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 Getting other people to do stuff168 comments
picture 20 Jul 2010 @ 14:24, by ming. Spirituality
I'm going to give outsourcing another shot. Which isn't easy, because I'm kind of bad at delegating, and I seem to be missing a bit of business sense.

It can all change, of course, but it is somewhat traumatic. There are a number of things I'm very good at. Possibly some things I'm absolutely brilliant at. But I spend a big portion of my time doing stuff I'm not very good at, working hard, long hours, and what I have to show for it is somewhat mediocre. There's some amount of emotion wrapped up in that too. It isn't fair. It's stressful. It pisses me off. I'm kind of apathetic about changing it. Despite my better judgement, I seem to believe that if I just work a little harder, then, maybe, it will all work out, and I can get around to the stuff I really want to do. But generally it doesn't seem to make a lot of difference how hard I work.

I've only fairly recently realized that I need to learn the basic principles of business and marketing. I've always had a certain amount of contempt for a society that's organized around buying low and selling high, around deceiving people into buying stuff they don't need, where most of the resources end up owned by people who do clever tricks with numbers, rather than by the people who work and produce stuff. But I can also change my mind, and notice that some of the principles of business apply to any activity, whether there's money involved or not. To create more value, it makes sense to look for opportunities to shift resources from areas of low productivity to areas of high productivity. Which happens to be one of the definitions of entrepreneurship. Why not get the most bang for the buck, whether money is involved or not? Work smarter, not harder. I'm trying to convince myself here.

One of the sensible and fashionable things to do, if one is independent and makes more than minimum wage, is to outsource as much of one's work as possible, particularly the stuff that isn't one's core competency and that could be done as well, or better, by somebody being paid a lot less. I first have to get over a bit of distaste for doing that, and convince myself that it can be a win-win for everybody. Really, there are other parts of the world where the cost of living is very different, and where there are loads of well educated people who'd love to work for me for a fraction of what a similar worker would cost where I live. I don't have to feel bad about that.

Part of what is hard for me when I employ somebody else to do something is that I have to be able to make decisions based on their performance, and fire them if it doesn't work.

It isn't like I'm without experience. I had my own company already when I was 20, a cleaning services company, with a dozen part-time employees. That worked well, and I hired and fired people without too much difficulty, did marketing and sales, and made a profit. And I've been a manager of IT departments and development teams. That's where part of my problem would start showing up. Even if I have a handful of other programmers to work with me, who're there to do whatever I ask them to do, I have had a tendency to end up doing 90% of the work myself. Which isn't good. I was always very popular with the people on my team, though.

I tried once before to outsource part of my work to a foreign worker over the net, more than 10 years ago, which is one reason I'm nervous about it. I had a guy in the Ukraine working full time for me for $1000 per month. I kind of felt it was so ridiculously little that I shouldn't really complain too much. He was a very nice guy, but so slow and unproductive that nothing he did ever really helped me with anything, and I had usually gotten impatient and solved the problem myself before he had finished his initial study of the problem, which usually took several weeks. Now, years later, he still writes and thanks me once in a while. Really, I had been paying him such a royal sum of money that he could move to a better neighborhood, buy a house, get married and have kids. Which is lovely, and I'm happy for him, but it never really created any value for me.

But I'm going to give it another shot, and test performance before going to the next step.

What it really is about is a transition for me. The puzzle is not primarily about money and work hours and projects for customers, but more about how to move to the next level. How can I be more effective? How can I do what I'm here to do, without getting stuck in the details? How does one start sustainable activities? Even if we're talking about an idealistic non-profit activity, it somehow needs to be financed, by money or time or work or other resources. And it needs to be done in an effective way that actually works, and keeps working.

See, I have a similar problem in non-profit activities. I haven't had trouble drumming up some interest in some things I was working on from time to time, or inspiring people to join up with them in some fashion. But I have a fairly lousy track record in getting people to actually participate in developing and evolving them. Which is not their fault, but mine. To collaborate, it usually needs to be very clear what we're collaborating on. If you want others to do something, it better be very clear what it is. Somehow I've often been very vague about what there is to do, or what I need. Just like I usually have been very vague about what exactly I'm doing. You just can't easily build something precise based on vagueness.

