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How the Internet Makes the Improbable Into the New Normal 191

Posted by samzenpus
from the you're-not-going-to-believe-this dept.
Hugh Pickens writes "A burglar gets stuck in a chimney, a truck driver in a head on collision is thrown out the front window and lands on his feet, walks away; a wild antelope knocks a man off his bike; a candle at a wedding sets the bride's hair on fire; someone fishing off a backyard dock catches a huge man-size shark. Now Kevin Kelly writes that in former times these unlikely events would be private, known only as rumors, stories a friend of a friend told, easily doubted and not really believed but today they are on YouTube, seen by millions. 'Every minute a new impossible thing is uploaded to the internet and that improbable event becomes just one of hundreds of extraordinary events that we'll see or hear about today,' writes Kelly. 'As long as we are online — which is almost all day many days — we are illuminated by this compressed extraordinariness. It is the new normal.' But when the improbable dominates the archive to the point that it seems as if the library contains only the impossible, then the 'black swans' don't feel as improbable. 'To the uninformed, the increased prevalence of improbable events will make it easier to believe in impossible things,' concludes Kelly. 'A steady diet of coincidences makes it easy to believe they are more than just coincidences.'"
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How the Internet Makes the Improbable Into the New Normal

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday January 14, 2013 @02:01PM (#42584169)

    ... as the first post? ;-)

  • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday January 14, 2013 @02:12PM (#42584255)

    'Every minute a new impossible thing is uploaded to the internet and that improbable event becomes just one of hundreds of extraordinary events that we'll see or hear about today,'

    The principle of generating small amounts of finite improbability by simply hooking the logic circuits of a Arduinopentamillenuova-5007 Sub-Microcontroller to a Markov chain generator driven by a strong RNG [lavarnd.org] (say, a nice lava lamp and a photodetector) were of course well understood - and such generators were often used to acquire a first round of venture funding by photoshopping all the pixels in the hostess's undergarments simultaneously one foot to the left, in accordance to the theory of Rule 34.

    Many respectable developers said that they weren't going to stand for this, partly because Web 2.0 was a debasement of technology, but mostly because they didn't get hired by those sorts of startups.

    Another thing they couldn't stand was the perpetual failure they encountered while trying to construct a machine which could generate the infinite improbability field needed to propagate a meme across the bandwidth-draining distances between the farthest minds, and at the end of the day they grumpily announced that such a machine was virtually impossible.

    Then, one day, an intern who had been left to sweep up after a particularly unsuccessful startup found himself reasoning in this way: If, he thought to himself, such a machine is a virtual impossibility, it must have finite improbability. So all I have to do in order to virtualize one is to work out how exactly improbable it is, feed that figure into the finite improbability generator, give it a fresh round of really hot funding... and turn it on!

    He did this and was rather startled when he managed to create the long-sought-after golden Infinite Improbability generator. He was even more startled when just after he was awarded the Y Combinator 2013 Prize for Extreme Agility, he was lynched by a rampaging mob of respectable developers who had realized that one thing they couldn't stand was a smart-ass.

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