Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The Rise of the Network Age

Recently, I Stumbled-upon a review of the new cultural awareness of networks, called Post-Modernism is Dead: distributed culture and the rise of the network age by Samuel R. Smith (CV-pdf). This is the first time that I've seen a formal review of how network-thinking is changing our social awareness. I was happy to find this essay, as I've been thinking about this topic a lot, mainly arising from my readings on the scientific studies of networks (see below for a bibliography).

I expect that network-thinking may permeate our culture over the next couple of generations, leading to great advances in science and society. I expect that we will be more likely to think of ourselves as an active part in the vast network that is the world with more or less influence over the smaller or larger (respectively) structures within those networks. We will no longer be satisfied to be cogs in someone else's machine; we will realize that we have influence outside of "the system" (ideologically defined social structures, such as "the law") and use that influence to direct our own lives.

This network awareness is reflected in institutional statements such as the Unitarian Universalist Covenant, which calls on us to affirm and promote "respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part".

Below are a few books that I've read (at least in part), that provide a glimpse into the how network-thinking is influencing science.
  1. Six-degrees : the science of the connected age (my review) by Duncan J. Watts.
  2. At Home in the Universe: The Search for the Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity by Stuart Kauffman. This book introduced me to neato concepts such as "auto-catalytic set" and "expanding into the the adjacent possible".
  3. Handbook of Graphs and Networks: From the Genome to the Internet, edited by Stefan Bornholdt and Heinz Georg Schuster.
Additional resources for looking into networks:
  1. Wolfram's "A New Kind of Science". This has cool descriptions of non-linear dynamics (which include network dynamics), just don't buy into his self-aggrandizement.
  2. Nature Publishing Group's new journal: Molecular Systems Biology

Monday, November 06, 2006

"None of the above"

A nice feature of the new touch-screen voting machines--it's easier to write in a vote. Why would I want to write in a vote? ...just to record my dissatisfaction with the candidates on the ballot.

I've started to write "none" as write-in votes when I'm unhappy with the candidates. I prefer this over simply not voting for two reasons

  1. It's clear that I am paying attention, and I bothered to turn out to vote, and am explicitly rejecting the candidates on the ballot.
  2. It is actually counted in the vote total, thereby decreasing the portion of the votes captured by the winning candidate.
Happy election.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Conspiracy theories -- Terror Storm

I've been working my way thru the film Terror Storm, and have already learned a couple of things from it. For example, it inspired the previous post: I learned something new today....

Terror Storm presents a "War on Terror conspiracy theory"--basically, it suggests that Western governments have been complicit in the terrorist attacks of the past few years. I haven't really gotten into the details of these accusations yet, and I expect that there will be no conclusive evidence one way or another.

However, the film opens by making the argument that Western governments are capable of doing such monstrous things, and at this level, there does seem to be conclusive evidence. Operation Ajax was one example of C.I.A. sponsored, "false flag" terrorism.

So far, the film has been informative, so I'm noting it here. However, I have not confirmed its accusations (beyond the Operation Ajax stuff), so do not take this as a general endorsement of the ideas found in the film.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

I learned something new today...

Just when I thought that it couldn't get any worse, my opinion of the state has reached a new low. Today, I learned the details of Operation Ajax.

I had known that the CIA was involved in a coup in Iran back in the 50's (the state department website admits as much), but I wasn't aware of how much this coup involved manipulation of the general population, even staging terrorist attacks in order to whip up anti-government feelings.

Furthermore, the story of Operation Ajax illustrates the "open secret" of the American Ruling Class. Note that certain families (Roosevelt, Schwarzkopf) are always running this country, and apparently they have no qualms with decieving and threatening everyone else.

For more info, see the following:
New York Times Special Report: The C.I.A. in Iran

Update: I removed the Google-video link to Terror Strom. See the next post for an explanation.