Got skype set up last night and managed to link up with some friends involved in some really interesting social sculpture - although I'm pretty sure thay wouldn't call it that. It's in an early design phase now so not in the public domain but I think it will be hard to miss once it is. Charles Leadbeater's thinking is key. And the idea of the network is central to it, which has already been in my thoughts because of the work with dialogue and conversation I've been doing. But talking with one of the group in particular highlighted the connection with language and writing that seems important. Check out sebastian mary's blog here http://www.futureofthebook.org/blog/
Been tooling around the HP Labs intranet looking at various white papers, research seminars, and presentations. Eg, one on 'Machine Readability and Security of Paper Documents'. It's about the connections and transpositions between the computer screen and the piece of paper.
Made me think of this morning's shenanigans as I finally managed to open a bank account. At last I had all the documents I needed. My PIO card, a photograph, and a piece of paper from Airtel with my Indian address on it. Then I needed to go across the road to get photocopies. (They didn't have a photocopier in the bank.) And it turned out that their printer was broken so they couldn't issue me with a passbook. There was also a huge scrum as other people fought for balance enquiries and statements from a single information point who couldn't print anything out. The queuing practice consisted of either a highly ordered numbered ticket system at the cashiers' windows, or else a sharp-elbowed free-for-all at the general enquiries counter. A poor beleaguered clerk did her best to field the chits, cheques and challans that were constantly shoved uner her nose. I stood over her in an encouraging manner to make sure she dealt with my form on one if its turns of the wheel of samsara around the bank, when it came back for another life to her desk. And it was lucky that I did because I was able to correct a data entry mistake as she went from handwritten form to computer database. This is exactly the kind of situation HP Labs is working to solve by trying to obviate the time consuming process of copying out a handwritten form into the computer.
I followed my documents around the whole building, from one official to another, trying to charm and cajole it over the jumps. It worked eventually - only took about three hours and I still have to go back on Monday for my passbook... Hope they manage to fix their printer over the weekend.
Ok here's an example of a paragraph I'm struggling to understand as I try to absorb this culture. It's the kind of jargon that people here speak fluently, but which I am struggling to unpack.
It's a question of referents perhaps. I need concrete examples of things I've experienced when I read a noun. Of course specific examples are precisely not the point of this way of talking. When a word like 'service' is used in this context it's precisely not a particular service which is meant but the widest possible range of services. The problem is that I'm not even sure what the range of services might be. Presumably it has very little to do with the kind of service waiters or car mechanics do. Although I suppose it might. I can just about understand it in the sense of 'goods and services', ie, anything a business does which is not an actual object. Say teaching perhaps, or a performance, to draw from my own experience. But then what is a 'service infrastructure'? And how does it relate to the kind of service which might manage an infrastructure? And what's the difference between an infrastructure and an architecture?
'We are also developing tools for effective delivery of application and
infrastructure management services. Research in this area focuses on service and
service infrastructure, modeling techniques and languages, application
discovery, access control, ITSM and service oriented architectures (SOA).'
I'm oscillating between awe at the fluency and power of this language which seems to make sense to so many people, shame that I'm too dim to understand what they're talking about although it's obviously important, and anger that people can blithely spout such gobbledygook which might obscure or even wilfully conceal real ethical problems.
Is there a simple way of saying this? Or is this as simple as it can be to catch the complexity.