Thursday, 17 July 2008

reverent data-mining

Radiohead has decided to "open source" the data to the House of Cards video, allowing anyone, theoretically at least, to mash-up the data, and, once they've messed around with it, use the data to produce their own interpretation.

To mash the words of James Frost with mine, "In a weird way [the mash-up] is a direct reflection of where we are in society. Everything is data."

If everything is data, words are data and writing is data mining. Writing is aggregation. Writing is sifting data and then writing code. Writing is always a mash-up, an aggregation of data remixed. So, "I make no apology for linking my thinking with computer technology."

But what are the consequences of viewing writing as such?

William Gibson's Laney, in his novel Idoru, has a peculiar knack with data-collection architectures. He is an intuitive fisher of patterns of information, shifting from program to program, from database to database, from platform to platform, skimming vast floes of undifferentiated data, looking for "nodal points" he's been trained to recognize. Laney's ability to locate key data in apparently random wastes of incidental information makes him wonder if there might be a larger system, a field of greater perspective that possesses its own nodal points, info-faults that might be followed down to some other kind of truth, another mode of knowing, deep within gray shoals of information. But only if there were someone there to pose the right question.

So, while writing is data-driven in some shape or form, there remains the need for someone, the writer, to ask the right question about what is lying concealed deep beneath the data flow.

mashed sauces

Paragraph 1, and the James Frost quote are sampled and data-mined from the Guardian article "Is Radiohead the latest band to go open source?" by Sean Dodson.

The "make no apology" quote is a lyric from Faithless's track Reverence on the album of the same name.

The paragraph on William Gibson's Laney is mined directly from the novel and edited for the purposes of this post. Again I make no apology.

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