Saturday, February 27, 2010

As we approach the springtime in the northern hemisphere

When you encounter a new idea, the influence is often brutal. It takes possession of your whole system, and violent reactions sometimes follow. You're greatly agitated, and you think about the idea the whole time.

Gradually, the novelty is lost, and the idea is incorporated into you. The explicit encounter turns into implicit knowledge. The idea becomes part of you, and you need not think about it all the time. More often than not, you forget the idea itself.

As we approach the springtime in the northern hemisphere, I sometimes think if we should not regain the initial agitation from time to time. The excitement as you discover a new idea, which changes your life, and burns your heart. Although such a reaction is often short-lived, it is one of the primes of our life, and it is well to remember. Spring is a fit season for the resurgence of young and bold in spirit.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Spring had come to me on one February evening in Tokyo

I had some glasses of really good sake last night, and got drunk. I was with my best friends. We just finished a very strenuous work day.

A fine sake has a certain divinity in its transparent existence. As time passes, and as you sip the previous liquid into your system, something in you dissolves, is sweetened, and bitterness of life, if any, disappears into the air.

A sake is a godsend. It makes the barriers between individuals melt like a spring snow. Thanks to the sake and a good company, spring had come to me on one February evening in Tokyo.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Emergent contingency

I went to the NTT R&D forum 2010. I met with several very interesting people, and encountered exciting lines of research.

It is interesting how the progress of time sometimes brings about a dramatic contextual shift in society. The mobile phone network, originally constructed as a infrastructure for voice communications is now rapidly becoming an infrastructure for information other than voice.

The key word is "out of the box" experience. When a user buys a device, he or she does not have to enter a contract with a carrier explicitly. The financial arrangements are taken care of behind the scene. When a consumer buys music, text, video while online, a small portion of the money would go to the carrier, without the consumer noticing it. This is convenient for all the parties
concerned. And it gets rid of transportation in the physical domain, reducing carbon dioxide emission, and reducing garbage.

I gave a one hour speech in which I discussed the significance of emergent contingency. The information network that we are constructing is all about the nurturing of interesting contingency structure in which the human brains can learn, interact, and explore. I am convinced that we are living in a very exciting era. The only limit is the imagination.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

I hadn't seen a single one of them.

I normally do not watch television much. It is not that I do not care for good programs. I simply do not have the time.
There was a testimony of this fact the other day. Later last year, I was a judge of a commercials competition. The short-listed commercial videos were shown one by one.

Mr. Kundo Koyama, who wrote the script for the film Departures, was one of the judges. After seeing the commercials, Mr. Koyama remarked that he realized how influential these T.V. commercials are, as he knew nearly half of them although he seldom watches the television, as little as 10 to 15 minutes a day.

I sat there, in the middle of the committee, with my jaws open. I hadn't seen a single one of them. If commercials are one of the important media through which the zeitgeist is nurtured and propagated, then I do not breathe that air.

I remember the golden days when as I kid I used to watch my favorite anime programs, and share the latest information once in school with my mates. Now the world is fragmented, and it is difficult to share a common mood. Maybe it is the fault of people like me.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Faint light still barely visible in the great northern void

Whether a man has a free will or not is a great topic of debate in philosophy and science.

No matter what kind of position one takes, it is clear that it is the multitude of miscellaneous things that drives each of us. When we make a choice, many different things in our neural circuit compete for influence and dominance, and the result might surprise even the agent himself.

Life is thus like surfing waves. The surge of the unknown from the unconscious is not unknown for all of us. Living is full of surprises, as previously unknown motifs and motives suddenly drive us to pathways of living hitherto undreamed of.

When we think of the variety of influences that form us, the goal that one pursues throughout life is like a dim light seen in the distance. It is not something that dominates your whole system. Your existence is rather swayed to and fro in an unpredictable manner, you keep surfing the waves of the multitude, and from time to time, you look up at the dark sky and see the faint light still barely visible in the great northern void.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Bad money drives out good

I don't know about other countries, but I do feel that what is undeniably lost in this country is the will and ability to see and endeavor for distant things.

Things were different at different times. I hear that in the postwar era, people were craving for knowledge. When the Iwanami Shoten, publisher of quality books for the academic and the academically-oriented general readership, released the first series of readings, people lined up in front of the bookstores. They were so eagerly waiting for the first drop of enlightenment after years of darkness and oppression, and it showed. Time flies like an arrow, and now many publishers in Japan decry they cannot sell quality books, while bestsellers of marginal or superficial values crowd the bookshelves.

Gresham's law states that bad money drives out good. The key assumption behind it is that both good money and bad money are legal tenders, and should be accepted in the exchanges in the market. It is true that both cheap knowledge and profound are exchanged in today's society as if they are equivalent, as long as they can lead to revenues and sales.

We all live in a market economy, and deploring the status quo adds nothing towards amending the situation. It is interesting to consider under what sociological conditions do people start for aiming at distant ideals, though.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

This morning I read a bit of Bertrand Russell.

We all live in the contemporary world, and are bombarded with miscellaneous information every day. While interacting with the immediate environment is useful and necessary, I personally find that listening to distant voices is as necessary.

I find that walking through life with only the current affairs by one's side makes one's soul rough and coarse. I need to read, think about, and hearken to things from the distant past, those time-tested gems. Otherwise something in me wither and then perish.

This morning I read a bit of Bertrand Russell.