👓 Encouraging individual sovereignty and a healthy commons by Aral Balkan

Encouraging individual sovereignty and a healthy commons by Aral Balkan (ar.al)
Mark Zuckerberg’s manifesto outlines his vision for a centralised global colony ruled by the Silicon Valley oligarchy. I say we must do the exact opposite and create a world with individual sovereignty and a healthy commons.

The verbiage here is a bit inflammatory and very radical sounding, but the overarching thesis is fairly sound. The people who are slowly, but surely building the IndieWeb give me a lot of hope that the unintended (by the people anyway) consequences that are unfolding can be relatively quickly remedied.


We are sharded beings; the sum total of our various aspects as contained within our biological beings as well as the myriad of technologies that we use to extend our biological abilities.

To some extent, this thesis could extend Cesar Hidalgo’s concept of the personbyte as in putting part of one’s self out onto the internet, one can, in some sense, contain more information than previously required.

Richard Dawkin’s concept of meme extends the idea a bit further in that an individual’s thoughts can infect others and spread with a variable contagion rate dependent on various variables.

I would suspect that though this does extend the idea of personbyte, there is still some limit to how large the size of a particular person’s sphere could expand.

While technological implants are certainly feasible, possible, and demonstrable, the main way in which we extend ourselves with technology today is not through implants but explants.

in a tiny number of hands.

or in a number of tiny hands, as the case can sometimes be.

The reason we find ourselves in this mess with ubiquitous surveillance, filter bubbles, and fake news (propaganda) is precisely due to the utter and complete destruction of the public sphere by an oligopoly of private infrastructure that poses as public space.

This is a whole new tragedy of the commons: people don’t know where the commons actually are anymore.

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Book Review: Charles Seife’s “Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception”

Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception by Charles Seife (Penguin)
Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception Book Cover Proofiness: The Dark Arts of Mathematical Deception
Charles Seife
Mathematics, Popular Science
September 23, 2010

The bestselling author of Zero shows how mathematical misinformation pervades-and shapes-our daily lives. According to MSNBC, having a child makes you stupid. You actually lose IQ points. Good Morning America has announced that natural blondes will be extinct within two hundred years. Pundits estimated that there were more than a million demonstrators at a tea party rally in Washington, D.C., even though roughly sixty thousand were there. Numbers have peculiar powers-they can disarm skeptics, befuddle journalists, and hoodwink the public into believing almost anything. "Proofiness," as Charles Seife explains in this eye-opening book, is the art of using pure mathematics for impure ends, and he reminds readers that bad mathematics has a dark side. It is used to bring down beloved government officials and to appoint undeserving ones (both Democratic and Republican), to convict the innocent and acquit the guilty, to ruin our economy, and to fix the outcomes of future elections. This penetrating look at the intersection of math and society will appeal to readers of Freakonomics and the books of Malcolm Gladwell.

Charles Seife doesn’t prove that mathematics is essential for a democracy, but he certainly shows how the lack of proper use of mathematics can fray heavily at the edges!

Proofiness was a great book to have read over a long Fourth of July holiday. Though many people may realize some of the broad general concepts in the book, it’s great to have a better structure for talking about concepts like Potemkin numbers, disestimation, fruit packing, cherry picking, apple polishing, comparing apples to oranges, causuistry, randnumbness, regression to the moon, tragedy of the commons, and moral hazard among others. If you didn’t think mathematics was important to daily life or our democratic society, this book will certainly change your mind.

Seife covers everything from polls, voting, politics, economics, marketing, law, and even health to show how numbers are misused in a modern world that can ill-afford to ignore what is really going on around us.

This is a fantastic book for nearly everyone in the general public, but I’d highly recommend it for high school students while taking civics.

Original review posted on GoodReads.com on 7/9/12.

Reading Progress
  • 07/07/12 marked as: currently reading
  • 07/07/12 23.0% #
  • 07/09/12 52.0%
  • 07/09/12 Finished book
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