Thursday, January 06, 2011

Dollhouse: Humans Have Never Failed Their Imagination



I've just finished watching the 2nd & final season of Dollhouse. All in all, it is a great show that succeeds in telling an important story about Identity, an intriguing dystopia, a Matrix variation (it's a positive connotation).

In the Matrix, humans are nothing but a network of shells, "living" a computer-generated reality. Only few evolve beyond this embryonic stage and become "aware" of their previous, shell-state, and the fake reality inside which their false ego has so far dwelled.

Dollhouse, like any honest work of art, is aware of its predecessors, and is building a narrative on top of the Matrix mythology, as well as on some of Philip K. Dick's major themes, such as "The Simulacra" (1964) and "We Can Remember It for You Wholesale" (1966), aka "Total Recall".

Unlike The Matrix, in the Dollhouse world we "really" are. But a technology has been invented that allows for the downloading, alteration, and uploading of brains into humans. Like in Total Recall, people can get imprinted with a completely different personality, memories, or shortly – being. People, who praise spirit over body, can switch bodies at their will, given they have the means to hire this kind of a "Service". Other people, "modern" slaves, are used as Dolls, who get imprinted on-demand, based on the client needs.

This naturally leads to a series of questions about Identity:

Mind/Body or just Mind?

If your brain is entirely wiped out and replaced with another brain, what part of "You", if any, is still there in the newly configured Mind/Body construct?

Awareness?

One can be imprinted with "awareness" of the imprinting/Doll technologies, i.e. awareness of the process of falsification of Reality. And yet, this "awareness", this "evolved being", can be in itself just another imprint. It doesn't make him or her less of a Doll. Seen through this perspective, "we" are all potentially dormant Dolls.

We can never know if we're really awake.

The Future

A good dystopia is one that provokes uneasiness and even some fear from the future to come. Dollhouse is certainly a good Dystopia, even better than the Matrix in this sense.

Although we might be dormant, we can, nevertheless, see patterns in the currently lived History of Mankind, the most prominent being that Humans have never failed their imagination.

What we imagine comes true.

Notes on the show

Dushku's really great, as well as the rest of the cast. The story's ideas, though, are slowly exposed, so the beginning of each season is just "ok". But it really gets excellent as each season evolves toward its climax.

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Friday, June 05, 2009

Enterprise Twisting/Twitting – Chloe O'Brian as a Twitter Client and why that Whale is Priceless!


Like that old lady that had a view of the universe as "Turtles all the way down", I find myself repeatedly condensing information-marketplaces into that reservoir known as Twitter. "It's Twitter all the way down", I say, "especially in the Real-Time Enterprise".

More than 3 years ago, I wrote a post about Twitter and its essential role in the mission-critical, real-time Enterprise. In that post, Chloe O'Brian, from 24, represented what we know today as Twitter, or to be more precise – a Twitter Client. And Bill Buchanan was in the role of the Information Junkie Manager, constantly hooked into that client.


As a manager of a Real-Time Enterprise I care most for the flow of information in two directions: to me and from me. I want to have any piece of information that matters, or that might matter to my decision making processes, being brought to my attention, in Real-Time, and I need my orders to be efficiently distributed across the chain of command, as well as to the rest of the relevant, or might be relevant surroundings, as my survival depends upon that.

From both practical and mission-critical perspectives, I, as a manager, need only "One Ring" of Information, or rather one channel, through which Information is flowing to and from me, in and out. If I should pay attention to several, different channels, I might be losing critical information, like in case one of the channels' down; I might be investing too much time & money in protecting, fortifying, combining, linking, merging and cleansing those channels, in order to create a virtually unified ring of Info that enables a real-time decision making processes to take place.

Alas, within the Enterprise the Information is highly distributed, and is inherently heterogeneous in both structure and semantics, that I, as a manager, can only pray that whatever information I get reflects reality. No information ring for me, the manager, today.

Twitter is a bi-directional information ring. It carries - NOT CONSOLIDATES - information from all the different sources into me, and it passes back my orders, in the form of short urls, back to any relevant subordinate (and see Twiggers: the web's new invocation mechanism (and of the Enterprise too)).

As today we still got FB and Flickr and this and that, there's a need for syndicators that will recreate that one ring of information for us, managers, FF & TweetDeck being a typical example. But from a real-time Enterprise managerial perspective, those syndicators are WRONG. They provide an illusion of a one ring, while masking the nevertheless impossible reality of channels' proliferation and diversity, which still must be protected, fortified, secured, and in case of a channel failure, critical information from that channel becoming unavailable.



I, as a manager, will therefore ALWAYS prefer that happy WHALE of Twitter over multiple, different and independent channels, because that Twitter WHALE will eventually be caught by Captain Ahab, and then I will have the ocean, while different channels, and different seas have their own monsters, dealing with them all being too much effort & distraction for our RT Enterprise manager.

This is the first post in the EIN series

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Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Blog's Dead! Long Live the Blog!



Wired Magazine: Promoting the Fathers

Now, Wired claims that we should stop blogging; that we've been wasting our time with a futile medium; that blogs have created an inflation of useless information nobody's interested in; that the "real" blogs are actually professional magazines, or in other words - ran by professionals, not laymen (not you, not me); that Facebook, Twitter and Flickr should be the only locus of our ever-shortened attention; that micro-blogging - 140 characters - is how we should learn to express ourselves.

Clearly, those who run AdWorld have their goals in persuading us to abandon Blogs and to switch to micro-blogging platforms - and that [i.e. having goals] is ok.
But shameful is their shameless call, their shameless list of cons, and facts and figures, as if, when we've started blogging, we have never had a dream of a different place, clear from their manipulations.

In Prefiguring Cyberculture - a collection of [too academic] essays about cyberspace and us - there's an essay by Margaret Wertheim, titled "Internet Dreaming: A Utopia for All Seasons", in which Wertheim describes two Utopias: Thomas More's "Utopia" (1516) and Francis Bacon's "New Atlantis" (1627). While More's Utopia is completely egalitarian - "communist" if you'd like - with every citizen having an equal share in both knowledge and property - Bacon's New Atlantis is a reactionary blueprint, a utopia ruled by a group of Fathers-Scientists who "know better".

Our society is definitely Baconian; science, power and fathers. Wherever you look, you can see these Fathers, with thousands or [much] more subscribers flocking around them, wandering after them form land to land. Open up Facebook - they are there; switch to Twitter - still there; FriendFeed - there too; and so on. You can't escape your fathers.

Wertheim shows how Internet Dreams had evolved from envisioning a revolutionary egalitarian place, where anybody can finally be somebody (Cluetrain, yeah!), to the usual reactionary place where a small elite group is actually managing things around, feeding us up with what, how, when, and where.

