Digital Archaeology - is it the future?

How many of you take photos?

How many of you have hard copies of those photos?

Now how many of you have them burnt onto a CD or somewhere on your hard drive?

It has been hypothesised that in the future there will be a dearth of paper records and that many of our older documents will be stored digitally. Whereas in ages past we have referred to the paper trail to learn about events, family histories, social changes, etc we are now entering an age where so many documents that are work related or just personal are stored digitally.

Take your diary for example. We used to write diaries when we were young. Samuel Pepys wrote a rather famous diary, as did Anne Frank and numerous military leaders such as Patton and Napoleon. Can you imagine it if they were to write theirs now?

"Invaded North Africa. Stupid Italians ran away LOL. Germans were well 'ard tho. That Rommel is a crafty SOB. Gonna have to give him a slap."


"Russia is WELL COLD in winta! Shoulda stayed at home but them Ruskis had it commin. Teach 'em to mess wit me!"

Lacks a certain something doesn't it?

So in the future will archaeologists be trawling through thousands and thousands of hard drives, flash cards, mobile phones to find our social history? What about companies like M$ and Google? Do they now have a responsibility to preserve this information for future generations?

The Fallout

I'll post this here as really I can't be arsed doing it anywhere else.

I'm sure that there are a lot of people who don't use this blogging system provided so kindly for us by Pixy. There are a lot of good features on here and one of the better ones is being able to delete jasminlive comments that arrive via your email so you don't have to keep visiting your blog to cull them. A handy little script spots the URL, the commenter, the IP address and off you go - you can delete the comment, blacklist the entries and the IP address (or range of them) and rebuild you blog, thus denying the spamming link whores the attention they deserve.

Occasionally a spamming link whore will have worked out a way of entering links that break this system, usually by leaving open brackets that the script for the blacklist will interpret as code being incomplete. Because of how the comments are delivered and you have a button the delete, add the spam to the blacklist, then rebuild it most people just hit the link.

That's why it's there. So the non-technical people can do it as a no brainer.

Then you get the people who may be somewhat technically minded getting all annoyed because occasionally someone breaks the list. Someone who is being comment spammed, who is not technically literate, or someone who is in a hurry. Yeah, it's annoying that it gets broken - it's broken at the moment. However it's not the end of the world and, let's face it, Pixy doesn't HAVE to do what he does in terms of the maintenance.

So lighten up. We're all in this together.

Issac Hayes - Is He Right?

It has been reported that Issac Hayes is to leave "South Park" because he feels that the show has become bigoted. Quoting from IMDB:

"Singer-turned-voice-over-actor Isaac Hayes has quit the animated South Park series, citing the show's satirical depiction of religion. In a statement, Hayes commented, "There is a place in this world for satire, but there is a time when satire ends and intolerance and bigotry toward religious beliefs ... begins." However, series co-creator Matt Stone promptly issued a statement accusing Hayes of being primarily angered by the show's decision to lampoon the Church of Scientology, of which Hayes is a member. and its members. "In ten years and over 150 episodes of South Park, Isaac never had a problem with the show making fun of Christians, Muslim, Mormons or Jews," Stone said in the statement that Hayes "got a sudden case of religious sensitivity when it was his religion featured on the show.""

Cough hypocritical bas... Cough

It has been said that Scientologists take themselves far too seriously and that, amongst the power players of Hollywood that they might have just a tad too much influence. Really? This never occurred to me...

This is bullsh*t of the worst sort. Seriously. I've watched South Park (not for a while I have to admit) and it is fairly even handed in its satirising of EVERYONE. From what I saw it had no favourites and took no prisoners (I still think "South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut" was a satirical materpiece that made a lot of people, not just American's, uncomfortable with its points about censorship and selectivity) and it drew as much praise as it did criticism. To quit just after Scientology was satirised is bad timing - do the VO people not get their scripts beforehand? Could he not see what was coming up?

Any religion where a core belief is that UFO's are held prisoner in volcano's taking itself so seriously is a joke in itself. We seem to be reaching this odd point where religion, in the sense of it being like it was in the 8th century, is starting to dominate and for all the wrong reasons. There is nothing at all wrong with spiritual beliefs but surely in this modern world, particularly in terms of social interaction, this needs to be taken in context?

Why Internet Social Networking is a Misnomer

Morning. Infrequent post number 2 for the week!

I was reading about MySpace being hacked with racist messages and the like, and how it is described as a social networking site. From what I can see about MySpace it is nothing more than an extended AIM/MSN Messenger, populated by kids who all type in dudespeak and have no concept of design or colour. Either that or by people/bands/companies that are into self promotion like it is going out of fashion.

But what is a social networking site, and why has this kind of thing become so big? Last night I was round at the neighbours trying to fix their Windows Live Messenger for them and the sheer desperation in their voices as I realised it was due to incompetent uninstalling and reinstalling (and my refusal to try to clean out the registry entries for them - I have enough to do) made me really confused. "But," said the daughter "I have 217 contacts on there! They will wonder where I have gone!" Perhaps to get a life? The dad was even more distraught. "I've had that username for years, all that information gone now."

I always thought this is what address books and diaries were for. Things that were really important and that mattered.

These things are all life-lite. They really require no social skills, no efforts, no rewards for building a meaningful relationship. They are like a lot of other things in life now - entirely disposable. Bored of the people you talk to on there? Block them. Don't want someone to find you? Change your username. The daughter with her 217 contacts - how much time does she spend actually talking to them? Or does she just get messages and circular emails with jokes or "send this email to 10 friends and a panda will mate" things?

Things like that make society quite insular. We become more withdrawn and despite there being more people on the planet we interact less socially, making our own cliques and not having to put anything more than minimal effort in. Don't get me wrong - these things have their uses for long distance contact and the like. It's cheaper than a phone call too. But things like MySpace are a paedophiles dream, surely? Would you want your kids on there?

We may be the last generation that views social interaction as actually seeing and meeting people, about time and effort, about seeing past the instant impression we get from someone and actually finding traits and interests that are common.

I find that quite sad.

And it all went awfully quiet...

Now with a working link in the post (hat tip to Bou for pointing that out!)

Generally it has to be said that I don't see the war on terror in the same way as a lot of the US based readers of IMAO and over at Harv's/Grau's. Harv wrote this post and got rather a sharp response from someone who I am guessing is a democrat and got righteously pissed about what he read there, but even then I felt that there was this element of political point-scoring about it rather than an unbiased look at the facts. Simply put it is not the fault of Regan, Bush Snr and Dubya and the evil (sic) Republican party. I seem to remember Carter managing an almighty screw up with the Iranian hostage crisis and that there was a certain Bill Clinton in office at one point too and I'm pretty sure they had nothing to do with the Republican party either. How come they never sorted it out Mr Ranter? Probably because, at that point, foreign policy objectives were mainly to do with counteracting whatever moves the Russians made and gathering allies, or fighting a war by proxy (the whole of Central America for a time being used as a ideological and physical battleground) rather than actually giving a s**t about the people in those countries.

Oh, and before anyone points it out, we were no better. Our stupid crappy ideas of piece meal-ling off bits of the Middle East to anyone who bothered to help us during WW2 paid real dividends, huh? Or how about how we destabilised the entire region by promising the Jews a homeland (conveniently forgetting the Palestinians that were already there). Our foreign policy was (and probably still is - history will be the judge) a masterpiece of duplicitous treachery and lies. Colonial ambitions tend to mean that the people subject to them are treated as if they don't exist.

So the political point-scoring cuts no ice with me. The original post was simplistic and, I feel, naive to a point of embarrassment in trying to tar all Muslims with the same brush but the response was clearly a left-wing pop at some right-wing rhetoric. There is no simple answer, or solution to the issue. To stand by your beliefs, Mr Left Wing Ranter, is not a sign of weakness but then neither is questioning the information that you are being given. To have an absolute belief in something to the point where you defend it so vigorously perhaps gives you something in common with these people that both Republicans and Democrats now so vilify. It is the means to the end that are so despicably different. We value the right to free speech and self expression and these terrorists, these guerillas, cannot value this until they realise that the cause they are fighting for will take these freedoms away in an absolute and final fashion.

A Bastion Of Middle Class-ness

Once, a long time ago, I went to the BBC for an interview for rather a nice job as Executive Producer of a series of games they were licencing from their properties. Now unlike most of the games publishers at the time there were 2 ladies that interviewed me, one with a double barreled name. Any of you who know a little of my background will know that I have worked and worked and worked, shunning the middle class snobbery of university in favour of actually learning how a job gets done and then doing it. However these ladies, whilst impressed with my technical knowledge and obvious experience of managing expensive and complicated projects were rather put off by my lack of university background. One even asked "How have you managed to cope without going to university?" at which point, deciding I did not want to work for cultural eliteist people I replied "Very well thank you. I just learned how to do everything that needed to be done and my staff respected me for it. I find that university does not encourage free flexible thinking, but that you are taught to think along lines." The looks she gave me was priceless, but as I pointed out to her (in response to another question) "All of the projects you have here seem to be over budget and very late. I have never had experience of that before. How do you manage your projects when they get like that then?"

So I turned the job down. They asked me why so I told them. I said that whilst I felt I had a lot to offer the BBC I didn't feel they had a lot to offer me in return and that, whilst parts of the job were very attractive, I felt that it would be a backward step in my career. My real reasons were more simple. I disliked the people there who had all come from comfortable upper-middle class backgrounds and never had to work for anything they got. The BBC was a hobby for a lot of them, nothing more or less. Sure there were people there who did the work but, frankly, I never saw them.

They had a creche there that more or less operated 18 hours a day for the staff (great! only most of them had au pairs or nannies so it was less than half full when I saw it) and a very good canteen serving very very good food, holidays like you wouldn't believe, pension schemes, all the whistles and bells. But it was so soulless - seriously every games place I worked in there was banter, laughter, chatting, people coming over to your desk to discuss things with you, late nights where people would eat and work and talk. Everything had to be approved in triplicate before a decision could be carried out (hello late overbudget projects, bye bye dynamisism that made games development work) and there was a 9 - 4pm culture that sat totally at odds with the type of environment I knew (you worked until you were either asleep, it was finished or your partner dragged you off).

Even now when I see the BBC's future plans it is so clearly an organisation that is completely out of touch with the majority of the population it is laughable. Their expansion plans for this type of TV and that type of technology are so driven by a need to be seen to be forward looking that money (MY money) is being pissed away because there is no focus or concept of what they want to do.

I am never sure whether I should have gone there and tried to change things. I doubt I would have lasted long. I doubt I would have changed anything. Frustrating.