Is Social Media Anti-social? I’m More Convinced Than Ever (Part II)


As a veteran of the computer industry, lover of technology and all things robotic, perfectly prepared to worship our all-mighty robot overlords when they spring up from the A.I-verse, I still haven’t changed my perspective on social media. See: Anti-Social Media (Part I). It is the bane of the First World’s existence.

Social media is believed to lead to shortening attention spans, reducing our ability to read, analyse, and comprehend longer works, reducing our ability to gauge emotion, it’s reducing our empathy to our fellow man and increasing narcissistic tendencies all over the developed world. It might even contribute to global warming.  Just wanted to get that out there so if you are a standard social media user, you’ll understood where I was going before your attention…waned.

Social media is the scourge of our century the same way rock and roll affected our grandparents in the Fifties. And like Rock and Roll, it isn’t going anywhere soon.

Response to The Shut-In EconomyYes, I know the benefits of technology. I recognize it allows us to have friends outside of our geographical area. It lets us connect to people who share our ideals and beliefs. It can also allow us access to publishing and more permanent forms of information manipulation bringing us closer to people who we might not have ever met in the flesh.

Technology has brought us drones that deliver packages to our doorsteps or hellfire missiles to our enemies in whatever third-world nation managed to piss off Fox News and the government this week. Technology has also put people out of work, caused the Uberfication of the modern workplace where once highly employable folks are driven to desperate measures working as Uber drivers, Task Rabbits or Alfreds for overworked, overpaid yuppies who live in overpriced apartments while carrying too much educational debt and having nothing resembling a social life for all that money.

(NOTE: if you don’t read anything else, read the article linked also linked above “The Shut-in Economy.” It paints a picture of the modern workplace and economy of workers that investors are wanting to create more of almost certainly ensuring society spins further out of control as economic inequality escalates.)

However, Social media, for all of its potential benefits, including its participation in world shaking events such as the Arab Spring protests and subsequent uprisings and the Hong Kong Protests, still strikes me more as a tool for addiction development than a benefit to society as a whole. A wide array of opinions around social media addiction exists.

“Any application that provides variable and strong rewards and is regularly accessible is potentially addictive,” Dr. Olif Turel, an information systems and decision sciences professor at California State University at Fullerton, said in a statement. “With social media, you never know what friends have posted, so it encourages regular use.”

Be with the friends who are here.But this is just some over-educated scientist’s opinion. You know how oppressive science can be when it comes to opinion. But if your dinner table looks like our opening photograph or you have a basket at your front door insisting your friends drop their addiction at the door, with a note saying: Be with the friends who are here!  You know what I’m talking about.

No matter what we may think of social media overall, we cannot deny its increasing intrusiveness, its crushing of personal creativity and potentially devastating effects on our economy. It’s estimated social media may have cost as much as $650 billion in lost revenue nationwide just from the two largest social media platforms of Facebook and Twitter.

Why do I mention this at all? Most of you will not change your habits, no matter how much you know about social media’s ill effects on you, your friends, the world, your pets, your health and your life in general. This article is for those times when you find yourself wondering if you are spending too much time online, whether your social media may be affecting your life in a negative way, when you look around and wonder if anyone has ever warned you about the potential detrimental effects on you or your business, the answer can be: Yes. You were warned. Now get up. Open the blinds, behold the sun, squint, take a shower, put on some clothes. Go outside. Say hello to someone without using your fingers. Who knows, you might even make a friend, in real time, locally who might actually go with you to the movies…together.

Watch the incredible animated video that follows. This video puts social media in the light I believe it needs to be seen in. Done to the tune of Carmen, no less. Enjoy!

Enjoy the awesome infographic: Thumbnail image courtesy of iDream_in_Infrared.

estimated cost of social media

Dissonantly Yours, with a Perspective


Let’s start the year off with one of my favorite ideas. Good mental health and the idea of cognitive dissonance. I am a believer that one of the reasons our nation seems to have slipped its gears is the overwhelming number of dissonant events they are forced to accept just to make it through the day. With our news media in the tentacles of the great vampire squid of corporate power it becomes harder to put the pieces together and know what makes sense anymore.

So that we are all on the same page, we should start off with a more official point of view…


Social psychologists refer to cognitive dissonance as the presence of incongruent relations among cognitions (thought and understanding) that frequently results in excessive mental stress and discomfort. Ultimately, individuals who hold two or more contradictory beliefs, ideas and/or values frequently experience cognitive dissonance. This stress and discomfort may also arise within an individual who holds a belief and performs a contradictory action or reaction.

For example, an individual is likely to experience dissonance if he or she is addicted to smoking cigarettes and continues to smoke despite believing it is unhealthy.

Leon Festinger’s theory of cognitive dissonance focuses on how humans strive for internal consistency. When inconsistency (dissonance) is experienced, individuals largely become psychologically distressed. His basic hypotheses are listed below:

  • “The existence of dissonance, being psychologically uncomfortable, will motivate the person to try to reduce the dissonance and achieve consonance”
  • “When dissonance is present, in addition to trying to reduce it, the person will actively avoid situations and information which would likely increase the dissonance.”

With this lovely explanation in mind, (thank you, Wikipedia) I am going to engage in a bit of cognitive dissonance discovery after reviewing the last few months of what passes for news. If you find yourself in agreement, you too may be experiencing a tiny bit of STRESS due to your inability to process the incongruencies of our times…

You have a right to an education…as long as you aren’t a six year old hugging another classmate and being accused of sexual harassment or unless you chew a pastry into the shape of a gun, or unless you are a Black kid who might be hungry, or distracted, or harassed by gangs or any number of other reasons you have difficulties in school; or unless the School-to-Prison pipeline is clogged and they need fresh bodies to keep those corporate prisons full…

And while we are on the topic of education, you have the right to an educationas long as we don’t need stealth bombers or tanks or any other kind of infrastructure necessary for bombing brown people all over the world. In which case, screw your education, there are people that need to be “freed” somewhere else.