For a brief moment they tried a different tactic, creating YOU, but only to prove that YOU is a degraded breed vis-a-vis the really smart ones, aka the fathers. Wertheim describes Wired Magazine as being the platform for promoting those elite figures, whose dreams are not of a better world for the "people" but of how quickly they can launch their next IPO (or exit or any other kind of monetization).
"While the magazine stressed that every one of us would benefit from the wired 'revolution', the clear message was that people creating it were a rather special lot - more forward thinking, more savvy, more daring than the average Joe".
Living in a culture that reduces space and time to the minimum, that consistently abolishes any ability to digest and observe, that praises the endless accumulation of wealth and strives at the endless acceleration of technology, is the opposite of freedom. We have started with Freedom as in Free Speech and ended up in Freedom as in Free Beer.



So, Blog's Dead.
Hence, Long live the Blog!

Lyotard, a french Philosopher who tried hard to fight the system, considered blogging - i.e. writing a personal account - as the #1 activity of Resistance, of anyone seeking to free his/her mind & soul. He was inspired by both Adorno, another philosopher, who coined the word "Micrologs" decades before blogging started, and by the character of Winston Smith in Orwell's 1984: if you remember, writing a diary was how Winston kept his freedom.

Let that Elite group and their zealous followers switch to the micro-blogging platforms, where "every word is an ad", as some put it. Hopefully, the Blogosphere will become a vast, unpopulated place, full of debris – an ideal place for a new Utopia, suitable for bloggers whose dreams have never been that of monetization, and whose voice has never tuned itself according to Technorati's ranking and the number of feedburner subscribers' count.

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By OpenID ecko4inc, at 10:57 PM  

Yeah - they can't stop us. We won't be silenced.
"Shoot your way to freedom, kid." Burroughs
Straight from the hip... there, you have it, now its official: Wired has everyone last one of us bloggers cast as literary outlaws. I could think of worse fates for my writing...

To the devil with Wired - we'll build our own goddam spaceships.

I am emale!

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Thursday, July 17, 2008

Twiggers: the web's new invocation mechanism (and of the Enterprise too)



A trend, or rather a necessity, exists to tunnel all tech discussions into that magnetic field called Twitter. But strange it seems only to those considering Twitter as yet-another-stupid-service-for-the-crowds, which is essentially true – on the surface. Yet beneath the shallow appearance, there's another Twitter: a prototype for, or a component of a globally distributed management infrastructure, the outlines of which I have extensively described across this blog's real-estate over the last couple of years.

Twiggers are perfectly suitable for demonstrating this idea of a global infrastructure. Their power, as I'll try to explain - is a r/evolution.

What's a Twigger? (I'm about to trademark this word)
Twigger's a tweet containing a URL. Each such a tweet is a call for an action, i.e. an invocation mechanism, a trigger. A Twigger.
Currently, Twiggers are the only structured information inside a Tweet (besides Twitter's own backbone directives, such as @, d etc., and besides any private semantics used among closed parties). Structured information is the basis for cost-efficient communication, and consequently for management & operation. Being the only structured part of a Tweet, Twiggers are the locus of management activity inside the Twitterosphere.

Remember - it's not the url that is special! it's the structure that makes a difference, and the url happened to be the only structured piece around.

The power of Twiggers

Actually, it's good to have a structure in the form of a URL, because the URL has evolved to carry pretty useful information over the years. For example, it can tell us that behind the slashes there's an application. We know that, if the URL contains signs such as ? and & - an indication for parameters passed to an API. We also know the location of this application or API, because the prefix of the URL is an address. Under the RESTful paradigm, we can quickly identify Resources, for instance, http://del.icio.us/tags/twigger is a syntax conveying semantics - about a resource named Twigger, of a type named tag. And, of course, in its most natural use, the URL indicates the existence of some other content behind it.

How's all that related to management, operations and a global infrastructure? the answer is evident when you start considering twitter from a pragmatics perspective, i.e. "how to do things with words", or how to do things with Tweets. Twiggers are created in order to achieve something by inducing others to re-act. The Twiterrer who created the twigger wants you, the follower, to click on the url, to change your virtual whereabouts to the specified address, and to read/interact with the content found at that location.

Therefore, at its very basics, every Twigger is an ad.

I wonder: what is the click-rate of Twiggers versus other ads?

And here we touched that area which starts shifting us towards management.
Take Tinyurl, for instance: a service, like many others that pop up every day now [and u'll soon see why], that shortens long urls, a needed optimization for the 140 chars tweets. Any click on a tinyurl goes first to tinyurl' servers, from which the click is redirected to the actual address. Right? Well, it's certainly correct in most cases, but this is not but a good guess, as I'll explain hereafter.

Once we stop considering tinyurl as a dumb router, we can see new opportunities for this broker. Tinyurl can deduct from that click all the following insights:

- what's hot in the virtual from a twitter's perspective (by counting the clicks to the same url, like Twitturly does)
- who's interested in what - both the twiterrer who created the twigger, and his/her followers who clicked on it.
etc.

Even more interesting are those capabilities not yet explored by such a brokerage service. For instance, if the twigger is a request to call an API, the URL being an HTTP/GET kind of a url, or any other agreed upon convention, then tinyurl can be the actual responder to that twigger's call, and actually invoke the API. In other words, one can creates a twigger, and by that invokes any logic, anywhere.

-> Twitter - a concise, natural-language medium (i.e. english vs. php) is capable of requesting the invocation of whatever application, business logic, operations etc.

(Fraud scenario: a twigger can state "a great article by Mike Arrington", but when u click the tinyurl, you've actually launched some obscure application, or reached an obscure territory)

What about notification? anytime someone responds to a twigger, tinyurl can send a mail, or a direct tweet to the twigger's creator, telling her all that is possible to know about the re-actionist. Or to the opposite - given basic listening capabilities to the twitterfeed, if no one responded to a twigger within a given time interval - then a notification is shot to whoever is generally interested in finding out what actions are carried out, when and by whom, i.e. the Manager.

We can also chain twiggers: if tinyurl identifies that someone invoked a specific twigger, it can create another twigger that will continue, let's say, a pending business transaction, or a workflow.

That, by the way, is "Twitter in the Enterprise", and not "can John twit with his external buddies while at the Enterprise", nor "can we use Twitter inside the Enterprise to enhance exchange of information among the employees".

And what's even more fantastic is that tinyurl is an abstraction layer, aligned with the ideas of decoupling and service-orientation, meaning that the real url could be altered behind the scenes, both location-wise and semantic-wise, creating an outcome not predicted by the twigger creator. Any Twigger is like that chaotic butterfly, creating a chain of unpredictable events.


