PART 1 - SIGNAL TO NOISE
Chapter one - Spammed!
If we cannot survive all the information that we’re going to develop, then we’re in real trouble.
While a tape recorder provides near-perfect reproductions of sound for a cost of next to nothing, it allows one’s memory to slip and encourages dependence on the recording.
Spamming is the wanton mass-transmittal of unsolicited electronic messages
The first Law of Data Smog – Information, once rare and cherished like caviar, is now plentiful and taken for granted like potatoes.
Still the concept of too much information seems strange.
Information has made us healthier, wealthier and more tolerant.
But around the time of the first atomic bomb we began to produce information faster than we could process it. The drum, smoke signal, cave painting, horse, town crier, carrier pigeon, newspaper, photograph, telegraph, telephone, radio and film. These gave way to computers microwave transmission , television and satellites. We have information obesity.
In 1850, 4 % of American workers handled information for a living. Now most do.
Media follows us on planes, trains, automobiles, hotel bathrooms and along jogging paths.
One ad at a time, we get buried. The smog thickens from the blurring of editorial content into commercial “advertorials”.
Chapter Two – The Black Shakes
The three top-selling prescription drugs are for ulcers, depression, and hypertension. Stress is partly to blame for the startling 300 percent increase in depression over the course of this century.
We have an ADD epidemic.
Info – Biological Inadequacy Syndrome
A form of anxiety brought on when a person wishes he or she could absorb information at a rate somewhat faster than the level that was hard-wired into human DNA back in the Paleolithic Era.
A relatively new cognitive disorder where one feels cut off from a sense of wholeness because of common exposure to only incomplete parts of things and ideas which do not – (the cut off is intentional).
Increased cardiovascular stress, weakened vision and confusion, frustration , impaired judgment, decreased benevolence, overconfidence.
How do we cope? Stanley Miligram wrote in 1970 how we cope with “city life”
Many people now say that their idea of bliss is no information at all.
Marshall McLuhan taught us decades ago: that every technology has it’s “Service” effects and “disservice” effects. Neil Postman explained in Technopoly each new tool comes to us with its own particular “embedded ideology”. Holding a hammer you look for nails. Once technology is admitted [into society], “Postman writes, “it plays out its own hand; it does what it is designed to do.
The second Law of Data Smog (Cialdini’s Law) Silicon circuits evolve much more quickly than human genes
Librarians screen information for us.
Pretend that you were forced to make a choice between giing up one of your fingers and giving up use of your computer for the rest of your life. One-third of the people surveyed choose to give up a finger.
We are like information Midas’. Like the King who was granted his thoughtless wish that everything he touch turn into gold. Only to discover that, because of my electronic access, nearly everything I touch turns into digital information, to be downloaded.
The discarnate effect: Man wakes up today and the electric technology speeds up his mind to an extraordinary degree, but his body stays in place.
In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, the prescription is for people to reattach themselves to the technologies that they depend on.
Chapter three – Skeptical in Seattle
The unintended consequences of information technology
In the road ahead, Bill Gates promised, the information superhighway will bolster democracy, spread educational advantages to even thepoorest kid, and usher in a world of “low-friction, low-overhead capitalism…a shoppers heaven.”
Did you ever give your baby an algebra lesson from a thousand miles away?
Our two centuries of democracy will fall prey to demagogues. Roosevelt and Hitler got into our homes with technology. Television did not become the educational panacea. Instead, it boosted the careers of Jimmy Swaggart and Pat Buchanan and has played an important role in degrading education and politics in this country.
As plants take over an ecosystems.
In the 1960s, labor experts forsaw a four-day 32 hour week.
The third Law of Data Smog – Computers are neither human or humane
We can be in voice mail hell. Y2K.
Chapter four – “A New Generation of Geniuses”
Dreaming the techno – utopian Dream
There has to be a missionary spirit in America that says to the poorest child in America, “The Internet’s for you. The information age is for you”. – Newt Gingrich
Voracious consumerism, political apathy, and social isolation.
Today’s children, who watch more television than ever before (an average of 22,000 hours before graduating from high school), We have ADD and diminished language skills and poor reading comprehension.
