Mark Twain on the telephone

Then followed that queerest of all the queer things in this world, — a conversation with only one end to it. You hear questions asked; you don’t hear the answer. You hear invitations given; you hear no thanks in return. You have listening pauses of dead silence, followed by apparently irrelevant and unjustifiable exclamations of glad surprise, or sorrow, or dismay. You can’t make head or tail of the talk, because you never hear anything that the person at the other end of the wire says.

Mark Twain, on hearing other people use the newly-invented telephone

(via Jason Kottke)

Would carpool incentives be cheaper than a new Brent Spence Bridge?

Would carpool incentives be cheaper than a new Brent Spence Bridge?

Commenter Marshall gets it:

The media is ignoring the bridge because the general public doesn’t understand money at that scale. I believe that people literally do not understand the magnitude of difference between $90 million for a streetcar and $3 Billion for a bridge. Besides, most of the voting public are not interested in rational economic appraisals of public spending. They just vote how they feel.

The bridge could cost a million dollars, a billion dollars, or a hundred billion dollars. If people think they “need” it, they will pay little attention to the cost.

How Steve Jobs’ Pixar experience helped lead to Apple’s iCloud

How Steve Jobs’ Pixar experience helped lead to Apple’s iCloud

“One of the things I learned at Pixar is the technology industries and the content industries do not understand each other,” he said. “In Silicon Valley and at most technology companies, I swear that most people still think the creative process is a bunch of guys in their early 30s, sitting on a couch, drinking beer and thinking of jokes. No, they really do. That’s how television is made, they think; that’s how movies are made.”

Likewise, record executives can’t relate to technical people, Jobs said.

“People in Hollywood and in the content industries, they think technology is something you just write a check for and buy,” Jobs said. “They don’t understand the creative element of technology.”

What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years

What May Happen in the Next Hundred Years

Ladies Home Journal, in the year 1900, predicted what the world would be like 100 years later.

The article predicts the rise of suburbia and the automobile, but fails to predict any of the downsides they’d bring along. Actually, it predicts we’d walk more, be more athletic, have improved mass transit (subways and 150 MPH high-speed rail), and have an average daily commute “from suburban home to office” of just “a few minutes.” Instead, our building patterns have lead to a decrease in walking, a lack of decent mass transit, and an average of 46 minutes per day stuck in traffic.

Also interesting are predictions about quality-of-life increasing as a result of social programs:

“The American will be taller by from one to two inches. His increase in stature will result from better health, due to vast reforms in medicine […]”

“A university education will be free to every man and woman. […] Poor students will be given free board, free clothing and free books if ambitious and actually unable to meet their school and college expenses. Medical inspectors regularly visiting the public schools will furnish poor children free eyeglasses, free dentistry and free medical attention of every kind. […] In vacation time, poor children will be taken on trips to various parts of the world.”

Instead, we have people complaining about “Obamacare” and “government hand-outs.” It makes me wonder, what would the Tea Party’s predictions for the future have been in 1900?