Ontological Internet

april 13th, 2007

internet ontology

A representation of the internet
(Credit: Bill Cheswick, Lumeta Corp.)

In both computer science and information science, an ontology is a data model that represents a domain and is used to reason about the objects in that domain and the relations between them. Ontologies are used in artificial intelligence, the semantic web, software engineering and information architecture as a form of knowledge representation about the world or some part of it.

The term ontology has its origin in philosophy, where it is the name of a fundamental branch of metaphysics concerned with existence. According to Tom Gruber at Stanford University, the meaning of ontology in the context of computer science, however, is “a description of the concepts and relationships that can exist for an agent or a community of agents.” He goes on to specify that an ontology is generally written, “as a set of definitions of formal vocabulary.”


Swoogle is a search engine for the Semantic Web on the Web. Swoogle crawl the World Wide Web for a special class of web documents called Semantic Web documents, which are written in RDF (Resource Description Framework). Swoogle is a research project being carried out by the ebiquity research group in the Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Department at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC).

The Disembodied Librarian

april 10th, 2007

Charles Martell
The Disembodied Librarian in the Digital Age, Part II , 2000

With responses to the article from Barbara Moran and Laverna Saunders
In the January issue of College & Research Libraries, the author began a discussion of four profound historical discontinuities – time and space, mind and body, real and virtual, and humans and technology – that are reaching critical thresholds as we enter the twenty-first century. Existing within multiple environments – technological, social, and cultural, these discontinuities are seldom acknowledged, but their influence on the future of our institutions is incalculable. An awareness of these discontinuities will assist librarians in (1) creating a new virtual space for libraries as physical space becomes less important, (2) adapting to states of disembodiment caused by roles deeply embedded in virtual environments, and (3) developing the new value-added services necessary for survival in the next millennium. In part II of this discussion, these discontinuities are related to new ways of being and thinking about the future of librarians and libraries. This article is followed by responses from Barbara Moran and Laverna Saunders.
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I, Librarian

maart 31st, 2007

waste of time
Josh Lesnick, 2006

Hilda Kruger
I, Librarian, 2005

‘The fast and continuous technological change that is characteristic of the information society we find ourselves in has demonstrable impact on the way librarians go about their business. This paper offers a scenario of technological changes already in the pipeline and yet to come, and how those changes will impact the role of librarians in the future. One of the main concerns of this paper is the continued relevance of information professionals as infomediaries in our future society.

Will brick-and-mortar libraries still be relevant fifty years from now?
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CompSpeak 2050

maart 17th, 2007

William Crossman is a philosopher, futurist, and professor involved with issues of education, media and technology, language and culture, and human rights. He is Founder/Director of the CompSpeak 2050 Institute for the Study of Talking Computers and Oral Cultures

‘The prospect of escalating conflicts and tensions around the world, together with the ongoing search for global peace, demand that we create technologies which allow everyone to communicate with everyone else. Voice-in/voice-out (VIVO) talking computers, using online voice-recognition technology, will allow all people to access the world’s storehouse of information merely by speaking, listening, and viewing graphics. We live in a world in which 80% of the population is nonliterate or functionally so, thousands of different native languages block or deter easy communication amongst people, and millions suffer from disabilities that prevent them from reading and/or writing. However, using a VIVO, a person won’t need to know how to read or write text in order to store and retrieve information. VIVO’s instantaneous language translation function will enable that person, while speaking only in their own native language, to converse with all of humanity. And if they had a disability that barred them from accessing text, they could speak, listen, or sign via their VIVO. By lowering these historic barriers to global communication, VIVOs hold the potential for democratizing information flow worldwide–one key step in creating democratic nations that support human and civil rights, freedom, justice, and equality as the necessary bases for world peace. Without our being able to hear–literally–the voices of the world’s disenfranchised, world peace will remain an illusory goal. Over the next decades, as VIVOs enable more and more of those voices to be heard, and as written language/text shrinks as our technology of choice for accessing information, the electronically-developed countries will evolve into oral cultures. By mid-21st Century, written language/text–which is essentially an ancient technology for storing and retrieving information–will be a thing of the past, and by mid-22nd Century, all nations and communities, including those we build in space, will be informationally united in a worldwide, yet diverse, oral culture.’

