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{Saturday, April 24, 2004}

 
You crawl us and we'll crawl you

Dream of a true mythology (Part 2)

Steve Dietz: Ten Dreams of Technology
The collection of dreams includes: Symbiosis, Emergence, Immersion, World Peace, Transparency, Flows, Open Work, Other, New Art, and Hacking. The author notes that these dreams of technology have a future, even if it is not yet determined.

Topologies in Networks
"What I want to suggest is to think about a topology not only of objects, of materials and of behaviour, but a topology of networks, a topology of agency, of events and of subjectivity. Questions that can then come into view are: what is the 'place' of a translocal encounter, what are the social dimensions of a networked event, and what forms of distributed subjectivity can emerge from it?" Andreas Broeckmann

In Quest of the Tristero
What are the signifiers, signs and symptoms of these times in America?

Doctor Faustus and the Universal Machine
"Language become opaque. It becomes the world."

Thomas Pynchon - The Crying of Lot 49 (1966)
"For it was now like walking among matrices of a great digital computer, the zeroes and ones twinned above, hanging like balanced mobiles right and left, ahead, thick, maybe endless. Behind the hieroglyphic streets there would either be a transcendent meaning, or only the earth."

Ekphrasis, Escape, and Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49

"By process of elimination, one is no longer anything more than an abstract line, or a piece [....] It is by conjugating, by continuing with other lines, other pieces, that one makes a world that can overlay the first one, like a transparency. Animal elegance, the camouflage fish, the clandestine: this fish is crisscrossed by abstract lines that resemble nothing, that do not even follow its organic divisions; but thus disorganized, disarticulated, it worlds with the lines of a rock, sand, and plants, becoming imperceptible."
Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari - A Thousand Plateaus (Translated by Brian Massumi, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987, page 280)

Three-Toed Sloth: The Secret life of Plants - Cosma Shalizi
"The idea of using particles to do computation goes back at least to the Game of Life in the 1970s, and it's a pretty standard trick in studying CAs. (Here is a non-EvCA paper which does it, for instance.) Probably the most mathematically elaborate use of particle computation is Matthew Cook's proof that one of the most basic cellular automata rules (called "rule 110") is as powerful as a universal Turing machine. Universal Turing machines are equivalent to a kind of string-manipulation system called a Post tag system (named after the logician Emil Post, who invented them in the 1920s). Cook devised a variation on Post tag systems he called cyclic tag systems, and showed that they, too, are computationally universal."

Words to plants by Fatima Cvrckova
"What is the principle of L-system-based plant models? A summary of a hypothetical example (by and for a mathematically naive biologist) would go as follows: Assume that a plant body can be divided into a finite number of modules, structural subunits of a few well-defined types (such as terminal buds, internodes with leaves and axillar buds, flowers, fruit). Imagine that the plant develops in discrete time-steps, corresponding e.g. to the plastochron. Define what happens to each type of module in each time-step: e.g. terminal buds produce internodes and new terminal buds or flowers, depending on the context, flowers produce fruit, some axillar buds give rise to internodes and terminal buds, others remain dormant - again in a context-dependent manner. Describe the starting structure of the plant and the rules for module transformation in a formal language, first developed by Aristid Lindenmeyer in the sixties (hence L-systems). The module structure translates into "parametric words", with more-less empirical parameters, and the rules determining module fate take on the form of "productions" or "rewriting rules" for defining the context and replacing ancestor modules with their descendants according to this context. Let the model "develop", i.e. compute the module structure for many discrete time steps, and, last but not least, feed the formal descriptions of the results from each step into a program that produces a graphical representation. As soon as the mathematical description is formulated, the parameters (and numerical constants contained in the rewriting rules) are by no means restricted to empirically derived values. Exploration of the space of available parameter values reveals that the same model with different sets of constants can lead to structures reminiscent of a cherry tree, a plum tree or a fern leaf."

Do plants act like computers? Leaves appear to regulate their 'breathing' by conducting simple calculations (Nature - 21 January 2004)
Philip Ball: "Plants appear to 'think', according to US researchers, who say that green plants engage in a form of problem-solving computation. David Peak and co-workers at Utah State University in Logan say that plants may regulate their uptake and loss of gases by 'distributed computation' - a kind of information processing that involves communication between many interacting units. It's the same form of maths that is widely thought to regulate how ants forage."

