Bus Factor

I was just thinking about how long I haven't had anything other than Linux on my desktop computer. It should be almost 15 years now, because after about a year of testing the Ubuntu version at that time in 2005, Dominic Humphries convinced me with his text "Linux is Not Windows" to give up Windows for good. He explains quite clearly why it is very difficult to switch from Windows to Linux when you think it would be like switching from one car model to another.

"Switching from one version of Windows to another is like switching from one car to another. Win95 to Win98, I honestly couldn't tell the difference. Win98 to WinXP, it was a bigger change but really nothing major.

But switching from Windows to Linux is like switching from a car to a motorbike. They may both be OSes/road vehicles. They may both use the same hardware/roads. They may both provide an environment for you to run applications/transport you from A to B. But they use fundamentally different approaches to do so.

[…]

Two different approaches to fulfilling the same goal. They differ in fundamental ways. They have different strengths and weaknesses: A car is the clear winner at transporting a family & a lot of cargo from A to B: More seats & more storage space. A motorbike is the clear winner at getting one person from A to B: Less affected by congestion and uses less fuel."

Dominic Humphries

So I was conscious of no longer sitting in a comfortable car that increasingly wanted to be my extended living room, but rather to get my hands dirty more often in the future when I maintain my Linux motorcycle. But with this motorcycle I can get where I want to go.

Now, 15 years later, I still think about this text sometimes, but I no longer have the feeling of sitting on a motorcycle. It feels more like driving a commuter bus, because one thing quickly became clear to me, I am not driving here alone in my tin can and other people do the same in theirs, but we are all on the same bus. At the beginning it is still the case that every day you ask a little awkwardly in grumpy faces whether "this place is still free". But after a short time these faces become familiar, and you can tell the difference between grumpy and sleepy, between "talk to me and you will be dead" and "oh, where do you want to go today with that bouquet, hey someone will have a nice evening".

After a few months you know who is getting on and off where, and you can tell if someone is sick for 3 days or has had 3 weeks of vacation. And if you are communicative enough you know some of the passengers very personally.

The Linux community feels similar to that. I know a lot of people, usually only their "face" (their profile in various forums) but I get small excerpts from their lives. See who is a night owl and who works early in the morning. Who drinks tea, and who drinks coffee, or beer, or whiskey. And yet this pleasant ignorance remains

We are all united by the goal of getting wherever we want with our bus. And enjoy the trip. Because just like in the commuter bus, fellow travelers sometimes become good friends, whom you wave at when you get off.

PS. If you are on the Twitter-Bus, say hello to owlcasescenario from me.

Trees & Nets

When I think back to my time in school, I can see, where the base of my kind of learning was laid, or maybe was already existent and just emerged. When I had to learn e.g. the stages of a culture in history, or the continents in geography, it always started with the number. Before I could start to get those cultural stages, I counted their number and remembered "FOUR" and then I started to read and learn each of the four stages. When I had to reproduce them for a test, I always remembered first, that the correct answer should have four parts, and tried to get them back out of my head.

During the years this knowledge became bigger and bigger. I learned that the world had 7 continents, with one being Europe that had 29(?) countries at that time, one of them being Germany, which had 11 subdivision with more subdivisions, you get the point. My whole body of knowledge is represented in my head in a hierarchical structure.

Well there may be exemptions to this rule, but if any new facts strike me in a way where they can be represented as a hierarchy I can remember them more easily, and they become usable knowledge to me. Maybe that's a reason why courses like social sciences, or arts where hard work for me. My usual strategy for these was to listen to the other pupils just before the test, to get most of the question/answer game in to my short time brain, to survive a 45 minutes test. It worked okayish.

Docking & random knowledge

I think a common used relation between facts and information is, that facts become information, when they can be docked at already available information in the brain, and as soon as connections between facts show up, I start to see two different types of people. Those like me, who think in hierarchies, and have trees of information in their head, and those whose knowledge looks like a net of information, without any further structure.

Both types have the pros and cons

For a tree-mind it may be easier to remember facts by just putting it in a kind of orphaned subtree, but it may become hard to generate new knowledge from it, because the route to travel from one fact to another may span half the tree For a net-mind it's easy to use short connections between already known things, and even come up with new connections between them, when they become useful.

Why do I bother?

At the beginning of the year, I started a therapy to overcome some patterns that established over half a century (one literally) and do more harm than good in my life. Now I want to examine feelings, family things and episodes of my life, and want them to relate them to psychological and sociological concepts. All of them things that are pretty much a net of things I try to make sense of, and I struggle hard. My mind is not trained for that. A part of my solution is this notebook. I want to get more used to nets in thinking. The things I want to think about are better handled in an inner Wikipedia than in an inner file-system. So I decided to play with more sorts of creativity where nets may emerge by itself. Writing down thoughts and connecting them over time, when I see connections. Listening to songs, watching movie and consuming art while trying to bring those things into the net to have something to play with and relate it.

