Old ideas fighting older ideas February 9, 2005

I had the opportunity to watch some of the National Film Board of Canada’s 1971 animated short “Evolution” recently. It is a very cute, childlike explanation of concepts such as survival of the fittest and genetic mutation as adaptation to changing surroundings. Watching it, I found myself thinking - how odd; almost 35 years after the film was made, the very concepts being illustrated have somehow become controversial.

Using Technology for Awesome December 12, 2004

So far I have been talking pretty exclusively about technologies that I think need some scrutiny for their potential negative effects. So, in the name of balance I thought that I ought to point out that I don’t think all tech is bad tech. To that end, here are a half dozen technologies I think are really cool.

In no particular order, they are…

RFID - Really Freakin’ Insane, Dude December 3, 2004

So, by now pretty much everyone knows about RFIDs. These are the little chips that are being put in stuff you buy that allows stores like Wal-Mart to more easily track their inventory. This is supposed to help keep costs down by making shoplifting a lot harder and inventory management a lot easier.

Many businesses have gotten pretty excited about the idea of an automated way to keep track of their goods. The online magazine RFID Journal is a wealth of information geared to the more or less pro-RFID business community.

Progress October 26, 2004

When looking at the current state of innovation in almost any area, the general tone of discussion sounds a bit like this: “Isn’t it amazing the thing they’re doing these days in computers/medicine/genetics/engineering/weapons-creation? What wonderful progress we are making!” Newer is better, regardless of any other factors. This isn’t really a new phenomenon; Erich Fromm wrote this warning of such an ideology in 1968, “Once the principle is accepted that something ought to be done because it is technically possible to do it, all other values are dethroned and technological development becomes the foundation of ethics.”

Technorealism October 19, 2004

Back in the day (1998) a bunch of concerned people came together to write a sort of manifesto on technology (mainly regarding the Internet). Due to the nature of things, it’s still hanging around on the web, though it looks like no activity has gone on at the site for a couple of years now. The idea, however, is as timely as it ever was.

Introduction October 15, 2004

According to Wikipedia, a golden hammer is “a tool, technology, paradigm, snake oil, buzzword or similar where its proponents enthusiastically sing its praises, predicting that it will solve multiple problems, including some obviously not amenable to the proposed solution”. In other words, something folks get crazy-go-nuts excited about, perhaps a little prematurely.

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