Technology on the Verge
Development of knowledge
At the root of all knowledge is inquiry. Building understanding requires an inquiring interest in the world, and confidence in underlying understanding that has already been developed. Ideas that have been developed need to be proved; the best way to know that they are proved is to know from experience. Models test principles in action, providing benefits while being tested-- assuming the underlying principles are sound.
Stability and success in society depends on democracy: the ability for people to interact with their governments, and form them in such a way that life is beneficial. Without understanding of all the interrelating aspects and forces at play in society, no individual person is capable of making knowledgeable and effective decisions. Because so many gaps in understanding have allowed the democratic process to be damaged, national leaders have been able to mis-guide nations, and even the world, towards disaster again, and again. The development of inquiry skills and the construction of knowledge in every person is increasingly becoming crucial to the survival of humanity.
Knowledge building skills are best developed in youth, and the most important period of learning is the middle school stage. During this period, maturing children develop their relationship with the world around them, and it is also during this period that they will develop the skills to be able to further understand the world. As important as anything is to understanding is science: developing skills to understanding what is known and to launch new inquiry. When developing interest in science for students, it is better to allow students to form their own inquiry groups, and enable their scientific inquiry with the types of instruments often made available for public use in museums.
Unquestionably today, the most effective tool available to youth to build knowledge is the Internet. The Internet is the present incarnation of the Information Society that has defined human society for thousands of years by enabling the development of all of our technologies. The same facilities that enable youth to learn languages easily naturally make them adept at developing computer skills, and even original computer communication technology.
Unfortunately an opposite current is undermining the knowledge building benefits of the Information Society and the development of well-informed populations. Increasing cycles of capitalization have caused successive generations to be poorer than preceding ones. And the increased competition for resources caused by increasing capitalization has led to the fracturing of families, with the loss of traditional role models as children are literally tossed to the wind.
Beyond the erosion of the population base by the cycles of capitalization, a continuation of the process of colonization now called globalization, seeks to continually move both populations and resources in ways that benefit only the elite and controlling cultures of every country. Further adding to the stresses of alienation caused by instability are the stresses of conflict resulting when one poverty stricken culture is forced by the globalist capital structure to take resources from another, resulting in conflict that consistently absolves the ultimate beneficiaries: the elite.
Historical development of knowledge
Concepts of the development of knowledge, and the implementation knowledge during the learning process has long been developed in the West starting with Aristotle. In the East, the Buddha implemented knowledge and experience in ways that focused learning more emotionally and from a perspective of cultural responsibility. Technological development has always been a democratic process where innovation has been either driven by the needs of humanity, as in the invention of the plow, or by the pure inspiration of independent thinkers such as Newton, Watt, or Darwin. Or by socially motivated scientists such as Ruth Benedict who introduced us to Synergy, and also the ideas of concept mapping-- the technique she used to develop her Synergy theories.
Concepts are conceived as thought,
developed as text, and shared contextually. In other words thoughts
become valid when they are contextualized. Beyond this, ideas need to be
exposed, or situated, within they environments they are meant to influence to
have a beneficial effect on the world; this is sometimes thought of as
super-contextualization. The root word describing thoughts that have
been written down is the same root for the word "textile." Written
expression is woven into the fabric of society to make society better.
Words, more than any other expression, have a influencing effect on society;
words combined with illustrations or music are that much more effective at
communicating and influencing. These are memes: units of human thought
and expression that can be contained and transported.
Linking ideas, or concepts, together to make them more powerful is the most valid purpose of today's Information Society and the Internet. All thought begins its journey into the interactive spaces of communication as small text; it is therefore the responsibility of the Information Society, with its information technology, so nurture these thoughts, and help these thoughts situate into areas of need to dispel ignorance and inefficiency; and most important, to significantly alter humanity's current technological and cultural directions, which is increasingly suicidal and nearly devoid of mutual caring between humans.
Linking technologies have been developed, but they are desperately lame. They operate at the server level and, to this day, seem to be attempting revive the technology bubble that was inflated just prior to 2000. Today the bubble is called Web 2.0, or social networking; as expected, the new bubble, or 2.0, is deflating quickly.
Thoughts begin with the author, so it is reasonable that they author should direct his thoughts. The text editor is not far from pencils or pens, but text editors can utilized the most important strength of the Web, the modification of text with hyper linking. Ideas can be given attributes that will allow them to navigate their way through the vast knowledge of the Information Society to conjoin with other similar, or friendly, information. In this way, thoughts are contextualized and then super-contextualized, or situated. They are situated in ways that authors themselves can likewise link, and collaborate. Today's Information Society, the Internet, is strongest in facilitating collaboration.
