"There is a black sun which is not visible to the human eye. It is our beacon and its fire burns within us." -- Akkadian temple inscription



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Black Sun

Steven Kaye's irregularly updated blog

Courtesy of Smart Mobs again, someone else who gets the importance of supporting multiple media to knowledge management - and is doing something about it. Yes! Why is this important?
  • People have different learning styles - some people need to work through an example themselves, others prefer lectures, still others are visually oriented. Using multiple media means more people (potentially) in the conversation. You can find out more about the topic of cognitive learning styles here
  • One argument that entertainment companies (or their pet Senators) trot out to explain why we're not living in a broadband paradise right now is that they're afraid to make their product available in a digitized format which can easily be ripped off. This assumes that the public's role is to be hooked up to media conglomerate-owned content pipes until they waddle away suitably engorged and torpid, of course. Somehow, people are making websites, Flash movies and music available on their own despite this. Imagine what the combination of Creative Commons-licensed, royalty-free or public domain image, movie and sound libraries and multiple media managment systems could do for what the average Joe could create, to say nothing of the demand for broadband that would be generated.
Well, I've read Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter's novel The Light of Other Days, since a poster on Smart Mobs recommended it as a more current SF novel on issues around privacy and surveillance than the stuff I'd been throwing around. Bottom line - frustrating as hell. It throws off lots of ideas, but doesn't develop many of them, and it has an entirely too optimistic conclusion, rather reminiscent of another book, oddly. Anything bad that happens in the book is the result of unenlightened people's reactions to technology (or the fact that one of the main characters is monstrously selfish, apparently for no other reason that to keep the story moving). There's an attitude I've seen a lot of online, that technology = destiny. That any bad consequences of a given technology are easily remedied by more technology, or by those goofy end-users giving up their unenlightened views and realizing that there is no problem. The death of privacy imminent? Well, only the guilty have anything to hide anyway, Besides, any possible application of a technology will be realized, so best to deal with it and move on. I'm not some neo-Luddite, bemoaning the destruction of some mythical Golden Age through rampant adoption of technology. I'm not saying that we shouldn't seek to advance technology because we can't predict all the possible consequences. But would it hurt to ask "Why should this be developed and what might the consequences be?," even if we don't have all the answers? To figure out what kind of a society we want and develop technologies to facilitate that? Or am I just an unevolved stasist neophobe?
© 2002, Steven Kaye