Sunday, November 17, 2019

Some Solace For a Sunday

Time out.

You can't save the world every day. Life goes on (which is, after all, why one wants to save the world)

Anyway, it can have its uses as well, as we discovered when clearing out my daughter's room (to elaborate on what someone once said: the poor and a teenager's bedroom you will always have with you!), we came across some of her old DVDs, including that 'Mamma Mia' ABBA movie from a few years ago.

Remember ABBA? Of course you do. They're a part of the golden oldies circuit.

How is it possible, these days of ReDS, food shortages, displaced millions, power squabbles and general nummish* attitudes, to get solace from some blonde Eurovision contest winners from the seventies?

Apart from dewy-eyed nostalgia, have a look at these lyrics for I have a Dream:
I have a dream, a song to sing
To help me cope with anything
If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
You can take the future even if you fail
So, in between saving the world, give the world a chance to save you occasionally.

Message to IgDrip: I will 'cross the stream' when I choose, and I will *not* be coming over any time soon.
*num: I gather from a competent (16yo) authority that this is the current slang for a 'negative sum thinker'. A griefer to oldies like me.
Zero sum thinkers are 'zummers' (aka parents).
So , of course, positive-sum thinkers (guess who?) are ... 'possums'!

Monday, November 11, 2019

The Garden in the Cloud

When I first started 'structing, I had in my mind's eye a picture of a garden: a vacant plot where structs were planted and nourished and allowed to grow. As time went by, they would intertwine and hold each other up.

When I first started 'structing, I remember the great flurry of activity as everyone got to work. Tending my own patch, I gave the hubbub only passing attention. It wasn't until later that I realised how the noise diminished as people dispersed into the surrounding undergrowth

Until one day, I looked up, and there was ... silence. The centre had not held: people had drifted too far apart.

The silence was broken by a nearby wail from ubik "I cannot see the forest for the trees" he cried. It was true: the garden of my mind's eye was like a great grove of trees, all standing apart.. and silent.

So, I set to work. I began to search for the forest in the trees. I drew on a vision of each struct with its attendant retinue of information: members raves, threat facings. As I worked, I was drawn to an ineffable clearing where others were seeking to reconstruct their thoughts amid the stillness. We finally acquired the tools to work the soil in which the structs could thrive.

I stood back to see what I had done. The structs stood, viewable as a whole (to those not blinded by the Oedipus plague). It was now clear that the prevailing silence was a product of diffusion rather than true death. There *was* still life: more structs appeared over time and, as yet more time elapsed, their canopies of raves and membership spread.

Yet still apart: no linkages. A sterile plantation rather than a fecund jungle. An understorey of tales and discussions was needed.

Antonio opined: "we need to name the trees to know the ones we are interested in". Yes, but too much information to show at once!

And still, that need for connectivity. Something to indicate a common purpose between structs. Something like... tags.

So, the forest in the trees was not the end of the journey. We needed to see the cloud surrounding the forest. I started work again...

As it happened, the cloud forest was easy to form. Yet even this was not the end. For now I finally saw my garden in the cloud: an interlocking mesh structs and tales, bedded in a cloud of tags.

If you go here now you will see the garden bed. The structs and tales of GEAS are yet to appear out of the cloud of words, but they will come.

There is still work to be done, by you as well as by me. This garden needs to be tended for its own sake as well as for the things growing in it.

What you can do is this: look at the cloud. Look for the words you have used to tag your own creations. See if words that other people have used match your purpose. If they do, use them. If there is a better word, replace what you have used. If there is a typographical error , change it.

The cloud will respond to your care. The garden within will enjoy a much richer connectedness.

Please join us.

Monday, October 28, 2019

Sample from DisplayStruct

Been busy doing a little layout tool for superstruct.

Following the Oedipus2020 outbreak, a lot of cloud drifters aren't able to see the results, though.
Oh, well, while we consider a fix, here's a taste:

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Thank Goodness I'm on Cirrus!

Oedipus Blinds Drifters

The IdEst cloud drifter app has been effectively blinded by a specifically tailored attack by a newly identified virus dubbed Oedipus2020*. The IdEst custodian, Macrowaft, has long maintained a maverick approach to cloud computing, preferring to provide carefully controlled and tailored packages for its clients, claiming that it provides a much higher quality experience.

Yet it is one of these packages ('Moonshine', which handles vision requirements) that has been exploited.

Following the recent success in thwarting a serious communications threat, LexLothar, designated spokesbeing for the Laokoon Swarm was quick to defend their product. "Laokoon 7 cannot operate where it is not invited", she explained. "The default policies of Macrowaft packages usually prevent all third party collabaration offers. In the case of Laokoon 7, it was an offer that should not have been refused."

"As a result, Oedipus has established itself in a significant sector of the skyscape."

Macrowaft declined to comment.

*Oedipus was a character in a play by Sophocles who put his eyes out in punishment when he learnt of his incestuous relationship with his mother.

- Goitres
...mind you, this could stuff my plan to display all superstructs!

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Losing Perspective

I can't believe what some loonies are saying.

A return to the 'sustainable' population levels of the 1900's!!?
'Voluntary' extinction??

Apart from the small issues of the abrupt departure of eight billion souls, there's the small matter of the circumstances in which those levels would be reached!
"There are some levels of existence we are prepared to accept."
- The Architect from 'The Matrix: Reloaded'
No there isn't. I don't think anyone really has a clue about how conditions will degrade with just one of these doozies breathing down our necks, let alone five (or even the four that's prompted the 'return to the good old days' meme).

Well, maybe some do. That's why the grief rockers like that raptureholic 'IgDrip' are already spouting such gibberish about 'coming on over' (to the right hand side of the GEAS population graph)

They've given up. Worse, I can see they're going to be running malicious interference on those who haven't. (I thought we'd got over that a decade ago?)