You have the right to buy and smoke up to an ounce of marijuana…in Colorado. Everywhere else in the nation, you can expect to spend ten to twenty-five years in prison (if you haven’t already) for carrying that same ounce of that sweet cannabis sativa. If you’re brown expect a longer sentence, if you’re not, expect that “Affluenza” ensures you find your way into a rehab facility for…help.

You have the right to privacy…as long as you don’t expect it from your government’s intelligence agencies, your employer, the police or your spouse. The development of social media and the strange vanity of an insecure nation allows people to put everything they know, everything they do, and everything they are on public display for people who would happily exploit that information for profit. Privacy is dead, anyway.

You have the right to media representation, the ability to see yourself reflected in your local media…unless you are some shade of brown. Then you can expect that newscasters will be white men, experts on said news about brown people will be white men, consultants on the behavior of brown people will be white men, and even when the issue is about women, let’s say female reproduction for instance, the person they will be interview will be a, you guessed it, a white man. The only time you can expect to see a brown face is if it’s being married to a white one (or selling Cheerios, fighting monsters on science-fiction movies, or rejecting each other in night time dramas for their white co-workers…)

You have the right to eat food…as long as you don’t expect to know how it was raised, where it was genetically modified, or what artificial chemicals are pumped into the vat its processed in. Megacorporations like Monsanto (a chemical company, not a food company) don’t want to label their products because you might want to hold them accountable when your grandchild has three eyes attributed to genetically modified food. Don’t expect to eat healthy anymore. Frankenfoods are becoming more inevitable than ever.

You have the right of free speech…unless you are protesting the rapine corporate practices which bankrupted you, or if you happen to be a whistleblower reporting on government malfeasance. Or you say the wrong thing to a cop and he shoots you and gets a three week paid vacation before going back to work.

You have the right to remain silent…unless the cops can convince you to confess by any means necessary BEFORE they read you your Miranda or can plea bargain you into cell avoiding a trial altogether or they pay a backed up police lab to mix up your DNA and some other convicts so you can do a cool stretch in prison for a crime you didn’t commit.

You have the right to clean water…unless you live downstream from a chemical plant which spills its effluvia into your water supply causing sickness, mutation and death, or live next to a fracking facility which will poison your water supply in its quest for clean natural gas, or unless your a performance artist who really prefers your water to catch on fire.

You have the right to an attorney…not saying you can actually afford one. Some states are even considering getting rid of public defenders altogether. Not that having one will matter if your judge is being paid by prison corporations to put you behind bars to fulfill a quota and a receive a tidy payoff.

You have the right to a fair and impartial government…unless you happen to notice that half of your government is comprised of millionaires who are voting primarily for their corporate interests instead of your public safety or when you notice you work 290 days a year and are called lazy by said officials who work a mere 90 days and make $175,000 a year plus Cadillac benefits packages.

You have the right to own a house…unless you give up the right when your banking institution runs a scheme which collapses the banking industry and disrupts the world’s communal economy while forcing your property values to drop to zero, putting your house underwater and which further destabilizes the economy and puts you and everyone you know out of work and ultimately out of your home which the bank will then sell for an excellent profit to a corporate real estate agency. The circle of corporate life…guess which end you are on.

You have the right to a fair justice system…unless you are a banker who destabilizes an economy with commodities fraud, or insider trading with government officials or launders money with criminal cartels, or you get the idea. No bankers will ever be penalized as long as they can pay a fine with three weeks of earnings to the justice department. Only the protesters who stand out in front of said banks will ever be sent to jail.

You have the right to expect that when confronted by the police and unarmed you will be taken into custody…unless you happen to be handcuffed, face down, surrounded by police and get shot in the back, by accident, of course, or unless you happen to be a child walking through a field and get shot by an gun expert who couldn’t tell the difference between a real gun and a toy or unless you happen to be an unarmed but mentally disturbed man who after running from the police gets shot at and is subsequently charged with assault after the police’s bullets (from their guns) hit two innocent bystanders.

If you are driving down the road, you have the right to expect that if the police stop you, they will speak to you before they start shooting…unless there is a manhunt going on and extreme measures are necessary, as in the case of the Los Angeles police who shot up three vehicles (with people not related to the case in any way) in their hunt for a fellow officer, REPUTEDLY on a rampage. While no one, besides the rampaging officer who was set on fire and burned alive, was hurt, I am certain none of the people who were shot at for driving a vehicle that resembled the dead officer’s were pleased to be a police target without so much as a warning before shooting at them.

You have the right to discriminate…wait you don’t have that right… unless you are a highly religious zealot who believes God doesn’t want you to make cakes for homosexual couples and would rather you burn your business to the ground rather than sell a wedding cake to gay people. We will ignore all the cakes you may sell to gay party planners, corporate event, private parties and to anyone who happens to NOT announce they are gay when they come to your store. Perhaps when this case makes it to the Supreme Court, you can make a case for a “religious right” to discriminate based on their constitutional interpretation.

Can hating minorities as a “religious right” be too far behind?

Now ask yourself, when you walk out the door on any given day, how many of these do you have to put out of your mind before you can make it to your job only to engage in a different set of dissonances necessary to make it through your work environment…

Next on our list of social-psychological dysfunctions: Cultural Schizophrenia!

Dissonantly Yours,

Thaddeus Howze

PS. Normally, I tag and link all the articles these are referenced from, but I decided to let you, the reader have the fun of figuring out where and how these things affect your life, without any special news bias from me. If you can find other samples of cognitive dissonance which affect your life in particular, share them in the comments. Keep it clean, folks.

