“The worrying thing about this is that we live in an asymmetrical world, where just a few companies and public institutions know a lot about us, while we know little about them,” — Carlo Ratti, MIT Senseable City Lab
Among the changes ushered in by the 21st century, perhaps the most surprising — as rapid as it has been disorienting — has been the revitalization of cities.
In the last two decades, plummeting crime rates, growing populations, and real estate markets fueled by inflows of global capital have transformed expectations of urban growth that had been all but abandoned for two generations. In the 21st century cities have become the engines of economic growth; by 2050 there will be 2.5 billion more people living in cities globally than there are today, and the world’s 100 largest urban centers will account for 35% of global GDP growth between now and 2025. And growing inequality among cities is a symbol for society’s challenges overall; in the United States, wealthy coastal cities are becoming privileged havens of freedom, whereas the fates of smaller inland cities are far less certain. …
“It seems as if no company, executive, or institution truly understands how to survive and prosper in the internet age. Except Google.”
–Jeff Jarvis, “What Would Google Do?” (2009)
If you had asked members of the tech industry in the mid 2000’s which company most embodied trustworthiness, transparency, integrity, and overall geek-friendly values, you might have received a variety of responses. But one was sure to dominate the rest: Google.
By 2005 or so, Google’s company culture had become famous for, among other things, its disarmingly simple motto: “Don’t be evil.” In context, the statement was a differentiator; the phrase was understood to be a response to the dominant and intractible technology companies which had, over the course of several decades, gradually and unapologetically acquired greater control of our lives with little apparent accountability. …
Long ago it must be
I have a photograph
Preserve your memories
They’re all that’s left you.
-Paul Simon, “Bookends”
“Embrace the analog.” This has become a mantra of mine for some time. More of an aspirational credo than a guiding life principle — something I might put in a cross stitch, if I cross stitched.
The most precious qualities of analog media — their imperfection, roughness, uniqueness — are what, in some sense, define them. And their vulnerability is belied by their longevity.
I work in technology, but I’ve never trusted digital media. I still have a shoebox full of floppy disks holding files I’ll never open again. Even if I had a disk drive, they’re probably unreadable. Even if they were readable, their contents are in proprietary formats for long-deceased software written for forgotten operating systems designed for obsolete machines. To extract their contents would require an effort of computational reconstruction on a massive scale. Optical media like DVDs or Blu-Ray discs might last a few decades under optimal conditions, if you’re lucky. Modern hard disks fail after about four years, and flash drives often fail even sooner. And so we turn to the “cloud” (surely our era’s most insidious euphamism for subjugation by our corporate masters). …