Saturday, September 30, 2006
Your independent source for news, information, commentary, and discussion of the One Laptop Per Child $100 dollar 2B1 Children's Machine laptop developed by MIT Media Lab co-founder Nicholas Negroponte.
Buying a OLPC Laptop
Posted on August 15, 2006 by Wayan in Prototypes: 2B1, Sales Talk: Price
Now that Thailand is testing 530 laptops, we should start to see real One Laptop Per Child laptops in limited production this fall.
Very much beta, I'm sure, with glitches in both hardware and software, but functional and definitely the coolest must-have techno-toy for the hard core geek. Can you say "Christmas shopping frenzy"?
Of course there is only one small problem. Nicholas Negroponte will not sell the $100 dollar laptops to you. First, because they will not be $100 dollars, more like $140 + shipping, and then he'll only sell them to governments in 1 million or more unit blocks. Oh, in case you're wondering, OLPC doesn't have any government orders yet.
Still, I know you want one - I know I do. And where there is a demand, there will be a supply, and we do have three options.
OLPC Laptop Purchase Option No. 1:
On reading a Wall Street Journal article on the One Laptop Per Child project, Mike Liveright came up with an interesting twist. Pledge to buy one laptop for $300, with the other $200 going to buy two for children in the developing world.
Mike Liveright's effort is totally unofficial, it is not endorsed by One Laptop Per Child and the logistical hurdles of purchase and deliver of either set (the one to you or the one to kids) are unknown.
Also, it doesn't look like Mr. Liveright will make his target of 100,000 laptop purchase pledges by his self-imposed the 31st October 2006 deadline. As of today he has 3,028 people signed up, but needs an astounding 96,972 more.
OLPC Laptop Purchase Option No. 2:
If Nicholas Negroponte will not sell you a $100 $140 laptop, there are others who will. It may not be pretty, it may not be right, and it may not be legal, but the second the OLPC laptops are delivered to governments there will be leakage.
Maybe a few are given to Ministers for their own personal use, or to be given to their friends. Maybe a few are given as "gifts" to those who need to be convinced in national or local governments. Maybe families see the present value of the laptops in food as greater than the future value of their children's education. Maybe a few are stolen outright by thieves (a option acceptable to the OLPC management).
No matter how it happens, there will be laptops for sale in the countries they are given to. First to the opportunists, then to traders, and finally sold to you, either in a market in the country, or in time on eBay.
OLPC Laptop Purchase Option No. 3:
Currently only rumors and suggestions buried deep in press releases and official quotes, there is the possibility that the OLPC technology will emerge as a low-cost computer for the developed world set. Most likely running Windows and built for more Western style tastes, these consumer edition OLPC laptops may start to appear a year or more after the initial OLPC's.
Watch Quanta, the OLPC laptop OEM for hints and suggestions to timing, features and price. Or better yet, Dell and HP for screaming and backstabbing if the price undercuts their already cheap notebook prices.
Of those three options, which one will I choose? I put my money, probably $300 or so when you include shipping, on OLPC Laptop Purchase Option No. 2, eBay. In fact I'll say it right here and now and cut out the eBay middleman.
I wanna be the first kid on my block to own a One Laptop Per Child production-level laptop and I'll pay $250 + shipping for one before Christmas. I know the perfect kid (at heart) for it too!
If you want one (or more) also, let me know it in the comments section below. I'll be happy to arrange a bulk order and teach OLPC arbitrage while I'm at it.
Tags: Buy Laptop Buy OLPC Laptop Mike Liveright OLPC OLPC Laptop Purchase Quanta
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There is a fourth way to get an OLPC laptop: Register as a developer for some project that requires the hardware rather than the emulator. You have to be convincing, of course, preferably by knowing what you are talking about and actually meaning it.
Or you could try to get an actual job with OLPC, but you have to be really good to do that.
Posted by: Edward Cherlin on August 15, 2006
Oh, yeah, another thing. Thailand hasn't actually signed a deal yet. There are a lot of rumors about deals floating about just now, all of them explicitly denied at http://www.laptop.org./ Apparently in what is (laughingly) called reality, OLPC doesn't plan to sell any units until they have some fully tested, and know what Quanta's production capacity will be.
Posted by: Edward Cherlin on August 15, 2006
"I wanna be the first kid on my block to own a One Laptop Per Child production-level laptop and I'll pay $250 + shipping for one before Christmas. I know the perfect kid (at heart) for it too!"
..um, aren't they supposed to be for children in under developed countries? meaning if you have one, then a child somewhere doesn't? this is the biggest hurdle I see for the Children's Machine, getting past the self centered gadget whores.
Posted by: chad on August 25, 2006
Not sure why they will only make this available to governments...why not to anyone willing to pony up a $140 million?
Why should they care? The point is to drive the cost down by creating mfg efficiency...who cares where it comes from?
What are us kids missing that you old guys know???
Posted by: RainyDayInterns on August 25, 2006
I agree with Chad...If no one is there to purchase these, then the whole project will go down the tubes. I don't think it's fair, however, to charge $300 for something like this. That defeats the purpose - I could buy a POS laptop for that much that does a whole lot more on eBay. Maybe like $160-$180 plus shipping.
Posted by: Justin on August 25, 2006
This is a great idea, but I don't see it being anymore than another bribe to turd world countries to love democracy and to play nice with America. Getting a corrupt foreign government to fork over their money to purchase 1 million of these gadgets for their children's benefit would be the same as asking them not to rob the west of humanitarian aid. They ain't gonna do it. If they did do it, they would accept the finiancial contributions that would be required from us in order to facilitate it. $140 a unit is asking alot from governments whose citizens barely make twice that in 8 months. Why not skip the middle men and just get a federal grant to give them away with the beans and rice?