Science News Online - Blood vessels (sans blood) shape organs
John Travis: It's obvious that organs maturing in a developing embryo need new blood vessels that will supply oxygen and other vital molecules. These fledgling blood vessels may do more, however. Even before blood begins to flow, the vessels provide signals that help give birth to organs, according to two studies of the development of the liver and pancreas.
[...] Blood vessels and many organs "develop hand in hand," concludes [Douglas] Melton. "That guarantees that when you have the final organ, the blood vessels are already there."

ABC Science News - The getting of plant wisdom
Cathy Johnson: "Human tribal communities are not the only ones who pass wisdom onto their juniors. Plants, it seems, do the same and this newly-discovered aspect of their behaviour may affect models of global climate change. British researchers have shown for the first time that mature leaves of a plant can pass on information about the level of light and carbon dioxide in their environment to developing leaves in the same plant. The youngsters respond by adjusting the number of stomata, or pores in the leaves."

Segmented spiral waves in a reaction-diffusion system by Vladimir K. Vanag and Irving R. Epstein
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) 100 (2003): 14635--14638
Abstract: "Pattern formation in reaction-diffusion systems is often invoked as a mechanism for biological morphogenesis. Patterns in chemical systems typically occur either as propagating waves or as stationary, spatially periodic, Turing structures. The spiral and concentric (target) waves found to date in spatially extended chemical or physical systems are smooth and continuous; only living systems, such as seashells, lichens, pine cones, or flowers, have been shown to demonstrate segmentation of these patterns. Here, we report observations of segmented spiral and target waves in the Belousov-Zhabotinsky reaction dispersed in water nanodroplets of a water-in-oil microemulsion. These highly ordered chemical patterns, consisting of short wave segments regularly separated by gaps, form a link between Turing and trigger wave patterns and narrow the disparity between chemistry and biology. They exhibit aspects of such fundamental biological behavior as self-replication of structural elements and preservation of morphology during evolutionary development from a simpler precursor to a more complex structure."

Susan Stepney reviews The Garden in the Machine
"Life is certainly a game, but it is not played according to fixed rules. The rules themselves can evolve, and during evolution old rules can ..."
Claus Emmeche

Sunday Painting: Art, the Web and the Global Information Society
"In 1968 Fluxus artist Robert Filiou, along with his friend George Brecht, introduced the idea of the FĂȘte Permanente, or Eternal Network.
[...] In his novel Idoru, William Gibson describes the Cyberspace of DatAmerica, a repository for all data, all traces of our electronic patterns no matter how mundane, and thinks that there might be a larger perspective. He wonders if in this information there might be a way of getting to "some other kind of truth, another mode of knowing, deep within grey shoals of information." As artists we need to explore the notion of what we can know from the information we connect with. What can the information we generate tell us about ourselves? Is there 'some other kind of truth'? Can we track people in a way that helps us bring to bear new ways of understanding, from their electronic traces? What kind of field craft do we need to learn to track these footprints? What kind of Art can we generate from making new links, new relationships and new ways of knowing?"
David Topping

Dropping Science Like Galileo Dropped the Orange: Arcana, Alchemy, & Cognitive Marrow
"Laney was not, he was careful to point out, a voyeur. He had a peculiar knack with data-collection architectures, and a medically documented concentration-deficit that he could toggle, under certain conditions, into a state of pathological hyperfocus. This made him, he continued over lattes in a Roppongi branch of Amos 'n' Andes, an extremely good researcher. (He made no mention of the Federal Orphanage in Gainesville, nor of any attempts that might have been made there to cure his concentration-deficit. The 5-SB trials or any of that.)
The relevant data, in terms of his current employability, was that he was an intuitive fisher of patterns of information: of the sort of signature a particular individual inadvertently created in the net as he or she went about the mundane yet endlessly multiplex business of life in a digital society. Laney's concentration-deficit, too slight to register on some scales, made him a natural channel-zapper, shifting from program to program, from database to database, from platform to platform, in a way that was, well, intuitive.
And that was the catch, really, when it came to finding employment: Laney was the equivalent of a dowser, a cybernetic water-witch. He couldn't explain how he did what he did. He just didn't know.
He'd come to Slitscan from DatAmerica, where he'd been a research assistant on a project code-named TIDAL. It said something about the corporate culture of DatAmerica that Laney had never been able to discover whether or not TIDAL was an acronym, or (even remotely) what TIDAL was about. He'd spent his time skimming vast floes of undifferentiated data, looking for "nodal points" he'd been trained to recogize by a team of French scientists who were all keen tennis players, and none of whom had had any interest in explaining these nodal points to Laney, who came to feel that he served as a kind of native guide."
William Gibson - Idoru (Penguin, 1997, page 25)

