Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Sunday, April 4, 2004day link 

 The Metaweb and the Global Mind
picture Via Voice of Humanity, a very inspiring article from Nova Spivack: The Metaweb: The Global Mind Just Got Smarter:
One of the many cool things about the Metaweb is that it functions as a vast bottom-up collaborative filtering system. RSS feeds represent perspectives of publishers. Because feed publishers can automatically or manually include content from other feeds they can "republish," annotate and filter content. Every feed is effectively a switch, routing content to and from other feeds. You are my filter. I am your filter.

Entire communities can collaboratively filter information, in a totally bottom-up way. The community as a whole acts to filter and route content in an emergent fashion, without any central coordination. On top of this sites can then provide value-added aggregation and information-refinery services by tracking memes across any number of feeds and then repackaging and redistributing them in virtual feeds for particular topics or interests. And these new feeds are fed right back into the collective mind, becoming raw materials for still other feeds that pick them up.

What we have here is the actual collective consciousness of humanity thinking collective thoughts in real-time, and we get to watch and participate! We are the "neurons" in the collective minds of our organizations, communities, marketplaces. Our postings comprise the memes, the thoughts, in these collective thought processes. Already the Metaweb is thinking thoughts that no individual can comprehend -- they are too big, too distributed, too complex. As the interactions of millions of people, groups and memes evolve we will see increasing layers of intelligence taking place in the Metaweb.
Is the web really turning into the global brain waking up and becoming smarter than any of us? Why not? It is probably the best candidate to do so.
[ | 2004-04-04 10:49 | 3 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Continuous Partial Attention
picture Via Get Real, mention of Linda Stone's distinction between multitasking and what she calls "continuous partial attention". Here, from Inc. magazine:
Despite her bureaucratic title [Microsoft vice-president of corporate and industry initiatives], Stone is a creative thinker who has coined the term continuous partial attention to describe the way we cope with the barrage of communication coming at us. It's not the same as multitasking, Stone says; that's about trying to accomplish several things at once. With continuous partial attention, we're scanning incoming alerts for the one best thing to seize upon: "How can I tune in in a way that helps me sync up with the most interesting, or important, opportunity?" She says: "It's crucial for CEOs to be intentional about breaking free from continuous partial attention in order to get their bearings. Some of today's business books suggest that speed is the answer to today's business challenges. Pausing to reflect, focus, think a problem through; and then taking steady steps forward in an intentional direction is really the key.
OK, so the ideal is not that we work on everything at the same time. We've got to give significant focus to the major thing we're working on at the moment. But at the same time we need to have ways of always being well-informed about anything that is going on that might change our priorities. If you're engaging in a business activity with other people, some of which aren't in the same physical location as you, it simply doesn't work if you hide away, fully engrossed in a project, paying no attention the outside world. Lots of time and effort can be wasted, just because you weren't there to answer a quick question, or because you didn't hear before days later that circumstances had changed. Stowe Boyd of Get Real puts it very well:
"The trick may be to filter events so that only those that are material intrude on our reflections and heads-down work. We shouldn't jump up and run in circles every time the wind shakes the leaves, but we cannot afford to become so engrossed in what we are doing that we miss the leopard about to pounce.

There is no absolute here. Those that simply refuse to carry cell phones, or never log in to IM are dangerous to their organizations. If you are a solitary journalist, or a very senior executive, such behavior may be workable: in the former case, no one is harmed by your opting out, and in the latter case you are likely to have staffers who filter the outside world for you. But for the average person, linked in a dense, cascading social network of collaborators who depend on your timely response to critical events, it will prove increasingly difficult -- if not impossible -- to veer away from continuous partial attention. We will have to learn a new balancing act, and it will be strongly canted toward spending more cycles scanning the horizon and fewer looking down at the piecework in our laps."
It is a balancing act indeed. We don't get much done if we spend all our time browsing around in "what's going on". You have to focus to get real work done. But you also have to stay plugged in to the channels of information that are relevant to your work.

I mostly work that way. And I notice the disconnect with people I work with in one or another who don't themselves work that way. Some people I can't get hold of for days, to ask a quick, but critical question. And I get it the other way. Sometimes somebody will come and tell me they've been trying to get hold of me for a week, and it is a big crisis. That's invariably people who don't use IM and cellphones, and who don't really get the IM thing, and all they did was maybe to send me an e-mail a week ago, saying IMPORTANT in the subject line, which got munched up by my spam filter, and they're waiting for my answer. And they never realized that they can reach me quickly and easily with IM, and if somehow it has to be this second, my cellphone is always with me. Send it an SMS if you're worried I might be asleep. But don't even think of using those channels to strike up a live smalltalk conversation with me about what I might have been doing the last few months. You can have my PARTIAL attention at any time as long as we're exchanging relevant information, and you realize that I'm probably doing something else right now.
[ | 2004-04-04 11:29 | 2 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Kohei Minato's Magical Motor
picture From japan.com, a story about inventor Kohei Minato and his Japan Magnetic Fan Company. He has apparently come up with a magnetic motor that consumes stunningly little electricity. OK, let's cut to the chase: it uses so little electricity that you can connect up a generator to it and get out more electricity than you put in. I.e. it is an over-unity device.

What typically happens with over-unity devices is either that the inventor is found to be a con artist, who had hidden wires built into the table or something, and who just wanted to scam investors out of money. Or the patent gets bought up by General Motors, and nobody ever hears about it again. Or the inventor suddenly meets his untimely death in a freak boating accident.

The general consensus among people who're interested in that kind of thing, and actually serious about it, is that the only ways of ever getting an invention like that to market would either be to release workable blueprints all over the Internet, or it would be to camouflage it as an ordinary product that simply is unusually efficient. Minato is following he latter approach. Apparently he has sold 40,000 units to be used to drive cooling fans in convenience stores in Japan. So, just energy-efficient motors. Nobody can have a problem with that, right? And if he gets away with that, he can do something a little more bold with it next.

You can find some technical comments on how Minato's device might work from Tom Bearden, one of the gurus of over-unity theory, here, down in the middle of the page. But, warning, this is all impossible according to your highschool physics. If this kind of thing works, the energy will be coming from tapping ubiquitous fields that mainstream science simply doesn't believe in.
[ | 2004-04-04 12:07 | 28 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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