I guess I'll keep them dated as best as I can, with the most recent ones on top.
One contributor to the list made a statement that I thought was flat-out wrong though: "The religions that say, "You don't need to join," are essentially saying, "There are many truths." There aren't. That's simple logic. If they don't subscribe to simple logic I can't even talk to them."
Maybe I've been reading too much Bruno Latour recently, but the concept of a single truth sounds ridiculous to me. Truth is a cooperatively worked out concept. For any phenomena, we can come up with an infinite number of hypotheses to explain it. For thousands of year, the "truth" was that the sun circled the earth. For a couple hundred years, the "truth" was that Newton's laws governed mechanics. Looking back, we can claim that those weren't _really_ the truth, but what we have now is, but fifty years from now, what we know now won't be the truth either.
There is this belief among scientists that there is some all-hallowed Truth which we are striving to discover, which all of our theories are designed to asymptotically approach. I'm not sure what I think of this. I guess there's something to it, since people can perform repeatable experiments. Latour quipped that reality is what resists when you push at it. But in an everyday context, approximations are often good enough. For the vast majority of applications, Newton's laws work - they're truthful enough. I had someplace I was going with this, but now I can't remember. I think I gotta read me some epistemology.
On another topic, I'm reading Mancur Olson's book, Power and Prosperity. Incentives (the topic from 4/23) is what this book is all about - the economics of selfishness, and how they are manipulated in various political systems. I just read the chapter where he describes how Stalin tweaked the taxation and salary system (and thus the incentives for each individual Russian) so as to squeeze far more production out of the country than a normal autocrat, or even a democracy could do. Fascinating stuff.
Donald Norman's book notes the discontinuity in how software is written. Making it hard to use doesn't affect the pay of the programmers, instead increasing the support budget. Since the two aren't correlated, the programmers merrily go on creating hard-to-use programs.
So, of course, the question is why does being informed make me feel "better". Why should that make me a "better" person than the person who watches the local evening news to keep up with events? Where do the expectations come from that make people like me consider anything but the New York Times to be a waste of time, and that we should be aware of current events? I'm sure it's all some self-fulfilling thing where each of us expects the others to do it, and therefore do it ourselves, thus perpetuating the stereotype. Or something like that.
How does this apply to the idea of websites? Which are they? In most cases, they seem to be substitutable - i can go to one ticket-buying website one day, and another the next. But in some, it's infrastructural - b2b applications, auction sites, anything where the network law applies (usefulness goes up with square of number of nodes).
quote from website: "If your reasons for not wanting your code reviewed are not based on logic, you'll never be convinced by logical arguments to change your ways ..." Applies to lots of things I suspect.
How this relates to Jaron Lanier's idea of karma vertigo. Right now things are changing fast. I saw some glimmers of this in 1990 when I first experienced muds. But even I had no idea about what was going - it's hard to remember back to my time at MIT when I actually read a newspaper in the morning for news rather than checking websites :)
Are we inevitable? Who cares? As he says, it almost makes us more special if we're not - this is the only life we got - live it like you mean it. There ain't nothing after this.
Speaking of which...
Eric Nehrlich's WWW home page / email@example.com