Islands In The Clickstream

Gary Webb is Dead

December 13, 2004

The San Jose Mercury News reports that “Gary Webb, a former Mercury News investigative reporter, author and legislative staffer who ignited a firestorm with his controversial stories, died Friday in an apparent suicide in his suburban Sacramento home. He was 49.” I was heartsick. Just knowing that Webb was alive was enough to keep me […]

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The Battle Not to Rage or Despair

December 13, 2004

This is NOT about the election. I know it might sound like it is. Lots of people feel those feelings. They’re walking around in shellshock, unable to take in that all of their energy, all of their work resulted in even more conservatives taking over every area of government, that they live in a country […]

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To Blog or Not to Blog

November 23, 2004

With a million birds chirping away in the digital trees, do we really need to hear another voice? Or is the pleasure of singing – even in an empty auditorium – sufficient reward? Listening to our own voices can have different effects. We can think we have something to say … we can become grandiose […]

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Quiet American

September 6, 2004

Now that “Islands in the Clickstream” columns have been published as a book, it is time to explore tangents that illuminate the deeper implications of technology as well as write reflections. This review describes the work of Aaron Ximm and his Quiet American web site. Ximm’s award-winning “found sound” constitute exquisite islets in the clickstream, […]

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Coming of Age

March 23, 2004

The number isn’t important, friends have been saying when I talk about turning sixty. Some say, age is only a state of mind. Some say, you’re as young as you feel. Some say, age doesn’t matter. And some say, why, you look great! which unfortunately confirms that there really are three stages of life: youth, […]

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Talking to Ourselves

January 14, 2004

Once upon a time in the sixties, I published a short story in Analog Science Fiction about a man who invented a virtual reality machine and let a carnival owner try it out. The carnival owner was so hypnotized by the fantasy world and its contrast with the grim realities of his life that he […]

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Spacetime, Seen as a Digital Image, Already Fading

October 14, 2003

Ever since I was taught in Philosophy 101 that space, time and causality, according to Immanuel Kant, are woven into our perceptual field, embedded in how we construct a virtual domain in which we live as if it is “out there,” I have felt like the proverbial gorilla that was taught to draw. Given paper […]

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A Miracle By Any Other Name

September 20, 2003

If any column is about “the human dimension of technology,” it’s this one, inasmuch as last week, my beloved youngest son Barnaby had more tubes in him, more drips dripping, more monitors flashing around him than a cyborg out of Terminator 3. When I arrived at the ICU and saw, moving among the noisy machinery, […]

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Why We Are All Getting a Little Crazy

September 5, 2003

James Jesus Angleton embodied the inevitable trajectory of a person committed to counterintelligence. Maybe he got a little crazy at the end but that might explain why we are all getting a little crazy too. Angleton was director of counterintelligence for the CIA from 1954 until 1974. Fans of spy fiction might think of him […]

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Moral Schmoral

August 17, 2003

One way a government mobilizes support for morally dubious actions is to make those actions sound like the right thing to do. Decisions made for other reasons entirely, for reasons of strategy, say, or economic advantage, are cloaked in religious rhetoric, and when our leaders claim the moral high ground, we the people want to […]

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