Category Archives: Notes

Digital Ipseity: Which Identity?

 

Within the next three years, more than seven billion people and businesses will be connected to the Internet. During this time of dramatic increases in access to the Internet, networks have seen an interesting proliferation of systems for digital identity management (i.e. our SPID in Italy). But what is really meant by “digital identity“? All these systems are implemented in order to have the utmost certainty that the data entered by the subscriber (address, name, birth, telephone, email, etc.) is directly coincident with that of the physical person. In other words, data are certified to be “identical” to those of the user; there is a perfect overlap between the digital page and the authentic user certificate: an “idem“, that is, an identity.

This identity is our personal records reflected on the net, nothing more than that. Obviously, this data needs to be appropriately protected from malicious attacks by means of strict privacy rules, as it contains so-called “sensitive” information, but this data itself is not sufficiently interesting for the commercial market, except for statistical purposes on homogeneous population groups. What may be a real goldmine for the “web company” is another type of information: user’s ipseity. It is important to immediately remove the strong semantic ambiguity that weighs on the notion of identity. There are two distinct meanings…

<Read More…[by Fabio Marzocca]>

Creativity Draws on the Deep Well of the Past

 


Octagonal Well in the Cloister of Giuliano da Sangallo, Faculty of Engineering,
Via Eudossiana, Rome

In the tetralogy “Joseph and His Brothers“, Thomas Mann states, “Deep is the well of the past...”. Sometimes this well is bottomless and it may appear far away and passed, yet all of our actions and everyday decisions come to life by its contents. It is the fundamental substrate, the raw material from which to draw the basic connections of our creativity.

The image of the well, used by Thomas Mann, is very significant. In symbolism, the well is the place where you take contact with the deep self and where to get water that gives life. The ancient times remind us of the socializing role of the well, invested with an aura of sacredness, where sharing with others took place. It was…

<Read More…[by Fabio Marzocca]>

The new professionals of the interconnected world

interdisciplinary-learningThere is an empty chair at the conference table of business professionals, a not assigned place that increasingly demands for the presence of a new type of integration manager. The demands for an ever-increasing specialization, imposed by the modern world, are bringing out with great emphasis the need for an interdisciplinary professional who understands the demands of specialists and who is able to coordinate and to link actions and decisions. This need, often still ignored, is a direct result of the growing complexity of the modern world and the fast communications inside the network.

Complexity” is undoubtedly the most suitable paradigm to characterize the historical and social model of today’s world, in which the interactions and connections between the various areas now form an inextricable network of relations. Since the ’60s and’ 70s a large group of scholars – including the chemist Ilya Prigogine and the physicist Murray Gell-Mann – began to study what would become a true Science of Complexity.

Yet this is not an entirely new concept: the term means “composed of several parts connected to each other and dependent on each other“, exactly as reality, nature, society, and the environment around us. A “complex” mode of thought integrates and considers all contexts, interconnections, interrelationships between the different realities as part of the vision.

What is professionalism? And who are professionals? What can define a professional? <…>

<Read More…[by Fabio Marzocca]>

The logical contradictions of the Universe

Ouroboros

Ouroboros

Is Erwin Schrödinger’s wave function – which did in the atomic and subatomic world an operation altogether similar to the one performed by Newton in the macroscopic world – an objective reality or just a subjective knowledge? Physicists, philosophers and epistemologist have debated at length on this matter. In 1960, theoretical physicist Eugene Wigner has proposed that the observer’s consciousness is the dividing line that triggers the collapse of the wave function[1], and this theory was later taken up and developed in recent years. “The rules of quantum mechanics are correct but there is only one system which may be treated with quantum mechanics, namely the entire material world. There exist external observers which cannot be treated within quantum mechanics, namely human (and perhaps animal) minds, which perform measurements on the brain causing wave function collapse[2].

The English mathematical physicist and philosopher of science Roger Penrose developed the hypothesis called Orch-OR (Orchestrated objective reduction) according to which consciousness originates from processes within neurons, rather than from the connections between neurons (the conventional view). The mechanism is believed to be a quantum physical process called objective reduction which is orchestrated by the molecular structures of the microtubules of brain cells (which constitute the cytoskeleton of the cells themselves). Together with the physician Stuart Hameroff, Penrose has suggested a direct relationship between the quantum vibrations of microtubules and the formation of consciousness.

