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    From sightbyvision
    Artists Give Meaning
    From fetherston
    Individualism is a disease
    From rene
    SpaceCollective’s first...
    Now playing SpaceCollective
    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.
    Context: just watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1
    Words are spells unto the mind (as opposed to the material world); NB and look up “incantation”
    The mind/intellect grasps/understands reality. Words can be and usually are involved in this process.
    Convincing a person that p is a unique task... one of the highest order, I think.

    The will
    The intellect
    The spirit
    The desire
    The soul
    The body
    The mind

    |The will| the means by which we demonstrate loyalty/priority, or imply our values
    Because we live in a finite world, our choices are discrete and at the expense of / mutually exclusive of other choices. Thus, the will can only be exercised linearly, and which ever object is current is most important.
    |The intellect| understands reality, which in turn informs the will
    Reality is the sphere in which we apply the will. Our will can affect reality. However, that influence is bounded by reality’s mechanisms. Those mechanisms are understood by the intellect, which informs the will by perceiving the nature of its influence on reality.
    |The desire| we want
    The desire provides the objective for the will.
    We have desires. Our intellect understands relationships between reality and the satisfaction of those desires. We apply the will according to that understanding.
    There is a structure of desires—frequently hierarchical because of the causal nature of reality. Many desires depend upon a variety of conditions, and desire thus flows along that structure of dependency. Such a structure implies original desires, possibly fundamental and/or universal.
    * Are there axiomatic desires? That is, desires so desired by definition? E.g. that which is good/beneficial/best?
    * What about the dynamism of desire? They can change. Moreover, they can be learned/unlearned...
    * Am I saying that the application of the will is a function of the desire? I.e., if one were not to have any desires, one would not apply the will?
    |The spirit| that which animates the will
    The spirit is dynamic, it fluctuates. It determines emotions and feelings.
    |The soul| bears the eternal consequences of the will
    Every exercise of the will leaves characterizes/impresses/shapes the soul for eternity (in contrast to the temporal effects of the will on reality).
    |The mind| possesses the conclusions of the intellect, seat of belief
    When the intellect understands a part of reality, that understanding takes residence in the mind in such a way that the will need not (or tends not to) consult/implement the intellect, but defaults on the stored understanding. The mind also holds our beliefs.
    *What is the belief making process? How do we come to believe that p? What are the roles of the intellect, spirit, and will?
    |The body| the will’s means of interacting with material reality
    Sat, Nov 27, 2010  Permanent link

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    People are communicating in the long tail.

    The long tail is basically the the niche market leveraged by digital technology. The efficiency, and in particular the spatial efficiency, of a digital network liberates retail from the "tyranny of the physical," resulting in a profitable business model for selling obscure products. In the old days, only the most popular products warranted the relatively expensive real estate that they occupied—several cubic centimeters for a CD. Not enough people bought items on the backlist to support the costs of running a brick and mortar shop, so big hits dominated the racks. There just wasn't enough room for every album, dvd, book, etc. But on an e-commerce site, there's room and then some. The long tail consists of all those products each of which only a few people want. Though each item lacks a high volume of sales individually, their sales together compare to the sales of the few most popular titles.

    What we see here is an increase of resolution. Imagine a screen with a resolution of 10x10. There's only enough room for 100 pixels. Quite simply, with a higher resolution screen, there's more room for pixels. A digital network is higher resolution storage than a brick and mortar network—there's more room for products (provided they can be digitized). So, thinking of retailers as screens displaying a society's interests (implied by their purchases), Amazon is a far more detailed picture than was the Sears and Roebuck of 1950.

    And the same thing is happening in the telecommunications industry. In addition to consuming products, people also also consume of information. The main medium of information used to be the radio and television networks. These networks, like brick and mortar stores, could only be supported by the most popular titles, and there being only 3 hours of prime time, less popular shows get the squeeze.The internet, in contrast, has enough room for 40 million people to have their very own channel via Youtube. Television and radio are extremely low in resolution compared to the so called "new media." My selection of blogs, twitter feeds, facebook friends, youtube channels, etc. compose an articulate picture of my interests, more nuanced and refined than my selection in TV shows ever hoped to be.

