Category Archives: Housekeeping

Post*factua!ly is Coming To Our Post-Truth World

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You may well have noticed that my writing schedule here at theDiagonal has become a little more sporadic of late. Yes. I’ve been distracted by the needs of my post-truth project — Post*factua!ly.

The Oxford Dictionary recently made “post-truth” the word of the year, for 2016. A timely addition. They define post-truth as follows:

“Relating to or denoting circumstances in which objective  facts are less influential in shaping public opinion than appeals  to emotion and personal belief.”

I do agree. But, for 2017 I suspect we’ll need an even more important collection of related words: post-factual and postfactually. My definition goes as follows:

“Describing circumstances where only lies matter and all fact is meaningless.”

Please stay tuned for this important post-truth, post-factual project; and, normal service at theDiagonal will resume shortly.

 

Post*Factua!ly Speaking – Inauguration Day

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In keeping with today’s historic (and peaceful) transition of power in the United States — I’m taking time to celebrate the inauguration of… Post*factua!ly.

Post*factua!ly is my new social art project aimed at collecting lies, sharing misquotes and debunking facts. How timely, right?

We’ve entered a new age where lies matter and fact is meaningless. As a result Post*factua!ly aims to become a community focal point — with an artistic slant — for fibs, lies, falsehoods, deceit, half-truths, fabrications, bluffing, disinformation, misinformation, untruth, truthiness, post-truth, post-fact, and other stuff that’s just not real (or perhaps it is).

Post*factua!ly will formally open it’s doors by early February. So, in the meantime if you wish to join the community please visit this link, and thanks for giving the world of post-fact and truthiness a chance.

New Year. New Look

Eagle-eyed readers may have noticed a few subtle changes to the blog. While the focus remains the same, I’ve updated the look in keeping with a fresh new year — more responsive layout, improved performance, easier to browse and find content, and updated typography.

I hope this is more pleasing to your eye and more efficient for your browser whether you’re chained to a desk or on the move. Please drop me a line if you have any feedback. Thanks and Happy New Year!

Green Friday

South Arapahoe Peak

To my US readers… Happy Thanksgiving. By this time you will no doubt have been bombarded by countless commercials, online adds, billboards, flyers and messages to your inbox, social media account etc., espousing the wonders of the so-called Black Friday shopping orgy.

My advice: boycott the shopping mall and the stores — both online and brick-and-mortar — go outside, breath some fresh air, and join Green Friday. It’s infinitely better for the heart and the soul (and your bank account). My home state of Colorado has joined the bandwagon this year by opening up all state parks for free on Fresh Air Friday.

Image: South Arapahoe Peak, looking East, Indian Peaks Wilderness, Colorado. Courtesy of the author.

 

Dear Reader. Thank You

Three years after the general release of WordPress in 2003, I joined the fledgling blogsphere with theDiagonal. Now, in mid-2015 I am reminded to thank you, dear reader.

theDiagonal now officially reaches every one of the world’s 196 nations (or 189-195 depending on how you align with the United Nations), but five. Hopefully, I’ll soon find readers in Gabon, Central African Republic, Chad and Niger, and of course North Korea. However, I suspect theDiagonal already unofficially hits eyeballs in Pyongyang — considering I’ve been hacked a couple of times over the last decade.

So, a big THANK YOU, dear reader, for taking some moments of your precious time to join this literary (mis-)adventure. And, welcome readers in Turkmenistan — salam; Samoa — talofa; and Equatorial Guinea — kedu.

We Are Back

Old-Kiln trail Boulder Jul2014

After a month-long respite, marred by sporadic writing, theDiagonal is finally back. Your friendly editor has relocated to Boulder, CO, where the air is fresh, the streams are cold, and natural beauty is all-enveloping. Writing continues apace.

 

theDiagonal is Dislocating to The Diagonal

Flatirons_Winter_SunriseDear readers, theDiagonal is in the midst of a major dislocation in May-June 2014. Thus, your friendly editor would like to apologize for the recent, intermittent service. While theDiagonal lives online, its human-powered (currently) editor is physically relocating with family to Boulder, CO. Normal, daily service from theDiagonal will resume in July.

The city of Boulder intersects Colorado State Highway 119, as it sweeps on a SW to NE track from the Front Range towards the Central Plains. Coincidentally, or not, highway 119 is more affectionately known as The Diagonal.

Image: The Flatirons, mountain formations, in Boulder, Colorado. Courtesy of Jesse Varner / AzaToth / Wikipedia.

