Search results for "information "

Inner and Outer

Author: joe

Wednesday, 01 February, 2012 - 15:04

The quantified self is a kind of nightmare. The self is not just what can be measured, transcribed and translated onto other substrates - tables, graphs, algorithms and numbers. Surely we are more than what can be summarised about us - our movements or our galvanic skin response; our imaged neuronal activity or our observable behaviour? Even were there a method for recording every outward event, each unit of information emitted from the system, it would surely be nothing more than the shell of a life, rather than the life itself? The sloughed skin rather than the being who cast it off? 'My inner world cannot be accounted for', objects the inner voice.

What is the character of the fear that haunts the rationalisation of human beings? What is the resistance to scientific accounts of human action - the behaviourist category itself, which casts the individual as a set of instinctual responses which can be conditioned; or the cybernetic vision of the human as servo-mechanism; the sociobiological thought which see cultures as mere derivatives of hunter-gatherer origins; the neurological system which turns our autonomy into something that emerges from statistical phenomena; the cosmological view which traces every event back to an origin which plays out deterministically according to unchanging laws; or the materialist explanation of the world as the extended evolution of the behaviour of atoms and particles?

In a conversation, two people speak past each other: the one is monosyllabic and reluctant, elsewhere; the other is insistent, 'listen to me, I'm trying to talk to you', unrelenting. The conversation is broken, it malfunctions, since communication is fraught and meanings are cut off. The reluctant, distracted absentee conversationalist is hurting, the injuries flood into her consciousness washing out all other intentions. The pain blushes in the solar plexus and shakes in the fingers. It stiffens in the neck. The voice of the other speaker is intermittent and confusing, it feels like an insect in the air that darts in and then away, and with each invasion it brings a sensation of being pushed and stirred, knocked back and forth.

The one talking barely notices the silent one's slight shiver, or the darkened brow. The lack of response is infuriating. With each occasion that the expected acknowledging nods and murmurs do not come, a creeping sense of futility is drowned by a exploding heat below and behind each ear. The voice starts to be uncontrollable, as the mid-point of every spoken breath becomes raised and petulant. 'I am uncared for, why do you not care?' The silent response is the click of a ratchet each time it intervenes where the contact should occur, and each winding moment is a slip further down the abyss, a further strain on the line attaching the voice to the world, until the snap happens, the teeth whirr back and the voice shouts incoherently 'LISTEN TO ME'.

Categories: cybernetics, feedback, information, measurement, inner experience,
Comments: 0

The Deep

Author: joe

Saturday, 30 July, 2011 - 21:39

The web has been described as The Shallows, a perspective whose subject position is firm-footed on the far-side of the Styx. The web is deep, The Deep. The early pioneers also mourned the loss of the low-lying fens of the embryonic web as a few inches of idiocy washed over man-made territory.

... every year in September, a large number of new university freshmen acquired access to Usenet for the first time, and took some time to acclimatise to the network's standards of conduct and "netiquette". After a month or so, these new users would theoretically learn to comport themselves according to its conventions, or simply tire of using the service. September thus heralded the peak influx of disruptive newcomers to the network [...]
Since that time, the dramatic rise in the popularity of the Internet has brought a constant stream of new users. Thus, from the point of view of the pre-1993 Usenet user, the regular "September" influx of new users never ended. The term was first used by Dave Fischer in a January 26, 1994, post to alt.folklore.computers:
"It's moot now. September 1993 will go down in net.history as the September that never ended."

Wikipedia, 16 July 2011, Eternal September, []

The strata in the body of the web are veined with magnetic powers - the repulsion of opposites, maintained initially by traditional class-like divides: pioneers vs carpetbaggers, early adopters vs noobs, experts vs laymen, serious cats vs your mum.

Here's one of the secrets they don't tell you when you first whip that modem out of its plastic wrapper and fight your way through arcane commands to log on: cyberspace is full of cliques.
Wendy Grossman, March 1997, The Making of an Underclass: AOL, []

The early, wide incursions into the rarified air of the web were not shallow. They were glacial, carving out abysses of information as they terraformed a new geology of media. The new Stygian divide became that between the commercials and professionals (academies, corporations) and auto-didacts (the amateurs that are you and I).

Another interesting point is that the old quality distinction between "authorities" & "experts" on one side and "dedicated individuals" on the other is nowadays slowly disappearing. We could even state -paradoxically and taking account of all due exceptions- that those that study and publish their take on a given matter for money and career purposes (most of those deep web "authoritative experts" and almost all the young sycophants from minor and/or unknown universities that hover around many proprietary databases) will seldom be able to match the knowledge depth (and width) offered by those that work on a given argument out of sheer love and passion.
fravia+, 12 February 2008, How to access and exploit the shallow deep web, []

Foundational, dialectical mythologies arose: the search engines index the useful web; the search engines get co-opted; the PageRank™ algorithm resists gaming; the indexed web becomes mere unwashed popularity. We must maintain the separate layers at all costs.