Concluding notes

Twiggers are the new invocation mechanism of the web, the underlying infrastructure of all mesh-to-come. The twigger context achieves - business and management-wise - the same effect that has so far been possible by programming languages only.

As Twitter is the backbone, there will be an infinite number of brokers that will sniff, trap, process and react to twiggers - each having a different "agenda", serving different affinity-or-any-other-kind-of groups, interpreting and processing the same twigger differently.

Twiggers also mark a bizarre proximity between men and machines, for suddenly both species use the same protocol in order to communicate, the differences getting more and more blurred.

This, coupled with the ability to invoke any operation and business logic, is Enterprise2.0, is Twitter in the Enterprise, is what will change the landscape of getting/setting information by both men and machines, is what will break the barriers between Enterprisey walled-gardens and opened ones.

Finally, we've had URLs for years now, so what's the fuss about a URL? the fuss, again, is not about the URL per-se, but about Twitter being the Galactic Information Pot - one place to rule them all - and within that pot shines a tiny url - the only commonly understood, user-generated structure.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008

Tweet Sixteen (Batch#: 1; Topic: Twitter; #Tweets: 16; #Comments: 6)


Twitter(1): "Anything goes" into Twitter->Go to 'tweet scan' and search for what u want->Subscribe to RSS on that filter/results 10:35 AM June 02, 2008 from web

Twitter(2): No [longer] need to pick Feeds from the Blogoshpere. Each "Blogject" to log itself directly into Twitter, and then see Twitter(1) 10:37 AM June 02, 2008 from web

Twitter(3): The problem: two kinds of info for the same Topic: conscious and unconscious blahblah tweets. That's y we need tags on tweets 10:40 AM June 02, 2008 from web

Twitter(4): These tags will be "Meta-Data" tags, indicating that the Tweet is an update of a reflection and !only of a projection 10:41 AM June 02, 2008 from web

- Wrong! Actually, we don't need tags. The length limit of a Tweet makes it inherently structured for meta-data – it's nothing but a series of keywords connected by coord. Conjunctions. No content, just pointers.


Twitter(5):Given that Blogjects are tweeting too (objects becoming part of the "conversation"), "consciousness of humanity" no longer holds 08:32 AM June 04, 2008 from web

- Here I'm "wronging out" my article. Twtr will not be the consciousness of Humanity, simply bcs Machines r alrdy part of the convrstion

Twitter(6): Unless, of course, Humanity is to be understood as a mixture of man and machine. We're already blended into each other. 08:34 AM June 04, 2008 from web

- 2 kinds of theoreticians on this interesting subject of man/machine familiarity: Machines, being the creations of Man are to be seen as his natural siblings; others, like Guattari, who see Man as a container, a meta-data, a tag, a pointer: Man can be an animal, can be a machine, can be an ephemeral moment, or an eternal word.

Twitter(7): As for History vs. Real-Time (i.e. can Twitter reflects the History of mankind or just its current, real-time snapshot) 08:44 AM June 04, 2008 from web

- If Twitter is meta-data, can it point to things that happen in the past too or is it more oriented towards Present consciousness?

Twitter(8): We say History & Real-Time "exist". Existence is conversation. Any conversation goes through the mind - a thought's product. 08:49 AM June 04, 2008 from web

Twitter(9): In any givn time, parts of Humanity reflect on its Past, others deal with Present, others thinking Future. Twtr will have it all 08:51 AM June 04, 2008 from web

Twitter(10): Making sure History is part of tweet scan: Plato, Inquisition, Descartes, Hiroshima, Churchill, Holocaust, les frères Lumière 09:26 AM June 04, 2008 from web

Twitter(11): Steve Gillmor is feeling in his guts the "Track" necessity, and I'm certain (QED style) that he's right: (cont. @Twitter12) 10:19 AM June 06, 2008 from web

Twitter(12): 1. "Track" must be restored. 2. It MUST have the min possible delay: Real-time pub/sub 3. It must allow any combination of words 10:20 AM June 06, 2008 from web


Twitter(13):These may !be the unanimous reqs for 0608, still they're the absolute necessities 4 vry near future. So we'd better get ready 10:20 AM June 06, 2008 from web

- We tend to underestimate the mission-criticality of technology. The man in the elevator becomes instantaneously hysteric when electricity breaks. Same thing with Twtr: someone, somewhere, is entirely life/biz-dependent on a RT response.

Twitter(14): Enterprise Tweeting is not about brdcsting one's presence; it's about tweeting '@Enterprise customr 233' & getting a real-time rply 06:53 PM June 08, 2008 from twhirl

Twitter(15): and it's about 'tracking' critical info, from whatever device, location etc. 06:54 PM June 08, 2008 from twhirl

Twitter(16): "Twitter [and alike] set the standard. Now a direct & fierce competition comes into play", Le Corbusier, 1923 09:28 AM June 10, 2008 from twhirl

- Already now, there are dozens of Twttr clones; it made me reckon, once and 4 all, that no one, nothing, will ever rule the entire World. I feel much better towards Google ephemeral dominance now.

http://www.twitter.com/mulikoppel


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By Blogger Dan Ciruli, at 7:49 PM  

Regarding the comment on number 7: with its instantaneous nature and its strong limits on length of message, Twitter is inherently biased toward communication about things happening in the here and now. One interesting side-effect of that is one possible metric for measuring the impact of a temporal event is how long people keep tweeting about it.

By Blogger Muli Koppel, at 11:04 PM  

Sure Dan, this is certainly what the Twitted medium is calibrated for.

Nevertheless:

1. Historically, "140 characters" were the length of the DEEPEST form of philosophical thought. Name of that genre is Aphorisms. Zen, too, aspires at the greatest possible minimalism.

2. The Twitted medium is the fastest and closest thought's reflector that we're currently using. In any given moment, there are thoughts about a-temporal things, about figures from the past, about thoughts from the past. And there are thoughts about the future.
If the Twitted Medium is to capture our thoughts, it will necessarily reflect much more then the here-and-now.

3. There are always artists. What they like to do is to play, tweak and twist the medium rules.

best, muli

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Monday, June 02, 2008

RebooT/witter: Links are dead and Google will no longer organize the Information of the World



Links are dead

It took me a while to grasp the essence of what this creation called Twitter had turned into – certainly not a service, more likely the virtual consciousness of the entire mankind.

Who'd have thought that in 3 years or so, the RSS Information River would be taken over by "Twitter" - a Galactic Information Pot that has fundamentally changed the infrastructure of producing and consuming Information, just like RSS did at the time.

