There's two bulls standing on top of a mountain.
The younger one says to the older one: "Hey pop, let's say we run down there and fuck one of them cows".
The older one says: "No son. Lets walk down and fuck 'em all".


Postmodern dadaist collage in text space. An exploratory Semiotic Oriented Alphabet primer

Well, well, well. Three holes in the ground.

Seems like someone at ZapThink suffered from a dose of vacation stress, went into warp speed and whilst popping into a superluminal process of thought produced a post on semiotics which, after reading it a second time as a reality check, appeared to be suspisciously close to a brain fart. Usually i like the ZapFlashes a lot due to their thought provoking nature, but this one had me scratching my head searching for significance.

Semiotics is an area of study i find quite interesting because of it's fundamental nature, the meaning of signs. Like any of such concepts it applies on different levels of human experience, the social, psychological and even the physical. Likewise i find the appreciation of art spanning a similar spectrum, some art has social significance, some art touches on the boundaries of perceived reality. The question "but, is it art", i think, besides it's salonfaehig connotation, is irrelevant unless such art goes beyond craftsmanship and proves to be an ontological exploration balancing on the verge of the bio-physical. I know of a paintress whose work reacts on light the same way plants do.. the paintings are in some rudimentary sense alive, or 'begeistert' as it's adequatelly called in German.
Anyway, semiotics and it's companion syntax are something quite fundamental in science, computer science as well as linguistics. And their significance may very well increase even more when AI and ALife systems will grow in their categorization capabilities. If it hadn't been for the
place-value system for numerical notation, how we use the alphabet to construct words and sentences, or simple bits and bytes, technological progress would likely have been of a much lower degree. Even Godel's incompleteness theorem dives deep into the fundamentals of the structure of numerical notation, it's direct relationship with functions, and how a logically complete system of rules will lead to results that cannot be proven within the system itself.

There is something odd going on with semiotics.. Semiotics and SOA. Semiotics is not just simple visualization of a service, it is also how the service is implemented, how they are expressed, or pragmatically speaking, with what technology. Semiotics as elements of meaningfull expression and semiotics as fragments of syntax. It's not just some graphical meta-tag used to identify some service as a concretization of something abstract, the service itself is it's own description. How does a e.g. time registration of worked hours get expressed from an HR perspective, an invoicing perspective, project administration, project planning, resource allocation ? There are many contextual assemblies which can make use of the same service and give it a different meaning. Is that abstract or concrete ? Or might it be a reduced degree of a priori subjectivity ? Semiotics is something much more important in the advent of the semantic web.

Yeah, silly me, i thought the ZapThink article was going to be about things like that.. As SOA is a vital ingredient for the semantic web. Maybe a proposition for a
semiotic alphabet for SOA, or, as the SOA model is of a fractal nature, some exploration along the lines of buddhist semiotics or even deep research such as a cognitive abstraction inference induction machine which is surpringly similar to a semantic web when abstracting the concept of machine to a structured assembly of functions, or services for that matter..

Well, what can i say.. the SOA that can be spoken of is not the true SOA..


Beware of fire. Learn from water.

Was reading some interesting articles on the history of Russian martial arts, in particular Systema, and it's roots in the orthodox Christian monasteries. Systema, surviving the communist era by being adapted by the Spetsnaz, as well as being practiced outside of Russia, is an extremely effective fluid combat style. Hitting and kicking methods are backed up with deep bio-mechanical knowledge as well as using acupressure points which will disrupt an opponent's conscious control of his/her body.
Now, in the more 'internal' martial arts movements, techniques, stages of development,
are often associated with different elements. Bujinkan techniques are roughly ordered according to earth, water, fire, wind and sky/emptiness, the Godai, leaving out the sixth element of consciousness which is more the realm of esoteric buddhism. Arnaud Cousergue, a fantastic French teacher of Bujinkan arts, has translated these in the more understandable concepts of absorb, block, counter, deflect and evade, which roughly equates with sky, earth, fire, water and wind. Although of course any of these concepts can be associated with any of the elements depending on context, as so many of these systems are slightly fractal in nature. Great simplification of possible strategies though.
Systema is primarily water and wind style, water being associated with the physical movements, and wind with the spirit.

A funny thing popped into my mind while reading about the monasteries. Dating back to the Byzantine empire as well as a favored (tax free) position during Mongol rule, during the centuries most towns across the Sovjet union developed alongside rivers and were constructed with a common place, the monastery, at it's center, or a monastery was established and gradually a town developed around it. Being part of trade and traveling routes many facilities such as protection were arranged from these monasteries. Also, knights returning from battle and other soul-searchers would often spend several years or the remainder of their life, so as far as protection goes there was room for much cross fertilization, leading to e.g. fighting monks, as in the above context.
Quite a contrast with modern-day "shareholder value" i thought.. shaking off a mild grudge towards much of the bluff-infested money grabbing business mentality so often encountered these days, and i recalled an article from Master Nan Huai-Chin about modern-day and future business and his lovely goal-oriented taoism. Yet, it's an integral vision he has on businesses, both social, cultural and economical. Something like Green IT or the "house of the future" initiatives, but much more all embracing.
It reminded me of the advice of the world's oldest business, a 1400 year old construction company in Japan, when it bankrupted in 2006 and was transferred into the Takamatsu Corporation. "Beware of fire. Learn from water" was their advice after 14 centuries and some 40 generations..

The long term view on SOA as advocated by Ann Thomas Manes of Burton Group, a fairly complete, embracing, corporate culture altering approach on IT projects, what does a business want with their systems on the long run ? They want flow. They don't want a bunch of ivory towers or a mega-mainframe containing all the business rules, but which makes it impossible to react quickly. Flow, smart use of wind and water, Feng Shui, "the ancient Chinese practice of placement and arrangement of space to achieve harmony with the environment" as it's eloquently described a well known open-opinion encyclopedia.
Good SOA is about company flow, about natural movement of information and functionality, to create the ability to deflect, evade and absorb. And to avoid blocking and counters, which is so often the result of short-term agendas or the pervading hierarchical military style of organization early Western companies were based upon.

Beware of fire.
Learn from water. Don't buy SOA. Do SOA.


Service Oriented Argus

SOA is one of those terms i am hesitant about using. The main reason being because it is such an obvious technical style to use for certain integration initiatives. And it's so easy to fail in matters of style, especially when it is being over hyped by software vendors to an stunning degree. SOA is a strategic discipline in the area of Enterprise Architecture to gradually transform the application landscape in such a way they can be used as simple building blocks for purposes of interoperability and assembly. Being such a discipline it requires a well-balanced approach of vision, business analysis, audience, methodology and management. Just like large scale integration projects require.

Now, besides the reluctance of stating the obvious, or 'kicking in an open door' as it's called in Holland, what abhors me is the incredible self-fulfilling marketing hype around SOA especially when it comes to web services. As if using a search engine which returns results based on
popularity and sponsorship, a 'free internet encyclopedia' infested with Astroturfing, on-line applications cycling through a stage of perpetual beta, as if all this isn't enough, there seems to be a large misconception at the CxO level confusing the market-driven enterprise with the marketing-driven enterprise..

I find it mind-boggling how interwoven the hypnotizing kaleidoscope of marketing and advertising has become
in an industry where opinion was second to scientific honesty and how it has been taking over an evolutionary movement equal to the introduction and acceptance of databases. Old man Dijkstra would not have been amused.. it reminds me of a story of his where business people objected one of his computer designs because in their perception he had, kind of, been cheating because he had the freedom to choose smart people to work with.. which seems to get to the mis-conceptual core as 'user-friendliness' suffers from. Biased information is bombarded onto us in such large amounts we start believing it, we start many things anew whereas talking with a 50 or 60 year old engineer will teach you some amazing stuff from the times when computers and languages were custom-built, the same thing of which we are more than capable of nowadays but just don't see or allocate time for, because we must keep up with the flow, the endless propagation of what is now and new.

On the other hand, this widespread tendency to take credit on the future has caused a large and reasonably well-defined movement in moving away from isolated monolithic applications towards.. towards what ? Towards another uber-monolithic clutter of ill-defined web service
spaghetti ? Towards high-performing lego-style applications with well-defined interfaces for business functions ? Considering economical path dependence and the evolutionary aspect of acceptance of technological innovations, the large majority of initiatives will end up with spaghetti, spaghettini and spaghettoni, which may be more than fine for the issues addressed, but please don't call it SOA. Select a project that is challenging and worthwhile from both business and technology and just start applying SOA as a discipline. Use email, message queues, web services, ftp stations, database level ETL, paperware, whatever, just build an integrated solution and do it architecturally elegant.
Wittgenstein, that nice and logical buddhist from
Austria, had this nice dictum, 'Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent'. Don't talk about SOA, just do it.


Human Potential - SNAFU

"At a point in space, the human potential is the potential energy per unit of charge that is associated with a time-invariant human field. It is typically measured in awareness, and is a Lorentz scalar quantity. The difference in human potential between two points is known as consciousness."

Humans are funny creatures.. One of the things my ol' sensei shared an interest in was military research in telepathy. Over here in Europe we don't hear much about that, but in the US, with it's military-industrial complex several decades of valuable applied research has been done by several government agencies. Pioneered by Ingo Swann a methodology, Controlled Remote Viewing, has been constructed that will enable (normal) people to learn how to use a certain type of cognition. Together with Russel Targ and Hall Puthoff at the Standford Research Institute they had been trying to sift through the different phenomena and get to a better understanding. During the mid-70's funding for the research program moved from the CIA to the DIA, and in 78 a Remote Viewing program was started by the Department of Defense.
The methodology is very intriguing in the sense that it appears similar to signal processing with human consciousness, it contains ways to enhance a signal, to steer, to recognize too much interpretation (Analytical Overlay) and different stages people go through when working honestly following the methods.
Needless to say results were convincing, and Remote Viewing has been used for nearly two decades as a source of Intelligence gathering. Politics and human nature eventually caused the program to seize, but all the more interesting in 1995 the CIA declassified portions of the program.
Gradually, once the word started spreading, Remote Viewing was picked up by the large community of psychic charlatans which inhibits American society and nowadays the term is being used for any kind of synaptic activity completely unrelated to the methodology. Luckily the coin has another side, and also former members of the army programs have come forth to teach the methods. Paul Smith, author of Reading the Enemy's Mind is moving mountains of work to get the word out, and the methodology taught. Lyn Buchanan is running a successful
company that specializes in training and 'services', and using an evaluation and feedback construct, as well as recognizing and applying viewer's strengths and weaknesses, is able to deliver results with a success ratio of some 90%. That is quite something different than a 50-50 chance..
Paul Smith runs both the Remote Viewing training and consultancy firm RVIS as well as the International Remote Viewing Association, IRVA, which organizes conferences and events.
Tamra Temple, my ol' sensei's former wife, has done an incredible effort in going through the declassified files, sorting them, scanning them, and has made them available as a set of CDs on www.stargate-interactive.com.

Now, why would i post about this. For one, sometime in the nearby future when i have more people working with my company, i would be rather averse of management training, but would like to present them with a training like this. Just for them, to get in touch with a higher degree of human potential, and accessing these skills just because we live in this wonderful universe. It will open doors for them that might remain closed when they would conform to a semi-robotic suit-and-tie culture somewhere else. It is a human skill, and what they learn from it they can apply in life or business, whichever is their choosing.

On another note, that fact that telepathy and precognition are proven subjects, that kind of sets certain things i'd like to move forward with upside down. How artificial will aLife be when human consciousness doesn't stop at the skull ? Of how much value are the large number of statistics research reports when disregarding something like this ? Wouldn't statistics be a flat-world scenario when assuming a 50-50 chance when tossing a coin ? And shouldn't it benefit from a kind of Minkowski space background to better reflect certain tendencies ? Like an earlier post paraphrasing from Gulliver's Travels, the assumption that human creativity can easily be surpassed by a raw number-crunching machine, not just to defeat a chess player by sheer brute force, but to replace the free flow of ideas humans are capable of. I don't think so, but then again i also view intelligent awareness as something inherent to everything..however rudimentary it might be with modern day computing, or a scratch on something being it's 'memory' of whatever made the scratch, so that places some interesting bets on aLife and it's future, but not just from the simple fact of emerging properties when a whole is constructed from parts, but also of something bigger where the parts are influenced by the whole. That remains something i miss in the research on complexity at e.g. the Santa Fe Institute, however interesting i find it all.One thing Remote Viewing also showed in it's early stages with regards to selecting people, in usual research one tried to select Joe Average and present him/her with a large set of very boring tests, usually without any positive or negative feedback. For selecting the early candidates for Remote Viewing however, there was a simple suggestion which can be expressed as 'select people that have shown to be successful when confronted with a new subject matter'.. and make things challenging, and provide appropriate feedback, not with loads of insincere cheerios but just honest appreciation. That works.
So, one of the things i'd like to develop once is an incentive-driven evolutionary computation engine which will steer it's little self-categorizing adaptive agents towards building applications. Nice and freaky.. a bit like John Holland's ECHO project but with more cybernetic feedback loops, paving the way to a future where materials can be programmed, or a house can be grown from the seeds of a tree. In due time.


Fluxology new website

Free interpretation of http://camelcase.blogspot.com/2008/08/fluxology-new-web-site.html:

Since early 2008 Maurizio Turatti and i have been working together via my company The Fluxology Office s.r.l..
Being far too busy with customer's projects and day by day activities, we weren't able to dedicate enough time to create at least a decent presentation web page for the company.
Putting the much needed C of communication back in ICT, here we are.

The website will be enhanced soon with descriptions of the more challenging projects we've been involved with, and our experiences with JavaCAPS will gradually full up our blogs.
We are very excited about the new Sun technologies, the openness shown by the Product Management group around JavaCAPS and the whole of JES, but we are also very aware to address business needs, methodologies and how a long term strategy solidifies into part-projects. Projects stand or fail by the style of it's approach. SUN is gaining a large momentum around consolidating their software and supporting it, and the technological direction of JavaCAPS and related technologies can count on our vote. Of course, the question arises, where do you go for expertise to get the most out of this immensely flexible toolset as well as avoiding any pitfalls. That is why Maurizio and I are working long days to set up a network of business partners and harvest the (dog)years of our practical experience with Java, Open Source, Integration Solutions and what can be done when putting everything together.
SOA, BPM, BAM, ESB, these are all nice buzzwords, but only just part of a new movement. In our experience the act of integrating applications has emerged from the realm of middleware and can now only be seen as totalware, it is not just merely about linking applications together, these applications get submerged into a new system built with an integration toolset. This area is both as old as the term 'Information Technology' and so young we see customers and even SUN struggling to comprehend the business possibilities and the long term impact.
Apart from enabling expert level consultancy, we are therefor working on several designs hooking into and around the JavaCAPS toolset which we are aiming to move into reality during the coming years, exploiting our close connections with JavaCAPS Product Management.
The game has just began.

Prabuh made a great presentation on the new features and some of what lies ahead for JavaCAPS 6 and beyond.

Finally, after some 6 years waiting there is another Horizons event in Munich - Germany.
We expect you there.


tendrel travel company..

Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out indefinitely in all directions…. A single glittering jewel at the net’s every node, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number…. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is infinite.
-- Avatamsaka-sutra

long overdue ode to an ol' sensei

Eyeball In My Martini

Went out to eat the other night

Picked up my girl at eight
In my soup I found a fly
...beyond my plate
Was an eyeball in my Martini
An eyeball with a twist
A worm in my Martini too
I said "There's somethin' wrong with this"

Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs
Eyeballs everywhere
Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs
Floating through the air

Went to the 'musement park
To ride the Tunnel of Love
But when I went to hold her hand
There was an eyeball in her glove
We went to Lovers Lane
Scan for U.F.O.s
Just imagine what I saw
When I pulled down her pantyhose

Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs
Eyeballs everywhere
Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs
Floating through the air

I look my baby home
For a juicy goodnight kiss
But there was an eyeball starin' at me
Between her parted lips

Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs
Eyeballs everywhere
Eyeballs, eyeballs, eyeballs
Floating through the air

I went to the institute
And asked the doctor there
In the department of eyeballs
"What's this burden that I bear?"
He said "You ain't crazy"
He said "You ain't insane"
"It's just you got an eyeball
In the center of your brain"
'Cast a cold Eye
On Life, on Death.

Horseman, pass by!'

Hoshin ikan


Sensory deprivation blues (in F Minor)

Ok, so 'you should blog' and yada yada.. Now, i never felt much push to publicize ever evolving opinions, but i was impressed by Edsger Dijkstra conviction that it's a scientist's duty to maintain a lively correspondence with his scientific colleagues. Not that i'm an outspoken Dijkstra devotee although there's an odd synchronicity going on in recent weeks, nor do i find blogging of much scientific relevance or that my daily working can make such claim, by anyway.. what not better to start blogging than to write about things close to the heart, or in this case the liver.

So, roughly 11 years ago i made a choice to pursue a career in information technology. It seemed a kind of challenging endeavor enveloping both mathematics, physics and engineering at it's foundation and things like psychology and commercialism making up the branches. Working at a small Internet-oriented company, early on a particular programming paradigm caught my attention early on, mobile agents, and i was very intrigued by the possibilities where distributed computing systems would start having biological characteristics, something touching on artificial life.
Being rather ignorant, off i went looking for work that would utilize such paradigm, which with my lack of knowledge on computer science seemed an obvious stage of the industry's evolution, and of course it would soon be so.
A clear signal should have been an early application at a famous company referred to with a TLA, where it should be noted the abbreviation stands for it's hardware product and not it's consultants. Having scored a rather flawless result (of course language was scored badly) on the intelligence test used as a little entrance exam for the interview, i was invited, yet after discussing for some 10 minutes the interviewer was honest and openhearted enough to say i could not get the job as i was "too smart", the work they had to offer was too boring and politically sensitive and the TLA company would not afford investing in such a risk. Alas the nearest R&D facility was in Switzerland which proved an unmanageable jump at the time.
Looking back the subject still intrigues although i still haven't worked with such subject matter. But the way people behave.., i'm not so sure.. let's just say i haven't worked with artificial life on computers..
Dijkstra calls for the computing community to be unmasked as a "Secret Society for the Creation and Preservation of Artificial Complexity", which is a nice way to put it, although the current state of affairs do remind me of Gulliver's Travels where a very technically advanced society aims to create an engine which closely resembles some implicit management objectives..

