What is a topic?

HOME Forums General Discussions What is a topic?

This topic contains 26 replies, has 6 voices, and was last updated by  skreutzer 2 years, 4 months ago.

Viewing 12 posts - 16 through 27 (of 27 total)
  • Author
  • #327


    Hi Heidi,

    thanks for the recommendations, I want to look into them in the next few weeks. Even books are not an issue as I read them (slowly) on the train/bus or while waiting for one. It’s a little bit lame to invoke Gödel incompleteness theorems, but its pretty apparent that no single formal system can cover everything and still be correct, so an integral view can glue different systems together, even where they formally contradict each other. Not that it is necessarily the solution for everything, but it’s way better than a single rigid model, but in terms of tools to approach complexity, I’m not aware if there is something better available.

    My trouble with the live GCC conversations is that I refuse to use proprietary software as a libre-free software activist to avoid dependencies and maintain sovereignty over my own computing. While Zoom has a version for GNU/Linux, it certainly won’t run on my machines as they’re installed with only 100% libre-licensed distributions, and even if it would run without proprietary software package dependencies, Zoom itself is restrictively licensed, so I don’t see why Zoom should be allowed to take the capability away from me again, deny me the ability to adjust the software to my own needs (including removal of malware and other nasty anti-features) or share the client/server with friends, neighbors and strangers (self-host the server part or select from a broad range of providers). Alternatively, I have Ekiga softphone, but that’s not what you guys use, and under some circumstances, I can use online video-telephony via their web client as this is now possible with the open HTML5 standard and doesn’t need Adobe Flash any more, just to do something as simple as streaming a video+audio feed.

    Because of this, I’m pretty much out of the GCC conversations and activities, but maybe for good as I too understand that you are people of the telephone age. To me, it’s absolutely horrible to engage in a shouting contest with limited airtime, as time is linear and the participants, thoughts and things to talk about multiply exponentially. Initially I hoped that based on Engelbart’s ideas, some improvement would be done, but it became quite clear that this group isn’t about that, so I’m looking more at the written material published on the more open web (excluding YouTube comments and Facebook), which is blogs, sites, this forum.

    I’m on CEST/MESZ (currently GMT/UTC+2), Germany.



    Hallo Stephan,

    Although we could talk in German let’s continue in English here in case others are interested in reading what we write.

    Well, I understand that you would prefer not to use Zoom because of your convictions. But don’t you miss out something then? We others are not able to write our own software or collaborate in open source and we need others to provide that for us. And for me it is ok that people get some money for what they are providing. I used zoom for free for many years and Google Hangouts which, unfortunately are not really good anymore. Despite of that I still use them for my shows as I have not yet figured out how to use OBS to transport zoom meetings live to Youtube – on a Mac.

    All these things are not simple at all for me. I am creating my websites on WordPress out of pure necessity. I had to spent an absurd amount of time, years, to learn to do all the tech stuff, but I would prefer it were easier because that is really not what I want to spend my time with, but I have to, unfortunately. So I am not a tech freak although all the tech I am using I have to do myself…

    So, if we want to meet online on video, what would work for you? We could do it in German, and also record, if you like, as part of the Wisdom Factory, where you can talk about these things you are writing about.

    Let me know


    I just finished writing the timestamps of a conversation I did with a woman from Australia where we discussed Integral and how it helps to see the world, her workshop in the Integral Conference in Hungary and what the difference is between America and Australia. We will do another one soon about the differenc with germany.

    Heere the link in case you want to watch it. It is not yet published, but you can watch it anyways. I will embed it in a blogpost soon.



    Reply to #328.

    Hallo Heidi,

    just to be very clear, for me, it’s not about the money, I just don’t want to waste it for limited, restrictive licenses, that’s all. Even getting limited, restrictive licenses + software gratis is too expensive as a dependency (vendor dictates what I can and can’t do or remove the capability entirely), for security (blindly-trust-me without a way to check, which is where the viruses come from), etc. You confirm that yourself by saying that Google Hangouts went bad, and now you’re stuck, neither you nor anybody else can fix it no matter how technically able we are or no matter what amount of money we would like to throw at it. I find (my) lifetime just too scarce and therefore valuable to invest and subsequently waste it on things that can’t improve, degenerate again (for artificial, stupid reasons), simply disappear or can be taken away.

