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I am an information glutton, and so are you.

By rianjs in Internet
Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 02:16:38 AM EST
Tags: Technology (all tags)

They say we're living in the Information Age. I think they're right - whoever "they" are. Before the Information Age, we had the Computer Age, and a long time before that was the Ice Age. Anyway, the term has really come into its own in the last couple of years, especially, I would say, with the advent of Google and with it, the requisite improvement in the retrieval of information. I am a Google fanboy, but this piece isn't about Google or any other singular entity because they are just small players in the part of a much larger game, though I do refer to them quite a lot.

Google didn't invent web search, but they re-invented it by extracting more relevant results for a given search query by re-examining the way relevance works. The result was that almost anyone could find information about almost anything so long as they had a computer and could access the Internet. The term "information age" was applied before it was entirely true. Since the term became common in the late 1970s, the world has slowly moved toward ubiquitous information permeation. Since then, the things that we have information on have multiplied. We now have information about information, often to several layers of abstraction so that a more useful picture can be seen.

This metadata allows us to manage what information we have, and makes the way we store the information less important, particularly in the light of the improved search capabilities, both online and off. Regardless, the proliferation of information is both a gift and a curse. Information can clutter up and interrupt our lives. There is a reason that some of the greatest minds in the world limit the amount of information coming in. Donald Knuth doesn't communicate via email, nor does he use the Internet much. Alan Dershowitz does not use a computer at all. Both of these men have made significant contributions to society without being connected 24/7. There are other ways of getting information besides a computer. These two particular individuals have the luxury of having other people do the information filtering for them. Not all of us have assistants and secretaries to do this for us, but there are ways that we can manage the amount of information coming at us.

Several new technologies have made it easier to manage our information consumption. My favorite among these is XML syndication. Just about everything I read online comes first through my RSS reader which makes it quicker and easier to read all of the websites that I enjoy, and most importantly, without having to wade through the fluff that exists.

Information about information - metadata - but how much of it is useful in a practical way?

In recent times, the phenomenon of information overload has been documented and even given a name in the workplace: Attention Deficit Trait. What ADT boils down to is so much information is coming in that it clogs up the mental gears that would actually be used to do work under normal circumstances. I've noticed this at work, and it has, in fact, been present in some lines of work for many years - before even the advent of the personal computer. People whose attention is drawn to several different places at once - health care providers, stock brokers, service industry workers. All of these professions have had to deal with simultaneous demands placed on their mental faculties for many years. It doesn't make dealing with these demands any easier even if you're long-practiced. Contrary to popular belief, the human brain can only deal with one higher train of thought at a time. Rapidly shifting focus from one thing to the another doesn't mean you're multitasking. The brain cannot process jobs in parallel; it is not a computer. We have not evolved to the point where two different trains of thought can be carried at the same time, though if you shift attention back and forth from someone on the phone to someone standing in front of you quickly enough, it does give the rough appearance of doing just this. If you shift your attention rapidly enough, the blanks in conversation are easier to fill in mentally.

Some information is, of course, necessary to go about our daily lives. But most of the information is superfluous. Often technology products (both software and hardware) are created to fill needs and voids that most of us didn't even know we had until the product came out. Indeed, often these products enrich our lives, but can add complication and stress at the same time. Some are just silly if you were to really step back and think about them.

Google recently announced a new feature of their search engine that allows a user to track their search history. This is nifty, and of course I signed up for it right away. I just like this sort of useless information - I like keeping tabs on everything I've searched for. Google markets the service as an aid to supplement your memory, in case you need to find a search string you used once to come up with some amazing nugget of information that you can't find again. That's not why I use the service, and I bet that's not why most of the other people out there use it either. I use it because I can look and see my entire search history and what I was thinking on a particular day, and I can track my online activity in a very rudimentary way by looking at their little calendar feature. But the biggest reason I use it though is because I can come up with completely useless statistics like "I've done 123 Google web searches from April 21, 2005 until April 27, 2005 at 11:46am." (That's how many I've done up until this very moment.)

