Vin Crosbie's Personal Blog

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Comment of Real Expertise

For nearly 15 years, a loose confederation of New Media pundits who I’ll call ‘techno-utopians’ claimed that because average people can now express themselves online, free of moderation by media companies, the quality of public discussions would improve and the best ideas rise to acclaim. Yet the reality has been quite different than that. he reason why it’s different is the results of what psychologists term the Dunning-Kruger Effect in which too many average people believe their cognitive ability and wisdom is as great, and often greater, than experts about the topic being discussed. A truly intelligent average person will defer to established expertise because it is almost always arduously gained from first-hand knowledge and deep experience. By contrast, the less intelligent a person, the more dumb and unaware he is of what actual expertise entails. He will too often believe that his own opinions about the topic discussed are equal, or even superior, to those of experts’. (The very worst cases of this moreover can be motivated or reinforced by resentment he might feel against experts or other classes of people who’ve achieved more in their careers than he has his.) The overall result is that the participation of so many of the dumber and unaware average people in online public discussions has not just lowered the levels of discourse but too often spewed smogs of miasmic discord and disinformation into those discussions. Unwitting Techno-utopians be damned! As the American biochemist and author Isaac Asimov remarked during 1980, “The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that ‘my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.’ ” His remark was about his own nation, but is no less true throughout the online world 40 years later. In social media, I am becoming apocalyptically weary of American plumbers who can expertly unclog a drain but who also purport to have expertise about the macro-economic impact on the EU of BREXIT; of used beer wholesalers who profess Constitutional law expertise; of used car salesmen, who though themselves untraveled, offer insights into the comparative structures of national healthcare systems here and abroad. Et. al. I’ll willingly accept their respective expertise about pipe water flow capacities, about alcohol-by-volume levels of brews, or about the suspension systems of 2003 Toyotas, but not about topics about which they don’t have any actual expertise. What […]


An aerial tour of the Catedral de Santa Ana, which is located in the Vegueta neighborhood of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the major city on Gran Canaria in Spain’s Canary Islands off the coast of northwest Africa. This eight-minute video was simply an early flight test of the drone. Because they were manually done, it’s camera movements are a bit jerky. The drone flight and editing (including addition of titles and music) was done on Samsung Galaxy 7 smartphone. A test of some simple equipment.

Heraclitus, The 21st Century Man

“But, Vin, you’re a Progressive,” retorted a Libertarian friend during a political discussion. I was taken aback by his characterization of me! ‘Progressive?’ I’d never thought of myself as that. What did it mean? I’d remembered the term as from the United States history. During the late 19th and early 20th Centuries a progressive was someone who advocated legislation eliminating tenement housing, preventing child labor, and ensuring food safety. There was a Progressive Party founded in 1912 by former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. Yet my experience has been that whenever someone tries to label you, they’ve already pre-packaged their view of the world. Few people are actually what other people label them. They’re instead more complex. Even people who label themselves, when asked questions that closely examine their values, will admit gaps, some opposite opinions, and plenty of nuances beliefs. I realized that my Libertarian friend in 21st Century meant was not only trying to pigeonhole my beliefs, he was intentionally, inadvertently, or ignorantly trying to gloss over any complexities or nuances of our discussions. He wanted to believe I was either someone who just wants for the sake of change or someone who thinks that government can solve all problems. Neither of which is true. However, the more I thought about he mischaracterized me, the more I realized there is another and newer meaning of Progressive that is unrelated to all those political old labels and characterizations. A meaning with which I agree and do identify. Allow me to explain. During the nearly 60 years I’ve lived, I’ve seen the world change. The end of the Cold War, globalization, diversification, interwoven economies, international pollution and climate change, growing scarcity of resources, and decreasing scarcity of information are only some of those changes. The pace of change in all those things constantly accelerates. Yet so many of our institutions, laws, practices, and lifestyles haven’t or aren’t adapting to these obvious changes in the world. As the ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus noted, change is the nature of things. Unfortunately, people fear or dislike change. So, it is human nature that our institutions, laws, practices, and lifestyles can become perilously out-of-date, particularly as the pace of change has accelerated. No, not everything should change (fundamental human rights, for example). However, the list of things that need not change is remarkably small, as indeed any list of truly precious things will be. There are remarkably […]


