All posts made the week commencing Sunday 16 Feb., 2003:

Domo-kun meets Donnie Darko, and: Domo Darko [via the b3ta newsletter]. Just lovely.

Chris Morris: The Movie [via LinkMachineGo]. Celebrities, gunpoint, Jill Dando, Serbian gunman. Bow down.

The Gaming Situation by Markku Eskelinen. A long investigation into what games are... "we'll use the theories of Espen Aarseth, Roger Caillois, Warren Motte and David Parlett in particular. They form a filter through which the possibly heuristic findings and borrowings from various neighbouring disciplines and predatory theory formations are viewed, tested, modified and transformed. While discussing articulation, materiality, functionality, typology and orientation, among other things, we are confronting the bare essentials of the gaming situation: the manipulation or the configuration of temporal, spatial, causal and functional relations and properties in different registers". (There's Aarseth again.)

Also. Some fantastic narrative versus story versus interaction parts, good classifications, and pulling a lot of theories together. Thought provoking portion on conventions. Highly recommended.

What is Ergodic Literature? From Cybertext: Perspectives on Ergodic Literature by Espen J Aarseth (1997) "During the cybertextual process, the user will have effectuated a semiotic sequence, and this selective movement is a work of physical construction that the various concepts of "reading" do not account for. This phenomenon I call ergodic, using a term appropriated from physics that derives from the Greek words ergon and hodos, meaning "work" and "path." In ergodic literature, nontrivial effort is required to allow the reader to traverse the text. If ergodic literature is to make sense as a concept, there must also be nonergodic literature, where the effort to traverse the text is trivial, with no extranoematic responsibilities placed on the reader except (for example) eye movement and the periodic or arbitrary turning of pages".

See also these links on computer gaming and protocols of improvision; there's a hint that ergodic gaming crosses literature/cybertext/play? Investigating.

The conflict of two forms of social privacy on the net: Accidental Privacy Spills: Musings on Privacy, Democracy, and the Internet [via anil's daily links]. Choice quote: "The problem isn't just that the Internet is leaky; the Internet makes everything leaky". Short comments, many people versus in-depth commentary, few people.

Another quote:

"Now this is a real problem. Laurie Garrett's writing to her friends is the sort of thing democracies like to encourage. Journalism, analysis, deliberative discourse, you know. MetaFilter's discussion, as fueled by the Internet distribution of her writing, is also the sort of thing democracies like to encourage. Citizen involvement, intermediate institutions, deliberative discourse, you know. But her democracy and their democracy seem to have some trouble playing nice. Such trouble isn't the sort of thing that squares very well with our ideas about how democracy ought to work.

"If you like, you can read this whole brouhaha as a culture clash. On the one hand, you have Laurie Garrett and her circle of close friends, who apparently exchange long and factual letters by email and discuss the prevailing mood among world leaders. On the other hand, you have MetaFilter, in which bloggers and netizens from around the world offer rapid-fire commentary and snide remarks in response to a steady procession of links. Both seem an awful lot like communities involved in worthwhile civic engagement. But when you look at how they address each other, it's obvious that neither regards the other as a serious participant in the democratic exercise".

This rich mine of Heuristic Games links really needs to be explored more (by me). From there, A Chronology of Game Theory.

A Chat with Bill Gates. Fantastic article on the combinatory technologies with which Microsoft are experimenting. And what's more, experimenting in the commerical arena. Having the confidence to put clever - but really, really expensive - ideas in the public space without utterly focus-grouping them to death first is something that's really valuable... and the first convincing upside of a Microsoft hegemony that I've seen. This quote in particular says they're thinking about the right things instead of the isn't-technology-cool things: "The effect of 'glanceability' is very important with these watches".

How Google+Blogger can become Go_Ogle, the www's premier Semantic Web online dating service [thanks zool]. Um.

Intriguing browser-based RSS aggregator, NewsMonster [via Ben Hammersley], making full use of its centralised nature: "NewsMonster is backed by a Semantic Web enabled RDF database which allows us to preserve the semantic relationship within documents. This allows NewsMonster to act as an agent on your behalf and help you barter goods and services online. Want to sell your used guitar? No problem. Just create a new advertisement and publish it on your blog". (Hang on, I recognise that used guitar example.) A reputation system and shared ratings are also included.

Some style guides online (comments, as usual, in the link tooltip):

Some style guides available as books:

I'm specifically trying to find newspaper style guides online, but not having much luck (non-UK English ones would be good).