A Parting Shot

Legislative Dissonance: The Affluenza Defense: Judge Rules Rich Kid’s Rich Kid-ness Makes Him Not Liable for Deadly Drunk Driving Accident

Criminally dissonant

Sara Jessimy Kruzan (born January 8, 1978) is an American victim and survivor of human trafficking. In 1995, at the age of 17, she was convicted of the first-degree murder of her alleged pimp, George Gilbert Howard. She was sentenced to life imprisonment without parole. As a result of her status as a convicted juvenile sentenced to life without parole, Kruzan has received national attention from individuals and judicial reform groups, who advocate for a new trial. On January 2, 2011, as a result of the media attention, Kruzan was granted clemency by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, who commuted her sentence to 25 years with the possibility of parole; she remained incarcerated at the Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla. In January 2013, her sentence was reduced to second-degree manslaughter and 15 + 4 years, effectively time served, making her eligible for a parole hearing. She was found suitable for parole on June 12, 2013, and the decision was forwarded to Governor Jerry Brown. On October 25, 2013, Brown took no action on the parole board decision, thereby effectively confirming it, allowing the parole board to proceed with the parole of Kruzan. On October 31, 2013, she was paroled from Central California Women’s Facility in Chowchilla after serving 19 years.

Best Flight Safety Film Ever! (Virgin USA)

Normally I avoid advertising like Typhoid Mary serving a side order of fries with bubonic plague. So you understand my surprise when I watched this video designed to both inform and entertain. Now if all commercials were done so well, perhaps I might have more fries with my meals. Brilliant choreography, amazing levels of diversity of music, of actors, and skilled writing. In case you were wondering, this is what good advertising, good education, and reaching your audience where they are looks like. Well done, Virgin!

[And no, I don’t get paid for promoting this ad, I just wanted people to see you can make good advertising that doesn’t insult people’s intelligence, turn their stomach or prostitute anyone on the set.]

The Youtube data associated with the video

Published on Oct 29, 2013

Buckle up to get down. We’ve enlisted the help of Virgin Produced, Director Jon M. Chu, Choreographers Jamal Sims and Christopher Scott, Composer/Producer Jean-yves “Jeeve” Ducornet, Virgin America teammates, and dance stars like Todrick Hall and Madd Chadd to give our safety video a new song and dance — literally. From the exit doors to the oxygen masks, no seat belt was left unbuckled.

CISPA – When privacy is no longer private

This website is red and black against the passage of CISPA legislation.


Anonymous has called for an Internet blackout to protest CISPA, the much maligned cybersecurity bill that threatens your privacy more than it protects it. But without the support of Reddit, which co-sponsored last year’s SOPA blackout, the Web isn’t listening.

About 200 hundred sites have joined the #CISPABlackout today in protest of CISPA, which last week passed the House of Representatives. That may sound like a big number, but the list mostly consists of small sites within the hacker community. That’s a big contrast to the last year’s SOPA protests, which drew support from huge organizations like Google and Wikipedia.

Exceptions include the nonprofit Fight for the Future, which has tweeted solidarity but has not blacked out its site. Another is Stan Lee’s Comikaze, the comic book convention backed by the former Marvel Comics head honcho, which has blacked out its site.

And as usual, everyone says, what does this have to do with me? Nothing. Not a thing, as long as you are completely willing to be able to have your work online, seized without warning, without recourse and often without explanation. This may happen through no fault of your own, your provider may have inadvertently found themselves mixed up in a government investigation having nothing to do with you. Worse, they won’t have to tell you anything. EVER. Your info is simply out of reach.

Your data, however, may be held until such time the government deems you not involved, or maybe never. And I have a problem with this very premise. With so much of our data now out there swirling among the data clouds being created at breakneck speeds with no consideration for whose data is mingling with whom, how can anyone be sure any action taken by the government against any single provide may not have repercussions for many innocent people caught in the cross-fire. CISPA like its evil cousin SOPA is wrong.

Don’t support it. Don’t allow it to be passed. Call your Congressional representative and let them know what you think. While you are still allowed to voice your opinion in public…



How capitalism is turning the internet against democracy, and how to turn it back

What happened to funding real innovation?


Is real technological innovation being overshadowed by gimmicky social media sites and apps posing as real advances in technology?

A post from the Red Shoe Agency asks the above question and then follows with the following statement: Now, before you answer this, think about it. Everything works in cycles and eventually leads to a bubble. The tech industry is no different. It seems, per media reporting, that all you have to do is create some silly app (like send a fart to your enemy or something of that nature) or set up the next Facebook killer social media site and you’re a tech darling who’s innovating and getting tons of VC money thrown at you. But are those really “tech” companies?

I can understand why this would make some techies a bit resentful. Granted, Facebook is one of the creations that changed the way we communicate. But if it shut down tomorrow, lives would not be lost (I hope). There are some real companies creating real products that qualify as tech. 

Will technology ever shift back to innovation and creation that actually contributes to changing the world, situations, lives? Why does it seem that VC is willing to continue throwing money into gimmicks?

My response: 

Yes, technology has jumped its own shark and instead of being a boon to humanity, we have become caught up in the “development” of toys (apps) which cater to the venture capitalists need to make money without actually providing society with any useful developments.

Yes, technology developers will say I am avoiding the most important part of this idea, which is the making of money. And to them, I say, nay, you are missing the most important part of this equation, innovation which moves the species (humanity) along the path toward actualization.

I suspect in this, the final century of humanity we will have to make difficult choices. One of them will be to decide what we want to develop in terms of our technology. We can continue to fritter away intellectual capacity (which seems to be stagnating overall) on toys, apps and gadgets which, while often profitable, using social conditioning to create need, do not address any real issues in our society.

We have no problem finding money for gadgets and less useful software but true research, of the kind which once allowed NASA to create a variety of technologies we use without even being aware of it, becomes harder and harder to secure. (NASA’s spin-off technologies –

Venture capitalists will say the creation of money is the most important endeavor humans can make today and software development of the kind we are seeing may certainly be profitable, but in a world with a plethora of problems, what people are focusing their time and energy on will only be significant if we resolve the greater technological and sociological issues surrounding our society first.

