My Most Viewed Photo

Although I don’t think this is a very good photograph, I present to you my most viewed image: Red-spotted Newt 2 (Orange Salamander).
Red-spotted Newt 2 (Orange Salamander)

This photo has been viewed more often (over 200 times) on flickr than any of my other photos. The image search engines love it for some reason – it’s the 6th result for orange salamander on the Yahoo image search for example. It get hits from Google and Bing too.

I think this attention is due to a couple of factors – even though I researched carefully what this animal is called – the red-spotted newt – at first I labeled it “Orange Salamander”. So I kept both names in the title of the image – not many people seeing this in the wild would know that it’s called a red-spotted newt – instead, I assumed they’d search on “orange salamander”. Second, this is a clear image that survives being converted to the thumbnail size which shows up on image searches, I assume the search engines are keeping track of click-throughs, and this clarity in the thumbnail makes this image more-likely to be clicked on, thus raising it higher on the search results page.

Still, it’s odd to me that such a quick, unthoughtout snap would be the one people look at the most. I guess this says I should be careful about posting the best photos I can, no matter how unimportant they seem to me.

Artist’s Statement – Curve Sets [Information Art]

“This kind of art [conceptual] is not theoretical or illustrative of theories; it is intuitive, it is involved with all types of mental processes… The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”
- Sol LeWitt, Art Forum, June 1967

My current body of work in the show “Curve Sets [Information Art]” originated from a desire to programmatically make images and an overall interest in how art intersects with technology. The programmatic approach offers several potential advantages over other forms of image-making. Images can be made to scale to any desired size. The process can be intuitive while not consuming materials during rework. And being information-based, all of the art can be stored in a small amount of physical space.

Curve Set 14
Continue reading “Artist’s Statement – Curve Sets [Information Art]“

In Response To “The Singularity Is Near”

Ray Kurzweil lays out an argument that in the near future, humans will “transcend biology” and become computer-based entities in his book “The Singularity Is Near”. Although he says that this will present neither a utopia nor a dystopia, there is no doubt that he sees this eventuality in a positive light, saying it will end poverty, among other things. This line of thinking has been called transhumanism. Kurzweil is one of the most prominent transhumanist thinkers. As a technology worker and a concerned citizen, I’d like to examine Kurzweil’s ideas about this proposed future, and explore them from my own perspective.
Continue reading “In Response To “The Singularity Is Near””

In Response To “The Singularity Is Near”

Ray Kurzweil lays out an argument that in the near future, humans will “transcend biology” and become computer-based entities in his book “The Singularity Is Near”. Although he says that this will present neither a utopia nor a dystopia, there is no doubt that he sees this eventuality in a positive light, saying it will end poverty, among other things. This line of thinking has been called transhumanism. Kurzweil is one of the most prominent transhumanist thinkers. As a technology worker and a concerned citizen, I’d like to examine Kurzweil’s ideas about this proposed future, and explore them from my own perspective.
Continue reading “In Response To “The Singularity Is Near””

In Response To “The Singularity Is Near”

Ray Kurzweil lays out an argument that in the near future, humans will “transcend biology” and become computer-based entities in his book “The Singularity Is Near”. Although he says that this will present neither a utopia nor a dystopia, there is no doubt that he sees this eventuality in a positive light, saying it will end poverty, among other things. This line of thinking has been called transhumanism. Kurzweil is one of the most prominent transhumanist thinkers. As a technology worker and a concerned citizen, I’d like to examine Kurzweil’s ideas about this proposed future, and explore them from my own perspective.
Continue reading “In Response To “The Singularity Is Near””

Time Exchange Research

I’ve compiled some research on the time exchange concept – seems like a good way to strengthen the community and build real friendships.

What’s a time exchange?
The “community exchange” or “time exchange” or “time bank” concept is one where people exchange services within a community on a volunteer basis (without exchanging money). The hours exchanged are tracked using online software which allows the community to self-monitor and ensure fairness.

Isn’t this just bartering?
Time exchanges differ from bartering in that Amy may provide an hour of service to Bill, but Bill does not need to provide an hour of service directly back to Amy. Instead Bill can perform an hour of service for Chuck. In a time exchange network, people volunteer for each other and the amount of volunteering – the “transactions” – are tracked so the community can be open and ensure the sincerity of the participants.

That sounds great. What’s the catch?
One of the challenges is that setting up a time exchange can be a lot of work. Many communities have created non-profit organizations to help coordinate transactions, recruit members, and maintain software – if the community is large enough, this can be a full time job. Getting software to maintain a time exchange is another hurdle – hosting and setting up software for a time exchange currently means having skills in the software industry or having money to pay organizations for these services. Prices can range from under $100 a year to over $500 a year.

Terms and taxes
To avoid being taxed by the government, time exchange members in the United States should not equate the exchange of a service with a monetary amount. For similar reasons, if a member is allowing another member to use a room in their apartment, this should not be referred to with the term “renting”, but rather as “providing the service of space use”, since “renting” usually refers to the exchange of currency.

In these days of search engines and the web, the term for a new concept can have an impact on how efficiently that concept spreads. Unfortunately, no truly generic, universal term has appeared for the time exchange concept – instead there are several. “Time bank”, “time exchange”, “community exchange”, “community time exchange” all mean a community-based service exchange. So if you are searching the web for info about this concept, including more of these terms will lead to more diverse results. (“Time dollars” is also a helpful term to search against.)

The term “local exchange trade systems” (LETS or LETSystem) refers to a concept related to time exchanges. However, this term is not in common usage among time exchange groups in the United States. LETS (in part) involves the concept of “equivalency” to the national currency, and for tax reasons this may be inappropriate for time exchanges in the US.

TimeBanks USA and “time banks”
Time exchange communities with names that include “Time Bank”, “TimeBank”, and “Timebank” are usually affiliates of TimeBanks USA – one non-profit organization which promotes the concept of time exchanges and which also sells the use of time exchange software. However, the term “time bank” can refer to a broader concept than “TimeBanks USA affiliate”. Many time exchanges are not associated with this non-profit, and they use less expensive open source software to run their exchanges.

Time exchange terms and Google search result amounts
“time exchange” – 517,000
“time bank” – 517,000
“time banks” – 162,000
“community exchange” – 110,000
“time dollars” – 42,000
“community time exchange” – 4,250
“SkillShare” – 46,600 *
“service exchange” – 292,000 *

* These terms more often referred to things outside the time exchange context (based on brief research), however some groups did use these terms in their names.

Links for further research
http://www.ces.org.za/
http://www.austintimeexchange.org/
http://www.timebanks.org/
http://www.evolver.net/user/tony_damico/blog/forming_community_time_exchange
http://www.transaction.net/money/timedollars/
http://www.hourdollars.org/
http://www.opensourcecurrency.org/, https://www.ohloh.net/p/oscurrency – open source software for running a time exchange
http://www.gmlets.u-net.com/design/home.html, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Local_Exchange_Trading_Systems – all about LETS

Nonprofit Technical Consultancy

I’m creating a nonprofit technology consultancy to provide capacity building to small organizations.

Overview
The goal is to assist nonprofits and small businesses with their technical needs by creating a nonprofit technology consultancy. Many smaller organizations could benefit from access to technical expertise, but lack the budget to hire a dedicated technical staff or to pay the hourly rate of for-profit consultants. The nonprofit technology group would work at reduced rates, bringing income from donations, grants, and sponsorships. This will result in many organizations improving their use of technology, helping them achieve their objectives more efficiently. The number of paid employees would be limited at first until budget is available. This means that volunteer technical consultants will be needed initially.

Status
I’ve pitched this proposal to several people in the Northeast Ohio nonprofit community with generally positive responses. Many have suggested I research nonprofit structures and funding possibilities. I’m in the planning phase of conducting this research.

Get Involved

Contact me to become a part of this initiative. Right now, we need people who will help plan, organize, and recruit volunteers. People who can help navigate the nonprofit granting process would help a lot as well. Technical, managerial, and designer volunteers are needed as well, and I can direct you to resources who need
your help.