The Biological Notion of Self and Non-self

"Like all rich interconnected networks, the immune system generates internal levels through distributed processes. More precisely, a dynamic level of antibody/cell encounters regulates cell numbers and circulating levels of molecular profiles. This idea is strictly parallel to the species network giving an ecosystem an identity within its environment. The interesting consequence, of course, is that such an ecology of lymphocytes exists within the body which it affects and changes, and is affected and changed by.
The mutual dance between immune system and body is the key to the alternative view proposed here, since it is this mutual dance that allows the body to have a changing and plastic identity throughout its life and its multiple encounters. Now the establishment of the system's identity is a positive task, and not a reaction against antigens. The task of specifying the identity is seen here as both logically and biologically primary; the ontogenic antigenic history modulates that process.
This requires that the immune network -- like an ecosystem -- have a specific learning mechanism. And this mechanism is precisely based on the constant changing of the components of the network by recruitment of new lymphocytes from a resting pool in an active process that reaches up to 20 percent of all lymphocytes in a mouse, for example. It is this ongoing replacement that provides the mechanism for learning and memory, instead of the better-known learning algorithms for neural networks. In fact, from the theoretical standpoint, the flexibility of the immune system resembles the flexibility sought by current research in artificial intelligence known as genetic algorithms or classifier systems ..."
Francisco J. Varela and Mark Anspach - Immu-knowledge: The Process of Somatic Individuation; in Gaia 2: Emergence: The New Science of Becoming (Lindisfarne Press, 1991, page 79)

Ben Goertzel: The Evolving Mind - Chapter 6: The Ecosystem of Ideas

"The famous biologist August Weismann, at the end of the nineteenth century, developed the view that the organism is created by the growth and development of specialized cells, the "germ line," which contains microscopic molecular structures, a central directing agency, determining growth and development. In turn, Weismann's molecular structures became the chromosomes, became the genetic code, became the "developmental program" controlling ontogeny. In no small measure, the intellectual lineage is straight from Weismann to today. In this trajectory, we have lost an earlier image of cells and organisms as self-creating wholes."
Stuart Kauffman - At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity (Penguin, 1996, page 274)

The Dance of Understanding
"[...] A particular type of physiological correlation which could be useful in explaining the connection of bodyhood with behaviour is the sensory-effector correlation. The body surface, which is the interface between organism and environment, can be said to have a dual participation in the outer as well as the inner world. It has long been a feature of physiological explanation that surfaces are distinguished as sensory or effector according to their function, i.e. whether they detect external stimuli or implement some action. This is arbitrary, like all distinctions, and only a part of the story. The "double look" shows that sensing and effecting are one operation in an organisational sense. The simplest explanation of the process which we call cognition is a sequence of sensory-effector correlations at the organism's surface.
The autonomous operation of the nervous system - the changing relations of activity according to its own structural dynamics - at any moment in time, has the potential for a certain configuration of sensory-effector correlations at its surface. The organism's behaviour - its relations with the medium - also consists of potential sensory-effector correlations at the interface. Where these two sets of possibilities meet, we say a structural coupling occurs in that moment. The flow continues according to its own history of recursive interaction. Each coupling triggers the change which brings about the next possibilities, so the flow of behaviour and the flow of physiology are mutually modulating. The dynamic matching of internal and external sensory-effector correlations constitutes the course or history of structural coupling.
This is by no means a complete or adequate account of the behaviour/physiology interaction. Most of this still remains to be worked out. Our remarks provide a few elements of a particular way of looking at it (based on Maturana's explanations) which we think could be useful in our conversation. As observers we see certain things which we explain in our languaging - which then constitute our reality and also a sufficiently satisfying reality for those who wish to be in conversation with us. The utilitarian value of our particular explanation is the extent to which it provides a satisfying answer to the question: what is it that we would need to have observed so that we could agree that understanding had occurred?
It may look as if the nervous system is making computations to accommodate behaviour to the circumstances - as implied by the idea of "learning" - but we prefer the explanation that it is not part of the operation of the nervous system to have a representational "knowledge" of the medium. Therefore, we say the nervous system does not constitute behaviour, but it shapes the organism's participation with the medium by its pattern of possible sensory-effector correlations. The nervous system can generate adequate sensory-effector correlations as long as its flow remains congruent to that of the medium. We observe that the organism and its circumstances change together as long as they remain coupled. It is a dynamic congruence through recursive interaction along a path which is "laid down in walking." [3]
We see the flow of structural coupling in the image of a tightrope walker maintaining her balance by means of the exquisite structural dynamics of her bodywork intertwining with the precise behavioural dynamics of her footwork on the rope. She and the rope change together as long as their coupling lasts. There are times when the relationship is shaky and times when it is slick and smooth. Similarly the path ..."
Lloyd Fell and David Russell