So, I'm working on being more clear, primarily on what I want, and to create more clear interfaces for how one can work with me, and what I'm available for.  More >

 Considerations on writing99 comments
picture 16 Jul 2010 @ 22:57, by ariane8008. Spirituality
Have not published in a while.

How come? I am full of ideas, I often note them down and work on some of them.
They are in my computer and on pieces of paper, waiting to be published.

I have all kind of great visions, how my input will add to the collective knowledge of the world, how it will inspire others when they read it...
Still, I am somehow not able to publish.

And even worse, I cannot put my finger on it, why I can not.
I blogged here earlier, I also send out a newsletter and write on mailing lists - and the feedback I got is usually very positive, encouraging. No reason to back off.

It seems to be a kind of a weird writers block.

I figured, there are two equal opposing truth must be present to block the flow of me publishing.

As Niels Bohr, the Danish physicist, once said,
"A great truth is a truth whose opposite is also a great truth."

The truth I want to speak about might not be great, nevertheless it is the truth.

So I decided to put forth my considerations and thoughts openly, however silly they may seem.

I just started to list out my ideas as they come up, which I believe hold me back from blogging or publishing. They seem to be opposite enough to stop me.

Will it help? We will see soon enough.
At least I will be aware of my own limiting ideas.
Or I will see how silly they are and that might help me reconsider.
So let's start. Let my considerations come up and shine in the broad daylight of the world wide web!


Why do not I publish?

Noone or only a few folks will ever read my blogpost, so whats the use?

Too many people will read it.

What will the readers think about me?

How will I deal with the attention?

There will be no feedback.

There will be a huge reaction, many comments - will I be able to deal with it?

Noone will care anyway, so whats the use?

Some will not like what I write.

Some will not agree.

Many will like what I write, then I have to excel even more.

My writing will invite adverse reactions, even attacks.

The quality might not be high enough.

There is too high quality, then I will have to match or write even better.

If I start to publish regularly, it is expected that I continue.

I cannot exatly express what I have in mind.

It might not cover the choosen topic 100%, for perfectionist it is unacceptable.

For a perfectionist, it is never perfect.

I seem to be a perfectionist.

Sigh... :)




(If I come up with more, I just edit the article and extend it. It has got to be a Perfect List of All Reasons!)  More >

 Therapy Dogs Serve our Wounded Warriors37 comments
picture14 Jul 2010 @ 14:53, by jerryvest. Spirituality
I am very pleased and honored to write this letter of support and recommendation for Paws of Honor Organization. SGT Paul Jeffers, Army Medic and Founder/Owner, has been successfully adopting, working and training Service and Therapy Dogs for some time.

As Coordinator of Health Education and Clinical/Holistic Social Worker for Ft. Bliss Restoration and Resilience Center, I have taken a special interest in observing his Dogs while also bringing SGT Jeffers into our Center for presentations and for his Dogs to relate and interact with our Wounded Warriors every week for the past year.

Our R & R Center is the US Army’s premier integrative health program for soldiers diagnosed with PTSD and for those wishing and able to return to the Force following their 6 months of intensive and extensive treatment. Aftercare is also provided for an additional month and more if needed. SGT Jeffers’ contribution to our Wounded Warrior’s health and wellbeing is significant and encouraging for soldiers suffering from these injuries that affect the whole being--physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, and spiritually.

This service member & Debbie Kandoll have helped our soldiers with their experience of isolation, agitation, hyperarousal and persistent avoidance by introducing their therapy dogs and assisting our Wounded Warriors to adopt, train and develop their dogs as friends and partners in their healing process.

We look forward every week to his participation with us in advancing the health and wellbeing of our soldiers and for bringing his well disciplined and friendly therapy dogs into our Center.

