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Ed Webb

THE MACHINE STOPS ... E.M. Forster - 2 views

  • like the cell of a bee
    • Ed Webb
      Why this image?
  • She knew several thousand people, in certain directions human intercourse had advanced enormously
    • Ed Webb
      What is the weight of that "in certain directions"?
  • I can give you fully five minutes
    • Ed Webb
      Does this seem as outrageous today as it must have in Forster's time?
  • ...40 more annotations...
  • wasting my time
  • "I want to speak to you not through the wearisome Machine."
  • The Machine is much, but it is not everything. I see something like you in this plate, but I do not see you. I hear something like you through this telephone, but I do not hear you
  • the Machine did not transmit nuances of expression. It only gave a general idea of people - an idea that was good enough for all practical purposes, Vashti thought. The imponderable bloom, declared by a discredited philosophy to be the actual essence of intercourse, was rightly ignored by the Machine, just as the imponderable bloom of the grape was ignored by the manufacturers of artificial fruit.
  • "It is contrary to the spirit of the age," she asserted.

    "Do you mean by that, contrary to the Machine?"

  • The surface of the earth is only dust and mud, no advantage. The surface of the earth is only dust and mud, no life remains on it, and you would need a respirator, or the cold of the outer air would kill you. One dies immediately in the outer air
    • Ed Webb
      In common with many other dystopian writers, Forster predicts environmental catastrophe.
  • For a moment Vashti felt lonely.

    Then she generated the light, and the sight of her room, flooded with radiance and studded with electric buttons, revived her. There were buttons and switches everywhere - buttons to call for food for music, for clothing. There was the hot-bath button, by pressure of which a basin of (imitation) marble rose out of the floor, filled to the brim with a warm deodorized liquid. There was the cold-bath button. There was the button that produced literature. and there were of course the buttons by which she communicated with her friends. The room, though it contained nothing, was in touch with all that she cared for in the world.

    • Ed Webb
      What of this seems familiar?
  • To most of these questions she replied with irritation - a growing quality in that accelerated age
  • Her lecture, which lasted ten minutes
    • Ed Webb
      Forster predicts the TED talk?
  • Vashti was seized with the terrors of direct experience
  • I will not tell you through the Machine
    • Ed Webb
      Is this due to concern about surveillance, or due to the personal nature of what he wishes to communicate, which needs nuance?
  • thanks to the advance of science, the earth was exactly alike all over. Rapid intercourse, from which the previous civilization had hoped so much, had ended by defeating itself. What was the good of going to Peking when it was just like Shrewsbury? Why return to Shrewsbury when it would all be like Peking? Men seldom moved their bodies; all unrest was concentrated in the soul.
  • her horror of direct experience returned. It was not quite like the air-ship in the cinematophote. For one thing it smelt - not strongly or unpleasantly, but it did smell, and with her eyes shut she should have known that a new thing was close to her.
  • The man in front dropped his Book - no great matter, but it disquieted them all
    • Ed Webb
      Why? Is this society not governed by reason?
  • they seemed intolerable
  • When the air-ships had been built, the desire to look direct at things still lingered in the world. Hence the extraordinary number of skylights and windows, and the proportionate discomfort to those who were civilized and refined
  • illegal, unmechanical, and punishable by Homelessness
  • People never touched one another. The custom had become obsolete, owing to the Machine
  • "Cover the window, please. These mountains give me no ideas."
  • She might well declare that the visit was superfluous. The buttons, the knobs, the reading-desk with the Book, the temperature, the atmosphere, the illumination - all were exactly the same. And if Kuno himself, flesh of her flesh, stood close beside her at last, what profit was there in that? She was too well-bred to shake him by the hand.
  • "You think it irreligious of me to have found out a way of my own. It was just what the Committee thought, when they threatened me with Homelessness."

    At this she grew angry. "I worship nothing!" she cried. "I am most advanced. I don"t think you irreligious, for there is no such thing as religion left. All the fear and the superstition that existed once have been destroyed by the Machine. I only meant that to find out a way of your own was----Besides, there is no new way out."

    "So it is always supposed."

    "Except through the vomitories, for which one must have an Egression-permit, it is impossible to get out. The Book says so."

