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• Small Pieces From 2002-06-14 •

The point is that the links on the web are created by people, so they can be as allusive or nuanced as you like. Connotative connections are harder to represent,a s they need more description, but as we can all create and promulgate our own taxonomies now, the chances of something subtler being found is higher. The kinds of links you are talking about are more likely to show up as an essay describing the links between two hard-linked works. What woudl show up as a classical allusion for the literary elite can now be directly connected to a telling of the tale, whether by an explict link or through the emergent intrasubjective indexes of Google.

What we need is a good way to express collections rather than links.

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks00:13 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-06-13 •

I fear I have to agree about these taxonomical games. They are calls, and much more rudimentary ones than those transpiring among actual birds, bees, etc. But yes, "looking for links among ourselves" is one of the big things going on here, and I will try not to listen to that wretched song in my head as I add, there might be a bit of a conundrum here. The links that I suspect turn out to matter, over time, are those created via intersubjective relationships - i.e., wit, tone, style, the connotative stuff of expression. Whereas, links on the Web tend to be binary, on/off, hot-or-not kinds of binary data links, i.e., denotative.

Is there a sense in which the geekly Web in its current form works ''against'' (or at least does not work "for") complex connotative connections?

Loosely joined by tom16:18 UTC

Identity: DIY only
I read Burningbird's item about categorizing her blogroll for a day, and can concur with the sense of wrongness she felt. I considered it briefly once, but I'm even slightly uncomfortable with the "Tech" category in mine, given that Dave Winer isn't always tech-oriented, and Doc Searls often is, for example. The problem is that blogroll categories made for our own utility will be construed by others as labels.

On the other hand, many of us are drawn to self-quizzes that categorize us. I took the beliefnet test and the political quadrant test too. The difference is that they're self-initiated. When we post the results -- usually without taking them too seriously -- maybe we're looking for commonality. They're another identifying birdcall to send out as we look for links among ourselves.

Loosely joined by Steve15:17 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-06-12 •

Dave, I could probably come up with something, but would it be authentic? I'd hate to pollute this discourse with Dave-baiting asides.

AKMA, Dorothea & Burningbird have been writing a lot about identity and categorising people.

One of Bloggers lapses a few days back lost a post I wrote on this kind of thing, referring to Richard Bartle's Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds, Spades: Players Who Suit Muds . Bartle wrote the Essex MUD - which was my introduction to network-mediated communication in 1985 (GROGGS and Bolo came shortly afterwards). Available only between 2am and 7am, it probably helped associate staying up late with enjoying computers for me).

Bartle divides the kinds of players into:

He goes on to decribe how to construct your games to attract a sustainable and stable mix.

Mapping these categories into weblogs, email and so on is worth a try...

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks19:34 UTC

Will you bastards please say something I can disagree with?

Loosely joined by David13:59 UTC

I think extended deep conversations are simply a rarity, regardless of the medium. Could that have to do with some kind of power-law distribution too? But I still want to say "oh yeah!" to your notion, Tom, that these web conversations are getting us off our butts... er, I mean getting our butts off the couch and to the writing desk. I celebrate the fact that the Internet now enables these discussions to occur globally and asynchronously in groups, often semi-spontaneously, i.e. without the formal hosting that The Atlantic Monthly provided to James Fallows and Todd Gitlin recently, for example, or between readers and authors in magazines' Letters sections. This is unprecedented.

Regarding the jittery search for a lingua franca, though, it's common for me to receive a frivolous interjection in a budding serious face-to-face conversation, most often in casual group conversation, where heavy topics aren't so welcome, and maybe moreso among smart people. (Or maybe it's just because I buttoned my shirt wrong.) People want to show their wit and lighten things up, particularly in groups larger than two. Hmm, but it seems the thinkers we gravitate around manage to be thoughtful and deep and witty, sometimes in the same breath. David's conference presentations are fantastically pointed and funny at the same time, for example. There's also a fine balance that distinguishes the masters of the medium, between respectful replies to serious inquiries and humor. But yes, some people may raise the videocamera or funhouse mirror in defense. And down with detached irony! Irony is OK, but detached irony is definitely out. We're in this to be attached.

Loosely joined by Steve02:49 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-06-11 •

I find the piece Kevin cites quite compelling, even as it nears its 7th anniversary of publication. The author, Brad DeLong, goes on to say:

There have long been speculations about how the electronic shadows made possible by the computer and telecommunications revolutions will acquire the intensity of effect, the immediacy, the complexity and the depth to become--in a certain sense--real. That afternoon in the Valley Life Sciences Building was the first time in my life that I had compared a place in the real world, the UCMP, to its virtual electronic image in cyberspace--and found the real world lacking, found that the real world experience lacked, compared to its virtual electronic image, the intensity of effect, the immediacy, the complexity, and the depth necessary for reality.

(A bit further on, he pooh-poohs a literary fellow for failing to register this, when a case might be made that literary theory registered this before it occurred.)

