The Cloud: “Welcome, To the Hotel California”

the-eagles-hotel-california

On a dark desert highway, cool wind in my hair, Warm smell of Colitas rising up through the air.

Up ahead in the distance, I saw a shimmering light.

In my province, I have begun pushing for a Design Council. However, I am beginning to wonder if I am just calling every problem a nail or creating another stovepipe. Software as a Service, Database as a Service, Science as a Service, Art as a Service, Design as a Service, Engineering as a Service, Manufacturing as a Service, Inventory as a Service, Sales as a Service, Purchases as a Service, Currency as a Service, Accounting as a Service, Service as a Service… all plugged into the huge amorphous global system we call “The Cloud”.

My head grew heavy and my sight grew dim, I had to stop for the night.

We are being frontsourced and backsourced, upsourced and downsourced, leftsourced and rightsourced, insourced and outsourced, yesterdaysourced and tomorrowsourced up the ying yang and out the wazoo. I think the economic crisis may just be the tip of the iceburg. We may be in a deep financial dependency, but we may also be entering a 24/7/365 service dependency where we could relinquish all our corporate and personal control to third parties completely losing our ability to independently execute decisions.

There she stood in the doorway; I heard the mission bell.

And I was thinking to myself, “This could be Heaven or this could be Hell.”

Then she lit up a candle and she showed me the way.

There were voices down the corridor, I thought I heard them say,

“Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place. Such a lovely face.”

“There’s plenty of room at the Hotel California. Any time of year, You can find it here.”

The Hotel California.  Peter Drucker lit up the candle and called the way “creaming”.  We continually seek work offering higher margins and abandon our lower margin work. Our Service Providers are willing to take up the lower margin work and establish a beach head. Instead of assuming control of our supply and rescuing the lower margin demand we forego them.  The Service Providers keep the beach head and begin undermining us and we surrender the middle margin work and seek even higher margins.  Eventually, we reach the top of the ladder. Either we freeze the state of affairs and impose it downward or we get pushed off the top. How do we impose such a freeze?

Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, She got the Mercedes-Benz.

She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys, That she calls friends.

How they dance in the courtyard, sweet summer sweat.

Some dance to remember, some dance to forget.

Silicon Valley was the center of the Personal Computer revolution.  Berkeley University. Stanford University.  Drugs.  Affluence.  Free sharing of information.  Lots of pretty boys at Xerox PARC and IBM dancing to forget.  Lots of pretty boys at Apple Computer and Microsoft dancing to remember.

So I called up the Captain, “Please bring me my wine.”

He said, “We haven’t had that spirit here Since nineteen sixty-nine.”

The first ARPANET IMP log – a record of the first message ever sent over the ARPANET took place at 10:30PM on October 29, 1969 setting up a message transmission to go from the UCLA SDS Sigma 7 Host computer to the SRI SDS 940 Host computer.

And still those voices are calling from far away.

Wake you up in the middle of the night, Just to hear them say,

“Welcome to the Hotel California. Such a lovely place. Such a lovely face.

They’re livin’ it up at the Hotel California.

What a nice surprise, Bring your alibis.

The Hotel California. Apple, IBM PC, MS DOS, Lotus 123, WordPerfect 5, dBaseIIIPlus, MacIntosh, MAC OS, MS Windows, MS Excel, MS Word, MS Access, Mobile Phones, Internet, AOL, MMUG, NetScape, MS Explorer, Web 1.0, Laptops, Yahoo, Amazon, eBay, Google, Chat, Forums, Blogs, Napster, Linux, Apache, MySQL, pHp, DOOM, Cellphones, Web 2.0, Firefox, iPod, iTunes, MySpace, YouTube, Skype, GoogleEarth, Facebook, Twitter, PirateBay, Wikipedia, WoW, SecondLife, iPhone.  The permanent digital network data repository of religions, organizations, emotions, locations, actions, possessions, professions, obsessions, transactions and reservations that we are voluntarily contributing to daily.  The Service Providers have stipulations in the Terms of Service you agree to permitting them to change the terms at any time without notification.  Recently one Service Provider changed the Terms of Service declaring that they owned all member content with no limitations on its use.  They backed down, but their weapons test was complete.

Mirrors on the ceiling, Pink champagne on ice.

And she said, “We are all just Prisoners here, of our own device.”

Worldwide data centres with petabytes of personal data connected by fiber optic spinal cords ready to be sliced and diced by domestic and foreign government agencies, corporations, criminals, theives and cyberterrorists looking for gold in the data mine.

And in their master’s chambers, They gathered for the feast.

They stab it with their steely knives, but they just can’t kill the beast.

Perhaps all these records will not matter to the Always On Generation or to the Zippies.  Since everyone’s sins are online no one can be held accountable or no one could be hired.  Or everyone could be held accountable and the Republics fall and we enter the Dark Age of a new Dictator Emperor, followed by a God Emperor, followed by a Pope Emperor all with sound legalistic documentation of the inquisitions.  This is what happened to the Roman Republic and Roman Europe.  Big Brother reigned for 1300 years.

Last thing I remember, I was running for the door.

I had to find the passage back To the place I was before.

“Relax”, said the night man, “We are programmed to receive.”

“You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave.”

As you drive down that dark desert information highway, look in the rearview mirror, because 1300 years of history might be catching up with us.

Thank you for checking in.

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Literacy and Numeracy: Who Needs Them?

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When Plato was teaching his students he was often frustrated by their note taking and reference to written records.  Plato was of the opinion that the new technology of literacy was creating a generation that was unable to think and meditate on what they were learning because of their dependency on the written word.

