Late Night Thoughts

Posted on Fri 12 April 2013 in Rumination • Tagged with economics, heterogeneity, models, systems

[reposted from]

Social systems are dynamic, internally heterogeneous, and loosely coupled. Some may object to my use of the term ‘system’ and certainly the word has a lot of baggage. By calling something a system, I am merely drawing attention to the fact that it admits descriptions …

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Some information flows in a Samoan fono

Posted on Thu 17 February 2011 in Rumination • Tagged with fono, information flow

Idealized spatial organization of the fono Idealized spatial organization of the fono

The fono, politics and space

A fono is a political meeting in the Western Somoan village. The fono is a spatially organized event: high ranking orators are seated in the front, low ranking orators and other low status and low rank persons in the …

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Lattice Model of Information Flow

Posted on Mon 24 January 2011 in Rumination • Tagged with information flow, social networks

I am caught in a maelstrom of work and so I decide to play.

I have an excellent textbook on discrete mathematics on my shelf from a course I took as a student a few years ago [1]. Its always useful to review such books to remind oneself of certain …

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Processes of Diffusion in Networks

Posted on Tue 14 December 2010 in Rumination • Tagged with diffusion, information, semiotics, social networks

Social diffusion processes, real and alleged, have been the focus of intense study for many years, reaching into the early days of anthropology. Because so many different things can be thought to diffuse or flow through a population-- culture, ideas, practices, behaviors, technologies and innovations, opinions, commodities, money, influence, diseases …

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Objects in an alien physics

Posted on Thu 04 November 2010 in Rumination • Tagged with cellular automata, flex and slop, game of life, metaphysics, ontology

Many of you are no doubt familiar with cellular automata such as Conway's Game of Life. In Conway's Game of Life a world consists of an two dimensional array of cells. Each cell is in either of two states, live or dead, at any particular moment, and its next state …

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Semiotics of Programming Part I

Posted on Fri 24 September 2010 in Rumination • Tagged with programming languages, semiotics

I am reading a fascinating new book by Kumiko Tanaka-Ishii, The Semiotics of Programming published this year by Cambridge University Press. In the book Tanaka-Ishii analyzes the semantics of programming languages from the perspective of Saussurian and Peircian semiotics, that is, as systems of signs. In so doing, Tanaka-Ishii not …

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Too Much Insulation

Posted on Tue 21 September 2010 in Rumination • Tagged with agent-based modeling, artificial life, evolution, flex and slop, information, netlogo

In many ways the field of artificial life has been quite successful, even if its faddish popularity has died off somewhat in the last few years. However, artificial life systems have had only limited success in clearly exhibiting the capacity for open-ended evolution—the capacity to sustain an indefinite increase …

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A Metaphysics for Wandering Coyote

Posted on Mon 13 September 2010 in Rumination • Tagged with intentionality, metaphysics, ontology

stock photo of coyote

On the Origins of Objects

For lack of opportunity I do not get to read and learn all that I would want to, or might need to. And so, in all but a few private conversations, I have hesitated to voice some of my most visceral metaphysical intuitions. And yet …

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intentionality, intelligence, and playfulness

Posted on Wed 08 September 2010 in Rumination • Tagged with creativity, intelligence, intentionality, play

stock image of figure and pawn on chess
boardIn an earlier blog post I ruminated on how creative adaptive intelligent behavior crucially involves the ability to move in and out of what might be called game-spaces, defined by particular rule-sets or assumptions. The ability to step outside a formal system is critical to our being able to reflect …

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Reflective analysis on cultural practice in Africa

Posted on Fri 06 August 2010 in Rumination • Tagged with Africa, culture, reflection

Recently I posted a link to a very interesting essay by Alan Fiske "Learning a culture the way informants do: observing, imitating, and..." (2000). The paper generated a fair amount of back and forth on whether or not members of any culture reflect on their own cultural practices in equal …

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