So long, and thanks for all...

1952-2001


"I feel that the agenda of life's important issues has moved
from novelists to science writers, because they know more."
-Douglas Adams, The Onion AV Club

"Moving something from one medium to another is very interesting -- it's a lot like carrying a picture or a piece of clothing from one bit of lighting to another. Suddenly it looks very different. What interests me a bit further down the line is the way in which the different media interrelate -- you can hand things off from one to another, you can exploit each other's strengths and weaknesses."
-Douglas Adams, Salon.com: starship trouper

[Note: If you've connected to this page from outside of this site, then you might want to at least take congnizance of the information on this page when reading the stuff here.]


[+] 26. "What does the title _The Division Bell_ refer to?"
[From a post by Chris Solnordal:]

[In England and Australia] during parliamentary sessions, if there is a disagreement about a matter then a vote must be taken. At this point, The Division Bell is rung for some time, and during that time every parliamentarian who is eligable to vote must proceed to the house. When the Division Bell stops sounding, the doors are shut and so if you're late you miss out on casting your vote.

The use of this for the title was suggested by Douglas Adams (author of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" radio show, book series, TV show, and computer game, among other things), which is why he is listed in the album's credits. Adams made the suggestion in exchange for Gilmour donating a certain sum of money (#5,000) to a charity of Adams', the Environmental Investigation Agency. Adams has also said that Gilmour asked him to fool around with the lyrics a bit, but that none of his suggestions were actually used on the album.

Douglas Adams also appeared at the October 28th Earl's Court show, playing acoustic guitar on "Brain Damage" and "Eclipse." This was Gilmour's birthday present to Adams (Adams' 42nd birthday was in March, 1994).
-quoted from the Echoes FAQ


"Dave Gilmour asked me to fiddle around with some of the lyrics, which I did, though I don't think he used any of my suggestions in the end. The only suggestion of mine that I know was used was that the album could be called 'The Division Bell'. I didn't think up the title, of course, I merely pointed out that the phrase was lying there in one of the song lyrics and would make a great title.

"In fact, there's a story there. I had given a talk at the Royal Geographical Society in aid of the Environmental Investigation Agency's work on rhino conservation. Both Dave and Nick came along and we all went out to dinner afterwards. Dave was a bit preoccupied about the title problem- they had to have the title by the following morning, and no-one could decide what it should be. I said, 'OK, I'll give you a title, but it'll cost you a £5,000 contribution to the EIA.' Dave said, 'well, tell me your title and we'll see'. So I suggested The Division Bell. And Dave said, 'hmmm, well, seems to work. Sort of fits the cover art as well. Yeah, OK'.

So, it's called the Division Bell."

-from The alt.fan.douglas-adams FAQ


"It is for those of you who now believe,..."
-Publius


"As long as we are able to formulate the parameters or variables with respect to which information we want to be fed back, there is no limit to the extent to which our society can improve its functioning by learning from the consequences of its previous performance."
-Walter A. Rosenblith, Afterword to the 1967 edition of Cybernetics and Society

"Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so."
-Douglas Adams, Last Chance to See


NEWSFLASH!

["Yeah. I think Douglas Adams...I think it really came and out of though- it came out of some guy of Washington DC, that used to be with the CIA or FBI or something that was in the encryption game."
-First interview with Marc Brickman 12/5/95

Moderator: What was it like playing guitar with Pink Floyd, and whether or not you know any 'insider information' behind the Pubilus legend?

DouglasAdams: What was it like? Well, I can see why they do it. I don'

DouglasAdams: don't know anything about the Publius thing. Whatever the truth it wasn't very interesting. The music was better.
-Douglas Adams on his new game Starship Titanic]

If you've forgotten, or if you haven't noticed, that feedback (implying interaction, participation, reciprocal communication, etc.) is what this enigma theory is all about go here.

Listen to the BBC Radio 4 broadcast of The Internet: the last battleground of the twentieth century, presented by Douglas Adams, (listed in TDB credits) and hear Douglas express towards the end of Programme I his "own little speculative vision", which is "best described by analogy". The analogy, of course, is totally cybernetic, involving piloting a plane, thermostats, and revolves around the concept of "feedback loops". (the essence of cybernetics) Adams concludes that "My belief, perhaps I should say my hope, is that the speed of response will reintroduce us to that from which our political systems have separated us for so long, i.e. the consequences (outputs) of our own actions (inputs). Feedback loops will be the foundation of an entirely new form of electronic democracy."

But wait! There's more--much more!...

How do you see the Internet changing your world?

"Tight feedback loops. As a novel writer I’m used to feedback loops of about a year. As we at The Digital Village start to produce interactive content for the web, I’ll be able to respond to feedback loops measured in minutes. Feedback loops are the most powerful process we know of, being responsible for everything from guitar howlround to the evolution of life. As their power begins to invade all of the electronic transactions of our lives, the effect will be, I’m convinced, as fundamental as the invention of printing, broadcasting, and telephony."
-Douglas Adams, AppleMasters

...

