Cyborg Category Archive


I just sent an empty text message ("SMS") to someone.

It happened because I was thinking the message as I went though the process of creating new message, adding contact...

and send. woops.

désolé Izo.

A consciousness

(get past the melodrama and the fact that it's an anime / "oh it's cheesy scifi" ;)


Just as there are many parts needed to make a human a human
there's a remarkable number of things needed to make an individual what they are.

A face to distinguish yourself from others.
A voice you aren't aware of yourself.
The hand you see when you awaken.
The memories of childhood, the feelings for the future

That's not all.

There's the expanse of the data net my cyber-brain can access...*

All of that goes into making me what I am.
Giving rise to a consciousness that I call "me."

And simultaneously confining "me" within set limits.

* Drop this phrase for a moment, and consider "what am I? What constitutes "me"?". Then consider that your knowledge and memories are all products of your experience, as transmitted to your mind via your 5 senses. Then imagine that you have a new sense, which feeds knowledge directly into your mind (regardless of I/O: be it visual/audio, direct neural stimulation, whatever).

What is "real" then, and what makes you, you?
And when everyone you interact with is at that same level, where knowledge and experince sync happens, what differentiates you from me? (this is explored in the later TV series, where 9 AI robots develop personalities even though they are continuously synchronizing their minds.)

We are still far from accessible "augmented reality" systems, let alone sync'ing capabilites, but we do have their early forbearers now: weblogs, social network aware software (still crap), aggregators, moblog photo sharing. All these things contribute to peripheral awareness enhancements of select people and data sources around us. Most of those who have been exposed to all this have stymied the "data overload" by retreating a little bit, hitting our aggregators a little less often, etc, but we have tasted the fruit and we do seek to stay connected.

I'd like to start building better tools and UIs for this peripheral awareness, this external, tele proprioception.

coded email

|| BlueMail | v17 | NETWORK PERFORMANCE: transversalMemory_Instance_#_05
|| 2006/11/24 : FRANCE / LYON / INTERSTICE / 144 Grande rue Guillotière
|| URL = " ";
---> this.mail :IS_NOT: SPAM;
---> this.mail :IS_NOT: ERROR;
---> this.mail :IS_NOT: FOR COMPUTER;
---> this.mail :IS: FOR YOU! (Boris)
function init()
$From = "BlueScreen";
$To = "BlueList";
$Title = "BlueMail | v17 | transversalMemory_Instance_#_05";
$Vers = 17;
$Date = 2006/11/24; //(yyyy/mm//dd)
$Author = "BlueScreen";
$Url=" ";
function intro()
if(time<19) print "Bonjour!";
else print "Bonsoir!";
else print "Hi";

function transversalMemory(instance)


$WHEN="2006/11/24 - 21h00";

$WHERE[physical][0]="France / Lyon / Interstice";
$WHERE[physical][1]="144 Grande rue de la Guillotière - 69007 Lyon";
$WHERE[physical][2]="Metro Ligne D: Garibaldi";
$WHERE[physical][3]="Info 0033 6 61 79 47 40";

$WHERE[virtual]=" ";

if($moreInfo) open("";)


function outro();
//Mrci d'avoir pris le tmps 2 tenter 2 lire ce msg;
//Thank U 4 ur interest 4 this msg;

// {AT} Bientot pour de nouvelles cyber aventures...

if ( LANGUAGE == "FR" ):

Le BlueMail est un message envoyé occasionnellement
aux adresses figurant sur la BlueList;

Pour ajouter une adresse sur cette liste:
Envoyez simplement un mail à cette adresse:
avec pour objet: "BlobIsNotDead";

Pour supprimer une adresse sur cette liste:
Envoyez simplement un mail à cette adresse:
avec pour objet: "BlobIsDead";

if ( LANGUAGE == "EN" ):

The BlueMail is a mail occasionaly sent to
the addresses in the BlueList;

To add 1 address: Just send a mail to this address:
with "BlobIsNotDead" in the subject area;

To delete 1 address: Just send a mail to this address:
with "BlobIsDead" in the subject area;

function contact()
$NAME = "BlueScreen";
$URL[0] = " "
$URL[1] = " "
$MAIL = "b-l-u-e-s-c-r-e-e-n{AT}"



Find teh kittens!

From a list of undergraduate projects available at the Center for Intelligent machines at McGill, "Content-Based Image Retrieval":

2. Finding Animals in Internet Imagery Using Learning Methods

This project, based on a recently published paper, involves finding images on the Internet that contain animals. Recently Viola et al. have introduced a rapid object detection scheme based on a boosted cascade of simple feature classifiers. In a more current paper, two extensions to their approach were introduced: Firstly, a novel set of rotated Haar-like features was proposed. These features significantly enrich the original simple features and can also be calculated efficiently. Secondly, based on a thorough analysis of different boosting algorithms (namely, Discrete, Real and Gentle Adaboost), it was found that the Gentle Adaboost learning method was the superior training approach. The complete object detection training and detection system is available in the Open Computer Vision Library Therefore, the primary objective of this project is to use this software to implement the search for animals.

Far less funny are numbers 1 ("Keeping Track of Humans and Objects in Videos for Surveillance Applications") and 3 ("Detecting Moving Objects on the Street Using a Color Video Surveillance Camera"), which are basically top-down surveillance research. Shame on you Mr. Levine.

In any case, I am a little surprised to realize this stuff is going on here. I'm especially intrigued by the "Shared Reality Environment" Lab. Where do these people hang out and socialize? ;)

IRC logging, revisited

This afternoon I set up a "logger bot" which monitors and logs the GlobalVoices IRC channel.
About an hour ago, Karl showed me the log he tweaked for the Semantic Web Interest Group IRC channel and mentioned how he structured some of the data.

