When Adrian Hon started his http://mssv.net, it had three columns: one column was for what we now would call tweets, or supertweets; one column was for weblog posts; and one column was for longer pieces--articles, say. This seemed to me to be a good way to try to organize the stuff one was putting online.
So I have been--for those who want the articles and only the articles--started slowly populating http://delong.typepad.com/delong_long_form/ with things present and past…
The hope is that I can then figure out a good format to present @delong on twitter, Grasping Reality, delong_long_form, and probably https://www.rebelmouse.com/delong/Highlighted/--and that there will be advantages to such a presentation, as I think there were powerful advantages to the initial format Adrian Hon was experimenting with with
I do wonder what is going on…
UPDATE: Yay!! Success!!
If I am in Berkeley, CA, is it likely that I am requesting directions to the Four Seasons Hotel in Maronouchi?
Yes, I know the last time I stayed in a Four Seasons it was the Four Seasons Maronouchi. Nevertheless…
'"Well, is it art?" "I do not know," said Mordel. "It may be. Perhaps randomicity is the principle behind artistic technique. I cannot judge this work because I do not understand it. I must therefore go deeper, and inquire into what lies behind it, rather than merely considering the technique whereby it was produced. I know that human artists never set out to create art, as such," he said, "but rather to portray with their techniquest some features of objects and their functions which they deemed significant." "'Significant'? In what sense of the word?" "In the only sense of the word possible under the circumstances: significant in relation to the human condition, and worth of accentuation because of the manner in which they touched upon it." "In what manner?" "Obviously, it must be in a manner knowable only to one who has experience of the human condition." "There is a flaw somewhere in your logic, Mordel, and I shall find it." "I will wait." "If your major premise is correct," said Frost after awhile, "then I do not comprehend art."' -- Roger Zelazny, "For a Breath I Tarry"
Why the Digital Revolution Won't be a Rerun of the Industrial Revolution: Whenever you talk about smart machines taking all our jobs, the usual pushback is that you're being a Luddite—an argument that's especially appropriate this year since it's the 200th anniversary of the end of the Luddite movement… all those skilled weavers in 1813 thought that power looms would put them out of jobs, but they were right only in the most limited way…. But the Digital Revolution won't be a rerun of the Industrial Revolution…. Karl Smith… [has a] take:
Creating things is a matter of rearranging atoms. Broadly speaking, you need two things to do this — a power system to overcome the gravitational and electromagnetic forces that tend to hold atoms in their relative positions and a control system to guarantee that atoms wind up in the right place. The industrial revolution was about one thing — more power! But, more power means the need for more control. Hence, the Industrial Revolution meant a rapid increase in the demand for human brains, not decrease. Smart machines provide both the power system and the control system in one convenient package. You can still argue that displaced humans will end up doing something else—we just don't know what yet—but it's a tough argument to win. If you agree that artificial intelligence will be real someday soon, then by definition smart machines will be able to do just about anything that humans can do. The answer to "Humans will do X," for any value of X, is "But robots can do that too." That wasn't true of the Industrial Revolution.
If you don't believe that AI is around the corner, then there's no argument to have here (aside from why you think AI is so far off). But if you do, then we have some serious questions to ponder about the future of work, the future of money, and the future of democracy. That's what my piece is mainly about.
I really do understand why the TypePad spam filter has reached this conclusion--I really do, and I feel its pain. But it is not the behavior I want from it. Hopefully we will have this episode of the robot revolt crushed soon…
At last night's Kansas State's debate, I said that Alan Reynolds had been warning of an outbreak of inflation from Bernanke's monetary policies for 3.5 years now, and it had not happened. "Not me", he said. "You must be thinking of some other guy."
Paul Krugman appears, bringing the refreshments in the form of a reference…
The WorldWideWeb (W3) is a wide-area hypermedia information retrieval initiative aiming to give universal access to a large universe of documents. Everything there is online about W3 is linked directly or indirectly to this document, including an executive summary of the project, Mailing lists , Policy , November's W3 news , Frequently Asked Questions .
Before writing a sermon in praise of scribes, we call for the help of Him who promised the clarity of eternal life as a reward to the sincere scribe. Indeed:
And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever.
This is to be understood as referring not only to those who create new things with their talents, but also to those who transcribe the old, as we will show by God's grace in what follows.
However useful the tradition of the learned, without the attention of the scribe it would never come to the notice of posterity. However well we behave, however fruitfully we teach, all that would be lost to oblivion if the work of the scribe did not record them in letters. It is therefore scribes who lend strength to words, memory to things, vigor to time. If they were taken from the Church, faith would weaken, charity would freeze, hope would die, law would perish, Scripture fall into oblivion. Finally, if writing was lost, the people would disperse, religious devotion would be extinguished, and the peace of Catholic unity would be a roil of confusion. Without scribes, writing would not long persist safely, but would be shattered by chance and corrupted by age.
