Archive for June, 2012

June 17, 2012: 4:33 pm: Tales of the Aggregate, writing

Dariel Lin concentrated on the roster as if he was defending his thesis again. Somehow this felt more dire. A thesis could be reconstructed and re-defended. A fantasy team could not. He felt good about his offense, defense and utility choices, but who to put at Big Man? Everyone would place Tam there. He knew that. So he felt he needed to be more brilliant than to do the obvious.

He began to look over the eastern division teams again when something began to distract him.

What was that buzzing?

ACK! It was an alarm. No. THE alarm. The whole reason he sat in this empty shack night after night agonizing over his fantasy team alone. In case the scanner found something. And by bush it had found something.

He fought back the panic who h had been driving him to throw switches, and pull levers, and pull up screens. But there was nothing like that to do. He had one job. Verify the software hadn’t made an error and call the boss.

The verification was an automatic process that had spooled as soon as he sent the alert into the non-networked server. This insured someone on the Mesh hadn’t spoofed them. He had his hand on the phone and waited for it to run.

Green light.

He called.

Within four hours the shack was crammed full of officials, scientists and unexplained hangers on, all listening to the repeating message that had set off Dariel’s alarm.

“Hello Earth, this is Citadel 32 on the Moon. We have been out of contact for an undetermined amount of time. Several hundred years. Our colony has survived but only now recovered communications, please respond.”

June 16, 2012: 1:28 am: Tales of the Aggregate, writing

Since the resurgence began, more than 300 years ago, humanity has yearned to order and understand our past. Much of the records of the ancient past are long gone. But the general outlines remain. Current historical practice divides the past into the following ages. Each age is here described by a definition as well as an assessment of how much is known an the age, and from what sources.

Prehistoric Age – This covers all time leading up to the widespread use of the first common tools. It is erroneously thought of s the ‘stone age’ although the use of stone tools falls under the craftwork age. Little is known of humans in this time other than they evolved from other hominins.

Craftwork Age – This age spans from the first widespread and replicable tool use and manufacture up until the first forging of metal on a widespread basis. While the term ‘stone age’ applies in part, wood, string and many other non-metal tool materials were widely used as well. Humans I this age are known by their tools and some sparse records of cave paintings and glyphs, though most of those are lost.

Metalwork Age – This age encompasses the first widespread forging of metals up to the first widespread manufacture of complex machinery. The first written records date from this age. We know much more abrupt the metalwork age than the older ages. Copper smelting around 10,000 years ago shows the barest beginnings and the age encompasses the Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Chinese, Mayan, Greek, Roman, Umayyad, Aztec, and Incan empires are flourished and died in this age. Records are sketchy and largely secondary accounts written down centuries later.

Mechanical Age – This age stretches from the first widespread complex machines up until the widespread use of electricity. Since so much more is known about this age, it is harder to pinpoint its beginning. Accounts of the Roman and Chinese empires show complex machines that might qualify. But whether we count from Roman or Tang Dynasty days, by the time exploration ships began making widespread trade voyages and the printing press was making books a commodity, the mechanical age was well underway. This age saw the rise of factories and the idea of the nation-state, especially in Europe and the Americas.

Electrical Age – Little is known for sure of how electricity was first developed. Odd myths and legends of Benjamin Franklin, Luigi Galvani, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla make it hard to separate fantastic stories of exploding elephants from factual accounts of science. However the age can roughly be defined as beginning with the widespread deployment of electric lighting and ending with the collapse of the great generators and the worldwide blackout. It is characterized by the great federations like the European Union, the United States, the African Congress and others.

Delian Age (or sub-age) – This age coincides with the latter part of the electric age and ends at the same point. It is properly considered a sub-age, but is of such significance and character that it is regularly treated separately. It starts with the rise of the Citadel form of government, where large regional cities pulled in most of the population and power. Debates still rage on how much this form of governance stagnated human development by providing too comfortable of a safety net. However, it is certain that just such a debate led to the revolt of the heretics and those revolts caused the worldwide blackout among other disasters.

Dark Age – Traditionally dated from the worldwide blackout, but more accurately starting with the fall of the 31 Citadels, the dark age was a period of retrenchment. Population fell all through the Delian Age because of advancements in science. It plummeted in the Dark Age because of an absence of science. Historians argue about just how close to extinction humanity got during this period in which much of the world’s written records were destroyed.

Resurgence – This movement began with a deep interest in preserving the citadel sites and finds its benchmark date with the ceremonial re-establishment of the Delhi Citadel. It is characterized by literature and philosophy that emphasized putting the short term concerns of money and safety behind the priorities of advancement and common purpose.

Modern Age or sometimes Mesh Age – Previous technologies that had fallen into decline were quickly revived in the resurgence and soon advances never seen before were being made. The establishment of The Mesh brought about a distinct change of thinking and behaving for humanity. For the first time anyone on the planet, for a negligible cost, could access anyone else and any other kind of information. This led to an abandonment of forced philosophies and governments, and the principle of self-organization and social attractors as the order of the day. The world has surpassed the wealth and well-being of the Delian Age while abiding the stagnation that led to that society’s downfall.

June 15, 2012: 12:56 pm: Tales of the Aggregate, writing

“Professor Tarak Dabashi?”

“Call me Tak. Who are you?”

“Officer Gordon, DSI. Can I speak with you a moment?”

“Our panel is about to start, can it wait?”

“It’s important sir.”

“What does DSI want with me? I’m a Data Archaeologist. You’re crim fighters. In fact you’re crime fighters who’s job it is to know when crimes are likely to happen and prevent them. Is the crime you’re trying to prevent likely to happen in the next hour?”

“No sir…”

“And if you wait to talk to me until after my panel, will that prevent you from taking action against this crime?”

“Well no sir, but it’s extremely important…”

“As is my panel on Delian Age myths of the ‘Internet’ and it’s relation to the modern Mesh. So I will talk to you afterwards.”

With that, Professor Dabashi took the stage and joined his fellow panelists to discuss what evidence backed up legends from the Delian Age of history, and what the truth might be. Dabashi worked as a data archeologist on the New York Citadel site. His specialty was references to the ‘Internet’ a sort of proto-Mesh that had become the source of much quackery purporting that Man was much mroe advanced befor ethe fall of the 31 Citadels at the end of the Delian age. Dabashi took relish in crushing such unsupported speculation.

Midway through the panel he got the question he was hoping for.

“Professor Dabashi, how can you ignore evidence that the Delian Age Internet was as far-reaching as our Mesh. It was global. It had massive communication capabilities worldwide. It seems to have supported the rise of the Citadels themselves and may have hastened their fall to the heretics?”

Dabashi settled in. “I believe the Internet was real , I know it was real and I believe it was quite capable,mas you say. But comparing it to our Mesh is like comparing a wagon wheel form the Mechanical Age to a current sports car’s wheel. They are both round and roll, but one i smuch more sophisticated than the other.

“I have two main reasons why I do not believe the Internet was comparable to the Mesh. One is what we do see and one is what we don’t. Let me start with what we don’t see. The current Mesh is widely attributed with helping keep wars and crime to an all time low in history. It’s unimpeded and uncensorable communication is not the only reason for these effects, but a demonstrably large one. We do not see such effects in the Delian Age. War was reduced certainly, but not even close to the level it is currently. And crime was still an issue in all 31 citadels. Today it is a nuisance, not a problem. I was just chatting with one of our fine DSI officers off-stage moments ago. There is no equivalent of the DSI in the Delian age. They just didn’t have the processing power.

“The other thing we do see in Delian documents are references to Television and Telephone Companies. For those not familiar these were corporations that provided ancient voice and video services. The Mesh makes providers of such services unnecessary of course. if the Internet was as sophisticated as the Mesh, these companies would have had no reason to linger. All evidence points that they existed in some form or other in all 31 Citadels.

“What I think confuses the issue, is that Delian writing expresses evaluations of technology in hopeful terms. They described what they wanted their tech to do, but not always what it could do. To our modern ears, it sounds strangely current. As if they’re describing our world. And that of course is incredibly fascinating and attractive to beleive. As a myth. But the eveidence is not there.”

Professor Molinaro stood to ask his question. Dabashi had already worked out his answer in advance. Molinaro always asked the same question these days.

“Professor Dabashi, what do you make of the Wiki Media found in the remains of Free America Aggregate representative office in Toronto? It seems to be a clear indication that the Delian era Internet had Distributed Processing, does it not?”

The Wiki find was a thorn in Dabashi’s side. What was recoverable seemed to be pages of a sort of encyclopedia that was openly edited by multiple people. This kind of practice was the norm on the Mesh, but was anachronistic to Delian computing.

“The Wiki find is very interesting, ” Dabashi began. “But you will find distinct differences from Distributed Processing we all engage in today. There seems to be indications of open editing, but this may be deceiving. Distributed Processing is a self-sustaining behaviour, the Wiki find makes references to a hierarchical structure of editors. There’s also clearly a reference to a Wikimedia Foundation which has all the hallmarks of a corporation. And of course there are constant references to rules, implying a centrally administered document, not the community practices that arise in actual Distributed Processing.

“To use a Delian age phrase, I think what we’re seeing is a very successful bit of Crowd Sourcing. This is a primitive attempt at Distributed Processing where a centralised organisation calls on non-members to contribute in small ways to improve the whole. Again, it may appear at first glamnce to look modern, but upon closer inspection is not nearly as sophisticated as what we have today, say, in the Gnosphere, for instance. The articles we have uncovered int he Wiki Find seem riddled with errors too,” Dabashi concluded.

“That’s relative to contemporary knowledge though,” Molinaro shouted from the audience.

“To my point,” Dabashi cried cheerily. “Their own Wiki pages show how much they didn’t know about the world. Especially if they would have been considered accurate then!”

The audience laughed at that.

The panel wound down from there and Dabashi greeted Officer Gordon off stage.

“So what is this about, Officer?”

“An explosion will happen in mid-town Manhattan at the Citadel site this afternoon.”

“That is of concern to my work of course, but you are not just warning me out of courtesy. Why do you seek me out?”

“Because DSI reports you are the likely bomber.”

“Why would I bomb my own work? And besides I wont be there this afternoon, I have another lecture to deliver in Hobken. Or do I?” dabashi raised an eyebrow.

“That’s why were contacting you and not arresting you. DSI also reports you will be giving your lecture in Hobken. It reports you in two places at once. And we have no other evidence of you collecting bombing materials. Frankly, we’re stumped.”

“So what do you think I can do? Can’t you just prevent the bomb without me?”

“That’s what I’m doing sir. We’re authorised to change conditions in a non-criminal matter, with your permission. We’d like you not to give that lecture, and accompany us to the Ciatdel site.”

“I see, and won’t that be somehow fulfilling the prophecy of me being the bomber? It seems like you’re resolving the problem in favor of me blowing something up.”

“That’s not how it works, sir.”

“It must just be a glitch,” Dabashi sputtered.

“That’s not how it works either, sir.”

Dabashi sighed. “Well I suppose I should go to the site then.

“We’ll follow you.”

“You don’t want to take me yourselves?”

“That’s not how it…”

“Not how ti works, sir. I’m beginning to get it. Let’s go.”