Monday, December 28, 2009

Complexity Goes Mainstream

2,000 to 2,009.. Society accepts Complexity I was listening to a podcast on technology. The subject was what is the big tech idea of the decade...Some said Video on the Net, others said the network and speed of ideas, while others talked about objects like the iphone... My idea of big tech is grounded in the birth of big science. How players in the vanguard can shape many players in many different influential positions. The reality is, we are involved in working with complex systems not conceptually or academically but thoroughly. The idea of Newtonian cause and effect is gone, no matter who still tries to hang on to it. The concept of warped time and space and acceptance of matter into energy and back is commonplace, as we speed electrons around a circuitous track of copper... Besides Relativity as a philosophical tool, is not especially usable despite early attempts to make it so. But what has shaped this decade is Complexity. Our acceptance of it, our understanding of it, and our harnessing of it. You can not have facebook without it because you need emergence and self-organization. Therefore, you can not have Iranian revolution without it because you can have one without thousands of autonomous agents making millions of decisions to cooperate or compete. You can't have American Idol without it...You can not even understand 9/11 without accepting the powers of complexity, especially Complex Adaptive Systems theory. There is no blow-back, feedback, loops, disruptions, chaos, there are no connected nodes without it. There are no power laws that explain network effects of growth or information diffusion. You now live in a world where Complexity Science rules. Don't try to escape it. Twitter won't let you. Neither will your iPhone, or your TV, and you can't even drive away from it. Its all connected, the nodes pass information be that node a person, a router, a GPS empowered car, you can not escape the power of complexity. Why is complexity so apparent now? Well, the micro-chip is nearly totally ubiquitous. And complexity is a tricky little devil. Its Jack Nicholson in a Few Good Men, You Need him on that Wall... That wall between the old billiard world of a single ball that hits another ball to explain cause and effect or world war I or your grandfather clock and another world of Web like Billiard game of millions of balls hitting an bumping each other in such a random mass that is looks like little order exists yet explains the rise of a youtube video. But order does exist, patterns can usually be found. People though all selfish looking for their own goals and desires do create groups. Markets are not predictable, but do follow patterns. You can not look at the last 9-10 years and escape to find a single moment of simplicity in our history. I dare you... Its not that simplicity does not exist. Or that simple cause and effects are not around to be observed. We have changed. We no longer look at the world without including networks of people, or networks of machines, or networks of anything... The days of single moments can't exist. Look at our Cinema, the artist putting an ape on a empire state building to focus the world will never happen again, because we need loops of different angles of camera shots or foreign correspondents taking different shots, because we know that each country will have a different reaction, some similar, many different. All those different ideas streaming around, that's not the idea of putting chimp on the tallest building... Every defining moment we experience from here on will be defined by complexity. Loops, feedback, network effects, disruptions, power laws and chaos. So sit back post a blog, twitter a concept, or breathe a sigh of relief, the world just got a little simpler to understand its complexity.
Saturday, December 26, 2009

Privacy Vs. Security

How specific players of social freedom are not prepared for changes. According to Oxford English Dictionary, Privacy: The state or condition of being alone, undisturbed, or free from public attention, as a matter of choice or right; seclusion; freedom from interference or intrusion. Same source for Security: The condition of being protected from or not exposed to danger; safety. Something interesting is about to occur. The technology to observe, identify and report is about to hit devices that fit in your pocket. This technology used to take fairly large computers or satellite links of uber government security. But now with GPS triangulation in an "Eye-Fi" SD card, GPS, and a robust internet connected operating system in iPhones and Android based phones to name just the top two players, things are about to change radically. The Social applications abound, from Foursquare, to Brightkite, to Panoramio, and the list goes on.. Amazon, Google can identify products, buildings, and logos. Some say Google Goggles mobile app could "though switched off" can recognize faces. And of course iPhoto and Picassa already do this on your desktop or via the web I would hypothesize that 25 years ago Privacy and Security ran in a simple parallel. As you became more private, you were more secure. Hiding away from the unconnected masses was a sure way to prevent you from getting diseases ie the plague as Newton did, or not get financially washed out as my grand parents hid money in mattresses. Further from people or intrusion the further you were from danger. People with great walls were thought of as secure. But things change. We are all very connected, via water systems, electricity grids, financial markets, food distribution systems, global transportation, and communication systems. These communication systems include the wireless phone, the internet, social network services. So I would hypothesize that the equation is now not of two parallel lines but the lines cross and as they do they are inverse. That the more private you try to become, the less secure you are. The more unconnected you are the more insecure literally you are. But not to waste too much time here, to support this thesis I will mention a few important points that will lead us to an important conclusion. Knowing where my spouse is decreases their privacy. But I would argue increases their security. Knowing who they know and sharing in conversations I was not present for does not decrease their security. It does decrease privacy. No question, but knowing exactly how, when, or where to interrupt them in case of an emergency would increase their security. How to find them if we could not "Ping" them increases their security. Knowing what they last ate via a Yelp post, or where they lasted danced all helps to add to security but no privacy. And here is where the sociologist must step in. Who will fight that less privacy is less security? Interestingly it will be the female digerati who will argue that letting the universe know where they are is a danger. At first blush at this it would seem that announcing to the world where you are would be an invitation to every possible stalker in the vicinity. But is it? Do stalkers really need that information to stalk you? We the "non-stalking" 99.995% of the male population would rather follow Karem or Stephen Colbert on twitter than Girl33 ? Yet it begs another question. Digital Breadcrumbs. Would it not make it just easier to stalk? Well look at brightkite, the majority of public posts are done by men. Generally, women do not publicly post. I am not suggesting that women or for that matter men post GPS tagged photos in the nude in their bathroom. I am saying that women take precautions in public, because sadly they must. But despite all those precautions for the last 25 years still a stalker can follow a woman for one week and learn much more in that week than they could ever learn from random thoughts about restaurants, clubs, politics or books in libraries twitted or foursquared about. Yet, few women post these thoughts online in location based situations publicly. So who will lead the way for women to be strong and unafraid? It appears I don't have that answer. Women in the 21st century still feel objectified by the world. Yet most men or citizens of the 21st century are soo covered by masses of lifestream data, and mass media data smog that only the truly crazed have time to track down someone via random posts. Yet, still I listened to a Podcast about the insecurity of men letting their women be free to post who, where, and what they are doing. And the sole woman agreed that she must be fearful of letting people know where she is... Equation of Privacy vs Security surely is not a straight line. If you are alone and post who and where you are it may not be safe as if you have many friends you are out with and you post who and where you are. But as I learned in going out in the world as a woman for a gender class, and in virtual worlds as a female, women do not yet feel empowered to use the technology to make a stand or use the dynamics of attraction to generate forces that exist intrinsically in the biology of humans. Instead they are still objectified victims of technological forces that appear to them as threats to their security rather than tools for their empowerment.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Beginning in January 2010, this blog will take over all my work on Social Capital, Social Networking, and Online Community Dynamics. As Such, there will be much to discuss. I hope I can import my old blog "Bionic Pulse"> But who knows. Also my work on SubCultures in Los Angeles will be posted here too...