AlgoMantra, b. 2005

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Monday, October 20, 2008
The Dreaming Sea - Part I
Last night I had a dream about the French composer Erik Satie.

Only now that I downloaded some of his music, and am listening to it entranced, that the words I needed to write this note are beginning to emerge from my fingers dancing to Gnossienne N3. The note would help clarify my thoughts about how data travels through nature, and re-emerges as forces and events of global scope, such as the financial crash that everyone is talking about.

Awake, we are struck by the magnifique spectacle of our own being, the Narcissus hypnotised by his own mirror-image, but it is only when we are asleep, that we enter the Reticulum, the memetic screaming chaos of every little stimuli that impinges on the subconscious, a churning howl of thoughts and echoes, we log into the dreaming sea, we dip a tentacle into the global mind.

Before the dawn of the internet, there were other entities (and still are) that had the capability to connect consciousness on a planetary scale, that were the internet of the pre-industrial, pre-telegraphic, pre-electric age. I speak of routers that stand before our very eyes, omnipresent and accessible yet remote, serving the same image to the wretched mass of humanity thrown across the globe like pollen in the wind. These astrosocial nodes - the Sun and the Moon, the ghostly constellations - provide the common ground that geographically separated populations use to accumulate their knowledge about the world, a layer of knowledge that is both timeless and urgent.

Of course, it is very wise to say that the financial crash was coming after it has already begun. Any rational idiot can do that. But for many of us, the financial crisis of 2008 was the culmination of a yet inarticulable (or not yet confessed) intuition, anticipation, premonition - the dream becoming manifest, the nightmare all too real.

For some of us, it is a release of blocked up streaming data that cannot be released from the dreamworld into the socium upon its arrival at the spout, because the socium has rules of conduct and discourse. In the dreamworld, on the other hand, memories, fears, prophecies and thoughts run amock with the nuclear force of imagination, like a million souls of the departed stuck in some black hole centrifuge. The cryptological protocol that protects the Reticulum is strangely distributed, such as a certain piece of music that can take you back, awake, back into the spaces where you heard it first, puncturing a worm-like hole into the heart of social protocol and time. Like a pin-hole camera takes you to a world beyond the aperture, inverted and fuzzy.

When awake, we are perhaps propelled by the unseen but active force of this memetic centrifuge, churning like a gyroscope within our being, leading us over the daily algorithms, and towards new things. It is the centrifugal force of this dreaming sea, that launches us into new spaces and dynamics, makes us interact with new physical agents, and causes new events in the world.

The rolling of every stone, the carrying of every Neanderthal manuport, and the crashing of every clock gone awry - is a direct result of these vectors that rise from the fuming, dreaming sea.


Saturday, October 11, 2008
{Words <> Weather}
Some curious posts have been cropping up regarding how automated computer trading had a major role to play in the ongoing economic catastrophe. I first learnt of it from Paul's excellent post.Today, on Wired - they've explored the connections and comparisons between financial forecast models and climate forecast models. This one comment was hilarious:
....The issue is that economic models aren't based on any underlying physically observed facts. They're based on people's feelings," said Gavin Schmidt, a climate modeler at Goddard Institute for Space Studies. "We're not having a climate crisis because there's a lack of confidence in water vapor."

Further down in the article they quote Emanuel Derman, "a physicist turned financial-engineer", who says something which I found questionable to say the least:
When you put out a weather forecast, the weather doesn't read your forecast and get affected by it.

I think Mr. Derman could have qualified that further.

Words and the weather are interconnected in a very obvious feedback loop, like all things in nature. When you write something, you are physically altering the future, you are physically interacting with the reality around the printed page, around your own body, written words also have a chemical and physical reality estranged from their semantic content; spoken words interact thermodynamically with the atmosphere around us.

The weather may not 'understand' your forecast, but that does not mean it is not affected by it.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008
New Stonehenge Theory
As one reads the global news, the world seems to be getting so close to the alien world created in Anathem by Neal Stephenson. For instance, the day is not far when Englishmen will flock to Stonehenge and start worshipping the obelisks. A new theory claims:
Archaeologists Timothy Darvill of Bournemouth University and Geoff Wainwright, President of the Society of Antiquaries, claimed to have found evidence that Stonehenge was once a center of healing. In an excavation conducted at the site, a large number of human remains were found that display signs of physical injury or disease. Study of the teeth from the skeletons indicates that about half of them were from outside the area.

A large number of bluestone or spotted Preseli dolerite chips found during the excavation led the researchers to conclude the stones were venerated for their healing properties. It is believed that about 80 of such bluestone blocks were transported from the Preseli Hills in Pembrokeshire, Wales to the Salisbury plains. The inner circle of bluestones are the earliest stone structures found in this site. Later bluestones were encircled by the imposing sandstone monoliths of sarsen stones. "It could be that people were flaking off pieces of bluestone, in order to create little bits to take away... as lucky amulets," said Professor Darvill.


Tuesday, October 07, 2008
Smart Glow: Light As Your Data Carrier
This is a very poetic 21st century idea, and it's not at all difficult to implement even for a DIY hobbyist. What will be expensive is speed here. If you want really fast bandwidth, your light sensors will have to be those with microsecond, even less, response time to optical stimulus, and the everyday LDR will not suffice. Especially for slow homebrew projects, though, it would be so hypnotic to simply watch it in action. At fast transfer rates, you'd never notice what's going on.

In any case, a completely original idea:

"Imagine if your computer, iPhone, TV, radio and thermostat could all communicate with you when you walked in a room just by flipping the wall light switch and without the usual cluster of wires," said BU Engineering Professor Thomas Little. "This could be done with an LED-based communications network that also provides light - all over existing power lines with low power consumption, high reliability and no electromagnetic interference. Ultimately, the system is expected to be applicable from existing illumination devices, like swapping light bulbs for LEDs."

Boston University researches will focus on developing computer networking applications, notably the solid state optical technology that will form the network's backbone.

"This is a unique opportunity to create a transcendent technology that not only enables energy efficient lighting, but also creates the next generation of secure wireless communications," Little added. "As we switch from incandescent and compact florescent lighting to LEDs in the coming years, we can simultaneously build a faster and more secure communications infrastructure at a modest cost along with new and unexpected applications."


Saturday, October 04, 2008
"The Internet of Things" by Rob van Kranenburg
This is probably the most important techno-political essay I have read all year (snip):
.....a Skype phone. It belongs to Alexei Blinov. Alexei is one of the lead developers of Hive Networks. He is very angry with this object and the likes of it. What we have here,he says, is an object, a piece of hardware that in itself holds quite some computational power and potentialities, yet has been deliberately crippled and handicapped to perform only one trick, search for wireless, connect and Skype. Are we going back to the days where phones were directly connected together in pairs and users had separate “telephones wired to the various places he might wish to reach?”.
Apart from issues of durability, sustainability and climate change that the manufacturing and dissolving of these anomalies of devices raise, far more important is the nefarious relationship it entails and scripts between people and things. The Skype phone very literally is ‘der eigene Frage als Gestalt’, as such it is a false thing, an object that deliberately obscures its potentialities instead of highlighting them or show enabling qualities. It is this thinking through waste that fuels the anger of open hardware developers and has inspired and MetaReciclagem to rethink the connectivity chain in terms of functionalities, not devices.44 Otherwise we will be flooded by devices that embody a functionality (voice communication) that is a voice over IP (Voip) application in a device (personal computer/laptop) that uses telephone cables or wireless connectivity to communicate in the first place.

VIA : Bruce Sterling's blog


Someone Please Tell William Gibson...
....that our work Cellphabet is pretty much what he's describing while talking about his novel Spook Country:

Jill: Is there anyone practicing the kind of locative art you describe in the book?

Gibson: I made that particular kind of locative art up, but in making it up, I think it can be done. Something that I had to change at the very last minute, before the actual book was going to press... Someone read the bound galleys and said, "This locative art is very cool, but you know, you wouldn't be able to do it indoors. There's no GPS indoors; it can't go through walls." I said, "Uh-oh."

Happily, my informant explained that if you wanted to do it inside, you would have to triangulate on the three nearest cell phone towers. It would be possible to build a program that would do this; you'd actually be able to bring your locative art into the gallery. In the final version of the text, that actually helps considerably to explain why all those artists are so dependent on Bobby Chombo for something that they really should be able to do themselves — he can get your art into the gallery. Otherwise, you'd have to have it in the flowerbed outside the Marmont.

But other than that, I think that what I described is kind of doable. You could buy all the parts on eBay and put it together. But I've never seen anything like that described in real life. If you google "locative art," you get a gazillion hits, and a lot of it is very, very conceptual. It's sort of postmodern mapping. I have to say, it's kind of over my head, most of the locative art stuff. I just didn't get it. [Laughs] My idea of locative art would be the locative art that people in Juxtapoz magazine would do. It would be lowbrow: deliberately, self-consciously lowbrow with a capital L.