We thank SGT Jeffers and his therapy dogs for their excellent services and support. Paws of Honor is a welcome addition to the treatment services for our soldiers and others returning from War.

*******************************************************

Thank you for visiting our site. Just to give you a better understanding of what we are about, here is my story.

My name is Paul, I am a Medic in the United States Army and have served now for 12 years. I have deployed to the Pentagon and Iraq. During my combat time I received several injuries/illnesses including PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), and TBI (Traumatic brain injury).

After trying everything available to treat these problems they never completely went away, so I ended up getting a dog to use as a service dog. I trained this dog with help and even though I'm not Healed, I am better now. I started using her for therapy for other soldiers and they have had an easier time dealing with their PTSD, and getting service dogs as well. Some have been able to stop their medications after getting the dog and noticed a dramatic improvement in their quality of life.

I started this organization to help other soldiers that need service dogs and don't have the means or funds to get one. with my help I can get the soldier the dog they need, train them, and with donations, help with vet bills. Currently the military does not cover the cost of Vet bills for service dogs even though the soldier needs it for medical purposes. If I get enough help and donations, this organization will build a small kennel to house 4-5 dogs that will be rescued from a pound, so in the process we will also be saving dogs that could be such a help to Americas heroes and have probably done nothing but want love.

We are also connected with militaryworkingdogadoptions they are who got me the help I needed and trained me. They save retired Military working dogs that would otherwise be put down. I will put more info up at later dates as we grow, so please feel free to come back and leave a comment and any donations would be a blessing.
You can also visit the organization we work with at [link] and[link]  More >

 Consciousness of Pattern253 comments
picture 14 Jul 2010 @ 13:35, by ming. Spirituality
Our minds are to a large degree pattern matching machines. As kids we've learned the difference between tables and chairs, and to recognize which things are edible and which aren't, and that food goes into the mouth, and trash goes into the trashcan, and trashcans go outside on Thursdays. We can smoothly decipher letters and words and sentences, in the languages we know. We can recognize thin ice, friendly or angry faces, and tunes from old TV shows. We're pretty damned versatile.

We're less good with more complex patterns. We certainly have developed some, and worked out a partial understanding of others. We live in societies with complicated infrastructures and we can entertain intricate theories about science and philosophy. Some of them are very useful and reusable. But we're not terribly good at being conscious of several levels at the same time. It tends to be one or another. Most people live in the everyday routine, at best keeping good track of when they're going to work, when bills need to be paid, and who will be in the superbowl. Others live in a more abstract pattern, seeing the world as one big scientific model, or as a philosophical exercise, at the same time being a little dense when it comes to the most immediate stuff.

But how about being aware of the forest at the same time as the tree? How can you be focused on the work at hand AND the whole group or activity you're part of?

Can one simultaneously be aware of being an individual, and a collection of cells, and a part of a group, and an expression of universal consciousness?

To be conscious of patterns of a higher order, it helps to have a language to describe them. Pattern languages are just that. They're ways of making abstract patterns explicit and thus easier to be aware of and work with. It you don't have a word for something, it is hard to stay aware of it, without slipping into unconsciousness about it. If you know explicit patterns, you can apply them to stuff you construct or participate in. Easier to knit a sweater when you have a pattern, easier to learn the dance steps if there are footprints on the floor.

There can be, and are, pattern languages for architecture, for software development, for collaboration. It is maybe a little odd to call them languages, as we typically merely are talking about collections of described patterns. A pattern language can also go further, and attach words to stuff that previously was impossible to describe. The existence of patterns or a pattern language can allow you to deliberately create certain effects that maybe otherwise seemed completely random and out of your hands. An architect who uses a pattern language might deliberately create a space that people feel good in, because he can express himself in forms that have certain meanings to the people who use them, whether they are consciously aware of it or not.

