The Florida Sun Sentinel has for many years been rather unique, as a corporate newspaper with a regular columnist who’s actually good, and I don’t mean just good for the context, but actually worth reading even if the masses of South Florida weren’t reading along. Happily, they are.
Stephen L. Goldstein has just published a book, also worth reading, called Atlas Drugged (Ayn Rand Be Damned!) It’s fiction, often hilarious fiction, aimed at debunking the notion that Ayn Randian “free-market” trickle-down crapitalism can coexist with basic human decency. “This is a work of fiction,” says the back cover. “But any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely intentional. The names have been changed but, hopefully, not enough to protect the guilty.”
In fact, while the book takes rightwingerism to an extreme, it blends in plenty of elements from reality. Imagine the most outlandish carrying of so-called conservatism to its logical conclusion, and abandoning New Orleans to a hurricane, or watching a fire department stand by while a house burns (because the owner didn’t pay the proper fees) fits right in.
I’ve been browsing this marvelous collection–559 pages–all afternoon, and the afternoon has been broken up frequently with outrageous laughter and occasional gasps of disbelief. This book, organized as it is, is vastly more important and easier to read than the original 2600 Magazine letters that I have been glancing at since first helping and joining this group in 1994.
Hats off to Wiley for having the brains to see the value, and the editorial talent to select, edit, and present so perfectly. This book, thick as it is, has exactly the right amount of white space, the selection and use of fonts is just right, and the index, while not as extensive as I would have liked, is adequate.
“Look Inside the Book” has been set in motion, in the meantime, here is the table of contents that runs from the early days in the 1980’s up through today, with absolutely phenomenal selections that provide priceless insights into the mindsets of BOTH bona fide hackers AND the clueless wanna-bes.
1. Question Upon Question
2. Tales from the Retail Front
3. The Challenges of Life as a Hacker
5. Our Biggest Fans
6. Behind the Walls
8. A Culture of Rebels
9. Strange Ramblings
Easily half if not more of the value of the book is to be found is the witty, acerbic, funny, insightful, surprising comments of the author Emmanuel Goldstein (not his real name), who has single-handedly but with many willing volunteers created the legitimate means of enabling information sharing and sense-making among hackers, who I am often at pains to describe as being the same as astronauts and pioneers, pushing the edge of the envelope.
Beyond Six Stars–Hugely Important Useful Collection
February 20, 2010
Edited by Sokari Ekine
Contributing authors include Redante Asuncion-Reed, Amanda Atwood, Ken Banks, Chrstinia Charles-Iyoha, Nathan Eagle, Sokari Ekine, Becky Faith, Joshua Goldstein, Christian Kreutz, Anil Naidoo, Berna Ngolobe, Tanya Notley, Juliana Rotich, and Bukeni Wazuri
This book will be rated 6 Stars and Beyond at Phi Beta Iota, the Public Intelligence Blog, where we can do things Amazon refuses to implement here, such as sort useful non-fiction into 98 categories, many of the categories focused on stabilization & reconstruction, pushing back against predatory immoral capitalism, and so on.
When the book was first brought to my attention it was with concern over the price. The price is fair. Indeed, the content in this book is so valuable that I would pay $45 without a second thought. I am especially pleased that the African publishers have been so very professional and assured “Look Inside the Book”–please do click on the book cover above to read the table of contents and other materials.
This is the first collection I have seen on this topic, and although I have been following cell phone and SMS activism every since I and 23 others created the Earth Intelligence Network and put forth the need for a campaign to give the five billion poor free cell phones and educate them “one cell call at a time,” other than UNICEF and Rapid SMS I was not really conscious of bottom-up initiatives and especially so those in Africa where the greatest benefits are to be found.
I strongly recommend this book as a gift for ANYONE. This is potentially a game-changing book, and since I know the depth of ignorance among government policy makers, corporate chief executives, and larger non-governmental and internaitonal organization officials, I can say with assurance that 99% of them simply do not have a clue, and this one little precious book that gives me goose-bumps as I type this, could change the world by providing “higher education” to leaders who might then do more to further the brilliant first steps documented in this book. Continue reading “Review: SMS Uprising: Mobile Activism in Africa”
Fifteen Years of Extreme Hacking on the Edge, Under-Priced!, July 19, 2008
I am attending Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE) in NYC this week-end, and have just spent time with this volume. Unlike the individual issues, all of which I have had in my possession over the years, this volume is HUGE, readable, indexed, and priceless. I mean that–PRICELESS.
