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"?!