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{Monday, February 02, 2004}

Intelligence? What intelligence?

The Onion : God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule
News flash: 'God's will' equals 'Don't murder people.'

BBC NEWS: Programmes: Newsnight: Terror network
"Mullah Krekar has been of concern to intelligence agencies around the world. They tracked his labyrinthine trail across Asia and Europe. The Dutch had found Krekar with what looked like an inventory of Ansar's fighting capabilities. They had "enough supplies for five or six months of warfare on the front or two years or more for fighting as guerillas." Back in Norway, Krekar was acquitted of a subsequent terrorism charge on the grounds that his group was waging war and thus couldn't be considered terrorist. From Oslo, Khalid Ahmed runs an Islamist website. Norwegian prosecutors believe his brother, Mullah Krekar, has been doing the same, but he's been using the internet to command Ansar terrorists. The Norwegians are holding Mullah Krekar in connection with two Ansar bombing attempts in Northern Iraq. They say they've plenty of witnesses, most notably this young would-be suicide bomber who was thwarted before he could self-detonate. As well as demonstrating his failed technique, he's made a lengthy confession saying he was trained and inspired to kill by Mullah Krekar. Before the cameras his mother heaps her wrath on Krekar."

MediaGuardian.co.uk - Media: Crisis? What crisis?
"Though the Gilligan affair reflected badly on the BBC, it should be seen as a hiccup, not evidence of a breakdown in its culture. Campbell knows that too: in an unreported speech at a function last week he said with great sincerity how much he respects the BBC. That really is an example of drawing a line and moving on."
Roy Greenslade

BBC News: Politics: Campbell takes centre stage by Brian Wheeler
"Then the impossible happened. The first question from the audience left him lost for words.
Did he think his obsessive nature was due to the fact that he had been an alcoholic. Was he, in fact, a "dry drunk"?
Campbell took a drink of water."

Dissent Magazine - Winter 2004 - A Friendly Drink in a Time of War
"The left doesn't see because -" thump!-"George W. Bush is an unusually repulsive politician, except to his own followers, and people are blinded by the revulsion they feel. And, in their blindness, they cannot identify the main contours of reality right now. They peer at Iraq and see the smirking face of George W. Bush. They even feel a kind of schadenfreude or satisfaction at his errors and failures. This is a modern, television-age example of what used to be called 'false consciousness.'"
Paul Berman

AlterNet: Waging War on the BBC
"I'm not a disinterested by-stander. My most important investigations, all but banned from U.S. airwaves, were developed and broadcast by BBC Newsnight, the program where Watts works.
Will an iron curtain descend on the news?"
Greg Palast

Comfort of strangers - David Sexton
"The most intriguing literary event last year wasn't the arrival of Harry Potter No5, or the waste of the Booker Prize on DBC Pierre, nor even the potty elevation of JRR Tolkien in The Big Read. It was the rise of the literary weblog.
All weblogs boomed last year - but literary weblogs boomed to more purpose than most. "So far the internet is behaving more like a print medium than television, which seems to make it especially attractive to writers and readers," says one Canadian blogger, Alex Good (goodreports.net). And as publishers and the mainstream media become ever more obsessed with bestsellers and celebrities, book blogs are now an essential antidote for many readers.
A year ago I rarely looked at blogs. Now I do most days - not only are they highly informative, they also create a sense of odd community across continents and time zones. Reading is a fundamentally solitary activity, which is why readers seek other readers, trying to create a sense that they are participating in a shared activity."

