Humanity is the medium. Humanity is the message.

While contemplating orality and indigenous cultures and how they used their own memories, conversation, and dialectic as a means of communicating and storing their knowledge, I thought about Marshall McLuhann’s idea “the medium is the message.” In this framing, indigenous cultures certainly got things right: Humanity is the medium. Humanity is the message.

Life imitates art. We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us.
— John M. Culkin, “A Schoolman’s Guide to Marshall McLuhan” (The Saturday Review, March 1967)

Culkin’s framing also makes humanity its own self-contained tool (hopefully for the greater good). We shape our brains and thereafter our brains shape us. While we may use technology and tools, props, and crutches to help us do more or do faster, we shouldn’t loose sight of our humanity. It may be our greatest technology. Perhaps we need to remember to pull it out of our toolbox more often as it’s better evolved and often better fit for more jobs than the tools we’re apt to turn to.

Read “I started crying”: Inside Timnit Gebru’s last days at Google (MIT Technology Review)
Two weeks after her forced exit, the AI ethics researcher reflects on her time at Google and the state of the AI field.

It’s long past time to divest my personal data from Google. Reading this article on holiday reminds me that I’ve got time to start making the necessary changes.

Read SoulCycle’s exclusivity was its secret weapon — and its downfall (Vox)
The boutique fitness phenomenon sold exclusivity with a smile, until a toxic atmosphere and a push for growth brought the whole thing down.
A fascinating story about culture and exclusivity.
Read - Want to Read: What Works: Gender Equality by Design by Iris Bohnet (Belknap Press)
Gender equality is a moral and a business imperative. But unconscious bias holds us back, and de-biasing people's minds has proven to be difficult and expensive. By de-biasing organizations instead of individuals, we can make smart changes that have big impacts. Presenting research-based solutions, Iris Bohnet hands us the tools we need to move the needle in classrooms and boardrooms, in hiring and promotion, benefiting businesses, governments, and the lives of millions.
David Dylan Thomas at IndieWebCamp East Keynote (2)
Read Removing The CEO by Fred WilsonFred Wilson (AVC)
In almost thirty five years of working on boards, the hardest decisions I have had to make involve removing the CEO. It is an important decision and one that must be made from time to time. I am not a fan of removing the CEO until and unless it is abundantly clear that it must […]
He indicated in a tweet that he was talking about POTUS here and not CoinBase.
Read Opinion | California, Reject Prop 22 (nytimes.com)
Gig workers deserve the dignity of fair compensation.

Are gig workers employees or freelance contractors? It’s been a question for companies like Uber, Lyft, Instacart and DoorDash for nearly as long as “gig work” itself — or at least the Silicon Valley version — has existed. California voters next month may finally help settle the matter.
This is another great example of companies attempting to privatize profits and socialize the losses, or in this case pass along the losses and lost productivity to their employees (or as described here their independent contractors).

Why can’t they do some of the hard “technology” work and solve the problem of helping their workers become dramatically more productive?

Annotated on October 13, 2020 at 10:58PM 

The backlash from gig economy companies was immediate, and Uber and similar app-based businesses have committed nearly $200 million to support a state ballot measure — making it the costliest in state history — that would exempt them from the law. 

This is a pretty good indicator that it will save them 10x to 100x this amount to get rid of this law.

One should ask: “Why don’t they accept it and just pass this money along to their employees.”

Annotated on October 13, 2020 at 10:50PM

Watched September 24, 2020 - PBS NewsHour from PBS NewsHour
Thursday on the NewsHour, President Trump stirs controversy by refusing to commit to accepting an election defeat and peaceful transition of power. Plus: New protests in Louisville over the Breonna Taylor case, what we know about mail-in voting, Trump’s health care record, nomadic American workers, Voice of America and freedom of the press and the continuing fight against breast cancer.
Read The Californian Ideology by Richard Barbrook and Andy Cameron (Mute)
The California Ideology is a mix of cybernetics, free market economics, and counter-culture libertarianism and is promulgated by magazines such as WIRED and MONDO 2000 and preached in the books of Stewart Brand, Kevin Kelly and others.

Lacking the free time of the hippies, work itself ho become the main route to self-fulfilment for much of the,virtual class’. 

They’re right that overwork and identification with work has become all too prevalent over the past several decades.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:11AM

Community activists will increasingly use hypermedia to replace corporate capitalism and big government with a hi-tech ‘gift economy’ in which information is freely exchanged between participants. 

I know the idea “gift economy” was around in the late 2000’s and even more prevalent in the teens, but not sure where it originated. This is one of the earliest sitings I’ve seen.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:15AM

In this version of the Californian Ideology, each member of the ‘virtual class’ is promised the opportunity to become a successful hi-tech entrepreneur. 

In retrospect, it’s really only made a much higher disparity between the top and the bottom.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:19AM

Almost every major technological advance of the last two hundred years has taken place with the aid of large amounts of public money and under a good deal of government influence. The technologies of the computer and the Net were invented with the aid of massive state subsidies. 

examples of government (public) funding for research and it’s effects
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:23AM

Americans have always had state planning, but they prefer to call it the defence budget. 

Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:24AM

Entrepreneurs often have an inflated sense of their own ‘creative act of will’ in developing new ideas and give little recognition to the contributions made by either the state or their own labour force. 

Techbro hubris
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:25AM

When Japanese companies threatened to take over the American microchip market, the libertarian computer capitalists of California had no ideological qualms about joining a state-sponsored cartel organised by the state to fight off the invaders from the East! 

A good example of so-called capitalists playing the do as we say and not as we do game.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:27AM

In American folklore, the nation was built out of a wilderness by free-booting individuals – the trappers, cowboys, preachers, and settlers of the frontier. Yet this primary myth of the American republic ignores the contradiction at the heart of the American dream: that some individuals can prosper only through the suffering of others. The life of Thomas Jefferson – the man behind the ideal of `Jeffersonian democracy’ – clearly demonstrates the double nature of liberal individualism. The man who wrote the inspiring call for democracy and liberty in the American declaration of independence was at the same time one of the largest slave-owners in the country. 

Some profound ideas here about the “American Dream” and the dark underbelly of what it may take to achieve not only for individuals, but to do so at scale.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:29AM

Working for hi-tech and new media corporations, many members of the ‘virtual class’ would like to believe that new technology will somehow solve America’s social, racial and economic problems without any sacrifices on their part. 

In retrospect, this has turned out to be all-too-true.
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:31AM

Slave labour cannot be obtained without somebody being enslaved. At his estate at Monticello, Jefferson invented many ingenious gadgets – including a ‘dumb waiter’ to mediate contact with his slaves. In the late twentieth century, it is not surprising that this liberal slave-owner is the hero of those who proclaim freedom while denying their brown-skinned fellow citizens those democratic rights said to be inalienable. 

This is a powerful example
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:33AM

Abandoning democracy and social solidarity, the Californian Ideology dreams of a digital nirvana inhabited solely by liberal psychopaths. 

And nearly twenty years later, isn’t that roughly what we’ve got? (aside from the digital nirvana, which didn’t work out so well.)
Annotated on September 17, 2020 at 09:35AM

Read - Want to Read: Work: A History of How we spend our Time by James Suzman (Bloomsbury Circus)
A revolutionary new history of humankind through the prism of work by leading anthropologist James Suzman
Work defines who we are. It determines our status, and dictates how, where, and with whom we spend most of our time. It mediates our self-worth and molds our values. But are we hard-wired to work as hard as we do? Did our Stone Age ancestors also live to work and work to live? And what might a world where work plays a far less important role look like?
Read Missing stair (Wikipedia)
Missing stair is a metaphor for a person within a social group who many people know is untrustworthy or otherwise has to be "managed", but who they work around by trying to quietly warn others rather than deal with openly. The reference is to a dangerous structural fault such as a missing stair in a home, which residents have become used to and accepting of, and which is not fixed or signposted, but which (most) newcomers are warned about.
Read Employees vs. Independent Contractors (www.nolo.com)
As far as the IRS is concerned, there are only two types of workers in the world: employees and independent contractors ("ICs"). Independent contractors are people who are in business for themselves. Employees work for someone else’s business. Being classified as an independent contractor instead of an employee has enormous consequences. Because they are supposed to be in business for themselves, ICs don't get the same legal protections that employees do--for example, they don't qualify for unemployment insurance and are not protected under most labor laws. Moreover, hiring firms need not provide ICs with benefits ordinarily provided to employees such as health insurance or vacations.