Tomorrow is our winter Solstice (Northern Hemisphere).
Our tribal ancestors feasted on this shortest of days. They gave Thanks before the coming of the famine months.
Another cycle of the Wheel of the Year. You exist. Peace be the journey.
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Erin pointed out this trippy wonder: SomaFM’s Christmas Lounge [Streaming Mp3].
To learn is to fuel wonder. I was late to learn to read, or so I am told. Perhaps I didn't see the use of it. All this changed when my parents introduced me to the public library. As a child, the concept amazed me. Row upon row of books, arranged by category, free for me to explore. The non-fiction section had a strong hold on me, and I grew to love the dewy decimal system [Dewy Decimal Categories]. I have a vivid store of memories with libraries as their setting.
Although I am still drawn to books and libraries, the Internet now provides much of the fuel for my sense of wonder. The following is a description of how I search and discover on the Net.
Answers.com provides a dictionary definition for single words, thesaurus listings, along with encyclopedic information (if available) gathered from various Internet sources, (including Wikipedia).
The easiest way to search answers.com is two query the word directly through the URL. For example, I would enter http://answers.com/who into the location bar of my web browser, to query the definition of the word "who". (Side note: Grammar nerds should read the who/whom usage note provided with the definition.)
Google allows you to search for definitions from around the Web. Enter the following into Google:
The returned definitions may vary greatly, but the results are often enlightening.
Taken from a previous post: Wikipedia is a "free encyclopedia made for and by the collective intelligence of the citizens of the Internet."
I've recently started using the Simple English Wikipedia in conjunction with the standard version. "[The] Simple English [Wikipidea] uses fewer words and easier grammar than the original English Wikipedia." The entries and clear, concise and written in Dunstan Ramsay's "Plain Style". ;)
Broad Topic Net Searches
Google is still king when it comes to general Internet searching. Reference the Google Cheat Sheet for more precise results. I rely on a mix of quotations and + and - symbols to narrow down my searches. Try to imagine the page you wish to find. Then, search for words and quotations present on this imagined page.
If you are looking for a specific category of information, try exploring DMOZ, the open directory project. It's reminiscent of an older yahoo, but like Wikipedia it's maintained by volunteers from around the world.
The Internet is forever in a state of flux. Anyone familiar with the concept of Memes will be aware of the impact the Net has had on the transmission of cultural information. The Internet is a digital extension of the Noosphere [ChefQuix's thoughts on the Noosphere]. Much like the toughts processed by our brains, information and ideas on the Internet can be forgotten, archived, or reinforced through conscious use/retrival.
Picture the Net as external memory for humanity. Through our use of the Net, we add our individual consciousness to the consciousness of the whole. There are various tools that can be used to view a snapshot of our external consciousness.
For example, we can use blogdex to see what WE -a digital extension of the Royal We- are currently thinking about. As I write this, WE seemed to be grieving the loss of Hunter S. Thomspon. (OUR thoughts will no doubt have shifted by the time I post this entry tomorrow.)
For a glimpse of what information WE currently find fascinating, we can turn to the world of social bookmarking. Gone are the days when you saved your favorite sites locally on your browser. Tools like del.icio.us, Spurl, Furl, and Stumble Upon allow us to share our Internet finds with the rest of the commune. A visit to Spiderous reveals which pages are currently peaking OUR interest.
Because these tools allow us to categorize and tag our findings, we can narrow our snapshot to a specific category. By entering http://del.icio.us/tag/politics into our location bar, we can see how the Net is reacting to our present (or at times past) political climate. Likewise, http://del.icio.us/tag/music or http://del.icio.us/tag/philosophy can provide hours of quality reading material. (Quality, in the sense that at least one person within the Internet commune found the page worth bookmarking. The number of users who saved the page can be seen below the link.)
A visual example of information tagging can be seen over at Flickr: Flickr Red, Flickr Depressing, Flickr Abstract. Vimeo has started a similar service for video clips.
I use Spurl to save my bookmarks, which in turns submits them to del.icio.us [My del.icio.us]. The best part of Spurling a link, is that not only is the link itself saved, but a copy of the page is also archived. This opens up the possibility to search the WWWW (Worthwhile World Wide Web). No longer must I waste time hunting through the commercial sites and the information pollution returned by a regular web search. To search Spurl is to search an archive of information pre-sorted by the commune, information ranked by praise. (Cory Doctorow's free book Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, explores the idea of applying praise ranking to people.)
