Subscribe via RSS Feed Connect on Google Plus Connect on Flickr

Tag: Boston

<>it all began with html 30 years ago</>

Tuesday, 12 March, 2019

The World Wide Web is 30 years old. Congrats! Its founder, the English engineer and computer scientist Tim Berners-Lee, first proposed the system that would become the WWW on 11 March 1989. To celebrate the anniversary, he’s distilled his ideas about the internet in a letter to the world titled, 30 years on, what’s next #ForTheWeb?

“Today, 30 years on from my original proposal for an information management system, half the world is online. It’s a moment to celebrate how far we’ve come, but also an opportunity to reflect on how far we have yet to go.”

This is a very positive opening message from Sir Tim. Sure, lots of bad actors have enriched themselves during the past 30 years thanks to the WWW, but the web is a world of wonders and there’s much to be grateful for. And Sir Tim is indefatigable.

In fact, last September, he announced the launch of Inrupt, co-founded with cybersecurity entrepreneur John Bruce. The goal is “to restore rightful ownership of data back to every web user.” Berners-Lee has been working on a new web platform called Solid for some time now and this will re-imagine how apps store and share personal data. Inrupt will power the development of the Solid platform and transform it to a viable infrastructure for businesses and consumers. The big idea behind Solid is that, instead of a company storing all your personal data on its servers, you keep it on your own personal data “pod” on a Solid server and you can then give individual apps permission to read and write to your pod. Inrupt plans to make money by offering products and services to businesses and individual who want to implement Solid. The company is based in Boston and is backed by the VC firm Glasswing Ventures.

“The fight for the web is one of the most important causes of our time. Today, half of the world is online. It is more urgent than ever to ensure the other half are not left behind offline, and that everyone contributes to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity.”

Since attending an HTML course in Dublin at the end of the 1990s, your blogger has done his best to contribute to a web that drives equality, opportunity and creativity. The road goes ever on, however.

“The web is for everyone and collectively we hold the power to change it. It won’t be easy. But if we dream a little and work a lot, we can get the web we want.”

Sir Tim


The decline and fall of grammar and style at Inc.

Tuesday, 24 April, 2018 0 Comments

“One of the most common conversations among business travelers have among each other is to discuss how to pack optimally for your next trip. As someone with more than two million miles of experience under by belt, I have developed several tricks and hacks to pack light…”

Wut? You might be inclined to think such a rubbish sentence was created by some badly programmed AI, but it wasn’t. In fact, it’s the opening of an article published by Inc. that’s so riddled with grammatical and stylistic errors that it’s comically unreadable. “How Many Pairs of Underwear Should You Pack On Your Business Trip? 2 Million Miler Packing Secrets” is the title of this gem and it was “written” by one Jim Schleckser, who styles himself “CEO, Inc. CEO Project”.

Inc.

History: Inc. was founded in Boston in 1979 by Bernie Goldhirsh, an MIT-trained engineer who had worked at Polaroid before founding Sail magazine, which he sold for $10 million. He used the profits to launch Inc.

In 2000, the terminally ill Goldhirsh sold Inc. to German publisher Gruner + Jahr for a reported $200 million. It was the peak of the dot com mania, after all. In 2005, after sobering up, Gruner + Jahr offloaded Inc. for $35 million to Joe Mansueto, CEO of Morningstar. Now, apparently, Joe the billionaire cannot afford to employ copy editors.


Blog to write, tweet to fight

Sunday, 25 March, 2018 0 Comments

That, by the way, is the follow up to the “blog to reflect, tweet to connect” meme of recent years. Background: Dan Cohen is a history professor at Northeastern University in Boston known for his focus on what some people call the “digital humanities.” He’s also a blogger and in a recent post titled “Back to the Blog” he wrote about the pleasure of traditional blogging compared to the thrill of posting on social media. In essence, it’s about leaving the Facebook & Twitter noise behind and taking ownership of one’s own intellectual property, but there’s more. Snippet:

“I met many people through Twitter who became and remain important collaborators and friends. But the salad days of ‘blog to reflect, tweet to connect’ are gone. Long gone. Over the last year, especially, it has seemed much more like ‘blog to write, tweet to fight.’ Moreover, the way that our writing and personal data has been used by social media companies has become more obviously problematic — not that it wasn’t problematic to begin with.

Which is why it’s once again a good time to blog, especially on one’s own domain.”

Still, it’s a labour of love because the advertising that once supported bloggers has been hoovered up by the web giants, and then there’s the enormous advantage of numbers the platforms possess. Cohen: “Human beings are social animals and centralized social media like Twitter and Facebook provide a powerful sense of ambient humanity — the feeling that ‘others are here’ — that is often missing when one writes on one’s own site. Facebook has a whole team of Ph.D.s in social psychology finding ways to increase that feeling of ambient humanity and thus increase your usage of their service.”

