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Censorship Sci-Fi

Arthur C. Clarke on Information Pollution 213

Posted by michael
from the cough-cough dept.
Castolari writes "Here is an interesting interview of Arthur C. Clarke and his views on regulating communications, as well as what he sees as the past, present, and future of information management."
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Arthur C. Clarke on Information Pollution

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  • by Raindance (680694) * <johnsonmx@NOsPaM.gmail.com> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @05:57PM (#7650383) Homepage Journal
    To quote,
    "No, banning is not the answer. Because we frequently suffer from the scourge of information pollution, we find it hard to imagine its even deadlier opposite information starvation. I get very annoyed when I hear arguments usually from those who have been educated beyond their intelligence about the virtues of keeping happy, backwards people in ignorance."

    I would suggest that he should use the term 'information dillution' rather than 'information pollution' in this case (it seems he's referring to the signal-to-noise issue, which is dillution-based- unless too much information itself is a form of polluting our information reservoirs? Regardless, I'd say let's save that term for real information pollution, i.e. FUD)

    As for "I get very annoyed when I hear arguments usually from those who have been educated beyond their intelligence about the virtues of keeping happy, backwards people in ignorance,"
    Clarke is clearly a thinker and a powerful rhetoritician. I don't disagree with his conclusion, but I wonder if his powerful rhetoric (i.e. such a broadly applicable, powerful, yet vague criticism) hinders his readers' ability for clear thinking in this example.

    RD
    • by sakeneko (447402) on Sunday December 07, 2003 @12:42AM (#7652081) Homepage Journal
      As for "I get very annoyed when I hear arguments usually from those who have been educated beyond their intelligence about the virtues of keeping happy, backwards people in ignorance,"
      Clarke is clearly a thinker and a powerful rhetoritician. I don't disagree with his conclusion, but I wonder if his powerful rhetoric (i.e. such a broadly applicable, powerful, yet vague criticism) hinders his readers' ability for clear thinking in this example.

      Clarke, in everything I've ever read by him, leans strongly towards trusting the intelligence and character of his readers and other people. This is especially true when he's commenting on legal issues. He does not like "big brotherism" -- laws passed to protect people from themselves. I think he feels that adults should be free to make their own choices and live with the consequences of those choices.

      So I suspect his reaction to your question would be that anyone who is in the habit of thinking for himself in the first place isn't going to be unduly influenced by Clark's obviously partisan views on governmental information control. I think he'd probably also say that someone who isn't in the habit of thinking for himself needs to learn.

      I hear that he's also allergic to fans who worship him instead of thinking about what he said and responding intelligently to it. So if I ever met him, I'll have to be careful not to tell him how much I loved, "Rendevous with Rama." ;>

    • should use the term 'information dillution' rather than 'information pollution'

      I don't think that dilution and pollution are the same thing. After all, the Solution to Pollution is Dilution. :)
  • by Colonel Cholling (715787) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @05:59PM (#7650397)
    I thought "information pollution" was what he did to us when he published that dreadful 3001 book.
  • by DoctorMabuse (456736) * on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:00PM (#7650402) Homepage
    http://www.sco.com
  • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:00PM (#7650404)
    My God, it's full of spam!!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:01PM (#7650408)
    Humanity will survive information deluge - Sir Arthur C Clarke

    05 December 2003

    Sir Arthur C Clarke is acknowledged as the greatest living science fiction writer and an outstanding visionary of our times. His writing over the past six decades - more than 100 books, 1,000 articles and short stories - have not only helped humanity find its way in times of rapid change, but also discussed the social and cultural implications of key technologies.

    In 1945, while still in his late 20s, he was the first to propose the concept of using a network of satellites in the geo-synchronous orbit for television and telecommunications. His vision became a reality in the mid 1960s, and within a generation, humankind has come to rely critically on the network of comsats placed, in what is now called the Clarke Orbit, some 22,300 miles above the earth.

    His science fiction books and science facts have inspired generations of astronauts, scientists and technological innovators. Among them is Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer engineer who invented the World Wide Web, inspired by a Clarke science fiction story ('Dial F for Frankenstein') in his adolescent years.

    On the eve of the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) and days before his 86th birthday, Sir Arthur Clarke spoke with science writer Nalaka Gunawardene at his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

    You invented satellite communications and inspired the WWW through one of your short stories. Do you wonder about the forces and processes you helped unleash?
    As I have pointed out, if I had not proposed the idea of geo-synchronous communications satellites in 1945, some one else would have done so very soon. It was such an obvious concept. I didn't expect to see comsats to become a reality in just two decades. But we as a species have a deep urge to communicate - so if something is technologically feasible, we will accomplish it sooner rather than later. If you doubt this, just think of how fast the Internet has spread.

    I sometimes wonder how we spent leisure time before satellite television and Internet came along....and then I realise that I have spent more than half of my life in the 'dark ages'! Satellite television, Internet, mobile phones, email - all these are technological responses to a deep-rooted human desire to communicate and access information. Having achieved unprecedented progress in the field of communications during the past half century, we now have to pause to think of social, cultural and intellectual implications of what we have created.

    You have been an ardent supporter of using satellite television for education and information. Do you see today's satellite channels fulfilling these expectations?
    I have no doubt at all that television is the most marvellous medium of communication ever invented - it can be used to educate, inform, entertain and even inspire. But it's a mixed blessing and much of television content rightfully earns the medium its dubious label, the 'Great Wasteland'.

    But I'm not impressed by the attacks on television because of some truly dreadful programmes. I believe that every TV programme has some educational content. The cathode ray tube - and now the plasma screen - is a window to the world. Often it may be a very murky window, but I've slowly come to the conclusion that, on balance, even bad TV is preferable to no TV at all.

    Obviously, we need to work very hard to improve the content of television programmes. Not too long ago, I had the enjoyable task of using satellite links to address both Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner (though not at the same time!). I gave them some advice on the use and misuse of satellite TV.

    Recalling that many years ago, a British Prime Minister had accused newspaper magnates of enjoying 'the privilege of the harlot throughout the ages - power without responsibility', I said today, the TV screen is more powerful than newsprint, and whatever the bean-counters may say, responsibility should always be the
    • "The Clarke Orbit"?? What self agrandising BS from his press agent. It's called geosynchronous orbit, because the orbital period of the satellite is 24 hours so it seems to just hang over the earth in the same spot all the time. Clarke came up with the concept, but the orbits are not named after. I'd prefer the Clarke Space Elevator anyway. How come we don't have Asimov robots since old Issiac invented the 3 Laws of Robotics? Sony left the V off the Aismo!
      • - Robotics predates the laws (which, btw, are pretty pointless in todays robotics)

        - Honda created Asimo, not Sony

        - ASIMO stands for Advanced Step in Innovative Mobility

        • The "Clarke Orbit" was actually defined in the 1920's by a mathematician in Hungary. But AC gets something named after him, Asmimov gets nothing. What we have now for "Robots" (programmed industrial machines) are not nearly the type of Robots Asimov developed the three laws for. We have to develop the positronic brain before we can have those type of robots. :) Andriods is probably the more accurate term.
  • by haxor.dk (463614)
    But anyway, I can add my sentiments to the debate. Information pollution ? About time we bring this up.

    Does the world really need that every peon around the world has his or her own web page with rants raves, and pictures of cats/gerbils/whatever ?

    Do WE need it ? Sure, freedom of speech, expression and open communications, but...

    I wonder how Google will tackle it when every human being on this planet is online with its own web page. Ouch.
    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:06PM (#7650434) Homepage Journal
      Does the world need twinkies and B-movies? Nyet. But nonetheless we have them. Do twinkies and B-movies hurt anyone? Only those who choose to partake of them. Ditto for blogs and pictures of open, cavernous rectums.
    • I agree with you. The vast majority, and by that I mean, pretty much everyone except a few geniuses, in every generation, have very little of any importance to say (This list would include me). That is why I don't run a webpage.