What issues? Here is a quick and dirty list:

  • reasonable and affordable health care,
  • a collapsing economic structure that needs a complete retooling,
  • reducing military interactions in foreign countries,
  • feeding and caring for the disenfranchised members of our societies,
  • our failing education system and improving its quality,
  • economic disparity between the rich and poor,
  • the digital divide all over the world and in all layers of economic strata,
  • effective socio-economic relationships with other sovereign nations,
  • global climate control and management,
  • toxic waste and overall waste management,
  • desertification of our food producing areas on our planet,
  • destruction of our planet’s rain forests at 20 square miles a day,
  • eradication of cancer,
  • HIV, AIDS, and management of growing list of antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria, 
  • renewable energy development,
  • loss of fossil fuels and what that means to our lifestyles,
  • failing infrastructures of power and roads and
  • corporate malfeasance just to name the few I could think of in about 30 seconds. 

There is nothing wrong with making money. Except when making money overshadows making anything else. As sea levels rise, 200 million people all over the Earth will be forced to move, causing the greatest mass migration in human history. Find any shoreline or island, find a city within 25 miles and you can see the scope of just this one thing (climate change, rise of the seas) can cause. I can assure you, there is no app for that.

Technology can solve problems or cause them. It’s how you use it, develop it, adapt it, utilize it and innovate it that makes the difference. Choose wisely.

Thaddeus Howze
A Matter of Scale

The New Age of Malware (courtesy of BYOD)

BYOD: We can't repel malware of that magnitude! -- Admiral Ackbar

As I have mentioned in other articles, [] malware is not going away. If anything it is going to explode in the coming years due to the continued erosion of IT standards in the workplace. Technologies such as cloud computing, social media and memes such as BYOD (Bring Your Own Device [to the workplace]) are prepared to compromise enterprise security by:

1. Allowing devices that cannot be managed or secured into the workplace environment and allowing users to store company data on those devices. Such devices can easily be lost, stolen and the information vulnerable due to a lack of viable security measures or even the ability to be wiped remotely.

2. Devices such as smartphones or other mobile technology often has limited wireless security or protection, making grabbing data from such technology the next logical step from the cracking community. Do you remember Firesheep? A tool that allowed a remote hacker to grab information from Mozilla browsers in unsecure environments such as coffee shops. []

3. As the rise of BYOD continues and resistance to standardization grows, malware will continue to be a rising threat for Android and iDevices alike, [ – Android users hit by scareware scam], for the simple reason that apps created for both devices, while monitored loosely, are not absolutely guaranteed of being without sinister purposes in addition to providing whatever resource information they APPEAR to be providing. So while it may be providing you a map to downtown Boston, it could also be monitoring your credit card or online bank information at different locations as well.

4. Social media has not stopped being both a productivity time sink, costing the nation billions in lost productivity (neither commenting for the good or the bad of this, noting it, nothing more) and a vector for virus transmission, personal information gathering, and credit information hacking. Facebook, Twitter, Sony, Google and Amazon have all experienced theft, leaks, loss or outright sale of personal data in 2010-2011 and this trend show no sign of slowing.

5. While the cloud offers the option of being a means of creating virtual environments that are claimed to be safer than your current environment, it means relying increasing on an internet whose services are either being turned into commodities (allowing their prices to be changed, usually higher, without warning or recourse) or those services will be subject to powerful new government interventions such as SOPA or Protect IP [], which may make working with materials and providers who will be forced to increase the costs of their service to offset their increases caused by having to improve monitoring of their technology for copyright infringement. This cost is always directed at the user of the technology.

6. Nor does SOPA actually ensure you are any safer from hacking, indeed it may simply be another way such activity is lost in the shuffle as hackers are far more agile in their ability to develop their responses to technology than mainstream users. During the transition to SOPA standards, systems will be more vulnerable than ever.

7. It appears IT is losing the battle for standardization as a means of protecting the enterprise. New technologies such as virtualization promise the ability to deliver the PC experience to any device but most of those are also dependent on the Internet as the deliverer of service. This only means one thing. The cost of protecting your enterprise will increase as the vectors — devices, browsers, clients, cloud, virtualization, continue to proliferate.

In summary: Our enterprise networks have never truly been safe. The threats ranged from:

  • Inadequate layered defenses against attacks: There are still numerous environments especially in small to medium size businesses that do not have firewalls of any kind, any sort of data protection, backup, or redeployment procedure in case of equipment failure, anti-malware, or anti-virus technology in place.
  • Social engineering: manipulating users in an environment to release information about the systems they use to make hacking easier
  • Poor Password Management: Not creating standards for the effective use, configuration or dissemination of difficult to crack passwords
  • Poor standardization of environments: reducing the number of potential holes in the environment by reducing the number of different versions of operating systems, programs and infrastructure support systems
  • Poor policy management: The inability of environments to create usable, enforceable policies designed to make repair, replication, storage, service agreements, backup and responsible use of the office technology to protect company assets from theft, loss, or accidental erasure.

There are many other threats, but our environments have been safer than before many of these ideas were enacted, but the truth of the matter has been our virus software is always at least one day behind the release of any new virus, malware or exploit. Indeed, the zero day release of a virus or exploit could allow thousands or even millions of devices to be infected before anyone is aware the problem has occurred.

In days to come, the already existing suite of issues will only be added to with the continued threat of cloud computing downtime, legitimate accessibility as well as unwanted attacks from outside sources, rising costs both in terms of energy use and costs from service providers and the increasing vulnerability BYOD will bring to the enterprise as hackers/crackers begin to exploit the weaknesses of said devices while under-staffed, overworked and under-appreciated IT departments attempt to stem the tide while providing these new and highly desired services and technologies users feel empower them, without understanding the consequences of that empowerment. It empowers the Dark Side as well. []

@ebonstorm – Thaddeus Howze Atreides

President tweets; but is it the right song?


On July 6 2011, President Obama will communicate via Twitter at the hashtag #AskObama and respond at @townhall. Okay not quite true.

As reported by CNN, “President Barack Obama will answer questions about the economy and jobs Wednesday during his first Twitter town hall meeting. But the president, known for his oft-lengthy responses to the shortest of questions, will not be confined to Twitter’s 140-character limit. He is verbally answering questions from Twitter users, who were urged to use the hashtag #AskObama.”

Interesting. No, really. It is interesting to see him trying to reach the people again. But I wonder if anyone will be concerned with the real questions or issues? From the questions I saw in the twitter-stream tonight, I would say, not a chance.