The text editor on the author's desktop is where thoughts and concepts are initiated, and not the central web or application server. The text editor should therefore be where the author's text is enhanced with hypertext information, to give it the power of Internet communication. Editors are already sophisticated, generally being referred to as interactive development environments, or IDEs, and the very best IDEs are highly extensible and written in the public domain. The majority of technology exists to link thoughts to join authors in collaboration; it is just misdirected.
The Unix system introduces a human communications interface with the Shell languages. This Shell interface to the core operations of the computer was perfected by David Korn during the initial development of the open systems technological suite. He provided us with a friendly control structure for the interoperable Unix systems accompanied by a sensible and effective tool kit of small supporting programs. In Unix every aspect of the system is represented as a file, which is an object, in a hierarchical and accessible structure.
Object-Oriented Technology creates class structures for code, primarily in a module architecture. Early modules, as found in the C language, are callable shared libraries; encapsulated code can be enabled by reference without necessitating the insertion of the written code itself. In an object oriented language, this concept of shared libraries is extended to the point where the entire program structure is a single class module.
In the object oriented paradigm, code is written into modules that can be reused or replaced at will. Modules can be called from within modules. The class structures define how modules of code are used, and also the structures the data is kept in to be used or developed.
Modular code can be used in operating systems as well so that the capabilities can be added to the systems, such as a system's ability to use add-on hardware. Ideally, modules should be able to be added or removed while systems are running.
The Microkernel: Independent of the unstable technological and financial environments now causing distress for the Information Society, two operating systems, the ExOS and L4, are being developed that take advantage of modular architectures. The modularity they use increases flexibility by allowing code modules to be introduced, and the closeness of the execution process of the CPU increases processing efficiency many factors.
In parallel with object oriented developments, social workspace models are being developed that empower humans within highly modular logic and data environments. These development models, such as aspect engineering show an evolution of the computer communications environment that parallels developing concepts about natural human organization and developmental education, such as Constructivism.
The Public Domain
While business has dominated the development of the computer, it was the public domain that introduced the significant contribution to business of the spreadsheet application. Programmers who work in mutualist environments collaborating through the Internet write code and then release into the public domain for the benefit of all, to increase productivity for the whole world. This programming model significantly alters the business model of centralized control, the monopolistic concept that knowledge is owned, that it is a form of property. Technologists working mutually through the Internet, or e-mutually, are not motivated by business greed; they benefit the world by participating in the market economy in a generous, or Synergistic way. The public domain environment so accelerated the development of the Internet, the greatest contribution of the Information Society yet, that the major computer monopoly, Microsoft, was caught by surprise and forced to alter its business strategy one hundred and eighty degrees in only a few months. Despite the strengths of the public domain computing community over the monopolistic culture, only a few free systems, take a dominating lead, and these are barely known to the population. The Linux operating system combined with the Apache webserver, serves the vast majority of web pages. The Linux community has developed the Linux operating system into a distributed super computing architecture that has effectively ended the need for expensive centralized systems: the mainframe. The leading search engine, Google, and the national weather service, NOAA, depend on the Linux operating system to run their supercomputing architectures.
How "the system" fails technology
In an attempt to mirror the thought architecture of the human in its computer products, Apple Computers with its Macintosh, introduced an intuitive virtual desktop where windows on the screen contain text, art, and business applications within them. Drag-and-drop capabilities, where both data and application instances are treated as objects, allow computer users to associate data with applications, and to be able to bring data to "places" such as a garbage area, or an application by dragging icons representing the data with a mouse. Still, data is associated by its type with specific applications, and often only one application increasing the tendencies to monopolise the computer environment, which reinforces the tendency of corporate executives to apply the principles of land annexation to the development of knowledge.
Linear data storage
The most significant computer business contribution, the spreadsheet application, allowed for the entry of numerical data in simple the column and row structures of business and accounting tables, and added to the business environment the significant capability of applying mathematical formulas the numbers held in the now electronic tables. By changing individual values in a numerical structure where the values of the numbers are interrelated by a formula, users can see how the values of the entire grouping of numbers will change when the value of one number is changed. This ability to apply formulas to tabular data brings the "what if" capability of numerical prediction to the average business person. By changing one value, or condition, a business person can see the changes brought to all values. Beyond this, the relational database brought all the capabilities of the spreadsheet to the mass storage environment. Entire sets of tables containing vast amounts of data can be updated and sequentially processed, where each row of a table represents some item that is interesting to business, such as an asset or a human.
