31 December 2005

Thinking about GoogleBase

an informal community is
(or should be)

around the shared challenges of the semantic web

and it will behoove us
to consciously, publicly experiment
with the most interesting web2.0
apps and api's (or playgrounds)

del.icio.us for tagging
wikipedia and wikis for collaboration
ning for the new shared vocabulary of
social apps

and googlebase for structuring data

for ggb dares us
to enforce some chosen semantics on
our publishing

so we should explore how we might fit
every other web resource into ggb:

wikipedia articles (everyone their own wikipedia?)
imdb entries
blogs w/comments
google-groups threads
webjay playlists

(i'm assuming that google is thinking
since they already cache the whole web
why not privilege a structured subset
by hosting it outright?)

27 December 2005

Lust on the Tree of Life

the Tree-of-Life paradigm
gains most of its power
from the visualiser's capacity
to 'dream' new details

an example:

you can pick any word/concept
(we'll choose 'lust')
and assign it a color
(violet, duh!)
and begin to 'dream' details
of how that color should be
across the Tree

in the long view:

how early did it get its start?

how quickly did it spread across the globe?

were there eras
when it was denser or less dense?

in the close view:

when does it start
on the individual's lifebranch?

what rhythms can it manifest
(daily, yearly)?

how different are the rhythms
of different individuals?

what patterns-in-space do branches trace
under its influence?

each of these questions can best be addressed
by trying to visualise the patterns of color
on the Tree)

we'll call 'lust'
any point where normal neural activity
is deformed by a temporary sex-goal

so it's as old as neurons

and it can be triggered by
detection of a potential partner

or even by mating-seasonal
'spring in the air'

many species
synchronise their lust
to the seasons
or the time of day

or solitaries may stumble on a mate
without warning
lust suddenly exploding

and are there any other species like humans
where lonely guys wander
in a perpetual miasma of frustrated lust?

or where couples pair for life
and lust withers?
(tell that to Mrs Coolidge)

21 December 2005

'Reality' on the Tree of Life

i once heard tell
of a toddler, overheard
after being put to bed
repeating to himself
a word he'd learned that day

and that's become for me
the prototype of our relationship
with 'reality'
(Nabokov agrees
it should normally be written
in quotes)

sometimes, too,
in the small-font comment-line
under a blog headline
i'll channel Zippy
and repeat a weird phrase three times

just to help it sink in

and this 'sinking in'
feels to me like it involves
the solar plexus

feel it in your belly

which makes the best sense to me
in the light of Kleist's observation
that graceful action
must flow from our centers of gravity

so in our flattened neural maps

the point(s) that represent the solar plexus

may have a special status

addressed by the toddler-Zippy within us

when a pattern is considered 'real'

so that it will in future

shape our grace

at the deepest level

acetylene and hydrogen cyanide

acetylene and hydrogen cyanide

acetylene and hydrogen cyanide

19 December 2005

A tree of life on the Tree of Life

we have flattened each nervous system
on the Tree of Life
down to a network of points and lines
enclosed within the brain-sized circular
of its branch

and we've observed relationships between neurons
in that network
mirroring the relations between
entities in the world

this mirroring growing
more and more precise
as each brain climbs its branch

abstracting symbolic 'shapes'
to represent those relationships
shapes that simplify the paths
of those patterns of matter
embedded in 4-d spacetime

and further using those 4d shapes as metaphors
when a pattern is missing an 'external' shape

testing, then
alternate abstract-shape models
until one stands out
as the best match

and seeking to extend that match
to other entities/ relationships
so that the fewest possible alternate models
match the most possible modeled relationships

(a reduction sought both
by the baby tasting everything it can pick up
and the string theorist trying to unify
gravity with electromagnetism)

ultimately aiming for a single unified 4d model
that can be precisely matched
to every sort of relationship

(like a tree of life model)