Posted by: Steve on August 26, 2006
"..um, aren't they supposed to be for children in under developed countries? meaning if you have one, then a child somewhere doesn't? this is the biggest hurdle I see for the Children's Machine, getting past the self centered gadget whores."
I think they're making more than 10 of them, so there might be enough to go around.
Posted by: evan on August 26, 2006
Many of this laptops will be sold or traded for food or even booze, so OLPC should sell it to us (U$250 is more thant fair).
With such a cool gadget in Christmas, Zunes, iPods and HD-DVDs will be history.
Posted by: Guilherme on August 27, 2006
Hey am in the developing world (CapeTown) and yes a gadet whore too :) so put me down for one
Posted by: teroz on August 28, 2006
i want one!
Posted by: jordan on August 28, 2006
Me, I suspect that most of the clamoring "gadget whores" will be fecklessly disappointed in the real live 2B1.
It is not a performance machine.
A 400 MHz Geode processor is on par with what cranks a smartphone; only most smartphones have exhaustively rewritten, highly optimized applications suites and a lot fewer display pixels to manage than the 2B1. Your favorite Linux programs will crawl on a 2B1, or might not even compile successfully without considerable tinkering.
The screen is small and will not be as pretty as what you see in the photos. Negroponte has said that he wants to relax specifications on the number and proximity of blown pixels to keep costs low, so it's likely the majority of 2B1's will have noticable screen blemishes. Also the real displays will have an unsightly amount of black matrix around the subpixels, making the color display mode look really grainy.
Perhaps its sexiest feature, the bit-torrent-like mesh-networking protocol won't even work with conventional WiFi gear. With minor effort you could convince your PSP to IM with it. That might impress your fellow whores for a weekend at best.
And as for obtaining 2B1's on eBay: don't count on it. There is a suprisingly long list of merchandise already banned from eBay, the 2B1 would simply join that list at Negroponte's suggestion. Google would certainly ban them too; Yahoo and Microsoft are 80% likely to fall in line.
It is of course possible to find auctions of eBay-banned items anyway, but always expect shaky dealings with scam-artists and pranksters in such backchannels. You'll lose a lot of money-orders before you score an actual unit.
Or you can just wait. Quanta execs have expressed keen interest in applying what they learn from building Negroponte's machines to products of their own design, what they call "toy products". Once the supply chains start rolling they will likely test a plethora of variations, right up to offbrand lowend sub-notebooks using the 2B1 display.
Posted by: John Turner on August 29, 2006
It would be nice if OLPC would agree to sell it to the "developed countries", for example: EU or the UN, would order them and people would buy them for lets say the suggested 300$ or 420$ as of now. And the EU/UN, would subsidized it too people in countries based on the current exchange rate between where the user is lives and for example the value of the euro or dollar, and the consumer price index (dont know the english word for that, hey im just an uneducated "swed" ;)Hence OLPC would extend itself too the meaning "One Laptop Per Citizen".
And as I commented on a other article here on olpcnews.
Quote:"I wonder... Let's say that OLPC, WOULD agree to sell the 2B1 to "developed countries", in one million quanties for a higher price, so that it would support the project and _everyone_ could get one of their own, the right way, of course. Were I live (Sweden), people would most likely want our government to give out more and more information on what they are doing.
I guess we are not unique in that perspective, AND when I say that alot of people, don't really feel that they can influence our politics. The whole "oh damn this left/right wing"-thing. It's plain stupid, we should focus on issues. Right/Left wing politics are relics of the past. People are sick of it. We have an election this year. So people are "scratching heads", over here. People would sooner or later want to have the possibility to vote in more or less of a "direct democracy nature", so I wonder if it would _only_ be the dictatorship govs, that would not like the idéa of people having the ways and means of influencing politics. It's only a mather of time before we can do secure voting on all sorts of diffrent political issues. The question is "how" and "when"? Not "if".End of quote.
Posted by: Daniel Martensson on August 30, 2006
Oh btw, needless too say, I want one? :) Regardless of the "slow" processor and so on (you could put a usb wlan/whatever stick into it). It's a fantastic idéa and the symbol, the laptop, is really nice, and the number of people using it who give value too the symbol and the idéa. It also have all the "bells and whistles" too use the things, I have on my crappy and halfbroken pc today.
Posted by: Daniel Martensson on August 30, 2006
We know you produced laptop with pince 100 USD for children in OLPC.Our company very treasure this laptop (2B1 The Children's Machine. We want to buy it for sample. Then We can work together for projectes in my country. Wait for your answear !!!mail to us,or contact our adress:TAM NHAT MINH copany, 120 B Le Thi Rieng St, Ben Thanh ward, distric 1, Ho Chi Minh city, Viet Nam.phone : 084 8 9256727 fax: 084 8 9356726
Posted by: tam nhat minh company on September 06, 2006
I'd like one too please. email me the information. Thank you.
Posted by: Brandon Cooper on September 16, 2006
OLPC is a GREAT IDEA !but to persuade the goverment officials to spend such a big sum of money, someone has to provide them with all the information possible about the computers (also the working model).
Posted by: Serge Salamanka on September 17, 2006
If Quanta doesn't make a 100-200 laptop, someone will. There is not really any need for the kind of power and features that exist in today's laptops. I remember when 200mhz was enough for most applications.. of course web applications have changed since then considerably. The only thing I don't like about smart phones and pda's is the screen side. I need at least 640x480 or 800x600 with at least a 10" screen to be happy.
