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Feature:Distortions

CmdrTaco posted more than 15 years ago | from the islands-in-the-clickstream dept.

News 181

Richard Thieme has long been writing a weekly column called Islands in the Clickstream. Richard wants to run them weekly on Slashdot - he would be joining Katz then providing new content on these pages. I'm excited about this, and I think many of you will too. The following feature is this weeks island. Read it, vote on the poll, and hopefully Richard will be back next week.The following was written by Slashdot Reader Richard Thieme

Distortions

"We all know the same truth. Our lives consist of how we choose to distort it." -- Woody Allen

A couple of weeks ago, it was reported by Reuters News Agency that hackers had taken control of a British military satellite and demonstrated control of the "bird" by changing its orbit. The report said the hackers were blackmailing the British government, and unless they received a ransom, they would take action. The demonstration was frightening for those who were just waiting for a blatant act of cyber-terror.

A few days later, the Hacker News Network , an underground alternative to CNN, reported that the hijacking was bogus.

The Hacker News Network got it right while Reuters got it wrong.

Just as business managers increasingly supervise IT workers who know more about networks than they do, traditional news sources often cover subjects they don't understand, and they often get it wrong.

A few weeks ago, I wrote an article for Forbes Digital on the unique culture of the professional Services Division of Secure Computing, where a number of former hackers help government agencies and large financial institutions secure their networks. Many articles have appeared recently about former hackers who have swapped underground lives for stock options, but that wasn't what my article was about. It was about the mindset that hackers bring to their work, a map or model of reality that is becoming the norm in a borderless world, where intelligence operatives are migrating into competitive intelligence in growing numbers. It's a mindset characterized, said one, by "paranoia appropriate to the real risks of open networks and a global economy."

Businesses used to decide on a course of action, then inform IT people so they could implement the plan. Now our thinking must move through the network that shapes it, not around it. The network itself - how it enables us to think, how it defines the questions that can be asked - determines the forms of possible strategies. So those who implement strategy must participate in setting strategy, not be added on after the fact, just as information security must be intrinsic to the architecture of an organizational structure, not added on as an afterthought.

The mind that designs the network designs the possibilities for human thinking and therefore for action.

Every single node in a network is a center from which both attack and defense can originate. The gray world in which hackers live has spilled over the edges which used to look more black and white. The skies of the digital world grow grayer day by day.

In that world, we are real birds fluttering about in digital cages. Images - icons, text, sound - define the "space" in which we move. If the cages are large enough, we have the illusion we are free and flying, when in fact we are moved in groups by the cages.

Example: to prevent insurrection during times of extreme civil unrest, government agencies created groups whose members were potentially dangerous, building a database of people they intended to collect if things fell apart. These days, many digital communities serve this purpose.

Example: Last week an FDIC spokesperson provided data on the readiness of American banks for Y2K. Tom Brokaw of NBC had recently announced, he said, that 33% of the banks weren't ready, but in fact, 96% of the banks are on schedule, 3 % are lagging a little, and only 1% are seriously behind. The biggest threat to the monetary system is a stampeding herd, spooked by the digital image of a talking head giving bogus information.

The digital world is a hall of mirrors, and the social construction of reality is big business, fueled by the explosion of the Internet, a marketplace where the buyer of ideas - as well as items at auction - had better beware.

This is not just about the distortion of facts by mainstream (or alternative) news media, nor the exploitation of fear because we know that fear sells. More and more, we are seeking and finding alternative sources of information from sources we believe we can trust. Believable truth must be linked to believable sources, or else we will make it up, pasting fears and hopes onto a blank screen or onto images built like bookshelves to receive our projections. Because we like to live on islands of agreement, receiving information that supports our current thinking, we live in thought worlds threaded on digital information that isolates and divides us. But the network is also the means of a larger communion and the discovery of a more unified, more comprehensive truth. We live on the edge of a digital blade, and the blade cuts both ways.

"We all know the same truth," said Woody Allen. "Our lives consist of how we choose to distort it."

Except Woody Allen didn't say it. Rather, he said it through the mouth of a character in "Deconstructing Harry" named Harry Block. Except Harry Block didn't say it either. He said it through the mouth of a character he created in the movie.

Hacking is a kind of deconstruction of the combinations and permutations available in a network. Deconstruction is essential in a digital world. The skills of critical thinking, the ability to integrate fragments and know how to build a Big Picture are more important than ever. Those skills are critical to hacking and securing networks and critical to understanding who is really who in a world in which people are not always what they seem.