But what is far more interesting to me, is the range of responses of the people who range from being thrilled the President has opened up again to the community and willing to hear their responses, to the bitter rhetoric of people who ask why he has not made a direct effort to communicate with the black community which has suffered terribly during his administration. The levels of unemployment in the black community which has always been an issue are now at Great Depression-era highs of 14-40% depending on age brackets and locations nationwide. What bothers me is how polarized the nation is today. President Obama is being blamed for things he simply has not had time to cause while in his time in office. Our nation is poorly educated in the ways of finance and that lack of education shows when people are convinced you can cut spending and cut taxes and believe ultimately you will have more money by doing that.

The part that disturbs me the most is the complete blindness of a wide swath of the country to his astounding accomplishments especially in the light of the difficulties he has had with the Republican Party. His opening efforts were clearly directed toward being as bipartisan as possible and as far as I can see, his efforts have been honest and heartfelt. Mitch McConnell and to a now lessened extent House Speaker, Boehner vowed that President Obama would be a one term president and the Republican Party would spare no effort to see his removal from the office with speed and alacrity. I could not believe I was hearing that. You just can’t make this stuff up. This was decided before he had been able to attempt to do anything in his office yet.

If you were to apply for a job, interview against dozens of other apparently qualified candidates, travel nationwide to secure both the funding and the votes for the job and after soundly defeating all opposition within 45 minutes of the final tallies, would you, could you be expected to do a good job when everyone you defeated turned back to you and in a hostile fashion indicated they would do as little to help you as humanly possible? And then they did exactly that.

They provided no support for any bills he established, no support for any legislation, no support for any plans, spending or developments that might help with the terrible state of the nation he was given after twenty years of poorly managed Republican government with a brief period of democratic sanity. Ronald Reagan heralded as the Great Savior, was the primary cause of the failure of the current economy as he began the first reductions in taxes for the wealthy. Following this Bush Senior and later W. Bush also enhanced those very same cuts, while increasing our wartime footing in foreign lands requiring the most expensive support possible. Naval, Air Force and Army units and services with a monstrous civilian staffing and administrative support services along with the consulting of companies such as Blackwater and Haliburton have made for a four trillion dollar war effort to supposedly capture and kill the leader of Al Queda, Osama Bin Ladin.

What a strange way to spend four trillion dollars. Go to nations barely out of the Industrial Age (Iraq, Afghanistan) who are armed with weapons from previously failed wars with large sovereign nations, similar to our own. We truck out our most impressive technologies while they bring out weapons thirty years old and improvised explosives. We fought a war of mass casualties and they fought one of attrition. Looking at the efforts ten years later, I would say theirs was the more successful strategy. Our nation is on the brink of economic collapse because our national pride will not allow us to walk away from an area, not unfamiliar with the rhythms of war. Indeed, this area has been at war for two thousand years or more. It will be safe to say, when the last Americans leave that country, it will continue to have the same kind of religious strife and secular bloodshed common to the region now for millennia.

Top 21 corporations of the US Fortune 500

This war was a loss because it caused the nation to lose site of what was important. It was important because we felt affronted that terrorism had come to our shores. But it was a mistake to wake a war machine ill-equipped for this type of non-uniformed warfare where human shields were not only the norm but an expected tactical advantage. Rather than realize we should consider what the consequences of this war might be, we allowed George W. Bush to decide (since he was the “decider“) for us as a nation and as such, we now pay the terrible price of a war machine out of financial control sucking the very lifeblood from the nation while duplicitous politicians collaborate with their corporate sponsors to continue to enjoy all the benefits of a wealthy nation without having to contribute to the continued well-being of said nation.

Such corporatism is akin to parasitism in nature. A parasite feeds from a host to its benefit without giving anything to the host animal in return. Big corporations, pharmacology, defense contractors, big auto corporations, telecom corporations, oil companies, agribusiness, and financial services organizations have made it clear they only have one agenda. The financial capitulation of anyone not a member of their elite class. Meanwhile wages diminish, people lose jobs by the millions every year, homes go into default, when they are not directly foreclosed on, they lose half their value, leaving people owning money to banks for homes they no longer live in but are forced to pay for due to machinations beyond their control, a market of traded commodities whose value was touted as more than was true. Who benefits when big banks become land owners? A question for another time…

The cost of living always rises. So whether people can handle the truth or not, taxation in one form or another must rise to meet that continually rising cost of living. Whether they be direct taxes or indirect local fees, these pay for much of the nation’s infrastructure, which also does not get cheaper to maintain, repair or replace. The idea you can tax people less and end up with more money is not only ridiculous, it borders on criminal to try and make people believe it is possible. It should be common sense. But the Republican Party has managed to convince people if the rich pay less taxes, get government subsidies and the larger the corporation, the less taxes it should pay in the name of job creation. Even when there is no evidence supporting the idea of lower taxes creating jobs, none.

If you draw money from a community without putting that money back in one form or another, you are a parasite and you will be killing your host. A large host like the US can support a wide array of different parasites from any number of economic engines. The pharmacological industries, the agribusiness, the coal, oil and gas industries, the medical technology, and the ever-present finance industry represent some of the largest and most profitable corporations in the nation. They are also some of the smallest per capita, tax paying agencies. They derive the most benefit from their government, the land, the people who work there, the infrastructure necessary for them to promote and maintain their wealth. And do the very least they can to help to maintain the very nation which enriches them.

The two faced greek diety, Janus, would find the United States a place very much to his liking. We have told the people, the government will protect them, but only when its convenient. We will ensure their defense against foreign invaders as long as they have an army. When they come in nice black suits and corporate jets, we will welcome them with open arms while they put our people on the street in the name of commerce. We will allow our people to be experimented on by Big Pharma, allow them to be poisoned by declawing the EPA and the FDA, allow diseases which should be easy to kill instead to run around growing even stronger and more drug resistant. There is a discontinutity in the most powerful nation in the world having to spend ten years hunting for a man whose most powerful weapon was a video camera and the threat he might one day appear somewhere with a bomb and blow something up. Meanwhile he sat in a compound aging quietly enjoying the benefits of the internet and watching his porn collection. Strangely enough, a very American past time. Perhaps we had more in common that anyone wanted to admit.