The printed book is a thing of paper and in a short time will decay entirely. But the scribe commending letters to parchment extends his own and the letters' lifespan for ages. And he enriches the Church, conserves the faith, destroys heresies, repels vice, teaches morals and helps grow virtue. The devoted scribe, whom we intend to describe, praises God, pleases the angels, strengthens the just, corrects the sinner, commends the humble, protects the good, defeats the proud, and condemns the stubborn. The scribe, distinguished by piety, is the herald of God, because he announces His will to present and future peoples, promising eternal life to the good, pardon to the penitent, penalty to the negligent, and damnation to the contemptible. What is healthier than this art, what is more commendable than this piety which delights God, which the angels praise, which is venerated by the citizens of heaven? It is this piety that creates the weapons of the faithful against the heretics, which casts out the proud, which saps the strength of demons and which sets the norms of Christian life. It is this that teaches the ignorant, supports the timid, helps the devout, and joins the peaceful in love…
Panel discussion – Economic and Financial Weblogging and Standard Ivy-Covered Academia (Speaker: Mark Thoma; Discussant Stephanie Kelton; Moderator: Bob Strom)
I find myself both in substantial agreement and in substantial disagreement with Paul Horwitz's thoughtful and very interesting notes on "The Blogger as Public Intellectual". Let me try to set out seven tentative and provisional markers of disagreement:
"That the blog is 'just' a medium does not make the particular conduit used wholly irrelevant…. [T]he age of the blog is an age of immediacy, of present-mindedness, of thinking by linking instead of thinking by reflection…. [But] the choice of the blogging medium is not in itself all that consequential with respect to the public intellectual question…"
Is Microsoft the quiet villain of global finance?: Microsoft may be the quiet villain of global finance. Excel errors overstated pre-crisis structured finance ratings, dented JPMorgan’s risk management just as banks were on the mend, and tripped up influential fiscal policy ideas. The rest of the Office suite of “productivity” applications - the bulk of a division responsible for $24 billion in revenue in the last fiscal year - seems equally apt to court trouble.
In 2007, the triumph of the spreadsheet-style financial model peaked with so-called constant proportion debt obligations. This piece of structured finance genius managed to garner AAA ratings despite being designed so that as losses started accumulating, the built-in leverage would automatically increase (yes, increase). Sure enough, a coding error at Moody’s Investors Service had inflated the firm’s CPDO ratings.
Then there was JPMorgan’s $6 billion “London whale” trading loss last year. Excel flubs made another appearance. Also, overly flattering input assumptions allowed risk outputs to be understated - the garbage in, garbage out principle. Most recently, a graduate student discovered a spreadsheet error missed by two Harvard economists, undermining part of their widely cited theoretical case for austerity.
Barry Wellman et al.:
The Social Affordances of the Internet for Networked Individualism: We review the evidence from a number of surveys in which our NetLab has been involved about the extent to which the Internet is transforming or enhancing community. The studies show that the Internet is used for connectivity locally as well as globally, although the nature of its use varies in different countries. Internet use is adding on to other forms of communication, rather than replacing them. Internet use is reinforcing the pre-existing turn to societies in the developed world that are organized around networked individualism rather than group or local solidarities. The result has important implications for civic involvement.
And he said unto me: "Son of man, stand upon thy feet, and I will speak unto thee." And the spirit entered into me when he spake unto me, and set me upon my feet, that I heard him that spake unto me.
And he said unto me: "Son of man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to a rebellious nation that hath rebelled against me: they and their fathers have transgressed against me, even unto this very day. For they are impudent children and stiffhearted.
"I do send thee unto them; and thou shalt say unto them: 'Thus saith the Lord GOD.' And they, whether they will hear, or whether they will forbear, (for they are a rebellious house,) yet shall know that there hath been a prophet among them."
Economic and Financial Weblogging and the Future (Speaker: Hal Varian; Discussant Joshua Gans; Moderator, Mayor Sly James; Introduction, Brad DeLong)
Thoughts on the future of finance blogging | FT Alphaville: I joined FT Alphaville in 2010, very near the end of the days when the newsroom would look upon its bloggers with a combination of curiosity, suspicion, mild envy of our freedom to write what we wanted, and also-mild condescension that what we were doing was less prestigious than working on the print edition.
That has mostly changed now, as a lot of blogger-like tendencies and qualities have seeped into the rest of the newsroom itself — and especially into the parts of the newsroom that cover finance and economics.
Digitopoly | Future of Blogging: Last week I attended the annual Kauffman Foundation Economics and Financial Weblogging Forum in Kansas City. It was the first time I had met so many of those bloggers that I read daily. I learned that the non-academic bloggers are young, very young. One of them is just out of high school! They are also taller than I expected.
Anyhow, my brief talk was on ‘The Future of Weblogging’ and followed Hal Varian’s great and entertaining talk on Google’s data analysis tools. You can see the actual recorded live stream of all the talks here but I also just recorded my bit in case you want to focus. It is a fairly brief and highly speculative treatment.
Stan Collender, Brad DeLong, Stephanie Kelton: Up to Date: KCUR 11:00 AM CDT April 11, 2013:
Weekdays at 11am
Up to Date focuses on pressing issues, both local and national, including politics, economics, planning and design, history and entertainment - topics that have an impact on the lives of the Greater Kansas City region….
Thursday: Economic Bloggers Gather in KC / Weekend To-Do List
Here's the memo from Business Insider CEO and Editor-in-Chief Henry Blodget:
I wanted to share the details of the financing we mentioned last night. (Apologies for not being able to share them then--closing these things is an administrative nightmare, and it took a few hours longer than we hoped).
