Saturday, April 29, 2006
It's "...an organization that was born in February 2005 by a group of socially-minded librarians who wanted to address the vast information resource inequity existing between different regions of the world. Our vision is to build sustainable libraries and support their custodians and librarians."
They've got a big Angola project going at the moment. Check them out, and help if you can.
Watching: Oh, you oughtta know I'm watching Doctor Who this weekend.
Listening: Hawaiian Astro Boys -- Belgian surf rock.
Friday, April 28, 2006
'"A kirkyan is, if I understand it right, a spime weighted toward the temporal."
Not quite. It's weighted toward the multi-dimensional and the temporal dimensions (plural) just so happen to be the most important because they facilitate a multi-vector, evolutionary system.
"It's an info-object, and maybe a "blobject" that, like a spime, exists primarily as information."
A kirkyan is a superset of both. A blogject (which I believe is to what you're referring), is much more limited. The RadTag device I designed a couple of years ago fits that description. A spime is a superset to a blogject, but by definition it's limited in a number of ways - primary among them being the caveats that it always starts as 3D data (a "virtual" object), is then fabricated into our reality and then is trackable to the end of it's physical existence at which time that object expires (even if the data is collected did not). A kirkyan has no such limitations (and perhaps lacks a few others that don't come readily to mind).
"It becomes material when needed, instantiating on the fly, ..."
No. There is always a material version. The reason for this is simple survival so that it can "evolve" (although it's by no means an AI). A purely virtual instance leaves a kirkyan vulnerable to a computer virus that might wipe out the virtual space in which is exists (i.e. the entire database). Because the instantiations remain in contact, whatever a virtual instance learns is passed on and preserved in the other(s).
The more redundancy, the better the chances of survival. But even with only one virtual and one physical, the chances are dramatically improved. In the event the physical is destroyed for whatever reason, it can then be refabricated (using new RP/RM technologies like EBM or SLM) by the same device to which a spime ends up - the recycle bin.
That last bit makes sense to me because with advances in materials and material reclamation (including the use of bacteria to break down styrenes and other nasty plastics), it makes sense to have the object itself be part of the system that recreates it. It's a bit like a phoenix.
"... and is extremely modifiable and hackable (by its users)."
That would depend on the creator of the original kirkyan. Some will be resistant - and for good reason. An environmental sensor/response kirkyan (say for oil-spill clean up) is not something I'd necessarily want to be hackable or modifiable by just anyone.
Some authors may choose to not allow their books to become modified by outsiders, but may themselves somehow adapt over time. Other authors will doubtlessly open up their work.
"Books will be kirkyans when publishers make info about the book (like all the user reviews, ratings, editorial reviews, concordances, and even message boards and wikis to supplement the document, etc.) available with the book "object",..."
The creator of the original makes this determination (much like how Second Life's system works with creator's granting different level of permissions on the objects they create). And for books, you might have an author who limits modification of his creation by disallowing someone from changing the actual text, but allowing people to add notes to the text. You might get a kirkyan book and select a particular reviewer, for example, whose notes might be accessed through highlighted text (the new e-ink technologies will make this a nice option).
Then the author, who then sells rights to a publisher, might then specify that the publisher may not a) alter the text in any manner, and b) prevent the addition of notes from public reviewers. There might be any number of "rights" assigned and could get very complex and complicated.
I expect levels of control will get very granular - at least for some time until a "best practices" model emerges and a collection of "rights" is packaged more easily. At some point, however, average people will have to grapple with issues very similar to what corporations are currently going through; all part of the democratization of production.
"and especially when the book "object" includes some kind of device that allows the book to get updates (new information about itself, errata, an addendum, and anything from the above list, etc.) and some kind of "smart" or non-inert or non-static or modifiable "paper"."
The physical book/kirkyan will soon be an electronic paper and as such updating becomes a non-issue. And connectivity so that it remains continuously connected will also soon be with us. Blogjects can be made now. There are objects that seem to come close to being spimes of which I'm aware (spatially-limited and not very "cradle-to-grave" at this point). After the spimes are in place, kirkyans would come next in the development tree - and a book may very well be the first one.
A book could be written and a "master" version could be fabricated (using electronic paper, built-in networking, aso). The question in my mind is what happens when it allows distribution across virtual spaces - millions of e-book readers. You might then have kirkyan P and kirkyans V1, V2, V3, etc etc (different virtual versions for each reader platform). And from those millions, perhaps a few thousand become reviewers on just one platform (e.g. V2'3579) and provide feeds back to V2' (V 2 prime - the "master" for that platform). Now V2' sends those on to the others - kirkyan P, kirkyan V1, V3, V4, etc. You can see that the data collected could grow very fast.
Now when you consider all this, filtering out the garbage might be a good idea. But you get to one early stated problem with mp3's. I once read comments by a small label president (very small label) that reminded people that a big part of what they did was help filter the crap (he was defending labels in general). True a few years ago. Not so true anymore. Arguably some web 2.0 systems do this now using social apps and ranking systems. But those social apps are increasingly getting bought up by major corporations, so one has to ask whether there is (again) undue influence in the filtering process. And if not the corporations, it's users who learn how to game a system to gain some personal advantage. These are issues.
Tough nut to crack. I don't have any idea right now how that will all play out, tbh.
"This sentence is for stating clearly that I don't think all documents should be editable by anybody; also note that hackability is not, as I see it, a requisite for kirkyans."
Sorry. I'm editing as I go. Take above comments in the spirit of the moment.
"In my opinion, that's going to be empowered by the cellphone -- or something like it that's soon to come."
I tend to agree. Flexible displays will really offer some advantages to bridging the cell phone with the PC - in terms of visibility/useability.