Now, let's think of IRC for a moment not as a place to chat with people, but rather as text entry point.. for whatever.

Ok not whatever, let's think of it as a task logger for small groups.

The IRC bot logs in chronological order everything entered intot he channel, timestamps it and records who "said it".

Say you have a team of people working on a project who wish to keep a log of the tasks they accomplish. Just type it!

"Fixed bug #234"
"changed the color of the links"

This is already doable, out of the box. I just need to set it up and let the team in.

But I want more.

Say our project has several departments: "design", "technology", "editorial", "management". Say also our project is really a bunch of smaller projects: "main site", "wiki", "intranet", "conference in Delhi". Or just you want to be able to tag things: "PITA", "fixed", "researched"... or, like in, you want "send" something to someone's attention: "for:mike", "for:karl", "for:francis".

The syntax should be stupid; in the IRC text input, for example:
# tech, aggregator | caching system is 98% done. I just added OPML flatfiles to the output

or send a task to someone:
# design, mainsite, pita, for:jer, todo | please install that gizmo plugin

I imagine it can't be hard to add the code to handle this functionality to this Perl logger bot... or any good solid Python one.

Did I say more?
I want it to pipe everything in realtime and timestamped, via whatever XML-RPC/Atom/FooAPI, preserving authors and tags, to WordPress. Why? Because WP is easy to theme and will output RSS feeds of any context you want: overall, per tag/category, per author...

I will put up the dev environment, help test and throw in... $50. Who wants to code this with me?

This setup could also be used for quick "tumblelogs" or "mumblelogs".

Ideally I'd want a Jabber bot instead but eh... if anyone's game... all the code is available, we just need to pack it up... another $50 for the Jabber version =)

I have no mouth and I must scream.

The irony.

I have not been able, yet, to "moblog" from my new Nokia N80.

I am able to browse websites and use a chat program, via both my mobile provider's GPRS and my WiFi networks at home and at the office.

I am able to send and receive SMS text-messages via the Messenger application.

I have been, as of yet, unable to successfully send or receive email via any of two GMail accounts and one account on my own server, be it via GPRS or WiFi. The failure process looks like this:

- Create email
- Address email, add subject and message.
- Send
- Select Access Point
-- Send fails silently
-- Email is moved to "OutBox" with "queued" status.
- Options -> Send ... repeat from Select Access Point

When trying to send via GPRS, the "GPRS connection is up" icon is presented. Checking on that connection in the connection manager indicates it is sending and receiving 15-30 bytes every few seconds. That looks more like just TCP/IP communication. It eventually stops and tears itself down, as it is supposed to.

When trying to send via WiFi, the WiFi connection indicator icon becomes "solid" (meaning it is connected)... for a few seconds. Then disconnects silently.

I tried LifeBlog. I gave it one shot. I gave it access to this blog, via the Atom API, with my API password. Told me there were no weblogs there. Indeed.

I have tried everything, double and triple checked settings and parameters. I am not a newbie of course. I do this for a living. I once worked for a WiFi AP maker. I am IBM Certified in Networking and Firewalls. I manage hosting for a half dozen clients. I *know* this shit.

So at this point I have a few choices:
- beg someone who knows Series60 v3.0 inside out to walk through it with me (or reveal a closely kept secret. even hearing "oh that model was nowhere near ready to go to market" would make me feel better.)
- Hard reset it back to factory and try all over again.
- Wind up, stretch up and with all my force whip it into the pavement at my feet in the parking lot, just for the cheer joy of the moment.

If it comes to the last one, I'll make sure to have someone video blog it. From a mobile of course.

Rage. I feel techno rage. I do not need this in my life. Forgive the whiney ranting tone. I am at wits end


I've long been telling stories about how I seem to be quite aware of many of my thought processes, and often these stories take on computer jargon analogies. Stuff like "the scripts I have running in the background" to make sure I always leave the house with keys and wallet (scripts which needed major rewriting with the advent of a second very large set of keys for the new office), and the time I watched my brain start up the "eat banana" script when my phone rang (I watched the code load "raise banana to mouth and insert"... luckily I kill -9'ed it and chuckled.)

Last week I got a Nintendo DS Lite and started playing these "brain training games" which more than anything got me even more aware of the boundaries of my mind, its methods, and some deeply seated intellectual and emotional responses to challenges, puzzles and other such stimuli which, quite frankly now that I see them under the light, I feel I must rid myself of a load of bad mental habits.

While what I have undertaken today does not address these particular aforementioned habits, I have begun a journey, which so far seems like it will be quite a quick one, to learn not only how to touch type finally (I am making an effort right now and with just one hour of Mavis Beacon, I already have a much better idea of how what used to seem to me wildly complicated is really childishly easy to accomplish and... fun!), but also how to use T9 predictive text entry on a mobile phone keypad. (This too is not so bad. Once you *get* what it's doing, it just sorta goes.)

All of this seems to have one rather potentially dangerous side-effect: driving back from my mother's place I realized I was not tracking my environment--the other cars on the highway and streets--as effectively, thoroughly and predictively as I used to. I was actually surprised and scared at least twice. I will monitor this closely. It may be that I need glasses, or that I was overly tired this evening. Or both. Or, really, far more likely, I've just been very distracted and scattered lately. Focus dammit.

Best IM status message ever.


Awesome. Merci Francis. ;)

Upon reading the back cover of "Diamond Age"

"The Diamond Age : Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer" (Neal Stephenson)

I thought:

Nanotech will bridge cyberspace and "realspace". Why? Because if indeed in cyberspace anything is possible, it is so because anything can be created from scratch and manipulated at any level. Advanced nanotech, in theory, will allow this as well.

