Monday, July 25, 2005

Cut and Paste Culture

Biked only from 9 to 11 yesterday morning, 28 miles, a little faster than usual -- which I would say indicates that I am normally dragging the 3rd hour when I bike 3 hrs. Got back before the heat got too brutal. High tomorrow is supposed to be 98. No biking last weekend, rain from here to Owensboro.

Finished Dan Simmons' "Olympos" yesterday. He writes so well. I think I read in the preface to Lattimer's translation of "The Iliad" (or in TOOCITBOTBM) that the stock descriptions of the characters in Homer were normally used to fill out the line of iambic pentameter. Hence, "the fleet-footed mankiller Achilles" or "Hera of the white arms". Simmons is all over that.

Re our title, "Ilium/Olympos" does wind up being, "consciousness is a quantum standing wave" (glad that the cyborgs in the story raspberry that), so all fictional creation creates alternative universes. So, feel free to reuse other characters! Wired had an article on cut and paste culture, sampling, etc. But, if it's all just memes breeding in our heads, I find it much more appealing when a new life form is created, rather than a chimera of other pieces. Like in Simmons "Hyperion", the Shrike, who Simmons created earlier in a short story, became a new thing -- yes, I'm sure derived from many other things, but still representing a new synthesis.

Maybe it's the volume of culture currently being emitted that forces and encourages cut & paste. Seems like that puts us in a positive feedback loop -- sampling the samplers.

I guess it's like the "build vs. buy" decision in developing software. It's been supplemented by a 3rd option, google for the code you need -- more a flavor of "build" than "buy"? Still, commercial software isn't culture. It is creativity targeted to meet a business need / use cases.

So, maybe the cut & paste stuff is culture, but I think that it ain't art, except in the cases where someone comes up with a whole new way to do it. I think that's what my oldest daughter the artist would say anyway.

This makes me think of a short story by Bruce Sterling where AI does everything and all humans are artists. Cut & paste certainly makes that future easier. I remember my kids taking great pains to make up playlists of songs for various occasions, making sure they had just the right songs in just the right order for the desired mood. Same thing for photo albums or collages. Definitely a lot of creativity going on there, but not something I would ever think of doing -- I set my iTunes smart playlists on Shuffle so I can play "name that tune". And, it totally escapes me why anyone would agonize over making sure they have exactly the right ring tones on their cell phone. Definitely a generational thing, the dumbass (me) is definitely an old man, Dorian Gray musical interests aside ;->

Monday, July 11, 2005

Increasingly Random Communication

No biking last weekend, whaling in my sister's most excellent pool in Ft. Wayne with 10 or so of my 16 nieces/nephews (on my side of the family. Only 9 on my wife's side, losers!). Nothing more relaxing than getting to be a kid.

Biked 37 miles yesterday, dying on the way home. I think less overcast than 2 weeks ago, maybe more humidity.

Saw in Technology Review that Philip Morrison died. They had a link to asking for Stories and Tales, I e-mailed my somewhat stupid recollections of Dr. Morrison. Got a thanks from the guy who posted it, I'm glad to be part of the group mind I guess.

Got a somewhat right-wing fwd from a friend of mine, a fellow guitarist, who has shown me The Way of Tommy Emmanuel (blogged earlier). It was a conservative's "bill of rights"?!?!? I responded in detail:

I don't know. I am pretty much one of those liberal types. (Fiscally republican, of course, but I'm not sure what that means since the current administration is running up the national debt to where a democrat would blush.)

So, I'm OK with 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 9. (basically repudiations of Momism and a world without corners)

On 4 and 5 (no right to eat or healthcare), the countries that have, as far as I know, for the last 10 years or more had the highest rating for quality of living have been the socialist scandanavian states -- and that with extremely limited sunlight! I would be happier if I knew that, in the richest country in the world, everyone was fed -- and I would think that most people would be. And, I don't know if you have had it with your stepkids, but with my three oldest kids, they have all gone through a 1-3 year period where they could not get health insurance. If you haven't had it, take my word for it, it is nerve-wracking.

10, I agree, English competency should be a requirement for citizenship. But, "go back ..." is a little over the top.

11 (One nation under god), I am a devoted atheist. Interesting tho, we took a family visit to Washington DC, and I was totally struck by the inscription on the Jefferson memorial (I memorized it): "I have sworn upon the altar of god undying hostility against every form of tyranny over the mind of man." Unfortunate that Jefferson was too much a man of his times to realize that theism is one of, if not the greatest of, the tyrannies over the mind of man.

Wait a minute, maybe not, I googled the above quotation to check it and came up with this:

Anyway, I find the advances that religious fundamentalists have made recently (opposing the teaching of evolution, stem cell research, and reproductive rights) extremely disturbing.

Be careful what you send me, my older brother, who was a career navy officer and is a conservative, sends me stuff sometimes, I have taken to sending him back online ACLU petitions and membership applications (I've been a proud card-carrying member since 2000) ;->

The Jefferson page has some great stuff. I knew old Tom was cool. But, increasingly random communication, I seem to express myself in agonizing detail at the drop of a hat now. At least my writing is not completely unreadable.

Got to start Charles Stross' fantasy novels ala Zelazny Amber over the weekend. Read "The Family Trade" Saturday, and went straight onto "The Hidden Family" Sunday. 300p each (Neal Stephenson gives us 900 p per installment???), definite page turners, looking fwd to more. Still, Stross' short stories made me think he would have lots to say about what being post-human could mean. This has interesting parallel worlds (medieval and victorian, altho overall I don't like the parallel history stuff much), getting their asses kicked by a 21th century american woman (go girl!), but still, it starts out with the medieval setting, and, like in "Singularity Sky", I was disappointed, look to the future, look to the future, not the past, it's dead.

Interesting, I can't remember the novel (maybe Vernor Vinge's "Deepness in the Sky"), where one of the premises is that AI is one of The Great Failed Ideas of mankind. I guess that's the question, Cybernetic Singularity in 40 years or not?

My immediate fiction and non-fiction queues are overflowing, around 10" each. I am due for a non-fiction, but, the hell with it, I'm going to violate my reading algorithm, on to the new Dan Simmons, woo-haa!