I have an earlier link to Spring Publications, however they no longer publish the Spring Journal, that happens here at Spring Audio Journal and Books. See the site for who is who.
Archive for July, 2002
And a quote from the Interview:
One of the reasons that I use the term “Singularity” is to invoke the notion that it is something that you can’t see into or beyond. Nevertheless, I like to think about what things would be like afterwards! (Call me inconsistent, what the heck!) There are a variety of analogies that I can come up with to imagine the situation afterwards.
This essay was quoted in the Chapter by Lyle Burkhead (see earlier entry on Meaning. However Lyle Burkhead’s link did not work, but the Wayback machine found it. This is a real classic. Of course this ability to recall links from the dead upsets some people. I enjoy having this essa as it matches a book I have True Names: And the Opening of the Cyberspace Frontier celebrating Vinge’s idea. Here is an opening quote in the essay defining Singularity.
The acceleration of technological progress has been the central feature of this century. I argue in this paper that we are on the edge of change comparable to the rise of human life on Earth. The precise cause of this change is the imminent creation by technology of entities with greater than human intelligence.
Update: Actually it is available online without the Wayback Machine.
A big download but a nice example of what can be done on the web, and a great story. I recall having this typeface in letraset to make brochures and so on in the early 70s. Mastication Is Normal: Behind the Typeface
Update: I just noticed that on win98 I don’t see this font as intended. You can ask anyone with XP to sent you the coopbl.ttf file. I had to copy the fonts out of the special Windows/Fonts folder to a new folder in XP to see them.) On the Win98 machine in the Windows/Fonts folder I went to File > Install New Font, found the folder where I had saved them, Presto! I had a go at Stencil and Brush Script MT Italic as well We use both for some documents at Mt. Lyford Horse Treks.
I love art galleries, online too. Vincent van Gogh’s Emperor Moth is shown here from an exhibition at the National Gallery Of Art – Washington Interestingly the exhibition is over but the site, with commentary remains. I wonder if the Dutch museum has the same stuff online?
Van Gogh’s Van Goghs: Masterpieces from the Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam is no longer on view at the National Gallery of Art. Our exhibition-related Web features, however, are still available
I am noticing a particular style of futureology… I have not really grasped it fully, it might be a syndrome, which is a sort of illiteracy. Some tech has different meaning to others, and it is quite an art to get the difference. It is easy to over estimates the power and impact of technology as such, but underestimate the power and impact – i.e. meaning – of specific technology. Technology is media, it mediates between us and the world, and so lumping it all together as having one big impact – the message of technology – makes some sense. “Man is a tool using animal”.
But finer perception is needed. Looking at “technology” like that is to see all of the inventions in a meaningless way, like looking at the alphabet as 26 letters. The alphabet becomes more interesting once arranged in words, words have more meaning in their context too (Jaron Lanier mentions the importance of say, “I do” in certain contexts.) McLuhan was a literary critic and so looked at media with a sort of super-literacy. For example moveable type was, according to McLuhan and it makes sense, the fore-runner of the whole of industrialisation because it unconsciously impacted how we saw the world, as bits we could put together in different ways. Lego. The NET extends other media and exponentially extend moveable type, even if nothing more was ever be invented, we will be – are now – totally transformed once again, it keeps happening only faster and it is hard to notice.
Adding this link on Sunday, 25 August 2002: Vernor Vinge on the Singularity
I have argued above that we cannot prevent the Singularity, that its coming is an inevitable consequence of the humans’ natural competitiveness and the possibilities inherent in technology. And yet … we are the initiators. Even the largest avalanche is triggered by small things. We have the freedom to establish initial conditions, make things happen in ways that are less inimical than others. Of course (as with starting avalanches), it may not be clear what the right guiding nudge really is.
Here he makes it clear that some small tiny thing, unknown to us now could be triggering the avalanche. That allows the future to remain an unknown. This is from a 1993 article – better than the interview I post later.
I heard someone say in the movie about Stanley Kubrick, that 2001 was the first SF movie that left the future unknown.
