Such policies indicate either an agency that is not concerned with preserving good audit chains or one that has an extremely penny-wise, pound-foolish approach to IT policy. At prevailing wages—and hard drive prices—it is a waste of money to force even your lowest-level employee to spend time painstakingly deleting or archiving e-mails. If IRS staffers don’t have anything better to do with their time, then the IRS needs fewer staffers, not stricter mailbox policies.
In the case of a government agency, however, it’s especially troubling. Records pertaining to agency decisions are supposed to be systematically archived forever. I’m not saying that the IRS’s e-mail retention policy is uniquely bad in the federal government, only that whatever the current practice is, the IRS did not preserve nearly as much as one would like in a representative, transparent democracy.
Bloombergview.com: Missing E-Mail Is the Least of the IRS’s Problems
I ask myself almost every day, as I’m innundated with needless financial and societal burdens I cannot shoulder, what obligations does society have back to me? I cannot think of any.
A weird one, I know, but it has struck a chord.
The death of expertise is a rejection not only of knowledge, but of the ways in which we gain knowledge and learn about things. Fundamentally, it’s a rejection of science and rationality, which are the foundations of Western civilization itself. Yes, I said “Western civilization”: that paternalistic, racist, ethnocentric approach to knowledge that created the nuclear bomb, the Edsel, and New Coke, but which also keeps diabetics alive, lands mammoth airliners in the dark, and writes documents like the Charter of the United Nations.
The Federalist: The Death of Expertise
About a year ago, I took a class that explored a number of issues related to this very topic, and I look forward to taking a similar class next year.
Quark’s demise is truly the stuff of legend. In fact, the story reads like the fall of any empire: failed battles, growing discontent among the overtaxed masses, hungry and energized foes, hubris, greed, and… uh, CMYK PDFs. What did QuarkXPress do—or fail to do—that saw its complete dominance of desktop publishing wither in less than a decade? In short, it didn’t listen.
ars technica: How QuarkXPress became a mere afterthought in publishing
Much of what happened to Quark and Microsoft is now happening with Adobe. I am increasingly seeing criticism of Adobe’s painfully high prices for questionable updates (primitive 3D objects in Photoshop? Why?). The difference this time, however, is that there is no alternative on the horizon. If I recall correctly, InDesign was rumored for quite a while before release. Even if InDesign ended up being vaporware, the enthusiasm was palpable but Quark appeared to simply not give a shit what anyone had to say; Quark’s hubris was just astounding. Today, Adobe has deaf ears if only because they have no compelling reason to listen.
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumble puppy.
onthepathofknowledge.wordpress.com: Amusing ourselves to death
Two of my favorite books together in one. It’s like a literary peanut butter cup. I haven’t read this book, but I am going to add it to my list based on this quote alone.
The carpenter understands the value of something he works with every day, and that’s why he spends so much money on the hammer. But he also understands that value is a double-edged sword: he’s committing to the product he knows, that is reliable.
Studies in Semicolons: The Parable of the Carpenter
Replacing the subject of the punchline with other tools in which I have invested makes this parable applicable to more areas than I care to think about. Interestingly enough, Microsoft Office is not one of them.
The vexing, remarkable conclusion is that when companies combine human intelligence and machine intelligence, some things happen that we cannot understand.
“Let me get philosophical for a minute. In a human world, life is made interesting by serendipity,” Yellin told me. “The more complexity you add to a machine world, you’re adding serendipity that you couldn’t imagine. Perry Mason is going to happen. These ghosts in the machine are always going to be a by-product of the complexity. And sometimes we call it a bug and sometimes we call it a feature.”
The Atlantic: How Netflix Reverse Engineered Hollywood
It’s easy to get caught up in the heady buzz of making money. You should regard money as fuel for what you really want to do, not as a goal in and of itself. Money is like gas in the car—you need to pay attention or you’ll end up on the side of the road—but a well-lived life is not a tour of gas stations!
Whatever you do, think about what you really value.
Tim O’Reilly, Work on Stuff that Matters: First Principles
Another great one from the aforementioned site:
“If you could give one piece of advice to a large group of people, what would it be?”
“When a wave comes, go deep.”
“I think I’m going to need an explanation for that one.”
“There’s three things you can do when life sends a wave at you. You can run from it, but then it’s going to catch up and knock you down. You can also fall back on your ego and try to stand your ground, but then it’s still going to clobber you. Or you can use it as an opportunity to go deep, and transform yourself to match the circumstances. And that’s how you get through the wave.”
Humans of New York.