My So-Called Blog
"[...] Back in the 1980's, when I attended high school, reading someone's diary would have been the ultimate intrusion. But communication was rudimentary back then. There were no cellphones, or answering machines; there was no ''texting,'' no MP3's or JPEG's, no digital cameras or file-sharing software; there was no World Wide Web -- none of the private-ish, public-ish, superimmediate forums kids today take for granted. If this new technology has provided a million ways to stay in touch, it has also acted as both an amplifier and a distortion device for human intimacy. The new forms of communication are madly contradictory: anonymous, but traceable; instantaneous, then saved forever (unless deleted in a snit). In such an unstable environment, it's no wonder that distinctions between healthy candor and ''too much information'' are in flux and that so many find themselves helplessly confessing, as if a generation were given a massive technological truth serum.
A result of all this self-chronicling is that the private experience of adolescence -- a period traditionally marked by seizures of self-consciousness and personal confessions wrapped in layers and hidden in a sock drawer -- has been made public. Peer into an online journal, and you find the operatic texture of teenage life with its fits of romantic misery, quick-change moods and sardonic inside jokes. Gossip spreads like poison. Diary writers compete for attention, then fret when they get it. And everything parents fear is true. (For one thing, their children view them as stupid and insane, with terrible musical taste.) But the linked journals also form a community, an intriguing, unchecked experiment in silent group therapy -- a hive mind in which everyone commiserates about how it feels to be an outsider, in perfect choral unison.
For many in the generation that has grown up online, the solution is not to fight this technological loss of privacy, but to give in and embrace it: to stop worrying and learn to love the Web. It's a generational shift that has multiple roots ..."
Emily Nussbaum

Marshall McLuhan - Understanding Media (1964)
"The principle of self-amputation as an immediate relief of strain on the central nervous system applies very readily to the origin of the media of communication from speech to computer.
Physiologically, the central nervous system, that electric network that coordinates the various media of our senses, plays the chief role. Whatever threatens its function must be contained, localized, or cut off, even to the total removal of the offending organ. The function of the body, as a group of sustaining and protective organs for the central nervous system, is to act as buffers against sudden variations of stimulus in the physical and social environment. Sudden social failure or shame is a shock that some may "take to heart" or that may cause muscular disturbance in general, signaling for the person to withdraw from the threatening situation.
Therapy, whether physical or social, is a counter-irritant that aids in that equilibrium of the physical organs which protect the central nervous system. Whereas pleasure is a counter-irritant (e.g., sports, entertainment, and alcohol), comfort is the removal of irritants. Both pleasure and comfort are strategies of equilibrium for the central nervous system.
With the arrival of electric technology, man extended, or set outside himself, a live model of the central nervous system itself. To the degree that this is so, it is a development that suggests a desperate and suicidal autoamputation, as if the central nervous system could no longer depend on the physical organs to be protective buffers against the slings and arrows of outrageous mechanism. It could well be that the successive mechanizations of the various physical organs since the invention of printing have made too violent and superstimulated a social experience for the central nervous system to endure."

Don't look now, Louise, but somebody's hacking your neural net
"The Avatamsaka Sutra speaks of Indra's Net. This cosmology portrays the universe as a vast net or web with a jewel at each of the innumerable nodes -- the intersections of each strand of the net. Each jewel mirrors every other jewel in the infinite cosmos, so that each node contains all moments of time -- past, present, and future -- and all of infinite space. This is of course a religious concept, but it also happens to be a pretty darn good ...
McLuhan's theory of media is that each extension of our body is a medium. The shoe, and eventually the wheel, is an extension of the foot. Print is an extension of the eye. Clothing is an extension of the skin. His use of the term "medium" is rather extensive. Now ... he says, we have managed to extrude our central nervous system [...] This helps to explain some of the dislocation and disorientation we experience ..."
Ross Bender

Control/Anti-Control: Technology & Intelligence by Adam Wygodny
"Observation is one of the most important facets of intelligence and Sun-Tzu long ago advocated using spies to observe the strength and organization of one's adversaries. Indeed, the Oxford English Dictionary traces the root of the word 'intelligence' back to the Latin intellegere, which means to realize or understand; which is a derivative of the stem 'lego' that denoted the making of a deputy or the delegation of authority. However, another use of the stem lego includes the actions of collecting or gathering. Yet another use of the stem can mean to pass through, traverse, or coast along a place; and a final use of the stem has the meaning of selecting or choosing (Cawley). One can then conceive of intelligence as an understanding by delegated authorities achieved through the collection of information or the traversing of a place."