*sigh* Welcome to 'Outlaw Planet'

Sunday, October 13, 2019

Watching the Meter

Our neighbours have a friendly rivalry going with us over our respective domestic power sourcing solutions.

They have solar cubes. We have a mix of solar cubes and spheres (technology upgrade in progress). Their's are mounted on the roof and garage. Ours are in a solar farm up in the Simpson desert somewhere.

Now, I'm all for home solar. Forget the FUD about safety issues emanating from certain quarters, most kits are installed in sealed modules that are not about to be tinkered with by the average user anyway. No, that we didn't follow suit with a lot of people when solar power became a cheap and viable option was a matter of practicality as much as anything else. Being situated on a fairly small city plot, we don't have a huge area available for such things. Furthermore, our roof is a cluttered mess, courtesy of an upper storey renovation we did some years ago. So, as much as I like the ideas espoused by the 'reclaim your roof' movement, I'll have to cheer from the sidelines on that one!

They still get power when the grid goes off. We get to watch them spend their high days and holidays struggling with one recalcitrant item or another without going through the roof or falling off. (Of course, after the chuckles have been had, such occasions usually call for a potluck pitch in)

What with transmission and service fees v DIY and local generation, they probably come out a little ahead in operating margins.

At least, we get to take it with us when we ever move! This makes it a popular option with the rental market.

Either way, the solar providers have a market for their kits.

So it goes. We win , they win. And the ball goes back and forth.

It seemed to land squarely in our side of the court the other day when I received the power bill.

Yes... bill! With the rebates we get from our existing Verdantor installations, we usually run at a modest profit (at least, enough to make me think we'll have paid off the admission and service fees in about five years)

So, I'm not used to power bills.

It seems that a couple of our units got damaged in a recent heavy hailstorm. Hailstorms. In a desert? Well, it happens, as they say.

Still, when your assets are a couple of thousand kilometres away, there's always the lingering suspicion that you are not being told the whole story. I got the title deeds out and checked the GPS locations so I could run a quick check with the 'I-spy' site and, sure enough, my units are not looking too happy, the upshots being:
1. Replacements are going to have to be paid for
2. no power income in the meantime

Lost that point.

Then again, the solar spheres we are getting as replacements are 10% more efficient...

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Tell Stories

There are, as I'm only beginning to appreciate, just so many ways people are tackling this, and just so much I can do.

It is my nature to gather my thoughts together before putting them on the table. This allows me to get details sorted, it also risks putting too much of the load on my shoulders. With a load this heavy, however, that way results in a breakdown:

While I collate my thinking on power struggle, let me offer a piece of advice I heard from a wise man many years ago.

By all means share. Reach out. Contribute to others' efforts.

But it will be that much more effective if you can overcome homophily: the love of sameness.

That wise man's advice ... ah! here it is, in full. The bit I want to point is this:

I’d been hoping the internet could be a solution to these problems. After all, it’s now possible to read the newspapers in another country, to read the blogs of people who live in these countries and hear what they’re thinking about. We can go to flickr and see the photos that people take, we can surf youtube and watch the videos that are making people laugh in other countries. Shouldn’t this help us connect with people around the world?

That’s what I thought a few years ago. I helped start a website called Global Voices, which is basically a site designed to help you find citizen media from other countries, especially the developing world. Want to know what people in China are talking about online? We filter through thousands of Chinese blogs, try to find the conversations that are interesting, translate them into English… and then into over a dozen other languages. If you read the site, you’ll end up getting a much better sense for what the hot topics are in other parts of the world… and you may find yourself emotionally invested in someone else’s blog, and by extension in their life and ideas.

[Reach out: ]But you probably won’t. That’s one of the biggest things we’ve discovered with the project - it’s hard to care, even if you want to. I can point you to a lively conversation taking place in another corner of the blogosphere and even if you can read the language, you’re probably not going to connect with the conversation. You don’t have the context. And beyond that, you don’t have any connection to the people or events involved.

It’s not your fault. Human beings are tribal by nature. There’s a sociological phenomenon called “homophily” - it’s the tendency of birds of a feather to flock together. Let people organize themselves and people will form into groups, usually by race, nationality, religion, level of education. In the US, there’s a lot of mobility - people move all the time - and we’re starting to see this happen politically - Bill Bishop calls it “The Big Sort”. It ends up meaning that left-leaning people live with other leftists, conservatives with other conservatives and we’ll each understand less about each other. We do this with information as well. If information affects people like us, we pay attention to it - if not, we’re almost hard-wired not to care.

It turns out that there’s an art to getting people to care. It’s about telling stories, stories that introduce us to people we care about, whose pasts we speculate about, whose future we worry about. Most of the world’s problems can’t be summed up by a single story about a single person… but unless you can attach a story to a problem, it’s likely that you won’t get anyone to pay attention to the larger problem. The problem with this art is that it can turn into a trick. The trick works by oversimplifying, turning stories into good versus evil, black and white. If we tell the story and lose the subtlety, at a certain point we’re lying.

We’ve got the infrastructure that makes it possible to connect to one another, to tell stories to one another, to share films and family photos and things that make us laugh or cry with people anywhere in the world. And so far, we’re pretty bad at using it. At the worst, we use it to hurt each other - think of the guy in Lagos who wants to rip you off while promising you millions of dollars… or the guy in London who makes sport out of humiliating and punishing him.

So here’s where I’m asking for help - we need bridge figures, people who can help build connections between cultures. We need xenophiles, people who are interested in the whole world and in building conversations that break out of the homophily trap. We need tools that let us use this infrastructure to connect. Help me figure out how to bridge people and how to build these tools.

- Ethan Zuckerman

In the end, the art of superstructing is the art of 'xenophily'

So, tell stories.