In July 1945, The Atlantic Monthly, Bush, director of the wartime Office of Scientific Research and Development and the “superbrain” overseer of the Manhattan Project, wrote “As We May Think”. In eight pages he outlined the concepts of microfiche, modems, fax machines, personal computers, hard drives, voice-operated word processors and hypermedia.
Voice recognition in text form matched against “where did I read _____ ?” query form. This redisplays the book. Where did I see her” query shows you her. Play the end of conversation “Find out more”.
Machines thought process. It goes to a web page. It clips the last noun phrase and puts it in a search engine. Then it opens bottom search result and repeats. This would recreate our stream of consciousness.
“The human mind,” he wrote, “operates by association. With one item in its grasp, it snaps instantly to the next that is suggested by the association of thoughts, in accordance with some intricate web of trails carried by the cells of the brain…. Man cannot hope fully to duplicate this mental process artificially, buy selection by association, rather than by indexing, may yet be mechanized.
Bush said that we needed to have a new Frontier from the Turner’s thesis. He proclaimed it: information.
H.G. Wells envisioned a “standing editorial organization” that “would be the mental background of every intelligent man in the world. It would be alive and growing and changing continually under revision, extension, and replacement from the original thinkers in the world everywhere.” The web.
PCs help to turn life into a daily game – the adrenaline buzz from constantly improving efficiency of thought and information.
Of course, the information revolution doesn’t help the illiterate.
Early American education was to instill religious values, not give knowledge.
The Fourth Law Of Data Smog – Putting a computer in every classroom is like putting an electric power plant in every home.
Schools are stringent filters, not expansive windows onto the world. Teachers and textbooks block out he vast majority of the world’s information, allowing into the classroom only very small bits of information at any given time.
PART TWO - VIRTUAL ANARCHY
Chapter 5 – The Thunderbird Problem
And other “Upgrade” pitfalls
Making a Sundae you want to pile on forever.
The Thunderbird problem is that you want to constantly upgrade the car. It goes to looking like junk. This new style thing is the newer “planned obsolescence”.
The Fifth Law of Data Smog – What they sell is not Information technology, but information anxiety.
Two year old computers are very old.
So many downsized Americans. Reich made retraining a mission. We will change jobs 7-8 times a life from now on.
Every ten years technology will render your old storage device impossible to read.
Chapter Six – Paralysis by Analysis
Juries are not allowed to come into contact with “hearsay”. “Frye rule” in 1923 the Supreme Court said court decisions prohibit experts from introducing in court opinions not “not generally accepted” in the scientific community. But in 1975 they gutted it.
The sixth law of data smog – Too many experts spoil the clarity
Clinton’s economic passage came down to a fight over algebra.
Statistical anarchy freezes us in our cerebral tracks.
Chapter 7 – Stat Wars
Since nearly any argument imaginable can now be supported with an impressive data set, the big winner is… argumentation itself. This leads to stat wars.
There are thousands of institutes that advocate for every position.
Chapter Eight - The Two – by- Four Effect
Information glut and the coarsening of culture
Sex Sex Sex: Now that I’ve gotten your attention.
I found your ATM Card. Now that I’ve gotten your attention.
Imagine millions of people resorting to tactics like this every day.
We talk LOUDER. Wear more Color. Show more cleavage. Say shocking things.
The Seventh Law of Data Smog – All high-Stim roads lead to Times Square
The communicator that reaches barriers tries with new barrier – piercing countermeasures.
We are witnessing a new reign of trash TV, hate radio, shock jocks, tort litigation, publicity stunts, excessively violent and sarcastic rhetoric.
Profanity is up.
Camille Paglia and Dennis Rodman. Extreme measures and outrageous behavior by individuals is rewarded with wealth and influence.
The fave is the fake personalize envelope. Headlines are now highly exaggerated.
Such bludgeoning may also freeze out some of our best mids from the mainstream of debate.
Chapter nine- village of Babel
The stretching and splintering of culture
In England he watched Johnny Cochran.
In this shrunken electronic world nothing is far from you.
But the global village is getting nichier and nichier and more and more fragmented. There are many narrowly tailored markets. It isn’t the commonalities , but the profound irreconcilable differences that are in the “virtual communities”. They resemble the semi-private spaces of modern health clubs more than the public spaces of agoras.
In 1978 three television networks – ABC, CBS and NBC – had 90% of the American prime-time TV audience. Over the following decade, the figure dropped to 64%.
