Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Universe Whispers OZ: The Bucket Brigade of Good Deed Doers

Is a folksonomy the categorization equivalent of a John Holland bucket brigade classifier system? Just a human-driven neural net learning system? Do keywords have a bidding process for rule matching? Do they just die off if unused? We keep seeing a repeating pattern in things that work and don't work on the web and in any system for which a network is the pattern and things that don't work just die off: connectedness. Maybe getting laid IS the real criterion of success or happiness. Works for me.

"A heart is not judged by how much you love, but my how much you are loved by others."

The universe whispers Oz and the longer I am around, the more I realize what he really meant when he said, "Oh no my dear, I am a very good man. I'm just a very bad wizard." Maybe we really don't need wizards for most of life's affairs. Being connected is good enough. Why don't we know that? Is it a secret we keep from ourselves? As in the Oz spinoff, "Wicked", the Witch says to the dinner guests, "...the nature of evil is to be secret." and so many of our connections are hidden. The Bonobos don't do it that way. Why do we? Why, indeed.

Perhaps because so many games are of the form RSP (Rock Paper Scissors) and the only successful strategy is to psych out the opponent, and the only pattern that defeats that is randomness. We have to hide our hearts from those who would attempt to control our desires, but in doing so, we become wicked, made into what we would not be were it not for our hidden desires for acceptance and control.

That's just too hard. It turns our brains into straw, our hearts into tin, and finally robs us of our courage.

"... and I hereby decree, that until such time as I return, if any, the Scarecrow by virtue of his highly superior brain, shall rule in my stead. Assisted by the Tin Man by virtue of his magnificent heart, and the Lion by virtue of his courage. Obey them as you would me."

A folksonomy isn't very precise the way a professional taxonomy is, but since naming things unnames other things, it has the one kind of magic that professionals try their best to diminish: serendipity. We are pros; we hide the fact that most of our victories are dumb luck. Browsing over searching is usually the way we innovate. Searching is how we fix what we make. Very different kinds of actions, those; one is creative and the other is reflexive. The first makes questions; the second finds answers.

Desire. If your heart's desire isn't in your own backyard, you never lost it.

Some used to tell us that we should use rigorous methods to design our DTDs in SGML. It seldom worked. Most of the time, we took what they had and sprinkled tags pointing out inconsistencies along the way, but simply enabling a customer to see them. Some tried to build the DTDsFromHell that described the universe much as a Wizard would be able to make order from chaos, but it seems those never worked well and mainly created more complexity. Even worse, done in secretive committees away from the users they intended to order about even with the best of intentions, they did real evil.

Emergence works better. Dorothy was only trying to put out the burning Scarecrow. That the Witch was sensitive to being wet, well, she was a dried up evil old bitch and they don't ever get wet. Wetness is a quality of excitement and attraction, not evil. It's very good. It emerges. No threats produce it, no amount of will can control it and no amount of force can stop it. It's instant feedback when communications are of the right kind even if of the lowest quality. Life knows what it likes.

They tell me my career is dead because I piss people off, yet I watch them doing exactly what I need them to do. Power is not for the timid. Try to do good as the wicked watch and they will always do exactly as you wish: become angry and scheme to take your plans and make them their own. Mission accomplished. Evil is made to serve good. The universe moves.

"Hail to Dorothy! The Wicked Witch is dead! Hail to Dorothy!"

Free the Winkies and they'll make you their queen. Even Glinda for all her Goodness couldn't do what the fat little farm girl could trying to save a friend. She nor her sister to the South could change the balance of good and evil in Oz, so the Winkies and the Munchkins remained slaves until the eastern meanie flew into a spinning house and the western meanie finally did one bad deed too many. But it was the Witches who brought Dorothy to Oz for tornados in Kansas aren't spun up by winds from the North AND the South. Indirection, suggestion, hints and allegations, just a bit of noise in the ear of desire is enough. "Just follow the Yellow Brick road."

The universe isn't a place where all of our affairs are under the control of a 'very good but very mysterious' wizard, as Glinda said, but by a bucket brigade of courageous brains and wise hearts. In the presence of evil, you must start the fight. Even if the old wizard has nothing in his black bag for you, you may not need him. You have the ruby slippers right there on your own two feet.

Let the universe judge. And the universe, as I said, whispers Oz. The Great and Powerful.


Robert Koberg said...

Len, have been at the mushrooms that grow on the cow manure again?

Can't even give your devil his due?

len said...

No Robert, just the laughter and fun of being in a play with kids who love what they do and have yet to become as cynical as you; therefore, they still think they can make the world better with their art. And just as the folksonomy groups make their categories, the open source programmers free the artists from the record labels, and the new entrepeneurs liberate ideas, you and yours must witness sourly or otherwise, the bucket brigade of goodness of ordinary people with extraordinary hearts making good on their promise to their children that there is still a yellow brick road out there, still an emerald city, still a chance to be free and happy and by their own making.

I need no drugs to see what is truly magical. I would only need them if I surrendered Dorothy to your message written across the blue skies of Oz in the black ink of your green skinned jealousy. It must be tough to be that conservative and that afraid of freedom.

Robert Koberg said...

whoa nelly... I was trying to be funny. Guess I should have used emoticons. I did not recognize your were talking about your (inner)child's play. I thought you had relocated to a fantasy land.

FWIW, I consider myself a libertarian that leans right.

And just curious, what am I supposed to be jealous of? Maybe I should be, but I need to know what it is :)
(see? an emoticon)


len said...

Well foo on me. I went right over the top. Apologies. I think it was the cow manure.

I'm not exactly hanging out with my inner child. He's balding too. I'm doing Wizard of Oz with a cast of teen agers and prepubescent munchkins. It's like waking up in the middle of one of those teen date flick movies. On the other hand, the Wizard of Oz is pure Americana. If you stop and count the number of references to it one way or another every day in the media, you find it's like Coca-Cola: a heavily worked brand.

But I defy anyone to do this musical and not start seeing an Emerald City, a Yellow Brick road, and a Wicked Witch in their daily lives. The themes are universal and one begins to think.

Or maybe its the mushrooms. I knew the guy at the deli was a flying monkey. Now I have the Jitterbug.

Robert Koberg said...

maybe Hunter S. Thompson spirit was leaking into you. That would explain it.

len said...

Man, and I was so hoping for Sandra Dee.


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