Member 185
28 entries

Patrick Tierney (M, 34)
Princeton, US
Immortal since Oct 7, 2007
Uplinks: 0, Generation 1
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    The human species is rapidly and indisputably moving towards the technological singularity. The cadence of the flow of information and innovation in...

    A series of rambles by SpaceCollective members sharing sudden insights and moments of clarity. Rambling is a time-proven way of thinking out loud,...

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    Develop a generative, emergent process to fill space (2D or 3D) using only black lines. Modify a known process or invent your own. Implement your...
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    Where forward thinking terrestrials share ideas and information about the state of the species, their planet and the universe, living the lives of science fiction. Introduction
    Featuring Powers of Ten by Charles and Ray Eames, based on an idea by Kees Boeke.
    Part I

    The internet is not yours, it never was yours. I'm sorry, it just isn't. It is owned by large telecommunication companies that decide who does what with their infrastructure. Like any public infrastructure, users have to adhere to certain rules for the whole thing to function. The problem is it is easy to think that while spending time on the Internet you have the same rights as in a cafe or worse yet your home. After all, this is where all your massages are, your documents, you meet friends here and form communities. These are all actions that have traditionally been protected by free speech and privacy laws, laws held paramount in democratic societies.

    Let me show you a sample of your "Acceptable Use Policy". This is important because the AUP determines what you can and cannot do on the internet:

    1. AT&T respects freedom of expression and believes it is a foundation of our free society to express differing points of view. AT&T will not terminate, disconnect or suspend service because of the views you or we express on public policy matters, political issues or political campaigns.
    believes in

    Thank you for granting me that right — I didn't know it was ever in question. However...

    2. Customer is prohibited from engaging in any other activity, whether legal or not, that AT&T determines in its sole discretion, to be harmful to its subscribers, operations, network(s). (emphasis added)

    Well that's pretty vague. Additionally ...

    3. AT&T IP Services shall not be used to host, post, transmit, or re-transmit any content or material that is threatening, harassing, obscene, indecent, hateful, malicious, racist, fraudulent, deceptive, invasive of privacy or publicity rights, abusive, inflammatory, or otherwise harmful or offensive to third parties, treasonous, excessively violent or promotes the use of violence, or provides instruction, information or assistance in causing or carrying out violence against any government, organization, group or individual, or provides guidance, information or assistance with respect to causing damage or security breaches to AT&T's network or to the network of any other IP Service provider.

    Wow, that's so vague I might as well not post anything here... So while AT&T asserts (1), it can use any combination the items in (2) and (3) to overturn (1) at any time. Better yet, an ISP can just remove clause (1) if they so please. Hey, that's not right you say. OK, go make your own internet.

    See, the internet as a cafe or home simply doesn't hold true. This new digital space of the internet has no bill of rights — you are not guaranteed anything. This shouldn't be surprising: the data infrastructure is privately owned. You're living on Main Street, Disneyland, not Main Street, USA. What's that? you can just encrypt your data or use Tor? Sorry, the telecoms can ban that too under (2) or (3). You signed away all your rights the moment you turned on your modem. Didn't you notice?

    Part II

    Case Study 1: ARPANet
    It's commonly believed that the ARPANet in the genesis of our modern day internet. It was the testing ground of a large-scale, packet switched network. It was however a closed network leased from BBN and Raytheon (they tried several times to give AT&T a monopoly, but AT&T turned them down and continued developing its own tools and services for its rival ARPANet). While the ARPANet was the first example of a network that resembles our current internet, it wasn't the the only computer network that emerged. Telenet, Usenet, ClarkNet, RCCNet, SATNet, etc (Compuserve even had their own network you could buy into). The Internet, by definition, was the coming together of these many networks, united by a single protocol. One thing also remained true during the rise of the internet: TCP/IP had to go through the networks of big companies who were stringing copper long before Len Kleinrock was born.

    Case Study 2: BBS's
    The TCP/IP networks mentioned above were primarily used for file transfer and email. Alternate networks emerged which allowed for a more communal environment. BBS's were one of these. A BBS was a computer server that an individual set up allowing other computers to connect over a phone based modem and leave a message. In essence it allowed anyone to create their own worldwide message board system without going through an ISP or large scale network. While most BBS's were used for benign massaging, some BBS's had a instructions for overthrowing the government, hacking, bomb making, theft, and hand to hand combat. These BBS's, examples of freedom of speech unbound by time or location, would be illegal on today's internet. Why? Because the ISPs say so.

