FlickrFan

Started using Dave Winer’s new FlickrFan last night. Here are my impressions:

– Killer result. Absolutely an incredible way to display interesting and relevant images from around the world, both your own internal world and the rest of the world.

– Horrible delivery vessel. Using the OPML editor as the engine is like taking a 737 across town for your commute. I understand that Dave only wants to program in his environment, but the simplicity of the result is completely betrayed by the complexity of the implementation.

– It would be super cool to have captions explaining the pictures if available. I’m a huge Packers fan and there is a picture of Brett Favre in my stream, but I wasn’t able to find the caption anywhere. It doesn’t show up in my event log. Why is there a picture of one of the greatest quarterbacks on AP? Dunno.

– Not related to FlickrFan itself, but I was unaware that the ‘Pictures’ screensaver on Mac OSX displays a different picture for each display. A very pleasant surprise when you have 3 monitors hooked up.

I understand that this is very much a ‘1.0’ release. A ‘Proof of Concept.’ As Fred Brooks says in
The Mythical Man Month
, plan to throw one away. This version needs to be thrown away and refined into the killer app that it is screaming to become.

(All the above is said with the greatest respect for what Dave has done for all of us on the web)

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Bleak Thoughts

Watched Michael Moore’s ‘SiCKO’ yesterday. Really amazing documentary/movie. Makes you realize that we’ve been getting screwed with our pants on.

My favorite idea was the need to switch from ‘Me to We’

Can this even happen? Probably not. Makes me really worry about our future as a nation and a civilization. How much longer can we sustain our current value systems before we crumble under their weight?

2008 might not be a good year. I hope it is, but sometimes it’s hard to be optimistic. Maybe we should move to France…

I’ve been actively reading, learning, and observing as much as I can about our current social climate, both here and abroad. Too much of it is based on highly irrational thinking and elitist attitudes. History has shown us that any ‘progress’ made under these terms is extremely lethal to society.

People die due to irrational thinking. The amount of people depends on the technology available, and since technology is always progressing this current wave we seem to be in will just get deadlier.

People revolt due to elitist attitudes. The greater the divide between the ‘higher-ups’ and those on the bottom the greater possibility of a revolt. The rich are getting richer faster and the poor are becoming more numerous faster. And that’s just here in the US.

Too much change is needed to fix these two problems. Very depressing.

My prediction for 2008 is that things will only get worse. We need a miracle for things to get better. A real, bonafide miracle.

The Open Web

Open Web Creed:

I promise to make my site/and or service fully accessible to anyone who wants to use it.

I promise to have a way for you to make money using my site/and or service.

Amen

This is the way that the Open Web will work.

IOML – Interactive Outline Markup Language

The format I have been working with now has its official name: Interactive Outline Markup Language. IOML.

The IOML format is an evolutionary step from OPML with some of the structure changed to make using outlines, uh, interactive.

IOML is used to communicate with an Interactive Outline Server. The server I am working on is called CoffeeTalk. It is written in Python. Initial coding is almost (damn I’ve been saying that for a long time) done. The feature set is almost frozen. I’m only debating on one more feature before deciding on freezing the specification.

The first clients to use IOML will be in Python, ActionScript 3.0, and JavaScript/Ajax. The Python client is being developed along with the server.

I’m very excited about the possibilities of IOML. It is very flexible, easy to understand, scalable, portable, and, best of all, it just makes a lot of sense.

Development at the speed of thought…

Web 3.0 will only disappoint

Web 3.0 huh? That’s the best that the tech-elite can come up with? Bleh. Anyone who uses the phrase “Web 3.0” is bound to not understand the ‘next phase’ if it hits them in the forehead. They prove their obsolescence by claiming they know what is coming next based on what has come before.

If we assume that technology grows linearly then we can try and predict Web 3.0. But technology doesn’t grow linearly, it grows exponentially. That’s why there won’t be a Web 3.0.

The next version of the Web NEEDS to be Web Cubed. Web^3. The Web to the third power.

The next step needs to be revolutionary, not evolutionary.

