News

Disasters, epidemics, hazards: http://hisz.rsoe.hu/alertmap/index2.php

Sun activity, global weather: https://www.youtube.com/user/Suspicious0bservers

US infrastructure: http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/save-americas-infrastructure/

US politics: https://www.congress.gov/

US Gov transparency: http://sunlightfoundation.com/blog/

Popular news: http://www.jimmyr.com/

Internet freedom: https://identi.ca/eff

I need to comb a little harder for my social media org links, but this will do for now.

 

 

Non-breaking Space

I got a great technical writing tip today- use non-breaking spaces when writing quantities so that numerals do not appear on a separate line than their units (http://people.physics.illinois.edu/Celia/Lectures/Numbers.pdf).

Did you know the US wants to start printing big numbers without commas (550 000 000 instead of 550,000,000)? I didn’t.

This great page turned up when I decided to learn a bit more about it: http://practicaltypography.com/nonbreaking-spaces.html

I actually didn’t realize there WAS a purpose for nonbreaking spaces, but there are actually many….

Definitely going to take some time to explore the rest of this site.

Old stuff new to me

I’m enjoying the Metadata coursera lectures. He’s pointed us to some interesting sites and information that I was surprised wasn’t on my radar.

First Monday

First Monday is one of the first openly accessible, peer–reviewed journals on the Internet, solely devoted to the Internet. Since its start in May 1996, First Monday has published 1,381 papers in 218 issues; these papers were written by 1,888 different authors. First Monday is indexed in Communication Abstracts, Computer & Communications Security Abstracts, DoIS, eGranary Digital Library, INSPEC, Information Science & Technology Abstracts, LISA, PAIS, and other services.”

Library Thing

“LibraryThing is a cataloging and social networking site for book lovers.

LibraryThing helps you create a library-quality catalog of books: books you own, books you’ve read, books you’d like to read, books you’ve lent out … whatever grouping you’d like.

Since everyone catalogs online, they also catalog together. You can contribute tags, ratings and reviews for a book, and Common Knowledge (facts about a book or author, like character names and awards), as well as participate in member forums or join the Early Reviewers program. Everyone gets the benefit of everyone else’s work. LibraryThing connects people based on the books they share.”

“What is a document?”

Abstract: Ordinarily the word “document” denotes a textual record. Increasingly sophisticated attempts to provide access to the rapidly growing quantity of available documents raised questions about which should be considered a “document”. The answer is important for any definition of the scope of Information Science. Paul Otlet and others developed a functional view of “document” and discussed whether, for example, sculpture, museum objects, and live animals, could be considered “documents”. Suzanne Briet equated “document” with organized physical evidence. These ideas appear to resemble notions of “material culture” in cultural anthropology and “object-as-sign” in semiotics. Others, especially in the USA (e.g. Jesse Shera and Louis Shores) took a narrower view. New digital technology renews old questions and also old confusions between medium, message, and meaning.”

Well this is just my opinion, man

Click-bait is the worst form of media on the Internet. Yes, even worse than chain letters. Chain letters at least take themselves less seriously.

No need for me to reinvent the wheel defining click-bait as Hannah Rudow already has. The top five she lists are “1) BuzzFeed, 2) Huffington Post, 3) CNN, 4) BBC, 5) Upworthy“. The quality of articles on these sites spans from harmless mediocrity to dangerous ignorance. Overall, if a person gets into the habit of reading this sort of material, it is harmful to them.

When I’m walking through the line of a checkout counter, I see tabloids and I’m a tad ashamed if someone sees me looking. However, online, no one there to shame me, particularly if my “friend” posts it, I have found myself wasting AN ENTIRE HOUR or more looking at the worst of humanity on display before realizing how far I sunk into a pit of depravity. Now, forever and ever, the bits my computer processed will testify against my use of time.

So many of these articles, particularly the ones that manage to reach popularity, exploit dissension between groups (such as gender, class, race), pitifully try to substitute for in-group nurturing you should get from friends and family, or provide “helpful” information you’d be better off getting from an actual nutritionist/doctor/expert. Don’t get me wrong, I believe it is important to waste time for a healthy mind. There are several examples of ways to do that listed later in this article, however, that do not degrade you.

With only few exceptions, these articles are a cancer, a putrid growth on literacy. Used to be, time wasters watched TV. At least there was a bottom to the TV under which people couldn’t pass. That doesn’t exist anymore. Data Centers generate entropy storing and transmitting the vacuous freaks of half-baked mental defecation at their current viral speed of distribution. The Earth, like our minds, is literally polluted by the filth. If I could undo most of the time I’ve spent reading the comments out of sheer incredulity that people can be so diversely moronic and insane, I could probably have learned an entire three additional programming languages.

If you’ve wasted time reading click-bait articles, there is no need to wallow in your shame, though you should feel at least a little. I’ve written about how a little regret is a good thing before. I’ve been there, you’ll get through this. However, all you can do is salvage what you can learn about humanity and vow to never do it again. Not even once.

Every time you read a click-bait article you could be-

  • Learning a new skill
  • Homemaking
  • Working on a project or hobby
  • Going outside
  • Sending a text
  • Playing a videogame
  • Reading or watching something that is actually amusing and informative
  • Journalling
  • Doing Yoga
  • Exercising
  • Volunteering
  • Working overtime
  • Nurturing your family
  • Mending something broken
  • Meditating
  • Participating in your state and local governments
  • Preparing pre-made convenience food to save money on your grocery bill
  • Relaxing on your sofa dazing off into space
  • Learning a new language
  • Making new friends
  • Taking a walk outside
  • Doing a favor for a friend
  • Improving your relationship status
  • That thing you need to do today

Please… consider how much better life would be if you stopped reading them. Nobody seems to have time for anything good for themselves, yet have so much time in the world for what is bad for them. Consider that encouraging other people to read them by posting them on social media may cause them to become sidetracked from their tasks. Who has enough time to do the above in a day today? Writers should write with humility and fear, understanding that what they produce will become a part of the person who reads it. With a firm commitment to ignore articles of bad quality, even if they are about Emma Watson or that book or show we like, we can develop a pure and focused mind, a fruitful spirit, and wholesome thought.

People commonly ask why artists or geniuses have messy houses. That’s because they’re obsessed with their work to the point of neglecting other things. However, the Internet brings us a situation where rich or poor you can use all your time on inanities. You’ll have a messy house and unorganized life, but instead of a new robot or exhibition quality painting, you’ll have… 5 things x doesn’t know about y. Except the article very likely should have been called 5 things x already knew about y because y is just rehashing the naive generalizations high school kids tend to conjecture together in the cafeteria.  If you’re going to neglect your body, shouldn’t you do it for something you’ll be proud of?

Personally, I know can’t rely on my self-control. That is why I’ve set my Leechblock to stun and I’ve reinstalled RescueTime.  Leechblock will ensure that I won’t even see it in my Facebook feed anymore. If I accidentally find one, I will add it to the list of permanently and forever blocked. A great thing about Leechblock is you can customize what appears when a link is blocked. So every time you come across one of these sites, you can have it display the top five goals you hope to accomplish in 1-5 years instead.

For our collective health, I recommend anyone reading to do the same. If you’re not ready to completely block them, you can put them on a timer that forces you to wait a few seconds before accessing the page; as the timer ticks down you’ll have enough time to assess your impulse.

If I haven’t convinced you with this brief exhortation, I am willing to get down and dirty in the comments. These things are fed by advertising, fed literally by the attention we give them. Let’s put a value on it. Let’s propose I can convince ten people who only read these things an hour a day. I would be redirecting 3650 hours a year to personal or social development. An hour of a random person’s time well spent is worth about $15 to me, probably more if they are skilled. So in a year, I would increase the value of my surroundings by a subjective $55,000 a year. And yes, that is even if every person used their hour to stare off into space on the couch. Unless you’re a total sponge, I guarantee you an hour of sitting on the couch and you’ll realize you were wrong in some argument and go apologize to that person, or realize that you forgot you had planned to do 50 pushups today- all sorts of things happen when you just sit there and don’t block out your thoughts with garbage. Doctors hate me! 😉

Defend the noosphere. Aspire to quality in everything.