The Emergence of the Networked Information Economy
The most advanced economies in the world today have made two parallel shifts that, paradoxically, make possible a significant attenuation (loss of strength) of the limitations that market-based production places on the pursuit of the political values central to liberal societies.
The first move, in the making for more than a century, is to an economy centered on information (financial services, accounting, software, science) and cultural (films, music) production, and the manipulation of symbols (from making sneakers to branding them and manufacturing the cultural significance of the Swoosh).
The first shift means that these new patterns of production – nonmarket and radically decentralized – will emerge, if permitted, at the core, rather than the periphery of the most advanced economies.
The second is the move to a communications environment built on cheap processors with high computation capabilities,interconnected in a pervasive network – the phenomenon we associate with the Internet.
It is this second shift that allows for an increasing role for nonmarket production in the information and cultural production sector, organized in a radically more decentralised pattern than was true of this sector in the twentieth century.
It promises to enable social production and exchange to play a much larger role, alongside property-and market-based production, than they ever have in modern democracies.
Here is a description of a weekend (25/05/12) in Chamonix with my friend Rob Powell. Mont Blanc > Tour Rouge > Le Marchand de Sable
Rob and I met at the Westway climbing gym in London. We decided that there had been a lot of talk about getting into the mountains…maybe..maybe too much talk ..so we booked an Easyjet flight to Geneva From there we had a number of climbing options no matter what the weather was doing. We were betting on getting one of the first good climbing weekends of the summer. That week we watched the web cam of the Mer de Glace glacier and it looked ok.
The trip started with a late Gatwick ‘express’ train getting me to the airport with 20 minutes to spare before checkin closed. Rob started sending me anxious sms’s and a final terse phonecall. Dude we’re gonna fXXXn miss this FUXXXN plane if you don’t FUXXXN hurry!! Stuck on a train that was 30 minutes late I made the 35 minute journey to Gatwick. I had to retreat to a happy place and think positive thoughts. Together with an Irish girl and a bunch of other late travellers we rushed out of the train and into the airport. In the end we were fine but it put a solid focus in place which didn’t feel unwelcome on a climbing trip.
Relived to be on the flight we settled in and soon were above the green hills of Geneva. We landed, picked up our rental car and headed out into the cool fresh air of Switzerland and headed for Chamonix. All signs Chamonix and go! Reading the signs, driving on the right and having a great time became the order of the day. After about an hour we arrived and immediately scoped the town and found a good parking lot for the night. We were going to be dirt-baggers tonite. No hacking with expensive accommodation for us! Everything we needed had been packed into our bags. We found a nice bar and after a couple of beers retired to the car park and our therma-rests. A couple of late night ramblers overran our position once or twice but before long we were dropping off. Thoughts of the train journey the next morning up into the Mer de Glace were interrupted by the occasional flash of lightning coming off Mont Blanc. Those interruptions became more persistent when at about 02.00 rain started falling…right.. into the car dirt-baggers! Ok..so this is not going to work. A nearby building offered an overhanging protected area that turned out to work really well. And so at 2.30 AM the dirtbaggers finally landed in Cham.
The next morning brought a quick organisation of gear in preparation for the funicular up to the Mer de Glace at 8.30. A quick dash into town looking for gas was unsuccessful but we managed to buy some coffee, pizza and a huge slab of nougat chocolate. Ace move.
The funicular headed up through the Alpine forest and took a handful of us up to the Montenvers station, on the Mer de Glace glacier (1913 m). Situated on the northern slopes of the Mont Blanc massif it is seven kilometres long, 200 metres deep and the longest glacier in France.
We left behind some very organised looking French climbers preparing to travel to the Midi cable station. On hindsight this was the quickest way to get onto the rock.
Arriving at the Montenvers station we were greeted by the famous north face of the Dru (3,754 m). The Dru is one of the major north faces of the Alps and has been visited by some of the top climbers over the years. From 17–22 August 1955, the Italian climber Walter Bonatti climbed a difficult solo route on the south-west pillar of the Petit Dru (the Bonatti Pillar); this route – like many on the west face – no longer exists in its original state owing to rockfall, the scars of which remain clearly visible from the Chamonix valley. Seven years later, from 24–26 July 1962, Gary Hemming and Royal Robbins climbed the ‘American Direct’, a more direct route up the west face than that taken in 1952. On 10–13 August 1965, Royal Robbins, this time accompanied by John Harlin, climbed the ‘American Direttissima’. This route was destroyed by the 2005 rockfall.
