"true stories about the future"

The title quote is from Ray Kurzweil.
Recent Tweets @derrinyet
Library usage has increased across the country for a variety of reasons, librarians say, including the recession, the availability of new technology and because libraries have been reimagining themselves — a necessity for staying relevant as municipal budgets are slashed and e-books are on the rise. Among the more innovative is the Chicago Public Library, which offers a free Maker Lab, with access to 3-D printers, laser cutters and milling machines. The Lopez Island Library in Washington State offers musical instruments for checkout. In upstate New York, the Library Farm in Cicero, part of the Northern Onondaga Public Library, lends out plots of land on which patrons can learn organic growing practices.
[S]cience historian James Burke observed that representative democracy was designed to solve the problem of bad roads in the 17th century — yet despite advances in telecommunications, we haven’t thrown it out.
on the persistence of representative democracy. 


From the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards.

I’ve been reading a bit about the CEO transition at Microsoft, which seems to be as much about Bill Gates’s return as Satya Nadella’s ascent. 

This quote from a Quartz article is particularly striking:

[Gates] was famous for his “think weeks” when active at MicrosoftHe would retreat to a waterfront cottage to spend a week in isolation, read papers from throughout the organization, and contemplate the future2005 Wall Street Journal piece (paywall) on the process described how a week’s deliberation and the resulting emails would rapidly ripple through the company, shift entire divisions, and boost both teams and managers.

My alma mater has recently completed a strategic plan; the results of that process have just been published. Friends within the university believe that this is a waste of limited funds - the planning process came in at over twice its $1.45 million budget.

I am reserving judgment until I’ve had a chance to look at the plan, because it can be a valuable exercise when done right. However, the two stories resonated for me because Gates seems like the kind of leader who can withdraw for a week, study, reflect, and generate a successful strategic plan all on his own. Microsoft will benefit from his renewed attention. 

If, fifty years ago, you asked a dozen anthropology departments what anthropology’s program of inquiry was - what anthropology professors did that distinguished them from history professors, sociology professors, economics professors, and psychology professors - you might have gotten different and even contradictory answers. But by and large the professors would have had little trouble filling in the blank in the sentence, Anthropology is _____. If they did have trouble, they would not have boasted about it. Today, you would likely get two types of answer. One answer is: Anthropology is the study of its own assumptions. The other answer is: Anthropology is whatever people in anthropology departments do.
Louis Menand, The Marketplace of Ideas, p. 118
What the gods and all reasonable humans fought in vain wasn’t stupidity at all. It was sheer, wanton, bloody indifference to anybody’s interests but their own.
John Le Carré, A Delicate Truth 
Twitter has probably caused more people to spend more time choosing their words carefully than any other force in the last five years.
Robin Sloan
If fiction has any value, it’s that it lets us in. You and I can be pleasant to each other, but I will never know what you really think, and you will never know what I am thinking. I know nothing about what it’s like to be you. As far as I can tell, whether it is avant-garde or realistic, the basic engine of narrative art is how it punctures those membranes a little.
David Foster Wallace

More incredible photos when you click through. 



We are right on the verge of being an entirely new kind of human society, one involving an unprecedented penetration by the state into areas which have always been regarded as private. Do we agree to that? If we don’t, this is the last chance to stop it happening. Our rulers will say what…