I'm going to post about this shortly after 10am. Please don't say anything or tweet about it until after the post hits.
Basically, Jeff Bezos is making a significant investment in the company. Our existing investors are also chipping in some more. In total, we're raising $5 million.
This capital will allow us to continue to invest aggressively in many areas of the business, including editorial, tech/product, sales and marketing, subscriptions, and events. As we mentioned last night, it will also allow us to expand our office.
The annual Economics Bloggers Forum brings together leading economists and bloggers to share perspectives on the business of blogging and the most pressing topic of the day: the economy. The Kauffman Foundation is holding the forum to stimulate new ideas, new thinking, and new policies that support the entrepreneurship and innovation that is critical to our economic recovery.
Brad DeLong: Introductory Remarks:
I would very much like to thank the Kauffman Foundation--President McDonnell and Research Director Stangler for giving me the keys and letting me drive this; Shelley Wertz, Bob Strom, Mette Kramer, and the entire Kauffman communications and support teams that have made this possible.
This year, I want to go meta. I want to focus not quite so much on what economic and financial webloggers should say but rather a bit more on how they should say it.
All forum attendees here at the conference has gotten into the weblogging business in large part out of idealism; to some, but varying, degrees out of frustration; out of entrepreneurship; and out of overoptimism: idealism that a great deal could be done to raise the level of debate and discussion in the public sphere on issues of economics; frustration that the channels and filters of communication and discussion as we have inherited them are not ideal; entrepreneurship in a demonstrated willingness to try new ways to place themselves between those who have information and those who need information; and overoptimism that doing good work outside of normal channels will somehow be rewarded by a benevolent universe.
Thirty-five years ago my father bought my family’s first personal computer. Eighteen years ago my former roommate Paul Mende told me: “Hey, this World-Wide-Web thing is revolutionizing scholarly communication in Physics via the http://arxiv.org/ web server. You should check it out.” Fourteen years ago I noticed that both of my mentions in the then-most recent Foreign Affairs had come not from things I had published but from things I had thrown up on my website.
Twelve years ago I decided that somebody should go all-in and attempt to win the intellectual influence game via the strategy of always-putting-something-new-and-interesting-up-on-the-web. And as a guy with tenure at an institution that seemed to me to be the global optimum, I was one of the few people in the world who could do so with no significant possible personal downside risk.
And today here we all are.
8:00 AM: Networking Breakfast
8:30 AM: Welcome
8:35 AM: Panel Discussion—Economic and Financial Weblogging and the Future
9:35 AM: Break
9:50 AM: Panel Discussion—Economic and Financial Weblogging, and New Modes and Orders in Education
10:40 AM: Break
10:55 AM: Panel Discussion—Economic and Financial Weblogging and the Future and Sustainability of Financial Journalism
11:45 AM: Networking Lunch
12:45 PM: Panel Discussion—Economic and Financial Weblogging and the Future and Sustainability of Mainstream Journalism
1:35 PM: Break
1:50 PM: Panel Discussion—Economic and Financial Weblogging, Thinktanks and Policy Advocacy, and the Public Sphere
2:40 PM: Break
2:55 PM: Panel Discussion—Economic and Financial Weblogging and Standard Ivy-Covered Academia
3:45 PM: Closing Remarks
David Graeber wrote, about his book Debt:
[S]cholars of Greece, Mesopotamia, and Islam, Medievalists, Africanists, historians of Buddhism, and a wide variety of economists... none have noticed any glaring errors... it’s remarkable that someone who is not an area specialist actually more or less gets it right (remember, these are scholars often loathe to admit even their own colleagues in the field get it more or less right.)... meticulously researched and has stood up to scholarly review...
I protested that David Graeber's chapter 12, at least, got quite a large number of things wrong.
For one thing, Graeber thinks that the participants in the meetings of the Federal Reserve's decision-making body--the Federal Open Market Committee--are eighteen private bankers and one person, the Chair, appointed by the President. In actual fact the participants in FOMC meetings consist of (a) the seven Governors of the Federal Reserve (of whom one is Chair) all of whom are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and (b) the twelve heads of the regional Federal Reserve Banks, all of whom must be approved by a majority vote of the Governors and who are not private bankers seeking profits but rather heads of government-sponsored enterprises that do not view maximizing their bottom lines as their goals. Rather than one out of nineteen, all nineteen FOMC participants are either chosen by the President (with the advice and consent of the Senate) or by the President's appointees. Graeber does not get it right. If you want to understand today's economy, it is important to know whether one of nineteen or all of its top decision makers serve because the President and his appointees want them to. It is important to know whether eighteen of them or zero of them are private bankers. It is important to know whether the Federal Reserve is very akin to the American Petroleum Institute or the Federal Trade Commission.
This is a big deal. This stuff matters. It is a glaring error, along the lines of claiming that adolescent females in Samoa speak to no males save their fathers, uncles, and brothers. It is a glaring error, along the lines of claiming that high-status adult males among the Yanomamo behave like the seventeenth-century Quaker followers of William Penn rather than like Akhilleus son of Peleus. (And, yes, I have a very large bone to pick with Napoleon Chagnon for translating the Yanomamo self-description as "fierce" rather than "noble" or "manly"--as in Sigifrith the Atheling, or Arjuna of the Arya, or Horatius Cocles virtus holding the bridge against Lars Porsenna. But that is for another time and place.)
