Wednesday, January 09, 2008 is amazing

Many years ago when I worked as the supervisor at a satellite communications terminal in Mahe, Seychelles I spent many long hours in the terminal control center. I didn't mind because I could occupy those hours reading. Because I worked as a government contractor I had an FPO box that make it feasible to subscribe to magazines published in the US. At the time I was very interested in the possibility of divining the future and two magazines I subscribed to were "The Futurist", and "High Technology" (or perhaps Omni). I used to devour these magazines seeking visions of the future, trying to gain foreknowledge so I could capitalize on knowing where events would lead. Truth to tell this is still a large part of my psyche.

I am a little hazy on exact details, this all took place way back in the late 60s, but I vividly recall reading an article in one or the other of these magazines that explained how in the future we would all enjoy having our own personal Oracle. To pose questions to him, we would not need to go to some special grotto or anything like that. All we would have to do is fire up our personal computer and connect to our "knowledge utility". I was absolutely captivated by this futuristic notion. Naturally, the first question I was going to ask my Oracle was: what is the secret to life? And Douglas Adams notwithstanding, it is not 42. If you want to know, you'll have to ask your own Oracle, mine is dedicated to serving me alone.

Times change and we don't really talk in terms of Oracles these days. Instead you hear terms like "knowledge server". In fact, it turns out Internet resources like, Google, and Clusty are closing in on the vision of a knowledge server. These tools do more than simply point you to information. They categorize, and to some extent analyze, raw information or help you see connections you may not have thought of; and they just keep getting better and better.

If this blog ever mystifies you, please give a shot. Are you taking advantage of this service? If not, try it out. Put your cursor over a term in the text and click. See what serves up. Warning, using is addictive.