Posted by: Jay on September 21, 2006
[quote]Oh btw, needless too say, I want one? :) Regardless of the "slow" processor and so on (you could put a usb wlan/whatever stick into it). It's a fantastic idéa and the symbol, the laptop, is really nice, and the number of people using it who give value too the symbol and the idéa. It also have all the "bells and whistles" too use the things, I have on my crappy and halfbroken pc today.
Posted by: Daniel Martensson on August 30, 2006[/quote]
To those who resent the idea of people in "developed" countries getting one, or adults, or techi-geeks: Consider this: The software is all open-source. The more adults and "geeks" playing with them, the better, because they'll be able to tinker with the software and make improvements. The more people using them on a daily basis, the more improvements will be made.
Posted by: Ravenswood on September 29, 2006
I didn't mean to imply that Daniel Martensson was one of the people resentful of adults owning one. I quoted him to use him as an example of an adult who wants one. Sorry if that wasn't clear.
Posted by: Ravenswood on September 29, 2006
And another thing: Why does the money have to come from the government of a poor nation? It sounds like a contradiction to me: They want $100,000,000 and they'll only take it from a country that can't afford it. The first wave of laptops should be bought by money donated by some rich person. Most rich people have more money than they know what to do with. This will give them something good to do with it.
Posted by: Ravenswood on September 29, 2006
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
(Okay a little about the stink...) The author's intention is probably to use the female character as an abstraction both for humanity and nature, or humanity as natural beings (by "natural" I mean here....well what exactly, that one percent of the population who've never had a flu shot or gotten a tattoo or pierced their body?), but then why give Jack a name? Isn't he also more or less an abstraction of technology and progress and the notion of conscious choice over blind evolution in this context? Again we can only guess Stiegler's intentions, but it may have been meant to imply that while humanity as a product of evolutionary processes is undifferentiated and unenlightened even, by choosing to take control of his world and self, Jack has the right to a name. These are broad assumptions and really not meant to defend the author's choices, but I take them as my premise for the sole reason that there are other ideas worth exploring in the story, and the initial problems of gender and identity obscure those. Given our cultural preconceptions, a simple inversion of the characters' genders may have made the story more readable to a wider audience, but hey.
So the story suffers from a certain single mindedness and lack of breadth, fine. The ideas themselves are arguably more palatable than most alternatives: how will our insistence on "natural" life hold up under the burden of thirty billion or so of our natural selves? Will our "natural" instinct towards moderation just kick in at the six billion mark maybe? Oops, missed that one, maybe ten. Or will some mechanism be needed, and if so, what mechanism -- a "natural" one? A nice natural plague perhaps, or a series of organic and biodegradable wars. Starvation, there's a classic of the natural world. If we consciously intervene, the alternatives are either an increasingly severe set of government interventions, some consentual self-regulation that is unprecedented in human history, or a technology that transforms the paradigm altogether. That last is what Marc Stiegler is really positing, a technology that transforms our bodies and minds to such an extent that our more destructive natural instincts can be changed on a conscious, individual level. Now this argument leaves out, in the story at least, the fact that any such technology is likely to be produced by the aforementioned oppressive government/corporate entities, who likely would have pretty specific agendas regarding what conscious and individual choices we should be making with our new brain 2.0 chips, but again, let's just ignore this fault in the story for the sake of argument and pretend that we're discussing a more sophisticated sci-fi narrative (no lack there) in which this does in fact happen, but the interaction of the nano tech and organic brains produces unforseen new cybernetic intelligences which oppose their corporate creators and side with the rebellious human beings, who, at first suspicious, eventually reach a symbiotic kind of relationship with the machine networks and there is of course a love story between a human and a machine, in which both characters have names, and not only is there sex, but it's sex of new and wondrous kinds -- let's just imagine that story because it's more interesting.
[meanwhile, back at the essay]
The argument of course is that such augmentation and change will also alter who we are to such an extent that we as individuals will cease to exist, as we know individuality at least. Yeah, so? Who were you when you were twelve years old? Who will you be at ninety? If ten percent of your brain is lost in a motorcycle accident, should your loved ones still love you, are you even "You"? It's only the proximity and sequence of time and matter that connect these moments and make them a singular narrative of identity. We have no reason, none, to believe that consciousness, individuality, cognition, are in any way tied to a thing outside of the grey matter in our skulls (or at least to the matrix of physical matter that forms our consciousness -- grey matter may not be the whole story after all...). Life exists, and we are conscious, those two things are true, but it's silly and absurd to jump to the next conclusion that our individual experience of life and the world forms a kind of packaged soul bubble that floats through eternity in contradiction to physical laws. Wouldn't it be a more mature and reasoned approach to life to believe that life is a continuum of existence (short of a painful argument in semantics, things are alive, and they do exist), and that consciousness is what happens when a matrix of life gains sufficient complexity and notices itself? The implication is a kind of immortality that has as its price of admission the simple and courageous act of losing our clinging dependence on a small identity, and that has built in a respect for all life and all forms of consciousness, not just the ones that look like us. This I think is the singularity that the story talks about, and that it tries to "gently seduce" us towards. The trouble is that the story is flawed on too many levels to convince, let alone seduce, anyone who doesn't already dig these things. I'd still swallow the pill.
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Monday, September 25, 2006
Many scientific discoveries were completely ignored by populations simply because they were incompatible with what they want to belive. Even today, in the dawn of the 21. century, the teaming masses are more likely to "belive" out of faith, then out of evidence. Minds continue to look for the facts of life and death in religious texts that are thousands of years old. So proving something does not necessarily change minds either. The human mind simply works in a way we "humans" cannot understand.
