February 11, 2004

Ethics in a vacuum.

"We are moral, legal, and unconstrained."

Direct quote or paraphrase, that seems to be one of those two-out-of-three things, rather like faster, better, cheaper. A legal framework imposes constraints. A moral framework imposes constraints.

Given the context, I am somehow reminded of Jane Butzner Jacobs' Guardian ethic and Corporate ethic. I'm trying out the concept of the Media ethic, and having some trouble imagining it. I think that's because the media is so unconstrained.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 06:03 PM | Comments (0)

October 22, 2003

Life imitates art.

Daddy told me look into the future,
sit at your computer, be a good girl.

A member of the pop group Girls Aloud was convicted yesterday of a drunken attack on a nightclub lavatory attendant.

And Mama said remember you're a lady,
think before you play and straighten your curls.

The pop singer Cheryl Tweedy was found guilty yesterday of punching a lavatory attendant at a nightclub after taking a handful of lollipops without paying.

Well everybody's talking like I'm crazy.
Danger is a lazy girl with no soul.

Witnesses described how the singer took lollies from a bowl in the lavatories and, when challenged by Mrs Amogbokpa, insisted that she did not have to pay for them.

But I've seen it all from where I'm hiding
baby cause I'm sliding out of control.

After Mrs Amogbokpa, 39, a part-time law student, stopped her from taking the lollipops without leaving the customary tip, Tweedy charged at her, the court was told.

Here I go, on the road, crank the stereo.
I flick my finger to the world below.
Here I am, dirty hands, I don't give a damn.
Shut your mouth and let's give a show.

Tweedy, 20, a member of the band Girls Aloud, gave Sophie Amogbokpa a black eye after drinking a substantial amount of alcohol at The Drink nightclub in Guildford, Surrey, on 11 January, Kingston Crown Court was told.

I don't need no good advice
I'm already wasted.

The prosecution said that Tweedy was drunk and “full of her own self-importance”.

I don't need some other life
cold and complicated.

She was sentenced to 120 hours of community service and ordered to pay her victim £500 in compensation and prosecution costs of £3,000.

I don't need no Sunday trips
to add sympathising.
I don't need no special fix
to anaesthetise me.

The court was told that shortly after Girls Aloud had topped the charts at Christmas with their debut single, Tweedy drank champagne in the VIP area of The Drink nightclub with Nicola Roberts, 18, a fellow band member.

Tweedy had drunk a cocktail of three vodkas, a glass of red wine, two glasses of champagne and a "shooter" of strong spirits.

Daddy always told me to remember,
leave the boys, till later, don't you drop down.
Mama said I'd never get to heaven,
hang out till eleven, with the wrong crowd.

The singer was found guilty of assault occasioning actual bodily harm but cleared of racially aggravated assault occasioning actual bodily harm.

Everybody's talking like I'm only
just another phony girl who can't play.
But I dig the music that i'm making
baby, and i'll break it into your brain.

Judge Richard Haworth told her: "This was an unpleasant piece of drunken violence which caused Sophie Amogbokpa pain and suffering. Her eye was painful for three or four weeks, there was bruising for three months and for a while she had blurred vision. You showed no remorse whatsoever."

Girls Aloud star found guilty of drunken attack (Patrick Barkham, The Times, 21 October 2003)
Pop star cleared of race charges, but court finds her guilty of assault (Arifa Akbar, The Independent, 21 October 2003)
No Good Advice, Girls Aloud.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 10:56 PM | Comments (0)

October 14, 2003

Love missile.

Saturday evening, in the Canberra suburbs. A crash of thunder, but there is no rain, and the noise is ongoing and rising in crescendo. "It's a pig doing a dump and burn," he says, and we all rush outside to see a long orange streak ascending against the dark of night.

It's the Australian High Court centenary celebrations. An F1-11 pilot lets out fuel that is lit by the exhaust of his thrusters; a manned firework rides a tail of flame.

Sigue Sigue Sputnik plays in my head. Shoot it up. Rock.

