Happy Fourth? - by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner
The United States of America is and always has been an idea more than a place. Yes, we are rooted in our past, but just as importantly, America is about the dreams of our future. I have borne witness to too much heroism and courage to not celebrate what this nation has been and can be in the future. I have seen it in battles in far-off wars and marches in our streets, on picket lines and in courthouses, in classrooms and community centers, in mass movements and quiet defiance.
How dare the craven cynical actors who seek to destroy the heart of American democracy take away our pride. They will not define America for me, just as their predecessors did not define it for those who fought to make this nation better. The battles ahead will not be easy, but neither was the fight for justice in the past. Entrenched power is never easily overcome.
On this Fourth of July, I am celebrating fully and without reservation. I honor it as a day of struggle, and the struggle endures. I recognize it as a day of reflection on how fragile our rights and democracy are. But I also see it as a day to acknowledge how far we have come and how far we can go. I will never accede to an America where that journey is over. And in this I know that I am not alone.
An Oral History of ‘Contact’ the Movie
A long but very enjoyable read.
Obi-Wan Kenobi (2022)
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Lightsabers
I wanted to like the show a lot more than I did. I'm not hating anyone who loved it, to each our own. Overall I found it plodding and unremarkable. By far my favorite part of the show was Moses Ingraham.
They used to be a thing. Taking a bunch of smaller computers (usually bought at a very cheap rate) and then networking them together to do distributed computing. I was curious to see if they were still a thing (I know Raspberry Pi machines are a thing, but I meant more generally.) and it seems they barely exist.
There's a mailing list for them and the monthly traffic on the list is minimal.
The Sky Thief: Beebo Russell's Last Flight
How did Beebo Russell — a goofy, God-fearing baggage handler — steal a passenger plane from the Seattle-Tacoma airport and end up alone in a cockpit, with no plan to come down?
I remember the evening this happened. I was sitting at my computer and pulled up an online feed of the air traffic radio as I followed it also on Twitter.
I'm still reading through the site. It's a good read and reminder about what we lost as centralized services like Twitter took over.
This book would’ve been more profound if it had been published in 2017 instead of 2022. The longer it took me to write it, the more well-understood the problems of massive social networks seemed to be with the general public. Years after Cambridge Analytica, the 2016 election, hate speech on Twitter, and Zuckerberg testifying before congress, I started to wonder if I could even add anything unique to the conversation.
But for all the known problems, there remain very few proposed solutions. In the debate about the role of platforms, there are offshoots into new technologies, web history, safe communities, even antitrust law. These are threads that we need to tie together with a cohesive framework.
Big platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok are built with small pieces of content. Lack of friction made posting easy. Amplification and engagement made creators influential. Native ads that are the same size as real content made platforms rich. That’s why the fix should also be rooted in small (micro) content: where it’s stored, who owns it, and how it flows across the web between much smaller, open platforms.
Edit: 5th of July, 9:20am - I'm still working through the book. It's a nice read and a good bit of nostalgia from the early days of the Internet (anyone remember Pownce.com? You get an interview with Leah Culver, one of the founders of it.) I really liked this passage, for fairly obvious reasons:
My blog is one of the most important things I do. It’s not my full-time job. It doesn’t make any money directly. But consistently writing, collecting a memory of those everyday events, adding my own commentary on technology, or chronicling the projects I work on — it becomes a substantial archive over time.
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