Thursday, November 27, 2003

Research on Online Identity

I found a link from Joi Ito's blog about Danah Boyd which is somewhat related to Prof. Barry Wellman's presentation yesterday about "Networks, Communities, Virtual Communities". Danah gives a very thought provoking observation about identity and blogging in her post "Constructing an Audience". There is also an article in the New York Times on her research work about the Friendstar community, "Decoding the Cues in Online Society"


Fractals and Complexity

Thanks to Lucia for posting a picture on her blog. It encouraged me to be curious enough to dig into how it could be done. Much to my chagrin, I found that it wasn't too difficult after all. Another embarrassing evidence that shows how mental blocks are really just "mental"! Well, it takes a friend's action to show how to step over the boundaries one puts for oneself.

I've been itching to get some images of fractals onto my blog. With the inspiration from Lucia and Image Google, I present to you the Mandelbrot set fractal:

The Mandelbrot fractal is actually an amalgamation of all Julia set fractals. Here's a picture of a "solid, connected" Julia set:

A brief introduction on fractals (in layman's language!) was put together by Temporary Sanity Designs. I just love fractals! They are the perfect demonstration of how simplicity can be so unlimitingly complex. Which brings us into the subject of my presentation for the MMS1 Course. Since I don't have a server to download my powerpoint presentation, I will be posting bits and pieces relating to my topic here on my blog as a gradual introduction to the class presentation due next week. Enjoyed my pictures?!


Tuesday, November 25, 2003

First day of snow

This is my first day of snow in Toronto! The morning started at -1C, it snowed sometime during the night, wished I could have seen it. I thought this first day of snow should be marked, my first winter in Toronto is definitely on its way. Before coming here to Toronto, so many people have told me stories of how harsh winter in Canada can be. Since arriving in July, I have found the weather to be suprisingly acceptable. The weather's unpredictability is actually quite entertaining! It gets cold, then warm again, then cold, then warm. Gives me hope that the winter wouldn't be as "cold" as many people have given me the impression that it should be. Even zero degree didn't seem so bad. My teenage son went out with only with a pullover last week (a surprisingly warm period), but I guess that should change now that snow's arrived, however, with teenagers you never know!


Wednesday, November 12, 2003

A cycle's ending

I seem to be going through a period of doubting. A few responses from people close to me about my blog has left me feeling a bit disheartened. Why is it that I have to depend on my weak links to support me and my close links don't? I am also facing my constantly recurring fears about whether I take too much on myself. How do I sustain processes I've chosen? But then I look at the calendar and realize that, oh,'s the end of the year's cycle for me. 

My birthday wil be coming up in a couple of weeks. I've been through so many of them that their passing by don't seem to register much with me anymore. But now I remember that the period before the beginning of my new birth-year cycle, at about the ending of the outgoing cycle have usually been accompanied by unexplainable feelings of melancholy. I remember some years in which I've taken harsh decisions to end certain processes probably as emotional reactions to the endings, not really the processes themselves, in truly impulsive Saggitarian style for which I've regretted. Well, I guess I'm posting this as a reminder to myself that I can come back to during these precarious days. I must let go of certain emotions that come out of habit, that don't serve me well, and that I must learn to let go of each cycle gracefully, and that I should keep my mind and my heart open.


Saturday, November 8, 2003

Today's McLuhany

McLuhany #2: "The medium is the message"

"In a culture like ours, long accustomed to splitting and dividing all things as a means of control, it is sometimes a bit of a shock to be reminded that,... the medium is the message. ...That the personal and social consequences of any medium...result from the new scale that is introduced into our affairs by each extension of ourselves, or by any new technology. Thus, with automation, for example, the new patterns of human association tend to eliminate jobs..."

- from Understanding Media (pg. 7)

(Note: I wish to thank the MIT Press from granting me permission to quote from Marshall McLuhan's "Understanding Media" on my weblog. To conserve space on my post, I will be referring to these quotes as "from Understanding Media")

My thoughts: What is this message he's speaking about? I think he means it's how we've transformed ourselves in the use of the medium, or the use of the extensions. Even if we don't use it, we are already transformed because most of the people around us are using it, and they in turn affect us. (Heh, heh,.. I was certainly transformed by using the blog!)

The part about how automation tend to eliminate jobs illuminates the critical social changes we find ourselves complaining about - rising unemployment. If only society could accept that change is inevitable and that through our inventions, our quest for development, for growth, for even evolution, we have brought these changes upon ourselves. McLuhan offers us a connective perspective as a balm to heal or make whole our 'splitting', our specialized, isolationary mindset by trying to tell us how to understand media so that we can design it to serve us rather than having us blindly serving the media, as we did with the machine.

Your thoughts?

What my blog is not

For the benefit of readers of my blog, that they not be mislead, I thought I should somehow state what my blog is not!

I am basically a non-expert on all of the topics I blog about. These include: communicating in English, and in Thai, blogging, multi-cultural, global issues, economics, development, media, McLuhan, connectivity, emergence, paradigms, buddhist philosophy, being a mother, etc. The great thing about being a non-expert is that I get to ask a lot of questions. I enjoy it most when unlikely answers pop up, but the questions will always be the adventures. I will, however, unmodestly claim to be close to being an expert as a household cook, in being intuitive, and in sinking into the unconsciousness of sleeping (where I get most of my creative work done!) The thing about being close to an expert is that one tends towards arrogance, so please be forgiving.

In conclusion, I'm pretty much an amateur at everything, "ama" is the key, I do it for love, I do it for fun. I may sometimes get serious, because that is another part of my nature, but this blog was basically started for fun, as an experiment, as some sort of tool to organize, and put down in writing my very random and disorganized thoughts.

