Thursday, April 05, 2012

QotD: You Can't Crowd-Source Smarts Edition

Michael Z. Williamson and Cory Doctorow were on the same discussion panel at a convention. Oddly, they were not instantly annihilated and every atom of their beings converted to pure energy, which caused the scrapping of several current theories at CERN. Anyhow, the discussion turned to "crowd-sourcing", which is awesome for lots of things, but, um...
Doctorow, however, said, and I closely paraphrase, "Maybe we can reach the day when someone says, 'You bring those rivets, and I have some girders, and we can build a skyscraper.'"

Really. A crowd-sourced skyscraper.

I verified that he wasn't talking about funding for said edifice, but actually building it as a crowd-sourced project.

I said I'd even let him have the corner office in the top floor. I don't intend to be within a trigonometric ratio of it, and will add a safe distance for rebounding debris.

He tried to compare the internet and web infrastructure. This fails, in my opinion, because that started as a government, in fact, Defense, project, and has numerous very well-heeled players. I have a website hosted on a friend's bandwidth but neither of us would be able to do so, even with the help of a million geeks, without someone to provide a combination of capital and knowledge. I asked, "And how often does your browser crash?"

He actually said, "My browser doesn’t crash because I use Firefox."
I don't know where to start with this, other than to observe that not only does Cory Doctorow imagine futuristic fantasy castles in the sky, he gets his mail delivered to them.

I'll also note the irony of wookie-suited anarcho-libertarian Mad Mike Williamson being considered the conservative voice on the panel. Maybe they were afraid that if they invited Kratman, he would show up in Hitler drag and start goose-stepping around the stage or something?

Lastly, am I imagining that Mr. Doctorow implied that someone of Mr. Williamson's political views was obviously an Explorer user? I could just be inserting that subtext myself, because, you know, only squares would use IE or vote to invade Iraq.

27 comments:

TBeck said...

Tom would have them impaled and eat his breakfast in their shadows.

Cybrludite said...

Firefox doesn't crash? Bwahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha! Riiiight...

Bubblehead Les. said...

Crowd-Sourced Interwebs? So THAT explains why I have to sign in 15 times to Blogger!

Nathan said...

Firefox. Really? Firefox.

Eeesh.

Panamared said...

And this afternoon I'll play cello like Yo Yo Ma.

Borepatch said...

I'm afraid that I'm not so impressed with Firefox's stability as Mr. Doctorow is. I'm also not so impressed with the security and stability of the Internet as he seems to be.

I'd go further, and say that the Internet is constructed with all the solidity of moonbeams and cotton candy. I expect his crowd sourced skyscraper would be, too.

There's a lot to like about the Internet's architecture (particularly from a resiliency point of view) but the impression of reliability is just that, an impression.

SGB said...

Firefox is Latin for "crashes."

Brad K. said...

The crowd sourced skyscraper comes closer to mimic the housing for humanity community projects.

The internet flourished because some college kids cared to make it work, even though it was done with a DARPA/Dept. of Defense customer.

We see the internet today because folk wanted enough porn to make it economically feasible in the early days. Same reason we get pictures on cell and smart phones. Porn dropped out of the power seat, just as it did with magazines, after a few years (except for the lurid 'crime' mags), but was a major motivating force in getting technology to the crowd long enough to convince the big money advertisers other panders could make money, too.

Firefox has learned to crash/hang reasonably gracefully, usually recovering all your tabs correctly. If Mr. Cory hadn't experienced another browser in the last few years, he may just be comparing the reasonably seamless modern Firefox performance with frustrations of early IE models.

The government did build the Interstate highways. Of course, that was a Dept. of Defense project, too. Notice the Interstate signs are still heraldic shields reminiscent of WWII aircraft badges. Then they passed the Mann Act (can't take a kidnap victim to another state for sex reasons. Of course, I would object to taking anyone to another state for sex, or as a kidnap victim, either.) and there hasn't been a significant corresponding leap forward in highway technology since. Stop the porn, stop the progress, I say.

I do *not* think a crowd-sourced skyscraper is in the future. A skyscraper is an artifact of corporate concentration of wealth. crowds typically want to share in wealth, which would lead to other organizations and infrastructure. The story goes that the Tower of Babel didn't go so well, and it appears to have been and early crowd sourced construction, with results I suspect are typical.

Will Brown said...

Maybe they were afraid that if they invited Kratman, he would show up in Hitler drag and start goose-stepping around the stage or something?

Pretty sure Tom Kratman was Armor ... he very well might have dolled up as Patton though. :)

DirtCrashr said...

Waterfox is 64-bit faster. Secure? HitmanPro can help but it's a cloud-thingy.

