Banging on a Ketchup Bottle

Nassim Taleb on the latest round of money printing by the Federal Reserve (euphemism: “Quantitative Easing II”):

The point is that you may print, print, print or do these devious methods to hide that you’re printing, but it won’t have any effect. Just like a ketchup bottle that you pour and nothing comes out…then suddenly…the whole ketchup coats your French fries, everything, the whole table, your face, everything. This is the problem with non-linearity.

Privacy In An Indexed World: Is Resistance Futile?

I have been struggling on an almost daily basis for some time now with the issue of privacy. On one hand, living openly, establishing my identity on the web, and enjoying the benefits of deep technological connectivity really appeals to me. On the other hand, trying to shield myself and my family from potential abuse is always lurking somewhere in the back of my mind. The advent of location aware (geotagging) applications running on GPS-enabled hardware is ramping the issue up even further, and I find myself on a constant quest to reduce the cognitive dissonance that I feel.

If you have something that you don’t want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn’t be doing it in the first place.

–Google CEO Eric Schmidt, 12.3.09

I had a mini-epiphany the other day. Google is simply the primary medium that change has arrived through, and they are unlikely to abuse their indexed data too much with so many eyes on them. It’s bureaucrats in governments around the world that are most likely to abuse the data through overly broad subpoenas, back channel deals, and even seizure of hardware. The problem is not that we have something to hide, Eric. The problem is that bureaucrats are looking for things to find.

For the bureaucrat, the world is a mere object to be manipulated by him.

–Karl Marx

Unless you literally hide self-sufficiently in a rural mountainous location, information about you is being sucked onto the the web anyhow. Plenty of public record databases, utility records, etc. are easily searchable by all. On top of that, your friends are already talking about you and posting pictures of you everywhere. Since everyone else is already publishing and defining you…why fight it? Seize the day and define yourself in terms you want! …right?

On the other hand–why voluntarily fill out your entire life via profiles and other personal disclosures? Even if the network effect pulls part of your life into public view, can’t a person retain some semblence of personal privacy even in our age? As I sit here typing this up in Google’s Chrome browser…I wonder: is that just naive?

What do you guys think?

why the burning cubicle?

“Michael, we don’t have a lot of time on this earth! We weren’t meant to spend it this way. Human beings were not meant to sit in little cubicles staring at computer screens all day, filling out useless forms and listening to eight different bosses drone on about about mission statements.”  – Peter Gibbons, Office Space

I never really appreciated the value of color, beauty, and being sensitive to human desires until I had them almost fully taken away from me. I am fresh off of my first and hopefully last large corporate job, and that kick to the pants was one of the best thing that has ever happened to me. I worked here:

Wells Fargo Customer Information Center
Wells Fargo Customer Information Center

Approximately 15,000 employees. Hearsay pegs it as the second largest building by useable office floor space in the country (the Pentagon being the first). Five wide floors — each an arid wasteland of cubicles literally as far as the eye can see.

Humans are not made for life like that. We need beauty and creative outlets. Inordinate amounts of process design and modular space is logical and maybe good for a corporation, but is it good for the humans creating it??

Life’s too short! Change everything if you must to escape! Burn your cubicle!

burning cubicle
(not literally, that's a felony)

new job!

Today I started a new job — Happiness Engineer.  I won’t bore right now with the details, but suffice it to say that I am incredibly excited.

almost THIS excited

Now, the big question:  what will this blog space be about?  A picture is worth a thousand words…  so I’m definitely going to trying to bring those in.  I do like to pontificate a bit as well.  For better or worse, I think I’ll shoot for a mix.  I’ll be happy getting a few thoughts off my mind.  Welcome!