18 December 2005

My Firefox tweaks

i'm always disappointed when i read
people's lists of favorite Firefox extensions
because there's almost never
overlap with mine

so here's a horrendously-detailed tour of mine
with links to the extensions
(and notes to myself about which ones
still aren't firefox-1.5-ready)
illustrated with a 1024*768 screencap

and if it helps
also a splitscreen view so you can scroll
the text and the screencap

the titlebar at the top mentions Sage (1.5 ready)
which is my most-used extension, an rss-reader
but i'll hold off describing it
till we get past the toolbars

i've moved the location bar
into the menubar
which i believe is a standard capability
under View - Toolbars - Customize
(just drag it, when in 'Customize' mode)

to the right of the location bar
is a non-Firefox floating utility called TinyResMeter
that warns me when the CPU is maxing out
or when my drive is getting full
(currently ~2Gb free)

hidden behind that is Google Web Accelerator
which i swear by, mostly
because it makes Sage run 2x faster
(i don't use the ridiculous prefetching)

i normally don't go in for themes
but i somehow ended up with Pixelzilla (1.5 ready)

the search bar, next row down
unexpectedly expanded to fill
the empty space left by the location bar
(which i hope to re-shrink
using annoyingly-arcane XUL)

i rearranged my navigation icons
and deleted the ones i don't use
but these are all standard except the sage leaf

(new tab, back, forward, stop, bookmarks-sidebar, sage,
cut, copy, paste, search, go-location, reload...)

...and the 3-d arrow at the far right
(greyed out from its normal yellow)
which is from Browse Images (1.5 ready)
a way-complicated extension for browsing image galleries
that automatically caches a list of image-links
for every page you visit
so the arrow-button will
very conveniently
step you thru that list

(Browse Images has the ugliest toolbar ever imagined
so i just dragged off the one arrow i need)

next we have two bookmarks toolbars
crammed with unlabelled small icons
that comprise most of the sites i visit regularly that
have rss feeds
(Sage handles the rest)

the second toolbar is via the
Multi Bookmarks Toolbars extension (buggy, no 1.5)
and if you need it i recommend the older version
but when you need to edit bookmarks in the 2nd bar
do it in the Bookmarks Manager
not via the popup menus

i customised the icons with Favicon Picker (no 1.5)
so i can find them without having to
subvocalise the site name

they're clustered into groups
based mostly on visiting-schedule

and i can tweak their urls via the context menu
(except the buggy 2nd bar)
via an Update Bookmarks extension (no 1.5)

near the end of the second row
is a little folder labeled 'n'
that pops up a menu of page-titles
which is where i stash temporary bookmarks
that i clean out when it gets towards ten items

and below these is the highly customizable
PrefBar toolbar (no 1.5?)
that lets me toggle on/off for
Javascript, Java, and cookies

and also resize the page font
and clear the cache

(the Flash toggle doesn't work
and the colors-images-animations toggles
i never seem to use)

which brings us to Sage

the magnifying glass finds all rss-feeds on a page
and lets you add the ones you want

the whirly-button scans the whole list
and highlights those with changes

i've turned off the lower pane in the Sage sidebar
that shows article headlines
so when i click on a highlighted feed
the feed displays in the main browser window

and i tweaked the stylesheet (sage.css)
so it's big and plain and easy on the eyes

for busy feeds
i mark the top item as 'read'
using a popup-menu command
added by the LinkVisitor extension (no 1.5)

and then i scan down the list
until i hit the old top one
i'd marked last time

using the popup menu to open interesting articles
in new background tabs
via the Open link in... extension (1.5 ready?)
which offers new menu items for foreground/background
tab-or-window opening

and since the popupmenu is now overloaded with cruft
i use Menu Editor (no 1.5?)
to trim unneeded menu items
and rearrange the ones i use most

i use Tabbrowser Preferences (1.5 coming)
to move the tabs to the bottom
and TabX (no 1.5?) to add closeboxes to each tab

and there's a little Google pagerank extension (1.5 ready)
below the tabs (i haven't explored adblocking options
so i'll omit that)

17 December 2005

Grim Meathook Future of the day

suppose the PATRIOT Act
isn't really about Islamic terror
or even political opponents

but instead anticipates
a near-term future
when the draft will be reinstated
and the mildmannered Left
grows genuinely angry?