"'One of the most powerful forces in nature is about to come into view in the online medium: the feedback loop - where the input stage of one iteration is the output stage of another iteration,' Adams says. 'Feedback loops are what drive evolution...'"
-Fast Company, The Hitchhikers Guide to the New Economy

...

"He establishes points that are so fundamental, most people will probably have not even stopped to consider them.
Interactive may be a term severely lampooned by those sick of e-this and e-that hype.
But 'interactive' makes for individual empowerment. Where the telephone is one-to-one communication and newspapers and television are one-to-many, the Internet is many-to-many."

Growing through evolution

"The Net is like the British constitution, not set in stone but constantly evolving. And while feedback through the polling booth is a slow, grinding process, the Internet allows for immediate reaction with what Adams calls feedback loops."
-UK Hitch-hiker's guide to the Internet

...

Also check out www.douglasadams.com and locate the Articles by DNA section...

"This subjective view plays odd tricks on us, of course. For instance, ‘interactivity’ is one of those neologisms that Mr Humphrys likes to dangle between a pair of verbal tweezers, but the reason we suddenly need such a word is that during this century we have for the first time been dominated by non-interactive forms of entertainment: cinema, radio, recorded music and television. Before they came along all entertainment was interactive: theatre, music, sport – the performers and audience were there together, and even a respectfully silent audience exerted a powerful shaping presence on the unfolding of whatever drama they were there for. We didn’t need a special word for interactivity in the same way that we don’t (yet) need a special word for people with only one head."

"Working out the social politics of who you can trust and why is, quite literally, what a very large part of our brain has evolved to do. For some batty reason we turn off this natural scepticism when we see things in any medium which require a lot of work or resources to work in, or in which we can’t easily answer back – like newspapers, television or granite. Hence ‘carved in stone.’"

[Trust, skepticism, resources, work, answer back]

"Interactivity. Many-to-many communications. Pervasive networking. These are cumbersome new terms for elements in our lives so fundamental that, before we lost them, we didn’t even know to have names for them."
-How to Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Internet, from The Sunday Times on August 29th 1999

...

[Wiener and Bigelow looked more closely at other servomechanisms, including self-steering mechanisms as simple as thermostats, and concluded that feedback is the concept that connects the way brains, automatic artillery, steam engines, autopilots, and thermostats perform their functions.
-Howard Rheingold, Tools for Thought

...

"This was the original premise of purposive systems as expounded by Norbert Wiener and Julian Bigelow in 1943: intelligent behavior evolves as a consequence of the ability to measure and keep account of the effects of a given signal through feedback loops that return a message signifying the magnitude of the result. These principles are common to automatic anti-aircraft guns firing at a moving target, neurons seeking to make the right connections inside the brain, laboratory animals facing a maze, corporations facing a free-market economy, or any other situation where it is possible to place a value on an objective at which to aim."
-George B. Dyson, Darwin among the Machines

...

"The result of Wiener's book (Cybernetics) was that the notion of feedback penetrated almost every aspect of technical culture. Though the central concept was both old and commonplace in specialized circumstances, Wiener gave the idea legs by generalizing the effect into a universal principle..."
-Kevin Kelly, Out of Control.

...

"Wiener saw feedback as far more than a clever mechanical trick; he regarded it as an essential characteristic of mind and of life... Wiener was claiming nothing less than that, in perfecting feedback and the means of rapid data manipulation, the science of cybernetics was gaining a deeper understanding of life itself as being, at its core, the processing of information."
-Theodore Roszak, The Cult of Information]

...

"It is the thesis of this book that society can only be understood through a study of the messages and the communication facilities which belong to it; and that in the future development of these messages and communication facilities, messages between man and machines, between machines and man, and between machine and machine, are destined to play an ever increasing part."
-Norbert Wiener, Cybernetics and Society (1954)

And things just continue falling into place...

"I have always understood that the Internet was founded on the precepts of respecting other community members..." -Publius

...

"At the same time as McCarthy was proposing a new form of computing, -- i.e. time-sharing and interactive computing -- another computer pioneer, J.C.R. Licklider, who would play an important role in the developing computer revolution, was working on a paper exploring the concept of human-computer interaction that Norbert Wiener had stressed was so crucial."
-Ronda Hauben, Cybernetics, Time-sharing, Human-Computer Symbiosis and On-line Communities Creating a Supercommunity of On-Line Communities

...

"In a few years, men will be able to communicate more effectively through a machine than face to face. That is a rather startling thing to say, but it is our conclusion... And we believe that we are entering a technological age in which we will be able to interact with the richness of living information--not merely in the passive way that we have become accustomed to using books and libraries, but as active participants in an ongoing process, bringing something to it through our interaction with it, and not simply receiving something from it by our connection to it."
-The Computer as a Communication Device, J.C.R. Licklider and Robert Taylor (1968)

It says:

The image is from The Computer as a Communication Device. (pdf)

...

