Nicholas Carr: The new narcissism
As I myself have thought about the watery philosophy and the powerful technology that dovetail so neatly in Web 2.0, I’ve become convinced that we’re building a machine that will, to great and general applause, destroy culture. Keen gets close to the heart of the matter: “If you democratise media, then you end up democratising talent. The unintended consequence of all this democratisation, to misquote Web 2.0 apologist Thomas Friedman, is cultural ‘flattening.’” In the end we’re left with nothing more than “the flat noise of opinion – Socrates’s nightmare.”
Yes, I fear it’s so. Beware of those who come with money and influence and pretty-sounding abstractions and who are utterly unaware that what they so joyfully seek to impose on the world is their own reckless banality.
I think there’s something to what Nicholas is saying, but the problem isn’t the “democratisation” of media. The trend at the moment is for the blogging world to be a kind of feed-pool for professional media – look at how people like Marc Orchant have crossed over into the mainstream. At the end of the day, talent will out. Opinions that don’t stand up to the rigour of reason will wither, those that work won’t.
In fact, I’d argue that it’s often been the case that mainstream media has represented “the flat noise of opinion”, because they haven’t been involved in conversation or debate. Newspapers have been one-way streets, whose opinions haven’t been subject to any debate outside the confines of the walls of the newsroom. They have been impervious to challenge, except for the challenge of the market.
Where there is a problem with the neo-hippies is in their insistence that opinion itself – the voice of the people – is intrinsically of value. Opinion without argument is valueless: the tyranny of relativism.
I’m not sure if this really qualifies as the first Mac OS X malware, but it’s definitely new. First appearing on a MacRumors discussion, there a good discussion of what’s been dubbed MacX/Oomp-A at the MacRumors and Digg over whether this is a virus (in which case it would certainly be the first of its ilk), a trojan, or a worm. Some users report that they were infected without having to put in a password when installing, others that it spreads via iChat.
But really it doesn’t matter one jot. The vast majority of what are commonly termed “viruses” on Windows are also either worms or trojans, depending on social engineering to get a grip of a user’s machine. Take a look at F-Secure’s virus statistics for the most common current threats on Windows: None are actually “true” viruses. Yet, the Mac folk who are clogging up the message boards claiming that this isn’t a “true” virus would happily refer to Windows as “virus ridden”.
I’ve said this before, and it’s worth saying again. The reason why the vast majority of Windows malware are trojans or worms rather than true viruses is that social engineering is far easier than exploiting a hole in an OS. OS holes get patched pretty fast. Insecurities based on user behaviour do not. The only security advantage built in to Mac OS X that isn’t in Windows is the need for a password to install software, and this really isn’t much of a protection, as many people will happily just give their password no matter what – and if the user KNOWS he’s installing something (as, for example, he would if he were installing a new application) there’s no protection.
All the arguments over taxonomy make no difference to the fact that this malware is a real threat.
A few days ago, I posted something responding to Lowri Turner’s column which stated that gay people weren’t fit for public office. In it, I mentioned that Lowri had issued divorce proceedings against her then-husband, Paul Connew, on the grounds of his adultery. It turns out that I was mistaken in this – I’d misread this report, which confusingly put a quote about Lowri Turner directly after a description of Lowri Hartson’s divorce. Thankfully, Paul Connew emailed me to put me right, and I’m happy to correct the mistake.
In fact, according to Paul, he was the one who filed for divorce on the grounds of Turner’s "unreasonable behaviour". He also won joint custody, care and residence of the couple’s two children. Paul seems like a thoroughly reasonable chap, and I’m sorry if my post dredged up any pain for him.
Jon Udell has had problems getting iTunes U content in other Podcatching software (and problems with some over-zealous Mac fans who think that doing this is heresy).
If you want to do this, there’s instructions on extracting the URLs at this page courtesy of BlogicBlogger. Apple could choose, of course, to make this simple to do. However, it’s goal with iTunes U is to get more students using iTunes (and thus, hopefully, the iTunes Music Store and iPod) so it has no interest in doing so. Fair enough, of course – it is, after all, a business.