Thursday, April 24, 2008

Readings 4-24-08

The Foreign Policy/Prospect Top 100 Public Intellectuals

Here's their bios.

Who got snubbed? Who's undeserving?

I'll start you off: Al Gore?

If you only read one of these items, read Tomorrow Museum's excellent Science Fiction is for the Renaissance Men.


Crisis happens when we fail to look at the large picture, but who is standing far enough away to see?
Artist Fritz Haeg thinks we should follow Buckminster Fuller’s advice. “Basically, his theory is that the powers that be want us to be specialists,” he tells this month’s Art Review, “Because they don’t want us to see the big picture, because the more you see the big picture, the more you are apt to question things. He’s saying that decades ago, but I think its even more true today.”
and furthermore:
Public Service Announcements have always provided hackneyed obvious information (”Give a hoot, don’t pollute.”) We should have Public Education Announcements: 30 seconds of Spanish phrases, Newton’s Laws, or basic geometry theorems. Everyone would be able to explain the second law of thermodynamics as quickly as we can say “Shoulda Hada V8.”

We need more renaissance (wo)men, omnologists, and generalists.

To navigate through this century we'll still need specialists, but as a standard, specialization is limiting. Over-specialization stems from old world guild secrets and old school paranoid nationalism. It is a defunct system and needs to be reformatted. (see)

What we're short on is people like Leonardo, Mary Somerville, Buckminster Fuller and Howard Bloom. What we're woefully bereft of is the "informed citizenry" necessary for a properly functioning democracy as well as an emerging global economy.

Fuse this with the speculative cast of science fiction and we're going somewhere. Science fiction has, collectively, been a sort of surrogate renaissance man in a society needing all the vision it can get.

It will be interesting to see how nascent fields like speculative fiction, future studies, omnology and generalism will grow, merge and transform over time. It would be helpful if more traditional disciplines were to adopt this kind of thinking and help facilitate connections. Entire new fields of study could emerge, like macro-omnology, comparative science, urban synergetics or psychohistory.

There are encouraging signs that this is already happening. Now we need to catch up with the "informed citizenry" part. Start with the kids.

25 leading-edge IT research projects

Some cool stuff in there, including the Dark Web*, T-rays, vocal joysticks and honeybees.

* not to be confused with Deep Web

RFE/RL Study Explores How Al-Qaeda Exploits Internet

What it is:
"This is a study that really looks at two things," he says. "It looks at the global message that Al-Qaeda puts out and that its affiliates put out. It also looks at the network that is behind that -- and then, how...they get that [message] out to the world. What is the network that brings that [message] to people over the Internet -- because the Internet is really the primary delivery mechanism for Al-Qaeda."
very interesting:
"Al-Qaeda, which was very, very advanced and very, very impressive in its use of new technology, is, I think, a bit behind the curve," Kimmage says. "They are sort of stuck in Web 1.0. They are producing what they think is the coolest content, the best videos, the most impressive press releases. And they are creating the most sophisticated -- the best network -- to distribute it to the web. What's missing is interactivity in user-generated content -- a world in which users generate a lot of the content and in which people what to interact with others. Al-Qaeda really seems stuck in the old model.
via monochrom

And now for something completely different...

Lynchings in Congo as penis theft panic hits capital

KINSHASA, April 22 (Reuters Life!) - Police in Congo have arrested 13 suspected sorcerers accused of using black magic to steal or shrink men's penises after a wave of panic and attempted lynchings triggered by the alleged witchcraft.
People get a bit touchy about their penises.

via Clumsy Crooks


Details interviews John Waters

Q: Who’s your most unlikely fan? Did Henry Kissinger ever come up to you and say, "Hey, John—I just loved Female Trouble"?
A: It’s funny you say that, because there is a picture of me and Henry Kissinger hanging on my bulletin board in Baltimore. It was taken at a magazine party. And I do send boxes full of my movies, T-shirts, and that kind of thing to soldiers in Iraq. One whole troop told me they were being bombed while watching Female Trouble.
I wrote the major back and said, "I feel like Bob Hope!" He wrote, "I promise more of them know who you are than Bob Hope!"

via Boing Boing

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