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Tuesday Hatred of Targets

If you’re not working in a big organization you might not know, but the rest of us are being managed by objectives. The people so managing us are convinced they are being SMART about it. The fact is that they are smarter than we are, as is clear from the fact that we have been stupid enough to put up with it for so long. They sell it to us like diet pills are sold to those addicted to sugar: as a replacement addiction. Suddenly we should feel liberated from micro-management when the only ones liberated are those managing us: liberated from caring about the actual human beings that do the actual day-by-day work.

If you are working in a big organization (and you’re a bit of an a***hole) you may find this amusing: the rest of them are being targeted as well. As politicians increasingly see themselves as entrepreneurs (mostly forgetting the adjective ‘failed’), they want in on the magic. This means they want all of the control and none of the taking-an-interest. They want to be liberal and eat our cake too. Above all they want us to feel different from the others who haven’t achieved independence. Divide …

Let me use my newly found independence to say something about managing for performance: it’s inhuman because it sets out to eliminate the specifically human uncertainties from the process. That is enough to stop doing it. More than enough to start questioning it. Forget about it not working. Forget about the appeal to intuition (diet pill ads appeal to your intuition as well). It is anti-human and we should not put up with it. Out of principle. Full stop.

I’m not the first to say this, see Geert Hofstede (1978):

Schermafbeelding 2014-08-18 om 20.14.55

In other words: the sole reason for reducing us to targets is Continue reading

August 19, 2014 Posted by | economics, innovative technologies that shape our lives, politics, Tuesday Hatred, waking up in a cold sweat | 2 Comments

Fired Man Working

The unit of human capital writing this blog post is planned to be scrapped. End of June. This is partly because of a basic design error of almost all of the known units of human capital better know as free will. Most capitalists know free will to be a bitch to be kept at bay in production and to be abused only from the point of view of consumption. In my case I couldn’t handle being ‘owned’ anymore to continue something we started, dreaming to improve the world of education, in order to fuel some organization’s desire to make money on pushing more Theon taming (known originally as training).

I won’t put in my LinkedIn profile that my will to consume is as weak as my will to create is strong. I wonder whether there is a maximum of will meaning a stronger will to create weakens the will to consume, and vice versa. If so it might explain why the wealthy are so concerned to ensure our will to consume is stimulated. The wealthy are só smart (how else would they have become wealthy?): they most probably have enough will to create amongst their happy few to count for all of us. Anyway they have the money so we will just have to consume what they create with what little money they leave.

We can take some comfort in the ideas of Thomas Piketty: as the wealthy will appropriate more and more wealth, there will be less and less for us, leading to a system break-down. At that point most of us will either be death or die quickly in the service of one of the factions of the wealthy, but at least the happy few will become unhappier and fewer for the briefest of moments. It’s not much but we’ll take what we get.

I’m just being bitter, of course. On top of not making any sense. Bottom-line is: I didn’t get it my way. Continue reading

April 27, 2014 Posted by | boredom, innovative technologies that shape our lives, shameless self-promotion, teaching, torture, waking up in a cold sweat | 3 Comments

Monday Movies Is Out Of Time

When a character on screen swims under water, do you ever try to hold your breath for the duration? If so, you may intuit without my help that the radical departure of Christian Marclay’s 24-hour video installation The Clock is that in it, one minute=one minute.

This clock has a very different use in The Clock than it did in its original setting.

The Clock is, in fact, a clock. Its minute and hour hands are clips of feature films that feature clocks. Some are famous, some recognizable, others next to anonymous. Some are critical moments — I had the pleasure to be there for 10:04 pm, the exact moment when the Hill Valley Courthouse was famously struck by lightning on November 12, 1955; cheers went up. Others suggest significant moments within a narrative–the changing of an hour, almost always; even a shot that shows one minute changing to another suggests that a transition is happening elsewhere in the world.

In the world of The Clock, this becomes startlingly true and not-true at once. Whatever momentousness the viewer feels is immediately stolen, as the film moves on to another clip. Indeed, some of the most telling clocks are those that are purely there as set dressing — the large, plain institutional clocks in police stations, the decorative tabletop clocks in living rooms. The force that those clocks exert on life is anterior to what we might naively imagine to be cinema’s chief force, narrative.

Cinematic narrative found its language contemporaneously with the great Modern novelists, Woolf, Forster, Joyce, who (along with Bergson) portrayed time as it elapsed within the self. We’ve received this as a revolutionary dawn, but it was also a fairly quick rebellion — time had only become an impersonal and rigid global latticework in the previous generation, when the need to schedule trains led to the imposition of commonly set clocks.