Another simple example. You're having a meeting with some people. This post was inspired in part by an online discussion I had with George Pór and Seb Paquet. Like most people who need to have an online meeting, we picked from the most available tools for doing such a thing, and we used Skype. We can talk at the same time, and we can chat at the same time. It doesn't yet do video for 3 people, if they're Mac users. But tools and meeting formats shape what happens. Are you aware of how? When you meet with a group of people, are you aware how the pattern the meeting is structured by will influence what will happen?

Patterns are just as important as what you "do" or what you focus on. Maybe more. If you work really hard, but you work on the wrong thing, it doesn't do you much good. The pattern is the frame, the setting, the subtext, the context. A pattern is maybe something abstract, but is an expression of something very real and concrete, which often is outside our awareness, and often not within our ability to talk about.

If you have a meeting where everybody says whatever they feel like, whenever they feel like it, that's some kind of pattern. If you have a meeting where the head guy talks first, and then people ask questions, that's another pattern. A meeting where different roles are assigned to the participants is different from a meeting without any roles. Somebody might keep written notes, somebody might do a mind map, somebody might try to summarize conclusions. A meeting where the members commit to doing certain things after the meeting, like trying to communicate the essence of what happened, or implementing what was agreed upon, is different from a meeting without such a commitment. All of those are different patterns.

If we know we're dancing together, we can relax and just dance. If we don't know what we're doing, maybe somebody will analyze it afterwards and tell us. But there's something to say for a coherence between different levels in real time. If you stay conscious of more complex collective patterns you're participating in while you're doing your own thing, maybe it all will fit better together.

In the past I've once or twice had the job of designing information systems for medium sized companies with 50-100 employees, where I was supposed to essentially computerize most of the activities and workflows that were taking place. I was somewhat stunned to discover that although each person was quite sure of their own job, the whole picture usually didn't fit together. Person B would undo what person A had done. Person C would put the files in alphabetical order, and person D would put them back in numerical order. And person E would do absolutely nothing, without anybody noticing. Lots of effort was wasted because nobody ever had looked at the whole thing. The CEO was doing CEO kind of stuff, the Receptionist was doing receptionist kind of stuff. Nobody had the job of making the whole thing fit together. But I had to understand that in order to make any attempt of creating an information system to support these people.

If you're busy doing something, but it is out of sync with what the overall activity is about, or if a bunch of you are busy doing stuff, but nobody has any clue what it all is about, maybe there's not much synergy. Or maybe there is, and you don't know it. Just imagine that you could be conscious of the next higher level as well. While you do what you do, you somehow sense what the bigger picture is as well.

What a group of people do together can't always be reduced to a neat organizational chart or an executive summary. It might not even be possible to express exactly what it is. The coherence in a collective activity isn't dependent on words. There might be an entirely non-verbal thing going on, but it might still be coherent. Non-verbal memes might even spread elsewhere, without anybody being able to say exactly what happened.

There are many levels to what is happening. The more you become conscious of patterns, the more likely it is that you're sensing more levels.

You can be in sync with higher levels of the system you're operating in without necessarily being conscious about it. Individual ants don't have to walk around being super-conscious of the whole ant colony. They just do simple stuff and it adds up to a coherent whole. The trouble with us humans is that we have the capability to imagine higher order patterns, but we aren't yet well equipped to get it right. So we might end up working on discordant higher order patterns, even though we each superficially appear to be doing our jobs well.

It reminds me of the idea of holonomics. Developing a sense of patterns on many levels and how they intertwine.

The awareness of patterns and of levels is maybe more important than whether you get it exactly "right". It isn't about great precision, but rather about being approximately in the same ballpark. If you're dancing with a thousand other people, there are many ways of doing it right. Yet, lawn mowers and chain saws and blue whales might not really be in harmony with the action.

Six billion people doing each their own thing doesn't make a healthy civilization. It is a little better if they have a sense of what they are doing and where that is going. Even better if they could sense what patterns they're weaving together. Better yet if most of us were conscious of the patterns of patterns that evolve.

The world is becoming very complicated and complex. The times where single individuals could understand and explain most of what goes on in the world have passed a long time ago. Several hundred years ago, really, and since then the complexity of our information has grown exponentially.