There is no Maginot Line of the brain
"I have spoken of machines, but not only of machines having brains of brass and thews of iron. When human atoms are knit into an organization in which they are used, not in their full right as responsible human beings, but as cogs and levers and rods, it matters little that their raw material is flesh and blood. What is used as an element in a machine, is in fact an element in the machine. Whether we entrust our decisions to machines of metal, or to those machines of flesh and blood which are bureaus and vast laboratories and armies and corporations, we shall never receive the right answers to our questions unless we ask the right questions."
Norbert Wiener

Dragon Flying through the Clouds
"Hidden in the caverns of inaccessible mountains, the dragon awaits the time when he slowly rouses himself to activity. He unfolds himself in the stormclouds; he washes his mane in the blackness of the seething whirlpools. His claws are in the forks of the lightning, his scales begin to glisten in the bark of rain-swept pine trees. His voice is heard in the hurricane which, scattering the withered leaves of the forest, quickens the new spring.
The dragon reveals himself, only to vanish."
Okakura Kakuzo

Italo Calvino + Hammorabi + Alamut

"We are but whirlpools in a river of ever-flowing water. We are not stuff that abides, but patterns that perpetuate themselves. A pattern is a message, and may be transmitted as a message. How else do we employ our radio than to transmit patterns of sound, and our television set than to transmit patterns of light? It is amusing as well as instructive to consider what would happen if we were to transmit the whole pattern of the human body ..."
Norbert Wiener - The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society

la matièreréflexive + Socio-Cybernetics and Norbert Wiener

"The fact that we cannot telegraph the pattern of a man from one place to another seems to be due to technical difficulties, and in particular, to the difficulty of keeping an organism in being during such a radical reconstruction."
Norbert Wiener - The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society

"Images, imagination, and memory of cities are intimately linked, and thus I want to turn to descriptions of two different types of artificial memory, so that they may give us some insights into our contemporary crisis of representing invisible cities. The "classical art of memory," as described by Frances Yates, depended on the mental construction of an imaginary but complex architectural setting that contained a series of places, or loci. In these places, vivid images or icons symbolically representing what was to be recollected were mentally stored. In order to remember the parts of a speech, for example, the orator imaginatively followed a path through the sequence of rooms, or topi, where the symbols had been placed, encountering the images one by one and recalling the ideas or arguments that the images represented.
Yates also describes another, lesser-known art of memory. Developed by Ramon Lull, it differs considerably from the classical method in that there are no striking images, and there is nothing to excite recall though resemblance or similitude. Instead, the concepts were designated by letters; it was, in other words, an abstract art of memory. Movement and change were introduced into this static system not by mentally reenacting a promenade through a fixed and memorized spatial container of icons, but instead by using a set of revolving concentric circles marked with letters standing for concepts, which enabled a recombinatory play of these concepts. In this mathematical art of memory, the meaning thus changed with respect to the level of the circle on which a given letter was located -- that is, the context that was being used. It required memorizing the principles and procedures of Lull's art and then investigating the combinations through a series of questions and answers. These two arts of memory can help us explore the question of the imageability of cities in the age of electronic communication."
M. Christine Boyer

AS Byatt on the lure of the fairy tale [via BBJ]
"An all-important part of our response to the world of the tales is our instinctive sense that they have rules. There are things that can and can't happen, will and won't happen - a prohibition is there to be broken, two of three brothers or sisters are there to fail, the incestuous king will almost always dance at his daughter's marriage to the prince in whose court she has found refuge as a kitchen slave, or a goose girl. Lüthi brilliantly compares the glittering mosaic of fairy tales to Hermann Hesse's The Glass Bead Game. As a little girl I compared it in my mind to the pleasures of Ludo and Snakes and Ladders and Solitaire played with cards, in which only certain moves are possible and the restrictions are part of the pleasure. As an adult writer I think that my infant synapses grew like a maze of bramble-shoots into a grammar of narrative - part of the form of my neuronal web as linguistic grammars are - and mathematical forms."

