Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Why the PDF Is Secretly the World’s Most Important File Format

Will Women of the Gulag get an Oscar next month? Please vote yes. Putin won’t like it. | The Book Haven.

According to Paul, the film “drives home the point that Russia has yet to come to terms with the Gulag and the Great Terror. Consider the striking images of a Stalin look-alike selling photos on Red Square and older men and women sobbing at Stalin’s burial place. There has never been a big event, like Nuremberg or the Truth Commission in South Africa, that wipes the slate clean.  The Russian President Vladimir Putincannot deny that the Gulag happened, but he needs the Russian people to want a leader with a firm hand. The strategy of admitting Stalin’s ‘harshness’ while emphasizing his presumed contributions has paid off. The Russian people name Stalin as the most significant figure in history!”

One day your voice will control all your gadgets, and they will control you! MIT Technology Review

The internet feeds on its own dying dreams- The Baffler in the Waiting Room for God: “I’m a digital native, older than most. Because my father worked for the federal government, our household was an early adopter of the internet. As I grew up, so did it. When I was a child, for example, the internet was still indexable; you generally found websites through directories and webrings. Favorites meant something, because finding what you were looking for often took quite a bit of time. When search engines became the norm, around the time I was in elementary school, this analog directory hunting was replaced with the ubiquitous Google search. Which is to say I witnessed it all, and as a particularly lonely child, I witnessed it rather closely: Neopets in elementary school, the birth of Myspace in middle school, the rise of Facebook in early high school, Instagram in late high school, the internet culture wars of infamy as a freshman in college, Donald Trump and Cambridge Analytica in graduate school. Writing in 2008, the new media scholar Geert Lovink separated internet culture into three periods

Houston Chronicle – John Leavitt: “Forget the calendar. Just as the 19th century didn’t really end until Armistice Day in 1918 and the 1960s counterculture lasted well into the 1970s, the 21st century didn’t begin at the end of 2000. It began in 2014. In that year, drought conditions in California hit record highs, prompting fears of massive fires in the future. America watched transfixed as civil unrest was live-streamed online following the police shooting of teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. Sen. Bernie Sanders startedto make headlines as a possible 2016 contender. Republicans swept the Senate and gained the largest majority in the House in decades, leading PBS to go so far as to say “there are no more moderates.” The feeling in 2014 was of waiting for something to happen. And five years later, it feels like it was the year the world we’re living in now began to take shape. The phrase ‘jobless recovery’ got thrown around and it looked like the big banking reforms promised in the wake of the 2008 recession weren’t going to happen. In Texas, the fracking bubble burst when the world oil markets were glutted,deflating hopes of a continuing boom-time. We weren’t going to return to the old normal. We were starting something new…”
Motherboard – The story of the PDF, the file format that’s become one of the internet’s defining information tools. It’ll be with us after we’re long gone. “The Portable Document Format, or PDF, is everywhere. But it’s still a format that causes headaches for the average person. Just take former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, who may not be the average person, but who runs into issues with the PDF just like the best of us. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s most recent indictment of Manafort noted how the lobbyist and his colleague, Richard Gates, collaborated on modifying a PDF document by converting the document into Word format, changing an amount in the document, then changing it back to a PDF. This created something called a paper trail, bolstering Mueller’s case against Manafort. It’s not often, of course, that the PDF gets this level of notice. The PDFs origin story is a bit more boring than that of the MP3, which was built around the contours of Suzanne Vega’s unaccompanied voice on “Tom’s Diner,” and the ZIP file, which came to life in a brutal legal battle that was egged on by the whims of BBS users. But the PDF still has a story, and that story is that of a format that promises to be even more valuable in the decades to come. Here’s why…”

PS Social Couses

A High Wire Act: Managing Risk in Government

New year brings new challenges for three public service leaders
MOVERS & SHAKERS: New cross-agency merit list obligations don't come into effect until February 1, but federal departments are already taking up the practice, including for one of the new year's most senior promotions.

Flexible work a hit with ABS staff as 'virtual teams' become the norm
WORKPLACE: Australian Bureau of Statistics staff have enthusiastically taken up flexible employment arrangements over the past few years, and staff surveys suggest most feel their work lives have improved as a result.

New edition of the Commonwealth Style manual in the works
STYLE GUIDE: The Commonwealth is getting its first new style guide since 2002, courtesy of the Digital Transformation Agency, but not until the end of 2019

How neoliberalism’s obsession with markets destroyed the heart and soul of key jobs AlterNet