Lincoln said, “A house divided cannot stand.” Now he sits, 100 years later, 120 degrees and a stones throw from Claritas started by Jonathan Robbin.
It makes the sales pitch much more cost effect to have it targeted.
The massification of culture can be dated back to Gutenberg. Demassification is coined by Toffler.
1946, the very first computer, the Electronic Numerical Integrator and Calculator, or ENIAC, was designed for the U.S. military so that it could improve its missile trajectory calculations. It could do 5000 calculation per second.
Such astonishing quickness drew the immediate attention of the U.S. Census Bureau, which, in 1951, acquired ENIAC’s offspring, UNIVAC (Universal Automatic Computer).
Robbin was a “human ecologist” for Lyndon Johnson’s Office of Economic Opportunity. He wrote programs to interlace information from all 29 separate agencies and turn it into detailed socioeconomic comparisons of about 1,500 households.
In 1971 he established Claritas (Catin for clarity).
1976 Robbin introduced his landmark PRIZM database, the first comprehensive geodemographic analysis ever. (“just as a prism breaks light into a spectrum of its component parts, PRIZM reveals any consumer market as a colorful array of the distinct neighborhood types that compose the market.”)
“Life style” categories such as “Shotguns and pickups” “Pools & patios”.
Money & Brains type
Furs and station wagon type
Blue Chip types.
Matt Reese bought the political rights to it in 1978. Missouri anti labor referendum was defeated by it.
Chapter 10 – A nation of lonely molecules
A scientist was examining the leeches in a marsh when Zaranthustra, the prophet, approached him and asked if he was a specialist in the ways of the leech. “O, Zaranthustra,…that would be something immense; how could I presume to do so!…That, however, of which I am master and knower, is the brain of the leech; that is my world!…For the sake of this did I cast everything else aside, for the sake of this did everything else become indifferent to me…”
Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zaranthustra
The eighth law of Data Smog (Goss’s Law) Birds of a feather flock virtually together
The global village is being replaced by electronic cottages populated by isolated dreamers.
22 million web pages and less information shared. Imagine having a butler who was under strict instructions to turn away all phone callers and visitors whose names were not on his screening list.
Reader’s digest – the epitome of the general interest magazine is also quietly going niche. They have commissioned Claritas to develop the means to distribute different editions to each of PRIZM’s 62 different lifestyles segments.
We have wider and wider varieties of foods, music etc. We are richer for widening our experience. In this country, we increasingly speak very different languages and different dialects of the same language. We share fewer of the metaphors, icons, historical interests, and current news events.
He thinks that there is anxiety caused by this cultural Balkanization. Collin Powell is supposed to make us whole again. Bob Dole said English only. We have lost our cohesion. Three thousand cable stations. It is hard to have a leader that can speak to all of us.
We have inadvertently constructed an information economy that works directly against crucial democratic tenets.
Chapter 11 – Superdemocracy
Perot wanted to have a town hall. This involved an inspiring confidence in the goodness and intelligence of ordinary people, as well as a mysterious faith in the power and precision of electronic discourse.
He called for the replacement of the judicial and legislative branches of the US government with endless plebiscites.
But no one has the ability to read bills. Given these deficiencies, the good news is this: Superdemocracy in all its complexity, will never ever be adopted, mostly because our American Constitution protects minorities from the tyranny of the majority.
In a real sense, superdemocracy has already arrived and it isn’t so super.
In 1970, Congress received 15 million pieces of mail. In 1991 it received over 300 million pieces.
A phone deregulation campaign got 500, 000 telegrams sent to capital hill in just ten days.
You try to get out in front of the constituents, but can’t. Clinton was a poll monster. Clinton also tried to be different things to different regions of the country.
Contract with America was a synthesis of what pollster Frank Luntz, found were popular Republican ideas at the time.
Before, politicians had to guess what people wanted…that uncertainty creates an opening for taking a position closer to one’s convictions.
The Ninth Law of Data Smog – The electronic Town hall allows for speedy communication and bad decision - making
PART THREE – A NEW ORDER
Chapter 12 Creates from the info lagoon
The Crypto Anarchist Manifest…”Crypto anarchy will allow national secrets to be traded freely…”.
This one technology could single-handedly cripple American democracy by allowing financial transactions to take place away from the eyes of IRS.
