The first Webmaster
I was sorting through a batch of old photographs the other day and came on this picture of Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, at a Royal Society symposium we both attended a few years ago.
Quote of the Day
“The cat which isn’t let out of the bag often becomes a skeleton in the cupboard.”
- Geoffrey Madan
Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news
J.S. Bach | Nun danket alle Gott | BWV 192*
A cantata written for Trinity Sunday in 1730. The words (translation: “Now thank we all our God”) are taken from a hymn written by Martin Rinkart a century earlier.
Long Read of the Day
How clothing and climate change kickstarted agriculture
An intriguing Aeon Essay by Ian Gilligan, a prehistorian at the University of Sydney and the author of Climate, Clothing, and Agriculture in Prehistory: Linking Evidence, Causes, and Effects.
(With thanks to Andrew Curry, who spotted it first and wrote a nice commentary on it.)
We talk a lot about “Artificial Intelligence”. Shouldn’t we also talk about AS — Artificial Stupidity?
Here’s a transcript of an interaction between a real human being and the Boston Globe‘s ‘Globot’. The human is trying to cancel her subscription.
No that’s it, thanks Sorry, I don’t understand that. I’m still learning, with your help! Try me again with different words?
Nothing more, thank you Sorry, I don’t understand that. I’m still learning, with your help! Try me again with different words?
All done Sorry, I don’t understand that. I’m still learning, with your help! Try me again with different words?
Nothing else for now I’ll put you in touch with our live chat support team (please note our chat hours of operation are 8:00 am – 5:00 pm from Monday to Friday, and 8:00 am to 12:00 pm from Saturday to Sunday). What can the team help you with today?
Bollocks I’m sorry our chat agents are not available right now. I can pass along your message to our Support team and they will get back to you by email. Please describe your problem in one message.
Please just cancel my subscription and remove my contact details from your records. Thanks Your information has been sent to our team. They will get back to you within 24 hours. Let me know if there’s anything else I can help you with.
I think that’s it, for now. Thanks Sorry, I don’t understand that. I’m still learning, with your help! Try me again with different words?
I don’t need any more help If you’d like the Boston Globe to no longer contact you with marketing offers, please contact support by clicking the button below. Please include the phone number or address to be excluded when you contact us. It may take up to two weeks for your information to be fully removed from our records. You’ll still hear from us about transactional, account-related issues though! Was this helpful?
Bye Bye! With advanced notice, we can temporarily suspend home delivery while you’re away. You can do this online by clicking the link below and logging in using your BostonGlobe.com credentials: Vacation Stop In most cases, this will take effect within two days or less from the request date (depending on your delivery area).
Good bye. Have a lovely day. No more help needed. Thanks With advanced notice, we can temporarily suspend home delivery while you’re away. You can do this online by clicking the link below and logging in using your BostonGlobe.com credentials: Vacation Stop In most cases, this will take effect within two days or less from the request date (depending on your delivery area).
Is there any way to make you stop pestering me, please? Sorry I wasn’t helpful Try me again with different words?
No thanks Sorry, I don’t understand that. I’m still learning, with your help! Try me again with different words?
“Finally”, my source writes, “though it goes against every rule of good manners I was ever taught, I hit ‘end chat’. Then I see the globot is ‘powered by Ada’. She’d be cursing from the grave…”.
Nicole Perlroth wins FT /McKinsey prize
From the Financial Times:
Nicole Perlroth’s sobering investigation into the cyber weapons arms race, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends, has been named Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year for 2021.
The judges lauded Perlroth’s unprecedented in-depth analysis, which they said had opened their eyes to the potential for a cyber catastrophe.
Roula Khalaf, FT editor and chair of judges, said: “Cyber security isn’t featuring highly enough on CEOs’ agenda. I hope this award will prompt them to read this book and pay attention.”
If it took this book to ‘open’ the judges’ eyes to the risks of cyber catastrophe, one can only wonder which planet they have been vacationing on this past year.
My commonplace booklet
- If you think that the ‘selfie’ is a modern invention, then check out this lovely set of goofy 18th-Century self-portraits by the painter Joseph Ducreux. Nothing new under the sun and all that. (via Jason Kottke)
- Richard Moore, the new Head of MI6 gave his first broadcast interview to the BBC the other day. Gordon Carera, the BBC’s Security Correspondent had an interesting snippet about the interview: “Mr Moore also revealed the significance of the green ink used by those in his role – which came from a tradition started by Sir Mansfield Smith-Cumming, the first head of MI6, or ‘C’. He said the green ink means those working in the service know any directive has been signed by him. ‘The same is true of my typescript on my computer,’ he added.” That’s interesting because anyone who’s worked in pre-Internet journalism knows that letters to the Editor that were written in green ink invariably came from nutters.
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