12 items or fewer

OK, here’s your motivation. You’ve been chosen for a new reality show.

You’ve been taken to infinimart, where they have literally everything available for retail sale on the planet.

The check-out lane says you can have 12 items or fewer, and those are the only physical items you can own for the next year. Otherwise your life is as normal, and at the end of the show you get to keep whatever it was you picked to spend the year with.

For purposes of this checkout, you can have a “bulk pack” or a “set” containing up to 24 copies or pieces.

I would have:

  • 1 portable computing device
  • 1 portable communication device
  • 1 vehicle
  • 1 12 piece global knife set
  • 1 wok
  • 1 bowl
  • 1 pair chopsticks
  • 1 24-piece set of jumpsuits
  • 1 pair shoes
  • 1 12 pair sock set
  • 1 12 pair underwear set

This data suggests that if I could go naked all the time I could save 25% more stuff for things like, oh, a private jet. Or, if I stopped preparing food, I could have 1/3% more stuff.

Pragmatically, there are too many tools missing from that set for me to live that way; I’d also need a shikifuton for sleep and all the materials needed to clean and maintain the other stuff.

What would you grab from infinimart on the way out?

Parenting effects on child altruism

Cognitive daily suggests that parenting behaviours rather than “philosophies” have the most correlation with teen attitudes towards helping:

In short, if you want your kids to value helping others in a variety of ways, this research suggests that you’re likely to be effective when you actively encourage those behaviors through conversation, experiential learning, and other actions

The implacable necessity of making choices

The hardest part about living, for me, is when I am in a ‘forced choice’ situation where all my choices are potentially or definitely hurtful for someone I care about. It gets extra hard when some subset of those choices are things I very much want to do.

Usually in this situation I do everything I can to defer my choices; often life is kind enough to simplify the problem for me if I just wait long enough.

If I can’t do that, I generally pick the most “critical” choice. When I was younger, and life was harder, the critical choice was often something as obvious as the one that would provide food or shelter. I’m not living that way any more, and so my forced choice scenarios have stopped being so clear cut- usually what’s on the line is someone’s emotional state or desires.

If anything, the reduced severity for me makes it harder to decide. It is especially complicated when other parties have more at stake than I do. On the face of it, the fact that the situation isn’t utterly critical for me suggests that I pick the choice that hurts me in favor of those I care about, yet I’ve learned over the years that repeatedly picking the self-abnegating choice eventually leads me with nothing to give, emotionally or productively. Plus, my well being isn’t just mine any more.

Since the forced choice invariably involves putting someone out, it creates this “Rob Peter to pay Paul” factor; who among the parties is it “best” to put the hurt on? Again, when I was younger, my solutions to this usually involved blowing the whole situation up and starting over. Not really a place I’m interested in going these days.

I generally hedge things somehow- I do something extra to ameliorate the bad fallout – but sometimes no matter how I spin it there’s no silver lining or silk purse in the situation, and I just have to stick it to someone.

post translational state modification

Vika and I just got done watching Equilibrium, the movie that should’ve had the mindshare that the matrix stole.

I particularly appreciated the role of the protagonist; he was an inside man, raised and honed to be a tool of the machine. Most importantly, he commits atrocities on his way to understanding, and in the end all he wins is chaos.
These days I’m feeling fairly far from equilibrium, a concept itself so inextricably rooted in panhellenic mythos I can’t help but feel it’s part of the game.

No equilibrium, no spiritus vitae, no bloody fucking humours.

I seem to be an agent within a vast and largely senseless machine whose macroscopic behaviours are positively atavistic.

I see all these ways to make the parts fit better together, but I fear that all I would do is make it a better monster.

