(Jeff Kramer) O o . o O (jeffk) Sun 6 Jan 13 16:05
Now I feel bad for getting <jonl> a book for Christmas. I went on vacation this week, and brought along Nate Silver's book on statistics, Nassim Taleb's Antifragile and Hannu Rajaniemi's followup to The Quantum Thief. None of them got cracked, and I discovered that much like traveling with a 15 month old, traveling with a 15 month old, 8 year old and a dog doesn't leave much time for quiet consumption of long-form content.
Ted Newcomb (tcn) Sun 6 Jan 13 16:11
Yup..short-term attention, short-form content seem to be what's occurring all the way around. Hopefully, some combination of Artificial Intelligence and Personal Assistant magically concocted with algorithms and code will allow us to get back to long term and form. Or have those days gone by forever?
Roland Legrand (roland) Mon 7 Jan 13 05:34
Or maybe, Ted, long from will become the new chic? Just like being able to disconnect from our ubiquitous networks will be a sign of special standing?
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 7 Jan 13 07:24
One of the downsides of being a jet-setter is falling out of the sky. A jet disaster is a cruel blow, but to have somebody vanish from the sky without a trace adds the torment of suspense to grief. The Missoni family are such interesting, unusual people; they're the last Italian family fashion big-business, where everybody from granny to tot has major couture kung-fu. Suddenly they've lost their top guy and his core entourage in one catastrophe. I pity them. There's a lot of winter daylight in the Missoni clan right now.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Mon 7 Jan 13 08:06
This may be my last rant of the 2013 SOTW season here; it's been over a week and I'm knee-deep in Balkan snow. Sometimes people ask me what a "Stack" is, and why they're different from the Internet, or even from yesterday's Web 2.0. People assume that Stacks want to break the Internet into Balkanized pieces, but that's not what's going on. Basically, "Stacks" want to corral the Internet's anonymous "users" --"nobody knew they were dogs" -- and turn users into tagged, branded and privatized livestock. A Stack doesn't have to "break the Internet" to do this; it just has to set up the digital equivalent of a comprehensive family farm, so that the free-range cowboys of the Electronic Frontier are left with crickets chirping and nothing much to do. A modern Stack will leverage stuff that has never been "Internet," such as mobile devices, cell coverage and operating systems. In order to become a "Stack," or one of the "Big Five" -- Amazon Facebook Google Apple Microsoft -- you need an "ecosystem," or rather a factory farm of comprehensive services that surround the "user" with fences he doesn't see. Basically, you corral Stack livestock by luring them with free services, then watching them in ways they can't become aware of, and won't object to. So you can't just baldly sell them a commodity service in a box; you have to inveigle them into an organized Stack that features most, if not all, of the following: An operating system, a dedicated way to sell cultural material (music, movies, books, apps), tools for productivity, an advertising business, some popular post-Internet device that isn't an old-school desktop computer (tablets, phones, phablets, Surfaces, whatever's next), a search engine, a dedicated social network, a "payment solution" or private bank, and maybe a Cloud, a private high-speed backbone, or a voice-activated AI service if you are looking ahead. Stack cars, Stack goggles, Stack private rocketships optional. http://battellemedia.com/archives/2012/01/the-internet-big-five-by-product-str ength.php It's been argued that the key development for a Stack is a bank; not the old finance-crisis broken 2008-style bank, but some bright new shiny Bitcoiny kind of internal company app-store with a more-or-less private currency system. The financiers are the only enemies that the Stacks really fear; they're certainly not much scared by their major