"Create" is the key word here. If men are gods in cyberspace...

This thought is probably nothing new. Just wanted to share what just shot though my head.

Where's my head?

It's not that I am going senile or any such thing... it's just that...

"my memory space is being flattened, in places, especially recently, by prolonged use of asynchronous text-based tele communication"

In other words, I am beginning to suspect that the use of such things as Instant Messaging and email is somehow confusing the brain, which is normally used to associating experiences with way more environmental clues (such as person's face, lighting in the scene, sounds around, geo context, etc) than you get with an email or an IM chat.

I've already mentioned that I sometimes imagine conversations with people, in my head/telepathically, as if I were actually having them/via IM. I suspect this is akin to ghost limb syndrome. My brain just assumes I can continue the communication, regardless of TCP/IP stack (er, IM software and internet connection). Whether the person is there or not is irrelevant because as far as my brain knows, it's all imaginary anyways right? I mean, there's no live person in front of me, I did not displace myself to interact with this person, etc.

Now I am also seeing the effects of this, theoretically, on my memory as well. My brain is actively "flattening" my memory space of all my other communication modalities as well, as if to compensate following some sort of "lowest common denominator" rule for how much meta data to store, or at least, to keep actively "close by" and easily accessible.

What that means is, I will remember the message of a communication, almost word for word. But I will need to greatly labor to recall a) WHO the conversation was with b) WHEN the conversation took place c) WHERE it took place, be it in physical space or via which network protocol, and of course all three are related and cross referenced. (If I remember who it was with, if it was with a local, I will have to look further for environment clues such as "was it live conversation?", "was it on the street, or at Laika?", etc etc.)

Of course I make this sound far more drastic than it is, but I also am merely scratching the surface of this phenomenon which I can sense is very definitely happening to me.

(The title of this post is taken from my light hearted impression of my mother who can sometimes be a bit absent minded.)


Justin's made his backchannel experiments an official project at the USC IMD, where he is studying.

Having experienced several types of backchannel setups myself, though never of the intensely focused and tweaked 14 screens of the ZML, I can say it is definitely not for everybody. You have to not only be of the kind of mind that can assimilate multiple input streams at once[1] and need to prepare yourself beforehand: being aware is key.

[1] This reminds me of the warrior's gaze, as explained in Miyamoto Musashi's "Book of Five Rings":

In regards to the Gaze of someone, he notes that a person must be able to perceive that which is all around him, without moving their eyeballs noticeably, which is said to be a skill which takes an enormous amount of practice to perfect. He notes that this is again one of the most important parts of strategy, as well as being able to see things which are close to you, such as the technique of an enemy, or far away, such as arriving troops, or enemies, as that is the precursor of battle, in that your actions go off what you see.


ConstellationW3 had a setup like this as well apparently at their last big thing at the S.A.T. (I missed the event and the site seems down so nyah...)

There's nothing that is in between?

      Just on the border of your waking mind
      There lies... another time
      Where darkness & light are one
      And as you tread the halls of sanity
      You feel so glad to be
      Unable to go beyond
      I have a message
      From another time...

The visions dancing in my mind,
The early dawn the shades of time.
Twilight crawling through my window pane.
Am I awake or do I dream,
The strangest pictures I have seen,
Night is day and twilight's gone away.
With your head held high and your scarlet lies,
You came down to me from the open skies,
It's either real or it's a dream
There's nothing that is in between

      Twilight, I only meant to stay a while
      Twilight, I gave you time to steal my mind
      Away from me.

Across the night I saw your face
You disappeared without a trace
You brought me here but can you take me back.
Inside the image of your light
That now is day and once was night

You leave me here and then you go away.


You brought me here but can you take me back again.
With your head held high and your scarlet lies,
You came down to me from the open skies,
It's either real or it's a dream
There's nothing that is in between


- Electric Light Orchestra - Twilight Lyrics

This has been an entry about reality, screenology, cyberspace, immersion, externalization, cyborg tendencies, dreams... and the disjunction their intersection produces.

(Please do not flog me for also stating that my first exposure to this brilliant brilliant piece of prescient pseudo-romantic post-post-modernism came from it's use as the theme song for Densha Otoko.)

Immersive Web

About a week ago I went for chinese food with Michael. We hadn't seen each other in a few weeks and Mike had just returned from what seemed like a very exciting trip to Europe. He recounted parts of his trip and his recent move, and once we had finished, the carbo-coma kept us in our seats. As I poured us some more tea, I said to him: "so, I've been thinking about this thing lately... the Immersive Web."

Disclaimer: I am fully aware that there are loads of people who have been thinking about this stuff for a long time, who naturally know waaaay more than I do, etc etc. And while I've taunted Joi about his recent World of Warcraft "research", I trust implicitly that he knows what he's doing and doing it for good reasons. (No seriously. But I just had to link that PotatoChopped picture ;)

In a nutshell, what I mean by Immersive Web, is the combination of everything we know about 3D, virtual reality, networked "video games" and Open Source software projects, Open Standards, interoperability, accessibility, "self publishing", sharing and the whole kit-and-kaboodle linked with URLs.

Michael got really really excited and made it very clear that he definitely thought this was a very very important topic and one he had been thinking about for a long time. I knew he had some involvement with the 3D/games stuff through GameCode, but didn't realize it was something he held so close. Sometimes stuff goes over my head... or... in one ear and out the other... ;) I should also add that Michael's web-handle is mtl3p: "Montreal third place".

Fast forward to this afternoon: I am sitting in the conference room at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, at the tail end of a Fellows meeting and the topic slowly shifts to "virtual worlds like Second Life and such". Some words fly out of my mouth, some hand gestures are made, some glances are thrown and all of a sudden I have volunteered Ethan and myself to write a 2 page paper on how/why Berkman should get involved in online virtual spaces, or something like that. Wahoo!