Apple did the same thing to me when they released iTunes for Windows. All of a sudden I won't use anything but iTunes because I don't want to lose my playcounts. I won't reformat my computer because I don't want to lose my playcounts when I change driveletters and otherwise simplify my complicated desktop setup. I must have this information. Now that I have these capabilities, I don't want to give them up, and in a strange way they hinder my life because of my slight OCD tendencies. I just can't let go of information.

The upside to information overload

There is an upside to the data that are being created on a daily basis. Much of the data are superfluous, but some of it is not.

The Library at Alexandria was the largest repository of information in the ancient world. The brainchild of Demetrius Phalereus, tourists to Alexandria had their books confiscated so that the scribes at the library could make a copy of the book for the library's benefit. The copy of the book was then given to the tourist, and the original kept at the library. Such was the appetite of the Library of Alexandria. At one time, the Library contained somewhere between 400,000 and 600,000 books.

When it was burned, along with it went all the accumulated knowledge of the Greeks and their predecessors. It was not until the Renaissance that much of what had been known over a thousand years previously was rediscovered. Mathematics, medicine, physics, philosophy, history. Some of information at the Library of Alexandria is lost forever, most notably the history texts, because while ideas may be re-invented, historical texts, once lost, are gone.

Where would we be today when it comes to mathematics, medicine, physics, or even the computational sciences had the Library not been lost? Knowledge is cumulative, and when the foundation is destroyed, it must be rebuilt from scratch. If some of the greatest minds the world has ever seen had come along and built on the knowledge of the Greeks instead of rebuilding the foundation, what benefits would we be enjoying today? Of course these are questions no one can answer, but it does make for interesting idle speculation. How many years ahead of where we are today would we be had the Library not burned?

Google recently announced a collaboration with five institutions to digitize all volumes at the University of Michigan, Stanford, and parts of the research libraries at Harvard, the New York Public Library, and Oxford University. This pilot project, if successful, will likely be expanded sometime in the future if it is successful. Just today several European libraries have announced a collaboration to compete with Google's project. This new effort will index the contents of 19 libraries across the EU.

These two projects represent the most important building block to saving these works so a tragedy like Alexandria never happens again. If our entire history is laid out for all to see, it becomes somewhat harder for it to repeat itself without the people knowing about it. Perhaps I'm putting too much faith in humanity, but in any case, it is a colossal step in the right direction.

"Information wants to be free"

One of the most famous catchphrases in the Matrix is "Information wants to be free." Up until this morning when I actually was thinking about information while I was in the shower, I thought it was just a stupid, meaningless line. But it's not. It may be cheesy but there is a ring of truth to it.

What good is information if it's only available to some? Vast fortunes have been made (and lost) by controlling the flow of information. With the advent of the Internet, the playing field becomes somewhat more level. One can hope that the digital archives being created by Google in conjunction with these public institutions will make available the information for free. Unfortunately, I don't see this happening due to copyright and other IP issues.

Recently, scholars have recognized the need for information to be freely available to the masses without overly limiting restrictions. Several licenses for intellectual property have been created. The GNU General Public License, the Berkeley BSD license, and the Creative Commons License which offers varying degrees of control over copyrighted works. All of these are steps in the right direction. Now all that needs to be done is to get everyone on the bandwagon. The main problem with this is that there is money to be made by not being on that bandwagon. From record labels, to scientific journals, to book publishers - information flow is the way they make their money.

In my opinion, there are some forms of information that should be free from a scientific and moral standpoint. These include scientific breakthroughs and discoveries. Indeed, there are already some grassroots efforts to facilitate this taking place. Among them are the Public Library of Science, and arxiv. While amateur mathematicians and scientists are largely a thing of the past, scientific breakthroughs should still be part of the public domain. This doesn't mean that journals like JAMA should be given away for free, but access to their materials should be made available for free to institutions of higher education. MIT has started their OpenCourseWare program, which is a massive step toward leveling the scientific playing field in the US - but it will likely have a larger impact outside the country where institutions of higher learning are only available to the monied, or those with the right connections.

