April 11, 2010 8:32 AM   Subscribe

David Gelernter, professor of computer science, painter, neoconservative columnist, and unabomber victim, on rethinking the internet. The structure called a cyberstream or lifestream is better suited to the Internet than a conventional website because it shows information-in-motion, a rushing flow of fresh information instead of a stagnant pool.
posted by DZack (20 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

The big Lifestreams paper is from 1996 and is a natural outgrowth of his work on Linda dating back to 1990. Old idea, but it seems more relevant than ever now.

The key insight is that you should store all data now, in an unstructured way. Then you can use search and user interface tools later to make some sense out of that data, to render it in meaningful ways. In many ways Gelernter foresaw the rise of systems like Google, massive distributed computing platforms that could do meaningful computation on petabytes of source data in milliseconds. Gelernter deserves his reputation as a visionary.
posted by Nelson at 9:02 AM on April 11, 2010

It's time to start taking the Internet seriously.
posted by Xoebe at 9:13 AM on April 11, 2010 [2 favorites]

The facebook wall seems to be close to what he's talking about. One of the many problems with the wall is there's no easy way to search. Yesterday I had to click "older posts" about 50 times to find something.
posted by bhnyc at 9:28 AM on April 11, 2010

Rethink the internet? We haven't finished thinking it for the first time yet!
posted by memebake at 9:41 AM on April 11, 2010

Woot! I'm already living in the now. Take that, yoga!
posted by iamkimiam at 9:45 AM on April 11, 2010

Doh! Where the frick has he been? The Medium is the Message.
posted by Xurando at 9:48 AM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's so disorienting to me when rightwing people have perceptive and intelligent things to say about life and culture.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:31 AM on April 11, 2010 [3 favorites]

I'm starting to rethink this Internet thing, too.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 12:03 PM on April 11, 2010

*gazes at navel*

*picks out mefi grey tshirt lint*

*looks around*

*begins reading article*
posted by infini at 12:25 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I think he is saying, we all just dinged!
posted by fcummins at 2:31 PM on April 11, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd like to see more software addressing the private side of the "lifestream" idea. Facebook et. al. are merely the "things I want to publish or share with a large set of people" part. And, personally, I don't want all this private stuff in someone else's hands who is just interested in using it to target ads better.
posted by mmagin at 2:50 PM on April 11, 2010

Just don't fall in to the Lifestream, you might lose your personality.
posted by ArgentCorvid at 2:53 PM on April 11, 2010

Oh, this is idiotic:
In the last paragraph I wrote "each Internet user"; but users of any computing system ought to have a simple, uniform operating system and interface. Users of the Internet still don't.
And his claim that the term "lifestreams" is now in the vernacular because a TechCrunch article used it last year (about Bebo, which AOL shut down this week) is about as dumb as his claim a few years back that "Bush-hatred is racist hatred."

Taking it for granted that your pet user-interface idea is inevitably going to take over the world — not only becoming popular but replacing all other paradigms — when even after 15 years of you pimping it hard it has gotten no traction at all, is just more black-is-white neoconservative bullshit — or does he now agree that technology is a more powerful social force than the aspiration for freedom?
posted by nicwolff at 2:54 PM on April 11, 2010

Don't cross the lifestreams!
posted by XMLicious at 5:04 PM on April 11, 2010

If a famous, psychopathic Luddite had struck at another another target, denying him the presumed moral high ground of presumed counterpoint to ideological pathology, would he be anything but another proto-fascist academic?
posted by clarknova at 7:43 PM on April 11, 2010

some people drink the koolaid.
some people make the koolaid.
some people do both.

to wit, #25: there is no there there, buddy.
posted by artof.mulata at 8:53 PM on April 11, 2010

If a famous, psychopathic Luddite had struck at another another target

How dare you say that? That's outrageous. I don't like Gelernter's politics any more than you do, but he's a damn interesting computer scientist. That's got nothing to do with having been a victim of a domestic terrorist. At least have the decency to criticize his scholarship on the basis of his computer science.
posted by Nelson at 7:06 AM on April 12, 2010 [1 favorite]

Xurando: I had serious moment of disorientation there because of your comment. I started reading this thread and before I got to your comment I got distracted and went looking for McLuhan's Laws of media as I just watched McLuhan's Wake last night. When I clicked back on the thread yours was the first comment I then read which promoted a... "What? Wait? What was I reading on Metafilter again?"
posted by edgeways at 8:47 PM on April 12, 2010

« Older All kinds of jumps, really   |   The Woman Who Just Might Save the Planet and Our... Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments