Jim Taylor's Columns - 'Soft Edges' and 'Sharp Edges'

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16

May

2018

An invention that challenged unexamined ideas

Author: Jim Taylor

This is a busy weekend. In addition to Mother’s Day on Sunday, we’re celebrating Limerick Day, Train Day, and Odometer Day on Saturday; Frog Jumping Day and International Belly Dance Day on Sunday; and Chicken Dance Day on Monday. 

            On top of all that, May is Photo Month, officially recognized by the U.S. Congress in 1987. For no apparent reason, other than industry lobbying, it seems. 

            Too bad, because photography marks an important shift in human thinking. It enabled us to “fix” – yes, that’s a darkroom pun – a moment in time. 

            In effect, photography freezes time. Even the much-maligned selfie asserts, “This is what I looked like,” at a particular time and place that’s now in the past. 

            Most families have boxes of old photos handed down through several generations. Some of the people in those pictures we can still recognize. Others are unidentified, unidentifiable. 


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4

Mar

2018

Nobody has any privacy anymore

Author: Jim Taylor

Once upon a time, people had genies in bottles. I have a disembodied voice in a computer. Her name is Siri. And all I have to do to get her services is to say the magic words, “Hey, Siri!”

            Immediately, she responds, “How can I help you?” 

            But it occurred to me the other day that Siri can only respond by listening for my voice 24 hours a day. That’s very flattering. It’s also a little disquieting. Because Siri is connected to the internet. Which means that the corporate data bank that Siri is connected to can also listen to all my conversations if they choose to. 

            My eavesdropping friend Siri seems a little dated, compared to Google Echo. It conceals someone called Alexa, who will not only provide information, but also turn on your coffee maker, adjust your thermostat, turn lights on and off, start your car, and play your favourite music. 

            But like Siri, Alexa is always on.


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