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Arts and Books and Technology12 Aug 2011 at 13:12 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Paolo Bacigalupi‘s The Windup Girl provides a satisfyingly complex immersion into a bleak Gibsonesque dystopian world of corporate bio-terrorism in the aftermath of an horrible global crash, with enough gritty detail for suspension of disbelief and a large helping of corruption, extortion, riots and murder. I was pleasantly surprised that this book is not about following a hero on some predictable quest… The cast is rather full of anti-heroes and great villains – which I find very refreshing. It is rare enough to be noted that there are enough intermingled competing conspiracies and characters with colliding trajectories that I could not guess where the plot was headed while all this was floating on the tide of political events. This book injected a large volume of of fresh air in its genre !

Arts and Brain dump and Knowledge management and Methodology and Social networking and The Web23 Jan 2009 at 14:43 by Jean-Marc Liotier

Amanda Mooney remarks that :

It’s hard to maintain the illusion that you’re particularly special, talented and original when, with a quick Google of whatever genius idea you’ve come up with, you see that 3 billion people have already thought that, done that, analyzed that, criticized that, indexed the history of that in Wikipedia and made a fortune on that… In 1995.

So now, to really live up to our parents’ and teachers’ praise, we have to work a lot harder, be a lot smarter and know that we’re competing with all of those other 3 billion people who think like us and have already started to act on the kind of ideas and “talent” we have.

Actually it was always like that, but slower and invisible. Original ideas are few because similar inputs through similar individuals generate similar outputs – the same problems with the same environment and the same tools handled by people who share backgrounds produce the same conclusions. So it is not surprising that concepts are invented simultaneously and reinvented all the time. I don’t feel belittled by finding out that I’m not unique – on the contrary : I feel empowered by finding that I’m not isolated anymore. I remember lounging in libraries in my youth, reading esoteric technical books chosen at random. I often resented not being able to share that with people who have similar interests. Now we can find each other easily and all be surfing together at the wavefront. Childhood dreams came true – life is good !

But if you anguish about being a unique snowflake just like all the other unique snowflakes, there is still hope for you. Our mental agility and cultural maleability suffer from a rather heavy inertia, so the processing stage is not readily manipulable. That leaves only the input to be tinkered with in the short term – and you can play with inputs a lot ! This is why it is important to cultivate diversity in your social network, and it is also why adding some noise into your web feeds is good for you. Who is not addicted to new stimuli ?

Arts19 Oct 2008 at 19:07 by Jean-Marc Liotier

There was the Discovery Channel commercial, and then its graphical interpretation by XKCD while it went strongly viral with a heap of covers of wildly varied quality. The music was a bit tame to my taste so I was wholly taken by this punk rock rendition of the song with the XKCD lyrics by talented XKCD fan Sober. This puts me in a great mood – don’t you love the whole world ?