What we need more than a lot of specialists is people who can operate at a higher level. People who can sense patterns within clouds of uncertainty. People who can see the lay of the land, even if in low resolution. If you're too left brain and focused and insistant on accounting for everything, you probably can't. It takes a different kind of peripheral vision to sense the patterns in the whole.

What you're clearly and consciously focused on is just the tip of the iceberg, in several directions. You, yourself, have lots more going on sub-consciously than consciously. If you're not sensing where things are going for you, you're gonna miss your own boat. Same with your role in bigger things, your part in groups you're in, and in the world. What you're immediately focusing on is just one small part of it. Much bigger things are in motion. If you somehow can sense those currents and become a little more conscious of them, you're a lot more likely to do something constructive.

We're all able to sense the coherence of patterns to one degree or another. If you're watching a movie or somebody's telling you a story, you know if it feels right or not. There are many possible variations of good stories, but they tend to have a certain kind of flow and rhythm. They're not just random stuff thrown together. Yet in everyday life we seem remarkably willing to put up with stuff that doesn't fit well together. If we turn up our awareness of the patterns around us, maybe we'll find that we do have more choice about it than we thought.  More >

 What is Consciousness? - My answer on Quora.com
13 Jul 2010 @ 17:04, by anandavala. Spirituality

I see two approaches to this issue and will introduce them by briefly describing the context and development of each, showing how one leads into the other. I have endeavoured to keep this as simple and concise as possible for a subject of this depth.  More >

 WAR RUMBLINGS IN KOREA ARE A DUD!356 comments
13 Jul 2010 @ 02:25, by erlefrayne. Peace
As we get filled electrified with the euphoria of the world soccer games, the Koreans’ dread over a possible war among brothers has been on the uptrend. Let’s just hope that the world cup season has relaxed the rather tense nerves of the Koreans and Japanese as well who rabidly dread Bombs from North Korea.  More >

 Human Energy Cap and Freeze 2010105 comments
picture12 Jul 2010 @ 09:06, by Unknown. Environment, Ecology
HUMAN ENERGY USE CAP AND FREEZE
July 12, 2010, Earth, Monday, Dawn

In 2008, we, humanity were using about 474 Exajoules of energy per year.
If we humanity, will not and won't at some point cap or freeze our own global energy use and waste
and addiction, then who will and when?
I think thus and then, right now, limiting ourselves humanity, to 474 Exajoules of energy per year right now and here in 2010 and for such per year for the foreseeable future is more than sufficient to live satisfactory and successful lives.
When there is no more, then we just have to do without, that is how it was and how it has always been and perhaps how it always will be.

Ed Jonas

References
Various Internet and Media Sources 2010  More >

 Germany, Uruquay, and Applied Quantum Theory70 comments
picture11 Jul 2010 @ 14:31, by jhs. Ideas, Creativity
Germany arrived at the very last second of the match for the third place [link] of the Worldcup 2010 with a one goal lead and the Mexican referee granted a free kick [link] to the team of Uruguay.

I heard a scream in my head "Don't look! Don't look!". It was my mother, God bless her, who raised from her grave to give me one more advice. She was convinced that 'not looking' would help to avert such serious danger. And so it did! I turned my head away, and, and, and, Forlan hit the cross bar. [link]

It worked!!! Both my mother and Quantum Theory were right on! Thank you for all!

But then, some people do the opposite, they STARE at an event to make it work. Whatever the resulting eigenvalue may sum up to, that is the big question.

The property of non-locality of the 'hidden variable' postulated by Einstein, Podolsky (not the one in the German soccer team!), Rosen, Bohm, etc pp is still at debate for whoever cares to argue about.

Meanwhile our ancestors, riding the wave across time through our memories, are still acting up to lend their support to vital questions such as national honor and whether eggs should be fried with butter or with olive oil.