    But what exactly is this tendency of increasing resolution and why is it happening...

    Fri, Jul 23, 2010  Permanent link

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    Information is order. Order takes an object (or a medium), so there is no information in a vacuum. Both matter and energy can be ordered. The more matter you're ordering, the more it energy it costs to order. So it costs more to write a paragraph in bricks than in ink. Ordering energy is far more efficient, but ordered energy is transitory—it unfolds in time. Ordering kinetic energy in the air does not cost much energy, but it lacks permanence. To keep that information, people used to memorize, transmitting the order of sound-waves to their neurons. Memorization, a way to order matter, may not cost much energy, but it costs time. Paper and ink provided a more efficient (or at least a different) way to order matter. And now, magnetic bits are providing yet a more efficient way.

    What are bricks, neurons, paper and ink, and magnetic bits? They are mediums of information. Some hold information more readily than others (that is, they cost less energy to order). We see a similar pattern with regard to solvents. Water is the universal solvent for matter. Magnetic bits bear a similar relationship to order.

    Imagine a stream in which many elements had been dissolved in the water. So whenever I need iron or gold or silicon or hydrogen, I could just go to the steam and extract the element I needed. And when I needed to store an element, I could just drop it into the stream for later retrieval. Since the stream is connected to every other body of water, I could get the elements others drop in, too. But what if water wasn't just a solvent for the other elements? what if it could become the other elements? So I could not only extract iron from the stream, but (with the right tools) could form the water itself into iron? at an almost negligible cost? As general rule, it would be more efficient to drop something into the stream.

    Everything has a degree of order. Take a chair for example. A chair is matter ordered in a specific way. The order of the chair can be transmitted to various materials—wood, metal, and so forth. That order can also be transmitted to ink and paper, as a blueprint or a set of instructions. It can also be transmitted to magnetic bits as a blueprint, a set of instructions, and also a 3D model. So the order of all things can be uploaded to the Internet, which is made possible by the unique qualities of magnetic bits and electricity. The significance of this is that the Internet is assimilating the order of all things.

    Thus, the order of anything is now accessible and abundant. Therefore, there's enough by default to meet demand. What are still comparatively scarce are certain mediums. So I can easily get the order of a car, however, I'm limited to the medium of magnetic bits. Usually we want the order of a car in the medium of steel, rubber, glass, and fuel, but those are not as easily accessible. Thus, a premium will be placed on mediums of order, as opposed to order itself. And for those things whose order is functional in the medium of magnetic bits, there will also be enough of them to meet demand by default, eg software.

    Sat, Mar 13, 2010  Permanent link
    Categories: internet, information theory
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    I am happy to say that I have learned the truth and am joyfully living it =D



    So I have this friend, his name is Tim. Tim is anti-democracy and anti-capitalism—says these things engender individualism, which ultimately results in anarchy. He has this vision for a collectivistic society in which, among other things, if you believe you have something to contribute for the benefit society, it's a crime to withhold.
    Now, I'm like, "Tim, I just want to play games."
    And he's like, "No. You've got more to give."
    And I'm like, "eff this [world]. I just want to play."

    Now, I know I'm wrong. I know it, balls to bones...
    ... but the idea of working as a book clerk by day and roaming the (virtual) cosmos by night is so compelling.

    I'm wondering what value there is in playing MMOs. It's tempting to think that I'm trying to justify a cop-out, and often times I do—like I said, I know I'm wrong. But, I guess I keep on hoping, hoping that I'm not running away, that it's not just escapism, that I'm not avoiding responsibility—that I'm not a hypocrite.

    For some food for thought, I'm reading Edward Castronova's Synthetic Worlds: The Business and Culture of Online Games.
    The first quote explains a fundamental difference between the social structures of the MMORPG and modern society. The second equates 'virtual' with 'real.'

    Most MMORPGs give players strong incentives to adapt to these grouping structures to some degree. At the level of the individual adventuring party, the roles of the avatars may be designed so that no one player can accomplish things alone. Warriors may need wizards and vice versa. At higher levels, certain resources may not be accessible unless one has the help of an army. Outside the realm of combat and adventure, group structures give players access to markets and opportunities to socialize.