I shoot an email to Michael telling him such. Thirty minutes later he replies: "wow." "Goes fast doesn't it" I send back. A few minutes later my phone rings and it's him of course. "So, you at home? Whatcha doing?" "Dude, I'm at Berkman..."

Hehehehe. Then something funny happened, and I did something I haven't told him I did yet. Michael starts explaining why he thinks that my naming it "Immersive Web" is very very important. He is VERY excited as he is explaining this to me... so I switch my phone to speaker mode, letting Ethan listen in. ;)

Now, Michael does a really great job of explaining the socio-politcal and cultural ramifications of all this stuff and the naming, but I also needed to express an actual scenario of how I see an end product of "Immersive Web".

It came to me in two pieces; the first on the way to dinner, talking with Ethan, and the second walking back to the hotel after dinner, talking with Rebecca.

First of all, it should be relatively easy for me to upload and setup my own little "virtual place" on a server somewhere, the same way I can upload and install a weblog today. It shouldn't matter which "vendor" or "package" or "distribution" I choose, it should be able to be part of the greater community; the same way it doesn't matter, as Rebecca correctly pointed out, if I use Movable Type, WordPress, TypePad or Blogger to blog: I can still publish HTML and various RSS feeds, leave comments and have comments left for me, be aggregated and searched and most importantly, I can link and be linked to (that's what the Web *IS*).

Ethan pulled at the logic and we arrived at the question: "ok so what do we do with this?" 3D chat avatars are hold hat. Yawn, been there done that, right?

I emailed a scenario of use to Michael stating thusly:

"Let's say I want to share with you what it's like to stand at Hachiko Square in Shibuya, Tokyo. In a full featured and flexible immersive web environment, I could pull together various "media" from my personal archive and construct a very personal view/experience, pulling together perhaps a Google Earth/Map type of geo visualization, stitch in a bunch of photos I may have taken, a few other people have taken (pulled in dynamically via RSS feeds of tags from Flickr for example, and made available to me), play a recording I may have taken while there (or one someone else took and that I pulled down off the web, perhaps CC licensed?)... Imagine I could actually go and grab a premade virtual wireframe framework of that whole area, and "pin on" it my memories to share with you ... and whoever I gave the URL to it to."

(I should rewrite that to make it less redundant and to the point... it was stream of consciousness...)

Ethan pointed out : "but I can do that on a webpage now!" Yes and no. You can assemble all the bits and pieces but until you stitch them into an "environment", a situated and explorable "space", they remain just fragments, barely held together with some sort of narrative context which depends on the storyteller's story telling ability.

(Granted, very few people can create stunning 3D environments in even the simplest 3D CAD or game authoring system, but give any child a glue gun, a marker, some materials and a wall or four and watch the world he/she creates for you! Also, not every weblog is a impeccably designed masterpiece... most are straight default templates with a photo here and there...)

I also threw in:

"Two things that gave weblogs traction were: "simple" webpage making (post an entry and the webpage is "made for you") and the fact that the created "page" had a unique URI (a "permalink").

The first steps of Immersive Web is about laying the groundwork and making the infrastructure decisions which will eventually allows us "simple" "3D environment making" and giving it a URL..."

Another aspect that Michael is very keen on driving home is the fact that we have learnt over the last 10 years how to manage large scale distributed development of open source software projects. (Need I say it? Linux? Amongst hundreds of thousands of examples...) This is key since 3D virtual stuff, networking protocols, communications standards, programming etc etc etc ... all the stuff we will need to do to make something like an Immersive Web happen will require alot of work by alot of people with a lot of different skill sets.

I think it can be done.

(I am hoping to spend a good amount of time at the USC Interactive Media Department this winter. When I mentioned all this to Scott Fisher, a pioneer in the field of immersive media, his answer was immediate: "sounds good! let's do it!" Awesome. :)

Rapid pen based text entry

This looks very interesting.
 Alphatap Path

Some 250 words account for over 50% of English usage. These words are mapped onto the AlphaTap layout so that you can type them with just one or two pen strokes. To become productive, you only need to learn the subset of these words which you commonly use.

Learning this vocabulary of pen strokes is easy. Your brain readily maps the gestures of short pen paths to words and syllables. The first few times you type a word, you trace over it slowly, pausing on each key, as AlphaTap highlights the next letters for vocabulary words from the key you are on. Each word has a specific path on the layout which you can stroke rapidly once you know the path. The practice of normal use is enough to cement the words in your memory after a short time.

The above refers to shorthand methods for common words already in the system and mapped to the "keys", so you can just draw paths over them to compose the words. Make sense. Otherwise you tap the letters you want, which in my experience using the software keyboard on my P910, works very very well itself.

Google Maps application contextualizes real estate

This is stunning. By combining Google Maps and craigslist housing listings you get a very quick visual contextualization of the economic distribution of population for a city; which the affluent neighborhoods, which are less so.

Not that that is necessarily a barometer by which to find an apartment or a home, mind you.

What I find most compelling is ... well, let's say for argument's sake I had to relocate to San Francisco. With the rental listings visually laid out before me, I immediately have an image and an idea of where each place is. If you already know the city, then it spares you the effort of locating the place in your mental map, which is a very subjective map to begin with; but if you hardly know the city, bam, there it is. Enhancements would include "show me where these 5 contacts of mine live in relation to this listing" ... show me the bus stops, grocery stores, cafés with decent coffee and WiFi... ;)

And where to get a baguette...