What, President Obama will you be doing now that we know all of what has happened in the last ten years was little more than misdirection and corporate malfeasance? Will you take up the challenge and force big corporations to pay into the coffers of a nation which has made them fantastically rich and they now improverish by sending work, money, resources and the very lifeblood of the nation to foreign investors who grow even richer while we wallow in the remnants of a fascist corporate mess wondering when we will see the light of opportunity shining for millions upon millions of our nations poorest. If the best you have to offer is weak platitudes and no actions that matter, perhaps the change we were looking for were best sought in another candidate who will do what the people need him to.

Do not be confused President Obama, I am one of your biggest supporters. I believe in the things you set out to do. I also know your message and your opportunity to make changes were derailed by the Republican Party, the Tea Party and the powerful media engines which program the nation’s idiots to spew hateful rhetoric which solves no problems and derails any meaningful conversation and progress toward solving problems. But sir, you need to understand, allowing corporations to be treated as people, and allowing money to double as speech as was made possible by the Chief Justices was wrong. (Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission) It is things like this which need to be looked at for their long-term consequences. I know there is a lot on your plate and you mean well. But sir, you are the leader of the nation that leads the free world. But our nation won’t stay the leader and it has already been proven the cost of running this nation is anything but free. Cutting costs on the backs of little old ladies, the sick, the poor, schoolteachers and lowest paid workers of this nation is reprehensible at best.

To President Obama: Stop the wars, find a way to invalidated them and bring our men and women home. Use that money of the corporate war machine to find a way to build a Civilian Development Force, designed to build our nation instead of destroying others. Find a way to create an infrastructure development project which will put people back to work and give hope to a nation in desperate need of it. People don’t expect you do do everything, just the important things that only you can do. This is something you can do. There are plenty of things in this nation in need of skilled workers to repair.

In case no one has made you a list: roads in every major city are in disrepair, between cities is not much better, water management systems, pipelines, sewers, gas mains, recycling systems, forestry and environmental reclamation, solar power, wind power farms, power infrastructure from said alternative power structures, covering our cities in modular solar technologies allowing the nation to get from under the boot of Big Oil, water-way clearing, water capture systems in drought-stricken parts of the nation, organic farming systems reducing the stresses of industrial farming and its delivery of pathogens into our food supplies, biological alternatives to hydraulic fracturing and natural gas production, social programs to reduce gang violence, prison reform systems reducing our need to make prisons little more than human warehouses, health and welfare programs designed to retrain and re-educate our nation, giving people new opportunities to create and participate in a brand new world, a world more competitive and yet more open to opportunity than any time in the history of the world.

These are just a few things you could create, sir, if you were willing to take a risk and bet on the good will and the industriousness of the greatest free nation on Earth. And you need to stand strong on this one core principle: anyone who benefits from the power of our nation’s position in the world, anyone who gains advantage from living under the freedom our laws and Constitution enable should be able to, nay, willing to, no I say, should eagerly stand up and pay whatever taxes, and services and blood we force the poorest members of our nation to support their wealth, privilege and power. 

To the rich and mega-wealthy: I get it. You are wealthy, elite and powerful. You got your money the way the rich and powerful have for millennia, the old fashioned way, you found a way to steal it and call it work or progress, or slavery or whatever euphemism you used to justify your wealth. You are now above working hard for a living, sweating is not for you. And you are wealthy enough that tears are simply not a lifestyle choice. And War, the spilling of blood is done best by the proletariat you have nothing but contempt for. Your blood is best kept inside of your body. War is your most profitable enterprise for which you will never stop unless forced. I say to you this: Since you cannot be bothered to pay in blood, nor sweat nor tears to keep our nation safe, secure, and a place for which you can say you have respect for how powerful it has made you, then do this; pay your damn share of the taxes to the people and the nation that keeps you wealthy because when you decide you can no longer be bothered, you should sleep much less soundly.

Not to worry. Angry villagers (and modern city dwellers) will make enough noise to wake you before they reclaim your wealth for their own. It was theirs to begin with. You have simply forgotten how you got rich; off the backs of common men and women. When they lose their wealth, you should expect yours to disappear soon after. After all, nature abhors a vacuum.

Anti-social Media, part 1

A spectrum of social media tools (click to enlarge)

The above graphic offers you a chance, if you can read the tiny logos in the expanded version, to see just how many tools are currently in existence that revolve around the explosions in social media technology.

I have been reading articles regarding social media for the last week and I have become very disturbed by the variety of points of view on the subject. The articles on Klout and Peer Index and other tools used to measure social influence left me wondering about the attempts of the industry to monitize, gamify or in some fashion quantify the value of social media. I am certain I am in violation of a number or rules regarding social media, the primary one being that the meaning is the message, and that it is important to use social media to advertise your product or brand. I spent an entire hour listening to brand mavens pointing out the importance of branding in the future of advertising.

But there were things said that did not sit well for me. Just a couple to show you want I mean.

I am not a detergent. I am not a cow. I do not need nor require a brand to identify myself. The very nature of branding reduces not enhances the human experience, in my opinion. Why has society tried to force branding off on to the computer-using human populace as if it was something that was to be desired? What is this issue with trying to determine Trust Metrics? As if trust were something you could get off the shelf at the market. And since when did Integrity become something that could be detected over the Internet?

All that follows is my opinion. Mouth-breathers who want to rant and rave over what I say next, I say to thee, get thee to a nunnery or to wherever you need to go to get yourself together. I will likely speak heresy and perhaps it is best that someone say it.

Social media has no meaning beyond what we give it. There is this need to expound on social media as if it were the best thing that has ever happened to anyone anywhere. Get over it. Much of what is being sold today as social media has existed for over twenty years in various and better developed forms.

