Chapter 8. “A Constant and Complete Intercourse”
The same hilltop position that makes our sunsets so glorious also made it the ideal place, in 1795, to locate an ‘optical telegraph station,’ one link in an eighteenth century information network connecting capital to coast.
Malcolm Bacchus, “The Telegraph on Telegraph Hill,” Telegraph Hill Society, 2010. http://thehill.org.uk/society/Telegraph.htm
He built the French-side station at Boulogne
Gerard J. Holzmann and Bjoern Pehrson, “The First Data Networks,” Scientific American, Jan. 1994.
Steven Pinker sums up this misconception when he describes it as ‘the idea that humans are peaceable by nature and corrupted by modern institutions.’
Steven Pinker, “A History of Violence,” Edge World Question Center website. http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/pinker07/pinker07_index.html
Rates of savagery (the likelihood of being killed by another human being) can run to sixty per cent in tribal societies and tend not to be less than twenty per cent.
Steven Pinker, The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature (New York: Penguin, 2002), p. 57.
Just 2.8 per cent of the world’s population died as the result of violence in 2002 according to the World Health Organisation. Over half of those deaths were the result of suicide (self-violence), a further one per cent homicide and just 0.3 per cent due to conflict.
“Annex Table 2 – Deaths by cause, sex and mortality stratum in WHO regions, estimates for 2002,” World Health Organization 2004 Report (Geneva: UN World Health Organization). http://www.who.int/whr/2004/annex/topic/en/annex_2_en.pdf
The document is full of not-in-the-news statements like ‘from the beginning of 2002 to the end of 2005, the number of armed conflicts being waged around the world shrank 15 per cent’ and ‘notwithstanding the recent increase in terrorist attacks, the number of civilian victims of intentional organised violence remains appreciably lower today than it was in the Cold War years.’ There’s more: the 1990s, it says, was the ‘first time more wars (42) ended by negotiated settlement than by military victory (23). This started a trend that accelerated in the new millennium. Between 2000 and 2005, 17 conflicts ended in negotiated settlements; just four ended in victory.’ The authors conclude, ‘On average over the past six years, more conflicts have stopped than started each year. There is no reason to expect this trend to continue, but nor is there any reason to expect it to be reversed.’
Human Security Brief 2006, Human Security Center, University of British Columbia. http://www.humansecuritybrief.info/2006/contents/finalversion.pdf
Recent research by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation in Washington and Harvard Medical School suggests that in some cases war deaths may be three times more than WHO estimates.
Ziad Obermeyer, Christopher J. L. Murray and Emmanuela Gakidou, “Fifty Years of Violent War Deaths from Vietnam to Bosnia: Analysis of Data from the World Health Survey Program,” British Medical Journal 336(28 June 2008):1482–86. http://www.bmj.com/cgi/content/full/bmj.a137
Wright’s argument is that ‘through technological evolution new forms of technology arise that facilitate or encourage the playing of nonzero-sum games involving more people over larger territory.’
Robert Wright, “Optimism,” TED talk, 2006. Full talk available at http://www.ted.com/talks/robert_wright_on_optimism.html
‘So the first message on the Internet was LO,’ said Professor Kleinrock. ‘Or “Hello,” crash!’
“Net Turns 30,” BBC News, 20 Oct. 1999. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/480102.stm
‘Dance has never had a better friend than technology. Online videos and social networking have created a whole global laboratory online for dance.’
John Chu, “In the Internet age, dance evolves . . . ,” TED talk, February 2010. Full talk available at http://www.ted.com/talks/the_lxd_in_the_internet_age_dance_evolves.html
“What tribes are, is a very simple concept that goes back fifty thousand years. It’s about leading and connecting people and ideas. And it’s something that people have wanted forever. Lots of people are used to having a spiritual tribe, or a church tribe, having a work tribe, having a community tribe. But now, thanks to the Internet, thanks to the explosion of mass media, thanks to a lot of other things that are bubbling through our society around the world, tribes are everywhere.”
Seth Godin, “The Tribes We Lead,” TED talk, Feb. 2009. Full talk available at http://www.ted.com/talks/seth_godin_on_the_tribes_we_lead.html
In 2010, John Seely Brown, one of America’s most respected thinkers on the interplay of technology and society said, ‘The blogosphere and the echo chambers you find there are turning more groups violent. They’re amplifying the extreme. You tune into the echo chamber you like best. There’s no particular incentive to listen to ideas you don’t like. We’re going to have serious terrorism, self-generated in this country very soon, because of the Internet.
Author interview with John Seely Brown, 16 April 2010.
Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organisation based in France that campaigns for press freedom, maintains a list of ‘Internet Enemies’ – as I write Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. On its ‘surveillance list’ is Australia…
“Internet Enemies, Countries under Surveillance, Australia,” Reporters Without Borders website. http://en.rsf.org/surveillance-australia,36674.html
The world’s most popular sites besides search engines are social networks, blogging tools and online encyclopaedias.
“The Top 500 Sites on the Web,” Alexa website, June 2010. http://www.alexa.com/topsites
He concluded: ‘About one per cent of the websites in the Google and MSN indexes are sexually explicit. About six per cent of queries retrieve a sexually explicit website.’
“Expert Report of Philip B. Stark,” 8 May 2006, ACLU v. Gonzales, Civ. Action No. 98-5591 (E.D. Pa.). http://sethf.com/infothought/blog/archives/copa-censorware-stark-report.pdf
In the next decade, around 70% of the human population will have fixed or mobile access to the Internet at increasingly high speeds….
Vint Cerf, “The Next Internet,” Offi cial Google blog, 25 Sept. 2008. http://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/09/next-internet.html
W. Daniel Hillis has written, ‘We are now all connected, humans and machines. Welcome to the dawn of the Entanglement.’
W. Daniel Hillis, “The Dawn of the Entanglement,” Edge World Question Center. http://www.edge.org/q2010/q10_1.html
‘Never,’ says the main character shortly before he joins ‘the nations of the dead.’ ‘Humanity has learned its lesson.’
E. M. Forster, “The Machine Stops,” Ebook at http://manybooks.net/titles/forstereother07machine_stops.html
Pattie Maes, calls ‘SixthSense,’ a technology designed to provide seamless and easy access to ‘information that may exist somewhere that may be relevant, to help us make the right decision about whatever it is we’re coming across,’ to help us ‘make optimal decisions about what to do next and what actions to take.’
“Pattie Maes and Pranav Mistry Demo SixthSense,” TED talk, February 2009. Full talk available at http://www.ted.com/talks/pattie_maes_demos_the_sixth_sense.html
‘We’ll be lucky if there’s a billion people left’
“Interview with James Lovelock,” Today, BBC Radio 4, 30 March 2010. http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_8594000/8594274.stm