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2020-10-24 | Virus | Base Camp

I have been on a mad rush to finish up the L1G3R build sequence, as my job is in a bit of a pause. Most recently I was working on adding LibGTS so that Graphviz could route edges correctly. I was able to fix it by searching around for the error and then, once I realized that LibGTS fixed it, it was easy to add the library and recompile Graphviz (Whoa! Graphviz is so old they don't capitalize the V!).

Conda is a CI platform of some kind or another, and relies on other CI platforms. I don't really care that much. As I watch this stuff, I see it as millions of different climbing routes facilitated by just as many sets of tools all woven together, kind of like the energy being in the series The Expanse in Season 2. (BTW, episode 5 of Season 2 is up there with one of the most beautiful shows I have seen. Fabulous.) Back to the CI topic; I get the idea, I just think that this is fragile and short-sighted vs., say, a base-camp mentality.

If CI is a constant energy stream that yearns towards a goal, powered by millions of drones that work without overall understanding, then what is the base camp idea? Well... there is a lot in that paragraph that might insult, so I better explain. The idea is that CI, ironically, is individual, all of the way from choosing out the socks to the ascent. This is facilitated by protective layers. For instance, storage, networking, etc., are usually secondary in a containerized world. Additionally, upstream and downstream concerns are farmed out. An engineer only focuses on a small piece. The build chain behind is constructed automagically, and the front-end frameworks are provided on the fly from thousands of different sources and providers without needing to understand.

This sounds good, in a way. A company can bring in hordes of engineers, all working on their pieces, broken up into 1 or 2 week efforts. My big issue is that nothing is truly gained. It is all just part of the flow of energy, with a goal guided by higher powers. How is a base camp different? Well, a base camp has the purpose of facilitating various climbs of a mountain as well; however, it is utilitarian in function, and nobody changes or worries about it. You just have to get to the base camp one way or another. All interest is in ascending the peak, the goal. My issue is not about decentralized collaboration or specialization, although specialization is tricky, because it is often used to commoditize and degrade work so it can be molded towards a goal of profit vs. the needs of the weave of sytems that support the natural world. My issue is about waste and hiding real goals. My issue is about the illusion of progress brought about by isolated threads towards a common, nubulous blue light.

Let's say you are a writer. The extent of your needs haven't changed that much since 1980 as far a computers. Sure, the printers are better... there are many improvements, but if instead of following each one you just wrote using WordPerfect, or whatever it was, for as long as it was productive, it is arguable that this would be preferable to getting used to a new computer every couple of years. Your base camp doesn't need to change much over time. This brings up another point. Much of why we need constant churn (besides the economic advantage to keeping folks in a constant consume frame of mind) is because of security issues. I swear... a modern Windows 10 system uses most of its compute and storage for running virus scans and patching itself. It is easy to imagine a writer begin distracted by constantly installing software that provided various features vs. focusing on the real goal of creating ideas and writing that conveys those ideas.

With L1G3R, I'm taking a snapshot of tools in order to provide what I need to communicate and infer knowledge. I'm doing this with a variety of tools, some of which haven't really changed that much in a decade. Graphviz, for instance, goes back 20 years. I don't need a CI chain formed by millions of people and trillions of dollars and owned by large cloud companies. All I really need is some place to start. Sure, I need to bootstrap the systems needed to provision the base camp, but once I'm done, my "knowledge worker base camp" provides many tools and supplies. To move to the metaphor proper, perhaps the water dispenser for the camp is a bit musty, but it holds enough water, and you can boil it if it doesn't suit you. There are tents to sleep in, mounted on wooden platforms. There is even a medical tent to get you patched up if you need it.

Nobody really cares about downstream from the base camp. They only care about upstream, the climb, the outcome of the information technology provided. It is possible to own your own base camp and create knowledge about your business flows and needs, or write your novel, whatever your ascent might require.

True, I'm conflating working with CI and using IT solutions a bit, but this is intentional, as the streams cross with cloud. Let's put it another way, specific to L1G3R. There is enough tech with the graphing, communication, and knowledge management tools to freeze the system. If security is your concern, block all access. For that matter, this can all run on a stand-alone machine, no cloud, no network interface card.

I can feel it like sand in my mouth. I can't get it out of my head. All of the weave of six thousand years is reflected in the idea, and collapse is systemic from knowledge to industrial civilization. But the base camp idea seems like a valid way to move forward: create a base camp of knowledge tools for knowledge workers, those that actually want to improve things iteratively, anything, by simply establishing a goal, any goal besides the means to consume more. A goal of the means to consume more will always lead to gray goo eventually, not necessarily by GNR, but by our incessant optimism, short-sightedness, and laziness, as we cede all to the feed stock that runs us towards the overall goal of yet more means to consume. The head does eat the tail in the end through knowledge that fed and played out over 6,000 years under the same basic goal. Let's change the blue light goal.

"When the Power Of Love will replace the Love Of Power, then will our world know the blessings of Peace."
- William Gladstone

There is also a pragmatic perspective in this, vs. an idealist. In collapse, infrastructure is fragile. In fact, it might be a decent definition. What comes first? Having a base camp for information technology and associated knowledge work, that doesn't rely on thousands of interrelated components woven together in the cloud by millions of Borg entities, could come in handy.

Comments:
mountain_climbing base_camp

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2020-11-23: Base Camp OK