“Synchronous vs. Asynchronous Web” on VCMike’s blog got me thinking about what I intended with this blog … not just tech and methods and process, the technology and mechanics, but the ground, the terrain, the foundations of individual experience that makes us social in general and communicative in particular
Apparently “polyphasic” has come to mean something about a sleep disorder. Too bad. Once upon a time it captured something quite subtle about the way we work.
Anyone who’s worked in a truly real-time environment has the visceral understanding. Some things need to be done “now”, meaning they can wait a few seconds or even a couple of minutes. (I’m imagining being at the controls of a radio station doing a live broadcast.) while others need to be done “now” as in “this very instant”. (With some functions we time a switch flick to within .5 seconds … “punching in” during music recording requires even finer timing.)
This reminds me of cog-psych on interactivity with computers: anything less than .8 seconds seems instantaneous; less than 2 seconds seems real time; a 5 second delay results in measurable stress responses; more than 8 seconds and most people bail.
The cliche “You have mail” doesn’t require an instantaneous response, while a ringing phone usually calls for either instantaneous or something like not at all.
In complex working environments (I did radio for Search and Rescue … there can be a lot of things in flow at once. I can only imagine an operating room.) there are multiple streams each with their own rhythm and pace. (The Yahoo!Pipes feed I created last week deals with exactly that aspect; Digg and reddit flood compared to some personal blogs that I also want to monitor.) When activity streams with very different paces intersect you have more than asynchrony: like with an impedance mis-match, you have friction and loss of signal … not just chaos, but noise.
My intuition (combination cog/social-psych and abdhidharma) is that individuals experience a very pleasant feeling when they’re engaged with something nearing the “7 variables at once” that marks temporary memory … like with a well designed video game.
If/when that experience just happens to be productive … the Inbox shrinks and the ToDo list becomes more realistic … IMNSHO that’s pretty close to “peak experience”.
What amazes me constantly is how much punishment individuals can soak up and still persist, despite the frustrations. We really are an amazing species!
In a longish article on APML, “Attention Profiling”, MasterNewMedia writes:
“We have reached the point of information hyper-saturation. It can become quite a chore to find relevant content online, when there is so much other information competing for your attention. But by implementing attention profiling, it becomes possible to have the services and websites you visit begin to make suggestions for content that you might be interested in.”
I can’t feel comforted by the thought that darkly secret algorithms are going to steer the masses’ information grazing.
A video by Michael Wesch – Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology – Kansas State University:
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[ youtube=http://youtube.com/w/?v=6gmP4nk0EOE] (remove the space after the left square bracket)
I call my project “Participatory Deliberation” and it’s like I was talking about the mating rituals of some alien species. (Actually, that would get more response.) I describe what other folk are working on (like “By writing down information, we want to express facts about ideas and concepts in your own, subjective world.”) and connect that to what we need to do, as in “So much heat, so little light!” or “Ground Zero“:
“the absence of informed and thoughtful public input into decision making is all the more troublesome. Not only does such absence undermine the actual democratic character of many policy decisions, the numerous after-the-fact popular resistances to those policy choices only contributes to ineffective and inefficient government”
And here’s the irony: what moves me (read: it cramps my guts) is that “new” tools and “new” methods are just getting folk to move faster … and think less.
It’s ironic … paradoxical. Like telling someone that they’ve just lost their hearing; all I can expect is a blank and empty stare. No, no blame … no condemntation, not even judgment.
If you really can’t hear, if you really cannot focus, if you actually are unable of stringing more than 3 thoughts together, well then … shows tuh go ya that what I’m talking about is truly important. Which makes me feel kinda sad … ironic, nae?
it’s important for more than just yourselves
In Dojo’s blog, “Planet Dojo” (see their “Summer of Code / Data Projects”) I came across Daniela Florescu’s “Managing Semi-Structured Data” … a new one for me.
And reading up on Leo Sauermann’s thinking about “Gnowsis” I found Dynamic Data Web Page, by Frederick Giasson.
Also of interest, google hacks: (more…)
Yesterday I read through William Clancy‘s “Notes on Epistemology of a Rule-based Expert System“, the sort of thing I was working on in the late 80s. In the section that’s showing he writes, “I knew what all the words meant, but I couldn’t understand why the rule was correct. … More than a decade would pass before I realized that to have a representation in your pocket is not to be intelligent.” You see, I’ve come to an understanding of how that implicates itself into society’s deliberations concerning public policy, of how it ramifies itself down into the lived experience of the citizen.
Relating to Gnowis, a project of DKFI Knowledge Management Lab, Leo Saurman wrote me with what he called “my motivation for gnowsis:”
* I want to write down information. I want to write down what I know. But language, even hypertext, is not information. Because when writing sentences like “I am writing to Ben about gnowsis” involves concepts about you and gnowsis, resources, ideas, that are connected. By writing down information, we want to express facts about ideas and concepts in your own, subjective world. The gnowsis is a personal semantic web, a personal “digital Weltbild”.
Now the fact is that I’ve forever been a fan of PIMs and writing tools like outliners (“ThinkingCap” for the C=64 was easily the best I’ve ever found … go figure.) But I think there are bigger fish to fry. Or, to put it another way, we have real alligators to fight as we try to keep the swamp from flooding us out of house and home.
What I’m thinking of isn’t just a new sort of forum. (more…)