My protest was received with hoots:
Seriously?... petty stuff…. We can all pick over tiny details in books and engage in hermeneutic readings…. It’s not hard.…. [W]hat’s going to be remembered, David’s book with its intellectually revolutionary message, one that has inspired so many young economists that I meet or DeLong’s pedantic complaints about ambiguous meanings and contentious issues.… Who wins in the contest for etiquette? I don’t know. But who wins the intellectual argument? Again, let history decide. But I’m thinking Graeber.
And David Graeber:
[F]or all [DeLong's] blustering about how my chapter 12 was full of factual errors, he had never managed to identify more than one--a minor point about the number of reserve board governors who are Presidential appointees (the main point, about the Fed not being part of the government and not operating under Presidential oversight DeLong does not contest)…
But it wasn't one error, David.
It seemed that I had a discourse-situation problem. (I) Graeber's default seemed to be to claim that his book Debt was error-free. (II) If challenged on any point, his mode of operation appeared to be to retreat--admit error--and then counterattack claiming that this error is minor--no matter how glaring it was--and that the fact that people are attacking that error shows how totally right the rest of the book was.
So how to stake out a marker that there are dozens of errors, without wasting a lot of time doing so?
And there are dozens of errors: the Federal Reserve is not a council of eighteen private bankers plus a presidential appointee as their chair; Korean-American shopkeepers do not long to treat everybody else in Brooklyn the way Saul and Samuel treated the people of Amalek; Apple Computer--this was a hilarious one--Apple was not founded by ex-IBM engineers who formed little democratic circles of twenty to forty people with their laptops in each other's garages--there were neither laptops nor garages big enough to hold 20 in Silicon Valley in 1978, nor was Apple either Democratic or made up of any ex-IBM employees--the fact that people are as happy to hold the debt of the Swiss government than the debt of the U.S. government shows that it is not fear of being bombed by the US Air Force that makes countries seek to buy U.S. Treasury bonds; the Federal Reserve is perfectly constitutional, as is the FDA, the FCC, the EPA, the FTC, etc.; Nixon did not close the gold window because of the mounting costs of the Vietnam War; there is nothing that makes Iraq more likely than any other corner of the world to be the source of the next forward leap in human society; the Federal Reserve does not lend private banks money at the prime rate--you really don't know whether to laugh or cry at passages like: "For those who don't know how the Fed works: technically, there are a series of stages. Generally the Treasury puts out bonds to the public, and the Fed buys them back. The Fed then loans the money thus created to other banks at a special low rate of interest ('the prime rate')". Et cetera.
It was a puzzle that I could not solve.
At the end January I noticed David Graeber was on Twitter tweeting things like:
David Graeber @davidgraeber: considering the misery & devastation DeLong's NAFTA inflicted on Mexico, it's hardly surprising
David Graeber @davidgraeber: @delong author of economic catastrophes arrogantly inflicted only on others (NAFTA), lashes out at such as tried to warn him at the time
David Graeber @davidgraeber: they feel history passing them by. Even the IMF seems to take me more seriously than DeLong these days
And a light bulb went on in my head.
The Singularity in Our Past Light-Cone: Attention conservation notice: Yet another semi-crank pet notion, nursed quietly for many years, now posted in the absence of new thoughts because reading The Half-Made World brought it back to mind.
The Singularity has happened; we call it "the industrial revolution" or "the long nineteenth century". It was over by the close of 1918 http://inversesquare.wordpress.com/2010/11/11/on-veterans-day/:
Exponential yet basically unpredictable growth of technology, rendering long-term extrapolation impossible (even when attempted by geniuses http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/future.html)? Check.
Massive, profoundly dis-orienting transformation in the life of humanity, extending to our ecology, mentality http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/reviews/flynn-beyond/ and social organization? Check http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/reviews/nations-and-nationalism/.
Annihilation of the age-old constraints of space and time? Check http://www.powells.com/partner/27627/biblio/9780674021693.
Embrace of the fusion of humanity and machines? Check http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/T4PM/futurist-manifesto.html.
Creation of vast, inhuman distributed systems of information-processing, communication http://www.powells.com/partner/27627/biblio/9780801846137 and control http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/reviews/beniger/, "the coldest of all cold monsters"? Check; we call them "the self-regulating market system" http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/hykKnw1.html and "modern bureaucracies" (public or private) http://www.powells.com/partner/27627/biblio/9780674940529, and they treat men and women, even those whose minds and bodies instantiate them, like straw dogs http://www.powells.com/partner/27627/biblio/9780807056431.
An implacable drive on the part of those networks to expand, to entrain more and more of the world within their own sphere? Check. ("Drive" is the best I can do; words like "agenda" or "purpose" are too anthropomorphic, and fail to acknowledge the radical novely and strangeness of these assemblages, which are not even intelligent, as we experience intelligence http://vserver1.cscs.lsa.umich.edu/~crshalizi/reviews/cognition-in-the-wild/, yet ceaselessly calculating.)
