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cybersutra #4

August 8th, 2004

don’t be interrupt driven.cyberlotusfour.jpg
of course there are times when one must be just that, but wherever possible, avoid making control flow interruptus your routine. it’s a great strategy, with myriad juicy applications, but it’s not recommended as a main m.o. for self-directed beings as it often results in a cascade of unfortunate events.

so, don’t hang by your mail queues, kiddos. structuring your daily consciousness around the in-coming.

as the little cyberlotus says, “one needs to login and logout to properly surf the flow.”

straights and narrows

August 7th, 2004

tawdry as it sounds, they found me in the break room playing cards. bruce, jeffries, and their mates from the lab had a weekly game. when they heard i wasn’t free to leave the complex, but wasn’t at the moment occupied, and was in fact extremely bored waiting my turn to do my bit, they offered to bring the game round as a diversion. apparently, bruce had talked me up as quite a card shark. ha.
we’d been playing more than a few hours when in they came as if we should’ve heard the trumpets announce them. three men, all very serious.

as a reflex, i was about to make a wisecrack when the small, reptilian part of my brain broke through with a message: “fear, look, listen, don’t move.”

“they need to talk to her.” one of them said.

“Who?” protested jeffries. “She’s already talked to everyone, haven’t you dear?” he turned my way but kept his eye on mr. killjoy.

“The Americans” he said flatly, then added sarcastically, “The G-men.”

“Yes, quite, she spoke at length with the US Government gentlemen this afternoon,” jefferies countered. “Now, if you please this is a hand we’re all rather interested in playing out, as you can see.” he nodded to the table.

“These are a different lot,” mr. killjoy returned flatly. i couldn’t tell if he looked at the table first, but he took a beat and seemed to scan the room on his inhale, as though he were sampling the energy field around each of us. sniffing for bombs.

when he got to me i punked out even though i had a decent hand. i stood up, got my cardigan off the chair back, put it on, pulled my hair out from under it, and placed my cards face down on the table.

“might as well quit while i’m ahead, kids.” i scooped my chips up and handed them to bruce. “take care of these for me, will you cousin,” i hear myself saying in a far away voice as the room does a deep spin and tilt maneuver. i have not fainted, but i can not feel my feet as we move for what seems like hours through halls and corridors, alternately underlit and over-lit. up and down stairs and elevators and into yet another windowless room.

maybe they’re going to show an in-flight movie i joke (to myself or out loud, i’m not sure), as someone nudges me into a plush chair in a darkened, over-airconditioned space. the air is frigid and coffee-scented. together with the hum of central cooling it puts me in mind of a long, jet flight. after the meal and coffee, but before the movie, i think, dozing off in what really was an extremely comfortable chair.

everything that is the case

August 6th, 2004

this day that had begun like any other, with a simple and traditional ontology of states and events, was turning in to quite a circus.
luddie in tow, i’d met simon at the eagle. luddie insisted on calling it “the watson and crick pub” and on speaking very loudly despite that we were the lone patrons of a small, quiet, space. after a few pints, he began calling it “the dna pub” and interspersed this pithy observation with the phrase “wattle and daub,” of which he was evidently fond.

simon and i talked around him until, about ninety minutes later, the others arrived. by then it was clear luddie had won and i would not only have to go back to work, but would physically have to assist my captor in taking me in.

“it’s a thing better done sooner, rather than later,” i remember saying as i excused myself from the table, pulling luddie to his feet after me. jump cut and i’m here at this screen, in a windowless room, listening to and looking at this waveform, hour upon hour, a three second loop.

“Is it English,” the smiley guy from the company poked his head in the door walking by.
“we don’t even know if it’s language, sir, but we’ll keep you posted,” answers luddie.

please go away i think as pleasantly as i can.

the work is tedious and painstaking. searching for patterns blind in a gobi desert of data sand. what is the granular structure of the message? is it lexical, graphical, musical, numeric?