2014: The Year of Big Stuff

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Over the closing days of each year, or the first few days of the coming one, prognosticators the world over tell us about the future. Yet, while no one, to date, has yet been proven to have prescient skills — despite what your psychic tells you — we all like to dabble in art of prediction. Google’s Eric Schmidt has one big prediction for 2014: big. Everything will be big — big data, big genomics, smartphones will be even bigger, and of course, so will mistakes.

So, with that, a big Happy New Year to all our faithful readers and seers across our fragile and beautiful blue planet.

From the Guardian:

What does 2014 hold? According to Eric Schmidt, Google’s executive chairman, it means smartphones everywhere – and also the possibility of genetics data being used to develop new cures for cancer.

In an appearance on Bloomberg TV, Schmidt laid out his thoughts about general technological change, Google’s biggest mistake, and how Google sees the economy going in 2014.

“The biggest change for consumers is going to be that everyone’s going to have a smartphone,” Schmidt says. “And the fact that so many people are connected to what is essentially a supercomputer means a whole new generation of applications around entertainment, education, social life, those kinds of things. The trend has been that mobile is winning; it’s now won. There are more tablets and phones being sold than personal computers – people are moving to this new architecture very fast.”

It’s certainly true that tablets and smartphones are outselling PCs – in fact smartphones alone have been doing that since the end of 2010. This year, it’s forecast that tablets will have passed “traditional” PCs (desktops, fixed-keyboard laptops) too.

Disrupting business

Next, Schmidt says there’s a big change – a disruption – coming for business through the arrival of “big data”: “The biggest disruptor that we’re sure about is the arrival of big data and machine intelligence everywhere – so the ability [for businesses] to find people, to talk specifically to them, to judge them, to rank what they’re doing, to decide what to do with your products, changes every business globally.”

But he also sees potential in the field of genomics – the parsing of all the data being collected from DNA and gene sequencing. That might not be surprising, given that Google is an investor in 23andme, a gene sequencing company which aims to collect the genomes of a million people so that it can do data-matching analysis on their DNA. (Unfortunately, that plan has hit a snag: 23andme has been told to cease operating by the US Food and Drug Administration because it has failed to respond to inquiries about its testing methods and publication of results.)

Here’s what Schmidt has to say on genomics: “The biggest disruption that we don’t really know what’s going to happen is probably in the genetics area. The ability to have personal genetics records and the ability to start gathering all of the gene sequencing into places will yield discoveries in cancer treatment and diagnostics over the next year that that are unfathomably important.”

It may be worth mentioning that “we’ll find cures through genomics” has been the promise held up by scientists every year since the human genome was first sequenced. So far, it hasn’t happened – as much as anything because human gene variation is remarkably big, and there’s still a lot that isn’t known about the interaction of what appears to be non-functional parts of our DNA (which doesn’t seem to code to produce proteins) and the parts that do code for proteins.

Biggest mistake

As for Google’s biggest past mistake, Schmidt says it’s missing the rise of Facebook and Twitter: “At Google the biggest mistake that I made was not anticipating the rise of the social networking phenomenon – not a mistake we’re going to make again. I guess in our defence were working on many other things, but we should have been in that area, and I take responsibility for that.” The results of that effort to catch up can be seen in the way that Google+ is popping up everywhere – though it’s wrong to think of Google+ as a social network, since it’s more of a way that Google creates a substrate on the web to track individuals.

And what is Google doing in 2014? “Google is very much investing, we’re hiring globally, we see strong growth all around the world with the arrival of the internet everywhere. It’s all green in that sense from the standpoint of the year. Google benefits from transitions from traditional industries, and shockingly even when things are tough in a country, because we’re “return-on-investment”-based advertising – it’s smarter to move your advertising from others to Google, so we win no matter whether the industries are in good shape or not, because people need our services, we’re very proud of that.”

For Google, the sky’s the limit: “the key limiter on our growth is our rate of innovation, how smart are we, how clever are we, how quickly can we get these new systems deployed – we want to do that as fast as we can.”

It’s worth noting that Schmidt has a shaky track record on predictions. At Le Web in 2011 he famously forecast that developers would be shunning iOS to start developing on Android first, and that Google TV would be installed on 50% of all TVs on sale by summer 2012.

It didn’t turn out that way: even now, many apps start on iOS, and Google TV fizzled out as companies such as Logitech found that it didn’t work as well as Android to tempt buyers.

Since that, Schmidt has been a lot more cautious about predicting trends and changes – although he hasn’t been above the occasional comment which seems calculated to get a rise from his audience, such as telling executives at a Gartner conference that Android was more secure than the iPhone – which they apparently found humourous.

Read the entire article here.

Image: Happy New Year, 2014 Google doodle. Courtesy of Google.