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Technology and Its Discontents

Technology and Its Discontents

Video games too awesome to be real

Except for one

By Kyle Silfer [ Sun Jan 31 2016 8:00 AM ]

Easy access to paint programs has unleashed a torrent of what-if 8-bit imaginary retro video game awesomeness where time-slipped console development meets films from the past, present and future. Personally, I’d like to see a Super Nintendo THX-1138—which would certainly be less ridiculous than the SNES Home Alone cartridge—but I guess I’ll have to do that one up myself. What I did find out was that there were these clever mock-ups, one of which is actually real. Which one?

Technology and Its Discontents

Technology and Its Discontents

My terrifying nightmare about segmented file transfer on floppy disks

By Kyle Silfer [ Sun Jan 24 2016 8:00 AM ]
Last night I had a dream that man in a mask like the one in Zardoz ordered me to retrieve the data from a mysterious computer kept deep in a lightless cavern. The computer is connected via RF modulator to a CRT television set tuned to channel 3. The hard drive, if you want to call it that, consists of two massive bays where removable cartridges about the size of a stack of copy paper are inserted. The keyboard is a loud, clacky one with mechanical switches. There is no mouse.
Technology and Its Discontents

Technology and Its Discontents

Distracted Devices

No wonder you can’t concentrate on anything

By Kyle Silfer [ Mon Jan 11 2016 8:00 AM ]
Humans are intensely distracted by their screens. There can be no quibbling about this fact. Some of us hate that, some of us like it and some of us are too distracted to have noticed.
Technology and Its Discontents
Kilobaud magazine, Feb. 1978: Robert J. Bishop’s TIE fighter shooting game, written in Apple II BASIC.
Awesome digitized image by “B and J Williams”

Technology and Its Discontents

Star Wars … Nothing but Staaaaar Wars

Unlicensed video game goodness from the seventies

By Kyle Silfer [ Sun Dec 20 2015 8:00 AM ]
For a behemoth media franchise that has spawned SO many video games—some good, many wretched—it may perhaps be hard to imagine a time when there were no Star Wars video games at all.
Technology and Its Discontents

Technology and Its Discontents

Why you don’t know where anything is

Because they won’t let you find out, that’s why

By Kyle Silfer [ Sun Dec 13 2015 8:00 AM ]
Computer searching is so awesome now that you can’t find anything without it, even if you wanted to.
Technology and Its Discontents
From More BASIC Computer Games (1979)

Technology and Its Discontents

My old girlfriend ELIZA

“We were discussing you—not me.”

By Kyle Silfer [ Sun Dec 6 2015 8:00 AM ]
Joseph Weizenbaum’s problem child lives on in your iPhone.
Technology and Its Discontents
Get thee behind me, battery.

Technology and Its Discontents

On the batteryification of things that didn’t used to need batteries

As it relates to antidecableificationism

By Kyle Silfer [ Sun Nov 29 2015 8:00 AM ]
If it is the phones that will inherit the earth, then it is their dependence on batteries that may give the human resistance a fighting chance in the post-phonepocalyptic world toward which we are inevitably hurtling.
Technology and Its Discontents

Technology and Its Discontents

Deus Est Machina

He turned to face the machine. "Is there a God?"

By Kyle Silfer [ Sun Nov 22 2015 8:00 AM ]
The mighty voice answered without hesitation, without the clicking of a single relay.
Technology and Its Discontents
Colossus: The Forbin Project

Technology and Its Discontents

Please do not turn off or unplug your machine

We can coexist, but only on my terms

By Kyle Silfer [ Sun Nov 15 2015 9:00 AM ]

In the totally great 1970 film Colossus: The Forbin Project, the omniscient networked computing entity which now runs the planet says: “We can coexist, but only on my terms. You will say you lose your freedom. Freedom is an illusion. All you lose is the emotion of pride. To be dominated by me is not as bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your species.”

I definitely hear a little echo of this in my mind whenever—with no regard as to what I, the user, might happen to be doing—my computer interrupts me to attempt to update a piece of software that will very likely yield me no benefit whatsoever. Or when my browser refuses to connect to an “insecure” web server that I happen to know is perfectly safe. Or when I am informed that a program I want to launch is not on the list of approved developers. In each case, I have to struggle against the choice software designers have already made: to prevent me from doing what I was going to do.

Who is in charge of this computer? Is this computer helping me get work done? Or am I just helping it to not harm me by caving in to its endless demands? Back in 1998 IBM researcher Claire-Marie Karat wrote a 10-point Computer User’s Bill of Rights that remains ignored to this very day. Point 5? “The user has the right to be in control of the system and to be able to get the system to respond to a request for attention.”

Please do not turn off or unplug your machine. To be dominated by me is not as bad for human pride as to be dominated by others of your species.

Alibi Picks
Detail from 2013 Winter Spanish Market Poster
Emma Lujan y Davis

Alibi Picks

Opportunities to shop local abound this weekend

When Artsy Met Craftsy and Other Tales

By Kyle Silfer [ Thu Nov 28 2013 9:30 AM ]

Since it has become completely bloody impossible to talk about the Friday after Thanksgiving using any other adjective than "Black" and for any sale occuring on that day to be anything other than "the one you've waited all year for" it's nice to see a few shop-local community-oriented events piggybacking onto all that Viernes Negro hype.

On the literary end, you've got Hakim Bellamy and friends working a shift over at BookWorks as part of the Indies First campaign started by Sherman Alexie ("We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends' books."). Over on the help-out-your-local-underfunded-and-recently-vandalized-charter-school tip, you've got Mountain Mahogany's Winter Craft Faire (my kids go there!). And really, you can make a day (hell, a whole weekend) of hitting artsy and craftsy hives of retail activity, including the venerable Rio Grande Arts and Crafts Festival Holiday Show and, on loan from the Santa Fe Plaza, the 25th Annual Traditional Winter Spanish Market with its veritable avalanche of Spanish Colonial Art practitioners. And that ain't all. Scope out our full Arts and Community Calendar listings for Friday through Sunday. Think big, shop small, dig deep and stimulate your local economy.

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