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Gabriel Shalom
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    Manifesting the Social API
    Project: Polytopia
    Crossposted from Emergence Collective

    The Social API

    Lately there has been quite a bit of dialogue about writing a Social API (application programming interface) so that individuals and organizations can participate in "cross-platform" emergent innovation and action in a modular and plug-and-play manner. In our attempts to define what this Social API would look like, it becomes apparent it will not resemble the form of a normal API, as humans are not machines. What is a prescriptive, highly defined, unambiguous programming convention for writing software will need some serious translation to work for human brains.

    Regarding human brains, the way I see it:

    Action = Application
    Ideas = Programming
    Conversation = Interface

    Using this set of equivalencies we can see the potential for conversation (the interface) to spark new ideas (programming) which in turn causes us to act (application) resulting in all sorts of creative mashups of new behavior (the emergence?).

    Twitter as a Global Conversation

    Since I read Venessa's post about how to use Twitter to build intelligence, I have supported the idea that Twitter is a global conversation — albeit a global conversation parsed at 140 characters at a time (plus annotations coming soon) that is at least 90% cacophony! Nonetheless, this shift in understanding changed the way I use Twitter and had immediate results in my actions online and in the real world. Apart from becoming an evangelist for Venessa's article — I must have told at least two dozen people about it since I read it — I have had a new level of interaction using Twitter which is remarkable for its ability to manifest thought into action.

    The dilemma with Twitter is that you have to learn some secret code to get it working for you. Among many other issues, not that many Twitter newbies get properly introduced to the basics of # hashtagging and the @ at-reply. The result of this lack of connection and being on the inside of the Twitter culture is there is a large percentage of Twitter users with inactive accounts. Or, alternately, there is simply a misunderstanding that Twitter is just public Facebook status updates, deterring the most avid Facebook users from having to replicate what they perceive to be their primary social engagement on the web in a less private sphere.

    Junto: an Amplifier for the Power of Networks

    Unlike Twitter, the live-video medium allows us the fullest range of expression of our innate communication abilities, including the critical layers of non-verbal communication, gesture, tone, facial-expression, etc.

    Seesmic did not become "Video for Twitter" because it consisted of artificially short blips of recorded video. Video wants to be live. For it to deliver a Twitter-like conversation experience it needs to fluctuate and swell like the cacophonous birdsong of the Twitter-sphere. Have you ever listened to the sound of lots of birds singing on a spring morning? The basic form is a musical form. For video to achieve that degree of musicality, the live video signal becomes more important than the archived video recording.

    Nonetheless, an archive is important. And certainly there is a substantial knowledge cartography community who will undoubtedly step forward to map the terrain of the Junto global conversation. I believe a robust archive will be an emergent property of the Junto platform itself.

    Analog Networks

    We cannot forget, however, that major movements in human history occurred without digital networks. The power of networks is something which digitization quantifies, but that power exists regardless of the quantification. While that quantification can serve as a self-reflexive mirror which then generates feedback and thus amplification, it's valuable to remember the power of analog networks when considering the fate of the Social API.

    Whether looking to the student movement born in the cafe culture of Paris, the community organizing during the American civil rights movement, or even the twitter resistance used during the Iranian elections, social movements have historically been built on a foundation of an exchange of ideas. As I see it, the radical proposition of Junto is as an amplification platform for ideas (programming).

    The world is undergoing massive changes in economy, environment, society, politics — you name it — and the emergence is no less than a generational movement against repeating the mistakes of the last century.

    There, I said it. And yes, this means the emergence and what it represents has values. Values of a techno-spiritual-secular nature, yet nonetheless values. The Social API — whether it ends up taking the form of a future blog post, a video series, or a good old fashioned political pamphlet — is a set of common values which will guide the emergence.

    When Lawrence Lessig spoke in Berlin last year at the Sophiensaele, I asked a question from the audience: "what do you think of Twitter?" His response resonates with me to this day: "Twitter reminds me of Ghandi". He went on to explain that Gandhi was able to organize massive protests in India in a time when not even telephones were at hand to spread the message of a planned direct action. Lessig felt that it worked because the Indian culture had an innate value of passing on useful information to whoever needed to hear it. His view was that this represented a kind of analog "re-tweeting", and that if it should have any implication for what Twitter represents for our culture, he was optimistic.