Steven dreams out loud about where he'd like to be someday:

I managed to hitch a ride on the floating city 'GCS New Mosul' by agreeing to give my presentation 'Safeguarding your cyberprivacy - without slowing down your interface' at the S. Hussein Center for Social Justice, coordinates 7B (just next to the Cuisine Bangkok Thai restaurant). Holomsg me if you happen to be in town on board!

As I sit here in the helicab on the way to the port, I think back and can't believe that just 10 years ago, only the business elite and technorati were able to travel anywhere in the world on a whim. How did they go on about things like how the world was getting smaller or the "Global Village" when you actually had to have money to take advantage of it?

A fun, tongue in cheek, but not entirely impossible "blog post from the future". :)

Brain implants

Here we go, here we go, here we go yo!
Guardian Unlimited | Life | Meet the mind readers:

In that moment, Nagle made history. Paralysed from the neck down after a vicious knife attack four years ago, he is the first person to have controlled an artificial limb using a device chronically implanted into his brain.

(Not to nitpick, but Kevin Warwick was able to control an artificial hand via his neural implant in his forearm 3 years ago, but ok, we're talking brain implants here...)

While Wolpaw has achieved control many thought impossible without implanting electrodes directly into the brain, he feels a third technique, called electrocorticography, or Ecog, might have the brightest future. Ecog involves a smaller operation to place a small sheet of electrodes on the surface of the brain. "With this, you get strong signals, you can pick them up from smaller areas but you're not sticking something into the brain," he says. Preliminary trials show patients can learn to use Ecog devices much faster than electrodes placed on their scalps.

Where do I sign? ;)
(Link originally found at USC IMD Weblog)

Updated nitpicking:
Patrick wrote in to mention that Warwick said, 3 years ago, he was aiming to do the brain implant thing within 10 years, but Wolpaw (using Nagle as the subject) beat him to it.

Nagle a battu Warwick, qui disait qu'il mettra un implant dans son cerveau d'ici 10 ans (il y a 3 ans)!
"Although he had the electronic implant in his arm for just three months, and his wife for only a day, he is now building up to putting one in his brain within 10 years or so."

I think...

I got a machine
And I took over the world
In one weekend
I took over the world
With my machine
I did it because
I was looking for a project
And it was either
Take over the world or learn French
So I took over the world
And next weekend
I can learn French
I got a machine
And I took over the world
But nothing changed
That wouldn't be fair
steven: hahaha
bopuc: Violent Femmes "machine"
steven: you've posted that before
bopuc: prolly
steven: yes on your blog
steven: i remember
bopuc: yup
bopuc: i repeat myself
steven: fuck i have 1337 memory
bopuc: i have very little onboard memory left
steven: you need a transplant ;)
bopuc: IMplant
steven: how much ROM would be enough?
bopuc: 5-6 terabytes
steven: for what? pr0n?!?
bopuc: that would last me for a year or so...
bopuc: dude... everythign I see, everything I hear?
bopuc: indexed...
bopuc: cross referenced
steven: compress it
bopuc: hahahahaa
steven: indexes and refs are just strings of text
bopuc: u realise this is what the brain does...
steven: pics and vids and sound are your prollem
steven: and thoughts
steven: holy fuck yeah, thoughts
bopuc: language is what ties our memory together
bopuc: memory is a product of language
steven: but those ties are just tiny strings between the big files
bopuc: language creates relationships between data objects
steven: like unix links
steven: right
steven: sorry
bopuc: hence, Semantic Web.
bopuc: SemWed/RDF is all about triplets: object <->relationship <-> object
bopuc: it's a graph
bopuc: a graph of URIs
bopuc: fuck. I just understood it. jesus.
steven: glad someone did
bopuc: hahaha
steven: but each object can have several relationships to other objects, or even the same object, right?
bopuc: yup
bopuc: it's a web...
bopuc: :D
steven: like, both of these are white, and they are both round
bopuc: IT'S A WEB
steven: I HEARD YOU ;)
steven: just trying to "see what you see" :p
bopuc: the W3C is a cult...


The screen is really messing with my head. I don't mean just the screens of my computer.. I mean "the screen", as the interface to the network and my expanded mind...

(Here he goes again...)

Two examples.

Last night, moblogging this picture of my drink; spending a few moments absorbed into the screen of my P910, when the task was done and I looked back up, the switch in realities was staggering and eminently palpable. I viscerally FELT the shift in... modality, in mindframe, in realities.

Just now, I was going though my photolog, stopped for a moment on this photo of Emma, just when she, from the couch, which is located behind my desk, just a bit beyond my screen, meowed. The disjunction and recombination of the inputs from the two worlds was jarring. Again, viscerally affecting me.

Ten years ago, DdeK's "The Skin of Culture: Investigating the New Electronic Reality" pulled the lid back on my mind. Now his "The Architecture of Intelligence (The Information Technology Revolution in Architecture)" (Excerpts) is pulling it right out of my head... To counter this effect, a simultaneous reading of "Mind Hacks" and "Turning the Mind into an Ally" (Sakyong Mipham, Pema Chodron), to push it back in, trying to keep it within itself.

Half the time I don't know if I'm dreaming.

Did I say that out loud?

I write an inordinate amount of “weblog entries” in my head. Ninety-nine percent of them never make it to the keyboard, let alone get published. A funny side-effect of this is every so often someone will bring up an entry I did publish and I'll be like “oh... did I write that?”

Did I say that out loud?

Put another way, I think in weblog mode alot. I also think Instant Message conversations with people alot. The side effect of that is I often think I've already told someone something I wanted/needed to tell them. Not so good.

The interesting part of this is why this happens, why I have conversations with people, in my head... do you want to know why?