Whatever the future brings, information will continue to become more available to the masses, because that is its nature. And if it's not freely available, it will be created in a free form, as we've seen with the advent and wild success of the user-created Wikipedia, which allows users to create and edit articles by anyone about anything, in more than just the English language.

Information is the most potent weapon in the fight against oppression and inequality wherever it occurs. The free world would do better to inform the ignorant rather than fight their governments; there's a reason that lasting political change is usually instigated by students and not armies.


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Display: Sort:
I am an information glutton, and so are you. | 70 comments (45 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
actually, we're more like information sluts (none / 1) (#1)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:28:48 PM EST

a whore makes money off of what she does, a slut just likes it too much

i don't think either of us is making cold hard cash off of our information addiction

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

It's an analogy (none / 1) (#2)
by JahToasted on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:34:08 PM EST

We get information instead of cash.
"I wanna have my kicks before the whole shithouse goes up in flames" -- Jim Morrison
[ Parent ]
a third thing (none / 1) (#3)
by SocratesGhost on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:42:14 PM EST

Whores do it for money. You pointed out that we don't. Sluts do it for pleasure. As LilDebbie's recent article hinted, we don't get a lot of pleasure from it.

I think we do it for avarice so I don't know what that makes us but perhaps a sexually charged analogy isn't appropriate. Information gluttons?

I drank what?

[ Parent ]
Gluttony (none / 1) (#4)
by rianjs on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 02:50:01 PM EST

Information glutton is probably a better word. I like it.

[ Parent ]
a heroin addict hates his addiction (none / 0) (#5)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:18:36 PM EST

but he still does it

i say "information junkie" then

but i think that's a tired old phrase

oh well, so much for inventing new memes today

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]

Info crackfiend? (3.00 / 3) (#6)
by NoMoreNicksLeft on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:21:21 PM EST

Do not look directly into laser with remaining good eye.
[ Parent ]
What was wrong with Media Whore? (none / 1) (#8)
by LilDebbie on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:28:14 PM EST

rusty made t-shirts and everything.

My name is LilDebbie and I have a garden.
- hugin -

[ Parent ]
"fox news channel hose beast" nt (none / 0) (#9)
by circletimessquare on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 03:29:26 PM EST

The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction.

[ Parent ]
Corrosive information (3.00 / 9) (#16)
by Polverone on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 09:17:47 PM EST

The most I've enjoyed using a computer all month was last week. My workstation was running several memory-hungry jobs so I switched from X to the plain text console all day long. Unlike today, I didn't waste much time chasing tiny, mostly-worthless bits of information like the latest Google News headlines and K5 story comments. I had a large number of Project Gutenberg texts stored locally for compression tests, so I started reading screenfuls of Paradise Lost when I needed a break instead of my usual behavior of seeing what's new on forums. It was a very productive and enjoyable day.

When I moved into my apartment a couple of years ago, I was without internet access for a week. It was an excellent week of reading and doing things that I wouldn't normally do.

I've been a bookworm for a long time, but the internet has made it too easy to become a wordworm, seeking occupation for my eyes rather than coherent, extended texts. Word for word, almost all of the unread books on my shelf are more worthwhile than K5 stories and comments. Yet I manage to waste hours over the course of a week on online discussions, simply because it's right in front of me and so very easy to go from doing something purposeful to refreshing all my favorite sites. If I didn't need the internet for business purposes, I think I would be doing myself a favor by canceling home DSL.

There's another potentially hazardous effect of the information explosion, if our ability to search and make meaning from great heaps of words ever comes to anything. Right now many things are not truly secret, but remain fairly well-hidden because it would be too much effort for a non-expert or non-fanatic to do the necessary research. This may not always remain true. Personal information, vulnerabilities in infrastructure, machinery, and organizations, and the hidden details of constructing nuclear weapons may all be extracted with a large enough body of public information and advanced tools to make sense of it. Empowerment with regard to information may not always look benign.
It's not a just, good idea; it's the law.