Why, then, since the Singularity is so plainly, even intrusively, visible in our past, does science fiction persist in placing a pale mirage of it in our future? Perhaps: the owl of Minerva flies at dusk; and we are in the late afternoon, fitfully dreaming of the half-glimpsed events of the day, waiting for the stars to come out.
Great sentences on the modern condition: This Strossian insight brought to you by The Browser
Amazon isn’t a store, not really. Not in any sense that we can regularly think about stores. It’s a strange pulsing network of potential goods, global supply chains, and alien associative algorithms with the skin of a store stretched over it, so we don’t lose our minds.
Ezra Klein's Internet Neighborhood
A correspondent who wishes to be anonymous, and was also disappointed with Julia Ioffe's profile of Ezra Klein, writes:
These days, if you do a Google search for a person, at the bottom right of the search screen it gives you eight people whom "people also search for". Start with Ezra Klein (with total number of Google hits appended):
Ezra Klein 1.4M
- Matt Yglesias 0.71M
- Andrew Sullivan 3.6M
- Paul Krugman 8.9M
- Nate Silver 4.0M
- Jonathan Chait 0.33M
- E.J. Dionne 1.1M
- Rachel Maddow 6.7M
- Kevin Drum 0.78M
And go down the list, looking at who you get by searching for each in turn, starting with MY:
Our Children’s Economics: The economics profession has not had a good crisis. Queen Elizabeth II may have expected too much when she famously asked why economists had failed to foresee the disaster, but there is a widespread sense that much of their research turned out to be irrelevant. Worse still, much of the advice proffered by economists was of little use to policymakers seeking to limit the economic and financial fallout.
Will future generations do better? One of the more interesting exercises in which I engaged at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos was a collective effort to imagine the contents of a Principles of Economics textbook in 2033. There was no dearth of ideas and topics, participants argued, that existing textbooks neglected, and that should receive more attention… behavioral finance… embed[ding] analysis of recent experience in the longer-term historical record… randomized trials and field experiments… 'big data'… the likelihood that large data sets will have significantly enhanced our understanding….
Overall, however, the picture was one in which the economics of 2033 differed only marginally from the economics of today…. [N]othing in the next 20 years as transformative as Alfred Marshall’s synthesis of the 1890’s or the revolution initiated by John Maynard Keynes in the 1930’s….
This presumption… almost certainly… reflects the same error made by scholars of technology who argue that all of the radical breakthroughs have already been made…. [W]e can’t say what the next revolution in economic analysis will be, but more than a century of modern economic thinking suggests that there will be one…. The outcome will be messy. But the economics profession will also become more diverse and dynamic – and our children’s economics will be healthier as a result.
Picked up from Andrew Sullivan:
New Media; New Models, Ctd « The Dish: Below is a brilliant, inspiring interview with the late, great Aaron Swartz about how the internet challenges entrenched media power structures. It’s an eloquent case for what we’ve been trying to do with the Dish, and for how that media transformation will also change politics and culture more profoundly than most now recognize. Worth watching in full:
DRAFT… DRAFT… DARFT… Fifth Annual Kauffman Foundation Economics Webloggers Forum 2013
Invitation only, alas: our budget and our space is limited…
Is this conference about economic webloggers, about weblogging economists, or about the economics of weblogging? All three, I say…
TIME LIMITS FOR SPEAKERS, DISCUSSANTS, AND PANELISTS WILL BE RUTHLESSLY ENFORCED!!
Questions, comments, and interventions in general discussion periods must be relevant to what has been said on the panel!! (It is assumed and taken as said that all questions, comments, and interventions are preceded by: "You really should go and carefully and comprehensively study my weblog if you are to have a prayer of properly understanding any of this stuff".)
Anticipatory posting of draft remarks; anticipatory posting of possible questions, comments and interventions; live-tweeting during the sessions; live-weblogging during the sessions; and post-conference after-action weblogging of what one really should have said at the conference in accordance with l'esprit de l'escalier is not just permitted, but required…
THURSDAY, APRIL 11, 2013:
6:15 PM CT: Bus departs hotel for Kauffman Foundation
6:30 PM CT: Drinks and Dinner, Kauffman Foundation Dining Room
8:30 PM- CT: Webcrawling, Kauffman Labs (if demand); or pubcrawling, various locations (if demand)
FRIDAY APRIL 12, 2013:
7:45 AM CT: Bus departs hotel for Kauffman Foundation
8:00 AM CT: Breakfast, Kauffman Foundation Conference Center
8:30 AM CT: Introduction, J. Bradford DeLong
8:40-8:45 AM CT: Straggle-in and caffeination top-off (for sleepyheads)
8:45-9:35 AM CT: Visualizing the Future and Grappling with the Present, Opportunities and Challenges for Webloggers in
9:50-10:40 AM CT: The Potential Forthcoming Disruption of Higher Education, Opportunities and Challenges for Webloggers in
10:55-11:45 AM CT: The Future Ecology of Financial Journalism, Opportunities and Challenges for Webloggers in
11:45 AM-12:45 PM CT: LUNCH
12:45-1:35 PM CT: The Future Ecology of Mainstream Journalism, Opportunities and Challenges for Webloggers in
1:50-2:40 PM CT: The Future Ecology of Thinktanks, Policy Advocacy, the Public Sphere, and Public Policy, Opportunities and Challenges for Webloggers in
2:55-3:45 PM CT: The Future Ecology of Standard Ivy-Covered Academia, Opportunities and Challenges for Webloggers in
3:45 PM CT: Conclusion, J. Bradford DeLong
4:00 PM CT: Adjournment and (for some) sprint for airport…
6:00 PM CT: Cocktails, dinner, webcrawling, pubcrawling for those remaining…
April 12, 2013: 9:00 AM: DeLong Introduction :: PROPOSED DRAFT: Thirty-five years ago my father bought my family’s first personal computer. Eighteen years ago my former roommate Paul Mende told me: “Hey, this World-Wide-Web thing is revolutionizing scholarly communication in Physics via the http://arxiv.org/ web server. You should check it out.” Fourteen years ago I noticed that both of my mentions in the then-most recent Foreign Affairs had come not from things I had published but from things I had thrown up on my website.