      Infomation polution is a fallacy, just ignore it or change the channel; enviromental pollution is a problem.

    • by Kennric (22093) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @07:33PM (#7650852) Homepage
      I don't mean to insult you personally, but I must take issue with that argument. It's idiotic, and I get sick of hearing it.

      Personal pages are important and necessary, and they embody what the web is meant to be - a commons where anyone can communicate anything with anyone. A lousy web page demands no more bandwidth than it should, if its lousy, no one looks. They don't pollute good search engines, either, because good search engines index pages by how relevant is the information they contain (ok, I know thats an ideal, but the flaw is a flaw in the search engine, not the number of personal pages). I frequently find answers to technical questions in small blogs and personal web pages. I don't see bad poems or cat pictures, because I don't search for them.

      Just to drive the point home, think about what it would take to 'fix' this 'problem'.

      Let only geniuses put up web pages? Ok, who decides who is a genius, who vetts what is good content and what isn't? Corporations? Governemnts? Comittees? How do you enforce it, a web page license? Who issues it?

      I think what you are looking for is not the Internet, but TV, where content is vetted and professionally produced, and delivered in easy to consume chunks.

      The Internet is not a content delivery medium, it is a communications medium, and that means people communicating, whatever they damn well want to whoever will listen. And it has to be open to every idiot with a bad poem, too, because the alternative is for it to just becomes a one-way delivery system. You should revel and delight in the existance of personal web pages, they are a good and healthy sign of a properly functioning communications medium. Revel and delight in the fact that you can toss one up if you want, when you do have something to say - even if no one really cares what you have to say.

      Futhermore, you don't have to look at anything on the web you don't want to, you don't even have to skip past it, or setup a filter to block it. Thats a glorious and amazing thing, think about it. Everyone on the world with access to a computer can toss anything they want into the pool of information, absolutely anything. And how much does this affect you finding or reading Slashdot? At the same time, if you want, you can read any one of those endless bits of information flying around, the bad poem, the cat picture, the firsthand account of the bombing in Bagdad. This would not be possible in any scheme where content was vetted, licensed or controlled.

      Sigh. Sorry for the rant, just pisses me off when people think bad web pages are the web's big problem, when the alternative is corporate/government controlled content-delivery.

      Anyway, I commend you on not putting a web page up if you have nothing to say. If only 1 person wants to read it, though, a web page is worth putting up, and if no one does, then putting it up isn't hurting the millions who aren't reading it.

      Do we NEED any of it? No, you NEED nothing more than water, air, food and shelter. So destroy everythign that isn't food, water, air, shelter? Sheesh.
      • by mabhatter654 (561290) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @09:36PM (#7651422)
        to take your thoughts one step further, a truly successful next-next-gen search engine shoud be able to not just search for popular view on subjects, but also critical minority views as well...the one "voice in the wind" so to speak that may provide an unpopular, but insightful counter-approach to said subject.
        • a truly successful next-next-gen search engine shoud be able to not just search for popular view on subjects, but also critical minority views as well...the one "voice in the wind" so to speak that may provide an unpopular, but insightful counter-approach to said subject.

          Don't forget to include the really bizarre crackpot's page too -- those are really entertaining.

    • That's such an elitist view. It doesn't surprise me given that it is coming from an anti-socialist. I know you love your elitist systems and love the way the world is ruled by elites, but it isn't happening. People like you are the losers. Empowerment for the people!

      BTW, the world was significantly improved when the peasents and the serfs started involving themselves in knowledge... that was pretty much the start of the end of the aristocrats...

      Sivaram Velauthapillai
  • Smart guy! :) (Score:5, Interesting)

    by liveD ehT (662508) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:03PM (#7650421) Homepage
    "Q: Do you advocate stricter regulation of satellite television and the Internet?"
    "A: I think it is technologically impossible for any one government to (directly) control, let alone ban, transmissions coming from earth orbit."