Yes. (none / 1) (#17)
by rianjs on Wed Apr 27, 2005 at 10:02:16 PM EST

Honestly, I couldn't agree with you more. Some of my best days are when I stay away from my computer entirely and read books rather than forums. Whole chapters instead of news blurbs. I hate and love my computer all at the same time.

I write about this periodically. Here's the latest if you're bored.

Equally as good are the days when I write rather than read. For instance when I wrote this, it was a very good day, especially because it wasn't planned, it just happened.

[ Parent ]
choice (none / 1) (#24)
by m a r c on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 06:22:32 AM EST

I think that we really have a choice about what information we expose ourselves to. Certainly we are not forced to search the internet for information, and mostly i do it because i'm bored. By having the internet, books, television, etc you just have more options to find whatever information interests you. But the thing is a lot of people aren't looking for something that interests them, but are just looking for some entertainment. How much of what you read in the news is really going to effect your life or shape the values you hold? Probably some, but not everything you read i'd say. We are living in the information age, but as humans we have to adapt to this. If some can't then that's just life. Some people develop ADD, some don't and survive better.
I got a dog and named him "Stay". Now, I go "Come here, Stay!". After a while, the dog went insane and wouldn't move at all.
information is not knowledge. (3.00 / 3) (#30)
by naught on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 02:43:51 PM EST

the current signal to noise ratio precludes an efficient gain of knowledge by wading through information.  more trivia is dumped into the broadcast than epiphany -- something which shows no signs of abating.

"extension of knowledge is the root of all virtue" -- confucius.

-1 Not impressed... (1.50 / 2) (#33)
by gr3y on Thu Apr 28, 2005 at 10:36:46 PM EST

Your analysis is weak, and the social impact of access to information is not a topic to be treated lightly.

I am a disruptive technology.

What is your analysis? (none / 0) (#45)
by guidoreichstadter on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 03:16:25 PM EST

just interested.

you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
Check it: (none / 1) (#49)
by gr3y on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 07:00:05 PM EST

Two very quick observations, as an opening: Radio Shack, and identity theft.

The list of "customer contact information" Radio Shack developed by asking every customer who enters a store for their name, address, and phone number was, at one time, a highly valued asset. In fact, the President of Radio Shack was visibly upset when an interviewer told him he had been giving Radio Shack false information for years. Why? Because every company in fucking creation realized that kind of information about consumers was valuable and decided to collect it. This lead to a silent consumer revolt, as people grew tired of the incessant demands for more and more information. The cashier stopped asking for it, retailers developed means for compensating for the few "bad apples" who refuse to give it, and people got smarter about what they share. As a result, any database of consumer information is a polluted well, which will slowly poison any company that depends on it, and yet still they ask, because they haven't learned their lesson.

Conversely, the fed places more and more emphasis on electronic records, to the point that a person can exist only as a pattern of electrons in some computer somewhere. Thankfully, identity thieves have taught the corporate and financial world that computers can be fooled by such records, which is a lesson the fed should have had the damned sense to learn for itself. The rest of us figured it out long before identity theft should have been a problem, and yet the fed allows companies to disclaim liability for poor practices which lead to identity theft and constitute a much more considerable impact on our economy than is currently suspected, because they haven't learned their lesson.

That's the true result of addiction to information: the belief that it can solve any social problem, however inappropriately applied. This article grossly glosses over the use, and doesn't even approach a reasoned discussion of the misuse, of information as a technological solution to what is essentially a social problem.

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

That's outside the scope of this article (none / 0) (#52)
by rianjs on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 09:52:10 PM EST

Perhaps that's what you'd have liked me to cover, but that's not what I wanted to cover. Perhaps as a followup, but not here.
[ Parent ]
Yes. (none / 0) (#55)
by gr3y on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 11:28:22 PM EST

And I voted accordingly. I even posted my objection. That's how this works.