It would be nice, one day to be able to unfold those thoughts like a map in front of my inner eye, and navigate that map.

Gendertopia

Last night, I had a dream. A dream in the sense of neurons firing at will, not like a vision for the future. My dreams are mostly uncoordinated, colorful, absurd flying-circus constructs, but last night was one of those different ones. I was sitting with a handful of people in a room and we clearly had the job to constitute laws for a society on a new planet, where mankind (including us) had just arrived. We were discussing, what to do, to leave the gender-problem behind, now that we had left earth behind.

The solution we came up with, was the following:

  1. There are only two genders: Male, having to identify by male names wearing trousers and short hair, and women wearing skirts or dresses with longer hair with female names.
  2. You are not allowed to change the gender - ever.
  3. Misgendering someone will cost you. Maybe money, first little, by doing it repeatedly going from significant amounts to jail. Misgendering is a serious crime.
  4. The gender is decided at birth by a throw of a coin.

I called this gendertopia, because I am not sure, if it will lead to an utopia or a dystopia. At least it will cause a disruption throughout the society. When I now (fully awake) look at those 4 laws, I can see what each and every one is made for. It might look as if they entrench the old binary gender view, and leave no space for non-binary or otherwise gender-fluid people.

But let's take a look at some implications they may have. Wherever it is necessary to reference to our known earth system of gendering I will use (p) or (v) for penis or vagina as a prefix. So a (v)man is a man for lifetime on our new planet (according to the birth-coin) which has a vagina, and would most likely have started as a woman on earth. When not explicitly stated all genders are that of our new planet.

Let's start easy: You can't just make laws for women when you just meant "people who give birth", "people with less strength", or "people with less height". Let's say you want to hire people for a job where they have to deliver an image of power and strength (like an army-job may call for). Now you have to state so.

Here be dragons

There are several thoughts, that come to mind, when musing on this, and I would be interested in your thoughts on them. As you see, there is no comment section for this notebook, because I consider internet comment sections as a failed concept. Instead you are welcome to write me an e-mail, or use your own way of expressing your thoughts and mail me a link to it. You may get a personal response, and/or see your thoughts taken up in my ongoing musings.

A few of those thoughts are on

Love and family

I could have two sons, one of them falls in love with the son of another family, and the could have her own family by having sex. In general, marriage and family would need another definition. When a couple (two, or maybe more people loving or needing each other) decide to stay together, they may, or may not have a ceremony, and state themselves married, or whatever word they choose. Deciding to stay together has no implications with the government. There are no special laws for couples. Nearly 50 percent of the couples would be of the same gender, You'll never know which gender your next partner may have be, so it would be a disadvantage to discriminate on that. Contrary, there is a concept of a family. A family is every constellation (even a single person) that raises a child. As raising is a good way to develop (not necessarily grow) as a society, it is privileged by the society. The privileges are tied to the child and you can only benefit from them by raising the child. No, not by giving birth to.

Discrimination

Of course this laws will not stop discrimination, but they will make it harder to hide it. On earth is often hidden in gender stereotypes like woman are smaller, weaker, and have to use more time for the children than for their company. If you still want to discriminate on that, you must have to name it like that. Ok, ok, I also see the dystopian ending, where slurs for (v)people rise up. They are needed by a system, that want's to introduce a group of discriminators as a dog whistle to assemble)

Transgender people

What will become of transgender people with this laws applied? Being born to a gender that doesn't match your genitals will become the new normal. Half of the population lives with that. How will be transgender be defined under those conditions. I honestly don't know, what the main reason for "feeling as having the wrong gender" is. I don't know any TS person myself (like in have a friendship with, where talking feelings is possible). When I look at it from the outside I see mostly people transit in their role stereotypes as well as in their body image (maybe or not their sexual visuals). For them it would become a mere cosmetically operation, while keeping the gender. (P)women that are more often doing jobs, where bodily strength is of use, may find wearing skirts at work utterly impractical, so I expect the fashion to adapt very quickly by blending into some kind of unisex fashion, where it becomes harder and harder to tell women from men (which makes it harder to conform to law 3. In an Utopia that would lead to the insight, that attaching whatsoever attribute to gender has been a failure from the start.

Naming conventions

Naming will probably the most ambivalent thing on that planet. On one side it helps with the correct gendering of people. A Karl Smith is always Mr. Karl Smith. So, good, no fines for that, but on the other hand you will never know whether you will talk to a (v)man or (p)man. I think that constant reminder for "does it even matter" is a good thing for a change to the better in that society. But I'm already a big fan of the concept that words can change behavior,

I hope you saw, that this world is not a world that I would aim for, or even support, but it is a nice vehicle to test your point on sex, gender or other identity theories against. Will they stand in a world like that? And if not, even more interesting, where and why do they fail?