Links for 3rd February 2010

Fresh from the clogged tubes of teh intarwubs…

  1. The Creed of Objectivity Killed the News

    “In the classic example, a refugee from Nazi Germany who appears on television saying monstrous things are happening in his homeland must be followed by a Nazi spokesman saying Adolf Hitler is the greatest boon to humanity since pasteurized milk,” the former New York Times columnist Russell Baker wrote. “Real objectivity would require not only hard work by news people to determine which report was accurate, but also a willingness to put up with the abuse certain to follow publication of an objectively formed judgment. To escape the hard work or the abuse, if one man says Hitler is an ogre, we instantly give you another to say Hitler is a prince. A man says the rockets won’t work? We give you another who says they will. The public may not learn much about these fairly sensitive matters, but neither does it get another excuse to denounce the media for unfairness and lack of objectivity. In brief, society is teeming with people who become furious if told what the score is.”

    Tagged with: politicsmediahistoryjournalismobjectivitypostmodernismwritingtruth

  2. Toward an Interstellar Archaeology

    "Suppose a civilization somewhere in the cosmos is approaching Kardashev type III status. In other words, it is already capable of using all the power resources of its star (4*1026 W for a star like the Sun) and is on the way to exploiting the power of its galaxy (4*1037 W). Imagine it expanding out of its galactic niche, turning stars in its stellar neighborhood into a series of Dyson spheres. If we were to observe such activity in a distant galaxy, we would presumably detect a growing void in visible light from the area of the galaxy where this activity was happening, and an upturn in the infrared. Call it a ‘Fermi bubble.’"

    Tagged with: spaceSETIarchaeologylifecivilisationsciencefictionspeculation

  3. Information, Freedom, Flame-bait

    "I'm big on obligations, because it seems to me that they're the flip side of rights. The right to not be murdered in my bed imposes on me the obligation not to murder other people in their beds. Human beings are social animals; we do not exist in isolation, and if we desire some specific behaviour from our peers, we, too, are required to abide by it. The alternative is tyranny, a state in which some individuals are exempt from ordinary rules and may exercise their liberty at the expense of others.

    So it follows that if you want information to be free you are taking on an obligation to make information, and give it freedom. An obligation to work to better the lot of humanity, not to merely sponge off the labour of others.

    Next time you hear someone invoke "information wants to be free" as a justification for demanding free-as-in-no-payment-expected content, ask them: precisely what content have you released for free lately?" Charlie Stross.

    Tagged with: Charlie-Strossfreeinformationculturecommonsinternetbusinessmodelsfreetardideologysloganeering

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