Monday, October 29, 2012

On Time

I don't know if this is more about time, or algorithms...

ALGORITHM, a definition:
In logic, the time that an algorithm requires to complete cannot be measured, as it is not apparently related with our customary physical dimension.

The word 'algorithm' is Persian in origin, and sounds like Muhammad ibn Mūsā al-Khwārizmī. Don't forget that Persia/Arabia/Middle East-ish, was the center of science around 1000 CE.

Hidden Economies and the Shifting of Value

"The Clothesline Paradox"
Tim O Reilly [10.4.2012]
Edge Conversations,

Stuart Brand's Clothesline Paradox:
You put your clothes in your dryer, and the energy you use gets measured and counted; you put your clothes on the clothesline, and it disappears from the economy.

On the internet, the value is created somewhere, and captured somewhere else. (The sun creates the value, and your wet clothes capture the value). Tim Berners Lee created value in the internet, but did not capture it. Goldman Sach's did not create value, they captured it.

Free content on the web - Users getting something for nothing:
Actually, most people pay comcast $80 a month for content on the web. And what's more, it's actually comcast who gets the free ride now. They don't have to pay television networks for their content; on the internet, the users create that content. Comcast is getting the free ride, not the users.

Finding meaning in the data is the new value generation.

"Thinking in Network Terms"
Albert-lászló Barabási [9.24.2012]
Edge Conversations,

Call it what you will: Network Science, Human Dynamics, Computational Social Science, Big Data; The question now is not how you collect the data, but how you make sense of it.

Barabasi continues to talk about how understanding networks allows us to get more out of the data.

Further Links:
Tim O Reilly is the founder and CEO of O'Reilly Media, Inc., one of the leading computer book publishers in the world.

O'Reilly Radar: Insights, analysis and research about emerging technologies

ALBERT-LÁSZLÓ BARABÁSI is a Distinguished University Professor at Northeastern University, where he directs the Center for Complex Network Research, and holds appointments in the Departments of Physics, Computer Science and Biology, as well as in the Department of Medicine, Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women Hospital, and is a member of the Center for Cancer Systems Biology at Dana Farber Cancer Institute.
Barabasi Labs, Center for Complex Network Research, Northeastern University, Boston

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Laws Fix

questionably fashionable, certainly out of touch

A couple things to consider, as we push further into the new frontier:

US court to rule on ReDigi's MP3 digital music resales
By Kim Gittleson, 5 October 2012

Grossly Simplified:
ReDigi resells your 'used' mp3s and 'makes sure' they are deleted from your hard drive. (The same way record stores used to buy back your old CD's, especially after you didn't burn them to blank disk). EMI, a record label, makes money from new music, not used music, and so they have a problem with ReDigi's business model, calling it a clearinghouse for copyright infringement.

"What this case points out is that the copyright statutes were written in an era when works of authorship were only available in tangible form," said Jonathan Handel, an entertainment attorney at TroyGould.

ReDigi's business model was written specifically to bypass these laws, giving EMI a difficult case to work with.

Supreme Court to Rule on Patents for Self-Replicating Products

clipped article:
Imagine a licensing agreement for buying seeds that allows them to be used only once a season. They cannot be resold for planting, and cannot be used for research, crop breeding or seed production.

Those indeed are the terms of seed giant Monsanto’s licensing agreement for its “Roundup Ready” soybeans, regardless of how unnatural the conditions may seem when it comes to farming. This is farming in the age of patented, genetically modified organisms, which in this case concerns soybean crops that withstand herbicide.

The Supreme Court is weighing in on the soybean patents, agreeing to hear an appeal by a Knox County, Indiana soybean farmer who was ordered to pay $84,456 in damages and costs to Monsanto in 2009 for infringing those patents.

Farmer Vernon Bowman’s dirty deed? The 74-year-old bought soybean seed from a local grain elevator that was contaminated with the patented seed, which he used to produce beans on his 299 acres.

“Without reasonable license restrictions prohibiting the replanting of second- and later-generation soybeans, Monsanto’s ability to protect its patented technology would effectively be lost as soon as the first generation of the product was introduced into the market,” the agriculture giant told the high court in a filing.

Farmer Bowman began purchasing Monsanto’s patented seeds in 1999 and, because of the licensing agreement, did not save any of the seed for future planting. But he also bought so-called “commodity” seed from a local grain elevator, which acts as a clearinghouse for farmers to buy and sell seed.

But given that more than 90 percent of the soybeans planted in the area were Roundup Ready crops, the elevator’s seed was contaminated with Monsanto’s patented seed.

