Seeing the Unseen

When I come home from my journeys abroad, I like to render all the layers visible, and spend a while just watching the world.

We are used to all things coming wrapped in information.  People are ringed by their p-tags – identity, claims of affiliation, reputation haloes shining or shadowy, current persona and embodiment, lifelog privacy status, projected-integrity mind-models, a dozen sopholinks to their personal memeweaves, socialgroups, game avatars.  The air is full of the sparkles of the public annotation and contract channels; a thousand thousand microblogs and notes and pictures and geolinks, and small deals and favors for the taking.  Facades from buildings to clothing are dressed up in augmented-reality shimmers.  Alternate views from dozens of cameras and sensors are yours for the asking.  Advertisements rewrite themselves to your preferences.

Almost every object around us self-knows, announcing what it is, whose it is, what it’s for, how to use it, of what it is made.  Roads know where they lead, and what is to be found along the way.  Books know the stories they tell, people’s opinions of them, offer copies of themselves to guest readers.  Paper can read itself, money can count itself.  Glasses know what drink they contain, and when they need refilling.  Food declares its suitability for your species, its contents, its freshness.  Every box can enumerate its contents – at least to its owner.  And even those objects that do not know themselves are still known; any interface worth its price can tag every passing plant with its species and uses, name all the stars in the sky, or paint the air itself with its pressure, temperature, constituents…  Even the dataweave below all this shows itself to the watching eye; its linkages glowing from infra to ultra with traffic from cell to cell, themselves surrounded with transparent wireless haloes.

It’s quite the light show.

We ignore most of it, of course.  You could drown in all the information the ‘weave shouts at you every moment of every day, however enhanced your mind.  But it’s always there, always available.  You always know that you can know.

Like air, like energy, like a handy cornucopia – you only miss it when it’s gone.

– from “Walking the Worlds”, Silvis Kelmaren’s travel blog