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How the Net Betrays Discourse


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Slides for the "tech talk" given by David Brin and Sheldon Brown at Google late 2006. Where does the Net fit into 500 years of expanding tools for vision, memory and perspective? What missing pieces are people not noticing that might vastly improve problem-solving?

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How the Net Betrays Discourse

  1. 1. ” (The online world) has broken down barriers…between people and information, democratizing access to human knowledge. This has made us much more powerful as individuals.” - Eric Schmidt THIRD MILLENNIUM PROBLEM-SOLVING Tackling accelerating change through tools of visualization, collaboration and citizen empowerment David Brin - October 2008
  2. 2. Progress in Visualization, Memory, Attention ? ? ? Art Representation Abstraction Telecommunications Mass Culture Cinema Photography Non-western Art Perspective Printing Press Symbolism Non-narrative Entertainment Advanced modelling & AR Radio Linked databases Television Personal & business Computing Gaming Internet Simulation Global Interaction Knowledge Mesh World Wide Web Personal creativity tools Lenses telescopes, microscopes Mass literacy Schools/libraries Scientific models Omni-veillance Perspective Speculative Mindset Advanced gaming & VR ? ? ? ? ? Speculative Fiction Singularity? Renunciation? Muddle-along? Crisis? A.I. ?
  3. 3. Would the early religious petitioners during the English Civil War, and the printers who spread their ideas have been able to predict that monarchs would be replaced by constitutions? Would Bacon and Newton have dreamed that entire populations, and not just geniuses, would aggregate knowledge and turn it into technology? Would those who used slow modems to transmit black and white text on the early Internet 15 years ago have foreseen YouTube? -- Howard Rheingold, author of Smart Mobs
  4. 4. Disruptive Techs Provoke “Crises of Progress” by transforming or augmenting vision , memory and attention . Each time, the new info-surfeit seems overwhelming, scary, unmanageable. <ul><li>15 th - 17 th Century </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Printing (augments Memory ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Glass Lenses (augment Vision ) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Perspective (augments Attention ) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>18 th Century </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mass Literacy (Memory) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Printed illustration (Vision) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Science, Democracy (Attention) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>19 th Century </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Mass Education, public libraries </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Photography, cinema </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Global Connection, closed frontiers </li></ul></ul><ul><li>20 th Century </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Computing, databases (memory) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Television, mass media (vision) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Abstraction & immersion (attention) </li></ul></ul><ul><li>21 st Century </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Knowledge Mesh (super-memory) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Omni-veillance (super-vision) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Visualization, simulation & gaming (super-immersion) </li></ul></ul>Crisis: Religious Upheaval (e.g. 30 Years War) Quandary: Renaissance vs. rigid doctrine Concepts: The notion of progress. Value of individual Crisis: B ourgeois Revolution Quandary: Enlightenment vs. old hierarchies Concept: Commerce = unsupervised generative process Crisis: Nationalism-Colonialism-suffrage Quandaries: Industrialism vs. Nostalgia, Centralization. Concepts: Evolution. Plural viewpoints Crisis: Dogmatic ideologies Quandary: Modernism vs. Subjectivism Concepts: Individual autonomy. Diversity. Crisis: Breakdown in coherency/confidence Quandary: Singularity vs. Renunciation Concept: The future as a human-wrought construct
  5. 5. Key lessons from History: Each technological wave offers godlike expansions of vision, knowledge, attention… and reach. Every wave triggers fear of hubris and/or self-destruction. Some call for renunciation or control of the new powers by a trusted elite. Despite crises, we never refuse the new tools/prosthetics. Tempted by hierarchical supervision, Western Civilization always opts to share disrupting tech with the masses … and people always adapt. Professionalization trend seems to centralize. Danger of brittleness. But expertise can also proliferate. Soon “godlike powers” became accustomed norm, expanding creative commerce, education and citizenship. So… what new “godlike powers” will tempt us in this millennium? And can the arts of visualization & discourse help us to cope?
  6. 6. <ul><li>Anticipation = daydreams </li></ul><ul><li>of a future that never happens. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Gedankenexperiment ” </li></ul><ul><li>hard-wired in prefrontal lobes. </li></ul><ul><li>At best - </li></ul><ul><li>we spot mistakes to avoid. </li></ul><ul><li>At worst - </li></ul><ul><li>weave alluring delusions. </li></ul><ul><li>Efforts to systematically improve anticipation: </li></ul><ul><li>Data mining, sifting, visualization. </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced analytics. </li></ul><ul><li>Accountability arenas (markets, democracy, science…) </li></ul><ul><li>Prediction markets (betting) or polling (voting). </li></ul><ul><li>Prediction registries detect good/bad forecasters. </li></ul><ul><li>Artificial intelligence may augment prefrontal lobes… </li></ul>
  7. 7. <ul><li>Representation Modeling Analytics </li></ul>Games Scientific Visualization Fiction (subjective reality) Art Anticipation Resiliency Discourse Truth (objective reality) Sheldon Brown, UCSD
  8. 8. Visualization Tools Part One: The Importance of Art Art Anticipation Resiliency Discourse
  9. 9. <ul><li>Art highlights human condition of the moment. </li></ul><ul><li>Art expresses our assumptions.. . </li></ul><ul><li>… or shakes them up, expressing </li></ul><ul><li>tension between individual & society. </li></ul><ul><li>Images persuade without argument... </li></ul>21 st century cultural landscape is no simple extension of the 20 th . Culture is now a Moore’s law condition.
  10. 10. Sheldon Brown’s Scalable City
  11. 11. Confidential
  12. 12. Full-scale “ Galactic ” motif Confidential
  13. 13. Art is also Thought Experimentation Newer memes go beyond individualism… …for example: Suspicion of authority Reversal of “time flow of wisdom”
  14. 14. Visualization Tools Part Two: The Importance of Anticipation Art Anticipation Resiliency Discourse
  15. 15. <ul><li>Anticipation = daydream models </li></ul><ul><li>of a future that never happens. </li></ul><ul><li>“ Gedankenexperiment ” </li></ul><ul><li>hard-wired in prefrontal lobes. </li></ul><ul><li>At best - </li></ul><ul><li>we spot mistakes to avoid. </li></ul><ul><li>At worst - </li></ul><ul><li>we weave satisfying delusions. </li></ul><ul><li>Efforts to systematically improve anticipation: </li></ul><ul><li>Data mining, sifting, pre-analysis and visualization. </li></ul><ul><li>Advanced analytics. </li></ul><ul><li>Exploit diversity through prediction markets (betting) or polling (voting). </li></ul><ul><li>Prediction registries aim to distinguish between good/bad forecasters. </li></ul><ul><li>Enlightenment “accountability arenas” (markets, democracy, science…) </li></ul><ul><li>Artificial intelligence may augment prefrontal lobes… </li></ul>
  16. 16. Four general types of information flow affect three levels of society in different ways… Defense briefing excerpt… 4 Types of Adversary-Info Flow Top-down anticipation -- as in Sumeria Self-organized creativity/sovereignty -- Both oldest and newest. In government, business, science and life, we seek to anticipate: a basic human trait! Sheep entrails and auguries are replaced by analytic models and efforts to mine all relevant data. All generations convince themselves that their anticipation methods work… til they don’t. Society’s 3 layers Competitive anticipation -- the Enlightenment miracle Excerpted from DTRA , DoD & DHS talks on info security
  17. 17. Formal/hierarchical Institutions Protective agencies: e.g. FBI, CIA Arena-Markets for creative competition: Democracy, science, enterprise & courts. The People: chaotic and flighty, but ultimate source of creativity, resiliency, accountability and sovereignty. Information flow among society’s three levels… and within each level. Trap of human nature: Others need accountability. Foreign rivals, other social levels, other people, other institutions within our level… But we have reasons for secrecy! Inherent result: self-deception. Each part of our civil bargain - every vital trait, e.g. freedom - relies on information flowing. Like blood. Like oxygen. ----- The true test of maturity? “ Light must shine, even on me. Let’s find a way to do that… while still letting me do my job.” POTUS FBI CIA Congress Courts
  18. 18. Why is the core Enlightenment innovation counter-intuitive? Most info-age dilemmas are solved by more light, not less. And yes, even privacy.
