MARCH 1998


After working well into the night developing a template for this site, I've decided that it's definitely going to be 'one site fits all' from now on.

I'll go to Wageningen today to see Mike and David and take a walk around the park (and have dinner (supposedly pizza) with a few of the board members at the Bowlespark house...)


Came home last night, checked my mail and saw that Jan van Grunsven and Ineke Bellemakers have had a baby daughter, Yanne Ion. Congratulations.

Off to Groningen this morning to teach. Have uploaded the first half of this past weekend's email exchange with Jouke over Incubators and Entrepreneurs.

I haven't thought of Yukio Mishima in years -- but he came up in a discussion Mike and I had yesterday afternoon in a Wageningen bookstore -- and now I'm looking out the window and seeing (with Mishima eyes) 'Spring Snow' and yellow daffodils as I travel (by train) up to Groningen.


On the train home: read a bit of Howard Bloom's (author of 'The Lucifer Principle') critique of individual selection in his A History of the Global Brain. It's online at Telepolis.

There seems to be a general situation of 'malaise' around Media-GN at this moment. Is it the time of year or just a phase of the insitute's dynamic cycle? A sign of surplus attention?


Have added the supposedly definitive copy of Vernor Vinge's The Singularity.

Edited and uploaded the rest of last weekend's exchange Incubators and Entrepreneurs.

Been thinking about Bloom's discussion of The Richer get Richer Algorithm.

You're wondering what's going on here? I'm advertising my attention!


Esther Dyson's question posited at John Brockman's (and James Lee Byers) World Question Center:

"What makes a soul? And if machines ever have souls, what will be the equivalent of psychoactive drugs? Of pain? Of the physical / emotional high I get from having a clean office?"

I saw a picture once of her office -- it looked like a newsroom after a cyclone. I'm going for that same emotional high over the next few days. Wish me luck.


Spent time yesterday afternoon in Donner, Rotterdam's academic bookstore. Saw the following books of interest in the science section:

Evolutionary Ethics: 'The Origins of Virtue' by Matt Ridley. Richard Dawkins mentions that if he were to write a sequel to the 'Selfish Gene' this would be it. 'Virtue' begs comparison with Robert Wright's 'The Moral Animal' and Frans de Waal's 'Good Nature.'

Another book on medical ethics: 'Clones, Genes and Immortality, ethics and the genetic revolution' by John Harris (originally pub. as 'Superman and Superwoman') lying right next to Lee Silver's 'Remaking Eden.'

Of interest in the medical section: 'A Cabinet of Medical Curiosities' by Jan Bondeson, 'Medicine, an illustrated history' by Lyons and Petrucelli, and 'The Wisdom of the Body' by Sherwin Nuland (who wrote 'How We Die').

I bought a copy of: 'The Sickening Mind, brain, behavior, immunity and disease' by Paul Martin. Up to date discussion of psychoneuroimmunology. Important fodder for the life extension junkies!

Watched the 'Empire Strikes Back' yesterday evening on television. Realised half way through that I'd never seen it in the cinema. Found Yoda's sickness and death at the age of 900 the most moving scene.


Spent most of the day yesterday bookkeeping. Once you get started it's not so bad.

davidkremers came to visit yesterday evening and we had dinner together at the Hotel New York. He's nearly convinced me to do a second layer of containment for Wageningen -- wrought iron (or mirror?) 'blast' barricades around the perimeter of the garden.

Another medical book mentioned at dinner: 'Naked to the Bone', a history of 20th c. medical imaging. David's left Holland this morning -- back to Los Angeles.


Had a general meeting today with the students and staff at Media-GN. Surprisingly pro-active and positive. (I'd gone into the meeting with the attitude "Media-GN, love it or leave it".)


I'll be supervising the hanging of 'Body Armor' in the Groninger Museum this afternoon. 'Body Armor' is in the museum's New Acquisitions exhibition (they bought the piece last year).

On the subject of buying, after a telephone consultation with my broker on Tuesday, I sold my shares of Dordtsche Petroleum and bought Baan (a christian IT company specializing in ERP).

Today's magic phrase: 'Scalable Content' -- see Marc Cantor's piece published at Scripting News.

What's the connection between: Attention, Scalable Content, Flash Crowds and XML?


Read Francis Heylighen's (Principia Cybernetica) From World-Wide Web to Global Brain yesterday. The network model of 'spreading activation' can be used to study both searching (pulling) as well as memetic proliferation (pushing).

One can imagine a reciprocal arrangement between the superorganism and the individual brain. Each entity 'rents' processing time and space from the other (by paying attention).

Question of the morning: What's the difference between the Scientology Church's much maligned NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) and the NDA's of corporation's like Apple, Netscape or Microsoft?

Are NDA's (and the laws and justice system to enforce them) efficient enough to act as the border/containment/skin of the group/corporation/superorganism?


Yesterday evening's reading:

The founder of modern sociobiology, E. O. Wilson's article 'Back From Chaos' pub. in the March issue of Atlantic Monthly.

Wilson pleads for a reconciliation between the humanities and the sciences in the manner of the Enlightenment. His view of postmodernists: "those who upon encountering order try to protest it by creating disorder."

Wilson's rule of thumb (heuristic) for judging philosophies: "To the extent that philosophical positions both confuse us and close doors to further enquiry, they are likely to be wrong."

Kevin Kelly's editorial in Science Magazine, 'Third Culture' archived at Edge:

An Interview with David Gelernter about his new book, 'Machine Beauty, Elegance and the Heart of Technology'.

An interview with Goldhaber ('The Attention Economy will Change Everything') and a column by Goldhaber ('Sex and Power in the Attention Economy') published on the Teleopolis web site.


Will go to Groningen today with Karin Ras to 'pin' Body Armor. The opening of the Acquisitions Show at the Groninger Museum is 18:30 hrs.


I'm 42 today.


Loes introduced me to a new word yesterday: -- 'ontogroup.' An ontogroup is a group or community that agrees on a similar 'modeling schema' or ontology. (Just in case you have forgotten, the formal definition of ontology is 'an explicit specification of a conceptualization.')

An ontogroup shares a common subject and a related point of view. An ontogroup shares and reuses its knowledge. As Jouke Kleerebezem recently said to our own ontogroup: -- "Let's not waste."

Organization, classification, taxonomy, lexicography -- methods to create new maps that bring new territories into being. We believe this is what the old Icelanders meant when they used the phrase, 'Land Nám' (land making, claiming, taking; the sanctification of new land by mythologizing it).

A beautifiul example of re-ploughing knowledge back into itself is the Atlantic Monthly's practice of annotating its published essays with related articles and essays from its archives.

See this month's article in Atlantic Monthly by E. O. Wilson 'Back from Chaos' which has been annotated with articles previously published in 1971, 1932 and 1858 (the last by Henry David Thoreau!)

Shall we, as artists, work as ontobrokers?


It appears that 'balkanization' is perceived as a negative process, while diversification is viewed as positive, at least as far as systems are concerned...

Is the (geographic) term balkanization the appropriate word-map for what is happening with the web (with the introduction of XML for example)? Tell me, how universal can knowlege be? How large should a democracy be?

Mark Pesce, XML and the Balkanization of the Web.



Baan dropped about over 5 guilders a share yesterday, while Dordtsche Petroleum gained about 5 guilders a share. (I sold Dordtsche Petroleum and bought Baan about a week ago...)

The reason for Baan's drop in share price? The investment house Goldman Sachs lowered their profit expectations for the stock. These people are powerful!


Last Sunday, on Discovery's Science Frontiers I watched a program on 'bionics'. The program covered the development of prosthetic eyes, ears, legs, arms, hearts and other organs.

Amazing work is being done. A lot of it in an area called 'Bionic Valley' in Utah. Micro-chips and tissue engineering make superman and superwoman. Think: hybrid. Think: Bruce Sterling's mechanist and shaper ideologies. Think: having your own legs cut off so you can strap on a pair of artificial 60 KPH puppies...

A Crisis is a Bifurcation Point

I read somewhere that in Chinese (Mandarin?), the word for 'crisis' is also the word for 'opportunity'. What do you mean when you use the word 'crisis'? From a medical perspective, a crisis is a turning point in the development of a disease.

This is something I discovered in 1985, when Aernout Mik and I took part in an exhibition entitled 'Kunst: Crisis of Keerpunt?' (Art: Crisis or Turning Point?). A clear malapropism.

The title of our performance in 1985? 'There is not a thought in our heads that has not been worn shiny by other brains.' Guess we were a little overwhelmed back then by all those postmodernist theorists we were reading!


Yesterday my answering machine absorbed some bad juju. A NASTY message from Corrie Osenga from Stichting Bruggelings over my neglecting to bill them for the Metaphors Project and an unwelcome signal from John Thackera.

On the way to the Sandberg Institute this morning I re-read an old issue of Esther Dyson's Release 1.0 about 'Intellectual Property and the Net' (December 1994). Read this!

AEX closed at 1141.25. At least that's good news (and a new Amsterdam record).



I've spent the last 2 days talking (tuesday were student assessments at Media-GN, yesterday I was guest at the Sandberg Institute) and I'm deeply exhausted.

It does it to me every time. How can I conserve my energy better?

New terms for the alamut lexicon (gleaned from a post by Howard Rheingold at 'hypersegmenting media' is media that increase cultural diversity, and 'society building media' is media that bridge boundaries between cultural segments.

Read more of 'A History of the Global Brain'. Appreciate Bloom's dissection of a Collective Learning Machine into 5 parts (1) conformity enforcers (2) diversity generators (3) utility sorters (4) resource shifters and (5) intergroup tournaments.


Spent a few hours this morning trying to restyle the site. Making changes and then rejecting them. In the end not much has changed. At least I hope that the daily additions to this page are a bit easier to read.

Browsing my (no longer maintained) Mt. Analogue site, I came across a quote that I'd included from Hakim Bey's essay, 'Against the Reproduction of Death'. Caused me to pull the source from my shelf and re-read the essay.

Mr. Bey rants hard against postmodernist pessimism and angst. Mr. Bey:

"I've come to despise the 'End of the World' as an ideological icon held over my head by religion, state & cultural milieu alike, as a reason for doing nothing.

"I recently attended a gay dance/poetry performance of uncompromising hipness: the one black dancer of the troupe had to pretend to fuck a dead sheep.

"I turn away from certain art as a dog would turn away howling from the corpse of its companion. I'd like to renounce the sophistication which would permit me to sniff it with detached curiosity as yet another example of post-industrial decomposition.

"Part of my self-induced stupidity, I confess, is to believe that art can change me & change others. Art can never mean as much as a love affair, perhaps, or an insurrection. But... to a certain extent... it works."

Cultural Intelligence Works Too!

Jouke's new 'Cultural Intelligence Works' site is up -- and today (checking the calender) he's giving a talk at Carnegie Mellon in Pittsburg entitled 'Design Equals Information'. Good luck man!


If (according to Principia Cybernetica) "A cybernetic system makes predictions in order to achieve a certain goal, ultimately survival and proliferation."

Then KNOWLEDGE IS POWER (anticipatory power, predictive power) and MANAGEMENT is the control of power (knowledge about knowledge, metaknowledge, a metasystem).

While avoiding work this morning I discovered an interesting essay on the history of radiation in the semiotext collection 'Looking Back on the End of the World'. Food for thought. Food for Wageningen.

Radiation is Expansion.


Taxes and Bookkeeping (every act is a rite)

From 'The Miracle of Mindfulness' by Thich Nhat Hanh:

"Whatever the task, do it slowly and with ease, in mindfulness. Don't do any task in order to get it over with. Resolve to do each job in a relaxed way, with all your attention. Enjoy and be one with your work."

"The feeling that any task is a nuisance will soon disappear if it is done in mindfulness."

From the 'Annalects of Confucius':

"The Master said, those whose measures are dictated by mere expediency will arouse continual discontent."


Russell's reconciliation to the idea of Heat Death.


Highly recommend Kevin Kelly's New Rules for the New Economy, subtitled: Twelve dependable principles for thriving in a turbulent world. Just read it. Can be found at the Wired website (was published in Wired September 1997).

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