Plato feared the emerging world of writing because anybody could say anything without accountability, but he did not foresee the emergence of tools to document and evaluate what was written. Our world may seem for the moment to be a-historical, fragmentary, multi-modal in relationship to the world of printed text, but something new is evolving - a matrix of understanding, a set of skills, a mindset that lets us sift through disinformation and use the same technology that lulls us to sleep to wake ourselves up.

Richard Thieme (www.thiemeworks.com) speaks, writes and consults on the human dimension of technology and the work place.

CT : So what do you think? Is he a keeper? Vote on the poll if you'd like to see this column each week on Slashdot. Of course, now that we have the customizable stuff, you'll be able to disable future Island's even if we do keep him.

cancel ×

181 comments

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uh oh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978585)

awe man, why'd you have to associate him with jon katz in any way. now my subconscience is going to automatically not want to read his articles.

Hmmmm ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978586)

"This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important- you're insane."


Yup, with some ppls reactions against Katz,
it is insane to get a new writer AND have a
poll.

Finally I reached the reply button! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978587)

That MUST mean that piece of drivel is finished!
Please, please, give us more of the same! I have been having problems sleeping lately but more of this ought to solve any and all sleeping problems!

William S B

top notch! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978588)

Tech is tech, we're all techies of one sort or another....
Undetstanding the human/computer interface and the impact of information tech on human life is (IMHO) a direction that deserves more of our interest

Hacking != Cracking, IDIOT!!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978589)


Take that entire article and do this

s/hack/crack/g;

GODAMNIT!!!!

Excellent idea! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978590)

I totally agree. I think these OpEd articles are very interesting, but I don't have the time to dissect them during the day.


One other possibility is to have a separate section for those pieces (since I believe there will be more and more of them), and have a limited number show up on the main slashdot page.


Keep them coming though!

I had no problem.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978591)

and I liked many of the points he made

Deconstruction ??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978592)

WTF ???

Metaphor is fine, but don't drown... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978593)

IMHO, he tends to meander around decent ideas, but the point is obscured.

Harmless enough; give 'im another chance, and a filter...

You are wrong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978594)

People like you spend more time about how to communicate than you actually spend communicating.

You probably are the type that spends more time discussing what a program should do than actually creating a program to do something (that is...if you even program).

blah blah blah (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978595)

Is that correct use of "obfuscates"?

doesn't sound like philosophy to me (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978596)

You didn't read Nietzsche then.

At least 20% better than Katz! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 15 years ago | (#1978597)

Not that that's saying much.

Hacker vs. Cracker (1)

dwmw2 (82) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978622)

As long as he can tell the difference, keep him.

PURPLE RULES! (1)

synaptik (125) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978623)


"As fun as I'm sure it would be, I can't let you space your Green comrades." --Garibaldi

It's only my opinion. (1)

synaptik (125) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978624)

Don't devalue the worth of ancillary prose. Facts may have a higher intrinsic value, but the surrounding prose accentuates the intended context and connotations of the author.

Example: From a purely logical perspective, the words "and" and "but" are synonymous. But in the casual vernacular, their connotations are almost opposite.

Keep him (1)

John Campbell (559) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978625)

Well, I got dizzy trying to follow a couple of those metaphors, but he had a point and he made it. Katz, there might be a lesson here for you.

Keep 'im (1)

Enry (630) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978629)

Nice article. I hope the ones that follow are this good.

No Subject Given (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978631)

Posted by someone stole my nick:

"The skies of the digital world grow grayer day by day.

In that world, we are real birds fluttering about in digital cages.

The digital world is a hall of mirrors,

We live on the edge of a digital blade, and the blade cuts both ways. "

...Apart from an overuse of metaphor... And what seems to be a destinct desire to be unclear... He has some intersting ideas.... Unfortunately he obscured the synthesis of his disjoint points with an overbearing literary style. A philosphy major at some point, no doubt.

The greatest thing about the new customizable /. is that we can keep him or lose him, and its's our choice.

Keep, but allow filtering (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978632)

Posted by FascDot Killed My Previous Use:

I went to my preferences page and found I had no option to kill him off. Please allow me to do this. I HATE pseudo-intellectual "techno"-journalists.

keep him (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978633)

Posted by bSMfh (bastard ScoutMaster fro:

I say sign him up!
If you don't like it,turn on your internal or
your /. filters

Sorry, but that was pretty bad (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978634)

Posted by The Mongolian Barbecue:

In the first place it was kind of hard to figure out what he was trying to say. Did he have a point to make? There was some junk about the net becoming more important at the start, and techies getting increased power (which is not really true, imho) but then he just started- well- rambling. The last 5 paragraphs were painful.