[how does this work, exactly? Does he only get sued for a percentage, and how do you calculate that?]

Farmer Bowman planted that commodity seed, which was substantially cheaper to purchase, to produce a second, late-season crop, which is generally more risky and lower yielding. He then used seeds generated in one late-season harvest to help produce subsequent late-season crops.

Monsanto sued him for patent infringement, and he lost.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

On Seltzer Water

"I really don't like it myself, but I like it because people don't like it."

(on making yourself like seltzer water so you can honestly stock your fridge with it, and nobody will drink all your drinks)

I won't take credit, yet I'm gonna keep this one anonymous

Thursday, October 18, 2012

On Snobbery

"like a sir"

“Are we justified in attributing so much importance to verifying “originals” and distinguishing them from duplicates that are much like them and for many practical purposes fulfill the same functions? I believe we are. Just as it is in the interest of the human potential to extend the knowledge of the truth beyond the limits already attained, there is merit in pursuing aesthetic achievement to its peaks. We know from much evidence that art comes at all levels, from the poorest to the highest, and that therefore we need to distinguish all these levels from one another by their objective characteristics. Precisely because all works of art are basically duplicates of one another in that they are all engaged in the same task, it is possible and necessary to compare their levels of excellence. Those distinctions, however, are not readily apparent to everybody. A cheap popular song, novel, or picture may provide a full aesthetic experience within the narrow horizon of poorly prepared recipients, and it takes the persistent best efforts of the best experts to come ever closer to the recognition of the highest achievements.

To this end, we are in need of uncontaminated facts. It is difficult enough to prove the secrets of things when the evidence is authentic. We cannot afford to be misled by falsification.”

Rudolph Arnheim, “On Duplication”, pp232-245.
in The Forger’s Art: Forgery and the Philosophy of Art
Denis Dutton, ed.
Berkeley, 1983

Random: what we call the ‘artworld’ is just ‘good things worthy of duplication’.

On Snobbery/the remix

When young generations have admired this not-then-known forgery, if the aesthetic value has not changed, we say – “What harm has it done?” But, what is the purpose of art? Simply to entertain the senses?

Surely this cannot be what compels the artist, beyond conscious understanding or control, to create.

No, art does more than this. It is a pairing of the hemispheres, a mapping of non-observable ideas and emotions onto a consensually “recognizable” (cognitively recognizable) structure. That structure, however, is not Music, or Art, or even the subsets, such as Modern or Expressionist. The structure is the entirety of the artworld, which itself is an interpretation of the world-in-total, as that which one person or a select group is immersed in.

Ultimately, art, in any form, is both instruction and expression. The performer of the ritual (be it music or art or dance) is expressing both himself (or itself in the case of collective such as an orchestra) and the instruction of the work. And who is held accountable for the instruction, then? Even today, many artists will deflect credit for the authorship of their work. The art creates itself through the artist.

The unconscious action of the artist, as their ephormations iterate within a population, are held in-check by some other force.

For art to be of service, and thus of value, and for the population to receive proper instruction in the face of continually changing and complexifying environment, there must be some criteria by which the bad examples fall out, or are filtered out. Without this filter, society would fail to adapt, and art would find itself useless and consequently extinct from the human experience.

It is really no wonder, by this explanation heretofore, why we must remove the forgery from the museum wall. In a painting, the instructions are embedded into the expression – inextricably. For a piece of written music, the instruction is removed, or disembodied from the expression, so it is not the same. By “appreciating” an aesthetically powerful work of art that is known to have been whittled down by the algorithm of artificial selection, artists and critics and institutions and patrons, etc., there is something about the forged painting that is giving corrupt instructions (via the mismatched expression). And a pure expression it isn’t, for it is more an interpretation of a painting or a painter – someone else’s recursion, not yours – it is already once more removed. So young generations may enjoy and be moved by the aesthetic beauty, but as a whole, the interaction (between art and person) is not taking place as intended.

And note, it is not the artist who intends the interaction to be one way or another, but art itself, or the society, or the artworld that selects it. The youth, then, in this case, is being corrupted. It is the job of snobbery to police the proper transmission of artistic instruction. For those who do it well, snobs are only doing their duty.


Article on Ambiguity is Ambiguous, go figure:

for good measure; the disambiguation of disambiguation:

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The Ampersand, &

AKA The 27th Letter
(basically just reposting Wikipedia)

This is a false-reveal of the ampersand conflation. The E and T are visible, but the implied origin, sans-stylization, is misleading in regards to the actual evolution of the ampersand character.
The Thing, SEEN
Ampersand - '&'. It means ‘and’, a -conjunction- of things. It means ‘to combine’, or more like a command to the reader to combine.

Visually, this symbol ‘&’ is a conflation of the letters ‘e’ and ‘t’, for the Latin et, or ‘and’. Firstly, it was joined to form a simple ligature, or combination of letters typically-found-together. But it further underwent a strange evolution under the influence of, primarily, scribes, typographers and typesetting technology. These people/things would abbreviate, combining letters together (like the ‘ae’ in aesthetics) to save time, space, and money. And it was under these conditions that the hyper-stylization of the letter/s-form gave it a life of its own, the combination having reached a point where the constituent letters could no longer be distinguished from each other. This is what makes a conflation.

&, The 27th Letter
source: My Own Primer, or First Lessons in Spelling and Reading. Carter, Rev. John  P. // Philadelphia: Presbyterian Board of Publication, 1857
The Word, SPOKEN
As a word, ampersand is also a conflation. It was originally spoken/written as and per se and (which in itself is a combination of English-Latin-English, the Latin part of which, per se, means ‘in itself’…you can’t make this stuff up). The other word-letters of the alphabet were spoken I per se and A per se, and they were said that way to distinguish them as letters and not words (though their very distinguishing in this way made them words more than letters, in fact).

This time, it was through the copying mechanism of human speech that the ampersand was carried over multiple iterations, themselves being reinforced in children reciting the alphabet, and ending with ‘and’, the 27th letter, spoken ‘and per se and’, to distinguish it as a letter of the alphabet and not a word – andperseand became slurred and stuttered by its countless iterations until a stable ‘ampersand’ was reached. It doesn’t make any kind of sense how it got there; it is a conflation in this as well as its visual expression.

The Wrestling Ampersand
Slightly sideways now; the ampersand, both the word, and its symbol, stand for a combination of things – they are a combination and they stand for a combination. It’s put together like an abstract life form. It’s just uncanny how the ampersand’s meaning is inherent in its form. It’s completely artificial, and completely beautiful, and who designed it?

And so finally, the most triumphant expression of this thing is in our understanding of it. A mental-pretzeling, we wrestle with its recursions and meta-logic diversions. It is the expression of a mind trying to understand itself.


notice the ampersand variations
image: Nobiltà di dame […] Fabritio Caroso. Venetia. 1600.
via History:
"...different kinds were used to keep the page from blurring under the reader's eyes"; too many &'s on the page is hypnotic.
Artemy Lebedev, Ampersand, § 112. March 22, 2005

via Russia:
"Finding any mention of the sign in the pre-computer era literature is nearly impossible, because the use of ampersand in Cyrillic typesetting was very scant."

"There’s no need to use ampersand in Russian.
Because the Russian conjunction u (and) sounds and looks short enough (with “y”, the Spanish [and 'e' in Spanish and Portuguese] are the luckiest of the bunch). The author can’t recall an example when one intelligible and condensed symbol is replaced with a few symbols or even just a ligature."
Artemy Lebedev, Ampersand, § 112. March 22, 2005

via France:
Esperluette means 'ampersand' in French,
but they really call it 'le sign et', like how English calls '@' 'the at symbol'.

(I am only reading the French-wiki via 'translate', and what a nightmare it is to translate this particular topic.)
try translating to english and reading the discussion page

Esperluette underwent not identical but very similar development in France. Perhaps this can be a focus for studying the relative speed of idea-transmission at particular points in cultural evolution. Had printed writing been so prevalent in an older England/France as it is now, then the word for the thing-ampersand would not have been able to morph so easily.

Now it is fixed. If, for some reason, we were to incorporate 'theisthe' into our language today in the 21st century, it would not mutate the same (especially since the 'letter of the alphabet' for 'th' is no longer used)  However, it isn't used  in many other languages, examples given below. 

via Legend:
one appears in Pompeian graffiti, establishing the symbol at least as far back as A.D. 79 (we can just take this as legend).

via the Internet:
"Our Middle Name", 28 April, 2008
News, Notes, & Observations, Hoefler & Frere-Jones

The Ampersand, an ampersand blog

J. Tschichold and F. Plaat, The Ampersand: Its origin and development, London: Woudhuysen, 1957. <> Bibtex

The [Visual] Evolution of the Ampersand

FINAL NOTE, not for the faint of heart:
try writing an article such as this, and switching back and forth between 'HTML' and 'Compose' and watch what happens to all the &'s.