The publisher is to be saluted for not only putting a great deal of effort along with the editor, the founder of 2600 Magazine and also of the HOPE conference, for making this volume a true reference work. I was immediately impressed by the selection of “best of the best,” the organization of the material, the index, and the fact that the publisher moved away from the micro-print that was used to keep costs down on the volume of knowledge being transmitted in the individual journal issues, and instead went for a high-end glossy, “just right” white space presentation that should be in every Information Technology library across the country, and is also a collectible for anyone who pretends to know anything at all about information INsecurity.
If you got this far, this lovely volume, easily worth $60, is a real value at the much lower price being offered, and I hope enough people buy it to occasion a reprint or a second volume.
It merits comment that this is not just a volume of hand-picked items from a single journal. The editor and his closest colleagues created a community of over 30,000 hackers (whom I have always said are like astronauts on the edge with the “right stuff”) and this volume LITERALLY represents the 30,000 who were decades ahead of the US Government, which is still–as are corporations and public utilities–largely stupid about information system security, to include our Supervisory Control and Direction (SCADA) systems, all of them on the Internet.
For a really good time on what the Chinese know and can do that we cannot, see my Memorandum, easily found online, <Chinese Irregular Warfare oss.net>. They brought Dick Cheney’s plane down over Singapore in Feburary 2007, and when he got off to stretch his legs, told him exactly what they could do, and what the US would not be allowed to do. Thus did the power of the information age move East.
There are two sets of hackers: these, and the ones who came out of the Homebrew Garage Club (Lee Felsenstein, Eric Hughes, etc) and tended to created businesses rather than live free. Bill Gates is certainly in that number, as are Stewart Brand and others. The most famous Free/Open Hacker in the first group is Richard Stahlman, whose book on the origins of Free/Open Source Software (F/OSS) is most recently complemented by Yochai Benkler’s book on Wealth of Networks. With a tip of the hat to Nat at O’Reilly, open source software is Darwinism, while malware and proprietary software are Intelligent Design that is not so intelligence. VISTA by Microsoft is the biggest scam in history, for the first time forcing documents to be uniquely tied to the Microsoft operating system and not processable anywhere else. It is time for Microsoft to die, or come to its senses and put its money into F/OSS while monetizing the transactions. Bill Gates has called F/OSS communist. In my view, that makes Bill Gates a fascist. My money is on F/OSS.
Too general for modern application, January 19, 2008
+ Ideas as roadmaps.
+ Ideas embedded in institutions “take over” in the absence of innovation
+ Decolonialization was an example of new ideas taking over (this really set me off, since I have a passing familiarity with wars of national liberation, CIA’s legacy of ashes in Africa and elsewhere, blood diamonds, mercenary and gutter rats using war as their only path to wealth, women and wine, and of course the proxy wars and the rush by the US, UK, and Russia to sell arms indiscriminately to anyone [US sells three times more than UK and five times more than Russia].
+ Better example would be Yale and apartheid. When sub-state actors started shunning South African stock, *and* the white minority realized they could be over-run and exterminated by the black majority, the two in combination led to the release and rise of Nelson Mandela and the somewhat conniving and less than convivial collaboration of De Klerk.
+ Ideas can be especially strong in times of crisis.
+ Ideas create culture; culture defines truth (social construction of reality) and truth as it is perceived defines policy and behavior.
On balance this book disappoints. I raise it from three to four stars to provide for the possibility that I am at fault in failing to appreciate the totality of the book. It is not a five because for over a decade OSS.Net has been operating at the neighborhood and tribal levels of granularity, and for the past five years, pioneering the monitoring of sermons by province, and family beliefs and networks across tens of nations. Domestically we follow “the new political compass” of Paul Ray, and observe the nuanced changes as left-right agree on civil liberties, and Walll Street=0Ecotopia begin to agree on green chemistry, beneficial bacteria, and green to gold operations.