Today, technology is providing us with a broad array of new media with which we record, replay, produce, publish, communicate and collaborate without using literacy or numeracy.  Academics, publishers and governments are alarmed at declines in the reading of printed publications and student’s declining performance in the classroom.  They are claiming that “computeracy” is creating a generation that cannot read, write or perform mathematical operations because of their dependency on digital communication.

The truth is literacy and numeracy are simply primitive techniques for encoding information.  Composition and mathematics are just a bag of mental tricks for processing information.  And most of us do most of it poorly anyway.

Grieving over the loss of literacy and numeracy is like grieving over the inability to weave cloth or tailor one’s own clothes.  Computers have made literacy and numeracy very much like the mechanization of textile production.

What is happening in classrooms, to publisher’s sales and bureaucracy is not a decline in the intelligence of our next generation.  It is an increasing obsolescence of traditional literacy and numeracy.

Our children are not thinking at lower levels.  Instead, they are not wasting time with the mental effort required to mechanically process at the level of traditional literacy and numeracy and applying themselves to higher level thought.

The current method of submitting papers for peer review is completely obsolete.  HTML was an attempt to take the primitive technology of the printed page, reference and citation and emulate it with the small addition of hyperlinks.

The yet to be fully realized method of academic publication will be the publication of databases containing problem and hypothesis, subjects and researchers, schemas and forms, data and queries, measures and units, amounts and currencies, results and conclusions all available for peer review and public consumption–research databases and white databases.  And beyond that entire models in common formats which we are seeing in Computer Assisted Design Systems and Geographic Information Systems, for example.

This new generation using new media is modeling the universe in ways and at scales that were impossible with pen, paper and chalkboard.  They are even beyond printing press, radio, television, recorded audio, recorded video and most physical storage.  And the new generation can already interact globally in all of these new media.

Where are the people that are supposedly preparing them for life in this new world?  Complaining that their students are not interested in reading text books.  Even pumping normal children full of Ritalin to deny they as educators are not worthy of their students’ attention.

Bureaucracy: Legalism versus Integrity

canadapassport

I discovered a great deal about identity today.

I went to the passport office to renew my Canadian passport.

I was treated very politely and given the necessary form.

I filled it out accurately and completely. Went to the passport officer and presented form, new photos and current passport. She opens the passport and looks at the photo page and says, “This passport is invalid.”

I reply, “I worked in the United States for one year using that passport, the TN1 visa is still inside.”

She says, “You didn’t sign the passport. It’s invalid.”

I think to myself, “I could take the passport outside, sign it and come back in.  In fact, I could take the passport and sign it right in front of her.  There was never a requirement for a witness; it could have been signed by anyone. This policy is retarded.”

She asks me for additional identification. I don’t have a driver’s license because I sold my car and decided I would use public transit. I offer my Social Insurance Card, but the signature has been rubbed off. I offer my birth certificate, but it has no signature. I offer my provincial health card, but it has no signature. I offer my credit card, my debit card and my library card.  I consider my Movie Village card because the signature is laminated.

She takes everything to her manager. She comes back and gives me a slip of paper. “This is the address of the Manitoba Liquor Control Commission. They are on the far side of the city. Have them provide you with a photo ID with your signature and fax me a copy.”

I tell her, “I don’t drink.”

She replies, “You don’t have to.”

I jump on a bus and I go across town. I give the MLCC all the same ID that I gave the passport officer. They have me sign a form and in five minutes I have a photo ID with my signature.  Because the signature pad is electronic and does not provide visual feedback as I am writing I find the first name and last name of my signature overlap.  Maybe it is designed to emulate your signature when you are blind drunk.  I’m over 40 and for the first time I have a card that explicitly states I can legally drink alcohol.

I travel all the way back across town to the passport office. I explain that the passport officer required me to provide another piece of identification. I am directed to a special officer. She makes a photocopy of the MLCC photo ID with signature and says, “Thank you, that’s it.”

Can you explain to me what was achieved by my going to the MLCC which cost me an additional $25 when you include bus fare, which couldn’t have been achieved by me simply signing my passport?

I protected one bureaucrat’s legalism by exploiting another bureaucrat’s legalism.  And the bureaucracy doubled its money.

I will have a renewed passport in two weeks.

They call themselves “public servants”, so why is the public required to jump through mindless hoops to make them appear vigilant?

We do these unnecessary and costly things bureaucrats tell us because we are not willing to sacrifice the greater cost of preserving our integrity and the integrity of policy.

Consequently, the bureaucrat keeps her job, politicians maintain the illusion of governance and we all lose.  Time, money, value.

Will my passport protect me and the global community?  Yes.

Did I also perform a mindless ritual?  Yes.

I believe that a healthy society is regulated by public servants.  However mindless observance of regulations by public servants fails both the public and the policy makers.

Anyone who tells you to violate your integrity to preserve theirs has none.  All they are doing is seeking a bigger piece of the pie at your expense.  It’s a measure of bargaining not morality.

Buckminster Fuller: The Billionaires of Spaceship Earth

buckminster-fuller

“Technologically we now have [six billion billionaires] on Spaceship Earth who are entirely unaware of their good fortune.  Unbeknownst to [us our] legacy is being held in probate by general ignorance, fear, selfishness, and a myriad of paralyzing professional, licensing,  zoning, building laws and the like, as bureaucratically maintained by the incumbent power structures.”

— R. Buckminster Fuller, Critical Path

critical-path

I never regarded R. Buckminster Fuller as a true revolutionary until I began reading his final book, Critical Path.  The above quote from the preface clearly summarizes his position:  The people in power are artificially maintaining the poverty of the world.

May this generation pull them and their political structures down.