15 December 2005

Meditation on the Tree of Life

in the last installment we argued
that the embodiment of a song's mood
may be more or less

but on the Tree of Life these categories
can only be applied to human performances

(we trust) embody their moods
with perfect authenticity

and the origins of human
bad faith
are unknown

(Jaynes thought c1000BC
from city life or literacy

and noted that Socrates
credited his best instincts
to an inner voice of god
or genius)

let's picture the cross-section of any branch on the Tree of Life
to be a circle with a diameter wide enough
to enclose that creature's brain

but since we've flattened the Z dimension

let's flatten the whole nervous system
to fit in that circle
by representing each nerve-cell as a point
and each relationship between nerve-cells
as a line

and when we flatten this network
we can insist that no two cell-points
(but the relationship-lines
must cross like mad)

relationship-changes between the organism-branch
and the surrounding world
will be reflected in (unknown)
relationship changes between nerve cells

and important changes will lead to
more-or-less-appropriate actions

but in humans
since the crisis of faith
these actions may be authentic or inauthentic

and our only duty that matters

is to under-stand
our inauthenticities

for which Gurdjieff prescribed
in the face of our mechanical reflexes

(more generally termed

and our particular challenge
is those kneejerk emotional reactions
when others punch our buttons

(with Karl Rove a punching ace)

with our network of neurons
producing less-than-ideal actions

and meditation focusing on that
instant of reflex

and visualising, say,
a new layer of nerve cells
widening that gap

14 December 2005

Iraq's fate

Sean Paul of the Agonist has written a short think piece on Iraq policy that I think is much too... kind.

The only 'democracy' we'll accept for Iraq is one where we hold all the cards-- we'll call it democracy when they fight us with ballots not bullets, but no matter which they choose, we'll use whatever weapons we have to, to make sure that things come out our way-- not excluding election fraud and assassination.

And we'll stay as long as there's oil that needs protecting-- don't think 2000 dead, think 200,000, over the next 50 years. Don't think $500B, think $500T, because the value of the oil will increase and increase, so we're not going to let anyone take it... no matter who we have to nuke.

12 December 2005

The craft of view-scaling

my recent neologisms
like gWarming
and vshort
and aCock (for Alexander Cockburn)

are admittedly-borderline experiments

in a broader campaign
that might be called 'view scaling'

an illustration:

an online teevee schedule
is a 'view' of a database of shows
with fields for plot-summary
actors, year-made, etc

and in the 'now showing' over-view
you get very-abbreviated entries
for each of the many channels

but you can click on any individual show
to see the full database entry

so an abbreviated movie blurb that appears baffling
becomes clear when you see
in the expanded view
that the first-named actor is jackie chan

that it's a jackie chan movie
is the critical bit of info

but the database drudges
had to put that critical bit in the
'actors' field

so the abbreviated listing
which omits the actors
favoring instead the plot-blurbs
left out the critical bit

sometimes it's the director that's critical
a bergman film
a woody allen film

or the school
a dogma95 film
or french new wave

and this stubbornly human

is universal

we can never say in advance
that one database field will always be
the most important to feature
when only one field can be displayed

and i'll call this the 'view scaling' problem

when you need to cram
five pounds of data-sugar
into a four-pound screen-canvas sack

something's gotta give
and you want the least-important pound
to give first

but often you want this trimming
to happen under robot-control

so databases need a custom-set importance-flag
on each field
to optimize the trimming

and further
as views dwindle down to a precious few characters

you need ways to trim the phat
from individual words

so 'very xxx' becomes vxxx
and jennifer lopez becomes jLo

07 December 2005

Music-perception on the Tree of Life

we postulate, without proof
a color-symbolism for music
along any branch on the Tree of Life

so that creating a new song
means creating a colored branch segment
n minutes long

that listeners can then re-experience
in parallel with their own colormoods

and i'll propose that any song's
to a combined
at any point

which stress-level
is the first aspect we judge

with individuals varying widely
in their preferred stress-level

hormonal teens seeking stress

burntout boomers avoiding it

stress levels transmitted via
beats per minute
(fast or slow)

timbres of instruments and voices
(smooth or rough)

volume (loud or soft)