Stuart Kauffman: Understanding Genetic Regulatory Networks
"Past work has focused on random Boolean networks, introduced by myself, and piecewise-linear models introduced by Glass. This work has shown that such systems behave in three broad regimes, ordered, critical, and chaotic. It is a fundamental question whether cells are in the ordered, critical or, implausibly, the chaotic regime. I will discuss classical random Boolean networks, and new work on scale free networks, and proposed work on "medusa networks". The scant data available support scale free or medusa networks. A large number of dynamical properties are open to study in these three ensembles, and companion experiments to assess whether real cells and organisms have properties close to one or another of these ensembles. Thereafter, additional predicted features should lead to iterative improvement of the ensembles that best match cells. In my view, the ensemble approach affords the most rapid pathway to initial understanding of complex genetic regulatory networks."

Geri Wittig - Landscape data and complex adaptive system Earth
"Kauffman's argument that fitness landscapes are non-random comes out of his work on Boolean networks. Fitness landscapes of an individual or network develop in parallel with other fitness landscapes. These landscapes can be thought of as nodes in a web of landscapes that determine the parameters for each other: enabling the network to establish the conditions for development. The ecology of the whole network is transformed by a change in one niche or landscape. Kauffman argues that coadapting networks evolve to the verge of a self-organized threshold where minor changes in one landscape trigger a rush of changes that move out through the entire network. Because of the complexity of the web of landscapes, possibilities are limited within a given network. Networks of fitness landscapes are inclined to settle into rhythms with cyclic patterns, functioning like attractors in dynamical systems. Functioning along a perimeter of divergence that is in constant flux, networks self-organize in somewhat stable patterns until another phase transition occurs. A bifurcation occurs resulting in the emergence of a new morphological type that remains relatively stable for a time, and then suddenly mutates or vanishes. Because this process is unpredictable by nature, it doesn't necessarily mean it is directionless. Instead of thinking of this process as teleological, self-organizing systems can be understood as following a teleonomic progression; a line of development that moves toward increasing complexity."

Tim O'Reilly: The Fuss About Gmail and Privacy: Nine Reasons Why It's Bogus
"Gmail is fascinating to me as a watershed event in the evolution of the internet. In a brilliant Copernican stroke, gmail turns everything on its head, rejecting the personal computer as the center of the computing universe, instead recognizing that applications revolve around the network as the planets revolve around the Sun. But Google and gmail go even further, making the network itself disappear into the universal virtual computer, the internet as operating system.
I've been dreaming this dream for years. At my conference on peer-to-peer networking, web services, and distributed computation back in 2001, Clay Shirky, reflecting on "Lessons from Napster", retold the old story about Thomas J. Watson, founder of the modern IBM. "I see no reason for more than five of these machines in the world," Watson is reputed to have said. "We now know that he was wrong," Clay went on. The audience laughed knowingly, thinking of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of computers deployed worldwide. But then Clay delivered his punch line: "We now know that he overstated the number by four."
Pioneers like Google are remaking the computing industry before our eyes. Google of course isn't one computer -- it's a hundred thousand computers, by report -- but to the user, it appears as one. Our personal computers, our phones, and even our cars, increasingly need to be thought of as access and local storage devices. The services that matter are all going to run on the global virtual computer that the internet is becoming."

