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V.24 No.46 | 11/12/2015
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

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.

V.24 No.25 | 6/18/2015


The Daily Word: art schtuff

The Daily Word

the past, now in glorious technicolor!

who needs a brush?

$9 computer


dissect your childhood

cut it out

damn girl, are you an ancient philosophical text? because I’m learning a lot about myself and the universe from looking at you

jesus, does anyone draw anything anymore?

I guess not.

show offs


V.19 No.30 | 7/29/2010


The Daily Word: in Harmonious Pizza

The Daily Word

honey, can you print me a pizza?

the wheels on the bus...are powered by WHAT?

the universe, or something like it

algorithmic nostaligia machine

pick a belief, any belief

the ancient wisdom of information technology

history as a two way mirror

the world as chorus, in harmony’s tune

you probably shouldn’t litter

V.19 No.50 | 12/16/2010


Anti-Social is relief for the social media-addicted

Do you have a computery job from which you take breaks throughout the day to check in on Facebook or the Twitter? A software developer has created an application for Mac users that helps quell the urge to engage in the time-wasting habits related to social media. When activated, Anti-Social makes it impossible to log on to certain sites—as dictated by the user—unless you reboot your computer. Read about it, or listen to NPR’s story here.

V.19 No.34 |
My laptops collection, the logical replacement to my typewriter collection
John Bear


My laptop collection weighs a ton

Idiot buys new computer.

I bought a new computer on Monday. It took me all day to find one, and part of Sunday.

It was an important purchase. I’ve been working out of the house lately and my two laptop computers, ages five and eight, just weren’t doing the job anymore. An abacus is more technologically advanced.

Always a man of intense passion, I found myself screaming at the elderly laptops when they would freeze, crash, inexplicably shut off.

This is one of my many shortcomings: I scream at inanimate objects when they don’ t do what I want them to do. My father is a machine screamer too. It’s irrational, immature and, now that some people have moved in downstairs, quite embarrassing.

I searched high and low for a cure for my malady stricken machines: antivirus programs, registry cleaners, etc. I’m sure there are some tech nerds out their rolling their eyes at this, thinking, “What a Jackass. All he needed to do was….”

Technology isn’t really my strong suit.

One day, after seeing my hateful face reflected in the spittle that had collected on the screen of one of the damnable machines I thought, “There has to be a better way.”

The cat sat on the couch through all of this, directing a steady gaze at me that said, “You’re such an Asshole.”

And now this asshole has a brand new $400 computer. I know that seems cheap, but when your net worth is $1200, it’s a sizable investment.

Now what do I do with the now retired laptops? They are full of music but I’m afraid of transferring it to the new computer, lest it be infected with the malignant funk that befell the old machines. I could borrow a friend’s gun (I own no guns for obvious reasons) and blast the things into dust, but that wouldn’t be green. They cannot be sold, as the even the crack fiends who broke into my house two months ago didn’t take them, crack fiends being necessarily tech-savvy. (Electronics provide a large amount of their income.) I was thinking of sending them off to the third world for some underprivileged kids, but why make their lives worse.

More than likely, the computers will sit in my house forever, as I am a borderline hoarder. Eventually they will be joined by the sparkly new machine on which I write this.

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