    So, even though Sir Arthur C Clarke came from a time far before ours, when strict regulations were required to "keep everyone from going mad with Communism", he still has the enlightenment he did then.

    If I was in control, I would try and find ways to get more Sir Arthur C Clarkes running around planet earth, not how to tie the world in knots with controls, regulations and dubious money-making schemes.

    It's wonderful that he suggests humanity will survive the information age, but unclear to me if this is the case, because I'm mostly a cynic.
    • Re:Smart guy! :) (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:21PM (#7650500)
      And an original Freethinker. Who else remembers Arthur C Clarkes Mysterious World? Not only has the guy got his feet on the ground as an engineer and physicist he dares to dream and ask 'what if?'.

      Yes, now that the world is being taken over by the Golgafrinchams (the useless third who neither think nor do, but impose themselves as middlemen and regulators) we need more A.C.Clarkes more than ever.

    • But only governement do have the power to destroye satellite, with all the tech that it supposes (balistic missiles). One call that space warfare. As far as I can tell when the satellitte is in splitter or going down burning toward the ground i would call that pretty much a strong ban/control. Furthermore as far as I know most governement ban citizen to send their own satellite. You have to ask permission to governement agency (NASA, EU etc...).
  • by IANAL(BIAILS) (726712) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:03PM (#7650423) Homepage Journal
    even bad TV is preferable to no TV at all
    I don't know... has he seen what the networks are showing these days???
    • I think so because in the next paragraph, he continues by saying: "Obviously, we need to work very hard to improve the content of television programmes."
    • by npistentis (694431)
      You'd BETTER not be badmouthing such gems as Joe Millionaire: A foreign affair or Rich Girls, right??? I can't believe anyone would even insinuate such a foolish premise like "information pollution." Simply inconceivable...
    • even bad TV is preferable to no TV at all

      I don't know... has he seen what the networks are showing these days???

      All joking aside, no it's really not better than not watching TV at all. I'm afraid I *haven't* seen what the networks are showing these days and I don't really care to.

  • by Wigfield (730339) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:04PM (#7650425) Journal
    Well, not most of the time, anyway. I see the point he's trying to make, but the most important thing to do, in my opinion, is to provide means for people to escape this dredge of unwanted information (particularly advertising) if they so choose. This is why I strongly support the use and people's right to use ad-blockers and the like on the internet. Now, there is *one* thing I think needs to be heavily regulated, maybe even banned -- billboards. They make the road ugly, you can't escape them, and they might even contribute to increasing the rate of car accidents. (ie, plowing into a tree while gazing at a hooters ad...)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Check this article out on how billboards pollute the mental environment:
      http://www.stayfreemagazine.org/adma p/howardgossag e.html

  • by f1ipf10p (676890) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:08PM (#7650447)
    From the article:

    "But it is vital to remember that information - in the sense of raw data - is not knowledge; that knowledge is not wisdom; and that wisdom is not foresight."

    Arthur C. Clarke
    • by twitter (104583) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @07:46PM (#7650912) Homepage Journal
      But it is vital to remember that information - in the sense of raw data - is not knowledge; that knowledge is not wisdom; and that wisdom is not foresight

      Oh, that's good. I like most of the rest of what he has to say too, but let's exercise some foresight about this:

      There are instances when, in the interests of the majority, some censorship may be used for a period of time. Indeed, there is material which virtually everyone would agree should be kept out. Sadistic pornography, incitement to violence against racial or ethnic minorities are just two examples.

      Everyone would not agree about that, Mr. Clark. Such reasoning and mechanisms can be used against anything. What exactly constitutes non-sadistic pornogrpahy? Why stop at incitement against minority populations? It's just as wrong for me to shoot a white boy in Kansas as it is for me to shoot a black girl in Mississippi isn't it? Porn by it's very nature invites us to violate those it portrays as objects. The mechanisms you might use to filter information for me will obviously be used more than eliminate more than violent porn. Electronic media can offer the censor far greater power then any previous media and great caution must be used in any kind of censorship of it. If the poster of violent porn can be tracked down and punished, so can the publisher of unpopular political opinions and media that has no anonymous publishing will never be free. This is far more harmful than burning libraries and smashing printing presses because it can happen transparently.

