11 April 2008

Perspective is everything

Our mythology, expectations, and theories form such a thick blanket of perception that I don't know if it's possible to see the world in any way except through this subjective lens. It's not necessarily a bad thing, though I'd argue that it usually is, especially when concerns religion versus open-minded inquiry.

One example of perspective having a positive outcome was when a baby was born with two faces in India this week. The medical term is craniofacial duplication, which of course just means more than one head or face (aren't medical terms tricky?). But that's the western scientific perspective: abnormality, deformity.
To the villagers in India, she's the reincarnation of the Hindu goddess of valor, Durga. Rather than being feared and ostracized she is being worshiped as a blessing. Not too shabby.

A contrasting example of perspective's influence happened when the Spanish Conquistadors (which I think is the medical term for rapist) landed in S. America for the first time. The Inca's ancient history told them of a deity called Viracocha who wore shiny armour, had pale skin, and dark beards and would one day return to bring the gifts of civilization to the Incas. Well, apparently it wasn't Incan civilization that they were bringing. But these expectations are one of the big reasons why it was so easy for the Spanish to basically show up and conquer the continent. A few boats full of men on horses was able to take over a race of millions. Of course the Spanish believed they were chosen by the Christian God to rule the world and save it, so that was helping drive their end. Perspective.

What do you expect from the Gods?

10 April 2008

Facebook: what is it good for?

Matt Maroon posted a nice piece on Facebook and why it's crap. I was moved to write a comment which morphed into a full-blown blog post. So I've shamelessly copied it here. Partly to compensate for a lack of posting lately, and party because, well.. I was moved.

A year ago when Facebook launched their SDK I was excited that they were turning it into a platform. And then the junk apps started to fly like so many winged monkeys.
So what if they create a search, stock-market simulators, movie listings, games, photo-sharing aps, etc. until the cows come home? At some point all they've done is create a smaller, crappier version of the www. So why bother? So everyone I've ever kinda sorta met can tell how much time I waste?
It burns me just a little more every time I log in to FB to check all the useless spam that my 100 friends have generated and there's one more jackass selling me some pepsi or real estate tips or concert tickets I don't want because he's ripped my info off of someone's app. Or essentially cold calling me because I'm a "friend" of a "friend".
Great innovations are things that solve problems. Google solved the problem of how to find info. Facebook creates at least as many problems as it will ever solve. There will be a tipping point of spaminess where just enough people will say "fuck this" and Facebook will just disintegrate like wet toilet paper. Let's just hope the next friendster/myspace/beebo/orkut will be... well what? more of the same? A talking phone book? An implanted chip that vibrates every time someone whose name I know changes their socks? Do we really need to all belong to one big social network? Maybe the future will be more about services that actually solve problems. When the novelty honeymoon of everyone being online (not just your other 2 geek friends) wears off, everyone will come back to the basic question: what do I need this for?

Recent eratics:

There's a lot of gold here and it's updated often.
Come back soon or subscribe