"The dominant communications media do not respond directly to feedback from their audiences, do not deliver what the audience wants or needs at the moment when the audience wants or needs it -- in short, they are not interactive. They are also basically discrete; if they complement one another, it is accidental, and more often they merely duplicate one another's information. There is no way for the audience easily to call up and compare media sources; people are bombarded with messages and find themselves unable to sort, store, and evaluate them effectively. Cybermedia would be a medium that responded to its audience. It would deliver useful information in reply to the messages it received from that audience."
-Wiener (as in Norbert Wiener) Ideas

To see how fun and absurd the enigma looks (not much unlike the Hitchhiker's Guide) in light of the concept of feedback and all that that implies see here.


Now check out:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Future.


["Let Douglas Adams give you a steer...
Can computers dominate man, or will we always retain ultimate control?"]

Don't miss the Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy web project.
(very enigma-esque)

Also of interest might be Sirius Cybernetics Corporation.
"A bunch of mindless jerks who will be the first against the wall when the revolution comes."

[keywords: cyberspace, Xanadu, Kubla Khan, Dirk Gently, Doctor Who, time-machine]

Recall the beginning of the Pulse video and think:
A pleasure dome for the digital dreamer?

Hyperland?

The Internet?


NEWSFLASH! DNA At Digital Biota2

"The assembled crew included, amongst other equally smart people, the biologist Richard Dawkins, the 'father' of the Artificial Life field Chris Langton, and the novelist Douglas Adams. Complementing this eclectic trio were other writers, founder A-lifers, AI researchers and virtual world experts, to name but a few."

"It wasn’t my intention to start a whole new field-that would demand a great deal more scientific foundation than I am able to offer... However, I did want to suggest a shift of viewpoint, to a more 'cybernetic', systems approach to Biology, AI and life in general. To cut a long story very short, I wanted to suggest that it was time for us to throw off the shackles imposed by three hundred years of highly successful Newtonian thought."

"When the universe is viewed as a set of inter-related phenomena, whose continued existence can be explained in terms of various forms of self-maintenance through feedback, we see a small set of common building blocks turning up time and time again. The way a cloud persists, the way an intelligent organism exploits its ability to predict future events, the way societies form and reform, all involve the same basic operators, albeit arranged in different ways and instantiated in different structures. A synapse, an enzyme reaction, a transistor and an import tax are all examples of the same thing-a modulator. This is just a re-statement of the principles of Cybernetics, as formulated by Weiner."
-Steve Grand, Of Mountains and Molehills

"So we come to the third age of sand. In the third age of sand we discover something else we can make out of sand—silicon. We make the silicon chip—and suddenly, what opens up to us is a Universe not of fundamental particles and fundamental forces, but of the things that were missing in that picture that told us how they work; what the silicon chip revealed to us was the process. The silicon chip enables us to do mathematics tremendously fast, to model the, as it turns out, very very simple processes that are analogous to life in terms of their simplicity; iteration, looping, branching, the feedback loop which lies at the heart of everything you do on a computer and at the heart of everything that happens in evolution—that is, the output stage of one generation becomes the input stage of the next. Suddenly we have a working model, not for a while because early machines are terribly slow and clunky, but gradually we accumulate a working model of this thing that previously we could only guess at or deduce—and you had to be a pretty sharp and a pretty clear thinker even to divine it happening when it was far from obvious and indeed counter-intuitive, particularly to as proud a species as we."
-Douglas Adams, Is there an Artificial God?
[Speech at Digital Biota 2, Cambridge U.K. - September 1998]

NEWSFLASH! III

Old news rediscovered here

Publius wrote:
"Though the newsgroup discourse is generally moving in a positive direction, examine in particular the posts of Matt Denault, mcginni, John Take and Evan Coyne Maloney for helpful clues. Well done people!"

Evan Coyne Maloney wrote:
"First of all, has anyone wondered if Publius could be Douglas Adams??? He certainly has the band connection and the internet connection. And, as a writer, would certainly be interested in the meanings of things. Hell, Gilmour's letting him play guitar, why wouldn't he allow '[Enigma] Publius' to be spelled out in lights."

John Take wrote:
"Is it possible that Douglas Adams (who we know is familiar with Usenet, etc..., alerted Pink Floyd to alt.music.pink-floyd, thus leading to the >>>>>MESSAGE thread? It's possible..."

On the enigma DNA wrote:
"You have to remember that rock musicians, however talented, are just a bunch of human beings playing guitars, like novelists are a just a bunch of people who stare blearily at a word processor in the morning and maybe trying to think of something that's a bit funny without being embarrassingly stupid. All this secret message stuff is just blah..."




The Messages

By Douglas Adams, possibly

The Division Bell

Spearheaded by David Gilmour



The Solution: 42


Just a thought.

Decide for yourself.



Publius Enigma: The Final Message