I left off filling this in for while until I knew what I was going to talk about here ...
Basically I follow a lot of the discussion going on on the net, in many fields. So what's the point of A.N.Other discussion?
I think I want to emphasize the overlap / conversation between several fields that interest me :
- the blogging / democratic publishing phenomenon (OnlineWriting)
- the FreeSoftware world
- epistemology (the philsophical study of knowledge. Especially, but not limited to PopperianEpistemology)
- the sociological investigations into TheLogicOfTheFuture in particular the NetworkSociety (eg. ManuelCastells, TheAgeOfAccess, NetoCracy, SocialSoftware etc.)
- mathematical understandings of networks and GraphTheory which may influence our understanding of the NetworkSociety
- which in turn builds on the Smalltalk software development tradition of AlanKay (and in turn the idea of programming as "play"). And also PatternLanguage of ChristopherAlexander
- OrganicArchitecture and organic alternatives to design
- Economics both new and traditional, and politics. (I still regard myself as "left wing", but I'm interested in the arguments of the right. I want a place where both left and right can argue constructively and explore both their underlying logic and their phenomenology)
- I'm fascinated by money, in particular alternative local currencies created by their communities. (More on AltMoney)
- Organization. Conflicts of NetworksVsHierarchies. Comparasons between TypesOfHierarchy and other stuff OnSystems.
- Because I'm a geek. And interested in economics. I'm also interested in the business of software and IT. Hence I have pages on the continually evolving ecology of InternetPlayas and commercial PlatformWars.
- My musical life (MusicalStuff)
Q : What sort of overlaps?
A : For example. In many of these cases there's a conflict between RationalismAndEmpiricism. Where the rationalist approach is to emphasize theories which guide action; and the empiricist is to emphasize observation and learning from experience :
- in the personal publishing world it occurs in the debate between traditional media values (fact checking, editorial control before publishing) and the blogging values (publish and be fact checked a posteriori, linking popularity constitutes an emergent editorial process EditorializingIsParallelizable)
- epistemologically it's Popper's reconception of rationality as a critical examination of beliefs after their formation; rather than in terms of justification or logic of belief formation. (PopperianEpistemology) It also occurs in his political doctrine of TheOpenSociety built on the twin ideals of free speech and piecemeal experimental social engineering; rather than wholesale social-engineering guided too much by untested theory.
- wiki is the ultimate freedom of speech ... it's the anarchistic abandonment of "IntellectualProperty" in that you don't even own your own speech - others can come along and change it or eliminate it. It's is also HyperText, which has been described as TheMediaOfTheOpenSociety. The practice of wiki (including freedom to change others' words / works) grew from the culture of ExtremeProgramming and ReFactoring. In contrast to traditional software engineering which assumes you can design and then implement in two separate stages ... XP assumes that you can never design without implementing and testing the work in progress with users. It involves RapidPrototyping (or what EricRaymond would call hacking (OnHacking) : the application of the empiricist intuition to software development.
- Applying the empiricist intuition on the larger scale of design we get the ideas of ChristopherAlexander's TimelessWayOfBuilding. Alexander catalogues tried and tested DesignPatterns for OrganicArchitecture (grown piecemeal) using a PatternLanguage.
- XP is also inspired by SmallTalk. AlanKay believes that we currently have almost no science (or body of knowledge built through an empirical tradition) in computing. (We have mathematics and engineering) He thinks that before we can make much progress with software building, we need to do more play and experiment with computers and computational structures. He is influenced by SeymourPapert's Logo and ideas about how to teach children to learn through experiment with computers.
- SelfOrganization refers to the spontaneous order that appears when many small components interact. RadicalLaziness is the strategy which attempts to observe and understand and use these forces to build cool stuff (as opposed to trying to build cool stuff by the hard work of opposing spontaneous / self-organizing processes.) Laziness is cropping up all over the place where people stop trying to impose their structures on the world and start working with the structure that self-organizes. (EmergentData, ListenToTheMachines) Research into the nature of networks is one powerful tool for understanding self-organization. Patterns are good ways to catalogue network behaviour.
- Traditional political attitudes are largely influenced by rationalist and empiricist intuitions. Although I'm instinctively left-wing, I can see that the best argument for the conservative position (BecomingConservative) is that it represents the empiricist intuition (let social structures evolve piecemeal, and trust those that work; distrust radical schemes that have been reasoned in the abstract but may fail disasterously in practice ... WhereDoAlternativesComeFrom).
: It also combines faith in markets, a belief in SelfOrganization - but note NetworksAndMarketFailure. Nevertheless I think that a viable left position must absorb the empiricist intuition (LeftAndRightAndScale, EmpiricalSocialism, DecentralizedLeft)
- My interest in music has also taken an organic turn. I wrote the Gbloink! program, which generates music from rich interactions in a toy world. I'm becoming interested in MusicalEcology, tracing the interconnected web of influence between musical styles, and musical evolution. I started BeatBlog, partly as a musical sketchbook, but also I was fascinated by the blogging ecology and wanted to see if the blogosphere could provide a toy ecology within which music can evolve.
: Moreover, I'm very excited by the book Noise which is a political economy of music. One which argues music is the medium which heralds new changes in political and economic organization, partly because it's so fluid. In this sense, it's a good guide to TheLogicOfTheFuture.
See also :
- GenerateAndTestInParallel for another take on the rational vs. empirical.
- ThemesOfThisWiki which is an alternative way of exploring the ideas here. Themes such as laziness, platforms and granularity cut across design, architecture, music and political categories.