Low flying bombers spook Canberrans (The Age, 12 October 2003)
Canberra official condemns air force fly past on eve of Bali anniversary (Agence France-Press, 13 October 2003)

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 05:30 AM | Comments (0)

September 14, 2003

Tag too.


a B C
D e F
J K L.
Y Z !


Posted by Lloyd Wood at 01:05 AM | Comments (2)

September 01, 2003

The eyes have it.

An unusual encounter this afternoon while standing in the sun in Kensington Gardens: a small Indian gentleman, perhaps mid-fifties and wearing a baseball cap to protect his pate, walked up to me and requested directions, which I then provided.

He then looked at me. He told me that I had very strong silent energy, and strong focus, and that he could see it in my eyes. He claimed to be a psychic healer, and that that was how he saw these things. He remarked upon my eyes several more times; a little unnerving, as he is far from the first to do so.

What else could I do but respond with "thankyou" several times, and later ponder this event?

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 12:38 AM | Comments (0)

August 24, 2003

Tag alphabet soup.

starting with Slashdot... A is for Amazon. bb is for boingboing. C is for Cisco Connection online. D is for Disney. E is for... Dell? F is for F-Secure.
G is for Google. H is for hardOCP i is for Insignia. j is for Triple J. K is for Kottke. L. is for Lloyd Wood M is for Mentat
N is for Netscape. O is for Opera. p is for Publix. Q is for theQ. R is for Risks. S is for Salon. T is for Teoma.
u is for useit.com. V is for Verity. W is for Wired. X is for XFree86. y is for yappa-ng. Z is for Jeremy Zawodny. dot

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 05:55 PM | Comments (0)

Future blows from invisible hands.

(Better never than late.)

Contrast and compare:

Danny O'Brien at oblomovka:

"My editor mailed me to ask about that last entry, and whether we should rewrite the piece. He said someone had pointed it out to him. Someone, my foot. Do you see what this is? This is the Internet getting back at me again."
Danny O'Brien at advogato:
"I help write http://www.ntk.net/ which makes me one of those observers who collapse the eigenstate and ruin the experiment a lot of the time."

One of those many observers, I'd hazard. Observation, and remarking on observation, affects reality -- although perhaps not to the extent hazarded by the observations of Greg Bear's Blood Music.

Prophecies are predictions based on observation. The problem with the prophecies that we're told is that they can be self-fulfilling or self-negating; for some (social) experiments, the act of recording and promulgating the observation can affect the experiment. Do Gallup election polls affect subsequent decisions, and invalidate the very prophecies they make? Consider how Gore almost conceded, based on exit polls.

(You won't read to the end of this entry.)

Orlowski spitting fire about extropian political-futures markets for the Register misses the fundamental point of markets -- participants want you buy into the market philosophy. If you believe in markets, then what markets say matters to you. Much of what market analysts say exists only to evangelise the market process. Buy what they're saying and buy into the markets, for the markets can't become truly properly-functioning fair markets until everyone's playing in them. They're pyramid schemes that can pan out, with global prosperity for everyone.

(Extropians are optimists who have already bought in.)

Or so we're told. Markets are just large secondary experiments based on mass observation, and in the market the reaction to market behaviour based on observations of the market becomes the new reality of the market, and affects the primary experiment.

(Someone on blogshares bought shares in my blog and promptly blogged a link to me to up the price. Behaviour encouraged by that market.)

Make an observation on the worthlessness of your article, and suddenly your article really just might be worthless in its market as your observation is reacted to. Danny discovered that the observer exists within the system, and can ruin his own experiments in getting paid.

(Try calling an Old Master a fake. Once you've bought it. Try to sell it.)

Make an observation on, oh, the likelihood of political assassinations by buying into a dead-pool futures market that encourages the likelihood of such observations, and you affect the future likelihood of assassinations as your observation sparks reactions. Can such markets really predict the future, or merely cause it to happen by exercising the much-vaunted invisible hand? Would placing a price on someone's head in a futures market really be just a purely theoretical exercise?

The market doesn't stand outside the experiment. The perfect market becomes the sole way you manipulate that experiment -- but that market offers perverse incentives that are aligned to the internal reality of the market, not to the primary experiment and its reality. I'm coming to distrust the undeclared purposes of markets; they're not just tools.

