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computing

If the big-data fundamentalists argue that more data is inherently better, closer to the truth, then there is no point in their theology at which enough is enough. This is the radical project of big data. It is epistemology taken to its limit. The affective residue from this experiment is the Janus-faced anxiety that is heavy in the air, and it leaves us with an open question: How might we find a radical potential in the surveillant anxieties of the big-data era? The Anxieties of Big Data

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Every malware expert I know has lost track of what some file is, clicked on it to see, and then realized they’d executed some malware they were supposed to be examining. I know this because I did it once with a PDF I knew had something bad in it. My friends laughed at me, then all quietly confessed they’d done the same thing. If some of the best malware reversers around can’t keep track of their malicious files, what hope do your parents have against that e-card that is allegedly from you? Everything Is Broken

Software is so bad because it’s so complex, and because it’s trying to talk to other programs on the same computer, or over connections to other computers. Even your computer is kind of more than one computer, boxes within boxes, and each one of those computers is full of little programs trying to coordinate their actions and talk to each other. Computers have gotten incredibly complex, while people have remained the same gray mud with pretensions of godhood. Your average piece-of-shit Windows desktop is so complex that no one person on Earth really knows what all of it is doing, or how. Everything Is Broken

Once upon a time, a friend of mine accidentally took over thousands of computers. He had found a vulnerability in a piece of software and started playing with it. In the process, he figured out how to get total administration access over a network. He put it in a script, and ran it to see what would happen, then went to bed for about four hours. Next morning on the way to work he checked on it, and discovered he was now lord and master of about 50,000 computers. After nearly vomiting in fear he killed the whole thing and deleted all the files associated with it. In the end he said he threw the hard drive into a bonfire. I can’t tell you who he is because he doesn’t want to go to Federal prison, which is what could have happened if he’d told anyone that could do anything about the bug he’d found. Did that bug get fixed? Probably eventually, but not by my friend. This story isn’t extraordinary at all. Spend much time in the hacker and security scene, you’ll hear stories like this and worse. It’s hard to explain to regular people how much technology barely works, how much the infrastructure of our lives is held together by the IT equivalent of baling wire. Computers, and computing, are broken. Everything Is Broken

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…a cloud computer is a computer you’re only allowed to use if the phone company and a DRM-peddling giant like Adobe gives you permission, and they can withdraw that permission at any time. Boing Boing

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Instead of balking at our widespread suspicions, the leaders of Silicon Valley must begin communicating honestly and effectively about what they hope and dream for. If people are scared of Google’s Glass, of Facebook’s purchase of a virtual reality company or of Twitter’s use of big data, then it’s up to those companies to explain loud and clear how these developments will serve us all. Douglas Rushkoff

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Culture now has two audiences, in other words: people and machines. Both will have a significant hand in shaping the material that finds its way into the public realm. Ted Striphas

The phone company gave birth to Unix. Now there is no phone company and Unix runs on your phone. The Great Works of Software

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