Three things –
William Gibson wrote an interesting article on “Remix culture”. He talks about how William S. Burroughs was one of the original remixers – cutting and pasting old science fiction texts into a strange amalgam. With digital technology, the results only become amplified – from Video Game mods, to mp3 mashups, to the hyper-connected community of weblogs (as I’m doing here, linking and commenting on stuff that was already linked and posted on other blogs and websites). Gibson finds this fascinating, an evolution of art – instead of a passive Client – Server interface of creator / consumer, its now a Peer to Peer application, where we all contribute, alter and effect.
As Wired reports, apparently there were a bunch of commercial websites that sold synthetic psychadelic drugs online. These weren’t underground irc channels or newsgroups hosted on some pacific island – these were big Amazon.com e-commerce sites hosted out of California, Virginia and Arizona. These guys were making mad cash too, over $20k a month. Score one up for the War on Drugs, in a sting op they busted most of the webmasters, sentencing one guy to 410 years in prison (lol). And here’s the blog of the chemist that invents some of these drugs (first synthesized Ecstacy in the 70s)
Finally, thread on Plastic discussing hard work and America. There’s been a lot of noise about outsourcing and such (Friedman’s The World is Flat, etc), especially the fear that the American “virtue” of hard work will be surpassed by the Chinese/Indian/whoever. Lots of good chatter, and I found this link especially interesting: an essay by Bertrand Russel in Praise of Idleness. The premise basically states that the more we work the more we must work to keep up the status quo. The essay eventually devolves into an apology of Russian communism, but up till then follows an intriguing chain of thought. It somewhat reminds me of Heinlein’s tale “The man too lazy to fail,” from Time Enough for Love. The lethargic protagonist suceeds not from sweat and tears but inovation and cleverness. Because, after all, failure itself often makes the situation far less serene. “Stitch in time…” If there’s any lesson to take away: it wont be longer hours and whipcracking managers that assure the success of American enterprise – it will be innovation and smarts.