Designing humans as in Stiengler's story would probably increase the rift between people as well. Who is qualified to select what the desired characteristics of the future generations are? It sounds extremely dangerous. Just imagine a world where parents create their children the way they think they should be. Extremism would be carried much beyond what it is today. How can singularity be achieved if new generations are built with the sensibility of the old? Or will engineering offspring only be a privilege for the "better" more powerful people? Considering that everyone is immortal in this future also complicates the situation. Mistakes in character design would never go away once they are made. In fact I think such control over the future generations could push our species into a diverging evolution. In enough time, Humanity would splinter into different species. And these new human species would probably fight severely with one another as usual.
I think the author has ignored the facts of human nature. Simply discovering new technologies will not gently seduce people into accepting each other enough to want "singularity". Major evolutions in the human mind would have to take place as well. And I don't think anyone can predict how our minds should evolve, as evolving is becoming something that you are not.
Nevertheless I found the story interesting as it goes so far in just 18 pages. What starts out as a walk on a mountain ends up describing the end of "self" as we know it. The way he questions the meaning of "self ", I think is the main goal of the story. And I do agree that if we ever become immortal, we would have a hard time recognizing what we would become, or what we were in the past. Would that be a form of death?
Sunday, September 24, 2006
Critical Theory B
People who are born with serious disabilities (like Down’s Syndrome) are automatically put at a disadvantage in the world. They have to try harder at achieving smaller goals, they have to fight for survival before they are even able to walk, and they have to deal with the majority of society working against them. If you could pick what your child would end up like, would you, or would you accept the differences with an open mind and an open heart?
Janet and Michael Berube had a Down’s syndrome boy named Jamie, and after the birth they had to deal with the guilt from the doctors who repeatedly told them that they could have known about the child’s syndrome if they had gotten an amniocentesis at 12 weeks. This method is the only one that would have detected Down’s syndrome, but Michael defends himself by saying that there was a 1 in 200 chance that the amniocentesis would have induced a miscarriage, and that’s why they chose not to have one. When society thinks of the parents of a disabled child they think about how much harder it must be. There are the catastrophic medical bills and frustration, and worry about how other people will treat your child, and the misunderstandings of identity that people will automatically assume about the parents as well as the child, and how much independence a Down’s patient could have, etc. It will be very hard to raise a child with this disability, but it’s very hard to raise a child in general, healthy or not. It might take longer to teach certain things, and the physical disadvantages at the beginning will have to be dealt with, but Down’s kids are kids none the less, and they need caring parents like all children. Personally I believe that things present themselves in our lives for a reason, and like Michael says, “I catch myself believing that people with Down syndrome are here for a specific purpose—perhaps to teach us patience, or humility, or compassion, or mere joy.” (Pg. 13)
In 1866 Down syndrome was known as “mongoloid idiocy”, and the average life expectancy was under ten. The discovery of antibiotics lengthened the lifespan of Down’s kids to around twenty, and even though it was a hundred years later everyone was still calling it mongoloid idiocy. The phrasing of this diagnosis is cruel in itself, and we should know better than to make the difficult life of a special needs person more humiliation by calling them mongoloid idiots. BY constantly reminding them of their inadequacies and alienation by making them sound like they are inhumane idiots that come from planet Mongo. This is just one example of how the best-trained medical practitioners can say the wrong thing. In the 1970’s (where the politically incorrect terminology still was in effect) these highly trained practitioners “told families of kids with Down’s that their children would never be able to dress themselves, recognize their parents, or live ‘meaningful’ lines.’ (Pg.11) Thanks to the parents that believed that their children could learn and could lead meaningful lives, because they gave other parents hope for their children, and gave doctors a wider understanding and a more positive outlook on the disability.
Every person possesses one “crucial characteristic, the desire to communicate, to understand, and to put ourselves in some mutual, reciprocal form of contact with one another.” (Pg.17) With special children the need is the same. Instead of looking towards exterminating people with Down’s, we need to communicate with each other so we can improve the lives of these people. They can teach us a lot about life and we need to be more willing to learn.
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The function of 'Science', that is its most idealized incarnation, is to facilitate a discourse that will enable the parameters of perceivable reality to become clear, defined, and determinable. This 'determined' reality, however, is constantly reconstructed depending upon, not only the limitations of the contemporary scientific practice, but also the political and social framework of that particular historical moment. What is considered 'normal', 'natural', or 'sociable' [the latter two being relatively modern terminology] is consistently redefined, and even the set of circumstances and controls utilized to determine those theoretical normalities fluctuates. Ultimately science is a reflection of social fluxes, a reactionary element that follows the trends of its environment while simultaneously attempting to predict the parameters of the environment it is susceptible to.
It would therefore follow that the interpretive language of science would be accessable to anyone who desired that kind of specificity [that is, any individual that exists and participates as part of the reflected society]. It would make sense that any one person would have the capacity to understand what has been described by science because he or she is an active, if inadvertant, force in the development of that description. The language should be inherent, relatable, of a common material that would have universal merit.
It would make sense.
But this set of conclusions is flawed. When I refer to 'Science', what is it that I am speaking about? 'Science', as a concept, evokes a sense of divide. We think of science as a nebulous entity; it is not accessible, cohesive, or precievable. Science is an object we cannot describe, it is shrouded in technical mystery and separated by language. A language that is socially complicated by both a fear and an awe of its power. Our relationship to science, therefore, is one of trust [We trust that the earth is round, but do we actually experience its shape?]. This sense of trust is particularly pronounced in terms of our relationship to medicine.
