Thursday, July 13, 2006

Good morrow, Werner Heisenberg*

Interscape has been exploring the notion of connectivity. This and my recent travels have me thinking again about interconnection, real and virtual networks, and those Shenandoah falcons. The birds' perch straddles a peculiar ontological line, with one foot in a tangible place, the other dissolved into the web. Whether you consider the WWW to be an inanimate tool or something greater, a confluence of ideas, consciousness, and technology, the falcons are undoubtedly (and unwittingly) part of it.
As they travel and hunt, their nest site is a node. They return there from time to time to eat, to rest, and for other reasons that only make sense to falcons. From it, they connect to other perches, to prey animals, and to sources of water. Each of these interactions careens downhill in a thousand different directions, starting with pathways like small stones falling from high places, rats whose mates never return home, and the uric acid that is a strand in the web of the global nitrogen cycle.
The electronic eyes that beam their image around the world connect them to our web of consciousness. The falcons do not seem impressed by this fact.
I’ve also been looking at the Observer Effect for a graduate class in management I’m taking this semester. In brief, the idea is that by observing something (a system, a behavior, &c), the thing being observed is altered, even if the change is only subtle. This can pose a host of problems for management analysts who are just trying to estimate costs, complete efficiency or job-satisfaction studies, or figure out what in the hell it is that consumers want.
In light of the Observer Effect and the connection of the falcons to the WWW, to me, and to the reader, I’m trying to figure out how we might be impacting the birds and SNP by spying on them.

* Author's Note: E.R. Dunhill is well aware of the distinction between the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle and the Observer Effect. This is one of those opportunities to be evolved and not nit-pick over cheeky blog devices.

2 comments:

Revolutionary Poetics said...

Dear E.R.

Your blog is really a delight and evolving rapidly. I've been off the grid these past weeks directing my MFA low residency program in poetry and now finishing up my master's thesis in Information Technology... I envy your trip to Mexico, the tangible.

I know what you mean about the observer effect. For me, the concept is a consolation of the interdependence among us all--for ill or benefit.

All the best

E. R. Dunhill said...

Jacqueline,
I’m glad you’re enjoying reading what I’ve been writing. I keep trying to make time to listen to the audio stream on Poetry Mind. As an undergrad, I was very interested in the idea of mythic topology, particularly instances in which a people parlay sacred topology into an interpretation or belief about their physical geography.
I know how you feel, being off the grid. Work and school have been demanding for me as well, lately.
An accomplished poet, a professor, and getting an advanced degree in IT- that’s a laudable list of accomplishments. I’m trying to figure out how I can get the polymath moniker, myself. I find that I’ve been eating a too heavily from the science and management end of the academic table, though.
Thanks again for getting my wheels turning again on connectivity.