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The future of the internet: A virtual counter-revolution

The future of the internet: A virtual counter-revolution

Twitter, Facebook, and social activism At four-thirty in the afternoon on Monday, February 1, 1960, four college students sat down at the lunch counter at the Woolworth’s in downtown Greensboro, North Carolina. They were freshmen at North Carolina A. & T., a black college a mile or so away. “I’d like a cup of coffee, please,” one of the four, Ezell Blair, said to the waitress. “We don’t serve Negroes here,” she replied. The Woolworth’s lunch counter was a long L-shaped bar that could seat sixty-six people, with a standup snack bar at one end. By next morning, the protest had grown to twenty-seven men and four women, most from the same dormitory as the original four. By the following Monday, sit-ins had spread to Winston-Salem, twenty-five miles away, and Durham, fifty miles away. The world, we are told, is in the midst of a revolution. These are strong, and puzzling, claims. Some of this grandiosity is to be expected. What makes people capable of this kind of activism? This pattern shows up again and again.

Are we on information overload? The last two decades have completely transformed the way we know. Thanks to the rise of the Internet, information is far more accessible than ever before. It’s more connected to other pieces of information and more open to debate. Organizations — and even governmental projects like Data.gov — are putting more previously inaccessible data on the Web than people in the pre-Internet age could possibly have imagined. But this change raises another, more ominous question: Is this deluge overwhelming our brains? In his new book, “Too Big to Know,” David Weinberger, a senior researcher at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society, attempts to answer that question by looking at the ways our newly interconnected society is transforming the media, science and our everyday lives. Salon spoke to Weinberger over the phone about the rise of the information cloud, the demise of expert knowledge, and why this is the greatest time in human history. Yes. Yes, exactly. OK. It’s both good and bad.

Texas Launches Antitrust Investigation of Google It has been revealed that the office of Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is conducting an investigation of Google over complaints of antitrust and anti-competitive behavior, and the search giant is responding. According to Search Engine Land, the state of Texas' investigation is focused on whether Google manipulates its search results to the detriment of its competition. The investigation was sparked by complaints from vertical search engines Foundem, SourceTool/TradeComet and myTriggers. Google has since responded to the report via a blog post from Deputy General Counsel Don Harrison. "We look forward to answering their questions because we’re confident that Google operates in the best interests of our users," Harrison said in the company's response. Google is facing a similar investigation from the European Commission over whether it manipulates search results to stifle competition. What do you think of the investigation?

The False Poles of Digital and Traditional Activism Digital activism has been construed as its own movement, a new wave of organizing unique to the 21st century digital world. In fact, digital tools are complementary to “traditional” activism, for a number of reasons: They allow organizers to quickly mobilize large numbers of people; they help draw media attention to causes, and quickly; they allow for a centralized portal of information. But by drawing a distinct line between “traditional” and “digital” (or online and offline, if you prefer) activism, pundits and journalists are doing a disservice to both the utility of digital tools and to the resilience of traditional advocacy. “Offline versus Online” are False Poles Renowned writer Malcolm Gladwell, in this week’s New Yorker, argues that the “weak ties” of “digital activism” cannot remotely compare to the strong ties of traditional activism, using the American Civil Rights movement as a baseline. Certain Support Ensures Weak Ties Building a New Narrative

Do We Need Doctors Or Algorithms? Editor’s note: This is Part II of a guest series written by legendary Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla, the founder of Khosla Ventures. In Part I, he laid the groundwork by describing how artificial intelligence is a combination of human and computer capabilities. In Part III, he will talk about how technology will sweep through education. I was asked about a year ago at a talk about energy what I was doing about the other large social problems, namely health care and education. Later, I got to cogitating about what I had said and why, and how embarrassingly wrong that might be. Assessing Current Healthcare Let’s start with healthcare (or sickcare, as many knowledgeable people call it). The entire encounter should take no more than 15 minutes and usually takes probably less than that. So what’s wrong with this situation? Looking at this, I cannot help but think that this is a completely antiquated system (regardless of whether it is healthcare or not)! Envisioning Future Healthcare

The Case for the Commons: Reclaiming our Shared Resources Divided We Fall When politicians talk about getting the country "back on track," what does that mean? When did we ... This article is part of a series of articles on the commons. For more, read The Science of Cooperation and A New Political Dawn. For more writing on the commons from the alternative press, visit utne.com/Commons. The first three times I heard the word commons, I had no idea what it meant. Although it is often associated with Britain and its colonies, the commons as place and process can be found in societies from Central America to South Asia and, most recently, cyberspace. The term “tragedy of the commons” was coined by microbiologist Garrett Hardin in a 1968 Science article, in which he asked what happens when individuals compete for a scarce resource. In many ways, Hardin’s world looks a lot like our own, as we destroy it at a pace made more frantic by the recession. Scratch the surface, though, and Hardin’s arguments blame the victim. The barons rebelled.

Manifesto for a virtual revolution: Cyber-activist Cory Doctorow's new novel imagines a revolt of online slaves - Features, Books "Someone who just accepts every technology he comes across is not being especially technophilic, because this doesn't require any reflection or choice," he argues. "It's like saying, I'm a gourmet, I'll eat anything you put in front of me. To be a gourmet of technology is to make choices: about what you're going to use, and how you're going to use it." If the increasingly sprawling mass of Doctorow's work - six science-fiction novels, plus innumerable essays, speeches, short stories, blog entries and articles, all available to read for free online under a creative commons licence via his website (craphound.com) - has a unifying theme, this is it: helping people to make better choices. Doctorow, 38, may be a gourmand of digital culture, but he's no aesthete. Born in Canada to an immigrant Jewish family deeply involved in protest politics, he has lived in London for much of the last decade (his wife is British), but maintains a global following and perspective.

The Surprising Path Of Artificial Intelligence Editor’s note: This is Part I of a three-part guest post written by legendary Silicon Valley investor Vinod Khosla, the founder of Khosla Ventures. In Part II, he will describe how software and mobile technologies can augment and even replace doctors. In Part III, he will talk about how technology will sweep through education. Forty years ago this December, President Nixon declared a war on cancer, pledging a “total national commitment” to conquering the disease. Fifty years ago this spring, President Kennedy declared a space race, promising to land a man safely on the moon before the end of the decade. And 54 years ago, Artificial Intelligence pioneer Herbert Simon declared “there are now in the world machines that think” and predicted that a computer would be world chess champion within 10 years. Though we made it to the moon the efforts in cancer and artificial intelligence have failed in their larger ambitions but have made progress. Quoting another writer:

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