I am a disruptive technology.
[ Parent ]

-1 - Way too much information.. (3.00 / 4) (#34)
by ignatiusst on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 12:45:50 AM EST

When a true genius appears in the world, you may know him by this sign, that the dunces are all in confederacy against him. -- Jonathan Swift

i agree (none / 0) (#51)
by starry on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 07:41:27 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Zuh? (none / 0) (#54)
by rianjs on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 09:56:04 PM EST

What the fuck does that mean? You're too ADD to read the whole thing and absorb it all?
[ Parent ]
information may want to be free.. (none / 1) (#35)
by taste on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:10:06 AM EST

but misinformation causes anarchy. think about that.

.. but it wants you to do it's bidding. (none / 0) (#64)
by shinnin on Tue May 03, 2005 at 11:18:28 AM EST

...and disinformation causes opression.

[ Parent ]
Have computers really helped any of us? (3.00 / 4) (#36)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 05:08:11 AM EST

I don't doubt that there are many people who have benefited tremendously from the computing revolution, but does that include you and me?

Yes, I know I earn my living as a software consultant, but I expect that if there were no computers I would still have found some career.

Consider this: do you have any more free time now than you would have before computers were invented? There are a fair number of K5 users who entered the work force before microcomputers became widespread. How much free time did you folks have then compared to now.

I don't think many people are going to be able to say that computing has enabled them to work less. Far from it. I don't know anyone who works with computers who works less than a forty hour week.

This despite the fact that computers are readily documented to have produced fantastic gains in the productivity of every industrialized nation. Surely if that were the case, we would already have four day, or even three day work weeks, now wouldn't we?

Someone has benefited from computing, someone indeed, but it is not you and I.

It is the owners of the companies that provide computers to their workers.

Consider the growing gap between the rich and poor. I don't have a link, but it's not hard to find, how many times more money a Fortune 500 CEO makes than his lowest paid employee, now as compared to twenty or thirty years ago. The CEO is making so much more money because his investment in computing infrastructure has enabled him to earn so much more money than he used to.

The workers are keeping none of these gains in productivity.

Surely you protest, our economies are much healthier now than they used to be!

Are they? Is unemployment any lower now than twenty or thirty years ago? How many people earn enough money to own their own homes? Back when I lived in Santa Cruz, over the hill from Silicon Valley, I was friends with many software engineers, but I can only think of a couple who owned their own homes. Most of my friends rented then and still do. One of the reasons I left California was that I hoped to buy a house. I was able to eventually, but not in the Valley.

Think about it.

I'm going to go to the barricades now, and hurl a few molotovs.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

my 2 cents (2.00 / 3) (#37)
by ant0n on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 06:32:21 AM EST

I agree with almost everything in your post. Yes, computers make us more productive. There are two possibilities to put this to use: one can use a computer to do the same work in less time; or one can work the same amount of time as before, but be more productive. As 'being productive' means to work your ass off so that some motherfucker above you in the company's hierarchy can have a better living standard, the introduction of computers meant that we all have to be more productive in the same amount of time as before.

I'm going to go to the barricades now, and hurl a few molotovs.

I would be so happy if you would. Or if I would. But the problem is that neither you, nor I, nor anyone else is actually going to throw molotovs. The problem is that despite this unfortunate situation, where we little work drones have to waste our lives with computers so that someone else can afford a better live, we still have food, housing, clothes... we still even can afford some pathetic 'luxury' like huge TV sets and DVD players that suffices as a motivation for working. If we had nothing to eat, no clothes, no shelter, and still had to work, just because we wouldn't want to die, only then people would get so angry that they would change the situation.

-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
[ Parent ]
Yeah, you're right (none / 1) (#39)
by MichaelCrawford on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 07:28:23 AM EST

Look at my diary and you'll see I'm wanting to serve ads on my site so I can make an easy buck. Hardly revolutionary of me, wouldn't you say?