industrial rivals the health-care biz, the oil biz and the military-entertainment complex, though they probably ought to be. Still, the Stacks figure they can disrupt and disintermediate all those old-school businesses; it's the stock-markets that scare them, because they all know that, if they're destroyed, it will surely be through that method; moguls can destroy the Stacks just like they destroyed the world of the 90s dot-com boom. Are the Stacks "stable?" In a word, No. They're all dizzyingly unstable Napoleonic gimcrack empires built by eccentric geek weirdos. Besides which, they've all learned to hate each other, and they've been stocking up patents for an almighty legal war for years now. Will there be other "Stacks" created in other countries than the USA? Maybe. Samsung might become a Stack. They're feasting on the bones of Nokia, Sharp, Panasonic and Sony now, but they might raise their leonine heads from the blood feast. http://techcrunch.com/2013/01/05/the-fifth-horsemen-of-tech-samsung/ Whatever is behind the Chinese Great Firewall might congeal into a Red Chinese Stack some day; a "Stack with Chinese Characteristics." Who will be the first Stack to collapse? Facebook would be the obvious guess because it's the newest, goofiest and weakest, but Tomi Ahonen, the guy who predicted the death of Nokia, says here that it will probably be Microsoft. Why? Because Google will build an Android banking system. Google has already won, Ahonen says here. Maybe. http://communities-dominate.blogs.com/brands/2012/12/android-won-windows-lost- now-what-the-battle-of-the-century-is-decided-microsoft-relegated-to-ever-s.ht ml Lastly -- is there a "Stack" that isn't a corporation? Could you have an Internet Stack? Maybe -- if you had a comprehensive Open Source Movement, a kind of Maker Movement for making everything. But -- where would they get the revenue stream? Every Stack has already chosen a business model -- they all charge plenty for doing *something* -- and then they use that crowbar to destroy the commercial worth of the services and devices offered by all the other Stacks. That's "disruption." Could Open Source "disrupt" all of that? It's a bit like asking if the Comanches of the Electronic Frontier could build a superior railroad -- or maybe it's like asking if Comanches could run a railroad once all the Rail Barons killed each other. Who knows, maybe they could. There's always a wild card -- like the chance that the Qataris might think it was a good idea. "The Al Jazeera Stack."
(Jeff Kramer) O o . o O (jeffk) Mon 7 Jan 13 09:15
It's interesting that nobody's mentioned Kurzweil joining Google yet. Maybe everybody's taking a wait-and-see attitude, but it seems like someone who digs the idea of taking the DNA of their father, cloning it and then populating the newly reconstructed fatherbody with the memories he has of his father... you couple that with Google's stack and that seems like a recipe for awesomely high weirdness. I had some thoughts about it on a long drive back from Santa Fe the other night. I'm not sure if this is just sci-fi daydreaming or if I'm actually on to something. <http://www.jeffkramer.com/2013/01/07/kurzweil-bot-ai-and-the-googleboard/>
Chris Marti (cmarti) Mon 7 Jan 13 14:39
Kurzweil is such an incongruous combination of genius and apparent crackpot. JMHO, of course.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 8 Jan 13 00:42
I'm glad to see Kurzweil kept busy. The Singularity doesn't exist; one less thing to worry about. O'Reilly guys live in an alpha-geek world where the Stacks are irrelevant and it's all about Web 2.0 blithely transforming itself into Web Squared. http://radar.oreilly.com/2012/12/14-trends-for-2013.html
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 8 Jan 13 01:28
There we go! (he said triumphantly) http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/an-interview-with-isaac-mao-on-the-concretisatio n-of-sharism-in-china/2010/11/04 If "Shareism" exists, then there must be "Sharists." Or, for the hipper among us, "sharistas."