I have learnt through my experience of blogging up to this moment that blogging is like walking the fine line between belonging to a group and being myself. Being part of a group means that I have to accept certain pressures, like working on my research project, ; ), and being myself means I keep resisting/insisting on my way of enjoying the blogging process as mine. Somehow this fine edge produces quite a lot of material for me to blog about.

Everyone with curiosity, willingness to engage in play, question, contribute, wishes to give constructive comments are all very welcome and I really appreciate your comments.


My collection of links to "emergence"

A collection of links on "emergence" that will keep me occupied for some time:


"Buddhist Spirituality vs. Materialism

Emergence in Organisations

Designing for Emergence

Artificial Life

Mark Bickhard

William Calvin's "Emergence of Intelligence"

Review of Steven Johnson's "Emergence"

Blog of Collective Intelligence

Felix Stalder's "The Space of Flows"

Stanford Encyclepedia of Philosophy

Francisco Varela's "The Emergent Self"


Thursday, November 6, 2003

Mapping software

Intrigued by the images of maps that Prof. Derrick showed us on Wed, Oct 29, and searching for free mindmapping software, I found TouchGraph LLC, a social network mapping software. A few days later, I also found references mentioned in Seb's and Joi Ito's blog. Here are some interesting images I liked: Livejournal map, map of political weblog, and biology of mind.


Introduction to "Today's McLuhany"

Because I am trying to understand McLuhan's writing about media and its effects, I would like to start a regular subtitle on my blog: my reflections on McLuhan's writing, as an effort to digest his work. McLuhan's writing has such a depth in it that it has not been possible to read him like I would normally read other books. So I am hoping that the process of "reading" McLuhan "aloud" in my blog will help me understand and retain my understanding of his work in a more meaningful way. I am also hoping that there will be other people who would like to join in the process and help me recover from my 'lunacy' over McLuhan so that I don't end up as a complete lunatic incomprehensively talking to herself about McLuhan and all things related...

McLuhany #1: On media as an extension

"After three thousand years of explosion, by means of fragmentary and mechanical technologies, the Western world is imploding. During the mechanical ages, we had extended our bodies in space. Today, after more than a century of electric technology, we have extended our central nervous system itself in a global embrace, abolishing both space and time as far as our planet is concerned. Rapidly, we approach the final phase of the extensions of man- the technological simulation of consciousness, when the creative process of knowing will be collectively and corporately extended to the whole of human society, much as we have already extended or senses and our nerves by the various media."

- from Understanding Media: The Extension of Man.(pg. 3)

My thoughts: I am always amazed to remember that he wrote this nearly 40 years ago. It was as if he looked into the future and saw the internet, even seeing it in a form that has yet to be developed but will inevitably reach. What does he mean by extensions? That for me is intriguing. Some of the things he lists as extensions are: our skin, hand, or foot to tools, wheels, cars, road, clothing, housing, money, machines, cities, language, games, the printing press, telephone, telegram, movies, photography, TV, radio, and weapons. Extensions, he says, "affects the whole psychic and social complex". And extensions he also calls "media".

Your thoughts?

Tentative topic of interest for research: "Defining Emerging Values of the Emergent Paradigm"

In a previous post, I have mentioned identity, transparency, and connectivity as emerging values related to blogging. I am interested in identifying other values which would be considered as belonging to an emergent paradigm (which has emerged as a result of the electric medium we are immersed in) that is different from the outgoing industrial, mechanized paradigm. I hope to be able to propose a category/grouping showing the relationships of each value between old and new paradigm as well as the relationship of the values within the new paradigm. As part of highlighting these values, I would also like to identify new vocabularies related to new sciences (quantum physics, chaos theory, systems studies, collaborative networks, etc.) that are becoming more commonly used as a way to describe processes related to the emerging paradigm.

As a method of research, I will be using weblogs to search for discussions concerning or insights given about these emerging values. I would also like to propose a survey (first among class members, later maybe to some bloggers I have linked with frequently) about how values are consciously or subconsciously screened (or not) in finding solution to working environments that has changed from the outgoing paradigm of industrial, mechanistic, linear modality.

Having proposed this topic of interest, I would also like to add a short note here to say that I have also another topic of interest for which I am undecided about and just might switch to. This topic is about the profile of bloggers, and how this profile will support or not support in the building up of connectivity or a social network among bloggers.


Saturday, November 1, 2003

Why is it "Watch what you write"?...not..."Watch who's hiring you?"

An incredible blogging phenomena to watch happening in front of my eyes again! I was 'surf'-searching for substantive information to support my class project, and ran into this story of accidental instant fame through RandsinRepose whose site was recommended in a response about NADD by in Bernard's blogs. The item "Eclectism: Even Microsoft wants G5s" under RandsinRepose's POPDEX, Top 5 side links caught my attention, and hey, there's actually two items on that same subject! I clicked on and I'm smack in the middle of a blogging phenomenum that's going to be real fun to research on!

My immediate response:

Why is it "watch what you write" not "watch who's hiring you"? The number of people who sent in comments along the line of "watch what you write" was more than sympathies about his situation. The next popular comment was something along the lines of "Screw Microsoft". Very few took up the questioning of "what is wrong with Microsoft to fire a staff just for a picture", or even fewer took up the question, "What's wrong with us when we warn ourselves to self-censor free speech rather than questioning the norm of "behave or you will be fired"?

My secondary response:

Hey, this guy achieved instant fame. Is he for real? Let me check up the consistency of his identity in his past record of blogging. Well, he was blogging for 3 years, have developed quite a personality, as he admits in his bio. Checks out, only a few group of friends and family commented on his blog before the event.

Even more amazing, instant fame also means instant vulnerability! Read his very polite account of 'identity theft' and his thoughts about "surviving commercial time.

My temporary concluding response:

My continuing research on this event will surely result in a lot of insights about how blogging affects our reality. Michael Hanson's eclectism is cool, he's hip! Isn't this a great demonstration of what blogging can do for "Power to the People"?!


Friday, October 31, 2003

The infidelity of technology

"Never get too dependent on technology. It betrays you when you most need it." A few recent episodes have reminded me to stick to this wisdom. There was the case of the McLuhan ghost making the projector blink distractingly in Leo's recent presentation. Lucky for us that we were pretty determined to not be distracted and switched to a non-technical solution by just huddling around the computer screen instead. Then yesterday, I accompanied my husband to his presentation on "NAFTA and its implications for Mexico and Canada" at York University, and his Powerpoint file was found incompatible with the university's system. (I think it had something to do with his office's use of Spanish-based Windows.) That certainly threw him off course, because the whole presentation depended on the tables, figures, and statistics that needed to be shown on screen. These incidents reminded me of my own frustration when I couldn't show the slide presentation I had painstakingly prepared because there simply wasn't a projector (in a forum where they should have had one). And since yesterday my email service with Rogers has been acting strangely, and I couldn't be sure whether the several attempts to send out mail actually went. I usually don't communicate by email so much, but since I've started blogging, I find myself more dependent on emails as a supplementary communication channel. I couldn't help ending up with this nagging suspicion about whether it was the avenge of Microsoft and Bill Gates on us unsuspecting users of computer technology. But I guess the positive side of these experiences is the reminder that we should use technology with caution, don't get over dependent.


Transparent identity, accountability and connectivity

I started this post with the intuitive feeling that the issues of identities, transparency, accountability and connectivity were emergent values related to blogging. The culture of the internet seems to be moving from a preference of anonymity towards the practice of revealing and establishing a consistent, trust-worthy identity. This reversal can be noted by the move towards the building of reputation capital in online communities. With the arrival of blogging, the online users are suddenly given a personal voice in a very transparent way. Blogging is a practice in which the blogger cannot remain anonymous but must clearly identify himself/herself by revealing personal beliefs, viewpoints, passions, preferences, hopes and dreams throughout his/her blogging practice with consistency. This transparency of identity fosters accountability and in turn nurtures connectivity. In other words, as blog readers come to know and identify with a blogger's beliefs, hopes and dreams, the readers learn to trust the viewpoint of the writer and will continue to come back to read that blog that he or she identifies with. When identity is shared in blogging, we have connectivity. A few supporters of how identity is necesarry to blogging can be found with spacewaitress who gives the link to metalfilter and the commenters related to those two posts. Also in mathemagenic's words, "blogging gives me better identity than on-line profiles, cv, and publication". Here, I'm going to do something that was declared not 'correct' in blogging, that is editing my work after it has been posted. Why not? I'm adding here another link to support my argument that a strong identity, especially, 'passion' is necessary in blogging. I would like to point out to Christopher Lydon's audio blogging, in his interview with David Weinberger, in which David strongly emphasizes the place of passion in blogging.

I feel frustrated and have struggled by this attempt of mine to describe and validate the linkage of these issues, but I remain certain and am encouraged that they are emergent values of an increasingly complex internet environment which was brought about by the phenomenum of blogging which I feel are core values of a much larger emerging paradigm. Which brings me to point out that in subsequent blogs, there will probably be more unclear postings which I will struggle with in public because our esteemed Prof. Derrick has asked us to work out on our blogs our thoughts on our course project for presentation and evaluation in the coming month. Well, there's the comfort of Jay Rosen's view that "blogging is about making and changing minds" as Tammy has pointed out.


Wednesday, October 29, 2003

Blogs and control

Tonight was the first time that I got together with some fellow bloggers from my MMS class. The high of a fun gathering of like-minded people is definitely much more engaging than a satisfying communication with blogging. But I feel that blogging has spoilt me somewhat for normal conversation. Why? Because I missed the "linking" part of blogging, being able to show somewhat concrete support of my point of view, without having to elaborate so much. Normal conversation now seemed to lack the precision of blogging. In conversation, the subject does tend to go off to various tangents and I felt that I had less control in the flow of conversation than in a blog. (Have I become a control freak?...Well, I know I tend to be one in my household...understandable as a mother to teenage kids...but I find it unpleasant to face that situation with my friends.) In conversation we spontaneously touched upon a whole bunch of subjects which would not have possibly been done with a blog. So I came home a little bit intrigued by this question: "Are blogs tools of control or are they tools of 'free' expression?"

Of course, the tone of this thought was already set into motion by Leo Reitano's presentation of his Phd. research on the "Polysphere Model" earlier in the evening which gave rise to the occasion of the class gathering. Leo passionately put forward the notion that "just using the web, ...blogging, even different modalities of technology is not enough (in shifting the paradigm of learning and education)....what's important is examing the assumptions we have taken before using these new learning modalities,... did we assume unconsciously that it was to serve our outdated modes of command and control, divide and conquer?" A strong challenge was put out by Leo and for those who are interested to find out what he proposes as an alternative model for learning, I understand that Leo's research paper will be posted for viewing somewhere on the McLuhan Program homepage.


Monday, October 27, 2003

Hybrid media and its resultant explosive/implosive energy

McLuhan writes, "The hybrid or the meeting of two media is a moment of truth and revelant from which new form is born. For the parallel between two media holds us on the frontiers between forms that snap us out of the Narcissus-narcosis. The moment of the meeting of media is a moment of freedom and release from the ordinary trance an numbness imposed by them on our senses." (Understanging Media, pg. 55.)

Spams are quickly making emails dysfunctional. The article, "Guess What? I don't have email", by W.D. Valgardson, of The Globe and Mail, Oct. 22, is a good example of how. Some people are, or have already converted to domain names and blogs as a new form of connectivity that will stay for some time until these new forms themselves also become overheated. According to McLuhan, overheating of a medium leads to reversals. (On reversals coming up later.) Blogs are one of these intriguing "hybrids" (or in my view, maybe even the 'meta'-hybrid) that McLuhan tries to inform us about as per quote above. He says that when we get hybrids (interprenetration of one medium by another), the violent release of energy (either by explosion or implosion, fusion or fission, this I am not so sure if I understand) snaps us out for a brief period from the "Narcissus-narcosis" in other words, "numbing" effect" (like the fish not knowing it is swimming in water, again.) McLuhan, in fact, sees this energy to be so violent as to call it a "civil war in media". The sometimes heated discussions that goes on about blogging does give one a sense of a "civil war", and it's happening in the electric medium! Hybrid energy is powerful stuff!


Psychotechnologies and screenology

In my haphazard attempt to understand blogging and its effects, I couldn't wait for our instuctors to get to the subject of screenology which I think is going to be discussed in 3 or 4 weeks time, and decided to break the linearity of course work, by pointing here and now to Prof. Derrick's webpage on psychotechnologies and his brief description of screenology (which I was looking for). I think bloggers are yet unconsciously aware (as the fish again), that blogging is very much affected by how we look at or relate to the screen and how we design what looks on the screen, and that the screen we are designing upon has yet to evolve to a stable form.


Sunday, October 26, 2003

Why bloggers need to blog about blogging

Any blogger knows and any blog reader notices that always the biggest topic is "blogging about blogging". Here's one reason why:

To ignore the medium you are in is like a fish not caring about what kind of water he swims in. A fish that is more likely to survive is one that is very aware of his waters. That fish would know which water to swim away from, or not even approach. He knows not to go on land, for example, lest he dies. (But there are some strange fishes that have developed some kind of half-land abilities, surprisingly found in Thailand, and have been rumored to jump out and attack land lubbers.) A fish also knows that swimming in a shoal makes it easier for him to swim, but somehow decreases his likelihood of survival, especially from big predators like sharks and humans. And there are some fishes that prefer to go off alone to create their precious offspring, some fishes that even attack their mates to protect their offspring, and some fishes that struggle to swim upstream to accomplish the same great creative act. I may have gotten some of this fish protocol wrong, but I think I've got the general idea, after all I am not a fish, nor a fish expert.

So what do fishes have to do with blogging? Wouldn't you say we are all swimming in a current that we find difficult to grasp, like a fish doesn't really know that he is swimming in water until he is left on land? So let's blog about blogging until we understand or know well our waters.


Saturday, October 25, 2003

On blogging and what kind of blogger one wants to be...

Thinking about what kind of blogger I want to be, I remembered a teaching of Buddha. The version that left a lifelong impression was given in a class on Thai culture at the impressionable age of 15 or 16. It impressed me because here was a teacher telling me not to believe in teachings, not to believe in books, authority (which include our parents, elders, government, religious leader, etc. )... Before you start raising arguments against that, let me tell you the part that impressed me most. The Buddha says to test out any knowledge and if through your own personal experience it rings true, then maybe you can accept it as true. Since then I have looked up this teaching and found it rephrased in many ways. The one I found quickly for refering to on this blog was the following from a Shambala pocket classic, "Teachings of the Buddha", ed. by Jack Kornfield:

"This I do declare, after investigation there is nothing among doctrines that such a one as I would embrace. Seeing misery in philosophical views, without adopting any of them, searching for truth I saw 'inward peace'.

"Not by any philosophical opinion, not by tradition, not by knowledge, not by virtue and holy works can anyone say that purity exists; nor by absence of tradition, by absence of knowledge, by absence of virtue and holy works either; having abandoned these without adopting anything else, let one, calm and independent, not desire any resting place.

"One who thinks oneself equal to others, or distinguished, or low, for that very reson disputes; but one who is unmoved under those three conditions, for that person the notions "equal' and 'distinguished' do not exist.

"The Sage for whom the notions 'equal' and 'unequal' do not exist, would he say, 'This is true'? Or with whom should he dispute, saying, 'This is false?' With whom should he enter into dispute?

"An accomplished person does not by a philosophical view, or by thinking become arrogant, for he is not of that sort; not by holy works, nor by tradition is he to be led, he is not led into any of the resting places of the mind.

"For one who is free from views there are no ties, for one who is delivered by understanding there are no follies; but those who grasped after views and philosophical opinions, they wander about in the world annoying people."
(adopted from the Sutta-nipata,
translated by V. Fausbol)


Friday, October 24, 2003

Lessons learnt from blogosphere

Three bloggers whom I have linked to on the right space of my blog have greatly inspired me. Dave Pollard, whom I delightedly found out is a Canadian, has a blog that offers a wide range of ideas on "How to save the world". I am also very interested in his New Collaborative Enterprise" idea, and I thank him for putting me on his blogroll, especially under the "dreamer" category, :). I think Dave is a demonstration of what I have mentioned in my previous post... bringing the world to that screen which Prof. Derrick says is an extended part of ourselves becoming the outer skin of culture. Dave also has an excellent list of Canadian blogs, by the way, as well as a helpful summary of what people who read and write blogs wants, found on the right side of his blogspace.

Watching Joi Ito put up his wiki-space on his blogosphere in front of my eyes during the last few weeks, and the discovery of his htm paper turned wiki on "Emergent Democracy" hit a chord within my nagging desire to bring out my own views about emergent values that I believe is a result of cross-cultural, multi-disciplinary communication, that is all within this process of going towards the "noosphere" that I have mentioned before. Thanks to Tammy for being a strong support for defining the area of focus on cultural communication.

Flammifer, a new blogger who blogs in French and English from Pandaland and my happening upon the Thai site,, has prompted me to consider blogging in Thai and English, which will be starting slowly, since technically I am at a loss about how to get my OS X to print in Thai. Much as I dislike using my husband's Windows XP, Microsoft-based computer, that's the only way now that I can write in Thai. So if there is any Mac fan out there who can help me, I'd be so grateful!


No longer a class blog, but...

Dear fellow classmates, and instructors, I've been severely bitten by the blogging bug. Through the past weeks' surfing on blogosphere, I've been convinced that blogging is definitely something I want to do seriously. Never dreamt that when I walked unsuspectingly into the McLuhan world that I would be "massaged" this way, that is transformed by the electronic medium.

So therefore this blog is no longer a class blog for me, but I felt that I cannot just make that transition without receiving some agreement from my classmates and warning them of the opening up of this class space. But then our sense of closeness and comfortable security itself was fragile and illusionary, this I realized when I happened upon the Thai blogging website, a larger circle of bloggers who are not actively aware that blogging brings the world to them and that if they wanted to realize the full potential of their blogs they simply have to reach for the world from their individual corners.

I do not know how much traffic it is possible to bring in during a period of two months before our class disassembles. I hope that my fellow "shy" bloggers will not close down and blog less, because that would make Clay Shirky too much of a blogosphere prophet with his power law concept where he proclaims that a popular blog takes the attention away from other less visible blogs. (If I have interpreted him wrongly here, please point it out in my discussion space.) I hope my fellow classmates will rise up to the challenge. I hope I will not be cut out, excluded, virtual heart left bleeding, without the great support you have provided me with. Having visited many blogs where the new blogger had to struggle with their individual blogging 'demons' on their own for a year or two before they either stabilized as a blogger or simply quit, I realise how fortunate I have been to have been introduced to blogging with such a support group as this Mind, Media, and Society Course within the McLuhan Program of the University of Toronto.


Testing Thai script

ok ลองทดสอบดูอีกครั้ง


Monday, October 20, 2003

6,743 Canadians, and some 6,000 Thais blogging

Did I hear in class, or on the blog, that they didn't know anyone else personally who blogs? Check out this site: BlogsCanada! Incredible, wouldn't you say?

More incredible, I found out that there are some 6,000 bloggers blogging in Thai, and that the host website, (I guess, the equivalent of a Thai "Blogger") was nearly single-handed set up from scratch by a 17 year old last year. And he set it up for free use as well. It's a pity that it can only be appreciated if you can read Thai, but just click on the images, they're fun on their own. Mutants, somebody mentioned? Whatever they are, I just LOVE them!

วันก่อนไ้ด้ยินเพื่่อนร่วมชั้นบ่นว่า ไม่รู้จักคนใกล้ชิดซักคนที่เขี่ยนบล้อกเลย ก็ลองเช็คดู BlogsCanada ตามที่ชี้ไว้ข้างบนดูซิ น่าทึ่ง มีคนแคนาดาบล้อกตั้งกว่า 6 พันกว่าคนแหน่ะ ยิ่งทึ่งไปกว่านั้น พบว่ามีคนไทยเขียนไดอารี่ตั้ง 6 พันกว่าคนเหมือนกัน ที่ ไง เป็นเว็บไซท์ที่ตั้งขึ้นมาเป็นเวลามาแค่หนึ่งปีกับหกเดือน โดยเด็กหนุ่มอายุแค่ 17 ปี ให้คนใช้ฟรีอีกต่างหาก ถ้าอ่านภาษาไทยไม่ออกคลิ้กดูภาพก็ยังสนุกเลย ใครพูดว่า มีพวกกลายพันธุ์มาเกิดนะ เป็นมนุษย์ประเภทไหนก็ช่าง ข้าพเจ้ารักจริง ๆ


Saturday, October 18, 2003

Class blog vs personal blog

Well, I started another experiment and put up a personal journalling blog and discovered the vast difference between that blog and our class blog. Our class blog has more or less a topic of focus (media and its effects on us, our thinking and society), but still even with that focus, the discussion tends to go off of on a wide variety of subjects and it starts to become a pressure on our attention span.

Notice how our topics are no longer held in one space. We start one topic in one spot but it gets commented on another. After some time went by, I figured out that I might as well comment anywhere and the whole discussion more or less gets interwoven into each other. For example, I am writing in response to a topic in Mindy's blog, but I am also sort of answering something Bernard, Tammy and Wasted Ink have raised. At the same time, I am also carrying forward some of my own points. I could have choosen to post it under any topic discussion of any other class blogs, but that would mean going back a bit in time (on those other blogs) and risk not being read, so my ego tells me to write on my blog as a most current posting, and weave everything together there, trusting the process that the discussion will be carried forward anywhere within the bigger class blog.

In conclusion, our class blog has a built-in interlinking, inter-reference, that maybe other blogs which are started individually don't have. That makes it an interesting interaction and the subject of focus gives it the 'intelligent' content that Bernard mentioned.

The majority of blogs out there, (which by the way haven't been out there for very long) are mostly about the internet, blogging, and current affairs written by media personalities. Few have chosen to focus on academic or research because of its the limited of scope of readers. So I wonder what influences the popular bloggers to blog. Have a look at some reasons here, and for list of popular sites at the NITLE Blog Census and blogcount. Some interesting finds about the blogging process are Jill Walker's Links and power: The political economy of linking on the web and Clay Shirky's (as recommended by Mark) "A groups is its own worst enemy", "Power laws, weblogs and inequality" (interesting reads among many others found there). Also see Google loves blog.

When I compare the mechanics of the class blog with my new personal blog in which I have found it difficult to focus my thoughts and allow the writing to flow, because there was such a wide variety of topics that I would have to select from my "multiple selves". So, I am forced to choose,...and to choose what I think will be relevent to the reader. Who do I think my readers are? Firstly, my group of friends whom I've sent my URL. But I am also forced to be conscious of the public as well, so I have to self-censor my writing. (Mindy, I guess that answers your question in some way, I have to show only a part of myself, but that begs the question, "Is that not my real self?") And I am forced to edit and check my reference and try to find an appropriate link to make my points. So...yes, Bernard, the spontaineity of it is gone. I had to revert to writing on paper without worrying about my spelling, the grammar, the logic or even sense, of my thoughts, and only then could the intuitive messages or personal meaning (which, for me is a more productive writing) come out. Then because I've committed myself to my blog, I have to go through the pretty tedious process of making it presentable to the public. But then the value of doing that comes from having shared what I have 'discovered', because knowledge is nothing if it is not shared.

(Something else I have to figure out, how could I have said all that in a few short sentences, which seems to be the style that blogging demands?)


Wednesday, October 15, 2003

Jesse Hirsch's talk

New window of information about open source. However, I couldn't accept his anarchistic views that "lawlessness is the rule". To what end, I ask? He sorts of says, "to bring down the ruling elites", and sort of corrects himself and says well, to make them accountable, that I can accept. But I couldn't help wondering then how would society be without a ruling class? Another interesting point to ponder on is his key assumption of distrust, which is supposed to lead us to questioning and trust. Well, as with all windows of information, let's see where it leads us...


Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Reconciling conflictive values, can the internet provide a solution?

Mindy restarted me on thinking about identities again, and by chance I found an interesting discussion about identity in Joi Ito's blog, a very popular blogger. He advices, "You MUST remember that identities are like names. You are NOT your identity. Your identity points to you. Everyone has multiple identities." That we as entities, shouldn't get mixed up with our identities. He also says that "a multitude of identities is an essential component in protecting privacy and interacting in an exceedingly digital world".

Reading the very interesting discussion that follows, I feel the undercurrents of conflicting values among the many discussants. Joi is a Japanese, educated in western thinking and technology and I believe he is trying to reconcile the values of both infuences. Asian society places a higher value on social/group cohesiveness as opposed to individuality. They have a few thousand years of continuous cultural development of group cohesiveness to follow. Western society, on the other hand, has developed the idea of rights of individual freedom with the French Revolution from the 18th century. There have been failures and successes on both ends of the upheld values. But when east meets west, there seems to be an unavoidable clash of values in some ways. I sensed that from reading the discussions following Joi's posting, and I felt that these differences were left unchanged, unresolved at the end of the discussion as probably does in other discussions at other fora. My questions are, with the promise of a "global village" through the help of electric/electronic connectivity, will these conflicting values be reconciled? Can the internet be a place for this reconcilation? Or will it simply reflect the real world conflict? Or will electric connectivity give rise to new values? If so what are they? Or maybe we need to learn how to let go of dichotomy and live with paradoxial acceptance of both seemingly conflictive values?


Monday, October 13, 2003

The ground of our web and the bubble burst

The question of "what is reality" and an off-line conversation with a friend who works in the internet community led me to think about the ground of our weblogs. How permanent will these musings be? I sent my URL to another friend to check out my site and he could not access it directly with only just my URL. However, if you put in the right words, you can call up certain discussions by using the google search engine. The easiest way to access my own blog and at the same time view other classmates' blogs is through the class blog. So the question arises in my mind, what will happen to our blogs and its connectivity after the course ends? Does it get archived away into some obscurity or will it be kept alive? How real is this reality?

Curious to know about how the bubble burst affected the personal lives of people involved, have also added to my sense of "how real is all of this?"

Then doing a search with google on how to construct a website with the objective of trying to find more ground for reality, I have been struck by how transparency must be inherent as a core value of the internet community. Without transparency, many tools initially designed to be useful can be manipulated. As in the case of the above google search, the first site listed actually used the word "free" to make money, while a lower ranking site actually contained more clear and simple information without the advantage-taking intention of the first. It seems to me that self-organizing qualities can be also be twisted to one's means. I think that not having clear values in the use of the internet was the main cause of the bubble burst.

As a websurfer, it seems that one must know very cleary what one hopes to find (the "signal"?) and not be distracted by the vast amount of information available ("noise"?, "interference"?). The websurfer must also develop some kind of crap detection skill to overcome the internet's limitation in that its reality is loose and not well grounded in Reality.


Saturday, October 11, 2003

The Medium is the Message

In my observation of our class blogging and how the discussion has grown, I've noted that how being new to blogging and not having much knowledge about it's nature and purpose, has forced us to look critically at how we use communicative tools especially as between the use of phone vs. emails, which actually became more instructive once I started comparing the effects of those two media vs. weblogs.

I think that each medium is used for a different purpose, and the nature of the medium influences the type of communication that can be carried on with each meidum. The phone is oral/audio (we put it at our ear). It is an extension of speech, of communicating, of relating. Email which is an extension of mail, is an extension of text-based linear language, which is an extension of thought/thinking (we use our hand, and fingers to write).

Therefore, the discussion of use of the telephone causes us to think about connecting or relating. Most phone conversations are based around, "Hi, how are you, what are you doing, what can I do for you?" We want to relate to the other person, and feel satisfied when that is achieved via the telepone. (I made a connection with Tammy with one phone call that was much more meaningful than all the communications in the blogs that we have carried on for the past two weeks with all its engaging, profound thoughts, or information loaded interactions).

On email, we need to retrack a bit to the use of snail mail. Writing letters is thinking our thoughts on paper. It's "This is me.... what do you think?" The recipient reads our thoughts silently is his mind and chooses to react or not. There is some degree of illusionary connection with another self, but the writer is actually at a deeper level writing to his/her own self. (A good illustration of this is the famous "Letters to a Young Poet", by Rainer Maria Rilke which is so powerful because when we read it, we feel as if he were writing especially to us. And Rainer achieved this because according to Stephen Mitchell, Rainer was probably writing "across time, directly to his younger self".)