Reflections by Daniel Dolinov
In a lecture delivered in November of 1967 in Turin, entitled "Cybernetics and Ghosts," Italo Calvino talks about the totality of human activity vis-à-vis language: "The number of words was limited, and, faced with the multiform world and its countless things, men defended themselves by inventing a finite number of sounds combined in various ways." (From "Cybernetics and Ghosts" the first in a collection of essays called "The Uses of Literature" by Italo Calvino published in 1986 by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, page 3)

Italo Calvino and hypertext

"Literature is a combinatorial game that pursues the possibilities implicit in its own material, independent of the personality of the poet, but it is a game that at a certain point is invested with an unexpected meaning, a meaning that is not patent on the linguistic plane on which we were working but has slipped in [...] The literature machine can perform all the permutations possible on a given material, but the poetic result will be the particular effect of one of these permutations on a man endowed with a consciousness and an unconscious, that is, an empirical and historical man. It will be the shock that occurs only if the writing machine is surrounded by the hidden ghosts of the individual and of his society.
To return to the storyteller of the tribe, he continues imperturbably to make his permutations of jaguars and toucans until the moment comes when one of his little tales ..."
Italo Calvino - The Literature Machine (Picador, 1989, page 22)

Perforations: Hypertext Narrative by Michael Joyce
"Hypertext narratives become virtual storytellers and narrative is no longer disseminated irreversibly from singer to listener or writer to reader. It exists instead as a cycle in which readers become co-authors and artificially intelligent systems "read" their responses. At the moment, most interest centers on the machine side of this cycle, focusing on hypertext or virtual reality systems and intelligent agent/navigators that can structure or generate narratives. However, even in a system which generates narrative, interaction is the assumption of authority over the replacement of one writing by another. Thus the human side of the cycle demands primary attention.
To do so, the primacy of the text must be marginalized. The reader declares independence from the software agent and the contingent structure of the virtual reality alike. If the reader is programming, the reader is programmed. Hypertext narrative asserts the authority of the individual reader, no longer privileged and centralized by the system of the text but rather by her reading itself. "Once we have dismantled and reassembled the process of literary composition, the decisive moment will be that of reading" says Calvino, "even though entrusted to machines, literature will continue to be a 'place' of privilege within human consciousness, a way of exercising the potentialities contained in the system of signs belonging to all societies at all times."

Hypermedia and the three labyrinths by Lucia Leão
1.2.3. The active reader
"The concept of flexible text requires and creates an active reader. As Quéau says: "new forms of mental navigation will be necessary to reencounter oneself in the informational labyrinths in constant regeneration".(7) In the hypertextual systems, every reader is also the author of what he is reading. We talk about active readers, regular authors, works in permanent change. We may, more than ever, review the question of the classic dichotomy subject-object.
Pierre Levy dissolved this dualistic division in a very interesting way when he sketched the program of a Cognitive Ecology. (8) If we consider the intelligence, or cognition, as the result of complex nets in which a great number of actors interact (human, biological, and technical), the scenario of interactions allows more complex reading. The hypermedia systems allow us to builds a paradigm of theoretical possibilities.
2. The organization of complexity
The hypermedia systems represent an excellent example on the paradigm of complexity. We will use the term complexity as described by Morin, that is, as something, which is woven as a whole. (9) What defines the weave of the complexus cloth is that it is formed by a circular game in which the binomials order/disorder, chance/determination, interaction/retroaction are conjugated in an infinite and simultaneous way.
Thus, in the concept of complexity, one cannot exclude the "simple". This is one of the most interesting paradoxes to be observed in the hypermedia systems. Each knot of the net, each "home page", each page of a CD-ROM must be conceived from the principles of clearness, coherence, strictness, order, precision. In this sense, simplicity and clearness are constitutive elements, passage bridges to a greater complexity. A hypermedia system presents as reality the articulation and organization of complexity. We may say hypermedia is only accomplished when there is interaction between the conjugated pairs."

BBC News: Magazine: Media studies: The next generation by Jonathan Duffy
As the number of media studies students rises again, children as young as three could soon be taking lessons in "media literacy". What will they be learning?
Media studies, the butt of many a joke about declining standards in academia, is more popular than ever in the lecture halls across the country according to new figures. Last year saw a rise of 15.8% in the number of students on such courses. In future however, children as young as three may be learning in the most basic way the sort of skills that are taught on such courses.
Media literacy is the buzzword. Already part of the national curriculum in England for older children, the government also wants primary school pupils to have a greater understanding of the hidden depths of TV, films and other media. More than ever before, children are immersed in a media-saturated world and exposed to television in particular. A third of children under the age of four have a TV in their bedroom, as do more than half of under-16-year-olds. On average, children spend two-and-a-half hours a day watching the box.