The practice of medicine is inbued with an almost mystical reverence, imparted under the assumption that any individual entrusted with the protection of human life must be acting with only the highest degree of moral and ethical clarity. Under the care of the Physician, the desire to "understand" [that is, the need to come to an individually formulated conclusion] is transcended by the comfort of formal explanation. Although one did not have to make the journey from pointA. to pointB., one is comforted by the assurance that the Physician has already made the journey and understands all possible outcomes. One therefore relinquishes intellectual control in exchange for the presumably 'best' or 'safest' or 'most affordable' solution.
Saturday, September 23, 2006
He begins with a huge, overarching view of mankind. This extends from ‘the date of its emergence to that of its extinction,’ and progresses in partitioned generations, each with its own quantified amount of power over the subsequent generations. That is until the huge binary flip happens – when Nature’s power over man is reversed to Man’s power over Nature. And apparently, this reversal will take place at a specific point in time, and will be final and total. This is a linear perception of time, and does nothing to suggest there will be any possibility of the future unfolding otherwise. Furthermore, pinpointing the moment when the ‘flip’ occurs results in an unbalanced focus upon that moment, as opposed to a more holistic approach to confronting the problem. History seems as though it will follow a mapped-out series of events with a main underlying theme, which is that of Man’s struggle with Nature. It is widely accepted now that the movement of time is much more complicated than that; to view history in this way can serve to reinforce assumptions about power hierarchies, the ‘stories’ and destinies of entire countries. In fact, this limits any kind of movement, as well as confining the imagination in its exploration of other ways of looking at the problem.
Lewis’ use of binaries accents this limiting view of man’s destiny. He employs opposites such as Good/Evil, powerful/powerless, Man/Nature, body/soul, always/never, natural/artificial, and the list goes on. He seems to say that these are the only possible states in which things can exist, without allowing for anything in between. These opposites occlude questions such as, ‘What if there is no Man vs Nature? What if the two are far more integrated than that? And what about all the subtleties of various forms of power hierarchies? Don’t humans sometimes rely on Nature to preserve power hierarchies? How can looking at things in terms of Good and Evil help this situation?’ These questions can all serve to explore the intricacies of the issues regarding Man’s relationship, separable or inseparable, to Nature, and can only be asked by ridding oneself of binaries.
The Tao is another problematic idea in Lewis’ essay. He never fully defines what it is, yet insists that the reader accept it as something concrete, essential, and eternal. Its presence and absence determine whether or not man is moral. The closest we get to a description is that it is a ‘norm,’ which is a highly questionable term, considering we don’t know how the norm is established. It also appears to be Nature yet exist in Man in a way that confuses his argument about the gap between the two, especially when he proclaims the Tao may even exist after Man conquers Nature – ‘Whatever Tao there is will be the product, not the motive, of education.’ There will still be a Tao, whatever that may mean. This is the closest Lewis gets to hinting at the existence of a God-like figure that rules over man, which puts the essay in danger of being thoroughly discredited by some readers. In any case, it is a poorly supported argument that is foggy and vague.
The Abolition of Man is an essay firmly fixed on the tenets of Modernism, with all of its linear thought and black and white terms. These make it more of an artifact than a piece of critical analysis that might aid in any progressive thought about the ideas of Man and Nature. It is dangerous for Lewis to make such grandiose predictions that launch us far into the future, as well as to present us with only opposite terms and a linear vision with which to think about that future.
It’s coming sooner or later, we all have to face up to reality. There's going to be some big changes on the horizon. You think 911 is a big deal? Think the occupation of Iraq is a pretty big deal? How about Kim Jong II? Remember the Axis of Evil? Is this the beginning of a global religious war? Christians vs. the rest? And all the rest? We are the best! Who is who in here. All this is a dream, a big long hard sweaty dream. I just know it, I know it. Don't forget August 6, 1945. Is this is the end of life as we know it. Where's our Utopian dreams now. Wheres the life that technological seduction promised. Sure, this is always the end of life as we know it. We still dream of the technological singularity as the moment of release. Our souls co-mingle in mesh network of perfect harmonious signal processing. There is no desire except for peace and expansion. And we will all be there together. Me and you and Mr. President Bush/Cheney and Saddam and Osama Bin Laden. What about the Axis of Evil? Will they be there in heaven with us? When we all learn to just get along? And who do I believe? Am i supposed to vote, pay taxes, read the news or watch news television? Is there a difference between a christian from the Western World and a christian from the developing middle east. And what about the idea of developing? Weren't Assyrians some of the first to use displays of power and military might to enforce the authority of their empire and also some of the first to evangelise Christianity in the middle east during the first centuries after the death of Christ? Any way what am I talking about? Where has my head gone? When is that singularity thing supposed to happen any way. I'm tired, I can't take too much more of this accelerated information overload. Who's behind all this any way. What happened to land fills and global warming. What happened to New Orleans? How does Noam Chomsky read so much all the time. That's all he does is read and memorise his sources. Where are all these sources coming from? My iPod is too full. I can't manage to see all the videos during my bus commute to and from work and now I have to watch some of them on youtube while I'm really supposed to be working, other wise when i sleep at night the videos I missed will be lost when my iPod updates. And speaking of updates I'm terribly worried about the new iPod's that were just released, I got my iPod two weeks ago and then these new ones came out and I can't really go and get another new one but I want one. I'm thinking of buying one any way and I can always sell my OLD one on ebay. I think there should be more videos in schools, and I think there should be a recycling program to give out all of Americas iPods to the people of Africa and other developing nations like Iraq maybe so that they too could enjoy the benefits of all they modern technology, after all we can't afford as human beings and good morel members of the human race to leave behind anyone as we boldly move towards the technological future. Let go! Let's go! Let's go! We got to get more stuff, we need to make our selves bigger faster and stronger, I want to get those mother fuckers who bombed our country! I don't want any of those terrorist thinking they can get us. I read that were developing an invisibility suit I think this kind of innovation is great and our country is the only place on earth that could come up with something like this but what I'm most concerned is how are we going to keep this kind of technology out of the hands of the terrorists? The evil one's? What I really want to know is what am I supposed to do when I cant even take my iPod on the plane anymore? And what about contact lens solution? They could be taking explosive liquids onto the planes inside bottles of contact lens solution! What about the water supply? What if someone tried to contaminate the water supply in a major metropolitan area like L.A? We need to develop more advanced forms of technology! We need some kind of satellite dish that could find out when ever someone is thinking evil thoughts. That why I'm looking forward the the convergence of consciousness. Someday we will all know each others thoughts and feelings, and anytime someone tries to thinks something harmful or evil, we'll know just who did it. Those terrorists are crazy!