    "Well, the Book"s wrong, for I have been out on my feet."

  • Each infant was examined at birth, and all who promised undue strength were destroyed. Humanitarians may protest, but it would have been no true kindness to let an athlete live; he would never have been happy in that state of life to which the Machine had called him
  • Man is the measure. That was my first lesson. Man"s feet are the measure for distance, his hands are the measure for ownership, his body is the measure for all that is lovable and desirable and strong
  • all the food-tubes and medicine-tubes and music- tubes that the Machine has evolved lately
  • Kuno had lately asked to be a father, and his request had been refused by the Committee. His was not a type that the Machine desired to hand on
  • I felt, for the first time, that a protest had been lodged against corruption, and that even as the dead were comforting me, so I was comforting the unborn. I felt that humanity existed, and that it existed without clothes. How can I possibly explain this? It was naked, humanity seemed naked, and all these tubes and buttons and machineries neither came into the world with us, nor will they follow us out, nor do they matter supremely while we are here
  • There was not room for such a person in the world. And with her pity disgust mingled. She was ashamed at having borne such a son, she who had always been so respectable and so full of ideas
  • Cannot you see, cannot all you lecturers see, that it is we that are dying, and that down here the only thing that really lives in the Machine? We created the Machine, to do our will, but we cannot make it do our will now
  • I fought till the very end
  • Beware of first- hand ideas!" exclaimed one of the most advanced of them. "First-hand ideas do not really exist. They are but the physical impressions produced by live and fear, and on this gross foundation who could erect a philosophy? Let your ideas be second-hand, and if possible tenth-hand, for then they will be far removed from that disturbing element - direct observation
  • in theory the Machine was still the creation and the implement of man. but in practice all, save a few retrogrades, worshipped it as divine
  • No one confessed the Machine was out of hand. Year by year it was served with increased efficiency and decreased intelligence
  • Time passed, and they resented the defects no longer. The defects had not been remedied, but the human tissues in that latter day had become so subservient, that they readily adapted themselves to every caprice of the Machine
  • mankind was not yet sufficiently adaptable to do without sleeping
  • Under the seas, beneath the roots of the mountains, ran the wires through which they saw and heard, the enormous eyes and ears that were their heritage, and the hum of many workings clothed their thoughts in one garment of subserviency. Only the old and the sick remained ungrateful, for it was rumoured that Euthanasia, too, was out of order, and that pain had reappeared among men
  • there came a day when, without the slightest warning, without any previous hint of feebleness, the entire communication-system broke down, all over the world, and the world, as they understood it, ended
    • Ed Webb
      How would we respond today if the internet and all media it supports suddenly stopped working? People dial 911 when Facebook goes down...
  • She had never known silence, and the coming of it nearly killed her - it did kill many thousands of people outright
  • man who had once made god in his image, and had mirrored his strength on the constellations, beautiful naked man was dying, strangled in the garments that he had woven
  • some fool will start the Machine again, tomorrow
  • scraps of the untainted sky
    • Ed Webb
Ed Webb

GCHQ revelations: mastery of the internet will mean mastery of everyone | Henry Porter ... - 0 views

  • We are fond of saying that the younger generation doesn't know the meaning of the word privacy, but what you give away voluntarily and what the state takes are as different as charity and tax. Privacy is the defining quality of a free people. Snowden's compelling leaks show us that mastery of the internet will ineluctably mean mastery over the individual.
Ed Webb

Glenn Greenwald: How America's Surveillance State Breeds Conformity and Fear | Civil Li... - 0 views