  19. 19. Potential Foes #1: Super-empowered Angry Young Men Near-term/probable: Arson Aim: Spread chaos & economic damage by low-tech means. Agents: Amorphous bands of grudge- motivated harm-doers (HD). Not easy to profile. (e.g. Columbine.) Method: Burn forests, buildings, crops. Innumerable very soft targets. Backers supply untraceable, effective ignition devices (e.g. timed or laser). Easily avoid official protective measures. Potential harm: economic disruption, fear. Danger of a copycat effect. Special variants: Backers manipulate wide variety of disgruntled/alienated. Leverage Suspicion of Authority mythos. Stimulate a fashion of arson as protest. Specific preventions: Informant rewards. Massive increase in omni-surveillance? General solutions: * Raise citizen omni-awareness. (Technological and social.) * Combat nihilism/cynicism through cultural and political means. Medium/plausible: Classic Terror Aim: Inflict pain. Draw attention. Ruin morale. Demonstrate West is weak/corrupt. Agents: Classic “terrorists” & backers Methods: Disruption. Casualties. Fear, Intimidate & exhaust. Lure unwise reactions. Potential harm: Vast supply of soft targets. A myriad variants: * strike super-soft schools, malls, transit. * hit critical bridges, tunnels, choke points. * NBC death-producing attacks. * NBC denial-of-territory attacks. Preventions: Improve intel & anticipation. Follow the money. Hold meetings to study lots of scenarios. Spend billions protecting weak-link targets. General Solutions: Reduce supply of anger. Foster universal accountability. Augment citizen-society resiliency so that no single blow alters society enough to seem worth risk and cost. (The “UA93 Effect.”) Far-devastating: New Gods Aim: Create tailored pathogens via bio, chemical, or nanotech processes. Agents: Almost any angry person in 2025. (Grievances raise % of HD*, but even pampered classes generate some.) Method: When biologists, chemists and molecu-fabs offer “desktop” capability (the way cyberneticists shrank computers), all methods will be in reach of modest skill. Outbreaks may approximate today’s computer viruses , but targeted at real life. Potential harm: Possibilities range from individual poisonings to new contagions, all the way to “Fermi” extinction. Special variants: * Intergenerational resentment (e.g. if boomers benefit from life extension). * “Culture War.” Specific preventions: Massive increase in omni-surveillance? Ban technologies? Luddism. General solutions: * Increase citizen omni-awareness. (Technological and social.) * Combat nihilism/cynicism. * HD = Harm-Doers. Key Conclusion: *Supply of scenarios/targets limitless! *We could go on all day. All century. *More than “protection” is needed. * HD = Harm-Doers. Samples from an infinite supply! What about the “tradeoff” of safety vs freedom? Mustn’t power and knowledge consolidate into an elite Professional Protector Caste? All prior civs did that… ? … and all failed
  20. 20. Potential Foes #2: rival state scenarios Near: Subornation Aim: Exploit divisions in America by finding clades that can be suborned. Agents: Skilled state operatives. Method: Subornation is ancient. Always attempted vs rivals. Harm: Subset of elite or protector caste surreptitiously helps rival agendas. Recent Variants: * 1941- crony-elitism-naïveté (Lindbergh) * 1947- naïve socialist idealism . (Fuchs) *post 1947- cash-sellouts (Walkers, Hanssen) *always - blackmail (Moscow marine guards) … all (and many more) remain viable, even likely. Patterns can be hard to detect when all eyes are on other dangers. Prevention: Counter-intelligence can track patterns of divided loyalty or conflict of interest. Unexplained funds. Time spent in service of rival power. Inexplicable decisions/appointments. Solutions: Counter- subornation occurs when American society has clear high ground + culture-allure. Rivals grow more worried about defections than we are. This pattern won the Cold War. Intermediate/plausible: Coolwar Aim: Ruin U.S. competitive ability through acts of well-targeted sabotage. Agents: Trained saboteurs make careful use of local recruits & resources, while avoiding exposure. (e.g. blame “terror.”) Method: Target weak/vital arteries, choke points. Pipelines, tunnels, infrastructure, chemical/medical stores, Internet, phone system, trust networks. Harm: Economic damage, loss of confidence-trust, rising aversion to modernity-technology, internal blame-cycle. Or blame/scapegoating and war. Special features: Not likely while state rivals are growth-dependent, needing US econ engine. Plausible when competition for pax leadership grows fierce. Preventions: Improved intelligence gathering. Massive omni-surveillance? Solutions: * Citizen omni-awareness. * Culture-suborn rival citizenry so that secret coolwar becomes impossible. Illustrated in fiction: The Cool War, by Frederik Pohl. Stand on Zanzibar, by John Brunner Earth, by David Brin Far/devastating: Tuned Genocide Aim: Achieve conquest by threatening mass death via technological means. Agents: Overt attack or surreptitious. Methods: Terrifying unidirectional death. * microwaves tuned to disrupt specific genetic/ethnic groups. * diseases ethnically targeted or else curable only by restricted vaccine. * nano-mites that infest, then await signal to commence lethal work. Harm: War-scale death. Compelled surrender. Miscalculation could lead to “Fermi” extinction. Variants: Innumerable. Prevention: Better intelligence. Long Range Solution: Dispersal of competence makes outcome-certainty impossible, renders plan untenable. * Culture-suborn enough of rival populace so secret development is impossible. Illustrated in fiction: Jitterbug, by Mike McQuay Despite fresh memory (the Cold War) & historical ubiquity, this category is seldom mentioned post 9/11. All of these methods have copious historical precedent. Scenario-building and anticipation exercises reveal a vast, bewildering variety of threats. No possible combination of tax dollars and skill can begin to address them all
  21. 21. Potential Foes #3: Overconfident innovators/enthusiasts Near: BioChimeras & Zooneses. Aim: Improve food supply, better health, cure disease. Agents: well-intentioned bio-engineers. Example: Today’s protein (meat) factories create vast human-animal contact. SARS, H5N1, Ebola all crossed human-animal boundary. Harm: Pandemics. Or fear of same may limit biological science. Variants: Biological skill tempts workers to “mine” every genome, from bacteria to birds, for cool human improvements. Preventions: Relentless professional precautions and supervision. Vastly-bigger bio/CDC infrastructure. General solutions: Breakthroughs that might reduce danger: *meat from tissue culture not animals. *local (shopper-level) assay tools. *artificial intelligence (AI) helps model results before wetware is tried. *citizen omni-awareness. Intermediate/plausible: Supervolcano Aim: Tap unlimited geothermal power. Agents: well-intentioned mega-engineers. Method: Drill-access Wyoming Hot Spot, a magma needle piercing N.American Plate. Harm: Unleash Yellowstone Super-Volcano. Innumerable Variants: * Sudden release of undersea hydrates. * Physics experiments=> black hole or strangelet. * Unleash nanotechnology without precautions. * Retargeting comet or asteroid for ‘harvest.’ * Over-reaction that represses innovation. Preventions: Develop intel and anticipatory skills of professional protective castes. Long-term solution: Foster rising perception, intelligence and resiliency on the part of amateurs, skeptics, citizenry, so that all plans benefit from criticism, without criticism stymieing all plans. Illustrated in fiction: Mother of Storms by Barnes, Blood Music by Bear, Prey by Crichton, Earth by Brin, Heart of the Comet by Benford-Brin. Far-devastator: A.I. Goes Wrong Aim: Better computer & robotic servants. Agents: Company, group, nation seeks advanced tech & competitive advantage. Harm: Some fear “Fermi” extinction of old-style humanity. Innumerable Variants: * SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) has, without consulting anybody, switched to “active” beaming: hope to draw attention to Earth. * Meme plague denies populace/elites ability to perceive a range of possibilities. (Many more…) Preventions: Continue to develop the perception, intelligence and anticipatory skills of the professional protective castes . Longer solution: Foster rising perception, intelligence and resiliency on the part of amateurs, skeptics, citizenry, so that all plans benefit from criticism, without criticism thwarting all plans. Illustrated in fiction: by countless dire warnings from Terminator & Collosus to The Matrix. More subtle: Asimov’s Foundation/Robots series and Williamson’s The Humanoids. Grist for many Hollywood films, this category gets very little attention from threat-analysis or scenario exercises. Yet it could lead either to great harm or overreaction and innovation-suppression. (David Brin - 2006) But these exercises reveal that harm-doers all share a common, underlying weakness. The inverse of Enlightenment strength. A fatal allergy to light.
  22. 22. <ul><li>Near-likely: Privatized Force </li></ul><ul><li>Aim: Maintain ferment as a source of demand for lucrative services. </li></ul><ul><li>Agents: Various. Some rationalizing good intent. (See #3.) </li></ul><ul><li>Harm: Quiet-calm-efficient means of achieving national goals get replaced by noisy-frenetic-inefficient ones that offer opportunities for parasitism. </li></ul><ul><li>Variants: hypothetically innumerable - </li></ul><ul><li>Courts and justice privatized. </li></ul><ul><li>Mafia model followed wherever govts fail. </li></ul><ul><li>Tribal gambling metastasizes. </li></ul><ul><li>Privatized force revives mercenary tradition with its own assertive political constituency (e.g. prison guards). </li></ul><ul><li>Prevention: Resist convenience of privatized (unaccountable) force. Retain monopoly on coercion held by thoroughly accountable government. </li></ul><ul><li>Solution: Recall how Founders wisely rejected the 5,000 year mercenary/ private force tradition. </li></ul><ul><li>The alternative - citizen militia - has drawbacks, but also offers profound advantages. (See #5.) </li></ul><ul><li> (David Brin - 2006) </li></ul>Potential Foes # 4: Opportunists Intermediate: Globalization Fails Aim: Keep the world balkanized … or else push opposite extreme - World Government. Agents: Left wing activists join bank havens and local elites, in order to prevent a loose-but-effective worldwide civil society. Harm: Shrouded territories benefit from uneven spread of light/accountability. Open societies lose competitive advantage. Variants: * Balkanization culminates in local nuke wars. * Banking/ownership secrecy becomes world issue. * Counter-trend: cartels/”regional-unions.” * Counter-trend: groundswell for “world government.” * EU “accession” takes off beyond Europe. Snowball effect makes EU de facto world gov model Preventions: Negotiate credible reforms that establish enough accountability to stave off worldwide calls for planetary government. Solution: Accept that no imperium lasts forever. Pax Americana can begin thinking about “Whatever Comes Next” (WCN) before facing a fait accompli that it had no part in designing. Pro-actively insist that American instincts re: individualism and dispersed authority be fundamental axioms. Devastator: Feudalism Returns Aim: End our recent experiment with “diamond-shaped” social structures. Restore standard human social pyramid. Agents: Almost any group that heeds the pull of instinct, history and human nature. Methods: Innumerable. Every society that had metals/agriculture, quickly replaced democracy/markets with command elites. (Under a wide variety of excuses.) We are the sole exception. It has taken hard work. Relentless innovation. Harm: An end to accountability & agility. Resulting errors in statecraft could lead to “Fermi” extinction. Variants: *Communist elites, *socialist levelers, *theocracy, *aristocracy, *technocracy, *oligarchy, *kleptocracy -- all offering rationalizations. Prevention: Protector caste remembers its loyalty-duty to the Experiment, not to leaders, or to themselves. Solution: Foster reciprocal accountability, individual agility and confident, resilient citizenship. Note: these examples leave out the most obvious versions of “opportunism.” e.g. theft, looting, extortion, malfeasance, bribery, insider-crony manipulation. All that’s needed is for human nature - and 99% of history - to repeat itself… What GENERAL strategy would play to all our strengths and all our adversaries’ weaknesses?
  23. 23. Conclusion #2 re: dealing with change We seek to anticipate by mining every datum and applying ever-more sophisticated models. A worthy goal… and fundamentally delusional! Because anticipation - no matter how smart - inevitably fails. When it does, we depend upon the partner of anticipation… … resilience. Conclusion #1 re: information flows. All plausible foes (e.g. today’s in-fashion nemesis: “terror”) share an allergy to light. In contrast, democracy, markets and science all do better in the open. Professional anticipators (govt & business) need short-term secrets - (but exaggerate). Still the goal must be - a secular trend toward an open-transparent world , since that is the win-win condition for our kind of civilization.
  24. 24. Visualization Tools Part Three: The Importance of Resilience Art Anticipation Resiliency Discourse
  25. 25. The great trend of the 20th Century (and longer)… … the Professionalization of everything. Formerly-personal tasks are turned over to specialists. Food, safety, education, production, transport. We owe a lot to this process… … and it’s drawing to a close! COUNTER TRENDS * Demographics - can’t increase number of professionals forever. * Citizen education and access to knowledge. * Intermesh of many “specialized” fields. * Explosion of skilled avocations. * Powerful new augmentations of Vision, Memory and Attention. The 21st Century may shift from professionalization toward… … an Age of Amateurs. What better way to spread resilience? Alas, despite “smart mob” chic, it won’t be easy…
  26. 26. Critical Choke Points Stymie Citizen Self-Organization in Crises. All of these examples were observed during Katrina. All could be repaired, if prioritized. Phone Internet Electricity power/failure Electricity power/failure Poor “last mile” connectivity: worse in crisis… Crisis=>Lack of ANY connection at all… Overload or official pre-emption ISP dependency Abysmal self- organization software. No emergency modes of access School Bus C’mon! Let’s evacuate folks with this bus! Not a chance! Just sit and wait! Officially-enforced citizen passivity -- The common trait shown during Katrina by state, local, federal officials, Republican & Democrat. Rationalizations: * maintain order * prevent crime * liability concern * peacetime procedures * enforce company, agency, guild privileges But the subtext underlying official behavior during Katrina: ” The vigorous and effective ad-hoc citizen action that we all saw on 9/11must never be allowed again.” Useless for news etc. 1. Cell System 2. Net Access 3. Taking physical initiative The lessons of 9/11 were lost during the Katrina Crisis… how could that happen? Crux: Resilience faces top-down psychological resistance . company-specific
  27. 27. Why Johnny can't code BASIC used to be on every computer a child touched -- -- but today there's no easy way for kids to get hooked on programming. By David Brin Another under-recognized “choke point” -- a growing disconnect between citizens and the technologies that serve them.
