The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Jay H § Matching cuts / 2014-10-02 02:41:13

The limits of knowledge

I found this long interview with Adam Lashinsky, author of the new book Inside Apple, pretty absorbing. Two things to note:

  • For me, Lashinsky exemplifies a certain type of reporter that I really like. In all the times I’ve seen him on video (and once in person, though I can’t remember when) he’s shown a sort of brusque, restless manner leavened with deep curiosity and candor. Sort of like one of those Army commanders with a Ph.D: super smart, but not leaning on the smartness, not dwelling in it. A Lashinsky-esque reporter believes that facts laid out in order have real power, and he or she will work hard to get those facts, often by using a telephone. In the cosmology of reporting, I think of it as “old-school,” but maybe not—maybe it’s always been rare.
  • But, even after months (years?) of Lashinsky-esque reporting, we still don’t know that much about how Apple works inside. Not really. And that makes me think, in turn, of the organizations I’ve been part of; it makes me think of all the stories written about them, all so woefully incomplete. But that’s the best you can do when you’re on the outside. Even in our weird information-saturated world, there’s so much we don’t, and can’t, know, even about something as mundane as a company. The writer M. F. K. Fisher said: “Probably one of the most private things in the world is an egg before it is broken.” Every company, until it breaks (i.e. gets its email subpoenaed Enron-style, I guess) is that egg. Every family is that egg. Every person is that egg. And that’s a wonderful thing, because it means there are always mysteries, and more mysteries, and mysteries beyond.

One comment

We actually talked a little bit about this at THAT Camp Games a couple of weeks ago, in the context of archiving video games, and building an archive/history of the process of game development. The two biggest challenges are a.) that a great deal of that information is proprietary, and thus developers have a vested interest in NOT sharing it, and b.) that smaller developers (you know, anyone without the resources of Microsoft or Sony) simply don’t keep that sort of information, so by the time it isn’t a competitive secret anymore, it’s largely lost.

As more and more of our culture is tied up in technology, this becomes an incredible challenge. And resources like patent filings simply won’t serve the same historical purpose as technology shifts from objects and mechanisms to software and intellectual property.

Maybe, just maybe, this is another reason to revisit our painfully outdated patent and copyright process. Making things more open may not only mean more and broader development, it may mean that entire segments of history aren’t lost.

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