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The Internet

The Problem With Internet Dating's Frictionless Market 453

Hugh Pickens writes "Peter Ludlow writes in the Atlantic that the internet has turned the dating marketplace into a frictionless market that puts together buyer and seller without transaction costs. And that's a bad thing. 'Finding a partner used to be expensive, and the market was inefficient. If you lived in a large city, there were always people looking for partners, but the problem was how to find them.' But one advantage of inefficient dating markets is that in times of scarcity we sometimes take chances on things we wouldn't otherwise try while in times of plenty, we take the path of least resistance (someone who appears compatible) and we forgo difficult and prima facie implausible pairings. Another problem with frictionless online markets (PDF) is that assume we know what we are looking for. But sometimes we simply don't know what we are looking for until we stumble across it in a search for something else, says Ludlow. 'The result is often unexpected and beautiful. So it is with relationships; compatibility is a terrible idea in selecting a partner,' concludes Ludlow. 'We often make our greatest discoveries and acquire our greatest treasures when local scarcity compels us to be open to new and better things.'"
United States

The Nation Is Losing Its Toolbox 525

Hugh Pickens writes "Louis Uchitelle writes that in Aisle 34 of Home Depot is precut vinyl flooring, the glue already in place. In Aisle 26 are prefab windows, and if you don't want to be your own handyman, head to Aisle 23 or Aisle 35, where a help desk will arrange for an installer, as mastering tools and working with one's hands recede as American cultural values. 'At a time when the American factory seems to be a shrinking presence, and when good manufacturing jobs have vanished, perhaps never to return, there is something deeply troubling about this dilution of American craftsmanship,' writes Uchitelle. 'Craftsmanship is, if not a birthright, then a vital ingredient of the American self-image as a can-do, inventive, we-can-make-anything people.' Mass layoffs and plant closings have drawn plenty of headlines and public debate over the years, and they still occasionally do. But the damage to skill and craftsmanship — what's needed to build a complex airliner or a tractor, or for a worker to move up from assembler to machinist to supervisor — has gone largely unnoticed. 'In an earlier generation, we lost our connection to the land, and now we are losing our connection to the machinery we depend on,' says Michael Hout. 'People who work with their hands are doing things today that we call service jobs, in restaurants and laundries, or in medical technology and the like.' The damage to American craftsmanship seems to parallel the precipitous slide in manufacturing employment. And manufacturing's shrinking presence helps explain the decline in craftsmanship, if only because many of the nation's assembly line workers were skilled in craft work. 'Young people grow up without developing the skills to fix things around the house,' says Richard T. Curtin. 'They know about computers, of course, but they don't know how to build them.'"

Kid Health Experts Attack Video Game Summer Camp 123

Jack Action writes "The University of British Columbia runs a summer camp where kids get to play computer games for three hours a day. The camp organizers say it is 'a good social opportunity for some kids who didn't fit into other programs.' However, health professionals declare they are 'troubled' by the camp. A professor in UBC's department of medicine says kids should be outside and engaged in 'unstructured play,' while the CEO of an NGO that monitors kids' health chimes in that they already spend too much time in front of screens and not exercising. Do the health experts have a point, or are they just criticizing something they don't understand, or perhaps is not to their taste?"

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