The Galactic Information Pot and the "Problem of RSS"

"Anything Goes" into the Galactic Pot, a centralized, global Information reservoir – where each bit of information has an ID-tag, thus traceable to its inceptor. The "problem with RSS" (in retrospective, of course) was that random injection of Information all along the river-bands had become too chaotic to manage, distribution-wise. Each individual had to cherry-pick his/her favorite feeds from across the Blogosphere. That's the main changing point now: the entire production of information is no longer to happen by the river sides; from now on, anything we're about to publish should first arrive at the Galactic Pot, and only from there it may recirculate through and into the river.
1. Publish everything and anything to the Twitter Galactic Pot (both man and machines!).
2. Go to Tweet Scan and filter-search for the Information that interests you
3. Subscribe to the filter(s) that you've created

Tweeting Blogject

The physical problem of Google, Technorati and other feed aggregators

In his book Linked: The New Science of Networks, Albert-laszlo Barabasi explains something fundamental about the physical nature of the Internet, which is at the heart of the problem of feed aggregation (again - easy said when contemplating backwards). The Internet, explains Barabasi, is made of physically isolated islands. Yes, there are huge Islands, some of them so huge that they are built of sub-huge hubs and spokes, and yet, it's isolated islands all over the place.

The physically isolated islands are beyond the reach of the indexing robots! The robots are following links and so unless there's a link from one island to another, it is impossible for the Robot to get to the isolated content. It turns out, that ~90% of the internet is unmapped (un-googled!), meaning that the lack of links between the physical network territories is unbridgeable...

To overcome this physical limitation, the information hunters are yearning to have "inside information", i.e. URLs from (or Links to) the isolated areas, so that their Robots would be able to make their way into the Information zone. "add your URL to Google","Ping Us" and other pleadings of that kind are the outcome of this inherently fragmented and isolated nature of the net.

Conclusion 1: If you can't reach them, why not bringing them all in, now that a galactic information pot exists?
Conclusion 2: If this post is played backwards you'll hear Links are dead! (Chapeau, as always, to Steve Gillmor, who's equipped with one of the best pair of glasses around)

The information hunters will lurk wherever there's more possibility to get fresh meat, and fresh meat is rapidly shifting into the Galactic Information Pot. The need for links to get to Information had thus faded away.

Organizing the Information of the World? What for?

After all, we got SEARCH. We no longer need the Information organized. And, ironically, it's none other than Google who showed the world how pointless is it to organize mails (i.e. Information) once they are all residing within a single Pot (like Gmail) equipped with an efficient search engine...

Condensed Civilization/One Spot Shop

It is easy to envisage a parallel mass-migration (to that of Information) of virtual persona from the endless prairies of the Blogosphere into the shrunk, condensed and urbanized area of the Galactic Pot, which is well-equipped with APIs for production/consumption of information, an Aladin-type of an object whose Jini will generate whatever Information we ask for in just a split of a second.

Twitter is or soon will be the shortest way to get to any other point [that's you and me] over the virtual cortex, and in the operational, cost-effective reality we're living in, it will make any other mean of spontaneous information exchange (or marketplace) economically redundant.

Don't cry for Google, though: Organizing the Information of the world has never been their business. It's too passive, don't you think?

The Future of Ideas
The Galactic Information Pot, containing the living consciousness of mankind, can only do with short, thought-length info-pieces. You can't think a whole book, nor can you think a blog post (as pathetically lengthy as this one) – at least you cannot coherently think those lengthy information pieces without the aid of Time. And yet Time is still ranked among all those virtual mediums as Public Enemy#1 and so Twittered coherency will only be achieved by those who will have the Time and passion to trick and tweak the medium.


In the meantime, the fight against any timely obstacle between producers and consumers of Information will continue. Twitter is already ubiquitous and soon enough our thoughts will be encoded and transmitted into the Galactic Pot via some implanted nano-devices. And it is then that Twitter will truly and objectively become the reflection of the entire past, present and future of humanity. Because all the ideas, memories & dreams of what's been so far called mankind will lay there, encoded.


p.s. It's good to be back. Thanks for sticking around.

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Monday, August 13, 2007

Neo Everywhere (We Thank You For Your Business)


Jean Baudrillard

Several months ago, I read an essay by David Brin, the Sci-Fi author, titled The Matrix: Tomorrow May Be Different, its main argument being that Neo is far from being the only One: millions of us, maintains Brin, have experienced this eerie sensation about the [hidden] System, and have been patiently waiting ever since for their computer to ask them to follow the white rabbit.

Super heroes or super critics - for Brin both are severely overestimating their uniqueness.

I allow myself some improvisation here, as Brin is not talking about Neo; rather he refers to anyone challenging the rationality and the rightfulness of the System. Any rebel, maintains Brin, is just like any other rebel that has been, that is, that will be - so why rebel? Moreover, the "hidden truth" revealed to the rebel is actually known to everybody (I'll explain why further on), the rebel thus becoming nothing but a sad cliché. And so to avoid such a pathetic state of things, Brin recommends that we'll "turn with confidence and wary optimism toward the future", never looking back.

So where were we wrong? (by "we" I refer to all those lonely riders, freedom fighters, corruption busters individuals, who thought they were alone in their cause). Brin raises the following thesis: in the Western Lands people are continuously going through a certain type of indoctrination, whose mediums are TV series, Hollywood movies, bestsellers novels and other mass-production narratives. Surprisingly, the major part of those narratives have the same set up, with a lonely rider, freedom fighter, corruption buster individual at the heart of their plot.

"In fact, the most persistent and inarguably incessant propaganda campaign, appearing in countless movies, novels, myths and TV shows is suspicion of authority -- often accompanied by its sidekick/partner: tolerance.

Rebels are always the heroes. Conformity is portrayed as worse than death".

And as we've all grown up on those narratives, it is unlikely that You! are the only one to see that the System is corrupted, abusive and merciless. No, we're all sharing this knowledge, and so whenever you cry that the king is naked, you're making a fool of yourself; everybody knows that fact, so shut the fuck up.

I was puzzled... maybe I should really shut up... but

What Brin doesn't really explain is why? Why do all those films, TV shows, novels etc. evolve around this main theme of suspicion of authority?

Jean Baudrillard, the late French philosopher that greatly influenced the creators of the Matrix, provided a very interesting explanation in an interview titled The Matrix Decoded :

Nouvel Observateur: It is rather shocking to see that, henceforth, all American marketing successes, from The Matrix to Madonna’s new album, are presented as critiques of the system which massively promotes them.

Baudrillard:
That is exactly what makes our times so oppressive. The system produces negativity in trompe-l’oeil, which is integrated into products of the spectacle just as obsolescence is built into industrial products. It is the most efficient way of incorporating all genuine alternatives. There are no longer external Omega points or any antagonistic means available in order to analyze the world; there is nothing more than a fascinated adhesion.

