The Human-Human Interface


The World Right Now

Those crazy post-modern theorists are always seeking ways around mass media presentation of their world. Here is a technology for microcasting in which the productions emerge from multiple participants focused on a common subject in the world right now.

“Mobicasting is a new platform of media technology developed by Adam Hyde and Luka Princic for “Capturing the Moving Mind”. It is at once two ideas. The first is technical: build a system to deliver ‘pseudo-live’ video from any device capable of delivering

images by email. The second is tactical: build a system that enables the

production of video reports positioning the mobile phone as a networked ‘outside

broadcast’ studio. The first goal is an exercise in developing models of

‘broadcasting’ that employ the simplest technologies possible… That’s the tech, but the pay-off is the tactical side, for which the tool was built. With this mechanism it is possible from any device capable of sending email to make collaborative online video content. This can be used for capturing moving minds, or it can be directly used as a device for reporting on events that are normally out of the reach of wired or wireless internet connections.”

Tip of the NeuroHat to the nettime email list.

The World Is My Operating System

Personal Infrastructure

I’m not much of a Microsoft watcher – I think of them more as king of scale than as an innovator, but that’s why it’s interesting to see the following points from a leaked memo, foreshadowing a clear trend toward both broader and deeper human interconnectivity.

“SEAMLESS OS – The operating system as it would be designed for today’s multi-PC, multi-device, work anywhere, web-based world. Enabling you to login using any of your service-based or enterprise identities. Deploying software automatically and as appropriate to all your devices, and roaming application data and settings. Permitting seamless access to storage across all your PCs, devices, servers and the web.

SEAMLESS COMMUNICATIONS – Communications and notifications – from voice to typing to shared screen; from PC to service-based agent to phone. Maintaining continuous co-presence with intimate friends and family; improving the coordination amongst individuals who need to work together by reducing latency and adding clarity through shared context. “

How Does the Internet Affect Our Personal Lives?

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

The California Institute of Telecommunications and Information Technology has the mission statement I’ve been waiting for. But it’s actual research programs seem more like the study of the application of next generation telecomm and information technology to fields like medicine and transportation. Where’s the study of societal, cultural, spiritual impacts of technology? It’s a sure thing Cisco and Verizon ain’t funding that.

“Calit2 focuses its work in the context of telecommunications and information technology as related to the evolving Internet. The Internet is profoundly changing society and is likely to have impacts beyond what can be imagined today. Therefore, it is increasingly critical to conduct research to understand how it will affect our personal lives, laws, and economic leadership. That is Calit2’s exciting charge. The understanding that arises from this research will help us manage the massive change that lies ahead.”

Global Biodiversity Information Facility

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

A primo example of wholeness through digitization.

“Biodiversity is found around the world – there are micro-organisms between granules of rock 3 km below the Earth’s surface, rootless plants in the Atacama Desert, thousands of species of beetles in a single rainforest tree. However, biodiversity is not distributed evenly across the face of the planet. An estimated 75% of all species are found in the developing world. Information about biodiversity (natural history collections, library materials, databases) likewise is not distributed evenly around the globe. Three-quarters or more of data about biodiversity are stored in the developed world. However, most of the data that may be needed can’t be transferred because either they are not digitised, or capacity to handle digital information is lacking, or both. Facilitating digitisation and global dissemination of primary biodiversity data, so that people from all countries can benefit from the use of the information, is the mission of the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF).”


Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

I have seen proposals to deliver high speed internet access over electric power lines, by a network of 870 low earth orbit satellites, even by bouncing signals off meteors. I don’t believe this one is a business either, but I really want them to try.

“The latest broadband delivery system has seen researchers looking to the skies to provide super-fast internet access via airships. Airships in the stratosphere beaming back broadband capable of speeds up to 120Mbps may seem like fantasy. But tests in Sweden have suggested it could become a reality within three to five years.”

(Tip of the neurohat to FUTUREdition newsletter from the Arlington Institute)

Global (Bird)Brain

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

An old Washington Post story, about bird watchers forming an extremely large, and intriguingly active, virtual community, inspiring references to Teilhard.