^You've never seen the ABCs look this bizarre and wonderful
Vincze Miklós io9
Feb 14, 2014

Friday, October 12, 2012

The Life of the Cosmos

Interactive Generative Art, try it yourself at

Cosmological Evolution is one in which the universe reproduces itself (in a cycle of expand-heat / death-contract) until it makes one that can sustain a black hole. It does this by way of a biological natural selection where DNA is analogous to the proton mass and electron mass parameters of the universe. Once a universe has been created that can sustain a black hole, and that black hole collapses, a new universe can come out of that collapse, with slightly modulated parameters, with the direction pointing towards an ideal universe that produces many black holes (which allows more chances for more universes, for more black holes…).

Lee Smolin, The Life of the Cosmos, 1997, Oxford.

Post Script:

Did the universe evolve to make black holes?
May 06, 2013
The Oxford team of evolutionary theorist Andy Gardner and theoretical physicist Joseph Conlon found that a basic equation from evolutionary genetics – called Price's theorem – can capture the process of cosmological natural selection and explain how the universe seems designed for the purpose of making black holes rather like a fish can seem 'designed' to swim underwater or a bird can appear 'designed' to fly.
A report of the research is published in the journal Complexity online.
Cosmological Natural Selection and the Purpose of the Universe
Department of Zoology, Balliol College, Rudolf Peierls Centre for Theoretical
Physics, University of Oxford
March 2013

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Ladies and Gentlemen: The Number 45

When Anne Hathaway comes out with a new movie, Berkshire Hathaway's stocks go up.

That's an easy one to figure out (unless, of course, you don't know that robots now run Wall St).

The following story, however, is much more indicative of the nonsensical, illogical (by any human measure or current definition of the word) behavior of the nature of emergent phenomena as presented by complex algorithms, in this case, copyright bots.

BBC and others targeted by Microsoft copyright takedown request
8 October 2012
modified article:
Sites such as BBC, CNN, Wikipedia, and the U.S. Government were wrongly identified by software which crawls the web for attempts to illegally share Microsoft content, and requests that the sites be taken down due to copyright infringement.
The [copyright holder's takedown] request, sent in July, contained hundreds of addresses, and appeared to pinpoint articles and pages containing the number 45.
For example, a BBC page following Day 45 of the Olympic Torch Relay was on the takedown list, as was a Wikipedia article on Caesar's Civil War, which ended in 45BC.
Yes, 45.
And tell me again exactly what made Kony 2012 the most powerful virus of its kind to date.
(personally, I think it was the 4.20, not 45.)

Post Script for good measure:

Mysterious Algorithm Was 4% of Trading Activity Last Week
John Melloy, 8 Oct 2012

A single mysterious computer program that placed orders — and then subsequently canceled them — made up 4 percent of all quote traffic in the U.S. stock market last week, according to the top tracker of high-frequency trading activity. The motive of the algorithm is still unclear.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

FurFuryl Mercapton, Abstract Foods, and Flavor Networks

Coffee, Cannibis, Tobacco, Skunk, Beer, Lemons, and what else, all share a common smell from a common chemical called furfuryl mercapton.

Upon verifying this fact , I came across the following:

Miracle Berries
Explore the many ways to use mberry tablets. Host "flavor tripping" dinner parties. Get your kid to eat their vegetables. mberry miracle berry tablets are hand-picked fruit and 100% natural.

And it reminded me of an ever-present crazy idea from a crazy culinary friend of mine:

Abstract Foods

--Thai curry and Nutella? Cream Cheese.
--Tobacco and peanut butter? BBQ sauce.

I also call it the Jelly Belly Effect, as they have a chart on the back of the box that shows you how to mix and match some flavors to 'create' other flavors.

and finally, this brings us to the topic of


Flavor Network and the Principles of Food Pairing
This study uses a network-based approach to explore the impact of flavor compounds on ingredient combinations, analyzing 56,498 recipes, and measuring links between flavor profiles of separate ingredients in various recipes
Barabasi Labs-2011

"The flavor network allows us to reformulate the food pairing hypothesis as a topological property: do we more frequently use ingredient pairs that are strongly linked in the flavor network or do we avoid them? To test this hypothesis we need data on ingredient combinations preferred by humans, information readily available in the current body of recipes. For generality, we used 56,498 recipes provided by two American repositories ( and and to avoid a distinctly Western interpretation of the world’s cuisine, we also used a Korean repository ( The recipes are grouped into geographically distinct cuisines (North American,Western European, Southern European, Latin American, and East Asian)."