An article in 21C Magazine by Jaron Lanier on the movie Minority Report including his role in talking it over with Speilberg. I think the futurology of the movie was flawed, but I like this last comment by Jaron:
… movie people as a whole have trouble understanding the joys of interactive media. It’s just a different culture. A dystopian movie about virtual worlds, like The Matrix, can make its way through Hollywood and be distributed, but a utopian movie about an interactive future seemingly cannot. Movie people are subliminally terrified by interactivity. It spells not only a loss of creative control, which movie people would miss more than you can imagine, but also a loss of business model. Napster lurks implicitly inside every shared virtual world that’s under the control of its users. The world that seems utopian to me is dystopian to Hollywood.
An essay by Steve Talbott it is available in NetFuture #125 I have since read it more fully and find I have two points to make (for now): One, it is about technology not cyberspace, which is fine of course, but the latter is so much more probing, and later in the debate this lack of an experiential perspecive becomes more important. He is machine not experience focused. Secondly, it is about the journey of the Self. It might sound esoteric, but Self even with a capital, is not the soul, the focus on Self places us in a different realm. Cliff Bostock, puts it this way in the Decoding Hillman essay.
For Hillman it is enough to continually deepen one’s sense of life’s beauty. This is soulmaking. We should not confuse the soul with the Self. The soul seeks and expresses difference. It delights in multiplicity. It confers meaning by processing images and, most important, it is not “inside” us. It is an “other.” It is with us. It is connected to the soul of the world, but it is most definitely not “us.” In Hillman’s world, we live as poets, not as Christs-in-training.
I mentioned this article in an earlier post, and there was mention of a conversation with Kevin Kelly on this topic. I am curious and have found these links:
The next issue of netfuture #126 where the discussion begins.
The debate goes on later… around a different topic but similar theme.
And again here:
Update, Sunday, 4 August 2002:
I have read all the above conversation and I recommend it. It is a discussion, in the end about machines having, or not having life. All the way through was struck by the absence of either ST or KK using the word soul, which is the essence of life, with its roots in the word breath. It is also linked in by Jung at least, with the word Anima, that which animates us. Let me deal with one point here before I stop updating this item:
There is always such a rock-bottom lifelessness in the machine, which betrays itself, not merely at the bottom, but at any level of description you choose. The organism, on the other hand, is enlivened from within, which means, among other things: all the way down.
I take this as meaning that KK is wrong because in the end, no matter how complex the machine it is just a whole bunch of little things like a hammer. I am with KK here, even a hammer is more than the sum of its parts, and while it is “made not born” it has soul. “All the way down” we have stuff with soul. It takes a knack to see it. Now that puts my response to them both in danger of being dismissed as “mystical”. OK, maybe, but it is experience that imbibes something with soul and experience is the basis of empirical science. Experience is in the realm of consciousness. Let’s role-reverse with a hammer and speak for it. I like the way ST suggests we do that with rats we use in experiments (though he uses different words.)
I will find a link for role reversal here before I stop updating this item.
I want to link to Moreno. He had a lot to say on all this in the 30s. Zoomatrons, God is dead but God enters the world on the psychodrama stage, in other words through the psyche, through this sphere that is neither matter or abstraction but medial to use a word I have heard from Clarissa Pinkola Estes, who attributes it to Toni Wolff. The medial is between the matter and spirit. (Page 289 Women Who Run With The Wolves) I also recall a word: metaxy, which points to the same idea.
Another item by Cliff Bostock, just great. Decoding Hillman. Images of James Hillman, which I will not reproduce here, out of respect for the man, though I support Cliff Bostock having them there, because they are central to his essay, but that’s enough. Cliff quotes “literalizing the process of deliteralizing,” Catherine Keller’s critical phrase in the article.
Hillman request that these words are not quoted beyond this site. I presume making the link is ok. A speech I’d say made on On October 21st 2001 The potent paragraph for me in this item is the one about psychology being beyond the human. When I read Re-Visioning Psychology for the first time I was *shocked * by the idea that there was a psychology that was not a humanism. I thought we were all humanists these days. It makes sense to me now to be humble enough to see us humans as a part of something bigger, and subject to forces we can barely tune into.
This is me right now. Self portrait. Drawing on the PC is hard, I’ll do more on the Palm, it is easier.
Several people have recommended the Plumb site in response to my post yesterday about visuals for the degrees of separation between words. This is a beautiful thing, but I now have this notion of conduit words, and would like to see all the ways of getting from say, sheep to soul. Or maybe the the top conduit words. Would they have a map? There would be so many ways to look at that data.