      I may not agree with what you say, but I'll fight for your right to say it. The only way to disprove bad ideas is for them to be as freely available as others. It is up to each of us to chose what we will or will not listen too. The crime is not in the saying or the hearing, the crime is in the doing. Words, while they may sting, never broke a bone. The only kind of censorship that's ever justified is the traditional kind, simply saying "that is wrong."

      Behaviors not words should be forbiden. It is wrong to asault someone, especially in a sadistic sexual way - that's called rape and it's a crime. A film that gloifies rape is stupid and wrongheaded, but it's not a crime.

      As another poster pointed out [slashdot.org], the problems we face in media are not the fault of too much freedom, they are the result of too many restrictions. Gargage TV exists not because there are too many networks, but because there are too few that feel no need to compete. Cable TV, though pricy, has brough competition and improved programming and the reagular broadcaseters are falling behind in the ratings sytems. People are attracted to "nitch" programs such as TechTV, the History Channel, the Learning Channel and all that other good stuff that leaves daytime trash talk without an audience. The more repulsive the regular broadcasters cynically make their content, the faster they push away their audience. Further competition among cable and internet providers would only make things better. Censorship is the friend and tool of those who would not compete.

      • by Detritus (11846) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @09:17PM (#7651331) Homepage
        There are people in Rwanda, survivors of the civil war, who might disagree with you. The mass media was used to incite and implement genocide.

        Julius Streicher [wikipedia.org], publisher of Der Sturmer, was tried at Nuremberg, sentenced to death and executed for the role his "free speech" played in the deaths of millions of people.

        • Speech was not free in either Rwanda nor Hitler's Germany. It can be argued that fewer genocides will happen when speech is free.
          • Which is exactly the point Detritus is making against your original post.
          • What exactly is the argument that fewer genocides will happen if speech were free? Also, how was speech not free in Rwanda and Germany?

            I support FULL freedom of speech... but I realize that it WILL result in atrocities.

            Sivaram Velauthapillai
            • Speech was most definitely not free in Nazi Germany; the Nazi Party had complete freedom of speech, and everyone else had it right up to the point that they disagreed with the party line on Jews and world conquest and ... well, just about anything else ... at which point they were likely to receive a little visit from the SS. Those Germans who did speak up early during Hitler's rise to power were disposed of, because Hitler, like great tyrants throughout history, understood the power of words very well.

              Fu
              • Speech was most definitely not free in Nazi Germany; the Nazi Party had complete freedom of speech, and everyone else had it right up to the point that they disagreed with the party line on Jews and world conquest and ... well, just about anything else...

                But the point is that people did have free speech BEFORE the Nazis took over. That's all that matters. Who cares about what happens after someone came to power. The reason Nazis were popular was because they influenced the population because freedom of
        • There are people in Rwanda, survivors of the civil war, who might disagree with you. The mass media was used to incite and implement genocide.

          This is not a good example, because the audience of the media were people that already had it in their heads to commit violence. THis is the same as the trite argument for banning porn. "We don't want to influence people into treating women as objects". While it is true that, exposed at too young an age, this could influence a person, we're talking adults here. Anyon

  • Gore? (Score:1, Funny)

    by phalse phace (454635)
    "His science fiction books and science facts have inspired generations of astronauts, scientists and technological innovators. Among them is Tim Berners-Lee, the British computer engineer who invented the World Wide Web..."

    I thought that was Al... Oh, never mind!

    • What short story/novel are they referring to here? I've read (nearly) all his work and don't recall anything like the World Wide Web..........

      (Global computer/communication networks are another story)
    • Re:Gore? (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      *sighs*

      1) Not funny

      2) If it were ever funny, it would have ceased to be funny a LONG time ago, perhaps at the point at which AL GORE DROPPED OUT OF NATIONAL POLITICS

      3) Al Gore never said he invented the internet. He made a poorly phrased comment which IN CONTEXT meant that AMONG THE MEMBERS OF CONGRESS, he was the one who showed the most initiative in involving himself in the creation of the internet. This is, in fact, true.
  • My definition! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by fabio (78385)
    i would define information pollution as all that info you dont really need to know! sometimes it is fun (http://theonion.com) and sometimes is just straight boring (too many sites to list!)

    whats your definition?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Information kills people
  • by Ignis Flatus (689403) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:24PM (#7650511)
    Indeed, there is material which virtually everyone would agree should be kept out. Sadistic pornography, incitement to violence against racial or ethnic minorities are just two examples.

    There really is a shortage of good soft porn nowadays.
    • by Jameth (664111) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:36PM (#7650569)
      > Indeed, there is material which virtually everyone would agree should be kept out. Sadistic pornography, incitement to violence against racial or ethnic minorities are just two examples.

      I didn't read the article, but this jumped at me while reading your post.

      How blatantly false.

      If virtually everyone agrees it should be kept out, why it so common and easy to find? Does he, possibly, mean that virtually all people would agree it should be kept out if they were asked directly in public with lots of people listening, or that they would agree in private where no-one is looking.

      Just a flat-out bad statement.
    • There really is a shortage of good soft porn nowadays.

      Don't worry, Mr. Clarke has heard your complaint, and decided to take action! View his exciting new webcam and photosets at www.arthurcclarkenude.com! Members get full access to over 300 photos, including group sets with his friend and co-auther, Gentry Lee! View the HOTTEST author-on-author action on the net!

      Okay, I feel dirty having posted that... may Asimov forgive me...
  • fortunatly (Score:4, Funny)

    by geekoid (135745) <`moc.oohay' `ta' `dnaltropnidad'> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:28PM (#7650532) Homepage Journal
    We have the slashdot effect to reduce this pollution.
  • by DigiShaman (671371) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:33PM (#7650550) Homepage
    I think the problem we face is that it's not that we have "bad" information out there taking up "valuable space" simply because what is valuable and bad is totally subjected to the individual.

    I think what we need to realize is that there is too much information past the point of comprehension. I wouldn't say this is a problem, but rather calls for a solution of better orginization. And in the case of the Internet, I see that it's currently being addressed with search engines such as Google.

    • I would have to disagree. There is a big problem with information being incorrect or wrong due to profit motives or ignorance. It all looks the same, but there need to be sources of information we can trust.

      For instance there are sites that have information about cars that run on water, or compression schemes which can compress themselves, instant weight loss and other schemes. Of course this is really only relevant to computer based information since it's so cheap and easy to produce.

      Then there is inf
  • by superyooser (100462) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:38PM (#7650579) Homepage Journal
    Having achieved unprecedented progress in the field of communications during the past half century, we now have to pause to think of social, cultural and intellectual implications of what we have created.

    I'm so glad that we didn't put the cart before the horse. :-/

  • How ironic! (Score:5, Funny)

    by rknop (240417) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:41PM (#7650597) Homepage

    An article about information pollution, linked from Slashdot! Who would've thunk it?

    -Rob

  • by Gldm (600518) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:42PM (#7650598)
    There's alot more information being generated these days, and we need to make sure we can keep on top of ways to filter, sort, and absorb it. When the web was 100 sites, it was pretty easy to find what you were looking for. Then when it exploded we needed search engines. Then blogs became popular and Google is still working out how to cope.

    I think Advertising is getting to be a problem. Adware and Spyware are running rampant, and making computers less useful by confusing users. Spam is crippling email worldwide. And it's not just limited to online effects, commercials are longer, shows are shorter. Movies have almost an hour of advertising sometimes: slides, then commercials, then trailers.

