Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Tuesday, June 17, 2003day link 

 Intrinsic and Extrinsic Order
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.
[ | 2003-06-17 19:10 | 5 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Types of hugs
Tim Bray sat in an airport and studied how people hug or not. Somehow I find that interesting too.
  • People who are culturally non-huggers suffer for it; you will see what looks like a reunion after long separation between a grown daughter and a grown mother, and they will stand face to face, eyes full of tears, and almost quiver it seems.
  • Non-hugger displacement activity includes reaching out to touch the other only for a moment, and quickly turning to walk side-by-side.
  • Some groups cheek-kiss, one side then the other, the number of kisses can be two, three or even four, and there seems no doubt or hesitancy how many there will be.
  • Japanese people and those who meet them bow of course; those who’ve spent any time in Japan won’t be surprised at how many shades of meaning and style can infuse a bow.
  • Some stories are sad, the few people who come out obviously expecting to be met but aren’t.
  • Women coming to meet someone invest more effort than men in their preparations; flowers, dress, make-up. You can guess by looking at them whether they’re waiting for a lover, a colleague, or a sister, but sometimes you guess wrong.
  • The women also hug more expressively, with (perhaps unconscious) thought going into the placement of arms, torso and especially hips.
  • Only the waiting ones, though, people incoming to Vancouver have usually come a long way (it’s a big country and the Pacific’s a big ocean), the people being greeted, young and old, man and woman, tend to droop into the hugs they get, with smiles but a kind of blank expression.
I like really close hugs with people I like. I didn't always. I never hugged anybody when I was a teenager. I was, like, 30 before I hugged a man. And for the longest time I was nervously wondering where I should put my hips and how long the hug should last. Nowadays I know nothing much better than a close hug with a new friend who finds it equally enjoyable.
[ | 2003-06-17 19:23 | 10 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

George Dafermos mentions Jo Walsh's zoolbotblog. As he says: "She's a fantastic Semantic Web hacker and visionary software artist from London... Her blog, although it doesn't allow comments and has no permalinks and trackbacks, is solid rock in terms of passion, energy, insight and mind-altering semantic substances. If you wish to delve more deeply into the controversial subject of Jo's distributed information flows, you'd better start reading now." And he's right. I love it. Not for everybody, but as far as I'm concerned, any techie who writes like this has my ear:
i was seeing patterns on every surface where the chaotic and the random co- existed. i was seeing patterns in data sets, in text scrolling down a screen, in my own data stream.

this morning i walked in a circle to cross the road, asking people if they knew where i was going. i asked for a cup of tea like arthur dent and eventually was shown that all the things i needed to make one apart from water in a cup, were on the table i was sitting at. then i met a man who looked and dressed and talked like me, and i gave him an orange, and he did the learned social gesture of trying to refuse it, and i said, 'it's not important that you want it, but it's important that you have it' and he turned the orange around in his hand as i started to explain what i can see. and after a little while he started and said 'can i eat the orange?' and i said yes, and i watched him eat the orange.
he described this generic web middleware system that he's architected, and i described the object that i'm trying to build. then he quite suddenly got up and said, 'we have to...' and i was taken to another desk where a guy has on his screen, something that exactly represents what i have on mine. i forgot protocol for a moment. [he said,yesterday i was behind you in the queue at albert heijn. then, i had been talking about queuing theory with a friend] we found my perl object where i'd mailed it to myself and mailed it to him twice. then i had to leave, stopping only to say goodbye to my project manager, the person who told me that i should be eating oranges.
i think i can see why.
i feel like everything has changed and everything is the same.
i think i can understand everything if i try.
She's apparently working on some semantic mapping projects that sound very intriguing.
[ | 2003-06-17 19:45 | 3 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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