    Even with that out of the way, I really don’t like the linearity of voice/video, which is why I don’t use phones and don’t have a cellphone/smartphone. Time zones and personal schedules don’t easily match, discussions need to branch off in in more ways than the linearity allows (otherwise there’s a loss of potential, and it’s very time consuming/inefficient), and as others expect a right to call their peers at any time, I want to retain the right to not be called at times without the need to explain or excuse for it. There are ways to solve all of this, but nobody works on this, including this group.

    So what are I’m missing out on? I can listen to the recordings (non-live, which means at times I do have the time), I only need to be in the call if I have to say something. What would I want to say? A lot of things that don’t fit into linearity, then, some of my stuff is out already and why repeat it all, especially as the protocol is to just be present and don’t jump on every potentially confused thinking one would want to discuss in much greater detail, etc. Is it about what the conversations might lead to? Sure, projects were started and actions taken without taking my suggestions into account, but that’s perfectly fine, in my mind. Given the choice of either doing the work myself or first invest many hours in a contest for airtime, face a lot of objections, lack of interest or understanding and then having to do the work myself anyway, what do you think makes more sense? For sure I get something out of the recorded conversations and written pieces, but they also come at a cost in time, mental capacity, attention, moreso when deeply considering the statements and replying.

    > We others are not able to write our own software […] So I am not a tech freak although all the tech I am using I have to do myself…

    There’s my main interest in following the GCC group, because there’s a latent connection to Douglas Engelbart. One of his points was bootstrapping/co-evolution of the technology together with the social, human, methodological conventions/interests/skills of the user(s), and I’m quite aware that the latter is important in some sense too, it should not be easily dismissed with all focus going to the technological side. On the other hand, it would be foolish to just focus on the human systems side, because the hard tech reality doesn’t comply with wishful thinking. The computer is a blank canvas on which we can make possible whatever we can imagine, but all of it comes with an investment of time and/or money, and our wishes might not translate 1:1 to what is possible. For example, ease of use might only enable results that are relatively easy/primitive, it might not help with complex/difficult tasks, we might not be able to get rid of experts and specialized service providers by replacing them with a single button to push. And how would you even model/handle the more social, human, soft aspects? Engaging in such an investigation would likely not reduce the time investment in looking at technological and human stuff, but increase it a lot, hopefully once and for all, to end up with systems that are designed to save that time for every future use case, if done properly. So I don’t see those things as either/or, but both together. I just continue to fail to find alignment in other people on several key points, but can’t see or weren’t convinced yet how those values/principles can be respected by implementing solutions in another way. Not too bad, what each of us can still do is solving his/her own problems, we’ll eventually get to somewhere, it’s just incredibly slow. Enbelbart, realizing the complexity and urgency of our world problems, suggested that there ought to be a way to exponentially improve our human and tool systems (also time-wise) if we want to stand a chance, but the reality might be that we’re not able to, as humans.



    Want to add something to the problems of linear audio as I can’t modify the previous post any more: some misunderstandings occur simply because of bad audio quality, distraction, pronunciation, mishearing, etc., and if live, one can’t rewind.


    Thank you for your consistent attention, Stephan.
    I just read your response to Heidi.
    This remark touched me: “I just continue to fail to find alignment in other people on several key points.”
    Could you say more about this? Both your key points and how or why this fails?

    Is this related to Engelbart?


    Misunderstandings: YES. I have difficulty, often, to understand some people who speak a difficult accent and not much articulated + bad audio quality. Often I also cannot really follow the thread they are weaving during their shares – but that can be with my shares as well, when heard by others. Difficult sometimes to speak clearly while still trying to figure out what we want to say.

    Thanks for the long explanation above: At first sight, I cannot really get it, as well. What is your suggestion how things can go differently? How can we avoid to have to trust certain people or companies? How could we possibly do everything on our own and control everything?

    As for finding alignment: I think that is what is evolving in those groups: trying to figure out what our contribution can be and how we can collaborate despite the fact that we have – inevitably – different ideas and viewpoints.

    If I understand it right you are looking for systems who would do all things for us. Well, yes, but then you have to trust them and those who have created them, even if there are many people who were the authors. And there is always the factor “HUMAN”, the interiors of what can be managed with a system, and that is not a predictable system itself, but, as we are humans, to some degree unpredictable and spontaneous and subject to unexpected change and novelty.

    I might have not understood fully what your vision is…



    Hi Harry,

    here’s an attempt to answer to #336: my parents divorced when I was at a young age (not in the good, up to this day and future), and I told myself that it doesn’t affect me too much as they’re separate entities/individuals, but in recent times realize that it’s worth to carefully and critically self-reflect on its potential influence. It’s dangerous to conclude that my values come from that, I’m not convinced myself, but I mention it because you guys are interested in those backgrounds, I guess. Belinda Barnet claims in Memory Machines that Douglas Engelbart and Ted Nelson were driven by the fear of loss, and while I doubt that it’s the same, I really hate to do the same thing twice, waste valuable lifetime for stupid reasons, do things in a way that ends them up in being stuck, etc., which led to a love for printed books and preservation of texts (as the main source of almost all we know), automatization, libre-free licensing, etc. At another occasion, I wrote down a few interests I care about: libre licensing, semantic net, open standards, avoiding dependencies, hypertext, library of the future, curation, offline usage, posterity, augmented reality as decentralized public infrastructure. I think we discussed values somewhere (not too sure), but I think values/principles/motivation derived from previous experience explains best why an individual makes the decisions the way he/she does, so I hope this description helps somewhat in place for a more detailed investigation. It feels I omitted quite a lot, but can’t tell exactly what it is, might depend on the context.

    Before this year, I worked on a small, primitive digitalization/proofread project for a German Bible translation that’s in the Public Domain (last contributor died more than 70 years ago, you can imagine how useful their wording/language is for us today). I don’t know much about Dutch or English translations, but in German language, there are plenty of digital Bible texts, but almost none of them are authentic to their printed original, because somebody at some time (usually at times where computers and Internet became more popular for the general public, a time of enthusiasm to put it out in lack of other offers being available), without establishing which printed original was used, sloppy OCR with bad proofreading, and sometimes adjusting the text to “modernize” it or incorporate more recent developments or individual views, all used by readers without awareness or suspicion. Almost all modern translations are not usable because of copyright restrictions. By chance I found out that another group had already completed exactly the same translation I was working on for several years, independent of mine and the other one I knew about and was collaborating with, without notifying us and doing theirs in secret, so I put my project on hold and instead looked more into hypertext.

    So I tried this year to connect with anything that looks like a practical effort to build hypertext systems in our days (there’s plenty of academic study, but little ambition to implement), namely Ted Nelson’s “New Game in Town”, Doug@50, jrnl and GCC, but over time, it always turned out that some of the words are used because it’s in fashion, but what really goes on are some deeper, hidden agendas informed by other values/priorities, some of which are: personal business interest, pressure to meet a certain deadline, avoiding to invest time/money in solving the issues so existing bad methods are re-used (WWW for instance), creative control, control over the creation, focus on artificial intelligence/reasoning, focus on documents, lack of time/interest/attention to discuss/study the problems, learn about them and join practical collaboration. It’s quite easy to pretend that those aren’t issues, but I haven’t seen anything that actually could get around the problems I have, allows me to do the things I want to do, or at least explains how I could stop worrying and start to love the bomb. Without doubt, text isn’t something to care about any more in 2018, its golden age ended some 20-30 years ago and is stagnating and even degenerating since then.

    A lot of things can be seen as related or not related to Engelbart, they’re also related or not related to a lot of other people and things, but I guess my main overlap with the GCC is via Engelbart, but that’s only a very loose connection in terms of substance obviously.


    Thanks so much for sharing.
    I appreciate your thinking.
    Directly or indirectly I will react on this later. Here or elsewhere.

    How our values are defined by personal experiences for instance.
    And how to benefit from sharing our stories and learnings…

    For now other tasks await.



    @heidi (#337):

    That’s not to say that written or visual media don’t come with their own bag of downsides, but I don’t see a reason why only one one media form should be used, or one that’s not ideal for the given task, or only in a bad way without realizing its full potential.

    Today, I don’t think any more that it makes sense to try to describe how things could work for various reasons, that’s a certain path to failure in terms of Harry’s question. What does work is to just doing it even at the risk that it turns out to be just my hobby-horse, that it ends up as a technical solution only for a technical user, that it creates other or more problems by not recognizing the needs of other stakeholders, being one-sided and not informed by the other perspectives, but my recipe against that is to work on my own needs, that way it can’t go terribly wrong. I realize that the needs of a single entity on its own monologuing in solitude are very different from what’s needed from a setting of two users and more (that are potentially non-cooperating entities, dialogue going on, need to respect the sovereignity/independence of the other entities, requirement to organize collaboration and methodology, etc.), but I still can start working on those capabilities later and connect my single-user individual capabilities with the multi-user scenario, what I really can’t do effectively is a multi-user scenario on my own, and pretending to have such with myself might miss the real practical needs of a real group that actually exists. It would be possible, but too risky, given the limited (time) resources available.

    But to not leave it like that, a few practical suggestions:

    • Data should self-declare its format and semantic meaning. Most of the time, the format/meaning (on several levels, from byte order to file type to format convention to versioned format vocabulary/onthology to advanced federation/augmentation recommendations) is unclear and determined by heuristical guessing, which is bad in terms of information encoding theory and prevents reliable technical bootstrapping of semantics, which would allow agents/clients/tools to automatically perform actions on data when encountered, without the need of a human manually deciding what to do. The format and semantic meaning should also be indicated in metadata, so a client can decide what resources to retrieve or not to retrieve, and what tool/component/converter might fit best to handle it.
    • Servers and online services are a dependency. They can go away at any time, connectivity isn’t a given, they can change the way they work, and they’re always compromising confidentiality if the data isn’t public anyway or encrypted end-to-end on the client independently. There’s no real reason why the same capabilities shouldn’t be available and performed on the client side.
    • Mixing executable code with data is a very, very, very bad idea. It never worked securely and might never work as long as Turing-complete machines exist. It didn’t work with Macros in Microsoft Word/Excel, it didn’t work in Adobe Flash, it doesn’t work with HTML in e-mails, it didn’t work with ActiveX or Java Applets, it doesn’t work with JavaScript on the web, and it accounts for a large amount of security breaches and we only tolerate it on the web because most people use crappy operating systems that don’t get their software from secure, independent, libre-freely licensed repositories, so the only way to securely run remote software by avoiding the even greater danger of locally installing such software is distribution/execution in the sandboxed browser, which in return prevents reasonable actions that are important for a decent hypertext environment and renders the web unfit as a text system into a mere environment for online applications. Furthermore, the web convinces users that the data and software somehow are integrated into a pre-defined, single experience. There’s no reason why the mere storage of data should not allow a plethora of different user interfaces and software functions, that are not dicatated by the provider who operates the data storage facility. Then, the client is able to apply different interpretations and renderings onto the same data, based on configuration, preference, recommendation, etc., or perform different actions on the data than the original author intended.
    • A mechanism is needed that indicates beyond doubt the legal status of a human expression, so the user can filter for only those, so repositories/libraries of libre-freely licensed material can form, which can be used without having to worry about legal trouble as long as the terms of the libre-free licenses are observed.
    • A capability standard + infrastructure is needed (an API to program/script against) that allows the flexible combination of individual functions to perform more advanced functions automatically, manually or in a combination of both. The actual implementations for each capability can be switched without the caller noticing (abstracting away the implementation behind standardized protocols), most of the capabilites should be invokable remotely as well as locally (and a mix of both in the same action), for which ideally the same implementation code should be usable online as well as offline without adjustment, if possible.
    • To be continued…

    Regarding trust, I go with the notion that’s the default for security-related software: design for as least need for trust as possible, and always leave the decision if, to what degree and whom to trust to the user. Proprietary software rarely offers this choice to the user, one has to blindly trust the vendor. There’s probably no technological solution for a social question like trust, but if trust is established in the social realm, there is technology available to ensure that no third external actor can abuse the established trust between two parties, which is also rarely used/implemented/offered by proprietary software.

    It’s more likely that you can do everything on your own (except communication-related actions that precondition the exchange with a second entity) if you have the data and the software, there’s little reason why you shouldn’t have both. So you should be in absolute control over your own computing (notion of sovereignity, property, independence), but it’s also important to realize the actual fact that once you’ve given your data away to a second entity or have a function performed by somebody else, you waived all and every effective control over it forever. It’s not that your individual control over your copy ceased, but now others have gained the same control as well, which is independent of yours, so it’s not effectively enforcable beyond your own computing. This also applies down to software, the operating system and the hardware. If you’re not in control, somebody else is. It is very dualistic/binary, because you’re a single individual/entity that’s not identical with all the other individuals/entities.

    Alignment/collaboration: the libre-free, so called “Open Source” world or projects like Wikipedia etc. do it like this: they align on single, specific causes, so they can be completely opposed on all the other points and still get something accomplished as they agree that this single point is important and beneficial to all participants, so it raises the level of everybody, by agreeing that they don’t need to compete or reinvent the wheel each for themselves, likely because that’s what they would have to do otherwise anyway and don’t see a reason why to invest when they could benefit from a shared effort. For this to work, there is the precondition to have a (human, social) policy in place what (legal) status the result will have, otherwise there’s no foundation/contract/agreement in place to establish some safety/protection/trust against the risk of loosing the investment/result of the effort, to have it destroyed some time later. Very little is needed for large-scale, diverse collaboration while retaining individual freedom beyond this industrial-style agreement that counters the industrial-age default mode of copyright law, as the other aspects then are subject to merit and emergence (how can something organically emerge if a single entity is in proprietary control of the outcome?). Reflecting on my own alignment, the insistence on 100% libre-free licensing shuts out 95% of potential collaborators, precisely because they either don’t know or care about the risks, have some other values/agendas that intend to have them in control in the end, or are tricked into the impression that it’s not too bad for them personally, which indeed is true, but there’s always somebody who will be the unnecessary victim of this view. If the project then is about text and hypertext in 2018, that shuts out the remaining 5%, and if some more percentage shares should be left, the position that the web model and server dependencies are a problem will do the rest, despite there’s improvement in that area as it becomes more fashionable to be against Facebook and the lack of usefulness of the web for the current AI hype. All of this doesn’t matter too much, as I know ways around it by just changing the focus a little.

    > Well, yes, but then you have to trust them and those who have created them, even if there are many people who were the authors.

    If you can theoretically check for yourself what those systems do, you don’t need to trust the creators. If you practically can’t, you can either find or pay somebody you trust to do that for you (who has a good reason/incentive to be critical against the creators). Also, if you don’t like/trust what a system component does, you should be able to replace it with one from somebody else, your own replacement or the one from someone you trust. There can be many of the latter, as everybody is allowed to create their own, share them and just plug them in into the standardized infrastructure. Not perfect, but one of the best approaches I know of.