  28. 28. Citizen volunteers - CERT members, Boy Scouts and guardsmen - were essential during the 2007 San Diego firestorm … as they were on 9/11… … and during ever crisis since the republic began. A lesson we forget at our peril. cert /
  29. 29. Like other surges of vision, memory & attention , this one stirs fear. But other renaissances chose to e mpower people. Offer tools to grow. To own the name - “citizen.” Above all, they will need tools of discourse. Relevance to homeland security?
  30. 30. Visualization Tools Part Four: The Importance of Discourse Art Anticipation Resiliency Discourse
  31. 31. Progress in Visualization, Memory, Attention ? ? ? Art Representation Abstraction Telecommunications Mass Culture Cinema Photography Non-western Art Perspective Printing Press Symbolism Non-narrative Entertainment Advanced modelling & AR Radio Linked databases Television Personal & business Computing Gaming Internet Simulation Global Interaction Knowledge Mesh World Wide Web Personal creativity tools Lenses ->telescopes, microscopes Mass literacy Schools/libraries Scientific models Omni-veillance Perspective Speculative Mindset Advanced gaming & VR ? ? ? ? ? Speculative Fiction Singularity? Renunciation? Muddle-along? Crisis? A.I. ?
  32. 32. Some think we’ll cope with accelerating change… … and some think we may not. Other generations adapted new tool sets and squeaked by. Do we have all the tools we need?
  33. 33. The Real Digital Divide Asynchronous Realm web browsing email file sharing / downloads search , research, project collaboration weblogs Content provider &recipient not present at same time. Synchronous Realm chat & Instant Messaging interactive gaming virtual worlds avataring telepresence Content provider &recipient are present at the same time. <ul><li>Despite overlap, these realms involve different expectations, customers, discourse. </li></ul><ul><li>Both realms should benefit from advances in social networking. </li></ul><ul><li>Some interactions, like instant Messaging have both synchronous and asynchronous traits. Crippled by worst combination. </li></ul><ul><li>High-end collaboration & “meeting-ware”point to a future when synchronous presence will be attractive to adults. </li></ul><ul><li>Just because high-quality is “allowed” doesn’t guarantee it happens. Still, shouldn’t quality be possible? </li></ul>Notes: Advanced interfaces assist information flow, expression of complex thoughts. Useful to grownups… though needing vast improvement. Primitive interfaces dumb-down exchanges to the level of flirting, grunts, shooting… Except for meetingware, almost useless to serious people.
  34. 34. Contemporary “chat” - dreadful! Still using 1960s format! Millions of teens on MySpace type billions of words! Immense market! But depressingly shallow… hopeless for grownup conversation, work or collaboration. Yes, some like it shallow. But must shallowness be a law of cyberspace? “ Avatar Worlds” like There and Second Life limit interaction to grunt flirtation and “ROFL.” Billions are spent on fine rendering. Cool stuff! But meanwhile, tools to usefully exchange thoughts and information have languished, undeveloped. The Synchronous Realm in 2008 …
  35. 35. How far back do discourse talents go? To ancient folk who argued, chatted and planned, learning skills to get the most out of face-to-face interaction… <ul><li>The “attention economy” isn’t new! Our ancestors practiced selective focus by - </li></ul><ul><li>- adjusting distance </li></ul><ul><li>turning to or away from others </li></ul><ul><li>- heeding reputation </li></ul><ul><li>favoring what’s interesting </li></ul><ul><li>remembering what’s important </li></ul><ul><li>adopting rules of courtesy </li></ul><ul><li>keeping a train of thought </li></ul><ul><li>staying alert for surprise. </li></ul>Discourse & Conversation - Cro-Magnon Style? Discourse depends on attention , selective focus, prioritization , and countless mental skills/tricks that we take for granted.