Hypermedia and Synesthesia by James C. Morrison

Words are not signs
"Thought is nested in speech, not in texts, all of which have their meanings through reference of the visible symbol to the world of sound. What the reader is seeing on this page are not real words but coded symbols whereby a properly informed human being can evoke in his or her consciousness real words, in actual or imagined sound."
Walter Ong - Orality & Literacy (Routledge, 1989, page 75)

Matt Webb: Thoughts on hypertext

"Mallarmé wrote his most difficult poem, Un Coup de Des, in newspaper format. He saw, like Joyce, that the basic forms of communication -- whether speech, writing, print, press, telegraph, or photography -- necessarily were fashioned in close accord with man's cognitive activity. And the more extensive the mass medium the closer it must approximate to our cognitive faculties."
Marshall McLuhan - The Medium and the Light (Stoddart, 1999, page 161)

Children of the Code
"When we read, we are taking a code and we are getting instructions from that code to do a series of cognitive processes. And so what we are actually doing is enacting a cognitive performance in response to a set of instructions."
Johanna Drucker

Art21 - The Alphabet Synthesis Machine (Introduction)

"Every orientation presupposes a disorientation. Only someone who has experienced bewilderment can free himself of it. But these games of orientation are in turns games of disorientation. Therein lies their fascination and their risk. The labyrinth is made so that whoever enters it will stray and get lost. But the labyrinth also poses the visitor a challenge: that he reconstruct the plan of it and dissolve its power. If he succeeds, he will have destroyed the labyrinth; for one who has passed through it, no labyrinth exists."
Hans Magnus Enzensberger - Topological Structures in Modern Literature (1966)

DagZine: Positions, Poetics, Populations + Kristin Thomas: Spam Poetry

"Just as entropy is a measure of disorganization, the information carried by a set of messages is a measure of organization. In fact, it is possible to interpret the information carried by a message as essentially the negative of its entropy, and the negative logarithm of its probability. That is, the more probable the message, the less information it gives. Clichés, for example, are less illuminating than great poems."
Norbert Wiener - The Human Use of Human Beings: Cybernetics and Society

Dr Strangelove's Game reviewed by Roger Frantz
"The book begins with the Greeks and Romans, and then moves to Judaism and Christianity, but also includes Islam. It covers traditional topics such as the mercantilists and physiocrats, the classical economists, American Institutionalists, money and business cycles, and Keynes."

Electrolite: "Weapons of mass destruction-related program activities"
Kevin J. Moroney comments: "Back on the question of who inspired Dr. Strangelove, I'm quite surprised that no one here nor in the alt.movies.kubrick FAQ mentioned John von Neumann, who spoke with a thick Eastern European accent, attended Atomic Energy Commission meetings in a wheelchair, and advocated nuclear first strike against the Soviets on game-theoretical grounds."

Guardian Unlimited Film: Interviews: Cinema's subversive librarian
"The history of cinema is really the history of music," says Figgis. "If you look at Hitchcock and see what Bernard Herrmann is doing, you become aware that the whole European avant-garde had made its way, through the refugee movement, from Europe to America and from America to Hollywood. You will hear an atonal piece of music in a thriller that is highly effective because it bypasses a cliched romanticism of conventional harmony. You listen to Bartok's Music for Percussion, Strings and Celeste, which Kubrick used, and it's frightening and powerfully eerie. A mainstream audience will be enthralled and happy to be listening to this avant-garde music, but they wouldn't dream of buying a piece of music by, say, Charles Ives. That is one of the more interesting subversive possibilities of film."
Should there be any time left at the end of the working day, it seems that Figgis might indulge in a spot of filing. "Billy Forsyth said to me: 'Everything we do now is about highly advanced filing clerk techniques.' He's right: if you don't develop your own filing system you can't function in the digital world, and now I have an arranged marriage between my computer and a stock of high-quality notebooks. You've got to catalogue your ideas. We're all librarians at heart, aren't we?"

Beauty and the Beast
La Belle et la Bête

Is that you, Clarice?

Au Lecteur
Tu le connais, lecteur, ce monstre délicat

posted by Andrew 2/02/2004 05:16:00 PM