"This distribution reveals that North American dishes use far more compound-sharing pairs than expected by chance, and the East Asian dishes far fewer." [...] "The results largely correlate with our earlier observations: in North American recipes, the more compounds are shared by two ingredients, the more likely they appear in recipes. By contrast, in East Asian cuisine the more flavor compounds two ingredients share, the less likely they are used together." [...] "...suggests that the food pairing effect is due to a few outliers that are frequently used in a particular cuisine, e.g. milk, butter, cocoa, vanilla, cream, and egg in the  North America, and beef, ginger, pork, cayenne, chicken, and onion in East Asia." [...]

"North American food heavily relies on dairy products, eggs and wheat; by contrast, East Asian cuisine is dominated by plant derivatives like soy sauce, sesame oil, and rice and ginger."

"The fact that recipes rely on ingredients not only for flavor but also to provide the final textures and overall structure of a given dish provides support for the idea that fitness values depend on a multitude of ingredient characteristics besides their flavor profile."

"More generally this work provides an example of how the datadriven network analysis methods that have transformed biology and the social sciences in recent years can yield new insights in other areas, such as food science."
Barabasi Labs-2011

Flavor network and the principles of food pairing
--Yong-Yeol Ahn, Sebastian E. Ahnert, James P. Bagrow & Albert-La´szlo´ Baraba´si
--Center for Complex Network Research, Department of Physics Northeastern University, Boston, MA 02115,
--Center for Cancer Systems Biology Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Harvard University, Boston, MA 02115
--School of Informatics and Computing, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47408
--Theory of Condensed Matter, Cavendish Laboratory, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB3 0HE, UK
Scientific Reports, published 15 December 2011
Barabasi Labs-2011
The only link I see on the sample diagram is 'tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol', found in soy sauce

very similar study:
Chinese Cuisine Patterns Revealed By Food Network Analysis
July 25, 2013

I would like to make copious personal mental notes between this study and the Evolution of Adult Lactose Absorption study cited in W.H. Dunham's Coevolution.

But, most importantly, reference to Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel idea, which suggests why North America would have a dairy-based diet based on animal husbandry. It was a combination of just-so variables, the most significant (in reference to the above topic) being that of the protein-per-gram ratio of wheat vs. rice. Wheat yields a higher return-on-investment. This in addition to the east-west landmass of Europe/North America (increasing the spread of agricultural technology upon similar day lengths) vs. the more north-south axis of East Asia. This combination facilitated faster population abundance; the resulting higher population densities then led to the use of medium-sized domesticable animals (which ~Europe/North America both had in abundance) for food. In ^Coevolution with human-manipulated genetic adaptation, the dairying practices of these cultures make the same setting described in the Flavor Networks studies above.

Also known as nutritional genomics, this is the study of the complex interplay between food and genetic expression. Scientists working in this field seek to understand the role of genetic variation, dietary response, and the ways in which nutrients affect our genes. And indeed, food has a profound effect on our health — and it starts quite literally at the molecular level. Nutrigenomics works both ways; our genes influence our dietary preferences, and vice-versa. A key goal of nutrigeneticists is to establish personalized nutrition — matching what we eat with our own unique genetic constitutions. More here.

^11 Emerging Scientific Fields That Everyone Should Know About
George Dvorsky 27 Feb 2013

The Truth About Taste (Documentary)
BBC Horizon, 2013

25 Amazing Food Infographics, Drawn From 49,733 Recipes
Cliff Kuang 10.29.13, Wired

Chinese Cuisine Patterns Revealed By Food Network Analysis

Milk digestion's 'more recent rise'

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Inside-Out Side

Via the –membrane-, the cell controls exchange between interior/exterior to its own advantage in order to maintain a high level of internal organization, but in so doing it also requires reciprocation of the exterior – the two coevolve. (p155)

Lee Smolin, The Life of the Cosmos, 1997, Oxford

Einstein Writing to Solvene

“Unless one sins against logic, one generally gets nowhere;…"
“One cannot build a house or construct a bridge without using a scaffold which is really not one of its basic parts.”
Lee Smolin, The Life of the Cosmos, 1997, Oxford

Phase Change

Nothing at all happens to the individual molecules when phase change takes place, instead only a rearrangement of their positions and motions. AND the two phase can coexist (like ice floating in water) at any scale in the whole (little ice or big ice) – the pattern of the two phase are spread over a large range of scales. [like Fractals] (p169)

Lee Smolin, The Life of the Cosmos, 1997, Oxford

The Dual Processing System

Dealing with Difference: From cognition to semiotic cognition
Barend van Heusden. Department of Arts, Culture, and Media Studies, University of Groningen, The Netherlands.
Cognitive Semiotics, Issue 4 (Spring 2009), pp. 116–132