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 8 Jan 13 05:44
Not surprisingly, Joi Ito has something to do with this. Check the location of the original sharist manifesto by Isaac Mao: http://freesouls.cc/essays/07-isaac-mao-sharism.html The Internet culture of "open" and "free" started giving way to subscriptions, pay walls, and other fee strategies with the economy on the ropes (if not down for the count)? Maybe it's just taken time to nudge people away from the notion that content should be free and shareable. Creative Commons offered an alternative, and sharism is an extension of that thinking. Isaac Mao argues that sharing is inherent: "Sharism is encoded in the Human Genome. Although eclipsed by the many pragmatisms of daily life, the theory of Sharism finds basis in neuroscience and its study of the working model of the human brain. Although we can't entirely say how the brain works as a whole, we do have a model of the functional mechanism of the nervous system and its neurons. A neuron is not a simple organic cell, but a very powerful, electrically excitable biological processor. Groups of neurons form vastly interconnected networks, which, by changing the strength of the synapses between cells, can process information, and learn. A neuron, by sharing chemical signals with its neighbors, can be integrated into more meaningful patterns that keep the neuron active and alive. Moreover, such a simple logic can be iterated and amplified, since all neurons work on a similar principle of connecting and sharing. Originally, the brain is quite open. A neural network exists to share activity and information, and I believe this model of the brain should inspire ideas and decisions about human networks. "Thus, our brain supports sharing in its very system-nature. This has profound implications for the creative process. Whenever you have an intention to create, you will find it easier to generate more creative ideas if you keep the sharing process firmly in mind. The idea-forming-process is not linear, but more like an avalanche of amplifications along the thinking path. It moves with the momentum of a creative snowball. If your internal cognitive system encourages sharing, you can engineer a feedback loop of happiness, which will help you generate even more ideas in return. It's a kind of butterfly- effect, as the small creative energy you spend will eventually return to make you, and the world, more creative. "However, daily decisions for most adults are quite low in creative productivity, if only because they've switched off their sharing paths...."
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 8 Jan 13 07:40
I wonder why so many of the world's oldest "companies" are Japanese. Is it something in the water maybe? Japan has earthquakes, fires,typhoons, tsunamis, civil wars, atomic bombs; they're not what you'd call a peaceful and somnolent area. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_oldest_companies
(Jeff Kramer) O o . o O (jeffk) Tue 8 Jan 13 08:55
I was thinking about that the other day, how wealth commonly only lasts 3 generations or something. We're societally tuned in the west to do what you want with your life, so unless your ancestors started a public corporation, at each generation there's a good chance the kids are going to decide to go do something else. (My dad left the farm to join the Navy and be a missionary, now someone else owns the farm.) In Japan there's probably more of a societal pressure to maintain the legacy and do good by your ancestors.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Tue 8 Jan 13 09:27
Wanna read what the rich guys pretend to read? The World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2013. http://www3.weforum.org/docs/WEF_GlobalRisks_Report_2013.pdf
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 8 Jan 13 09:42
Note the page on "digital wildfires in a hyperconnected world."
(Jeff Kramer) O o . o O (jeffk) Tue 8 Jan 13 09:59
As a corollary from the long-lasting Japanese corporations, I've been wondering lately about how weirdness passes through generations. I know a fair number of out of the box, non-traditional thinkers and doers. Now that I have a proto-human wandering around to be molded, I've noticed that a lot of the kids of weird and crazy people tend to end up being really, really normal. Like, 2.3 kids, a 401k and a gym membership normal. Is this just one of those things where most people in the general population tend towards the mean, regardless of whether their parents were on the edges of the curve? Do we really have any control or influence over our kids? Do you need a normal upbringing to become weird later in life?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Tue 8 Jan 13 14:04
I've had two kids, a 401K, and a gym membership, and I'm weird as hell. If you dig in, you find weirdness in everyone - and you also find stability in people who might appear whacky. When I look at the way I've evolved, it has as much to do with literature and media as with my parents' influence. I can see both parents reflected in my fundamental behaviors, but I'm also a product of James Joyce, Thomas Pynchon, Richard Farina, Howard Hawks, Gene Roddenberry, Bob Dylan, Arthur Lee, Shunryu Suzuki, Dogen, Gurdjieff ... I could go on at length, but you get the idea. Some weirdness is rebellion and reaction, jettisoned at some point, but some of it falls into your comfort zone.
