Saturday, October 24, 2009

Big Switch

Nicholas Carr is one of my favorite technology authors. His blog is always worth of reading. His book could only be better.

In Big Switch, Nicholas Carr expressed a key point: computing is turning into a new type of utility, which will bring the world the change as great as what the prevalence of electricity had done to us.

The claim is bald. But it is reasonable after carefully thinking of it. As well as electricity breaks the barrier of energy deliverance, the modern Web-based computing is breaking the barrier of information transmission. As I expressed in my book review for Programming the Universe, information along with mass and energy is another fundamental element that constitutes the universe. We thus may categorize the invention of modern Web-based computing along with the invention of electricity and the invention of wheel being the top three greatest inventions that fundamentally evolve our society.

The invention of wheel breaks the barrier of mass transportation; the invention of electricity breaks the barrier of energy deliverance; and the invention of modern Web-based computing breaks the barrier of information transmission. This path is the big switch we talk about.

Our human society began with consuming natural product, which is made of mass. Hence the primary demand from the beginning was to transport mass more efficiently. The invention of wheel overcame the gravity obstacle that in nature mass is to us. In consequence, the invention allowed humans to transport heavy-weight product in long distance and therefore we were able to live close to each other in which was away from where natural product grew. The invention of wheel enabled the formation of human society and its early evolving.

Natural product soon became insufficient due to the increased human population. We must produce man-made product to keep on the growth of the society. Energy forges mass to new product of mass, which is essential to human production. The problem of energy consumption emerged.

For long time, energy could not be delivered except of in the form of mass. We had to transport things such as wood and coal instead of delivering the directly useable energy in distance. The problem became extreme severe in the industrial revolution. Suddenly the demand to energy consumption was over what the regular local providers could support in general. The cost of energy deliverance soon became the bottleneck to the further growth of human society.

The invention of electricity overcame the distance obstacle that in nature energy is to us. Unlike mass, energy indeed does not have to occupy space; the gravity obstacle thus was not natural to energy. The distance obstacle does apply, however, because normally where energy is generated is varied from where energy is consumed. Electricity allowed energy being delivered in long distance at low cost by avoiding transporting them in the form of mass.

The further evolution of human society demands more improvement in the rate of production. The importance of information in production gradually became a major issue. Energy forges new product of mass, but it is information that guides how energy can be effectively used to forge the product of mass. The faster information can be spread, the more rapid information can be computed and analyzed, the better product rate we can achieve. After resolving the gravity obstacle and the distance obstacle of man-made production in general, the next major obstacle to overcome is the time obstacle. The modern Web-based computing is the solution.

Unlike mass and energy, information does not have the distance obstacle. Even if we have to physically deliver books, a mass product that records information, it is still not a problem at all if we compare it to the transportation of mass or energy in form of mass. The real problem of information transmission is time. Humans need to learn information, think of information, understand information, and then finally apply information. The process takes time. And time does matter critically in production. This problem became crucial after the general problems of mass transportation and energy deliverance had been conquered.

The modern Web-based computing constructs an environment that information can rapidly shared and computed before somebody consumes it. It significantly shortens the time needed for information learning, information understanding. Many times, we can directly jump to the stage of information application by skipping the previous stages of information consumption. Therefore, it overcomes the time obstacle in production.

Wheel --- mass --- the gravity obstacle
Electricity --- energy --- the distance obstacle
Modern Web-based computing --- information --- the time obstacle

This is the big switch we are experiencing at this moment.

Nicolas Carr’s book describes more details of what were truly happening in the last switch. The book is knowledgeable and I recommend it to whoever is interested in the future of our human society evolution.

Friday, October 23, 2009

See you in ISWC 2009

I will go to attend ISWC 2009 tomorrow. If you are there, please stop by and say hi. See you there.

Saturday, October 03, 2009

The Third Year Anniversary (3)

Intuitive Ideas

The posts in this collection are classified in four topics: Web, semantics, economy, and miscellaneous.

Web Science & Web Evolution

1. Evolution, a topic uneasy. Evolution does exist. But it does not contradict to the existence of creator. Web evolution is a typical example.

2. Steve Ballmer claimed: "only three things on the Internet that have made money". The model of Web evolution matches this claim.