    I don't know how it affects most other people, but to me advertising sticks in my brain and keeps gnawing away at the back, making me less likely to buy a product. The more annoying, condescending, or pointless an ad is, the stronger the hate towards the company for wasting my time. For example, I'll NEVER buy a GAP product. Why? Well if GAP had just been a regular clothes store, I might have gone in, wandered around, maybe bought a shirt. But their commercials are so irritating I despise them. I've gone as far as to cross the street to avoid one of their larger stores. Here's another: Capital One talks about their "no hassle" credit cards. I thought this was a good idea and I was thinking of applying for one. Then they ran massive popup spams all over the web, and I changed my mind, permanently. Then there's the modern print advertising in computer industry magazines. You know, the ones that look and read like a 2-4 page product review with a very tiny light gray on white "Advertisement" printed somewhere you're not likely to notice it? That kind of thing pisses me off enough to go and look up the competitors to that company so I can reccomend them instead next time I need that type of product. I really do stuff like this. Am I the only one who's this insane? You tell me. Then there's the outright decietful crap. About 2-3 times a month I get envelopes with my bank's logo on it. Inside is a check for $2.50, and in really light fine print somewhere it'll say "Depositing this indicates you agree to let us take $8/month for 'services' directly from your account." Elsewhere in fine print is a disclaimer saying "We're not really affiliated with your bank even though we're reprinting their logo on your mail." Now I don't fall for this, but I'm betting my grandmother would. And the "valuable services" are basicly more advertising, they send you piles of coupons and ads for stuff. Great, just what I wanted.

    I wish companies would focus more on making a better product and highlighting its advantages and features instead of randomly spewing statisticly generated images of unrelated crap, assuming people will digest this and buy it.
    • The advertisements that are fake stories irritate me too; you see them in certain newspapers too.

      You might be a little nuts if you cross the street to avoid walking past a store though. =]

      Capital One is No-Hassle in the sense that they'll send you less junk mail once you join. You don't get to stop the pop ups though.
    • by Saeger (456549) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <jllerraf>> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @08:29PM (#7651099) Homepage
      Here's the information filters I use these days:

      Movies: RottenTomatoes [rottentomatoes.com], imdb [imdb.com], and MetaCritic [metacritic.com] have saved me dozens of hours of time I might have wasted on crap (like Matrix Revolutions [rottentomatoes.com], or TimeLine [rottentomatoes.com]).

      Books: Amazon [amazon.com], despite its evils (patents/privacy), is a very nice filter (with a few shills and idiot-reviewers). I [ab]use amazon as a filter, and then buy them cheaper new [addall.com] or used [ebay.com].

      News: Popular Daily News Tidbits [yahoo.com], Blogdex [blogdex.net], Daypop [daypop.com], and slashdot.

      Music: iRATE radio [sourceforge.net], and word of mouth. Need more Collaborative Filtering [shirky.com] in this area to root out the Clearchannels/RIAAs function as a giant pusher of "cool"

      Ads (aka: mental engineering): I use PopFile [sourceforge.net] to filter SPAM, and Privoxy [privoxy.org] to filter out slow-loading, privacy-invading, all-around-annoying ADS. I'm still missing a proxy for my eyeballs in the real world. Soooon. :)

      Cheap Products: Not a quality filter exactly, but a quantity filter: PriceWatch [pricewatch.com], PriceGrabber [pricegrabber.com], Froogle [google.com], Anand's Hot Deals [anandtech.com] ...

      Phew, that's a lot of linkage. Anyway, I couldn't function without these and other filters; I'd really be info overloaded.

      Collaborative filtering in general has a very bright future IMO.

      --

  • Fox News... (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by mikeophile (647318)
    We pollute, you comply.
  • by argoff (142580) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @06:47PM (#7650624)

    The simple truth is that copyrights create a system of rewards for people who push hype over substance. It is no longer about what has the most social value or service value, but rather which gets the most heads to turn. You can also see this effect in things like text books. The information in some books has changed little in over 100 years, but you wouldn't know from the racket they run at the college book stores - there's a new revised version every semester.

    I think all to often, people think this media mob like behavior is just what happens in a free society, but IMHO it is not. It happens only when you start to restrict what people can copy.