<Read More…[by Fabio Marzocca]>

Emptiness and Form

 

Being_ParmenidesIn the perennial search of the meaning of life and the fundamental laws that govern nature, man was always faced – for millennia – with the mysterious concept of emptiness. What is emptiness? Does it really exist in nature? Is emptiness the non-being, as theorized by Parmenides?

Until the early years of the last century, technology had not yet been able to equip scientists with the necessary tools to investigate the innermost structure of matter, so the concept of emptiness was always faced with insights and metaphors that led, over the centuries, to a broad philosophical debate.

For the ancient atomist Greek philosophers, the existence of emptiness was not only possible but had become a necessity, becoming the ontological principle for the existence of being: for them, actually, the emptiness that permeates the atoms is what allows movement.

<Read More…[by Fabio Marzocca]>

The Breath of Time

 

For centuries man has hunted, he brought the animals to pasture, cultivated fields and sailed the seas without any kind of tool to measure time. Back then, the time was not measured, but only estimated with vague approximation and its pace was enough to dictate the steps of the day and the life of man. Subsequently, for many centuries, hourglasses accompanied the civilization with the slow flow of their sand grains. About hourglasses, Ernst Junger writes in “Das Sanduhrbuch – 1954” (no English translation): “This small mountain, formed by all the moments lost that fell on each other, it could be understood as a comforting sign that the time disappears but does not fade. It grows in depth”.

For the philosophers of ancient Greece, the time was just a way to measure how things move in everyday life and in any case there was a clear distinction between “quantitative” time (Kronos) and “qualitative” time (Kairòs). According to Parmenides, time is guise, because its existence…

<Read More…[by Fabio Marzocca]>

The poetic code

 

As well as the simple reading of a musical score is sufficient to an experienced musician to recognize the most velvety harmonic variations of an orchestral piece, so the apparent coldness of a fragment of program code can stimulate emotions of ecstatic contemplation in the developer.

Don’t be misled by the simplicity of the laconic definition of the code as a sequence of instructions to be given to a computer to solve a specific problem. Generally, a problem has multiple solutions, the most simple and fast to implement, the most economical from the point of view of machine cycles or memory, the elegant solution and the makeshift one.

However, there is always a “poetic” solution, the one that has a particular and unusual beauty and that is always generated by the inexhaustible forge of the human intuition….

[Read More…]

Quantum reflections of a winter evening

 

A problem of interpretation?

December 14th, 1900 is known as the date of birth of quantum physics. In fact, that day Max Planck presented his report to the German Physical Society in Berlin, in which he argued that the exchange of energy in the phenomena of emission and absorption of electromagnetic radiation occurs in discrete form, not in continuous form as claimed by electromagnetic classic theory.

It was like opening a door to a new universe, that of subatomic particles. In a few decades it was learned that the basis of the strength of the real world around us (people, objects, plants, animals, etc.) is a joyful swarm of tiny particles distributed in clouds of probability, essentially surrounded by empty space. A shocking and apparently incomprehensible reality for the man of the ‘900: how could that still solid rock actually contain billions of microscopic “objects” in motion?

With the passing of the years, the road was covered deeper and deeper, revealing ever smaller particles for which new unknown names were coined: Leptons, Gluons, Quarks, Neutrinos, Fermions, Bosons, and so on until…

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OpenStack: a .deb guy on (the) board

 

The elections for the new OpenStack board are coming closer
and this time the Open Source community has a great
opportunity of representation: Giuseppe Paternò is standing as a candidate for the board.

Although Giuseppe is considered by HP and Forrester Research
among the top talented consultants in the world,
Gippa (as he’s largely known in the industry) is still “one of us”,
a “nerd” that grew up with a keyboard on his hands.
As he’s one of the candidates of the OpenStack board,
Fabio Marzocca – wishing to know more – has interviewed him.

[FM] The hard question. You’re a techie. Why the hell are you running for the board?