On the whole I enjoyed this story, despite all the frustrating bits. There is defiantly a lot to talk about regarding the integration of new technologies into society, and while many interesting ideas were presented, there were many more left un-discussed. For example, why were the nection headbands such of a taboo among the general public? And if there was such a general disapproval, why were they available so easily at a drug store, in both the normal and the more covert subcutaneous models?
There were also several smaller parts of the plot that I found hard to swallow, but for the sake of brevity I will only talk about a few aspects of the story; one that I found very interesting, and some others I found more bothersome.
The section of the story I found most intriguing was her trip to Jupiter with the family. While a headband that gives you subconscious, real-time wireless access to Google earth, and pills containing armies of robotic nano-surgeons are all well and good technological advancements, I found the new methods of perception they experienced on their out-of-body excursion the most interesting. Since we experience the world through our sensory organs, and we only have five flavors of perception, our view of the world is by definition limited. But it doesn’t always seem that way. Only when I have a blindfold on or sinus congestion do I feel that my picture of the world is incomplete. But our mind only realizes its missing out on something because its used to it. Our brain isn’t wired for information from sensory organs we don’t have, (duh) so we can’t really imagine what it would be like to “see” in the ways we don’t. But to think that the only way so sense an objects presence is through one (or more) of the five methods we have to perceive is false. We know there are areas of the ElectroMagnetic energy spectrum that we as humans cannot see, but that other animals can, and there are most likely countless other types of information that can be used to detect our surrounds, but we simply are equipped to notice. That is why I found particular interest with the description of their sensory replacement.
In that same trip to Jupiter I also found a big problem with the story. Why are the only things we hear about are the leisurely implications of all this mind-blowing technical innovation. Sure, she gets to look 32 when she is 115 because she wants guys to notice her, and she can have her consciousness expanded to all corners of the universe because hey, its fun. Sorry, I missed how all this helped foster world peace and feed the starving children in Africa. Did we just give them all the magic headbands and hope they figure out how to do a search for “dirt farming” on google? Is the biggest achievement of all man’s technological innovation that some old lady gets to visit her kids on Mars? I’m not saying that conjecturing how the common man might accept new, life-changing technological gadgetry of the future isn’t a worthy endeavor; it seems to me that explaining all the fun trips that were taken between life today and becoming bodiless souls swimming in the aether with aliens, but not mentioning how we solved some big world issues seems like an incomplete story.
One last thought in the comments --->
Stiegler never gives his main character a name, and "she" is a "simple woman" that enjoys the outdoors, hiking, and cross-country skiing as he describes in the first few pages. She meets a man named Jack who describes his visions of the future of technology to her, as they flirt in nature. From the start the roles are clear: the female is meek and fearful of the future; Jack is all-knowing and godlike as he predicts her future affected by Singularity. Jack prophesies:
"Singularity is a time in the future. It'll occur when the rate of change of technology is very great–so great that the effort to keep up with the change will overwhelm us. People will face a whole new set of problems that we can't even imagine...On the other hand, all our normal, day to day problems fade away. For example, you'll be immortal."
As the story unfolds, Jack leaves her, and 'she' continues the conventional, hetero-normative role of the woman by getting married, having kids and "two large dogs." It is interesting to note that Stiegler gives names to the dogs, yet the main character remains nameless. As the account of her life continues, 'she' is faced with the choice to look 60 years younger. At the age of 93, she is no longer noticed by men, so she embraces technology and takes a pill: "Thereafter, she always appeared to be about the age of 32." It is sickening to think in 60 years that our present-day obsession with youth/opposition to aging will not have changed, and that women's role will still be to satisfy the desires of men.
The story continues and she is invited by her children to visit her grandchildren and to meet her grandchildren's children on their home on Mars. A trip to Mars and living on a wholly different planet seem very progressive, however life on Mars is equally normative and socially slated to that on Earth. Stiegler describes the process of passing on only the perfect genetic traits:
"Her grandchildren had designed them, giving them a parent's loving care long before they had ever been conceived. Only the best characteristics of her family had been passed on; she did not know how the other aspects of these radiantly happy children had been chosen. They were very different from her, but not quite alien. With time she learned to love them as they love her."
This genetically engineered bourgeois family goes on a picnic. During their upper middle class outing they discuss a trip to Jupiter. No discussion of work ever takes place. Does her family have jobs? Is there a working class? What are the important issues facing their time? Steiger does not include these answers in the future he creates.