Chapter 13 Dataveillance
Ron Edens, founder of Electronic Banking Systems, a direct-mail donation processor, who tracks his data-entry clerks not only by keystroke and error-rate (a minimum of 8,500 correct strokes required per hour, or the ax)
Which videos you rented this week or how much starch you like in your shirt. “our smallest actions leave digital trails”. Blockbuster, American Express, and your local telephone company can learn a great about you.
People are tested on magazines and a laser beam tracks where their eyes go. This is done by Perception Research Services.
Weinstein clips sensors to his sensors scalps and monitors their brainwaves while they watch a variety of advertisements. His analysis will show not only each subject’s interest from second to second, but also which section of the brain is being aroused.
ETS is creating a data base of high school attendance and grades against which potential employers soon will be able to run background checks.
Joseph Goebbels once said that given a sufficient “psychological understanding of the people concerned, “ it would not be an impossible task to convince a mass of people that a square is a circle.
With elaborate consumer profiles on record, consumers come to resemble predictable machines themselves, ready and willing to respond affirmatively when just the right psychological button is pushed.
Descartes suggested that first we comprehend a notion, and then we either accept or reject. In slow motion, the Descartes paradigm looks like this:
CLAIM: “Look at my eyes. They’re blue.”
REACTION: Okay, I understand your claim now, I will either agree or disagree. From the look of it, your eyes are brown, not blue. So I reject your claim.
In constrast, Spinoza suggested that first we simultaneously comprehend and accept a notion, and only afterward, if we have tie, are we able to unaccept it – that is , reject it. Spinoza implied that the rejection of a notion is a secondary psychological act.
CLAIM: “Look at my eyes. They’re blue.”
REACTION: Okay, I understand and tentatively accept your claim as true. Now, I will consider whether or not I should change my acceptance to a rejection. Thinking about your claim for a split second, and noticing your eyes are brown, I find your claim preposterous. I reject your claim.
Though Spinoza’s argument is not as intuitive as Descartes’s intensive psychological testing has proven Spinoza to be correct.
Chapter 14 Anecdotage
Chief Seattle wrote to President Pierce. But really it was part of a 1971 film on ecology by Ted Perry on ecology. In real life Seattle was a fierce warior, noted for his attacks on other Indians. While he was purported to be a master statesman, he surely never laid eyes on a bison or a locomotive.
But good stories go. It’s a classic case of a lie going twenty miles an hour when truth is just putting on its boots.
Retractions are ignored on the back pages.
The 11th Law of Data Smog – Beware stories that dissolve all complexity
Ronald Reagan railed against a “welfare queen”. The facts were way off. Bush displayed a bag of crack. Crack isn’t sold in Lafayette park.
We’re accustomed to the use of narrative information. That is the way we learned things in our previous, preliterate cultures. It’s a relatively recent thing to learn about the world by statistics and logical argument.
Nisbett. did experiments. If I show you a nice guy, then prison guards aren’t so bad. Statistics don’t shake you. A woman in her fourth generation of welfare, and we preface it by saying, “most people on welfare are there on a temporary basis, but we’d like you to read about an a typical case. But it doesn’t make a bit of difference.
The Bush scanner story was false. But the correction came too late.
Chapter 15 – The End of Journalism?
Public relations in the age of perpetual novelty
Tomorrow’s communications techniques may allow PR people to bypass reporters completely.
The 12 law of Data Smog On the information highway, most roads bypass journalists
Reducing the power of the press is a terrible thing to do to a democratic society, but an enormous short-term value for anyone trying to sell something.
Conservative Republicans, for example, have already established two cable television networks.
“Infomercial” and “Advertorial” refer to advertisements disguised to look like journalism.
TV has a news anchor type person giving a quick rosy summary of several movies (all by the same studio). Magazines like MoneyWorld, RealMoney, they are not objective but sell a product.
There has been a steady decline in viewership of TV news and newspaper readership.
Journalists have become obsolete. “Why should the media be allowed to filter your message anyway?”
Who needs the news media? There is such a low opinion of the fourth estate.
If not journalists, who else will expose medical frauds and careless doctors? Who else will hold politicians to their promises? Who else will examine the design, intent, and honesty of advertising? Who else will monitor the link between campaign contributions and political favors? Who else will monitor airline, train, and automobile safety?