  • The Surveillance State hovers over any attacks that meaningfully challenge state-appropriated power. It doesn’t just hover over it. It impedes it, it deters it and kills it.  That’s its intent. It does that by design.
  • the realization quickly emerged that, allowing government officials to eavesdrop on other people, on citizens, without constraints or oversight, to do so in the dark, is a power that gives so much authority and leverage to those in power that it is virtually impossible for human beings to resist abusing that power.  That’s how potent of a power it is.
  • If a dictator takes over the United States, the NSA could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back.
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  • Now it’s virtually a religious obligation to talk about the National Security State and its close cousin, the Surveillance State, with nothing short of veneration.
  • The NSA, beginning 2001, was secretly ordered to spy domestically on the communications of American citizens. It has escalated in all sorts of lawless, and now lawful ways, such that it is now an enormous part of what that agency does. Even more significantly, the technology that it has developed is now shared by a whole variety of agencies, including the FBI
  • Now, the Patriot Act is completely uncontroversial. It gets renewed without any notice every three years with zero reforms, no matter which party is in control.
  • hey are two, as I said, established Democrats warning that the Democratic control of the Executive branch is massively abusing this already incredibly broad Patriot Act. And one of the things they are trying to do is extract some basic information from the NSA about what it is they’re doing in terms of the surveillance on the American people.  Because even though they are on the Intelligence Committee, they say they don’t even know the most basic information about what the NSA does including even how many Americans have had their e-mails read or had their telephone calls intercepted by the NSA.
  • "We can’t tell you how many millions of Americans are having their e-mails read by us, and their telephone calls listened in by us, because for us to tell you that would violate the privacy of American citizens."
  • An article in Popular Mechanics in 2004 reported on a study of American surveillance and this is what it said: “There are an estimated 30 million surveillance cameras now deployed in the United States shooting 4 billion hours of footage a week. Americans are being watched. All of us, almost everywhere.” There is a study in 2006 that estimated that that number would quadruple to 100 million cameras -- surveillance cameras -- in the United States within five years largely because of the bonanza of post-9/11 surveilling. 
  • it’s not just the government that is engaged in surveillance, but just as menacingly, corporations, private corporations, engage in huge amounts of surveillance on us. They give us cell phones that track every moment of where we are physically, and then provide that to law enforcement agencies without so much as a search warrant.  Obviously, credit card and banking transactions are reported, and tell anyone who wants to know everything we do. We talk about the scandal of the Bush eavesdropping program that was not really a government eavesdropping program, so much as it was a private industry eavesdropping program. It was done with the direct and full cooperation of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and the other telecom giants.

    In fact, when you talk about the American Surveillance State, what you’re really talking about is no longer public government agencies. What you’re talking about is a full-scale merger between the federal government and industry. That is what the Surveillance State is
  • The principle being that there can be no human interaction, especially no human communication, not just for international between foreign nations but by America citizens on American soils that is beyond the reach of the U.S. government.
  • at exactly the same time that the government has been massively expanding its ability to know everything that we’re doing it has simultaneously erected a wall of secrecy around it that prevents us from knowing anything that they’re doing
  • government now operates with complete secrecy, and we have none
  • governments, when they want to give themselves abusive and radical powers, typically first target people who they think their citizens won’t care very much about, because they’ll think they’re not affected by it
  • what has happened in the last three to four years is a radical change in the war on terror. The war on terror has now been imported into United States policy. It is now directed at American citizens on American soil. So rather than simply sending drones to foreign soil to assassinate foreign nationals, we are now sending drones to target and kill American citizens without charges or trial. Rather than indefinitely detaining foreign nationals like Guantanamo, Congress last year enacted, and President Obama signed, the National Defense Authorization Act that permits the detention -- without trial, indefinitely -- of American citizens on U.S. soil.
  • this is what the Surveillance State is designed to do.  It’s justified, in the name of terrorism, of course that’s the packaging in which it’s wrapped, that’s been used extremely, and in all sorts of ways, since 9/11 for domestic application. And that’s being, that’s happening even more. It’s happening in terms of the Occupy movement and the infiltration that federal officials were able to accomplish using Patriot Act authorities. It’s happened with pro-Palestinian activists in the United States and all other dissident groups that have themselves [dealt with] with surveillance and law enforcement used by what was originally the war on terror powers.
  • if the government is able to know what we speak about and know who we’re talking to, know what it is that we’re planning, it makes any kind of activism extremely difficult. Because secrecy and privacy are prerequisites to effective actions.
  • we are training our young citizens to live in a culture where the expect they are always being watched. And we want them to be chilled, we want them to be deterred, we want them not to ever challenge orthodoxy or to explore limits where engaging creativity in any kind. This type of surveillance, by design, breeds conformism.  That’s its purpose. that’s what makes surveillance so pernicious.
  • f you go and speak to communities of American Muslims is you find an incredibly pervasive climate of fear.
  • This climate of fear creates limits around the behavior in which they’re willing to engage in very damaging ways
  • it makes people believe that they’re free even though they’ve been subtly convinced that there are things that they shouldn’t do that they might want to do
  • the psychological effects on East German people endure until today. The way in which they have been trained for decades to understand that there are limits to their life, even once you remove the limits, they’ve been trained that those are not things they need to transgress.
  • Rosa Luxembourg said, “He who does not move does not notice his chains.”
  • You can acculturate people to believing that tyranny is freedom, that their limits are actually emancipations and freedom, that is what this Surveillance State does, by training people  to accept their own conformity that they are actually free, that they no longer even realize the ways in which they’re being limited.
  • important means of subverting this one-way mirror that I’ve described is forcible, radical transparency. It’s one of the reasons I support, so enthusiastically and unqualafiably, groups like Anonymous and WikiLeaks. I want holes to be blown in the wall of secrecy.
  • There are things like the Tor project and other groups that enable people to use the internet without any detection from government authorities. That has the effect of preventing regimes that actually bar their citizens from using the Internet from doing so since you can no longer trace the origins of the Internet user. But it also protects people who live in countries like ours where the government is trying to constantly monitor what we do by sending our communications through multiple proxies around the world that can’t be invaded. There’s really a war taking place: an arms race where the government and these groups are attempting to stay one tactical step ahead of the other. In terms of ability to shield internet communications from the government and the government’s ability to invade them and participating in this war in ways that are supportive of the “good side” are really critical as is veiling yourself from the technology that exists, to make what you do as tight as possible.
Ed Webb

