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  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 17:51:27 on 2016/02/14 Permalink
    Tags: , , , confidence, depressed, depression, doubt, doubting, , , , , Galileo, , group dynamics, , , network, , , , , , questioning, , , sad, , , , , social cohesion, social group, social groups, , , , , , , , ,   

    Do You Want To Be Right Or Do You Want To Be Happy? 

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    Did anyone ever ask Galileo this question? Why or why not? Why do some people ask other people this question today?

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 13:11:04 on 2014/12/20 Permalink
    Tags: , capacity, , , , information systems, , , Netflix, network, , , , scale, scales, scaling, , ,   

    Why Retard Media Don’t Scale 

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    Recently, I started a new blogging network (using WordPress) and a friend reminded me that WordPress has scaling issues. I acknowledge that — from a retard media perspective. In retard media, the aim is to create one publication that thousands or even many millions of people follow, pay attention to, read, or “consume” in some way… — and perhaps even also “join” as fans, “content aficionados” or something like that. In that sense, retard media are a very “deep web” phenomenon: they are temples for vast numbers of faithful readers (Google and Facebook are prime examples).

    Yet in another way, WordPress scales quite well — and crucially: it is precisely the way that the World-Wide Web is actually configured that WordPress functions exceptionally well: as a decentralized information network, interconnected along edges (rather than a centralized system prone to bottlenecks). Note, also, that many of the difficulties commonly experienced online often happen with respect to centralized systems (e.g. not only Google or Facebook, but also very large scale data-oriented projects, such as Netflix) which operate along a retard media model of selling data for consumption (i.e., a consumer “paid content” scheme).

    Since WordPress does not require inordinate amounts of data processing equipment (as is the case with Google, Facebook and to some extent also data transmission companies such as Youtube and Netflix), it is relatively cheap and easy to set up a WordPress website / blog and to thereby create a quite powerful content management system on a more-or-less shoestring budget.

    What is more, the “content” created by using WordPress can subsequently be easily stored in static HTML files, such that vast amounts of data can be very easily served at virtually no cost whatsoever.

  • Profile photo of nmw

    nmw 17:23:31 on 2014/11/02 Permalink
    Tags: , , , , , , , , , map, mapping, maps, , metaphors, network, , , , , , , , , , , territory, topological, topology,   

    Topological Maps: Don’t Even Go There — unless, perhaps, you wish to mention the exceptional case in which the map *IS* the territory 

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    One of my friends since many years (who has taught me a lot about the way people might think or perceive stories, digest experiences, come to understand their life, etc.), namely Jean Russell, has posted some interesting remarks about the metaphors she uses (at times, I guess) to understand “the Internet”:

    So much of our experience of computers and the internet in the last 50 years has been disruptive. People didn’t know they wanted it, didn’t know what it was or what it did. And when one introduces such things, we use metaphors to bridge from the familiar to the new. Your domain is like your home. Your Home Page. Email is like mail but sent over the computer.

    And along with these metaphors come a set of protocols and expectations. If I buy a domain as a home, then I don’t expect other people to have control there. I am responsible for keeping it tidy and inviting other people there. I can get a prefab home or make one myself.

    And these are all really helpful ways of using metaphors to help a new disruptive innovation gain traction in the world.

    However, if we want to BE disruptive in our innovation, we want to look for a different kind of metaphor. Websites are not just like homes, they have some features that homes do not and lack some features that homes have. If we use models of the familiar in creating our innovations, we aren’t likely to be very disruptive at all.

    For many years now, I have attempted to drum home the distinction between domains (addresses, web sites, virtual land, etc.) and websites (the HTML and similar “content” built up on top of the virtual property [note that I view all of the content -- whether it is considered "artificial language" or "natural language" -- as content; some people consider parts of this content -- e.g. HTML coding, especially "metatags" and such -- to be something other than content... I'm not exactly sure what, but they apparently consider it to be special in some way]).

