Escaping the new media cargo cult

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Why am I not surprised this piece ends with an offer to subscribe to the author’s newsletter?


The hell kind of benchmark runs only 50x faster than 1979 hardware on a modern system?

“In other words, with great power comes great laziness.”

Well, ^David Moldawer … meet Larry Wall: “We will encourage you to develop the three great virtues of a programmer: laziness, impatience, and hubris.”


Deleting a 30k file in Windows?

Seriously, though, a great deal of modern software is written in interpreted languages, and a lot of it is run on virtualized servers. Those two extra layers of abstraction take a huge toll on performance.


But running on bare metal vs. running an interpreted language on a virtualized server wouldn’t be the same benchmark.

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Could you be more specific about what you mean by “wouldn’t be the same benchmark”? As far as I can tell, “benchmarking” means making a measurement and comparing it to some other measurement. It certainly seems possible to time a program running on 1979 bare metal vs. 2015 python running on ESXi or whatever. Maybe you’re using a more finicky definition of “benchmark” than I am?

Because it’s not a comparison of the same program on different hardware, which is the point of a benchmark.

You’re proposing a comparison of different programs on different hardware, which doesn’t tell anyone very much about anything.


I disagree, but I don’t think it’s worth arguing the point with you. Have a great day.


David: That was a really great piece. Thank you. You have connected with me.
I subscribed to your newsletter!

I am your audience. Especially with pieces like this. But I look forward to what else you might say.

I too get sucked into, “Metrics” and looking at click counts, retweets and likes. But I also know that for some people I’m just the thing. I’m not a person generating, “content” I don’t wake up and think, “What can I content today?”

Gotta run, I want to write a piece about Mr. Robot, Reddit and destorying corporate advertising revenue generated from RW radio.

This must also affect burgeoning writers of print media as well, to a lesser extent, no?

As long as writer revenue is tied to “clicks” or “books sold”, both of which have more to do with eyeball quantity than quality, I think you are doomed to have this process continue apace. Only well-established authors can truly be “authentic”, because they have a following that will pay the bills regardless of sales numbers to “the unwashed masses”.

a quality eyeball needs to be worth more than a generic one somehow. It used to be that book/magazine reviews were a curated thing - you needed to attract the more discerning eye of a reviewer to have your content promoted, which meant a focus on high(er) quality (and it’s own problems, you had to tailor to the “audience” of reviewers then too, but at least they were, in theory, more refined). Now, the more shares of your content the better, regardless of who is doing the sharing.

The solution, I think, is curated content from respected sources - very much what Boing Boing is doing now. Much like magazines, but without the concern of pissing off your advertisers (at least not in the same way. Advertisers nowadays seem to care about discerning eyeballs more than they care about the content they advertise with, at least on the web) is not as great as it is with a magazine, so in many ways BB has a level of freedom not easily found in other mediums.

But the problem, then, is how do you find more discerning readers? There’s no good directory of curated content - the only way to increase your userbase beyond word-of-mouth of your existing userbase is more eyeballs, hoping to catch the cultered masses in the social media “net”, which brings us back full-circle to writing for the most likes and shares again.

I think there’s still one piece missing - a reputation-based directory of content providers, curated by the discerning, that can lead you to sources of content you are interested in, rather than relying on facebook and twitter to do so. Make that system as affective as the “catchall” system (likely in tandem with increasing value to advertisers of a more discerning audience), and I think a lot of this phonomenon will go away.


There is no such thing as “mainstream”, and it doesn’t particularly matter if/why certain things “catch on”.

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(of course it matters)

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Sounds like a personal problem.

$$ = the means of not dying

I’d argue that if we’re to be a civilized society, how and why money is distributed is very much a collective problem.


Except that this is demonstrably untrue. There have been millions of other species which don’t use money, and have yet survived. And humans existed far longer without using money, then they have the comparatively brief time since it was invented. And not unlike any other technology, it can be replaced.

Quite the contrary - a civilized society does not presume what the goals of its participants are. The risk is that of making abstract systems which only sublimate instinctive behaviors, which is precisely what they use of money typically does. This prevents large-scale implementation of more deliberate systems.

I don’t have much to say on the subject, but would like to mention that as prescient as Kay may be he’s not that good at architecture - Ancient Egyptians had the concept of the true arch but simply preferred not to use it; the pyramid shape has inherent structural integrity which is exactly why pyramids are so commonly found across the world, across cultures, and still standing across the ages; and the Egyptian pyramids were not built by brute force but by engineering, and not by slaves but by extensive workgangs the majority of which were trained craftsmen.


Thank FSM. Because if I had to write database drivers, maintain matrices for native code compatibility, figure out how to write a non-crash prone select based event loop… I’d never get anything done.

This is because the wrong metrics are being used to define value!! There is an enormous cohort of self serving people that buy and sell content or services on ephemeral ideas, such as retweets, likes, and (accidental) sharing.

It isn’t laziness, it is fraud. Now, most of the cogs in this industry are relatively innocent ( ), but everyone knows it is a scam.

So please don’t confuse laziness–which as @anon72705028 correctly attributed to a wonderful line from Larry Wall, and is a virtue–with scammers, fraudsters, and snake oil salesmen.

Also Linux. Watson. Angry bird. Just pieces of bricks?

Flintlocks on the morrow my good writer!!

… I said good day!


Money is presently, not eternally, the means of not dying and needs to be treated as such for palliative, not visionary, purposes. If that was the disagreement, you don’t need read the rest of this response.

It is demonstrably true that money is functionally inseparably from the means of not dying for the majority of our species in the year 2015. Those other species you speak of live in habitats that don’t have an organization of armed guards preventing them from simply taking what they need to survive. Are you suggesting that the armed force of the law in modern societies is mere competition for food in the jungle? That seems incredibly simplistic. If not, then are you trying to make the argument that anyone is free and able to exit society and begin subsistence farming? As if access to education, resources and social obligations don’t prevent this for the majority of people?

Civilization absolutely makes presumptions, without presumption there can be no basis for law. We presume, and further than that we enshrine in law, that individuals have certain inalienable rights, such as the right to life. In other words, ensuring the right to access the means of not dying is one of the essential projects of civilization.


Equating a symbol with reality is a process of conditioning. If people are to reason effectively, it is crucial that they know the difference. The conditioning itself is something which really happens. And it can even describe some real relationships. But if there was truly a direct correspondence between them, the conditioning would not have been necessary in the first place. Saying that something equals “survival” is perhaps quite literally “the oldest trick in the book”. The symbolic act could be avoiding heresies against Christ, or giving tribute to the Mafia. It doesn’t ultimately matter what it is. The act of giving somebody a symbol for their survival is always a con, and an appeal to their more base nature. Forcing people to use money is effectively a form of extortion.

The notion of “exiting society” I don’t find meaningful. More accurately, I’d say that society is what we make of it. And “civilized society” is that which enables participation and allows for the possibilities of individual goals and self-worth. Which in practice means avoiding the easy answers of basically pre-programmed instinctive behaviors. Accepting motivations such as food, family, companionship, and survival automatically, without examination or care for specifics eliminates the possibilities of communication and deliberation which make us human, which enable something like “civilized society” to exist. If the law of the land is instead based upon the urgency of survival at any cost, then greed, fear, and selfishness are likely to be encoded into the minutiae of daily life, regardless of how superficially thoughtful its rhetoric might be. This would make a life of reason and accuracy nearly impossible.

Deciding how to live, and what is worth living for, are more involved questions with fewer easy answers.