  36. 36. Yet, f ew of these basic skills have usefully arrived onscreen. Even “social network” designers ignore basics. We still do all of those things! High priority attention goes to people you chose to face or get close to. We adjust attention by many criteria - topic, time, reputation (global & personal), direction, distance. Least attention paid to those who are away/behind. Yet, you notice if folks mention your name - or other hot words - even far away! We divide attention, shift tracks, adapt new priorities. We track the “gist” of conversation, but can also make careful notes. And this is just a cocktail party! Inborn attention-agility skyrockets when matters seem important. Time has effects, but doesn’t lobotomize! Casual talk doesn’t have to be shallow. Rules of courtesy matter . There are consequences to reputation!
  37. 37. “ Gisting” - Semantic Services Government & academe have knowledge, text & analytic services. But the public lacks intuitive interface. We need the same access to semantic processing … … that we take for granted in the real world… … sifting meaning from the barrage of daily life. Holocene
  38. 38. <ul><li>Attributes affected by priority </li></ul><ul><li>Size of speech/text display </li></ul><ul><li>Rendering (of avatars, video etc.) </li></ul><ul><li>Gisting of contents: (font, size, sift- </li></ul><ul><li>retain hi-impact words/meanings…) </li></ul><ul><li>Semantic Services (alerts, smart- </li></ul><ul><li>transcripts, omni-search.) </li></ul><ul><li>Info & action availability. </li></ul><ul><li>Traits that affect priority </li></ul><ul><li>Orientation (attention-facing) </li></ul><ul><li>Proximity </li></ul><ul><li>Time </li></ul><ul><li>Reputation </li></ul><ul><li>Topic/syntax tagging </li></ul>A Wish List of services to boost Online Discourse Let’s Illustrate These Wishes As Simply As Possible. In life, we assign scarce attention by priority. Sorry, not today
  39. 39. How do we know these things never made it online? What never?
  40. 40. United States Patent Application 20030001890 United States Patent No: 7,124,372 January 2, 2003 - Filed: June 12, 2002 Date of Issuance: October 17, 2006 Interactive communication between a plurality of users Inventor: Brin, G. David Abstract A novel system, method, and computer program for interactive communication among a plurality of users. The invention, called Holocene Conversation Mode (&quot;HCM&quot;), takes advantage of the observation that human beings have developed or utilize a number of real-world characteristics to participate in, perceive, control, and glean subtleties from conversations. These characteristics include proximity and orientation of a listener to other speakers, memory ageing, emphasis by a speaker, relative importance of a speaker to a listener, reputation of a speaker, and the unique human ability to &quot;filter&quot; words of special interest to a listener from overheard conversations. HCM includes a suite of techniques, including spatial and content compression as a function of some of such characteristics, that can be implemented in various combinations in computer software. HCM supports other forms of user interaction , such as allowing a user to give or send an object to another user, or to allow a user to take an object from another user. In addition, HCM supports &quot;kiosks&quot;, in which users can interact with non human resources in the context of a host-defined environment. Inventors: Brin, Glen David; (Encinitas, CA) Correspondence Name and Address: FISH & RICHARDSON, PC 4350 LA JOLLA VILLAGE DRIVE SUITE 500 SAN DIEGO, CA 92122 US Proof that these traits, properties, services and methods never made it online… No significant “prior art.” These gaps in online discourse are real! 126 claims. covering a vast range of potential onscreen representation and communication methodologies. No… never!