It is not until later in the text that he describes that not all were so lucky to have a picnic on Mars. Those who were "degenerate" or different were not able be a part of the future:
"Some had died in a frenzy, as the builders of new technologies indulged an orgy of inventions, releasing just one that destroyed them all. Others had died in despair, as fear-filled leaders beat down the innovators, strangling them, putting the future beyond their grasp. The fear-ridden species settled into a long slide of despair that ended with degenerate descendants no longer able to dream."
This passage seems important to mention, as it is the only time Steigler says anything about oppressed populations in the text. Indeed, it is the only time in the entirety of the text when he mentions "otherness" at all; that is, groups "other" than those that accord with the bourgeois values exemplified by the protagonist, her (genetically perfect, picnicking, universe-trotting) progeny, or her officemates. With one brief passage, he relegates social issues to the margins. He still does not answer who these "degenerate descendants" are and why they can no longer "dream." For the upper class family can still dream, reproduce and travel to Jupiter. His universe is homogeneous and one of privelege.
As "she" travels to Jupiter, her physical human body must be left behind. However, her gender is not. "She" travels through mind, so why would Steigler continue to attach gender to a robot? The main character describes "her" view of change in these lines.
"She looked back with the vision that perfect memory brings. She remembered who she had been when she was 25; she remembered who she had been when she was just 10. Amusingly, she also remembered how, at 25 she had erroneously remembered her thoughts of age 10. The changes she had gone through in those 15 years of dusty antiquity were vast, perhaps as vast as all the changes she had accepted in the millennia thereafter."
For going through so many changes "she" still has no name and is classified by "her"gender. The truth be told in Steiglers Utopian future there is no room in the universe for those who do not conform to the gender they were born with. There seems to be no place for those who are queer, lower class or born of another race. Does he want science to help us transform or change?
My initial response to Berube’s text was emotional and subjective, if not filled with anxiety. It still is and continues to dominate my thought even as I critically approach the text. How is the text emotionally heavy? Why does it seem so difficult to approach this text with any objection or argument? I have decided that instead of trying to critically approach the author’s standpoint in so called science wars, I will confine myself in the effectiveness of the text, which is the author’s style of writing. I argue that the style in which the author used demonstrates and reflects the workings of reciprocal form of communication he discusses in his text. One way in which the text presents itself as one of the reciprocal form of communication is the style of literature. The approachable tone of the text, the author’s word choices and the easy but compelling flow of the text engage the reader throughout. The approachable tone of the text emphasizes the author’s optimism toward human communication, at the same time, it heightens the difficulties of reality he had faced upon raising a child with Down syndrome. A devastatingly ignorant side of the scientific terminologies, for example a person with Down syndrome could be described as person with “mongoloid idiocy” or a delayed person show how science authorities appointed how Down syndrome was to be viewed as a diagnosis. The historical background of Down syndrome, the author’s experience with the birth of his son and all the consequences, decision making and the treacherous difficulties surrounding all are expressed through Berube’s style of writing. The ‘easy’ read of the text or the approachability make his argument compelling. That is not to say the material he presents is easy to digest; rather the author makes the reader easier to imagine, therefore the very act of reading his text come to support his opinions regarding communication. One example to illustrate this is when he argues that humans have a tremendous desire to communicate. We form some sort of a reciprocal form of communication in order to fulfill this desire. The author states that one of the many incredible characteristics humans possess is the ability to imagine various forms of reciprocal communication even in the most difficult of circumstances and situations. He demonstrates this by describing the sophistication and characteristics of James and his ability to understand the author. He goes on to say that our ability to construct such forms of communication must be incorporated within the structure of DNA, as variable as it can be. The very act of reading, the reading of the text is variable as well. The author decides in what style to write, what words to use and in what voice he or she speaks. It is as variable as the interpretations of readers. Berube points out, however the interpretation may vary, it is worth the effort to disseminate the text and its message because our ability to construct reciprocal forms of communication changes and modifies itself depending on the usage of the different forms of communication. The emotional impact of Berube’s text is achieved by the passionate optimism of his opinion, as well as our act of reading that brings closer to his message he is trying to communicate. He is fully aware of the effect it seems, because he says at the end of the text that our own communication replicates itself; which is to say that the author is pointing out to the fact that the reader is reaching to the state of dissemination, replication and modification of his text by reading it.
My sense of anxiety precisely comes form this point when I realize that I am engaged in the act of reciprocal communication. I am in a way, receiving a message from the author, receiving the author’s desire to understand and constructing my interpretations. His motive to write this text may be political, personal or otherwise, but his message as I interpret it has been processed through my act of reading. This conjures up anxiety because I am faced with my own lack of understanding, ignorance and misunderstanding of the language itself. I conclude that it is the author’s intent to create this kind of response in a person via language. Through this reciprocal communication, readers will and should be critical, acute and aware of the political, technological or scientific changes that are integral to everyday life. I seem to hold onto the feeling of anxiety inorder to initiate the act of understanding at a much deeper level. It seems as if that is a necessary part of human communication and the last thing I will do is to ignore this compelling sensation and emotion.
Tuesday, September 19, 2006
My first concern, or disagreement, is actually with the title itself. The notion of "seduction" implies a certain kind of coercion that, at least to me, involves an undesired advance. It is possible that there may be a positive outcome, but in most cases when someone claims they have been 'seduced', their function in the exchange is generally described as an almost passive relinquishing of power to a dominant force. In the story, there is an initial push from Jack; he describes events and situations that he wishes to impose upon the main character, and she, at first, is uninterested and disturbed. But the development of her involvement is represented as a series of self-inflicted choices that, although they have been previously predicted, are not imposed by a secondary individual [she is not acted upon, if that makes any sense]. Granted, there is the argument that Jack is the catalyst for her acceptance of technology, but I consider seduction to be an almost deviant or self-servicing action [Jack is not acting selfishly when he develops the technology that eventually leads to the main character's technological advancement]. In the case of her development, it is closer to a form of evolution, as though, after a certain point, it is an inevitable [almost logical?] progression.