3. President Obama, World Wide Web, the start of a new era. Isn't the real world nothing but another virtual world?

4. Build new centrifugal momentum on the Web. Now it is the time for us to build new centrifugal momentum on the Web.

5. swing between big and small. The swing between big and small in evolution must be constant cycle.

6. World Wide Web spreads like religions. As title.

7. Your online identity is a treasure inheritable. May we monetize it further?

8. The Golden Time of World Wide Web is coming. The financial crisis brought great opportunity to accelerate the Web evolution.

9. Art and Engineering. The relation between art and engineering in Web evolution.

10. The Internet, a bordered or borderless world? The Web is not going to be borderless in real.

Semantics & Intelligence

1. Positive Solitude, the losing capability. Solitude, a seemly negative attitude, is indeed not only critical but also positive to our real life. But we are losing it by the progress of the Web evolution.

2. Do not exaggerate the importance of machines. Make a contrast between machine intelligence to human intelligence.

3. Variation of meanings. Semantics have various types.

4. Learnable and Unteachable. Certain semantics machines may be able to learn. But we might never be able to teach machines some other types of semantics.

5. Consciousness has no single "seat" in brain. A new scientific discovery may let us know better about collaborative intelligence in the Web.

6. Mind, Gene, Spirit. Where does thinking come? My fundamental viewpoint about the answer to the question.

7. How to construct a high quality ontology?. Some basic methodologies for constructing the real-world ontologies.

Economy & Politics

1. Virtual economy calls for new institution. The financial crisis is an inevitable result of the conflict between the economic form and the economic institution.

2. President Obama's Vision. Liu Junluo rendered President Obama's actions during the economic crisis.

3. Big Idea inspires us, but what is big idea?


1. A beautiful mind of creativity. Elizabeth Gilbert is beautiful. Her beauty is, however, not only in her look but also (and more importantly) in her mind of thinking.

2. Outliers. May you be an outlier by your own struggle?

3. My Impression of Twine 2.0. Twine might have missed something critical when it matches toward 2.0.

4. Innovation: discover the profoundness behind simplicity. Tell an idea to somebody. In 30 seconds the one thinks he gets the idea and agrees to it, but actually after another 30-minute explanation he still does not really know. This is thus an innovative business.

Friday, October 02, 2009

The Third Year Anniversary (2)

Analytical Insights

Again, the posts are ordered in accordance to my self-preference.

1. The Web is Expanding

World Wide Web is expanding, simultaneously in four facets---in the physical world, in the computational world, in the world of network communication, and in the financial world. The post supplements to my ThinkerNet post "a closer look at the expanding Web."

2. Five Web Trends Into 3.0: (1), (2), (3), (4), and (5).

Web 3.0 is coming. But what on earth is it? In a five-installment series, I expressed my viewpoint of Web 3.0. There are five major trends together pushing the Web to its post-2.0 age. The ultimate consequence is about to upgrade the Web from a web of platforms (filled by the user-generated content) to a web of marketplaces (filled by the user-generated asset).

3. Think beyond Build-A-BearVille (the Second Life for kids)

Build-A-BearVille is a fun place for kids. It, however, suggests much more than the primary intention. Build-A-BearVille shows us how we may virtualize the real world into the virtual world, and monetize the connection between the two worlds. Not only does this business model build true exchangeable value, but also it is generically applicable to nearly all the domains.

4. We intelligent because we connected, and unless we connected

Where does intelligence come? More and more evidences should that we intelligent only when our knowledge is connected to a greater network of knowledge. It is the quality of the outward links, in contrast to the quality of the inner knowledge nodes, that ultimately determines the level of intelligence. Thus, it is not hard to build a machine knowledgeable, but it is much more difficult to develop a machine intelligent.

5. From GeoCities to MySpace, another side of Web Evolution

MySpace is GeoCities 2.0. History repeats itself, but in an upgrading way.

6. Wall Street, Fall 2008: crisis, capital, risk, computation, and information

From studying the definitions of five terms (crisis, capital, risk, computation, and information) we can understand the financial crisis better. What the Wall Street hedge fund brokers have tricked us is making up equations measuring the equivalence between matter and information (in particular the information of risk). According to the quantum theory we discussed, however, the value of information per unit decreases definitely in time due to that the total amount of information constantly increases and the total amount of matter keeps constant. This is the theoretic reason behind this massive financial crisis.

