“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?”
“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.”