Everybody Wants a Rock to Wind a Piece of String Around

The Generic Republic Universal Protocol (GRUP) is a set of behaviours that allow an individual to participate in the Naught Distributed Republic (0DR). It requires the participation in a number of communication media in order to gain voting capital. Voting capital may be ‘spent’ in Request For Action auctions. An RFA auction is like an auction with teams of bidders rather than individual ones. In addition to the “Do Nothing” team, the RFA specifies how many teams there are. The simplest case is where there is only one other team, call them the “Do It” team; other examples are Plan A, Plan B, etc. Whichever team gets the most voting capital at the end of the auction wins, and the named actions must be undertaken by the 0DR citizen in order to retain status.

Prior implementations of democracy had a notion of a “jury of your peers.” In the 0DR the equivalent is three randomly chosen citizens or the natural logarithm fraction of the total population of the republic equivalent, whichever is larger, chosen randomly (NatLogs). These groups are provided with a question with less than four possible answers, review the evidence presented to them and indicate which answer is to be chosen. Remaining a citizen in the 0DR requires implementing any behaviours implied by the answer. If the NatLog participants answer the question differently the question is asked again of (appealed to) another NatLog until a unanimous result is returned.

In any circumstances where non-cooperation ever reaches 10% of 0DR citizens as determined by a NatLog, an automatic revolution occurs, and those who invested in the “let’s do it” team become members of the nth Distributed Republic, where n is a unique integer larger than that of any known Distributed Republic adhering to the GRUP.

After the end of voting periods, voting capital expended become transactional tokens exchanged within the 0DR as a consensus currency. Refusal of tokens for payment generated by any Distributed Republic adhering to the GRUP at the going market rate ends participation in the 0DR. Disagreements between Distributed Republics unresolvable by RFA’s are resolved by a NatLog taken from the sum of their populations.

Any citizen of the 0DR may nominate another person to be a citizen. Provisional citizenship is granted immediately, but violations of the GRUP within the current sponsorship interval subject the sponsor to whatever censure the provisional earns in addition to causing all current citizens ever sponsored by that citizen to be subject to a membership verification.

Membership verification is a process by which a NatLog answers the question “is the agent in question a citizen?” yes or no. If a citizen serving on a NatLog finds compelling evidence of protocol violation they must vote no. If a membership verification question does not achieve unanimity and the terminal NatLog finds that the member in question is not a citizen, all prior citizens voting ‘yes’ are immediately considered not to be citizens.

Citizenship lost for any reason may be restored by being sponsored by the Fibbonachi Sequence interval of citizens, where the interval is the number of times citizenship has been revoked.

Can Mapmakers Change the World?

We’re getting an overview of mapmaking and how its useful – the Mark Monmonier discusses weather sites. Then he gets into political remapping- the impact here is quite large.

Jeremy Crampton talks about “transformation” as a motiviation for blogging. Personal transformation (self discovery, Focault’s technology of the self). Second is sociopolitical transformation, or changing people’s thinking. This gathering is taking place at same time as Yearly Kos (daily Kos con). Kos wrote a book about trying to get around the traditional political approach.

He’s talking about map mashups as a transformative tool, particularly as a political one. Shows us a map of pennysylvania showing the voting records from the last presidential election, showing turnout + who voted- referring to the Atlas of US presidential elections.

Martin Dodge discusses how the internet graphs aren’t really a map but an algorithm perspective of nodes. He’s interested in bringing these points back onto the map and further looking at how the place that internet conversations are occuring is relevant.

Alexander Halavais starts with “If you fly on JetBlue, gradually you will come to believe that Chicago doesn’t exist”. Satellite photo of the conference location is nice but useless b/c it doesn’t show you where you can go. Information maps help show us where we could go in society.

How often do links cross world boundaries. Shows us a map of the US that show where they link. Turns out that all links lead to NYC. He says that listening to people have dinner conversations.
Mary Hodder starts in with this rocking video that says “we are the media” that really pumps out on the speakers in this room until some soul turns it down to mellowness; it ends with a link to josh leo’s blog.

Shows off this click-tracking website that lets you see everything some person has clicked on and see click trends and that sort of thing.