No I am not insane. :p

It's because with IM, at this point the people I communicate the most with are pretty much always right there. My mind expects to just communicate with them. The interface, at this point consisting of a screen, keyboard, mouse, a chat application, a network connection, is merely a conduit, a medium, an extension of me. It is an extension that my mind has accepted and uses alot and just expects to “be there”.

Sadly, this current conduit is a poor and inefficient one. The perceived reduction in my cognitive capabilities - short term memory mostly - is merely an artifact of the malaise created by this fact.

The Holy Grail

Samsung Lets Subscribers Dictate Text Messages
(What a silly title for a news item... Samsung "lets"?? How about "facilitates" or "provides the ability to"... I don't need any mega corp "let" me do anything! Pshaw! Anyways...)

Samsung supposedly has a phone with built-in dictation software. I may not need to learn to type after all!! ;)

Communication in Evolution: Social and Technological Transformation

An Interview with Derrick de Kerckhove
Director, McLuhan Program  
conducted by Álvaro Bermejo

AB: In spite of its totalising ambitions, can the Net develop a new Humanism, a new Enlightenment?

DdeK: Maybe, but Humanism and Enlightenment may not be the right models for the moment. The Net is really trying to provide as many people as it can reach with access to as much useful information as can be accessed. The Net is proposing a completely new modality of memory and information distribution. We are all in the aristocratic situation that Moliere described when he said: “A gentleman is someone who knows everything without having to bother to learn anything”. This is the natural condition of the new humanism.

AB: In 1962, when Man landed on the moon, we believed that in the near future we would be sleeping in the Jetsons' folding beds, and living in apartments shaped like flying saucers. Forty years on, our dream is to live in a log cabin on the shores of a lake, nuclear energy frightens us as much as do fossil fuels, and children in the Third World are being called Jonah, Rebecca and Moses, as in the Old Testament. Are these transitory tendencies or rebellion against the System?

DdeK: McLuhan invented the tetrad to explain just this kind of phenomenon:

  1. every new medium extends a human property (the car extends the foot);
  2. obsolesces the previous medium by turning it into a sport or an form of art (the automobile turns horses and carriages into sports);
  3. retrieves a much older medium that was obsolesced before (the automobile brings back the shining armour of the chevalier);
  4. flips or reverses its properties into the opposite effect when pushed to its limits (the automobile, when there are too many of them, create traffic jams, that is total paralysis)

So it is conceivable that new media will tend to evoke or recall much older human situations. Lifetsyle commercialism takes advantage of this without knowing anything about it. Some people start a trend without really thinking that they are, let say “Downshifters”, that is, people who would rather take a cut in salary to get out of the rat race and spend more time with their family, or in the country home with or without electricity, or “survivalists”, who believe in turning back into self-defense, not trusting civil society, or electronic hermits, people who live in total human isolation, but are hyperconnected via television, radio, the Net, SMS and what have you. In all these cases, all it takes is a handful of people with a discernable plan or attitude, for some clever advertising executive to spot it and turn it into a fad or a fashion. The next generation of media, based on quantum computers will bring back the age of spirituality and mysticism well beyond anything the New Age philosophy could achieve because it will supported by authentic scientific pretensions.


AB: In your books, in between the irony and the revelations, one senses a powerful call for a change of paradigm. What would be key to a new identity?

DdeK: The change of paradigm will depend on the third phase of electricity, the quantum phase. We have already absorbed the analog and the digital phases, and the quantum computer is already at a more advanced stage than the digital computer was when John Von Neumann began developing its architecture in the late forties. Today, we are at the post-Galilean moment when matter and science once solid are turning to liquid again. We may be getting back into a new kind of quantum cosmology where man is again at the centre of the universe, not as the centre of physical matter, but just of the information we have developed about it.  As quantum physicist Erwin Schrodinger put it:

Our perceiving self is nowhere to be found within the world-picture, because it is itself the world-picture.

The key to the new identity is what I call “selving”, that is the self in progress, in becoming, as in quantum physics where “things are not, they merely tend to be”. The new identity is in perpetual formation and reformation at the moment of use and on line it is fluid and aggregative as when people meet and change their perceptions of each other during the meeting. I sometime suspect that screens were invented only for the purpose of allowing several persons, minds, identities to meet and share thinking and speaking at a distance. The new connective thinking system is the screen.

A read well worth the time and attention and concentration.


Amazon: 'Do Android Crows Fly Over the Skies of an Electronic Tokyo?: The Interactive Urban Landscape of Japan (Architecture Landscape Urbanism)' (Akira Suzuki)

Do Android Crows Fly Over the Skies
of an Electronic Tokyo?

The Interactive Urban Landscape of Japan
(Architecture Landscape Urbanism) 2001
- Akira Suzuki

Picked this little gem up at the CCA bookstore the day I attended the Devices of Design symposium. I bought it purely for the cover and intriguing title. Glad I did!

A book about Tokyo architecture and urbanism, Suzuki starts off with "The number of mobile phone subscribers in Japan already exceeds 60 million". Hooked me from the start. ;)

A short, oddly bound tome (each recto/verso page is one sheet folded in half and bound... a terrible waste of paper and feels very strange in the hand), one quickly goes through the 72 pages of texts, pictures and illustrations. We are led through a quick historical tour of such things as the traditional "yojōhan" 4 1/2 tatami mat room and its social role as the cha no ma - living room - to the splitting of the nuclear family, the advent of the one-room mansions and capsule mansions, the spread and ubiquity of the conbini - convenience stores ("twenty thousand stores in Greater Tokyo alone, or one for every one thousand five hundred residents"!), the cultural forces that brought about these developments, and of course the cultural changes these developments brought about.