This is a really quick thought, I haven't really fleshed it out at all, and maybe I'm making a mountain out of a molehill. I have more thoughts, but they'll have to wait. Let me know what you think.
Is it just me or are politicians today complete morons??? After listening to that you gotta wonder if some one was playing a joke on the senator, I mean come on....a series of tubes???? How did this guy get elected? Is this a relection of American rational, or did he simply slip through the cracks? It is not just him, listen to speeches made by the bush administration...when they're not dodging questions there're busy making metaphors that don't make any sense. I like to think that those in office are motivated by the need to do good for the world and this country, it would seem that I am a victim of my own naiveté.
And is it the 'good' Senators arguement that corporations are flooding these tubes with their junk so his email couldn't get through? Some of it was hard to understand, he kept using the word internet in the plural form and stumbling on his words a lot. And WTF does all this have to do with netflix? Good luck decipheringing what the hell he's talking about!
Sunday, September 17, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Anyway, this is from Robin the class tutor. I just want to re-post my e-mail (email@example.com) and my availabilty (Tuesdays and/or Thursdays, and late afternoon Wednesdays). If you want to work with me on your blog papers via e-mail, all you have to do is set up one in-person meeting so that we talk about your work and I can figure out how e-mail conversations will best help you. However, if you've worked with me before, you don't need to do this. You are welcome to set up in-person appointments right after class, but the sooner you contact me the better as my time slots tend to fill up around paper time.
Thursday, September 14, 2006
I hadn't heard this until today, and I found it hilarious. The best part is how vehemently he is arguing it. Listening to it I picture him being that old guys on his deck yelling at some young whipersnappers to "get off my gosh dern lawn! Can't ya see yer ruining my petunias?!"
Wednesday, September 13, 2006
"Declaration of the Naivete of Rock Stars" Comments by DC on the A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace reading:
In preparation to co-facilitate a discussion on the subject of:
"A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace"
I have made comments on the text that are available at:
Look for my comments after each section of the text that I have numbered for easier reference.
Wednesday, September 06, 2006
Tuesday, September 05, 2006
Saturday, September 02, 2006
The Language of the Future
Last year, I was on a twin-engine plane coming from Milwaukee to New York City. Just over La Guardia, one of the engines conked out and we started to drop straight down, flipping over and over. Then the other engine died: and we went completely out of control. New York City started getting taller and taller. A voice came over the intercom and said:
Our pilot has informed us that we are about to attempt a crash landing.
Please extinguish all cigarettes. Place your tray tables in their upright, locked position.
Your Captain says: Please do not panic.
Your Captain says: Place your head in your hands.
Captain says: Place your head on your knees.
Captain says: Put your hands on your head. Put your hands on your knees! (heh-heh)
This is your Captain.
Have you lost your dog?
We are going down.
We are all going down, together.
As it turned out, we were caught in a downdraft and rammed into a bank. It was, in short, a miracle. But afterwards I was terrified of getting onto planes. The moment I started walking down that aisle, my eyes would clamp shut and I would fall into a deep, impenetrable sleep.
(YOU DON’T WANT TO SEE THIS ...
YOU DON’T WANT TO BE HERE ...
HAVE YOU LOST YOUR DOG?)
Finally, I was able to remain conscious, but I always had to go up to the forward cabin and ask the stewardesses if I could sit next to them: “Hi! Uh, mind if I join you?” They were always rather irritated -- “Oh, all right (what a baby)” -- and I watched their uniforms crack as we made nervous chitchat.
Sometimes even this didn’t work, and I’d have to find one of the other passengers to talk to. You can spot these people immediately. There’s one on every flight. Someone who’s really on your wavelength.
I was on a flight from L.A. when I spotted one of them, sitting across the aisle. A girl, about fifteen. And she had this stuffed rabbit set up on her tray table and she kept arranging and rearranging the rabbit and kind of waving to it: “Hi!”
And I decided: This is the one I want to sit next to. So I sat down and we started to talk and suddenly I realized she was speaking an entirely different language. Computerese.
A kind of high-tech lingo.
Everything was circuitry, electronics, switching.
If she didn’t understand something, it just “didn’t scan.”
We talked mostly about her boyfriend. This guy was never in a bad mood. He was in a bad mode.
Modey kind of a guy.
The romance was apparently kind of rocky and she kept saying: “Man oh man you know like it’s so digital!” She just meant the relationship was on again, off again.
Always two things switching.
Current runs through bodies and then it doesn’t.
It was a language of sounds, of noise, of switching, of signals.
It was the language of the rabbit, the caribou, the penguin, the beaver.
A language of the past.
Current runs through bodies and then it doesn’t.
Always two things switching.
One thing instantly replaces another.
It was the language of the Future.
Put your knees up to your chin.
Have you lost your dog?
Put your hands over your eyes.
Jump out of the plane.
There is no pilot.
You are not alone.
This is the language of the on-again off-again future.
And it is Digital.
And I answered the phone and I heard a voice and the voice said:
Please do not hang up.
We know who you are.
Please do not hang up.
We know what you have to say.
Please do not hang up.
We know what you want.
Please do not hang up.
We’ve got your number: