In this week's podcast (MP3/Feed), I read aloud my latest Locus Magazine column, "Teaching Computers Shows Us How Little We Understand About Ourselves," which concerns itself with the ways that we're recklessly formalizing critical elements of human identity such as "names" and "families" for the convenience of corporations and their IT systems and business-models.
When a programmer instructs a computer to reject, or disregard, all input longer than 64 characters, she effectively makes it impossible for a bureaucrat – however sympathetic – to accommodate a name that’s longer than she’s imagined names might be. With a human bureaucrat, there was always the possibility of wheedling an exception; machines don’t wheedle.
Mastering by John Taylor Williams: firstname.lastname@example.org
John Taylor Williams is a audiovisual and multimedia producer based in Washington, DC and the co-host of the Living Proof Brew Cast. Hear him wax poetic over a pint or two of beer by visiting livingproofbrewcast.com. In his free time he makes "Beer Jewelry" and "Odd Musical Furniture." He often "meditates while reading cookbooks."