Mission Statement

The Institute’s mission is to study, learn, speak, consult, promote dialogue, and write about:

1. The social, cultural, and philosophical implications of talking computers and voice recognition technology–that is, the ways that talking computers will affect every area of human activity.

2. The replacement of writing, reading, and written language itself by talking computers and other speech-based and non-text visual technologies–a process that began in the 19th Century and will reach completion in the 21st Century.

3. The parallels that exist/will exist between today’s oral cultures around the world and the oral cultures that the United States and the other electronically-developed countries are becoming.

4. The ongoing school literacy crisis, its causes and its solution. The impact that talking computers will have on education in the 2lst Century.

5. The nature, history, uses, and effects of written language as a technology specifically developed to store and retrieve information under the specific conditions of the agricultural revolution 6,000 to 10,000 years ago.

6.The role that human evolution plays/will play in the development of information technology (including talking computers), and vice versa.

7. How to make sure that the human right of all people, nonliterate or literate, with disabilities or without, to access the stored information of our world via talking computers is realized in the 21st Century.

‘By enabling us to access stored information orally-aurally, talking computers will finally make it possible for us to replace all written language with spoken language. We will be able to store and retrieve information simply by talking, listening, and looking at graphics, not at text. With this giant step forward into the past, we´re about to recreate oral culture on a more efficient and reliable technological foundation’ -William Crossman-

The Future of Writing

maart 14th, 2007

Vilém Flusser

… ‘Writing is an important gesture, because it both articulates and produces that state of mind which is called “historical consciousness.” History began with the invention of writing, not for the banal reason often advanced that written texts permit us to reconstruct the past, but for the more pertinent reason that the world is not perceived as a process, “historically,” unless one signifies it by successive symbols, by writing. The difference between prehistory an history is not that we have written documents that permit us to read the latter, but that during history there are literate men who experience, understand, and evaluate the world as “becomming,” whereas in prehistory no such existential attitude is possible. If the art of writing were to fall into oblivion, or if it were to become subservient to picture making (as in the “scriptwriting” in films), history in the strict sense of that term would be over.’

‘If one examines certain Mesopotamian tiles, one can see that the original purpose of writing was to facilitate the deciphering of images. Those tiles contain images impressed upon them with cylindrical seals and “cuneiform” symbols scratched into them with a stylus. The “cuneiform” symbols form lines, and they obviously mean the image they accompany. They “explain;” “recount;” “tell” it. They do so by unrolling the surface of the image into lines, by unwinding the tissue of the image into the threads of a text, by rendering “explicit” what was “implicit” within the image. It may be shown through text analysis that the original purpose of writing, namely, the transcoding of two-dimensional codes into a single dimension, is still there: every text, even a very abstract one, means, in the last analysis, an image.’ …

The History of Tomorrow

maart 9th, 2007

– a short story-

by Maarten Vanden Eynde, 2006/2007
in collaboration with Marjolijn Dijkman

Maarten Vanden Eynde The History of Tomorrow

A billion stars twinkled in the universe, irregularly like diamonds. I woke up in a sweat and tried to christalize where I was. The heavy window screens were open but I could only feel a pitch-black sky. I rolled over to the side and found my glasses. There, up there on the left, it should be there! Was I still sleeping? I blinked my eyes a couple of times, but was disappointed again. It was gone, it was really gone…

The loss of gravitation first came to general notice on the 15th of June 2008, during the Olympics in Beijing, China. On that day 27 world records were broken. Read the rest of this entry »

Time Travel – Shaping the Future

februari 28th, 2006

by Neil Johnson

The idea of travelling forward into the future or back into the past has always fascinated science fiction writers. The ‘grandfather paradox’ is the argument many people use to suggest that time travel is impossible. What if you went back in time and prevented your grandfather from meeting your grandmother so that your mother was never born? Then you would never have been born… and so on. Until very recently such arguments led most scientists to believe that time travel could never exist outside science fiction. But amazingly, some interpretations of the weirdness of the quantum world now suggest that time travel is possible – at least in theory.

Gravity and black holes
Einstein’s theory of relativity brought space and time together in a single, four-dimensional arrangement that he called spacetime. We know that we can travel forwards, backwards and sideways in space, so why not forwards and backwards in time?