I have clipped what I consider to be some interesting parts of a very powerful article on the nature of thought:

In this paper, it will be argued that semiotic cognition can be conceived as a distinctive form of cognition, which evolved out of earlier forms of non-semiotic cognition. Semiotic cognition depends on the use of signs and it will be shown that a sign is not a ‘thing’, but rather the name given to a specific organization, or structure, of the cognitive process. Once semiotic cognition was available to humans, its structure may have provided the ground for an evolutionary development that was no longer strictly Darwinian, but followed its own semiotic logic. Semiotic cognition confronts humans with a difference that cannot be eliminated, and it is in the ways in which this difference is dealt with that we may discover a logic of cultural evolution that determines the course of long term cultural change. (p116)

If we want to explain this absence of meaning and with it the emergence of a specifically human sense of reality, of time, space, and self, we have to assume that human cognition is based upon a very peculiar system of representation (or ‘pattern matching’) which allows us to process what is seen and heard at the same time, both in terms of stable patterns and of global, concrete and necessarily ‘fuzzy’ patterns. This double processing generates a difference between the stable pattern, which corresponds to what we have called memory, on the one hand, and an instable, always changing pattern corresponding to what one could name the ‘here and now’ or the ‘present’, on the other hand. In a conscious human mind the two patterns never merge completely. (p122)

[Difference] may have freed humans from immediacy, from the continuous ‘now’ in which most, if not all, other organisms live and it probably enabled us to deal with our environment independently of what is simply ‘the case’ in fantasy, myths, religion, technology, the arts and sciences, philosophy. These worlds that we construct in our imagination allow us to cope with change in a more sophisticated way than other organisms do. It does not take long to figure out the profit. What distinguishes human cognition and culture from that of other organisms is not meaning, but the absence of meaning. (p123)

If the assumption put forward here is correct we may investigate further in two directions. ‘Backward’, in order to try to find out and explain how such a double processing could have come about in the evolution of hominids, which is the subject of evolutionary psychology. And ‘forward,’ to find out if and how the peculiar structure of human cognition may have influenced the evolution of human culture. Let us first try to go ‘backward’, finding out about the possible evolutionary development of the human capacity for double processing. It is highly probable that this development made use of the strong lateralization of the human brain. I do not want to suggest that lateralization caused human culture, but what I do suspect is that a lateralization, which was already present (and which is related in primates to handedness*), allowed for the double processing, in terms of stable and changing patterns, of visual and acoustic information in animals with full stereoscopic vision, resulting in a 100% identity of the visual input in the two hemispheres. The coordinating process required a substantial enlargement of the equally present ‘comparator’ or ‘cockpit’, according to the term coined by Elkhonon Goldberg. (p123)

The double processing of the stream of incoming information results in a combination of two types of patterns: stable structures, on the one hand (which we can now identify as ‘schemata’, ‘scripts’, ‘concepts’, ‘structures’, or ‘signs’) and a changing situation, on the other hand (identified as ‘reality’, ‘substance’, ‘object’, ‘the thing itself’, etc.). Memories can now be stored and worked upon independently of the actual situation. Evidently, the most could be made of this development if the set of available memories were considerable. Both factors (a large set of memories and a strong comparator) required brain space. This could be that ‘compelling reason’ why the human brain got so large between 2 and 1.5 million years ago and why the costs of such a large brain were worth paying. (p124)

The stable pattern (memory) is related to a changing pattern (an occurrence). It is this activity of relating that turns the stable patterns into signs, which are used to recognize (to give form to, to interpret, to signify) that other more floating set of patterns constituting actuality. The here and now of the situation, in turn, is what is not a sign. It is ‘reality’, ‘the world’, ‘the object’. Although we immediately admit that this too is a construction based on memories. But the difference between the two is not a construction of our memory, and that is crucial. Thus cognition becomes intentional or semiotic. (p124-5)

The first step in the evolution of culture, as we have seen, must have been that of the doubling of the information processing system: basically the doubling of the representation of perception. (p126)

Semiotic mimetic actions are fundamentally different from imitations, as imitation involves the copying of behaviour, whereas mimesis comes with a new way of representing behaviour, namely without actually performing it (cf. Donald 1991, 2006). Through mimesis, the stable memories, or signs, are acted out and become audible and visible.*

*This corresponds to Piaget’s (1962) notion of “representative imitation”, which according to him emerges out of sensory-motor imitation, via deferred imitation (cf. Zlatev 2007).