Technological and Financial Collapse
In March of 2000, a series of collapses in the NASDAQ technology and innovation market caused a world recession that bordered on depression. Nearly simultaneously, events such as terror attacks against key development regions, the revelation of widespread corruption in corporate structures, and the transshipment of technology services to highly repressive nations, effectively froze conceptual innovation. There were refinements to technology, such as the miniaturization of digital cameras, but no significant new technology, and ground breaking ideas that had begun to be developed, such as the L4 operating system, have since been ignored.
When a dataset is activated on a desktop by clicking its representative icon, it is opened in an application; the user focuses attention on some data, yet the user is brought to an application. There is no fundamental difference between opening an application to load a dataset into it, as clicking on an dataset icon to work with it. The opposite of this application centric model then, would be an data centric model. In a data centric model, the user's clicking on data would signal the computer to give the user tools to work with the data rather than simply making the user an operator of an application, and hence a subordinate of the application's developers.
When the user signals the system by clicking on data, the system provides for the user modules that represent tool sets the user needs to work with the data. If the dataset happened to be a poem set within graphics, and the user wanted to modify it, a simple text editor as well as a graphics palette would be provided by the system for the user to use within the window displaying the data. Since a window is necessary for the user to interact with the data, it makes sense that a familiar and well developed windowing technology be provided. The web browser is probably the best known of windows today, and the Mozilla, or Netscape, browser, with its Gecko engine driving the rendering process, would seem to be an excellent place to implement the data centric approach. Mozilla has plug-in capabilities which actually a provide simplified version of this model, but really only an illusion, where plug-ins convert the browser into a different kind of window application so that it can handle different kinds of data.
Openness of the Modular
The proof of concept provided by the Perl CPAN, or Comprehensive Perl architecture Network, distributed model provides an excellent illustration of how a system like this would be supported. When a system's user decides that capabilities from Perl's module archive need to be installed, code in written format is complied as it is loaded onto the computer. If supporting code is needed to run the requested modules, then the CPAN system recursively loads supporting modules until the entire base of code support is constructed. The compiling is required with each loading of a module from the archive as an attempt to assure support for a wide variety of systems, and also as a security measure. Since Perl is effectively only a language, its modules are provided solely for the purposes of the writing of Perl programs, usually for web services, or operating system support.
Perl Language and Modular Architecture
Those who are familiar with the development of the open systems during the decade of the 90s know that Perl provided technologists with a language specifically modeled to support systems operations, the manipulation of character datasets, and that it was extended to provide logic engines for webservers. By quickly developing technology to adapting Perl to the Web, to run in conjunction with Web servers, most notably the Apache server, Perl programmers accelerated the Web's growth far beyond any developmental period experienced by the Information Society. In the early days of the web, nearly all dynamically created pages were created by Perl servers. Today, nearly all pages are provided by languages descendant of Perl, such as PHP and Ruby. It can also be argued that the Perl community provided Java developers with the proof of concept model, if not the actually its architectural model; Java now dominates business logic on the Web. Far more significant, however, is the proof of concept model for support provided by the CPAN modular distribution system.
Closeness to the CPU
Perl provides yet another interesting component in its attempt to evolve: the Parrot virtual machine, or Parrot VM. To achieve efficiency, and to increase its support for systems and even to provide virtual machine support for other languages, the Parrot VM utilizes a register based language which is similar to CPU-level assembler language. This assembler-like language is itself interpreted, and the interpreter is written in C, but since the interpreter does not utilize stacks, the compiler necessary to create Parrot machine code likewise need only use registers, and not stacks, making machine code factors more efficient for the system both in terms of CPU and memory use. All this efficiency is given to the support of the virtual machine, where virtual machines, despite their popularity, are generally considered to be a less efficient architecture. The relationship of a virtual machine like Parrot with an operating system that is close to the CPU, such as ExOS or L4, when compiled with a compiler tuned for register use, would create a combined architecture factors more efficient than the architectures presently available.
Sharing through Meshing
The architecture described above, here called the "Thinman model," moves the support usually provided by information systems much closer to the individual users actually working with information. Because the architectural trend today is clearly towards smaller, quicker, and more mobile systems, it makes sense for these systems to support one another. As wireless communication increasingly extends wire-based communication networks, this mutual support model of individual small systems by other local systems becomes increasingly practical and desirable. Along with the sharing of code capabilities with the information contained within data, these small computers can support each other's communication abilities.
Each small wireless computer within an area can act to transfer various kinds of data on behalf of other computers, creating a flexible, or fluid, network called a mesh within every location that wireless computers are operating. While the data transportation speeds decline proportionally with every link provided by a computer to extend a network, today's communication speed is so high that the mutual support of systems through code module sharing would be hardly be affected. Also, a mutually supporting fluid and open network would typically quickly connect to high speed ground-based connecting networks minimizing delays caused by the linking between systems.