Obama and the Age of Surveillance | Indypendent Reader - 0 views

  • “Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital 'pocket litter.'”
  • To be fair, the US government has given significant contributions to the research and development of free speech and anonymity technologies, such as the Tor Project.[26] Technologies created and fostered by the US government have been invaluable in the fight for freedom all around the globe. After all, it was the US military that created the precursor to the internet, called ARPANET.

    But without the ability to be accountable for its own crimes, and to protect the rights of those in opposition to its own policies, the US continues its greatest tradition of hypocrisy. The Obama administration lifts up the struggles of those fighting its enemies with one hand, while attacking those who speak up about injustices of US-sponsored regimes with the other. All the while, it is slowly and secretly building up its omni-present police state at home.

Ed Webb

Chez Pazienza: The Death of Privacy and the Death of Tyler Clementi - 0 views

  • digital age technology, which now allows for the psychological torment that used to be confined only to school to be relentless and omnipresent
  • They felt like they could do it because everybody does it. A good portion of our media culture is now based on prurient voyeurism and a constant invasion of privacy. The public disclosure of a person's most intimate secrets and moments is no longer considered shameful or condemnable -- it's just called entertainment. Why wouldn't a couple of college kids turn their classmate into an unwitting reality TV star? It's basically the same toxic horseshit they grew up watching on MTV, VH1 and E! For all they knew, maybe Tyler Clementi would've loved the mainline of notoriety. If the dipshits on Jersey Shore don't have a problem mining their most repugnant traits in the name of 15 minutes of fame -- if anyone can go to YouTube and post video of a guy complaining about how there are rapists in his neighborhood and suddenly turn that guy into a viral sensation and his complaints into a catch phrase -- why the hell can't two Rutgers freshmen live-stream a roommate in bed with a man? This is the age of the unauthorized sex tape. This is Bentham's Panopticon come to fruition on a global scale. You're always being watched. You're always on camera. You have no expectation of privacy. Clementi should have known that, right?!
  • anyone he personally feels deserves it and he and his website are at the forefront of America's culture of shameless voyeurism and a constant, irrepressible invasion of privacy. It's because someone like Perez Hilton has spent the past few years making himself rich by indiscriminately circulating images of Miley Cyrus's crotch to the world that the two teenagers who tortured Tyler Clementi likely didn't think that what they were doing was a big deal.
Ed Webb