Marclay’s clock atomizes the cinema’s endlessly malleable putty of time. The minutes are revenants, hungry ghosts unglued from their narratives, friendly snakes eating their tails. I can’t separate the brutal reimposition of impersonal time from the sheer fun of seeing grandfather clocks, clock towers, bedside alarm clocks and wristwatches all finally get one looping dance extravaganza, where Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd are just two of the innumerable guest stars. The Clock is strangely fun to watch. I’ve done it twice now, last Saturday from 9:40 pm for about an hour, and last year from about 10 to 11 am.

[Update: I removed the embedded trailer for the clock, now at the link. As the youtube page points out, it should technically only be watched at 12:04 pm. I don't want to mess up your sense of time.]

I’ll keep going back if LACMA keeps showing it. I’ll stop if I learn to time my dreams. What did you spend your time watching?

March 26, 2012 Posted by | boredom, film, innovative technologies that shape our lives, meta, Monday Movies | , , | 7 Comments

Friday Afternoon Confessional: 140 character sins

Bless me Father, for I have sinned. My last confession was probably about 23 years ago and even then there’s no way I confessed all my sins. You see, I knew my priest personally and had zero interest in telling him about all the things that had passed through my strange little 13-year old mind.

I suppose my first confession is that I very much enjoy Twitter and Facebook. I am not the apologetic user I come across so often who says that yes they have an account, but they never post anything. I have nothing against these passive social media users (my wife is one, after all) but I do like to point out that Twitter and Facebook would suck much worse – they would be Google+ – if more enthusiastic users did not exist.

I confess to thinking that people who scoff at Twitter as being for young kids doing insubstantial things don’t know that the hell they’re talking about. Personally, I started using it to increase the readership of one of my now abandoned baseball blogs. I quickly realized that if I followed the right people, I could use Twitter to have nearly instantaneous access to ANY breaking baseball story. I’m sure this seems trivial, but I’m also fairly certain you could use Twitter to stay atop of just about any other topic in a similar way.

As for Facebook, I confess to enjoying (and abusing) the constant opportunity to crack wise. I further confess that when people complain because they hear so much about other people through Facebook rather than through more traditional means, I want to ask if they’d prefer to not know things about the person at all. Because there is an enormous population of people who I’m perfectly fine reading about on Facebook but would spend zero iotas of effort to follow any other way.

As my final confession, I will fess up to hateful thoughts directed toward people on Facebook and Twitter who use the medium to post nothing but inspirational quotes. This is by no means, and in no sense, my final sin. Now please keep my penance to Hail Marys and Our Fathers. I would need help getting through any Apostle’s Creeds and I’m not even sure I know how to work my way through a rosary anymore.

March 2, 2012 Posted by | Friday Afternoon Confessional, innovative technologies that shape our lives | 4 Comments

Don’t think Tuesday Hatred is over until it’s over

I am working too hard on innovative technologies that will shape your lives. It’s not that I hate that but I do hate not having the time to write a proper Tuesday Hatred (assuming there is such a thing, at least coming from my fingers).

I would hate it even more to leave Tuesday blank so I’m going to count on the comments to prop up some decent hatred.

February 21, 2012 Posted by | innovative technologies that shape our lives, Tuesday Hatred | 3 Comments

Tuesday’s Top Ten Hatreds

  1. Dignados².
  2. Stuff, specifically stuff that is a prerequisite for other stuff.
  3. Not being able to say no to a big opportunity.
  4. “greta gerwig nude”.
  5. More stuff, especially the stuff coming after stuff is broken.
  6. Not getting a big opportunity to say no to.
  7. Microsoft (see 2. and 5.).
  8. “Penelope Cruz telling the naked truth to Javier Bardem to get his ass whipped, would make a pretty picture.”, just to get back at people typing in things like 4. in a search engine.
  9. Pontificating about Europe, particularly: Krugman, Paul².
  10. Do it Yourself³.

Continue reading

January 10, 2012 Posted by | innovative technologies that shape our lives, Tuesday Hatred | 3 Comments

Tuesday Hatred has failed you (& hates itself even more for it)

Whilst not being able to fall asleep despite having taken the medicine prescribed for falling asleep more easily, I told myself (quietly, The Wife already being in REM) I was to type this sitting at my desk. Two thirds of a day onwards I find myself with my laptop on my lap lying in bed.

Don’t you just hate how you can keep on promising yourself to better your life?

I blame society. If society wouldn’t be acting like an old fart that missed all of its opportunities and now just wants to help us not missing our opportunities, none of this promising would happen in the first place. I may be obsessive out of nature but I sure as hell am only spontaneously obsessive about what other people do (or, more accurately: don’t do).

