Spimes, Motes and Data Centres

A few of you may have noticed recent coverage around on the blogs about Michael Osias’s 3d datacentres. Ugotrade has as usual a great write up and analysis. You may have seen the work that our friend David Orban has been doing with OpenSpime. What’s that all about I here some of you ask?
Spime is a word that Bruce Sterling created, along with Spime Wranglers(The people who control and gather information from Spimes). The Spime being a self contained small device that broadcasts all sorts of information about its surroundings. Again Ugotrade has covered this in some depth in Tish’s most recent post
For a while here in Hursley Andy Stanford-Clark has been using the term “mote” as in remote and we have shown his instrumented house replicated in Second Life. Also Dave Conway-Jones has been busy with various forms of sensors and actuators. Also in some of the public research going on here for sensor arrays of the future spime like devices are being simulated in game environments to aid in understanding what would happen if they were applied to a large area.
So it would appear that Hursley and many members of eightbar are in fact Spime Wranglers already.
This ability to instrument the world fits into the principles of mirror worlds rather than the pure escapist virtual worlds and metaverses. Being able to augment reality, or augment virtual reality requires masses of live information, so a Spime or a Mote array is fairly crucial to the whole thing. In many ways instrumenting a data centre makes the data centre an entire spime in its own right, so you can see these things are linked very closely.
The balance of a nanotech generic smart dust gathering generic information but organic patterns forming for that versus specific devices understanding the monitoring of piece of information will make for interesting wrangling decisions too.
My key interest in this at the moment is using this approach to not just monitor and report on the real world, but on multiple virtual environments. A spime can be virtual too.
Finally, as I twittered this to David. I cant get the song out of my head Spimerman, Spimerman does whatever a Spime can. So maybe the Spime wranglers are going to be the information superheros for the next generation.

11 thoughts on “Spimes, Motes and Data Centres

  1. No offense, Ian, but I have my doubts this is the case. Granted, the definition might be changing (again), but as I recall, Sterling coined the term mostly from a recycling perspective.

    If you read up on what spimes include, you’ll see mention of them containing the documentation used to build them… thus allowing them to be efficiently deconstructed (hence the frequent “cradle-to-grave” references). Spimes aren’t about broadcasting information about their surroundings; they broadcast information about themselves… sometimes that information is relevant to their surroundings (e.g. location).

    While those servers might, by happenstance, contain the blueprints for the machines, I’m doubting that once the data storage portion is wiped that the blueprints remain embedded.

    Are they?

    -

    By the way, if they *are* spimes, they might also be early kirkyans since they’ve apparently been virtualized (to some extent).

  2. Hey Ian, thanks for your great post.

    Yes, online worlds need spimes, or a spime-orientated culture, in order to understand that the objects talk to us, and we need to learn to listen better. These are manufactured objects, or natural objects. And the SpimeTalk they’ll generate, as we give a voice to them we can hear, is going to be a rather high intensity communication. Orders of magnitude more intense than twitter.

    What this means is that the machine to machine aspect of the communication is the only possible direct means of gathering this information, and we are in dire need of efficiently automating the pattern extraction functions to derive second order knowledge from the raw data. Only then humans are going to be able and act upon what a spimified world is going to tell.

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  4. @csven I may have abstracted upward a little :-) The motes and Spimes and the principles are veyr similar. We have a balance here of a generic spime saying generic things with emergent behaviour e.g. a spime saying I am hot may well be relevant in gathering surroundings. I still expect there to be custom sensors, as that is what we have a the moment. The key is to pull the information together.
    Really I was pointing out that we need these concepts in virtual worlds as much as real life. :-)
    For those of you who want to know what a kirkyan is check out Csvens rebang blog here

  5. I used the wrong word – “relevant” – above. That should be relative:

    “…sometimes that information is relative to their surroundings”

    Apologies.

    That said, I agree that from a systems perspective the environment is effectively inseparable from the object, but the original perspective was what I’d call in this instance an inverted systems approach in that the Object (and its efficient reclamation) was an inseparable issue in regards to the Environment. One’s a top-down approach. The other is a bottom-up.

    Put another way, one is corporate and one is DIY.

    Adding sensors is a difficult but relatively straight forward technical proposition (and one person I’d credit with advancing the “spime” concept long before it was coined is – last I checked – working on just such spime-like shipping containers as we speak).

    Less straight forward is the willingness of companies to encode blueprints into the objects they create and allow anyone to access them; a social issue entangled in all sorts of proprietary strings. I’ve little doubt the biggest issue facing spime-enabled shipping containers is getting accurate and honest disclosures from people trying to hide something.

    -

    Speaking of which, I downloaded the CAD files for the Openmoko cell phone yesterday. My experience suggests that another one of those proprietary strings is CAD file formats.

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  7. Yes, online worlds need spimes, or a spime-orientated culture, in order to understand that the objects talk to us, and we need to learn to listen better. These are manufactured objects, or natural objects. And the SpimeTalk they’ll generate, as we give a voice to them we can hear, is going to be a rather high intensity communication. Orders of magnitude more intense than twitter.

    What this means is that the machine to machine aspect of the communication is the only possible direct means of gathering this information, and we are in dire need of efficiently automating the pattern extraction functions to derive second order knowledge from the raw data. Only then humans are going to be able and act upon what a spimified world is going to tell.

  8. Speaking of which, I downloaded the CAD files for the Openmoko cell phone yesterday. My experience suggests that another one of those proprietary strings is CAD file formats.

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