All around me darkness gathers,
Fading is the sun that shone;
We must speak of other matters:
You can be me when I'm gone.
Flowers gathered in the morning,
Afternoon they blossom on;
Still are withered in the evening:
You can be me when I'm gone.
Being human is funny strange. You begin. Then you go away from where you began. You hold hands for a while. Then you let go. When you go back to where you began, it all looks different but still smells the same.
In fact, the ability to patiently and precisely mentally model the physical world is the core of what Part 2 of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance is where Pirsig really began to speak to me:it means to be a technical person.
It's the understanding of this rational intellectual idea that's fundamental. John looks at the motorcycle and he sees steel in various shapes and has negative feelings about these steel shapes and turns off the whole thing. I look at the shapes of the steel now and I see ideas. He thinks I'm working on parts. I'm working on concepts.
Open-faucet people have the patience to sit and quietly look at things that others would find "boring". They're getting more input from the world --- enough datapoints to draw a line through them --- and they become mappers. The closed-faucet packers don't get enough input to develop a reliable model of the world, and so they end up coping on an anecdotal, case-by-case basis. This is one of the few lessons that Zen Buddhism tries to teach: that, faced with an object, it is better to surrender yourself to sensing and understanding it on its own terms than to fret, "what is it good for? what does it cost? what is it called? are we done yet? can we go now?"
From The Way of the Wild Mushroom, an article about the wild-mushroom-picking nomads of the Pacific northwest:
Getz's knowledge of the dunes is so thorough and so intimate that mushroom hunting with him is strictly a spectator sport. When we went out together he let me find a few, but it was rather like going Easter egg hunting with the person who hid the eggs. He moved quickly and silently through the forest, stopping only at known matsutake spots long enough to deftly run his fingertips over the sand, as though massaging it lightly. By this method he is able to locate the prized matsutake buttons while they are still deep under the moss and sand, invisible to everyone else. Time and again, where I saw nothing to indicate a mushroom --- not the slightest mound in the moss nor telltale crack in the sand --- he would insert his forked fingers like a divining rod, locate a mushroom deep underneath, and then, after grasping and twisting it gently, pull it out of the ground like a white rabbit out of a hat.
"I've been gifted with this ability to key into certain things," he says with understatement. "When I'm predicting the pop, I measure the growth on the trees, an' then time it to the weather bounces. It's all with the triggering of the sap [in the trees] goin' up an down. And there's this density to the air. The ground lifts up about a half of an inch, becomes fluffy an' the sand sticks to yer finger, one grain's layer, almost like it was sprayed with hairspray. That tells me they're there. Then when you get in the heat of the season, just before a big flush, it feels like there's steel wool mixed in the sand, [because] all those little filaments [mushroom hyphae] are really pumped." In mycological circles, mushrooms simply aren't talked about this way; I've never seen a mycologist uncover 20 pounds of invisible grade-one matsutake, either.
First, let's assume that the record companies desire to move forward with the technology instead of resisting it. Surely there are some forward thinking execs who see where this is all headed anyway, and rather than sticking their heads in the sand, want to have some say about the final outcome. Assuming Napster the technology is here to stay, where are the money making opportunities? Let's frame the question this way: what would it take for labels to fight to get their stuff released on napster as opposed to gnutella, freenet, etc? What would it take for labels to release quality mp3 rips of their own music? Scoff not; this could be.
Suppose napster set up a cddb-style metainfo architecture so that each song, when downloaded through the client, carried a little "click here to buy the album" ad banner / link. After all, people are claiming they're buying albums based on napster downloads, that napster helps sell more music, not less. If you could prove this proposition through a sort of referer-url clickthrough scheme, you're set. There are dozens of ways to do it. If you were too dumb to partner with CDDB so rippers naturally encoded "how to buy" information into MP3's native ID tag scheme, you could use steganography technology to digitally encode the album and sale information into songs directly, like digimarc puts copyright info pictures. I mean, come on, people, this is the Internet era. Figure out a simple data distribution mechanism already.
Now, the record companies probably want to retain the power of a well-oiled marketing apparatus creating a few "big" artists. I have no argument with that: if the "natural" Pareto curve of the music industry looks like a few big Britneys and a lot of little Phishes, fine: that's a bigger battle than I'm going to fight.
The music industry is quite familiar with the indie structure of a few gatekeepers controlling access to airplay to make hits. If that's what they want, napster can give them that: build in a pay for play technology so that Napster Radio gives preferred labels higher priority on search results.
Napster could make a mint on commissions from labels. X cents per clickthrough on albums actually sold.
It's all about alignment. Napster the technology could get along great with the record industry. Napster the company is just being contrary for the sake of being contrary. But hey, Shawn Fanning wears his baseball cap backward. It's just what happens when your CEO is 19.
Erikson's personal identity theory basically says that you go through several stages of life, and at each stage you have a sort of conflict between two alternatives, one good and one bad; you resolve the conflict (hopefully, good triumphs), and move forward to the next level.
Stage 5 is Identity vs Role Confusion.
Stage 6 is Intimacy vs Isolation.
Somewhere in his writings Erikson makes the casual comment that if things go poorly at a certain stage N it is possible for the patient to regress to N-1. That stroke of insight made it possible for me to appreciate Ultimo Tango in a whole new way!
It explains why Paul insists that as a precondition of his affair-romance with Jeanne neither character should say anything about their history, their past, so that they might meet and just indulge a sort of degraded version of intimacy without any real context, any knowing of the other person. This precondition really just means that only Paul doesn't want to talk about his past. In perfect accordance with erikson we proceed to find out that this strange episode in his life only began when his wife died.
So death of spouse is a failure of stage 6 (intimacy), leading to a regression to the very beginning of stage 5 (identity) represented by his repression of his past.
All wrapped up, neat and tidy. Woo!
update 20010411: I got it right! They were only three months slow.
Jane Jacobs explains that the two human traditions of politics and commerce each come with their own set of fundamentally different moral values. Keep them separated, or you risk tyrannical monopolies, state-run economies.
It maps to technology. You can be in government (operating systems) or you can be in commerce (applications). Corporations are used to competition. Coke vs Pepsi --- that's just business as usual. But governments are sovereign, territorial. USA vs Iraq --- that's war.
Similarly, applications battling for market share (eg. Quicken vs MsMoney) is mere business as usual. But Linux vs Microsoft is all-out war. The metaphors come from the language of political revolution. Overthrow Bill Gates, they cry. Linux is about freedom. Open government. It's really about politics. No wonder people get fired up.
Yesterday. By controlling the OS+GUI arena, Microsoft got to tax the desktop world. (And by tying its apps to the OS, it created state-run monopolies. Enter the Justice Department, and the antitrust lawsuit.)
Today. Microsoft cleaned up good, but that was just the desktop world. Palm+Handspring have made the leap --- they get to tax the handheld world now, because they control the OS+GUI. Hardware developers are flocking to the Visor the way they used to flock to the IBM PC.
Tomorrow. Handhelds are a permanent niche. But they aren't a primary technology. Wearables are on the way. And whoever corners that OS+GUI niche will be the next Microsoft.
For the sake of all our children, I hope the opensource guys get there first.
exec/obidosat each other.
You'll find that most of the forward-looking scenarios in the above resources integrate seamlessly with Greenspun's Plan For World Domination. Stiegler's EarthWeb pads out the rest of the paradigm.
If you're road-tripping your way across the United States, find free internet access at ConnectNet.
For computer-related things, I search at
Procmail helps me manage the following lists:
I read a few magazines:
Here are some places I would like to work, if I had a chance: