Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Coping with Streams

Thanks Wildcat for opening my networking world.

In network culture information is less the product of discrete processing units than of the outcome of the networked relations between them, of links between people, between machines, and between machines and people. A node's relationship to other nodes and/or networks is more important than its own uniqueness - states Varnelis .

Social Networks allow nowadays activity streams to be displayed on third party sites. Therefore this streams became public and can be observed and manipulated inside other sites that can also make public their activity stream.

According to Gelernter Streams are real time, rapidly changing, flowing, dynamic rivers of information. Nearly all flowing, changing information on the Internet is starting to flow through streams. You are able to gather and blend together all the streams that interest you. Streams of world news or news about your friends, streams that describe prices or new findings in any field— they can be blended into one stream. Then your own personal lifestream can be added. The result is your own particular mainstream: a flow of information of all you care about.

Stream difficulties:
  • In a networked mass culture bland uniformity and immediacy dominate over uniqueness and complexity, given that streams emerge from that mass culture, it is not easy to rescue non mainstream and particular interest from such an amazing amount of information.
  • Most of us digest a piece of information as soon as we consume it. We read a blog post or an article, and we must let the information pass through our intellectual digestion system completely until it is processed into knowledge. This process is slow and limits the amount of information we can turn into knowledge during a period of time. So, for most of us is not possible to keep up to date with with our streams. We tend to consume more than we can process.
  • Our Attention is limited.
  • The information we see in the stream tends to repeat. This wastes our limited time because we need to pre-process the same information more than once.
Proposed Solutions:
  • Get out of the flow every so often to rest and reassess the situation. Let the flow pass you by and take a break. The stream will continue to flow without you.
  • Pick a few streams to monitor at a time. Then portage on over to another stream or two for awhile, taking a break from the others (proposes Jeff Sayre).
  • Get rid of redundant information in an automatic way.
  • Develop new tools that help us spot the information from the past we were not able to process in time but we still find relevant.
  • Create new visualizations to allow us to identify most relevant information to us at the present time. This could be done with the use of a personalized automatic data analyzer.
  • Create and use tools to help people filter the information. Filtering in its essence is a process of attenuation - a way to focus attention more efficiently on signal versus noise. Broadly speaking there are many forms of filtering from automated filtering, to social filtering, to personalization, but they all come down to helping someone focus their finite attention more efficiently on the things they care about most (says Nova Spivak).


Lydia said...

Excellent post that I enjoyed much. I personally would find this proposed solution to be of great value:
Develop new tools that help us spot the information from the past we were not able to process in time but we still find relevant.

Jm Benavidez Estoque said...

Me, myself... as speaking to my condition, I admit that when I once started to explore my self to the one they called- "Social Networking Site/s"... I became addicted to it that it consumed almost most of my limited significant time that are meant for something else. In other words, I suffer from this addiction. However, Things seem changing (as I hope) that I am going back to my usual routine in daily life (and making it also as a part of my life).

I think it's only about adaptation... that I must learn to adapt changes and make ways to compensate to these changes in order to survive and to live as happier than ever! ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

The problem is that so much of the "information" just isn't. the flow is clotted and clogged by too much nonsense that keeps swirling around in eddies. The information superhighway has become a singlem, twisting lane through the burning wreckage of human intelligence.

paulandrewrussell said...

Very interesting piece, Mariana.

It seems nowadays like the stream is an endless torrent of information, and we're slowly drowning in it.

It's good to step back from the edge and take a break to prevent an overload from useless information.

Filtering is definitely the way to go.

Have a great day. :-)

Joe Bloggs said...

The stream runs to the river, the river to the ocean
Who or what runs the ocean, can there be stillness in motion?

Steve Ardire said...

Remember Lifestreams

another proposed solution is use right combination of 'sophisticated' machine understanding + 'sophisticated' human pattern matching to grok relevant stuff faster, better, smarter ;)

ines said...

Hi mariana, I was thinking that the networking idea that is proposed it is very similar to what budhist think, although they have a more organic aproach to that here is what I refer to:

A ccording to Buddhism, the whole universe is a single, dynamic web of
energy. Matter is a manifestation of differentiated energy. This form
of energy can be perceived directly. Energy are the connections and matter the nodes. The importance is put in the energy not in the
nodes, cause they are in respect to the network connection that
surrounds them

guillermo said...

This also remind me about what mr page said about connections:

Perhaps the Web as a whole is the closest analogue we have today for
the brain -- with millions of nodes and connections. But today the Web is still quite a bit smaller and simpler than a human brain.
Larry's talk made an excellent point on what this missing piece may be: “Intelligence is in the connections, not the bits.”

Mariana Soffer said...

Lydia: Glad you liked it, I mostly took other people's proposal which I liked, and the outcome of my conversations with them. I recomend you to check out the people who I mentioned here and their thoughts about streams and networking in order to dig deeper about things said.

Mariana Soffer said...

Jm Benavidez Estoque:
very interesting what you said here regarding the disruption this new trends provoke in our lives, I guess that happen to lots of us. I myself am struggling with focusing deeper in my research without interrupting my thread of thoughts every 2 seconds with the news I can t stop consuming in my daily life

Mariana Soffer said...

Charles Gramlich:
I think you perfectly describe the harms this new trends can cause to us. That is why I thought it is important for all thinking people to discuss how to use this new tools in a benefitial way (they have lots of potential for providing new dimensions to our lives), instead of determintal ones.

Mariana Soffer said...

I am glad this post made you think about your's and most of us actual cyber-life. We should not become overwhelmed by them but learn to take advantage of what they can provide. It is great you found some of the proposed solutions usefull for your personal life style.

Mariana Soffer said...

Joe Bloggs:
I loved what you say about streams, and how they are embedded in meta streams, wich are also embedded in meta meta ones. It is like that.
I do not think stillness is a proper way to aproach things (either streams or personal lifes), it is a pretty constrained view of what things really are.
Thanks a lot for the link, I really liked the video you made a refference about.

Mariana Soffer said...

Steve Ardire:
I did not know about that project/idea in it s own time. Indeed I am glad I found it right now so I can be able to understand how this visionaries stepped ahead of their time envisioning what was comming to us, thanks for the link pal.
But I am glad to see that the same guy I mention in this post Galernter is an important part of the innoviative (at their time and also now) proposal you shared with us. I belive people who has an amazing ability to understand what is comming and see what is it about stay relevant trough the different paradigms we undergow at different times.

Mariana Soffer said...

Really interesting connection/analogy among different disciplines/viewpoints, which arrive to the same conclusion. I always tought that profound and true research/investigations done from different starting places arrive to the same truth most of the times.

Mariana Soffer said...

I always think about our inner network and out outter ones, including social circles and cyber lives. They are kind of related and have similar behaviouring styles.

Anonymous said...

i truthfully enjoy all your writing style, very useful,
don't quit as well as keep creating because it just truly worth to read it,
looking forward to look at way more of your current articles, stunning day ;)

TC said...


Interesting post as always.

Chimes with two lines of question I've been putting to myself of late.

1. Might it be the case, in the end, that repetition of image information blurs its identity?

2. Might it be the case, in the end, that there is no way out of the flow?

Dave King said...

Interesting post. One that will need a bit longer to digest. Inspiring.

kj said...

my dear friend, there is nothing bland or uniform about your site.

i find this post fascinating. i am so struck by how truly i have been able to cross the boundaries of real time real life to care about, share, and love certain people i have never met but deeply know.

i love my community here. i love the sister and brotherhood of kindred souls who know and are known.

i haven't forgotten that one of these days i will send you a little surprise.

Openworld said...


@hello_world proposes that we completely flip the problem of filtering, by outlining desired futures and tossing them into the exaflood, where useful information can accrete. Then we reel the futures back in.

His post (plus comments that fill out the idea) is at .


Mark Frazier

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks for the compliment.
Very cool questions regarding your interesting thoughts from your posts.
let me answer quickly
1. My answer would be yes, there is a great quote that says "if you repeat a word again and again it loses its meaning Apparently this also works with heartbreak."
2.I believe there is, it depends mostly of an inner mental state that we should train to develop that ability. That is why I wrote the first recommendation about how to cope with the endless never stopping flow.

Thanks a lot for your poetic comment and take care of yourself

Mariana Soffer said...

thanks a lot,If you do not mind let me know who you are, identify yourself somehow if you do not mind, so I can follow up your personal later comments.
Thanks for the encouragement.

Mariana Soffer said...

Dave king:
Glad you liked it my friend, if you want I can send you more explanatory texts in order to acquire a better understanding of what I talk about here. I try to simplify the technical stuff as much as I can so everybody can understand it.

Mariana Soffer said...

I know I have not much coherence in the things I talk about (I always like the following idea: trying to be a coherent person is an incoherent act).
I also love the community my dear friend, that is why, as I said to Dave, I tried to write things in order to make them understandable to all the great friends I met online (who provide great insights and reflections about the current state of the art of stuff), specially some of the technical stuff regarding my profession.
I am more than happy to be your friend, it is a pleasure to get to know such a kind person as you are. And thanks for giving me surprises that I love at unexpected times.

J said...

interesting reading through Gelernter's points about computers even though I don't fully grasp it all.
I agree with him that we have an awful lot of computer power sitting on desktops not doing much. Half the time a typewriter would do just as well (for me anyway).
I also think he is right that there must be better ways to interact with a computer and organise the info than just having an imitation desktop.
Computers are very square, modular, made for the masses types of machines- like the houses we live in. I get fed up with a box-like house in the same way. Why are so many of our products square and box like? Because we like efficient straight lines from A to B, or is it because like Alan Watts said- our minds are simplistic?
Or is the simplified way we make things just a natural phenomenon like the regular hexagonal shapes of bee honeycombs?

Mariana Soffer said...


I find really interesting and promising the idea thrown by hello_world, indeed I will try to catch him on the web. You left me with lots to think with his post and what you stated, thank you very much for broadening my horizons with that respect, exchanging information/knowledge with people like you on the web is an activity I enjoy very very much.
Thanks Mark.

Mariana Soffer said...

Regarding Gelenter I like your analogy about the typewriter. The core of what he says is that streams are composed of different more specific kind of streams, for example you can have a friends stream and you can have mingled in it sub streams that contains friend from high-school, other with friends from the neighborhood etc.
There is a better way for sure, we are just not using it or taking advantage of all it can provide us right now those new tools, but they have the potential to really boost the way we manage and use the information.
I loved Alan watts by the way, but I am not sure I agree with that thoughts, I think maybe the problem is that people prefer the comfort of known things than better unknown ones.
I think you have an excellent question at the end. I would not try to answer, but I guess you are thinking about the universals in human brains by doing an analogy with the bee ones. I guess there are universals in humans, but I am not sure simplistic is one of it, I feel like it is a result of what I mention before, the search for comfort and security.
Thanks a lot for your really interesting thoughts.

Uncle Tree said...

Hello, Mariana!

I read this article the other day, but didn't really know how to respond. Again, what a wide range of comments you've inspired! Charles always says something cleverly intelligent. Ines is always connecting far-reaching conclusions, whereas Paul makes it all sound so interestingly simple.

Your fourth solution is beyond my understanding. I like your fifth. It makes me think of Aaron, my new partner in crime.

"Putting music to words, and words to pictures." (I made up that motto this morning.)

Where streams collide, a flood of thoughts are the outflow. Harnessing that energy, we then feed off of each other. The waste is environmentally safe and sound. The product is a matter of taste.

Hope you like it!
Sincerely, your Uncle Tree

Anonymous said...

Hello. And Bye.

tipota said...

this particular stream, this post, has a way of uniting the flow of everchanging qualities in a way that makes it inspiring while it sorts out the fine points that are often puzzling and gives the whole idea a new position in communication, creativity and culture. it is an important message indeed. the Varnelis article is quite amazing too. wonderful!

Jason Gusmann said...

what a gift you are, mariana

foam said...

about anonymous first of all ..
i've seen the exact same message at a few other blogs. i just think somebody has nothing better to do then open random blogs and copy the same message over and over.
i have yet to consciously and specifically personalize a news stream. i do know that based on my searches a profile has been created. i am humored (well, actually not) by how personalized advertisements have become whether on the side of gmail or fb.

Rick said...

A conceptual difficulty with streams is that information really has very little value if it reduces us to passivity and opens us to manipulation. We say "yes" to far too much, and lose much in the process.

I spoke with a woman the other day who follows news feeds 6-7 hours per day on the internet via RSS and such, but when I asked her what she did with the information, she could only reply with a blank stare.

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle Tree:
Thanks a lot for commeting, I know what you say about not knowing what to comment, it happens to me a lot often, and I decided to say nothing sometimes, or just say (if I think it) that I found it interesting and read it, and that I have to process it further cause it beyond my current capacity to reply something valuable regarding the content.
I love that you have a clear profile of my blog flowers, you are great resuming the kind and style of comments made here.
The fourth solution is not that easy to get I agree with that, it is consist mostly building a program that is able to detect things the stream reader might like to know about of even dough it is old information, not real-time content flowing at the current time.
Regarding Aron, well I do not know him too well, but he seems to be a great artist, and I guess all true visual artist intend to do that trough their own expressing styles.
I loved your motto, it is excellent I would like to repeat it if you do not mind.
And I also enjoyed a lot your last reflection it is pretty clever and concerns about the things that really matter. I like that.
I did really really liked your comments, thanks a lot for taking your time to understand and explain what you have to share with us regarding this subjects.
hugs more hugs dear uncle.

Mariana Soffer said...

Jason Gusmann:
You are one too really, I am kind of sad I am not having enough time to enjoy myself with your amazing texts. I will catch up dough any time soon.
Take care

Mariana Soffer said...

I loved that you referred to this as a stream, self reference is always my cup of tea, is as if you where thinking about what you do while doing it, thinking inside yourself prevents fake blablabery to be considered real or true.
I think you understood all I wanted to transmit here, just by reading the sentence where you describe the flow and changes in communications, it is such a great way to express it, what a clarity of thoughts.
Glad you liked Varnelis too, I consider him as a kind of visionary in his own time.
Take care of yourself and thanks for commenting.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks for warning me about anonymous, it is valuable information for me to know that you seen the same message in other blogs. But I do not think it is a human being that takes it's time to do that, I think it is just a stupid program something who think is clever made, that allowed him to make automatic posts in the websites that are related to each other to links, that is not hard to do, indeed I could do that program if I wanted to, but I would choose to say different things, according to the written post, that would be move clever and interesting, this is just lame.
Take care about everything you post on the net, it tends to be replicated in many places and taken advantage of in ways you do not really imagine they can. I know cause I work on things related to that, I should do a post with recommendations about how to take care of the net and it's possible harms, I think it will help most of my readers to understand and be more in control of the impact in reality of what they say.

Mariana Soffer said...

I completely agree with it, there is a theory called the long tail which I recommend you to read and understand the main concept that is related to what you say. I also think that we did/do like to watch TV a lot, so that is a kind of stream where we do not participate either, this is not that much different, but it is a little because we have the chance to alter it, make a difference, if we do not get overwhelmed with the amount of information passing by at each moment.
Well I would recommend to the woman to stop acting like a sheep, follow the first to advices I stated and try to lead things towards where she wants them to be.

Uncle Tree said...

Hello, Mariana!

I'm glad you appreciate my cosmic commeting, and I appreciate your comments as well. Thank you're welcome! :) Blablabery-blablabery-blablabery. He-he...that's a good one, girl. Big smiles!

I do wish to hear your recommendations about how to take care of my net. The fish keep jumping out of mine.

Of course, you can use my new motto. You always give credit where credit is blablabery. Ha! No, it's okay, really. I'm honored just knowing that you wished to.

Btw, I happened to check out Tipota's web sites this weekend, and we had our selves a talk or two. Sometimes silly risks are worth taking, that's all I'm saying. Zzzzip! ;)

Luvz and hugz to you2, Mariana!

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle tree:
you are amazing and very dear to me. I love your sense of humor as well.

I will try to do my next post about the dangers of participating in the net, their possible consequences and how to prevent them (at least what I can be aware of, which will be limited of course, but better than nothing for the neat blogging community I guess). Nevertheless I would like to do some research so that might take me a little time, due to my imminent trip to Spain.
I checked tipota's web but I did not find what you reffer to, dough I agree with what you say here indeed let me quote a great writter: "To venture causes anxiety, but not to venture is to lose one’s self…And to venture in the highest is precisely to be conscious of one’s self " - Soren Kierkegaard.

Hope you liked what I said. Anyway let me tell you once again that I consider your proposal for my next post excellent.
Hope you have joyful days!

Stu said...

Great post, Mariana.

"In a networked mass culture bland uniformity and immediacy dominate over uniqueness and complexity". This is almost exactly what I was trying to say in my comment on your previous post!

I definitely agree that getting out of the stream and taking a break every now and then is important. I try to do that every few months, often going somewhere where there is no internet or mobile reception.

Mariana Soffer said...

Yes, It is amazing how similar we think regarding some issues, It is more evident the why of something I said to you a long time ago, regarding that I thought I understood the message in your poems.
Well I do too, but it is hard for me due to my work, nevertheless I am traveling to spain and switzerland in a week, so then I will take my amazing break.

Harlequin said...

this is your usual thoughtful and complex work..... thought provoking and intriguing.... such fun!!
how nice is it when the language of streams is met with the language of, well, streams.... the water and river metaphors running through both challenges and responses are probably not accidental

Mariana Soffer said...

I am glad a sensitive and intelligent guy like you found this interesting, I have several doubts about this post, cause I did not wanted to make it too simple, but neither to complex so people would not be able to take advantage of thinking about the information here.
I loved the metaphors, and like you kind of pointed to, I sometimes think that everything is one and the same, so I do not think it is a mere coincidence. I think we are living really interesting times with promising options.

A Cuban In London said...

'Get rid of redundant information in an automatic way'

Or in a human way. We are so bombarded by information every day that sometimes I automatically think 'delete' when I am doing the washing up. :-)

Greetings from London.

Mariana Soffer said...

Cuban in london:
I liked a lot how well you described how our minds asociates aparently disconected things which have a deep conection indeed.
Thanks for stepping by dear C.

Anonymous said...

the cyberstream

information flows as a stream,
without beginning or end, and continuously
combined and recombined in new and useful ways

two pieces of data:

    0 and 1

create information:


× × ×


Mariana Soffer said...

I enjoy the short poems you leave at posts, they are always so personal, they have your signature in the content.
I guess nari will agree in this one with me that the code was written in a correct way. Cheers my friend.

~otto~ said...

Fascinating. I especially liked this part: "A node's relationship to other nodes and/or networks is more important than its own uniqueness." Are we not all nodes?

Anonymous said...

And when it comes to research, on top of all the difficulties, sometimes we cannot rely on the truthfulness of the information published online. I always double check the info, just in case.

Let's keep our filters on!

TC said...

Maybe it's just the bad weather, but I am disposed to think Otto may be on to something.

We feel like we are all nodes when we have head codes.


Uncle Tree said...

Happy Birthday, Mariana!

Hope all is well as it can be,
and I pray your special day
be filled with joy and laughter.

Luvz & Hugz, sweet niece! Keith

Eshuneutics said...

A fascinating idea. Such thoughts seem as baffling, however, at times, as Joyce's stream of consciousness. I'm not sure I want to be a node known only by my connections to other nodes and admit that uniquenss is less important than a network. I have been pondering networks and friendships and flows that exist in the real world and the virtual.
Cognetive poetics is intriguing in this respect. You find thoughts that produce thoughts in others--you are a valuable node!

Mariana Soffer said...

Exactelly, we are all nodes, it is a kind of philosophical statment as well, I think it is pretty related to budhist philosophy, I do belive this also happens as you said with human beings, it rules the same principle.

Mariana Soffer said...

Lucy in the Sky:
You are right, we can not trust it, but I do think that the same applied in the past and even now to the information contained in printed texts, wich is assumed to be correct by a higher percentage of readers than the one online.
It is a good practice to double check, you made me think about what I assume as true myself, why and how I do make sure of it.
Filtering is the key, a fundamental part of the process that is generally missing from the hole mechanism.

Mariana Soffer said...

TC: I told otto that I think that too, you are right about him.
I am sorry but I do not get what you mean by head codes, I would love to understand it, please explain it to me if you can.

Mariana Soffer said...

Uncle Tree:
Thanks a lot, you are always so kind, but I am sorry to tell you that the information is wrong, It is not my birthday, it is november 30. I will try to fix the mistake.
By the way I am doing great, I just came back from spain, I will write some details about the trip as soon as I can. Hope you are doing really good yourself!

Mariana Soffer said...

Really glad you found the thoughts interesting. I do understand what you say regarding what you do not want, It sometimes crosses my mind as well, nevertheless, I enjoy more working and producing things with other people than just by myself.
You left me thinking about the differences between the virtual and real world, I am not sure that the same rules could be applied to both.
Thanks a lot for your neat compliment.

TC said...

Hi Mariana,

Well, yes, Otto is one of my favourite nodes, you are another.

(But I am so old-fashioned, what I really mean by "nodes" is "humans".)

About "head codes", sorry, it was just a silly anglo jest. When the weather is bad, as it has been here forever, and one has a cold in the sinus region, and attempts to describe it as a "head cold", the word "cold" comes out sounding like "code".

I can't believe I have descended to such a low form of humour in the distinguished company of this node. Had I only node!

Raining heavily again tonight, I got caught out in it and came home sniffling. Indeed, with flooding in the streets and water leaking in through the roof, I would far rather be attempting to cope with a virtual stream than all these real ones...

In truth, however, I never distinguish between the "virtual" and the "real". It's like Marlowe's Dr. Faustus said, once having got caught in the difficult straits of living with the consequences of his bargain with the Devil: "This is Hell, nor am I out of it".

Heaven or Hell, in any case: all one and the same place.

Mariana Soffer said...

Thanks a lot for your compliment, it is a cool one, and please excuse me for my late reply, I went abroad and did not have much possibilities to connect to the net.

You are not old fashion node and humans are perfect analogies.

You are so kind for explaining, thanks a lot, I get to learn from you once more.

I like people to express what they want, to be spontaneous, as long as they are interesting and smart, even really bad jokes are great comming from them.

Virtual stream is also analog to the real one, like node and human.

Excelent ending, that was indeed where I was pointing to in my comment, but what you said is just perfect.
Everything is one and the same.
Be well my friend

Anonymous said...

Mariana, the UK gov has just released a large amount of data on it's spending, and the visualizers are already getting to work drawing up fancy charts. Is this a new thing? What do you think about that?

Anonymous said...

and also