But as things stand I can’t even promise myself that I won’t promise myself anything else!

So society will have to change and allow me to accept myself in all of my useless unreliability. I hate society anyway. I will enjoy how it bleeds from ever increasing masses joining the universal party of giving the middle finger to living up to their expectations. Let the minority of over-achievers rule in the knowledge that the ruled don’t give a shit.

I also hate that there are multiple versions of anything. Just give me the browser with the plug-ins (and keep any toolbar that just reduces the effective area of my screen offering me options that I will never use) on the operating system of the device. Update it whenever you want but please don’t tell me about it,let alone ask me whether I want it – because I do not want it unless it’s necessary and if it’s necessary it is stupid to ask me whether I want it. Don’t treat me as if I care about the stuff you are doing. I don’t. It just annoys me. It should annoy you as well because whilst you are doing it 5 others are also doing the exact same thing, all in the name of efficiency.

Just don’t upgrade to a system where a new comment needs to be input on top of the old comments. Accepting most of us read from top to bottom, please start with the oldest entries and work your way down on the page from there. That’s all.

November 8, 2011 Posted by | innovative technologies that shape our lives, Tuesday Hatred | 11 Comments

Against the cloud: An unscheduled post

I’ve been using Dropbox for the past two years, and it has greatly simplified my life, allowing me to seamlessly move among my various work and home computers and even giving me access to all my files from my Blackberry. Yet there’s something about “cloud”-based storage that disturbs me. First of all, it seems strange that now that massive local storage drives are cheaper than ever, suddenly we need to transfer all our files to distant corporate servers — local storage is faster and more reliable for most purposes. Also, most computer users have a more or less constant connection to the Internet and leave their computers on all the time anyway.

So what I’m wondering is why we can’t just make our own personal “clouds” and cut out the corporate servers entirely. To take the model of Dropbox — it creates a local folder on all the computers you install it on. If you change or add a file in that folder, it gets uploaded to the Dropbox server and then propagated to all the other machines you’ve tied to your account. If one of the machines is off or disconnected from the internet, it syncs back up whenever possible, and otherwise it’s more or less instantaneous (i.e., it takes less time than it takes me to walk from one end of my apartment to the other).

Is there some obstacle preventing the implementation of this basic model through something like BitTorrent? BitTorrent has no centralized server, but merely a “tracker” that allows you to plug into a purely peer-to-peer, open-ended file distribution system — so why couldn’t my various machines be a peer-to-peer file distribution unto themselves, and why couldn’t I add new machines and remove old ones on the fly?

August 10, 2011 Posted by | innovative technologies that shape our lives | 2 Comments

The cunning of reason

It strikes me that most of the pervasive technologies we use every day are not being used for their intended purpose, such that they have major limitations:

  • Cell phones were meant to be a supplemental phone, not your sole phone line. As a result, it has a major limitation: it’s tough to make phone calls inside of buildings, which if you think about it is mostly where you want to place calls.
  • Twitter was meant to be a text-message broadcast service, not a mini-blogging service. As a result, it can only support messages of 140 characters (to fit within the limits of a text message and leave room for the username), doesn’t support any kind of robust tracking of conversations, etc., etc.
  • Blogging was meant to be a link-aggregation thing, not a platform for original writing and conversation. As a result, the text editor for most blogging formats is literally just a plain-text box within a browser and the format of comment sections continually fails to catch up to what was available to people back in the Usenet days. (Trackback is lame, even though I do support the idea of encouraging people to respond in the context of their own blog posts if they have more than just a quick comment or clarification.)
  • Sex was initially developed as a way of diversifying the gene pool and contributing to more robust natural selction, not as a way of developing deep and life-defining emotional connections. As a result, we have human society as we know it.

October 5, 2010 Posted by | innovative technologies that shape our lives | 1 Comment

Facebook’s sinister phase 2: a proposal

Sooner or later, Facebook is going to run out of options for violating its users’ privacy, at which point the only option will be to begin violating the privacy of people who are not signed up for the service.

A good place to start would be with the invitations people send to their friends — I know that Facebook “remembers” those invitations because they constantly send me reminders that some friend has sent one, even years after the fact. Instead of waiting for the person in question to actually sign up, they could create a profile for them and then accept all friend invitations on their behalf. Perhaps they could even invite those friends to fill in profile data.

It’d be a natural next step for them: instead of merely removing people’s control over how their Facebook data is used, this new policy would allow them to remove people’s control over the content of their profile and indeed over whether or not to have a profile at all. It would also be a great money maker, because they could charge a fee to give people control over their auto-generated profiles.

June 2, 2010 Posted by | innovative technologies that shape our lives | 4 Comments

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