Talking about animals and the loneliness of the long-distance blogger (classical reference), George R.R. Martin summed it up, grimly, in A Game of Thrones: “When the snows fall and the white winds blow, the lone wolf dies but the pack survives.”


The Eyes of the City

Saturday, 10 February, 2018 0 Comments

Writing for LensCulture about Richard Sandler’s book The Eyes of the City, Serge J-F. Levy says: “The images, made in New York City and Boston, are an emphatic reminder of the sharp edges of humanity lurking around every corner. Richard’s book is a journey that winds through 24 years of circumambulating airports, ferries, night clubs, up Fifth Avenue, down Madison Avenue, into the subways, inside and outside of political conventions and deep into the fraught core of civilization.”

The Eyes of the City


The deep, dark music of Marissa Nadler

Saturday, 24 January, 2015 0 Comments

“Running through the song is the refrain ‘Nothing like the way it feels to drive,’ which made me think of the French artist Bernard Faucon, whose recent work is shot entirely from the front seat of a car as he travels all over the world.” So writes Naomi Yang, director of the video clip for Marissa Nadler’s Drive.

Marissa Nadler was busy last year. She issued an album titled July in February and followed up with an EP of unreleased songs. Like Edgar Allan Poe, who played a key role in the American Romantic Movement, Nadler has Boston in her bones and there’s Poesque mystery and dark romance in Drive. The deep woods of New England and the lonely highways of Bernard Faucon linger in this music.


How do people get new ideas?

Friday, 24 October, 2014 0 Comments

“Thomas H. Huxley is supposed to have exclaimed after reading On the Origin of Species, ‘How stupid of me not to have thought of this.’ But why didn’t he think of it?” That was the question posed in 1959 by Isaac Asimov in an essay he wrote for an MIT spinoff, Allied Research Associates in Boston. Arthur Obermayer, a friend of the author, found the piece “while cleaning out some old files” and immediately recognized its relevance for the contemporary debate about creativity. It was published earlier this week in the MIT Technology Review. Snippets:

“Consequently, the person who is most likely to get new ideas is a person of good background in the field of interest and one who is unconventional in his habits. (To be a crackpot is not, however, enough in itself.)”

“My feeling is that as far as creativity is concerned, isolation is required… The presence of others can only inhibit this process, since creation is embarrassing.”

“The world in general disapproves of creativity, and to be creative in public is particularly bad. Even to speculate in public is rather worrisome.”

Asimov did concede that group thinking by ‘creatives’ might worthwhile now and then, as “a meeting of such people may be desirable for reasons other than the act of creation itself.” He argued, however, that “a meeting in someone’s home or over a dinner table at some restaurant is perhaps more useful than one in a conference room.” And a few drinks might be in order, too, because “there should be a feeling of informality. Joviality, the use of first names, joking, relaxed kidding are, I think, of the essence — not in themselves, but because they encourage a willingness to be involved in the folly of creativeness.”


Earless and eyeless and perfectly voiceless

Sunday, 1 September, 2013 0 Comments

Mushrooms Overnight, very Whitely, discreetly, Very quietly Our toes, our noses Take hold on the loam, Acquire the air. Nobody sees us, Stops us, betrays us; The small grains make room. Soft fists insist on Heaving the needles, The leafy bedding, Even the paving. Our hammers, our rams, Earless and eyeless, Perfectly voiceless, Widen the […]

Continue Reading »

What we talk about when we talk about terrorism

Tuesday, 16 April, 2013 0 Comments

The word has become so politically incorrect that it should be avoided because one man’s terrorism is another’s liberation, we are told. When it comes to the “Language when Reporting Terrorism”, the BBC offers “Guidance in Full“, which states: “Terrorism is a difficult and emotive subject with significant political overtones and care is required in the use of language that carries value judgements. We try to avoid the use of the term ‘terrorist’ without attribution.”

What makes terrorism such a “difficult and emotive subject” for the media is that terrorism is often assumed to have validity. It only erupts wherever people have legitimate grievances, say the apologists. Eradicate these grievances — poverty, injustice, hunger, discrimination, inequality, lack of political participation — and the terror will stop. While it is true that in an ideal world inhabited by flawless human beings there would be no terrorism, the reality is that people are imperfect, our institutions are faulty and grievances can be addressed but never eliminated. Regardless of how democratic a society is, it can never be perfect. There will always be unhappy people claiming that their particular situation is unbearable, and there will be dangerous people more interested in terror than in tolerance.

Interestingly, democratic societies where grievances can be expressed openly are the favourite targets of terrorists, while the worst forms of dictatorship are almost never targeted. There were no terrorist movements in Nazi Germany or Fascist Italy, and there are none in North Korea today.