Once we've understood that, things get... cyber. Starting with the mass adoption of televisions at the time of the 1964 Tōkyō Olympics, which shifted the seating arrangement in the cha no ma from one where family members faced each other around the central table to the corner where the television set sat. "The television replaced the father" and thus began eroding the fabric of the traditional japanese family unit. At the extreme opposite end we are shown the Gifu Kitagata Apartment Building project, in which one part, designed by Kazuyo Sejima, places the wash basin facing the large south facing window. This was done, the author surmises, for the daughter, and to highlight the role in social and urban change that the modern japanese high-school girl plays... or rather, that they all, collectively play.

This is where we dive into, you guessed it, cellphones!! Shibuya epiphany, sugoooiii!

(I'm digressing, but let me add that Mimi Ito's research of mobile phone usage in Japan speaks volumes on the communication, coordination and cooperation going on every second, in the virtual world that is the mobile, individualized data space.)

So, we have a shift to single/individual person dwelling needs, and infrastructure of conbinis - anything you need, anytime - and an overarching system of communications facilities - keitai, i-mode, internet, television. The result is "Tokyo is vanishing into invisible communities and communications", where the true goings-on - interactions, work, play, group activities - of it's inhabitants happen in an information-based "space". The physical environment is secondary and merely serves the basic needs of the citizens, and even that is seen to be collapsing into neglect.

Examples of how networked information spaces can affect physical space, and vice versa, are given as such:
- "Seijinshiki" coming of age celebrations, where thousands of 20 year old girls all initiate cellphone calls to their friends and asshii-kun - young men chauffeurs - in one area at once, crippling the network.
- The Pokemon "disaster", where almost 200 children suffered epileptic seizures due to rapidly flashing animation scenes, broadcast via television. Not only was the event precipitated by a network, but for the millions of others who only knew of it because of news reports, the apprehension of the reality of the event came via the network.
- The Tamagotchi Phenomenon. At first, large numbers of teenaged girls shared "tamagotchi breeding tips" via their cellphones. Not wanting to be left out of the fun, even larger numbers of salary men got in on the game, causing catastrophic tamagotchi shortages, networked-rumor spurred runs on stores... hilarity ensues...

The title of the book, which is only made crystal clear in the final paragraph, speaks of flocks of individuals, navigating an information-based world, by simple communications, through a marginally relevant physical environment.

"The real city is loosely absorbed into a number of network levels and it is in them that we see the phantom city we know as 'Tokyo'. The actual city of Tokyo has already become little more than a dummy through which we discern the happenings taking place among these invisible networks."

Notice the crow feather in the upper left corner on the cover's picture. Nice touch.


I want all my data to relate.
I want to connect Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D Minor to Cornelius' Wataridori (because played back-to-back they are a force of nature, IMHO).
I want to relate that relation to a friend's contact info, to remind me to mention it to them and possibly share the files with them.
I want the relations to be date stamped.
I want the network of relations to be discoverable and exposable, hideable and transparent. Like a tree... with branches and roots.

Uhhh... Accordion Guy?

Joey... I think you have some serious competition...

McRorie One Man Live

Matt on Etech et al

Matt posted a rant about the upcoming ETech:

It's just that the topics on offer: y'know - the copyfight, social software, bloody blogs, web services etc. might still be worthy topics for discussion, but I feel like I've been around those blocks quite a few times now, and I want some genuine outbreaks of the future.

We chatted briefly about it and I totally agree. In fact, and not to be too jaded about it, my one foray to ETech (and two to SxSW, self funded those were), though loads of fun and at times very interesting, were mostly just schmoozefests, a chance to meet many like-minded new friends. But by no means was I overwhelmed by genuine outbreaks of the future.

Put another way, what Matt, and I, agree upon is that while it is definitely necessary, important and interesting to consider "today", some of us who are already quite knowledgeable and comfortable with what is already going on really want to think more about what WILL be going on.

Geo-politcal/economic factors aside (we should all have signed up for mandarin chinese classes by now), I really want to explore the developments in, again as Matt suggests, things like bioinformatics, neuroscience, cognitive sciences - i want us to look at trends in art and culture, the weathervanes[1] of change - the development of architectures for interfaces as we emigrate our minds from our heads to our screens... The needs and effects of being, simultaneously, in ourselves, in the world and in cyberspace.

Did I mention I am lacking sleep thanks to reading too much Derrick De Kerckhove again? ;)

Perhaps a smaller event, perhaps similar to Design Engaged in structure, a symposium type-o-deal... presentation / conversation. Oye, I feel a rant coming on...

In any case, the only way I get to ETech this year is if someone gives me a good reason (flight, hotel, entrance fee being perfectly good reasons... ;) , and SxSW depends on how much work I take on between now and New Years. But show me an event which is truly about emerging, forward looking thoughts and technology, and I'll seriously consider getting excited and pulling out the (overused) plastic.

It's not that hard to get me excited, by the way.

[1] Q: What does the wind look like?
      A: The wind looks like what ever it moves...

You know things are bad when


I just tried pushing the screen of my PowerBook back... using the cursor...

My first Sony Walkman

Following a post by Nika, I thought it'd be cool to start a "thing", a "meme" perhaps... whatever. Use the TrackBacks, Luke!
To find your first Sony Walkman, check out Pocket Calculator's Vintage Walkman Museum: Sony

So, "I'll never forget my first Sony Walkman".

It was 1981 (read on for how I "remembered" that), and my parents had won a door prize at some charity ball, and since my father couldn't go, my mother dragged me off on a Caribbean cruise for two weeks. The cruise ship was anchored in New Orleans and just before embarking, my mother jumped into an electronics shop and bought [cue dramatic music] "our first Sony Walkman".

