Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt severs internet connection amid growing unrest


A very interesting gauntlet for the govt to throw down.. over to you Egypt

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Reality Is About to Explode

I thought I would write a fun article about subjective reality, even though groups of us sort of agree on just enough to be thinking reality is 'objective'... its just a temporal agreement.


Up until very recently our view of reality was defined by others, so others got to say and define what we look at as 'real'. I think this could be about to explode into many pieces.

Today this 'reality' is presented to us via the main stream media (MSM).

The interesting thing about the MSMis that it is consistent (this not what you would expect from a true accurate but diverse information source), MSM provides a 'consensus' view that pretty much agrees with itself. So even if objective reality were real, a true communications media would and should not operate in consensus mode.

The MSM 'news' as a consensus presentation fits into a doctrine, it presents a painted picture of the reality we reside in. These days in the west that doctrine is built around the ideal of a liberal consumerist world. This doctrine has an invisible deity I like to call consumer God or Con God. As most of the major media organizations report to owners within the same financial establishment, the Con God mantra is based around constant GDP growth based on  'Keep borrowing, Keep buying, everything will be ok'.

It just so happens that this doctrine and its associated behavior pattern destroys the ecosystem we live in. It increases consumer reliance on centralized power to provide food and shelter as the ecosystem degrades. Look at the financial drivers of health-care to better understand this process closeup.

Our Gods

For a few thousand years we had the Judeao Christian 'One God' or JC God as the arbiter of consensus. The JC God media establishment was run by churches. If you challenged this you were taken out. Some did and it was nasty, but we managed to get as far as expanding our thought to realizing that the earth was round and it was not in the center of the universe.

Since the two great world wars we have been in a mythology transition from the JC God to Con God.

With the rise of the western system of democracy, the thinkers of the day working for the owning class of society realized that a system of managing these 'free thinking democratic populations' was required otherwise 'who knows what the plebs would vote for'.

(a more recent term for this used by Noam Chomsky is 'The engineering of consent')

The solution to this was designed in the form of the consumer society, to make that work a dogma was devised to make the worker who delivered components into the machine a willing participant.

It was realized that both the media and educational establishments were required to be reformed to effectively support this new consensus dogma and both the funds and execution teams for this were put in place early in the 19th century.  (to better understand how this was done, this is an enlightening interview with the man who was chosen by congress to explore a part of this process)

The religion of Con God worked, it was superior to JC god and JC God now takes a small back seat in the mainstream reality that people live within.  (I wrote a post 'Why Consumerism wins' to play with why Con God works so well as superior viral myth to JC God).

Many today worship Con God. They operate as minions and components of the establishment that pays those that created and manage this system today, whilst the MSM plays the front man whose job it is to keep the myth intact and making sense.

One God

A few thousand years of JC God administration did a great job of fixing the ideas of a one god world into our collective brains.

It lynches on this thing 'consensus'.

One God, or monotheism is a powerful idea and I hope I can convey the impact it has on our present views, in respect to 'reality'.

One God is essentially the same idea as saying 'one world view' or 'reality is only this way',  just said in different words. It is also the same concept as 'consensus'

The idea of consensus then links in with 'this is how things are' or 'our way is right'.

The concept of anything at all 'being right' stems from this.

When you have many many myths/religions existing at once or you would realize that reality can not be 'consensus' the concept of 'being right' itself dissolves, right and wrong are simply relative concepts. But live in a world where everyone agrees with you and you may drop back into the thinking of being 'right' when you see something that challenges you.

I hope its obvious that nothing can truly be right or wrong in the abstract, only relativism's like 'Is this the *right* way to the chemist?'. can be answered truly in that 'yes that is the right way to the chemist'.

Nothing else is right or wrong, its just there, it just exists. And because it exists it is. Of course you can try to pretend its wrong in the absolute sense, but the moment you do this, you have entered a delusional state about reality. This is very common, especially around things we disagree with or that disturb us.

