Paddling Logs

Already the 3rd week of 2010 and I’ve still read only a smattering of the responses to the 2010 Edge Question “How has the internet changed the way you think ?”

This George Dyson response is a good one.

We used to be kayak builders, collecting all available fragments of information to assemble the framework that kept us afloat. Now, we have to learn to become dugout-canoe builders, discarding unneccessary information to reveal the shape of knowledge hidden within.

I was a hardened kayak builder, trained to collect every available stick. I resent having to learn the new skills. But those who don’t will be left paddling logs, not canoes.

Too true. More needs to be less.

And in fact that is a recurring theme. Dawkins concludes net gain, TBL for the Nobel Peace Prize even, after bemoaning the anonymized rubbish that pads out the web. For Dave Morin, context is more important than the content; Nassim Taleb, the degradation of knowledge … Kevin Kelly

My certainty about anything has decreased. Rather than importing authority, I am reduced to creating my own certainty — not just about things I care about — but about anything I touch, including areas about which I can’t possibly have any direct knowledge . That means that in general I assume more and more that what I know is wrong. We might consider this state perfect for science but it also means that I am more likely to have my mind changed for incorrect reasons. Nonetheless, the embrace of uncertainty is one way my thinking has changed.

More likely to have one’s mind changed for the wrong reasons. The mimetic risk – ideas that stick because they are “sticky” not because they are any good.

Those Unknown Unknowns Again

Healthy piece from Michael Blastland at BBC Go Figure on …

How wrong can we be?
Often more wrong than we think.
This is good – as in useful – to know.

Good to hear another sympathetic comment regarding Rumsfeld’s epistemology. Previously on Psybertron:
(Aug 2004) Robert Matthews invokes Rumsfeld on limits to scientific knowledge.
(Dec 2003) Geoff Cohen on Ignorance in Denial in the original kerfuffle ridiculing the Rumsfeld quote.

The real point is the problem with communicating doubt in an environment that demands certainties and no-surprises – without being drowned in scorn – now that’s a problem meme.

And a little more ammunition for the idea that ever more communication is not necessarily a good thing. Less is more, even when it comes to information.

more important than ever
to know who we can trust
to keep us well-informed

Well yeah – trust hits top slot again, and “well-informed” is about quality, not quantity. The theme emerging.


[Post Note: (2016) Nick Spencer of Theos:

invoking Rumsfeld’s epistemology in  the reality of electoral voting re Trump / Corbyn (delete as inappropriate).]

Standards Work is Torture

Tell me about it. Two very brief but excellent posts from Kevin Kelly on the need for and difficulties in technology standardization.

Standardization preceeds growth,
The process involves conflict and compromise.

And whilst I’m here, for my LinkedIn readers, here are links to …

My earlier W3C Fig 7 post,
The IEC-61346 Tag Lifecycle Figure : IEC-61346-4-Realization-Lifecycle

Trust at the Top

I keep banging on about this picture, so I thought I should share and explain it.

Semantic Web Levels (Figure 7 from W3C Kick Off in 2001)

No amount of proof, logic or science (not even computer science) can bundle trust within its communications. Trust comes from care, from humans, not systems.

Valuing the Free

Excellent post from Kevin Kelly. Lessons of why a fee-based – but free at point of use – model works in valuing the intangibles, and “products” that are perceived as “staples”.

Flat or monthly fixed pricing is one way of pricing “as if free.” ….. Subscriptions tend to emphasize and charge for intangible values: regularity, reliability, first to be served, and authenticity, and work well in the arena of “as if free.”

Road-Train – Now You’re Talking

I might be considered a bit of a luddite when it comes to automated sensors and navigational aids on private cars – I can never see the point of taking the human out of the loop – don’t believe the dumbing down can be net positive.

But this road-train idea I like. Totally guided – hands-off / brain-off freedom as in a train when linked to the lead vehicle, but private motoring when it’s the motoring flexibility and freedom you want. Can see the efficiency working if the cars themselves are hybrids – with performance when you want it.

Guess there must be a few failure modes to work out before this can go live ?

Planning Through Complexity

If this were adults rather than children perhaps the “piss-up in a brewery” metaphor might be more apt, but I love the dead-pan delivery of the choices in planning a childrens party from Dave Snowden at Cognitive Edge. I saw Dave do this a few years ago, so it’s good to have the video to share – the point is well made anyway.

“Cross that line you little ba****ds and you die.”