Someone earlier mentioned something to the extent that he was spoiled on howto's and O'reily prose. Well, I think good writing should be a lot like that- something easy to read. I don't mean trite or illeterate, I mean Earnest Hemingway or O'Henry prose. When I read an essay or novel by a good and relatively contemporary (otherwise changes in language usage interfere) author there is no effort involved- I don't have to try and unravel convoluted sentances and paragraphs.

this was not the case here

Mixed feelings (1)

gavinhall (33) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978635)

Posted by Fimmtiu:

On one hand, I think one talking head was too many for Slashdot. This is a great news forum, but if every struggling semi-computer-literate journalist can post silly Katzian articles here, the signal-to-noise unbalance will start driving people off. As long as the editorial pieces stay reasonably rare, it should be OK. (And the customizable slashdot feature kicks major booty, if I do say so myself!)

On the other hand, this guy isn't as bad as Katz. (I know Jon means well, but he's still rather purple and content-free, IMHO.) Apart from a few laughably top-heavy metaphors ("digital blade?" whatever...), this is pretty lucid.

I propose a probationary period. We let him keep posting, for now... but if he ever again posts an article which confuses "hacker" and "cracker" as cluelessly as this one, we kick him out and mail a dead cat to his house.

All in favor? :-)

Space-time allocation? (1)

Kyt (903) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978641)

This makes a good point, and I have a suggestion to deal with the problem of what gets to take up valuable screen real-estate:

Put the op-ed pieces up on the weekends. Saturdays and Sundays tend to be very quiet, for the most part, and it's more likely that people would be receptive to lengthier, more reflective pieces when they aren't trying to squeeze their /. reading into three-minute breaks during the work week.

Consider it like a "Sunday Edition" of Slashdot - more in-depth articles, op-ed, and now we have links to the Sunday funnies! Something you can enjoy with a cup of coffee without having to rush through it.

Thoughts?

Pot vs. Kettle, jargon-wise. (1)

Kyt (903) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978642)

black-turtlenecked oedipal poseur ???

Come on, man, if you don't like what the guy has to say, address what he's saying, don't just rip into what you view as trite deconstructionist jargon .

I honestly didn't care much for the article, because it was poorly constructed (from an English-major standpoint) and tried to do too much , thereby losing its focus. But some of the ideas themselves were valid and well worth considering.

Keep him - why not? (1)

mackga (990) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978643)

It's always good to have more perspectives on technical stuff. God knows, those of us who watch tv get a lot of distortions. It'd be nice to have a clueful source of "bigger picture" essays here.

Better than Katz (1)

innerFire (1016) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978644)

I am a long-time anti-Katz-er. I think this guy is better, both in terms of writing mechanics (if there were any dorky spelling errors, I missed them) and in terms of prose quality (shorter, creative without being tedious). I also think the bit about networks constraining/defining our possible modes of action was an insight beyond what Katz could come up with. But it wasn't exactly Claude Shannon or anything. :^P

Now that we have customizable front pages, I say keep him, and Katz too. I personally do not filter Katz, because I just have to read his articles every time (makes me feel better about myself), and I will not filter this column, either.

No Subject Given (1)

Don Negro (1069) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978645)

"The skies of the digital world grow grayer day by day."


I like that line. The rest are so-so.

If he's a good journalist, he'll adapt to his audience. If he's not, we'll stop reading his stuff.

That's the best part about the new journalistic model that is being created here on /. We know the writers' names, we know their inclinations and agendas, and we know whether or not to trust them.

Don Negro

Can someone please explain.... (1)

Don Negro (1069) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978646)

Simple, suits like decontructuralist bullshit. It makes them feel smart to understand all the words.

The more enlightened of the suits (or those freshly back from leadership-training seminars) read sites like this to try and get a clue what the employees think. If they read someone who's published [sounds of angelic choir] in Forbes Digital [86 heavenly host glee club] and he says that they should ask their IT employees about network strategy before dictating it, then there's a small chance that it actually might happen.

And that'd be a good thing for all of us.

Don Negro

Great Nick, my friend... (1)

Don Negro (1069) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978647)

Subject says it all.

Don Negro

It's only my opinion. (1)

Misfit (1071) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978648)

I guess I'm too used to reading HOWTO's and O'Reilly manuals. Couldn't the article be summed up in a couple of paragraphs?

Just give me the information and let the newbies have the pretty prose.

Still though. He's a better writer than I am and I'm glad to see Slashdot getting some solid writers.

Keep him on. I'm fully capable of choosing what I read or don't read.

One more, whos next? (1)

Karpe (1147) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978649)

Just like companies are starting to "join" the Linux Movement, jornalists are starting to "join" slashdot.

Hey, the man cant distinguisg crackers from hackers, does he belong here?

