Garbage in, garbage out

The CIC brass can’t stand these guys because they upload staggering quantities of information to the database, on the off chance that some of it will eventually be useful. It’s like writing down the license plate of every car you see on your way to work each morning, just in case one of them will be involved in a hit-and-run accident. Even the CIC database can only hold so much garbage. So, usually, these habitual gargoyles get kicked out of CIC before too long.
—Snowcrash, by Neal Stephenson

Sound familiar? “CIC” stands for Central Intelligence Corporation. Gargoyles refer to agents decked out in computer equipment that captures everything around them.

Mass surveillance? I’ve nothing to hide.

Free Is Better‘You have nothing to worry about if you’ve done nothing wrong’ is the response many people use to scorn those concerned by the scale of modern mass surveillance.

 

 

And this is the best response such ignorance:

You’re giving up your rights. Your rights matter because you never know when you’ll need them. People should be able to pick up the phone and call their family, should be able to send a text message to their loved one, buy a book online, without worrying how this could look to a government possibly years in the future. We have a right to privacy. Trusting anybody, any government authority with the entirety of human communications, in secret, without oversight, is simply too great a temptation to be ignored.

The best of intentions can always be corrupted by the self-interest of the dominant group, and the individual will suffer. An individual’s right to privacy, and a right to be forgotten are both sacrosanct in the digital age.

Reality Distortion

Social networking distorts relationships, similar to how the London underground can distort your perception of distances; if you’re new to the city, your sense of how far things are is compromised. And so it is with social media.

But Juanita never comes to the Black Sun anymore. Partly, she’s pissed at Da5id and the other hackers who never appreciated her work. But she has also decided that the whole thing is bogus. That no matter how good it is, the Metaverse is distorting the way people talk to each other, and she wants no such distortion in her relationships.
– Neal Stephenson, Snowcrash

Publishing is the job of making a work public

Publishing is the job of making the work public: that is to say, identifying a work, identifying an audience for that work, and taking whatever  [ed. page break] steps necessary to introduce the audience to the work. Sometimes money changes hands and sometimes it doesn’t. But that’s really what publishing comes down to.

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Most artists have never earned a living

Most artists have never earned a living. Never have and never will. There’s never been an economy that rewards every artist who wants to make art with enough money to go on and make it. This has never been a feature of any civilization. I’m not celebrating this. It’s just the fact. Yet people continue to make art anyway.

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