Human culture is the process in which more or less stable memories are used to deal with the difference that the world forces upon us. (p127)

Our identity as human beings is thus a process in which we continuously invest energy. […] We exist as a set of memories and as a process in which these memories are used to deal with a dynamic environment. I am, we are, ‘in the making’. Viewing the self as a process rather than as an object therefore becomes more natural (Noble 2006). (p128)

Self-consciousness, both individual and collective, is thus a form of recursion; not formal, but semiotic recursion. Whereas in formal recursion a form consists of elements that reproduce that same form (as in a triangle consisting of three smaller triangles, each of which again consists of three smaller triangles, etc.), in semiotic recursion the process of representation (of ‘aboutness’) is about that process itself. This is what we call reflexivity, meta-representation or meta-cognition. The self is always a constructed self as well as a remembered self or, rather, a self ‘under construction’. (p128-9)

Moreover, the process as such is again remembered, which gives us a strong feeling of being, and having been, alive (cf. Metzinger 2003). […] Art and philosophy are two important forms of meta-cognition in modern and in contemporary culture. Whereas art reflects our life in concrete images, sounds, and stories, philosophy does so through abstract conceptualizations. (p129)

The ‘double processing’ hypothesis presented in this paper would allow us to shed light on the evolution of human culture and on cultural evolution as well. Semiotic cognition became possible because of a change in the primate information processing system. Once this system was in place, a new logic of development could emerge. The logic of cultural evolution seems to be based on what is, in the end, a very simple criterion, namely: whether a sign or sign system offers better chances of dealing with the difference arising in a specific personal, social and natural context, and in so doing also offers better chances of prediction and survival. Which brings us back to biology. This search for better solutions to the problem of difference can explain individual, social, and geographical variations in culture, as well as the steady increase of both abstraction and cultural complexity. (p129-30)

Even though culture certainly is a fact of human biology, what makes it so interesting is the fact that out of biology, in this case, emerges a form of cognition that became free, at least to a certain extent, of the laws of biology by adding a new dimension to these laws, namely the dimension of the semiotic. (p130)

The approach is deeply and truly Darwinian, in the sense that it applies Darwin’s perspective where it can and should be applied, and uses it to explain how and why a non-Darwinian evolutionary system, though nested in biological evolution and fulfilling the same goals, could emerge. Neo- Darwinism is fruitful, but only up to a certain point – which is that of the semiotic. Beyond that point, the laws of development change: instead of ‘BVSR = Blind Variation + Selective Retention’, the logic of the semiotic process, involving mimesis, imagination, conceptualization, and analysis will determine the course of human evolution.* Whereas selective retention may continue to function as it did in animal life, cultural variation is not blind, but informed by semiosis and driven by semiotic strategies.**

* Lassègue (2007) develops a related ‘alternative’ view (to neo-Darwinism, that is), strongly oriented towards the work of Ernst Cassirer. See also Wolfgang Wildgen’s (2003) work on the evolution of human language.

** See Wheeler, Ziman & Boden, eds. (2002) on cultural evolution and neo Darwinism. See also David Premack’s review article ‘Human and animal cognition: Continuity and discontinuity’ (2007) where the significant differences between human and animal cognition are stressed.


Donald, M. (1991). Origins of the modern mind. Three stages in the evolution of culture and cognition. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Donald, M. (2006). Art and cognitive evolution. In M. Turner (Ed.), The artful mind.

Goldberg, E. (2001). The executive brain. Frontal lobes and the civilized mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Lassègue, J. (2007). Une réinterprétation de la notion de forme symbolique dans un scénario récent d’émergence de la culture. Revue de métaphysique et de morale 2 (2007), 221–236.

Metzinger, T. (2003). Being no one: the self-model theory of subjectivity. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Noble, D. (2006). The music of life. Biology beyond genes. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Piaget, J. (1962). Play, dreams, and imitation in childhood. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Premack, D. (2007). Human and animal cognition: Continuity and discontinuity. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America 104 (35), 13861–13867.

Wheeler, M., Ziman, J., & Boden, M. A. (Eds.) (2002). The evolution of cultural entities. Oxford: Oxford University Press, for The British Academy.

Wildgen, W. (2003). The evolution of human language. Scenarios, principles and cultural dynamics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.

Zlatev, J. (2007). Embodiment, language, and mimesis. In T. Ziemke, J. Zlatev & R. Franck (Eds.), Body, Language, Mind. Vol. 1: Embodiment (pp. 297–333). New York: Mouton de Gruyter.

More Musicological Synchronicity

aka Musical Synchoesthesia

Not only is it basically the same song as Part Time Lover*, Maneater also finds its way into Walking on a Dream, if you like to see it that way.

