New Dark Age: Technology and the End of the Future by James Bridle
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I wanted to find out what Bridle had to say because I’ve been calling the rightwing draconian control backwards trends in the US the “New Dark Ages” for years now. This took a bit to work into…the read is easy, but Bridle was inconsistent, exaggerative and repetitive. Still, what he has to say is scary. Bridle opens with
‘If only technology could invent some way of getting in touch with you in an emergency,’ said my computer, repeatedly.
Following the 2016 US election result, along with several other people I know and perhaps prompted by the hive mind of social media, I started re-watching The West Wing: an exercise in hopeless nostalgia. It didn’t help, but I got into the habit, when alone, of watching an episode or two in the evenings, after work, or on planes. After reading the latest apocalyptic research papers on climate change, total surveillance, and the uncertainties of the global political situation, a little neoliberal chamber play from the noughties wasn’t the worst thing to sink into.
And we end with a message that technology is bad; no wait! it’s good; no…bad; so bad as to be really bad. And it is. But we can’t avoid it. Nor can we control it. The genie’s bottle is opened, Pandora’s box has let loose the demons, and maybe Bridle isn’t exaggerating. Continue reading
Democracy Hacked: Political Turmoil and Information Warfare in the Digital Age by Martin Moore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I saw a question on a forum last week asking for “scary or Halloween” book recommendations. There were plenty of responses, and this was mine – the lone non-fiction. I haven’t been scared by a fiction book since I read one of ghost stories when I was 8 years old. Stephen King made me laugh 35 years ago; Koontz – no; Rice – emphatically no; well…you get the picture. No, for me, the real scary books are of this type – what the fiction authors try to impart: powerlessness against larger, malicious forces. Note: I received an uncorrected advance review copy of this from the publisher through LibraryThing Early Reviewers program.
Moore takes on a challenging task and did quite a bit of research – there are 35 pages of citations to sift if you’re game. He breaks the book into three parts: Hackers, Systems Failure, and Alternative Futures, each with three chapters. Americans interested in this might myopically think it pertains to a certain election, but Moore shows it is much bigger than that. This is a global problem. Continue reading
Back in September, when I “upgraded” my iPad mini to the iOS 7 I instantly found the new look abhorrent and have been whining about it ever since. And while I am baffled, I am also impressed at the PR machine that is Apple because I get updates from otherwise sane developers who say something like, “now updated to the beautiful iOS7 look!” The italics are mine, but the “beautiful” is not made up…some idiot out there drank CrApple’s Kool-Aid or is just stroking their bloated ego.
I thought that some of the features of the OS were worth the downgrade in appearance, which I have learned to tolerate somewhat. As my iPhone at the time kept pestering me with a notice that wouldn’t go away that I had an OS upgrade ready, I “upgraded” it. Note: the phone was a 4, which was just fine….until…iOS 7. Continue reading
Last year we dumped cable and bought a couple of Roku streaming players.
We added three more when we moved back in after the fire, and excepting a short, three-week stint with Direct TV (quantity dismal, quality only passable), we’re happier without cable. Continue reading