Inke Arns on Fri, 8 Jan 1999 01:34:04 +0100

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Syndicate: Caius Grozav: A possible METRIC in cyberspace

Date: Thu, 07 Jan 1999 16:36:01 +0100
From: "caius grozav" <> (by way of andreas broeckmann
Subject: Caius Grozav: A possible METRIC in cyberspace


A possible METRIC in cyberspace

Some time ago I was experiencing the World Wide Wait, together with my 
daughter, for some advertised Cartoon Network stuff... you know; the 
young lady was directly interested, and when I started to be impatient 
she calmed me -" be patient, it comes from so far away!"

Sounds hackneyed simple, but why not - for getting oriented in a new 
space, scientists establish measurement units for each dimension and 
then define a way to compute distance between two points; so I decided 
to take this a few steps further.

Let's pretend we admit response time as distance definition in 
cyberspace - basically this will mean that the faster information gets 
to me, the closer that site is, and in reverse, slower response will 
come from a faraway site. It's often quite difficult to mentally wrinkle 
a map to meet this criteria, so that a distant search engine could be 
closer than a crowded server next block.

I particularly like this distance definition because it links time to 
space - and time in ciberspace is different from our day to day 
continuum of schedules, appointments, sleeping ours and holidays. Lots 
of information is exchanged on the net in the form of email, which is a 
logical, time-independent connection (I can take my mail anytime, and 
from everywhere in the world) - even a chat has a strange 
simultaneousness when it takes place between people spread all over the 
world, each one with his own local time, from midday to midnight.

Response time of a page is basically dependent on three elements: 
1. speed of the lines;
2. number of concurrent requests; and
3. volume of material to be transferred.

Little can we do in the field of line speed ... select the best provider 
in the area, buy the best affordable hardware, and wait for your 
government to build the informational highway... Especially here in The 
East, we have to resign ourselves being far from Europe and the rest of 
the world... (which is unfortunately true from more points of view).

Number of simultaneous visitors of a site is not very interesting 
either, from my actual prospective - several reasons can attract people 
to real or virtual places, and I think there will always be crowded 
places in this world.

Volume of information to be transferred looks interesting - the smaller 
the page is, comes closer to the user... the more heavy elements you 
introduce in it, the further you are pushing it... (e.g. I have a slow 
connection and there is a page I can hardly load because from some 
obscure aesthetic reasons it's designers used graphics to write text in 
- no names because I don't want to offend nobody). 

>From this point on, things get more complicated - in this information 
space we have one dimension named Volume and one named Value - their 
relation is delicate and hard to catch in figures. Volume is a certain 
number of bytes, Value is mainly subject-dependent,... but I dare to say 
the tremendous majority from the visitors of a site, come for something 
else than a "WIN A BLA, BLA animated CLICK HERE".

I think we can even start speaking about pollution in this space (a 
common phenomenon for all modern media) - and this is a delicate subject 
too, because in order to clean, it can open doors for censorship and so 
on... I'm not trying to discuss things I need - or not need, I like - or 
dislike in a page, but things no visitor really needs and are still 
present... (e.g. every time I want to check my inbox, I have to bring in 
some add - I'm not interested but I have to pay for it).

OK then - if images are generally big and text is small, let's have just 
texts in our pages. It is true that the volume of an image file is the 
equivalent of hundreds of pages of plain text, but you can believe me 
everybody will look at the picture and very few will read your text - 
screen is not made for huge texts.

Working on a computer induces a special state of mind, different from 
reading a book or watching video, and information here is supposed to be 
structured according to the specific rules of this new media. In this 
particular environment, volume of transfers will be determinant in 
structuring on line and off line information (e.g. CD-Web Page).

I think sooner or later a web specific aesthetic is to be defined (or 
self defined), based on common sense and exploitation of tool's 
potential in conjunction with user's real needs.



1. Reflection of an object in consience, based on impresions and 
sensations provided by our senses.
2. Reproduction of an object with the help of an optic system; plastic 
representation obtained by drawing, painting, sculpture, etc.; 
reflection of reality by help of words.

						(Dictionary deffinition)

I think this is important because we can not operate directly on reality 
- we absolutely need this form of mental representation for 
understanding world and generate decisions. 

Let's take the simpest example - "A man on a plain" - land, horizon and 
sky... The litle tree in front of us may look taller than the church 
faraway (the laws of perspective) - there's prior experience teling us 
it's not true (we know that...); but whitout prior experience clouds 
will look like flat coluds up there, allthough the foamy Cumulus are 
only 4000ft. high and the fogy Cyrus 30000ft.
If you deare to do it by night, it will be desastrous - your image will 
consist of fragments happening now and hundered thousand yers ago on 
distant suns... (not mentioning details you won't notice because of the 

To a certain extent it is normal - our senses have their limitations and 
we must live whit it as it is... aniway I have to conclude two levels of 

1.	- A phisical trim (our eyes can see a limited arrea we chose); and
- focus control in the receptioned arrea;
both under subconstient control.

2. - A mental trim (our brain will select interesting items and reject 
the rest);
- prior experience/knowledge refinement; and unfortunately
- prejudice.
This is all under dual subconstient/constient control.

All of this comes from outside - it's an otside-in perception, and now 
coms the interesting part of it.

We all play the prime part in our own plays..., so the main character 
has to be inserted in the sceen - this is already an inside-out image - 
it's ment to be iserted here and then taken out, and showed... This 
bringhs in the old dilema about WHAT WE ARE and WHAT WE WANT TO BE ( or 

Maybe here lies the fascination of the mirror - as a feed-back that 
bringhs in the immage we send out...

In this teritory our miths come to live...

We are very vulnerable here, and belive me or not, basicly false... 

I do you think the primary purpose of our cloths is protection of our 

Try to explain the function of a tye, or compare the shape of  a 
fashionable shoe with the shape of a human foot in an anatomy book... 

Try to explain why handy phones (~200$/unit) are largely sold in a 
country where the awerage income/capita is ~100$...

Now comes the video screen image - it's more agresive than the real one 
because it produces it's own light (the real one just reflects it) - and 
more than that it gives you the ilusion of reality although you've just 
lost your natural instruments of intervention. 
Trim and focus are not enymore in your hands - you are projected in an 
alpha state, when ewerything comes in with the power of "I'we seen it 
with my own eyes"... we don't even need special efects to generate this 
hymera (although largely used...).

So if you put a camcoder in somebodi's hand, the result can't be an 
objective one... sorry!

Sounds (and words) can alone generate images, but if put in conjunction 
with image, the results can be spectacular, strengthening or distorting 
the message.

In this medium, written text is ignored unless absolutely needed (e.g. 
translation), but anyway it's message will be ignored.

More than that, myths and models can be inserted this way in a brain, or 
you can emotionally take part in the actions of fiction characters... - 
the less experienced and educated, the strongest the impact is...

You can daily experience products of "masters of illusion" selling 
life-stile (or images of the self) - once captured by the screen you 
become helpless in front of the attack - you want to see the end of the 
movie, so waiting for it, messages will penetrate your brain...
(unfortunately even bad add will work).

Computer image comes with all this plus INTERACTION - this brings an 
unpleasant need of decision (and a necessary beta activity increase) - 
trim, focus and decision are back in my hands (at a constient level).

Let me believe we have here a SEED OF FUTURE...

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