpath … Continue reading

June 23, 2016 · 1 Comment

What Technology Do We Really Need? – A Critique of the 2016 Personal Democracy Forum

Technological optimism is a dish best served from a stage. Particularly if it’s a bright stage in front of a receptive and comfortably seated audience, especially if the person standing … Continue reading

June 16, 2016 · 13 Comments

Prefixes in Uncertain Times: Reconfiguring the Human in the Human-Built World

One could be easily forgiven for thinking that the present is a troubling time to be human. The specter of catastrophic climate change looms larger by the week, rapidly appearing … Continue reading

June 8, 2016 · 3 Comments

Beyond the Prototype: Libraries as Convivial Tools in Action

How important are the technologies found in a library to the actual library? Are libraries simply places where various tools and technologies are used, or can libraries (themselves) be viewed … Continue reading

May 26, 2016 · 1 Comment

Facebook Reactions Are No Laughing Matter

Prepare yourself for a not particularly shocking observation: when it comes to interpersonal communication, there are certain types of information that are not conveyed particularly well by information technology. Indeed, … Continue reading

February 25, 2016 · 9 Comments

Apple Is Not the Messiah

There is a lot of money to be made in crafting carefully manicured public relations campaigns for major corporations. Numerous large firms exist solely for the purposes of selling their … Continue reading

February 18, 2016 · 3 Comments

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  • Impending doom: 3 weeks ago: nuclear war 2 weeks ago: climate change Last week: climate change This week: nuclear war Next week: meteor 15 minutes ago
  • Hey @SenBobCasey The Graham-Cassidy bill would be bad for PA & bad for the country. Oppose it, back Medicare-for-all instead! - A PA voter 32 minutes ago
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  • To whom it may concern, Failing leaders embrace disastrous military exploits to appear strong. Sincerely, History twitter.com/nickkristof/st… 1 hour ago
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