Conversation Agent - Valeria Maltoni - Conversation Means Back to the Future

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This is very useful for me, Carolyn Ann, so keep them coming! We're in agreement on philosophy. Although I am not a technical person, as a user I can still see the validity of your points.

The space and format of blogs keeps things flexible -- a long and thoughtful comment does not take more space as there is plenty of space to ago around ;-)

The network is the computer... Oh, wait: didn't someone already say that?

(I'm ignoring the Twitter stuff. I've made my views on the concept abundantly clear...)

The pipe is getting smarter: I'm just not sure it's ready to do the job of the processing units. To me, as an old(er) networking guy, I can't help but think that when someone says that the pipe needs to be smarter, they should mean something a little different to their words. (Hang with me... I'll get the to point, eventually.)

I can devise a myriad of different routing systems - none have proven themselves better than simple Spanning Tree. It ensures that a communication path exists between device "A" and device "B". It doesn't care (at an abstract level) what those devices are. To make such a path smarter you'd have to... Re-define the definition of "path". Which might present a few more difficulties than might be supposed. (Grammar, apparently, presents a few more difficulties than I'm prepared to deal with, right now... Sorry!)

I have a feeling some might [sic...] think I'm being pedantic: but I'm not. Really! When Jonathan Schwatrz presumed that the network, etc, he assumed that the wire would stay the same: the difference would be in how the nodes-capable-of-doing-things would be utilized. Hence, a Cray supercomputer could act as a filter for an ancient IBM PS/2. (Don't laugh: I set up such a situation in 1993.)

When Geoffrey Moore supposes that the wire itself will become "intelligent", most think he's simply taking Schwartz's idea to a natural conclusion. He isn't. He's implying a radical shift in the way communications actually works: he's presuming a leap into the quantum world. Maybe. I doubt it, somehow.

We're a wee while away from true quantum communications - the wire becomes meaningless - but Schwartz's "network/computer" thing is still in play. And in that context, Moore's statement becomes a poor re-iteration of the idea.

His other ideas - re-architecting the PC, etc aren't really original. Intel has been doing that for some time; the OS, however... A significant re-architecting there would be a benefit. (And no, I'm not merely confining myself to MS Windows. I include Mac OS X and - particularly - Linux.)

Intelligent routing of messages - the trend the industry is going in - is already here. It's been here for a bit; the problem isn't the routing of messages, it's wires. Many network admins would love to provide multiple path systems; management balks at the dollars, typically. (The OS vendors, again, don't exactly help. Neither do the network theoreticians.)

I think Mr Moore makes the mistake of confusing two disparate communication systems. The first, the electrons flowing across a wire, or the photons for a Wi-Fi connection, necessarily employ a different principle to the communications required of marketing, advertising and the like.

As you say, Valeria, the more things appear to change: the more they stay the same!

Carolyn Ann

PS If Mr Moore is thinking along the lines that, as a simple and dimly-conceived example, the routing devices responsible for getting a requested web-page to you, will go fetch, say, the top few links, based on some algorithm - then he's confusing what the wire is, as opposed to what the computing elements do.

I completely disagree with his assertion that humans are better at doing than understanding. He might be, but woe betide him if he ever met a decent philosopher. And that's not to mention a half-decent theologian! I can't help but wonder what he'd make of Derrida...

I've just gone through my response, and your post, Valeria - with a mind to removing it (I really don't want to be your resident curmudgeon!). The thing that irritates me most is Moore's assumption that we're better at doing. I see no evidence for that assumption. What I perceive is someone who's not spent much time in the academic world, where the emphasis is on understanding. I can think of a half-dozen examples that support Moore's supposition, and I can think of even more counters. Basically what he's saying is something that he (thinks his audience) wants to hear. Which is different to actual understanding of the problems of technical communications. For example: why introduce the topic of the PC to something that has no bearing on it? A distraction? A side-thought? I don't know. It bears so little relevance - except in the mind of someone who can't differentiate the topics.

And I really don't want to be your resident curmudgeon. Even if I seem to moving into that position. A very public: Apology.

I think of it as accidental innovators. The best ideas always come from a completely new angle, where you were not looking on purpose. And Twitter exposes you to this kind of unfiltered, raw information.

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