Imagine Lord Voldemort going around, telling everybody how evil he is; how he broke down his soul into several lovely horcruxes and how those can be found - it would have sucked all the fun out! Harry Potter would have been dead long ago!

"One must understand, however, that the more a system nears perfection, the more it approaches the total accident".

The System produces negativity... integrated into the products... most efficient way of incorporating all genuine alternatives... to avoid total accident.

And to avoid total accidents, the Architect had to reprogram the Matrix:

The pseudo-Freud who speaks at the film’s conclusion puts it well: at a certain moment, we reprogrammed the matrix in order to integrate anomalies into the equation. And you, the resistors, comprise a part of it.

Yes, Neo, you are part of the System, which - like our body - engenders toxins and antidotes, so it could constantly adapt itself and reshape its limits. Criticism is a crucial toxin for the System' survival. All the anti-doctrines are engendered by the ruling doctrine, thus becoming tainted, depleted, Systematized.

It's sad. Brin's right: if you think you're special – you're not; and if you'd like to have a small rebellion, please do! – we thank you for your business.


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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Smile! You've just been CrowdSourced



If you want a clear-cut demonstration of what's Crowdsourcing and where it can lead us all, then I suggest that you watch Human Computation by Luis von Ahn, a hosted session by Google TechTalks. You will learn [from the 6th minute on] that people of Earth are spending & wasting 9 billion human-processing-hours on playing Solitaire, an outrageously unproductive activity, and that if tricked into playing some other games, such as those created by New Flatland's engineers, von Ahn being one of their most distinguished members, the crowds' idle time could then be harnessed and turned into pure gold, obviously not to the great advantage of the players, but certainly to the benefit of the creators of those alchemy games, which turn human idle time into a rain of golden coins.

Luis von Ahn, an impressive and charismatic lecturer, is behind several of such games. While watching him, I had a growing feeling of uneasiness: the more my awe to this man grew, the more I felt my guts turning inside out. After all, nobody likes feeling that he's nothing but a puppet in a game. What Luis von Ahn provides us with is an astounding example of how money enslaves science, which in its turn, enslaves human beings to satisfy its master.

What von Ahn reveals in his lecture is New Flatland's lack of any sentiment to that being which is human, placing that being on the same level as any other silicon chip, judging that being based on one and only one measure: cost-effectiveness. Von Ahn is continuously amused by his inventions, and by the efficiency of his creations, and for a good reason - they are perfect. And yet, this perfection is a grim example of how New Flatland can [ab]use humans as CPU, taking advantage of both the human weaknesses and the always-on reality in order to harness the crowds into its production lines.

After watching the video, some 9 months ago, I visited von Ahn' site. In the start page there was this picture [thanks to archive.org], which perfectly tells my feelings at the time:


Since then, von Ahn changed disguise, and changed the picture.


But don't get confused by the warm colors and the removal of cynicism, because the machines von Ahn and alike are building (Google is a good example: and see The DNA of the Web(an example of a long tail perfection)) provide us with nothing but an illusion that we're free in our choices, free as in freedom (and in Google's case we should also add free as in free beer). So next time you're out playing in New Flatland, watch your back and remember that you might think that you're doing one thing, while in fact you've been unknowingly crowdsourced into doing several other things to the great advantage of them all.

Smile!

p.s.

I started discussing the dark side of CrowdSourcing just for rating purposes. But there's also a bright side to it, such as Amazon and many other startups, which are providing fair CrowdSourcing services, i.e. no tricks nor hidden goals, and in most cases those who have voluntarily engaged themselves in a CrowdSourcing task are getting paid for their work. My next post, therefore, will be dedicated to the brighter side of CrowdSourcing.

This is the 4th post in the Crowds' series: The birth of a crowds nation, New Flatland, Participate (please!) and Share (please!), Smile! You've just been CrowdSourced

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Monday, June 11, 2007

Participate (please!) and Share (please!)

Online Crowds are the elementary components, the infrastructure of New Flatland's business processes. Without the Crowds being online the world remains pretty much round; the short tail remains dominant; marketing has to go through traditional, cumbersome, not-fast-enough channels. It is, therefore, in the deepest interest of all global business2.0 companies that we all become Digital Sobjects, always-on virtual entities that can participate in the business processes of the participation economy.

The concept of Crowds, as demonstrated in The birth of a crowds nation, refers to a collection of unrelated, unbiased, pressure-free individuals. Therefore, the very basic services offered by New Flatland's Corporations are Crowd Creation Services [cc services], which are all having YOU! – the lonely rider, the free-thinking individual – as their target. You! must get converted into the Virtual first, if New Flatland's business processes are about to suck you! into their intestines.

Each one of those Crowds Creation services trade a certain portion of your Identity for a Web2.0 service (have a look at my post The Desert of the Real (Digital Sobjects, part II) for a great map of cc Services by Fred Cavazza). You might be familiar already with the latest hot Crowds Creation service by the name Twitter, used by its subscribers to tell their friends (and the entire world) about their current whereabouts, current deeds etc. It's always fun to see how those who are fighting for their physical-world privacy are willingly and eagerly disclosing any personal fa{c|r}t whenever it comes to the virtual-world, as if the later is not real.

Having said all that, it is not difficult to see how Dave Winer's "Participate", originally a call for involvement by us, pressure-free individuals, in hope to change things around, has been confiscated by New Flatland and became the slogan drawing more and more individuals into New Flatland's ecosystem. Under this perspective, the Time's "You!" [You! Being the man/woman of the year] is nothing but a bait.

You can tell it's a bait, because almost all web2.0 Crowds Creation services are pleading that you'd make one more step, one more "residual" action besides joining their services, and that is to share your data.

Participate (please!) and Share! (please!)




Click to see full size image


There's nothing wrong with sharing your data with friends or the public. Actually, it's almost genetically impossible not to do so once the possibility exists. Nevertheless, it should be understood that Sharing is what transforms an individual into a group-member, a pressure-full component, a formidable and almost helpless recipient of sales pitches and marketing ideas that work mostly on our subconsciousness.

No land in New Flatland should remain private! MySpace? why not! but only as long as it's shared with friends. Real private estates stop the circulation of marketing viruses; they maintain an environment where pressure-free individuals can exist – and that's certainly not helpful for New Flatland's revenue stream.

All New Flatland's Global Corporates benefit, even if indirectly, from Crowds Creation services as they allow for better reputation, better personalization, better higher-level services which are dependent on us being online. In a way, the long tail of web2.0 startups is being [ab]used here for this purpose of building New Flatland's infrastructure, i.e. bringing the crowds online. Those endless web2.0 startups get the dimes of Google's advertising network and a share in the dream of eternal wealth, but for all practical purposes they are nothing but workers in the service of the Hive Queens.