It was the WM-3 (again, interesting story on how I "remembered" that below). She also bought 3 cassettes:
- a greatest hits of Cat Stevens ("Ooooh baby baby, it's a wiiild world, a-do-do-do-do-dooo, and I'll always remember you, as a child, girl"),
- a sort of "addon/plugin" for the Walkman which gave it AM/FM capabilities,
- and, crucially for my remembering, Leo Sayer's "Living in a Fantasy" ("Oooohhohhhhohhhhh Jessee... I love you more than I can saaaay-e... I'll love you twice as much tomorrooow, oooh-ohhhh, I love you more than I can saaaay").

It was a memorable trip in and of itself: flying fish seen from the porthole window of our cabin, playing with the retractable lightsaber in the arm of my Luke Skywalker action figure, getting seasick and throwing up the water I had drank earlier...

My mom, being the indomitable soul she is and having enough of being couped up on a cruise ship with her semi-autistic son and a bunch of old people, decided we should jump ship in Porta Vaillarta, Mexico. We stayed in a nice hotel where I saw my first asian girl (it started young) and from which we still have the table set my mother stole from someone else's room service (a beautiful set of plates and bowls, simply yet beautifully decorated in lush deep blue) which had been abandoned, she said, in the stairwell. Kleptomania was a "thing" with us. She eventually got over that, as did I, after her second misdemeanor conviction: filet mignons from the grocery store. Sheesh. I digress.

After a few days there, we hopped a Cessna to Cancun where she had some friends working as G.O.s at the Club Med there. They let us stay at the club for a few days before hoping a flight back home.

Now, the story of how I "remembered" that.

It has to do with the web acting as "external memory". ;D

Two "keys":
The Sony Walkman itself and the two cassettes mom bought for us in New Orleans.

Searchinbg Google, I found a museum of "antique" Sony Walkmans, which allowed me to visually narrow it down between two models, one issued in 1979 (the TPS-L2) and the other 1981 (the WM-3).

One of the cassettes she bought was by Leo Sayer, which contained the song "More than I can say".
Searching Amazon I discover that the first Leo Sayer album to contain that song was "Living in a fantasy". Further Googling reveals a page talking about Leo Sayer's career, where it is stated "Leo had a new hit in 1981 with "More than I can say"".

Et voila.
I use the web the same way I use my own memory.
This is what I have become. ;)

NOW, how about YOU? Remember YOUR first Sony Walkman?
(This is interesting on several levels! Thank you Nika!)

As I was saying...

I finally got down to doing some work I've been putting off for weeks.
I haven't received an e-mail or IM request in about two hours. Perfect.

I decided to quit Mail, then iChat, then Proteus.
Ok, I can DO this.

Then I quit NetNewsWire.

All of a sudden, I felt very, VERY alone. Anxious even.
"But... but... what if..."

I'll just start iChat back up... just in case, you know...

In a postpostmodern state of mind.

In order to avoid ambiguity, over- or false- interpretation, it is crucial that one properly contextualize every element, in relation to every other element in it's environment.
Meaning can only be found in the relationship of each object with each other object in it's environment.
Each relationship, symbiotically influences the being of each object, connecting each into the whole.
This applies to everything: concepts, objects, individuals... humans.

Without you, I am less me. Or, conversely, with you, I am more me.

By easing communication, we enhance, strengthen the relationships, binding all elements tighter to the one.
By externalizing, reaching out, we draw in, collectively. Osmosis.

It is fascinating to me how many instances of evidence of these concepts are to be found in our cultures.

Phillip Torrone goes Cyborg jogging

I was gonna write an entry today about how bored i am but Phillip Torrone has given me something to be excited about again. That's twice now... I think I'm gonna owe him!

the portable geek gym...
i was told that i should "get outside" by a coworker since i live in a great area and jog, as opposed to jog on my treadmill. good point i thought, but i still want to be able to view my email, irc, rss feeds. so i started a new project--i have a lightweight pair of glasses with a small lcd screen, connected to a pocket pc (with video out) which is also connected to my phone via bluetooth. i'm adding a bluetooth gps this weekend, so as i jog near certain areas it will play content, for example my application will play a short video with audio about the space needle as i get close to it. obviously i don't think joggers will use this, but there are tons and tons of applications. more photos soon of the entire set up.

portable geek gym, more details, photos and video!
here is the portable geek gym. tiny bluetooth gps velcro'd to my shirt, it talks to a pocket pc, which has a video feed to my sunglasses with lcd screen. also attached, a heart rate monitor, a pedometer, all fed to a health watch via rf, and also a spot watch- to check up on the news and instant messages. optional- my phone, which is used to check email via bluetooth and fed to the glasses which is usually playing the gps feed (maps) or a video. based on my location. it's all really light too- so jogging is still fine.
click here for the video (quicktime version).

i can see what the aibo (robot dog can see)...
i'm playing around with using the sony aibo ers-7 as my eyes for limited periods of time- it's pretty interesting to be downstairs and being able to see what the aibo is seeing. while it is no mars explorer, it's quite a bit of fun.

What's exciting about this is that it demonstrates that the goal of discreet wearable mobile connected computing is getting closer every day. Also it is great to see that others than just Steve Mann and his students are actively pursuing these goals, outside of military and corporate research programs.

The aibo thing is just computer-mediated reality/consciousness throwing fun. ;)


Wired News: Brain Music: Not Much to Dance To

Wired article about the DECONism events i also attended last weekend in Toronto.

Update (2006-11-12):
Mark Federman posted pictures (I was also at the Stellarc thing, featurd in the previos entry at that link), and the Internet archive has audio files.

More pics:
i'm in this pic, mostly hidden, back of the room, second from right, i'm holding somehting up and looking at it. Oh wait there I am!

Sigh, good times.