Design Fiction Chronicles: Cylon Hybrids "Tweet" Prophecy or Prattle

BSG Twitter Hybrid from Julian Bleecker on Vimeo.

I’ll say it although you probably know the back story here. In the re-imagining of Battlestar Galactica, “Hybrids” are the result of the early experiments to evolve the fully mechanical cylons into the more organic editions we saw in the most recent “re-imagining” of BSG. They are the ones that effectively control the giant Cylon basestars, it would seem.

Okay, besides this bit of science-fiction it occurred to me while reading/hearing the passage of “Tweets” (gah..) that the terseness of the typical Twitter message (140 characters, I believe it is) can give the messages in themselves a prophetic quality. As if there is more to be considered in the messages and one is forced, then, to consider what else there may be. Granted, this maybe the rare example, or perhaps it is also some characteristic of the receiver/listener of the messages. Nonetheless, I was immediately drawn to this correlation to the prophecy/prattle debate in the Battlestar Galactica show.

Here, a small selection of the Hybrid’s Tweets (we’ll forgive them for going beyond 140 characters..):

* Two protons expelled at each coupling site creates the mode of force, the embryo becomes a fish that we don’t enter until a plate, we’re here to experience evolve the little toe, atrophy, don’t ask me how I’ll be dead in a thousand light years, thank you, thank you. Genesis turns to its source, reduction occurs stepwise though the essence is all one. End of line. FTL system check, diagnostic functions within parameters repeats the harlequin the agony exquisite, the colors run the path of ashes, neuronal network run fifty-two percent of heat exchanger cross-collateralized with hyper-dimensional matrix, upper senses, repair ordered relay to zero zero zero zero.

* Mists of dreams drip along the nascent echo and love no more. End of line.

* The five lights of the apocalypse rising struggling towards the light, the sins revealed only to those who enter the temple only to the chosen one. The chosen one. The chosen one. The chosen one. The chosen one.

In the show there is a question as to whether what the Hybrids are saying has deep meaning, or is some reflection of things to happen — like prophecy — or if they are merely speaking random phrases for some reason — perhaps the “noise” in their systems that, rather than a shower of static is articulated as phrases from databases of information deep within their “system.”

This occurred to me with this particular project that was just dropped on the desk here. Visible Twitter reveals streams of “Tweets” (gah..again…) on one’s screen in a vaguely hypnotic pattern of words and phrases that appear and disappear according to certain transitory effects. This, together with other forms of data visualization, are meant to convey “meta” aspects of the thing in question. To reveal patterns that would only be cluttered by other forms of representation — say, just a list of Tweets (gah…) scrolling by, or seen on a web page, etc. The “raw” form as it may be understood can be massaged in various ways to obtain new levels of representation and, perhaps, insight and reflection. Like, the medieval style of rendering where one can see both the top of a table because the etcher/artist has decided to mix points-of-view, both straight on and from above.

Why do I blog this? Notes on the network effects phenomenon that arise in curious ways when the linkages between so many things/people/events/histories/present-events can be brought in front of you. Like this dispatch that can from someone I follow last night who wondered, about three minutes after an earthquake last night, why “#earthquake” did not elevate more quickly to a “trending topic” within the Twitter universe.

Are there correlations and meanings to be found simply reading and hearing the chatter on all of these channel? And, if so — who are they for?

What are the new kind of literacy to following so much stuff — feeds, streams, dispatches of all kinds?

What sorts of bitter, cranky nostalgia will arise when today’s parents, for example, lament the days when you only got email? Or complain about how it was easy back when you could just subscribe to a few New York Times RSS feeds and be done with it? What will the near future bring in terms of mechanisms for discovery and participation in the world? Will there be screens?