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a rant about technology lowering the bar of participation

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  • a rant about technology lowering the bar of participation

    feel free to move this to /dev/null if it is judged to be a bit too off-topic for this area... but i think it could make for an interesting chat, or at least a cathartic rant. i know that it'll be the latter for me, anyway.

    i am increasingly of the opinion that technology's greatest blessing is also its most horrid curse... the fact that ease-of-use or ease-of-participation has increased so much over the years. i love the fact that people can use technology to do things that they would otherwise be incapable of doing... i just hate that they choose to do these things in ways that fuck up my whole goddamn universe.

    example 1: the internet allows for far-flung people to converse and share information in ways that were not possible without exorbitant cost or potential regulation. pros: before the internet, communication was dependent upon a web of telecos, telegram companies, and postal mail carriers. now, people can share information, data, and be productive in ways that were never possible before. first it was the military, then came universities, and eventually the whole public could have the opportunity to discuss matters around the globe instantaneously, without lag-time or fear of censorship. cons: the internet has become a tool for insipid morons to share conspiracy theories, download hideous desktop wallpaper featuring the latest talentless pop-culture dipshit, and post every last goddamn detail of their worthless lives online for others to read. (see the piece If these words were people, I would embrace their genocide.)

    example 2: new media technologies allow people the ability to record, save, and playback multimedia content in previously-unthinkable ways. pros: while VCRs could only record a single stream in a simple, linear fashion and play back this recording with mere basic "fast forward" and "rewind" seeking, newer technologies (i.e. - DVRs) can record multiple programs at once, starting and stopping with amazing scheduled precision. people today can seek rapidly back and forth in their recordings and maintain a whole ornate library of content. cons: with VCRs, i could take a tape to my neighbor's house and watch what i'd recorded. i could also place a tape on a shelf for 4 years and then watch it later with no trouble at all. hollywood industries are pushing hard for all such freedom to be removed from the equation with DVRs and the technologies that will follow them. functionality increases, true content control decreases. (this, by the way, is the topic of one of my thesis papers... should prove interesting as i plan to discuss MythTV and how it is an example of truly "democratic" technology, see Langdon Winner, Jacques Ellul, Arnold Pacey) biggest con: no matter what media technology comes out next and no matter how functional or democratic it is, it will still be used by the vast majority of the public to record stuff like Friends, The Apprentice, American Idol, or whatever mind-killing drivel people watch these days.

    example 3: (the impetus for tonight's rant) before technology made everything easy for everyone, it took actual skill and ability to accomplish something... for example, something as difficult as ripping a DVD and releasing this encode onto the 'net. anyone remember the days of private FTP servers, the SVCD vs. DivX debates, and a time when there were like four fucking groups that released stuff? sure, it was hard as hell for people to get tv shows and movies online the moment they were broadcast / on retail shelves... but if you downloaded something, it was quality. nowadays, every fool with a high-speed connection thinks it's their duty to take every single CD and film they own and try to share them with bittorrent, etc. subtitles are messed up, track orders are fouled, bitrates are all wrong, codecs aren't configured properly, etc etc etc. i used to rely on the internet as a way to obtain content that wasn't available to me (films not released in region 1, CDs that no store around me carries, stuff that i can't find for sale from online vendors) and now it seems like i have to download something three or four times before i actually end up with a copy that's tolerable.

    (disclaimer: yeah, i know there's something unseemly about bemoaning the inability of people today to skirt the law and certain copyright regulations. but i'm not talking about trying to watch a film that i could have just gotten at the blockbuster around the corner or hear a CD that is available in stores.)

    it's so frustrating to me, this love-hate relationship i have with technology. the beast that's out of the cage both tears at my flesh and also warms my heart with its wagging tail. were it not for the internet, my grandfather would go out of his mind all alone in his house far away with my grandmother who is entering the really ugly phases of alzheimer's... at least he can play online poker and talk to other people while he sits in the living room with her drifting in and out of reality. but this same internet gives a speaker's platform to douche-nozzles like right-wing bloggers and religious wingnuts, helping them destroy the minds of people they could have never reached before.

    as i said, double-edged sword. no easy answers. just sharing some frustration with my friends here.
    "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
    - Trent Reznor

  • #2
    The internet has given everyone a voice. Apparently most of them are using that voice to say "Me Too"

    I think it's up to people themselves to determine how they use the voice given to them. Some people are morons online and morons IRL.

    The truely scary thing is when people are happy with the new 'rights' afforded to them through regulating various technologies. I know people who are actually happy they get spam and buy products from them (though they have'nt clued into the number of times they've been scammed)

    There is going to be a period of societal adjustment as people get away from the 'gee whiz factor' and really realize the power being afforded to them
    Last edited by renderman; December 3, 2005, 17:16.
    Never drink anything larger than your head!





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    • #3
      Originally posted by renderman
      The internet has given everyone a voice. Apparently most of them are using that voice to say "Me Too"
      that quote is fantastic and belongs on a t-shirt.
      "I'll admit I had an OiNK account and frequented it quite often… What made OiNK a great place was that it was like the world's greatest record store… iTunes kind of feels like Sam Goody to me. I don't feel cool when I go there. I'm tired of seeing John Mayer's face pop up. I feel like I'm being hustled when I visit there, and I don't think their product is that great. DRM, low bit rate, etc... OiNK it existed because it filled a void of what people want."
      - Trent Reznor

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Deviant Ollam
        that quote is fantastic and belongs on a t-shirt.
        And that reply is so perfect that it belongs on the other side of the t-shirt!

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        • #5
          I resolved these issues long ago, when people asked me if I was bothered by "gamers" buying computer just to play games and use as toys...
          I also resolved this issue when I was asked if I hated MS for making OS that try to do so much to protect users, and make things easy, that they become bloated and for people to upgrade to new computers...
          AND, I also resolved this issue when Usenet was invaded by AOL people and spammers, and people wanting to contibute opinions, but little else...

          All of these people are paying (in some form) for technology. They are paying for Internet access, and pushing for faster connection, faster computers, and they all want it cheaper.

          Good for me. These people have paid for, and continue to pay for the R&D necessary to make a super computer possible on my desktop. Soon, these people may pay for the R&D to make what 10 years ago was "massively parallel computing" in icebox-sized system requiring external coolers, instead, cheaply available in a small formfactor on my future desk. (What do you think multi CPU, with MultiCore might become? Or the idea of "cell" processing?" :-D

          Let their numbers increase. Let the tards grow and spend more money on computers, technology, and high speed networks. Let them help build the market to make future MP3 players so cheap to be part of HappyMeals, and smaller than wrist watches and run on solar power. Let them fund Quantum Computing to make cybernetic repairs possible, and nanotechnology a viable tool to repair humans, (or as Bascule envisions, upgrade humans and accellerate development so fast that we cannot begin to know how we will live. (not a direct quote, but combination of content from "signularity" discussions.

          There should always be preserves-- places for people to go to socialize with their own kind; the user need only search in order to find them.
          Last edited by TheCotMan; December 4, 2005, 11:44. Reason: spelling mistake fix

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