When one is right, another has to be wrong and a new entity is created, the one who decides.

Traditionally the one who decides was the priest in the church. You could go and ask them and get their opinion. Today in the Con God system, this process operates via the MSM, supported by the State, which in turn is validated and enabled by the noble establishment we call Science.

Science, Objective Reality and One God

Science is a product of our one god religions. Science and the scientific method itself could not exist with out the backdrop of one god.

How so ?

Our concept of Science relies on 'objective reality' to work, it is a fundamental requirement of the scientific method. Objective reality is the belief that everything 'out there' is consistent and the same for all beings that can experience it. Only then can an experiment reveal a result that can be tested and verified.

Science is built on consensus, that consensus can only form if there is already a consensus that objective reality is what forms the world we exist in.

Science has a pre supposition built in.

The scientific method (the way you take measurements and replicate these measurements to prove or disprove any given theory) could only emerge after a few thousand years of one god consensus being drilled into our collective brains. Only once there was enough bedrock of collective agreement on the nature of external reality (being the same for all under god) could something like Science take root.

If different parts of society believed in different realities then forget the scientific method, at least in terms of one based on an objective reality.

So contrary to what many believe, Science itself is another belief system. It has its own dogmatic requirements for it to hold. It just so happens that many years of religious indoctrination prepared society appropriately for a method of though like Science to work.

It is the inability of a person or scientist to see this obvious fact that makes science itself a dogma.

The Dogma of Science

The dogmatic root of science is the belief in objective reality. We must stress the world 'belief' here as this is all that it is. It forms a religious view that is so deep that many have a hard time going there and challenging it in their minds. Just like the heresies against JC God, even the consideration that objective reality is a fantasy concept is a heresy to the dogmatic view in science.

In a very practical example this the issue of has been glaring scientists in the face for nearly 100 years and most are still too scared to call a spade a spade.

Quantum Mechanics (QM), well known as the most successful scientific theory ever, makes a complete mess of the notion of objective reality. Simply put, QM maps out reality as a statistical time function, Ie what happens at any point in space-time is a probability. There are a few options for theories to get scientists out of this mess. Simplifying the debate somewhat, one is called 'wave function collapse' the other is called 'many worlds'. Wave function collapse says that the world is made real when the observer looks at it, while many worlds says that every world that can be created will be created. 

Neither of these really work to make our results of QM fit what we have pre programmed our minds for regarding the existence of an objective reality. 

It is not my understanding of true science to try and come up with something that fits a pre determined idea, this is normally called massaging the data.  The true scientist is one who challenges the old consensus and comes up with something that better describes what is being seen.

Right Wrong and The Dyadic Myth

So the concepts of One God, Science, Objective Reality and what I will call 'being right' are simply all different facets of the same thing.

These ideas are all really the same style of mythology. I will call that mythology the 'dyadic myth' its based on duals (relations of twos) :

- One God: One God creates the world: I experience it
- Science: One Reality exists: the Observer measures it
- Objective Reality: One Reality exists: observers of Reality experience it
- Being Right: Reality exists: My explanation of reality is correct.

(In my early blog posts, i called this dyadic myth 'the great divide')

The Dyadic Myth and Violence

Once you understand how all these facets are really the same core dyadic mythology. You can move to the next step of understanding how this dyadic myth is inherently violent.

Within any dyadic world view, be it Science, Politics or Religion. Who gets to decide who is right ?

Often it is the more powerful, who is the 'right', then 'rightness' is inflicted upon another who doesn't agree...

The journey to the one God was a bloody and violent affair at every step, from its inception to where we are today. The bible charts some of the early days of the dyadic story in its gory detail, tribes had to be mashed together by bloodshed to force one god 'consensus' view upon them. It then took the military might of Rome to force this 'rightness' or what was becoming called 'righteousness' on the entire empire under Rome.

There is only one way out of dyadic violence and that is to understand and accept reality as it is. As I said earlier, the moment you try to make anything that exists wrong in anything other than a true relative sense, you have entered a delusional state.