    > I might have not understood fully what your vision is…

    It’s not super-important to have it understood, but thank you very much for trying 😉 A few simple, practical questions should be sufficient for determining what kind of beast a practical result could be and what it likely wouldn’t, because the sad truth about hard reality is that things won’t work according to their theoretical description if the theory is wrong. Sure, to have a good, decent result, much more conversation is beneficial, but I guess GCC participants are well aware of how difficult this is.


    Stephan, I feel completely overwhelmed with what you are writing. I am sorry, but I really cannot understand most of it and it makes me sort of anxious, because it reinforces my apprehension that I should do and know everything myself. But I am really not a tech-interested person and having to do already so many things myself doesn’t make me happy, but it is a burden for me.

    I don’t understand all the reasonings in the tech-world, it is not my language, I can only guess what it is about.

    You name Wikipedia as an example It might be good for what you say. I find myself sometimes very doubtful about that platform, because I got to know how much it censors the entries which people make. Some important people are banned, not named and attempts to insert them fail continuously, especially when it comes to those people whose ideas and work contradicts mainstream convictions. I still use it, but I read it with much caution, knowing that the platform is not as open as it promises to be – at least for its content.

    The factor “human” is everywhere and hardly ever sufficiently acknowledged and taken into consideration.

    I wish you a good week!



    Oh, apologies, never mind. I didn’t put out most of my thinking in writing until recently, so this was another chance to start a material collection on that particular topic to be expanded later eventually. So here’s what I want to say basically: there are big issues with the human side as well as with the urgent, complex world problems, and also on the technological/tool side regardless of the other two. It’s not that we necessarily need more technology, the stuff we have is already quite bad despite it might not appear so. In terms of integral colors, my impression is that almost all of it is from and of the red (and not orange as one might assume/expect). I hope to get my own computing more into the other colors, have a few ideas how to do it and will share the results.

    Wikipedia aims for a single, consensus-based result, therefore has some rules and policies and isn’t designed to capture everything. For people to have an article about them included, I’m not too familiar with the exact details, but I think one cannot write it himself, one can’t cite himself as the source (for reasons of bias and lack of independent verifiability), some sort of general, public interest in the individual may be required (maybe to a similar degree like the limitations on privacy for people of public interest), and coverage in various sources, something like that. In my mind, there’s no reason why an encyclopedia shouldn’t include everybody who ever lived, but that might legitimately not be the job of the Wikipedia, it’s also not an address book or social media profile page. I also wouldn’t call it censorship, because censorship is usually done by a state actor, and even if not, no website, newspaper or book publisher necessarily has to be forced to distribute statements that are not in their own interest (freedom of the press), especially if the author doesn’t pay for such a service, most of them aren’t public infrastructure or a charity, but private enterprises (excluding Leserbriefe/letters to the editor, which come in again via journalism and a healthy media/debate landscape).

    When it comes to a strong focus on the mainstream, that comes from the policy/requirement that every statement must be supported by a authoritative source (citations), so that random guessing and gossip can be prevented and ideally verifiable, reproducible information ends up in the article, against which one can hardly argue and therefore becomes quite reliable.

    “Openness” can mean many different things, and while the Wikipedia indeed might not be very open in some aspects, it’s open/free in the sense that you could get a full copy of the entire thing, publish it for yourself, and if you want, add every missing entry and information in your own instance of it.

    Not intended to vindicate the Wikipedia, things go wrong there too as humans are involved, but to explain a little that it has a job and does that one reasonably well, arguably better than the alternatives we had before, it’s a pretty orange tool in terms of integral colors. Wikipedia is also a community, also data, also a software project (MediaWiki). Furthermore, there are alternatives that avoid those particular issues like the Federated Wiki that allows everybody to fork off their personal view of the world and the statements by others. Even if all of this isn’t seen as an advancement and benefit, one has to recognize that a lot of people manage to collaborate on a grand scale according to at least some alignment (no matter how questionable it might be), across disciplines, largely without having ever met.

Viewing 12 posts - 16 through 27 (of 27 total)

You must be logged in to reply to this topic.

Skip to toolbar