In the next post I'll discuss higher-level business models, such as Crowd Brokerage and Crowd Sourcing. Stay tuned, if you wish.

p.s.

Nothing in what I say should imply that what we see is deliberately constructed so by certain companies or individuals. No company nor individual can bring forth such an amazing matrix. I do feel, though, that there's something in the essence of "doing business" - be it the Capital itself, or any other substance - that creates and evolves this network and assigns certain roles to providers and consumers alike. No company is deliberately evil.

This is the 3rd post in the Crowds' series: The birth of a crowds nation, New Flatland, Participate (please!) and Share (please!), Smile! You've just been CrowdSourced


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Monday, May 21, 2007

New Flatland

(This is a sequel to The Birth of a Crowds Nation)

The Crowds are threatening traditional businesses. That's interesting, but not as much as the fact that the crowds exist - online!
The Memes, for their part, are extremely happy with this new situation: humans are coming to them now; the hassle of expanding around the globe in order to locate more human containers is no longer needed. I suspect that Capital, being architecturally if not essentially similar to Memes, has its big time now just the same. Online crowds are good for Businesses, just as they are good for the Memes, and the following three journalists are well known for properly nailing it down.


First is Tom Friedman, the conceptualizer of New Flatland, a flat world of zeros and ones, where space is no longer a factor. Friedman follows the history of those Business Processes that have been migrated into New Flatland, and realizes that they all have become extremely optimizeable, each step within a Business Process lending itself to a never ending improvement, by replacing its internal components with always better, faster, cheaper ones. The nice thing here is that in New Flatland, the cost-effectiveness is no longer categoric or rather dichotomic; it's no longer cheaper manpower for manwork and cheaper machinepower for machine work. Also, it is no longer machine replacing man to gain a better operational bottom line. No, in New Flatland men and machines not only become interchangeable, but in many cases harnessing human beings into the Flatland Business Processes is much more cost-effective (i.e. realistic & rational) than harnessing silicon chips. In New Flatland, than, we're all productive components, judged by our productive capabilities. New Flatland is an operational reality.

Next is Chris Anderson's Longtail. If you think right about crowds you think Big Dime. The Longtail is a unifying concept: there are Longtail customers, Longtail products, and Longtail money (i.e. dimes). But if you can make Longtail people, i.e. Crowds, to work for you, then you really are on the top of the business Ant-Hill. "Humans are not ants", said Surowiecki, but this doesn't imply that they cannot be harnessed into an ant-like processing chain, where they become, voluntarily, the most faithful workers.


But to achieve this you'd better read parts of Malcolm Gladwell's book, The Tipping Point. It explains how certain people are [implicitly] fulfilling key roles in the Capital/Memetic architecture (mavens, connectors, salesmen etc.) which aspires at creating as much Crowds as possible, but only so it could break it down into endless pieces of pressure-groups, each erasing part of the free-will of its members, aligning them with the overt goals of the group. Groups are marketing paradise: they turn individual, pressure-free members of Crowds into herds at the gates of malls.


So what do we have here2.0?

Never-ending cost-effectiveness of global, business processes; Big Dimes and ex-crowds that work for you with or without getting paid, and a formidable - probably the best ever created - viral marketing machinery, functioning at near light-speed, PLUS your customers come to you. All these mean one thing: strange, indeed, are the ways of the Capital.

In the next post I'll discuss three business models that have emerged in New Flatland: Crowd Creation [cc] Services, Crowd Brokerage and CrowdSourcing. Stay tuned, if you will.

This is the 2nd post in the Crowds' series: The birth of a crowds nation, New Flatland, Participate (please!) and Share (please!), Smile! You've just been CrowdSourced




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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

The Birth of a Crowds Nation


In The Wisdom of Crowds, one of those formula books that populate our Zeitgeist, Surowiecki suggests that agents Mulder and Scully were actually right: the truth is, indeed, out there. Moreover, there's a way, although long and cumbersome, to get to that truth, using You! and You! and You! and You! and…You! In other words, the truth is out there, and the out there is no other than - the Crowds.

Through a series of examples, Surowiecki clarifies the concept of Crowds - a large number of uncoordinated individuals expressing their beliefs and/or performing their acts in a pressure-free context. Crowds are not to be mistaken with Groups: while the former conceptually preserves the independence of the individual, the latter destructs and erases any traces of individuality, in favor of a unified group synthesis. Therefore, the outcome of a Group cannot be predetermined; some groups yield excellent results, while many others bring catastrophes, as Surowiecki nicely demonstrates. Crowds, on the other hand, being an unbiased assemblage of independent individuals, will more often than not succeed in understanding reality and in producing successful outcomes - the absolute opposite of what the word crowd usually connotes.

In the Web2.0 era, the internet has become crowded, the Blogosphere being the place where the crowds are hanging around. Individual and uncoordinated blogs, images, videos and podcasts have emerged, seriously challenging the traditional mediums, the traditional media.

And their attitudes towards newspapers are especially alarming. Only 9 percent describe us as trustworthy, a scant 8 percent find us useful, and only 4 percent of respondents think we’re entertaining. Among major news sources, our beloved newspaper is the least likely to be the preferred choice for local, national or international news going forward. What is happening is, in short, a revolution”, Rupert Murdoch (before acquiring MySpace).

Wikipedia and Linux are two more flagrant examples of a fantastic uncoordinated achievement that have become a pain in the neck of their traditional counterpart (such as Britannica and proprietary O/Ses). And even the so far protected territories of the heavy lords, i.e. the banking industry, have seen the crowds adopting creative ways to circulate money from an individual to an individual without having the banks as go-betweens, Grameen Bank and Zopa being two examples for such Crowds Banking.
"Grameen Bank has reversed conventional banking practice by removing the need for collateral and created a banking system based on mutual trust, accountability, participation and creativity"
Trust, participation and creativity: the web2.0 equivalent for Liberty, equality, fraternity. Should the old monarchs rest in peace or do something about those Crowds?


(Click the play button twice)

Clearly, businesses can no longer pretend that all is well, and if you read the Cluetrain Manifesto (each revolution should have its manifesto), you'd see that at least from the Crowds' perspective it's the End of Business as Usual. The 95 thesis that open the Manifesto, communicate simple and unequivocal messages, such as:

1. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors.

2. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products.

3. In just a few more years, the current homogenized "voice" of business—the sound of mission statements and brochures—will seem as contrived and artificial as the language of the 18th century French court [
I am loudly protesting here: "with all due respect", 18th century French court language is better than the "voice" of business in any possible aspect! this article should be rewritten in future editions]

4. Companies that assume online markets are the same markets that used to watch their ads on television are kidding themselves.