Wladawksy-Berger Unplugged: 'The Net will transform everything' May 15, 2002
Wladawksy-Berger: "Grid computing is extending the Internet to be able to become a computing platform. Let me explain. The Internet is a great network with TCP/IP supporting all kinds of network accesses. It's a great communications mechanism with e-mail and instant messaging, and of course with the Worldwide Web, it's a fantastic repository of content.
We now want to take it to the next level in which applications can be distributed all over the Internet, and they can access all the resources that they need, and of course are allowed to access with the proper security even though they are distributed over the Internet. To have such distributed applications you need a set of protocols that everybody can use. That's what the grid community has been building, and that is what the grid computing is about."

Gridwars: parallel programming for survival
Grid computing and cellular automata are a potent combination

Do Plants Practice Grid Computing?
"Researchers are now exploring the possibility of using distributed computing with swarms of simple robots to carry out tasks, such as searching a landscape, more efficiently than a single, more sophisticated robot could manage."
Philip Ball

Computing on a Cellular Scale by Ivars Peterson
"The frenetic scurrying of ants around a nest may seem like much ado about nothing. There's method in the madness, however. All this activity adds up to ingenious strategies for collectively working out the shortest path to a food source, combining forces to move a large, unwieldy object, and performing other functions crucial to an ant colony's well-being.
In effect, astonishing feats of teamwork emerge from a large number of unsupervised individuals following a few simple rules. It's an example of self-organizing cooperative behavior, and it's found among ants, bees, and other social insects.
A similar type of teamwork appears to occur in plants."

Erica Klarreich: Computation's New Leaf
"[...] Plants may use computation to figure out how wide to open pores in their leaves, researchers propose in the January 27 [2004] Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The leaf pores, also called stomata, open to allow in carbon dioxide, which plants need for photosynthesis. However, open pores also let out water and so may dehydrate the plant. To balance these competing factors as environmental factors change, plants constantly adjust how many and how widely their pores are open.
The way that plants achieve this balance has been a mystery. There's no brain to coordinate the tens of thousands of pores, and individual pores seem to have no way of knowing what distant pores are doing.
At first, biologists thought that each pore simply decided independently what action to take. About 10 years ago, however, researchers noticed that large patches of pores frequently open and close in concert. More recently, Keith Mott, a biologist at Utah State University in Logan, discovered that over minutes, these patches of synchronization move about the leaf, often displaying complex dynamics.
He described these observations to physicist David Peak, a colleague at Utah State. They reminded Peak of patterns that turn up in cellular automata, a kind of distributed emergent computer."

Complexity and Stomatal Behavior
"Our research investigates the dynamics of stomatal networks in leaves as a possible example of computation in a multicellular, non-neuronal biological system. Stomata are tiny pores on the surfaces of leaves that regulate the exchange of gases between the plant and the atmosphere. By continually adjusting stomatal aperture a plant solves the problem of maximizing CO2 uptake while minimizing H2O loss. Stomatal systems are formally similar to networks of distributed computational elements that process and share information only locally. Simulations of such networks show that computation involving the entire network can emerge from local processing when the elements are correctly "wired" together. Stomata have been shown to exhibit complex collective behavior, and we hypothesize that this behavior implies that the plant solves its CO2/H2O constrained optimization problem by distributed, emergent computation."

From cellular mitosis to cellular automata by Michael D. Bayne
"A common characteristic of many biological systems is that of decentralized control. There are no ring masters in nature, no command central. The complex behavior that is observed must be explainable by some other mechanism. CAs give us the perfect environment for exploring systems with no central control."