Cmon, writing in /. is a great thing, 1000s of listeners with lots of spare time to hear whatever people say. How many books did Kats sold just to /. readers? I didnt buy it, but I believe many did.

keep him (1)

joss (1346) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978651)

Extra choice is seldom a bad thing, and more than that, I think he belongs. For those who don't like it - Just ignore It (TM)

looks good to me (1)

Jon Peterson (1443) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978652)

so long as it doesn't displace other stuff.

I think there is room for op-ed pieces on /., but there is not limitless room.

So, go for it I say.

ex distortions (1)

RevRa (1728) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978653)

:1,$s/hack/crack/g

- Randy

My two fav tech writers: Katz and Thieme (1)

Tarrant (1817) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978654)

I've been reading Thieme's stuff for...maybe two years? Probably longer for Katz (back in HotWired's heyday). I think it's a real coup getting Thieme in to slashdot, particularly since he managed to start making sense again about a month ago.

Keep him. Definitely.

Writes well; hope other columns more interesting (1)

Topia (2151) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978656)

I like his writing style better than Katz, but I didn't find this piece very interesting.

I do want to see more of his work in the future.

If all else fails... (1)

Teethgrinder (2842) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978659)

... he will probably generate some entertaining flame wars.

Apart from that he seems to be ok. So keep him.

Space-time allocation? (1)

Snapple (3106) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978662)

Sunday's would be a GREAT time to put articles like this. I do like reading other views of people . Lets you know what the rest of the world is thinking. Maybe "Slashdot Sunday" could also have a few guest columnists.. Rob, maybe send out invitations to write a guest column to people inside and outside the industry! They will appreciate (if they have flame proof suits) the feedback that such a vocal audience could give! Hell wouldn't it be great to flame BillGatus of Borg. See what he has to say, if he can actually take off those rose coloured glasses, and drop all the marketing BS...

Another point of view (1)

Blue Hammer (3673) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978665)

With the advent of /.'s new customizability, if people don't care for it, they can choose not to see it. Personally, I thought it was well written. Even if I didn't agree with all of it, it was still enoyable to read. I voted to keep him.

Yeah keep him! (1)

chirayu (3931) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978666)

Lets try him out. One article is not good enuff to judge an author.Keep the poll after a month or so, let ppl get a good idea of what they are going to vote for before they are allowed to vote.

CP

Metaphors upon metaphors (1)

booch (4157) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978667)

I had a similar problem getting through the metaphors. The article wasn't bad, it's just that the author needs to be more conscise in getting his point across. I like EngrBohn's distilled summary. Maybe we can have him write for us instead -- it will save me a lot of time reading.

No Subject Given (1)

RattRigg (4253) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978668)

Keep em.

ditto (1)

marquis (5361) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978670)

If you're interested - read it; if you're uninterested, repulsed, frightened, whatever - filter it.

Metaphors upon metaphors (1)

EngrBohn (5364) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978671)

Metaphors are supposed to make it easier to convey a concept, but this article has little but metaphors, making it difficult to follow. I think I can summarize this article: Only trust reliable sources; news media outlets need to keep their facts straight; decisions should be made holistically, based upon facts and not assumptions.
--I still say keep him.
Christopher A. Bohn

Hacker vs. Cracker (1)

Hulver (5850) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978677)

You'd have thought after the number of rants posted on /. about the mix up between hacker and cracker, /. it's self would be able to get it right.

The same forum? (1)

wugmump (6611) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978678)

It looks to me like the comments for the essay and the comments for the poll are the same. Was that intentional?

Yeah, sure, keep him. Believe it or not, after this first installment, I prefer Katz.

Keep him, if... (1)

djarb (6628) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978679)

If he learns the difference between hacker and cracker.

Columnists in General (1)

locust (6639) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978680)

While I'd like to Thieme kept for a bit to find out how good/poor his material is, he (and Katz) should not have the ability to post at will. They should be read and edited by Rob (or someone). This way someone other than the readers, proofs and fact checks the article before its posted. Further one article is not enough on which to base a decission. Let me see three or four and I'll make one. As illustration: I initially voted to keep Katz (not to kick a dead one :), but have gotten to the point where only absolute boredom is the only reason I go near his work.

I like him (1)

Bocephus (6835) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978681)

His style is smoother than Katz', and the unsupported claims that he puts out are at least wrapped in pretty language, rather than Katz' huffing, puffing rants.

Keep him.


blah blah blah (1)

L. Ron McKenzie (7095) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978683)

Gratuitous implementation of multi-syllabic verbiage obfuscates the impoverished, redundant contemplation of a deficient individual.



doesn't sound like philosophy to me (1)

JanneM (7445) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978685)

Had he written the piece in the style of a philosophy text, he would have started with five pages of definitions nobody else in the field agrees with, followed by a ten-page rant about why his views of qualia are superior to everyone elses :-)

Disclaimer: CompSci major doing doctoral work at a philosophy department - any bias is my own fault.

