2019-11-29 | Subject | What am I Doing?
I was able to prove that the document domain and the data flow domain work together with the tree constraint yesterday. This means that the data form I used to generate the graph of how data flows, and the documentation in website format of the details of the organization around the data, can both follow the same model. There is no database. Anybody can just browse around the tree on a file browser, and edit the files right on the tree. Rendering the tree into the multi-layer graph you see in the video is done with about 300 lines of Python (plus a graph visualization tool called... wait for it... graphviz). My tree becomes a "graph" when I associate the leaves of the tree with other leaves. Besides being tangible for most, as the model lives on a filesystem in source form, this is also quite portable to other systems vs. having the source store housed in a database.
I am focused on the stability of systems in general, but specifically I am concerned about the stability and sustainability of our current industrial civilization. One recent realization that has plagued/excited me, is that resilience of a system is only something that can be realized when stressors threaten the system, i.e. there are clear, visible threats. This is interesting for many reasons, but one of them is the general critique of "so, why didn't you do anything?" We may know the system is too complicated and unstable. We may know that we can't keep growing exponentially with finite resources. We may know that it is quite likely we are being manipulated into circus-thriving passivity by those who are very aware of how fragile this all is. But, the thing is, we can't come up with something that can be done.
I got pulled into the Thunberg debate recently. OK, so I jumped in with both feet. :) I actually agree that the Paris Agreement is not the answer. It seems reasonable to try and accomplish the goals, but the problem is more of how. Our economy is based on oil. I am not aware of any plans that can get around that and satisfy the Paris Agreement that are politically possible. I'm also a weird hybrid libertarian. I am more along the lines as far as large action, of Andrew Mason's "The Point". Mason founded Groupon, but before that he started The Point. The idea of The Point was that individual action was only effective at a certain tipping point of collective effort, and that we could use technology to commit to and establish that collective effort. While I agree with everything Thunberg says idealistically, from a pragmatic perspective, I don't, not without working plans and a tipping point of commitment with those plans.
Remember those folks that I am sure understand much of this, but are perpetrating a circus-thriving passivity on us? Well, it is true about the respectable think tank style folks, I imagine. But it is also Huxleyan in nature. That is, I have met the enemy, and the enemy is us. We thrive as a culture on the trivial and the circus-like. We have no attention left after our dopamine-exhausted minds hit the stage for reals. But I also never underestimate the Orwellian machinery, the machinery that crisis might allow in, like the mobilization of the last world war allowed. This is a new bit for me, in that I don't think I had associated the idealistic, condemning Thunberg speeches with the Orwellian opportunity for dominance by those same folks that are aware of the crisis in the first place.
There is another aspect to this. That is that hate, in particular hatred between classes of people, both economic, but pretty much any identity, will likely be leveraged more and more as our crisis unfolds. I think that the dialog here, and the way conversations were hijacked by foreign interests, certainly back that up. This is packaged up as entertainment and monitored to sell us stuff. It is still dangerous and counter-productive to any real progress. And, I will say, as Thunberg also mentions in her speeches, that any real progress means "changing the rules". That means an almost 180 degree shift in power structures. And, no, it doesn't mean that we change the world by sharing here (aka Louis C K Thank You, Scott ). I don't believe that we have the capability to do what is needed at this point, anyway. Our ability to act, for the most part, has been successfully destroyed... for now, at least. And, no, marching for selfies doesn't work, either.
The surface of the world I describe above is pretty grim as far as action. I am wary of the identity politics. I don't see any political action that is useful. I even see Trump hysteria as part of the entertainment (both sides... pure genius). I can imagine some 180 degree shifts that might help, but even then we have to deal with the .5 to 1.1 C increase from global dimming. So, what can I do?
Remember that bit above, buried in words, about resilience? Well, as crisis after crisis threatens various systems, being able to model quickly is useful. Even better is if we can have inference. That means that we are able to quickly assemble a visualization of a current predicament and determine a plan. This is a Situation, Target, Proposal tool. The situation would be the "domain" of interest.
Say that the domain is fresh water distribution. Say that we are in the city of Auburn, WA, and the situation is that fresh water is simply not running. Perhaps a pump lost electricity or broke and there are no spare parts. We need to be able to gather all existing information and model the system we have, establish a target (how many people will get water and where), and propose a tactical plan (and eventually a strategic future-looking one). If we can query the model using standard inference we can ask the model things like, "how many people lose water if we don't fix pump house A?" By distilling my model down to a simple tree, I can make this kind of thing easy to bring up quickly. Notice how none of this can happen effectively before the crisis itself? We don't know what parts of our infrastructure will fail first. We can only model afterwards. This is kind of like psychological resilience in humans (making lemonade from lemons).
Another huge aspect to all of this is that in a time of crisis, the current ecosystem of cloud services, operating systems, and software development is mind-numbingly interconnected and fragile. I am capable of documenting how I do all of this on Ubuntu 18.04. This is a GNU/Linux distribution, but the key point is that it has included software. All of my work, all of my documentation will work on this. My guess is that it will take me another year to get through all of this. I expect I will be employed soon, and this will push it out further. Likely I will never be done. This isn't a project, though. This is my "baking pies" circa 2019.ouroboros