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VOLUME 2, NUMBER 31    <>    MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 3, 2001

this & that

Cubicle walls closing in?
Do you suffer from feelings of helplessness and nausea while working? Have you ever seriously considered a workplace atrocity? Now there’s hope.

processedworld.jpg (45954 bytes)Processed World is back. The magazine that provided an irreverently relevant look at the early years of the Information Age has returned to the newsstands (at Modern Times, City Lights, and Unbound Books) with a 20th anniversary edition.

If you remember the old publication, you’ll recognize many of the names on the new pages. If you don’t, you’ll recognize many of the situations they describe.

Here are a few extracted samples, just a taste:

“Dot-coms’ demise could alleviate rent problems” read a recent Examiner headline, more promise than reality. In the Mission District, north of the outdoor narcotics zone along 16th Street, dozens of households received rent increases of 10 to 60 percent in March.
The problem is not a lack of sites in the city for new housing. A city Planning Department report notes that there are under-utilized parcels with space for 60,000 dwelling units under current zoning.
Getting to the root of the problem means attacking the ownership structure of real estate. Some local activists are proposing community land trusts as a new model for affordable housing.

— Tom Wetzel, San Francisco’s Space Wars

I got into a conversation with a 22 year old, who had just moved out here from St. Louis. He reminded me a lot of me when I first arrived. I was 22, from the Midwest: gentle, soft-spoken, full of hope and curiosity. The biggest difference was that he came with $4,000 saved up, Internet job contacts arranged ahead of time; yet he had been couch-surfing for months in San Mateo, chasing after that elusive place in the city. I couldn’t help thinking how different it was for me when I came here in 1981, fresh off a Greyhound with $300 in my pocket.

— Zoe Noe, I live in the Past: The Rent is Cheaper!

The framers of the US Constitution envisioned intellectual property law as guaranteeing a set of temporary monopoly rights to individuals — “authors and inventors” — to encourage the production of new works. Economic changes have created the current situation in which creators have not had the resources or means to disseminate their creations. Today most creators have little choice but to sell their copyright to corporations who then disseminate these works. For the most part, copyrights are not held by individuals, but by corporate entities.

— Howard Besser, Intellectual Property: The Attack on Public Access to Culture

Altering billboards is an activity requiring total engagement of the senses. You are doing something NOW. It’s dangerous, exhilarating, a little stupid and entirely alive. It’s a PRANK, it’s a joke; you can thumb your nose at the wonderful institutions that control us. You are completely alive when you’re at it. However, as a political revolutionary concept (in the sense of making the world a more fair or livable place for the most people) altering ad messages is not important in the least.

— Jack Napier, The Billboard Liberators

I called Kerry Lauerman, then an editor at Mother Jones. Lauerman told me they had been kicking around the idea of doing the anti-free-agent-nation story, about the people for whom being way-new-kewl-entrepreneurial just hadn’t worked out. I told him he had to let me pursue this.
So I went to work, tracking down developers from game companies gone broke, founders of companies that died. I was on the case daily and I was getting nowhere: no one wanted to talk to me.

— Paulina Borsook, The Disappeared of Silicon Valley (or why I couldn’t get that story)

Are you working, as the computer ads, say, “smarter and faster”? Is faster smarter? Is working longer hours better? Your answers, disavowed by economists and government statisticians, provide clues to a striking paradox at the start of the 21st century.
Computerization has introduced a fugitive economics — a status quo that is officially characterized as prosperous and productive but that is ultimately neither.
We are in need of a new economics that speaks to our social history. We might begin by insisting on a reckoning of our unrecorded overtime and a recalculation of the work time and productivity figures. The revised figures would make it more difficult to justify computerization in its current, anti-automation manifestation. They might also prompt demands to renounce the salaried worker’s exemption from mandatory overtime laws.

— R. Dennis Hayes, Farce or Figleaf? The Promise of Leisure in the Computer Age

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