Twelve years ago I decided that somebody should go all-in and attempt to win the intellectual influence game via the strategy of always-putting-something-new-and-interesting-up-on-the-web. And as a guy with tenure at an institution that seemed to me to be the global optimum, I was one of the few people in the world who could do so with no significant possible downside risk.
And today here we all are.
Everybody here has shifted a great deal of their voice out of standard print and standard media into a form that bears at least a close cousinship to "weblogging". Everybody here has at least tried hard to significantly raise the level of the debate on matters economic. Everybody here has, I would argue, succeeded in significantly raising at least their corner of the debate above what it would otherwise have been. Everybody here has managed to do a great deal to disrupt and evade the dumbness filters that surround us and so much impede communication and education.
We all seem to have come remarkably close to maximizing the win, for some value of “maximize” and “win”--at least for ourselves if not for our institutions and our causes.
But the struggle is ongoing. There is still an enormous amount of headroom.
How do we keep maximizing our collective personal win? What are the tools, networks, and communities that we are going to use and deal with in the future? How will we deal with the other communities and modalities of communication on our borders. We, of course, seek total universal domination. Is that realistically attainable? If so, how? If not, for what should we settle and how should we settle for it? And how do we maximize the societal win?
So: Is this going to generate the kind of conversation on April 12 that it would be useful to see? What else should I say to open the conference?
Invitation only, alas: our budget and our space is limited...
We wish him luck:
In my New Year message, I said 2013 would test our resolve to move further and faster to support top quality journalism in a rapidly changing media landscape.
I now want to set out in detail how we propose to reshape the FT for the digital age. We need to do less in certain areas and more in others, we need to be much more nimble, and we need to reshape our teams.
Today we have started consultations with the NUJ with the aim of opening up an initial voluntary redundancy scheme. The intention is is to reduce the cost of producing the newspaper and give us the flexibility to invest more online.
Our common cause is to secure the FT's future in an increasingly competitive market, where old titles are being routinely disrupted by new entrants such as Google and LinkedIn and Twitter. The FT's brand of accurate, authoritative journalism can thrive, but only if it adapts to the demands of our readers in digital and in print, still a vital source of advertising revenues.
My visit to Silicon Valley last September confirmed the speed of change. Our competitors are harnessing technology to revolutionise the news business through aggregation, personalisation and social media. Mobile alone, for example, now accounts for 25 per cent of all the FT's digital traffic. It would be reckless for us to stand still.
I suspect many people's iOS Contacts have been trashed by iCloud, but only a small percentage realize how bad things are. It may explain some of the mysterious data use and battery life problems some see.
I can't prove this of course; I'm not about to study a random sample of 100 devices. I can only go by my own disastrous experience and Emily's recent malfunction.
In my case the bug had to do with a change between MobileMe and iCloud in the handling of line endings resulting in large numbers of 'Groups' metastasizing between my devices. It was very hard to diagnose and fix that bug; since then things have seemed to go well with my use.
Emily's malfunctions seemed simple at first. I noticed she had both addresses on her device and in iCloud. I didn't expect that, but I figured it would be easy to clean up. . Then I discovered about 3,500 entries in Contacts that showed up only as 'No Name'. This isn't a new problem and I don't know how long Emily had it. She never noticed, I suspect most non-geeks ignore that sort of thing. I wonder if it explains some battery life issues she's had, and even Spotlight and disk access issues on some of our older machines as these malformed entries propagated. (As noted below, during the removal process the OS X Contacts app used 25 GB of virtual memory and locked up my 27" iMac.)
Removing these malformed null-value entries was much harder than expected. Something about processing the deletes using Mountain Lion Contacts.app consumed vast amounts of virtual memory -- almost completely paralyzing my 2 yo iMac. (More about how I got control in a later post.)
RIP, Aaron Swartz - Boing Boing: My friend Aaron Swartz committed suicide yesterday, Jan 11. He was 26. I got woken up with the news about an hour ago. I'm still digesting it -- I suspect I'll be digesting it for a long time -- but I thought it was important to put something public up so that we could talk about it. Aaron was a public guy.