For my part I am convinced that the question of the 'hidden variables', aka Quantum Potential, has been solved thousands of years ago through the system of Ifá and its 256 possible potentials; 256 of them, not 242 as Alain Aspect and Paul Kwiat have counted [link] .

The proof is in the pudding, of course, as we all know (and our mothers, too): the moment you look, it already changes. And if you don't look, whoever plays Germany will hit the cross bar instead of making a goal! This is the crux of quantum events and Ifá alike: you can never prove it being correct using the established 'scientific method' [link], the Pater Noster [link] of Science, the post-positivistic religion of our times.

Well, I shall use the few hours before the final of the wordcup 2010 to meditate once more about the ancient Koan "are the hidden variables of Ifá (the 'Odu') local or non-local"? Please join me in my meditation! Dive deep into the morphogenetic field and the living memory of our ancestors to find the solution to all the questions that were never asked!  More >

 The Jewel of Immeasurable Worth
picture 10 Jul 2010 @ 22:18, by anandavala. Spirituality

Let me relate to you a short story as an introduction to the real subject of this article – the mathematical / metaphysical foundations of a unified holistic science.

I was 21, working as a taxi driver and quite deeply 'absorbed' with what one might call the occult, in particular Western Esoteric (Kabbalistic) Ritual High Magick. However from surface appearances I was "just a taxi driver".

During this time somehow the thought entered my awareness that "I will descend into the swamp of modernity wherein I will find and retrieve a 'Jewel of Immeasurable Worth' that lies unnoticed."

I didn't know what it meant - but the idea grew – not just an intellectual idea, but an inspiring force. It hovered just beneath the conscious mind; floating on the 'surface' of the subconscious. Six months or so later another idea surfaced - "I will study physics and computer science at Uni next year." And I did - all up for about 5 years. ########  More >

 Strong Elastic Links169 comments
picture 10 Jul 2010 @ 13:01, by ming. Internet
There's something fundamentally messed up about the way we store and use information. Most of our information connects really badly with related information, and with the stuff the information is about.

I've talked about that before, like here: Connected Information, so I'll try not to repeat myself. It is however, somewhat difficult to convey my point. I've tried writing and rewriting this as an article a couple of times, but left it unfinished. It still isn't coming out very clear, but I'll leave it at that.

I want information to be linked, by unbreakable elastic links, to what the information is about.

The type of links we know on the web are useful, way more useful than no links. But they're but a pathetic shadow of the type of links we potentially could have that truly would be useful and reliable.

I'm sure it is not only me who have found some interesting article on the net or in a magazine about something new and promising. Say, self-driving cars or super-efficient solar cells. And then, months later, when I try to search for information about how that project might be going now, there's no trace of it. Some journalist did some kind of investigative job and wrote about something. On the web it might even include some clickable links to more information, like another article or a company website. When I come back some months later, those might still be there, or they might not. It is quite likely those links would point to some frozen information from that same time period. What happened later might remain a mystery, unless I have the time and resources to do a fresh piece of detective work.

The links we use on the web are like addresses on an envelope that we put in a mailbox. They indicate some kind of coordinates for a recipient. "He's over there!" But he might not be. The address might have changed and become invalid, or it might now be occupied by somebody else who has no relation to the person I'm trying to reach. The links don't follow the target when it moves. Likewise, web links aren't very good at linking up real people or real subjects.

Part of the problem is that the web links are one-way pointers. They just point in the direction of some virtual place. That place doesn't easily know that they're being linked to, because there's no link the other way. So, even if they wanted to, they couldn't easily update others on the status of what they linked to. Even if they could, it would still be a cumbersome thing to do.

Links shouldn't just be some address. They should actually link the two things.

The reason you have problems with spam is because the contents of the e-mail messages you receive don't really link up with anything. There's an address for the sender and the recipient, and addresses for servers that have processed the e-mail. All of that can be arbitrarily made up by anybody, because the e-mail doesn't actually link to the sender and the recipient. It can say all sorts of stuff that isn't at all true, or it can say things that were true at some point, but which go out of date later.

