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Friday, November 21, 2003
lanier_index

Natural neural systems seem to be mostly pattern recognition oriented and computers as we know them are mostly temporal protocol adherence-oriented. The distinction between protocols and patterns is not absolute-one can in theory convert between them. But it's an important distinction in practice, because the conversion is often beyond us, either because we don't yet know the right math to use to accomplish it, or because it would take humongous hypothetical computers to the job.
philip_pr
Vanilla Sky, with its dizzying shifts between fantasy and fact, likewise ventures into a Dickian warp zone, as does Dark City, The Thirteenth Floor, and David Cronenberg's eXistenZ. Memento reprises Dick's memory obsession by focusing on a man whose attempts to avenge his wife's murder are complicated by his inability to remember anything. In The Truman Show, Jim Carrey discovers the life he's living is an illusion, an idea Dick developed in his 1959 novel Time Out of Joint. Next year, Carrey and Kate Winslet will play a couple who have their memories of each other erased in Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. Memory, paranoia, alternate realities: Dick's themes are everywhere.

[:: comment! :]

Monday, November 17, 2003
sadie_plant_ze

"Meet Ada Lovelace, daughter of mathematician Annabella Byron and poet Lord Byron, and a major contributor to Charles Babbage's famous Analytic Engine. Lovelace is in many ways the patron saint of Sadie Plant's exploration of women's roles in the creation of modern technology. The book begins with Lovelace's story, and elements of her writings appear throughout the book--sometimes to emphasize points but often to exemplify attitude. They also serve to anchor Plant's dynamic, almost stream-of-conscious approach as we travel to 19th-century Europe to meet the nameless women who laid the foundation of modern technology with the development of weaving, survey the major female technological innovators of today, and even explore female figures in technology-based fiction."
holt_books_c
"It is doubtful whether Ada herself ‘originated' any of the ideas contained in her notes, except perhaps some of the more exuberantly speculative ones. On all technical and scientific points, regardless of how trifling, her letters show that she deferred to Babbage. Babbage, for his part, had good reason to connive in the fiction that the work was primarily Ada's: it not only made her notes a more effective piece of propaganda for his Analytical Engine but also enabled him to escape responsibility—on the pretense of not having been consulted—for some of her more hyperbolic claims. As for the other part of Ada's project—the translation of the Menabrea paper—that was marred by an embarrassing error, one that belies her reputation for mathematical competence."

[:: comment! :]

Thursday, November 13, 2003
diary of a london call girl (via linkmachinego)

diary of a [western australian] working girl (via haddock)

[:: comment! :]

Tuesday, November 11, 2003
dick

yuebing

[:: comment! :]

Saturday, November 8, 2003
tina fey

"Girls are capable of spending a lot of time with someone and hating them."

mr warmth

"Female executives consistently refuse to form the 'old girls network' that could provide the same benefits to younger female executives."

[:: comment! :]

Friday, November 7, 2003
charles simonyi

"Software is collapsing under the weight of its own complexity. Charles Simonyi’s solution? Programming tools that are so simple that even laypeople can use them."

carl sassenrath

"I like REBOL for many reasons. In this article I'll focus on one, the integrated GUI system, and I'll show you how to build a front end for a small email-based survey and feedback system."

[:: comment! :]

Thursday, November 6, 2003
cartoonist

I was talking to [cartoonist] Chris Ware, who wrote maybe the most depressing book ever put out. But then, in a way, his work is like a comic strip where at the end of every page, it just gets worse. Instead of a punchline, there's the opposite of what a punchline would be. As the book goes on, it just gets further and further down, until you're wondering, "How far are we going to go with this?" It just gets worse and worse and sadder and sadder, and I was asking him, "Why not have a character who's happy?" He said the entire culture was organized for people who are happy.

curious

The hypernovel, text intermediated by computer, goes one step further. For while (as we discussed yesterday) the hypernovel can break the bound of linear time, nevertheless the reader must reserialize the experience somehow, for our consciousness must perceive things one at a time. No matter how often we intercut between parallel sequences, we nevertheless are single processors at the level of our conscious minds (ironic, as the brain is a massive parallel processor. Curious.). Indeed, the hypernovel must also be created in linear fashion (excepting for the moment a purely computer-created novel).

[:: comment! :]

Sunday, November 2, 2003
big, empty sound

We talk some more about the origin of influence, with Banks and Dengler maintaining that their influences arrive in the finished songs mysteriously, passionately, beyond the band's control. Which only reinforces my belief that our collective lurch backwards into the Eighties has been triggered by a force that is working beyond our comprehension, terminally over our heads, an invisible grid work in the sky. Like, perhaps the retro, reverb-enriched guitars on Turn on the Bright Lights have nothing to do with an overt reference to the Eighties but have been elicited in an unconscious response to a specific array of cultural/political circumstances. We're being forced by the current administration, as we were under Reagan, to posit ourselves as a lone, benevolent aggressor, acting out against an increasingly hostile world, despite our profound misgivings with the role. It is an unthinkably frightening mode, but one that we are not unfamiliar with, and we gather around us the mode's most recognizable attributes—the detachment, the big, empty sound, the career of consumption and willful self-importance, the obsessive attention to appearance—Kevin's notion of the 'surface-ness' of things—in order to forge a psychic barrier between ourselves and the world, to ward off the host of complex uncertainties breathing constantly at our face. The connection between Turn on the Bright Lights and the prospect of a missile defense shield is circumspect only to the degree that we can deny that, as we move into the future, accumulating a personal cache of knowledge about the shape of things, there is a larger cultural knowledge accreting in tandem, and that everything we do, everything we consume, informs and is informed by that collective repository.

doesn't actually exist

i think that the book has been compared with orwell because...wait, i actually have no idea. it's sort of a demented comparison, isn't it? i think the publishers just wanted to contextualize the book a little, to prepare it for a potential readership. because i feel (or perhaps 'hope' is the more accurate term) that it's actually closer in spirit and form to a lydia davis collection, but maybe there is not so much crossover in terms of audience. or maybe the comparison has more to do with the fact that, just as 1984 was actually a book about post-war britain, i think that super flat times is a book about the present, but with the navigational parameters tweaked a bit. i read and was taken by 1984 when i was in junior high, but i didn't look at it again until after i was done with SFT. i was surprised to find a lot of thematic similarities, but i can't claim that these were intentional.

i did look at the film Logan's Run a great deal while writing the book, and not enough people are comparing SFT to that (hint: more people should do this). I tried to study some depictions of the future that seem dated and outmoded from a contemporary perspective, because i wanted to investigate the space in which our idea of the future (which is a thing that, by definition, doesn't actually exist - it is nothing more than a conceptual repository for the narrative arcs we make for ourselves) comes up against our actual experience of the future as it crystallizes into the present. i think we deal with the relentless disappointment we experience as the illusion of the future becomes the reality of the present by guffawing at our past illusions, when in fact those depictions are the only real-world evidence we have of our past aspirations. there's something very heartbreaking and true about these artifacts.

[:: comment! :]

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