Four dimensions are difficult to imagine, so physicists usually suggest you think of spacetime as a rubber sheet stretched out flat. If there are no large masses around, the sheet stays flat, and so any object placed on it will move around in straight lines. But a large mass, such as the Sun, makes a dip in the sheet because it actually warps spacetime. Now any other object with smaller mass, like our Earth, moving about in spacetime rolls into the dip as it comes past the Sun. It appears ‘attracted’ to the large mass. This effect of warping spacetime is what gives rise to gravity.
The Universe is full of heavy objects exerting gravitational effects and the net result is that spacetime is not flat at all but curved. Everything, including light, has to follow curved paths in spacetime. We know Einstein was right about this because astronomers can sometimes see distant stars that ought to be masked by nearer objects such as the Sun. Instead of travelling in straight lines and hence being blocked, the light from the stars bends round the obstruction.

When a star reaches the end of its life it may collapse inwards under the influence of its own gravity to such an extent that all its matter becomes concentrated into an extremely dense object a fraction of its original size. This is a black hole. Black holes have such a huge gravitational pull that nothing can escape from them, not even light. We cannot see them but we have good evidence that they exist. We can see stars behaving in ways which suggest that they are being pulled about by a nearby invisible object with enormous mass.
What does a black hole do to spacetime? Relativity predicts that at the centre of a black hole is an infinitely dense point, called a singularity, within which all the normal laws of physics no longer apply. Time, space, matter and energy no longer have any well-defined meaning. Einstein’s equations show that such a singularity doesn’t just make a dip in the imaginary rubber sheet of spacetime, it makes a tunnel that goes right through and momentarily opens out on the other side.
Where is ‘the other side’? It could be somewhere else in spacetime, either in the future or in the past, or it could even be in another Universe! If you could take a spaceship through such a tunnel, or wormhole, you would have discovered the secret of time travel. This is of course impossible with today’s technology. But in the future, who knows?

Mini wormholes
Einstein’s equations describe a spacetime that is perfectly smooth, like the rubber sheet. His theory of relativity only deals with the physics of what happens on big scales. It cannot deal with what happens at the centre of a black hole, or what happened during the moment of the Big Bang at the birth of the Universe when spacetime itself was infinitesimally small. That takes us back into the world of quantum physics.
If you could look at spacetime with a magnifying glass so powerful that it reached down to the quantum scale, you would not see the smooth, continuous sheet of Einstein’s spacetime. Just as a foam rubber ball looks smooth from a distance but rough and ragged close up. In this picture of spacetime it is quite likely that tiny holes could open up, entrances to little tunnels between now and other times, or between here and other universes. Another option for future time travellers would be somehow to harness these tiny wormholes and expand them.

Many worlds, many futures?
To return to the question that has puzzled thinkers since Newton’s day, is the future preordained? Or are there an infinite number of futures? One way of looking at the quantum world suggests that not only are there an infinite number of futures, but they are realised in an infinite number of universes.
Photons and electrons sometimes behave as waves and sometimes as particles, but never both at the same time. So far, the argument for interference between one universe and another applies only to events occurring at the quantum level.
But the idea of parallel universes provides a possible resolution to the ‘grandfather paradox’ that might otherwise cause problems for time travellers. If we travel back in time and change history, we launch ourselves into a new future in a parallel universe – but we have no effect on the present one from which we started out.

Scientists of the future may well pursue a new form of futuristic technology based on quantum effects. Such applications could include quantum teleportation, by which a quantum particle can be teleported from one point in space to another; and quantum computation, where calculations can be carried out which would take many years on a conventional computer. Although we now know how to measure time very accurately, have we come any nearer to answering the basic question ‘What is time?’.

Neil Johnson is a Physics lecturer at Oxford University where he heads his own research group.

Gravitation of Time

februari 10th, 2006

The Universal Law of Gravitation has several important features. First, it is an inverse square law, meaning that the strength of the force between two massive objects decreases in proportion to the square of the distance between them as they move farther apart. Second, the direction in which the force acts is always along the line (or vector) connecting the two gravitating objects.
In 1687 Sir Isaac Newton first published his Philosophiae Naturalis Principia Mathematica (Mathematical Principles of Natural Philosophy) which was a radical treatment of mechanics, establishing the concepts which were to dominate physics for the next two hundred years. Among the book’s most important new concepts was Newton’s Universal Law of Gravitation. Newton managed to take Kepler’s Laws governing the motion of the planets and Galileo’s ideas about kinematics and projectile motion and synthesize them into a law which governed both motion on earth and motion in the heavens. This was an achievement of enormous importance for physics; Newton’s discoveries meant that the universe was a rational place in which the same principles of nature applied to all objects.