Helping communities to communicate (1)

jawildman (7978) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978686)

I like his comments. He, Katz and others are good at devising metaphors and explainations that other groups can use to better understand the world as the 'geeks' see it. That metaphor about carrying the birdcage around is a really powerful one. It could be useful to explain alot of things, technical or not.

Keep him.

Deconstruction? (1)

kuro5hin (8501) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978688)

The first time I hit the "deconstruction" line, I thought, 'Oh, Christ. Not again...'. Geeks have it easy in the wrong word department. At least "hacker" is sometimes used correctly, whereas "deconstruction", in my experience, is never used right. Here's a quick primer for the unfamiliar:

'Deconstruction' != 'taking apart'

But I read it again, and, although I suspect he doesn't even know it, he did sort of get the idea right. In the first two sentences at least. The method of deconstruction is indeed very much like a litererary version of an IP-spoofing attack. The idea is to take a central metaphor or comparison in the work in question, and see how it can become unstable, through different readings, different meanings of the words, etc. Much like a supposedly "priveleged" host can be taken over by a "trusted" subordinate machine (which is of course being spoofed by a totally different machine, the "supplement" in deconstructo-speak). So bravo for this point, which is a new one on me.

The next sentence, of course goes on to provide evidence that he has no idea what he just said, with all that blather about the big picture, which is pretty much the opposite of what deconstruction is about, and hacking, for that matter. PHB's are the people who see the "big picture". That's what they're there for. New-critics, Marxist critics, Feminists... in the world of words, these are the PHB's; the big-picture types. And thus, he snatches defeat from the jaws of victory.

I say keep, but then again, I don't feel like I have much right to tell Rob what to put here anyway. I just wanted to bitch about the world's lack of understanding of, and continuous perverse need to misuse, deconstruction.

P.S. Sorry about all the "quotes". It's hard to restrain myself when I get writing about deconstruction :-)
----------------------

ex distortions (1)

Phrack (9361) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978690)

:%s/hack/crack/g

Katz Part Deux (1)

Cassius (9481) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978691)

The sequel no one asked for.

Its not that they aren't good wirters, its just that they don't have anything interestin to write about.

This forum is turning into web show-and-tell for every amateur hack out there.

We were asked for our opinions. (1)

Cassius (9481) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978692)

Look up ad hominem in the dictionary, or a philosophy book.

To say you can't critique someone's essay (even though Rob's post explicitly asked for comments) unless you post one yourself is moronic.

You've never run for President, so I guess you can't comment on Clinton.

Not I... (1)

Demian (10272) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978698)

Well, I for one am going to filter him out if he stays. I'm one of the apparent minority who actually likes Katz's stuff so it isn't animosity toward the topics. I just really didn't like this guy's writing style.

Dump him (1)

Theseus (10302) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978699)

I feel like a voice in the wilderness here, but I find his prose style overbearing and pretentious. Let's not stroke the ego of another hacker wannabe.

The quality of his thesis is better than the quality of his prose. This man needs a tough, competent editor: with a little ego-deflation this article would be very good. But I don't see Slashdot as a literary forum and, no offense Rob, I am not sure any of "us geeks" are qualified to be that tough, competent editor.

Interesting point of view. (1)

PsychoSpunk (11534) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978700)

Keep him on. We as a group tend to distort things to fit our own model of reality, and I think that the more writers who are around to step outside this view give us a chance to receive new perspective. While Katz tends to write so that his audience likes him (something he hasn't quite got the hang of considering the reply posts), this guy seems to just write out what he has found.

As far as the Katz haters, I understand that he is trying to evangelize his works and that he is in fact "preaching to the choir." I didn't get a sense of evangelism from this one, so time will only tell if he will demean himself to that level. The general sense though around here is that we're geeks and we don't need preachy effects in articles, just plain, hard facts and numbers. We like those.

That's my opinion and I'm sticking to it.

PsychoSpunk

And the last time you contributed a column was... (1)

symbolic (11752) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978701)


NEVER?????

If the contributions are so poor here on Slashdot, please...enlighten us. Show us the way.

we don't need another person's opinions (1)

cinder_bdt (11946) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978702)

What I want here is interesting "news for nerds". I don't want a bunch of op-ed stuff. If I wanted that, I'd read something else.

PURPLE RULES! (1)

andrews (12425) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978704)

Down with Green! Purple rules!

Hmmmm ... (1)

Bearpaw (13080) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978707)


From the polling blurb:

"This whole thing is wildly inaccurate. Rounding errors, ballot stuffers, dynamic IPs, firewalls. If you're using these numbers to do anything important- you're insane."

