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PS: Choppy, Directionless and Strident

October 25, 2009 Comments off

There are some books that I have seen frequently in book stores over the years that I know I will never read. Dianetics is one such book. I have no particular reason to read or not to read these books, but if I’m honest about it, I know that I’m not ever going to read them.

These are all books that One Ought To Read, if one wishes to be a Very Well-Rounded Person. I’m sure you could come up with your own list of books in this category. Another category of such books are the ones that are Just Too Absurd. Life of Brian would be one of these. The Companion to Oliver Stone’s “JFK” would be another or Zen and the Art of Black Helicopter Maintenance. A new addition I would make to my version of that list would be the latest by the “most prolific scholar in the history of copyright” (who is, in case you don’t know, Google VIP Patry. I think we can call him The Most Prolific Scholar for short, or perhaps “PS”).

From what I can gather, the upshot of PS’s book is that it is a hierarchical and status driven look at works of authorship and the laws that once protected them. According to PS, creators do not innovate, only innovators innovate, which is kind of a silly con if you remember things like jazz. But then jazz probably doesn’t count, because as we know art doesn’t scale.

Maybe multitrack recording might count? That at least involves a machine that has a carbon footprint, so Googlers should feel right at home. But wait–the innovation of multitrack recording (on which the entire modern recording industry is based, including Protools) is an invention generally attributed to…Les Paul. (For all you Silly Cons out there, and especially you Very Silly Cons, Les Paul was a…guitar player.) As usual with occupants of the Googleplex there are no dogs or actors allowed into the hierarchy so we will just define guitar player innovators out of the definition.

Now some may criticize me for only focusing on “bad” reviews–or as they may say in the Googleplex, “ungood”–and that may be, but PS has Google and all we have are each other.

Others have noticed the new one by PS, too. Tom Sydnor has a second installment of his “Worthless Book” review, an excellent critique of the PS book that is a delicious read, a fantastically 3 star feast for the truth.

And I’ve also read a PS review of interest by Jonathan Handel in the Los Angeles Times who observes: “Patry’s stature makes ‘Moral Panics and the Copyright Wars’ an ‘important’ book. Unfortunately, what the book delivers is a choppy and directionless narrative, sometimes illuminating but too often scattershot, unoriginal and strident.”

I don’t know as I agree that he’s “strident,” I probably would have said “oozing”. That’s what happens when the bile is so full and pungent it can’t quite get out quickly enough, it just kind of oozes into the sunlight like a vomitous marsh. But “directionless” sounds about right. Then again, not only have I not read the book, I know that I’m not going to read the book.

Just like I know I’m not going to read Dianetics.

Truth is Strange: Gang of villagers (aka proles) chase away Google Street View car

April 4, 2009 2 comments

BIG BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU:

Google’s “Street View” is just one more culture grab from the philistines at the Leviathan of Mountain View. If you’re not familiar with “Street View” it’s a very creepy feature of Google’s Earth that let’s you get right into that Big Brother groove–a specially equipped car carrying an 11 lens camera called the Dodeca 360 roams the streets of the world taking snaps of your house. The camera captures pictures of your house at a rate of 100 million pixels per second and records the GPS coordinates of chez vous.

It then phones home to the Cloud at Mountain View and presto chango, your house becomes free content for Google to sell advertising around. You, too, have a chance to become Run of Site. And just in case you need to satisfy your voyeristic urges on the road, Google makes Street View available on the iPhone as part of its Google’s Earth application.

This innovation gave rise to other innovative sites such as Google Sightseeing (“Why Bother Seeing the World for Real?”) and other voyeuristic sites devoted to finding pictures on Street View of naked or semi-naked girls with their faces blurred. Pimps supposedly do that blurring thing, too, when hooking underage girls on Craig’s List so they don’t get popped for distributing child porn. And then there’s “Google Street View Kills Bambi” featuring images of the Google Car running over a fawn.

I always wondered what would happen if the Google Car came to say, Tucumcari or Tonapah. But apparently, the good people of Broughton, Bucks. get the idea and blocked the road to their village so the Google Car could not enter. (See “Village Mob Thwarts Google Street View Car“.) At least in Broughton, the residents have no intention of getting googled. What reaction from the Ministry of Cloud?

“We know that some [proles] are uncomfortable with images of their houses or cars being included in the product, which is why we provide an easy way [for your average punter] to request removal of imagery [meaning we blur your punter face but keep the rest of you]. Most imagery requests are processed within hours. We take privacy very seriously, and we were careful to ensure that all images in our Street View service abide by UK law [so see you in court].”

Ah, sunshine on a Cloudy day. It’s Google’s Earth, after all, they can sell it any way they want. I don’t think it’s just the houses and cars that people are “uncomfortable” with, I think it’s also pictures of THEM.

See, all you have to do is (A) discover they have snapped your house (perhaps including pictures of your children) and (B) send a takedown notice to the benevolent Ministry of Cloud.

Or…you could do (C) which is take a cricket bat or two or five to the car.

Just to make it extra creepy, Google fav Wikipedia let’s us know that the “long awaited” inclusion of “Oceana” in Street View was completed in 2008. (I’m sure that Britanica probably wouldn’t have been quite so pitchy in its coverage as is the old Wikmeister, but then Britanica doesn’t get returned consistently [or at all] at the top of Google search results like Wikipedia does.) George Orwell fans will remember Oceana from 1984. (1984 was a book, Googlers. You know, paper pages, ink, printing, binding. A book.)

And remember, ignorance is strength.

Google will get a chance to make the new law they love so much as Privacy International has filed a formal complaint with the UK Information Commissioner.

Welcome to Europe little Googlers.

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