*though I hear "One is in B Minor, the other in B Flat Minor." -the internet

--Hall and Oats, "Maneater", 1:13
--Empire Of The Sun, "Walking On A Dream", 0:53

But more importantly,

--Empire of the Sun, "Walking on a Dream", 0:53
--Billy Ocean, "Carribbean Queen", 1:00
the melody is the same, the lyrics sound the same, and they occur at almost the same point in the song.

"...and our hearts can beat as one, no more love on the run."

And more recently discovered,
snap to the bridge:

--Stevie Wonder, "Ngicuela Es Una Historia - I am Singing" (1976)
1:35 - 1:59
--Quadron, "LFT" (2013)
0:55 - 1:10

Post Script
Beck's "The Golden Age" (2000)
Black Prairie's "What You Gave Me" (2011)
same song basically

"In Transit", Albert Hammond Jr., 1:11
"Some Guys Have All the Luck", Rod Stewart, 0:19

Post Post Script, music-recognizing algorithms
Moodbar is a computer visualization used for navigating within a piece of music. This is done with a horizontal bar that is divided into vertical stripes. Each stripe has a colour showing the "mood" within a short part of the song. The colour can depend on spectrum and/or rhythmic features of the part of the song. The parts of the song (intro, choruses, solos, accents etc.) as well as musical changes (dynamics, rhythm, texture, playing instruments) are clearly visible on the bar

Wood, Gavin; O'Keefe, Simon (2005). "On Techniques for Content-Based Visual Annotation to Aid Intra-Track Music Navigation and Fin-de-Siècle Predilections". Retrieved 2007-12-14.

Music Genome Project
A given song is represented by a vector (a list of attributes) containing approximately 400 "genes" (analogous to trait-determining genes for organisms in the field of genetics). Each gene corresponds to a characteristic of the music, for example, gender of lead vocalist, level of distortion on the electric guitar, type of background vocals, etc. proprietary, for Pandora

Acoustic Fingerprinting
mostly for song recognition/identification (for use with copyright bots, for example, or Shazam), not for visualizational or relational data use

MusicBrainz captures information about artists, their recorded works, and the relationships between them. Recorded works entries capture at a minimum the album title, track titles, and the length of each track. These entries are maintained by volunteer editors who follow community written style guidelines. Recorded works can additionally store information about the release date and country, the CD ID, cover art, acoustic fingerprint, free-form annotation text and other metadata. As of 19 April 2013, MusicBrainz contained information about 750,000 artists, 1 million releases, and 12 million recordings.
"Database Statistics". MusicBrainz. Retrieved 2013-04-19.

Moodagent is a commercial service from Syntonetic that combines digital signal processing and AI techniques to create music profiles that incorporate characteristics such as mood, emotion, genre, style, instrument, vocals, orchestration, production, and beat/tempo

Justify My Heart, the readymade mashup instructions for Madonna's "Justify my Love" and Alicia Keys "Listen to Your Heart"

Artificial intelligence identifies the musical progression of the Beatles
July 2014, scientists at Lawrence Technological University have developed an artificial intelligence algorithm that can analyze and compare musical styles, enabling research into the musical progression of the Beatles.

The algorithm works by first converting each song to a spectrogram – a visual representation of the audio content. That turns an audio analysis task into an image analysis problem, which is solved by applying comprehensive algorithms that turn each music spectrogram into a set of almost 3,000 numeric descriptors reflecting visual aspects such as textures, shapes and the statistical distribution of the pixels. Pattern recognition and statistical methods are then used to detect and quantify the similarities between different pieces of music.

The automatic placement of the albums by the algorithm was in agreement with the chronological order of the recording of each album, starting with the Beatles' first album, "Please, Please Me," and followed by the subsequent early albums, "With the Beatles," "Beatles for Sale" and "A Hard Day's Night." 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Network Thresholds

As Facebook breaches 1billion, we may raise a conjecture. When users level off, what is the next number to follow as we stab in the dark at the value of a social utility? Connections, of course.

I would like to predict, for imaginary purposes only, the (perhaps serruptitious) use of socialbots to increase connections between users. Network Densification Algorithms, if you will.

socialbots on network interaction: before
socialbots on network interaction: after

I'm Not a Real Friend, But I Play One on the Internet
Tim Hwang, HOPE#9, July 2012
PacSocial: Field Test Report
Max Nanis, Ian Pearce, Tim Hwang
November 15, 2011
Web Ecology Project
Facebook crosses billion threshold, on quest for growth
Liana B. Baker and Gerry Shih