    What if a player does not like the available groups? The game mechanics tend to ensure that players who don’t get along also never achieve much in the world. This, like risk, is another way to ensure that mere time is insufficient to succeed at the game; you must also be able to integrate yourself socially.

    And that, in turn, generates perhaps the most important effect of scarcity: reputational capital. Since everything is not free, and since you need other people to get the things you want, you had better behave.[*] If you don’t, none of the other users will help you get what you want. It is interesting that MMORPGs are filled with various grouping mechanisms but have no explicit justice systems or governmental structures. A state of anarchy seems to be preserved as a conscious choice of the developers, so as to give maximum possible scope to reputation systems and the informal norms they support. Much research in political science validates this strategy (Ostrom, Gardner, and Walker 1994; Kollock 1996): reputation and norms are often more powerful than law. What law there is, is in the form of customer service representatives, whose unhappy job it is to intervene in particularly bitter fights among players. Truly nasty players can be banned from the world, but this seems comparatively rare. Indeed, customer service representatives are pretty rare. Labor is expensive; most developers would prefer that the player community regulate its own conflicts.

    As a result of this decision, players in MMORPGs are thrown into a social environment with a truly unprecedented level of cooperation, with attendant effects on their behavior (Kollock 1999a). Anyone who wants to do anything usually has to learn how to cooperate. Think for a moment how different this is from social life in contemporary postindustrial communities. For the most part, we sit in our homes and watch TV. At work and school, we complete individualized tasks to receive an individualized compensation. We change residences and jobs and even families with such frequency that there is little point in maintaining a reputation, and doing things with other people in groups is becoming more and more rare (Putnam 1995). True, there are many situations in which teamwork is necessary, but these situations used to dominate social life only a few decades ago. At the start of the twenty-first century, the town square is empty, and barn-raising is a do-it-yourself affair. In the face of this extreme level of social isolation, some people now congregate in online worlds, where Society matters once again. There, people are thrust into countless cooperative ventures and find themselves unable to perform the most rudimentary tasks without the help of others. All of this is by design; the worlds are this way because people want them to be this way; they enjoy working with others. (116-117)

    * "Critics of video-gaming in popular culture have yet to gasp the immense benefit that this particular feature may deliver to society. Like manna from heaven, finally we have received a media format that teaches people how to get along with one another (300)."

    I would argue that these processes of value creation have advanced so far, even at this early date, that almost everything known as a “virtual” commodity—the gold piece, the magic helmets, the deadly spaceship, and so on—is now certifiably real. Indeed, as I argued in the introduction, the term virtual is losing its meaning. Perhaps it never had meaning. The things happening online have always been literal human things; there was never anything metaphorical, as-if, or subjunctive about them. At first it may have been convenient in many ways to think of networked human interaction as only a model of the real thing. Now, however, and specifically in the arena of synthetic worlds, the allegedly “virtual” is blending so smoothly into the allegedly “real” as to make the distinction increasingly difficult to see.[*] There’s nothing revolutionary in this, though. It is merely recognition that these things were always as real as anything else in the human culturesphere. (148)

    * "Recall that while I do continue to use the term "virtual world," it is primarily as a specific and technical reference to that territory which is inside computers and made by human hands. It is the area inside the membrane (301)."

    I grew up as an only child with my father in a neighborhood without many children. To occupy myself, I used spend a lot of time playing with action figures, role playing (by myself) outside in the woods, and, of course, playing video games.
    I'm in college now, and as think about what to do in the future, I look to the past. In hindsight I realize that I've never looked forward to anything as much as when I look forward to playing a game. While I'm actually playing that game, I wouldn't describe it as a joyous experience, but as compelling, and I find this distinctly different from daily routines, which are laborious and dreadful. As much as I would like to recognize this an obvious indication to play games, I see instead a symptom of a deficiency in the non-game world, in my real life.

    This being my third post in almost a year, I feel something like a hanger-on in this collective. So it feels almost unfair for me to write this kind of post, asking you all for help, in a way. But that is what I'm doing, and this being a community, I hope that's okay.

    Sun, Nov 9, 2008  Permanent link

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    It has been over two years since i wrote the below.
    I have since learned that the will is free. Choice is not merely an illusion, a mechanism of the mind for abstracting meaning. Rather, it is (as I describe above in "Metaphysics" a demonstration of value.

