Monday 20 November, 2023

If there’s one thing to be said for single-glazing…

… it’s nice photo opportunities when one wakes up.

Quote of the Day

”Every decent man is ashamed of the government he lives under.”

  • H.L. Mencken

Relevant to the UK at the present time.

Musical alternative to the morning’s radio news

Van Morrison | Days Like This


One of my all-time favourite songs. It’s so beautifully orchestrated.

Long Read of the Day

 Silicon Valley Fairy Dust

Lovely essay on the Crooked Timber blog by Sherry Turkle.

Silicon Valley companies began life with the Fairy dust of 1960s dreams sprinkled on them. The revolution that 1960s activists dreamed of had failed, but the personal computer movement carried that dream onto the early personal computer industry. Hobbyist fairs, a communitarian language, and the very place of their birth encouraged this fantasy. Nevertheless, it soon became clear that, like all companies, what these companies wanted most of all, was to make money. Not to foster democracy, not to foster community and new thinking, but to make money.

Making money with digital tools in neoliberal capitalism led to four practices that constituted a baseline ideology-in-practice…

Read on. It’s about the way Silicon Valley suggests that technology will cure social problems, while exacerbating the social problems it claims its connectivity will cure. Turkle is one of the great humanistic critics of technology.

Taylorism 2.1 is coming to the workplace

Yesterday’s Observer column

There are,” F Scott Fitzgerald once observed, “no second acts in American lives.” Except when there are. Exhibit A in this connection is Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915), the founder of a religion originally called “scientific management” and now colloquially known as Taylorism. Its founder believed that there was no such thing as skilled work, only “work”, and that all work could be analysed the same way. His idea, set out in The Principles of Scientific Management (1911), was that every worker should be trained into new working habits “until he continually and habitually works in accordance with scientific laws, which have been developed by some one else”, such as managers or time-and-motion experts.

The formula could be boiled down to this: stopwatch plus coercion minus trade unions, and in an age of mass production, it created the world memorably satirised by Charlie Chaplin in his film Modern Times. The management guru Peter Drucker once wrote that Taylor should be ranked with Charles Darwin, Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud as one of the “makers of the modern world”.

Taylor died in 1915, but – guess what? – he’s back, with an updated formula in which the stopwatch has been replaced by the algorithm and coercion by one-sided contracts. The aversion to unionisation remains, though. Plus ça change.

Do read the whole piece.

My commonplace booklet

Daring Fireball: Vision Pro, Spatial Video, and Panoramic Photos

Spoiler alert: this may be of interest only to those interested in technology, photography and Apple’s forthcoming Vision Pro headset.

I found it interesting because I tick all those boxes, and also because I have found Jon Gruber to be a good guide to this stuff. I’m particularly interested in what Apple is doing with the iPhone camera.

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