Brian P. Hoke: Cellular Automata and Art
"Cellular automata (CA) manifest one of the most intriguing ideas in mathematics: from simple rules and algorithms, complex patterns and behavior can result. Underlying this is the notion of scale. The rule for state-change of cells in Von Neumann's computer is local; each cell 'sees' only its immediate neighbors. Yet the combination of the right initial conditions and the right local rule produces a global pattern which, when interpreted correctly, can instruct the arm to construct a replica of the computer. Cellular automata, of which Von Neumann's self-replicating automaton is just one example, also transmit information in an interesting manner. There is no moving piece that carries data from one portion of the automaton to another. Cells convey information by referencing their neighbors; without movement, data is transmitted across the automaton."

The Myth of Arbitrariness
"In recent years thanks to minute research in molecular biology it is becoming increasingly clear that the various workings of an organism can be understood as the self-organization of a system of information." Tateki Sugeno

The Self-Made Tapestry: Pattern Formation in Nature by Philip Ball
"Why do similar patterns and forms appear in settings that seem to bear no relation to one another? The windblown ripples of desert sand follow a sinuous course that resembles the stripes of a zebra or a marine fish. We see the same architectural angles in the trellis-like shells of microscopic sea creatures as in the bubble walls of a foam. The forks of lightning mirror the branches of a river or a tree. This book explains why there is more than coincidence in this conjunction of forms and structures. Nature commonly weaves its tapestry by self-organization, employing no master plan or blueprint but instead simple, local interactions between its component parts - whether they be grains of sand, diffusing molecules or living cells. And the products of self-organization are typically universal patterns: spirals, spots, stripes, branches, honeycombs."

Fibonacci Numbers and Golden sections in Nature
Ron Knott explores: "... the family trees of cows and bees, the golden ratio and the Fibonacci series, the Fibonacci Spiral and sea shell shapes, branching plants, flower petal and seeds, leaves and petal arrangements, on pineapples and in apples, pine cones and leaf arrangements."

Creativity and self-organization: contributions from cognitive science and semiotics

"Thought is not necessarily connected with a brain. It appears in the work of bees, crystals and throughout the purely physical world ..." Charles Sanders Peirce

The Self Is A Semiotic Process
Journal of Consciousness Studies, 1999, Vol. 6, No. 4, pages 31 - 47
"[...] Peirce treats the tendency of nature to follow patterns which, although they may seem deterministic, as more like interpretative habits. These habits are so highly prescribed at the physical level, that we refer to them as 'laws'. But as we pass from physical through biological towards psychological levels of organisation, habits move away from ineluctable physical laws and towards organic flexibility, eventually arriving at human self-awareness and freedom to choose. In this sense, evolution from physical through biological to cultural levels of organisation can be seen as a process of semiotic enrichment, the concentration of a primordial sentience in proportion to the degree of evolved order.
This enrichment enhances the transactions between organisms and their surroundings. When animals perceive patterns in their surrounding and use them to guide what they do, they are not only responding to stimuli but also interpreting signs. This semiotic coupling of perception and action is the product of both phylogenetic and ontogenetic learning. Both species and an individual animal learn to notice what their surroundings offer and to use what they learn in the service of action. This is what James Gibson called 'affordance' in his theory of direct perception (Gibson, 1979), a term for which he proposed an interesting ontological status:
"I mean by it something that refers to both the environment and the animal in a way that no other term does. It implies the complementarity of animal and environment." (page 173)
"An affordance is neither an objective nor a subjective property; or it is both if you like. An affordance cuts across the dichotomy of subjective-objective and helps us understand its inadequacy. It is both physical and psychical, yet neither. An affordance points both ways, to the environment and to the observer." (page 129).
Affordance, the directly perceivable meaning of the environment, is in these terms inherently attached to action. It implies a mutualist ontology in which stable relations between co-evolved things is taken as being as real as the things themselves (Still and Good, 1998). In Peirce's terms, affordance is a sign for which the organism acts as interpretant to produce action in a given situation as the object. Thus organisms do not merely respond to stimuli, but act on the basis of meaning."
John Pickering

The Fuller Map
"The only complete reading is that which transforms the book into a simultaneous network of reciprocal relations." J. Rousset

Daisaku Ikeda: Peace Proposals and Addresses
"Decades ago Rachel Carson warned us that the real challenge is not to master nature, but to master ourselves. One mission of Buddhism is to bring about realization of our individual potential, the "intrinsic nature" in each of us, while respecting all others. The term engi describes the eternal network of reciprocal relations between all things existing in mutual respect and mutual dependence. Each is unique, and all coexist peacefully, based on the direct apprehension of cosmic life inherent in all phenomena."