Intensely aware of this huge stage we were stepping onto we set off with another climbing pair down into the glacier. Ladders brought us down the 60 meters to the valley floor and soon we were walking carefully up the glacier. Occasional cracks and thundering noises from the valley reminded us that things were moving all around us. Soon we had to climb another set of ladders up onto the slopes of the Envers des Aiguilles. This path would take us to the base of the climb. From there the dirtbaggers would either sleep rough in a bivy bag or find a spot in the Envers des Aiguilles hut if there was space. Rob recconed..’bra we’ll just sleep under the tables if they’re full’. I love Rob
We settled into the hike which turned out to be harder than we’d anticipated. Snow had fallen which meant that things took longer. The slope was steep enough to make things scary if we slipped so we had to go slowly and kick steps. 2.5 hours later after strapping crampons to our boots to get up the last icy section we arrived at an almost empty hut. Coming from London (9m) I was feeling the steep walking and the change in altitude. We made a fire and after some tea and dehydrated goodness we passed out for an afternoon nap! It was really great to sink into a warm bed in this great French refuge full of character and history and drift off to sleep. We woke up at about three and took in the scenery. This mountain range is full of world class climbs. Here are a couple of them courtesy of wikipedia. The hut looks out onto the Walker Spur climb which is the north face of the The Grandes Jorasses (4,208) The first ascent of the highest peak of the mountain (Pointe Walker) was by Horace Walker with guides Melchior Anderegg, Johann Jaun and Julien Grange on 30 June 1868. The second-highest peak on the mountain (Pointe Whymper, 4,184 m) was first climbed by Edward Whymper, Christian Almer, Michel Croz and Franz Biner on June 24, 1865. Edward Whymper was on the opening ascent of the Matterhorn via the the Hörnli ridge, on the 14 July 1865.
We spent the rest of the afternoon taking in the area and watching the clouds and the sunlight dance in the evening sun, drinking tea and keeping the fire going. We decided to make an early start (04h00) the next morning and head to our route the Le Marchand de Sable on the Tour Rouge.
A couple of minutes before the alarm went off I was awake and managed to switch it off quickly and not disturb the other two climbers too much. Rob and I headed downstairs, brewed up some tea and then hit the slopes. After a short walk we got to the base of the climb. We exchanged our heavy boots and crampons for climbing slippers and finally stepped onto the granite. We decided that we would climb till 11 and then abseil down and start the walk out. That would give us time to get back for the flight out of Geneva in the evening.
The climbing was tricky but really good. Being granite we were climbing crack systems and carefully moving over small edges. It takes time to get used these conditions after the artificial holds of the climbing gym. We moved up through the climb and got about 3/4 ‘s of the way up by the time we hit our 11 o’clock cut off. We felt pretty good having got through some hard climbing and so we descened off the anchor station bolts to our bags on the glacier below.
The walk out was just as epic as the walk in had been. Every step needed a double tap to make it solid and we had to really focus on the snow slope. We kept a rope between us to protect ourselves from slip sliding away. Finally we got to the station and jumped onto the funicular down to Chamonix.
We had been really lucky with the weather. My first trip to the Alps was in the bag.
Transparent and verifiable elections">Transparent and verifiable elections
I’ve just watched David Bismark’s presentation on Ted and wonder which African country is going to use this method first?
It solves a number of vital issues. By blending a sophisticated ballot paper, digital scanners, 2D bar-codes and computers a process is created that enables transparent and verifiable elections.
1) Voter intimidation
If you’re standing in a voting booth in Zimbabwe or the Sudan thinking about who to vote for you can rest assured that you’ll be concerned that the heavy in the corner is going to check your vote and see if you voted ‘right’. Davids process includes a ballot paper with a perforation down the middle that allows the candidate list to be separated from your selection and encrypted value making it impossible to see who you voted for.
2) Vote accuracy and verification
By scanning the encrypted bar-code and counting your encrypted vote computers do the heavy lifting of counting and publishing the results securely. Voters are able to take the slip home as a receipt for verification over the web at a later date.