Recording this observation here is probably a really stupid idea. It's just asking for it.

(You'll forget you ever read this, or you'll think someone else wrote it. It's just another blog entry.)

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 01:17 AM | Comments (0)

August 02, 2003

Marketing the future of the futures market.

Now that it's working well for me and I'm paying more attention to it, I'm finally starting to get an idea of the emergent properties of Blogshares, and of the nested structures that it's building. (Finally reading Blogshare's help pages helped considerably with this, of course.)

You start by buying shares in blogs that have been listed on Blogshares.

Similarly-themed blogs now exist within industries. Properties of blogs (link statistics) generate ideas; you could think of these as shares in industries, as they express the properties of industry connectivity.

Buy enough ideas, and you have an artefact. Right now artefacts are internal operators, given cutesy and functionally meaningless thematic descriptions, that are generated by the ownership of ten thousand bought ideas. An artefact is a modifier of the internal status of Blogshares; it has little external reality. It's like reaching the next level of Blogshares and getting a trading powerup; it's self-referential.

What matters is the external reality that Blogshares is based in.

What if Blogshares could track the spread of a meme through an industry's blogs by relating a train of links back to an original permalinked post? It's already doing this, in a granular fashion, at the blog level to generate the statistics needed to compute ideas; improving the granularity for selected nominated permalinks and building a list of related permalink urls, where each added permalink is an entry linking to a permalink url already in that list, can't be that hard. A growing list is a spreading meme; an idea that, literally, has currency.

Nominating a permalink as a meme might be made expensive, in Blogshare currency terms, to discourage computational misuse; if a meme skyrockets in popularity, there should be a payoff for nominating it and betting your money on that rising star.

If Blogshares could track growth of nominated memes via the growth of their chain of related permalinks, and you could really buy and sell shares in or bet on the spread of real expressed-in-words ideas... then we would have a futures market as soon as the first idea about the future is expressed in a permalinked blog entry, and someone decides it's worth nominating as a spreading meme.

So, for example, I might want to speculate on the worth of an idea described in, oh, a post in one of the Jupiter Research analyst weblogs, or in another analyst's weblog, because ultimately all bloggers can be analysts. I'd nominate that as a meme via its permalink, and reap the reward based upon the extent of any growing linked blog discussion around that post and idea.

In tracking posts relating to a nominated link, you're really tracking the spread and growth of controversy about an expressed idea or position rather than votes in favour of the likelihood of that idea per se. But it's an attention economy, where linking is a form of credit. And that does seem to be good enough for Google. Google works. Attention to the future is just one sort of attention; the futures market is just one subset of spreading memes expanding from permalink to permalink. News is another.

I think I've just described the future of Blogshares (and when no-one links to this, I'll know I'm wrong. If only I could nominate this as the first Blogshares meme.)

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 12:12 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 29, 2003

Fashion victim.

As is currently indicated by the fashionable additions to the sidebar of my blog, I have registered with Blogshares and with Technorati.

I haven't been able to claim ownership of my blog in Technorati. (And when I log in to that I'm told that it thinks that someone may be impersonating me. Poorly.)

I haven't been able to claim ownership of my blog in Blogshares. (Despite pinging its RPC interface a number of times in a number of different ways, and observing the seemingly fatal dependence that Blogshares seems to have on weblogs.com.)

I haven't been able to figure out the point of Blogshares, either, beyond being a non-collapsing virtual South Sea bubble. Even sans blog, I'm already a Blogshares millionaire, and I've hardly been paying attention. Pay to become a premium member? Penny Arcade shares my view on that.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 11:38 PM | Comments (4)

July 09, 2003

Logical consequences?

Dan Kohn has previously commented on online dating.

He's now added a My girlfriend link to his blog.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 06:02 PM | Comments (0)

July 08, 2003

All your maps are belong to us.

Dissertation could be security threat, Laura Blumenfeld, Washington Post, 8 July 2003.