Stefaan Verhurlst talks a bit about famous Belgian map makers (eg Mercator) then gives a nice little graphic on mapmakers as change agents. He says they’re codifying and mediating existence by framing the perception of reality and also by guiding and navigating people.

Shows the european history of maps … I’d like to see the knot maps of polynesians and incans, but it looks like that’s off the board.

He argues that we now have the paradigm of interdependence(?!) because of … something about internet maps, I didn’t quite catch it.

Three unresolved issues: Identity, location, and policy(?). Policy/mediators are important. Dual use of technology- good and bad he says.

I asked about mapping non-earth info into some sort of sensible form; response was “no good way to do that yet” and “we’re trying to figure out how to take thousands of dimensions and mapping them to two, and there’s a lot of information loss”

Hodder makes the point that links need to be able to indicate more information – a lot of subtleties are lost in the simple links. It’s nice to finally hear something about how links might evolve at this hyperlinked conference.

A gent is asking a question wherein he bags my “ball of string” metaphor and says they can be useful because “maps display information”… but it seems to me like the line graph map we’ve seen so far has been a bundle of lines… and the whole problem is I don’t get what it’s supposed to be telling me.

Mapping Lines of Influence

Missed the beginning of the third talk while searching for watts – now I’m off in another room with a video feed and watts.

After a presentation about political linking, we get to hear from the very first woman: Lada Adamic. Needless to say she’s actually talking about social influence of linking. She starts with a reference to a viral marketing scheme, then goes on to follow the spread of links to Giant Microbes. Then there’s a discussion of a meta-blog thread- her main point is that as a network it stayed within a community.

Then a political blogs distribution, showing political people don’t link to each other.

Next is the CEO of Sphere.com, Tony Conrad. He talks about using temporal attributes as a way to track some of the metrics of influence.

Up next is Matthew Hurst, who at Nielsen BuzzMetrics maps how people perceive companies. He attempts to infer communities from blog links.

When he gets to the core of the blogosphere, and rates them according to their inbound links. Looks like a big ball of string and has the usual suspects.

Mark from MSFT points out that observation leaves trails in the net vs. no record in meatspace. He shows patterns of replies in newsgroups. Indicates there’s not very equivalent participation. Talks about answer person- 2/3 of everyone that participates in usenet post once and never again. 2% are folks that reply to everyone (he calls them answer people) that live in certain ecologies – q&a web boards. Also talks about dissussers.

Took a brief break to post another part of my biomass-for-fuel schtick.

Tom Conrad made the point earlier that the best way to get noticed by his searchiness is to stay monofocused on one topic. This probably explains why he has such a simple view of what blogs are about (news, tech, politics). Might also explain why I’m off the radar :)

Now trying to figure out Consumers with blog analytics… to me that’s as boring as dirt, but whatever.

Microsoft fellow suggests that Personally Identifiable Information is “plutonium” for MSFT and they try hard to avoid it.

I guess the bothersome thing about this discussion was that “influence” stayed implicit. From what I can tell “influence” revolved around links created after a link was created. This is a fairly interesting notion, but it doesn’t address the issue of how people are influenced behaviourally by web content.

Hyperlinked Society – Linking in Web 2.0

Saul Hansell talks about how “web 2.0″ unbundles content. Talks about how pieces have to justify their economic existence.

Martin Nisenholz of the NYTimes talks about driving people to the package from the pieces as a counter to that.

Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia) talks about how he has a very small number of employees and a larger reach that About.com. Communities can build content that people are interested in and be self-supporting.

Ethan Zuckerman – A lot of the old models haven’t done a particularly good job of covering the developing world. Aggregation of individuals in developing world can enhance the communication from developing world. It is incredibly subversive, blogging happens in countries with closed media but some digital stuff. Suddenly it allows you to reach an international audience. Watching Ethiopia closely- had open media, cracked down. Now online space brings together Ethiopians in the country, Ethiopans in the diaspora, and people interested in Ethiopian issues. Makes linking part of the community which changes the way people write.