I met Aaron when he was 14 or 15. He was working on XML stuff (he co-wrote the RSS specification when he was 14) and came to San Francisco often, and would stay with Lisa Rein, a friend of mine who was also an XML person and who took care of him and assured his parents he had adult supervision. In so many ways, he was an adult, even then, with a kind of intense, fast intellect that really made me feel like he was part and parcel of the Internet society, like he belonged in the place where your thoughts are what matter, and not who you are or how old you are.
But he was also unmistakably a kid then, too. He would only eat white food. We'd go to a Chinese restaurant and he'd order steamed rice. I suggested that he might be a supertaster and told him how to check it out, and he did, and decided that he was. We had a good talk about the stomach problems he faced and about how he would need to be careful because supertasters have a tendency to avoid "bitter" vegetables and end up deficient in fibre and vitamins. He immediately researched the hell out of the subject, figured out a strategy for eating better, and sorted it. The next time I saw him (in Chicago, where he lived -- he took the El a long way from the suburbs to sit down and chat with me about distributed hash caching), he had a whole program in place.
I introduced him to Larry Lessig, and he was active in the original Creative Commons technical team, >and became very involved in technology-freedom issues. Aaron had powerful, deeply felt ideals, but he was also always an impressionable young man, someone who often found himself moved by new passions. He always seemed somehow in search of mentors, and none of those mentors ever seemed to match the impossible standards he held them (and himself) to.
This was cause for real pain and distress for Aaron, and it was the root of his really unfortunate pattern of making high-profile, public denunciations of his friends and mentors. And it's a testament to Aaron's intellect, heart, and friendship that he was always forgiven for this. Many of us "grown ups" in Aaron's life have, over the years, sat down to talk about this, and about our protective feelings for him, and to check in with one another and make sure that no one was too stung by Aaron's disappointment in us. I think we all knew that, whatever the disappointment that Aaron expressed about us, it also reflected a disappointment in himself and the world.
Aaron accomplished some incredible things in his life. He was one of the early builders of Reddit (someone always turns up to point out that he was technically not a co-founder, but he was close enough as makes no damn), got bought by Wired/Conde Nast, engineered his own dismissal and got cashed out, and then became a full-time, uncompromising, reckless and delightful shit-disturber.
The post-Reddit era in Aaron's life was really his coming of age. His stunts were breathtaking. At one point, he singlehandedly liberated 20 percent of US law. PACER, the system that gives Americans access to their own (public domain) case-law, charged a fee for each such access. After activists built RECAP (which allowed its users to put any caselaw they paid for into a free/public repository), Aaron spent a small fortune fetching a titanic amount of data and putting it into the public domain. The feds hated this. They smeared him, the FBI investigated him, and for a while, it looked like he'd be on the pointy end of some bad legal stuff, but he escaped it all, and emerged triumphant.
He also founded a group called DemandProgress, which used his technological savvy, money and passion to leverage victories in huge public policy fights. DemandProgress's work was one of the decisive factors in last year's victory over SOPA/PIPA, and that was only the start of his ambition.
I wrote to Aaron for help with Homeland, the sequel to Little Brother to get his ideas on a next-generation electioneering tool that could be used by committed, passionate candidates who didn't want to end up beholden to monied interests and power-brokers. Here's what he wrote back:
First he decides to take over the whole California Senate, so he can do things at scale. He finds a friend in each Senate district to run and plugs them into a web app he's made for managing their campaigns. It has a database of all the local reporters, so there's lots of local coverage for each of their campaign announcements.
Then it's just a vote-finding machine. First it goes through your contacts list (via Facebook, twitter, IM, email, etc.) and lets you go down the list and try to recruit everyone to be a supporter. Every supporter is then asked to do the same thing with their contacts list. Once it's done people you know, it has you go after local activists who are likely to be supportive. Once all those people are recruited, it does donors (grabbing the local campaign donor records). And then it moves on to voters and people you could register to vote. All the while, it's doing massive A/B testing to optimize talking points for all these things. So as more calls are made and more supporters are recruited, it just keeps getting better and better at figuring out what will persuade people to volunteer. Plus the whole thing is built into a larger game/karma/points thing that makes it utterly addictive, with you always trying to stay one step ahead of your friends.
Meanwhile GIS software that knows where every voter is is calculating the optimal places to hold events around the district. The press database is blasting them out -- and the press is coming, because they're actually fun. Instead of sober speeches about random words, they're much more like standup or the Daily Show -- full of great, witty soundbites that work perfectly in an evening newscast or a newspaper story. And because they're so entertaining and always a little different, they bring quite a following; they become events. And a big part of all of them getting the people there to pull out their smartphones and actually do some recruiting in the app, getting more people hooked on the game.
He doesn't talk like a politician -- he knows you're sick of politicians spouting lies and politicians complaining about politicians spouting lies and the whole damn thing. He admits up front you don't trust a word he says -- and you shouldn't! But here's the difference: he's not in the pocket of the big corporations. And you know how you can tell? Because each week he brings out a new whistleblower to tell a story about how a big corporation has mistreated its workers or the environment or its customers -- just the kind of thing the current corruption in Sacramento is trying to cover up and that only he is going to fix.