In simple words: it's the end of the marketing bullshit, and the end of FUD (Theoretically. In practice, both IBM and Oracle, for example, are still using insulting marketing brochures and even more insulting FUD campaigns. But let's not ruin the good spirit we were getting at...).
It's the beginning of a new era where we have succeeded to emerge as a wise crowd to which the vendors, the corporates, the government - all the controllers - must listen.

The following piece of audio shows how the language has changed to reflect this paradigm shift. It's an excerpt from a Q&A session between Dave Winer and the participants of the BloggerCon IV unconference (unconference is a deconstructed term made up by Winer [probably], indicating "a conference which is not a conference", like Alice's un-birthday. It is the minimal form / format / structure required in order to gather a bunch of uncoordinated, pressure-free individuals: there's no agenda, only a general topic, the agenda being set-up by volunteers on the day of the event. Vendor's reps (i.e. Group's representatives) are naturally banned out (unless, of course, they are willing to become pressure-free individuals again).


Attendee – it's too passive, hence participant, the active individual, daring to know, daring to take part in what had turned to be The Participation Age.

In the next post(s) I'll describe how the Crowds' bone has been removed from the Corporates' throat, to the great satisfaction of everybody involved.

This is the 1st post in the Crowds' series: The birth of a crowds nation, New Flatland, Participate (please!) and Share (please!), Smile! You've just been CrowdSourced



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Thursday, March 29, 2007

The DNA of the Web (an example of a long tail perfection)

Not long ago I have published a post about the soul of the Internet, where I depicted the Web as a living organism. Now that the digital sphere contains not only objects but also sObjects, the living organism is becoming less of a metaphor and more of a reality. And so it occurred to me that every newborn in this virtual world, i.e. every new web page, could well have some sort of genetic information embedded into it, and that’s how the question of what is the DNA of the Web came up.


I think it is not risky to claim that most of the Web’s newborns (excluding, probably, Virtual China) would soon own a genetic code made by Google. More precisely, it is Mother Google that will give them birth, and so each one of them will necessarily contain the Google DNA – a spirally entangled code that grows adSensors and interactionDetectors, enabling the newborn to speak the adLanguage while reporting to mom about any of its encounters.

Well, I assume that these are no news for most of you. Nevertheless, I do see value in telling an old story that can demonstrate how easily digital sobjects are manipulated, or rather instrumentalized. For Google succeeded in creating a perfect long tail machine where each dot on the tail serves as a surrogate mother for a Google child. These dots are certainly me, who uses most of Google services, and most probably you too.

So how this long tail perfection evolved?

Step 1: A single page

In step 1 all that existed was the Google.com page with a search box. No monetization.

Step 2: Adding some ads

Ads were added to the same single search page. Monetization began.

Step 3: Long Tail#1: Distributed Search

At this stage, ads were presented only at Google.com search page and so Google’ strategy was to drive more and more traffic into the Google.com page.
Long Tail#1 was to convince other sites to include some Google code that generated a Google search box on their pages. Searches in that box were routed to Google.com, and so more ads were presented and clicked. Who did the traffic routing for Google? We did.

Step 3: Long Tail#2: Distributed Ads

A single page – as successful and attractive as it may be – is still a single page. It’s 1 out of an infinite number of web pages that are waiting to be converted into the Google adWorld. It is a limited adSpace vs. an infinite adSpace.
Only this infinite adSpace was owned by us, not by Google, and so Google created a compensation model, an incentive for us to embed Google’s genetic adCode on our site.
Now that’s the second manifestation of a devilish brilliance from Google’s part: if Google wants to expose 1 million ads in a certain day they have two options: exposing all million ads in a single high-traffic site, or one ad at a time across one million niche sites. In the first option Google has to pay the high-traffic site; in the 2nd option, the niche site will see money from Google in a thousand years.
And thus, by selling a dream to the millions of us, Google converted many web pages into the Google DNA.

Step 4: Long Tail#3: Surrogate Mothers

If we take all the web pages on the Internet and embed a Google DNA inside their guts – they will generate roughly the same amount of money month after month. This is impossible for a growth-oriented company, and so the Internet (i.e. adSpace), like the Universe, must expand ad infinitum. Here again Google perfected the long tail principle. They created a reality in which the burden of expanding the Web falls on us, digital sobjects, whereas the entire expansion enterprise is tightly governed by Mother Google, who guarantees that any new web page will carry its DNA from cradle to grave.

Gmail makes part of that Google’s Reality. Gmail is nothing but a nickname for any Google service that generates, out of our utilization, new web pages that carry the Google DNA; only this time there’s no way out.

All Google services are aimed at the infinite expansion of the Web, at the creation of endless poppy fields from which commercial quantities of adSpace are produced. Mother Google succeeded where nobody else did: we have become the farmers, the producers, the pushers and the consumers of our own _____, a damn happy particles in a Google adWorld.


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By Anonymous Udi h Bauman, at 5:30 PM  

Very cool & provocative vision!

Just saw today someone's depiction of the solar system (http://flickr.com/photos/nad/405162346/), in which our planet was properly named: Google Earth, although they'll probably won't be satisfied with just a planet.

Seems like you're exposing not just the big machine the web is, but maybe also the inner motivation of the machines that will rule the world one day, which is a good thing...

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Reality, as told by the Machine (Digital SObjects, part III)

All media work us over completely”, said Marshall McLuhan, meaning that whenever a new media, a new medium, takes over, the function human= f(medium) returns a different value. Currently, f(medium) defines human as a SObject, a limbo creature, half here in the physical, half there in the virtual.

In the previous Digital SObjects posts I have described an old spec, the memex, interpreted by some top corporations (Microsoft and IBM) as a reason to launch a project with the objective of creating the first, real-time, digi-replicated SObject. I then described how those projects have become, for all practical purposes, obsolete, when the web2.0 social-something turned the digi-replication of the Self into a prominent trait of the participation economy, providing whatever web2.0 store-and-share services that are required for real-time, virtual cloning.

Jamais Cascio, a futurist, takes the memex one step further. So far, we have been discussing the memex from a subjective point of view, i.e. what I see, what I hear, what I produce and so forth. Cascio takes the recording device that each "I" is wearing and redirects it to the outside world. Suddenly, what I see is You. Not only am I digi-replicating myself, but I'm digi-replicating the others too (even those rebels, refusing to wear the memex, will be recorded). I'm digi-replicating the environment in its entirety: every single, tiny, insignificant detail is captured, transferred and stored for good.

Cascio defines this situation with a lovely analogy, saying that this would be a world controlled not by one Big Brother, but rather by millions of little brothers and little sisters… each pointing their recorder on... YOU.

How reality will look like when every object, subject, event or context would have so many real-time copies coming from different recording devices? Cascio affirms what is inevitable: telling lies will become harder; forgetting will become extinct.