With the invention of the email, some characteristics of telephone communication was transposed into written mail form. Relating and thought has made some connection? But the result tends to be... as Bernard has shared his observation with us, email leaves us with a lot of open communication left unsolved.

Blogs are text-based (we write them with our hands), it is not oral and yet seem to carry some degree of orality like the email. However, to me it appears to be a form of expression that is closer to mail than to phone. It clearly shows our thoughts, and even more our thinking process. We are sort of thinking "aloud" having the public comment on our thoughts.

When I came across "Blogging thoughts: personal publication as an online research tool" by Torill Mortensen and Jill Walker in the process of searching for more understanding about blogs, I have also reached a level of understanding how "the medium is the message" by understanding how writing blogs eventually causes us to think about our thoughts, and to think about how we do our thinking. The medium we choose to use for thinking will effect our thinking. Writing blogs will eventually effect our way of thinking. And this is Tammy's insightful observation passed to me on the phone, "studying McLuhan has allowed me to critically think about how we use the medium" and eventually about how it affects us.

And I think that if blogs are expressions of our thinking, our blogs can only be successful if we are first writng for ourselves not the public, which is different from journalism. So when I write this blog, I should not actually be expecting anyone to respond, but should hope that my blog has sparked some thinking in its reader and the discussion is free to be carried on elsewhere, anywhere (which is actually like public writing). And if my thoughts have been well-liked, it will be linked to.


Saturday, October 4, 2003

'I'-dentity and "Who am We?"

Reading Turkle's article and thinking about Mark's comment some time ago about how we tend to repeat our roles no matter what environment we transpose oursleves into, I was prompted to think about what role do I choose to play in this class and class blog?

Here are some of the roles that popped into my mind:

"The person who stirs the water being stirred?

The experimenter carrying on a personal experiment and ,at the same time, allowing myself to be experimented upon?

The connector, the cross-pollinator, the bumble bee?... who craves to be connected therefore searches for the connection?

The psychoanalyst who psychoanalyses herself, therefore tries to psychoanalyse others? (Luckily, I am not a professional, everything is just play!)

Am I the player or the game?"

Whether we choose to reflect on what role we play in life, or try to understand what role we've picked up to play on the computer, either way can be used to learn more about ourselves. But it would all be useless if we could not transfer what we learnt from one to the other. Hence, maybe if Stewart/Achilles (in Turtle's paper) increasingly built into Achilles' profile more of his real self, some of Achilles' achievements would have transferred back to Stewart?

It might have already been noticed that I tend to base my observations on my personal experiences, feelings, and sometimes a seemingly strange intellect. There's a lot of 'I', 'I', 'I' going on around. But that's the way I learn... if I can't validate it with my intellect, feelings and intuition, it's not authentic for me. Under all this lies the philosophy that the 'I' is to be eventually dropped for the 'We' and that brings us back to my original point of digression that We, humans, are ultimately the ultimate transformers. So wouldn't you say we went round and round again and came back to the"single consciousness' bit again?

Can't wait to see where Mark will take us to with 'lost identities'....


Sunday, September 28, 2003

On addicted to the internet

We live in a world of addiction. What is the purpose of addiction? Too much connection with a projected object. It is a problem of connection. Since connectivity is a major issue in this new electric world, maybe its connection to addiction should be seriously looked at? Because addiction is a serious, destructive problem when the object of addiction has such a consuming power, like drugs, booze, sex, work (workaholics), and who knows, maybe eventually the internet. Our censorship, or social acceptance of which object of addiction we allow seems to be connected to what the society values as being supportive or destructive to the society. Alchohol, for example, at one time, in some societies was used as a way to be connected to the holy and communing. It served a function of a bringing together of the community. Now it is not. The addict feels his disconnectivity with the world, his self, the 'single consciousness' at such a deep and compelling level that he becomes destructively addicted to his chosen substance. The degree of one's forgetting of oneself and other selves, is also relative to the degree of one's destructiveness. Sometimes the addiction brings about a reversal and starts a healing process, sometimes the substance consumes him instead. Could a computer addict get into the same destructive cycles as in other forms of addiction?

It was painful for me to see the word "addiction" being battered around so carelessly. So I had to respond with this message. As for my own danger of being destructively addicted to our class blogs? My cat just gave me the answer by trying to sit on my ibook. Lately he's been very jealous of it. I wonder if he thinks it's another pet or knows that he needs to keep reminding me of disconnecting? Anyway, all I need to do is, give him his appropriate attention, and I'm saved from being hooked.

Ps. about "reversal", there's a simple and clear description of its process in "Making the Media the Business Message" from Investment Executive found in Mark's homepage.


Saturday, September 27, 2003

A Poem inspired by thoughts of electricity...


Electromagnetic Waves,

Light !

We are moving blobs of light!

blinking and non-blinking bytes,

day and night,

good and evil,

absence of light

only exists because

of the presence of light.

In the end, isn't it all the same...

Is it futile or not?


On Media, Mediums, and the Ultimate Transformers..

"If the work of the city is the remaking or translating of man into a more suitable form than his nomadic ancestors achieved, then might not our current translation of our entire lives into the spirittual form of information seem to make the entire globe, and of the human family, a single conscious?" ...from "Understanding Media", pg. 61.

These words of McLuhan might help answer the unspoken question that I feel is floating around out there under the currents of our class blogs, "Where is it all leading towards"?

"A single conscious", he says. That was mind boggling for me when I first considered that idea. What would that imply? No individuality? No privacy? Determined by the masses? My deep sense of self-indpendence suddenly felt threatened. So I dug into the reading, or maybe readings. As you can see from the introduction of my blog page, it led me into the exploration of the cocepts of language, philosophy, history, mythology, and eventually into... quantum physics (that took a couple of years to digest), holographic principes, Chaos, fractals, and now "blogs"!!

After considerable time (like some 5 years), it didn't scare me so much anymore. What I discovered was that - hey, there're all saying the same thing! Only with different vocabularies.

It was all about "making whole", like in "healing", "single consciousness", "holograms", "all-in-one, one-in-all", "the undifferentiated ground of being", "the implicate order"... I'm sure all of you have your own words to add to this list!

Now if electricity is the medium, therefore "the message" - the transforming agent, as McLuhan is it transforming us? That's being discussed in class: blogs and attoseconds (was that the correct word?).

I go back and forth between re-reading McLuhan's words, to the internet, to my musings on the blogs...and suddenly, it dawned onto me...Well, aren't we, human beings, the ultimate media, the constant transforming agent in all of this? We've transformed our environment through the different medias we've created. Whether it was language, philosophy, science, wheels, cities, the printing press, the horrifying inhuman factories, machines and electriciy, megabytes and transformed us in return. So we come back to the question again. What are we transforming into?

We transform our environment, our environment transforms us...It goes on and on, looping and re-looping into itself. Doesn't that ring a bell somewhere? Anybody "see" the symbol of the Tao here, that half black, half white within the circle with the opposite colored dots within it?...The dancing Kali who tramples on the dead as she dances the dance that creates life? The hermaphrodite surrounded by a wreath in the "World" card of the Tarot?...The non-ending dance of creation?

Listening to myself preparing the composition of my blogs, I am suddenly attacked by a feeling of depression, of inertia. It does seem to be futile... (Bernard, I love this word you dropped in our class blog) the sense that it all goes round and round in a circle and comes back again to the beginning. What is the point of effort if it all goes round and round and you are stuck at the beginning again? If we are all going to be a single consciousness, why try to be different or the same? Makes me not want to do anything, which would eventually defeat the purpose of taking the course. So I came back to finish this 2nd blog.

I took the course to get out of myself, to meet people whom I could share my ideas with. But if everybody is more or less saying the same things, just in their own unique different ways, am I learning anything new? I have to confess. It seems to be the hope of hearing something new that lures me on. Well, it did lead me to the class. And now I have the blogs... lots of opportunities to share my ideas. Therapy, Bernard? It seems so. But what is the difference between putting yourself out there in cyberspace so you can see yourself better, and trying to find the 'ideal relationship' through exchange of ideas - which is also a projection of yourself in the other? Anybody want to make a psychological assessement of that?


Thursday, September 25, 2003

Decoding electronic "phonemes"

Did you know that to be able to read, you had to learn how to decode the phonological patterns of the written letters, called "phonemes"? That is,.. to connect the correct sound to the correct group of otherwise meaningless lines, circles and dots? From decoding, you then move on to word identification and then to comprehending the meaning of the words. Most people construct these basic phonological abilities between ages 4-7. However, during the past decades there has been increasing evidence that more and more children are not able to accomplish this. There is a probability that one of every five child has some form of reading disability. "Overcoming Dyslexia", by Sally Shaywitz was the best book I've read about this so far. That could mean that whole generations of childrens will never be really comfortable with reading. These children are also totally immersed in the electric medium. TV, cellphones, Walkman, Nintendo, Gameboy, email, chat, laptops, PDAs, etc, etc. It's also becoming more and more about images and sound than words. They may just never have the habit of reading that we have taken for granted? Could it also be that they are being born genetically 'wired' to be more adjusted for this new electric/electromagnetic environment and we are trying to choke them back into the archaic structure of linear language?

Speaking is natural, reading is not. It is an acquired act, an invention of man that must be learned at a conscious level. Using a computer must be even more of a deliberate action. A computer would not be as useful if you didn't master reading.

Anyway, what I am trying to say is that understanding computer terminology or language requires a special effort (that tends to be taken for granted in an environment that is infused with electricity). It is extra effort on top of learning how to read English, which comes on top of learning how to speak it, which then must be overlaid with thinking and researching abilities as those required for this class. For someone who is not a native speaker of English, this process is layered on top of learning how to speak, read, write his own national language. (In my case that is Thai which, by the way, has its own unique script, and that came on top of learning my mother's tongue, a Northeastern Thai dialect.)

As a result of all that effort I don't take for granted my ability to speak (3-), read (4-), and write (3-) languages. Some words, translated back and forth in 3-4 different languages always gives me delightfully inspiring insights into each societies's thinking processes.

For a demonstration of the "gah-gah-goo-goo" of someone who is still trying to decode the electronic "phonemes", here's an example of my inner dialogue when reading Mark's instructions about how to set up a blog:

(By the way, I like to read 'blog' as "be log". It tickles me to "be logged" onto cyberspace logs. It invokes the part of my multi-Self that could be a member of the Star Trek crew!)

My inner dialogue went:

" Pardon me?! 'URL?' I guess from the context, that means the address of my blog... "

" 'IE?' That's probably 'Internet Explorer' since Netscape is a surf engine..."

" 'Link?!' I think it's got something to do with 'Favorites'? Maybe?...(gasp, gasp, gasp--Panic!! ) How come it's not there on my ibook's IE's barline? Why can't they produce computers or operating systems on the same planets? Why can't these software wizards check in on each other when they decide to name a concept? It is supposed to be English, isn't it? "

" 'Bookmarklet?!!!' What's that?! No! No! No! Don't get me into Javascript... (My eyes are now glazing over the way my dyslexic son's eyes do when they encounter a long word that he doesn't recognize)..."

Imagine... now I am in a seriously blocked mind mode, I can't do anything right. It took me 3 half-finished drafts that kept disappearing into thin air to realize that I can't do this live/on-line. I should pre-write my text and then paste them on the site later. Oh, ppplease... give me the spontaneity, and gratification of closure of a face-to-face conversation!!

The whole process took me some 4 hours, before I decided to give it some breathing space, and these above comments should leave enough food for thought until I compose my next blog....