Utopia Theory
Philip Ball: As economics Nobel laureate Herbert Simon puts it: "We know that going to the Moon was a simple task indeed, compared with some others we have set for ourselves, such as creating a humane society or a peaceful world."

CNN.com - Author: Mars mission to inspire humanity - 16 April 2004

"It is easier to go to Mars than it is to penetrate one's own being." Carl Jung

Azim Nanji: Beyond the Clash of Civilizations
"We have the opportunity to investigate not only the human genome but the map of the human self. That is a difficult journey."

Review: Musca Domestica, Assembling the Shepherd

Descent and Return: The Orphic Theme in Modern Literature by Walter A. Strauss
Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1971

Bertolt Brecht: The Radio as an Apparatus of Communication
July 1932: "Quite apart from the dubiousness of its functions, radio is one-sided when it should be two. It is purely an apparatus for distribution, for mere sharing out. So here is a positive suggestion: change this apparatus over from distribution to communication. The radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public life, a vast network of pipes. That is to say, it would be if it knew how to receive as well as transmit, how to let the listener speak as well as hear, how to bring him into relationship instead of isolating him. On this principle the radio should step out of the supply business and organize its listeners as suppliers."

Radiocasting: Musings on Radio and Art by Dan Lander
"If we take an inquisitive look at the aesthetical conceptions during the last two centuries, it is striking that they are based on the ontology of the image, upon a static world-picture, that inadvertently ignores, makes impossible, the essence of media art; its dynamics, immateriality and time related form."
Peter Weibel (1991)

Ear benders
Pernille Rudlin: "I couldn't remember in a previous posting where I had seen a study on why overheard conversations on mobile phones are more annoying and intrusive than overhead conversations between two people nearby. The survey I was thinking of isn't this one - picked up by Jakob Nielsen - "Why are Mobile Phones Annoying?" Behaviour and Information Technology, vol. 23, no. 1, 2004, pp. 33-41, by Andrew Monk, Jenni Carroll, Sarah Parker, and Mark Blythe from York University. But it proves that mobile phones are more annoying than overheard face to face conversations (although not much more annoying than loud overheard face to face conversations) and suggests that this might be due to the fact that we cannot help paying more attention to a conversation when we can only hear half of it."

Art / Science: The Work of Jack Butler and a Perspective on Psychology
"[Jack] Butler graphically envisions the ego as composed of two layers of skin. The inner layer is represented by the physical body, a container which makes introjection possible. The second layer is an imaginary, or psychical body surface, capable of expansion and contraction. It is this psychical layer which allows for the inscription of meanings. It is an idea skin which is permeable, allowing exchanges. Butler utilizes the tense space between the containing and permeable aspects of the body-self as a site for the synthesis of opposites. Scientific research practice is representative of an intrusive practice, penetrating the self. Art acts as a unifying, integrating process which reconstructs the skin-ego or surface. The space between bodily and psychical egos is a space between art and science, between subjective and cultural meaning, between male and female. The extremes of these polarities become transparent, making one visible through the other, allowing a collapse of singularities into a more complex, layered view of the world."
Emily Butler

Adam Misbah'ul Haqq: What Is "Progressive Islam" Anyway?
"In ancient times, most religious traditions agreed on a cyclical articulation of time -- time was more or less a series of patterns which expanded and contracted regularly creating a sort of breathing cosmos, hence the rise and fall of civilizations and the birth and death of all living things. Since Darwinism first swept through the industrialized world, people have viewed time from the perspective of evolution -- humans began as abominable creatures (possibly an animal or other organism) and then evolved. This view of time sees humans as "progressing" into God. Such an ideology has fueled the ambition to world dominance.
Because the term "progressive" signifies that the goal of the approach is "progress," we must not only define "progress," but also identify the goal this "progress" hopes to attain.