[GP] This is indeed a good question ☺ It all started as a challenge from some clients and friends that are working in the OpenStack project. The truth is that the board and most of the management of the foundation are from vendors. I’m not questioning here if they do a good job or not, it is very likely that they tend to protect their own interests. In my opinion it lacks some “community spirit” that have fostered Linux development such as Debian and Ubuntu. That’s why I’m running for it, to bring the community where it should be.

[FM] Back to Debian and Ubuntu, could you tell us your story with Linux?

[GP] I discovered Linux in 1994, but only in 1996 things were serious. By the time I just finished high school and I applied for a job in a local Internet Service Provider. At 15 years I was well known in the local community as I was installing and maintaining several BBSes, so it wasn’t hard to get the job. I can say it was love at first sight. I started with Slackware (was the first distro), but I moved into redhat first and then debian. When I was working for the IBM Linux Technology Center, I was in charge of helping porting Linux to PowerPC and backporting LVM to make it similar to AIX. Sun was also a good playground as they acquired Cobalt, a hardware appliance based on debian. Then I shifted more towards Enterprise Linux adoption with 6 years in RedHat and then I went to Canonical. I was happy to go back to Debian and Ubuntu community, because I still believe that Ubuntu Developer Summits (UDS) were the real spirit of a Linux community.

[FM] Another hard question. We know you’re somehow involved in the “rebellion” of Devuan.org. What is your opinion about systemd?

[GP] Let me tell you that it’s not totally black/white and let’s see the two sides here. Something like systemd was indeed needed. Each distro has its own way of init’ing the system and for a package maintainer or commercial software maker, maintaining different init behaviour is insane. And as an init replacement it totally makes sense. However, IMHO systemd went too far away, incorporating into its code something that should not happen. A DHCP client into an init system, seriously? I doubt it was in the spirit of the Unix and Linux system…
However, in the real world of “pets vs cattle”, where application matters more than systems, having a systemd as it is, doesn’t change that much.

[FM] OpenStack was incubated in Ubuntu and the roots are quite clear. Is there something else that you would like to see from Debian and Ubuntu in OpenStack?

[GP] Stability, if I can name just one. Currently OpenStack is released every 6 months, which was probably the best choice to speed up the development. However, this is now becoming a weakness, as enterprise customers can’t upgrade their critical infrastructures every 6 months. Traditionally Debian is “maniacally” focused on given a bullet-proof distribution, this is something that in my opinion is missing from OpenStack.

[FM] Gippa, tell us just 2 or 3 topics you will bring to action in case of election

[GP] I’d like to introduce an OpenStack “LTS” process, following the Ubuntu approach: while releasing every 6 months is fair enough for development and testing environments, having a stable release every 2-3 years can give enterprise customers the peace of mind they need while running production environments.
I’d also love to see a consolidation of the core (Nova/Neutron/Cinder/Swift): vendors and developers are introducing new features and projects while I’d love to see –for example- a more stable and scalable Neutron and a more stable connection to Oslo (in particular rabbitmq).
In general, I would encourage more attention to who is actually deploying, integrating and using OpenStack every day. I would also try to foster the ecosystem of ISVs in order to release and certify their software for OpenStack. And – last but not least- to see interoperation between “regional” datacenters: I dream of a world where companies in a given territory can “work together”, and this is only possible through standards. I hope that OpenStack can represent this standard.

[FM] When are the elections and how can we vote?

[GP] Individual Member Director elections for the 2016 Board will be held online from Monday January 11, 2016 to Friday January 15, 2016. More informations on the website.

Pallinux: Olly Olly Oxen Free!

 

Pallinux: Artwork by Fabio "Pixel" Colinelli

Pallinux: Artwork by Fabio “Pixel” Colinelli

In a world far away, in the dark Land of Digitos only populated by machines and computers, the evil Mister Woo was ruling over all. Over time, this terrible dictator was becoming a horrendous fire-eyed giant, walking the whole day by vibrating the heavy steps into his Kingdom, leaving behind him a trail of smoke and terror. Mr. Woo always wore a long, shabby and dirty top hat that had once been white, so old and ragged that he could not even keep it up straight on his head.

Throughout the Land of Digitos, the inhabitants – computers – were scattered, each…

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