I’m not really into tin-foil hats. There was a time when I was wildly vigilant about the news and during the war(s) there was no shortage of daily posts around the web about the inevitable end of democracy/freedom/privacy/etc. to keep me sated. Over time though I buckled under the weight of awareness fatigue. I suspect many of us did. In the future one of us will probably write a book called, “How I learned to love the US PATRIOT Act” and it’ll essentially be all about how we couldn’t keep up with the hydra. This isn’t to say there aren’t bright spots. Last winter the whole of the internet rallied against SOPA/PIPA with a fervor I hadn’t seen in a long time and it was inspiring to see that when a complex problem was broken down into manageable parts, people could find a way to respond.
So why so glum, sugarplum?
Well, it’s because I started following this William Benney/NSA story that’s been building up to a roar over the last few years. Wired has done a admirable job posting about Binney while other news outlets have picked at the story. The short of it is that, allegedly, the NSA might have a copy of just about every phone call and email in the US since the early 2000’s. There’s even a fancy 2 billion dollar building going up in Utah to house the data. Sure, I guess on some level we all knew this was coming, but there’s something unnerving about it when we’re on the cusp of technology like Google Glass and the likes.
I wasn’t the only one thinking about complexity this week. Jessica Yood had another marvelous post, this week writing about complexity in writing and elsewhere. I managed to read her post shortly after listening to Aaron Knoll’s brief talk on creativity and found the pairing of the two enlightening. It left me wondering if any “created” thing is inherently complex given its total and absolute position as separated from the sublime simplicity of nothing. I’m obviously ready for summer to be over. These are autumn thoughts.
If you’re also ready to put away the board shorts and get back in the swing of things Zeteo posted this week and is calling for papers!
Speaking of wrapping up the summer, some delegates from the Commons team we’re in Vegas this week to accept an award from the Sloan Consortium. Michael Smith still managed to post some great photos from the archives, including this shot of some CUNY bikers.
Finally this week, Maura Smale checked out the library at University of Chicago. Along the way she managed to cause an inter-collegiate incident by disturbing the precious minds of UC at work. I have a few good friends at Chicago…the silence in that room was probably the never-ending vigil to the students of Chicago’s crushed souls.
Till next week.