    Case Study 3: Burning man
    Yes, it's that time of year again, and say what you will about the event in it's current state, Burning Man started out as an experiment with a fascinating goal: what happens when a couple thousand people try to create their own city in the middle of the desert? Conclusion: it's fun until people sleeping in tents get run over by inebriated drivers, when the careless start destroying the natural environment, when "liability" becomes a major concern. At that point communal, bottom up organization gives way to a top down structure. I'm not saying that's a bad thing, per say, but who decides the rules?

    Part III

    There is hope. Net neutrality is trying to take back control of the internet from the telecoms, though they are fighting this very hard.

    Most of you should be aware that all the old television frequencies will soon be up for auction. Verizon has already won a large chunk, publicly stating that they planned on reaming the American people with their new toy. Luckily a federal court and the FCC said that wasn't cool (Gooo team!).

    There's still a lot more spectrum left, and no one knows who will get it.

    The point though is that unless we the internet users start looking up from ceiling cat, (insert name here)-tube, and social networks to fight the big picture, the internet might have the same fate as the TV spectrum, owned by a few corporations who decide what belongs on their network. The wireless Internet spectrum cannot suffer the same fate, because there will be no going back.

    We have a chance to make that second digital space we all want, one that's in the public domain (GNU internet?), with a bill of rights that we, the Internet users decided. Remember, this is our space, because we live here.
    Sat, Jul 19, 2008  Permanent link
    Categories: computers, internet
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    Researchers from the Biomedical Engineering Laboratory at Keio University in Japan have developed a brain-computer interface that enables users to control the movements of Second Life avatars without moving a muscle.

    It's a brain wave scanner, and as the video shows it surprisingly good control over your avatar in Second Life for a device that doesn't need to be glued to your head (though it is a little slow).

    Shuhei Endo has been doing some interesting work with geodesic dome structures. One of his larger projects is the ECO House, a huge bean shaped geodesic dome with grass growing around much of the outside. He said it keeps the inside 10 degrees cooler on the inside without air conditioning (I dont know if it's Celsius or Fahrenheit). The ECO House encloses 9 tennis courts in one snaking bean shape without any obstructing walls or columns. He did a kindergarten in a similar fashion though at a much smaller scale. I like how it makes children sized overhangs.

    Kaichiro Morikawa gave a talk on the Otaku subculture in Japan on Monday. It was primarily an anthropological talk, though near the end he started making some great parallels between the internet, architecture, and user generated content. Otakus are the anime and manga obsessed citizens of Japan, and have created districts in Tokyo with distinct architectural and design styles based on the Otaku's needs and personalities. The buildings in Otaku districts are more private than contemporary buildings, yet also offer places to display user generated content such as fanzines and "garage kits."

    How we design buildings and structure cities is primarily based on global trends (the glass and steel of modernisms for example) or "capitalism translated in to space" (giving the biggest buildings and central locations to rich corporations). These two design methodologies often dont reflect the subtle needs of subcultures. The internet knows this all too well, and it is this feature of the internet that has given rise to so many diverse groups. How can architecture catch up?

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    Recently I've come to appreciate Neuromancer in a whole new way. For the longest time I thought of the book as too abstract and a little slow, as opposed to Neil Stephenson's Snow Crash, which gave so much detail about the Metaverse you could sit down and begin programming it. I always thought the difference was that Gibson couldn't imagine what this virtual reality would be like, so he left it vague.

    As virtual reality is becoming more central to people lives and businesses, I'm beginning to understand one reason why he might have structured the novel in the way he did. For those who aren't familiar with the book, it follows a man who's been neurologically damaged so he cant enter cyberspace. He turns into functioning alcoholic, and much of the book deals with his detachment from the world, living his life in a half waking state.

    Something fundamental about the world we live in today is that as long as you are alive, you exist in three dimensional space, are affected by gravity, and all other forces in our universe. With the rise of virtual reality we will form an attachment to an entirely different space. The character in Neuromance defined himself by cyberspace, he thought in the dimensions of cyberspace. When this was taken away from him he was alive, but didn't exist in his reality. The thought of being in this state make me recognize how ahead of his time Gibson was.

    Sun, Oct 7, 2007  Permanent link
    Categories: Virtual Reality, computers
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