Since much of politics and Science is presented in this way. You can now better understand these all as forms of collective delusion. They have little to do with anything that is real.

Instead the dyadic myth whether you call it 'us and them' or 'might is right' or 'I know and you don’t' is simply an effective way to impose ones will upon another.

Dyadic mythology, any facet of it, is a justification for violence.

Where we are today

Our present Con God religio, administered by the State via government, operates very much under a dyadic delusion.

Dyadic myths are inherently violent and our state is no different.  One of the legal definitions of the State is 'The Monopoly On Violence'

This violence will always need a forum to play out in. Often this will take the from of wars, racism or more small scale family relational violence.

To see the delusion you just look it in the face. The religion of the state is thought of as if its some free choice, but there is no choice at all. Voting systems provide a unrealistic sense of freedom. There is no freedom, you can't say no to the state itself, whichever 'party act' is voted in and playing its game in government. If you don't pay taxes you get treated violently, and everyone involved will support this violence.

The claim we are a secular state (ie the state doesn’t care what religion you follow) is a lie. You are forced into state religion from birth and its illegal not to pay the religious donations in the form taxes. You can't in truth follow another mythology within the state, there is no secularism in this model. You can only follow religions that clearly are no threat to the State religio.

Reality Explodes

But State and dyadic dogmas aside, I want to get onto the matter at hand, namely the explosion of reality.

We have been living blind within a dyadic mythology for a long time now and the myth has been taken as real along with all its ramifications about there being one solid 'objective reality'.

As we are stretching and blinking in new sunlight, I want to touch on some ideas about what this could mean.

It all starts with meaninglessness, of the main stream media, and actually of everything else too.

  • As the one reality Con God and MSM doctrine crumble, the MSM will dissolve and be relegated to its rightful place within the the media multi verse of Internet information (see media continuum article).
  • The lines of everything will continue to get more and more blurred and I seriously expect some sort of psychological shock to hit us all. The truth of no objective reality and that of multiversal reality sinking home could be difficult for some to integrate themselves with.
  • Those that still trust the MSM and think it somehow 'forms the world' will be the most challenged. What happens when this MSM view is repeatedly proven false ? This is well on the way. Those that have engaged and found multiple info sources on the net to discover their Mistrust the MSM are safe (luckily Mistrust in the MSM is now at record high). Those that do still trust the MSM will become more and more divorced from reality, at the same time they will still need to project the violence of their dyadic views somewhere. There will be a lot of desperate attempts to blame other groups and much devision for these people. 

We are hooked on a dyadic world view of a solid external reality. There is comfort in one right thing to believe in 'out there'. Consensus gives a very cosy sense of security. But this is an avoidance of our own inner fears. In order to maintain this feeling of security, any contrary view has to be looked at as a joke, a 'conspiracy theory'. Otherwise the solid and secure 'objective' 'one' reality msm doctrine explodes and takes the believer with it.

Well it is all exploding, and I think the only sane way to go is inward. Look at the violence inside and then it no longer needs to be projected via some dyadic myth onto another group, person or thing.

Reaching out into the mutiverse holding onto Con God will shatter you into fragments of other peoples ideas... Given enough time, at least you would find out you are not anyone else’s ideas.

Reality is a subjective experience, there is nothing 'out there'. You can decide what 'it' or anything means for you and it can work, because there is nothing out there except what you say is there.

"The only reality is that there is no reality".

I would say that anyone who 'tells' you 'its' something else is trying to have you.

So, am I ?

As the connectivity between  individuals across the planet increases exponentially, the dyadic control structures fall away, drowned by other facets of reality that minify ancient centralized one god objectivity into the multi-verse.

A huge amount of psychic and physical energy is being released that normally would move to a violent projection onto the 'other' in the dyad.

Ride the explosion inwards, I wonder if I will meet you there one day.