The media’s loyalty is to some semblance of fairness, if not pure objectivity, whereas the loyalty of marketers is to sales of a particular product.
In fact, journalists are more necessary in a glutted world.
Since the dawn of civilization , humans have been constructing a quilt of community understanding out of new information.
Now we get bits, not a whole. Our fundamental understanding of Bosnia or the stock market is not going to change by a news-byte. One long newspaper or magazine article, which would take up no more time than twenty one-minute news nuggets might.
They give people a false sense of being informed, understanding and connectedness when they really aren’t.
Gingrich says "the information age means more decentralization more market orientation, more freedom for individuals, more opportunity for choice, or capacity to be productive without controls by the state."
Technology will help libertarian Republicans. In this emerging electronics frontier, common discourse is no longer nurtured, and the notion of a government as guarantor of public health, safety, and welfare will be rendered obsolete. Government will not be able to find people.
The 13th law of Data Smog
cyberspace is not politically neutral. It favors Republicans. The cyber elites are called the "digerati". www.pff.org isn't the link to the progress and freedom foundation. In their manifesto is called "cyberspace and the American dream: any magna Carta for the knowledge age." To listen to them any uncomfortable side effects are mere bumps in the road to guarantee progress for Western civilization. But there are serious worries about what will happen to democracy in the cyber age. What will happen to society in the cyber age? Pass by the press public relations and atoms everywhere on top of the stressed, distracted consumer base.
The called discourse in nichified microcultures.
PART 4 A RETURN TO MEANING
CHAPTER 17 was then must be done?
In the '60s and '70s we realize toxic sludge and smog were bad. At the same time we realized that was bad for us. Now we realize that almost anybody can add information. The difficult question is how to reduce it. Actually the idea of reducing information is anathema to our civilization. We do write it under the label of "censorship."
Rachel Carson published silent Spring and had a best seller. Environmentalism then became an important component of "progress."
Chatper 18 - Antidote one
turn the television off the organization for a TV free America has been leading a national TV turnoff weak every spring up. This allows people to go to a strange place where sitcom and soap opera characters cannot build: realize. You can put your TV in your closet.
avoid news nuggets
the Dow is out the Dow is down this person that arrested that person got arrested update in 20 minutes.
Leave the pager and cell phone behind
limit your e-mail e-mail is an open duct into your central nervous system.
Say no to data valence: get off of junk mail lists
Say no to advertizing. don't wear corporate labels.
Be your own smart agent. They will send you things you'd be interested in. But they will have advertisement spin on them.
Cleanse your system with data-fasts.
Chapter 19 - Antidote Two
give a hoot don't info-pollute.
Super 8 cameras ran for 3 minutes max. Now we have cam corders. They film the first bike riding, the wedding, the etc. Cam corders looked like a democritizer of film. But they have mostly contributed to America's funniest videos shows. The key to film making is saying alot in as little time as possible. Cam corder users don't edit enough.
Chapter 20 Antidote Three
He has done Pin hole photography. One picture all day produced by a technology he can understand. One picture worth more than 36.
We may not be at the cusp of a new age of intelligent machines. We may be at a cusp where we learned about the limits of machines. A
Chapter 21 antidote four de-nichify
reaching out to communities different than yourself.
Chapter 22 antidote five Don't Forsake Government, Help Improve it.
Cyberspace is not be bold new world. It is part of our world. We must resist the urge to dismiss the relevance and utility of government. In finance, labor, commerce, law, energy, housing, and the environment we have rules.
But the first amendment gives rights to data smog beyond what the river has.
David Shenk's legisltive agenda:
The government should help the people protect themselves against data spam. A national do not call list and federal sanctions would help. Vermont has laws against billboards on freeways. Atlanta is selling public space for advertising space. Federal zones of quiet acts would include more than libraries and parks.
Information gathered for one purpose should not be used for other purposes.
The FTC should become big in the consumer advocate, protection area. They should publish information on the psychological and health results out of television computers and other advanced technologies.
I'll government documents should be accessible and approachable. They should have easy to read summaries. There is a growing digital divide. But in many ways to up, too much access will be the problem for the educational underclass. The elite Diet in the face of food abundance. The poor get fat. It is elite do not watch TV. And we need public forums in which to discuss the impact of emerging technologies on our lives.