But I hope that others will read my inflammatory writings and someday hurl molotovs themselves, while I stay home in my comfortable chair and hang out at kuro5hin.


Live your fucking life. Sue someone on the Internet. Write a fucking music player. Like the great man Michael David Crawford has shown us all: Hard work, a strong will to stalk, and a few fries short of a happy meal goes a long way. -- bride of spidy

[ Parent ]

Ther is another option (none / 0) (#44)
by guidoreichstadter on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 03:03:25 PM EST

The problem is that despite this unfortunate situation, where we little work drones have to waste our lives with computers so that someone else can afford a better live, we still have food, housing, clothes... we still even can afford some pathetic 'luxury' like huge TV sets and DVD players that suffices as a motivation for working. If we had nothing to eat, no clothes, no shelter, and still had to work, just because we wouldn't want to die, only then people would get so angry that they would change the situation.

The fundamental economic realities can be changed without drastic and destructive measures such as throwing molotovs. By organizing cooperatively, people can create large scale, technologically advanced, democratically self-managed economic structures capable of unlimited sophistication. The history of the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, a worker-owned and democratically self-managed federation of hundreds of capital intensive, vertically integrated and technically advanced industrial, financial, agricultural and retail cooperatives in northern Spain provides a prototype of how such a system can be created and grown. It began over fifty years ago in fascist Franco-era spain under the tutelage of a socialist leaning Catholic priest, and did not involve the significant application of Molotovs.

The expansion of such democratically organized economic sytems has the potential to supercede and displace the current authoritarian modes of economic organization, where control is based in large concentrations of private capital.

you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

All Hail Pol Pott (1.00 / 3) (#47)
by ant0n on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 05:24:44 PM EST

The fundamental economic realities can be changed without drastic and destructive measures such as throwing molotovs.

Sure, but that would be no fun.

-- Does the shortest thing the tallest pyramid's support supports support anything green?
Patrick H. Winston, Artificial Intelligence
[ Parent ]
You have a strange idea of "fun" (none / 0) (#48)
by guidoreichstadter on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 06:01:35 PM EST

it seems.

you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]
Why people participate (none / 0) (#68)
by Kadin2048 on Sun May 15, 2005 at 08:31:41 PM EST

I think you're not realizing one of the big motivations why people still participate in a system like ours: they do it because they perceive a chance at becoming one of those rich absentee shareholders.

It's the same reason people go out and buy PowerBall tickets, even semi-intelligent people. They know the odds of them winning are very small, and in fact that they're playing a losing game, but they still play it.

Likewise, any average cubicle slave or factory-floor worker knows intellectually that their chance of becoming the CEO with the 1000x average salary is extremely low, but they'll still play the game because the slim chance is there. This is because our society isn't an absolutely rigid class system, and there will always be just enough working-class success stories to keep people on the middle and bottom slogging along looking for the one chance to become better than everyone else.

All the psuedo-socialist systems attempt to deny this impulse, which is quite real and IMO very powerful: people would rather have a small chance at being far better than everyone else, than live a slightly better life along with everyone else. They want to be superior. They may not consciously say that, because any amount of analysis shows it to be silly....however actions speak louder than words, and Lotto tickets are still selling well.

[ Parent ]

You seem to be forgetting a significant group (3.00 / 2) (#43)
by guidoreichstadter on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 02:48:36 PM EST

Even given the very large remuneration rates for upper management of large companies, it is the absentee shareholders, those individuals and institutions holding stock in a company but not working there in any capacity, which capture a far larger share of the gains from productivity.

Contrast this situation to minieconomies such as the Mondragon Cooperative Corporation, a worker-owned and democratically self-managed federation of hundreds of capital intensive, vertically integrated and technically advanced industrial, financial, agricultural and retail cooperatives in northern Spain. This large system of tens of thousands of worker-members with an annual product of several billion dollars was self-capitalized since its inception over fifty years ago. Ownership of the complex is not divided into shares and there are no absentee shareholders. The worker-members control the system through an internal representative democracy and general assembly based on the principle of one person, one vote, hence, they have the institutionalized power to determine all facets of the cooperative complex's operation: organization, directors, remuneration, charitable contributions, research budgets, etc.