But Cascio seems to ignore or to reject the potentially disastrous outcomes of this reality:

With multiple, real-time, digi-replicated sources of the same thing the statistical reliability of the story told by the Machine will be practically irrefutable. Unlike Minority Report, where the machine was based upon an esoteric mutation, the new machine is based on us - "millions of us". Hence, its higher reliability.

Cascio claims that the multiple, different sources of the thing are just like in Rashomon – where anyone tells his/her version and there's a judge to decide from the different alternatives. I disagree. All those sources of digital reality are created and produced by devices, extensions of the Machine, which are accurate, objective and… standardized, the opposite of human memory – that limited, flawed container of ours.

With the correlation of real-time recordings coming form that many standardized, accurate and objective sensors, the machine can filter out anomalies (i.e. stories which are not aligned with the official version, the statistically probable version), thus making Reality nothing but a statistical phenomena.

Reality has gained its probability.

Actually, Kurosawa's Rashomon is the exact antipode of this Reality, with every man/witness having his own flawed memory, creating his own version of reality, confronting the others with his own alternative. Reality maintains its secrets so humans can create their own stories. In the real-time, multi-sources, digi-replicated world, there's no place for human creation; there are no more faults or lies; memory losses are obsolete; forgetting is an unknown word. But a society that cannot forget is a society that cannot remember! It's a total memory loss, and "Memory", says Kurosawa, "is the basis for everything; to create is to remember". (see clip)

The interpretation of the two parts of the memex (Desk, Recorder) is now revealed in its hideous aspects: the memex desk serving as a mean for eradicating human memory by extending it mechanically ad infinitum (extending is a politically correct term; replacing is a more accurate one), while the memex recording device is feeding the desk with real-time, simultaneously parallel recordings, creating a statistical Reality of which the Machine is the sole narrator.

For the time being The Machine is us – but just for as long as the machine needs us to carry around its Reality recorders. One day those recorders will become autonomous enough, capable of moving around, flying up high, going deep into the oceans; the big digital narrator will no longer need its faithful carriers and we will be, so they say, disconnected.

Brains in a Vat; Ghost in the Shell; The Matrix - it's all the same story

This is the 3rd post in the Digital SObjects' series: The Memex Reloaded, The Desert of the Real, Reality, as told by the Machine


Notes:

1. A short analysis of Jamais Cascio's lecture The Participatory Panopticon can be found here. In the comments attached to that post there's a dialogue between Jamais and myself about the nature of this future world.

2. Jamais Cascio's lecture, The Participatory Panopticon, can be downloaded from here.



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By Anonymous Udi h Bauman, at 12:37 PM  

This is just amazing! thanks for thinking this to this extent, really important. You mention the esoteric mutations in minority report having the unique vision into the future, & I think this post has some similar qualities...

There were always objections to evolution (especially engineered one) saying that without human faults & limitations the world will be less interesting (e.g., without deafness, there would be no Beethoven), but I don't remember it being applied to the subjective & limited view/memory of humans.

Did you see Kurasawa's "Dreams"? One day we'll all end up pure luddites like the old guy in the last episode. (Check out also the Unabomber manifesto.)

By Blogger Muli Koppel, at 12:57 PM  

Udi

Thanks for your nice comment.
As for "Dreams" - I saw it, but... I forgot everything. A shameful memory loss. It's, than, time to remember.

Also, ecko4inc hinted me out that Reality can never be fully represented, with humans being of no exception. I agree to the extent that we agree that Reality is not consensual; that it has a human-indifferent quality. Anyway, I'm optimistic.

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Friday, February 23, 2007

The Desert of the Real (Digital Sobjects, part II)

In The Memex Reloaded, I have discussed a certain spec (The Memex) and mentioned several of its implementations (such as MyLifeBits) that bring into existence a new kind of human – a Sobject – which is a real-time digi-replication/reflection/representation of a real human. Whatever we sense, whatever we do, whatever we produce, as well as whatever we think is being digi-replicated into a virtual container, labeled with our name.

As for that last activity – thinking – I think that as long as all our actions, senses and productions are digi-replicated in real-time, it doesn’t really matter what "we may think" (as is the title of Bush' spec), because no one gives a ___ about what “I” thinks, as long as “I” behaves, obeys or, using the web2.0 lingua franca, participates accordingly.

Surprisingly, though, we do care about what we think and we do feel like sharing our thoughts with others. We are willingly opening up our thoughts to the world through blogging, podcasting, videocasting etc., subjecting ourselves to the social pressure of becoming transparent. In other words, we are digi-replicating our thoughts, by ourselves, in order to become…

Real. We’re doing it because everything which is real happens now over there in the virtual-o-sphere. If I ain’t digi-replicated then, soon enough, I won’t be able to participate, and consequently I’d be left alone, an insignificant individual in the desert of the real, as Baudrillard once said and Morpheus echoed afterwards (see notes).

Which is why we’re not waiting for Micosoft’s MyLifeBits project to come to an end: we’re using whatever means available to us already today in order to digi-replicate any possible aspect of our Self, using digital devices to record our activities and digital services to store-then-share the produced artifacts.

Here’s a map by Fred Cavazza, a very good web2.0 mediator, where we can see all those web2.0 services into which we divide, classify then digi-replicate our “Self”.



Let’s stop here, by this point where the common sense tells us that this digi-replication of ourselves into SObjects is an inevitable process; that it is cool – it allows us to participate; that there’s nothing wrong with it – we’re doing it for ourselves, by ourselves. Let’s stop here and take a break.

A short commercial and we’re back.


This is the 2nd post in the Digital SObjects' series: The Memex Reloaded, The Desert of the Real, Reality, as told by the Machine


Notes:


1. Jean Baudrillard is known for his theory of the hyperreality, and more recently that of the Integral Reality. He maintains that the apocalypse is not a future event, but rather our present; “it is happening now!”.
2. I don’t pretend to understand Baudrillard, or to know his theory – I’m just borrowing his metaphors. Baudrillard has produced some great such quoteables, “the Desert of the Real” being one that is extensively reused, including in the Matrix, which is full of Baudrillardism, where Morpheus is showing Neo to the “real” world, that which remained after “The Bomb”: “Welcome to desert of the real” Morpheus thus spoke.
3. Baudrillard is also known for maintaining that marketing has replaced philosophy, and that ads are not representing goods but rather themselves. He envisioned a day where ads would compete one against each other, and this is indeed happening now in Google’s ad placement bidding process.
4. In another post of mine, “Organizing the Information of the World”, I quote Dan Farber who said in a podcast of the Gillmor Gang that Google, along with the other moguls, wants to turn us into a Google Person, a molecule, I'd say, in the genetics of an ad/World.


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