I think the web is a big boring mistake, and here are my baby steps to rectify it and save humanity."One wrapper to rule them all."
"Mr. M. Frydman, an engineer, remarked on the subject of Grace, 'A salt doll diving into the sea will not be protected by a waterproof coat.' It was a very happy simile and was applauded as such. Maharshi added, 'The body is the waterproof coat.'" -- Talks With Sri Ramana Maharshi
Identity is the artificial flower on the compost heap of time. -- Louis Menand, "Listening to Bourbon"
What are you, at your core? Awareness is a key part, one that we share with many animals, and can feel when looking into a dog's eyes. I am working on creating that feeling of awareness with photos, so that you can look into the eye of the computer screen and feel something responding to you. To do this, Phobrain uses a new type of downloaded brain, in the form of neural nets trained on identified photo associations, and adds variation in response to your mouse movement and (offline for now) a DNA dynamics simulation to give it a sort of tin man's heart.
How does it work? You look at two photos, and compare and contrast the pair and the previous pair. Then you draw a line of dots on the pair, and this is used to select the next pair. I find that if I give some attention to drawing, like tracing something in a photo, I see more in the next pair, and often feel like it has answered me, even though I know that it has no such understanding. Beyond comparing and contrasting, Phobrain is designed to explore how we identify living beings and classify them, as a step toward being seen as fully alive.
How is the line of dots used? The drawn line is used like cookies for choosing online ads — replacing personal data (gathered with a commercial intent) with a 'motion vector' inspired by dance and molecular simulation, using the distance between first and last dot divided by the length of the line and similar numbers rolled into an arbitrary formula that one might learn in some way, like skipping a stone on a pond. The 'pond' of Phobrain is a multidimensional mental landscape I have created by training neural nets on my favorite pair choices (over 1M pairs). Mapping your action to this landscape in a unique way puts Phobrain in the moment with you, an initial step toward feeling alive. The base algorithm is a weighted-random auction process.
Clicking in the grey area just above the photos chooses a pair of unseen photos at random.
Screens. The screens show either portrait-oriented or landscape-oriented pairs. The landscape pairs can be either side-by-side or stacked. Side-by-side landscapes are recommended if a wide screen is available.
Search Modes. Several options for choosing the next pair appear below the photos, some depending on whether AI or Golden Angle is chosen:
+ gives color similarity (using one of 10 algorithms). - gives color opposite. c chooses curated pairs. The purple options, Σ1 Σ1 Σ3 Σ4 Σ5 ΣΣ Σ𝓍 , apply various combinations of neural networks. The grey numbered options, 2 3 8 27 32K, apply the Golden Angle in spaces of the numbered dimensions. | chooses a pair completely at random. + chooses a match based on descriptions using keywords. In Search Mode, clicking on a photo results in a match to its neighbor (rather than replacing the pair), depending on whether you click on a corner (4 different color matching algorithms) or the center (keyword matching).
Clicking in the grey area next to the options, to the left of the yellow + or to the right of the green +, will cause any keywords shared by the photos, or color-matching algorithm used to choose them, to appear to the right of the options, for as long as the mouse button is held down. Clicking in the grey area next to a photo toggles it with the one that was there before. Clicking below the photos, in the grey area just above the options, toggles both photos with the non-showing pair. Holding this area down for a second restores the most recent pair.
The keywords used by the + option allow some storytelling, like a psychic crossword, or a therapist analyzing dreams. The common features could be people, things, colors, shapes, textures: whatever we think would make the most obvious and interesting connections as you hold both pictures in your mind. (Again, you can see the keywords that matched by clicking and holding the mouse next to the options.) The keywords for the features are scripted and discussed like characters in Sesame Street, merging points of view to create a hybrid 'brain'. Each photo is like a brain cell, connected to other photos by keywords they have in common. You explore this 'brain' when you use the + option.
Don't worry if you don't see any similarities at first — it's not perfect — but if you keep at it, you will start to see themes that last over a few pictures, then more will start making sense — it's like learning a language you find you already know. You can use another option to change the subject when you get tired of a theme, then return to + if you see something you want to pursue.
Looking at the photo on the left above, we might describe it with the words "woman hand phone face blue". If I click on + for it. I expect to see another picture with at least one of these features, but will blue-ness jump out for me on the next photo? As you go from picture to picture, it is a little like a crossword puzzle, matching up words instead of letters.
Now consider the photo on the right above: it is outdoors not indoors, in public not in private, the background has classic geometry, the real person in it is a boy and not a woman, and the color that jumps out is red instead of blue. On the other hand, there are two males in each picture, and there are representations of people (picture on phone, and statue). Perhaps the most interesting similarity between the two photos is that there is an interaction between a person (or people) and a representation of a person in each. This site can help build up your analytical abilities, although it does not do such a complicated analysis itself, and would be unlikely (we hope) to join these two pictures when the + option is used.
Like when learning a language, you can enjoy the view and watch for patterns to emerge.
Sessions: Each browser creates its own session, which should keep you from seeing any repeats of pictures within a given View.
The dog's eyes: My goal is to make the site smart enough so that it seems alive, like the feeling you get when looking into a dog's eyes. The fading image when you enter the slideshow is a gesture toward that goal. More concretely, a live molecular dynamics simulation is used as a sort of heart: it is affected by clicks on the slideshow page, and in turn affects the next picture you see; and it gives a continuing life to the site.
Can you make it browsable? I don't plan to add any kind of browsability like other excellent sites have. Can we upload pictures? I plan to add the ability to upload photos to the site.
Will it be available in vape pen factor? Can pets view it safely? Product plans are extensive but tightly-held in my secret postings as phobrain on reddit. This is all-new technology folks, so only exposure to guinea pigs is advised at this time.
Theory: (This describes the original, single-photo version.) A picture can tell a story that stands on its own and burns itself into your memory. Put two pictures together in sequence, and the 'picture' now exists in your memory as much as in your eye. The story becomes what is common to the pictures, and this competes for your attention with the other details. You may struggle to find a story and give up. My theory is that if you can find a story more often, you will become more engaged. According to a New York Times blog:
Japanese researchers found that dogs who trained a long gaze on their owners had elevated levels of oxytocin, a hormone produced in the brain that is associated with nurturing and attachment, similar to the feel-good feedback that bolsters bonding between parent and child. After receiving those long gazes, the owners' levels of oxytocin increased, too.
A more nuanced story about oxytocin from Wikipedia.
Phobrain is intended to cultivate multidimensional thinking and curiosity, with a hope of helping humanity acquire the sense to switch from the material growth mode necessary to survival in the past, to an externally more static phase where growth is internal, necessary for the survival of civilization perhaps. Another way of looking at it is as a fidget spinner virus to inoculate against closing one's mind.
Related media and software
Articles and threads
*Enter*<——— oOo ———>
Listen, a woman with a bulldozer built this house of now
Carving away the mountain, whose name is your childhood home
We were trying to buy it, buy it, buy it, someone was found killed
There all bones, bones, dry bones
Earth water fire and air
Met together in a garden fair
Put in a basket bound with skin
If you answer this riddle
If you answer this riddle, you'll never begin
— Robin Williamson, Koeeoaddi There
In tribute to Lucy Reynolds, teacher of Graham technique and breeder of dogs.