    • So you'd want to starve writers of their hard work? What if you had a great idea you wanted to tell the world about. If there wasn't a copyright, then Joe down the street could cut and paste and say, "Hey, I had this great idea!" when all they did is copy your idea. You don't even get CREDIT for your work. Where is the motivation to do anything?

      What about photographers? I work with a number of photographers in this area and they make their living by selling people pictures. If people can download or

      • First off, what you're claiming about getting the credit is false if not an intentional lie. For example, just because I might coppy a Madonna CD, does not mean that I will ever come close to claiming to be the author of "like a virgin" or whatnot. I don't want the credit, thank you. Infact, copyrights are more likely to encourage that, for example I doubt Madonna is the original author of any song she's written in the last 20 years.

        Second, all the time I hear about someone who had a great idea, or work
        • Third, I have been in the real world thank you. The real world where college students can get worse punishment for copying CDs than robbing a bank. The real world, where companies like Mocrosoft leveraged "intellectual property" to put countless thousands out of work in other companies. The real world, where free to coppy opperating systems are more secure and reliable than closed ones, and more financially productive.I am so sick and tired of people screeming bloody murder that they have a right to make

          • Well look, I can really see where you're comming from with copyrights and linux. Perhaps the burdon of copyrights might have been bearable 25 years ago when the biggest issues were xerox and tape casettes. But now we are in the information age, and they are not going to be able to enforce them without microregulation every aspect of the internet and information communication. That I assure you will cost alot more then $250 a month.

            As for linux I'm not sure if you get it. It's not about features, or co

  • by Handpaper (566373) on Saturday December 06, 2003 @07:15PM (#7650781)
    I don't want to "overcome current limitations of literacy".
    Voice-recognition and text-to-speech converters should be for the sole use of blind or partially-sighted people who absolutely cannot see text at all, ever.
    I can see this developing into another govt.-sponsored program of 'enablement' when these people would best be served by teaching them to read.
    Literacy is too important to be made optional.

  • Boot (Score:4, Interesting)

    by ceswiedler (165311) * <chris@swiedler.org> on Saturday December 06, 2003 @10:28PM (#7651600)
    Clarke mentions that the term 'boot' came from 'kicking recalcitrant computers'. I'm pretty sure that it was more related to 'pulling yourself up by your bootstraps', because in a sense starting a computer has to overcome some chicken-and-egg problems to get itself going.

    Regardless, it was an interesting article. As a (slightly recovered) sci-fi fan, I've found that Clarke's books are still deeply engaging for me, when quite a few of the other authors I used to read have grown a bit tired. _Imperial Earth_ and _Rendezvous with Rama_ are probably my favorite hard sci-fi novels of all time, and his work on the movie version of _2001_ shouldn't be discounted.

    He has such a great style to his writing; he makes predictions seem very natural. I think he's mastered the art, more than any other writer, of dropping slight predictions into science fiction. In one book, he mentions that a character watched "Charlie Chaplin's Modern Times, much of the Disnet canon, Oliver's Hamlet, Ray's Pather Panchali, Kubrick's Napoleon Bonaparte, Zymanowski's Moby Dick, and many other old masterpieces..."

    I love the progression of the sequence... (Kubrick never actually made Napoleon Bonaparte, but had planned on doing so.)
    • The one that got me was his prediction of Lucas doing 'the lord of the rings'...nearly right :)
    • When I was young, weeee didn't have any fancy BIOS ROMs which allowed you to start a computer by throwing a switch! Weee had to enter boot loader codes in binary by hand until our fingers bled, and we liked it!

      Booting does mean "pulling yourself up by your bootstraps". You had to enter a short (perhaps 10-line) program by entering binary codes (grouped by 3's into octal) into the switches on the front panel. That program was able to load a program from a Teletype paper tape reader, which itself was a m

  • here [aetheronline.com], I'd suggest a fist-sized grain of salt.

"The Mets were great in 'sixty eight, The Cards were fine in 'sixty nine, But the Cubs will be heavenly in nineteen and seventy." -- Ernie Banks

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