All posts made the week commencing Sunday 13 Apr., 2003:

(Tom and I are going to the Tonga Room tonight for tacky tiki, music, fake thunderstorms and cocktails. Come along, we'll see you there at about 8ish.)

A history of Semantic Networks [via robot wisdom]: "A semantic network or net is a graphic notation for representing knowledge in patterns of interconnected nodes and arcs. Computer implementations of semantic networks were first developed for artificial intelligence and machine translation, but earlier versions have long been used in philosophy, psychology, and linguistics. What is common to all semantic networks is a declarative graphic representation that can be used either to represent knowledge or to support automated systems for reasoning about knowledge. Some versions are highly informal, but other versions are formally defined systems of logic. Following are six of the most common kinds of semantic networks, each of which is discussed in detail in one section of this article." Those six network types being: Definitional; Assertational; Implicational; Executable; Learning; Hybrid.

Moments of San Francisco culture shock:

  • Buying a magazine in Borders and - did I hear this right? - the cashier offers to send me my receipt by email. If true, how cool! Receive the email, pull out the book titles, and mark those books as 'already owned' at Amazon to improve the quality of my recommendations. That would be nice. Oh, and the man who was rearranging the magazines was wearing latex gloves. Why I don't know.
  • The credit/debit card swiping machine in 7-Eleven lets you swipe the card yourself and you sign on to the screen.
  • Realising that all the tiny things about America that I've seen in films, comic strips and so on aren't enormous cultural symbols or meaningful things at all. People skateboarding down the street, wearing baggy trousers, Twinkies et al: they're normal, like Hula Hoops (the crisps). This is what cultural imperialism is all about.
  • Coates twigged it: San Francisco is SimCity. The bridges over the water; the tunnels through the steep hills. The high/low density housing, the hills and the way the grid system breaks up over them. The building themselves, the actual designs of the financial and residential ones: they're lifted from the SF skyline! So familiar.
  • Come to that, the entire Bay Area (and I noticed this last time, the first time I was here) was instantly familiar from Kim Stanley Robison's Mars trilogy and his descriptions of harbour towns, shorelines, cities and values. A bizarre feeling of being here before, from books about the colonisation of another planet. (See also: Robinson's Three Californias trilogy.)

America is unarticulably weird|cool.

A topical Upsideclown up at the moment. "A sin every three or four days. One hundred sins a year. That's a good market. Jesus died for all our sins, but wouldn't it be better, more certain, if he could die for each one? [...] Cloning is really a simple matter. We farm the embryos in vats, keep them growing long enough that it's absolutely certain the spark of life has entered the cell cluster, then ship them out in little plastic cartridges. People pop them like breath-mints, whenever their soul feels dirty". New story: Seeing the Light.

Girls Are Pretty (April 15th entry) is still the second-best place on the entire www. "Also, I hope this doesn't fuck things up in some way, the way you can alter destiny bytime traveling. I'd hate to think that you'll end up underneath someone's moleberry tree and look down at the ground and see a whole mess of black and red and purple moleberries ground into the ground and you'll think "Oh shit, this is it. It's gonna happen right now" and then you'll run away or move too fast or something. If the kiss doesn't take place, we'll probably all end up all of a sudden being ruled by cats who know how to use phones".

(While you're there, scroll down to the April 3 entry, A Golden Glow Inside The Baby Day!. It's even better.)

Now this could be interesting. Apple's Safari includes a AppleScript-to-JavaScript bridge, so you can use OS-level scripting to interact with web pages [via macosxhints].

Some good views on the way to San Francisco. Beautiful.

Too many positive feedback loops [via boingboing]. We've forgotten our cybernetics.

Edward Tufte on the London Tube Map [via robot wisdom]. Also mentions the London Tube Map Archive, maps back to 1908, of varying quality.

"As scientists, we are concerned to build a simulacrum of the phenomenal universe in words. That is, our product is to be a verbal transform of the phenomena." -- Gregory Bateson, 'Redundancy and Coding' (in Steps to an Ecology of Mind).

Bruce Tognazzini (Tog) on Apple Squandering the Advantage, on interface innovations Apple could make. Lists extra screen objects including: Piles (stacks of documents); visual cues on folders; various object/application collections.

By Paul Graham, The Hundred-Year Language: "What kind of programming language will they use to write the software controlling those flying cars?" [via slashdot].

Things about Penrose Tiles:

I had fun this weekend making my own. (And I have to get this down before I forget the sensation. That when I started putting the tiling together, I was getting holes after only two or three. The first patterns were nice, but it wasn't tessellating. Then I started seeing patterns and simularities and putting down the tiles became easier, but there was something else behind my eyes. Unarticulable hypotheses being created and tested. I felt shifted into a different world of interaction, shifted sideways. Making those original patterns was unworkable, I could see imperfections I hadn't noticed before. Certain configurations were ugly in ways I hadn't seen a minute or so earlier. It felt like learning a new computer language, only more fundamental; or reading a book from a different field, only less to do with words. As if all lever-like behaviour in the world because turning behaviour instead. Then it was time for dinner, and it was difficult because the act of laying down the tiles correctly was compelling. The pattern demanded to extend.)