Imagine that you could attach a link to something, and that link, without a doubt, would maintain the connection, no matter what.

For the moment, never mind how it could be done, but imagine that between all people, all groups, all subjects and all media about any of these things, between all of those there would be unbreakable links. Hard links, so to speak, or strong links, but elastic, as they will "stretch" to any length no matter how the nodes move around and transform.

You probably know what school you went to in a certain year. That school is a rather finite entity. It should not be a matter of archaeological detective work to retrieve the information of who the principal was, and what became of any of the teachers or any one of the students. The school was an unmistakable entity. It was there, very physically, it had buildings, it was paid for, it stayed there for a long time. The same with all the people who were there. Every single one was unmistakably a real, living, breathing person. There's really nothing fuzzy about it at all. But in accordance with the way we typically treat information, it has been saved in a very fuzzy manner. If you go search for your school in search engines, there is likely to be some doubt about what school you're talking about, and whether it even exists. It is going to be very hard to locate a list of teachers or a complete list of students, if one exists. The information was kept on pieces of paper, which might have been mislaid or lost or falsified, and maybe never digitized. Even if you found the list, you wouldn't know if it was the right one, and even if you did, it is only a list of names and maybe addresses and maybe a photo. Most of these people have moved, many of them have changed their names, some have died, etc. It would be a huge amount of work to track them down, and you'd probably have to give up on quite a few of them.

We've gotten so used to sloppy, unlinked information that we find it quite natural and normal that information gets lost or that it is hard to reconstruct or that nobody knows if it is true or not. We even find a certain comfort and security in all this fuzziness. There's no government that is sure how many people there are in the country it governs. And that's despite that they really want taxes from all of them, and they don't want illegal immigrants, and everybody needs an ID. And the subject matter, persons, is in no way vague. It isn't difficult to decide if somebody is a person or not. They're very finite and the number of people is finite.

The moment you commit information to little bits of paper and sloppy handwriting and filing cabinets and vague references to other storage places, the game is lost. The link between the information and what it is about is no longer there. It isn't much better if the same system is simulated with computers. Useful information can often be reconstructed, but there's nothing that guarantees that.

In the electronic world, we should by now be able to do much better. There's absolutely no reason to store our information in the same sloppy manner, lists of names and addresses in files that can be lost and falsified, or, worse, in free unstructured text form that also is stored in fairly random places, without real links to the subject matter.

What I'm asking for is, in part, two-way links, as one can pull the string from either side. But it is also unbreakable links, not just pointers. Not just signs that point in the general direction of the other piece of information. Rather, something like an electrical wire. The moment somebody cuts it, an alarm goes off. Or a quantum entanglement kind of mechanism, where you just can't mess with it without it being noticed.

How can one practically implement it? I didn't say I knew how, just that I want it, and that everything we do with information would totally change if we had reliable links. But it is not like it is an unsolvable problem. It would in no way be impossible to provide each living person with a unique encrypted ID code. There are certainly issues of politics and of privacy, and of identity theft, but they could be solved if there were any unified wish to have unique IDs. As it is now, it is in most places a no-brainer to acquire multiple ID numbers or to disappear to somewhere else.

The same applies to things, places, organized groups, subjects, etc. Information is as sloppily kept as for people, or more. A car at least has an ID number, but it is only used by government agencies, not for recording your photos or car trips or anything else.

A lot of stuff might deserve being very loosely joined, but not facts. A piece of information that is or could be a fact when recorded shouldn't later be a matter of searching and guessing. You should know its level of correctness by the way it is linked, not by some forensic text analysis.

Our shared information system has Alzheimer's. Real events instantly get converted into vague guesswork and conjecture and interpretation and stories and remixed soundbites. And then we expect to pour all of that stuff together, have a machine sort it all, and then we'll discover how really smart we are?

We'd probably get somewhere faster if we at least could keep most of the objective stuff straight, and then we could use our imagination and reasoning abilities for more important stuff than merely trying to reconstruct what is going on.  More >



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