    Yet whether land or property or building or whatever virtual real estate analogy, all of the above do not draw attention to one of the most noteworthy differences between domains and “real world real estate”: When it comes to information, the map may in fact actually be the territory!

    Think about it: When you think of an elephant, do you think of the elephant as an astronaut? Or perhaps climbing the Empire State Building? I would say that before having read those two suggestions, you probably hadn’t thought of elephants that way. You might have thought of elephants standing, eating, sleeping, … — but probably not writing computer programs. Your experiences of elephants have probably included things your brain associates with such concepts as “stand”, “eat”, “sleep”, etc. and when you think of an elephant, you may very well be inclined to also think of such topics. Perhaps thinking of “eating” might even motivate you to get up and get something to eat (see also “Words as Puzzle Pieces“).

    Words describe elements of relationships. We cannot think about sleeping without thinking of whatever thing that is sleeping. Some things sleep while standing; other things sleep while lying down on mattresses, with pillows, in beds. The things which your mind conjures up with any particular word may very well have more to do with the way your mind works than it has to with anything in the “real world”. Much like you may associate a certain fragrance with an early childhood experience which might somehow be linked to that scent, you may also associate concepts with each other based on how your cognitive map has stored linked or related concepts.

    Perhaps one of the great challenges for creating information retrieval systems that are able to “disrupt” the status quo is how to make it easy for people to distinguish between information sources that are about “cooking food” (versus e.g. “cooking the books”) and information sources that are about “buying food” (versus e.g. “buying a video game”). “Food” by itself is only a beginning: It is but one piece of a puzzle that needs to match up with other concepts. Bringing these concepts together to build a story from these elements will probably involve building complex networks that are not necessarily related by “real world” proximity. Thinking about information as if it had something to do with the way paper books have traditionally been stored on shelves is a sure-fire way to miss the boat.

  • Profile photo of feedwordpress

    feedwordpress 07:28:42 on 2013/03/20 Permalink
    Tags: , celebrate, celebreation, , , critical mass, , , , , , , network, , , , persons, , , , , , , , VIP, VIPs   

    Happy Coalition of the Willing Day! 

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    Today marks the 10th Anniversary of one of the darkest days in modern history — and I am glad that is 10 years behind us.

    The other day, a friend of mine noted another 10th Anniversary, one that I am sad that is also over: Pierre Omidyar’s omidyar.net community project. This was an online melting pot of people trying to improve the world in different ways. Sue Braiden wrote a very good column about it years ago: “Can Social Networking Heal the World?” She also mentioned my opinion — namely that money is probably not the (only, or a “sufficient”) solution to many of the world’s issues.

    There were a lot very smart people, and also people with a lot of expertise with group behavior, and most people — perhaps even everyone besides Pierre himself — were very disappointed that the project was terminated.

    Since then, I have often wondered what it would require to build such a project. Today, technology has advanced so far that many of the technological features could be replicated at little or even no cost whatsoever.

    But there are still 2 things I feel have not improved much in the past decade — and perhaps these are also some of the hurdles that have prevented something like this appearing again.

    First, the “critical mass” phenomenon is still alive and well. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can do it yourself — you can’t. Terrorists can blow themselves up, and deranged people can murder other people by themselves… and newspapers and other mainstream media will turn these morons into global icons, but I would hardly call that something to be proud of. Most projects with the aim of improving something in the world require group collaboration — and starting without a supportive circle (usually based on trusted and trusting friends) is doomed to failure — at least in something like 99.9% of cases.

    The other issue that has not changed is the idolatry of individualism propagated by mass media. Unless — as even Dr. Seuss put it — unless someone has the courage to stand up against such anti-social competitive mantras as are widespread in the most popular circles of propaganda (e.g. facebook, twitter, the New York Times and similar retard media), there is little hope that anything will change.

    Then again: I might be wrong, and/or there might be other issues that continue to prevent “a better world” from happening — what do you think?

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