  41. 41. <ul><li>I weep for thee, </li></ul><ul><li>and yet no cause I </li></ul><ul><li>have; </li></ul><ul><li>For why thou left'st </li></ul><ul><li>me nothing in thy </li></ul><ul><li>will: </li></ul><ul><li>And yet thou left'st </li></ul><ul><li>me more than I did </li></ul><ul><li>crave; </li></ul><ul><li>For why I craved n </li></ul><ul><li>othing of thee still: </li></ul><ul><li>yes, dear friend, I </li></ul><ul><li>pardon crave of </li></ul><ul><li>thee, </li></ul><ul><li>Thy discontent thou </li></ul><ul><li>didst bequeath to me. </li></ul><ul><li>-- Wm Shakespeare </li></ul>I head out to the bar later and the news mentions something about Westerville & an &quot;upper albany&quot; development, I got a little scared Trait #6: Priority by semantic content, tags, keywords or topic … why is october always such a crazy month weather wise in ohio? I’ve only lived here five years, so I’m still not used to it. I hear that John Smith was looking for his sister who was missing Are you folks discussing the strange weather? I hear there’s a tornado watch in grove city. My cousin has a house there. thank god I live within the beltway. I was thinking of a drive out to pick olives for an omlett. With butter. Have you ever tried *Yup- thanks for thinking of me... I was downtown when all the sirens started last night, but all I heard was that it was grove city there is a tornado warning for the franks county area ‘til 7:30. *Yeah, columbus parts the weather like the red sea. Good of you to drop by weather watchers. Here verbiage is deliberately shown spilling out of the text box , illustrating the scrolling problem . How to maintain the “gist” of what other people say, when older statements rapidly vanish out the top? Can online discourse track earlier statements? Can system help detect what’s urgent, take gist notes, sift noise? Even in faraway speech? Separating each speaker only partly solves the “dilemma of “chat.” We must also provide tools for smart transcripting. We solve all of these problems in real life conversation! Shouldn’t online conversation spaces aid discourse, as well? How to appreciate & “memorize” useful info, while remaining compact?
  42. 42. I head 2 the bar later & the paper news … re Westerville & an &quot; upper albany &quot; development…got a little scared … Has anyone heard bout power outages? This lightning is crazy. Lots of multiple flashes. Ironically I’m near downtown and it’s already clearing up. oct = crazy month weather wise n OH?… lm not used 2 it. “ I weep for thee” (poem link) W.Shakespeare tornado watch in grove city … blah…blah… omlette… Yup- thx 4 thinking of me. I was dntown when sirens started last nite, but all I heard was that it was grove city …. - a tornado warning for franklin county ‘til 7:30. - CMH parts the weather like red sea. John Smith … sister missing Good of you to drop by weather watchers. Smart services notice a quotation. Many other services. Semantic content, text, gisting & services emulate the power of real brains… Transcript zone also notepads etc Shouldn’t you be able to go BACK and recall what someone said earlier? Memory assistance services are represented here by a simple scroller. Semantic alert: someone far away (even in another world?) is discussing something important to you! Simple gisting : font ageing, remove low-pri words User’s own words. Issue of whether they should use up screen space in center… Let’s solve the problems from the previous screen.
  43. 43. Real Life suggests Additional Services … Hey! Action cell Action cell Find and correct problem 17 Suggest this alteration flow chart addendum Xz1 Service Kiosk courtesy : attention cues World services Web or Phone Search Game-play (kiosks do exist on some avatar worlds) Action cell “ Bricki” project whiteboarding: Both synchronous meeting and asynchronous collaboration. kiosks Privacy/deflection Also: VOIP, video, analytic tools, self-cloning, teleportation… … all the way to new-style game methods, environments, formalisms… … and rapid Augmented Reality overlays. Smart-Transcript encompasses only chosen members: many gisting styles. I agree with you … … but not with you ! file Exchange files/items Helpful “natural forces” Iteration #12
  44. 45. Conclusion: We deserve better from the Net Art Anticipation Resiliency Discourse
  45. 46. Our meandering path. Tech advances in Vision Memory Attention disrupt civilization, provoking Crises of Confidence. Civilization passed every test by empowering people to apply reciprocal accountability. And with new tools for problem solving. 21st Century Problem Solving requires: Art Shake assumptions and the status quo. 21st century tools Visualization Simulation Games Openness Anticipation Leaders foresee dangers/opportunities. 21st century tools Analytics Modeling & Correlation Data gathering Accountability Resilience Citizens are robust. Respond well to surprise 21st century tools Agile communication Self-organization Dispersed expertise Transparency Refutation Confidence Discourse We argue, discuss, persuade & improve. 21st century tools analytic tools dispute resolution Better interface! Happening! Desperately needed!
  46. 47. Further reading: PROBLEMS: Runaway progress and &quot; singularities&quot;: The effectiveness of resilient citizenry: An emerging “caste conflict” between professionals & amateurs: War, Interdependence, and Nanotechnology The Democratization of violence: Security implications of climate change: SOLUTIONS: The “Holocene Tool Set” for improving online communications: “ Accountability arenas” and improving discourse online: Anticipatory ‘prediction’ as a credibility-measuring tool: Or drop by © 2008 David Brin