Saw Chuck Palahniukat book shop santa cruz last night. Good talk; some of his comments on community vs. isolation have been on my mind. I have a number of friends, and I feel like I have a community of individuals with whom I interact regularly. But unfortunately, I don't get to do it IRL much anymore. Most of my core friends have moved all over the globe, and the community friends I silc with etc. I basically see once a year at CSW. Day to day human interaction is with my family & wife's friends primarily. On the one hand it's kind of a bummer - on the other - it's the conversations which are the crux of the friendships anyway, and less the in face interactions. Still, it's nice to have both. Part of the frustration with somehow having a liking in things which continually seem unpopular I guess - and then if they ever are popularized, I still feel disassociated, because they change through that process such that they've lost much of what I liked to begin with.
Part of the impetus for that newOS notion is from http://www.cs.bell-labs.com/who/rob/utah2000.pdf BTW. If you haven't read that you should. I think a lot of people who haven't been using computers much in their past, haven't knowingly been exposed to much variety. The Windows & Unix dichotomy is extremely dismal - as I've said to friends before, I feel like the industry has returned to where it was 20 years ago. I only hope that it will start to move forward again somehow. The installed user base is the major pain - it's also why things become less interesting I guess; pioneering stages & players interest me, masses of followers later are usually weak.
In continuing to listen to local pirate radio (www.freakradio.org) you hear a lot of swift people. Some author PhD guy was on a couple weeks ago, I wrote down some books he'd written but seem to have lost the paper. At any rate, he had this great analogy that went a bit like this:
Say you've got a bacteria culture, just sitting there doing its thing. Well, introduce some sugar to the culture, and it begins to grow explosively - population sores, but there are biproducts from this energy source that are detrimental to the health of the bacteria itself. Doesn't matter though, they keep eating this shit up and ultimately die off from the polluted system they've ended up in. (e.g. bacteria that produce alcohol, ultimately die from it once the concentration reached 12%).
So the analogy is to the human population. Judging from his estimates of population growth, mankind was pretty much in a static or steady growth throughout most of history - nothing much doing. Then, enter fossil fuels. Population starts to expand at a huge rate; if humans are equated to bacteria, then fossil fuels would be the sugar. And sure enough, we also have biproducts from using these as a fuel source, which are detrimental, not just to our own health - but sadly to the health of the environment around us as a whole. I find it interesting to see that this energy source analogy extends beyond fossil fuels - what's a bigger producer than that? Atomic, and the biproducts - even MORE of a threat to health. Is there really a high energy clean fuel source? Or is the sustainability & pollution factor tied to the amount of energy that can be derived? I wonder if physics might have some correlations (e.g. energy cannot be created nor destroyed; save for nuclear reaction - similarly, amount of energy transfer is related to a drain from the environment with an equally concentrated polluting factor? Bleh, crap).
Anyway, final bit here. Again, listening to some .mil lecture on the radio about depleted uranium, undetontated cluster bombs in Laos; basically all sorts of military waste left behind after wars. Basically - just all really destructive pollution, long term fallout from weapons.
We're starting to see the same thing on the net, all these worms, mass mailers, etc. After dugsong's last CSW talk ('02) about CodeRed and AN's /8 - this notion of a biological system started to sound more intriguing, as did notions of an immune system (counter worm, e.g. Parc, Max Vision, most recently Nachi/Welchia). Ok, but here's the thing - it's less of a biological system than it is a polluted system. The Biology is active, independent, creative. The pollution is autonomous, without guidance, and just continues in pools of stagnant shit (unpatched systems). Is it really biological in character, or is it an oil spill? I'm beginning to feel that it's more of the latter.
And where's the beef? .mil already works with virus writers on super duper weaponized virii; just as they do in the biological, chemical & explosive realms. As they move away from ammaturish features into more of an industry, the potential damage will increase, and likely the ongoing fallout as well. But why do this? The .mil doesn't necessarily _want_ long lasting damage, just immediate targetted destructions - they want the SKILLS of a true hacker, a true martial artist because of how they can effect change. But they will never get the skills, they only get the prepackaged products of the creators, and put those in the hands of the dumb grunts/politicians/suits. The products are used in situations that the creators would never use personally, and the biproducts and side effects are long lasting and extremely destructive.
There needs to be an effort on the part of those who create, who have imagination - to take a stand against this sort of thing if it's to stop, or if it's to continue along in the right direction. If you, as a creator can't take responsibility for the havoc your work could potentially unleash, then it's probably best to work on something else that you can take responsibility for. Everything is just a tool, right? It is in the hands of a 'good' or 'bad' person that good or bad is done with it. But that's not always true, some creations are predisposed to pollution & destructive natures, and it requires extreme skill to use them appropriately. I'd wager that only the people who have the skill to begin with are really fit to use them.
This is a bit in conflict with notions of openness and freedom, which I think are ultimately beneficial. But you have to put things in context, how much can be open and free will depend on the time period.
Teaching killing techniques in martial arts now doesn't need to be closed off, because guns are so much more pervasive, and require no skill.
If your technique requires extreme skill to even use, then you should have little fear of releasing, discussing, documenting it. If on the other hand it's a braindead technology - you should take extreme cares to insure that chances for failure, fallout, pollution are kept to a minimum - because they will be used extensively.
The biggest problem, is that sometimes you can't forsee whether something will become ubiquitous ahead of time, and so that by the time you realize that you should have revised things before their release - it's too late, and everyone is running around with a gun, or we're stuck with fucking TCP/IP. The energy required to then rectify things is enormous, and it can't supplant the old, without still embracing it - which just makes it more complicated, and often suffers from the same problems as a result. The infection persists - do even thoughts work this way as memetics would dictate? Some thoughts should be guarded closely as a result one would think....