Throw out all communally created goods and you wouldn’t miss them(?!), says Nicholas Carr. Individually created goods are the ones that matter. He thinks that Wikipedia is bad because it sucks the air out of commercially produced encyclopedia.

Jimmy Wales comes back saying that their process has become more open. Also points out that german-language encyclopedia has increased sales 30% despite the german-language wikipedia being more popular than the english one.

Nisenholtz talks about how he has different readers on nytimes.com that want different things.

Ethan Zuckerman says that non-professionals have a different view of things.

The whole thing gets derailed into a professionalism-non professionalism debate and some sillyness about the quality of wikipedia pages. Not sure what this has to do with links.

Niesenholtz poses the notion that we’re creating a society where people can’t pay attention because we’ll just skim. Amounts to a “kids these days” argument; pretty much everything he’s said has been controversial via simple and largely inaccurate contrariness.


So here I am at the hyperlinked society conference put on by the University of Pennsylvania. I’m mostly riding my wife’s coattails, as she is a Humanities Computing (nigh) PhD, and I am a mere Biology undergraduate.

However, I’m interested in implementing a bidirectional hyperlink system using a distributed hash table. So it is interesting to me to see what the august speakers at this conference have to say on the subject.

So far, my impression is that everyone is fully enmeshed in unidirectional links. It should be interesting to see what “Web 2.0 links” is going to be about. They’re definitely talking about the social implications of links, and that will be very helpful.

Many of the speakers are old media folks that have embraced new media, and people that have spent a lot of time thinking about marketing on the internet- only a few are coming from scientist backgrounds or non-journalism industry; Jimmy Wales seems to be the only “pure play” fellow on the panels.

Here goes Tony Gentile, talking from the perspective of Healthline. He’s talking about the importance of purchasing good links from google etc, optimizing pages for search engines to get free links, and contractural linking requirements.

So the next Tom is a marketing fellow who is “trying to help clients get more ‘linked in’ so to speak” but he’s also a net-citizen. He thinks google is a turning point.

Complains about link-spam, argues that search engines made it happen by making links valuable w/r/t PageRank. IMO this is just a side effect of unidirectional linkage & lack of attribution (don’t know who posts “really”).

Spamblogs are eroding value of links.

Now Eric Pichard, a guy who works for Microsoft’s ad-farm. He talks about how for the “very first time” there are ads in games. This comes as a surprise to me, as I was sold .

Microsoft is an “ecosystem company” according to him … he says they “support the ecosystems” they work in. I would call them good gardeners of their walled gardens, esp. the OS does. Claims web properties support the ecosystem and the MSFT search engine does too.

Moderator is back, suggesting that mass-media is coming apart, that people aren’t masses. Mass media connected us “up” to bigger groups – cov’t, producers, etc. Disruption of internet is connecting us across.

Weblogs lets him write without editing.
First questioner spends most of his time making declarative statements. There’s a discussion of how one can’t get a linkback through talking.

The MSFT guy says people blog for three reasons: Family, Fame, and Fortune. I think that is a bit misleading, as my primary interest is in collaboration and… I dunno, informing? Teh Internets of things I’ve learned. I guess that can be folded into fame but it seems to oversimplify.

I asked how one disambiguates the value between advertising links and spam links. A good reply from the Medlink fellow is that you can differentiate between your contribution and others. The moderator says he gets to skip it.

Dave Weinberger says the web architecture is links. Talks about social vs. commercial value of links. Says he’s set up a channel. Not sure where he’s going- there might be a question here somewhere.

Joshua Greenberg finally brings up the point of increasing the semantic value of links and cogently explains the dilemma of the binary unideractional link. The Medline guy agrees. MSFT fellow says “we’re working on it” says MS Spaces helps “Family” type bloggers. He talks about how MS Spaces supports livejournal-style visibility constraints.

That’s the end of my blogging for the first talk; will start a new post with the next.