Ming the Mechanic:
Intrinsic and Extrinsic Order

The NewsLog of Flemming Funch
 Intrinsic and Extrinsic Order2003-06-17 19:10
by Flemming Funch

David Weinberger:
"Here's something blindingly obvious, really just a spin on what has been said elsewhere:

Most (?) ordering schemes apply an externally-devised order to the stuff to be ordered: alphabetic order is not something built into the books on your shelf. Or, in the case of Trevor Bechtel, while the color of a book's binding is clearly part of the book, the idea of ordering them on a shelf by color comes purely from Trevor.

Hyperlinks aren't like that. They build into the page itself its place in the webby universe.

Is there something interesting about this other than it's how web spaces construct themselves?"
I'm looking for clues in similar places. Clues for how we might better organize our information world.

Hmm. Hyperlinks show that something is (claimed to be) related to something else. That is a form or organizing of course. But it doesn't sort things, like one can do with a book title or color. Somebody (a search engine spider) has to go and use those links to find ALL the data it can get its, and THEN they can sort things.

But, hm, what if a hyperlink actually were used as part of an ordering scheme? Like, if a document includes a bunch of links that say "This is where I belong". It could link to a certain web resource that would be the central coodination place for a certain time period, a certain geographical location, several different places for organizing topics. Would that work? I'm not sure. Because what if that resource moves or changes a bit, and the link breaks. It would have to somehow be two-way and self-repairing, if we would consider counting on it.

I'd like to be able to ask questions like "How many yellow books do I have in my library?" or "Tell me everything that happened in my life on Thursday the 12th". I'd like the answers to be ready very quickly, a couple of seconds, even if I ask an unusual question. I don't really care whether a program goes and looks through ALL my data bits from the outside to figure out if they fit, or whether all my data bits have reported in by themselves. As long as the answer shows up immediately.

I still dream about a vague as-yet-uninvented storage scheme that will allow you to instantly search on arbitrary criteria, without having to have thought of them much in advance. Some kind of fuzzy quantum computing thing that provides all possible answer to a question at the same time. The moment you say "red" everything red is instantly there, whether anybody dreamt of that before or not. And, no, I'm not just talking about a text search in Google.

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18 Jun 2003 @ 10:21 by Chris Hagglund @ : Ways to make this work
I've had similar thoughts ... mostly I think the system needs to be made such that any resource can be linked to any other resource, and by any individual. Also, all links must be bidirectional. In this system, in order for you to link to one of my pages from one of your pages, my page will have to add a link to your page into itself to complete the bidirectional link. The link should also contain information about who created it, so the value of the link can be determined using some sort of reputation system. Others can then link arbitrary objects together, and patterns can emerge from the links. Perhaps I've read something which relates strongly to something you've written, well I'd like to be able to link the two items together for others to see the relationship. If the links I create are always of a high quality then my reputation should be considered good. Conversely, people who have a habit of creating poor quality links will end up with a bad reputation. Perhaps a way to solve the problem of changing/disappearing resources is to require that the resource which is changing or going offline to notify all objects which it is linked to of the change.

With this I could link each of my books to their cover color, the title, or just the first word on page 104. Then I can easily spider the data to find all the books that I linked to the color red, or all the books that are linked to any color at all and sort by the name of the color followed by the title of the book. Also, I could easily find all items I've linked to the color red, whether they're books or not.  

18 Jun 2003 @ 13:40 by ming : Two-way
Yes, I think that two-way links would change everything. I guess stuff like trackback is an attempt of doing that, but I think we need more than that. It should be a no-brainer to follow links the other way. If a book is black, I should be able to go the other way, from "black" to all black books.

We can construct a path back by watching the referrals more closely for webpages. Technorati helps greatly with that for weblogs. But, hm, I want more.  

19 Jun 2003 @ 03:33 by istvan : Half of the problem and
the solution for your wish to come true may lie not only within limitations of software, but arrangements and innivative solutions of hardware.
I think, there needs to be more dedicated harddrives, or static memory devices that store information (organised of course) to specific subject/object relationships.
Now with the Universal serial bus connections (USB 2.0), it is possible to have immense amounts of data on external harddrives that are almost instantly available. With the ViaM1000 boards it is possible to build a computer with several motherboards in the same case that are communicating with each other, and voila you have a supercomputer.Thinking and working only with software is like assuming a human being is only the brain.In an unhealthy body the brain is not able to function at full capacity.You software people perhaps ignoring the importance of the rightly working hardware. The solutions you are looking for are and will come from the homogenius (HOMO/GENIUS=HOMO NOVUS) synchronisation of both, i belive.  

19 Jun 2003 @ 16:27 by ming : Software people
Heheh, yeah, you're right. Software people tend to think they can just reprogram everything. Or, even, that it is their duty to reprogram everything.

Indeed, we probably need different constellations of hardware. Like something more like what nature does. The cells in our bodies aren't working by time sharing, getting a few clock ticks each per second. They all operate in a massively parallel way.  

22 Sep 2003 @ 19:35 by Tom Munnecke @ : Autocatalytic Spaces
I've played with similar ideas in a theme I call Autocatalytic Spaces. These are spaces which have the property that they enlarge as they accrue stuff. Whereas a physical bookstore uses up space in a shopping center (an example of entropic space), Amazon.com made the web bigger when it appeared. The cosmos is an example of an autocatalytic space (Einstein's energy of a vacuum), and so is the biosphere (a new species creates a food source for some future specie(s). http://www.munnecke.com/blog/archives/2002_10.html#000051  

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