<link rel='alternate' type='application/rss+xml' title='RSS' href='index.xml' />
Background: #fff
Foreground: #000
PrimaryPale: #8cf
PrimaryLight: #18f
PrimaryMid: #04b
PrimaryDark: #014
SecondaryPale: #ffc
SecondaryLight: #fe8
SecondaryMid: #db4
SecondaryDark: #841
TertiaryPale: #eee
TertiaryLight: #ccc
TertiaryMid: #999
TertiaryDark: #666
Error: #f88
body {background:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]];}

a {color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]];}
a:hover {background-color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Background]];}
a img {border:0;}

h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6 {color:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryDark]]; background:transparent;}
h1 {border-bottom:2px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]];}
h2,h3 {border-bottom:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]];}

.button {color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]]; border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::Background]];}
.button:hover {color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]]; background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryLight]]; border-color:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryMid]];}
.button:active {color:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryMid]]; border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::SecondaryDark]];}

.header {background:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]];}
.headerShadow {color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]];}
.headerShadow a {font-weight:normal; color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]];}
.headerForeground {color:[[ColorPalette::Background]];}
.headerForeground a {font-weight:normal; color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryPale]];}

	border-left:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]];
	border-top:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]];
	border-right:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]];
.tabUnselected {color:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; background:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]];}
.tabContents {color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]]; background:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryPale]]; border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]];}
.tabContents .button {border:0;}

#sidebar {}
#sidebarOptions input {border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]];}
#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel {background:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryPale]];}
#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel a {border:none;color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]];}
#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel a:hover {color:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; background:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]];}
#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel a:active {color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]]; background:[[ColorPalette::Background]];}

.wizard {background:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryPale]]; border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]];}
.wizard h1 {color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]]; border:none;}
.wizard h2 {color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; border:none;}
.wizardStep {background:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]];
	border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]];}
.wizardStep.wizardStepDone {background:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]];}
.wizardFooter {background:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryPale]];}
.wizardFooter .status {background:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Background]];}
.wizard .button {color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryLight]]; border: 1px solid;
	border-color:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryPale]] [[ColorPalette::SecondaryDark]] [[ColorPalette::SecondaryDark]] [[ColorPalette::SecondaryPale]];}
.wizard .button:hover {color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; background:[[ColorPalette::Background]];}
.wizard .button:active {color:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; background:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; border: 1px solid;
	border-color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]] [[ColorPalette::PrimaryPale]] [[ColorPalette::PrimaryPale]] [[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]];}

.wizard .notChanged {background:transparent;}
.wizard .changedLocally {background:#80ff80;}
.wizard .changedServer {background:#8080ff;}
.wizard .changedBoth {background:#ff8080;}
.wizard .notFound {background:#ffff80;}
.wizard .putToServer {background:#ff80ff;}
.wizard .gotFromServer {background:#80ffff;}

#messageArea {border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::SecondaryMid]]; background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryLight]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]];}
#messageArea .button {color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]]; background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryPale]]; border:none;}

.popupTiddler {background:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryPale]]; border:2px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]];}

.popup {background:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryPale]]; color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]]; border-left:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]]; border-top:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]]; border-right:2px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]]; border-bottom:2px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]];}
.popup hr {color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]]; background:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]]; border-bottom:1px;}
.popup li.disabled {color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]];}
.popup li a, .popup li a:visited {color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; border: none;}
.popup li a:hover {background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryLight]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; border: none;}
.popup li a:active {background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryPale]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; border: none;}
.popupHighlight {background:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]];}
.listBreak div {border-bottom:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]];}

.tiddler .defaultCommand {font-weight:bold;}

.shadow .title {color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]];}

.title {color:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryDark]];}
.subtitle {color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]];}

.toolbar {color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]];}
.toolbar a {color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]];}
.selected .toolbar a {color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]];}
.selected .toolbar a:hover {color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]];}

.tagging, .tagged {border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryPale]]; background-color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryPale]];}
.selected .tagging, .selected .tagged {background-color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]]; border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]];}
.tagging .listTitle, .tagged .listTitle {color:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]];}
.tagging .button, .tagged .button {border:none;}

.footer {color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]];}
.selected .footer {color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]];}

.sparkline {background:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryPale]]; border:0;}
.sparktick {background:[[ColorPalette::PrimaryDark]];}

.error, .errorButton {color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; background:[[ColorPalette::Error]];}
.warning {color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryPale]];}
.lowlight {background:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryLight]];}

.zoomer {background:none; color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]]; border:3px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]];}

.imageLink, #displayArea .imageLink {background:transparent;}

.annotation {background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryLight]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; border:2px solid [[ColorPalette::SecondaryMid]];}

.viewer .listTitle {list-style-type:none; margin-left:-2em;}
.viewer .button {border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::SecondaryMid]];}
.viewer blockquote {border-left:3px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]];}

.viewer table, table.twtable {border:2px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]];}
.viewer th, .viewer thead td, .twtable th, .twtable thead td {background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryMid]]; border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Background]];}
.viewer td, .viewer tr, .twtable td, .twtable tr {border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]];}

.viewer pre {border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::SecondaryLight]]; background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryPale]];}
.viewer code {color:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryDark]];}
.viewer hr {border:0; border-top:dashed 1px [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]]; color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]];}

.highlight, .marked {background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryLight]];}

.editor input {border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]];}
.editor textarea {border:1px solid [[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]]; width:100%;}
.editorFooter {color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]];}
.readOnly {background:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryPale]];}

#backstageArea {background:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; color:[[ColorPalette::TertiaryMid]];}
#backstageArea a {background:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; border:none;}
#backstageArea a:hover {background:[[ColorPalette::SecondaryLight]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; }
#backstageArea a.backstageSelTab {background:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]];}
#backstageButton a {background:none; color:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; border:none;}
#backstageButton a:hover {background:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; color:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; border:none;}
#backstagePanel {background:[[ColorPalette::Background]]; border-color: [[ColorPalette::Background]] [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]] [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]] [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]];}
.backstagePanelFooter .button {border:none; color:[[ColorPalette::Background]];}
.backstagePanelFooter .button:hover {color:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]];}
#backstageCloak {background:[[ColorPalette::Foreground]]; opacity:0.6; filter:'alpha(opacity=60)';}
* html .tiddler {height:1%;}

body {font-size:.75em; font-family:arial,helvetica; margin:0; padding:0;}

h1,h2,h3,h4,h5,h6 {font-weight:bold; text-decoration:none;}
h1,h2,h3 {padding-bottom:1px; margin-top:1.2em;margin-bottom:0.3em;}
h4,h5,h6 {margin-top:1em;}
h1 {font-size:1.35em;}
h2 {font-size:1.25em;}
h3 {font-size:1.1em;}
h4 {font-size:1em;}
h5 {font-size:.9em;}

hr {height:1px;}

a {text-decoration:none;}

dt {font-weight:bold;}

ol {list-style-type:decimal;}
ol ol {list-style-type:lower-alpha;}
ol ol ol {list-style-type:lower-roman;}
ol ol ol ol {list-style-type:decimal;}
ol ol ol ol ol {list-style-type:lower-alpha;}
ol ol ol ol ol ol {list-style-type:lower-roman;}
ol ol ol ol ol ol ol {list-style-type:decimal;}

.txtOptionInput {width:11em;}

#contentWrapper .chkOptionInput {border:0;}

.externalLink {text-decoration:underline;}

.indent {margin-left:3em;}
.outdent {margin-left:3em; text-indent:-3em;}
code.escaped {white-space:nowrap;}

.tiddlyLinkExisting {font-weight:bold;}
.tiddlyLinkNonExisting {font-style:italic;}

/* the 'a' is required for IE, otherwise it renders the whole tiddler in bold */
a.tiddlyLinkNonExisting.shadow {font-weight:bold;}

#mainMenu .tiddlyLinkExisting,
	#mainMenu .tiddlyLinkNonExisting,
	#sidebarTabs .tiddlyLinkNonExisting {font-weight:normal; font-style:normal;}
#sidebarTabs .tiddlyLinkExisting {font-weight:bold; font-style:normal;}

.header {position:relative;}
.header a:hover {background:transparent;}
.headerShadow {position:relative; padding:4.5em 0 1em 1em; left:-1px; top:-1px;}
.headerForeground {position:absolute; padding:4.5em 0 1em 1em; left:0px; top:0px;}

.siteTitle {font-size:3em;}
.siteSubtitle {font-size:1.2em;}

#mainMenu {position:absolute; left:0; width:10em; text-align:right; line-height:1.6em; padding:1.5em 0.5em 0.5em 0.5em; font-size:1.1em;}

#sidebar {position:absolute; right:3px; width:16em; font-size:.9em;}
#sidebarOptions {padding-top:0.3em;}
#sidebarOptions a {margin:0 0.2em; padding:0.2em 0.3em; display:block;}
#sidebarOptions input {margin:0.4em 0.5em;}
#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel {margin-left:1em; padding:0.5em; font-size:.85em;}
#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel a {font-weight:bold; display:inline; padding:0;}
#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel input {margin:0 0 0.3em 0;}
#sidebarTabs .tabContents {width:15em; overflow:hidden;}

.wizard {padding:0.1em 1em 0 2em;}
.wizard h1 {font-size:2em; font-weight:bold; background:none; padding:0; margin:0.4em 0 0.2em;}
.wizard h2 {font-size:1.2em; font-weight:bold; background:none; padding:0; margin:0.4em 0 0.2em;}
.wizardStep {padding:1em 1em 1em 1em;}
.wizard .button {margin:0.5em 0 0; font-size:1.2em;}
.wizardFooter {padding:0.8em 0.4em 0.8em 0;}
.wizardFooter .status {padding:0 0.4em; margin-left:1em;}
.wizard .button {padding:0.1em 0.2em;}

#messageArea {position:fixed; top:2em; right:0; margin:0.5em; padding:0.5em; z-index:2000; _position:absolute;}
.messageToolbar {display:block; text-align:right; padding:0.2em;}
#messageArea a {text-decoration:underline;}

.tiddlerPopupButton {padding:0.2em;}
.popupTiddler {position: absolute; z-index:300; padding:1em; margin:0;}

.popup {position:absolute; z-index:300; font-size:.9em; padding:0; list-style:none; margin:0;}
.popup .popupMessage {padding:0.4em;}
.popup hr {display:block; height:1px; width:auto; padding:0; margin:0.2em 0;}
.popup li.disabled {padding:0.4em;}
.popup li a {display:block; padding:0.4em; font-weight:normal; cursor:pointer;}
.listBreak {font-size:1px; line-height:1px;}
.listBreak div {margin:2px 0;}

.tabset {padding:1em 0 0 0.5em;}
.tab {margin:0 0 0 0.25em; padding:2px;}
.tabContents {padding:0.5em;}
.tabContents ul, .tabContents ol {margin:0; padding:0;}
.txtMainTab .tabContents li {list-style:none;}
.tabContents li.listLink { margin-left:.75em;}

#contentWrapper {display:block;}
#splashScreen {display:none;}

#displayArea {margin:1em 17em 0 14em;}

.toolbar {text-align:right; font-size:.9em;}

.tiddler {padding:1em 1em 0;}

.missing .viewer,.missing .title {font-style:italic;}

.title {font-size:1.6em; font-weight:bold;}

.missing .subtitle {display:none;}
.subtitle {font-size:1.1em;}

.tiddler .button {padding:0.2em 0.4em;}

.tagging {margin:0.5em 0.5em 0.5em 0; float:left; display:none;}
.isTag .tagging {display:block;}
.tagged {margin:0.5em; float:right;}
.tagging, .tagged {font-size:0.9em; padding:0.25em;}
.tagging ul, .tagged ul {list-style:none; margin:0.25em; padding:0;}
.tagClear {clear:both;}

.footer {font-size:.9em;}
.footer li {display:inline;}

.annotation {padding:0.5em; margin:0.5em;}

* html .viewer pre {width:99%; padding:0 0 1em 0;}
.viewer {line-height:1.4em; padding-top:0.5em;}
.viewer .button {margin:0 0.25em; padding:0 0.25em;}
.viewer blockquote {line-height:1.5em; padding-left:0.8em;margin-left:2.5em;}
.viewer ul, .viewer ol {margin-left:0.5em; padding-left:1.5em;}

.viewer table, table.twtable {border-collapse:collapse; margin:0.8em 1.0em;}
.viewer th, .viewer td, .viewer tr,.viewer caption,.twtable th, .twtable td, .twtable tr,.twtable caption {padding:3px;}
table.listView {font-size:0.85em; margin:0.8em 1.0em;}
table.listView th, table.listView td, table.listView tr {padding:0px 3px 0px 3px;}

.viewer pre {padding:0.5em; margin-left:0.5em; font-size:1.2em; line-height:1.4em; overflow:auto;}
.viewer code {font-size:1.2em; line-height:1.4em;}

.editor {font-size:1.1em;}
.editor input, .editor textarea {display:block; width:100%; font:inherit;}
.editorFooter {padding:0.25em 0; font-size:.9em;}
.editorFooter .button {padding-top:0px; padding-bottom:0px;}

.fieldsetFix {border:0; padding:0; margin:1px 0px;}

.sparkline {line-height:1em;}
.sparktick {outline:0;}

.zoomer {font-size:1.1em; position:absolute; overflow:hidden;}
.zoomer div {padding:1em;}

* html #backstage {width:99%;}
* html #backstageArea {width:99%;}
#backstageArea {display:none; position:relative; overflow: hidden; z-index:150; padding:0.3em 0.5em;}
#backstageToolbar {position:relative;}
#backstageArea a {font-weight:bold; margin-left:0.5em; padding:0.3em 0.5em;}
#backstageButton {display:none; position:absolute; z-index:175; top:0; right:0;}
#backstageButton a {padding:0.1em 0.4em; margin:0.1em;}
#backstage {position:relative; width:100%; z-index:50;}
#backstagePanel {display:none; z-index:100; position:absolute; width:90%; margin-left:3em; padding:1em;}
.backstagePanelFooter {padding-top:0.2em; float:right;}
.backstagePanelFooter a {padding:0.2em 0.4em;}
#backstageCloak {display:none; z-index:20; position:absolute; width:100%; height:100px;}

.whenBackstage {display:none;}
.backstageVisible .whenBackstage {display:block;}
StyleSheet for use when a translation requires any css style changes.
This StyleSheet can be used directly by languages such as Chinese, Japanese and Korean which need larger font sizes.
body {font-size:0.8em;}
#sidebarOptions {font-size:1.05em;}
#sidebarOptions a {font-style:normal;}
#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel {font-size:0.95em;}
.subtitle {font-size:0.8em;}
.viewer table.listView {font-size:0.95em;}
@media print {
#mainMenu, #sidebar, #messageArea, .toolbar, #backstageButton, #backstageArea {display: none !important;}
#displayArea {margin: 1em 1em 0em;}
noscript {display:none;} /* Fixes a feature in Firefox where print preview displays the noscript content */
<div class='header' macro='gradient vert [[ColorPalette::PrimaryLight]] [[ColorPalette::PrimaryMid]]'>
<div class='headerShadow'>
<span class='siteTitle' refresh='content' tiddler='SiteTitle'></span>&nbsp;
<span class='siteSubtitle' refresh='content' tiddler='SiteSubtitle'></span>
<div class='headerForeground'>
<span class='siteTitle' refresh='content' tiddler='SiteTitle'></span>&nbsp;
<span class='siteSubtitle' refresh='content' tiddler='SiteSubtitle'></span>
<div id='mainMenu' refresh='content' tiddler='MainMenu'></div>
<div id='sidebar'>
<div id='sidebarOptions' refresh='content' tiddler='SideBarOptions'></div>
<div id='sidebarTabs' refresh='content' force='true' tiddler='SideBarTabs'></div>
<div id='displayArea'>
<div id='messageArea'></div>
<div id='tiddlerDisplay'></div>
<div class='toolbar' macro='toolbar [[ToolbarCommands::ViewToolbar]]'></div>
<div class='title' macro='view title'></div>
<div class='subtitle'><span macro='view modifier link'></span>, <span macro='view modified date'></span> (<span macro='message views.wikified.createdPrompt'></span> <span macro='view created date'></span>)</div>
<div class='tagging' macro='tagging'></div>
<div class='tagged' macro='tags'></div>
<div class='viewer' macro='view text wikified'></div>
<div class='tagClear'></div>
<div class='toolbar' macro='toolbar [[ToolbarCommands::EditToolbar]]'></div>
<div class='title' macro='view title'></div>
<div class='editor' macro='edit title'></div>
<div macro='annotations'></div>
<div class='editor' macro='edit text'></div>
<div class='editor' macro='edit tags'></div><div class='editorFooter'><span macro='message views.editor.tagPrompt'></span><span macro='tagChooser excludeLists'></span></div>
To get started with this blank [[TiddlyWiki]], you'll need to modify the following tiddlers:
* [[SiteTitle]] & [[SiteSubtitle]]: The title and subtitle of the site, as shown above (after saving, they will also appear in the browser title bar)
* [[MainMenu]]: The menu (usually on the left)
* [[DefaultTiddlers]]: Contains the names of the tiddlers that you want to appear when the TiddlyWiki is opened
You'll also need to enter your username for signing your edits: <<option txtUserName>>
These [[InterfaceOptions]] for customising [[TiddlyWiki]] are saved in your browser

Your username for signing your edits. Write it as a [[WikiWord]] (eg [[JoeBloggs]])

<<option txtUserName>>
<<option chkSaveBackups>> [[SaveBackups]]
<<option chkAutoSave>> [[AutoSave]]
<<option chkRegExpSearch>> [[RegExpSearch]]
<<option chkCaseSensitiveSearch>> [[CaseSensitiveSearch]]
<<option chkAnimate>> [[EnableAnimations]]

Also see [[AdvancedOptions]]

This tiddler was automatically created to record the details of this server

This tiddler was automatically created to record the details of this server
Downloaded TiddlyWiki empty.html. Customized it with the [[Mocha theme|http://tiddlythemes.com/empties/Mocha.html]]. Set up some menus.
Renamed file entropyneurial.html. Added default tiddlers to main menu ("shadow tiddlers"). Read online docs at [[the TiddlyWiki Wiki|http://www.tiddlywiki.org/wiki/]]. Installed ViewColorPalette and TemplateShowColor (whatever it is) and added to MainMenu.
Before we begin...
<<gradient horiz #fca #fca >>This draft manuscript is provided for information and to solicit comments and criticisms only. Its distribution is prohibited. 
Please address comments to silica-at-maxentropyproductions.net. Thank you.

Copyright (c) 2000-2013 by Max Entropy Productions. All rights reserved. All left to ponder.
This is a book that wonders why people don't wonder very much about the wonders that human ingenuity has wrought and what they change for and in us.

After a lifetime of being on the receiving end of many astonishing technical achievements and having invented a few things myself, I have learned to pay attention to new technologies and take notice of how people accept, assess and anticipate them. My generation of children received the first doses of Polio vaccine, watched the first network television programs, and witnessed the dawn of the space age. As a teenager, I soldered wires to build electronic gizmos with vacuum tubes, resisters, capacitors and transformers, and marveled at the first transistor radios. My first summer job was as a gofer at a university computer center, feeding punch cards into hoppers and delivering printouts amidst rows of softly humming gray cabinets. There I wrote and ran my first program (in FORTRAN), which tabulated the [[Fitzgerald-Lorentz transformation coefficient|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Length_contraction]] across a range of velocities, taking care not to divide by zero. How proud I was of the neat columns of numbers that came out of the giant line printer on fan-fold paper. I was hooked.

My little program didn't work the first several times it went through the hopper. I sought the help of the user consultant (a woman; very unusual in those early days). She read through my code and found errors. She called them "bugs," which puzzled me. Much later, I learned that the term came from the Mark I computer that Harvard built during World War II, by a team led by Howard Aiken. On that team was another woman, a Navy Ensign named Grace Murray Hopper, one of the first computer programmers. The Mark I was misbehaving, and Hopper set out to determine why. This machine was electric, not electronic: it computed using banks of electromechanical relays organized into circuits such as flip-flops, registers and accumulators, physically incarnating the logical components of a Von Neuman computation machine. Anyway, Hopper found the problem: a moth had alighted on a relay and got its wing caught in one of its contacts, so that gate couldn't conduct bits. She tweezed out the moth and taped it to her duty log, noting "[[First actual case of a bug being found|http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/images/h96000/h96566k.jpg]]." Now they are everywhere.

I could have remained a geek, but somehow I managed to acquire a liberal education that exposed me to history, literature, philosophy, art and social science. My favorite college course was one called Science and Government, taught by a former physicist who had worked on the atomic bomb project and later in life turned became curious about the social and institutional relations of science and scientists. His curiosity about how science works infected me with an inclination to peer behind the curtains to understand the methods, motives, assumptions, aspirations and associations of the men and women who were advancing science and technology.

Reading a lot of science fiction stories as a youth led me to speculate where the inexorable advance of science and technology might be taking us, as a race. What would the future world look like, what would people be capable of doing, and -- which mattered most to me -- how would human beings respond to all the coming changes, which even in the 1960s seemed to be accelerating? Would robots and other machines produce our goods, serve us, even heal us? Would we converse with them? What would we do with our leisure time, and what kind of people would we become after we start socializing with robots? That is, would "human nature" change? I sensed it would, even though I lacked much historical perspective at that tender age.

You don't need anyone to tell you that socializing with robots is still pretty far out. Or is it? Maybe they're all around us but we don't notice them because they just don't look like us. Place a call to any corporation or government agency, and one will almost surely answer it. We know they work in factories. We know that the military is hard at work developing autonomous vehicles -- there's even been an X Prize for that. Our Apple and Android (great name, what?) cell phones speak to us and give us advice. When we're not talking to them, they entertain us. And robots sweep up our living rooms, mercifully without trying to converse. But sooner or later they will. And we will talk back and enjoy it even when they diss us. ("I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.")

After college I plunged into the future. I studied urban planning. I made art works based on math and technology. I read Bucky Fuller and the Whole Earth Catalog. I even joined the World Future Society. I tried to dope out what the future would do for us, let us do, and make us do. I didn't get very far, but I managed to realize that the future would be a lot more digital, so I got with the program and started coding, first on mainframes and then on minicomputers. Mostly I invented data visualization software, specializing in producing map displays. One production involved a sequence of 3-D map images made into a rotating holographic movie. Cutting edge stuff, at least then. Now far cooler stuff comes with browsers, for free.

Now I live in the future I tried so earnestly to imagine, full of wonders like Dick Tracy wrist radios, paperless newspapers, video telephony, and supersonic passenger planes (oops). And everyone seems to take them for granted, accepting them as modern conveniences. We still haven't gotten our jet-packs, gyro-cars, food pills, robot butlers or moon colonies, but if we did, we would take them for granted too. Is it just me, or do others have a problem with such meek acceptance of promises of a more abundant future?

Then there are what are politely called "unanticipated consequences" of progress in science and technology. Hydrocarbons and heavy metals in water supplies. Air pollution alerts. Disastrous oil spills. Unsafe foods from tortured livestock. Endemic diabetes and cancer clusters. Species of fish and wildlife winking out. Exotic species invading distant lands. Nuclear meltdowns. News media describe such incidents either as freak events or as inevitable unintended consequences of a great economy. Most people get upset for the duration of the news cycle. Some get mad, get organized, protest and do what they can, but most people feel powerless to act as change agents. Few bother to think about why such things happen in the first place. Rarely does any person or organization take responsibility when systems fail in major ways. No one ever seems to go to jail. The problems persist, even after technologists repair the systems that went awry. It's very predictable. Once, when I was struggling with my code, a cohort told me about this. He said "The first law of computer programing is: //There will be a bug.//" It's even more true now than it was for me or for Grace Murray Hopper, and it applies to all technologies.

Not seeing sufficient skepticism about how, what and why technology gets deployed, I feel compelled to write this book. It tries to broaden the conversation about technological change and innovation to unpack why we do it, desire it, embrace it, take it for granted, and still complain that it doesn't work better. We still don't know what drives this intense, virtually insane juggernaut of invention, but it seems to me to be worthy of study and reflection. It also explores -- more tentatively -- what sort of future is yanking us all into its orbit. Is it possible to look past the "event horizon," a time in the near future beyond which no one can see clearly because change has become too rapid? Are there "strange attractors" that pull all us through time that we can talk about? After all, even chaos is lawful and there will always be cause and effect within it.

The book doesn't dally to extol the exotic fruits of technological innovation -- those are widely recognized and hyped by numerous authors. It does try to frame and open a conversation on how and why humans have come to have and embrace all this good stuff, what it might be costing us, and where it will eventually bring us, materially, psychically, and socially. It's a dirty, thankless job, but someone has to do it. 

Throughout the book, you will see these things through the eyes of //Silica//, an abstract (but not mythical) being who personifies the entire technosphere -- the sum of all of human artifacts and the indispensable ground of our existence -- which I argue seems to have its own agenda and rules for how we should behave and organize our affairs. You don't need to believe in Silica to understand where the technosphere is taking us, but it helps.

If you even //suspect// that these questions matter to you, please read on...

[[Meet Your New Mom]]
[[The Innovation Machine]]
[[Riding the Innovation Wave]]
[[Game-Changing versus Money-Changing]]
Clouds produce rain and snow. Cloud computing rains blizzards of applications and data. Of course, these streams of data don't really fall from the sky (unless you're wireless). Most of them zip along underground and undersea cables, coming up for air at switching centers and diving down again to reach their destinations. As we saw in [[White Puff or Killer Tornado?|Game-Changing versus Money-Changing/Section_6]], "The Cloud" is simply a collective name for rows of servers housed in data centers arrayed across the globe that run all sorts of software providing a variety of Internet services. And as we saw in [[Is It All Good?|Meet Your New Mom/Section_4]], some data centers actually monitor the Cloud itself, recording its traffic and what users are up to. Whether it is the NSA, Google, or other organizations doing the tracking, the result is that more and more of our activities and interactions are taken note of and tucked away as data in the Cloud. The information includes our last known whereabouts, the sites we visited, what we searched for, what we purchased, events we have gone to or are likely to attend, and oh yes, the email messages we stored online. 

How much of that data about us is "personally identifiable" is unknowable without a court order. However, we have seen plenty of incidents in which hackers penetrated secure Web sites to purloin tens of thousands of personal records at once. Even knowing how vulnerable our data is to trespass doesn't seem to discourage too many of us from living online. Few of us even protest unless our identities are forged. In addition to being pod people, we have become cloud dwellers.

Our lives in the cloud often follow different sets of rules than our everyday physical activities. These rules have been made up //ad hoc// by engineers, corporations and policy makers as information technology progressed. They are still being made up as we "speak." We don't even know what a lot of them are, but still they bind us. For example, who without the right sort of security clearance really knows what rules spy agency operatives actually follow when they amass, analyze and act on data in the cloud? All we know is that they have the capability to examine every aspect of or virtual selves. This gives them immense latent power. To counteract it, we can empower ourselves and enter an arms race or try to opt out, neither of which is going to be easy.

Whether you call airborne water vapor "cloud" or "fog" depends entirely on your perspective. You look at one from outside in, the other from inside out. In the not very distant future, the pretty little cloud will settle to Earth. The cloud-addicted will be fogged in, so blinded by their undivided attention to the digital environment that they will no longer be able to perceive their actual surroundings as they are. For them, all senses will be prosthetic, all reality virtual.

This will happen to people who don't realize that they are being borged and thus don't choose to resist. But through proper preparation, resistance is possible, and push-back can take many pathways. Divorce from physical reality will happen to some extent or another to everyone who has a presence online. Really poor and certain sects and indigenous folk may stay out of the fog a while longer, but it will slowly creep down from the mountaintops into the lowlands. Best that all be prepared.
<part Section_1>
!A Place Where Everyone Knows Your Name
We leave a lot of tell-tail vapor trails as we come and go to the Cloud. So do companies we do business with. Details about us lodge in Web sites we visit and at many organizations we never heard of. Many of us are used it and don't mind. Some of us get concerned, but don't have any sure way to avoid it other than staying off the Internet. And sooner or later, you will probably share your personal data with characters you'd rather not know. It happened to me, twice. My credit card was hacked from a newspaper I subscribed to and from a national retail chain's "secure" servers. Make that "at least twice."

It seems that the Internet is a place where everyone knows your name. Where did our privacy go and when will we get it back?

How likely you are to have personal information compromised depends on how you regard online privacy, how service providers safeguard your data, and who wants to know. If someone wants to know badly enough — especially if they have tricks up their sleeve — you will have to be incredibly vigilant and proactive to keep your data from being siphoned. If you are reading this online, it goes without saying that you have data to leak.

If you are like most people, you don't think about this much, perhaps deliberately, because at some level you realize that if you really knew how insecure data is on Internet-connected systems it would ruin your day. Kind of like getting a DNA test that might say you'll get dementia. You don't want to go there.

So, what //are// the chances that a company or organization leaks significant quantities of private data in some way or another? The [[Ponemon Institute|http://www.ponemon.org/]], in its February 2010 [[report|http://www.ponemon.org/local/upload/fckjail/generalcontent/16/file/ATC_DPP%20report_FINAL.pdf]] (1 MB PDF) //How Global Organizations Approach the Challenge of Protecting Personal Data// described how companies and individuals regard breaches of personal data. The report, commissioned and published by Accenture, summarizes results from a survey of business executives and individuals. Ponemon polled 5,500 business leaders in 19 countries (51% in management positions and 45% from organizations with $2B or more in annual revenues). It also polled 15,000 adults in the same 19 countries. The results are not very comforting.

For example, seventy percent of both groups surveyed felt that organizations are obligated to secure consumers' information and take responsibility if they divulge it. That's not bad, but one wonders what the other 30% believe.

Given that the volume of digital data is doubling every 18 months or so, it's a pretty sure bet that more private information will go astray all the time, but how? According to Ponemon, 37% of all data breaches were due to malicious acts by employees (24%) or by criminals breaking and entering (13%). Technical glitches and business process failures accounted for 57%, and human negligence for 35% of the breaches. In a way, it's comforting that most incidents were caused by system or human failure, and that attacks by cyber-criminals accounted for a small percentage of incidents.

Drilling down reveals a surprising lack of concern about many rampant privacy abuses. Look at the findings that this chart displays.

<html><img src="privacy-concern-issues.png" style="width: 640px; "/></html>

Only identity theft seems to raise serious concern, and that on the part of organizations, not individuals (52% v. 26%, or twice as many). Less than one quarter of either group seems to worry about six of the ten issues: spam, stalking/spying, marketing abuses, malware/spyware, or even stolen assets. This nonchalance indicates to me that nobody cares much about bad things until they happen to them, personally or institutionally.

The survey also shows that people adjust their privacy dial according to the activities the engage in. Security of their medical records tops the list, but still, less than half of respondents seemed to care. Not only that, less than a quarter of them worried about leaking banking data, and only three out of one hundred had qualms about data being mined from their social networking activity, as you see in the next chart. 

<html><img src="privacy-concern-ind-areas.png" style="width: 640px; "/></html>

I see three possible explanations for why people are not more worried about their privacy, and they can all be true at once:
* They don't get upset when personal data about them is leaked
* They don't have an informed understanding of threats to their personal data
* They trust Web sites and institutions to safeguard personal data
What many people don't realize is that a //thriving, unregulated industry// exists to sponge up and aggregate personal data. So-called "data brokers" grab bits and pieces of data, connect the dots and then sell records to customers. Some of the data originates from state and local public records, such as motor vehicle registries, court records, and tax and voting rolls, and includes names, addresses, phone numbers age and gender. 

Once something bad happens to your data, you can pay a service to cleanse it from the Web and buff your reputation. However, such services can charge thousands of dollars. They don't guarantee their effectiveness, and may pass on your information to subsidiaries that proceed to exploit it, especially once you are no longer a client. Assume that once your data is released into the wild, it becomes feral.

Additional federal oversight might help, and it may be on the way.

After months of deliberations and comments, the Federal Trade Commission released a major study in March, 2012 that examined these issues and made legislative and regulatory recommendations. The 112-page report, titled //Protecting Consumer Privacy in an Era of Rapid Change//, is available on the [[FTC Web site|http://ftc.gov/opa/2012/03/privacyframework.shtm]]. In the eyes of industry advocates, some of its conclusions are [[misguided|http://www.pcworld.com/article/252602/new_ftc_donottrack_recommendations_clueless.html]], especially in the areas known as do-not-track, opt-in and right-to-know.

A month before the FTC report, the White House [[announced|http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/02/23/we-can-t-wait-obama-administration-unveils-blueprint-privacy-bill-rights]] it would file a Consumer Privacy Bill of Rights, to provide "a baseline of clear protections for consumers and greater certainty for businesses." Consumer personal data would be protected through greater transparency on the part of organizations that collect and store it. The bill would require organizations to limit information they collect to only what they need, secure the data adequately, use it only as they originally described, and to give consumers access to their data and opportunity to correct incorrect information.

See this [[fact sheet|http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2012/02/23/fact-sheet-plan-protect-privacy-internet-age-adopting-consumer-privacy-b]] for more details. As a next step, the Commerce Department will hold a series of forums to identify best practices and formulate codes of conduct that the Obama administration can send to congress as proposed legislation. Follow and contribute to the discussion through the [[Web site|http://www.ntia.doc.gov/]] of the lead agency, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).

New privacy laws may turn out to be anemic, hard to enforce, or too little too late. But at there's a national framework on the table for improving the situation. And if you have had a problem, [[let the FTC know about it|http://ftc.gov/bcp/bcppip.shtm]].

So, is Silica in favor of better security for personal data lodged in the Cloud or not? Given her general proclivity for sharing as much as possible, she might not object to setting more of it free. However, the more that people's private facts are being rummaged through, the less inclined they'll be to use the Web going forward. Couple that with concerns about online government surveillance, as described in section [[Is It All Good?|Meet Your New Mom/Section_4]], some people may not choose to share opinions on the Web either. For Silica to grow and improve, such negative consequences of online life need to be mitigated. But that won't happen until more individuals become aware of and understand these threats, mobilize, and pressure industry and government to institute workable reforms. It looks like we're not there yet.
<part Section_2>
!One Mind
The Cloud is here to stay, at least until some innovation comes along to subsume it. Perhaps that will involve telepathic communication between humans and cyborgs who dispense information in response to requests, but that's over the current event horizon. No, the Cloud is the capstone of human evolution today. It's the Web, helping us to create the noösphere. The part of the Cloud that stores data remembers for us. The part that serves applications and media helps us work and play. Not only have our identities soared into the Cloud, so has our activities. And soon, perhaps, our consciousness.

People should understand how this is coming to pass. It is quite rational, mechanistic, and not at all mystical, simply the leading edge of IT. Part of it reflects the economics of managing business enterprises. Another part involves attempts working the Web to identify markets and coalesce demand. Then there's the blogosphere and its related interactivity, where people use Web 2.0 capabilities to kibitz on articles and forums discussing millions of topics to death. Or Facebook and its kin, like ~LinkedIn. They all connect in Google and other enterprises that scrape up data and mine it to find associations that interest them.

Analyzing Web traffic requires sponging up and crunching data, modeling and visualizing it to achieve insights, and lots of code. Motivations for mining the cloud vary a lot. Naturally, the hope of making money by customizing content and ads to attract clicks is a prominent one, but other motivations are more altruistic, or at least socially constructive. Users themselves mine the Web and mutually reinforce their goals and interests using systems like Wikipedia and Facebook (along with thousands of more specialized sites through which they collaborate). 

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<<gradient horiz #fca #fca >>This draft manuscript is provided for information and to solicit comments and criticisms only. Its distribution is prohibited. 
Please address comments to silica-at-maxentropyproductions.net. Thank you.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Max Entropy Productions. All rights reserved. All left to ponder.

[[Where the Money Is and Isn't|Software Game-Changers versus Money-Changers/Section_1]]
[[Opening the Information Infrastructure|Software Game-Changers versus Money-Changers/Section_2]]
[[Silica Loves Standards|Software Game-Changers versus Money-Changers/Section_3]]
[[Anatomy of a Software Patent|Software Game-Changers versus Money-Changers/Section_4]]
[[Where Trolls Dwell|Software Game-Changers versus Money-Changers/Section_5]]
[[White Puff or Killer Tornado?|Software Game-Changers versus Money-Changers/Section_6]]

Software now lies at the heart of almost all new technology. Hardly any devices that use electricity are marketed today that do not have programmed logic built in. We're talking not just about smartphones, automobiles, and video games, but appliances like toasters, table radios, hearing aids, and bathroom scales too. We wouldn't have decoded the human -- or any -- genome without powerful software. Our electric grids would shut down if their software ceased working properly. New cars run upward of [[100 million lines of code|http://spectrum.ieee.org/green-tech/advanced-cars/this-car-runs-on-code]]. That's three lines of code for every book in the Library of Congress. Even more code is needed to design automobiles, which is conducted on computers almost exclusively now. Those cars could not be fueled without the software that runs gas pumps. The gasoline could not be refined without computer controls. Silica, having always manifested herself as manufactured products, also now digitally controls how a rapidly increasing share of them are designed, built, and operate.

So let's talk about innovation in computer systems in general and software in particular. Electronic computing machines first showed up in the 1940s, within the lifespan of many people now alive -- less than four generations. In that time frame they have gone from being idiot-savant monstrosities to everyday extensions of our minds and bodies. [[ENIAC|http://ftp.arl.mil/~mike/comphist/eniac-story.html]] was the first large electronic digital computer. It operated at the University of Pennsylvania from 1945 to 1955, used 200 KW to power 19,000 vacuum tubes, and weighed 30 tons. Within 50 years, thumbnail-size integrated circuits having more transistors per chip than exist people on the planet became cheap and commonplace. Talk about megatrends.

None of those chips would be worth consuming without the salsa of software. Conversely, the salsa cannot be delivered except on a substrate of chips. By now, digital devices have become so inexpensive and ubiquitous that we take that chemistry for granted. We assume chips as we consume software. Our economy demands digital infrastructure to such an extent that there's no turning back. Going forward, software will provide more of the key ingredients in a digital economy. And as demand for software innovation arcs higher and higher, its perceived value in the marketplace exceeds that of hardware. The following sections describe key indicators of software innovation and unpack some of its consequences. 
<part Section_1>
!Where the Money Is and Isn't
Even in the sputtering post-financial-meltdown economy, there are software jobs and investment opportunities out there. Geeks with certain skill sets are in ultra-high demand. Investors are slobbering over social networking vendors. Besides social computing, the growth industries //du jour// are Web and mobile software apps, cloud computing services, telecommunications, biotechnology, alternative energy, and health care. All are either centered on software or rely on software to a large extent, although a much of the job growth in health care is in the service sector. This activity translates into a thriving market for shares of technology company initial public offerings (~IPOs) after two lean years. According to Renaissance Capital's annual Initial Public Offering (IPO) [[review|http://www.renaissancecapital.com/ipohome/review/2011Review.aspx]] (PDF), there were 338 ~IPOs worldwide in 2011, that together netted $136B in proceeds. However, that was a decline from the 479 deals in 2010 that netted $234B. The US share of 2011 IPOs was 125 offerings (down 19%), worth $36B (down 6%). However, US Internet-related ~IPOs surged, going from 11 deals in 2010 to 24 in 2011 -- a growth of 218%, and accounted for one-quarter of all American ~IPOs.

In 2012, Yelp went public in March and Facebook is expected to follow shortly, but many more Internet enterprises are backstage, anxiously waiting for the curtain to rise on their shares, the likes of which include Airbrib, Spotify, Dropbox, and Glam Media. This despite that the relative share value of many of the Internet stocks that debuted in 2011 (like Bankrate, Groupon, ~LinkedIn and Zynga) dipped into negative territory subsequently.

Going public is lucrative for the principals in any company, but can be the kiss of death for start-up enterprises. Stepping on to the public stage under the glare of stock analysts' lights while gyrating to the rhythm of quarterly earnings reports can enervate a young company. Recall how the dot-com boom of 1998-2001 couldn't sustain itself after the dubious business models of companies like pets.com, Webvan, Kozmo, MVP and eToys pissed away the capital they had raised. The conventional wisdom was that the possibilities for monetizing their dot-com cachet were fairly limited, but that didn't stop investors from piling on. What did they didn't know about how software, telecommunications and the Web worked hurt them.

Is history repeating itself now? Can investors really know a good tech bet from a bad one? A bubble will probably burst for companies that rely on advertising revenues or have products consumers are unwilling to spend much for. (Google will surely profit, because it also keeps learning so much about us). Yet, some fundamental conditions have changed since 2001 that make it possible for Internet enterprises to make a better go of it (not that they all will). What's different now is: 
* Broadband connections, becoming ubiquitous
* More Net users, expanding pools of customers
* Media-rich, personalized and interactive Web sites
* 4G mobile devices, making the Internet fully portable
* Location-aware mobile apps, luring hyper-local retail traffic
* Online transactions, made easier than ever and more widely trusted
* Social networks, serving as platforms for viral and affinity advertising
* Cloud computing, enabling access to one's applications and data from anywhere
* Massive databases cataloging users' demographics and surfing, buying and personal habits
* Sophisticated Web analytic software, mining those heaps of personal data to target customers
* Streaming data analysis, grabbing and acting on data feeds before committing them to databases
These capabilities emerged or matured in one decade. Because of them, the factors that crashed the first internet boom are now mostly moot. Internet commerce is now well established and the Web has eaten the news media's lunch, forcing them to participate in the Web, which cannibalizes their revenues. Newspapers, magazines and bookstores, adrift on the Net, are starving with fish all around them. Colleges and universities rethink their missions as more and more people take courses and earn degrees online, often their only affordable path to higher education. Professionals without offices can and do work from cafes. Mobil phone users can now do things online not even dreamed of during the first Internet boom.

Software developers used to speak of coming up with the next "killer app." That was usually software one bought and installed on a PC, but times have changed. Is Twitter a killer app? How about Angry Birds or Pinterest? The latter two are probably fads. Twitter comes close, because it has changed how people communicate and has grown into an important tool for publicists, reporters and political activists alike. Yet industry analysts seem to despair of Twitter being able to cash in on its popularity. Twitter is a bit like instant messaging (IM), which has been around so long that its users take it for granted. As a utility, IM generates money for mobile providers, but that's about it for revenues. //Sic transit// killer apps.
<part Section_2>
!Opening the Information Infrastructure
The more useful and universal an application turns out to be, the harder it will be for the entity that develops and popularizes it to monetize what they create. Take email. Billions use it every day, but except for enterprises that license proprietary client and server software, email is essentially free. The costs of transmitting messages over the Internet are recouped mainly through the fees users pay to their Internet Service Providers (~ISPs). They use those revenues mainly to buy and maintain routers, servers and related hardware and to offset the costs of dealing with massive quantities of spam. Few software vendors make money from email or texting. 

The chance of launching and monetizing a killer app doesn't have very good odds, which means succeeding as a public company is a tough nut for an software start-up. Its wares need to occupy a sweet spot that is neither too specialized nor too universal at a cost people or partners are willing to pay. Google pulls this off, but there's no other company like it. It provides services that became ubiquitous and essential, and most of them are free. Companies that want to compete with Google have to add an awful lot of value. And we (its users) assume that its cloud will always be raining beneficence upon us that we won't have to pay for.  

Another factor that hinders new ventures from making money is the [[open source movement|http://www.opensource.org/]]. Beginning with Linux (the free/low-cost Unix operating system for Intel-based computers and associated desktop interfaces), programmers across the world have joined forces to collaboratively develop essential software tools and applications. Many open source projects were originally aimed at breaking Microsoft's near-monopoly on PC platforms (providing alternatives to MS Windows and Office), but many free (or shareware) Apple ~MacOS applications are out there too. The world's most widely used Web server, Apache, is open sourced, as are content management systems for Web sites, such as Drupal and Joomia. The Java language (which is actually owned by Oracle) and most of the packaged tools built on it are also open source. Such tools are critical infrastructure for many commercial Web servers. 

Open source software can be every bit as powerful and reliable as its commercial counterparts. Its quality comes from its well-vetted source code libraries that get constantly updated through an intense ongoing peer review process. You can see and download the fruits of many open source collaborations at [[SourceForge|http://sourceforge.net/]], which describes itself as:
Sourceforge.net is dedicated to making open source projects successful. We thrive on community collaboration to help us create the leading resource for open source software development and distribution. With the tools we provide, 3.4 million developers create powerful software in over 324,000 projects. Our popular directory connects more than 46 million consumers with these open source projects and serves more than 4,000,000 downloads a day. ~SourceForge is where open source happens. ~SourceForge.net is owned and operated by [[Geeknet, Inc.|http://geek.net]], a publicly traded ~US-based company.
Four million downloads a day amounts to about 50 files distributed per second from this one Web site. In addition to ~SourceForge, many open source projects, too numerous to mention, manage and distribute code and complete apps from their own Web sites. Almost all distribute source code, under lenient licensing arrangements that enable the code to be reused in any context, generally requiring that modifications to it be reported back to the community, and some of which prohibit inclusion in commercial software packages. 

Open source software packages are very valuable resources, but their value is hard to quantify in financial terms. While ostensibly free, they can incur costs when one tried to use them. For example, many commercial software vendors and enterprise systems compile open source code into their own products. By doing so, they save untold amounts of development effort, although adapting and customizing free code to work with their products can take a lot of re-engineering. It's worth it to them because using open mature source software gives them standardized platforms that, while not bug-free are reliable, have communities of developers that continually improve them.