"Where a kirked person and a kirked "book" talk the same language and recongnize each other as belonging to the same, well, species."
I've come across the idea of "species" before. I actually was careful to exclude living things from the definition of a kirkyan and that was to help avoid this kind of confusion. It's a difficult enough concept I think without including living things. I think at that point we're getting to real artificial intelligence. I was hoping to help bridge the gap between what we had now (complex "AI" algorithms) and true self-awareness. Hence the need for a spime that has DNA and redundancy to ensure survival.
"All kirking things kirk toward intelligence -- whether you want to call that "artificial" or not."
Exactly. And whether they achieve it or not. Some kirkyans will be wiped out. Some will have built-in failsafes to prevent is (I hope the current military systems in development employing UCAVs have this). No system is perfect. Someone could infect the physical with a virus which promulgated the code to every virtual instantiation. Tough to do though. If just one computer is off the net for any length of time, the kirkyan can survive.
"Libraries are ideal breeding and testing grounds for spimes and kirkyans. Libraries could become kirkyan "timesuites". Libraries, their users, and their "books" would join into some kind of new form of life or consciousness. Libraries would become self-aware and ubiquitous."
When you think about it, what is a library? The future library could itself be a kirkyan of sorts. Perhaps we need a new definition for something that collects together kirkyan physical instantiations and tracks all their activity? An "entyary" - enterprise-level collection of kirkyans. Or something like that.'
Thursday, April 27, 2006
A kirkyan is, if I understand it right, a spime weighted toward the temporal. It's an info-object, and maybe a "blobject" that, like a spime, exists primarily as information. It becomes material when needed, instantiating on the fly, and is extremely modifiable and hackable (by its users). Books will be kirkyans when publishers make info about the book (like all the user reviews, ratings, editorial reviews, concordances, and even message boards and wikis to supplement the document, etc.) available with the book "object", and especially when the book "object" includes some kind of device that allows the book to get updates (new information about itself, errata, an addendum, and anything from the above list, etc.) and some kind of "smart" or non-inert or non-static or modifiable "paper". I think a book checked out from NetLibrary or a public-domain book posted to the web, like this one (Diary of Sam Pepys here), is nearly a kirkyan. Especially when it has a heavy physicality to it, like when you access it via your cellphone's browser so you can "toss" the e-book to your friend across the table.
An article in Wikipedia, like this one (Kirkyan here), comes even closer, because it can be edited or modded by any user, and the history of all those changes is recorded for future reference.
This sentence is for stating clearly that I don't think all documents should be editable by anybody; also note that hackability is not, as I see it, a requisite for kirkyans.
The missing link is the technology that lets the book object and the book-as-info connect to each other. We need a real bridge between the material and informational aspects of things. In my opinion, that's going to be empowered by the cellphone -- or something like it that's soon to come. These phones and Treos and Blackberr
On "timesuits". As I understand what Grant Morrison meant by the term when he used it in Invisibles, a timesuit is what you have to wear to experience three dimensional space + one dimensional time. That is, a timesuit is "material" of some kind, and it's the only way to access the universe as we know it. It's how we "do" life. Sans timesuits, we're time-less -- also, I guess, eternal and dead. That may have its advantages, but for business on earth, we need a way to get around and experience matter, energy, and change.
Bear with me. This comes back around to libraries.
Timesuits are a medium. We readers, like books, exist both in material and informational realms. One without the other is lost (lost, we might say, like a reader without her book).
Books have timesuits (here a quick detail -- my reading of Morrison has timesuits as "bodies", specifically, for living people -- not the mere physical form of dead objects or machines -- but we're going to stretch the definition today) because they have bindings and pages and ink and glue. But these suits are kinda dumb. When the timesuits of books become kirkyan, we're really getting somewhere.
Getting to where? Getting to a point where "a kirkyan is a kirkyan". Where a kirked person and a kirked "book" talk the same language and recongnize each other as belonging to the same, well, species.
Our internal world and the external world of our objects will form a single informational ecosystem that always knows, for each and every kirkyan within it, where it is, where it's been, how it is, who and what's around it, and what it's made of (that is, perfectly spimed). It will aslo know every permutation, connection, modification, edit, and hack that happens to any spime across time (that is, everything is perfectly kirked). Given time enough, and world, all kirkyans trend toward self-knowledge.
All kirking things kirk toward intelligence -- whether you want to call that "artificial" or not.
Libraries are ideal breeding and testing grounds for spimes and kirkyans. Libraries could become kirkyan "timesuites". Libraries, their users, and their "books" would join into some kind of new form of life or consciousness. Libraries would become self-aware and ubiquitous.
And then things really start to change.
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
Already there is scattered talk of the role of libraries. Good stuff.
Reading: Parent Hacks for "everything they left out of the instruction manual".
He tells me, "You know, I been around a while, and there's one thing I can say for sure. I've never spent a minute too long in a library. Never." Then he strolls out.
Reading: Teranesia by Greg Egan
Monday, April 24, 2006
Via BoingBoing, a great inside look at mass market book publishing:
---How fiction paperbacks lose or make money
By Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow: Livejournaller and Tor employee Anna Louise has posted a brilliant, engrossing exposition on the economics of fiction publishing -- how a publisher makes or loses money on a book. It uses real numbers from real books to illustrate in painstaking depth how marketing, printing, and preparation costs interact with margins from different retailers and wholesalers to make or break a book. I think that writer alive (myself included) harbors some cherished illusions about how publishing works. This lucid, entertaining and vivid portrait of the inside workings of a fiction publisher is an excellent way to disabuse yourself of them.
Whole article here:
Reading: conversations over at DiePunyHumans