So is the decision whether or not to add a new columnist an unimportant decision, or an insane one?

I am offended. (1)

jerodd (13818) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978709)

Why must yet another wanna-be /. write misuse the term ``hacker''? This is Slashdot, and it was one of the few places where I could use the term hacker with freedom.

Until this guy gets a clue, please don't post anymore of his articles.

OK but he must first.. (1)

TA (14109) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978710)

.. fix his terminology! Mis-using "hacker" the way he did in that article makes him look like an idiot.
TA

we don't need another person's opinions (1)

miscellaneous (14183) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978711)

I'll bet you have no idea how ironic that comment is.

Totally content-free ramblings (1)

jurgen (14843) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978712)

Did he say anything? I think the total information content of that article was about 0.5 bits. Katz at least makes an effort to have a point of some substance, even if he doesn't alway succeed.

Dump this guy.

Reading this Twice (1)

Bucko (15043) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978714)

Oh wow. I had to read this twice to get the jist of it. Usually as soon as I see the word "deconstruct", it's over. Deconstruction is a discredited form of critical analysis (lit-crit) and seemed badly out of place here. But when I re-read ...a world in which people are not always what they seem. I had to stop and think. And that was Thieme's intent. Wasn't it? Contrats. It worked. Keep him. But I warn you. As soon as I see the work "SubAltern" in one of his tomes, I'm outta here. Joe

Not bad (1)

Master Switch (15115) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978715)

Keep'm

Keep and compress him (1)

Cathedral (16387) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978717)

I think having an op-ed area that /.ers can read about is a positive attribute, if for no other reason than that it will cause some interesting flames and thoughts to surface. However, I hate bloatware in both Microsoft and Op-ed pieces. Say what you have to say in the most compressed and eloquent way you can.

Related Links Problem? (1)

mr2 (16489) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978718)

Why is it that there are 3 links to Richard Thieme (mailto:rthieme@thiemeworks.com) in the Related Links section? Isn't that redundant?

Decent (1)

jkdufair (16805) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978719)

I like it. It appears to come from someone who knows a bit about technology and the mind of a hacker (using the proper connotation here). It's concise and not too fluffy like other features authors here who can now thankfully be removed with the check of a box. Keep him around, I say.

Jason Dufair
"Those who know don't have the words to tell

Good Idea. (1)

SissyLaLa (17392) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978721)

Sunday is about the only day of the week when I can handle long, metaphor-rich, rambling essays anyway. (I like them, but I have a short attention span)

I would guess the Katz-flamers are gonna toast this guy as well. Can CT find some way to group them together? throw them a side-box?

Keep him or not... (1)

CodeShark (17400) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978722)

In general I say keep him, with the following critique:

This first article suffered from lack of brevity. Although it can be challenging to do so, with some reorganization and editing, my belief is that he probably could have made the same points with about 60% of the words.

In other words (lousy /. pun warning) SLASH out the fat, and keep the thoughts right on the "."

Perspectives (1)

Timeburn (19302) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978727)

I, for one, enjoyed this and have enjoyed most of Katz's work, unlike many it seems. These two should both be complimented, not just for writing well, or choosing good topics. It's because they provide something that many of us just-do-it hackers often miss: Perspective.

Many of us in general spend the majority of our time working on the technical side of anything we're involved in, worried about how this works, or if that has a bug. It's easy to get bogged down in the details.

But how many take the time to stop and look around at what's been accomplished, or where we're going? How often do you stop to get some perspective, whether about the world in general, where the net is going, what we'll be doing in the next year, or even where we've been?

Beyond that, even, Katz and co. provide a fresh perspective. A look through other eyes than our own. It is through these kinds of views that we can see the larger picture, and know our own place within it, rather than be caught in the dreary, crabby details.

IMO, It is a _lack_ of perspective, in general, that creates many of the disgruntled or just plain angry anti-author postings. People are caught unable to see past their own nose, and their ignorance and intolerance shows through. Complaining about what Rob posts on his own site is worse than the KDE/Gnome flame wars. At least there, there is (was?) a legal issue.

But of course, the old rule still applies, even to this posting.. If you don't want to see it, don't look!

Hacker vs. Cracker (1)

databeast (19718) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978728)

He knows the difference, the last time I met him was at a 2600 convention; where, if he didnt understand the difference, he'd have never been allowed to leave alive..

Id say his views into some of the concepts inherent to the whole culture are more congruent and more cutting than a lot of the offhand opinions that pass for 'journalism' these days..

