November 2004 — Monthly Archive
Instapundit talks about how easily accessible bits are changing the fundamentals of several industries, and finds the creeping hand of Karl Marx. For example in computer software
the first indication came when the falling price of computers crossed the point where the average programmer could afford to own a computer capable of producing the code from which he typically earned his living. This meant that, for the first time since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, the ownership of the most critical tool of production in the most critical industry of the world’s leading economy was readily affordable by the individual worker. Throughout the first three decades of the Information Age, the individual worker was still dependent on his employer for his means of production, just as any textile worker in Manchester or Lawrence was in 1840.
Suddenly, this changed. Now it is as if a steelworker could afford his own blast furnace or rolling mill, an automobile worker his own assembly line.
It is hardly surprising that the nascent free software movement exploded in the early 90s, especially after Linus’ success with Linux — powered by cheap x86 processors and a cheap data network (the Internet) the share-alike academic ideal of MIT AI Lab became a practical reality for millions of users.
As pointed out, there are lots of interesting implications for webloggers (free news/opinion creators) and audio- and video-casters (free broadcasters): the entreched media will find it hard to compete in an environment where one-man shops can reach out as much as they do. Like the computer software industry, entrenched media will not die, but it will have to change.
I decided to try out the optimized MOOX Firefox builds today (I used the SSE-ready M2 build of Firefox 1.0). An interesting quirk I observed is that the text reflow bug #217527 that caused havoc on Slashdot goes away with this build. This is consistent with how timing bugs sometimes vanish, although by the same token the MOOX builds could introduce several other bugs. I have now switched off Raefer Gabriel’s Slashfix extension and Slashdot renders well again. Lucky me.
What I find interesting is how well the Marines have adapted to urban combat. Of course, there was a huge body of literature on the subject, but this is the first real campaign that shows urban theaters present no great shelter from a modern armed force.
Also interesting is the extent to which infantry is using technology:
For the first time in a major battle, guided artillery is being used quantity. In addition to the now familiar JDAMs, or GPS guided bombs, there are now GPS guided shells. Space based positioning satellites, laser range finding, robotics and networked computing are now as much a part of infantry combat as the boot heel.
Compare this with even the second Gulf War, when poor coordination between various branches of the armed forces (and especially the US and English troops) led to quite a few blue-on-blue casualties. Given that the Fallujah operation occupies a smaller geographical area and thus gives far less wiggle room to the men on the ground, I believe the US armed forces have figured out how to do jointness right.