“about the only thing we do know,” i joked, “is that it ain’t chemical.” i was thinking of the Bain’s Chemical Telegraph exhibit i’d seen last week at the london museum of science. but no one else knew that and no one else laughed. i laughed for them, thinking it’s always good to know you’ve ruled out something. little by little at first, then all at once, that’s how mysteries are revealed, don’t you know.
there it was, the wisconsin influence, “doncha know,” noticing it made me laugh again and this time, eric shot me a look and narrowed his eyes purposefully.
“what’s so funny?”
“this is,” i answer quietly as i launch in to the story of how i’d unwittingly lost a whole day last week on one floor of the science museum. telegraphy, telephony, computing, it was all there on parade. my friend and i spent the day making up and trying to break each other’s codes, using everything from cell phone text messaging to cafeteria forks.
“i never thought i’d have more fun with signal and character encoding than that,” i finished.
“you talk too much.”
“you asked and this is what i find funny. more fun with character encoding you can not have,” i got up to get myself a cup of tea as i spoke and that was my mistake.
in the logical space where event is defined as a change of state or location, i ought to have finished my statement, then moved. by moving as i spoke i’d made my statement an event. i talked too much. i moved too much. but at least i lived my own generative grammar, thank you. in state and event schemas where extra semantic detail is forced back into the verb, where it belongs.

newton’s window

August 3rd, 2004

i stared at it for quite a long time and couldn’t decide if i ought regard it a shrine or a relic.
he believed in witches, my ludic dark side whispers, so do i the other i replies.
straight before me in that cross building joining the cathedral-sized chapel and fortified archway, right there behind those center windows, is the room where Isaac Newton made his optics experiments, right about this time of day.

what light, i marvel. what utterly perfect light in which to view this holy place of science. it is thrice blessed for it brings out the green of grass, as much as the blue of sky, and purple of hair.

“shrine, yes shrine,” i decided as i walked around the green at Kings College, Cambridge. “shrine on you crazy diamond, hehe indeed.” i’d seen a lot of holy places that day. great uncle harrie’s classroom, the oldest college at Cambridge, the murky river Cam, the Cavendish where Rutherford discovered corpuscles, particles that later came to be recognized as electrons. yes indeed, i was high on science and it was definitely time to hit the pub and put a lid on it.

just then, out of the corner of my eye, i saw Luddie Balmer coming towards me. here; in the wide, open plane of rationality; in the pure light of science; there was absolutely no place to hide. so, i smiled and got to work on a lie. naturally, he would have something that needed my full and immediate attention. just as naturally, i would not attend to any of it until my own and earlier plan for a pint had been executed in full.

“Ludwig, my dear man, how are you?” i say as jovially as I can.

“don’t pretend you’re happy to see me. i know you thought you were done for the week. i know you have an eight o’clock train.”

“all that can be changed. of course i’m happy to see you.” lie one.

“i’m just headed to meet some folks for a drink. interesting and important folks, you must come along.” lie two.

“let’s just say it took an hour or two longer to find me than it did, huh? you caught me at the station, alright?” lie three, and arguably the worst since it solicited another to join me in deception.

let the games begin, i thought, as we walked amicably together toward the pub. fasten your togas party people, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

hello hyper-infomated world

June 27th, 2004

Slide showing media changes of information society

cybersutra #1

June 23rd, 2004

aphorisms for the digital age

principle: the perfect is the enemy of the good.
– beware feature creep
– heed the 80/20 rule
– dilute! dilute! OK?