I see my journey in cyberspace as epistolary. The email is the return of the letter! It is an art. Are weblogs letters? In a way. The letter shown is from a site full of illustrated letters. I felt an affinity as I illustrate this weblog with pictures I like from the web. But I could make them! I’m inspired. Here is the commentary:
Painter John von Wicht (1888-1970) often personalized his letters with bold abstractions. In this note to his friend Will Barnet, von Wicht takes up a familiar topic among artists –the trade-off between teaching and painting. He also mentions his upcoming residency at Yaddo in Sarasota Springs, New York.
It is still hard for me to accept that the Net has a history. It feels like a very new thing. I am on it all the time, but I am still getting used to it. I still find it magical. It has gone very fast for me. I was here early by some standards, and had a sense of its potential, but then it passed me by somewhat. That “book” about Psyberspace is still a dream. Not a dead dream, mind you. The Wayback Machine (which I have linked to before) has a Web Pioneers feature. And yes, it all looks like the past. Pioneer websites.
What attracted me to the pioneer item was stumbling upon (not with the software agent, but by reading my zine linked earlier) an item we had on the old BBS by Bruce Stirling. This is pioneering work I enjoy, and it reads well now 11 years? later. Nice easy style. I think I’ll quote from it often.
Here’s the President of the United States speaking at a library in 1890.
“The boy who greedily devours the vicious tales of imaginary daring and blood-curdling adventure which in these days are far too accessible will have his brain filled with notions of life and standards of manliness which, if they do not make him a menace to peace and good order, will certainly not make him a useful member of society.” Grover Cleveland hit the nail on the head. I feel very strongly, I feel instinctively, I feel passionately that I am one of those nails. Not only did I start out in libraries as that greedy devouring boy, but thanks to mindwarping science fictional yellow-covered literature, I have become a menace to Grover Cleveland’s idea of peace and good order.
Far too accessible, eh Mr President? Too much access. By all means let’s not provide our electronic networks with too much access. That might get dangerous. The networks might rot people’s minds and corrupt their family values. They might create bad taste. Think this electrical network thing is a new problem? Think again. Listen to prominent litterateur James Russell Lowell speaking in 1885. “We diligently inform ourselves and cover the continent with speaking wires…. we are getting buried alive under this avalanche of earthly impertinences… we… are willing to become mere sponges saturated from the stagnant goosepond of village gossip.”
The stagnant goosepond of the global village. Marshall MacLuhan’s stagnant goosepond. Who are the geese in the stagnant pond? Whoever they are, I’m one of them. You’ll find me with the pulp magazines and the bloodcurdling comics and the yellow-covered works of imaginary daring. In the future you’ll find me, or my successors, in the electronic pulps. In the electronic zines, in the fanzines, in the digital genres, the digital underground. In whatever medium it is that really bugs Grover Cleveland. He can’t make up his mind whether I’m the scum from the gutter or the “cultural elite” — but in either case he doesn’t like me. He doesn’t like cyberpunks.
He doesn’t like cyberpunks. That’s not big news to you people I’m sure. But he’s not going to like cyberpunk librarians either. I hope you won’t deceive yourselves on that score.
The article, Understanding Internet – Extension of Media is interesting for the idea in its title, which it explains well on a practical level, e.g. Net phone extends the phone. However, the authors do not appreciate the fullness of their insight. Media is the extension of man, and the Internet is the extension of media! That is powerful if we think of the potency of McLuhans insight in the first place.
Media = extension of our senses
Internet = an extension of Media
The implications (which the article does not explore) of McLuhan’s insight included the way media impacted our sense ratios and how, as it extended, it also amputated.
As media extends it amputates old media. The music recording industry for example is running around like a wounded bull. And what happens to the sense ratios in “man” under this exponential eruption!
It has been noted by a more than a few who try to place the Net in McLuhans sensory schema that the Internet is an extension of the nervous system. Well, it has stopped making sense. We have moved into a realm where this exponential leap has finished off the senses and is now working on the psyche, cyberspace is an extension of the soul.
It is for this reason that simply looking for a metaphor that will fit in the way metaphors have worked for other phenomena will not satisfy. How does Psyche in the story of Eros and Psyche relate to the psyche? Could she be the goddess of cyberspace? How is Psyche extended? What is amuptated?
More sites on this theme:
Item last updated Monday, 26 August 2002.