A Fourth Chapter in Life

“American lives have no second acts,” wrote the novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald. His fellow novelist Ernest Hemingway disagreed, as do I. My life is now in its fourth chapter or act, I’ve realized as I start another new year. My first was as the eldest child of newspaper publishers in a New England small town. I was skinny and studious, which made bullies prone to pick at me. Indeed, I was told by my parents that I needed to behave well due to their positions in town. And I was over-protected by them, forbidden to join any school sport team lest I get injured. I chafed during this chapter of my life. Going away to college began the second chapter, marked by liberty, bits of exuberance, and romantic and career disasters. I became wild in college, the opposite of studious and over-protected. The liberty of living on my own, unrestrained by parents or their legacy in my hometown, was too seductive to resist. I got into a lot of trouble in college and eventually stopped attending classes. I left college because I didn’t know what I really wanted to do for a living. I went to work for my family’s newspaper for a few years. During that time, I met a coed at a nearby university, who I then lived with for eight years. She also wanted to work for my family’s newspapers, but there was something about her that troubled my surviving parent, who said no. So, I chose her over family and left my family’s business. I joined a brand name journalism company which unbeknownst to me was failing after 70 years. She and I bought a house; the company I joined went bankrupt twice; and the stress of saving it and my mortgage strained my marriage. Next I knew, the woman I lived with had had multiple affairs, ultimately running off with a guy when his wife alerted me to my woman’s second (or third?) adultery. I lost my love, home, and job. Rebuilding my life from that rubble was the third chapter. I repaid the financial debts from my failed mortgage and marriage (my ex- also ran away from the former) and built from scratch a career in New Media (fortunately from its early days). Within ten years, I was speaking professionally at conferences worldwide and had clients on five of the six settled continents. Within 15 years, […]

Kevin Crosbie (1960-2012)

From The Chronicle, Willimantic, Connecticut, April 18, 2012: WILLIMANTIC-Chronicle Publisher Kevin Crosbie suffered a heart attack and died in his home Tuesdoy. He was 52. tn the aftermath of h1s untimely death, friends and colleagues remembered him for the. person he was behind the title—a famity man, a constant in the community, an ally, an athlete and a very good fnend. News of Crosb1e’s passing moved quickly through the community. Windham town offices Tuesday honored Crosbie with a moment of silence before the town council meeting, expressing shock and disbelief that such a prominent member of the community was gone. Crosbie was remembered 1n many ways, not the least of wh1ch was for h1s forthrightness and honesty. “If he liked something, he’d tell you. If he didn’t like something, he’d tell you that too,”said Windham Mayor Ernest Eldridge. “Kevin and l didn’t travel on the same orbit but l considered hom my good friend.” Condolences poured into the Chronicle Tuesday from newspaper heads around the state who knew Crosb1e professionally and personally “Kevin was a dedicated journalist and worked diligently to preserve community newspaperingin central Connecticut. He was committed to do1ng what was right in every situation and I took away new ideas from each conversation I had with him. The news media will be much weaker in this state with the loss of Kevin,” said Michael Schroeder, pres1dent of the Bristol Press. Crosbie was a hands·on publisher and ever present in the newsroom, operating at times out of nothing more grandiosethan a cubicle in the corner. He was the go-to person for just about everything and would just as soon climb a ladder to change a light bulb as put on a jacket and sit down with the governor-as he d1d recently when Gov. Dannel P. Malloy paid a visit to the Chronicle. “Kevin was a soup to nuts guy,” said former Chronicle features editor Terese Karmel. “At m1dnight he’d be at the paper, in jeans and a sweatshirt, ironing out some printing problems with the Daily Campus production editors and then that night, he’d be in a gray suitand be hosting a Chamber of Commerce dinner.” Chronicle photographer AI Molpa said Crosbie treated everyone -no matter his or her lot -the same “There was no hierarchy with him,” said Malpa, who described Crosb1e as a forward thinker, always drumming up innovative ways to make the paper better. His business savvy ways and […]