Through their democratic control of the corporation and the institition of policies limiting the remuneration spread between highest and lowest paid members, and since there is no obligation to nonworking absentee shareholders, the worker-members of the complex are able to capture all of the gains from their own productivity.

I would suggest that if you are interested in economic change, before you head to the barricades, why don't you check out: "Making Mondragon: the Growth and Dynamics of the Worker Cooperative Complex"

you are human:
no masters,
no slaves.
[ Parent ]

One of the most famous catchphrases in the Matrix? (2.33 / 3) (#38)
by Fyren on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 06:36:18 AM EST

That line in your article jarred me somewhat. I guess I could have missed it in the movies, but "information wants to be free" was said by Stewart Brand in 1984. "On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other."

I could be wrong (none / 0) (#53)
by rianjs on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 09:53:59 PM EST

I could have sworn it was in the Matrix as well. Perhaps I was remembering it from 1984, though.
[ Parent ]
Not the book. (none / 1) (#56)
by Fyren on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 04:40:29 AM EST

The year.

[ Parent ]
Priceless (none / 0) (#57)
by gzur on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 06:46:35 AM EST

You made my day :)

"I'm not looking for work, but I wouldn't say no to a Pacific rim job."
[ Parent ]
What is with you people... (none / 1) (#46)
by undermyne on Fri Apr 29, 2005 at 04:47:56 PM EST

again with the posting of a *technology* article to what amounts to a political blog.

+1 FP

"Coffee makes me go poop." thekubrix
this was a good read (none / 1) (#58)
by fleece on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 07:33:01 AM EST

it didn't say anything new but i was a nice summary of a whole bunch of stuff we come across, but forget over time. Overloaded with information, I'll forget all about it this time tomorrow.

I feel like some drunken crazed lunatic trying to outguess a cat ~ Louis Winthorpe III
Gluttonous Fact Finding Makes Debunking Easier (none / 1) (#59)
by OzJuggler on Sat Apr 30, 2005 at 11:57:32 PM EST

Look what I did with a news article just this morning. From ABC News
Hospital sets deadly spider free

British hospital staff have released one of the world's deadliest spiders on hospital grounds, after the chef it bit on the hand took it with him when seeking treatment.

Hospital staff in Somerset released the brazilian wandering spider, deadlier than a black widow and known for its speed and aggression, after mistaking it for an everyday garden-variety arachnid.

Mr Stevens, 23, photographed the spider with his mobile phone, thinking it dead after it had fallen in the freezer and been stunned by the cold.

Just to make sure, he poured boiling water over the spider and placed it in a jar, a report in The Times newspaper said. Later he also cooked the spider in the microwave.

But by the time Mr Stevens was taken to hospital in Somerset, dizzy and shaking and with his hand badly swollen, the spider had shaken off the ill treatment and was up and moving again, struggling to get out of the jar.

Officials at the hospital said the brazilian wandering spider was unlikely to pose a risk to public health since it "would have died very soon after being released" because of the cold.


Because of the cold??? How cold is it England right now anyway? So I go to Net Weather where it shows me that at 1:20am at Bristol the temperature was +15C. The lowest temperature won't be until 3 or 4 am, but it's only 1 May and I doubt it would be more than 2 or 3 degrees cooler.

How cold is it in a freezer? I would assume about -15C because that's what freezers are generally set at in Australia, but this story happened in England. Off to Google and in the first page is Kitchen Advice on Cooling. This tells me how long food will keep in freezers of different temperatures. Since the kitchen in question was in a pub, they're going to be keeping food for more than a week at a time, so the temperature is likely between -12 and -18 degrees Celsius. And remember the spider was in there long enough for the chef to think it could be dead.

