RE: Using Me Using You
This is offtopic for this list, but busy people are already opting out. Progress and evolution: I am not optimistic or pessimistic. I observe behavior. The things Clay and others write about were exhaustively discussed before they got to them. Is it progress that more people are writing about those topics now? Possibly. Is it progress that people like yourself attribute the ideas to them because that is the first place you encountered those ideas? No. It means the viewpoint is limited in time. Viewpoint is the crucial key to observing and measuring such systems, and without a definition for viewpoint, any discussion of evolution to higher forms or devolution to lower forms is meaningless. Chaos is a way of talking about systems that use feedback yet are or become unpredictable. The theory bears the same relationship to behavior as XML does to content; it's a way of notating it. Again, don't mistake tools for truth or value. I get out of bed because over time, I notice that devolution and evolution are running at the same time in the same place and it depends on what you measure and how you measure it relative to some predetermined goal. Absolute measures of progress aren't found. Is the emergence of complex systems progress? Is the emergence of knowledge that simpler systems offer more benefits to more people progress? No smoking gun to be found in either position. Do you accept Larry McVoy's position that the only way to build a profitable business around open source is to give the customer crap because otherwise, why would they need services? In other words, is the goal of open source actually a devolutionary force? Is attention.xml progress in focus or isolationism? Is it merely a means to allocate resources? It is all of them. Without the bounding box of the viewpoint, one can't know which at any given moment. History has examples aplenty of cultures and civilizations that returned to simpler means and lower populations, sometimes spectacularly quickly. Typically, one or two of a few things happened: they interupted the sustaining processes provided by the environment (Mayan civilization land fatigue), the environment changed of it's own accord (Chaco Canyon and Anasazi droughts (one theory)), internal processes created conditions that cause a 'fissure' (slave revolts in Mediterranean civilizations that caused a collapse of the regional civilizations because of raiding, or the theory that the Anasazi were conquered by canibals from the central american populations), and so on. Note that for whatever reason, the communities 'opted out' in both the mezo-american and the mediterranean civilizations. They both became cliff dwellers and endured generations of privation as the trade-off for security. That a succeeding group can build back up to complex conditions and openness is also observed, but that may or may not be progress because the original civilization is gone. HTML was considered (actually is) a retrograde move in markup but it had scaling effects. That again, is a pattern often observed. Progress in markup was made by a small group of people. When the environment made it advantageous to use markup at a larger scale, it had to be collapsed into a more primitive form first. Progress? Well, sure if you adopt a measure that relies on large numbers. In terms of the technology itself, it was a leap backwards. Will communities opt out? They already have. Sure that is an intelligent choice. Is that progress? Maybe but it means that occasionally important changes will occur without their participation and as a result, they will become less important. Keep in mind what the progress of Chinese and Arab/Semitic civilizations were while the Europeans slid backwards. Note the isolation of the Chinese during that period. Do we fear that? Some do. Can we change that? No, not if we want to maintain our own status quo. Can communities that opt out make progress on their own and share that? They certainly can, in fact, that is a common pattern. So we agree here. I simply don't adopt an optimistic attitude or a pessimistic one. It is to me like observing music that can be pleasant, unpleasant, structured or stochastic, and I know that stochastic systems can create complex behavior without any external intelligence, and that a stochastic system with an external intelligence can create chaotic behaviors. It depends on what is measured and how long you observe. len -----Original Message----- From: Jason Aaron Osgood [mailto:mrosgood@y...] Sent: Friday, May 27, 2005 8:31 AM To: Bullard, Claude L (Len); XML Developers List Subject: RE: Using Me Using You Hi Claude L (Len) Bullard- You originally voiced the opinion that communities are opting out. Also, that predators are becoming more widespread. I tried to present an alternative optimistic viewpoint. > So is devolution. In the limbo world, "how low can you go?" If I thought that, I wouldn't ever get out of bed. I'm a huge fan of the ratchet effect. Robert Wright related cultural evolution in terms of game theory. In brief, progress occurs when nonzero sum games (win-win) can be devised to replace select zero sum games (I win, you lose). Wright argues that while progress may have been delayed (e.g. Mongol hordes disrupting Chinese society), overall, society doesn't backslide. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonzero:_The_Logic_of_Human_Destiny And, yes, I believe sentience is inevitable and not accidental. My own special little faith, since it can't be disproved (in the Popperian sense). See below. I also acknowledge that regression occurs, but only in the short term. I was walking around our popular Broadway neighborhood a few weeks ago. It was like the Reagan era all over again (decay, pan-handlers, general shabbiness). The cause of progress is saved because better ideas outcompete less good ideas. > But to summarize your point, radar guns spawn radar detectors. No. I'm saying that communities fissure. Life's arms race is something else entirely. > The reason for 'professional behavior' is to mask personal > preference, and therein is one approach to the problem. It > isn't one that works on all levels. It isn't that everyone > wants a close personal relationship; it is that we have > few good means to filter. FOAF is interesting, so if > we see repeats of patterns, I suspect it won't be individuals > but networks in that model that go 'behind the gates' somewhat > the way we have closed social clubs now. Legal? Another > interesting question. Are information force fields legal? > Not my term. There is an article about that on the web > related to all of the devices that will be able to detect > and phone you someone at the ubqiquity level of Coke signs. > There are already test cases related to institutions that > are shielding cellphone traffic. I didn't follow most of these bits at all. On the job of filtering, I think humans are brilliant at it. It's the only way to preserve our sanity. I wouldn't be surprised if it's integral to our intelligence. Smart babies will go to sleep when they're overloaded (too much tickling). Marshall McLuhan argued that we "auto amputate" portions of our sensing ability when we're over stimulated. The primary filter we have is attention. Either to opt out or rely on reputation. Clay Shirky's observations on the effects of power laws of distribution are fascinating. Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality http://shirky.com/writings/powerlaw_weblog.html The other force at work is foraging behavior. (See below.) > The communications model we have today has never existed > in recorded history at this scale and level of penetration. > That is what makes it fascinating. I believe communication patterns are self-similar (independent of scale). In other words, I don't find today's world terribly exceptional. The sole difference is the occasional flurry of self-awareness afforded by science and reason. Danny Hillis spoke at the first Java conference (1996), before it became JavaOne. (I can't find a working link to the article I wrote back then.) He related his view of progress. At the scales of atoms, molecules, cells, organisms, communities, and then (perhaps) societies, in each system of interaction, communication crosses a complexity threshold that then becomes computation. At the scale we're relating at, it's called social cognition. This book was a mind blow: "Swarm Intelligence" by Eberhart, Shi, Kennedy http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1558605959/ (Careful, there's at least 2 other books with that same title.) Please know that I'm not an extropian, transhumanist, or any of those goofy Omni and Mondo2000 caricatures. It's just that I find these fundamentally optimistic ideas both helpful (an integral part of my suicide avoidance strategy) and useful (a narrative that helps with my decision making). It's also why I don't get worked up about encoding and schemas. At the end of the day, it's all 1s and 0s, and subject-verb-object clauses. The only variables are choosing the abstractions (representations) and algorithms, how much to leave implicit versus making explicit, and whether to reuse or redo. And in making those decisions, one's use cases and tolerance for pain are the only useful guides. Cheers, Jason Aaron Osgood / Seattle WA PS- Someone let me know if I go off topic. hahahah. zappini.blogspot.com
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