    In time I will write the rebuttal to my argument below.



    If the world is determined:
    Choice is an illusion. Faced with options A and B, it would only appear that we could choose between the two. In reality, our choice is no more a choice than seeing when light contacts our retina. Our character has been shaped by our genetics and environment, things out of our control (not that we have any), and will react to a given stimuli exactly as does the rest of the body according to the mechanistic nature of the world.

    That is (or at least was, before the conceptualization of quantum mechanics) determinism in a nutshell according to the materialist. As a Christian, however, I might question free-will on decidedly different grounds. I am interested to know how I can have free-will if God already knows my choices.

    My argument is that I do not, in the purest sense of the concept, have free-will. I would argue that choice, is, in fact, an illusion. To be precise, I would define it as a perception. Faced with the options A and B, my ability to freely choose between the two is a perception. In reality, (God knows) I will choose A.

    As an analogy, let's turn to the concept of chance.
    Imagine a deck of 52 cards. I show you the cards, they are all accounted for. We shuffle the deck and I deal myself one card. I know what it is, and you do not. To you, there is a 1/52 chance that it could be any card in a deck of cards. That is your perception. To me, there is a 52/52 chance that it is the King of Hearts, and a 0/52 chance that it is any other card. That is my perception, and it is also reality.
    I show you the card, and it would no longer make sense for you to say, "There is a 1/52 chance that this card is any card in a deck." There is not a 1/52 chance that this card could be the Ace of Spades. It also does not make sense for me to tell you, before you knew the identity of the card, "You are wrong, there is not a 1/52 chance that this card is any card in a deck." Chance by definition is a perception (created by the lack of information). To say, "There is a 1/52 chance that this card is any card in a deck," means that you do not know the identity of the card. Even though in reality it is a King of Hearts and could not be otherwise, you work as if it could be any one card in a deck. This method, i.e. working "as if" things could be one way or another even though they are really one way, works; in fact it works very well. By "works" I mean “is functional.” As a method of dealing with the lack of information, operating "as if" a concealed card could be X, Y, or Z (even though it is really only X) can garner a good poker player quite a bit of money. Progress in the mathematical field of probability has yielded numerous benefits to society, and an adept poker player is example enough to show that this method of accepting an illusion is functional.

    In the same way that we can deal with the lack of information by abstracting that lack into numbers, such as "1/52," we can deal with meaning by abstracting it into choices, such as "A OR B."

    If I am confronted by a ravenous tiger, I give meaning to the black and orange image in front of me, the guttural sounds this image is emitting, and I understand the situation in the following choices: fight or flight. I've written what I am going to do at the bottom of the page to simulate the determined nature of the situation. I choose to fight. Now, my argument is that my choice to fight instead of flee was only a perception. In reality, I could not have chosen to flee because of my genetics, childhood, etc. But, my mind needs to be able to perceive an ability to choose because the default response to a tiger cannot always be "fight." In the case of photons, vision is almost always an appropriate response of the brain. In the case of complex situations, it is more functional for the mind to perceive the ability to choose than to calculate the determined outcome and then trigger the appropriate neural signals that would yield those actions.

    The idea of "choice" is our way of dealing with meaning. It abstracts meanings into “A OR B,” even though, just as the King of Hearts is not the KoH OR the AoS and is only the KoH, the only option is A. We treat situations as if both A and B are viable options (hence the term "option"), just as we treat a concealed card as if it could be the KoH OR the AoS. And this works. We live as if we are not victims of our genetics and environment and we "choose" to work hard and our very belief (perception) that we are in control affects our "choices" to be good. It is difficult to make a good choice if you do not believe in choice.

    In the same way that it does not make sense for me to tell you, as you look at the concealed card, "You are wrong, there is not a 1/52 chance that this card is any card in a deck," it also does not make sense for me to tell you before you make your choice, "You are wrong, you can only choose A." It is because you do not know the identity of the card that you must say something nonsensical like, “It could be the KoH or it could be the AoS or it could be etc…” (this translates to 1/52). It doesn’t even sound nonsensical to say “1/52” because we are so accustomed to dealing with the lack of information in this manner. Only after I reveal the KoH to you does it sound nonsensical to say, “This card could be the KoH or it could be the AoS or it could be etc…” In the same way, to say, “I can choose A or B” is actually nonsensical, but it is the manner in which we deal with all the meaning of any given situation, so we work with choice as if it were sensible. This is a functional way of living.

