Friday, February 18, 2005

Part II. The Universe Whispers OZ: The Bucket Brigade of Good Deed Doers

A friend asked about the Bucket brigade blog....

I'm rambling of course. That is what happens when lots of ideas start to collide. In India, or so I've read, someone with attention deficit disorder is considered holy. In the West, we give them drugs and try to integrate them.

To do evil, the wicked use the acts of goodness of others for their own purposes, to fool the living. Funny thing is, it never works for very long. Life knows what it likes. Life can be fooled by humbugs, but not forever.

I got an email today seriously suggesting that we can patent the idea of metadata-driving software factories. I pointed out that his immune system already does that and nature holds the patent.

In the play,(based on the Royal Shakespeare Theatre script) the Wicked Witch watches through her very large crystal ball, the progress of the foursome. She makes a speech about how it is fate that the Wizard delivers them to her. She has real power, but knowing everything doesn't make one able to choose better because she does not know what it all means in context.

Is there risk doing the right thing in the open?

Always do the good thing anyway. The good will help you and the wicked can't figure out why a good deed is worth doing; they can only steal it, and then what? There is no yellow brick road in the land of the Winkies because she always knows when a stranger enters. She sends her Flying Monkeys to bring her doom to her. Her castle is a secret place and "the nature of evil is secrecy".

How much power do you really need in a plot that is sensitive to initial conditions, a land of magical emergence?

Not much. Hardly any if you choose rightly.

The Professor has no power but with his small "genuine authentic magic crystal used by the priests of Isis and Osiris in the days of the Pharoahs of Egypt, in which Cleopatra first saw the approach of Julius Caesar and Marc Antony... and so on and so on" he uses his humbug magic to try to send Dorothy home, only to send her in to the path of the tornado. He does the best he can with his humbuggery, and that is enough to put her on a path to self-discovery. Dorothy stumbles into the ocean of real life through a dream.

Life dreams. It fantasizes. It comes to know itself. It likes to be wet.

The Witch knows all that happens in Oz, but she doesn't see that bucket of water coming. One evil act too many blinds her. That is how all tyrants fall.

Living things self-lube. Life is wet. We come from the ocean. "There's no place like home."

Life knows what it likes. That's why the bucket brigade, the web, folksonomy, and open source all work. Lots of little good hearted decisions all self-lubing and in their own time, making something an individual wants to use through group effort, cooperation, respect, patience, and willingness to let the other person pass because we all get there in time.

A name is a wall. It isn't that we don't need them, but we mustn't make them more powerful than they need to be. Like XML namespaces. It is the principle of least commitment. It doesn't melt when the semantic ocean, like a bucket of water, is tossed on it.

"What a world! What a world!" ;-)

One Ringy Dingy Two Ringy Dingies

I'm sitting in the staff meeting watching a Power Point presented by a novitiate attempting to explain Indigo. He really likes Don Box. I mean, Really likes Don Box. That's ok. I really like Carly Fiorina. A good rack IS an asset in this business. At the end of the presentation, he puts up a slide with the so-called "Challenge Question". It was "What is an Enterprise Service Bus?" I replied, "It's a patch bay." but thought, "That won't explain anything to a non-musician who hasn't spent time in a recording studio."

Somewhere deeper in my subconcious I heard a voice saying, "One ringy dingy! Two ringy dingies! Gracious good afternoon! Is this the service to whom I am speaking? SNOOOORRT!" and laughed out loud. Of course, I didn't explain why.

Live long enough, and everything becomes iconic, symbolic, or indexical. That doesn't mean it is explainable or funny to anyone but oneself. Quiet moments of silent laughter are best enjoyed in the privacy of one's own hallucinations.

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.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Always Connected and Getting Laid

The ease of today's communications technologies and the billions of dollars, yen, euros and smart rocks being invested to make them easier and more ubiquitous reveal the lust we as mammals have to communicate. That the communicative act is intimately tied to our sex drives seems obvious as well. That this comes with implications for social development and ettiquette follows. We make a communications technology, and the mammals decide based on its capacity to promote their sex lives if it is worth owning.