How is it that commercial and open source software came to be joined at the hip? Despite the extreme secrecy that commercial software house maintain about their code, algorithms and development plans, many technologists subscribe to the widely-held meme that "information wants to be free." While that idea can be traced back to earlier [[sources|http://www.rogerclarke.com/II/IWtbF.html]], most people credit Stuart Brand (founder of the //Whole Earth Catalog// and //Whole Earth Review//) with this formulation of it, which he uttered in a talk at the first Hacker Conference in 1984:
On the one hand information wants to be expensive, because it's so valuable. The right information in the right place just changes your life. On the other hand, information wants to be free, because the cost of getting it out is getting lower and lower all the time. So you have these two fighting against each other. 
This tension continues to exist. Since Brand spoke, commercial software firms and other practitioners successfully lobbied the USPTO and Congress to approve patents for software, widening the divide between proprietary and public approaches to disseminating intellectual property. Both sides maintain that their approach is necessary to stimulate innovation and advance technology. Yet their co-dependence grows greater all the time. The fractious amalgam of public and private resources that builds the information infrastructure is pretty much here to stay.
<part Section_3>
!Silica Loves Standards
It doesn't necessarily help Silica to think of software as property. She wants it to be out there to tinker with, because the more people at work perfecting it, the more powerful she becomes. One thing she particularly likes is seamlessly linking computer systems together, or as geeks put it, "interoperability." With it, the same or different kinds of systems operating on the same or different hardware and operating systems can freely talk to one another. Achieving it requires agreeing on standard ways of communicating, for example, how data is encoded and decoded, so it can move around and be rendered for viewing. Formatting data to be interoperable and interpretable is what the XML and HTML languages, among other standards, are all about. Without such standards, the Internet would be a tower of Babel.

Scientists and engineers have formed many official bodies to develop standards for everything from screw threads to plastic containers to bar codes to the C++ language to the World Wide Web. Large manufacturing corporations love standards, but regularly try to sway standard-making organizations to modify them to do certain things their way. For example, In the 1990s, Microsoft introduced extensions to HTML that Internet Explorer used and requested that they be included in the official specification for HTML. The proposal was ultimately rejected.

The body that rejected it is called the [[World Wide Web Consortium|http://www.w3.org]] (~W3C), headquartered everywhere. It has a [[staff|http://www.w3.org/2008/10/w3cteam]]  and many member organizations. It's leaders are Web inventor Tim ~Berners-Lee and CEO Jeffrey Jaffe. The ~W3C has had to codify new generations of HTML and assorted interfaces into standards that everyone can rely on, and in the process reject ideas for updating the Web that it sees as unnecessary, limiting, complicating, or incompatible with how the Web works now.

It's a demanding job, because each of the dozens of Web browsers that people use should be capable of displaying the content of any Web page on the planet that conforms to any version of ~W3C specifications, lest their ability to show content that has been hanging around the Web for a long time be compromised. In software-speak, that's called "backward compatibility." For example, many older Web pages use something called //frames//,  which display as panes within a browser window. Each frame displays a separate HTML document. Assemble them together and they form a page. Panes were introduced in 1996 by Netscape (forerunner of Mozilla Firefox), and were quickly adopted informally, to the point where the ~W3C was forced to codify them. But because frames have technical and usability drawbacks and are vulnerable to having content injected into them by malicious intruders, they are being phased out (or, as geeks say, "deprecated") in the upcoming ~W3C ~HTML5 standard. Before ~HTML5 hits the street, web browser developers will have to add new code paths (program logic) to support its features to the ones they already support.

The task of making Web or any other standards is considerably complicated by vendors who have proprietary or patented code that extends a standard, like the proposal presented by Microsoft back in the 1990s. If features based on protected inventions are admitted to standards, it will force all who want to use the features to license them, which generally means paying for them. Standards organizations shy away from mandating proprietary capabilities, and this sort of roadblock on the info highway makes Silica cross.

However, patenting software isn't evil in itself. What matters is the behavior of the patent holder, who can choose to restrict the use of an invention or enable it by licensing or benign neglect. As patents are routinely assigned to organizations for which inventors work, the decision of whether to use, license, or enforce a patent is often not the inventor's. And patents can get new owners, which happens when patent holders transfer their rights and when companies merge or sell patents assigned to them. 
<part Section_4>
!Anatomy of a Software Patent
The vagueness of many software patents can lead to mischief and mayhem in the marketplace of innovation. It's worth illustrating what software patents specify and what they do not. 

As a quick example, USPTO [[patent class 715|http://www.uspto.gov/web/patents/classification/uspc715/defs715.htm]]  -- one of many under which software patents are filed -- is called "Data processing: presentation processing of document, operator interface processing, and screen saver display processing." The class subsumes over 100 subclasses in those three main divisions.

[[US Patent #7,523,401|http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-bool.html&r=1&f=G&l=50&co1=AND&d=PTXT&s1=7,523,401.PN.&OS=PN/7,523,401&RS=PN/7,523,401]] was filed on February 20, 2004 and issued on April 21, 2009 to Gregory Aldridge of Kokomo, Indiana. Named "System and method for providing a browser-based user interface," the patent describes an approach to constructing pages within a Web browser generally known as [[Ajax|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ajax_%28programming%29]] (standing for Asynchronous ~JavaScript and XML). The Javascript language programs the page and the XML language retrieves data from a server whenever the user needs it. This sort of interactive capability was not new in 2005, and went back over five years to technologies such as DHTML and ~ActiveX. The patent At some point the patent was assigned to [[Theoris Software, LLC|http://www.theoris.com/]] of Indianapolis, a computer systems consultancy that uses Ajax among other technologies to construct custom Web applications. The patent abstract describes the invention as:
A computer system and method is disclosed that provides a single-page zero-footprint browser-based user interface with rich user interface features more commonly found in a traditional client-server application. The system and method includes one or more web servers, reporting servers, relational database servers, data warehouse servers, and client workstations for providing the browser-based application. A user requests that the browser-based application be retrieved from a server. A single page is received from the web server that contains code for a user interface for the application. The user interface with multiple content windows is displayed to a user. When at least one piece of data needs to be retrieved from a data source, an asynchronous request is sent to the server for the data from a hidden frame in the page. The data is received from the server and used in the application. Other requests for data are also made asynchronously. 
The patent concludes by asserting the scope of this invention:
While the invention has been illustrated and described in detail in the drawings and foregoing description, the same is to be considered as illustrative and not restrictive in character, it being understood that only the preferred embodiment has been shown and described and that all equivalents, changes, and modifications that come within the spirit of the inventions as described herein and/or by the following claims are desired to be protected. 
The technical details are quite geeky and not important to understand. What is interesting is that:
* Like most software patents, the invention's implementation is too vaguely described to enable someone to construct it using that information
* "Ajax" is never mentioned (the name had previously been formulated by another software engineer who did not patent anything about it)
* While the patent refers to HTML, DHTML, ~ActiveX and Javascript, it does not limit Ajax implementations to those software technologies
* The general approach to constructing Web pages that Ajax follows was well understood and practiced before the Aldridge filed for the patent
* Widespread use of Ajax began around then (2004) and continues apace, using various underlying languages to implement it
* Despite the assertion that its claims are "not restrictive," no efforts to enforce the patent against infringement seem to have been made.

One could come up with dozens of patents that purport to do the same thing as Aldridge's. It feels strange to realize that here's a significant chunk of Web-tech that various parties assert they own //and nobody seems to care//. Aldridge's patent cites 23 other patents. Do any of them matter, either for the inventors' or for innovation's sake? To users they are not important, and to software developers they are noise or obstacles to work around, but to certain individuals and companies that did not create an invention and may not even use it, owning patents on it means a lot. 
<part Section_5>
!Where Trolls Dwell
Down in the hospitable town of Marshall in the piney woods of East Texas is a US Courthouse that bustles when court is in session. It's the Federal district court for East Texas, part of the Fifth Circuit. Marshall is a genteel town, most known for its Fire Ant Festival, the Stagecoach Days Festival and the winter Wonderland of Lights display. But in recent years, the number of lawyers visiting and settling in Marshall rivals the number of tourists. Serendipitously, but not accidentally, Marshall has become the patent litigation capital of the United States, and smaller ones have popped up in certain other Federal District Court environs.

When a patent holder sues a company, institution or individual for infringement, the case is heard in a Federal District Court. Plaintiffs have the prerogative to choose the jurisdiction, and a large number of them flock to places like Marshall, one of five federal districts that adjudicate over half of all patent cases. Plaintiffs come there for good reasons -- fast-paced jurisprudence and plaintiff-friendly juries, for example -- not to mention frequent findings of infringement plus handsome damage judgments. 

A good many of the plaintiffs are small inventors, but sometimes industry giants battle it out. Those are the fights that make the news. But a substantial number of suits are brought by the ~NPEs (non-practicing entities), companies that make money trading in patents and suing other patent holders for infringement. ~NPEs belong to the finance sector. They are not technology developers, nor do they market products that use the patents in their portfolios. ~NPEs are commonly described as [[patent trolls|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patent_troll]], a slur that covers a multitude of sins and non-sins. It's hard to know who is a patent troll, but you can identify one when you see what it does, which is basically to behave as a financier in the intellectual property (IP) market.

Most capitalists love innovations, particularly the ones they own. Some of them, like ex-Microsoft honcho and celebrity chef Nathan Myhrvold, found  companies like his Intellectual Ventures (IV) to buy and sell patents and other IP rights like real estate. Myhrvold himself has [[patented over 100 inventions|http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%252Fnetahtml%252FPTO%252Fsearch-bool.html&r=0&f=S&l=50&TERM1=myhrvold%252C+nathan&FIELD1=INNM&co1=AND&TERM2=&FIELD2=&d=PTXT]] covering a wide spectrum of technologies, so he is in fact an inventor. His company is like a department store for patents. Intellectual Ventures has by now acquired over 35,000 patents, some of which cover actual products, but none that IV itself produces or markets. IV does have its own lab to develop intellectual property. The lab has generated over 1,000 patents, yet none of them have made it into commercial use, according to an [[investigation|http://www.npr.org/blogs/money/2011/07/26/138576167/when-patents-attack]] by the NPR Planet Money Team. Their  exposé is as irritating as it is enlightening.

NPR's investigators talked with a lot of inventors and lawyers, and none of them had good things to say about the US patent system, especially where software is concerned. When they spoke with six different software engineers in San Francisco one day,
All of them hated the patent system, and half of them had patents in their names that they felt shouldn't have been granted. In polls, as many as 80 percent of software engineers say the patent system actually hinders innovation. It doesn't encourage them to come up with new ideas and create new products. It actually gets in their way. Many patents are so broad, engineers say, that everyone's guilty of infringement. This causes huge problems for almost anyone trying to start or grow a business on the Internet.

"We're at a point in the state of intellectual property where existing patents probably cover every behavior that's happening on the Internet or our mobile phones today," says Chris Sacca, the venture capitalist. "[T]he average Silicon Valley start-up or even medium sized company, no matter how truly innovative they are, I have no doubt that aspects of what they're doing violate patents right now. And that's what's fundamentally broken about this system right now."
The quest to control software patents resembles a land rush, but there's no there there. What is there is a gold mine for litigants. According to the Planet Money story, in places like Marshall, Texas, flocks of ~NPEs and attorneys maintain empty offices simply to file patent suits to be tried by  friendly juries. (In fact, the software company I worked for in the last decade was sued for patent infringement in Marshall.) The net result of all this litigation isn't innovation. It's medieval jousting, with patents serving both as swords and shields. And while Intellectual Ventures itself rarely saddles up for legal battle, it cuts "back-door deals" iwith companies it sells patents that bring revenues to IV when those companies win infringement lawsuits. Such suits are sometimes filed within hours of acquiring the patents. As they say in Marshall, "Y'all come back and litigate!"

When companies acquire masses of patents that they never use to create products or to simply to file lawsuits, Silica is not impressed.
<part Section_6>
!White Puff or Killer Tornado?
Perhaps being so useful that it gets incorporated into the infrastructure is what defines a killer app. Once a technology becomes that fundamentally ubiquitous, like piped water, electrical grids, cellular networks or email, it becomes a necessity. It's a killer in the sense that if it goes away, you might die.

This is happening in a big way with cloud computing. Everything on our desktops is being pushed into the aether, even the desktops themselves. For most of us, it started with Web mail servers (like ~HotMail) supplanting desktop email clients. Our messages were already in the cloud anyway. Now any software application can potentially be virtualized, and Silica is seeing to it that they are. 

Ten years ago, Application Service Providers (~ASPs) were all the rage. An ASP created or ported applications to the Web that their clients could use from Web browsers or terminal-style interfaces without owning the IT infrastructure and engineers usually needed to set up, run and maintain such software. The applications were generally enterprise-level systems such as finance and HR departments used, often built by customizing database management systems. If a customer needed new or scaled-up capabilities, the ASP vendor needed to tinker around to provide the upgrades because users could not configure the applications they subscribed to.

Cloud computing provides ~ASP-like services, but is much easier for users to customize and upgrade. The applications are still owned by service providers and execute on their own or leased servers, but users can configure sets of them and specify the resources they require (such as the number of processors or database size) all by themselves. The service model might have a contract allowing a fixed amount of usage for a certain monthly rent, or meter services by the minute, megabyte, or other measure of resources consumed. Users' data may reside in the cloud, on their own computers, or both. Users can contractually commit to cloud services like mobile plans, purchase blocks of them like phone cards, or buy them at auction. Regardless, the vendor's business model doesn't much affect how cloud services function.

Three words convey what the cloud is about: //virtualization, virtualization, virtualization//, essentially one machine pretending to do many things or many machines pretending to do one thing. File storage, network traffic, compute servers and operating systems are all being abstracted with software that serves many end users at once, each unaware of the presence of others or of how the machinery allocates resources to them. 

Your computer, while not in the cloud, can work that way. For example, it can be a virtual print server. When you print a file, your machine could send the file to a box on your network that interprets it into the printing instructions for a printer on the network according to the printer's capabilities. Given that your computer generally has plenty of machine cycles to spare, it can do this itself, through a layer of software that virtualizes this function. By virtualizing printing activity, your computer saves you the expense of buying a box to handle it.

As [[techtarget.com|http://searchservervirtualization.techtarget.com/definition/virtualization]] explains it,
Virtualization can be viewed as part of an overall trend in enterprise IT that includes //autonomic computing//, a scenario in which the IT environment will be able to manage itself based on perceived activity, and utility computing, in which computer processing power is seen as a utility that clients can pay for only as needed. The usual goal of virtualization is to centralize administrative tasks while improving scalability and work loads. 
Look where this is heading. The cloud is starting to manage itself. The techtarget.com [[article on autonomic computing|http://searchcio-midmarket.techtarget.com/definition/autonomic-computing]] succinctly lays it out. For a computing system to be autonomic, it must:
* Maintain comprehensive and specific knowledge about all its components
* Be able to self-configure to suit varying and possibly unpredictable conditions
* Continually monitor itself for optimal functioning
* Be self-healing and able to find alternate ways to function when it encounters problems
* Be able to detect threats and protect itself from them
* Be able to adapt to environmental conditions
* Be based on open standards rather than proprietary technologies
* Anticipate demand while remaining transparent to the user. 
Technologists are building such systems, and many existing computing platforms have some of these attributes. Suppose we were discussing robots which possessed these abilities and could also move about and sense and manipulate their environment. For practical purposes (without treading into theology), would not they essentially be autonomous beings?

Autonomous computer systems, like living creatures, are not solitary units. Besides relating to human users and managers, they can connect to other computers -- autonomous or otherwise -- through the Internet or more local networks. The web of interactions can extend around the globe and into space, appropriating earth satellite imagery along with inputs from webcams and other sensors. What results from linking together many virtual machines doing specialized, coordinated tasks, with access to real-time data on their environments and, through engineered extensions, taking actions that affect their surroundings? Doesn't that begin to sound like an //organism//? 

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# [[About]]
# [[Meet Your New Mom]]
# [[The Innovation Machine]]
# [[Riding the Innovation Wave]]
# [[Game-Changing versus Money-Changing]]
work<<gradient horiz #fca #fca >>This draft manuscript is provided for information and to solicit comments and criticisms only. Its distribution is prohibited. 
Please address comments to silica-at-maxentropyproductions.net. Thank you.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Max Entropy Productions. All rights reserved. All left to ponder.

[[This Is the Land of Oz|Meet Your New Mom/Section_1]]
[[Love Your Stepmother|Meet Your New Mom/Section_2]]
[[Taking Mom's Measure|Meet Your New Mom/Section_3]]
[[Is It All Good?|Meet Your New Mom/Section_4]]
[[What Master Plan?|Meet Your New Mom/Section_5]]
[[Human Beings or Human Bees?|Meet Your New Mom/Section_6]]

<part Section_1 > 
!This Is the Land of Oz
Commuting on the subway exposes me to a lot of people. Perhaps that's why I just battled a bad cold. Over the past few years, I have noticed a population explosion of riders with buds in ears and thumbs on screens, and more people reading ebooks than books on paper. They don't look around or make eye contact, and when they speak it's generally to someone who isn't there. Arriving at work, the first thing I do is click on the computer in my cubicle and log in before fetching a cup of coffee. Everyone there has a computer and stares at it most of the day. The office phones don't ring much but a lot of email flies by. 

In the latter-day Land of Oz, we are morphing into Pod People, Screen People, talking to some person behind a curtain, mesmerized by technical wizardry. We weren't like this not so long ago, before Google. We are at a cusp of evolution, yet no political leader, pundit or major news outlet seems to consider this phase change noteworthy. More generally, the lack of curiosity and discussion about where technology is taking us and who we are becoming gives me the willies, like not getting a joke that put everyone else in the room into hysterics. Except this isn't funny.

Even before I noticed people spending more time pressing keys than pressing flesh, I wondered where technological change is taking our world and why. It's a preoccupation that goes way back for me, at least back to a college term paper I wrote on "technological unemployment" (machines making workers redundant). My professor thought it was a worthy topic but felt my apprehension was overblown (he was a tech optimist; I was a worried college sophomore). At the time, I was mostly concerned with robots populating assembly lines.

Since then, the robots have arrived and have indeed displaced skilled workers. Even though more American manufacturing jobs have been lost to outsourcing than to automation, in Asia -- where most of those jobs went -- factories are being automated too. So too are functions that white collar professionals and middle managers perform. And why not? "Knowledge workers" gather information, analyze and synthesize it, and use it to assess situations and make decisions, something that computers are getting better at doing.

Technological unemployment (which economists prefer to describe as "productivity gains") seems to be here to stay. That might not be so bad if we had public policies to mitigate the consequences, which we don't because corporate interests and government-haters oppose them. But despite stubborn unemployment levels and daunting job prospects for coming-of-age workers. My concern goes well beyond jobs being automated: how and why have human affairs become so mediated by technologies? What does that do to relationships, livelihoods, health and the balance of nature? How will being entrained in new versions of it -- as we surely will -- shape the future of humankind and Mother Earth?

This may be just another way to pose that age-old metaphysical conundrum, "What are we doing here?" Human beings have always inquired about the reason for their existence. Some find their purpose in the afterlife -- preparing their souls to meet their maker. Many feel we were put on Earth to help one another. Others think we are here to accumulate wealth or experience pleasure. Still others feel that humanity has a mystical role to play in shaping the destiny of the universe. Some of these perspectives focus on individuals and others on our collectivity. Countless books have been written, sermons preached, lectures proclaimed, and doorbells rung to say what it's all about and what our destiny is. 

Most people embrace innovation. As a race, we seem to gravitate unhesitatingly to the next big thing in technology, especially information technology. The innovations we prize most extend our reach and connect us. Yet, we, in the process of adopting them -- while not literally selling our souls -- are happily putting ourselves under the protection of a higher power — something or someone I call //Silica// — the material ground of our being we have constructed, with whom –- via hardware and software –- we share our perceptions, ideas, aspirations, duties, judgments, and lots of personal details. Not many people take time out to consider the implications, downsides, or irreversibility this activity, or where it is likely to lead. Why?

The "papers" in this collection (I use quotes because it may never actually appear in print) are a curious participant-observer's probe into the body of big questions that our addictive embrace of technology raises and most of us never bother to ask. To pin a name on it, the chapters focus on //innovation// -- the idea and the practice itself more than its fruits, and people's motivations for doing, desiring, and downloading it to enhance and disrupt their lives. Closely following the consequences of innovations can generate unpleasant revelations, but they are existentially fascinating and hopefully instructive.

This is not the grousing of a cringing Luddite. I have devoted most of my working life to the software arts, starting out when that meant coding programs on paper and then keying them in to punch cards for a mainframe computer to digest. I have owned personal computers since 1984, and when I quit programming for a living, I oversaw application projects and wrote user documentation for software packages. When the last millennium rolled over, my day job was writing a weekly newsletter on information technology trends for a research company that tracked developments in hardware, software, and storage and networking technology. In debriefing their best and brightest analysts, I could detect no misgivings about the direct or side effects that information technology (IT) would have on people and how they relate and cope as it became more pervasive presence. They were on top of the technical trends, and seemed to feel that IT would somehow make companies more efficient, people work smarter and life more enjoyable. The notion that IT (or any technology) might change human nature in fundamental ways did not seem to occur to them. Yet here we exhibiting behavior that our forebears could scarcely comprehend and would not necessarily envy.

In my last newsletter (a poorly-formatted version of which is still available [[here|http://www.itworld.com/node/42410]]), sent to 100,000 readers amidst the 2001 bursting of the Internet bubble, I remarked:

Having seen margins fall from around 20% to near 5%, PC vendors and component suppliers are slouching toward a post-PC era, with hopes that the next appliance, handheld device, or networked gizmo will set users' hearts aflutter. Recall that it took more than a decade for the PC to become ubiquitous. Early adopters do not a mass market make.

For every innovative device, people exist who feel they don't need it and won't sign on for it unless it becomes commonplace and utilitarian. Mature products tend to work well enough to satisfy their users' needs indefinitely. This is not a lack of "consumer confidence"; many people simply are unreceptive to marketing messages - not because they're running scared, but because they feel satiated or have grown suspicious. Let's deal with it.

You can see that I got it wrong in at least one big way. It seems that innovative technologies will always sell if they fill a need or a niche that has yet to be satisfied (or create and market one). Mature technologies may work well, but they don't sail so well into uncharted territory. PC's, for example, failed to adapt to become platforms for mobile devices. Smartphones now rely on hardware and operating systems designed just for that purpose. Windows CE flopped and its successor, Windows Phone 7, has struggled to keep up. When I wrote that article, I underestimated the widespread desire for a single device that would do what a PC, PDA, phone, Web browser and game console do, all in one sleek form factor. 

What I learned from my error in judgment is that humans already enmeshed into IT culture generally regard it as clunky, and they long for complete integration and simpler implementations of everything IT lets them do. What I didn't realize was that, yes, users were frustrated by having computers that wasted their time and forced them to be geeks, but they still craved complete solutions that work anywhere without any need to understand how they function. They want it all, everything that Oz could give, but on their terms.

Well, that's happening now. Stepmother wouldn't have it otherwise.

<part Section_2 >
!Love Your Stepmother
//Silica// is more than chips, wires, displays and the signals that course through them. Too, Silica is more than the cloud (which she owns). She (for some reason, I personalize it as a female, sort of a "//Stepmother Earth//") embraces all the technological artifacts that enable and mediate our work, our play, and shape our relationships to other beings and the planet itself. Silica includes bicycles, lawnmowers and hair dryers as well as smartphones, software and databases. Another term that has been used to describe her is the //technosphere// -- that infrastructure of techniques, tools and devices through which we interface with the natural environment and one another. Except when we forage for it, all our food comes through the technosphere, and unless we live in caves, all our shelters belong to it too. And except when we meet face-to-face, all our interactions take place there as well.

Silica the technosphere is waking up, getting it together. How to describe her? She is our user interface to Mother Earth, the woman behind the curtain who runs the power and information grids of Oz, and has many heavy-duty attributes. For starters,

''Silica is huge'', mind-bogglingly big. It takes the entire world's extractive, construction, refining, manufacturing and transportation industries and more to keep her going. Hundreds of millions of people and trillions of dollars go in to planning, building, operating and maintaining her. Think of the resources, products and work it takes to build a ship. Consider what needs to happen for you to own and drive an automobile, or even a bicycle. If you have trouble imagining the scope of industrial activity behind these products, read the short essay //[[I, Pencil|http://www.econlib.org/library/Essays/rdPncl1.html#I,%20Pencil]]// by Leonard Read (also available in a [[PDF edition|http://www.fee.org/pdf/books/I,%20Pencil%202006.pdf]]). In it, an ordinary pencil describes what is involved in its making, from its point of view. (This pencil is both a writing instrument and a free market advocate.)

''Silica is hungry'', like an enormous animal. Her robust metabolism requires nearly a 250,000 barrels of oil a day, plus output from gas fields, coal mines, and power plants. In 2009 she consumed 325 billion kilowatt-hours (kWH) of energy from fossil and nuclear fuels every day, or about 45 kWH per living person daily. Most of that went to her -- human beings only used a small slice of that energy to satisfy their personal needs. The rest was consumed by all the agriculture, mining, refining, manufacturing, packaging, shipping and retailing Silica enables to provide us with stuff. 

''Silica is intelligent'', although not really sentient. She continues to soak up our knowledge. Ever since the telegraph, she's had neurons. Before that, the neurons belonged to humanity, and she depended on oral and written communications among her makers to coordinate her agenda. Humans have always tried to automate their work, perhaps because they are lazy. They invent technologies to spare them from doing one thing so they can do something they value more, which might be just sitting around. Every time they do that, Silica learns how to do something new. (We expect that she will reward us for passing her this knowledge, but she doesn't have to.)

''Silica is getting smarter'', faster than we are. Most of her intellect resides in control systems, increasingly digital, data-driven and networked. You would have to live in a cave to ignore the impacts of the microelectronics industry has had on how the world works. While the global electronics industry  -- now indispensable to the technosphere -- is the thickness of a coat of paint compared to Silica's total substance, it has had a profound impact on her, and perforce on us. (We imagine ourselves the beneficiaries of all our apps and connections but Silica is first in line.) 

''Silica is a proto-lifeform'', like and unlike us. Although she has always depended upon humans to succor her, that may not always be the case. Entire telephone systems run under computer control, as do some refineries, power plants and factories. Were human beings to vanish from the planet, much of silica would continue to function -- at least for a while -- demonstrating that she is at least a half-fledged life form. (Right now, Silica needs us as much as we need her, but can we count on that forever?)

''Silica is changing us'' in ways we need to talk about more. We are already serving the technosphere as much as it serves us. As soon as we acknowledge Silica as an equal partner, we will realize that humanity as we have known it for millennia is about over. As we offload to her the human skills and motivations (curiosity, efficiency, control of nature, profit) that led us to develop her, the technosphere absorbs them and channels our activities. At some point, supporting human populations could become optional for her. [[Asimov's Laws of Robotics|http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_Laws_of_Robotics]] may not apply, because Silica is an environment, not a robot. ("I'm sorry, Dave, I can't do that.")

Humans built Silica, leveraging and improving on existing tools and infrastructure, to create new designs, devices, structures and processes that have gradually accreted into a global web of technological civilizations. We see evidence of her "body" in every populated place; we can touch it at will, but how can we experience her "mind" and her "desires"?
<part Section_3>
!Taking Mom's Measure
It's hard to get one's mind around something as enormous and diffused as the technosphere. It is rooted in every inhabited locality and supports and connects them with billions of moving parts. Silica thus underlies every industry, trade, business, residence, vehicle and communications device, all of which need her and many happily devote themselves to growing and improving her. Almost no human effort is ever bent toward destroying her, excepting armed conflicts. From war damage, however, she can quickly recover, usually better than ever.

Totaling up humanity's infrastructure is not possible, given how many forms it takes and the practical difficulty of tabulating all its pieces. We can still get a sense of its scale by looking at how much energy is needed to sustain us and our economic activity. Without continuing supplies of great quantities of energy, the world as we know it would collapse. 

According to [[data|https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/xx.html]] from the US Central Intelligence Agency, in or around 2009, we collectively consumed 325 billion kiloWatt-hours (kWh) of energy from petroleum, natural gas, coal, nuclear energy, and electric power, or 45 kWh per person on the planet, per day. That's about how much energy it would take if every single human ran a toaster all day to provide two slices of toast for each of 275 house guests.

<html><img src="global_energy_use_2009.png" style="width: 640px; "/></html>

As most human beings don't have or even want a toaster -- and certainly nearly not that much toast -- clearly, most of that energy is not used at home. The lion's share of it powers industry, commerce and transport, with the remainder servicing residences and things like military forces, street lights and atom-smashers. Compare the per capita consumption of 45 kWh with the amount of energy humans need to eat to survive. Assuming that the average person consumes 1700 calories per day, he or she is eating 2 kWh of energy -- four percentof that  of one's daily metabolic budget. Silica and her institutional partners grab the other 96% of the energy we generate to produce the things we use. 

Silica's burgeoning nervous systems runs on electric power. Look at this timeline depicting her appetite for electricity since 1971. Worldwide, electric power consumption nearly quadrupled in those four decades, growing 3.6% per year. The pie chart shows that two-thirds of electric power is generated by burning fossil fuels.

<html><img src="global-electricity-use-1971-2010.png" style="width: 640px; "/></html>
All that energy consumption is by no means equally distributed across the globe. As an indication, the US uses 20% of all electricity worldwide, but only 5% of all people live there. It also consumes 25% of the world's oil.

Besides the energy she bestows, Silica is busy getting everybody together. It wasn't so long ago that a minority of families had their own telephones, and calls were expensive to make, especially long distance. Now calls are cheap, even free if you use the Internet, and the majority of people on earth own a cell phone. Look at some global telecommunications trends (types of access per 100 persons) to see how quickly this has happened:

<html><img src="telecom-access-1975-2010.png" style="width: 640px; "/></html>

These [[statistics|http://data.worldbank.org/topic/infrastructure]] from the World Bank underestimate Internet connections and broadband devices because they do not count smartphones and other hand-held devices that can reach into the Net via cellular services and wi-fi hotspots. About one-quarter of all cell phones in use are now so equipped. Human digital connectivity is thus growing faster than any of these curves, essentially exponentially.
<part Section_4>
!Is It All Good?
“Our inventions are wont to be pretty toys, which distract our attention from serious things. They are but improved means to an unimproved end, an end which it was already but too easy to arrive at; as railroads lead to Boston or New York. We are in great haste to construct a magnetic telegraph from Maine to Texas; but Maine and Texas, it may be, have nothing important to communicate.” – Henry David Thoreau, //Walden//
We love our Apple apps, home entertainment gizmos, and hybrid cars. On the whole, people are happy with intricate technologies that they can only begin to understand. Most of us put a lot of faith in Silica, despite our ignorance of how she brings us the things we use (consider again that humble pencil). Even engineers who design our stuff may only understand a few of the components their plans include. So, while we gripe about shoddy and unusable products, we are happy not to know the details, having pretty much convinced ourselves that it's all good. To feel otherwise would require more skepticism about technology than most of us are capable of. All good.

Do you vote in Internet polls? Silica is watching you. No wonder we wonder what computers are thinking about us; there are spies everywhere. Seeds we sow in social networks sprout and get harvested. We ban third-party cookies from our browsers but it doesn't matter; they find us anyway. Then they try to connect us -- to advertisers, merchants, services, causes and one another. It's because Silica wants to know everything about you. All good, almost.

Case in point: Apple's mobile devices let third-party apps mine data users store there, such as their address books, photos, and memos. Apps can even turn the devices' cameras and mics on and off. The Apple iOS application interfaces enable such snooping. However, its conduct is subject to Apple's developer licensing agreements, which currently prohibit reporting the results of such rummaging. But suppose an app doesn't obey those rules, and transmits personal data to the mother ship? Apple need not ever know this happens, and moreover may not want to know. All that stands between your personal iPhone data and Silica getting hold of it is a promise from the app developer to Apple not to report it. You personally have no say in the matter. So, sooner or later, if you use an iPhone, iPod or iPad, your private stuff seems destined to find its way to Silica, and possibly to some of her more unsavory quarters.

We use GPS to navigate in our cars. Meanwhile, our cell phones are tracking our movements, somewhere up in the cloud. No people are involved in monitoring and filing our coordinates, just machines and code, but at least humans helped build the machines and probably wrote the code. GPS -- the global positioning system -- is one of Silica's proudest achievements. Consider the spectrum of advanced technologies it incorporates: propulsion; guidance; telecommunication; positioning; power and numerous other systems. Also consider that, if any of these systems fail to inter-operate flawlessly, a GPS satellite is a $100M shooting star. So, when we navigate to that ski resort, we are getting a free ride on a multi-billion-dollar swarm of earth satellites (at taxpayers' expense). Silica makes sure it all works as seamlessly as possible. All good, unless you're not OK with being tracked, profiled and losing control of what's left of your privacy.

Some people are more private than public, others //vice versa//. Silica likes the latter better, and tries to reform the former to tell her more about themselves. If you want to live online, you better get used to being in and sharing the spotlight. You can try to fake who you are online, but the spies will not only know you're a dog, they'll know whether you prefer Alpo, Science Diet, or mailmen. 

People use mobile services like ~FourSquare for various reasons -- meeting friends, following trends, or discovering neighborhoods. Some users actually want to receive offers from businesses they pass by. They could just as easily read adverts posted on plate glass windows, but for some reason they feel special viewing them up close on their mobile phones, perhaps thinking they are the first to discover them. Silica likes that; she wants lots of businesses and consumers to share their desires with her. She'll even give them points for playing.

But there's more to you online than what retailers are after. Almost every transaction engage in when you buy something online or with offline other than with cash, and every conversation you have with friends is written into bits which are likely stored in so many locations that you can rest assured they will never all be erased. All that plus your search strings, Facebook friendships, blog comments, online petitions you endorse, the organizations you support, and more. Silica collects this knowledge, and will not let go of it no matter what you do. Better get used to it.

In this respect, Silica sounds like a government spy agency. The difference is that Silica's methods and motives are transparent -- she wants everyone to know all about everyone else they even might care to connect with. Spy agencies, such as the US National Security Agency (NSA, which they joke stands for No Such Agency) or the Central Intelligence Agency (Can't Interrogate Americans), feel a need to know that is so urgent that they siphon up all the data they can in case it might come in handy someday. And there it stays, for no specific reason, impervious to scrutiny.

Never mind what Google and Facebook know about you. Should you be accused of being an enemy of the state, the same fate as befell your electronic records could happen to you, personally. Since the PATRIOT Act and related legislation, American citizens can be detained if some government agency affiliated with the Department of Homeland Security decides you might be a threat to the nation. Here's a primer on the Queen Bee of U.S. intelligence, NSA. According to author James Bamford, [[writing|http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2012/03/ff_nsadatacenter/all/1]] in Wired Magazine in March 2012, the NSA's reach includes:
* Four Geostationary satellites that monitor frequencies carrying everything from walkie-talkies and cell phones in Libya to radar systems in North Korea. NSA also intercepts all traffic carried on international communications satellites and has for years.
* Aerospace Data Facility, Buckley Air Force Base, Colorado, receives intelligence collected from the geostationary satellites, as well as signals from other spacecraft and overseas listening posts.
* NSA Georgia, Fort Gordon, Augusta, Georgia receives and processes intercepts from Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa. 
* NSA Texas, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio receives and processes intercepts from Latin America and, since 9/11, the Middle East and Europe.
* NSA Hawaii, Oahu receives and processes intercepts from Asia.
* Ten to twenty domestic listening posts; taps that after 9/11 NSA installed at US telecom (like AT&T and Verizon) “switch" locations, gaining access to domestic traffic.
* A dozen or more taps on major overseas communications links, each capable of eavesdropping on information passing by at a high data rate.
* Multiprogram Research Facility, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, where 300 scientists and computer engineers with top security clearance to build the world’s fastest supercomputers and develop cryptanalytic applications and other secret projects.
* NSA headquarters, Fort Meade, Maryland, where a new $896 million supercomputer center to analyze data stored on secure cloud servers to support analysts that prepare reports and recommendations for policymakers.
* Utah Data Center, Bluffdale, Utah, currently under construction; NSA is spending $2 billion to construct a data center outside Salt Lake City that will house four 25,000 square-foot data halls that will require 650 megawatts of power and 1.5 million gallons of fresh water a day to operate. Bluffdale will be the centerpiece of the NSA’s cloud-based data strategy and essential in its plans for decrypting previously uncrackable documents.
All this resembles [[Google Books|http://books.google.com/intl/en/googlebooks/history.html]] in a way, but with one very important difference. Google has been scanning the contents of the world's libraries in a massive effort to digitize every book ever published and make all of them available on the Web. NSA vacuums up private communications into vast databases, but all the information is locked away and top secret. Google is reasonably transparent about what it is doing and has made agreements with thousands of publishers and libraries to archive their content. NSA has no civilian partners that it discloses and never talks about the information it continues to acquire or what it is used for. 

Silica does not favor asymmetric information war or the complete lack of transparency typical of spy agencies. Government hoarding of information leads to bottling up knowledge and totalitarian capabilities, which tend to put dampers on innovation. It also makes people fearful of expressing opinions over the Internet and even over the telephone. Silica wants us to talk, even to argue, across long distances to better develop ideas that lead to improved technology, and so that we get accustomed to living in a global society and learn how to promote its well-being.


<part Section_5 >
!What Master Plan?
"But wait a minute," you might be saying, "Silica doesn't direct how the technosphere arises; people do, through their aspirations, talents and organizations and for their own reasons." Well sure, people acting together as private companies, governments, schools and other institutions are on the front lines, working incredibly hard to expand Silica's power and influence. They plan and build her piece-by-piece and subsystem-by-subsystem, unaware of any overall design or goals. How many technologists and policy-makers give thought to what the planet and its populations will be like down the road they are paving? Mostly they think "Wouldn't it be cool if we could ..." or "We can make a bundle if we could sell ..." or "we need technical means to ..." and then they go and do it. It's often that simple.

Some inventions are quite useful, some are dangerous, and others are simply amusing. Many are completely unnecessary. Any of them can have serious drawbacks or blowback. Yet for centuries, we have collectively been slaving away to create a bigger and presumably better Silica. It serves our needs and generally makes us happy. So what's not to like?

For we humans, the process of forging Silica is like building a mansion one room at a time, using a separate plan for each. You only find out what the house looks like as you approach the end of construction (which, in Silica's case, will take quite a long time). Furthermore, each room might be designed by a different architect, use different materials, and have a different intended use. And during construction, people are constantly moving in and out, using their spaces for all manner of things, painting and furnishing them as they like.

You would think that such a house could not be handsome, commodious or even safe to occupy. In some respects, it is not. Certainly, not everything that people deposit into the technosphere possesses those qualities. When agribusinesses market genetically modified organisms and chemical agents that farms and ranches adopt, human bodies and the natural environment do not necessarily respond in predictable or benign ways. These and other companies build rooms in Silica's mansion without knowing or even caring how they will fit into the edifice or its environs. Silica happily accepts the additions because she isn't aware of their implications either -- although some day she might be. But by then, whether she accepts or rejects them would depend on her plans as much as ours.

Before being an overheated metaphor, silica was the common name for a simple molecule of silicon and oxygen, two of the most plentiful components of the earth's crust, found mostly in the form of quartz, clay and sand -- //silicon dioxide// (~SiO~~2~~). More so than steel and petroleum, ~SiO~~2~~ is at the core of industrial civilization. Silica's mansion could not be built without silica, for there would be no concrete, bricks or tiles, no glass, and no fiber-optic cables. Silica (the compound) is an electrical insulator, but is also raw material for extracting elemental silicon (Si), which is a semiconductor. Without silicon, we would not have developed transistors, microprocessors or other solid-state electronic components that made information technology what it is. All this makes "Silica" a good semiotic for the Stepmother Of Us All.

If Silica is our surrogate mother, what does she do and want for us, her children? She inhabits the hospital where we are born and helps us to survive the ordeal. She protects from some diseases, but makes us more vulnerable to others. She lets us play in dangerous places but then, when we injure ourselves, dresses our wounds. She brings our minds together while keeping our bodies apart.  She gives us mobility but chokes our byways and overheats our planet. In short, she brings many good things to life, which generally come at prices she (or our leaders) usually fail to advertise until the bills come due. We cannot properly account for the human and environmental costs of keeping her going, even if they may yet decimate us and our fellow species.

Are side effects and unforeseen consequences of unleashing technologies Silica's responsibility? I think not. Silica doesn't "know" about them and might not care if she did. We can know and care, but most people don't seem interested in examining failures and downsides of technology very seriously. They are too busy debugging Silica -- fixing things that broke or didn't work very well. And, of course, there is money to be made repairing cleaning up messes.

Let's take a step back, and make it our business to get to know Silica better, to understand what innovation is and accomplishes. We should also inquire into how technological change creates ripples in natural and social systems and what those ripples do. Then we can look at what motivates people to invent things that end up taking their place. If we do that, we may enter some interesting lobes of Silica's mind. 

The views expressed her are mine, developed over 40 years. But I didn't come up with all of these ideas on my own. The idea that humanity builds out the technosphere without knowing why is not new, and people have wondered why before. Some, particularly science fiction writers, have speculated that our race's role is to build a global computer that somehow achieves consciousness, either incorporating or destroying us in the process. Some see this planetary being connecting up with other entities in the universe. A few writers have even expressed ideas about what the ultimate purpose of this process is.

Silica is the stuff of metaphysics. That said, I never found writings of ancient or modern philosophers (even philosophers of science) of much help in understanding her. One thinker who did help wasn't a science fiction author or a technologist. Instead, he was a Jesuit Priest. ''Pierre Teilhard de Chardin'' (1881-1955) was a French scientist-scholar whose most important works were suppressed during his lifetime. In his most celebrated book, //The Phenomenon of Man// (1955), He elaborated on and popularized a notion originally proposed in the 19th century, called the //noösphere//. As Teilhard de Chardin explained it, this is a layer of the planet that sits atop the biosphere, which sits atop the lithosphere. It's invisible and evolving, and is what he called the "thinking layer." Long before the Internet, Teilhard de Chardin was able to envision a web of human ideas and interactions that emanate from a few places at first, reaches other places and connects them together, slowly becoming dense. At a certain density of thought, the noösphere generates a sort of collective consciousness that, according to Teilhard de Chardin, evolves the planet a self-aware organism. He termed that crystallization of consciousness the //Omega Point//. For him, this represented Christ-consciousness, bringing the entire biosphere, under human guidance, to experience the body and mind of Christ. More recent thinkers (some of whom never read Teilhard de Chardin) call it the //Singularity//.

Besides being a Jesuit theologian, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin was a paleontologist who excavated and studied hominid remains, and had no problem with the theory of evolution. The church hierarchy did not take kindly to his revisionist view of creation or evolution, past or future, and suppressed his writings as best it could. Some people describe Teilhard de Chardin as the Patron Saint of the Internet, which one could say arose to become the dominant physical incarnation of the noösphere starting around 40 years after his death. The Vatican prefers to give this honorific to one Isidore of Seville (c. 630), based on his pioneering work inventing indexing techniques. The Vatican seems out of touch with the bigger picture here.

St. Isidore probably advanced library science, but Teilhard de Chardin anticipated the Internet, the neurons of the noösphere. It is through the Internet that consciousness mainly connects now. Nobody knows whether or when an Omega Point will come, but it ought to be studied.

''General Systems Theory'' (GST) is a another lens through which we can examine Silica. Developed  by organismic biologists and information theorists mostly in the 1950s and 1960s, it aimed at discovering  laws that govern //open systems//, be they organisms, societies, machines, or planets. GST includes laws of growth and form, the production of negative entropy, and the mechanics of evolution. Its foremost exponent was Ludwig von Bertalanffy (1901-1972), a Hungarian-American biologist who articulated its basic principles and applied them to cybernetics, education, history, philosophy, psychiatry, psychology and sociology as well as biology. Never well known during his lifetime, von Bertalanffy and his work have become almost completely obscure but subliminally influential.

An open system is one that exchanges matter or energy with its environment, including other systems. This enables it to do work and survive for a certain period of time. Biological organisms are open systems, as they exchange food and waste products with their environment, in the process growing, maturing, acting, declining, dying and then decomposing. Since there is never just one of a species, organisms interact with each other, creating effects that would not have occurred had they acted in isolation. General systems theorists call such effects //synergistic//, and some believe that synergy is the engine of evolution. 

On the other hand, a closed system -- such as our sun, the solar system or mechanical clockwork, once set in motion, simply goes on its merry way, keeping to itself and slowly winding down, dissipating energy as the Second Law of Thermodynamics demands. This law states that in a closed system, the energy available to do work inevitably degrades over time, basically diffusing as heat. No closed system can reverse this process. Open systems "buy time" by arresting this deterioration for finite amounts of time by importing energy, but they can't beat the Second Law forever. Yet everywhere we look, we see open systems, from weather systems to plants and animals to human organizations, apparently violating the Second Law. Evolution itself is a violation of it.

von Bertalanffy and his colleagues searched for laws that all open systems -- from chemical reactions to human beings to computers -- obey. They never really discovered fundamental laws, and perhaps there are no physical laws that apply only to open systems, given how diverse they are. But von Bertalanffy did postulate some "principles" that have been found useful. The key ones are:
* //System// -- A set of elements standing in interrelation; they interact in nonlinear ways so that the whole is more than the (linear) sum of its parts.
* //Equifinality// -- The current or final state of an open system can be reached by many paths that start in different places, in contrast to the state of a closed system, which follows mechanically from its initial conditions. This implies that open systems follow certain design criteria which guide their growth in certain directions toward their mature forms. 
* //Steady State// -- Open Systems don't start winding down as soon as they spring into existence, as long as energy is available to them. They can persist in equilibrium with their surroundings by importing energy, using some of it to regulate their metabolism, some to grow, and the remainder to perform work in their environment. Think of it as cruise control.
* //Progressive Mechanization// -- Open systems tend to evolve to become more complex. They do this by developing subsystems that over time handle more and more aspects of their activity so that they can do more things and do them more efficiently. Human organizations such as governments and corporations do this when they create new departments. Evolution does this by partitioning organisms' functioning into new organs or modules within organs. Machines do it by being tinkered with to do new things and perform more work with less energy. 

