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Amazon is hungry for more

Here is a joke: Question – Why did the online retailer renowned for its super cheap prices buy a brick and mortar grocery chain known for its ridiculously high prices? … Continue reading

June 21, 2017 · Leave a comment

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

Apple is all ears

Once upon a time, if somebody claimed that there were microphones installed in their home that were listening in on their every word they would be dismissed as a paranoid … Continue reading

June 7, 2017 · 1 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 · Leave a comment

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 · 3 Comments

It’s ok if you want to cry…

If a message were to suddenly appear on your computer screen informing you that all of your material had been encrypted and that you would have to pay a ransom … Continue reading

May 16, 2017 · 3 Comments

How to make the most of your trip to the archive

Archival research is something of a rite of passage for many individuals in many disparate fields. Admittedly, it can be something of a daunting task. What follows is carefully curated … Continue reading

March 24, 2017 · 2 Comments

The problem isn’t the robots…it’s the bosses

Let us begin with two stories: Sam is nervous. Having applied for a job, Sam is now waiting to be interviewed for the position. Fidgeting slightly in the waiting room … Continue reading

March 17, 2017 · 2 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 Internet of Things…that spy on you

There is a sequence in the horror film 28 Days Later in which the protagonists find that they have to drive through a dark tunnel. As the car idles outside … Continue reading

March 3, 2017 · 1 Comment

Here’s looking at you…

If at first an ill-advised piece of consumer technology doesn’t succeed in winning over a skeptical public, you can be certain that another tech company will be willing to try … Continue reading

February 24, 2017 · 1 Comment

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 · 9 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

Well…that happened – reflections on a joke

The guileless word is folly. A smooth forehead Suggests insensitivity. The man who laughs Has simply not yet had The terrible news. – Brecht (“To Those Born Later”) Sometimes one … Continue reading

January 27, 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 · 5 Comments

My Favorite Books from 2016

There are many piles of books that exist in my life. Many. But the most notable of these are “the books I’ve read” versus “the books that I want to … Continue reading

December 22, 2016 · 3 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 · 17 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 · 3 Comments

Google unveils more of the same

Here is a question: have you heard about the new smartphone that’s being released? Here is a completely legitimate way to answer the above question: which smartphone do you mean? … Continue reading

October 5, 2016 · 1 Comment

How to gut a book

Here is a problem: there are too many books to read and not enough time in which to read them all. What is one to do? Obviously, this is the … Continue reading

September 22, 2016 · Leave a comment

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

How to move a large quantity of books

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” – Groucho Marx Regardless of what you may have heard to … Continue reading

August 16, 2016 · 3 Comments

Things I learned while working as a reference librarian

Since November 2011 I have sat at a library’s reference desk. And though my job title has changed several times over the years, as of 5:31 p.m. (EST) on Tuesday, … Continue reading

August 2, 2016 · 3 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 · 7 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 · Leave a comment

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