Category: SLAGS

Little Boxes of Glowy Fake

March 12th, 2017

     Great post the other day by Ross Douthat in the NY Times (“Resist the Internet”) about what it would look like to put some controls on our largely unfettered use and abuse of the internet (which means our use and abuse of handheld smart devices, since that’s increasingly what the internet means for most people). Made me think about these little portals, these glowy rectangles that have increasingly assumed more and more power in our lives.
     (Warning: Old-man get-off-my-lawn screed approacheth; back out now if you’ve had your fill of this kind of thing) It used to be on the subway that, at any given moment, a handful of people would be staring at their little gadgets. “Handful” turned into “some”. “Some” became “half”. Now, most mornings, it’s a depressingly clear “most”. Most people standing or sitting, necks craned, staring at their pocketsized diminishments of reality, these dinky sheeny holes displaying their dinky sheeny objects. Compulsively caressing, petting, stroking their screens. Like they were wee flat beasts that needed constant reassurance. And these are capable, smart New Yorkers who know better, who deep down know that it’s basically an erosion of the human spirit to choose to live in the thrall of these overpriced little gadgets, huffing and puffing away on the consumer hamsterwheel, chasing after the next upgrade & OS & Yosemite this and Lollipop that. Capable, smart New Yorkers who know all this but give in anyway, shrugging & grinning “can’t help myself” gotta like/retweet/follow Bejeweled triple bonus Flappy Bird double swipe zoom-in zoom-out look at my favorite photos scrollscrollscroll.     (Just like smart people who knew better than to binge-watch shit reality shows and humiliation shows when they started to creep into the collective unconscious years ago. Who helped create our current debased cultural moment by consuming & thereby normalizing that televised pustulence. Who knew better but did it anyway because it’s “a train wreck” that they “have to watch”; because it’s their “guilty indulgence.”)
     Now, don’t get me wrong — I’m not against technology, or mobile smart devices. Tech is a tool, it’s neutral. I’m against the irresponsible over-use of all this crap, the voluntary submission to them so that they are no longer just helpful tools, means to ends, but ends themselves. I’m against handing our lives over to smart devices while doing little more with them than using our fingertips to scroll through Pinterest galleries, mind-deadening Facebook feeds, and shitty video games (all the while gifting our privacy and life details to third party data brokers and, really, in this age of WikiLeaks and infinite data persistence, anyone else online who wants them).
     So, case in point. This guy sits down next to me the other day, healthy looking jogger-Dad type, smiley. Seemingly good disposition. White earbuds in. Instantly, upon sitting, he whips out his glowy portal and starts racing through imagery. Not pausing once. Just swiping through his family photos, kids’ photos, cars, motorbikes, Hallmark animal card greetings, landscapes, images of inspirational quotes, 1-2 seconds of random video clips. Zooming in and out of shit super-fast. Rapidfire unthinking supercaffeinated whizzing through so much visual data.    (Read More . . .)

[posted by: C Way at 10:03 PM]

[file under: non-fiction & essays ||| SLAGS]

Help Adam Carolla & Podcasters Defend Against Patent Trolls

May 4th, 2014

     Do you know what a patent troll is? A disgusting class of morally-bankrupt lawyer vermin who sniff around buying random patents just so they can bully people they claim are infringing on said patents. The burden of proof in such cases is always on the defendant, and patent trolls, through sheer mafioso intimidation, often win their settlement (since the cost of going to court for defendants is so prohibitively high, patent law being one of the most expensive kinds of litigation out there). One of many sad symptoms of our government’s inability and/or unwillingness to enact meaningful legal reform.
     Here’s the crux: podcasts are in trouble because of these shit-hearted crooks. Adam Carolla, comedian & creator of one of the most popular podcasts on the net, is being sued for millions by patent trolls. Why? Because his comedy podcast presents itself in episodic form. Apparently there’s a patent on presenting podcast media in discrete episodic units (which in itself is a jawdropping absurdity on the order of a word like “box” being copyrighted by FedEx). To provide the actual patent legalese: he’s being sued for using a “system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence”.
     The mere existence of such a patent is scary enough — suggesting a whole intellectual trove of similar hyper-granular patents that could be seized upon and exploited in similar fashion — but what it means for the modern medium of podcasts is scarier yet: everyone would have to pay. A lot. This could cripple podcast ownership and expression as we know it, since most podcasters are small-time artists or entertainers who wouldn’t be able to operate as they do now if the Carolla case goes the way of the patent trolls, and if the patent trolls thereby gain precedent leverage.

     So, whether you hate Carolla or love him, if you consume podcasts or if you are disgusted by patent trolls, learn more about the issue here, and help Carolla out with a donation of any size:
     Thanks for tuning in — Adios!

[posted by: C Way at 9:40 AM]

[file under: Comedic Arts ||| misc ||| SLAGS]