Or, air travel, probably our most popular topic (thanks, Patrick Smith [who actually noticed and commented on one of our several references to his wonderful column — talk about finding a plankton in the Pacific]!).
Or, technology, especially One Laptop Per Child, a wonderful initiative deserving of everyone’s support.
We wrote last post about John McCain’s electoral vulnerability. In the spirit of equal time, we cannot overlook Barack Obama’s slips, slides and stumbles in the month since he triumphed over Hillary Clinton and became his party’s presumptive candidate.
McCain’s crippled party knew what they were getting, and settled. Obama, though, raised up by the multitude of starry-eyed idealists and their grass-roots web sites and donations, has run into an on-line buzz saw as his passionate fans observe him taking positions that seem disappointingly like politics as usual.
So, they’ve struck back.
Obama’s online muscle flexes against him
Fans use his Web site to rip shifts in policy
By John McCormick | Chicago Tribune reporter | 11:48 PM CDT, July 8, 2008
The same Internet-fueled power that led to historic gains in organizing and fundraising for Sen. Barack Obama‘s presidential campaign is now providing a platform for fiery dissent in a most unlikely place: his own Web site.
Amid criticism from the left that he has eased toward the center on a number of issues in recent weeks, the presumptive Democratic nominee has angered some of his most ardent supporters while triggering something of an online mutiny. Thousands are using MyBarackObama.com to angrily organize against him because of a changed position on terrorist wiretap legislation that awaits Senate action as early as Wednesday.
The dispute has forced Obama to respond in ways never before seen in a presidential campaign, demonstrating the Internet’s growing role in the democratic process and the live-by-the-click, die-by-the-click potential it holds for politicians.
The last straw was the vote in the Senate on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, which threatens the privacy of millions of innocent citizens in an attempt to expand the government’s ability to monitor suspected terrorists, and indemnify communications carriers from the legal fallout.
While Obama promised to fight against the bill during the primary season, he has changed tack, and joined 68 of his colleagues approving it today.
For many, who bought into the hope for the end to politics as usual, at least from their candidate, this is shockingly disillusioning, and many are not taking it lying down.
Spotted a couple of references (most recently and indirectly at Arts & Letters Daily) to a most thought-provoking article in the Atlantic Monthly by Nicholas Carr, regarding the perhaps crippling effect of Internet use on the intellect.
“Dave, stop. Stop, will you? Stop, Dave. Will you stop, Dave?” So the supercomputer HAL pleads with the implacable astronaut Dave Bowman in a famous and weirdly poignant scene toward the end of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. Bowman, having nearly been sent to a deep-space death by the malfunctioning machine, is calmly, coldly disconnecting the memory circuits that control its artificial brain. “Dave, my mind is going,” HAL says, forlornly. “I can feel it. I can feel it.”
I can feel it, too. Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.
So I’ve noticed through the years that my ability, or even interest, to focus for extended lengths of time on a book had diminished. I have attributed this mostly to the natural effects of my alacritously advancing age. But maybe there’s more going on.
Just finished a very long day, the first day attending the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.
I don’t go to so many conferences. In fact, in the nearly four years of employment at the Heart of Corporate America (not its real name), as well as the three years of contractor status that it, this is only the second conference that I have attended under the HCA aegis. How ironic that it is also located in Boston, the site of the event that I attended last summer. Of all the towns in the world…
But, I do like Boston, even though, as alluded to last post, I feel stranded in the middle of a desert, located as we are in a concrete jungle of a redeveloped industrial district. Boston is a wonderful town in which to be a pedestrian — but not in this corner, not that I could pedestre very well anyway. [Looks like I may have coined another word — the ‘r’ is silent; but it does sort of look like pederast, doesn’t it. Oh, well, back to the drawing board.]
Although I title this Day 1, the event’s organizers, as is often done apparently, treated today as Day 0, Monday being the more popular business travel day than Sunday. The sessions today were lengthy tutorials. A choice of two each, morning and afternoon. 9am to 12:30pm; then 1:30pm to 4:45pm. Then a further two hour panel discussion that finally ended at 7:30pm. The real action starts tomorrow. I’m already worn out.
I do take copious notes. Now, many of my fellow attendees today, perhaps most of them, brought their laptops to the sessions. There were even power strips scattered along the floor, for the first half-dozen lucky people each who got to them.
Now, yr (justifiably) humble svt would have been happy enough to note take via laptop, but as there were no tables, just rows of chairs, and as I, uh, don’t have a lap for said laptop, just a short slippery slope as it were, that might result in a potentially lethal slide for same, I took my notes the old fashioned way, pen on notebook page, six tightly printed pages to be exact. I have a lot to show for 8-3/4 hours of conference. But it all has to be transcribed.
I wanted to keep up with this daily; perhaps even transfer some of this post into the event’s blog that I’ve heard exists although I haven’t found it. But, as I type this it’s already 10pm; had too much to eat at the hotel’s surprisingly good restaurant (surprising mainly because they have no competition for at least the half-mile radius until another hotel appears in this wasteland called the Seaport neighborhood); and I was up early. Never sleep well in anyone else’s bed except my own, and the hotel is justifiably proud of its comfortable bed. I’m just a crotchety old curmudgeon.
Anyway, there are six pages. Let’s see if I can summarize, while it’s all still fresh.
Can’t help but notice that we’ve achieved a mini-milestone today: we began serious blogging one year ago, May 7, 2007.
We actually registered Left-Handed Complement with WordPress.com about nine months earlier, dashed off a couple of quick posts and then once that initial burst of enthusiasm and curiosity had passed, stopped.
We’ll consider that interregnum a gestation then, leading to the true birth of this site an entire year ago.
Fortunately, unlike my children, for whom we had no such demands, L-HC was born talking. This will be the 399th post (the numbering system of our titles has been irregularized by anomalies such as our occasional Web Conferencing Week posts, and our early propensity for decimalizing multiple posts on the same day. but I trust WordPress to deliver a straight accounting). That’s a lot of talking.
Ever have one of those moments? You know, the ones where you read or see something that just simply closes a loop in your mind that you didn’t know was open? Where you (one hopes, figuratively) slap yourself on the face and say (one fervently hopes, subvocally): Wow, I wish I thought of that?
So, I enjoy taking a global, macro view of technology, and how it shaped the story of civilization (technology = civilization — can’t have the latter without the former). And I also enjoy making connections.
So, my attention was captured today by the first paragraph of this post, found during typical stream-of-consciousness blogging today.
So, I read on, and the connections and insights about technology and where it’s taking us, and why it’s taking us there, were jaw-dropping.
I was recently reminded of some reading I did in college, way back in the last century, by a British historian arguing that the critical technology, for the early phase of the industrial revolution, was gin.
If I identify my employer at all, it is very circumspectly. References found at the above link refer to the “Heart of Corporate America,” or HCA. That link, by the way, is my static page (as opposed to the home page, updated with every new post, all 375 of them, and counting, thank you very much). As we produce new editions of Web Conferencing Week, we post them in both places; you might have seen this one last week.
You don’t know my employer’s identity, at least from me. They don’t know that this space exists, at least from me. That’s as it should be. I stay away from its business, while sharing with you my skewed view of the universe beyond the wrought iron fence demarcating its property, except for those technical items of interest about what I do for a living, and how I do it. Always very generic, as I feel most comfortable doing.
Please know that I do have strongly held opinions about my employer. Most of them are quite positive. None of them, in my opinion, are worth jeopardizing my job to share with you.
That brings us to this interesting incident, courtesy of one of the world’s top publications, Business Week.