I believe this has something to do with Steve's struggle, but it's not easy to map a clear path between them. I suppose one way of looking at it is, yes, you can view the space of a blog as a theater in which we present vivid anecdotes or scenes from our lives. But if blogs, or other web modes, are simply slightly faster tableau vivantes of hallowed 18th century pedigree, then so exactly what is the big deal? What is more interesting is when the events, rather than being reported on a blog or web site, instead seem to occur there. My feeling is there is a way in which we are coming out of a long dumb silence in which we largely played the role of inflatable couch potatoes with ATM cards. There is a wooly, but uneasy, exuberance about the conversations being held across blogs etc. Right now, many of the exchanges exhibit a sort of maladjusted stutter between enthusiasm and passion on the one side, and detached irony and stuided irrelevance on the other. My suspicion, and it's only a guess, is that this happens when a bunch of very smart people attempt to arrive at a lingua franca in which they can communicate richly, or fatly, as David might say. An effort to find a way to speak. So many really interesting exchanges seem to get truncated - I think in part because people are still uncomfortable giving up the role of videocamera-wielder for that of conversant.

Loosely joined by tom19:29 UTC

The Shock of the Virtual
I stood in the stairwell. I looked at the few-very impressive-fossils. I thought to myself, "Let's get back to my office computer, so that we can link to and see the real University of California Museum of Paleontology."

"The real museum," I thought, "has audio narration by the discoverers of dinosaurs. The real museum has many more bones--a Diplodocus skeleton, for one thing. The real museum has detailed exhibits on dinosaur evolution and geology..."


"This is the real museum. The Internet Web site is just the 'virtual' image--an electronic reflection--of this place."

And that was when I felt I needed a consulting philosopher. I needed a consulting philospher real bad...

Well, it took 7 years, but David is here...

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks08:20 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-06-10 •

Tom, your reiterated post in your blog today makes me want to comment that I entirely agree with that third point (I think it's David that you barred from agreeing, if I understand correctly). I want to respond to your statement "... I don't necessarily think this need occur in the form of a re- or pre-hearsal with an audience in mind" with a clarification: My struggle is to keep this simultaneous how-can-I-blog-about-this thought (like seeing a vacation through a videocamera) from happening, particularly when the subject is just a captivating life occurence. When the subject is, instead, a long or deep-running thought, then we're entirely in agreement, and your point about the gathering of the thought from other blogs, like some slime mold in the pre-migration stage, is particularly apt. (To AKMA, regarding a much earler entry in your blog about Wolfram's book: slime mold behavior is fascinating. They're just in bad need of rebranding under another name. Right, Kevin?)

Loosely joined by Steve13:08 UTC

Well, I finished Wolfram's book today (the front of it anyway- the back is the same thing with exhaustive footnotes, as befits 10 years work that aims to overthrow scientific thought).

If you take his closing claim at face value, the rule 110 1-d cellular automaton is equivalent in complexity to human thought (and the rule 30 one could do your trick instead of pi too).

However, you can't use them as a shortcut,as they would take as long to run as thinking it up in the first place...

Loosely joined by Kevin Marks08:20 UTC

Tom, my Kabbalistic approach actually started with an anagram. Since you (reading between the lines) asked, I'll reveal my most secret method: Knowing that David has a penchant for anagrams, I searched through "muse of cliches" and quickly found "come fish clues", so I knew I was onto something. Searching further I found "self sum choice" -- clearly what I was really looking for -- and this launched the vast mathematical excursion that finally led me to the pi-related discovery that we might call "four and twenty blackbirds", or "small pieces, neatly sliced". [OK, I promise to stop this nonsense. Kevin, I think pensieve is cool too, and it reminds me a little bit of Dave Rogers' post about the dreaming metaphor.]

Loosely joined by Steve00:44 UTC

• Small Pieces From 2002-06-09 •

Kevin, I like what Cory says, but it sort of limits blogging to moving bits around, where I seem to see transformation at work. The pensieve is cool.

Steve, then David could not have been channeled by the Muse of Cliches, since it must have been Algorhythmia, vatic inspirator of syncopated pi-throwing exhibitionists. Who happens to be the sister of Algorhymnia, the cliche who invented the internet. Glad to have gotten that worked out.

Loosely joined by tom20:56 UTC

Picking up on David's veiled hint about an alternate to the hermeneutical method, I tried another approach and discovered this (David, you sly dog): if you take the sum of the ASCII values for the phrase "We're writing ourselves into existence on the Web." and multiply by pi taken to the 301000th decimal place (sans decimal point), you get the entire SPLJ book in ASCII.

I've also found that there always exists a sub-sequence of the digits of pi for which, using a formula similar to that above, David's phrase can be used to generate the entire contents of any weblog in the daypop top 40. I have discovered a truly remarkable proof of this, but won't stay up long enough for me to type it here.

Loosely joined by Steve15:30 UTC