Ok. Enough chatter. Here are some links I've recently discovered (aka MLP):
- To know The Game is to play the game. One can never stop playing.
- To think of The Game is to lose The Game. Therefore, the object of the game is to forget that it exists.
- When one loses the game, one must announce that one has lost the game to everyone present (usually by saying "Darn! I just lost the game!").
- An optional (and often accepted) variant of the game: When a game loss is announced, all other players have an approximately 30 minute grace period which they may use to again forget about the game.
How very zen.
Mindfulness In Plain English
An online Font Editor via the new Font Leech Blog.
Hunt Roman - The Birth of A Type.
Learning to cook? How to cut anything, with instructions for lefties (handed, not political) too.
A Two-Worlds Model for Consciousness
Translation, the debate continues.
Colour Rules of Thumb
Fifty Fantasy & Science Fiction Works That Socialists Should Read
Long time blogger Jason Kottke has decided to pursue his blog as a full time job.
The next four graf shots posted to streetart:
gf viewing freight
Little man hidden to the left
A Crash Course On Complexity, Emergence and Collective Intelligence
"Put a hundred army ants on a flat surface and they will walk around in never decreasing circles until they die from exhaustion. Yet a colony of a million army ants becomes a sophisticated super-organism."
An anonymous 17th century poet wrote: "...and the thousands of fishes moved as a huge beast, piercing the water. They appeared united, inexorably bound to a common fate. How comes this unity?"
This is the science of emergence and complexity.
The Article, Emergence as a Construct (dead link) which appeared in Volume 1 of Emergence Magazine provides a detailed, although rather complex look at the subject. Better yet, a web-based project over at MIT allows you to explore emergence via the wonderful world of cellular automaton. (Remember Stephen Wolfram's ode to the cellular automaton, A New Kind of Science?) You can also use this piece of software to create interactive art pieces that use emergence to "provide the opportunity to explore the role of artificial life and human presence in the creation of an art form which includes the interactive experience."
I find that I am drawn to one particular subset of emergence known as Collective Intelligence. The Chef and I have spent many hours discussing this concept. You may have noticed that I've been linking to Wikipedia through-out this post. Wikipedia is great example of Collective Intelligence, it's a free encyclopedia made for and by the collective intelligence of the citizens of the internet.
The following projects are exploring this global net-based intelligence in some interesting and novel ways:
- Typophile : A Smaller Picture - Harnessing the collective intelligence to democratically draw the english alphabet. Make sure you try viewing the drawing/evolution process as an animation. (The one flaw I see in this project is that the collective intelligence will most likely end up drawing a copy of the font used on the site itself.)
- The World Map of the Mind - "Visitors to the project are presented with the map so far, a crude bitmap build out of green and blue blocks. Green blocks represent land, blue blocks water. One of the blocks is red. The visitor is then asked whether that block should be land or water." (The project appears to be offline at the moment due to a heavy user load.)
- Community based news and discussion sites like slashdot and kuro5in use the collective intelligence of their user-base to improve and moderate the quality of information, discussion and debate.
- The Collective Unconsciousness Project - Explore the connections that exist in the dreams of net users across the globe. Add your own dream experiences to the dreamscape. Navigation is quite dream-like.
- Site like daypop and blogdex allow us to track meme probagation across the blogsphere.
- The Open Mind Common Sense Project - "An attempt to make computers smarter by making it easy and fun for people all over the world to work together to give computers the millions of pieces of ordinary knowledge that constitute 'common-sense', all those aspects of the world that we all understand so well we take them for granted."
These are exciting times. We have an opportunity to watch and study the development of an emergent intelligence rooted deep within the interconnections of the net. The interconnections in this case, are not only the physical real-world network connections but also the interconnections within the web itself, the blogshere and the flow of human consciousness that "surfs" across the datascape.
Since this post, Folksonomy and tagging have become all the rage. Services like Spurl, del.icio.us, Digg, and Reddit (to name just a few) harness online collective intelligence to categorize, and propagate websites. I discussed this last February in the Noosphere Snapshots section of my post on net-based search and discovery.
A few more relevant inks: