Essay

Jun. 4th, 2013 11:36 pm
vlion: cut of the flammarion woodcut, colored (Default)
This was written some time ago: 2008 I would reckon. I was meditating on, well, you can see for yourself.




Cyber. The cyberspace. Cybernetics. Corporations by Congress, sometimes. There's no VR. No virutal D&D with firewalls and viruses.

No, it's much more mundane. Here's a virus for Linux. Wait. No. Suicide-us. Whatever. It won't spread. It's too stupid. Or - yeah. Run it on a Linux system.


#!/use/bin/perl
while(1) { fork(); }



Maybe Linux will stop it. Or maybe not. It'll just stop about everything from running. It'll crash the box, basically. You'll have to reboot. Don't worry. It won't spread. Sorry, script kiddies.

while(1) {fork();}. That's mundane. No magic. No weird incantation or cyberreality. Just some text, a letter. A letter to your computer. A rude one at that.

Cyberspace. Let's get a file in cyberspace.

curl www.ibm.com -O index.hml


And blah blah blah, index.html appears.

Mundane, I tell you.

EOF



The writing is atrocious here. I obviously didn't edit it enough. But what struck me most at the time was the tremendous gap between the 'mirrorshades' dreams of Snow Crash type scenarios and the utter mundanity of typing commands into a computer which mechanically executed them in a entirely predictable and boring piece of engineering.

Today I'm both more depressed and more optimistic. Depressed, because tablets are fundamentally being used and treated as portable TVs, and more optimistic, because I'm entirely and ridiculously confident that I could start putting together the pieces for profound leaps in technology with what I know. There *are* hard problems out there, and they havn't been solved by people working in the 70s, or thought of in the 80s. Things like changeset versioning for non-sourcecode for regular users. Things that are actually innovations in haptic computing. There is light at the end of the dark C tunnel: new languages are exploding out into the world, stopping the spread of certain entirely classes of legacy problems.

I suppose today I most regret the rise of Unix, DOS, and C/C++. They served to exemplify the Worse is Better philosophy; while so many of the world's population do have computers now, they don't have good *systems*; because the inertia of human history drives us to use legacy. And the Legacy was made marred and designed for tiny embedded systems ( by today's standards). While the dreams of the 80s perhaps never were realistic, there were certain realities back then that have vanished from use; Algol 60, Lisps, Lisp OSs. Today while Lisps are held in abeyance (perhaps for another five years?), Haskell, F#, and Rust are finally displaying the results of the research done before I was born. Of these, I have the most hope for Rust. It is a shining example of a language which is radically different than C++, yet targetted at the same level. My industry will radically shift if Rust becomes a viable embedded systems & gaming language. And for the *better*. I can only rage at the bugs that are caused because 'uninitialized variable' or 'null object'.
vlion: cut of the flammarion woodcut, colored (Default)
Neil Postman's definition of technological thinking:

"any systematic and repeatable technique that tends to cause
people constrain their thinking about the world"


This is a very astute thought. Postman asserted that that Americans have oriented on this thinking. Well, I don't want to claim that Americans are that special. But I see it in the US.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KbAPtGYiRvg&feature=youtu.be


I don't think that he's very aware of the online world and how it plays out, but the boxing of people's thinking into some kind of system is terribly, terribly, terribly subtle and terribly real.

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