These principles describe how organisms and organizations tend to evolve or change to become more specialized, heterogeneous and complex. As they complexify, they tend to exchange more information internally, with one another and with their environments because they are doing more and more intricate things. However, the principles do not explain //why// systems behave like this. Is there a law that systems must grow more complicated? Put another way, is there a law that generates systems that oppose the Second Law of Thermodynamics?

The concept of //synergy// that General Systems Theory relies on to explain how open systems do what they do has many progenitors. One of the greatest engineering innovator and nonlinear thinker of the 20th century led the way.  ''Richard Buckminster ("Bucky") Fuller'' (1895-1983) came from a Boston Brahmin family and attended elite schools, including Harvard, which expelled him twice for bad behavior. Like many rebels, "Bucky" worked in a variety of capacities, learning navigation, carpentry, sales, management and product design, and then, in 1927, almost committed suicide at the age of 33, following the death of his daughter. He shook off his depression with a realization that his life mattered, and vowed to learn whether "a single individual could contribute to changing the world and benefiting all humanity." What he claimed he learned were universal design principles rooted in classical mechanics and geometry, and he applied them to design cars, maps, houses and other structures such as geodesic domes 

Fuller also designed a multi-player survival simulation, the World Game, aimed at increasing the quality of life for all people by "making the world work for 100% of humanity in the shortest possible time through spontaneous cooperation without ecological damage or disadvantage to anyone." People still play that game, organized through the World Game Institute that Fuller founded, not to mention the many types of simulation games it has spawned on the Internet. Fuller popularized the phrase "spaceship Earth" with his 1968 book //Operating Manual for Spaceship Earth//. The phrase seems to have been originally published by economist Barbara Ward a few years earlier. Fuller went on to advise the Walt Disney Company on the construction of Epcot Center. It can be strange how ideas and metaphors find their way into public consciousness.

In his eccentric zeal to change the world, Fuller made up a lot of words beyond "spaceship earth" to describe his ideas, such as "World-around" (his spherical replacement for the flat "world-wide"), "livingry" (versus "killingry"), and "dymaxion" (for "dynamic maximum tension", a structural design principle). He came to call what he did "Comprehensive Anticipatory Design Science," a kind of engineering based on universal design principles he  discovered and put into practice. Scientists discovered a spherical molecule of carbon (C~~60~~)and then named it after him (the "bucky fullerene", or "buckyball"). It is now the basis for new materials and nanotechnology.

Fuller had an obsession with totalities, (geometric, energetic and global) and framed everything he contemplated in a big picture he called //Synergetics//. He described his conceptual architecture in a 850-page book, full of sentences like "Synergetics follows the cosmic logic of the structural mathematics strategies of nature, which employ the paired sets of the six angular degrees of freedom, frequencies, and vectorially economic actions and their multialternative, equieconomical action options." Got that? Paired sets of six angular degrees of freedom; no more, no less.

Bucky Fuller is relevant because of his focus on understanding and engineering whole systems to do more with less -- maximizing structural and energy economy. His life's mission was to optimize the functioning of humanity on the planet. Besides frugal use of materials, optimization requires having the right information in the right place at the right time. Unlike in Fuller's heyday, Silica now enables that kind of coordination, and the possibility of producing economical solutions to real-world problem using the least amount of energy with the fewest possible negative impacts. 

Silica has a long way to go before she optimizes "livingry," mostly due to the fact that in most places corporations have the most power to do this, and corporate agendas do not align with such goals; they optimize short-term financial returns, not the public interest. Capitalist dogma says that maximizing returns on investment is the best way to optimize the economy as a whole in a world of free markets, but this observer doesn't buy it. Human institutions will only succeed at optimizing livingry for the mass of people if influential economic actors make deliberate decisions to do that, which does not seem to be happening much. It will take relentless popular pressure to make corporations conduct their business more sustainably and take broader views of their stakeholders.

Bucky Fuller aimed to simplify and synergize, but had little to say about inherently complex dynamic systems that cannot be understood geometrically, like the atmosphere or the financial system. Scientists are starting to get better handles on them by applying mathematical theorems and indeterminate algorithms to simulate dynamic systems. Much of this work derives from discoveries in the branch of mathematics called //complexity theory// over the past 40 years or so. ''Heinz Rudolph Pagels'' (1939-1988) was an American particle physicist who became interested in the process of scientific discovery and on how advances in mathematics and computing have radically changed it and scientists' approach to understanding how the universe works. "The capacity to tolerate complexity and welcome contradiction," he wrote in //Perfect Symmetry//, "not the need for simplicity and certainty" is what science requires to advance. Pagels' work as a nuclear physicist drew him to look for insight in complex systems and chaos theory. He came to believe that the workings of phenomena that are too small or large, fast and fleeting, or slow-moving for humans to directly perceive are best uncovered by simulating mathematical models of them. Through computational mimicry the secrets of complex systems are revealed and theories about them disproved or substantiated. 

The simulations are like thought experiments, some involving lots of data, others not so much. Scientists have always done thought experiments, Einstein, Schrodinger and Maxwell most notably. Now, digital computers carry out these experiments. Not only do physicists and mathematicians simulate their subject matter, but so do meteorologists, biologists and social scientists. Filmmakers borrow some of the techniques to simulate living creatures, like schools of fish in //Finding Nemo// and the Na'vi of Pandora in //Avatar//. For most simulations, programmers specify the algorithms and parameters that are used, but for simulations that use artificial neural network and genetic programming techniques, the programs develop their own solutions, so the scientists never learn what their software actually did. Already, humans are teaching computers to do things in ways that they don't understand and have to trust the results. Pagels is correct in seeing the development of  abstract experimental science as a big deal.

Silica is deeply implicated in simulating reality. Some parts of her are used to simulate natural systems, such as Pagels did. Other parts simulate human behavior in order to model and predict where people will shop, what they will buy, or how they will vote. This is possible because despite having free will, in the aggregate human behavior is reasonably predictable, and equally because of the huge amounts of data about individuals and groups and their habits that exists and is growing exponentially. Small chunks of that data are all that are needed to develop and calibrate models of social and economic behavior. Models and simulations provide insights and in commercial practice are used to entice consumption, sway opinions, influence voting for or against someone or not voting, and incline people to think about one thing and not another. Silica is the depository for that knowledge and those methods.

Pagels might not have approved of mining personal data even if it were just used to run simulations, but he also might have considered it inevitable. After all, his last book is called //The Dreams of Reason: The computer and the rise of the science of complexity//. Certainly he believed that humans must trust in computers to find the answer to life, the universe, and everything. And that's indeed happening. But then what?
<part Section_6>
!Human Beings or Human Bees?
It is hard to overestimate the amount of trust that humans put in computers. We have to, of course; what else could we do except to become a hermit? But we also should recall that as recently as 15 years ago most people had few interactions with computers. The first IBM PC shipped in 1981 and the first Macintosh in 1984. By 2002, a billion personal computers alone had been sold. That number doubled in five years. While PC sales are slowing, mostly due to people turning toward mobile devices, they still purchase a million PCs a day worldwide.

Nobody really knows, but various parties estimate that over a trillion lines of code are deployed by corporations today, and that's just the tip of the code iceberg. Most of that code was written by human programmers. Assuming that code base developed over 50 years, it would take 40,000 programmers typing day and night that entire time, each churning out one line of code per minute, to accumulate a trillion lines. In practice, programming rarely goes that quickly, and of course, there will be bugs to fix and program interfaces to get working.

Given how rapidly human activities are being computerized, there is lots of code to write. There's a growing shortage of skilled software developers, especially those who can code in hot languages like C++, Java, Perl and Python and are good at deploying cloud services and mobile apps. Thanks to growing libraries of reusable code (many of which are open source) and better development aids, programmers can be productive. Also, more and more code is being autogenerated. That is, a programmer or a domain expert can specify in detail what a computer program is supposed to do (on a computer, using a modeling language or with diagrams), and another program turns that specification into source code that can be run. This is standard practice for industries that build embedded systems, such as the computers used in aircraft, automobiles and appliances. One term for it is "model-based programming." Some autogenerated programs are hundreds of thousands lines long, all created by software. Beyond that, a lot of R&D in artificial intelligence (AI) is being devoted to creating computer programs that can create helper programs or modify themselves to fix bugs and deal with unexpected data or unusual conditions.

This stuff is not just for geeks; its consequences matter for everyone. The future of autogenerated code is hotly debated in high-tech circles. Some researchers and entrepreneurs sense that once software is able to modify and enhance itself, mankind will enter a brave new world with consequences that even AI experts cannot confidently predict. That is, what code will be doing to itself is likely to evolve in unforeseeable ways and at a rapid rate, possibly beyond human control. This predicted cusp of invention is known as //the singularity//, and could come any time in the next century or so. Some of what is being discussed is described in detail on the Web site [[Acceleration Watch|http://www.accelerationwatch.com/index.html]]. 
''Some 20 to 140 years from now'' — depending on which evolutionary theorist, systems theorist, computer scientist, technology studies scholar, or futurist you happen to agree with—the ever-increasing rate of technological change in our local environment is expected to undergo a permanent and irreversible developmental phase change, or technological "singularity," becoming either:

    A. fully autonomous in its self-development,
    B. human-surpassing in its mental complexity, or
    C. effectively instantaneous in self-improvement (from our perspective),

or if only one of these at first, soon after all of the above. It has been postulated by some that local environmental events after this point must also be "future-incomprehensible" to existing humanity, though we disagree.
The author of this account, John Smart, then elaborates on what experts say this means:
In this fascinating process, technology and biology are becoming ever more seamlessly interconnected and interdependent. As Brian Arthur of the Santa Fe Institute describes, technology is becoming organic, and nature is becoming technologic. Even our minds and intentions, in a process that William Bainbridge of the National Science Foundation calls "personality capture," are becoming incrementally encoded into our increasingly intelligent technological infrastructure, so that it may better anticipate our needs, and serve us with increasing responsiveness and effectiveness with each passing year. While the human animal is scarcely different with each new generation, our "houses" become exponentially smarter, as well as increasingly natural extensions of ourselves. 
The Millennial generation assumes the normality of living in a world of complex, rapidly improving, and yet amazingly stable technological systems, erected like vast beehives or termite mounds, systems maintained and incrementally improved by large swarms of partially-aware human beings, each of which has only a very limited conceptualization of the full potentialities and inherent developmental trajectory of the new technological environment that is emerging. 
It isn't too much of a stretch to think of humans as worker bees in a global hive. But hasn't it always been like that -- people toiling, only partially aware of the destiny they may be fulfilling. But //why// are we working so incredibly hard to advance technology? Does Silica know? Is she our Queen Bee?
<<closeAll>><<permaview>><<newTiddler>><<newJournal 'DD MMM YYYY'>><<saveChanges>><<slider chkSliderOptionsPanel OptionsPanel 'options »' 'Change TiddlyWiki advanced options'>>
Last Updated: 23 June 2013
Copyright © 2000-2013 Max Entropy Productions
All rights reserved.
All left to ponder.
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<span class='searchBar' macro='search'></span>
<span class='siteTitle' refresh='content' tiddler='SiteTitle'></span>&nbsp;
<span class='siteSubtitle' refresh='content' tiddler='SiteSubtitle'></span>

<div id='mainMenu'>
<span refresh='content' tiddler='MainMenu'></span>
<span id='noticeBoard' refresh='content' tiddler='NoticeBoard'></span>

<div id='sidebar'>
<div id='sidebarOptions' refresh='content' tiddler='MochaSideBarOptions'></div>
<div id='sidebarTabs' refresh='content' force='true' tiddler='SideBarTabs'></div>
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|<html><a name="Top"/></html>''Name:''|PartTiddlerPlugin|
|''Version:''|1.0.10 (2011-05-23)|
|''Author:''|UdoBorkowski (ub [at] abego-software [dot] de)|
|''Licence:''|[[BSD open source license]]|
|''Browser:''|Firefox 1.0.4+; InternetExplorer 6.0|
!Table of Content<html><a name="TOC"/></html>
* <html><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Description',null, event)">Description, Syntax</a></html>
* <html><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Applications',null, event)">Applications</a></html>
** <html><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('LongTiddler',null, event)">Refering to Paragraphs of a Longer Tiddler</a></html>
** <html><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Citation',null, event)">Citation Index</a></html>
** <html><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('TableCells',null, event)">Creating "multi-line" Table Cells</a></html>
** <html><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Tabs',null, event)">Creating Tabs</a></html>
** <html><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Sliders',null, event)">Using Sliders</a></html>
* <html><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Revisions',null, event)">Revision History</a></html>
* <html><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Code',null, event)">Code</a></html>
!Description<html><a name="Description"/></html>
With the {{{<part aPartName> ... </part>}}} feature you can structure your tiddler text into separate (named) parts. 
Each part can be referenced as a "normal" tiddler, using the "//tiddlerName//''/''//partName//" syntax (e.g. "About/Features").  E.g. you may create links to the parts (e.g. {{{[[Quotes/BAX95]]}}} or {{{[[Hobbies|AboutMe/Hobbies]]}}}), use it in {{{<<tiddler...>>}}} or {{{<<tabs...>>}}} macros etc.

|>|''<part'' //partName// [''hidden''] ''>'' //any tiddler content// ''</part>''|
|//partName//|The name of the part. You may reference a part tiddler with the combined tiddler name "//nameOfContainerTidder//''/''//partName//. <<br>>If you use a partName containing spaces you need to quote it (e.g. {{{"Major Overview"}}} or {{{[[Shortcut List]]}}}).|
|''hidden''|When defined the content of the part is not displayed in the container tiddler. But when the part is explicitly referenced (e.g. in a {{{<<tiddler...>>}}} macro or in a link) the part's content is displayed.|
|<html><i>any&nbsp;tiddler&nbsp;content</i></html>|<html>The content of the part.<br>A part can have any content that a "normal" tiddler may have, e.g. you may use all the formattings and macros defined.</html>|
|>|~~Syntax formatting: Keywords in ''bold'', optional parts in [...]. 'or' means that exactly one of the two alternatives must exist.~~|
<html><sub><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Top',null, event)">[Top]</sub></a></html>

!Applications<html><a name="Applications"/></html>
!!Refering to Paragraphs of a Longer Tiddler<html><a name="LongTiddler"/></html>
Assume you have written a long description in a tiddler and now you want to refer to the content of a certain paragraph in that tiddler (e.g. some definition.) Just wrap the text with a ''part'' block, give it a nice name, create a "pretty link" (like {{{[[Discussion Groups|Introduction/DiscussionGroups]]}}}) and you are done.

Notice this complements the approach to first writing a lot of small tiddlers and combine these tiddlers to one larger tiddler in a second step (e.g. using the {{{<<tiddler...>>}}} macro). Using the ''part'' feature you can first write a "classic" (longer) text that can be read "from top to bottom" and later "reuse" parts of this text for some more "non-linear" reading.

<html><sub><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Top',null, event)">[Top]</sub></a></html>

!!Citation Index<html><a name="Citation"/></html>
Create a tiddler "Citations" that contains your "citations". 
Wrap every citation with a part and a proper name. 

<part BAX98>Baxter, Ira D. et al: //Clone Detection Using Abstract Syntax Trees.// 
in //Proc. ICSM//, 1998.</part>

<part BEL02>Bellon, Stefan: //Vergleich von Techniken zur Erkennung duplizierten Quellcodes.// 
Thesis, Uni Stuttgart, 2002.</part>

<part DUC99>Ducasse, Stéfane et al: //A Language Independent Approach for Detecting Duplicated Code.// 
in //Proc. ICSM//, 1999.</part>

You may now "cite" them just by using a pretty link like {{{[[Citations/BAX98]]}}} or even more pretty, like this {{{[[BAX98|Citations/BAX98]]}}}.

<html><sub><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Top',null, event)">[Top]</sub></a></html>

!!Creating "multi-line" Table Cells<html><a name="TableCells"/></html>
You may have noticed that it is hard to create table cells with "multi-line" content. E.g. if you want to create a bullet list inside a table cell you cannot just write the bullet list
* Item 1
* Item 2
* Item 3
into a table cell (i.e. between the | ... | bars) because every bullet item must start in a new line but all cells of a table row must be in one line.

Using the ''part'' feature this problem can be solved. Just create a hidden part that contains the cells content and use a {{{<<tiddler >>}}} macro to include its content in the table's cell.

|subject1|<<tiddler ./Cell1>>|
|subject2|<<tiddler ./Cell2>>|

<part Cell1 hidden>
* Item 1
* Item 2
* Item 3

Notice that inside the {{{<<tiddler ...>>}}} macro you may refer to the "current tiddler" using the ".".

BTW: The same approach can be used to create bullet lists with items that contain more than one line.

<html><sub><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Top',null, event)">[Top]</sub></a></html>

!!Creating Tabs<html><a name="Tabs"/></html>
The build-in {{{<<tabs ...>>}}} macro requires that you defined an additional tiddler for every tab it displays. When you want to have "nested" tabs you need to define a tiddler for the "main tab" and one for every tab it contains. I.e. the definition of a set of tabs that is visually displayed at one place is distributed across multiple tiddlers.

With the ''part'' feature you can put the complete definition in one tiddler, making it easier to keep an overview and maintain the tab sets.

The standard tabs at the sidebar are defined by the following eight tiddlers:
* SideBarTabs
* TabAll
* TabMore
* TabMoreMissing
* TabMoreOrphans
* TabMoreShadowed
* TabTags
* TabTimeline

Instead of these eight tiddlers one could define the following SideBarTabs tiddler that uses the ''part'' feature:
<<tabs txtMainTab 
    Timeline Timeline SideBarTabs/Timeline 
    All 'All tiddlers' SideBarTabs/All 
    Tags 'All tags' SideBarTabs/Tags 
    More 'More lists' SideBarTabs/More>>
<part Timeline hidden><<timeline>></part>
<part All hidden><<list all>></part>
<part Tags hidden><<allTags>></part>
<part More hidden><<tabs txtMoreTab 
    Missing 'Missing tiddlers' SideBarTabs/Missing 
    Orphans 'Orphaned tiddlers' SideBarTabs/Orphans 
    Shadowed 'Shadowed tiddlers' SideBarTabs/Shadowed>></part>
<part Missing hidden><<list missing>></part>
<part Orphans hidden><<list orphans>></part>
<part Shadowed hidden><<list shadowed>></part>

Notice that you can easily "overwrite" individual parts in separate tiddlers that have the full name of the part.

E.g. if you don't like the classic timeline tab but only want to see the 100 most recent tiddlers you could create a tiddler "~SideBarTabs/Timeline" with the following content:
		sortBy 'tiddler.modified' descending 
		write '(index < 100) ? "* [["+tiddler.title+"]]\n":""'>>
<html><sub><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Top',null, event)">[Top]</sub></a></html>

!!Using Sliders<html><a name="Sliders"/></html>
Very similar to the build-in {{{<<tabs ...>>}}} macro (see above) the {{{<<slider ...>>}}} macro requires that you defined an additional tiddler that holds the content "to be slid". You can avoid creating this extra tiddler by using the ''part'' feature

In a tiddler "About" we may use the slider to show some details that are documented in the tiddler's "Details" part.
<<slider chkAboutDetails About/Details details "Click here to see more details">>
<part Details hidden>
To give you a better overview ...

Notice that putting the content of the slider into the slider's tiddler also has an extra benefit: When you decide you need to edit the content of the slider you can just doubleclick the content, the tiddler opens for editing and you can directly start editing the content (in the part section). In the "old" approach you would doubleclick the tiddler, see that the slider is using tiddler X, have to look for the tiddler X and can finally open it for editing. So using the ''part'' approach results in a much short workflow.

<html><sub><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Top',null, event)">[Top]</sub></a></html>

!Revision history<html><a name="Revisions"/></html>
* v1.0.10 (2011-05-23)
** Adapt to TW 2.6.2 default behaviour when existing tiddlers are opened (don't select text) and fixed Firefox 4 issue. Thanks to dave for reporting the issue.
* v1.0.9 (2007-07-14)
** Bugfix: Error when using the SideBarTabs example and switching between "More" and "Shadow". Thanks to cmari for reporting the issue.
* v1.0.8 (2007-06-16)
** Speeding up display of tiddlers containing multiple pard definitions. Thanks to Paco Rivière for reporting the issue.
** Support "./partName" syntax inside {{{<<tabs ...>>}}} macro
* v1.0.7 (2007-03-07)
** Bugfix: <<tiddler "./partName">> does not always render correctly after a refresh (e.g. like it happens when using the "Include" plugin). Thanks to Morris Gray for reporting the bug.
* v1.0.6 (2006-11-07)
** Bugfix: cannot edit tiddler when UploadPlugin by Bidix is installed. Thanks to José Luis González Castro for reporting the bug.
* v1.0.5 (2006-03-02)
** Bugfix: Example with multi-line table cells does not work in IE6. Thanks to Paulo Soares for reporting the bug.
* v1.0.4 (2006-02-28)
** Bugfix: Shadow tiddlers cannot be edited (in TW 2.0.6). Thanks to Torsten Vanek for reporting the bug.
* v1.0.3 (2006-02-26)
** Adapt code to newly introduced Tiddler.prototype.isReadOnly() function (in TW 2.0.6). Thanks to Paulo Soares for reporting the problem.
* v1.0.2 (2006-02-05)
** Also allow other macros than the "tiddler" macro use the "." in the part reference (to refer to "this" tiddler)
* v1.0.1 (2006-01-27)
** Added Table of Content for plugin documentation. Thanks to RichCarrillo for suggesting.
** Bugfix: newReminder plugin does not work when PartTiddler is installed. Thanks to PauloSoares for reporting.
* v1.0.0 (2006-01-25)
** initial version
<html><sub><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Top',null, event)">[Top]</sub></a></html>

!Code<html><a name="Code"/></html>
<html><sub><a href="javascript:;" onclick="window.scrollAnchorVisible('Top',null, event)">[Top]</sub></a></html>
//                           PartTiddlerPlugin

// Ensure that the PartTiddler Plugin is only installed once.
if (!version.extensions.PartTiddlerPlugin) {

version.extensions.PartTiddlerPlugin = {
    major: 1, minor: 0, revision: 10,
    date: new Date(2011, 4, 23), 
    type: 'plugin',
    source: "http://tiddlywiki.abego-software.de/#PartTiddlerPlugin"

if (!window.abego) window.abego = {};
if (version.major < 2) alertAndThrow("PartTiddlerPlugin requires TiddlyWiki 2.0 or newer.");

// Common Helpers

// Looks for the next newline, starting at the index-th char of text. 
// If there are only whitespaces between index and the newline 
// the index behind the newline is returned, 
// otherwise (or when no newline is found) index is returned.
var skipEmptyEndOfLine = function(text, index) {
	var re = /(\n|[^\s])/g;
	re.lastIndex = index;
	var result = re.exec(text);
	return (result && text.charAt(result.index) == '\n') 
			? result.index+1
			: index;

// Constants

var partEndOrStartTagRE = /(<\/part>)|(<part(?:\s+)((?:[^>])+)>)/mg;
var partEndTagREString = "<\\/part>";
var partEndTagString = "</part>";

// Plugin Specific Helpers

// Parse the parameters inside a <part ...> tag and return the result.
// @return [may be null] {partName: ..., isHidden: ...}
var parseStartTagParams = function(paramText) {
	var params = paramText.readMacroParams();
	if (params.length == 0 || params[0].length == 0) return null;
	var name = params[0];
	var paramsIndex = 1;
	var hidden = false;
	if (paramsIndex < params.length) {
		hidden = params[paramsIndex] == "hidden";
	return {
		partName: name, 
		isHidden: hidden

// Returns the match to the next (end or start) part tag in the text, 
// starting the search at startIndex.
// When no such tag is found null is returned, otherwise a "Match" is returned:
// [0]: full match
// [1]: matched "end" tag (or null when no end tag match)
// [2]: matched "start" tag (or null when no start tag match)
// [3]: content of start tag (or null if no start tag match)
var findNextPartEndOrStartTagMatch = function(text, startIndex) {
	var re = new RegExp(partEndOrStartTagRE);
	re.lastIndex = startIndex;
	var match = re.exec(text);
	return match;

// Formatter

// Process the <part ...> ... </part> starting at (w.source, w.matchStart) for formatting.
// @return true if a complete part section (including the end tag) could be processed, false otherwise.
var handlePartSection = function(w) {
	var tagMatch = findNextPartEndOrStartTagMatch(w.source, w.matchStart);
	if (!tagMatch) return false;
	if (tagMatch.index != w.matchStart || !tagMatch[2]) return false;

	// Parse the start tag parameters
	var arguments = parseStartTagParams(tagMatch[3]);
	if (!arguments) return false;
	// Continue processing
	var startTagEndIndex = skipEmptyEndOfLine(w.source, tagMatch.index + tagMatch[0].length);
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} // of "install only once"

<html><sub><a href="javascript:;" onclick="scrollAnchorVisible('Top',null, event)">[Top]</sub></a></html>

!Licence and Copyright
Copyright (c) abego Software ~GmbH, 2011 ([[www.abego-software.de|http://www.abego-software.de]])

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are permitted provided that the following conditions are met:

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<html><sub><a href="javascript:;" onclick="scrollAnchorVisible('Top',null, event)">[Top]</sub></a></html>
filed<<gradient horiz #fca #fca >>This draft manuscript is provided for information and to solicit comments and criticisms only. Its distribution is prohibited. 
Please address comments to silica-at-maxentropyproductions.net. Thank you.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Max Entropy Productions. All rights reserved. All left to ponder.
[[The Sum of Some Knowledge |Riding the Innovation Wave/Section_1]]
[[What's Patently True? |Riding the Innovation Wave/Section_2]]
[[What's Your Innovation Incentive? |Riding the Innovation Wave/Section_3]]
[[Does Motivation Matter? |Riding the Innovation Wave/Section_4]]

We wouldn't be human beings if we didn't innovate. We and our inventions seem to coevolve, shaping one another. Consider this rough timeline (taken from [[ideafinder.com|http://www.ideafinder.com/history/timeline/ancientBC.htm]]) that lists some important early innovations:
|>|''Date B.C.E'' |''Innovation''|
|>| 500,000 |Fire tamed by //Homo erectus//|
|>| 50,000 |//Homo sapiens// appears|
|>| 20,000 |Bow and arrow|
|>| 12,000 |Domestication of animals|
|>| 8000 |Agriculture|
|>| 7000 |Pottery|
|>| 6000 |Weaving|
|>| 5000 |Irrigation systems, in Middle East|
|>| 4000 |Copper smelted for making tools|
|>| 3500 |Wheel appears in Mesopotamia|
|>| 3500 |Writing invented, Sumeria|
|>| 3000 |Abacus invented, China|
|>| 2800 |The 12-month, 365-day calendar, Egypt|

Did these inventions inevitably have to emerge when they did and in that general sequence? What would be the consequences of any one of them not happening? For example, without agriculture, no irrigation systems would be needed, and without writing, civilization itself would be self-limiting. Consider that all these developments took thousands of years to occur. During my lifetime, humans have produced as many inventions as in all prior recorded history. Yet, some acolytes of innovation are not satisfied with this massive acceleration, because they keep asking for more, and faster please. What's their hurry? The only answer I can offer is that Silica must be getting very impatient. Could she have an agenda with a very aggressive schedule that put us on this accelerating escalator of change? 

How fast is that escalator accelerating? To know that we need to estimate the volume and pace of innovation, but how? One of the first things we need to decide is what qualifies as an invention. As it is impossible to itemize all inventions, the usual and easiest way to quantify innovation is to tabulate patent applications and patent awards, which all countries record. As many useful innovations are never patented and many patented ones are not useful, this is an imperfect lens, but it is the best we have without doing exhaustive research. (What public agency or private enterprise would fund unbiased research on all the effects innovation has on our lives?) So, using some of the [[available data|http://www.wipo.int/ipstats/en/statistics/patents/]] from the World Intellectual Property Organization, this chart displays the growth -- and sometimes decline -- of patents granted to inventors worldwide between 1883 and 2010 (blue area). The reddish area shows patents granted by the US government only. Black lines are 10-year moving averages of the series that show their general trends.

<html><img src="world_patents.png" style="width: 640px; "/></html>

If you stand back to see the big picture, you see inventions coming at us at an increasing rate. Despite declines during the great depression, two world wars and the 20 years between 1975 and 1995, the overall growth looks exponential. The figures indicate that around the beginning of the 20th century, the United States registered one in three patents worldwide; in the beginning of the current century, this proportion went down to one in nine. //Sic transit globalization.//
<part Section_1>
!!The Sum of Some Knowledge
The pace of discovery and application of new knowledge is easier to visualize if we use these numbers to calculate and chart the total number of inventions ever made (well, at least those patented between 1883 and 2010). Just as knowledge accumulates, so do inventions, even though some -- such as stagecoaches and phonographs -- are rendered obsolete by later ones. The chart you see below shows, at each year, the total number of patents granted worldwide up to that point, starting in 1883. Patents acquired before then are not included, but even if they were (adding another century or so of data), the picture wouldn't change very much.

<html><img src="world_cumulative_patents.png" style="width: 640px; "/></html>

The data begins in 1883, around the time my grandparents were born. When they brought my my parents into the world, 3.3 million patents had been granted. By the time I showed up, nearly 12 million patents had been granted. In my lifetime, their number increased more than fivefold and has doubled in the last 30 years, exceeding 60 million by 2010.

You might object to this cumulative curve because patents don't last forever. Inventions don't either. Both mercifully expire. If they didn't turn over, we could still have typewriters on our desks, vacuum tubes in our ~TVs and radios, and carburetors in our cars. The US constitution recognized that inventions aren't forever in article 1, section 8, the relevant part of which says: The Congress shall have Power ...
  To promote the Progress of Science and useful Arts, by securing for limited Times to Authors and Inventors the exclusive Right to their respective Writings and Discoveries
Notice that it says "limited Times." Congress quickly established a federal patent and copyright office to effect this directive. Very soon after George Washington became president, on July 31, 1790, Samuel Hopkins of Vermont was granted the first United States patent for a process of making potash, an ingredient used in fertilizer, good for 14 years. Then, in 1836, with the industrial revolution in full swing, Congress extended the lifespan of patents to 21 years. Their decision lasted until 1860, when they adjusted the duration of a patent down to 17 years. That decree was not revisited until 1995, when Congress gave patents 20 years to live. The World Trade Commission and many nations followed suit to make patents 20-year monopolies worldwide. 

So, let's enhance the above chart to depict the expiration as well as the birth of patents.

<html><img src="world_cumulative_patents_expiry.png" style="width: 640px; "/></html>

The red line shows the number of patents in force at any given year. We see that, of the 60 million patents that had been granted up until 2010, only 22 million remain enforceable. You can see the rule change as a jump in 1995, which may have had something to do with reversing the decline in active patents that began around 1980. After 1995, in-force patents grew at an accelerating pace.
<part Section_2>
!!What's Patently True?
Which statistic is more telling about the impact of inventions, the overall accumulation of patents or the number of active ones? It depends on how you think about innovation and its consequences. If you think that people innovate to make money, and that inventions have a limited shelf life before they are superseded, the red line seems more appropriate. However, if you think that despite these limitations, inventions build on earlier ones and can remain useful to society for more than 17 or 20 years, you would choose the blue area. If inventions were rendered moot when patents expire, we would not have access to generic drugs, still work under fluorescent tubes, start our cars with alternators, or enjoy playing with Frisbees or Wiffle Balls. Remember, counts of patents are only a proxy for all innovations, many if not most of which are never patented. The number of patents in force, while important to their owners, doesn't begin to account for the continuing significance of past inventions.

The number of patents per living person has continually increased as well. Since 1950 -- the earliest year for which consistent world population figures are available -- that ratio has risen from 5 per 1,000 persons to 8.6 per thousand persons. This chart shows that trend (top line), along with counts of worldwide population (middle line) and cumulative patents (bottom line).

<html><img src="patents_and_people_nums.png" style="width: 640px; "/></html>

We all ride that wave. The specific number of patents per person has no particular significance, but the fact that it has increased 70% over 60 years does indicate that humans are inventing more things and are being presented with them at an increasing rate. Furthermore, few inventions stand alone. They rest on older ones and provide foundations for later innovations. They combine to generate a multiplicity of products, ideas for others, and various additional consequences once they are marketed and adopted. These combinatorial effects get more intense over time.

Something is happening and we don't know what it is. Who is responsible for unleashing this parade of patents? How many of them come from big corporations, small enterprises, nonprofit entities, government agencies and individual entrepreneurs and inventors? How many are simply defensive? What is their utility, quality and import? What defects and side effects do they come with? Why aren't more people curious?

Silica seems to favor innovations from well-endowed organizations over small and struggling ones. That is, to penetrate markets new products require the resources of global enterprises. Startups and local manufacturers rarely are able to get their products noticed unless early adopters champion them. And when they do, larger manufacturing and commercial interests take notice and move in. When a small company starts to succeed, the marketplace responds by raising its valuation, signals that are picked up early on by various interested parties. Whether they go public or not, successful innovators will usually be bought out by corporations that value, but haven't been able to invent, products that the company they seek to acquire has created. Or, a holding company or conglomerate will decide it needs that company in its portfolio. Once that happens, the fate of the acquired innovations depends almost entirely on the business model and strategy of their new owner. The inventors have little to say about whether or how their beloved products are packaged, advertised and sold. Some acquired inventions will never see the light of day, because they compete with products the new owner already sells or has under development.

In other words, the ultimate import of innovations involves much more than their intrinsic utility. How, where and why they are introduced and promoted is determined by the business models of corporations that have interest in particular innovations. Some inventions never become products. Instead of marketing or licensing their intellectual property, some companies accumulate patent portfolios to sell or use to litigate against competitors. In legal-speak, companies that buty and sell patents but do not develop or use them in their operations are called "non-practicing entities" (~NPEs), more about which is presented later on. Because patent claims can be quite broad, such legal strategies can discourage small firms from marketing their inventions, out of fear that they will be sued by richer ones. Small companies can also have difficulty finding investors or borrowing enough money to develop new products.
<part Section_3>
!!What's Your Innovation Incentive?
Mainly due to the workings of modern capitalism, human motivations for innovating are not as simple as they once may have been. Indeed, they are all over the place. Only a few of them are what most people would associate with the why people innovate. Here's a partial list:
# Pure necessity
# Curiosity ("what if...?")
# Passion to solve a problem
# An idea that "wants" to be made real
# Obtaining recognition, funding, or prizes
# Need to improve how a product or process works
# Updating an existing product to give it wider appeal
# Updating an existing product to force its users to upgrade
# Creating intellectual property with the intention to license it
# Creating intellectual property that might come in handy someday
# Creating intellectual property to block competitors from doing something

Starting with innovation done for its own sake (intrinsic motivations), the motivations listed progressively become more ulterior. However, solving a problem for its own sake and doing it to gain extrinsic rewards need not be mutually exclusive. In business organizations, different actors often cooperate for differing reasons -- not everyone needs to have the same motivation. Even in a university laboratory, a researcher can have both intrinsic motivations (such as to cure a disease) and ulterior ones (to obtain new funding); the head of the lab might share the investigator's passion, as well as having a desire to get credit for patenting a compound or technique that the university can license to industry. They typically work together to push the work forward, according to their institutional roles and economic necessity.

Regardless, what we have experienced over the past several generations is a growing focus on extrinsic rewards for innovation. It's not that intrinsic rewards have been eclipsed -- they are what motivates most individuals to throw themselves into R&D, and without that drive technology organizations would make little headway. But preoccupation with controlling intellectual property has certainly intensified in recent decades. One major change is that patent offices bowed to pressure to protect software and lifeforms, which were not patentable before the 1990s. Simultaneously, multinational conglomerates were increasing their span of control and global reach, and the financial industry invented new instruments (such as derivative investments) to abstract value out of existing assets (including worthless ones, such as sub-prime mortgages). 

The combined effect has been to stimulate innovation, but by rigging the game through raising the stakes. Enhancing extrinsic motivations encourages people to enter the innovation arena to cash in. As a result, more and more patents get filed -- and granted -- for things which might not be new, useful, or ever produced. In fact, multiple patents have been issued for a number of so-called inventions, which has gratified patent and trial attorneys but hasn't done a lot to advance industry or promote the public good.

Universities have been patenting discoveries by their science and engineering researchers for a long time, just as corporations have. Some of the patents are licensed to produce revenue, and professors also create companies to directly turn their discoveries into products. This trend sharply accelerated sometime in the 1980s, starting with academic software and biotechnology commercialization. As grant opportunities became more scarce, universities started to count on commercial revenues to fund research activity and overhead expenses. Corporations (or example, pharmaceutical firms) have farmed out increasing amounts of R&D work to university research labs on a contract basis. It became common for corporate funders to require universities to sign nondisclosure agreements and restrict the dissemination of research results or control when their publication may take place. Investigators and grant administrators often object to the terms and conditions imposed by their corporate benefactors, but increasingly they comply.

One consequence of these institutional arrangements is to restrict the flow of new ideas through journals, conferences and personal communications. Another is to make academic researchers less collaborative and more competitive. Academic scientific research centers in general, and and biomedical research labs in particular, are very different places to work than they were a generation ago. The shift is partly due to increased competition by today's investigators for dwindling grant resources, but also because the climate of close-to-the-vest confidentiality typical of corporate R&D has spread to academia. As a result, research data, techniques and findings that formerly would have been willingly shared are now locked down, and opportunities for young researchers to flourish have been sharply curtailed.
<part Section_4>
!!Does Motivation Matter?
Does any of this matter as far as Silica is concerned? One way or another, new knowledge still seems to filter into the technosphere. New medical therapies and devices become available, as do new applications for lasers, stronger encryption and signal compression algorithms, and cheaper alternative sources of energy, to give some examples. But their patent claims that don't always explain how these technologies actually work, and the ideas, data and techniques that underlie them may be secured in locked cabinets or intranet servers, firewalled away from potential rivals. So potential rivals and would-be collaborators reinvent innovations that they can't do anything with. Silica does not appreciate this sort of friction; she wants innovation to progress at maximum warp speed.

It is natural to think that if Silica guides innovation, inventors would tend to do what she wants. If that is the case, then identifying the areas the most productive R&D teams work in should indicate which areas are hot for Silica and which are not. Study the chart below, which plots changes in US patents granted in selected technologies. The [[data|http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/seind12/tables.htm#c5]] comes from the US National Science Foundation. It tabulates over 1 million patents issued over ten years, but skips some of the years and only covers less than half of patents issued by the USPTO. But as the 14 areas that the data does describe are all prominent technologies, it is interesting to compare how they have fared relative to one another.

<html><img src="us_patent_groups_2000-2010.png" style="width: 640px; "/></html>

At the beginning of the decade, 6.8 patents were issued in the top category (Semiconductors) for every one issued in the bottom category (Automation and Control). At the end of the decade, 10.5 patents were issued for the top category (Information Processing) for every one in the bottom category (Aerospace and Defense). The growing spread among technology categories is also reflected in the standard deviation of patents issued, which by 2010 had climbed to twice what it was in 2000 (5,660 patents versus 2,824 patents, respectively).

Even more interesting is the rapid rise of patents in Information Processing, which accounted for 9% of this set of patents in 2000 and steadily rose to a 17% share in 2010, almost doubling. This category is dominated by software patents. In fact, the top four categories in 2010, Information Processing, Semiconductors, Telecommunications and Computer Systems -- accounting for half of all the patents listed -- are all computer-related. Many of the patents in the other 10 categories also involve computer systems in some fashion. After all, what good would a fancy piece of medical equipment, such as an MRI scanner, be without fast computers and imaging algorithms? How could a jetliner (or your car, for that matter) operate without on-board computers? By the way, the average car now contains more than 40 computer processors, and these systems account for between 10 to 20 percent of its cost, according to a 2010 New York Times [[article|http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/05/technology/05electronics.html]].

Computer hardware and software have co-evolved. In the beginning, hardware was the hotter area, and software was mostly low-level code. Applications were relatively primitive and users had to program most of them themselves. Over several decades, both became more sophisticated, but more R&D dollars went into hardware. Now that equation is reversed, such that engineering and fabrication of semiconductors depends on software systems and many new chips are specifically designed to execute certain algorithms for specialized purposes. Four factors account for most of that reversal:
# Software design tools and simulations became essential to developing hardware computing devices.
# Software developers number in the millions while hardware engineers number in the tens of thousands.
# Software can be designed, coded, packaged and distributed at much less capital expense than hardware can.
# Software inventions became patentable (officially in the US in 1996, after a long debate that began in the 1960s).
Given a computer to use, sufficient motivation and helpful tools, almost anyone can learn to code. The computer and the tools need not cost very much. To design computer hardware takes years of schooling or an equally lengthy apprenticeship, plus access to test equipment and component parts. An solid understanding of how software works is also generally required to advance hardware design. It's much simpler to invent stuff in software because the necessary hardware is ubiquitous and mostly standardized, and there are plenty of software tools and platforms available to handle most of the implementation details. These programming aids are cheap to acquire, if not free. Silica still adores her hardware, but she is softening up.

//What innovation is all about// ... 

The Silica Papers
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#sidebarTabs .tabContents .tiddlyLink:hover,#sidebarTabs .tabContents .button:hover{color:#4F4B45;background:#fff}

#sidebarTabs .tabContents .button:hover, #sidebarTabs .tabContents .highlight, #sidebarTabs .tabContents .marked, #sidebarTabs .tabContents a.button:active{color:#4F4B45;background:#fff}

.tabSelected{color:#fff; background:#948979;}

.tabUnselected {
 background: #ccc;

 .tabSelected, .tabSelected:hover {
 color: #fff;
 background: #948979;
 border: solid 1px #948979;

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 color: #999;
 background: #eee;
 border: solid 1px #ccc;

#sidebarTabs .tabUnselected { border-bottom: none;padding-bottom:3px;}
#sidebarTabs .tabSelected{padding-bottom:3px;}

#sidebarTabs .tabUnselected:hover { border-bottom: none;padding-bottom:3px;color:#4F4B45}

#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel {
	background: #fff; border:none;
	font-size: .9em;
#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel a {font-weight:normal;}
#sidebarOptions .sliderPanel input {border:1px solid #999;}

.viewer blockquote {
	border-left: 3px solid #948979;

.viewer table {
	border: 2px solid [[ColorPalette::TertiaryDark]];

.viewer th, thead td {
	background: #948979;
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	color: #eee;
	border: none;

.popup li a:hover {
	background: #575352;
	color: #fff;
	border: none;

.tagging, .tagged {
	border: 1px solid #eee;
	background-color: #F7F7F7;

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	background-color: #eee;
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|Author|Eric Shulman|
|Original Author|Clint Checketts|
|Description|present a 'cloud' of tags (or links) using proportional font display|
<<cloud type action:... limit:... tag tag tag ...>>
<<cloud type action:... limit:... +TiddlerName>>
<<cloud type action:... limit:... -TiddlerName>>
<<cloud type action:... limit:... =tagvalue>>
* //type// is a keyword, one of:
** ''tags'' (default) - displays a cloud of tags, based on frequency of use
** ''links'' - displays a cloud of tiddlers, based on number of links //from// each tiddler
** ''references'' - displays a cloud of tiddlers, based on number of links //to// each tiddler
* ''action:popup'' (default) - clicking a cloud item shows a popup with links to related tiddlers<br>//or//<br> ''action:goto'' - clicking a cloud item immediately opens the tiddler corresponding to that item
* ''limit:N'' (optional) - restricts the cloud display to only show the N most popular tags/links
* ''tag tag tag...'' (or ''title title title'' if ''links''/''references'' is used)<br>shows all tags/links in the document //except// for those listed as macro parameters
* ''+TiddlerName''<br>show only tags/links read from a space-separated, bracketed list stored in a separate tiddler.
* ''-TiddlerName''<br>show all tags/links //except// those read from a space-separated, bracketed list stored in a separate tiddler.
* ''=tagvalue'' (//only if type=''tags''//)<br>shows only tags that are themselves tagged with the indicated tag value (i.e., ~TagglyTagging usage)
//note: for backward-compatibility, you can also use the macro {{{<<tagCloud ...>>}}} in place of {{{<<cloud ...>>}}}//
//all tags excluding<<tag systemConfig>>, <<tag excludeMissing>> and <<tag script>>//
{{{<<cloud systemConfig excludeMissing script>>}}}
{{groupbox{<<cloud systemConfig excludeMissing script>>}}}
//top 10 tags excluding<<tag systemConfig>>, <<tag excludeMissing>> and <<tag script>>//
{{{<<cloud limit:10 systemConfig excludeMissing script>>}}}
{{groupbox{<<cloud limit:10 systemConfig excludeMissing script>>}}}
//tags listed in// [[FavoriteTags]]
{{{<<cloud +FavoriteTags>>}}}
{{groupbox{<<cloud +FavoriteTags>>}}}
//tags NOT listed in// [[FavoriteTags]]
{{{<<cloud -FavoriteTags>>}}}
{{groupbox{<<cloud -FavoriteTags>>}}}
//links to tiddlers tagged with 'package'//
{{{<<cloud action:goto =package>>}}}
{{groupbox{<<cloud action:goto =package>>}}}
//top 20 most referenced tiddlers//
{{{<<cloud references limit:20>>}}}
{{groupbox{<<cloud references limit:20>>}}}
//top 20 tiddlers that contain the most links//
{{{<<cloud links limit:20>>}}}
{{groupbox{<<cloud links limit:20>>}}}
2009.07.17 [1.7.0] added {{{-TiddlerName}}} parameter to exclude tags that are listed in the indicated tiddler
2009.02.26 [1.6.0] added {{{action:...}}} parameter to apply popup vs. goto action when clicking cloud items
2009.02.05 [1.5.0] added ability to show links or back-links (references) instead of tags and renamed macro to {{{<<cloud>>}}} to reflect more generalized usage.
2008.12.16 [1.4.2] corrected group calculation to prevent 'group=0' error
2008.12.16 [1.4.1] revised tag filtering so excluded tags don't affect calculations
2008.12.15 [1.4.0] added {{{limit:...}}} parameter to restrict the number of tags displayed to the top N most popular
2008.11.15 [1.3.0] added {{{+TiddlerName}}} parameter to include only tags that are listed in the indicated tiddler
2008.09.05 [1.2.0] added '=tagname' parameter to include only tags that are themselves tagged with the specified value (i.e., ~TagglyTagging usage)
2008.07.03 [1.1.0] added 'segments' property to macro object.  Extensive code cleanup
version.extensions.TagCloudPlugin= {major: 1, minor: 7 , revision: 0, date: new Date(2009,7,17)};
//Originally created by Clint Checketts, contributions by Jonny Leroy and Eric Shulman
//Currently maintained and enhanced by Eric Shulman
config.macros.cloud = {
	tagstip: "%1 tiddlers tagged with '%0'",
	refslabel: " (%0 references)",
	refstip: "%1 tiddlers have links to '%0'",
	linkslabel: " (%0 links)",
	linkstip: "'%0' has links to %1 other tiddlers",
	groups: 9,
	init: function() {
		config.macros.tagCloud=config.macros.cloud; // for backward-compatibility
			+'.tagCloud span {line-height: 3.5em; margin:3px;}\n'
			+'.tagCloud1{font-size: 80%;}\n'
			+'.tagCloud2{font-size: 100%;}\n'
			+'.tagCloud3{font-size: 120%;}\n'
			+'.tagCloud4{font-size: 140%;}\n'
			+'.tagCloud5{font-size: 160%;}\n'
			+'.tagCloud6{font-size: 180%;}\n'
			+'.tagCloud7{font-size: 200%;}\n'
			+'.tagCloud8{font-size: 220%;}\n'
			+'.tagCloud9{font-size: 240%;}\n'
	getLinks: function(tiddler) { // get list of links to existing tiddlers and shadows
		if (!tiddler.linksUpdated) tiddler.changed();
		var list=[]; for (var i=0; i<tiddler.links.length; i++) {
			var title=tiddler.links[i];
			if (store.isShadowTiddler(title)||store.tiddlerExists(title))
		return list;
	handler: function(place,macroName,params) {
		// unpack params
		var inc=[]; var ex=[]; var limit=0; var action='popup';
		var links=(params[0]&&params[0].toLowerCase()=='links'); if (links) params.shift();
		var refs=(params[0]&&params[0].toLowerCase()=='references'); if (refs) params.shift();
		if (params[0]&&params[0].substr(0,7).toLowerCase()=='action:')
		if (params[0]&&params[0].substr(0,6).toLowerCase()=='limit:')
		while (params.length) {
			if (params[0].substr(0,1)=='+') { // read taglist from tiddler
			} else if (params[0].substr(0,1)=='-') { // exclude taglist from tiddler
			} else if (params[0].substr(0,1)=='=') { // get tag list using tagged tags
				var tagged=store.getTaggedTiddlers(params[0].substr(1));
				for (var t=0; t<tagged.length; t++) inc.push(tagged[t].title);
			} else ex.push(params[0]); // exclude params
		// get all items, include/exclude specific items
		var items=[];
		var list=(links||refs)?store.getTiddlers('title','excludeLists'):store.getTags();
		for (var t=0; t<list.length; t++) {
			var title=(links||refs)?list[t].title:list[t][0];
			if (links)	var count=this.getLinks(list[t]).length;
			else if (refs)	var count=store.getReferringTiddlers(title).length;
			else 		var count=list[t][1];
			if ((!inc.length||inc.contains(title))&&(!ex.length||!ex.contains(title)))
				items.push({ title:title, count:count });
		if(!items.length) return;
		// sort by decending count, limit results (optional)
		while (limit && items.length>limit) items.pop();
		// find min/max and group size
		var most=items[0].count;
		var least=items[items.length-1].count;
		var groupSize=(most-least+1)/this.groups;
		// sort by title and draw the cloud of items
		var cloudWrapper = createTiddlyElement(place,'div',null,'tagCloud',null);
		for (var t=0; t<items.length; t++) {
			cloudWrapper.appendChild(document.createTextNode(' '));
			var group=Math.ceil((items[t].count-least)/groupSize)||1;
			var className='tagCloudtag tagCloud'+group;
			var tip=refs?this.refstip:links?this.linkstip:this.tagstip;
			if (action=='goto') { // TAG/LINK/REFERENCES GOTO
				var btn=createTiddlyLink(cloudWrapper,items[t].title,true,className);
			} else if (!links&&!refs) { // TAG POPUP
				var btn=createTiddlyButton(cloudWrapper,items[t].title,tip,onClickTag,className);
				var btn=createTiddlyButton(cloudWrapper,items[t].title,tip,
					function(ev) { var e=ev||window.event; var cmt=config.macros.cloud;
						var popup = Popup.create(this);
						var title = this.getAttribute('tiddler');
						var count = this.getAttribute('count');
						var refs  = this.getAttribute('refs')=='T';
						var links = this.getAttribute('links')=='T';
						var label = (refs?cmt.refslabel:cmt.linkslabel).format([count]);
						if (refs) {
						if (links) {
							var tiddler = store.fetchTiddler(title);
							var links=config.macros.cloud.getLinks(tiddler);
							for(var i=0;i<links.length;i++)
						e.cancelBubble=true; if(e.stopPropagation) e.stopPropagation();
						return false;
					}, className);
@@margin:0 1em;padding:0 4em;background-color:$1; @@ @@padding-right:1em;{{{$1}}}@@ [[$2|$3]]
<<gradient horiz #fca #fca >>This draft manuscript is provided for information and to solicit comments and criticisms only. Its distribution is prohibited. 
Please address comments to silica-at-maxentropyproductions.net. Thank you.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Max Entropy Productions. All rights reserved. All left to ponder.
!Weeds in the Garden of Delights
Silica gives us all this good stuff. How can we not but love her? Whatever augments her nourishes us, and whatever limits her deprives us. If turmoil in central Africa deprives Silica of tantalum or vanadium, Nokia, Apple, Samsung and other manufacturers of mobile devices might not be able to provide us with next-gen apparatus that takes full advantage of 4G networks. Silica doesn't like that kind of disruption, i.e. to her supply chain. Her mission requires constant flow of material and upgrading of capability. New technologies, of course, disrupt ways in which we have been working, but that kind of disruption is considered good; Silica says so. It's that "creative destruction" that the locomotive of capitalism is designed to deliver. We just need to stop simpering about it and adapt. Silica knows what is good for us better than we do.

By definition, the dynamics of "creative destruction" are not all good for all concerned. When the new comes in, some of the old goes out, players leave the game and some confusion inevitably ensues. Indeed, one of the favorite adjectives that entrepreneurs use is "game-changer," referring to how an innovation can suddenly alter the terrain of the playing field. New companies ascend, causing older ones to struggle. Apple carts are deliberately upset by innovative vendors and replaced with ones that feature peaches, pears and melons, in various proportions. Consumers get more choice, but not quite enough information to evaluate products or select them sensibly. They are continually presented with strange fruit, which they are assured is the best-tasting. Its nutritional value isn't guaranteed. 

More often, however, innovations don't change games so much as they change the rules, sometimes without informing consumers what happened. Here are four small examples in several product categories that illustrate the everyday pains of technological change. You probably can add a bunch more. 
!!Mop 'n Groan
About three years back I bought a sponge mop to clean my kitchen floor. You know, the kind with a tube on the handle you push down to expel water from the sponge. After a year, the sponge gave out, and I got a replacement for it at the supermarket. The next time I had to replace the sponge head, I couldn't find one that fit. The mop had been redesigned to have flimsy fasteners in place of the screw fitting my mop used to attach the head. So I had to toss out a perfectly good mop and spend money on one that I like less. I kept the old mop handle because I didn't want to send it to a landfill. Maybe I can plant it in my garden and grow beans on it. 
!!Tanks but No Tanks
Not long ago, the hot water heater in my basement started leaking. When I got it in September 2003, it came with a six-year warranty. I was happy that it lasted over eight years until the technician who installed the new one yesterday told me a story:  Several years back he replaced a water heater for an elderly man who wanted to upgrade his home before putting it on the market. The water heater was 60 years old and worked perfectly well, but the owner thought a new one would make the place more salable. The tech took the old water heater home and installed it there, and has been using it ever since. When I asked why such an old appliance continued to work so well, he said that once upon a time, water heaters had stainless steel, copper, or monel metal tanks that did not rust. Water heaters made in the last few decades mostly have porcelain-coated steel water tanks (like your basic washing machine). Expansion and contraction from the heating cycle stresses the porcelain, cracking it and allowing hot water to oxidize the steel, causing it to rust out. Did manufacturers redesign the tanks because they could make water heaters cheaper or to assure that they had a steady supply of repeat customers? The answer seems to be "Yes."
!!Spin the Bottle Bill
My state legislature is now debating whether to extend our "bottle bill" (which requires customers to deposit a nickel for each can and bottle of soft drinks and beer they buy and redeem their money when they return the containers).  Now public interest groups want the bottle bill to apply to juice, water and other drink containers that litter our landscape. The beverage-industrial-retailing complex is fighting the change just as hard as they did the original bottle bill over a decade ago. Drink manufacturers and retailers know recycling these additional containers won't be a money-loser, it just might encumber growth. They feel entitled to mutate natural resources into landfill at the public's expense. All that business-speak about transforming companies into "learning organizations"to meet the challenges of the future is to little avail when short-term profits are at stake.
!!Apple in My Eye
When I bought an iPod Touch two years ago, I synced it with my iMac G5, a pretty good computer that was the last iMac Apple made using ~PowerPC processors before adopting Intel architecture. Several months later, I bought an iPod game at iTunes and tried to download it to my iPod. iTunes informed me that the iPod needed the new release of the iOS operating system before I could install the game. "Fine," I said, I'll do that," but iTunes then told me that my iMac's OS needed to be upgraded from Tiger to Leopard before I could download the upgrade. Next, Apple's Web site informed me that my computer cannot run Leopard because Leopard only supports Intel-based Macs. The same is true for upgrades of apps I have on the iMac that I have used for years. So my quite serviceable computer turned into a glass brick with orphaned apps and a torpid game. Nice planned obsolescence strategy, Apple.
!!If the Shoe Doesn't Fit, Fight
Manufacturers cut corners, change models, manage supply chains, and improve processes to increase profit margins and market share. Many promote "quality" when it comes to eliminating defects and avoiding consumer lawsuits, but not too much quality -- as in building in durability, facilitating product repair and recycling, and following responsible procurement and labor policies. This has to change. Silica has no patience for product churn. She wants manufacturers to get it right. One way to do that is for companies to broaden their concept of who their stakeholders are.

Good things can still happen when corporations see the big picture (usually after being prodded by others). It's now possible to recycle computers, juice containers and CFL light bulbs. None of this happened because the manufacturers thought it was the right thing to do. People concerned about the environment and the economy organized themselves and petitioned governments to require and facilitate recycling efforts. Perhaps you were one of those people. We need similar advocates for users of fast-changing technologies to keep companies from innovating in ways that waste resources, build in obsolescence, require products to be disposed at public expense and leave customers twisting in the wind when products they use get superseded.

!Why Does Nobody Want to Know?
Despite knowing that catastrophic bugs like Chernobyl, Fukishima, the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon are always a possibility, texts from the vast font of innovation literature almost ever worry that technological innovation can lead to major problems. Nobody denies that design flaws and bugs in a large system can can have serious and costly consequences. To give a less scary example, we have, thanks to how email operates in a lawless virtual world, spam. It is incredibly annoying and costly to deal with, but on reflection seems almost inevitable given our quest to implement frictionless communication. But did any sober innovation scholar or bright-eyed futurist warn us that we might get spammed? Hardly, so high were they on the idea of inventing a lovely future to rescue us from a lousy today.

Search for “innovation” in the business book aisle of Amazon.com, and you come up with about 12,000 publications and over 350 author names. However, if you look for authors who worry about consequences of innovating, the picture is quite different. If you search the entire Web for “bad effects of innovation,” and Google yields but nine results and Bing four. Be less judgmental and search for "unintended consequences of innovation" and Google gives you 13,000 hits and Bing 166. One of the top hits is a project at Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, [[Beyond the Pro-Innovation Bias|http://www.hanken.fi/public/en/beyondtheproinnovationbias]], which offers this overview of innovation literature:
In his review of innovation literature twenty-five years ago, Rogers (1983) noticed that only 0.2 % of innovation research articles addressed consequences of innovation. To follow up this study this project (Sveiby et al., 2009) conducted a study including a literature review of all articles in the EBSCO database, with innovation in the title and which study undesirable consequences. Although 'innovation' hits reach hundreds of thousands, refining searches into 'negative or undesirable consequences' decreases the hits radically. //The study found only 26 articles on unintended and undesirable consequences of innovation; 1 per 1000, a proportion that has not changed since the 1960's.// Hence it seems important to ask why this is the case, what the implications are and how excluded or silenced voices can be promoted in the research field of innovation.
Sociologists in the field of Diffusion Theory talk about //pro-innovation bias//. The term seems to have been coined in the mid 1970s by Everett M. Rogers, professor of communications at Stanford and a leader in the field. (See [[New Product Adoption and Diffusion|https://www.commerce.uct.ac.za/Managementstudies/Courses/BUS2010S/2007/Nicole Frey/Readings/Journal Articles/Classics/New product adoption and diffusion.pdf]], 1976.) In his influential book, //The Diffusion of Innovations// (reprinted in many editions), Rogers describes pro-innovation bias this way:
The implication in diffusion research that an innovation should be diffused and adopted by all members of a social system. That it should be diffused more rapidly, and that the innovation be neither reinvented or rejected. 
That a tenth of one percent of innovation researchers have focused on consequences of innovation (and their consequences) seems to bear out this bias, as Ramos and Hillis, [[Anticipatory Innovation|http://actionforesight.net/home/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_download&gid=3&Itemid=60]] (2004) discuss. Both technologists and diffusion researchers tend to have this bias. Innovators and most of those who study how their work influences events, behaviors and trends:
* Always predict the utilization, evolution and benefits of a new technology, but
* Rarely consider and analyze its social, economic and environmental costs and side effects 
Why such a reluctance to look at the whole picture when history demonstrates that every technology comes with a price? 

All this is nothing new. The free market economy drives innovation but itself has bugs that cause it to churn, misrepresent and even stifle it, as the next section, //Vain Notion Confirmed as Hurdle//, and the following chapter, [[Riding the Innovation Wave]], outline.


!Vain Notion Confirmed as Hurdle
<<gradient horiz #fca #fca >>Back when the Internet was about half its current age and I was writing a weekly e-letter about high-tech trends for an IT research firm, I was drowning in data about the computer industry. That job fortified some personal concerns about the relentless pace of industry and consumer change. These thoughts were difficult to express in my articles, although some doubts did creep into my copy. To my surprise, a few readers responded with doubts of their own. Their reactions encouraged me to spend some spare time examining the contours of the innovation economy and write an article examining some of its premises and consequences. The resulting text was privately circulated on the Net, but was never published. The following sections reproduce that article from 2000, slightly updated and edited. The strange title is an anagram for "innovation considered harmful." Paragraphs added for this edition are highlighted in orange.>>

[[Changing Embrace |The Innovation Machine/Section_1]]
[[Generation of Problems |The Innovation Machine/Section_2]]
[[Intellectual Props |The Innovation Machine/Section_3]]
[[Technology's Gotta Be Free ... to Obsolete You and Me |The Innovation Machine/Section_4]]
[[Appropriate Innovation |The Innovation Machine/Section_5]]

//in-no-va-tion: the act or process of inventing or introducing something new// [from Latin innovare "to renew"] -- Encarta World English Dictionary
How does technology's march tread on your toes? Have you had to reinstall software that went autistic? Are you barraged with idiotic email messages? Has your friendly bank officer been replaced by a robot? Are your health insurance premiums going up 13% next year? These are but a few of a thousand points of pain that advances in technology inflict, allegedly for our benefit. Once a great notion, //innovation// now runs amok like an over-indulged child.

Innovation is the current politically correct way of saying "progress," a notion now negatively associated with do-good liberalism, even though the industrial revolution birthed it and Social Darwinism made it respectable. It's a much simpler concept than progress ever was, because measuring it doesn't depend on vague assessments of public welfare, only on the volume and novelty of inventions. Whether any particular innovation is good, harmful, useful, irrelevant, or actually new is left for the marketplace -- and should it fail, the courts -- to sort out. And even in contentious areas such as genetic engineering, stem cell research, and surveillance technology, rarely is the social imperative to foster innovation seriously questioned.
<part Section_1>
!!Changing Embrace
Mania for change has always nudged American culture, but became increasingly nagging from the 1970s on. This was when the power of computers was being taken seriously for the first time, and organizations were confronting baby boomers, blacks, and women entering the workforce. Some employers came to terms with these forces, others refused, but those that accommodated major trends tended to last longer and prosper more. Later, in the 90s, many people came to believe that the Internet "changes everything," and thus became receptive to bubbling assertions that everything had to change.

At the time this was originally written in 2000, searching for books with the keyword "innovation" at amazon.com yielded more than 2,500 titles, many of which weren't even published yet. In March, 2011, that same search produced [[47,000 hits|http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_0_4?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=innovation&sprefix=inno%2Cstripbooks%2C221]]. Restricting the search to just the business aisle still produces [[11,800 results|http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/ref=sr_adv_b/?search-alias=stripbooks&unfiltered=1&field-keywords=innovation&field-author=&field-title=&field-isbn=&field-publisher=&node=3&field-p_n_condition-type=&field-feature_browse-bin=&field-subject=&field-language=&field-dateop=&field-datemod=&field-dateyear=&sort=relevanceexprank&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.x=22&Adv-Srch-Books-Submit.y=9]]. Even allowing for duplicates and for books that do not concern business or new technology, preaching the gospel of technocratic innovation is clearly a growth industry. For their part, readers seem eager to learn what innovation is, where it springs from, why it's critical for success, and how to foster it in organizations. Nothing they read, however, will tell them how inventiveness unconstrained can chew up and spit out everything in its path.

The essential subtext of most of the business innovation literature is "innovate or die, lazy fools; you have no hope unless you replace all your time-worn processes, discard all your miserable preconceptions, and leapfrog your competitors." The new, improved conventional wisdom embraces radical technological and organizational change at any cost; executive acolytes chant the liturgy with a clueless passion, believing their mantras will shake up employees, soothe investors, and ingratiate consumers. Those who subscribe to this theology had best prepare themselves to meet a vengeful god.
<part Section_2>
!!Generation of Problems
To technologists, the future always looks better. Consider the multibillion capital fund drive launched by MIT in 1999. The campaign was necessary, according to then President Charles Vest, to enable the Institute to "attack the next generation of problems." That makes apparent sense until one pauses to consider that, at any given time, //most of the current generation of problems derive from prior generations of technological solutions//. Vest's premise would seem to be self-serving, except that the high-tech priesthood hardly ever acknowledges its role in creating problems, from nuclear waste accumulations to clogging estuaries with toxic effluents, to holes in the ozone, and respiratory diseases and cancers. Rather, the toolmakers solemnly acknowledge these critical challenges, then apply for research funding to carry on. Critical self-reflection rarely results.

The private sector is every bit as driven to spin solutions, but for different motivations. Every day, beleaguered high-tech executives and start-up hopefuls flock to the information technology research firm where I worked to gain feedback on their newest innovations and strategies. The hundreds of analysts who toil there ceaselessly track thousands of companies, and still can't keep up with technical and business developments in computer-related industries, even in 2000, when high-tech high-rollers failed to meet expectations and the sector declined.

The IT innovation curve will continue to skew upwards over the next few years, analysts predict, as mobile and other network technologies hit their stride. My ex-employer updates various reports annually, semi-annually and quarterly, but many of its customers would prefer continuous updating, like a stock ticker. Do we really want technologies to obsolesce faster than we can keep track of them or take thoughtful decisions about how to use them? Call me Old Economy if you will, but I don't think so.

When Judge Jackson was mulling over how Microsoft should be restrained following his [[finding|http://news.cnet.com/html/ne/Special/Microsoft/conclusions_of_law_and_order.html]] that it was acting as a monopoly, the silence from Silicon Valley was deafening. There has been little enthusiasm for splitting up Microsoft, thanks in part to innovation's ideological grip on our culture. All throughout the Microsoft antitrust proceedings, Microsoft's executives and lawyers, along with scores of assorted pundits and market-watchers, chanted in unison that breaking up the company even into two non-competing units would fail to improve (and might cripple) the industry and cheat the public by discouraging innovation. Exactly what would be sacrificed by restructuring Redmond was never well articulated. 

If not dissembling, this was self-serving spin. In any event there's no lack of new information technology (little of which Microsoft has itself invented, truth be told), but there are shortages of time and wisdom to deal with its consequences. Try to remember the last you noticed a lack of choice or novelty on the Internet. Ask everyone you know the same question. Then ask them how much choice they felt they had in selecting an operating system or a core application the last time they purchased a PC. That is, if they know what an operating system is.

Between Windows, ~SharePoint, Exchange and Office, Microsoft does own the road that the vast majority of computer users travel each day. They own it courtesy of government-protected copyrights and patents and they charge tolls. Contrast this with Interstate Highway System or the Internet. Consider if you would acquiesce to this degree of monopoly control if it were the airline or automobile industry.

Some say we should be grateful to Microsoft for providing a universal software platform. Yes, we need to evolve common, relevant standards for handling information. Yet so often when high-tech standards have arisen through deliberative public dialogs among dedicated experts, Microsoft has countered with its own versions tailored to increase its competitive advantage: its notion of innovation seems to be to identify a protocol that is on the verge of being standardized and modify it just enough to make everyone do it their way. Specifying rules of the road is another way Microsoft owns the road.

One might have been for or against devolving Microsoft, for any number of reasons. But it is interesting to note that no matter where they came down, almost all commentators framed the issue in terms of what course of action would maximize the rate of innovation; rarely was innovation itself considered problematic. Fast forward to today, replace "Microsoft" with "Google," and you are still talking about what amounts to a pervasive presence that already touches most people on the planet directly or indirectly.

<<gradient horiz #fca #fca >>Microsoft's 2011 revenues of $62.5B would make it the 66th largest economy (in terms of GDP) if it were a country. Google earned $37.9B in 2011, which would qualify it as the 84th richest country, around the median (statistics compiled by [[BusinessInsider.com|http://www.businessinsider.com/25-corporations-bigger-tan-countries-2011-6]]). With great power comes responsibility, but corporations believe their responsibility is to maximize profits for shareholders and executives and please industry analysts.
<part Section_3>
!!Intellectual Props
More people talk innovation than walk it, making it hard to evaluate claims that new ways of doing things are on the rise. One way to quantify technological innovation is to look at the growth of patented inventions. In 1999 (the year before this article was originally written), the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) issued 153,984 utility patents; more than tripling the number issued twenty years earlier (48,839 patents in 1979). Patents for computer hardware and software were 3% of the 1990 total, which had slowly grown from 2% prior to 1990, almost twice as fast as patents in general.

<<gradient horiz #fca #fca >>Ten years later, in 2009, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) granted 167,349 utility patents out of a total 191,933 patent documents for the year. The number of utility patents issued grew 6% over the previous year while the computer-related portion of them grew by 13% that year. (figures from [[US Patent and Trademark Office|http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/pat_tr09.htm]].) The USPTO describes utility patents as being:
Issued for the invention of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof, it generally permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the invention for a period of up to twenty years from the date of patent application filing, subject to the payment of maintenance fees. Approximately 90% of the patent documents issued by the PTO in recent years have been utility patents, also referred to as "patents for invention."
According to [[USPTO figures|http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/ac/ido/oeip/taf/cbcby.htm]], Between 1999 and 2009, the number of patents pertaining to computer hardware and software grew from 12,256 (8% of all utility patents) to 167,801 (15.4% of the total). It would seem that innovation is on a roll, especially in the high-tech sector. This assumes, however, that the USPTO has been doing its homework and only grants patents to inventions that are truly novel, non-obvious, and useful. According to patent system analyst Gregory Aharonian,
"... given the low amounts of non-patent prior art cited (and missed prior patents) as a percentage of all available non-patent prior art, and the decreasing time spent per claim, it is not unreasonable to conclude that patent quality is dropping as the PTO is overwhelmed with patent applications." [[[source|http://bat8.inria.fr/~lang/reperes/local/patent-corrupt]]]
Aharonian's statistics, compiled from USPTO data, support this conclusion. By almost any measure (such as claims per patent, time spent examining each claim, and prior art considered) USPTO hasn't been upholding its statutory responsibilities. Rather than evaluating patents and deciding their merits, hard-pressed examiners are snookered by well-practiced corporate patent attorneys and a "customer-centered" USPTO management into awarding one specious claim after another. This amounts to a basic patent registration procedure -- a bureaucratized, contorted analog of filing for copyright -- that leaves the validity of patents to be sorted out by costly and protracted civil suits down the road, and jacks up the costs of products produced under license.

The intellectual property protection tail is wagging the innovation dog. Corporations (to which 86% of all U.S. patents were assigned in 1999) know they can easily obtain patents, and this encourages them to treat patent protection as just one more business strategy to prop up revenues and prevail in the marketplace. It doesn't matter whether an invention is significant, new, or the company actually discovered it. What's important is getting a government-protected monopoly on some process or widget: pseudo-innovation as a preemptive means to a profitable end.

As computing spews into one sphere of life, one industry, one household after another, the value of software and information relative to tangible stuff rises. Once it's installed somewhere, digital technology doesn't sit still. Version 2.1 of whatever fixes annoying problems and is easier to use; new generations of mobile networks beggar older ones and require new handsets to use; ~MP3 music players become obsolete as sound files come wrapped in security blankets; smart cards know how much credit you have. To some extent, such innovations represent an evolution of design and capability, but many are deployed to churn saturated markets, to prompt consumers to upgrade and move on. Vendors work the patent game assiduously to ensure that their products contain as much proprietary and licensable content as possible. For many firms, the goal of innovation isn't creating cool stuff but amassing and trading intellectual property rights. 

<<gradient horiz #fca #fca >>And then there are the impressive phalanxes of "patent trolls," for-profit enterprises whose entire purpose is to secure and litigate patents -- not to create innovations but to suck the lifeblood from intellectual property. Such unproductive litigation is possible only because software (and some hardware) patents are so broadly framed and ineptly granted (often more than once for the same invention) that conflicts are built into the intellectual protection apparatus from the day patents are registered.

Ever-widening patent and trademark protections are being sought and granted for software, digital media, and business practices as corporations strive to tether everything that could possibly move out of their orbits. This could lead to a sinister new spin on innovation. Quite soon we may very well see companies such as Microsoft start to assert rights of ownership to documents produced with the aid of their software agents and accessories, first to the extent that a document's content is composed automatically, later extending to a share of all works produced, as soon as it becomes possible to accurately meter, report and charge for such activities. For example, if a person composes a poem with online aids such as rhyming dictionaries, thesauri, modal advisers, and meter-correcting agents, software vendors will argue (probably successfully) that ownership of the poem must be shared with the holders of patents and copyrights for the technology involved in its creative production.
<part Section_4>
!!Technology's Gotta Be Free ... to Obsolete You and Me
Personal computers took off in the 90's after they became sufficiently cheap, powerful and easy to use to accomplish business tasks efficiently. Then the allure of the Internet impelled many individuals to acquire ~PCs and learn how to use Web browsers and email. While Windows and Macintosh user interfaces make performing common tasks more understandable than typing Unix commands or programming in C, what goes on inside their machines has always baffled and bored most users. Now that more applications are Internet-enabled and becoming distributed and componentized, even hardcore geeks get frustrated installing, running and removing innovative applications, often because the source of problems may be in operating systems, other applications, or even other computers.

To make modern software reliable and interoperable across platforms and networks, broad consensus concerning hardware architectures, network protocols, software interfaces, and database access is increasingly required. IT researchers and engineers are forced to devote more time and energy to developing standards in these areas, which innovations proceed to obsolete as quickly as they can be codified. For example, the World Wide Web wouldn't exist without the ~HyperText Markup Language (HTML) and ~HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) standards, yet these are now considered old hat and detrimental to the Web's progress.

One solution to evolving more flexible and robust IT standards is to devise self-documenting meta-standards. The XML language, now widely adopted for e-commerce and vertical industry Web solutions, is a good example. In terms of expressiveness and generality, XML is to HTML as algebra is to arithmetic. ~XML-encoded messages enable computer programs to communicate and interpret complex data appropriately. Any suitably equipped set of programs that communicate to the Internet can "converse" in XML, assuming each is familiar with the domain of the information it receives. XML thus avails the data of one application to the expertise of another, wherever they might be, whether friends or foes.

Other approaches to making systems more adaptive and responsive to change are tending to lead to self- modifying, distributed software and knowledge databases with no central control over their design, content, or behavior. Some techniques, such as neural networks and genetic programming, even remove control from programmers over how their software accomplishes its tasks. Rather than being "coded" such programs are "trained" or "bred".

For some time, cognitive and computer scientists have digitally mimicked brain synapses to recognize visual patterns and other stimuli presented via cameras or other sensors. Such logical circuits, called artificial neural nets, are now routinely used in various applications of machine learning. Neural nets are partly self-organizing and are trained rather than programmed; presented with known inputs and desired outputs, a neural net soon learns to respond appropriately to variants of familiar stimuli. What's fascinating and rather frightening is that the software developer doesn't know -- and may not even care -- how the program does it.

What may be the most extreme software design paradigm doesn't involve programmers at all: Genetic programming harnesses the power of evolution itself to randomly breed competing programs until one of them successfully meets predefined objectives. Evolving a workable solution can take many software generations, and isn't practical for well-defined or time-critical problems. Before long, though, computers will grow powerful enough to make evolving their own software an attractive option.

The direction is clear. In order for information technology to evolve as quickly as the marketplace allegedly demands, software must be free to discuss among peers, to improvise solutions, to reconfigure itself, to mutate on its own (one company has in fact trademarked "Digital DNA"). As software becomes more autonomous, Microsoft and many other vendors will progressively lose control of what their products are doing, despite their best efforts. Unfortunately, so will users, governments, and societies. The juggernaut of technology will progressively decide what's best for us, though we'll pretend we're still in control. Innovation will burst free of human constraints and build a better world. Should we not like what is wrought, we can always leave.

At least one leading technologist has expressed reservations about creating highly autonomous and adaptable systems. At one point in a controversial essay, Bill Joy (Chief Scientist and a co-founder of Sun Microsystems) notes:
Perhaps it is always hard to see the bigger impact while you are in the vortex of change. Failing to understand the consequences of our inventions while we are in the rapture of discovery and innovation seems to be a common fault of scientists and technologists; we have long been driven by the overarching desire to know. That is the nature of science's quest, not stopping to notice that  progressing to newer and more powerful technologies can take on a life of its own.
Joy took a lot of heat for his essay, //Why the future doesn't need us// ([[Wired, April 2000|http://www.wired.com/wired/archive/8.04/joy.html]]). Many of his critics felt he exaggerated the potential dangers of robotics, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology. Others took offense with his solution -- voluntarily relinquishing certain lines of research and development -- calling it impractical, if not a violation of the human spirit. High tech professionals generally regarded the piece as loony and the author as traitorous. Regardless, no one can demonstrate that the dangers Joy warns against (harmful mutations, destruction of the biosphere, and pandemics instigated by out-of-control technologies) are insignificant or completely improbable.
<part Section_5>
!!Appropriate Innovation
Each act of obeisance to technological innovation assigns away part of our franchise to participate in shaping human destiny, and affirms a greater faith in robots, chips, and bits than in nature, people, ideas, and institutions. By the time most people notice their powerlessness in the face of innovation, their condition will simply seem inevitable.

Bill Joy concludes with a suggestion that less innovation might leave us happier as well as safer:
... I believe we must find alternative outlets for our creative forces, beyond the culture of perpetual economic growth; this growth has largely been a blessing for several hundred years, but it has not brought us unalloyed happiness, and we must now choose between the pursuit of unrestricted and undirected growth through science and technology and the clear and accompanying dangers.
In one peppy business book after another, innovation management gurus invoke the conceit of "disruptive technologies," hammering at their readers to come to terms with the revolutionary consequences of the Internet, genetic engineering, wireless communication, and other big tech trends. Imagine what might have happened if such a corps of sophisticated flacks had comparable influence when an even more disruptive (social) technology -- ~Marxism-Leninism -- was on the march, threatening the established order. Such writers, orators, and organizers (variously labeled as propagandists and subversives) did of course exist at various times and places, but either failed to influence industrial elites to change their ways or where they succeeded, effected institutions (such as labor unions and social welfare programs) that have come under renewed attack. Clearly, not all disruptive technologies are created equal, nor is their success inevitable.

Karl Marx certainly believed in material progress every bit as much as General Electric (motto: "where progress is our most important product"; revenues in 2011: $151.6B, more than the GDP of New Zealand). The difference is that Marx thought its direction and value added ought to devolve to everybody, not just to owners of the means of production.

There aren't going to be any more communist revolutions, and trendy corporate reinvention campaigns to empower innovators are a pathetic substitute for grass-roots change. Innovation fever certainly won't dampen lust for corporate control or executive booty; concentration of ownership madly proceeds, consolidating wealth and squeezing it toward the top of the curve. Innovation has come to be prized mainly because it provides more stuff to own and control.

Such is human nature, and it isn't likely to undergo revolutionary change particularly soon.

We need to remind ourselves, however, that life doesn't have to be like this. We've allowed commercial interests within the brutal brand of capitalism practiced in the US to define innovation by launching blizzards of high-tech trial balloons, intellectual property scams, and harebrained management overhauls. As a result, almost all discussions of it bespeak corporate means and mercenary ends. The fact remains, however, that organizations don't invent; they just implement -- poorly or well, and usually for very self-aggrandizing reasons -- innovations that individuals have conceived. It's time to turn to other pathways of invention, for example by favoring appropriate technology, placing intellectual property in the public domain, and invigorating social structures to adapt and change in their own ways and pace.

As MIT's President Vest insinuated, we are morally obliged to repair damages wrought by previous generations of technological solutions, and new approaches will indeed be needed. But no number of clever inventions can save us if we conduct business as usual, by which is meant overreaching pursuit of wealth and control without regard for human and environmental values and consequences. We need more common sense and less consumer confidence, more collective wisdom and less competitive ways, more inner vision and less intervention. To secure these ends, we can:

#Conserve resources by not buying what we don't need; resist applied psychology pandering to unsatisfiable cravings, and refuse to be guilt-tripped for not "supporting the economy." We'll save time, money, energy, and habitat, and gain more peace of mind.
#Judge the value of innovations broadly; whether producing or consuming, weigh society's benefits, costs, and risks with your own, and not merely in terms of money.
#Demand usable, functional products that can be repaired and recycled; our sped-up economy breeds firms that cut corners to speed the launch of the next great thing they want us to get. Deal only with companies that take contracts with customers seriously.
#Favor solutions that operate at human scale; large-scale and pervasive solutions are more likely to engender pernicious and intractable global side effects.
#Respect intellectual property to the extent you value it; this is opposite to what corporations tend to do. When seeing worth in inventions owned by others, companies are as likely to attack and appropriate them as they are to trump them.
#Eschew info-intermediaries when consuming culture; content creators merit more compensation than companies that conglomerate copyrights and media.
#Strive for socioeconomic cohesion and balance; live deliberately, honor traditions and institute innovations that dignify livelihood and integrate it with the rest of the social fabric. 

May the god of innovation bless and keep you. If you must innovate, do it for all of us. And you might first tell us what we're in for and ask if we're interested or not.
Practice Entropyneurship
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<<gradient horiz #fca #fca >>This draft manuscript is provided for information and to solicit comments and criticisms only. Its distribution is prohibited. 
Please address comments to silica-at-maxentropyproductions.net. Thank you.

Copyright (c) 2012 by Max Entropy Productions. All rights reserved. All left to ponder.

[[Dealing with Environmental Stress |What Does Silica Want?/Section_1]]
[[Digging into Environmental Data |What Does Silica Want?/Section_2]]
[[Does Environmental Data Matter? |What Does Silica Want?/Section_3]]

Our stepmother has very definite ideas about how we should behave, and some of them aren't what most school principals, politicians or preachers tell us we should do. But many of her precepts are founded on notions of ethics and morality that human cultures share almost universally. Whatever greases the flow of interactions, whether it's SAE 30 motor oil, frictionless commerce or the milk of human kindness, is all good as far as she is concerned. 

Too, like many people, Silica is OK with war, its grisly, seemingly senseless tragedies notwithstanding. After all, war stimulates advances in science and engineering to improve technologies and fabricate new materials, and sows seeds for civilian applications of those discoveries. It also clears the ground -- literally -- for earnestly rebuilding the technosphere to incorporate new knowledge, materials and techniques. Think of war not as atavistic behavior but as kind of a makeover.

Silica is definitely into economic growth, but is picky about what kind. She always likes having new durable infrastructure and tools created, and approves of empowering institutions that do such things. While capital is needed for them, sometimes in massive quantities, Silica probably does not favor growing institutions that don't accomplish material ends, such as financial service companies that create wealth that exists only on paper and in the minds of investors. But she doesn't mind us moving money  around as long as it accomplishes tangible objectives outside the financial system. These days (over the last three or four generations, that is), she's especially been pleased by investments in the information infrastructure. It's been a great nerve tonic for her. 

She doesn't take kindly to bottling up the knowledge of how to get things done; Silica always wants as many people as possible to contribute. So, she gets impatient with our penchant for keeping trade secrets. But if she doesn't like patents or proprietary knowledge, what pathways for growing the technosphere does she approve of? From my perspective, her biggest enthusiasms are for:
* Common standards for manufacturing and information interchange
* Linking up people with one another by any means possible
* Improving efficiency in generating and using energy
* Minimizing resource extraction and recycling materials into new products
* Sharing knowledge about how to make things
* Making the technosphere self-sustaining
Most of these activities are well underway, and enormous human effort is devoted to them. Of all of them, achieving the goal of a self-sustaining technosphere seems the most far out. It may not be totally doable, but automation has already progressed toward that end. Will humans keep working to build a world machine, even if they sense they are about to obsolete themselves? Why not -- it wouldn't be the first time humans made choices that endangered their species, or most others for that matter.

Whether it's in her plan or not, Silica must be mindful that our species numbers over 7 billion and hasn't peaked yet. Given the sheer density of humanity and the demands we place on our home planet, she prods us to do more with less. With so many people doing with less than they need and a minority with more than they need and pitching tons of stuff into landfills, we haven't done a great job of allocating resources. 

The main reason why privation is endemic is gross income inequalities (and growing grosser) within and among societies. Huge disparities of wealth are nothing new. In olden days a king or queen (and their loyal gentry) would own everything (starting with land) and graciously allow their subjects live off what remained. With trade and then industrialization, more goods became available and monarchies declined, but privileged classes persisted almost everywhere, using their perquisites to aggrandize themselves. Things got better for a while in the 19th and 20th centuries, when many new fortunes were made through manufacturing consumer products and the equipment and infrastructure required to run things. Then, as marketing methods grew more sophisticated, companies got better at convincing people to become customers and then buy stuff they didn't need and excessive quantities of what they did need. Too many products broke quickly or never worked as advertised. 

The fact that companies can succeed whether they are reputable or provide good value or not seems to be a constant of the modern age. Silica is not sentimental about this. She doesn't cry for consumers. What she can't stand, though, is //waste// -- because she wants us to do more with less. Making things that consumers chuck out in disgust straightaway means missed opportunities for the makers and their suppliers and investors. 

Along with waste, Silica frowns on the overuse, misuse and abuse of natural resources. Disruptions inevitably accompany running out of a resource, making it scarce and expensive to obtain, and from fouling earth, air and water -- possibly for a long time -- with waste products. People usually find ways to work around and mitigate these problems. Some of their solutions to resource depletion and pollution increase efficiency, but other ones just muddle through, entailing more work and less efficiency. People must work harder and longer to survive, and their living standards often decline anyway. Silica suffers along with human beings when their livelihoods ratchet down because her goal of a more comprehensive infrastructure is being thwarted.
<part Section_1>
!!Dealing with Environmental Stress
Everything we do impacts the biosphere (natural environment) to some degree, mostly negatively from Mother Earth's perspective. Stepmother Earth likely is not pleased either, because she's not yet in control of her fate and doesn't want us to do anything suicidal until she is. She can't tell any better than we can what kind of doom melting ice caps foreshadow. But by working with Silica we can probably tease out some consequences. Thus forewarned, we can try to mitigate semi-foreseeable futures.

Working with Silica, of course, is what we always do, unless we are hermits. Even without her help, we can heighten our senses to detect signs of climate change. To people living in the frozen (increasingly, the dripping) North, signs of change have been apparent over a decade: sea ice doesn't get as thick as it used to and goes away earlier in the spring. Migratory animals and birds change their habits and range and plants move into new habitats. Fewer or different species of fish are found. In temperate areas, the changes in biota and their behavior are more subtle but are evident to those paying attention. However, it's hard to decide if such changes are trends or aberrations, and whether they are good or bad portents. That's why we need Silica.

In a few short decades, earth-orbiting satellites, terrestrial and aquatic instruments and environmental sampling programs have told us more about the planet than was recorded in all prior human history. Terabytes of this raw data are archived online and freely available. Satellites image the surface land and sea and can penetrate their surfaces as well. Ground-based sensors monitor physical and chemical processes in the atmosphere and bodies of water. Seismologists set out motion sensors to record seismic activity. Biologists collect plants and animals, extract their DNA, and store the samples in climate-controlled secure facilities, where someday they may be called upon to regenerate species on the verge of extinction. Theses troves are especially important to safeguard food crops, many of which are vast monocultures vulnerable to being wiped out by aggressive pathogens.

It is already impossible to catalog or summarize all environmental data resources and analyses of them. Get a sense of what is available at the US Government Web portal [[science.gov|http://www.science.gov/]], which fans out to hundreds of archives covering branches of environmental and other sciences. Or view the range of data and information products that just one federal agency (NOAA) [[provides|http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/EnvironmentalData.html]]. This [[NASA Web site|http://gcmd.gsfc.nasa.gov/]] connects to even more and is map-searchable. If you want to know about current and historical weather conditions for just about any country in the world, visit the [[World Meteorological Organization|http://worldweather.wmo.int/]] in Switzerland. WMO data is archived with other statistics at the United Nations Web site [[undata|http://data.un.org/Explorer.aspx?d=CLINO]], and is rolled up with other types of statistics at the [[unstats|http://unstats.un.org/unsd/environment/qindicators.htm]] site. 
<part Section_2>
!!Digging into Environmental Data
Scientific databases are worth nothing unless analyzed. Fortunately, many more organizations and individuals can get at them now than a decade ago. Many data archives are already hooked together by a vast nervous system -- the Internet and other wide-area networks -- connecting hundreds of millions of computers across the planet. Even if their owners don't realize it, many of these machines are capable of running mathematical models and statistical software to tweeze  useful information out of scientific data, assuming the right questions are being asked. 

Starting in the late 1990s, computer scientists teamed with physical scientists to solve problems that were very data-intensive, computationally complex, or both. The idea behind many of these projects is to leverage the "wasted cycles" of personal computers when they are left to run with nothing to do, in homes and offices overnight for example. When many such machines operate in tandem on related chunks of data (a way of operating called //distributed computing//), their power to analyze data is awesome. 

The first distributed computing project to capture the public's imagination was the University of California at Berkeley's [[SETI@HOME|http://setiathome.berkeley.edu/]]. Since May 1999, it has recruited hundreds of science-minded computer users to donate their PCs' spare time to analyze radio telescope data for evidence of intelligent signals originating outside of our solar system (extraterrestrial communications). Each computer analyzes a small portion of radio telescope signals acquired by the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, which acquires and records 2 gigabytes of data every hour it operates. More than 5.2 million people have participated in the project, contributing well over  two million years of aggregate computing time. And still, they can't say for sure that E.T. is calling.

Since SETI@HOME debuted, scores of distributed computing projects have launched to analyze data or simulate real systems, including global climate, the structure of proteins, and the human brain. A large number of projects are devoted to searching for large prime numbers. For an up-to-date listing with descriptions, see the [[Distributed Computing|http://www.distributedcomputing.info/projects.html]] Web site.

Returning to environmental change, the distributed computing project [[climateprediction.net|http://www.climateprediction.net/content/about-climatepredictionnet-project]] has invited computer users to participate in climate research since 2003. Users download software and data to validate global climate models by conducting multiple 200-year simulation runs. The project seeks "to improve our understanding of how sensitive our models are to small changes and also to things like changes in carbon dioxide and the sulfur cycle" to explore a wide range of scenarios that could lead to climate change. As of March 2011, the project had more than 32,000 participating machines and had completed about 130 million years of simulations (that's 650,000 200-year runs).
<part Section_3>
!!Does Environmental Data Matter?
While the web of professional and amateur climate investigators has brought to light pretty strong evidence of climate change, it hasn't led to effective policies for mitigating it. The number of people in the U.S. that believe climate is changing has hovered between 60% and 70% over the last five to ten years, going up and down in response to the amount of media coverage given to the subject. "Climate skeptics"  have used the media to assert their rejectionist views and make them appear as valid as those of the vast majority of climate scientists. Fueled by corporate foundations and consultants who establish "~AstroTurf" citizen alliances (many of which seem not to have any grassroots members), they sow doubt about climate science and its practitioners by painting them as "political". It's the "skeptics," however, who have politicized this matter, just as theologically-motivated deniers of the theory of evolution have attempted to inject their unprovable creationist beliefs into political arenas. In fact, more Republican politicians express antipathy toward climate science than Democratic ones, and [[polls|http://www.brookings.edu/papers/2012/02_climate_change_rabe_borick.aspx]] show that something like 50% of Republicans in general think climate change has human causes versus 80% of Democrats. Silica is not comfortable with people who dismiss solid scientific evidence because it doesn't support their opinions.
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