Fragmentation of Music

Salon is running a story on the ‘success’ of electronic music, pointing out that it rules our advertising and movie soundtracks but has never shown up on the radio, despite the marketing hype of the mid-90s. So why was this? Vontz discusses the common complaints: repetitive beats, lack of real artistry (after all using a computer to create music can’t be as aesthetically privleged as the violionist). Then he criticizes the American consumer who expects:

Review of Richard Stallman Bio

Richard Stallman is the founder of the Free Software Foundation, begun in 1984 to promote freedom in computing by releasing free software. The review succinctly summarizes Stallman’s appeal and oddity: Most broadly, Williams’s book is about a disappearing personality type, that of the individual who stands on principle alone, who does not bend to pressure, succumb to convenience, or compromise his beliefs. It’s an investigation of just how viable such an ethically unyielding character is in a morally relativist world of bargains, trades, and deals.

The End of Patents?

Forbes has two articles critical of the patent system. “The Smother of Invention“ But there is bad news on this bicentennial. After 200 years of lumbering down the tracks, the intellectual-property process in the United States is beginning to go off the rails. Branches of the government are intervening where they never have before. Opposing camps, many with money and influence, are forming. Small inventors are diverted from where they can make the greatest contributions.

New Wave for Simulation Learning

Over the weekend the NY Times ran this article “Budding Scientists, Let Loose in a World They Can Save” which contains a description of a project sponsored by Harvard and George Mason that lets students learn in a virtual world. She and her classmates are part of a research project designed by scientists at George Mason University and the Harvard University Graduate School of Education that relies on what they call multiple-user virtual environment experiential simulators, or Muvees.

Old Comments on Star Wars for a New Movie

I just stumbled across David Brin’s brilliant essay that takes the whole mythology of Star Wars to task for being elitist, pompous, and anti-democratic. Above all, I never cared for the whole Nietzschian Übermensch thing: the notion – pervading a great many myths and legends – that a good yarn has to be about demigods who are bigger, badder and better than normal folk by several orders of magnitude. It’s an ancient storytelling tradition based on abiding contempt for the masses – one that I find odious in the works of A.

Reading Exams Get Censored

The New York Times has an article on the absurdities of reading exams that are censored to remove any references that might be deemed offensive. Of course, what gets removed is often the content of the story. The modifications to the passages ranged widely. In the Chekhov story “The Upheaval,” the exam takes out the portion in which a wealthy woman looking for a missing brooch strip-searches all of the house’s staff members.

Showing Boys How to Read

When I worked for Barnes and Noble one of my favorite recommendations for children’s picture books were the work of Jon Scieszka, who wrote The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales. I enjoyed his titles and the illustrations. Today I found an essay by him at the Washington Post about Why Johnny Won’t Read. He contends, and I think sadly it is true, that boys don’t see enough role models reading.

The Stock Market and Perceptions of Risk

Two articles of note about the stock market came to mind today. The first is “Beyond Value Investing: How I Realized the Internet Bubble was a Pyramid Scheme” by Bob Hiler. Hiler’s argument is that the internet bubble is a new form of the pyramid scheme - a distributed pyramid scheme in which no one person or group can be blamed, instead a bunch of individual actors, acting in their perceived best interest, created a pyramid which eventually came crashing down.

Optimum Creative Networks

I’ve been trying to think of ways to test or experiment on creative networks in order to discover the optimum network topology to enhance creativity. So far I’ve borrowed two metaphors from technology to describe creative networks: the network topology model (star, mesh, ring) and the internet business model (many to many, few to many, etc) Is it possible to use the conclusions of computer networking studies to help answer this question?

Microsoft and Privacy

From Business Week: An interview with Prchard Purcell, the privacy czar. My job is dedicated to transferring control of information back to where I think it belongs – in the hands of the individual. But that assumes they ever had control. That’s not the case. In the offline world, for decades and decades, information has been gathered and shared and used completely outside of the control of the individual. So if I say, “Gee, I really want to turn control back to the individual,” what’s that going to mean in terms of how much work there is?