Letter to Maj and Lu

Winter Solstice 09Tuba Christmas Akron 2008

Maj and Lu,
Hope this finds you staying warm and happy.

Saturday, Connie and I went to Tuba Christmas in Akron. Have you ever gone to that? It’s a free concert with hundreds of tubists playing carols. A deep, warm sound. People sing along.

Tucker Jolly has been conducting and organizing Akron’s Tuba Christmas for 30 years. It’s now at EJ Thomas, but when it was at the Civic, I loved watching the organist rise up out of the floor riding the organ. That was the opening act while people got seated.

I’d always get teary-eyed when it was time for him to go. He’d slowly sink back down with the organ. People would cheer and applaud. The organ rider would keep playing with one hand and turn halfway round and wave with the other, descending to the deep, never heard from again till next year.

Take care,
Jayce

Earths In the Multiverses

There are several scientific theories now dealing with the concept of multiple universes, or multiverses. These ideas force a rethinking of our place in the context of it all. (I just realized that I don’t know the new scientific term for “it all”.) As if the vast reaches of observable space weren’t hard enough to imagine, we have several new versions of reality to digest.

For example, many scientists now think, based on recent observations, that our universe is infinite, with unlimited space and matter. They say the universe is flat and expanding at an accelerating pace. If this is true, then all possible happenings must have occurred somewhere, and there are infinite copies of each of us, some with big differences, some with small differences. In a flat, ever expanding, infinite universe, all possible arrangements of a given number of subatomic particles must eventually occur. This means that there are “universes” where you don’t exist, where the United States doesn’t exist, and where Earth doesn’t exist. This is just one permutation of the concept of the multiverse – the stuff beyond what we can see with telescopes.

It turns out that all of that infiniteness is just within our own spatial bubble. Another theory suggests that even though our spatial multiverse appears infinite from the inside, it is finite from the outside. And outside the multiverse is something called the Bulk. And the Bulk is like Swiss cheese and each hole contains some other spatial multiverses, about which we can know very little at this point. But we imagine that perhaps the laws of physics are different in other multiverses. Perhaps atoms can’t form in them. Or maybe gravity is so weak there are no planets.

Then there’s also the concept of string theory or membrane theory or M theory. This holds that our universe is spread out along a thin membrane in another dimension. And other universes are very close to ours (I want to say within a millimeter, but I’m not positive) but in this higher dimension that we can’t move in. I haven’t heard how M theory intersects with the concept of the Bulk or the spatial multiverse. Is the Bulk on the membrane? Or is the multiverse on it? Or both? Dunno.

It’s hard to know how to relate to all of this, or what it means. We like to think of ourselves as unique, but that doesn’t seem to be likely in an infinite universe. Some people say that these predictions negate free will. They argue that if all possible versions of myself exist carrying out every single possible action in a given situation, that it doesn’t really matter what I choose to do, since some other version of me will choose the opposite. So in this universe, I’m not an axe murderer. In a different universe, I am. So what’s the difference? What’s stopping me from being an axe murderer in this universe? I think the difference is that I’m subjectively me in this universe – the not-axe-murderer-me-universe. Perhaps that’s circular, but it feels like I have free will, and that’s all I have to go on, even if other versions of me have done everything that’s possible. Those other me’s aren’t “me” – the singular entity located in this place and time.

So now that I feel free will is still in effect (at least as much free will as our society affords), it’s nice to think of all the interesting things that the other Earths are doing out there. Here’s a few examples I’ve come up with: there’s the no-wars Earth, the no-poverty Earth, and the no-global-warming Earth. These are good things to imagine the existence of. But if those scientists are right, then those Earths aren’t just imaginary – they’re real. How could those Earths exist? They seem so improbable from what we know, right? But in an infinite, flat multiverse, they must exist.

If they are right, then there is an Earth just like ours is now, that somehow came through all of this, that stopped fighting over resources and territory, that reversed global warming, that helped everyone have the same opportunities. How can we make our world, in our little corner of everything, be more like those Earths?