The Film And Tech reading round up 5th August 2017

Tayto crisp factory, Coolock, Dublin, 1967. Love the way a crisp factory announces itself with bold modernist architecture. I grew up close to this factory. Credit: @PhotosOfDublin

No matter how many read this tech list, for me, it’s always good writing it up. Most of my writing ( or drafting as work would call it) gets mangled in an orgy of track changes. That’s work, this is fun.

First up Think Tanks. Eddie Copeland who has a book out ‘Working for a Think Tank’ puts this on his blog, UK Think Tanks Mapped (31/7/17). It’s a map of all the UK Think Tanks. So if your perennially bored by Chatham House and RUSI their are others.

Next up White Spaces. This is Microsoft doing good by providing high speed internet to millions of rural Americans through unused television airwaves. This has huge potential in Africa and could play a part in getting the next billion users online. Susan Crawford writing in Backchannel wonders what’s in it for them; ‘Microsoft is Hustling us with White Spaces’ (28/07/17). Sure it’s cynical and focused on America but here is a flavour

Here’s what’s really going on: Microsoft is aiming to be the soup-to-nuts provider of Internet of Things devices, software, and consulting services to zillions of local and national governments around the world.

Sticking with big tech, the next article from the Guardian asks ‘Why is Google spending record sums on lobbying Washington?’ (30/07/17) The article speculates; Google fears even greater regulation or being treated as a utility or worse broken up in the same way that American Telephone and Telegraph Company (AT&T) did back in the eighties. This is superbly documented in Tim Wu’s ‘The Master Switch: The Rise and Fall of Information Empires’. The question for writers in the 21st century is who rises and who falls?

The Irish Times has highlighted the visionary power of one of Kurt Vonnegut’s less well known books. Under the headline ‘Kurt Vonnegut’s dystopian future has come to pass’ (29/07/17). The book in question is ‘Player Piano (1952) The article really sells the book as visionary for the world we live or are about to live in:

In Player Piano’s future America, the old professions and trades have been automated, one by one, until only the oligarchs, engineers and senior managers still have real jobs — and even they are beginning to automate themselves out of existence. Everyone else of working age has been drafted to the army (but without loaded guns, for fear that they’ll mutiny) or assigned to a catch-all, make-work programme called the Reconstruction and Reclamation Corps — “Reeks and Wrecks”.

The Internet of Things (Iot) and the advent of Smart Cities are great until they get hacked. This scenario will provide Hollywood with a new wave of disaster film plots. While many are familiar with the iconic ‘Only supposed to blow the doors off’ Caine screech from The Italian Job (1969). The traffic light scene gives a prescient look at how hackers could disrupt an entire city. Luckily for Turin its only the traffic lights.

That’s it for this week. Have a great tech weekend.