    Sun, Jul 11, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: manifestation, junto, social API, action
    Sent to project: Polytopia
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    BenRayfield     Mon, Jul 12, 2010  Permanent link
    I don't believe in magic. Its all physics and logic. But I do believe what I've had enough experience with to know some of how it works. I'm trying to do this in a logical and scientific way, using the highest quality statistics tools (bayesian network)...

    This is about creating a better "social API", which means a way to create social-networking software in a more flexible and self-referencing way, to use the "social API" to define the next version of itself, and other improvements. That is a great idea, but if you want to skip a few steps and build the thing that will obsolete it (for some people who prefer telepathy over video/audio communication, some will choose not to), I'll explain below...

    ...how to create a Telepathy API,
    which means a software that causes its users to read eachothers minds, to put thoughts into eachothers minds, and for the software to know when that is happening, in what ways, who is is being done between, and the statistics of what will probably happen in the next few seconds in that same system. Its a completely logical software interface.

    QUOTE: "Junto: an Amplifier for the Power of Networks
    Unlike Twitter, the live-video medium allows us the fullest range of expression of our innate communication abilities, including the critical layers of non-verbal communication, gesture, tone, facial-expression, etc."

    Telepathy API:

    Using that network of people doing video chat, with a software to interpret body-language (software interprets video to know how much you are smiling, which way your head is turned, and other body language as numbers between 0 and 1), all of that, for all people in the system, for all such body-language measurements, and a separate input for 2 seconds ago, for 1 second ago, for now, and a separate set of inputs from speed and current position (of each body-language input), connect all of that to 1 global bayesian-network (an intelligent statistics tool).

    The body-language is the inputs to the bayesian-network.

    The outputs of the bayesian network will be to delay the video between any 2 people by 1/10 of a second, or to not delay it, resulting in them seeing a 0.5 or 0.6 second delay in the video, which they will not notice except unconsciously. The bayesian network will choose to add that small delay or not many times per second and for each pair of people sharing video. It will have subtle effects, and we do not know who will be affected or how many seconds it will take, but the theory of the Telepathy API is it will affect people's body-language who are not sharing video and do not have any path of video on a chain of people that is short enough for the video to get there before the bayesian-network notices the far-apart people's body language changes together. That would be a telepathy effect. If there is a chain of people doing video chat then that can not be assumed to be telepathy because body-language can transfer across many people indirectly.

    Here's the intelligent part that generates the telepathy effect: Bayesian networks are a statistics tool, and one of their main purposes is to figure out what is causing what else, how much it affects it, and what you could change (that the network is connected to) to cause any arbitrary thing (that the network is connected to). At that statistics task, it is far smarter than the smartest Human, and it will figure out who is influencing who else in ways other than seeing the video (and other parts of the chat). In a very logical way, the bayesian network will calculate whose video to delay by 1/10 of a second to cause who else to have the specific body-language that the Telepathy API is trying to make happen, but it does not work every time, just statistically more than you would expect by random actions, which is enough to make it work after a few minutes or an hour maybe. The most important part is to have the bayesian network choose some set of outputs and have it DESIGN EXPERIMENTS (change some of the inputs 1/2 second from now and see how the outputs change) to balance the chance of all expected outputs, like if there was a 2/3 chance some person would smile and 1/3 they would not, have the bayesian network try to balance that at 1/2 chance each as the result of somebody far from them in the network receiving video with a 1/10 second delay (or not delayed, depending on what the bayesian network thinks will have that effect). Do that many times in many ways at once in many combinations, and a telepathy network will form between those users of the software, and the Telepathy API will be the software that can access the telepathy network between the people using the software.

    If anyone chooses to build this "Telepathy API", theoretically if it works (I think it will), then it could be used to create consciousness in the internet, flowing across its wires, independent of the people using it. Since we're close to creating Human level robots/softwares/technology, I would not want to leave out consciousness and be left with machines that don't really understand all parts of how we think. Most of how we think is already known by science, but there is this small influence.

    Also, I think it would be really funny if we got James Randi to use this video chat system to win his own million dollar paranormal challenge.
     
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