Weekly Roundup 10/31/2011

The Genius of Jobs
Walter Isaacson, The New York Times, Oct. 30, 2011

Steve Jobs’ Biography Examines How Rule-Breaker Tied ‘Artistry to Engineering’
Interview with Walter Isaacson, PBS NewsHour, Oct. 29, 2011

Synopsis: Steve Jobs granted author Walter Isaacson hours of interviews and informal conversations for a biography published within days of Jobs’s death on Oct. 5. Isaacson, whose previous books include biographies of Albert Einstein and Benjamin Franklin, writes that Jobs was “a genius” but not exceptionally smart. In an op-ed in The New York Times and an interview on the “PBS NewsHour,” Isaacson elaborates on Jobs’s use of experience and intuition, more than technical knowledge, in creating devices such as the Mac, iPod and iPhone.

Takeaway: Isaacson sees in Jobs’ career evidence that the United States has an advantage over economic rivals in producing people who are “creative and imaginative” and who “know how to stand at the intersection of the humanities and the sciences.” “That is the formula for true innovation, as Steve Jobs’s career showed.”

--Kenneth Jost, Associate Editor


I Spy Occupy
Alison Craiglove Hockenberry, Huffington Post, Oct. 28, 2011

Synopsis: Social media is becoming a key battleground for protest movements and the government and corporate powers that seek to limit their influence. Governments and, increasingly, corporate sectors such as the financial industry that feel themselves under threat, mine social networks for advance information about how public gripes and disgruntlement are developing. Meanwhile, hackers rush to develop new digital channels for public communications that are anonymous and sometimes transient, and thus tougher for eavesdroppers to suss out.

Takeaway: “Big business has long employed social media monitoring companies to track and analyze the ‘chatter’ about their products and brands. This infrastructure is a natural tool for confronting the Occupy Wall Street movement....The very openness of Twitter and Facebook makes them useful to corporations.” The ListenLogic surveillance company “claims it has analyzed more than one million social media posts and determined that its clients are "at risk"’ because of the Occupy movement.

For more, see my Sept. 17, 2010, report on “Social Networking;”and Patrick Marshall’s Nov. 6, 2009, report on Online Privacy (updated Sept. 14, 2010).

--Marcia Clemmitt, Staff Writer


U.S. Is Planning Buildup in Gulf After Iraq Exit
Thom Shanker and Steven Lee Myers, The New York Times, Oct. 30, 2011

Synopsis: U.S. defense policy is like a global chess game. That metaphor, of course, is not mine; it’s been used since time immemorial – or at least ever since the game was invented by, presumably, by the Chinese. But the metaphor came to mind after I read that the U.S. is likely to be repositioning new combat forces in Kuwait after it withdraws from Iraq at the end of the year.

Takeaway: The move comes after the Obama administration unsuccessfully pressed the Iraqi government to permit up to 20,000 American troops to remain in Iraq beyond 2011. Also, concern about a belligerent (and nuclear armed) Iran is prompting the U.S. to expand military ties with the six-national Gulf Cooperation Council.

For background see “Future of the Gulf States,” CQ Global Researcher, Nov. 1, 2011

--Tom Colin, Contributing Editor