The Media Continuum

(this is from an article i wrote for 2009 GDC (Games Developers Conference) in the journal, I will be updating it further when I get round to it)

I have always been fascinated by games, not just because they can be engaging, exciting and even beautiful, but also because they are simply the deepest form of computer-human interaction.

I spent the last 25 years building technology to support games. Along the way my contributions have included RenderMorphics' Reality Lab and the first few versions of Direct3D. I continue to find the space fascinating, and I believe our understanding and mastery of games will continue to give them an ever-larger role in media as a whole.

In this article I intend to show how all media types sit on a single continuum. This will let us view the media scene as one complete whole, and consider the game industry in relation to it. By providing some definitions and covering some of the key issues we can do a quick survey of where the wider media is today as well as considering some of the interesting changes that we will be dealing with in the near future.

A number of issues I touch on warrant articles in their own right but my aim here is to give an overview and so I have to touch on many things briefly and leave it to you to extrapolate some of the ideas. But the following few lines are the central concepts that I hope the rest of the article helps uncover

As more media distribution moves to the internet our 'concepts of different media' forms - and 'how we access them' - will continue to converge.

This ongoing merger of distribution, leaving us with one dominant network, will drive more integrated forms of content. This, along with the accessibility of further content is when the network then becomes the media itself.

(Content and Access become linked: This is traditionally very much the realm of games.)

Games, Content and Access are Linked

In a game, the control system (how you navigate the content) defines a large part of how the content in that game is crafted. Remember we are talking about content that is interactive, we are not just talking about a video, we are considering functionality and behaviour as content too (a control system that is part of an object that you 'intuitively' understand how to operate, a puzzle that needs solving to enter, someone to talk to who will allow access, a plane that you fly you somewhere, are all examples of interactive content that have specific control paradigms). So when you are talking about content with interactivity, the access to the content and the content itself are linked. It is this link between interaction and content that traditional media people struggle to understand, but it is what makes the experience of a game deep and engaging when done well.

The Media Continuum

A channel is understood as a content library delivered to a defined demographic over the internet. A channel can be a website, a casual game portal, an online movie library or an MMO. The more exclusive content that addresses the channel demographic well, the more users will stay with a channel. The media continuum is then simply the complete set of channels delivered to consumers over the Internet.

It's All a Game

In terms of technology, games for many years have required a combination of all media types: 2D and 3D animation, movies, music and real-time interaction. So technologically-speaking, games have already unified all content forms. Only the game development community really understands the complexities of how to design for and use technology to build quality interactive content.

Because games are superset of all media, you can view all traditional media as games with the some of the features cut out. Hence to really view all channels as part of a continuum we have to think about all channels as games, at least in technology and design terms, even if they don't look like typical games to most people.

A Standard Player

What breaks up the continuum today is the client-side software, tuner or box that receives the content. This 'continuum breaking' is not in the interest of consumers or content creators; hence my personal view that it is a matter of time, and standard-setting, before the receiver is unified, just as HTML unifies the web.

TV and film have both a standard linear form and linear playback; this makes it very easy for content to be developed. The form is now over 100 years old and it has become so well understood that all innovations are pushed into the nuances of the content itself. The game industry conversely is still evolving; the big drag factors on the industry are the lack of a standard for game content creation, and the lack of a standard playback format for creators to deliver to.

These challenges are due to the complex interactive nature of games and the rapid advances in 3D and CPU technology; but they are not insurmountable, especially as the hardware changes are now beginning to settle and are much better understood by developers. Over time more standardisation both in game development and in playback format will remove many of those drag factors that the game industry currently struggles against, freeing up more cash and creativity for the content itself.

Open and Closed Channels

Today many channels are 'closed', meaning that consumers can't add content. Open channels are where third parties can add or augment content on the channel. LittleBigPlanet, Second Life and YouTube are examples of open channels. Further support for business models for content creators in open channels will be another key step in the evolution of interactive content. The way open channels can work and are managed both in editorial and design terms is a critical space for further innovation and one that I can only touch on in this article. Sony's PlayStation Home is perhaps the first major foray into a managed open channel.