Maarten Vanden Eynde

‘Between two objects, let’s say A and B, there is a point where the gravitation of both objects is working with equal force (L1 point, named after Lagrange). This point is balancing between the two attracting masses. If it is slightly bending towards A or B is will be attracted more by either one of them. It can only move from it’s frozen position, without loosing it’s equal balance, if A and B change mass simultaneously. The mass A is loosing, B has to gain.

Time is always moving. When you read this word, it became history already. The future is catching up instantly. The present is an untouchable point always on the move.
If time would be a linear experience, and A would be the past and B the future, than the point hanging in the middle would be the present. The past is getting longer and longer (or bigger and bigger) so in order for this point to be equally drawn to both A and B, it needs to be moving towards the future. The past is getting bigger and the future is getting smaller. And on top of that the speed of this process is accelerating. Just like the birth of matter during the big bang, time was created at the same time and moves equally with the expanding universe; faster and faster to it’s final destiny. Will this be the end or a new beginning?’


The Lagrangian points (also Lagrange point, L-point, or libration point), are the five positions in interplanetary space where a small object affected only by gravity can theoretically be stationary relative to two larger objects (such as a satellite with respect to the Earth and Moon). They are analogous to geosynchronous orbits in that they allow an object to be in a “fixed” position in space rather than an orbit in which its relative position changes continuously.

Lagrangian points

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What is Life?

januari 21st, 2006

Free translated after Prof.dr.Steph B.J. Menken

If we talk about the genetology of life, we must determin what life is about. First af all one recognizes life by the existence of complex structures, with several functions. One of the most important is metabolism, (stofwisseling). Substances and energy go into a cel, which makes it live and grow, so it can divide itself and produce waste products. An other characteristic of life is heredity (erfelijkheid). Hereditary material is present in a cel and doubles itself before being devided. Like this singularities can be passed on from one generation to the other.
Life that we know exists mostly of water and carbides (koolstofverbindingen). This is what thrives scientists in their search for life in the universe. Maybe there are other forms of life -use your imagination-, but it’s hard looking for them with the equipment we send of on a rocket or Marslander into the universe. Thats why the search for water and organic substances is still the main target. These substances exist in a chain of one or more carbon atoms, completed with other atoms. Examples of these substances are endosperms (eiwitten), carbohydrates, fats, and also fossile fuel crude (aardolie), which arises from the sediments of plant rests.

Maarten Vanden Eynde
‘Genetologic Research Nr. 13’, 2004 (50cm x 2cm x 18cm)


Chicken or Egg.
In the search for the genetology of life, we stumble on two ‘chicken-or-eggquestions’. De first one is: what was first, heredity or metabolism? And the second one is: what was first, DNA or endosperms? DNA has all the hereditary information, but can not reproduce itself. Endosperms are nescessary to run the proces. DNA has the recepie for it, but endosperms have to be made first. If we start with endosperms, replication can take place, but that doesn’t create heredity, because the basis of that, DNA, is not there. DNA and endosperms are both nescessary for metabolism and heredity.

INTERMEZZO: Kip of ei?
Wat was er het eerst, de kip of het ei? Een onderzoekster uit Cambridge, Massachusetts (V.S.) heeft een antwoord op die vraag gevonden. Zij stuurde twee dozen op naar een postkantoor in New York, een does met een kip en een met een ei. Daarna is ze bliksemsnel per vliegtuig naar dat postkantoor in New York gegaan. Daar kon ze vaststellen dat de kip er het eerst was. Dit onderzoek is gepubliceerd in het hilarische tijdschrift Annals of Improbable Research (annalen van onwaarschijnlijk onderzoek), deel vier, jaargang 2003 (www.improb.com)

Maarten Vanden Eynde
‘Genetologic Research Nr. 16’, 2004 (20cm x 20cm 50cm)



januari 9th, 2006

In order to think of a beginning in the future, the inevitable end should be present.
The end evokes a beginning.
Human Kind is in it’s mid-life crisis of existance.
Is there an end and if so, what will it be like?
What will be left over?
What will be our heritage for the future?