(Obviously shades of Sinclair here...)
also you have to read http://books.theinfo.org/go/B005HE8ED4
For his TV ads, his volunteer base all take a stab at making an ad for him and the program automatically A/B tests them by asking people in the district to review a new TV show. The ads are then inserted into the commercial breaks and at the end of the show, when you ask the user how they liked it, you also sneak in some political questions. Web ads are tested by getting people to click on ads for a free personality test and then giving them a personality test with your political ad along the side and asking them some political questions. (Ever see ads for a free personality test? That's what they really are. Everybody turns out to have the personality of a sparkle fish, which is nice and pleasant except when it meets someone it doesn't like, ...) Since it's random, whichever group scores closest to you on the political questions must be most affected by the ad. Then they're bought at what research shows to be the optimal time before the election, with careful selection of television show to maximize the appropriate voter demographics based on Nielsen data.
anyway, i could go on, but i should actually take a break and do some of this... hope you're well
This was so perfect that I basically ran it verbatim in the book. Aaron had an unbeatable combination of political insight, technical skill, and intelligence about people and issues. I think he could have revolutionized American (and worldwide) politics. His legacy may still yet do so.
Somewhere in there, Aaron's recklessness put him right in harm's way. Aaron snuck into MIT and planted a laptop in a utility closet, used it to download a lot of journal articles (many in the public domain), and then snuck in and retrieved it. This sort of thing is pretty par for the course around MIT, and though Aaron wasn't an MIT student, he was a fixture in the Cambridge hacker scene, and associated with Harvard, and generally part of that gang, and Aaron hadn't done anything with the articles (yet), so it seemed likely that it would just fizzle out.
Instead, they threw the book at him. Even though MIT and JSTOR (the journal publisher) backed down, the prosecution kept on. I heard lots of theories: the feds who'd tried unsuccessfully to nail him for the PACER/RECAP stunt had a serious hate-on for him; the feds were chasing down all the Cambridge hackers who had any connection to Bradley Manning in the hopes of turning one of them, and other, less credible theories. A couple of lawyers close to the case told me that they thought Aaron would go to jail.
This morning, a lot of people are speculating that Aaron killed himself because he was worried about doing time. That might be so. Imprisonment is one of my most visceral terrors, and it's at least credible that fear of losing his liberty, of being subjected to violence (and perhaps sexual violence) in prison, was what drove Aaron to take this step.
But Aaron was also a person who'd had problems with depression for many years. He'd written about the subject publicly, and talked about it with his friends.
I don't know if it's productive to speculate about that, but here's a thing that I do wonder about this morning, and that I hope you'll think about, too. I don't know for sure whether Aaron understood that any of us, any of his friends, would have taken a call from him at any hour of the day or night. I don't know if he understood that wherever he was, there were people who cared about him, who admired him, who would get on a plane or a bus or on a video-call and talk to him.
Because whatever problems Aaron was facing, killing himself didn't solve them. Whatever problems Aaron was facing, they will go unsolved forever. If he was lonely, he will never again be embraced by his friends. If he was despairing of the fight, he will never again rally his comrades with brilliant strategies and leadership. If he was sorrowing, he will never again be lifted from it.
Depression strikes so many of us. I've struggled with it, been so low I couldn't see the sky, and found my way back again, though I never thought I would. Talking to people, doing Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, seeking out a counsellor or a Samaritan -- all of these have a chance of bringing you back from those depths. Where there's life, there's hope. Living people can change things, dead people cannot.
I'm so sorry for Aaron, and sorry about Aaron. My sincere condolences to his parents, whom I never met, but who loved their brilliant, magnificently weird son and made sure he always had chaperonage when he went abroad on his adventures. My condolences to his friends, especially Quinn and Lisa, and the ones I know and the ones I don't, and to his comrades at DemandProgress. To the world: we have all lost someone today who had more work to do, and who made the world a better place when he did it.
Aaron Swartz commits suicide: Computer activist Aaron H. Swartz committed suicide in New York City yesterday, Jan. 11, according to his uncle, Michael Wolf, in a comment to The Tech. Swartz was 26. “The tragic and heartbreaking information you received is, regrettably, true,” confirmed Swartz’ attorney, Elliot R. Peters of Kecker and Van Nest, in an email to The Tech.
Swartz was indicted in July 2011 by a federal grand jury for allegedly mass downloading documents from the JSTOR online journal archive with the intent to distribute them. He subsequently moved to Brooklyn, New York, where he then worked for Avaaz Foundation, a nonprofit “global web movement to bring people-powered politics to decision-making everywhere.” Swartz appeared in court on Sept. 24, 2012 and pleaded not guilty.
The accomplished Swartz co-authored the now widely-used RSS 1.0 specification at age 14, was one of the three co-owners of the popular social news site Reddit, and completed a fellowship at Harvard’s Ethics Center Lab on Institutional Corruption. In 2010, he founded DemandProgress.org, a “campaign against the Internet censorship bills SOPA/PIPA.”
If so, when do they dump their inventory of unsold Surfaces at $100/unit? I want one!
Today's banned comment of the day:
go ,nigger go.
Needless to say, "David Michael" is probably not the guy's real name…
But that is what we would get if we didn't make people toe the line