Game Consoles are Controllers

I anticipate that the game consoles will simply become content channels on the continuum; you will have Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft game channels just as you have the BBC, CNN and National Geographic. Console-exclusive content is like channel-exclusive TV. Each console defines a channel and within each 'console channel' we will see further channels. Channels within channels will be something we will see a lot more of, too. (eg lovefilm on PS3)

As innovation in chip hardware continues we are arriving at a standardised high-end 3D-capable CPU. We see this trend with the present generation of consoles, where the chip parts are bought from PC chip vendors. We are not far off a single multi-core, multi-GPU chip that lives in all boxes and delivers all the power we need.

(AMD Fusion is a great example but and all major CPU vendors are following, its going to get bloody for the chip vendors as prices for these chips drops fast due to competition. You wont be able to buy a screen that does not have this 3D and CPU power built into it in a few years.)

The box from each console vendor will simply be the 'key' or the 'tuner' for the online content directory.

The control system a console offers has become the only way to differentiate one box from its rivals, as the Wii controller does today. In the end the controller will be the only physical device required, as the processing power will already be embedded in devices such as TVs.

As we are talking 'game' and as 'the interaction and content are linked', the long view for any console channel is to become a bespoke controller connected with its respective bespoke online content library.

Consoles and Linear Video

The console channels will go on to support more video, demonstrated by Microsoft and Sony already supporting film distribution. So apart from exclusive interactive content, there is every likelihood games consoles will supplant other set-top boxes, provided they have access to the content catalogue. Game boxes can run the very highest quality games and they can run video but set-top boxes can only run video and very limited games. The console will consume the set-top box.

2D and 3D biz models

In the 2d presentation space, such as the web, money is made from advertising. 3D presentation adds one more level of 'immersion' to an experience, an advert has no place in that experience (This has been proven through experiences in the game industry where advertising in 3space has been tried and died)

In 3space the monetisation model is functionality, you have to deliver something of 'function' to get paid for it, like the real world. Basic examples of this working are items you pay to upgrade in games or the trading economy for items say in second life. But this is just the beginning of what is possible, the growth of app stores is an example of this direction. The full step I am talking about is apps that deliver concrete and abstract function in 3space worlds.

Casual Game Channels

Competing with the 'console channels' we have casual game channels. It is going to be interesting to watch how the battle between these develops, especially as console channels can easily support casual game channels within them.

The difference may well come down to the revenue model as, like TV, casual channels are mostly driven by revenue from advertising. Once you apply my above rule re 3space monetisation you realise the innovation here for the future of these would be a 3D casual MMO as an apps ecosystem. (second life skimmed past this absent a game model) (so if anyone wants to build one, get in touch)

Traditional Linear TV

If you accept for a moment that the channel changer is TV's interactive device, then you can think of the TV experience in game terms; ie you watch until you get bored, then you switch between a fixed set of linear channels. The game element here is the channel surfing itself.

With digital distribution you get TV on-demand; again the interaction model is the thing to watch. The interaction is all about navigating content: with access to near infinite content, how do you find what you really want and how engaging is the process? You can't effectively Google an image or a video unless you know a name upfront. YouTube is the current leader when it comes to presenting a menu for a massive open channel archive, but there is plenty of space to innovate.

What the games industry is uniquely well placed to do is to use its command of interactivity to transform the interface with content - bringing the best of gameplay technology to content surfing.

Online Worlds are Social Networks

Each online world is a channel in the continuum. Facebook and other social networks are online worlds with most game elements stripped away to leave the game solely about social interaction; social networks can 'score' you by social kudos and presentation alone eg how many 'friends' you collect or how well you present yourself to them.

Fantasy Online Worlds (FOWs) like World of Warcraft and Eve offer contexts for social experience by providing themes and story goals for the interaction.