– explain how this is particular to the digital age.

dear reader

June 18th, 2004

you ask beautiful questions. “what if muses were real?”; “how many people appreciate you?”; “do you have any proof god doesn’t exist?”

you need not worry at seeming arrogant or pompous to one who’s kept handy the working titles “philosopher queen”, “girl genius”, and “the professor herself”…which is so nice in French, “le professeur elle-même”. “Hubris? Why I invented it!” — that’s my favorite self-referencing definition, a happy mirror of form and content. =)
who wired the planet? that i can not say. as an accolyte of Goethean science, my wired planet reference points to nature’s many feedback loops, the sensitive chaos of vortical forms from riparian to alimentary systems. water, constant water, always seeking lower ground, always seeking to be round.

dateline ramona

June 16th, 2004

what brings me back to ramona after all these years? it’s so different than it was in 1993 when i first moved here.

photo of street sign 15th and Ramona, San Francisco, CA

and different than it was in 1995 which, as you’ll see if you google “webheads on ramona street” and read the rolling stone article, was when ramona’s 15 minutes of fame went down. but my connection here goes far beyond that. it is wired into walls and across roofs..

photo of telecommunications plumbing

so it might well be this lovely punchdown block that brings me back

photo of desks with many computersphoto of punchdown block (telecommunicationa plumbing)

in 1994 a fire gutted this victorian. all the wiring had to be redone, and rick, aka mister 3-D, offered to do the telco wiring for the new owner for free. he put ethernet right in the walls, jacks in every room. ever since the building has been part of the ramona empire. it has been in the family, inhabited, like more than a dozen apartments in the neighborhood, by folks connected to this place through cyborganic. say what you will about cyborganic as a community, we were always proud of our wiring.

photo fridge covered with magnets and clippings photo close-up of fridge magnets

perhaps i am drawn back to visit the city by this fridge, by its magnets, poetry and clippings. postcards and new surprises alongside the eternal huey newton. huey has been sitting in that wicker chair, in that photo torn from a newspaper, on this fridge, since humans first returned here after the great fire.

magnet says photo close-up of fridge magnets and clippings

if you look closely you’ll notice a set of square, electricity-themed magnets in pastel colors with such pithy questions as “What is your kilowatt-hour rate?” these were sent around 1997 to educate consumers about the deregulation of california’s electricty markets (ha ha), but might also work as pick-up lines.

photo of foamy coffeemaybe it’s the frothy coffee that brings me back, or the note from aunt caroline (visible to the left of huey) which came with the whisker and admonishes: “…don’t shove this in the back of a drawer, foam wildly, foam madly, foam everything.”

of course geeky artifacts of days past also have their draw.

for example, the specimen below, brought by pauline to a party where the price of admission was an item from a failed dotcom, has to be one of the most vacuous paragraphs of marketing jargon ever written. it is reported to be genuine, that is, written in earnest, though i can’t imagine how.

Jargon Graph

birds do it, bees do it

June 7th, 2004

I wish I could tell you about a time before, so long ago that memory, mother of the muses, was herself a maiden.

Long before the art of writing altered time and space.
Back before even poetry, even speech.

Would that we could go back a few seconds before the first expression, just before the big bang that brings the first intellectual property into being.
Does a symphony cease to exist when the only remaining I/O for its data format bleeps its last?

From what I hear, communication runs deep. Our planet was wired for it long before we got here. Our brains since the chordata fork.

standard gauge

May 12th, 2004

quik 1 … why is std banner ad that size? was invented chez hotwired for zima, nu?
ian3141592: 468×60
ian3141592: My great contribution to mankind. 🙂
jennybot19: yours… tell me the story again
ian3141592: Mine and 3 other people.
jennybot19: organic made the banner, i know that much, was mathew nelson 1/3?
ian3141592: We were sitting around, me and Jeff Veen and um, me and my bad name memory… The art director at HW, and one other person.
ian3141592: Dunno. Could have been. Him or Steuer.
ian3141592: We said, well, we’re designing for 640×480…
ian3141592: And netscape is this wide….
ian3141592: And leaves this much space…
ian3141592: So let’s make it 468 wide…
ian3141592: And 60 high looks good.
ian3141592: …
jennybot19: neat…first person versions are cool, thanks!

jennybot19 is me. you should be able to figure out who ian3141592 is from this HotSooth page of Justin’s.

Another account of the birth of the Zima banner ad