I have to admit defeat. I’ve gotten perhaps twenty pages into the Benedikt article, “Cyberspace: Some Proposals,” and I’m utterly lost. I’m going to share some of my notes from this essay to let you know exactly where and when (and how) he lost me:
“Using decidedly low-altitude mathmatics, we will look at these [the rules and principles of cyberspace] in relation to the rules and principles of natural, physical space, and under five, essentially topological rubrics: dimensionality, continuity, curvature, density, and limits” (132).
I have to admit, he’s really starting to lose me here. He starts talking about the seven principles of physical space and cyberspace, and from what I can gather, he proposes to examine how the rules and principles of cyberspace are based on the rules and principles of physical space. I think.
“Now, any N-dimensional state of behaviour of a system can be represented in what I would like henceforth to call a data space of point-objects having n spatiotemporally locating, or extrinsic dimensions, and m intrinstic dimensions, so called because they are coded into the intrinsic character of the point-object. In sum: N=n+m” (135).
Yup. I’m lost.
Okay. Let’s see if I can make heads or tails of this.
An intrinsic quality of an object or system is something that is inherent in the object and not affected by its position in space or time, such as its weight, size, colour, etc. An extrinsic quality is what pinpoints that object or system in time and space, such as… it’s age, perhaps? Its geographic location, such as “on the desk” or “next to a tree”? Its GPS coordinates? Age. Time. Place. Okay.
And in order to understand and fully measure an object/system, we must take into consideration all the qualities, both intrinsic and extrinsic.
“Any two objects in the same data space can be said to be identical if they have the same values on the same, matching intrinsic dimensions; similar, if they have different values on the same, matching intrinsic dimensions; and different if they do not have the same same intrinsic dimensions” (136).
So… two objects are identical if they’re identical, similar if they’re similar, and different if they’re different. Okay. I can handle that.
I’m guessing that because he’s dealing with intrinsic dimensions, that extrinsic dimentions don’t affect the similarity or difference of an object. A laptop, for example, if it is identical intrinsically (i.e. in size, shape, colour, function, appearance, etc.), it can be said to be identical even if its extrinsic dimensions don’t match exactly (its age and its location). In fact, it would be literally impossible for two objects to share exact extrinsic dimensions, as then they would have to occupy the exact same space at the exact same time. Physically impossible.
I think I’m getting this. This is the Principle of Exclusion.
“The Principle of Maximal Exlcusion (PME) advises the following: Given any N-dimensional state of a phenomenon, and all the values—actual and possible—on those N dimesnions, choose as extrinsic dimensions—as “space and time”—that set of (two, three, or four) dimensions that will minimize the number of violations of the Principle of Exclusion” (139).
I’m lost again. I’ll try to make sense of this.
Nope. Still don’t get it.
So I understand the Principle of Exclusion, but his explanation of the Principle of Maximal Exclusion utterly escapes me.
Does anyone understand it? Can you enlighten me if you do? I’ve been banging my head against this for too long.