Every one knew how laborious the usual method is of attaining to arts and sciences; whereas, by his contrivance, the most ignorant person, at a reasonable charge, and with a little bodily labour, might write books in philosophy, poetry, politics, laws, mathematics, and theology, without the least assistance from genius or study.” He then led me to the frame, about the sides, whereof all his pupils stood in ranks. It was twenty feet square, placed in the middle of the room. The superfices was composed of several bits of wood, about the bigness of a die, but some larger than others. They were all linked together by slender wires. These bits of wood were covered, on every square, with paper pasted on them; and on these papers were written all the words of their language, in their several moods, tenses, and declensions; but without any order. The professor then desired me “to observe; for he was going to set his engine at work.” The pupils, at his command, took each of them hold of an iron handle, whereof there were forty fixed round the edges of the frame; and giving them a sudden turn, the whole disposition of the words was entirely changed. He then commanded six-and-thirty of the lads, to read the several lines softly, as they appeared upon the frame; and where they found three or four words together that might make part of a sentence, they dictated to the four remaining boys, who were scribes. This work was repeated three or four times, and at every turn, the engine was so contrived, that the words shifted into new places, as the square bits of wood moved upside down.
Now, above seems to be one of the earliest descriptions of a certain type of computer. But it also touches on the very discrepancy between scientific and technical reality, and business expectations. What i encounter with a rather shocking frequency is managers and more specifically sales and marketing people tend to confuse the hundredth monkey effect with the theory of infinite monkeys.
Many customers encountered in recent years have an "aggressive planning" which usually means that a 2-3 year project is to be delivered within 3 to 6 months, or they engage on the SOA route without employing a centralized team and methodology, or they assume open source equates to lower costs in the long run while that label is mostly an excuse to mature buggy tools at the expense of early adopters, or they have been off-shoring much of the activities in an effort to exploit the saddening 21st century slavery movement as a cost reduction to most often accelerate their own career in exchange for the poor fellow that needs to follow up on this as well as a highly compressed economical growth program noone at the Worldbank could have envisioned, or a combination of the above.

Yet, this does seem to be emergence in action, the 100th monkey effect applied to managerial expectations, albeit not directly with computing itself... but how it's usage is perceived. And although no amount of typing monkeys, or in modern day soft language, alphabet architects, will ever produce the works of Shakespeare this does kind of correspond with a recent insight that
emergence is coupled to scope, not level which in this context would translate into how more often skewed information is provided, the more it will shape reality. The ideas pervading the current world of information technology, with a high concentration of unrealistic short-term stock market driven blah, which only seems to become more prevalent, it still doesn't confront a simple formulated principle, nine women can't make a baby in one month.
Why so much nonsense can prevail so easily touches on what i miss so much in the current world of information technology, maybe it's just a lack of integrity as Feynman put it, i don't really know. Most people don't seem to be doing the thing they really love doing, they haven't chosen for spending most of their daytime on something they find worthwhile, they are just trying to fulfill a role, prescribed by an intricate web of skewed perceptions and expectations, by some bureaucratic system without someone being ultimately responsible for it. Why don't most people do what they feel is right instead of doing what they are expected to do ? Why don't people follow their own bliss ?
Why is it so much an uphill battle to follow mine ?

Maybe the emergent intelligence of crowds has the rudimentary smarts of a single-cell life form, maybe the military organisational model underlying most companies doesn't stimulate the best in most people or maybe RAW had put his finger on something painfully right..
.. "I am also puzzled," Sam Three Arrows said finally. "I worked, long ago, in New York City, in construction, like many young men of the Mohawk Nation. I found that whites were often like us, and I could not hate them one at a time. But they do not know the earth or love it. They do not speak from the heart, usually. They do not act from the heart. They are more like the actors on the movie screen. They play roles. And their leaders are not like our leaders. They are not chosen for virtue, but for their skill at playing roles. Whites have told me this, in plain words. They do not trust their leaders, and yet they follow them. When we do not trust a leader, he is finished. Then, also, the leaders of the whites have too much power. It is bad for a man to be obeyed too often. But the worst
thing is what I have said about the heart. Their leaders have lost it and they have lost mercy. They speak from somewhere else. They act from somewhere else. But from where? Like you, I do not know. It is, I think, a kind of insanity." ..