All posts made the week commencing Sunday 24 Nov., 2002:

Extracts from Italo Calvino's magnificent written sketchbook of fictional cities, Invisible Cities [via cityofsound].

Invisible Cities is one of my favourite books, one of the few I've read that produces such a vast universe with so few strokes. Another (completely different) is Living with Prozac: And Other SSRIs, a collection of personal stories about the many aspects of antidepressants, each between one and three pages long.

Terragen rocks. It makes quite staggering landscape images, all computer generated. Well, the Terragen Mac Beta has just been released.

Thanks to Tom for keeping Interconnected running smoothly this week. Non automated posts will resume shortly.

Falling over, a post to a mail list about tumbling.

Microsoft at Comdex have been talking about several very interesting technologies. Dan Hon of Ext|Circ has been tracking and talking:

  • Links on MyLifeBits. This sounds like a great idea, and one I've thought about. It's followed up in Dan's Smart Mobs post where RFIDs are mentioned (RFIDs are radio-bright chips with storage capacity, and are cheap enough to embed in banknotes). So how about RFIDs in adverts, shops, everything I pass, all stored by my mobile phone -- I'd love to be able to scroll back and find out more about that interesting shop I passed last Saturday afternoon. This is RealLifestreams; the concept of substreams for different levels of importance is the most important part. Like a weblog being an amplified of your www browser history.
  • Microsoft Office OneNote, commentary explaining just how brilliant it is. Of course the software should manage folders aswell as files! Excellent notes.
  • Smart objects link. My pov: Yes this is great, but the implementation's wrong. Devices should publish events and interfaces. Allow themselves to be recombined. Not be all wrapped up in themselves. Oh, just read my email about cascading recombinance in the real world to see what I mean.

Incidentally, you might have guessed by now but Dan Hon's ext|circ is a brilliant weblog.

Girls Are Pretty is still funny, every single day (and it now has its own domain).

Why is the Web Still Only a Single-User System?

The six layers of buildings. The following list runs from the inside out, from short halflife to long halflife: stuff, space plan, services, skin, structure, site. Makes me think of two things. Firstly, the Long Now Layers of Time. Secondly, aren't these building layers just an extension of human coatings? Couldn't we go in from stuff to clothes, attitude, speaking, eye contact? And aren't all of these just mechanisms of communicating through the media (aether) that also-just-happens-to-be the universal aether (media), that is: geography, aka Real Life? The extended phenotype as message.

Wow. I'd very much like to experience 34 North 118 West [via freegorifero]. From the description:

"Imagine walking through the city and triggering moments in time. Imagine wandering through a space inhabited with the sonic ghosts of another era. Like ether, the air around you pulses with spirits, voices, and sounds. Streets, buildings, and hidden fragments tell a story. The setting is the Freight Depot in downtown Los Angeles. At the turn of the century Railroads were synonymous with power, speed and modernization. Railroads were our first cross-country infrastructure, preceding the telegraph and the Internet. From the history and myth of the Railroad to the present day, sounds and voices drift in and out as you walk.

"34 NORTH 118 WEST plays through a Tablet PC with Global Positioning System device and headphones provided onsite (see website for hours). GPS tracks your location and determine how the story is delivered. The landscape becomes the interface. Every version is rendered in real-time, according to your pattern of movement".

Nice hypermedium definition (at the Meatball Wiki). Also, nice social system definition (at Principia Cybernetica).

Transhumanist resources.

I've been making my own notes on transhumanity (in particular, what media it'll use, what a post-industrial world will be like, and a social morality to parallel our one-to-one ethics). They're scrappy. Also online are some thoughts about my thoughts. (This is my next big topic, I think.)

Recognisable geology from space. Beautiful photography.

The story of how technologies become platforms is important, and Joel on Software on commoditisation explains it well with plenty of examples. In brief, 1 "A complement is a product that you usually buy together with another product"; 2 "demand for a product increases when the price of its complements decreases". So a company should make its product's complements a commodity, that is, interchangable, because then the competition in the complement's market is maximised and the price is minimised.

In practice: "When IBM designed the PC architecture, they used off-the-shelf parts instead of custom parts, and they carefully documented the interfaces between the parts in the (revolutionary) IBM-PC Technical Reference Manual. Why? So that other manufacturers could join the party. As long as you match the interface, you can be used in PCs. IBM's goal was to commoditize the add-in market, which is a complement of the PC market, and they did this quite successfully. Within a short time scrillions of companies sprung up offering memory cards, hard drives, graphics cards, printers, etc. Cheap add-ins meant more demand for PCs".