On the internet, there is no real underground anymore. So if you wanted to create an underground for yourself, the first thing you might do is generate a sort of lexical darknet by using keyterms search engines can’t parse.
Warren Ellis, 7 June 2010, †‡† (Cross Doublecross Cross?), []

The ongoing conflict between conservatism and progressivism continues inexorably. Emancipatory drives are reified, while solid old steadfasts melt into air: the veins migrate within the rock, metamorphically, changing state, but the strata always remain, somewhere. There are antinomies that will not be mixed.

This is the paradox of the underground: staying small means not being noticed (widely), but will mean being able to exist for probably an extended period of time. Becoming (too) big will mean reaching more people and spreading the texts further into society, however it will also probably mean being noticed as a treat, as a ‘network of text-piracy’. The true strategy is to retain this balance of openly dispersed subversivity.
Janneke Adema, 20 September 2009, Scanners, collectors and aggregators. On the ‘underground movement’ of (pirated) theory text sharing, []

In the metamorphism there are opportunities, Temporary Autonomous Zones which open up in moments of depressurisation, in deterritorialised spaces, but only for as long as the tectonic attention is driven elsewhere - or until the machine is hard-rebooted.

Island2 is a free software artwork by Martin Howse which creates "a semi-permanent, isolated island in the computer's memory". It's a program that firmly establishes its own space in the memory, unnoticed and inviolable. This empty, silent virtual zone, is only temporary autonomous, since it can be removed simply switching off or restarting the machine. But its "hidden territory" is fascinating, an unknown digital land invisibly established under the user's eyes, with no aim to take over any other system part., 12 March 2010, Island2, a squatted computer memory zone, []

The destabilisation always forces immiscible elements back into to their ever-moving homogenous conglomerations, flints in expanses of chalk. The factions shield themselves, striving to make their outer edges crystallise impenetrably, cryptographically. You may trace it, but not interpret.

Freenet is effectively a shadow of the web, with its own sites, forums and email services [...] Since Freenet sites don’t sit on servers, but on data stores spread throughout the network, they can’t be taken down, and because each communication between one computer and another is routed through other nodes, with each one only "knowing" the address of the next node and that of the last, Freenet's users can maintain high levels of anonymity.
On Freenet, nobody knows who you are, or what you’re looking at. Each system also contributes hard disk space, which is occupied by a data cache containing chunks of heavily encrypted data that the program can reassemble into Freenet forums and sites [...]
Freenet was the brainchild of a young Irish computer scientist, Ian Clarke, who came up with the idea during his studies at the University of Edinburgh in the mid-1990s. He wanted to "build a communication tool that would realise the things that a lot of people thought the internet was – a place where you could communicate without being watched, and where people could be anonymous if they wanted to be".
PC Pro, 9 March 2010, The dark side of the web, []

Data form into islands, inhabited but isolated; incommunicable to all but the secret agent, Charon, whose services cost one silver coin.

tar zxvf island2.tar.gz
cd island2
insmod ./island.ko

Martin Howse, 5 April 2010, island2, []

Categories: darknet, deep web, shallows, crytopgraphy, cliques, information,
Comments: 0

Feed fatigue

Author: joe

Tuesday, 30 May, 2006 - 23:46

Owing to a singular concatenation of events, such as Mars moving into Aquarius, a black cat crossing the grave of me in a previous life, dissertation marking and a wheelbarrow of work on my desk, I have just gone twelve whole days without reading any of the news feeds I subscribe to.

Catching up today has been cathartic (ruthlessly deleting swathes of unread feed items really helps you diagnose what you actually care about, and distinguish it from what you think you ought to care about). But it has felt rather like tunnel vision for the last couple of weeks - I realise that I miss that usual smug feeling I get when people send me emails linking to news stories I've already seen, or more particularly, when the BBC finally pick up a story the best part of a week after Slashdot or whoever. I guess I'm a bit of a git.

For the work I do, a large part of my time is spent putting together real world examples for case studies, seminar discussions, lectures and presentations. It has struck me how much pressure I do feel I put myself under to gather news stories and examples of web-flotsam, so that I have this material ready for use in teaching. Come the seminar, when I scrape a subject from my delicious links, I feel as though I have saved myself a huge amount of time; but actually I'm still spending all that time - probably more - staying abreast of a coupla-hundred RSS feeds every day.

I find it hard to consider that I might be any more or less well-informed than I was before the advent of the darned feed!

Categories: news, feed, RSS, information overload,
Comments: 0