They are only important now because they have suddenly become mainstream and now relatively normal folks are suddenly able to post things to the internet with a minimum of muss and fuss. All that was old is new again. The chat potential that is currently Twitter used to be know as IRC and for anyone who still uses IRC, they laugh at Twitter as a less intelligent but better dressed cousin. Blogging used to have a slightly different configurations called Forums which allowed you to post information sequentially in discrete chunks blocked off by time. Millions of people and services still use forums today. Email, well that has just stayed email. It has slightly more advanced capabilities but if you were sending email twenty years ago, you could send it today with less than five minutes of explanation.

All of the fuss that is made over social media, regarding its marketing potential, whether trust was important and if so, how important, how does social media penetrate our lives, etc. Yes, I know Twitter has software that allows its feeds to be used in other programs, allowing for visualization of twitter information in wild and wonderful ways. But most of those visualizations are not beneficial to the people using Twitter. They are beneficial to corporations who want to monitize Twitter with advertising models. All of that is nonsense, if the basic premise is still untrue. If you are a dastardly person, who does not honor your contracts, who lacks human decency and cannot string a comprehensive paragraph together, social media will not help you get new clients, it will not help your business, it will not help you keep friends, (though it may allow you to expose yourself and your dastardly ways to more people), it will not make you a better person and it certainly won’t help you be a better writer.

Bad people are found out. It may take a moment, if they are suave or clever (or in some cases, sociopathic) and can put on an act to make others believe they are genuine and trustworthy. But they did not need social media for that. They could have (and have almost always) duped their prey in person. Now social media gives them one more forum to ply their trade.

Social media is not new. It is a new way of doing old things. The first and best of those old things is called communication. Talking to people, being friendly, being a person of repute, having manners, displaying class and grace. These things are the social part. If you lack these, technology will not help you.

Stop ranting over social media currency or the ROI (return on investment) of your social media time and how it will augment your business marketing making you even richer than you are now. You become rich by having something worthwhile to say. You become rich by doing things that are meaningful. You become rich by creating content people are able to put to work in their lives and in doing so perhaps also become rich. Do that right enough times and everyone you are social with will benefit.

Content is King.  The ability to say the right thing, at the right time, to the right people over the right communication standard is what matters. If you don’t mean what you say, say what you mean, do what you say and accomplish it in a timely fashion, you will not succeed in business, you will not succeed in life and you certainly won’t succeed in social media, which is a distillation of all of the things, skills, behaviors, ideas and efforts you put forward in life. Social media will not make you rich if you are a slackard. It will not enrich those who cannot be bothered to actually have anything useful to say. It is the USE of your content that makes it worthy.

Influence, the power of social media matters when you are able to help others find their way to the things they are seeking in life. Things that help them fulfill what is important to them, for them, for their families and their way of living. Otherwise, you are just another person claiming to be a social media expert and not clear on the subject of what social media is really supposed to do. Yes, you can have amazing Klout numbers or Peer Index numbers and still not be doing anything that helps anyone. Social media suffers from a high ratio of noise to signal. Lots of sound, hard to distinguish what is worth listening to. This diminishes its usefulness. That was the point of the very first graphic I gave you. Look closely at it, zoom in on it (click it first for the highest resolution) you will see there are at least one hundred different ways of relaying information using social media. With so much diversity, it is hard to know where it would be best for your message to be placed for a chance at getting heard.

Social media’s real goal is to help us communicate. Meaningfully, with content that can change lives. All that other talk about the benefits of social media is just to get us to buy something we don’t need to complete a task well within our power, without ever turning on a computer in the first place.

Yes, I said it. The social media emperor has no clothes.


I hate Facebook, but I have a reason you have not heard yet…

I hate Facebook, but not for the reasons you might think. I have been working on the Internet since 1984. I remember modems. I remember dialup connections. I remember bulletin boards. I remember a time when there were no graphics on the Internet and Lynx (an early text only web browser) was the best you could hope for if you wanted to access the World Wide Web. I remember Gopher and Archie, (two means of storing and retrieving files on servers at universities all over the nation before the World Wide Web became powerful and easy to use), FTPUsenet news and binary files.

I remember a time when everything you did to reach the Internet was shrouded in mystery and magic (XON, XOR anyone?). I remember Mosaic and its later descendant, Netscape, fondly. I remember America Online and my first $600 online bill and CompuServe with their strange little account numbers, I remember the Well, where the best writers actually DID write there. I remember the constantly growing Internet that always had something new around every corner. It grew faster and changed daily, but no one really paid it any mind, after all it had existed for nearly thirty years and most barely knew of its existence up to that point. No one knew what was about to happen. Most of our science-fiction up to that time, even the most progressive and amazing stuff written barely considered the implications or the complications that would arise with this new technology.

Something changed in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. The Internet began to balkanize. It began to coalesce. Its formlessness began to be changed by the sheer volume of people who began to find their way there. Millions came every year, faster and faster, each bringing their expectations to the Internet of what it should be rather than accepting it for what it was. A means of communication, that equalized everyone who used it. The chance to speak your mind without being censored, unless what you said was stupid, and then people just stopped listening to you.

The same way the printing press brought The Word, literacy and ultimately the sum of human experience to anyone who could read, The Internet brought The World to anyone who had access to a computer and could relay their experience to anyone, anywhere, who wanted to listen. This was more than a book, this was Experience transmitted at the speed of light. The false separations of humanity, time, space, distance, race, creed, color, were all able to be overlooked because, as the joke went, on the Internet, no one knew you were a dog, so we were all made equal by the quality of our electronic musings.

Then the Internet experienced a change, and not a good one.  The big corporations arrived. They set up their shops, and began to tell everyone what to expect from the Internet. They brought their old models of behavior from their previous medium (television, radio, music industries) and tried to bring the mojo that made them incredibly rich to the Internet. And it didn’t work.

The Internet required new mojo, it was not enough to be rich, you had to be good, to be smart, to be crafty, to offer people something REALLY new. And more of the same stuff that made you rich wasn’t it. Which lead to the college dorm rooms. There were plenty of smart, motivated, young people just waiting for an opportunity to create something new and that is where some of the newest and most powerful corporations got their start. Yahoo, Google, Twitter and Facebook are four such mega-corporations that rivaled the Old World Media in power and influence in the New Media World.

