7 Costless Switching
The Logic of the Switch
Switch and switching defined
Switching as computation and logic: on/off becomes
zero/one - numbers
yes/no - choice among options
if/then - rules and procedures
Switching as data routing: connectivity, the possibility of interaction,
regulation distributed in geography
Switching as buffering: regulation distributed in time
Source of dilemmas
The precipitous fall of the cost of switching has created new dilemmas
High capacity and ubiquity of information sources mean you can't keep the
The "Information Age" is not the presence of PCs but the diversity
of perspectives forced upon the society (e.g., Soviet Union, China).
Conflicting views and values impinge on the individual citizen.
Reconciliation of diverse perspectives requires personal responsibility
and the acknowledgment of subjectivity.
Deluge of data and information in society leads to vastly increased capability
for change, accompanied by vastly increased complexity.
Capacities for information complexity and change are increasing at a rate
far higher than individuals can handle.
Source of solutions
The same technology that creates dilemmas is the source of solutions:
the costless switch provides the means to handle complexity with complexity.
Costs of computing: cheaper, faster, better
Metaphor of the telephone network: explosive growth, natural evolution,
parallels to computing in that cost of switches has fallen, cost of wires
far less so
Natural evolution of the switching network to "geodesic network"
as function of its "structure in use"
The new "highways" of vast interconnectedness, meaning vast potential
for new interactions (points of contact, sharing of data and information,
Some innovations that arise from the evolution and innovation in switching
Sharing of computing resources across networks
Neural nets: avoid trap of pre-description and pre-analysis, and become
responsive "in the world"
From mainframes to timesharing to PCs and back again in a new computing
paradigm: massive parallelism
New "computational" modelling:
on/off becomes fuzzy or probabilistic
modal or multi-valued logics of relational, contextual meaning
computing "artificial life" and autonomous systems
solving the "3-body logic" problem
New descriptive models:
theory of nets and limita-tions of connectedness
breaking of social barriers
changing habits of work