TechCrunch40 and the coming WebCrunch 2.0

The end is coming! With the TechCrunch40 conference this week the wheels have been set in motion for the collapse of the Web 2.0 dream. The hype has officially blown off the lid of any kind of realistic continuation for this version of the Net.

Companies without business plans, or with extremely tenuous ones, being vaulted to the top of the world of tech. At least no one was trying to sell dog food…

This is all good news though. Now we, users and developers alike, can take a step back to take a look at what we’ve done. We’ve all accomplished a lot in the last couple of years. A lot of people have made a lot of money. A lot of people are creating and contributing to the Web. We owe it to ourselves to take a good hard look at what comes next.

We can say: “This is the last version of Web 2.0. It is now time to actively pursue the next version codenamed Web Cubed”

The next version can’t just be an incremental release. The next version of the Web needs to be an order of magnitude better.

So let’s get started.

Why does intelligence exist at all?

I’ve been thinking about the points I made in my previous post and I’ve come to, what I think, is a rational explanation of why intelligence exists. While I’m also interested in the evolution of intelligence, because working your way backwards leads to the ultimate reason for intelligence, it seems to me that the overall start of intelligence is what we really want. This is just an overview of my thoughts. There are a lot of deeper examples and time lines that go with these thoughts, but please forgive the lack of research for now. This could all probably fit in a book which I don’t have time to write because I need to be coding! Anyway…

So why does intelligence even exist? What are the basic building blocks? The two basic building blocks in my mind are Light and Sound. Let’s look at Light first.

Early multi-celled organisms on planet Earth evolved to the point where they were being bombarded with photons coming from the Sun. This was a critical part of their environment. The first organisms to fully exploit this were plants. Plants started using sunlight as a means of making light energy into chemical energy (photosynthesis). Other organisms would evolve to use light as an advantage to navigate around their environment for finding food or evading predators.

The first light-detecting cells were very primitive. A simple on or off cell. Light or no light. As these cells evolved they started taking into account the brightness of the light. This in turn led to more tuned evolutionary advantages. Finding better hiding spots, better sources of food, and so on. The more the organism harnessed light the better chance it had to survive.

Color recognition came next and further expanded the advantages of advanced light-detecting cells. At some point along this evolutionary path came the dueling light cells. Left and right eyes for dealing with the three-dimensional world that these organisms were evolving. Things were really starting to come into focus, and coming into focus at quite the exponential rate.

Somewhere along the way in this evolutionary journey came the detection of sound waves. This could have been the slight detection of a change in pressure around some cells or the reaction to vibrations caused by sound. These adaptations were useful for avoiding predators, identifying similar organisms, or even for detecting larger organisms with which to feed off of.

As the organisms evolved so did their breakdown of sound. Very much like the evolution of light processing, sound processing started growing exponentially from being able to detect low and high frequencies, judging distances, to being able to distinguish between a very large collection of different sounds made by different organisms. Add in the three dimensional collection of sound via dual ear-like mechanisms and sound is off on the same exponential path as light.

These improvements are both fine and good by themselves, but it is when they are combined together that they really start to take off. By combining visual feedback with audible feedback there comes a third sense that is the product of the two: audio-visual sensations. Visual clues are reinforced by audio clues and vice versa. The amount of information from the surrounding environment that can be used for survival grows at an astronomical rate. (Literally. Billions and billions of ways. Thanks Carl.)

There are other senses that these organisms develop and use for survival too. Smell, taste, and touch. But I believe these senses are absolutely dwarfed in comparison to being able to sense light and sound. Light and sounds are an always on perception. While the other senses have their moments when they have to step up to the plate and sense something they are moments few and far between when compared to sight and listening.

In the same sense (ha!) sound pales in comparison to light. The processing of sound is at least a handful orders of magnitude less than light. It is important, but nowhere near as important as light.

I want to end this post by, again, noting that I have not used any references here. There are a lot of things I am taking for granted, a lot of things that need to be explained better, and probably more than a few holes. The overall idea remains the same however. Intelligence comes from the presence of Light and Sound, with light being the dominant force. Light is the genesis of intelligence.