Richard Thieme (1)

Jim Hurlburt (19774) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978729)

Let't try him for a while. He seem to lack focus tho, unless he can write a more coherent, focused article, I'll probably start just skipping over his post. However, all he will take up is a spot on the posting list for a day, and some hard drive space on your server. Not a large cost, and who knows, perhaps the next article will be something I like.

Jim

Hacker vs. Cracker (1)

Kiaser Zohsay (20134) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978730)

Apparently, he can't tell the difference between Hacker and Cracker. He used Hacker all the through, when he (to me at least) meant Cracker.

Secure Computing employs "former hackers"? He must mean Crackers who have gone straight. If he had meant Hackers, he should not have said "former". Presumably, working for a consulting firm, they are still hacking (in the jargon-1 sense).

Granted, the popular media still gets the distinction wrong, but this is not the popular media. Here, if you get the hacker/cracker distinction wrong, what else will you miss?

It was an interesting article that deserves to be published. But not at /.

Sure, considering... (1)

kmj9907 (20499) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978731)

1) the issue of not displacing other stuff is certainly relevant and important.

2) With preferences, people (other than ac's who will still write in and complain, annoying everybody) who don't like him can ignore him.

3) As long as he has something moderately interesting to write about, sure.

So I say yeah, keep him.

kmj

Keep. If folks don't like him, they can filter him (1)

Clover_Kicker (20761) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978732)

As subject says. Let him say his thing, if folks don't like it, it's trivial to screen him out.

Here's a good idea for a ./ poll... How many of you just created an account solely for the purpose of filtering Katz?

(raises hand)





Great quotes (1)

David Frankenstein (21337) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978733)

Maybe too many metaphors and extra verbage, but the point is still valid and reading another style of prose is probably good for my brain.

"The skies of the digital world grow grayer day by day."

The guy isn't bad... (1)

Kaa (21510) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978734)

He is readable and has some interesting approaches. Really, that's all I need from this genre of writing: give me a different way to look at things and info. Doesn't mean that this way is the right one, just being different is enough.

OTOH, I am quite aware that one can produce a huge amount of impressive-sounding text around very little meat. That's one of the problems with Katz, IMHO -- too much fluff, too few ideas.

On the balance, I'd say keep him. If he turns out to be dull and losing, we can always dump him, can't we ;-)

Katz Part Deux (1)

Ravenfeather (21614) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978735)

Agreed!

And actually, there's relatively little evidence in the deconstructing hackers piece that Thieme IS a good writer....

Can someone please explain.... (1)

Ravenfeather (21614) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978736)

Why do you find any value whatsoever to this trite deconstructionist jargon? Thieme talks exactly like the black-turtlenecked oedipal poseur in the back of every college literature class. This sort of babble may intimidate a few of his fellow freshmen, but I don't see why it belongs on slashdot, let alone why it is deserving of any praise.

Or, to put it more simply,

What, of interest or value, does he actually say?

Stop flaming everything that isn't tech stuff (1)

Ravenfeather (21614) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978737)

Hello?

"His ideas?"

The article reads like someone gave the staff of Wired a copy of Foucoult.

The only idea I see here is "hey - maybe I can bullshit these techies with a bunch of deconstructionist babble."

This isn't about flaming everything that isn't tech stuff. This is about flaming bad writing, and poor thinking.

Pot vs. Kettle, jargon-wise. (1)

Ravenfeather (21614) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978738)

Come on, man, and recognize understated parody next time it bites you in the ass.

Or, if that is asking to much, quit with the ad hominem attacks and answer my original question:

What, of interest or value, does he actually say?

doesn't sound like philosophy to me (1)

jslag (21657) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978741)

I read a pretty good amount of philosophy on the way to my degree, and not one text had this sort of prose.

Let's be realistic - this is the work of an english major.

Even worse -- post-structuralist (1)

for(;;); (21766) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978742)

I liked his article until he started using terms like "social construction" and "deconstruction." I like Foucalt as much as the next guy, but why does EVERY SINGLE ACADEMIC SOCIAL COMMENTARY have to be a poststructuralist deconstruction? It's a useful discussion tool, but it's overused and cliche these days. At least it was in the sociology and anthropology courses I took in college.

I liked him at first, but now I say ditch him. He's dependant on buzz words.

Prose vs. Manual Style (1)

El Dopa (22228) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978746)

Most of the time I read un-embellished 'information' on how to accomplish some task, or about some new software - but it's a pleasure to read something written in a less straight-forward style on a subject I care about. It leads to interesting, unexpected thoughts.

So I'd say keep this guy. Makes good leavening for the Slashdot bread.

Keep him, let's hear some more (1)

webster (22696) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978747)

And keep Katz, too.

Drazi war! (1)

Stephen Williams (23750) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978749)

Down with Green! Purple rules!

Die, infidel!
Green.

