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?
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Patron Identification Protocols

Thursday February 26, 19:20:10

Thursday February 26, 19:46:47

In a busy, bustling hipster bar called The Alibi Room in Culver City California, you’ll get a magician-sized playing card to identify you as the party who ordered two flights of spicy pork korean BBQ tacos, fries and a couple of pints of girlie beer. (That’s the same bar that was once much rougher, less hip, where you could get a shot and a beer at best, and perhaps a punch in the nose if you weren’t careful, or weren’t from around the neighborhood.)

The ordering protocols in these circumstances provide opportunities to catch the eye of a barmaid, who seems to be perpetually ignoring only me. Somehow the King of Clubs gets attached to our order, sort of, and the drinks-and-food delivery girl sorts out finding our party, outside on the deck under cover of overhead heating grills.

Saturday February 21, 22:53:37


The same food at another similarly-hip-but-once-rough-and-tumble bar called The Brig in Venice Beach California, you simply queue up at the korean BBQ taco truck that sits in the parking lot some nights. The circumstances of this either provides an invitation for you to get something spicy to eat and cool-down with an overpriced pint in the bar, or get wobbily at the bar and convince yourself you need something to eat to absorb all the booze.

Other situations provide a more tacit association between you and your food. You’ll get a numerical ambiguous (unless you’re cleverer than I) placard at this quick-food sandwich-and-coffee joint near the studio. Most fast-food joints will give you a receipt with a number.

Parenthetically, suggestive advancements are presented by the not-super-rocket-science-y announcement mechanic of Kogi BBQ, the taco truck referred to herein. They send out Twitter announcements (I still can’t really bring myself to say “tweets” — gaahh! Guess I just did..) as to their location. I’m guessing there are either two or three trucks, as they are often simultaneously on the east side in the Silverlake area, and on the west side, Culver City and Venice Beach with recent spottings at Santa Monica City College.

Why do I blog this? Observations about protocols and mechanisms to get people together with their food as experience in the last week or so. Will it happen, as our communications channels evolve, that rather than laminated cardboard placards we ourselves get messages that our “food is ready!” via something like Twitter, if not Twitter itself? Are their degrees of “ubiquity” for communications channels that would allow this to be something reasonable to expect patrons to have such a channel? *Shrug*
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