Drang said...

I believe that this panel may have been the inspiration for Mad Mike's short story that appeared on Baen's website, in which a Grainnian SpecOps team does a rescue operation on a cut-rate passenger spaceship. In the intro he mentioned that he's never actually said that there is absolutely nothing that government can do that the free market can do better.

Sean D Sorrentino said...

I have a copy of "Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom," and I like it very much.

Somehow, though, I don't think that Doctorow and I view the book the same way. I view it as a cautionary tale about what happens when no one owns anything, and public opinion trumps private property.

It might be a negative vote (to go with my negative rights) but if someone storms my house trying to take my stuff, I'm going to shoot them. They can vote yes all they want. I'm voting no.

docjim505 said...

"Maybe we can reach the day when someone says, 'You bring those rivets, and I have some girders, and we can build a skyscraper.'"

I'm guessing that he's expecting a lot more engineers, welders, and other skilled tradesmen than liberal arts majors and "Occupy Wall Street" types in this future of his...

DirtCrashr said...

Chicago Style: Each rivet costs $20 whatcha gonna do about it?

ravenshrike said...

In fairness I've only gotten FF to crash with 5 or more tabs. Perhaps Doctorow is merely fastidious with his tabbing.

Sigivald said...

He actually said, "My browser doesn’t crash because I use Firefox."

I've known Doctorow was a giant idiot for a long time, but this is a useful reminder.

Brad said: The internet flourished because some college kids cared to make it work, even though it was done with a DARPA/Dept. of Defense customer.

I think you underestimate the age of the people who were Making The Internet - and the institutions involved.

It was called ARPANET for the first decade for a reason - yeah, it wasn't "the internet" yet, because it wasn't a network-of-networks, but the guts were all there.

(When Vint Cerf was writing the TCP spec in 1972, he wasn't "some college kid" - he was an adjunct professor with a PhD, and nearly 30.

Back them people weren't still "kids" at 29.

Now, your - perhaps - overall point that "it happened from collaboration, not from some central authority" has much truth in it - but they weren't kids, and they weren't A Crowdsource Thing.)

DirtCrashr said...

I think Sigvald is on to something, the Perpetual College Kid had not yet been invented/incubated/test-tubed/crowdsourced/nomenlclatured into existance...

Anonymous said...

I actually hired a patent attorney to search my idea for a crowd-sourcable high rise. 20 stories, seismic zone 3. Turns out it wasn't patent-able; too many previously patented systems that were similar. Awesome shit, to be sure, but none of it ever caught on. Maybe some day, but apparently there is no money in open-sourcing genius shit.

Anonymous said...

f you ever want to know what Cory Doctorow's real priorities are,
invite him to speak at a conference. Even if it's a free show put on
by volunteers, supporting a cause he 'believes in', even if it gives
him a chance to reach thousands of people not normally in his sphere
but who would be sympathetic to his (screwed up) professed ideals,
it's going to cost you somewhere around $10,000 as best I recall.
And
travel.
What he produces is a product, tailored to sell to a certain
demographic, and is as sincere as, in my opinion, a crack ho's
declaration of love.

YMMV. Cuz man, he's got lawyers.

Tom Kratman said...

Nah; I was infantry.

Ancient Woodsman said...

"...not only does Cory Doctorow imagine futuristic fantasy castles in the sky, he gets his mail delivered to them."

This was perhaps the finest bit of writing I've seen this week. Thanks for that.

Tam said...

Pardon my fangirl squee, but Mr. Kratman just commented on my blog again.

Okay, I'm cool now.

mycrofth4 said...

I can't wait to see the crowd-sourced environmental impact statement and zoning waivers.

Tom Kratman said...

I didn't know you were a fan, Tam.

Justthisguy said...

I love Mr. Kratman, too, and all of his books.

However, that Infantry business makes no sense. As everybody knows, the most efficient way to kill people and break things is artillery, or maybe Naval Aviation.

Tom Kratman said...

There's probably no worse measure to try to use than efficiency. Ask yourself how the artillery finds targets. Who protects those who find the targets? How does the artilery distinguish between valid targets and widows and orphans? Ditto air. How does artillery clear out, say, the Red October Tractor Factory? How does artillery defend its own supply lines. Why do you imagine that no army, ever, has even contemplated dispensing with all its infantry in favor of more artillery? Because none of those colonels and generals understand war quite as well as you do? Ahem.

Justthisguy said...

Oh, Tom, I love ya, bro. Just light-hearted teasing, I was doing.

Most of my military 'net acquaintances are Arty, or Aviation. We seem to share a common strangeness. Infantry seems like something normal people might do.

Yes, I know it all comes down to infantry, in the end.