For the Week of December 12, 2005
We live in an analog world.
Moons cycle around planets cycling around Suns cycling around the black holes of galactic cores.
Electromagnetic waves cycle in frequencies ranging from visible color and sound through invisible radio frequencies reaching toward infinite speeds.
We live our lives in cycles, from youth and strength to decay and death. Yet DNA assures that death is always replaced by birth. Evolution continues, species cycling through.
Our digital age masks this, in our time, by delivering binary on-off, yes-no choices. Most analysts think the Intel microprocessor is the most vital part of our era, but that's wrong. The most vital part is the Texas Instruments Digital Signal Processor (DSP), which let us model the analog world much as calculus lets us model curves into algebraic forms.
Since the 1980s DSPs have worked their magic in real time, compounding the impact of Moore's Law, giving it depth and dimension in the analog realm. Perhaps the biggest mistake I made in my book "The Blankenhorn Effect" (other than the title) was not naming this Kilby's Law, after TI's Jack Kilby .
Now that we can model and even accelerate analog change through Moore's and Kilby's Laws, it's time to take the blinders off the way we've thought of change and the future.
The analog world is inherently unknowable, even though the general trends of its cycling can be predicted. Knowing the seasons does not let you predict next month's weather, except in the most general terms. You can identify trends, like global warming, but not with specificity. Even if you were able to predict the weather on your street for next April 16, it's likely your knowing would change the equation. Despite the cycles, we all have free will.
Cycles can be roughly predicted in most areas of our lives. In my own career I have mainly covered three types of cycles:
- Technology cycles are driven by Moore's Law (and Kilby's) but are based on platforms, which evolve more slowly, owing to business conditions and the work of men and companies.
- Economic cycles are driven by markets, by surplus and scarcity, but are timed based on psychology, an entirely analog study.
- Political cycles are driven, within autonomous nations, by the live cycles of those within them. Lessons of youth adapt over time, but no one lesson survives all the seasons of man.
The key word in the third point is the word autonomous. Most nations are not in control of their own destinies. This autonomy is gained, and lost, through war and mass hysteria. Germany lost this right of autonomy through its criminal genocide under Hitler. Russia and China lost it through the ossification of dynasties, Communist in the first case, Imperial in the second.
America was fortunate, through its isolation and democracy, in retaining its authonomy for 200 years, but we now stand a good chance of losing it in the Hitler-sized evil known as Neoconservatism. Whether that happens or not will be a close-run thing, an analog and human thing, involving the psychology of millions of people, and the forebearance of billions more.
Perhaps, if our mission of change should fail, there is a larger cycle, a dynastic cycle, under which political cycles are mere microcosms.
Elliot Wave Theory is a variation on this theme. The idea is that economic cycles live within systems, which have their own multi-generational life cycles. The economic system of the New Deal, under this theory, rose and will fall in six waves, each one larger than the one before it, each one further removed from reality, each one based increasingly on psychology.
Political and economic macro waves are now on the verge of cresting. The generation which learned its politics at the foot of Nixon, and the economic systems developed under Franklin Roosevelt, are both failing simultaneously, under pressure from an extreme psychology that is wholly binary, which states "you're either with us or against us."
Such binary choices, either one or zero, are too simple and unstable to survive very long. In the real world, in the analog world, the choice of all one or all the other is a false choice, one that can only leave total destruction in its wake.
All I've written for you here are forms of economic and political climatology. I can't tell you when to buy or sell anything. I can't tell you what form any political change may take. In the real world, the analog world, these are determined by the human, analog choices of individuals great and small.
Those who fear technology, or the Elliot Wave, or even political change fail to see that there is always something on the other side. The great waves fall, but then they begin to rise again. Technology will have its day. Youth will have its day. The world which arises out of this crisis will be controllable by men and women of goodwill.
The choices you make over the next few years will determine whether you are one of them.
I've got a new job. I'm now editor of Atlanta voic.us, a Web start-up aimed at building a community Web platform with a real business model. I'm also all alone in writing the Open Source Blog for ZDNet. (When this started there were three of us.)
My last non-fiction book, "The Blankenhorn Effect" won the Computer/Internet category in the 2003 Independent Publisher (IPPY) awards. Write me for a PDF copy of my latest novel, "Baptists are for Dunking."
On my Mooreslore blog I've written a new novel, "The Chinese Century." It's a story told in real-time, with real characters, but entirely fictional, dealing with the consequences of the falling dollar. I'm beginning a sequal, "American Diaspora," exploring the themes of the first book but with more fictional characters. It's a true alternate history, but set in the present day.
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Best of the Week
The folks at ABI Research have an interesting report examining how application developers might create Always-On applications using cellular. It's not good.
BellSouth has joined AT&T's call to end "network neutrality" and let it charge rents for sites' access to customers.
CBS was one thing. But can the blogosphere cause the break-up of Sony?
Sony and Toshiba are continuing to play competing standard games with Sony's Blu-Ray and Toshiba's HD-DVD. While they've been competing to be "the next standard" for optical storage, in other words, they've been leapfrogged by a better, faster, more data-intensive technology.
A Japanese outfit called Podium has launched a beta of just such a service. Here, on one page, you have all the major podcast "networks," and their top downloads, one-through-ten, along with direct links to the sites themselves.
The Clue here is an AP story that looks like it was ordered-up by the AOL marketing department, but which can't resist showing cracks in the veneer.
ZDNet Open Source
Clued-in is Feedster for having me judge their Blogger of the Year competition.
Clueless is Massachusetts Commonwealth Secretary William Galvin, who seems to think loyalty to Microsoft will win him the Governor's Mansion.
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