In my semi-random morning meanderings through the previous evening’s e-mail, I sometimes stumble into fruitful juxta. Utopias and dystopias ride the same techno-waves. Here are a couple of articles that connected for me.
Esteemed security guru Bruce Schneier warns us of the panopticon, the omnisurveillance environment we’re building on the Internet, the result of ever more muscular CPUs searching through ever juicier piles of data worldwide. "To look at it,
Then Google, the biggest baddest search muscle of the Internet age, announces a specialized search engine designed to find software source code that is publicly available on the Web. “Currently, the general Web search engine Google.com can find links to files with source code, but it doesn't index the lines of code in those files, said Tom Stocky, a Google product manager. In those cases, developers need to download the files to their computers and inspect the code. However, the new search engine has been designed to crawl more deeply and return results containing actual snippets of code, which should make the finding process simpler, Stocky said. ‘We find the lines that match your query,’ he said. The search results link to the full file containing the highlighted code, as well as to the software license governing the use of the code, which in most cases will be open-source, he said. Developers can enter keywords or fuller patterns in the search box.”
Of course, you can quickly convert Google’s happy value-prop into its own dystopia: massive software piracy that comes from finding exposed but non-open-source code everywhere on Earth. Or back to utopia: finding all the nasty zombies, rogue scripts, and other malware that has infected systems everywhere, and zapping it before it can do further harm. Or back to dystopia: finding every deployed instance of your competitor’s server software and disabling or crippling it with some new hack attack. And back and forth and back and forth.
The only point I’m trying to make here is that the ebb and flow of the media’s Pollyanna/Cassandra cycle can be injurious to your mental health. And when the media attempts to cover both sides of the equation with equal aplomb, the very velocity of these rebalancings can induce nausea and disorientation. It can simulate bipolar disorder in normally level-headed citizens.
Find your own personal balance. But don’t stop paying attention to the alternating currents of this crazy world. Tricky, I know. I’m still working on my own rhythm for taking these things in stride.
For one thing, I start the day with a good double dose of hot green tea.