And the real reason Google bought Pyra/Blogger? Consider:

  • Google realise that a lot of web-savvy and smart people are webloggers, and started weblogs early.
  • Google want to make more money.

Google have bought Pyra in order to obtain the entire Blogger archive, which they're going to feed into OpenCyc to create a composite artificial intelligence, the best, the ultimate the www has to offer. And then they're going to ask it for business models.

Okay, concept. Neurolinguistic programming says that your worldview is holistic, which is fair enough. A metaphor is likely to be pervasive across how you act, which (I'd say) is why cause-and-effect models from nature are so seductive. They make sense at a deep level in our world view. Anyway. NLP as applied to sales techniques says that you can pick up verbal and non-verbal cues to deduce aspects of a person's world view, and then deliberately mirror that. They'll vibe with you nicely, and you make the sale.

So a key (or at least popular) point from NLP is that people are either visual, aural or tactile. You can pick this up - and mirror it back to them - in a number of ways:

  • Visual people say "I see what you mean" and look straight ahead when they're thinking hard, regarding what you say.
  • Aural people say "I hear what you're saying" and look to the side when they're in thought.
  • Tactile people look down when thinking and say things like "that feels right".

There's a lot more about how to pick up these signals and words.

Concept 2. People in 1930s photographs looked different. Not just clothes, but expression, big ears, Roman nose. In contrast, the young beautiful people now are snub noses and tiny-faced.

There's not a difference in the distribution of face-types, it's just that the fashion of beauty changes and so different people, as they're growing up, are being told they look great. They have more experiences of head turning, people trying to get into their pants. And so on. And so forth. The kind of experiences that make you think that your appearance is valuable, in fate. The kind of experiences that give you confidence, push up your public profile, cause you to push to the front of crowds, get in front of cameras -- be more visible for your era, in other words.

My point. What if the same is true for modes of thinking? Maybe the 1980s were really visual, the 1720s extremely tactile. These things must go in waves, in fashions: people are educated by bright people; bright people have a mode of thinking; the brightest people learn from their peers... who think like themselves.

Example. Roman and italic type started to be used together in the same line at the same time black notes began to accompany white notes on the piano, both products of the same Baroque mindset. Another example of cross-metaphors: Typography recedes onto the page. It's subtle, you don't notice the form, so it has to look comfortable. In the old days, fonts were round and squat, like the women. It's beauty again! Voluptuous, ideal women, pleasing the eye. Reflected in the archetype of the type of the time. In the 1920s, fonts like flappers. In the 1980s, tall, slim, spindly. Heroin chic?

This isn't idle speculation, this is testable.

Consider haircuts. Haircuts also have fashions. But haircuts also have perspectives. Some haircuts look great from the front, some from the side, some from the top.

We have to look at two things. Look at the literature. See how people are talking in any given era -- are they visual, aural or tactile people? Then look at the haircuts. If I'm right then the most common haircut of the time should look best from whatever perspective is dominant from an NLP perspective. That is, in an era dominated by the aural thought type, people's hair should look best from the side.

There's a thesis in this, I just know it.

An update to last week's prisoner switcheroo puzzle: the solution has been posted, and to be honest I'm disappointed. No virtual circuits, no discontinuous packet switching. Just an inefficient count, not the elegance I was looking for.

Kevin Marks on Power Laws and Blogs [via Joho]. And from that:

  1. Weblog links do follow a power law
  2. This saturates less quickly than other media, due to low barriers to entry
  3. Therefore the many lightly linked weblogs outnumber the few heavily linked ones

Graphs and conclusions. Wonderful.

Vannevar Bush's classic essay As We May Think explains the memex, forerunner of the www yet fundamentally different. dive into mark has extracted the important passages.

What is stigmergy? "Self-Organization in social insects often requires interactions among insects: such interactions can be direct or indirect. Direct interactions are the "obvious" interactions: antennation, trophallaxis (food or liquid exchange), mandibular contact, visual contact, chemical contact (the odor of nearby nestmates), etc. Indirect interactions are more subtle: two individuals interact indirectly when one of then modifies the environment and the other responds to the new environment at a later time. Such an interaction is an example of stigmergy" [via intertwingly]. Ah. Non-telic, non-deliberate, many-to-many communication that encodes its own history, mediated by the environment. I like.

Google buys Pyra. Rolling notes in this month's notes folder. Ah, and this is it, this is so it: Google are building the Memex (fifth point down).