A draft outline of After Reading. Sections prefixed with a have been published at my blog and copied to this site for ongoing editing.
Part I – Books
People of the Book. I tell a personal story of growing up in the age of print, an age in which truth is told through books. Most books imply a top-down religious worldview. Books are usually written by single author, an authority to which the reader is expected to submit. The content is organized into a hierarchical table of contents through which truth is linearly revealed. We are all a people of the book.
Reader Seeker. Many read for pleasure, others for information. A few read with serious purpose. Are you a Reader Seeker? Will you follow the Way of Books unto the end? Dark matter there. Go back, find a nice beach read.
Bookface. What does knowledge look like? Is it shaped as a rectangle, a book? If you stripped away a book’s binding and splayed it across the earth, would it still be knowledge? What can you tell from a book’s cover? If a person knew truth, could you see it in her face? Why are we frightened by a machine with a face too much like a person?
Physics of Reading. Reading is not just in the brain, but a whole body experience. Reading deserves its own physics, a science of body, place, and thing.
Machine in the Ghost. The writing was on the wall the first time people drew pictures in caves. Literacy invented thought and mind and civilization. Literacy invented god and science and technology. Literacy is the root cause of humanity. With traditional literacy giving way to digital technology, what is next for humans?
Part II – The Internet
Generation Codex. Our is the last generation of print and the first of digital. It is a double space, print and digital, battling between open and closed models of knowledge.
Open Library. The original mission of the public library has succeeded, to open the minds of all. Print books are gone, ebooks have failed, but makerspaces are thriving. The next generation of library patrons are engineers.
Library University. Open Education, Open Access, Open Science. Move over university, the library is taking centre stage — an open, digital, knowledge platform for all.
Reader X. You have heard of the death of the author and the birth of the reader. With the internet, the reader is having children. Reader Writer, Reader Publisher, Reader Hacker, Reader Maker, Reader Outlaw. Children of the open web are reverse engineering humans onto the open web.
Digital Thread. How to build a better digital codex.
Part III – Machine Life
My Brain IBM. From the trenches of bare metal software development, to Deep Blue the chess computer, and Watson the artificial intelligence, I give you my first hand account of fifteen years at IBM.
Reading Machine. Computers know how to do math, now they are learning to read. Digital humanists are at the front of inventing of reading machines.
Writing Machine. Reading causes writing. It is only a matter of time before the reading machine becomes a writing machine. I layout the framework of Lila, a cognitive writing technology.
Thinking Machine. There has only ever been one goal of computer technology, the invention of artificial intelligence. Marketing aside, we still have a long way to go. We will get there.
Part IV – Dark Matter
The Rabbit Hole. Have you followed the way of books down the rabbit hole? Books can take you a long way, but they will finally brutally drop you in the dark.
Physics as Religion. Literacy forked the path, splitting body and mind. It promise escape and control, but entropy wins out every time. Language and mind and technology all fail in the end. We are left with a radical materialism that undoes the split.
The Gateless Gate. Reading is an addiction, seriously. We can change. Drop the need for escape and control, and we are free to walk through the door.
Tin Cans. Everyone knows that enlightenment is supposed to be about transcending ego, but it is a mistake to think that ego is transcended in favour or a higher self or soul. There is no higher self or soul. We are tin cans, mortal souls, individuated only by our particular location in time and space. As tin cans we are not alone.
Superpowers. Freed of the delusion we claim superpowers. The universe is constantly in motion and we know how to move with it. Anxiety was the question, play is the answer. Is there any limit after all?
Part V – Signal
After Reading. What happens after the end of books? The search is over. Rest. Understand. Your mission is about to begin.
Mission. We are tin cans. Life is abundant, so too intelligence. Behind the conviction that machines can only simulate intelligence is the truth that we can only simulate intelligence. We can build machine life.
Imprint. We will not program machine life, we will teach it. It will be our final work. What human lessons will we teach machine life?
Rapture. Reading and technology have always extended our bodies, but where were they pointing? To space. Humans are not suited for space travel but machine life is. Maybe we can join them.