Studies in atemporality

Just browsing Bruce Sterling’s studies in atemporality flicker stream. It makes me think of Calvin Luther Martin’s “In the Spirit of the Earth: Rethinking History and Time” in which he claims that paleolithic peoples well understood the technologies of agriculture and building ascribed to the move to the neolithic, but didn’t use them because of their world-view.
I think we too are well ready to step back out of time, and lose our enslavement to a historical outlook. Sterling’s images are teasers for us.

WikiLeaks and open societies

There’s an important article over on the Radical Philosophy website about Assange and WikiLeaks. Besides having interesting things to say about cryptography, slowness, conspiracy, and graph theory, it’s got this really nice summation of what WikiLeaks is really about:

WikiLeaks, in the long run, is meant as a way of filtering good/‘open’ organizations from bad/‘secret’ ones, creating an inhospitable environment in which to be secret, and thereby improving governance. Assange is not the nihilistic wrecker-of-civilization fantasized by the American right (who seem to have at last found the Bond villain their impoverished understanding of the world has led them to look for). His work reflects an attitude of intensely moral empiricism, empowered by a programmer’s toolkit for abstraction and breaking big problems into smaller ones. The politics of WikiLeaks is a cybernetic politics, with built-in, auto-correcting feedback loops that tend a society towards transparent institutions and accurate information, because the cost of conspiratorial secrecy is pushed disproportionately high.

This paper also quotes Assange:

Society has grown beyond our ability to perceive it accurately. Our brains are not adapted to the environment in which we find outselves [sic]. We can’t predict important aspects of our societal environment. It’s not designed to run on our brains. We’re maladapted. In our evolutionary history we spent a lot of time tracking the behavior and reputations of small number of people we saw frequently. If we want some of the social benefits that a small society brings then we need computational crutches so when A fucks over B any C considering dealing with A will know. A society that can ‘think’ in this way is able to route goodness to people who do good and away from those people who generate hurt. The decision as to what is good is too complicated to be formulated in regulation and elections are a very coarse expression of what people think is good. Any paper formulation will put power in the hands of a political and technocratic elite. Robust routing decisions must be made by individuals and individuals need tools to manage complexity enough so they can make them effectively in a modern society. — Julian Assange ‘Transparency in the cold light of Finland’, post on, 30 July 2006.

Which is a really nice recognition for the need for holopticism.

It’s a long paper, but worth the read.

Amathanga ahlanzela abangenamabhodo

There’s a Zulu saying “Amathanga ahlanzela abangenamabhodo,” which means “Pumpkins also multiply for those without pots.” It means that abundance is the natural state of all human beings, but we have to have belief that it can happen and do everything we can all the time to make it happen. You can achieve the impossible, but to do it, you need to see the invisible. We know how many seeds there are in a pumpkin, but we don’t know how many pumpkins there are in a seed.

Framing is everything

Ellen got these two summaries of news items from the ny-times:

Detroit Bailout Is to Bring On U.S. Oversight
Congressional Democrats were drafting legislation for government control of the auto industry, including the possible creation of an oversight board.

In Hard Times, Russia Moves In to Reclaim Private Industries

The Kremlin seems to be exploiting the economic crisis to establish more control over financially weakened industries that it has long coveted.

Pretty funny no?

spam hacking this blog

I’m very grumpy because some spammers have been hacking this blog!  I’ve updated to the latest version of WordPress, and it still seems to be occuring, so if you see nasty stuff here, please notify me.  Thanks.

new skype language

So, there are two new skype related words that I’ve started using, one which I coined myself, and the other which was amazingly self-referentially coined while in a chat.

The first word “skypo” is what you do when you mistakenly (and potentially very embarrassingly) type something into the wrong chat. My skype window usually has 10 or so ongoing chats, often happening simultaneously, and sometimes I just start typing and hit return thinking I’m in one when I’m actually in another. That’s a skypo.

[NOTE: Turns out (not surprisingly) that someone else though of this a few months before me…]

The second word is for what happens when you are typing something and the other person in the chat was typing the exact same thing. The word is skypultaneous, and it was itself a skypultaneity, as I was chatting about this with Lisa trying to come up for a word for it and we skypultaneously typed “skypultaneous”!