My Thoughts Exactly

R.I.P. Jon Swift — a good man gone

The funny, kind, decent and fiercely democratic (note the lower-case “d”) blogger Jon Swift has died, much too young. See Tom Watson’s appreciation here. Swift, whose “real world” name was Al Weisel, was a friend to Wetmachine, having twice or thrice blogged about this site as “a great site you’ve never heard of” or similar. I never met the man in person, but in email correspondence he was kind and helpful to me. As a blogger, he was an inspiration.

In honor of Al/Jon Swift, this week is Blogroll Amnesty Day at Wetmachine. If your blog is not spam, porn, or blatantly offensive and you’re willing to put Wetmachine on your blogroll, I’ll put you on ours. Leave details in the comments or send me a note to [my first name] at [this a-here website].

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Inventing the Future

Situation Room

Real situation rooms devote an awful lot to physical requirements.

Here’s a virtual situation room from Forterra’s Olive platform, where there is lot more emphasis on dealing with the situation.

Of course, a real operations center needs to control and interact with the physical world, pulling in not just media, but also manifestations of live data. And the participants must be able to take actions that effect the real world. See an older video of a Teleplace network operations center doing that here.

If virtualization can produce an effective result for much less money, why not apply it in business as well as government? Here’s an example from industry analysts at Think Balm.

Physical situation rooms have costly recording equipment and people to operate them. This is an area where virtual situation rooms can not only be cheaper, but better because easier-to-use means more-likely-to-happen.

Of course, the point of a situation room is to bring experts and stakeholders together to deal with a changing situation. All the participants need to be able to quickly interact with resources, without physical or technological limitation. Unlike the set-in-concrete behemoths, a virtual environment can do better than bunkers to facilitate brainstorming and bringing new ideas together.

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Inventing the Future

летающий фаллос and the New Wild West

In December, 2006, flying phalli disrupted a Second Life press conference at a CNET event reflectively dedicated to making money in SL.

Two months later, US Presidential candidate John Edwards had his SL headquarters vandalized in a roughly similar way.

It took just over a year for the world to take the next step, when Russian chess champion cum opposition politician Garry Kasporov had a real world open meeting disrupted by a remote controlled dildo helicopter.

I find it interesting that it didn’t happen here in the US. Of course, five years earlier, cybersage William Gibson had published Pattern Recognition(1), in which Russia is depicted as a tech-hip wild west.

I don’t think the New Wild West is Russia or grassroots politics or astro-turf. It’s cyberspace. For better or worse, what happens there isn’t staying there. And, anyway, how real was the Buffalo West?


1. The netspeak prose didn’t really work for me, and I didn’t think Gibson’s rendering of a female protagonist felt authentic. But it’s easy to forgive these because they don’t really interfere with the spot-on, absolutely compelling ideas. Terrific, thought-provoking read.

Posted in Inventing the Future, Philosophical business mumbo-jumbo | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

Inventing the Future

Operations Center +1

David Smith made this video a year ago, showing how you could have:

  • virtual world objects automatically populated by real world objects;
  • scripted behavior for those interactive objects that:

    • gives realtime display of real world data associated with those objects;
    • allows you to control the associated real world objects (like Swayze in “Ghost”);

  • all while functioning in a standard virtual world in which the participants can communicate with voice/video/text/gesture and spontaneously share apps, etc.

Read More »

Posted in history: external milestones and context, Inventing the Future | Also tagged , , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Inventing the Future

What Do You Want to Do Today?

What can you do in a virtual world? Quite a bit, although we’re still quite far from the answer being, “Anything you can do in the real world.” Here’s a baseline list of today’s raw capabilities, in the language of virtual worlds. (The higher level activity one does with these capabilities is another story.)

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Posted in Inventing the Future, metaphysics | Also tagged , , , | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

Some painful things & a request

When I announced The Pains on April 18th of this year I said that I was going to try to do an update every two weeks or so. There has not been an update since.

I apologize. Sometimes the real world just gets in the way. I also promised to ship copies of the printed book “this summer”, and I still intend to hold to that promise, by which I mean that the books will ship before September 23nd or so. Yes, I’ll be cutting it close, but I’ll do it somehow.

See, the story is written, but it’s written longhand in my notebooks. I just have to find time to type it up, proofread, format, etc. Getting it online is the hardest part, just typing it up. From there to formatting for printing is not such big deal. When I did “Cheap Complex Devices” it only took nine days from when I gave my files to the printer to when the books were in the mail to paying customers. So I’m not too worried about the endgame.

I won’t make all kinds of excuses for the delay (not many of you have been paying attention) but I gots to tell you, it has been one hell of a spring around my house. One hell of a spring.

So my request is twofold: (1) If you’re waiting for the next installment of The Pains, especially if you have already pre-ordered a copy, please continue to be patient. An update is coming soon; hopefully I’ll get three or four chapters up over the 4th of July holiday break and (2) if you have ever had any inclination to pre-order the pains, or to buy a copy of my other books “Acts of the Apostles” and “Cheap Complex Devices”, or just to throw a few dollars towards the general support of Wetmachine, now might be a good time to do some clicking. A few dollars would come in handy right about now. And besides, every copy I sell of Acts or CCD is that much more closet space in my not-overly-large house!

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Inventing the Future

Transparent Computing

In What Is It About Immersive 3D?, I claim that being immersed in among the application components allows and encourages us to mix and match among bits and pieces of different applications. That is, we’re getting rid of the idea of having separate “applications” on a computer.

I forgot to mention the other aspect of immersive 3d: that we want to get rid of the computer. Well, actually, that we want to make using each application object feel like a real world object, not a computer thingie. The direct manipulation feel makes it easier to work with stuff, and the lack of indirect abstractions and symbols makes it easier to understand.

A few examples below the fold.

Read More »

Posted in Brie, Inventing the Future | Also tagged , , , | 4 Comments (Comments closed)

Tales of the Sausage Factory

Live from St. Louis- Kickin' Media Butt In Mo.

For the next few days, I’ll be blogging live from Free Press’ media reform conference in St. Louis. Sell out crowd of 2200 academics, activists, and random folks getting together to discuss the media reform movement and how to move forward.

Right now, I’m in the “Academic Brain Trust” pre-session. 120 people getting in early to figure out how to get academics involved in this despite the fact that university departments make it impossible to do anything that relates to the real world, particularly if you don’t have tenure.

I expect I will try to do daily wrap ups rather than bug everyone hourly now that we have RSS feeds.

Stay tuned . . .

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Inventing the Future

Inventing the Future: research applications

American companies and institutions tend to create projects based on either immediately practical applications or open-ended research. In Japan I encountered something else: comparatively long term application-oriented research projects.

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Posted in Inventing the Future | Also tagged | 1 Comment (Comments closed)

My Thoughts Exactly

AofA Technology: Monster Cells

As many of y’all know, I wrote Acts of the Apostles, (a nanotech thriller about (among other things) Iraqi bioweapons programs)during the years 1995-99.

As the book was science fiction, it contains a lot of stuff that I just made up. Since then it’s been fun to collect instances where the real world has caught up with Acts.

Here’s a link to an article in the Washington Post that describes an effort by Craig Venter(!!) to create an artificial cell that’s in many ways similar to the “monster cell” of AofA.

Read More »

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