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A Virtual Place is No Place At All – Hermes, the wing-footed Greek god of swift communication, has evolved into the messenger of the internet, intoxicating users but playing games with western civilization, author and psychologist James Hillman told a crowd of 350 at Ure Lecture Hall last night.

The link in the paragraph above does not work. Has ayone got a copy of this somewhere?

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Staring Into The Singularity

by Eliezer S. Yudkowsky

The short version:
If computing power doubles every two years,
what happens when computers are doing the research?
Computing power doubles every two years.
Computing power doubles every two years of work.
Computing power doubles every two subjective years of work.
Two years after computers reach human equivalence, their power doubles again. One year later, their speed doubles again.
Six months – three months – 1.5 months … Singularity.
It’s expected in 2035. (Oops, make that 2025.)

Ok, so that is what it’s about. There is an old idea that the soul is infinite. Things can go at any damn rate they like the soul will match it. In fact these perhaps dubious scientific notions have more power as a metaphorical expression of our psyche than they do as actual events in the world. Hence we have Carl Jung writing about UFOs. If they did not exist we’d have to invent them! Singularity is like that too. Or is it?

Stuff that dreams are made of

2.03: The Economy of Ideas

Last line from the JPB item linked before:

And finally, in the years to come, most human exchange will be virtual rather than physical, consisting not of stuff but the stuff of which dreams are made. Our future business will be conducted in a world made more of verbs than nouns.

Stuff that dreams are made of… there is the clue… to psyberspace.

BUT… Information is as much a real product as material goods – it arises not only out of dreams but hard work. I think it un-psychological to not see the real thing and then to see into it imaginatively. It is particularly skewed to selectively imagine.

That is central to my whole way of doing therapy. It goes back to the “seduction theory”. Must dig up an article I wrote on that. To put it simply: just because it really happened does not mean we should neglect our dreams.

One thing I loved about this article is the opening quote from Jefferson. JPB certainly found the right bit to quote.

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The Economy of Ideas

WiReD 2.03 article: A framework for patents and copyrights in the Digital Age. (Everything you know about intellectual property is wrong.)
By John Perry Barlow

Throughout the time I’ve been groping around cyberspace, an immense, unsolved conundrum has remained at the root of nearly every legal, ethical, governmental, and social vexation to be found in the Virtual World. I refer to the problem of digitized property. The enigma is this: If our property can be infinitely reproduced and instantaneously distributed all over the planet without cost, without our knowledge, without its even leaving our possession, how can we protect it? How are we going to get paid for the work we do with our minds? And, if we can’t get paid, what will assure the continued creation and distribution of such work?”

So begins this classic from Wired 2.03 March 1994. He had insights then we still grapple with now:

The other existing, model, of course, is service. The entire professional class – doctors, lawyers, consultants, architects, and so on – are already being paid directly for their intellectual property. Who needs copyright when you’re on a retainer?

In fact, until the late 18th century this model was applied to much of what is now copyrighted. Before the industrialization of creation, writers, composers, artists, and the like produced their products in the private service of patrons. Without objects to distribute in a mass market, creative people will return to a condition somewhat like this, except that they will serve many patrons, rather than one.

He was speaking about this early in the digital story… where has this discussion gone since then… Some of that is on this blog in earlier items – I will keep surfing…

Free software and psyche

Free Software and the Psyche

What are all these posts on open source and free software doing on my weblog? What is the link with psyche?

Well there is a link with my psyche, in that I gravitate to the of edge. Free software is on the edge of some sort of cultural social advance. It may peter out like the “counterculture” or it may actually be a continuation of something of that spirit.

More directly there is a psychological side: identity in a virtual realm relates to ownership. In the early says of the well there was the phase You Own Your Own Words. The theme has a powerful presence on the Net, relates right back to notion of “free speech” with its elevated, sacred, archetypal complexities.

I’m not all that clear, I know. I just have a sense that probing the noosphere here involves fully grasping the free software phenomena, with its associated stories of cathedrals and bazaars etc. Anyway, I run Linux for that reason, to travel into the different realms of the cyber-world. I think of it as a journey into the psyche!

Open Source Software: A History

Open Source Software: A History

David Bretthauer

The Open Source Definition allows greater liberties with licensing than the GPL does. In particular, the Open Source Definition allows greater promiscuity when mixing proprietary and open-source software.”38 This is Richard Stallman’s objection to OSS – that it allows the inclusion of proprietary software and ignores the philosophical issue of software freedom. Without these freedoms, there is no philosophical imperative to improve one’s community. Nevertheless, “[w]e disagree on the basic principles, but agree more or less on the practical recommendations. So we can and do work together on many specific projects. We don’t think of the Open Source movement as the enemy.39

This is a point reiterated by many who are active in various competing open source and free software packages. While this article has focused on a number of differences between operating systems, approaches to collaboration, and the evolution of various license agreements, this focus is at the micro level. At the macro level, nearly everyone mentioned in this article would prefer a competing open source or free package to a proprietary software package. In the future those who have blazed new trails will continue to argue the finer distinctions between their respective works. However, the various groups involved are willing to work with and support one another’s right to choose a different approach to solving a problem. And it is clear these individuals look forward to another generation building upon the successes of the past thirty years.

A useful history – with a valuable conclusion which I have quoted above. Another item from the Information Technology and Libraries site. This link is to a special issue of the magazine: Volume 21, Number 1, March 2002 – SPECIAL ISSUE: Open Source Software – JEREMY FRUMKIN, Guest Editor.

Information Technology and Libraries

Open Source, Open Standards
An item by Karen Coyle

Information Technology and Libraries vol.21, no.1

When people speak of open source software they are referring to computer code – programs that run. But code is only the final step in the information technology process. Prior to writing code the information technology professional must do analysis to determine the nature of the problem to be solved and the best way to solve it. When software projects fail, the failure is more often than not attributable to shortcomings in the planning and analysis phase rather than in the coding itself. Open source software provides some particular challenges for planning since the code itself will be worked on by different programmers and will evolve over time. The success of an open source project will clearly depend on the clarity of the shared vision of the goals of the software and some strong definitions of basic functions and how they will work. This all-important work of defining often takes place through standards and the development of standards that everyone can use has become a movement in itself: open standards.

A great overview of the whole business of standards. What a great complex human endeavour this is.

In the blog right now I am entertaining the idea that free software is significant in a political sense; people taking ownership of the product of their labour and making it socially available.

As I read this article the idea of “use value” came to mind. Use value was the term used by Marx for things that we need and are valuable but not commodities. Air, the work we do around the house. It seems that these open free products create huge use value, but to be useful they need to be of little commodity value. The reason is that the products become more useful through use. The reward for creating such value needs to also come from social sources.

I saw an item by Richard Stallman where he compared creating non-free software to polluting the air.

It is shocking that the use of things naturally free can be prevented for profit.