Gongol.com Archives: December 2013
Brian Gongol

December 23, 2013

Computers and the Internet Contagious arrogance in Silicon Valley?
Clever people figuring out technical problems shouldn't mistake themselves for great philosophers. There's a big mistake to be made in confusing a particular type of technical skill (coding/programming/hacking) with deeper wisdom. It's the kind of mistake that causes us to let older people think they're stupid for not knowing how to navigate Facebook and let younger people think they're creating a whole new world via hashtags and Snapchat. Nobody should have thought themselves stupid fifty years ago because they didn't know how to operate a Linotype press, and nobody should prematurely dismiss themselves today because they can't program an iPhone app.

Computers and the Internet British plan to block porn with filters goes a little farther than that
When people trust their government to nanny them into "safety" online, they're going to find that the nanny has a tsk-tsk attitude about a lot more than just some dirty pictures. When you're in a democracy, even when you deputize other people to make decisions on your behalf, they're only deputies. You're ultimately responsible for the conclusions. It's just like dealing with your doctor: You may not have a medical degree, but you have to retain the good sense to know whether to act upon the recommendations you receive -- and when to seek a second opinion.

Iowa Cameras in the courtroom, meet the smartphone age

Iowa Some Iowans are about to get 8-year drivers' licenses

Computers and the Internet Facebook joins the S&P 500 Index
A couple of observations on this event: First, do the people who wring their hands over the (false) impression that "Nobody makes anything in America anymore" think that the rise of services like Facebook is a bad alternative to people building widgets? Separately, from an investor's standpoint, it's hard not to worry about those who put their hard-earned money into investments in companies like Facebook. Facebook succeeds only because of a herd mentality. Sure, it goes by the more impressive name of the "network effect", but the bottom line is that it only works if everyone wants in and agrees that it's working. The moment public opinion starts to shift away from the site -- perhaps their new video ads become just too intrusive, or the terms of service get just too onerous, or maybe Facebook just ceases to be cool (like what happened to MySpace) -- that's the moment the company is no longer valuable. There's no institutional inertia keeping the site above water, and the moment it starts to slip, the negative feedback loop that results will kill the site.

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