“Suppose the Earth is all one big single living organism, with all the elements of it — from the people to the birds — connected like cells in a body. Suppose the goal of evolution is to link up individual human minds, bringing an explosion of intelligence and even global consciousness to this mammoth being…That’s not the earth-moving part, however. The earth-moving part — literally — is that, as a result, a movement is spontaneously emerging that alters the physical nature of the planet so as to make it more amenable to the birds that are indicator species of global environmental health. Some of this is as simple as town-house owners deciding to plant lobelia in their back yards because these flowers please hummingbirds.”

“This is just an example where the Web is mediating a collective thought process that has feedback effects. It is affecting the distribution of the species,” says Robert Wright, author of “The Moral Animal.” It is reminiscent, Wright says, of Teilhard’s idea that technology would connect minds into a “brain for the biosphere as the human species consciously assumes stewardship of the planet.” It explains, he says, why “serious people take Teilhard seriously.”

More Big Thinking

Wholeness and Virtual Communities

This weblog recently has been somewhat heavy on the technology tracking and light on more explicit attention to the development of a Neurosphere. Here are some sites that pay direct or indirect attention to the phenomenon.

–Blog of Collective Intelligence

“CI means many things to many people. Here, it refers to the capacity of human communities to evolve towards higher order complexity and integration through collaboration and innovation. This blog wants to be an embodiment of what it is about.”

This one from a guy who was a formative influence on my thinking as the Neurosphere book took shape.

–Smart Mobs

“Website and Weblog about Topics and Issues discussed in the book?Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution? by Howard Rheingold

This one is not so active as in the past, but several papers herein take a rigorous intellectual approach to whether collective consciousness is a metaphor or a something more than that.

–Global Brain Group

“The Global Brain Group has been created to discuss the emergence of a global brain out of the computer network, which would function as a nervous system for the human superorganism. It promotes all theoretical and experimental work that may contribute to the elaboration of global brain theory, including the practical implementation of global brain-like computer systems, and the diffusion of global brain ideas towards a wider public, e.g. by the organization of conferences or publication of books on the subject.”


Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

Surely it is proof certain of the emergent global consciousness that grid computing technology has finally been applied to allow us to exchange TV programs with each other. A greater sharing of guilty pleasures.

“Kontiki’s patent-pending Grid Delivery Technology taps the unused resources of networked PCs and servers, allowing companies to securely deliver high quality video and software updates at a fraction of the cost of traditional delivery solutions.”

Digital Living

Network Infrastructure for the Neurosphere

In my day job, I contribute to the efforts of this group. Multilateral efforts like these come and go – it is very difficult, especially for large companies, to both embrace standards and still exploit competitive advantage through connectivity among their own devices in a proprietary way. Nevertheless, the inherent forces of evolution driven by individual users seems to force them into some accommodations with interoperability.

“Members of the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) share a vision of a wired and wireless interoperable network of Personal Computers (PC), Consumer Electronics (CE) and mobile devices in the home enabling a seamless environment for sharing and growing new digital media and content services…Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) today (On September 27, 2005) announced its Certification and Logo Program of the DLNA Home Networked Device Interoperability Guidelines 1.0. The program is aimed at verifying that products designed to the guidelines meet DLNA’s certification testing requirements.”

RFID Passports

Personal Infrastructure

RFID chips will become part of your passport starting next year. Another application that makes more sense right inside the body.

“The Department [of State] intends to begin the electronic passport program in December 2005. By October 2006, all U.S. passports, with the exception of a small number of emergency passports issued by U.S. embassies or consulates, will be electronic passports. The ICAO specification for use of contactless chip technology requires a minimum capacity of 32 kilobytes (KB). The U.S. has decided to use a 64KB chip to permit adequate storage room in case additional data, or biometric indicators such as fingerprints or iris scans, are included in the future.”

It’s probably not as a well known that biometric information (fingerprints, retinal scans) are part of current ports of entry procedures.

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced today the scheduled ?expansion of the US VISIT program’s biometric entry procedures to additional ?land border ports of entry (POE)…US-VISIT entry procedures have been operational in the secondary inspection areas of the 50 busiest land border ports of entry since December 29, 2004, ?and are also in place at 115 airports and 15 seaports.”