(Jeff Kramer) O o . o O (jeffk) Tue 8 Jan 13 17:12
That Global Risks report is awesome. It's really interesting to see the top risks by likelihood change over time. 2007: Breakdown of critical information infrastructure 2008-2010: Asset price collapse 2011: Meterological catastrophes 2012-2013: Severe income disparity
Roland Legrand (roland) Wed 9 Jan 13 01:24
thank you for the pointer to the Risks report, <bruces>. I'll have to find time to read it carefully - if I can get myself to put aside your awewome book Love is Strange. All those interested in futurism and the island of Capri should read that book. Also, glad to 'meet' Zeta Starlitz again.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 9 Jan 13 02:17
Indian women still plenty ticked off. http://blogs.reuters.com/india/2013/01/09/short-skirts-bad-stars-and-chow-mein -why-indias-women-get-raped/ A "War on Rape" isn't gonna work any better than a "War on Terror," but if they can organize politically and get a few crocodiles voted out of office, that might at least clear the air some. In similar news, Americans still indignant about gun crimes, while the NRA is rolling in gun-biz cash and taking in new members by the thousands.
Rob Myers (robmyers) Wed 9 Jan 13 04:24
Are we really cyborgs just because we have our iPhones on vibrate? It's not the same as seeing Stelarc wired up to the net.
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Wed 9 Jan 13 05:23
I don't think anybody's argued that we're cyborgs "just because we have our iPhones on vibrate." "Humans are surrounded by built objects and networks. So profoundly are humans altering their biological and physical landscapes that some have openly suggested that the proper object of anthropological study should be cyborgs rather than humans, for, as Donna Haraway says, 'we are all cyborgs now.' "Cyborg Anthropology takes the view that most of modern human life is a product of both human and non-human objects. "How we interact with machines and technology in many ways defines who we are. Cyborg Anthropology is a framework for understanding the effects of objects and technology on humans and culture." http://cyborganthropology.com/Main_Page This is interesting, too, in Wired: http://www.wired.com/opinion/2013/01/hawking-machine-man-robots/ Hélène Mialet argues that Hawking is (as Obi-Wan Kenobi said of Darth Vader) "more machine now than man." As such he's also more than one mind, but the hub of a collective network: "What I discovered was that to understand Hawking, you had to understand the people and the machines without whom he would be unable to act and think; you had to understand the ways in which these entities augmented and amplified Hawkings competencies. For example: The specialties of his students, which are spread across very different research fields, enable him to integrate diverse information and the different facets of a problem in a way that others cannot. His secretary provides him with a mental assistant many of us would never have, by sorting and arranging his data according to his interests and what he is able to process." Hawking is an extreme, but many of us are extended and enhanced by our machines, and also by our extend ability to form and leverage human and information networks. It's not that you can set your cellphone to vibrate, but that you can use it to leverage an augmented and enhanced experience... "augmented reality" is a term that is often applied more narrowly to a particular kind of overlay technology, but I realized in the FringeWare days, and again in conversations with Amber Case and Tyger AC (et al), that the term has broader application and is connected with the concept of the human as "cyborg" or cybernetic organism, a human with communication and control capabilities extended by technology. Maybe it's more about having our minds on vibrate.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 9 Jan 13 07:27
Just started a Tumblr today. Hope it doesn't cause info overload, eat my cyborganic anthrobrain, trigger a Singularity, fatally distract mankind from other, far more important issues, etc. http://brucesterling.tumblr.com/ In other thrilling news, it's still snowing outside. I never thought that a Texan lad like myself would say this about the beautiful winter snowscapes of the higher latitudes, but it's getting a tad monotonous. About time to wrap up, pack, and hit the road.
Bruce Sterling (bruces) Wed 9 Jan 13 07:29
If you think imminent eschatological apocalypse is on the menu this season, you might wanna toss these Cambridge guys a few dollars, pounds, I dunno, whatever they're taking this season. "Please fund our Kickstarter before humankind ceases to exist." http://cser.org/index.html
(Jeff Kramer) O o . o O (jeffk) Wed 9 Jan 13 08:21
Speaking of bots, and William Gibson's early work... <http://www.engadget.com/2013/01/09/nuances-project-wintermute/>
(Jeff Kramer) O o . o O (jeffk) Wed 9 Jan 13 11:56
And a bit more from thenextweb.com: <http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2013/01/09/nuances-project-wintermute-a- virtual-cloud-assistant-that-follows-you-across-ecosystem-boundaries/>
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