Belaboring the obvious? (1)

Cowards Anonymous (24060) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978750)

Every single node in a network is a center from which both attack and defense can originate.

Wow. Thanks for that keen insight.

Can I put this guy in the KatzFilter now? I've got pretty much the same criticisms for him: Too verbose, too repetititititive, seemingly written towards a layperson.

I'd like Katz if he paid attention to the audience; but do we really need a second featured columnist?

I vote "ditch" because I'm personally not interested in what this person has to say.

Stop flaming everything that isn't tech stuff (1)

Cuchullain (25146) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978751)

Come on people, stop flaming every writer they try to bring on board... It was a well written article, if a bit obtuse, and this guy would be a major addition to the /. stable. The more firepower that Rob adds to the page the more he is able to proselytize about Linux. I know that I started coming to the page because someone sent me an article that was just "fun" from here.

We need some variety, and his ideas are good. Give him a break. You can always get a personalized page that blocks his articles...

K

ex distortions (1)

maw (25860) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978752)

M-x replace-string (ret) hack (ret) crack

Looks good to me (1)

Phase (26936) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978753)

I like the style, and the fact that he doesn't reduce his writing to the syntactic minimum appeals. If I want to read raw data I'll plunge into an ORA book or some source code. If I want to read something for the sake of reading, I quite like it to look like this. It's information without the overload.

Here's a novel idea, but I think you'll like it. (1)

ciphersnow (27137) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978754)


How about Richard's good articles get published here, his bad ones don't? It sounds crazy, I know, to suggest something other than never/always (like a slashdot poll) but I think it could work. In fact, during the "deciding whether this article stays or gets dumped" any spelling, wrong links, other errors or points of style could be addressed and then the articles that stay could be even better.

I think this is a good idea. We already have readers' comments for people to send their unedited ideas to the readers of slashdot. Maybe for the feature articles, we could up the quality a bit. Don't let Richard perform any crazy-journalism-social-experiments on the naive ./ readers by giving him the free-reign Katz got. Act like editors, editors. I know you can do it.


Even better! -- post-structuralist (1)

syscrusher (92514) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978761)

I've always envied (truly...I'm not being sarcastic) you liberal arts types for knowing so much about how to think broadly and critically. My education was almost 100% engineering and science, and I feel I really lost something by not getting a broader education.

Before I read this article and the commentary, I didn't know what "social [de]construction" was. I still don't understand it as deeply as you probably do, but three important things have happened today:

  1. I have seen an example of social [de]constructionist analysis.
  2. I have read an explanation of why, at least in some people's opinion, it is a clich in academic circles.
  3. I am motivated to go find out more about something I never heard of until now. I want to know what I'm missing by not knowing a post-structuralist from a structured poster.
In other words, my mind is expanding, just a little bit. There is more to this medium of /. than just a one-way presentation of articles, and to me the value (or lack thereof) of an article is partly dependent on whether or not the discussion it stimulates is enlightening. This one passes that test.

Gospel or crap? Who can say? But I vote to keep it, at least for now, just because it makes for interesting discussions.

IDIC.

Even better! -- post-structuralist (1)

syscrusher (92514) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978762)

I've always envied (truly...I'm not being sarcastic) you liberal arts types for knowing so much about how to think broadly and critically. My education was almost 100% engineering and science, and I feel I really lost something by not being better rounded. In areas like philosophy and anthropology, I know so little that I don't even know what I don't know -- and therefore where to begin to learn.

Before I read this article and the commentary, I didn't know what "social [de]construction" was. I still don't understand it as deeply as you probably do, but three important things have happened today:

  1. I have seen an example of social [de]constructionist analysis.
  2. I have read an explanation of why, at least in some people's opinion, it is a cliche' in academic circles.
  3. I am motivated to go find out more about something I never heard of until now. I want to know what I'm missing by not knowing a post-structuralist from a structured poster.
In other words, my mind is expanding, just a little bit. There is more to this medium of /. than just a one-way presentation of articles, and to me the value (or lack thereof) of an article is partly dependent on whether or not the discussion it stimulates is enlightening. This one passes that test.

Having said that, I do think he needs to run the next one through compress or gzip. Every word is not a diamond, and I had to chip away too much slag here.

Gospel or crap? Who can say? But I vote to keep it, at least for now, just because it makes for interesting discussions. As for whether non-technical topics belong here, the slogan of /. is "News for nerds. Stuff that matters." Are people saying that only technical knowledge matters? If so, then maybe we tech-types really are as narrow-minded as the PHBs think we are. I hope not.

IDIC.

Keep him, but... (1)

janic (102538) | more than 15 years ago | (#1978765)

Hack!=Crack

dognamnit!

John.
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