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Jaron Lanier on the Semi-Closed Internet

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 8 years ago | from the not-quite-as-gory-as-i-was-hoping dept.

The Internet 248

Will Wilkinson writes "Jaron Lanier's recent essay, The Gory Antigora: Illusions of Capitalism and Computers, kicks off a discussion of 'Internet Liberation: Alive or Dead?' at the Cato Institute's new blogazine, Cato Unbound. In Lanier's essay today, find out how the 'brittleness' of software has kept the Internet from realizing its potential as 'a cross between Adam Smith and Albert Einstein; the Invisible Hand accelerating toward the speed of light.' Also, find out why, upon meeting Richard Stallman, Lanier's reaction was: 'An open version of UNIX! Yuk!'"

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I didn't understand any of that. (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14428825)

I didn't understand one word of that.

Re:I didn't understand any of that. (1)

Proctal Relapse (467579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428909)

dude, just one of Jaron Lanier's dreadlocks has more CYBER VISION than ICANN and Dvorak COMBINED

p.s. clean the shit out of your ears for this one: VIRTUAL REALITY

Re:I didn't understand any of that. (5, Funny)

Rei (128717) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428924)

Here, I'll translate it for you:

Yo, buss dis. My man Will be up and writin 'bout JL's recent papah, "Da Gory Antigora: Trippin 'Bout Computers and Bling", be kickin off, rappin 'bout 'Intanet Liberation: Dead Or Alive!' at da Cato Institute's new blogazine, Cato Unbound, aiii? JL be writing today 'bout how da softwares dat run yo Intanet can get a cap bust up in they a--, an' don't do all 'dey can to mix the ideas of th' devil and Albert E; dat is, dey don't have some invisible hand puttin the smack down at th' speed of light.' You can also read yourself 'bout how when JL met my man RMS, JL done say: 'An open version of UNIX! Nigga, please!'"

Peace.

Re:I didn't understand any of that. (0, Redundant)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428966)

Damn. You can't spell for shit.

Re:I didn't understand any of that. (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429275)

This is the kind of post that "+5, Funny" was made for. Well done!

Re:I didn't understand any of that. (1)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429432)

My hat off to you, sir.

I feel like putting that into Babelfish and seeing what it would look like, translated into German and back or something. I think it would probably just blow a fuse somewhere.

Bunk. (4, Interesting)

RevDobbs (313888) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428834)

The unfortunate Internet has only one peer when it comes to obfuscation due to an inundation of excessive punditry,

That peer is the very sentance you are writing, correct?

This entire essay is bunk; every paragraph the author brings up a point that can quickly be refuted. He overgeneralizes issues and adds a big dollup of emotional appeal to make his points. And frankly, his points are just misguided, if not straight out wrong.

Re:Bunk. (4, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428857)

I agree. The author holds on to old theories about marketplaces and interactivity and completely forgets that the web and instant global communications are opening up new ways to do previously unthought of tasks.

To point at the ways previous successes worked and try to see them in the future is a bad idea. The reality is that we won't know what is succesful in the future because we don't know what previously unlinked services or products might work better together.

Now my reply is as confusing as the article, sheesh.

Re:Bunk. (4, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429032)

Now my reply is as confusing as the article, sheesh.

Let me try to deconfuse your theory.

1) We don't know what will hapen with the internet.
2) Pointing to what happened with other older technologies does not always apply to newer technologies.
3) We don't have new ideas yet to revolutionize the world or we would have tried them already.
4) We're still learning what we can do with this thing, partly we're seeing what we can do online that we can already do offline, partly we're trying to see what we can do that no one has ever done before.

Re:Bunk. (2, Insightful)

dada21 (163177) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429105)

Whoa, smart!

Actually, you're spot on. I do believe that the Internet is the best form of anarchocapitalism that we've ever seen and I hope to see it instill some faith in voluntary cooperation (ie, capitalism) over time.

Everyone I know who has done business online has been screwed once. They had no real recourse through legal means, and in the end the guy who ripped people off went out of business. The great thing about the de-regulated economy online is that the costs are lower, so in the rare occasion that you do get ripped off you are still ahead once you factor in the taxes you'd have paid (that are supposed to be used to protect you).

OT: Sig (1)

itomato (91092) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429167)

Right on.

We of like mind should form a Coalition. Make more noise!

Re:Bunk. (1)

zev1983 (792397) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429491)

At least your post was less confusing than the summary. What was that about the speed of light?

Re:Bunk. (2, Insightful)

Paradise Pete (33184) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429627)

opening up new ways to do previously unthought of tasks.

If they were previously unthought of, how could there have been an old way to do them?

Or else what may ACTUALLY happen...! (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14428883)

Jaron Lanier is gay. Yoda happened to eat my balls. First post.

Re:Bunk. (0, Flamebait)

Jak Crow (846160) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428928)

Were you expecting something else from the Cato Institute? I wouldn't.

Re:Bunk, bunk and more bunk, followed by spunk. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14428968)

The entire essay was an act of masturbation by the author.

Re:Bunk, bunk and more bunk, followed by spunk. (1)

Proctal Relapse (467579) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429122)

welcome to the wonderful world of Jaron Lanier.

I need to work out a system in which I get paid to flame about things which will never happen. pretty sure I need to move to Cali for that one to work.

also, well.com.

Re:Bunk. (1, Informative)

Number6.2 (71553) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428996)

Hello, this is the fricking CATO INSTITUTE. Their real problem with the Internet is the fact that you don't get charged for every minute you loiter at a website and every KB you download from same.

As far as I'm concerned, they're about as pro Adam Smith as Stalin was pro Marx ("pro" only as far as being able to pronounce the word, and sure that saying it will get them what they want).

(start tongue in cheek mode) and another thing: there's too much free speach on the Internet. I hear even Al-Jezeera is on it. It can't be good. Why does the Internet hate America? (end tongue in cheek mode)

Besides... (1)

jd (1658) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429448)

I thought John Nash had pretty well debunked most of Adam Smith's theories, so even if they were pro-AS, they're pro an idea that has been discredited anyway.

Re:Bunk. (2, Funny)

kfg (145172) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429076)

This entire essay is bunk. . .

You misspelled "llshit."

KFG

Re:Bunk. (0, Troll)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429101)

This entire essay is bunk; every paragraph the author brings up a point that can quickly be refuted. He overgeneralizes issues and adds a big dollup of emotional appeal to make his points. And frankly, his points are just misguided, if not straight out wrong.
That entire post is bunk; every paragraph the author brings up a point that can quickly be refuted. He overgeneralizes issues and adds a big dollup of emotional appeal to make his points. And frankly, his points are just misguided, if not straight out wrong.

Re:Bunk. (1)

Anonymous Gay Sex (548357) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429208)

so are you defending Jaron "Techno-hippie Dickfaggot" Lanier's 1991-vintage viewpoints then? because if you are, I would love the opportunity to kick you until you stop moving.

Re:Bunk. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429103)

This entire essay is bunk; every paragraph the author brings up a point that can quickly be refuted.

Interesting then, that you've done exactly that for exactly none of the points in question. Actually refuting the points would be adding content and having a discussion. Instead of doing that, you're basically flinging poo. I wonder if this sort of behavior is what was meant by "excessive punditry." Ironic.

Re:Bunk. (2, Insightful)

blamanj (253811) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429509)

A couple of obvious technical ones:

Files have become too fundamental to reconsider.
In fact, there are systems (I believe the IBM z/OS is one, not sure) that don't have file systems, they are instead database-oriented or stream-oriented.

[Unix] is based on the premise that people should interact with computers through a "command line."
Unix is based on the idea that programs should do one thing well, and that it should be easy to wire them together to get the benefit of multiple tools. The fact that the implementations are command-line based is a function of technology. There's no reason a "visual shell" couldn't be substituted for bash/csh/etc.

The article seems to be written by someone who's very fond of hearing his own voice.

Re:Bunk. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429583)

You are a fucking idiot. A file-based system is entrenched in everyone's mind. It is something that everyone who uses computers understands. Bringing one or two difering examples doesn't disprove his point.

And please don't try to tell me now that one of the biggest draws to Unix is not the command line ! So hiding all those command line entries behind a visual shell means the command line doesn't exist? It means that the design of the system has not been crippled?

Try to understand what the guy is writing about rather than simplistically playing gotcha. You can do that with your daddy when he's molesting you.

The Cato Propaganda Institute. (3, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429159)

Cato is infamous [std.com] for questionable research that politicians have used to support some ridiculous claims. Nothing different from them here.

Re:The Cato Propaganda Institute. (3, Insightful)

j-turkey (187775) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429418)

Cato is infamous for questionable research that politicians have used to support some ridiculous claims. Nothing different from them here.

I don't think that the Cato institute has ever professed to not be a Libertarian think tank. They've always been pretty up front with their political stance. Some of their research is actually quite intriguing. Other research appears to just be Libertarian banter. It's up to the reader to place judgement on individual articles...however, it would be unwise to dismiss everything that the Cato institute has ever written (regardless of your political leanings). The link you posted tends to rely on citing inflammatory political topics and does not appear to be much more than a political soundboard. Why not take things at face value rather than first assessing whether or not the writer shares your political convictions?

Welcome to the conservitive think-tank. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429218)

The Cato institute is one of the more conservitive think tank. From what I understand, they will publish stuff like this so that the NeoCons in Congress can quote them as a reliable source.
This is the same loose affiliation that will scream about "liberal media" until their noise drowns out any other signal. And the Cato Institute is the "section" that sets up the "information" that is going to be sited.

My big concern here is that this is the beginning of the hard core lock down of the internet. Their typical tactic is to chip away until nothing is left. Think imperialist presidency, with their "Us" in control. It almost sounds like fascism, remember, Hitler was elected too.

Go ahead, mark this as a troll, but the Libertarians should be just as scared as the Liberals.

Re:Bunk. (2, Interesting)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429322)

I'd like to add one more thing to help debunk this guy.

The Internet and the Web would be fabulous Antigoras if they were privately owned.

Here he proves he knows nothing about the internet, or at least the internet in the US. The net is almost completely (if not completely) privately owned in the US.

Re:Bunk. (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429414)

Before you go getting excited about the worthlessness of the article, remember the source. It's just another crank from the CATO institute.

Re:Bunk. (2, Funny)

aqfire (885545) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429495)

The unfortunate Internet has only one peer when it comes to obfuscation due to an inundation of excessive punditry,

The very same peer that resets my connection every 5 minutes.

DAMN YOU PEER!!!

Killing Me Softly (1)

kiehlster (844523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428843)

I'd vote for it being alive, but all these stupid discussions on if it's alive or dead are killing it. It's all this spam and nonsense and a lack of quality web design that's turning it into a bunch of useless junk.

Re:Killing Me Softly (1)

vertinox (846076) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429087)

It's all this spam and nonsense and a lack of quality web design that's turning it into a bunch of useless junk.

I remember seeing the internet for the first time in 1994 and I'm pretty sure it had all the these problems back then too. I'd dare say as soon as they created a browser that could render HTML and graphics we had all these things.

Re:Killing Me Softly (1)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429422)

I remember seeing the internet for the first time in 1994 and I'm pretty sure it had all the these problems back then too.

I don't know about anyone else, but I found a lot of those crappy webpages to be far more useful than many of the "pretty" ones done today. The old ones may have looked like they were pulled from a dumpster, but at least they carried real information. (Just remember to mute MIDI on your computer.) So many webpages today look pretty, but their content is nothing more than a lot of fluff. Welcome to the side effects of a commercialized Internet. :-(

Re:Killing Me Softly (2, Funny)

Kadin2048 (468275) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429489)

I'd dare say as soon as they created a browser that could render HTML and graphics we had all these things.

No, I can tell you exactly when the problems began, and that was with the BLINK tag.

Everything before that was pretty tame -- it's when things started to move that it got really obnoxious. From blinking crap it was pretty much a straight downward progression to animated GIF crap, and then to Flash crap.

Nothing to see here (2, Interesting)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428874)

There isn't much in TFA except a nice point about how we should be able to "browse" video games in the way we browse through books or newspapers. Which does, in fact, make me wonder why stores don't allow you to rent a copy of a game, bring it back and decide whether or not to buy it. I've been doing that for years, but never with one store.

Re:Nothing to see here (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14428946)

You can do that.

Go to your local video rental store, rent the game, if you like it, then you can go buy it.

Your post really made little sense.

Are you complainaing that you can't rent the game at the saem store you buy it at?

I'm not sure how you got modded up.

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Red Flayer (890720) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428984)

"There isn't much in TFA except a nice point about how we should be able to "browse" video games in the way we browse through books or newspapers"

I've seen plenty of stores with demo systems set up so you can "browse" a game. Sure, not all stores have it set up, or always operable, but that's because there is expensive (relatively) hardware needed to be able to browse games -- unlike books or magazines.

Re:Nothing to see here (3, Insightful)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428990)

There isn't much in TFA except a nice point about how we should be able to "browse" video games in the way we browse through books or newspapers. Which does, in fact, make me wonder why stores don't allow you to rent a copy of a game, bring it back and decide whether or not to buy it. I've been doing that for years, but never with one store.

Because people will either:
1) Copy the video game at home and return it saying they don't want it, thus having the game without paying for it.
2) Play the game, beat it, return it, having "used" all the content without paying for it.

For the most part, I understand #1 is the main reason stores no longer allow returning opened games. As for trying out the games, isn't that what playable Demos are for? Such as the Unreal Tournament 2K4 demo?

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Eli Gottlieb (917758) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429027)

Demos are for playing all the reasons you should buy the game. "Browsing" should let you see everything about a game.

Furthermore, #2 on that list nobody's fault but the game industry. I can sit in Barnes and Noble and read an entire book theoretically, but in practice there is usually too much content to "use" it all in one short time period.

#1 is perfectly true, though. If it can be bootlegged, it will. Still, in that case the store makes money off of the rental, right?

Re:Nothing to see here (1)

Ironsides (739422) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429134)

#1 is perfectly true, though. If it can be bootlegged, it will. Still, in that case the store makes money off of the rental, right?

Gah, I missed the part about renting the game. But yeah, rent with the option to buy would be one buisness plan. Only problem with that I can see is with those of us that don't want to buy a previously "used" game (think scratched disks). But then again, they're more likely to buy the game outright anyway without trying it out first. The copying is still the main issue, though. It would have to be solved before most places would try this out.

Furthermore, #2 on that list nobody's fault but the game industry. I can sit in Barnes and Noble and read an entire book theoretically, but in practice there is usually too much content to "use" it all in one short time period.

Tetris, PacMan, Pong, Bubble Bobble, SuDoKu, all the repetitive games that only have slight variations in each level. However, I do see your point.

They can't usually rent non-console games legally (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429140)

Copyright law prohibits the rental of software, generally speaking, unless the software is specifically for video game machines (i.e. not for a general-purpose computer) or cannot be odinarily copied (e.g. a hardwarre game cartridge). See 17 USC 109(b). (This section was originally written to stop "record rental", but was later expanded to software.)

Nonprofit lending by libraries, however, is exempted from this prohibition.

Puff piece... (2, Insightful)

webword (82711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428913)

Not much new here, especially if you look at this from a history of technology [wikipedia.org] perspective. The same comments about "lock in" (a.k.a., capitalism is evil) apply to telephones, electricity, and the water wheel. Bottom line: Humans continue to get stuff done whether there is "lock in" or not.

My mouse is broken. (3, Insightful)

Elwood P Dowd (16933) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428927)

I'm confused.

Dumbasses didn't put clicky links on their image. Why not? So that you can dig, dig, dig and find the long winded articles?

Maybe they haven't figured out the internet as well as they think. Blogs with 5000 word essays tend to be a pain in my ass. I'm barely literate. How much do they expect slitscan to read?

Immanent death of the Net predicted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14428929)

Film at 11.

I'm So Conflicted... (5, Funny)

RobotRunAmok (595286) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428934)

Jaron Lanier... Cato Institute... 'blogazine'... Richard Stallman

After that summary, I can't decide whether I need to take an aspirin or a shower first.

Re:I'm So Conflicted... (1)

JonTurner (178845) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429576)

>>Jaron Lanier... Cato Institute... 'blogazine'... Richard Stallman
>After that summary, I can't decide whether I need to take an aspirin or a shower first.

Agreed. A strange confluence. Makes me want to
    1) Grow my hair
    2) put on a tie
    3) write in my diary
    4) fight "The Man!"
in roughly that order.

Don't read TFA (1)

Doomedsnowball (921841) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428953)

The unfortunate Internet has only one peer when it comes to obfuscation due to an inundation of excessive punditry, and that peer is religion.

If by that opening sentence he means that you have to believe what he is saying despite much observable evidence to the contrary, then yes, it is like religion. (Not a troll, I swear)

IMHO you should not even link to the site. Just the concept of open source software... the concept- is enough to refute his first arguement that software is inflexable and unable to adapt. What a totally moron thing to say. I actually am holding out hope for a supremely subtle jab at internet puditry. If this is it, I can't tell.

Re:Don't read TFA (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429578)

(Not a troll, I swear)

You're not a troll because you swear? But I've met lots of trolls that use profane language...

Another day, another advertisement (4, Funny)

sczimme (603413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428970)


From the summary:

at the Cato Institute's new blogazine

Alarm bells are ringing, Willie:

Fluff topic? Check.

A grandiosely named organization? Check

A newly-coined, silly, and far-too-hip word modeled after another newly-coined, silly, and far-too-hip word? Check.

Also, find out why, upon meeting Richard Stallman, Lanier's reaction was: 'An open version of UNIX! Yuk!'

This part is probably true, although without the 'An open version of UNIX!' part.

Re:Another day, another advertisement (1)

soulsteal (104635) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429057)

Two points for the Lock, Stock reference.

And watch your language around the boy. That includes blasphemy.

Dead? (1)

CaptSnuffy (843104) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428973)

The Internet isn't going away unless we have some major power chrisis or something. People will always find a way to continue this now that we've reached the point-of-no-return, possibly even giving rise to a new hodge-podged network made without aid from corporations. Open source has proved that technology can manifest itself outside of corporate settings and that's why we'll always have the internet. We can't live without it anymore, so we will continue it ourselves if we must.

M$? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14428975)

Microsoft is an almost ideal example, because users are dependent on its products in order to function in cooperation with each other. Businesses often require Windows and Word, for instance, because other businesses use them (the network effect) and each customer's own history is self-accessible only through Microsoft's formats. At the same time, users spend a huge amount of time on such things as virus abatement and glitch recovery. The connectivity offered by Microsoft is valuable enough to offset the hassle.

Another M$ paid stuff....move along.

I have a sore leg. (3, Funny)

LightningBolt! (664763) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428976)

But I just got a prescription for "blogazine", a topical ointment which alleviates muscle pain.

Re:I have a sore leg. (1)

conteXXt (249905) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429564)

That stuff is miraculous isn't it?

My doctor gave it to me for a persistant itch around my gonads.

Cleared me up right fast.

Re:I have a sore leg. (1)

williamhb (758070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429598)

But I just got a prescription for "blogazine", a topical ointment which alleviates muscle pain.
Given the contents of the article, I think blogazine might actually be a laxative.

Self promotion as the major accomplishment (5, Insightful)

wintermute42 (710554) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428977)

I remember Jaron Lanier from the 1990s when he gained some fame from his pronouncements about virtual reality. Perhaps I'm ignorant of his real accomplishments, but Lanier, like Paris Hilton, seems to be famous as a result of self promotion, rather than anything he has achieved. In the world of pundits it appears that it is quite possible to create yourself from thin air (or perhaps hot air). Unless I'm simply ignorant of Lanier's accomplishments, why should we listen to anything he has to say?

Virtual accomplishments (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429058)

He is a true pioneer in virtual reality; everything that he has done remains virtual.

I don't know why he hasn't gone into politics or advertizing, as he is quite skilled at bloviating without actually saying anything.

Re:Self promotion as the major accomplishment (2, Informative)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429226)

Jaron Lanier does have something of a cult image, but he once did real technical work. He did build the first immersive virtual reality system with a head-mounted display and input gloves. I tried it, back in the mid-80s, and met Jaron. The system took two SGI machines to drive it, and the lag was terrible. No collision detection. You couldn't do much more than look around. But it did work.

Eventually the lag and cost problems were solved. But that wasn't the real problem. Friends of mine at Autodesk tried to do a 3D CAD system in virtual reality. Real work in a gloves-and-goggles environment turned out to be painful, and much slower than keyboard-and-mouse. Remember those Hollywood movies about VR, where people are making gestures and reaching for things? It can be, and has been, implemented, but it's hell to use. VR is good for moving and shooting. That's about it.

Eventually Jaron's company, VPL, tanked, because there weren't any useful applications for gloves-and-goggles VR.

Re:Self promotion as the major accomplishment (5, Insightful)

monopole (44023) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429271)

Jaron Lanier is the Vanilla Ice of the tech world all the way down to the dreadlocks.

Having ludicrously overhyped virtual reality, and his contribution to it, through the late '80s and early '90s he ran his startup into the ground with the VCs collecting all the IP. His predictions of ubiquitous VR were completely wrong while completely missing the rise of the Web and mobile computing.

My favorite example of of his utterly clueless pursuit of hype occured when his company was circling the drain. He announced that we could not let the millitary get their hands on VR technology and use it for destructive purposes! Of course, everything that Lainer had hyped as his new technology had been pioneered by the military at least a decade ago.

I nearly ran into him (literally) at SIGGRAPH two years ago. He had the air of a lesser rock star that had seriously gone to seed, I quickly backed off, got upwind, and made tracks to the other side of the exhibition hall.

Cyberspace (1)

itomato (91092) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429282)

He's one of the guys that ignorant authors, mostly of gloss pieces about Cyberspace and the Information Super Highway, penned as some sort of prophet or pioneer back when VR was the tech du jour, and the Internet was a gigantic probability.

Maybe that went to his head?

Re:Self promotion as the major accomplishment (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429470)

Unless I'm simply ignorant of Lanier's accomplishments, why should we listen to anything he has to say?

Along with that reasoning: Why should we listen to anything you have to say? (Or what I have to say for that matter...)

The point? Question everything anyone ever tells you, regardless of their so-called accomplishments.

Re:Self promotion as the major accomplishment (1)

Qubit (100461) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429617)

but Lanier, like Paris Hilton, seems to be famous as a result of self promotion, rather than anything he has achieved.


Paris Hilton pretends to eat hamburgers while washing cars with her butt [spicyparis.com] . Lanier...imagines what it would be like to have interactive VR or a neat new paradigm for an operating system or for storing data in computers.

Hilton might be self-absorbed, barbie-brained, and out of touch with reality, but at least she's out there living...or soaping...it up. She's having fun with the Internet, and the Internet is having fun with her.

Lanier may have cool ideas, but if there's nothing to show for it, people just don't listen. Maybe it's a problem with attention span, but people think Google is cool because they went out and made Ajax shine. Google cast email in a (slightly) new paradigm. Google made things people do every day better. First suggest the change, then write the code to make it happen. That's how to get people to listen to you. (Well, that, or get video of soap + boobies)

snipe (5, Insightful)

aachrisg (899192) | more than 8 years ago | (#14428992)

"Also, find out why, upon meeting Richard Stallman, Lanier's reaction was: 'An open version of UNIX! Yuk!'" Richard Stallman has spent decades creating software used by millions of people. Jaron Lanier has created ummm...what again?

From his appearance.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429089)

I'm guessing he's working on creating a cult.

Re:snipe (4, Funny)

generic-man (33649) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429165)

Lanier created a blogazine. Do I need to spell it out for you? B-L-O-G-A-Z-I-N-E. There, I did it.

Re:snipe (1)

CableModemSniper (556285) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429294)

This is one of the few good points in the article. He would have rather Stallman created an open version of something not so tied to previous conceptions. An idea I think Stallman probably would agree with (see EMACS, Hurd).

Translation (3, Insightful)

Slashcrap (869349) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429023)

The unfortunate Internet has only one peer when it comes to obfuscation due to an inundation of excessive punditry, and that peer is religion.

Translation - I've got nothing very interesting to say, but just look at the words I'm saying it with!!! Ain't I hip?

I'd be more scathing if it weren't for a nagging suspicion that the author is just taking the piss.

Get a dictionary, Jaron! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429030)

The word you want is intertia or momentum, not brittle. Software does not suffer from osteoporosis. "Help I've crashed and cannot boot up!"

Re:Get a dictionary, Jaron! (1)

advocate_one (662832) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429501)

The word you want is intertia or momentum, not brittle. Software does not suffer from osteoporosis. "Help I've crashed and cannot boot up!"

you obviously haven't suffered the mysterious Microsoft registry rot... how a perfectly functional computer one day can completely fail to boot the next day (a Stop 0xC0000218 Error Message [microsoft.com] is not my idea of a good start to the day)... at least with .ini files in win3.1, I could use edit from the good old DOS prompt to fix it...

Jaron's Title (2, Informative)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429050)

The Gory Antigora

For those who don't know, this is what is known as a Chiasmus. That is, a sound pattern of ABBA. Other famous examples include, "Ask not what your country can do for you; ask what you can do for your country" and "Never let a fool kiss you or a kiss fool you."

The reason I point this out is that of all the literary devices, the Chiasmus is probably both the coolest and also the most difficult to come up with. So props to Jaron for this one.

Or "you can prick your finger . . ." (2, Funny)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429247)

Oh, but you know the rest.

Re:Jaron's Title (1)

jerpyro (926071) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429303)

That is, a sound pattern of ABBA
Oh, I thought you were referring to the sound patterns of a certain '70s musical group... silly me!

Ack (3, Funny)

Alioth (221270) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429068)

Oh good god, they've managed to find a word even more annoying than blogosphere: blogozine :/

Re:Ack (1)

spongman (182339) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429230)

...and apparently they even managed to spell it wrong.

Askling the wrong questions (5, Insightful)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429086)

From TFA's thesis paragraph:
Are ideas like virtual citizenship beyond the nation-state, untraceable electronic currency, and the consciousness expanding powers of radical interconnectivity defunct? Is there untapped revolutionary power waiting to be unleashed?
The Internet levels the playing field for those who have access to it. A search bar, a blog, and ebay are all you need to find out almost anything, tell the world your take on it, or operate a business. And with so many sources of information, voices, and people selling things it is impossible for a monopoly to exist in any one of those areas.

We aren't to the point of virtual citizenship, but we may be in the middle of a trend toward borderless loyalty. People are becoming less loyal to the nation-state and more loyal to ideas and movements (religions, software models, companies, professions). I hope that the trend doesn't result in a single world government before the individual borderless movements get powerful enough to keep one in check.

Untraceable electronic currency doesn't have any chance: the people issuing the currency want to know where it is. It's enough that numbers are inherently abstract, though. It will always be necessary to launder your funds if you want their movement kept discrete.

As far as the conciousness expansion of free information goes, that too is the wrong question. (Some) people will always choose to be blissfully ignorant about (some) things, and you can't force them to learn. The network makes it easy to find information, but it's always going to be more like fishing than a floodlight. People have to want the information you have.

In general, it's too soon for Utopia but the world is getting newer all the time.

Closed Minded (1)

wesw02 (846056) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429090)

In this article the author appears to really be close-minded about *UNIX. Does anyone else notice this?

I bet he's a windows user :=P

Simple. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429111)

"Find out why, upon meeting Richard Stallman, Lanier's reaction was: 'An open version of UNIX! Yuk!'"

Because Jaron Lanier is an insufferable, pretentious, idiot. That's why.

Re:Simple. (3, Insightful)

indifferent children (842621) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429278)

Because Jaron Lanier is an insufferable, pretentious, idiot. That's why.

And Stallman is an insufferable, pretentious, genius. No wonder they can't get along.

My god! (2, Insightful)

jachim69 (125669) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429114)

He has a terminal case of verbal diarrhea!

Check out the Author's Agenda (3, Insightful)

mpapet (761907) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429164)

Yes, the article is full of bunk in every paragraph and then somewhere in it he claims some of it anyway is a farce. If you refer to his bio, there's a clue in there.

"Phenotropics," concerns rejecting traditional protocol-based approaches in favor of statistical and pattern-recognition techniques to bind software components together in order to improve large scale reliability.

The whole "software is brittle" agenda is cleary his own.

SLIGHTLY OT
I was watching a remake of "the music man" with my daughter yesterday and his whole "software is brittle" agenda reminds me of how the main character runs around the small town talking very nonsensically about how the new billiards hall is going to corrupt the citizens. Of course the citizens love controversy, so it becomes a "social problem." The main character has the solution, buy musical equipment from him. Now, if only Jaron would sing he can remake the Music Man... Again!

Rubbish... (1)

iolaus (704845) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429180)

Don't bother.

listening to his music (1)

gentleolas (609359) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429184)

just as confused and painful

Lanier is a self-promoting, no-talent technophobe (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429194)

Lanier's claim to fame is that he "invented" virtual reality. or something like that. His real fame comes from being a huge fat guy with white boy dreads who has an unfounded reputation for being a "luminary". He cons people into paying him to write articles, speak, "conceptualize", and keeps the repuation going for more cons.

I worked alongside him at Time Inc. New Media, back in the Pathfnder days. He kept on proposing one project after another that simply couldn't be done - the technology didn't exist. I called them "Flying Car Projects" - sounds good, but creating a Flying Car is tough once you start dealing with logistics of fueling, licensing, training, etc. etc.

His biggest "idea" was called GigaJam, where we'd have millions of surfers hit virtual keys, somehow turning that into music, and streaming it back to them. In realtime. That'd be difficult to do today, but totally impossible back in 1996. Moreover, I'm not sure that there would have been much of a point to devote resources to something like that. To a user, that would have been fun for about 2 minutes.

Rumor was that he was boinking one of the head honchos at TINM, which is likely how he got the job. He was likely getting paid an assload of money to do nothing but bother people with his silly notions. After a year, he had contributed NOTHING. Not one of his projects was ever adopted in any fashion. And I heard that he had difficulty using a Macintosh to do things like, say, copy files.

So here's a guy that has fed (and rather overfed) himself on being a technology pundit, who doesn't understand the first thing about technology. Plus he's fat and smelly. So take his opinions with a huge chunk of salt.

All the above opinion, rumor, innuendo :)

What makes this man's opinions worthy of note? (1)

mmell (832646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429220)

Better yet, what makes this man's unsupported opinions with which I strongly disagree worthy of note?

I've seen more coherent and well thought-out writing from my teenage son. This guy starts right off admitting that he's one of the pundits whose opinions I should almost discard out of hand; I still haven't figured out why I didn't stop reading right there. Senility, perhaps; oh, well.

I found the blog to be quite annoying. Shame he put his name on it or I'd consider having him arrested.

Jaron Lanier = Irrelevant (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429251)

What happened to the cool AI tech that was going to revolutionize and synergize our digital lifestyle?

Just because homeboy has dreadlocks doesn't mean anyone cares about him.

Now, now... (1)

Kaioshin (893295) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429254)

I'd prefer to think of the internet as semi-open, you pessimists.

Excuse me while I ax my network connection (1, Funny)

Call Me Black Cloud (616282) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429284)


I've had it. I'm through with this whole Internet thing. Limitless porn and amazon coupon codes are no longer worth it. I'm going back to writing checks, using stamps, and gaming using my console.

The first real annoyance was "boxen". Sure, it's pretty gay, but I can live with the occasional geek using it. (Actually, the first annoyance I remember was the green card spam [wired.com] , but that's going back a bit far). Then came "google" as a verb. Such nonsense, but trivial. The rise of the "blog" is easy to ignore - I don't care what most people think in person, so at least if they're busy typing their thoughts they're won't be able to tell them to me.

But now..."blogazine"? Blogazine. Lord, help me.

Now I've got to finish downloading the Internet's porn collection and burning it to DVD. You can't expect me to go cold turkey!

Why? (2, Interesting)

LukePieStalker (746993) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429311)

Why is a right-wing propaganda machine like the Cato Institute being given a forum here? At least be honest and put it in the politics forum.

Re:Why? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429531)

Because it is about the internet. Topics are assigned by content, not authorship. Ad hominem attacks suck.

some good point, but mostly FUD (3, Interesting)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429355)

Every computer user spends astonishingly huge and increasing amounts of time updating software patches, visiting help desks, and performing other frustratingly tedious, ubiquitous tasks

Define huge. Hundreds of hours? Double-digit percentage of all time spent using the computer? He doesn't say, and I doubt it's close to either metric for all but the most inept of users. For the average person *any* amount of time spent doing *any* one of these tasks is, in their opinion, too much. Time spent doing basic maintenance is one of the most overstated stats thrown around.

The biggest point he comes close to touching but then completely misses is with the language analogy. The informational content of language is almost entirely context sensative. For example, I can make the statement "I'm blue", and without context, you don't know if I'm refering to the color of the clothes I'm wearing, my emotional disposition, me political affiliation, if I'm pretending to be a cartoon dog while playing with my kids, or any other reference for which the word "blue" might apply.

Langauge has the the immediate context of the conversation in which it is occuring, and the ultimate context of the physical world. What he misses is that not only does computer software have to be precise, it has to supply it's own virtual context; i.e. your web browser exists in the virtual context of the network, which connects it to an application which exists in a vitual context of a combination of, for example, a java environment on top of a database on top of an operating system. All the underlying layers provide a context for the next layer above in which to exist and interact. And we had to create every single layer from scratch!

Lanier then makes the usual eglatarian conceit with the statement "Only culture is rich enough to fund the Antigora." The Internet is its own culture, which both incorportates and yet transends mutiple, different national, tribal, and social cultures. Lanier and all the other Internet pundits need to recognize that, get the hell over it, and move on.

Aside from the knee jerk reactions... (1)

l4m3z0r (799504) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429363)

Everyone seems to be condemning what he says pretty quickly which sort of proves his point about punditry and religion. Not to say I agree with him, I think his problem with the "command line" is completely silly and arbitrary, he doesn't like it, but that doesnt mean its not efficient, it is if you know how to use it and furthermore it increases productivity over GUI apps if you reach a certain level of aptitude with it.

However I digress, and would like to add that he does make some good points: 1) Files are crap and they will and should go away. 2) Computing is being held back by vendor lock in, punditry and religion. 3) Linux/BSD/other free UNIXs are not the end all be all of computing(although I disagree that they are contributing to the problem, they are just solving a different problem than the one he is trying to answer).

DISCLOSURE: My primary OS is Linux and I use DragonFlyBSD/Mac OS X/Solaris/Win XP on a day to day basis.

Lanier is a crazy lunatic idiot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429450)

Or when did he ever say something useful that made sense?

extreme fringe nutter libertarians dislike RMS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429500)

News at 11!

"Blogazine" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429503)

Shut The Fuck Up.

guess where I#m putting my resources in? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14429521)

At the moment the thing that occupies me the most is a program that will create a peer-2-peer network including tunnels that will connect all my friends with me and their friends and their friends. A long time ago I've lost hope in the Internet that I once saw for opportunity, maybe this step will be that opportunity that I was looking for. I'm looking for a spam-free, everyone wins solution where noone is left out in terms of fairness. Also in the new network that I'm building there will be zero tolerance for spam. If you spam you're out, simple as that.

Against files (2, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429524)

There's an argument against "files" as the basis of an operating system. The most successful movement in that direction was Tandem's operating system, Guardian. The bottom-level storage system in the classic Tandem world was a relational database, not "files". All database operations were atomic and recoverable, and the database was duplicated across multiple disks and computers. Tandem machines were all clusters, decades before other companies figured out how to do clustered systems. Business systems built on Tandem's hardware and software could be, and were, able to run for years, sometimes decades, without failure. Machines in the cluster could be fail and be replaced without a shutdown. This worked for real transactions where updates mattered, not just for stateless operations like web page serving. Many banks and stock markets still run Tandem systems for that reliability.

If you needed a "text file" in the Tandem world, it was treated as a big object (a BLOB) in the database, and handled as a unit. THis seems wierd, but it allowed program development on Tandem machines. Storing a file was, of course, an atomic operation; you never had a truncated file.

Apple's "resource fork" was a step in the right direction, but the implementation of updates in the classic MacOS was so unreliable that it was hopeless as a data-storage mechanism. Apple backed off from the resource fork when they went to a UNIX-type file system after the NeXT acquisition. Now it's making a comeback in a minor way.

Early visions of Microsoft's Longhorn seemed to be moving in that direction, but Microsoft couldn't bring it off.

UNIX/Linux has terrible file reliability semantics. Locking is an afterthought. File transactions aren't atomic. (Even lock file creation isn't atomic if the the file system is on NFS.) Nobody understands two-phase commit, the technique that keeps your bank account from being debited twice if the ATM loses power during a transaction. There have been attempts to fix these problems (see UCLA Locus), but they never caught on.

The most likely company to fix this problem is Google. Google's own machines are full of databases of text, not "files". In a sense, we're all using a system that's not file-based - we just don't see it.

I liked the essay, but a criticism (2, Insightful)

maynard (3337) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429619)

I think the most serious problem with Lanier's logic is that in arguing for the 'antigora' he uses utopic examples of capitalism and technology that ignore the difference between necessary goods and value added products. In his discussion of Walmart as a semigora, for example, he states:

"[...]a person making a marginal income at the periphery of one of the Antigoras can survive, because the efficiencies make survival cheap. It's 2025 in Cambodia, for instance, and you only make the equivalent of a buck a day, without health insurance, but the local Wal-Mart is cheaper every day and you can get a robot-designed robot to cut out your cancer for a quarter, so who cares?"


And as for a Luddite revolution:

"The super-rich who own the Antigoras become so fabulously wealthy that in the context of changing biomedical and other technologies they effectively become a new species. Perhaps they become the immortals, or they merge with their machines. Unlike the Wells story, though, the lumpenproletariat do not revolt because their cost of living has retreated faster than their wages. From their local perspective they are doing better and better, even as the gap between them and the rich is growing at an accelerating rate."


So robots build vast volumes of cheap goods and thus the value of a dollar relative to the cost of goods declines to the point where even the poor can afford automated health care. Or new computers, or HDTVs, and other technology. Except it ignores the stagnant and high cost of necessary goods: energy, food and shelter being the most obvious examples. Even assuming automated food production - robots ploughing the fields - there is only so much land. Maybe building housing will be cheap with robots, but we'll still need to heat or cool it depending on the climate. Providing these basic necessities cannot be automated away because they rely on fixed and limited resources. The best we can do increase the efficiency of utilization, or find a radical and unknown new method for creation.

But - unlike slashdot conventional wisdom in this forum - I thought the essay was well written and highly contemplative. A good read. Thanks Jaron!

I was Wondering Whatever Happened to Jaron... (2, Funny)

eno2001 (527078) | more than 8 years ago | (#14429625)

...just a few days ago. I remember the promise of the virtual world back in the late 80s and early 90s. Whatever happened to the neo-hippy, VR enhanced, smart drug world that I was promised almost 20 years ago???
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