Facebook's innovation is in referencing the real person rather than using a name handle. In this sense Facebook is more the real Second Life than Second Life is itself, which is arguably more a highly configurable chat and conferencing system rather than a game experience.

There is massive space for innovation in the 2d worlds such as facebook, infact facebook is open to being virally taken out by the first competitor that matches its present functional and adds a key innovation, of which there are many options, from privacy to configurable social hubs (managed by sub social groups) to financial incentives for users to join.

An exciting development will be the arrival of open channel 3space FOWs that allow third party developers to build components and add-ons. Facebook is doing this now with its apps but imagine these in 3space worlds, the critical issue is how these are regulated or commissioned by the channel owner (but its all really part of the game design in the world).

A tax on trading items within a world, or an equivalent economic engine, would enable a revenue stream for building new content so that a studio could pitch fully-featured items to an FOW owner. I believe this direction to be one of the most important avenues to the future of on line worlds and social networks.

Fantasy Online Worlds with embedded Linear TV

As a FOW creates a context for social interaction, traditional TV series, news programmes and even reality TV are ready to emerge from within the bigger FOWs. One could imagine a drama series covering the real story of a guild clan from the history of the game world. There is a guaranteed audience within that FOW community for that content while licensing that content more widely would offer the chance to win over both viewers and new users.

Serious games

Serious games don't sound like much fun. To me the term feels like an oxymoron. What we are talking about is games that have a serious purpose such as training and learning, but if they stop being fun they stop being games, and if they stop being fun users simply stop learning as fast.

I have an axiom when I think about games and that is: the more fun you are having in any game, the more information you are absorbing.

So I believe games can and will have a much bigger role as a learning tool in mainstream society provided we get over the mental barrier of thinking that having fun can't be about learning. Even games for training, like simulators, fit in this category. If they were more fun they would help the trainee learn more quickly.

Our education systems are struggling to engage kids today. Building fun games around what we want our kids to learn will not only be the education system of the future, but also form a key part of adult training and learning systems in all disciplines. Whenever it is purely about absorbing information or developing specific operational skills, game experiences are an ideal way to load up the information. As there is plenty of space to innovate in this space I set up Earthsim to create an online learning world and experiment with some of these ideas.


Film will always have a place both in the cinema and because of the cinema. Cinema is both a social experience and an immersive experience that's almost impossible to recreate in your home. But as consoles and set-top boxes access their content online more, the video rental store is likely to disappear.

Clearly its a multi user closed game channel, but people think its TV

TV game shows like X-Factor are more game than traditional TV: their interaction is all about voting and managing community expectations over time. It's effectively a massively concurrent game experience. They can be seen as worlds with minimal interaction, just the vote. Combining this managed expectation voting experience with FOWs is also an open space for the future and one that has very interesting implications for the way that other aspects of life, such as democracy, work etc just connect a social network to this and off you go... but that again is another whole article.

To sum it all up -

As distribution moves to the internet we can be increasingly sure where everyone will be accessing their content.

For games to realise their full potential as a major or even a defining part of this continuum we must address the issues of how to reduce the hidden costs or drag factors in their development and how to get this content playing in a more standardised format. Only then can the interaction deployed as content into the future worlds complete on equal terms with linear TV and Film content.

With this in mind, having delivered the first few versions of Direct3D at Microsoft I left to set up Qube Software with the purpose of investigating these drag factors and look into a possible solution. We believe we have come up with an answer in the form of our Q Technology platform. Ultimately it will be for the industry to judge whether Q does indeed address these challenges.

As a content consumer I would certainly like the have a single receiver that allows me to channel hop between all online worlds, social nets and libraries of games just like a viewer going through TV channels. I believe that this is not only possible but it is where we are heading with the media continuum.

Finally, looking at all media forms as games can inform us about what can be added and what can be merged. Distribution over the internet makes access to all media an interactive experience. And over the longest term this means the content and the accessibility of further content actually become the media itself.