A Eulogy for My Mother

Delivered by Vincent Bartlett Crosbie Funeral of Lucy May Bartlett Crosbie Friday, January 6, 2012 St. Joseph’s Church 99 Jackson Street Willimantic, Connecticut, USA   Forgive me if my voice quavers or breaks. Outside as my role as her son, I’ve given perhaps 100 speeches, to up to a thousand people. But this will be the most difficult I’ve ever given: The eulogy for Lucy before her closest friends. All who knew Lucy knew that she was as integral to Eastern Connecticut as are the Willimantic, Shetucket, and Thames rivers. And like those rivers, her life was enriched by various streams: The headspring of these streams was the legacy she inherited at a young age: The daily newspaper her great-great-grandfather founded in 1877 and which the family has operated ever since. She never had to find a purpose in life. The Chronicle was the effervescent stream that gave her life purpose. That purpose was to ensure the flows, ebbs, eddies, and course of news and information about the area’s communities. To satisfy the thirsts of people who wanted to know what was going on in the town where they lived. She was the reporter’s reporter. If she couldn’t find a reporter to report the story, she would do it herself. (Indeed, it wasn’t unusual for police or firemen to see the Chronicle’s publisher among the first responders at a blaze or accident. On the day she died I finally disconnected the police/fire radio in her home.) Her standards of journalism were high. Those who worked for her know that she brooked no inaccuracies, never meandered from objectivity. She was a font of local knowledge. The high water marks of her work were probably the 100th and 125th-year commemorative editions of the Chronicle and 275th and 300th-year editions about the founding of the town of Windham, each of which offered a flood of historical information and stories about this community—most written by Lucy. (She even wrote a history book about Groton Long Point, the community where for decades she spent summers.) Her career, which lasted for 66 years, ran a remarkable course. She began working part-time at the Chronicle at age 16, one month after the death of her father, at the time the newspaper’s publisher. She then completed in just three years a B.A. in Management from Boston University, thereafter working for the Chronicle for the rest of her life. In […]

I Like Tunein Radio

My local radio stations are OK. Yet I listened to shortwave radio when I was in secondary school. I strung a cheap bit of antenna wire out of the window of my third-story bedroom so I could listen to distant stations at night when their signals bounced off the Ionosphere and were able to reach my small town. That legacy is one of the reasons I love Internet radio. Years ago, I could receive only the FM within about 50 miles (80 km) of my town, only the AM stations within 25 miles (40 km) during the day or within 400 miles (640 km) at night, and only the shortwave signals strong enough to reach North America at night.   That’s why I love Internet radio. Every radio stations that broadcasts on the Internet is automatically within range. Over the past years (back in 1997 I authored the business models chapters of Internet World’s Guide to Webcasting), I’ve tried many Internet radio applications and aggregation sites. My favorite has become Tunein Radio. (They aren’t a consulting client of mine nor do I know anyone there, so this isn’t a paid endorsement.) Tunein let’s me access 50,000 radio stations by genre, language, or location. It let’s me save my favorite channels as ‘presets’. And it synchronizes the Tunein Radio website and the Tunein Radio apps on my iPad and Android phone and on the Roku box connected to my television so that all those devices have my presets. Expansive, convenient, nice service.

Mass Replacement of Workers by Robots Will Cause Massive Chinese Unrest

Here’s an technology story that portends civil unrest in China during the this and the next decade: SHENZHEN, July 29 (Xinhua) — Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn will replace some of its workers with 1 million robots in three years to cut rising labor expenses and improve efficiency, said Terry Gou, founder and chairman of the company, late Friday. The robots will be used to do simple and routine work such as spraying, welding and assembling which are now mainly conducted by workers, said Gou at a workers’ dance party Friday night. The company currently has 10,000 robots and the number will be increased to 300,000 next year and 1 million in three years, according to Gou. Foxconn, the world’s largest maker of computer components which assembles products for Apple, Sony and Nokia, is in the spotlight after a string of suicides of workers at its massive Chinese plants, which some blamed on tough working conditions. The company currently employs 1.2 million people, with about 1 million of them based on the Chinese mainland. For more than 60 years, the Chinese Communist Party has been carefully (some say dictatorially) trying to grow the Chinese economy without creating civil unrest resulting from first industrialization and lately a conversion to a capitalistic economy. How to keep the country fed when farmers are tempted to quit the plows for higher paying factory work? How to keep the factory workers happy without slowing down production or causing economic inflation? Etc. The bloody Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 showed just how close to boiling over social unrest is in the People’s Republic of China. If Foxconn, whose workforce is already anxious (some suicidally so), plans to replace a large number of workers with millions of robots, how soon before other Chinese factories similarly replace their own workers. What will such conversions means to the hundreds of millions of factory workers in China. Unemployment. Perhaps there employee retraining programs will be offered, but for hundreds of millions of workers? And to do what? During the early 1800s in Britain, textile workers who were replaced by machines protested and rioted. They were called Luddites, after a figure from English myth. I wonder what will we call the Chinese software factory workers who will be replaced by robots and who will surely protest and riot?