I've just debunked something! By using the internet to access facts about the weather and kitchen appliances in the UK, combined with the reports about the spider's hardiness, I have just debunked the hospital's suggestion that the spider is "unlikely to pose a risk to public health", because the facts show the spider would NOT die from cold overnight.

They're trying to say that a spider would die from cold overnight when that same spider had already survived temperatures as far below zero as the overnight temperature is above zero!

One minor point here is that government departments, especially health departments, will say anything to reassure the public. Even if it is groundless.

My main point is that being an information glutton helps you develop skills which can occasionally be put to practical use in uncovering the truth, rather than being used only gratuitously.

"And I will not rest until every year families gather to spend December 25th together
at Osama's homo abortion pot and commie jizzporium." - Jon Stewart's gift to Bill O'Reilly, 7 Dec 2005.

Wait just a second... (none / 0) (#65)
by ap Rhys on Wed May 04, 2005 at 03:07:32 PM EST

Concerning the ABC article...

If the spider was so deadly and had bit the chef twice, why did the doctors treat him with oxygen and a saline drip!?

A highly poisonous/deadly spider and they treat it's bite with salt water and oxygen.

[ Parent ]
Not entirely clear, but... (none / 0) (#67)
by RegularFry on Fri May 06, 2005 at 06:33:25 AM EST

The article says that he was treated with oxygen and saline *while* they identified the spider, not after. Remember that the hospital staff had to call up a zoo to find out wtf it was. Now, I could be misremembering this, but I *think* Bristol zoo's got one of them in its insect house, which would make it very likely that they've also got a supply of the antivenom kicking around somewhere, which (I presume) he would have been treated with.

There may be troubles ahead, But while there's moonlight and music...
[ Parent ]
Some of the greatest minds (none / 0) (#60)
by Scrymarch on Sun May 01, 2005 at 02:15:57 AM EST

If some of the greatest minds the world has ever seen had come along and built on the knowledge of the Greeks instead of rebuilding the foundation, what benefits would we be enjoying today?

Some of the greatest minds of the world did, and they invented algebra with it amongst other things.  Europe took until the Renaissance to catch up, but the Islamic world built on and to preserved important chunks of Greek learning.

Kuro5hin vs Slashdot (none / 0) (#61)
by SoupIsGoodFood on Mon May 02, 2005 at 12:47:27 AM EST

I think the type of systems that we use are going to be more important in the future.

Take Slashdot and Kuro5hin for example. Kuro5hin marks any new comments on an article that you have already read. It makes it much quicker to come back to an article and check for new comments. With Slashdot, you really have to re-read (well, re-skim-read) the whole thing to find any new comments. Considering how many comments the average Slashdot article gets, that's a lot of wasted time and effort.

As a result, I never bother to re-read any Slashdot article, unless it's a story I'm really interested in, and that's rare.

don't forget the trolls (none / 0) (#66)
by chpts on Wed May 04, 2005 at 11:42:45 PM EST

they are inmensely more elegant here than in /.
Read the news lately news
[ Parent ]
Agreed (none / 0) (#70)
by rinkjustice on Sat May 28, 2005 at 09:00:55 PM EST

Interesting Slashdot articles are getting rarer too. More stories posted however, but none of it is "stuff that matters".

Secrets of getting stronger, faster, leaner - ZerotoSuperhero
[ Parent ]
The article was interesting.. (none / 0) (#62)
by X3nocide on Mon May 02, 2005 at 01:40:07 AM EST

But I stopped reading part way down to check google news after seeing your mention of google =(.

Artificial Intelligence (none / 0) (#69)
by rinkjustice on Sat May 28, 2005 at 08:55:38 PM EST

All this googling, surfing and datamining hasn't done much for my IQ. This steady stream of info trickles in one ear and out the other. Maybe there is some cumulative effect over time, but regarding specific details? My attention span and memory-retention seems to be getting worse (and I hear getting older doesn't help matters either).

Secrets of getting stronger, faster, leaner - ZerotoSuperhero
I am an information glutton, and so are you. | 70 comments (45 topical, 25 editorial, 0 hidden)
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