Or maybe this is a classic case of sensitivity to initial conditions and strange attractors. Geeks do the work of building this stuff and geeks are the demographic most overly addicted to 'strange'.

Or maybe I'm at fault. That's right. Me. len. It's my doing. There are things I said that seemed cute at the time but might have spawned web memes of a virulent nature:

  • Item 1

  • Item 2

  • Item 3

  • and I'll just have to live with that one. Bad act; bad karma. So sue me.

    As someone who doesn't have a cell phone, doesn't want one, thinks they are the spawn of Satannic forces emerging from the troll caves of high technology, watching my friends, neighbors and anyone who has $40 a month to spare become bionic players in a web of the trivial pursuit of excess intercourse, I must say I think it is a downward spiral. I learned to hate video games when PONG took over the living rooms and my friends quit having conversations or watching Kung Fu to go "THOK THOK THOK THOK". These digital devices are getting in the way of getting my way.

    Of course, our grandparents complained about TV and their parents complained about radio and their parents complained about telegraph and their parents complained about complainers. It could be that those who are getting laid are the objects of jealousy by those that aren't. That meme plays well on soap operas anyway. But those technologies didn't signal us with a three minute cheesy rendition of Smoke On the Water or chunkOfDebussy. Just as Muzak made music easy not to hear (a meme from Leonard Bernstein, rest his soul), our websphereOfCheapTalk is making it easier to get laid, cheaper, and possibly less interesting. I don't mind that you are out there rutting; I mind that you are making even more irritating noises while you prepare. There is a reason the cell phone vibrates. Make that connection and you'll turn off the ring tones.

    I bought the book "Wicked" for my daughter for Valentine's Day. The fact of not having a cell phone or a blog means she will actually read it. The Broadway show is NOT the book. The book is a meditation on evil. We'll talk about that when she is done. It's too deep a subject for Instant Messaging, and it might keep her away from boys just a little bit longer... at least until her Mother goes over my head and buys her a cell phone.

    And I won't protest. If I do, I won't get laid.

    Monday, February 14, 2005

    Random Thoughts

    Carly Fiorina: I will miss her terribly. Smart, foxy, an excellent speaker and the one woman in compSci who proved a glass ceiling can be shattered has left the building. At this point, she didn't make her numbers and in the high wire act of CEOs, that is the one thing one can't combine with political insolence and still survive. She leaves HP well-compensated and a major player who can choose her next job in comfort.

    Carly will be back. I'll be glad. Smart women improve the business. Smart beautiful women improve the species. You go, girl.

    National ID Cards: There are lots of reasons to have these, and from the point of view of a public safety vendor employee, we need them. On the other hand, technologies have implications and this one isn't safe to deploy without thinking these through. I am a lot more frightened of administrations than I am of the government per se. It won't be the government, but the current administration who abuses this stuff at the high levels of power. At the street level, the abuse will start on day one. Criminals don't waste opportunities.

    One prediction: because scanning RFIDs surreptitiously poses immediate dangers, wallets and purses could evolve quickly to make them unscannable, but that will raise hell with the airport scanners, so there will be specialty carry-on items for travel. Or, the modern version of the ID pocket protector will be devised. Whatever the shape of the solution, wherever there is fear or inconvenience, there is money to be made through innovation. That is how capitalism works. Radar guns spawn radar detectors. The cold war of technology is the engine of western economics.

    URIs Vs URNs Vs URLS: How can we still be having this argument on any serious technical list? The cost/benefit issues of having layered systems for name/identity management are so exhaustively documented one could list the issues on a Chinese restaurant menu. This is the one permathread that should become a classic and first year course in universities required of both the philosophy and computer science departments. That way, the students can get this out of their psyches before they enter the world of real work.

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