Retargeting Ads Follow Surfers to Other Sites - - 0 views

  • it’s a little creepy, especially if you don’t know what’s going on
  • personalized retargeting or remarketing
  • the palpable feeling that they are being watched as they roam the virtual aisles of online stores
  • ...11 more annotations...
  • Others, though, find it disturbing. When a recent Advertising Age column noted the phenomenon, several readers chimed in to voice their displeasure.
  • she felt even worse when she was hounded recently by ads for a dieting service she had used online. “They are still following me around, and it makes me feel fat,” she said.
  • the technique is raising anew the threat of industry regulation
  • Mr. Magness, of Zappos, said that consumers may be unnerved because they may feel that they are being tracked from site to site as they browse the Web. To reassure consumers, Zappos, which is using the ads to peddle items like shoes, handbags and women’s underwear, displays a message inside the banner ads that reads, “Why am I seeing these ads?” When users click on it, they are taken to the Web site of Criteo, the advertising technology company behind the Zappos ads, where the ads are explained.
  • at there is a commercial surveillance system in place online that is sweeping in scope and raises privacy and civil liberties issues
  • “When you begin to give people a sense of how this is happening, they really don’t like it,”
  • Professor Turow, who studies digital media and recently testified at a Senate committee hearing on digital advertising, said he had a visceral negative reaction to the ads, even though he understands the technologies behind them.

    “It seemed so bold,” Professor Turow said. “I was not pleased, frankly.”

  • For Google, remarketing is a more specific form of behavioral targeting, the practice under which a person who has visited, for instance, may be tagged as a basketball fan and later will be shown ads for related merchandise.

    Behavioral targeting has been hotly debated in Washington, and lawmakers are considering various proposals to regulate it. During the recent Senate hearing, Senator Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, said she found the technique troubling. “I understand that advertising supports the Internet, but I am a little spooked out,” Ms. McCaskill said of behavioral targeting. “This is creepy.”

  • being stalked by a pair of pants
  • “I don’t think that exposing all this detailed information you have about the customer is necessary,” said Alan Pearlstein, chief executive of Cross Pixel Media, a digital marketing agency. Mr. Pearlstein says he supports retargeting, but with more subtle ads that, for instance, could offer consumers a discount coupon if they return to an online store. “What is the benefit of freaking customers out?”
    Minority Report (movie)?
Ed Webb

Tracking The Companies That Track You Online : NPR - 1 views

  • A visit to resulted in 234 trackers being installed on our test computer, and only 11 of those were installed by
  • Every time I have a thought, I take an action online and Google it. So [online tracking] does build up these incredibly rich dossiers. One question is: Is knowing your name the right definition of anonymity? Right now, that is considered anonymous. If they don't know your name, they're not covered by laws that regulate personally identifiable information. And that's what the Federal Trade Commission is considering — that the definition of personal information should be expanded beyond name and Social Security number. Another thing that [online tracking] raises is sensitive information. So if you're looking at gay websites, then you're labeled as gay in some database somewhere and then you're followed around and sold on some exchange as gay, and you just may not want that to happen. So I feel like there are some categories that we as a society may not want collected: our political affiliation, our diseases, our income levels and many other things."
  • you can go to the websites of all of these tracking companies and ask them not to track you — which is absurd, because you'd have to know who they are. There is a list of all of them on the ad industry's webpage, and you can opt out of all of them at the same time. But one thing to know about tracking is they actually put a tracker on your computer saying don't track me. So you're opting in to being tracked for not being tracked
Ed Webb

Project Vigilant and the government/corporate destruction of privacy - Glenn Greenwald ... - 0 views

  • it's the re-packaging and transfer of this data to the U.S. Government -- combined with the ability to link it not only to your online identity (IP address), but also your offline identity (name) -- that has made this industry particularly pernicious.  There are serious obstacles that impede the Government's ability to create these electronic dossiers themselves.  It requires both huge resources and expertise.  Various statutes enacted in the mid-1970s -- such as the Privacy Act of 1974 -- impose transparency requirements and other forms of accountability on programs whereby the Government collects data on citizens.  And the fact that much of the data about you ends up in the hands of private corporations can create further obstacles, because the tools which the Government has to compel private companies to turn over this information is limited (the fact that the FBI is sometimes unable to obtain your "transactional" Internet data without a court order -- i.e., whom you email, who emails you, what Google searches you enter, and what websites you visit --is what has caused the Obama administration to demand that Congress amend the Patriot Act to vest them with the power to obtain all of that with no judicial supervision).