(so that even if the listener is
the stress-level will impinge
and modulate their mood)

and that next
beneath this overall stress-level

is a mood

which can be any human mood imaginable

but a listener may reject
whole ranges of moods

which implies an immaturity
or vulnerability

the song's
of the chosen mood

can be more
or less successful

more or less original/cliched

more or less
technically accomplished

and further
in this age of sampling

the song can be more or less

(if they repeat that measure
one more time
i'm bailing!)

03 December 2005

Theory of whitespace

is it possible the primary difference
between poetry and prose
is the cost of whitespace?

so in

where whitespace is





there may come a
poetic revival

as the
of whitespace
is re-appreciated

5 years ago i proposed that xml's
hierarchy-of-containers model

reflected nerd-neurosis
more than creative psychology

(what kind of blogger
makes a mental outline
before beginning to write?)

and that text composition is really about
blocks of text
separated by expressively-sized gaps

where whitespace is the cheapest form of
gap-size expression

for my online edition of the legendary
punctuationless last chapter
of Ulysses

i extended Nabokov's advice by adding
not commas but linebreaks

which experience drove home for me
how most punctuation is about pauses

comma short
fullstop medium
paragraph long
sectionbreak longer
chapterbreak longest

Joyce reliably edited
to minimise punctuation
which he distrusted
famously protesting that 'inverted commas
add an air of unreality to a page'

so if he could have afforded the
he might have done away too
with commas and fullstops
and used transparent linebreaks

02 December 2005

The Huffington Post is not a blog

a niche blog on blogging
called the Blog Herald
started a series last week
on starting a blog

but i was distressed to discover
that the original intent
of the expression 'web logging'
(to log your websurfing
with public annotations)
has gone entirely by the boards

as they offer you just two options:
a personal-diary-style blog
or a topical-niche blog

online personal diaries came before blogs

and when the words 'blog' and 'weblog'
started being applied to them
i was flattered at first
(*ahem* having coined the term)

but there's a problem here
that everyone, on or off the Net
knows what an online journal should be
but not-at-all what an
should be

so the former definition is tending to
usurp the latter
through sheer ignorance

so i'd like to take the term back
from online journalling
and make them find their own neologism

the Blog Herald is also
77 days in
to a 100-day project
"100 blogs in 100 days"
(without topical restrictions)

which i'll confess
i haven't even skimmed
(though i'm a faithful fan
of the Herald itself) because

the Herald being itself narrowly topical

even after reading it all year
i still know absolutely nothing
about the Blog Herald editor
(or editors) as people

so why should i trust their judgment
on topics outside their niche?

my primary conscious purpose
on 17 December 1997
in creating (then) Robot Wisdom WebLog

was to 'unify my brand' on the Net

because i was posting widely
on Usenet/netnews
and on my website

but readers in any given newsgroup
or readers of any given webpage

saw only that one limited aspect
of my interests

from the first it was for me
a matter of honor
to link
i found interesting

without censoring the frivolous
or controversial

with John Lennon
beside AnaCam and JenniCam as
role models

(although this ideal is probably
impossible to fully reach)

adding an mp3 jukebox
again extends that ideal

for to segregate
my musical choices
in a separate blog
would make as little sense
as to segregate
into separate mp3-blogs
my mainstream music-favorites
from my esoteric ones

the unit-measure for blogging
is the blogger

and you subscribe or unsubscribe
to the blogger-as-a-whole

based on whether you find them

(i've always wished that someone
would create a partial duplicate or
RWWL Digest
that echoes just my mainstream links)

so my main problem with Slashdot
is that there's no 'them' there

i just don't know who's interested in what
and who understands what

so the news-stream it offers
remains largely unfocused sludge

and now the Huffington Post, too
has become almost unreadable
because it aggregates
100 different windbags
with no common voice