Golden gadget: Designer Stuart Hughes has created a 22ct iPad with and Apple logo studded with 54 diamonds. A snip at just £130,000.

Since the clash of Old World Media and New World Media, the Internet has been awash in the blood of their combat. Creativity for the sake of creating has been replaced with the heady swirl of technology being created in an effort to make profit. These technological remora  remain close enough to the swarming sharks of industry to make money, but not so close as to be eaten in their Promethean combat, striding across the world, affecting entire nations, for good and ill, sometimes in the same day.

Everyone is seeking to make money, and while there is nothing wrong with that, it seems that is all I ever hear about now when I think about the internet. The latest gadget, the latest cloud computing scheme/tool/asset, the newest APP, a better API, a newer operating system, the newest content management system, the latest social media event that will make me millions overnight if I act right now and send money to my friend in Nigeria/Amsterdam/Moscow.

So what does this have to do with my hatred of Facebook, you are asking? Why the trip down memory lane? Because Facebook and its many monolithic clones have done to the Internet something that none of the early evils which inflicted themselves upon the Internet could do.

Old Media for all of its power, money and influence, was never able to convince anyone that it WAS the Internet; Old Media was unable to convince you that it was the sum of all knowledge and that ultimately if you wanted to do something on the Internet, you had to go through them. No one believed it and thus it wasn’t true. But Facebook has 400 million people who use it and believe that it IS the Internet and beyond its borders there be Dragons.

Stay within the walls of Castle Facebook and you will be fine. Play our games, shop with our ads, communicate with your network of friends you have never met, and you will be fine. We will bring you the media you need. Facebook has everything you could ever need, so there is no longer a need to forage beyond our walls for food or entertainment. And if you must go to get something outside of Facebook, we want you to use your Facebook account data to join that new service, so you can find your way back to your cornerstone of your New Media experience.

Here are a few of the other things Facebook does that I simply cannot abide:

  • I am unhappy with the constantly changing but not necessarily improving face of Facebook. Every few months, it looks and acts completely different, and often for no discernable reason. All I can be sure of is by the time I get it configured the way I like it, it will be changing and the services I like the most, will be gone or mutated beyond recognition.
  • I dislike their draconian privacy practices that allow them to give away your information to whomever will pay them the most. Anytime you engaged in any activity on Facebook, whether it be quiz or game, you are giving away your information. And they don’t have to tell you who is using that data. And it did not start out this way. Take a look at how it has changed over time.
  • I am displeased with the fact that they choose to make their privacy rules and settings as an opt-out rather than an opt-in. As an opt-out, you are relinquishing rights and access to information that you may not be aware is being made public or being used by the public domain as part of a greater marketing model. As an opt-in, you would be treated with respect because you would have the option to CHOOSE to participate rather than being forced to.
  • I am angry that the faceless Facebook executives look to sell those here-for-to unknown rights to the highest bidder as part of an advertising campaign, most of their 400 million users are not aware they are participating in. Adding insult to injury, they hid the information of their shenanigans inside a document as complex and longer than the Constitution of these United States.
  • I abhor the fact that even if you wanted to leave Facebook, they reserve the right to continue to maintain your account hidden from the general population but your connections made through your account continue to exist unless you make an effort to erase your existence, element by element from the Facebook (and their attendent lackies) systems and servers.
  • Such a removal of your virtual self from their servers is a slow and steady process but one you must undertake if you wish to truly disappear from the Facebook Continuum. Even if you take the effort, there is no guarantee that your efforts will net you any real gain because the servers that Facebook uses, has backed up your virtual existence since the first day you ever put any files on the Facebook site.

The real issue I have with Facebook and all of its descendants and imitators is this: Facebook can be a candle in the darkness, it can be an island in the vast sea of data that is out there. I say to Facebook, BE that entry into this vast ocean, but do not try an convince anyone that you are all that there is, and that you have the power to treat people badly because you BELIEVE you control their experience while they are on the Internet. Because better corporations than you have thought that very thing and they are now just roadkill on the Internet Superhighway.

Many of them are companies that I have already mentioned, AOL, Compuserve, the Well, MySpace (I know Myspace is still alive, but it is really just a zombie-like existence, desperately seeking brains for sustenance). There are over one trillion web pages on the Internet today, and more spring into existence ever second. Each is a place you can go to and see and learn something new. You could spend the rest of your human existence looking at a page a second and not even scratch the surface of the number of pages out there. (60 seconds x 60 minutes x 24 hours a day, x 365 days a year x 100 years or 3,153,000,000 – that is over three billion pages leaving 97% of the Internet unseen by you even after all that.)

Don’t let Facebook or any mega-corporation dictate to you what the Internet should look like. Go out there and find as many unique experiences as you can. If you have the power, the interest, and the capability, MAKE something unique for the Internet. PROSUME; produce and consume, create something new, reach the sum of your human potential.

I recommend StumbleUpon as a great way to see the Internet you have been too busy with Facebook to see. Get the toolbar for your browser, make an account on StumbleUpon, choose the things you are interested in and have at it. I promise you, you will see things that you could never find using Social Media because social media is really only good for one thing; talking about itself. Step away from the closed proprietary universe of Facebook and return to the Internet you never knew existed.

You don’t have to leave Facebook, just turn it off so that you can hear the rest of the signal out there. Look at Facebook and other social media like you would the Sun. While you are using it, you cannot see the other stars that may offer you equally fantastic tools, opportunities and ideas that may be obscured by the brightness and nearness of social media tools. Let the sun go down, let those other stars come out for a while. You may be amazed at what you might find. If you have a tool you like to use to find the hidden jewels of the Internet, share them here!

ENVISION : Step into the sensory box from SUPERBIEN on Vimeo.

I found this video using StumbleUpon. It shows the development of a media group from their simple animations to this, their current crowning glory. A weird little gem of the Internet. Enjoy it!

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