    But the emergence of a private market that sells this data to the Government (or, in the case of Project Vigilance, is funded in order to hand it over voluntarily) has eliminated those obstacles.

  • a wide array of government agencies have created countless programs to encourage and formally train various private workers (such as cable installers, utilities workers and others who enter people's homes) to act as government informants and report any "suspicious" activity; see one example here.  Meanwhile, TIA has been replicated, and even surpassed, as a result of private industries' willingness to do the snooping work on American citizens which the Government cannot do.
  • this arrangement provides the best of all worlds for the Government and the worst for citizens:

    The use of private-sector data aggregators allows the government to insulate surveillance and information-handling practices from privacy laws or public scrutiny. That is sometimes an important motivation in outsourced surveillance.  Private companies are free not only from complying with the Privacy Act, but from other checks and balances, such as the Freedom of Information Act.  They are also insulated from oversight by Congress and are not subject to civil-service laws designed to ensure that government policymakers are not influenced by partisan politics. . . .

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  • There is a long and unfortunate history of cooperation between government security agencies and powerful corporations to deprive individuals of their privacy and other civil liberties, and any program that institutionalizes close, secretive ties between such organizations raises serious questions about the scope of its activities, now and in the future.
  • Many people are indifferent to the disappearance of privacy -- even with regard to government officials -- because they don't perceive any real value to it.  The ways in which the loss of privacy destroys a society are somewhat abstract and difficult to articulate, though very real.  A society in which people know they are constantly being monitored is one that breeds conformism and submission, and which squashes innovation, deviation, and real dissent. 
  • that's what a Surveillance State does:  it breeds fear of doing anything out of the ordinary by creating a class of meek citizens who know they are being constantly watched.
  • The loss of privacy is entirely one-way.  Government and corporate authorities have destroyed most vestiges of privacy for you, while ensuring that they have more and more for themselves.  The extent to which you're monitored grows in direct proportion to the secrecy with which they operate.  Sir Francis Bacon's now platitudinous observation that "knowledge itself is power" is as true as ever.  That's why this severe and always-growing imbalance is so dangerous, even to those who are otherwise content to have themselves subjected to constant monitoring.
Ed Webb

Goodbye petabytes, hello zettabytes | Technology | The Guardian - 0 views

  • Every man, woman and child on the planet using micro-blogging site Twitter for a century. For many people that may sound like a vision of hell, but for watchers of the tremendous growth of digital communications it is a neat way of presenting the sheer scale of the so-called digital universe.
  • the growing desire of corporations and governments to know and store ever more data about everyone
  • experts estimate that all human language used since the dawn of time would take up about 5,000 petabytes if stored in digital form, which is less than 1% of the digital content created since someone first switched on a computer.
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  • A zettabyte, incidentally, is roughly half a million times the entire collections of all the academic libraries in the United States.
  • Mobile phones have dramatically widened the range of people who can create, store and share digital information.

    "China now has more visible devices out on the streets being used by individuals than the US does," said McDonald. "We are seeing the democratisation and commoditisation of the use and creation of information."

  • About 70% of the digital universe is generated by individuals, but its storage is then predominantly the job of corporations. From emails and blogs to mobile phone calls, it is corporations that are storing information on behalf of consumers.
  • actions in the offline world that individuals carry out which result in digital content being created by organisations – from cashpoint transactions which a bank must record to walking along the pavement, which is likely to result in CCTV footage
  • "unstructured"
  • "You talk to a kid these days and they have no idea what a kilobyte is. The speed things progress, we are going to need many words beyond zettabyte."
Ed Webb

Web Coupons Tell Stores More Than You Realize - - 2 views

    I don't personally have a problem with this, but I do think this may just be the beginning of the death of privacy. It starts with coupons and ends with.... brainwashing. Naturally I'm a fan.
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