Tag Archives: Internet

Phone Book Digitization as Precursor to Internet of Things

John Crowley’s more than just amusing account of helping digitize NYC’s first phone book in the September 2014 issue of Harper’s might be a primer on some of the hiccups we may experience moving to an Internet of Things.

Standards and Universality

The first listing is simply A, at 2145 Amsterdam Avenue. The next listing is another A, on 2nd Avenue, and then A, on East 38th Street. And I am reminded of the trick then used by New Yorkers who didn’t want to pay the charge for an unlisted phone number, or wanted a secret number easily passed to others. You just had your phone listed in code, or by your nickname, or a memorable letter.

The Non-glorious Positions Needed to Make IoT Happen

I remember these and similar peculiarities of the 1968 phone book only because, along with a number of other hippies, street people, oddballs, losers, and dropouts, I was hired that year by a temporary employment agency to proofread the pages of the Manhattan directory in a loft someplace in the West 40s.

The decrease of human readability

When we discovered an error in the new book (I can’t remember now what shorthand word we used for it), we took, from a constantly replenished pile, a slip of paper printed at the top with the letters B M L D T, each letter corresponding to a particular class of error. (We called this slip a “bee-melt.”) The faulty listing was copied onto the sheet and the appropriate letter circled.

and more…

Contrarian Thoughts on the Internet-News Effect on Political Attitude or Giving People More Credit

In the June 25 issue of The New Yorker, Ezra Klein writes ostensibly–but not actually–about why politicians change their positions and includes this bit:

At the Washington Monthly, Steve Benen kept track of the placement that the Times and the Washington Post (where I work) gave to stories about court rulings on the health-care law. When judges ruled against the law, they got long front-page stories. When they ruled for it, they got shorter stories, inside the paper. Indeed, none of the cases upholding the law got front-page coverage, but every rejection of it did, and usually in both papers. From an editorial perspective, that made sense: the Vinson and Hudson rulings called into question the law’s future; the other rulings signalled no change. But the effect was repeated news stories in which the Affordable Care Act was declared unconstitutional, and few news stories representing the legal profession’s consensus that it was not. The result can be seen in a March poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation, which found that fifty-one per cent of Americans think that the mandate is unconstitutional.

Much of the analysis on partisanship evolution during the past ten to 20 years tries to make the case that the emergence of the Internet and myriad partisan news sources led to the left becoming more liberal and the right becoming more conservative.* The argument is that individuals drift toward reading news sources consistent with the his/her ideological perspective, thereby reinforcing that position. But the rather informal study by Steve Benan contradicts that or at least demands a more nuanced framework. And Benan’s work is consistent with the general direction of respected research during the past 30 years and what Tracy said in Woody Allen’s Manhattan: “You have to have a little faith in people.”

* I’ve heard James Carville say this in a meeting. It’s common in the political science and media literatures. And groups like Pew have released reports making the same argument.