    Concerning personal responsibility to other people:
    Because we work as if we make choices, it follows that we would hold people responsible for those choices. Personal responsibility is assumed if we accept the perception that we make choices.

    Concerning personal responsibility to God:
    Question: If God knows our actions before we make them, how can He hold us responsible for acting in ways that He made us to act?
    Answer: Is God interested in personal responsibility? Does He not punish us for violations we did not commit (Adam)? And does He not reward us for righteousness that was not ours (Jesus)? I think it is questionable as to whether or not God holds us personally responsible for our actions, which is why we look to Jesus and his actions for salvation, and not our own.

    Question: How can we love God if He made us to love Him? How is that love if it is not voluntary?
    Answer: Do I choose to believe in God? Is that a choice? Does the non-believer choose not to believe in God? I would say of myself in the past, that I wanted to believe in God, but couldn't. That language does not indicate that belief in God is a choice. In fact, it indicates the opposite. Do we not speak of "falling in love?" Again, this language would indicate that "love" is not a choice. Love is an emotion, as are anger and sadness. I do not choose to be sad when my uncle dies. My sadness is a reaction. Love is my reaction to God. A more appropriate response is gratitude to Him for being so gracious as to make me such a person who have that reaction to Him.

    I don’t know if the world is determined, but if it is, we can work as if it is undetermined.

    [I fight.]
    Sat, Jun 21, 2008  Permanent link

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    I've been watching a lot of speeches from lately, and I've been tremendously inspired by their positive energy in a time that the media would paint as rather daunting. I hope to do something with my life as good as those noble people at TED are doing.
    As good as they are, it is difficult to criticize the people of TED, aka "Tedsters." However, critical analysis is vital for everything. Without it, we can often slip into unawareness—into a state of action without thought. So this is my only question for TED:
    [I tend to think in dialogue, so that's how I'll write]
    A. So what?
    B. Tedsters are literally saving lives by doing everything from building houses to making medicine. Surely this is a good thing. Surely these people are living significant, meaningful lives.
    A. If a person is starving and I take him into my home and give him a new life—a life with which he starts a business and then uses his profits to save more lives—what does that mean? So what if more and more people have the opportunity to live?
    B. Perhaps the opportunity to live is a good thing in and of itself?
    A. I don't think it is. Look at the word "opportunity." It has to do the the chance for goodness. A life is an empty vessel that can be filled with whatever. So what if we devote our lives to giving people empty vessels?
    B. Surely that's better than not having a life at all?
    A. How would a suicidal person answer that question?

    The classic, trite question here is, of course, "What is the meaning of life?"
    and it is the the artist who answers this question.

    I've been struggling the with the tension between art and practicality for a while now. I am inspired to create. I feel urges and longings to write, draw, build—to make... but a painting cannot feed someone, a photograph cannot sustain someone's physical life. And I have a problem with the idea of holing myself up in a studio while there are people out there like those people at TED devoting their entire lives to actually doing something—who are actually putting food on people's plates and providing them with shelter.
    But, of course, there's more to life that survival. And it the artist who says, "This is why life is worth living. This is why you should get out of bed in the morning." A scientist can provide the potential for life, but it is the artist who assigns that life value.
    And so, we are all in our own ways artists, but some of us feel compelled to share our discoveries with others. And so we make things—works of art to express that value we see in life. This sort of activity isn't for everyone, and that's OK. Saving lives is a good way to spend time too; people need to have a life in the first place before they can give it meaning.
    And holing yourself up in a studio isn't any less a good way to spend your time because finding meaning in life often goes hand in hand with life itself. Again, I think a suicidal person would be able to tell us much about the correlation between life and life's meaning.

    And so this little path of thought reduces some of that tension between art and practicality, and I dare say even solves the problem all together, but I will nonetheless be looking at it critically.
    Sat, Jan 5, 2008  Permanent link

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