Edward O. Wilson: Back From Chaos - The Atlantic 98.03

"It has now been put forward, by a scientist, that science with its distinctive form of logical thought depends on an act of affirmation by the scientist, personally, in what he is doing, and that this basic assertion of personal commitment can never be verified by any logical means. This is the theme of Polanyi's Personal Knowledge, and to this the reader is referred. It is the restoration of science once more to the company of the arts, giving science for its foundation the mythic or metaphoric or poetic situation where figure and agent become one and the same. Analysis, then -- logic, dialectic -- rest on a fundamental act of confidence and synthesis (or call it faith and love)."
Elizabeth Sewell - The Orphic Voice: Poetry and Natural History
(Harper & Row, 1971, Page 32)

Telegraph : Arts : The brains behind the brain
Blair Worden: "In what conditions does science advance? Scientists will tell you that its progress depends on the institutional security, and on the ample funding, of specialised research. Yet 17th-century England tells a different story. The scientific revolution throve on institutional anarchy, financial hardship, and the versatility of thinkers to whom boundaries of specialisation were unimaginable.
[...] The rise in the brain's status which Willis effected is revealed by the drawings, attractively reproduced in Zimmer's pages, with which Wren illustrated his findings. They portray the brain as a delicate, complex organ with the beauty of an orchid."

Integrating Knowledge With Needs

"I remember just before the First World War, I began to say that I didn't think nature had separate departments of Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Mathematics requiring meetings of department heads in order to decide how to make bubbles and roses! I had a suspicion that nature had just one department!"
R. Buckminster Fuller - Prevailing Conditions in the Arts (1964)

Doc Searls: Release early, release often [via urlgreyhot]
"Blogs are somewhere between conversation and Writing (with a capital W). They're printed blurts that lithify into word balloons that float in cyberspace for the duration, making them searchable transcripts of thinking-out-loud."

Note 31
For the Orpheus myth as "myth thinking about myth," see Elizabeth Sewell, The Orphic Voice: Poetry and Natural History (New Haven: Yale UP, 1960).

McLuhan and Holeopathic Quadrophrenia - Phase 1
"At electric speeds the hieroglyphs of the page of Nature become readily intelligible and the Book of the World becomes a kind of Orphic hymn of revelation."
Marshall McLuhan - Libraries: Past, Present, Future

Conceptual Integration Networks
Cognitive Science, 22(2) 1998, 133-187
"An organizing frame provides a topology for the space it organizes -- that is, it provides a set of organizing relations among the elements in the space. When two spaces share the same organizing frame, they share the corresponding topology and so can easily be put into correspondence. Establishing a cross-space mapping between inputs is straightforward when they share the same organizing frame."
Gilles Fauconnier & Mark Turner

Cognitive Blending and the Two Cultures
Examples by Steven H. Cullinane, March 5, 2004

Testo di riferimento

"In an important sense there are no subjects at all; there is only knowledge, since the cross-connections among the myriad topics of this world simply cannot be divided up neatly."
Ted Nelson - Computer Lib/Dream Machines

Chaos in the Virtual Library .......strange attractors in the design studio....... by John Wood
"A surprising fact, C, is observed. But if a proposition, A, were true, C would be a matter of course. Hence, there is a reason to suspect that A is true."
C.S. Peirce

The Glass Bead Game Archive : Game Four
"Elizabeth Sewell in The Orphic Voice (Yale, 1960) has made a profound argument for viewing poetry and biology as complementary aspects of a single (taxonomic) discipline (as some people, Hesse I think among them, view music and math as complementary)..."

Love Letters by the Score: Uncovering the Messages Hidden in Berg's Violin Concerto
The Independent [London] - 5 April 2004
"One of the questions that would-be code-breakers were asked by the War Office in 1940 was: "Can you read an orchestral score?" That is a perfect illustration of music's linguistic power both to reveal and to conceal. Ever since Pythagoras discovered that the sweetest harmonies were governed by the simplest mathematics, number has been regarded as this language's foundation. And gradually, musical numerology acquired religious significance.
In Bach's day, pieces of music governed by the number three, 12 or 33 were assumed to reflect, respectively, the Trinity, the Disciples and the years of Christ's life. Viennese Masons could read their own numerical messages in Mozart's Magic Flute. In some hands the game got terribly complicated, but it was often as simple as ABC."
Michael Church

posted by Andrew 4/24/2004 08:01:00 PM

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