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Macon Chronicle-Herald - Macon, MO
Opinion from the technical trenches.
A Technologist's Rant...
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About this blog
By Robert Handley
Kirksville native, laborer, filmmaker, sailor, technologist. I've had an interest in how things work since childhood and today making things work is my job description. I'm an IT generalist/consultant and database developer, and for the last ...
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Please Stay Tuned...
Kirksville native, laborer, filmmaker, sailor, technologist. I've had an interest in how things work since childhood and today making things work is my job description. I'm an IT generalist/consultant and database developer, and for the last several years I've concentrated on simplifying and securing small business technology. I intend that complexity stay inside the machine, and that your experience outside it be productive and pleasant. When you make technology decisions there are many sources for information and advice, but it's sometimes overwhelming to sift through. So I'll render fact, opinion and personal experience into palatable portions that I hope you'll find helpful. I'm not a tech evangelist, rather I play a balancing act, because it's easy to collect a closet full of expensive, planet killing junk. Please stay tuned...
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July 6, 2012 12:01 a.m.



 



Several of the prior blog posts were concerned with backups and storage. I intended to follow up with specifics but got sidetracked. I will address these topics with more specificity soon. 



 




Instead I'm going to rant.  I've been bugged and so will venture a little outside my geek and wires box, that is, technology as it might apply to our public selves and private (?) future. 




 




Rant One...




 




All common tech devices we use today are the depleted and useless devices of tomorrow. Full on computers, once necessary for simple, old-fashioned email, are no longer necessary, and even email is falling off a cliff.  Many users (you?) can get by quite well without Windows and Macs. Computers are complex devices, and (I hope) will remain that way for power users, but many people can ignore them in favor of a pocket information grenade, like an iPhone, Android smartphone or Windows phone (also tomorrows useless devices).




 




In the beginning of 2003 geeks were talking about, but had not seen, practical small devices with enough power to take on higher level, if common tasks. PDAs, such as Newton and Palm devices, were cute and a bit liberating, but only mostly depended on a real computer. Then came Blackberry, a huge innovation for its time, making possible read/write anywhere email, with keypad entry, communication with real words (short-lived). Now, only a few years later, Blackberry is possibly defunct and anachronistic. Then iPhone followed, with minimally acceptable mobile web. Game changer.




 




While still crippled for long form anything (real documents like contracts, actual words strung together in compete sentences, web design, big spreadsheets, etc.), most smaller devices will soon eclipse their larger, more complex cousins for internet traffic volume. Business computing is still a tossup, one can't analyze a spread sheet when presented on the head of a pin. But small, connected devices facilitate succinct messaging and almost everything else, including Social




 




Are Facebook and it's closely related cousins self-digging graves or community facilitators?  You use, you pick. Personally, I participate in this so-called Post-PC era reluctantly, because technology that's both anonymous and easy resembles the old west, where everyone carried a sidearm and just might use it. Mean spirited use of social media, propagation of uninformed opinion as if it were fact, rumor mongering, bullying, etc., are visible aspects of the social media tapestry. The retail machine gains enormously from the money we spend on Social, whether searching for truth or lies, good or evil.  Mine is an old fashioned notion that some thoughts, fantasy and opinion are best kept private. 




 




Is this a deteriorating epoch?  Should we know better than to establish relationships of fleeting passion, then trade Facebook opinions, or even passwords, as a gesture of trust? Does everyone deserve a soapbox with the same viral distribution potential? Some argue that America is a free country, equal opportunity stupidity is allowed by the Bill of Rights, and corporations are people.    




 




Anyone with sufficient income can pay public communication monopolies $2500 or so and obtain the above mentioned, hand held information grenade, a pittance traded for power, for those with a spare $2500 anyhow. Having signed the boilerplate, every one of us agrees to be tracked, including but not exclusive to current location, movement to another location, habits, idiosyncrasies, political affiliation, inferred/assumed threat by association, purchases, relationships, sexual activity and soon (or now?), our medical records.




 




Detailed tracking of our activity is almost impossible to avoid. For instance, one’s picture can be taken several times on any visit to the bar or party, algorithmically recognized and tagged (a technology that improves daily, just ask any resident of London), then published by a stranger. Facial recognition is common today, a technical miracle no doubt, but more powerful analytics already identify our behavior with incredible granularly, not necessarily with our best interests in mind. Our actions are made available to data aggregators, interpreted by algorithm and the results are recorded. Decisions about our identities and how we should live are already set in many data repositories, available to anyone for a price.




 




Good or Evil?  Pets or food?  




 




Rant Two...




 




One of my friends (or at least he was until we discussed the subject below) described how he once enjoyed regular, recreational drives through the local campus. But for the last few years students (read those persons who actually belong on campus) have their noses buried in small, powerful devices and not giving full attention to the complicated business of walking. Some minority of those students might, at any moment of intellectual preoccupation, be collaborating on a revolutionary energy solution, or inventing a car/student collision avoidance system. Good for them.




 




My friend proposed that the rule of defensive, proactive driving be suspended to accommodate his vehicular recreation. After all, these student interlopers weren't practicing defensive, proactive walking, so courts should hold them responsible should a car/human collision occur. (In small boat voyaging we were forced to observe the gross tonnage rule, that is, no matter the law and/or rules of the road, smaller vessels must give way when a collision is imminent, because sudden splintering of the smaller vessel won't be noticed, much less ajudicated.) So, my friend argues (inadvertently), raw torque should inherit the earth.




 




A responsible adult and parent, my friend has been known to drive less than completely sober when young. Now older and presumably wiser, he argues that these damned kids should just stay off his lawn, rather than he staying off theirs. I think it's a telling metaphor for another digital divide, not the one where persons with less financial privilege are denied access to the Information Age, but rather a divide wherein those who won't or can't keep up with changing times would legislate a return to flawed memory of a less contemptuous past.




 




I love Kirksville, not the least of reasons being the university, medical school, and the raw, can-do energy that younger people bring to our community. Kirksville would have a dramatically different character without those institutions and businesses that support them, not to mention exceptional cultural opportunity that's accessible to all. We depend on young people, we owe them education without dibilitating debt, they are the future.




 




Those of us who embrace the age of technological innovation should guide it with informed, responsible vote. There is a powerful, profit driven, complicated, force (conspiracy?, I don't know...) that seeks to manipulate the connected, innocent citizen-sheep (us). It is attempting to force legislation and treaty that would control a free and open Internet, the wired analog to a free and open press. Powerful, ubiquitous, legal, public and private entities are watching all that we do, purchasing policy from our politicians, gathering and trading our personal information, and they may use it against us when and if convenient.  (Click here to read recent United Nations resolution, fwiw)




 




I was under the impression that we had a Constitution that forbade such activity.  Silly me.




 






Feel free to offer topic suggestions.  Commenting on the blog would be great, let’s get some discussions going.  Or, if you don’t want to comment and have a topic suggestion, please email: kdegeneralist@gmail.com




 




Thanks to Jeff Jarvis for planting seeds of distrust.




 




My Web Site:  www.thegeneralistweb.com




 




PS:  Please support Wikipedia.






 


 

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