7. The newspaper crisis

Newspapers are in crisis. "The cost of the raw information generation is minimized. The cost of static analysis over the raw information has been cheap. The cost of posting advertisement has been cheap. If the Web has decreased the value of nearly all the information asset in the traditional mean, what should we do to produce new type of information asset that can be charged decently in this new Web age?" It is really a question.

8. The Microsoft-Yahoo deal, Part 1 Yahoo, Part 2 Microsoft, Part 3 Google.

I have varied views about the Microsoft-Yahoo deal. The apparent winner might not necessarily be the ultimate winner and the apparent loser might indeed gain a chance of reborn. Moreover, we must not forget Google, the target of the deal.

9. The real-time web in a nutshell for Web developers and researchers

The real-time web has been hot. From the perspective of Web developers and researchers, what, however, is the real-time web? This post answers the question concisely.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Fujifilm Medical Systems USA launched a blog

Called From the Inside Out, the purpose of the blog is to give people yet another way to communicate with FMSU. While designed to be less formal than other means of communication, the blog will allow FMSU to share key messages while ultimately becoming interactive with the customers. The style of writing is a mix of provocative, witty, and even some unusual commentaries. Please check it out if you are interested in the technological achievement in the most frontier of medicine technology, especially the radiologic technology.

The Third Year Anniversary (1)

It has been a tradition. In the October 1st of each year, I summarize the Thinking Space posts in the last year for another anniversary of the blog. The summary also becomes a comprehensive index of Thinking Space in a year.

This year in three installments I go over the Thinking Space articles from Oct. 1st, 2008 to Sep. 30, 2009.

The theme of the first installment is genuine thoughts, the original thinking that could not be found anywhere else except of this blog.

The theme of the second installment is analytical insights, the less genuine but more comprehensive analytical thoughts in their depth and broadness.

The theme of the last installment is intuitive ideas, the intuitive opinions about a few timely topics.

Genuine Thoughts

The posts with original thoughts might last. They are ordered in accordance to my self-preference.

1. It is the free choice that produces the value of mind

Believe it or not, Web business is entering a brand new age of embodying mind to be exchangeable asset. What is the key of monetizing mind asset? The question is worth of thinking and rethinking. As well as human labor is the basis of value generation in the real world, human free will (or free choice) is the basis of value generation in the virtual worlds like World Wide Web. Moreover, the next post expresses the thought within a broader background.

2. From UGC to UGA, and the limitation of Web 2.0

This post supplements to my Internet Evolution article "User Generated Content (UGC), Revisited" in which I revisited a few fundamentals of UGC. In this post, therefore, I extended the discussion by pointing out the key limitation of Web 2.0 according to business model. That nobody is willing to pay is because Web 2.0 itself has not really produced anything that is worth of being purchased! I then settle the argument that Web 3.0 will be a web of UGA (user-generated asset) in contrast to Web 2.0 be a web of UGC.

3. The upside down of the traditional thought on user interface

May user interface have to be external to the service? If the question sounds strange to you, think of it again. What would happen to the user interface if a service is not in a convex shape but in a concave shape? Now, is the thought still weird?

4. Gravitation, the Web, and Wikipedia

Semantics is the gravitation in the Web. This finding may help us solve some sophisticated semantic integration problems in the Web.

5. The Link in Linked Web

May we think of the Web a ternaristic world in contrast to a dualistic world? Traditionally link is known to be a special type of data. What would happen, however, if link is neither data nor service but just link itself? This view of link in the linked web may bring us a brand new interpretation of the Web.

6. Also, Consciousness vs. Memory

Memory is the reserved and refined consciousness. This distinction brings us hints about the fundamental difference between the regular Web and the real-time Web.

7. Web evolution has to have a purpose

The intrinsic reason of World Wide Web evolution is to realize the immortality of human mind. Web evolution must never be aimless. A global scale evolutionary event such as the Web evolution has to have a definite purpose so that the process could sustain. The thinking is impressed by Al Gore's Web 2.0 Summit talk "Web 2.0 has to have a purpose".

8. 7 best thoughts at Thinking Space 2008

A short summary of the seven best genuine thoughts posted in Thinking Space in 2008.