Sean Gorman runs www.networkgeography.org, as announced a while back in the Geography of Cyberspace, who track these things. The Slashdot crowd has thrown up a much earlier Science Daily article resulting from a University of Florida press release in 1999.

It's possible that Sean Gorman's work is far more real-world and applicable than, oh, Tony Grubesic's work. It's also possible that he's just better at publicity.

I don't see the dangers in releasing map information; a society where it is unsafe to release such information is not a society I'd wish to live in. But then I'm not a fan of the "Keep it secret, stupid!" mantra.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 06:12 PM | Comments (0)

June 28, 2003

Corporations. Coffee. Companies.

Enough of the current Orwell's-hundredth-birthday Royal Society of Chemistry brouhaha to get a Loughborough lecturer to tell us that the milk should go in first. Enough of tea, and of the people who spoil it with milk.

I prefer tea and filter coffee black. I don't like raw milk; it just goes rancid while I'm not looking. I'm not going to buy milk. (When I have cereal, I put apple juice on it, although that tends to turn to bad cider while I'm not looking.)

For some time, I've been on the quest for the ideal cappucino. This is itself made more difficult by disliking milk. So, enter the instant cappucino mix, which is basically powdered instant coffee, milk powder (remember the introduction of Coffee-Mate in the 1970s?), and foaming agents. Available sweetened and unsweetened (but the sugary versions foam better). I have tried:

Douwe Egberts Instant Cappucino.
One big bag of powder that's hard to divide up and meter, although it's fine when done right.
Nestlé's Instant Cappucino.
Individual 12.5g sachets that are just too small to make a decent-size cup. Chocolate powder sealed in its own plastic shaker; the sweetened comes with Plain Chocolate topping, but the unsweetened has Swiss Chocolate topping, presumably to make up for its poor (if improved) foaming and general resemblance to instant coffee plus Coffee-Mate. And those ingredients lists... two stabilisers? Salt?
Maxwell House unsweetened.
Individual 14g sachets that make a large cappucino in my favourite metal mug, but the included packet of Terry's Chocolate Flavour Powder is quite awful, and rarely used.

The combination of Maxwell House unsweetened with Nestlé's Swiss Chocolate topping is the best combination I've yet found, and certainly the easiest to mix and foam when you're in a hurry. Pouring the hot water onto the back of a spoon works particularly well.

But if I take my instant cappucino sans sugar, and, once the decent chocolate has run out, sans chocolate, can I really still call it a cappucino? No. And it's a moot point, really. The ideal cappucino is really the cappucino taken in ideal company.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 01:12 AM | Comments (1)

June 21, 2003

More tea?

There's something about the humble way in which the British express their devotion to tea. Consider nice cup of tea and a sit down, or the more to-the-point I love tea.

These sites don't mention George Orwell's own A nice cup of tea. That's odd, but then that piece was written over half a century ago, and Orwell was always strident, never humble. More to the point, would you want to take your dietary advice from someone who only lived until the age of forty-six?

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 02:49 AM | Comments (1)

June 05, 2003

At last.

This week Leo finally got examined on his PhD thesis. Successfully.

It's reassuring to know that there are people out there who can take even longer and have more trouble putting things together than I did, but can still graduate; Leo's non-progress had been something of a constant even back when we were wasting time dinking around with Macintoshes.

I have a copy of his thesis -- the cover is a fetching shade of yellow -- and one thing I've already learned from it is that you can produce very professional-looking results if you really do know what you're doing after wasting enough time dinking around with LaTeX and with gnuplot.

Another is that it is apparently entirely acceptable to quote jwz as one of the core arguments in your defense. In Dutch. On wasting your time dinking around with Linux.

(In February, Leo suggested I start a real blog using real blogging software. And now I'm wasting time dinking around with this.)

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 01:21 PM | Comments (0)

June 04, 2003

Molly wouldn't be impressed.

Gibson uses smilies.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 12:49 AM | Comments (1)

June 02, 2003

So I finally succumbed.

Everyone else has a blog. Now I have one too.

Posted by Lloyd Wood at 04:42 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack
Lloyd Wood (L.Wood@surrey.ac.uk)
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