else evolve non-linear search engines that help us to practise deeper critical thinking, explore divergent thinking, and navigate post-truth uncertainty.



trail else in prototype -
socrates.else.is



MODES OF THINKING 0-54
else speculative models
for commercial use;  
for political / journalistic / investigative use;  
for creative / strategic use;  
for philosophical / everyday use;  




- '..and this is a problem'

the regrets of early internet pioneer Leonard Kleinrock




example queries -








- what makes else different

If Google's mission is to organise the world's information, then else's mission is to organise the world's information better than Google, using six key principles;


evolution
by mutation
augmented human intellect
sophisticated
capabilities

open algorithms
deep thought
prismatics







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evolutionary by mutation
Building directly upon Charles Darwin's theory of evolution (1859) else seek to further the beneficial affordances of technology through rapidly and radically 'mutating' our existing technological search engine capabilities.


augmenting human intellect
else follow Douglas Engelbart's conceptual framework for Augmenting Human Intellect (1962) by "Boosting mankind's capability for coping with complex, urgent problems".


sophisticated capabilities
else create tools to increasingly evolve sophisticated capabilities from existing basic capabilities. By this means else offer technological tools allowing us 'to get better at getting better'.


open algorithms
Our reality is increasing dictated by closed algorithms over which we have no control or accountability. else support the Open Algorithm movement to emancipate the meanings made by algorithms.


deep thought
else tools are engineered to mitigate against the modern 'crisis of distraction' and increase our ability to openly practise deep thought (critical thinking / reflection / introspection).


prismatics
The exploration of prismatics is the applied persuit of opening reality, possibility and potential rather than closing it. Prismatics creates 'new horizons of possibilities' rather the 'fusion of horizons'.


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about else -


Read More [+] something else, by someone else, from somewhere else, and nothing else

something else
Within conditional computer programming 'else' represents the action(s) taken when an 'if' statement can find no affirmative or true information to act upon. Put simply, else is a means to proceed when faced with uncertainty.

by someone else
else was founded in 2016 by Ted Hunt.

from somewhere else
else is a single individuals' attempt to provide an alternative to the ideologies of Silicon Valley, and its global successors. else was informally created in London through a series of ongoing and unofficial designer in residence occupations of The British Museum, The Royal Academy of Arts, The Design Museum, Somerset House Studios and various public libraries.

and nothing else
else attempt to invert the most negative default characteristics of domestic web search engines; stasis / bias / unaccountability / black box technologies / passive thinking / disrupted truth / extraction industry / filter bubbles.


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- why we urgently need to reimagine search

current web search engines are;
in stasis / biased / unaccountable / gameable / black box technologies / leading us into passive thinking / vehicles for perception management / overly simplistic / disrupting the truth / an extraction industry / filter bubbles


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search is in stasis


Between 1998 - 2016 Google Search has barely evolved [1]. As Google is the worlds dominant search engine, neither have its competitors who mimick its success. Arguably, the only changes Google have made to search have been iterative cosmetic changes to its logo, layout and a more sophisticated use of white space.

search is a black box technology
Dominant search engines are the very definition of a 'black box' [2] technology. We know the input (a search query) and output (the search results) but have no accruate knowledge of its internal workings or what drives this transformation from an input into an output.

search is biased


No technology is ever neutral or benign, conducting a simple Google Image search on the term 'beauty' [3] will illustrate this. Every technology comes coupled with trade-offs and biases. The trade-off we accept from algorithm driven search engines is an inherently biased rendering of reality hidden behind the perception of democracy and incomprehensible depth (which can never actually be accessed).

search is unaccountable
The objective results rendered by the algorithms powering search engines are currently subject to no due process, agreed moral or ethical conduct, regulations or governing laws [4]. Such unaccountability is unprecedented within a technology capable of significantly influencing elections, accounts of current affairs, societal norms, interpretations of scientific findings and consensus within public opinion [5].

search is 'gameable'


In December 2016 an investigation by The Guardian found that Google Search was subject to manipulation by rightwing entities able to 'game' the search autocomplete algorithms [6]. This gaming led to Google query autocomplete suggesting 'are jews.. evil' / 'are women.. evil' / 'Do blacks.. commit more crime'. The (technical/bad press) issue was quickly rectified by Google who released a statement outlining 'we acknowledge that autocomplete isn't an exact science and we're always working to improve our algorithms'. This gap between a perceived exact science and the reality of a non-exact science is ultimately fuelling our post-truth condition.

search is leading us into passive thinking
When algorithms increasingly make decisions for us we become ever more reliant upon their powers of reasoning and less reliant upon our own [7]. We quickly become less vigilant, and then passive, in our judgement of the world around us. Our ability to practise critical thought, empathy, reflection and introspection (evolved over millennia) are now being radically diluted.

search is a vehicle for perception management
Search engines facilitate the strategic Perception Management [8] actions taken by information authors and distributors (political / brands / corporates / media / technological / other) to convey and/or deny selected information and indicators to audiences in order to influence their emotions, motives, and objective reasoning. Perception Management's ultimate intention results in behaviours and actions favorable to the originator's objectives.

search is overly simplistic
Larry Page, Google's co-founder once described the perfect search engine as a machine that "understands exactly what you mean and gives you back exactly what you want." The critical issue with this notion is that engineers out of reality all information and knowledge that we didn't mean but might still enlighten us, and all that we don't want to hear but might need to hear.

search has disrupted the truth
Dominant search engines present millions of pluralist interpretations of meaning, yet the linear ordering of those interpretations simultaneously suggests that there might be a logic to their validity, that there might be a single objective truth to be found. This contradictory world view has contributed to our 'post-truth' [9] condition, one in which validity is established via algorithmically organised data drawn from volumes of links and visits rather than from verified facts and truths.

search is an extraction industry
Like fossil fuels, mining and quarrying the financial model currently sustaining internet search is that of an extraction industry. Rather than the physical materials of traditional extraction industries search extracts its users data and meta-data for monetisation fueled by advertising revenues.

search filters us into bubbles
Search algorithms operate by guiding their users into increasingly isolated 'filter bubbles'. These bubbles define what users like/are interested in inorder to mirror and feed the same type of content back to them. Such bubbles isolate us from ideas and views that might challenge or replace our current beliefs, rendering us (like search engines) in stasis as we are continually just served 'more of the same'.

1. source: https://archive.org/web
2. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_box
3. source: https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=beauty&source=lnms&tbm=isch
4. source: Make Algorithms Accountable, Julia Angwin, 2016
5. source: The New Mind Control, Robert Epstein, 2016
6. source: Google, democracy and the truth about internet search, Carole Cadwalladr
7. source: Crash: how computers are setting us up for disaster, Tim Harford, 2016
8. source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perception_management
9. source: How technology disrupted the truth, Katharine Viner, 2016



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new perspectives in search -

The evolution from a classical single perspective to multiple and abstract perspectives changed to nature of painting in the early-20th-century. A similar epistemic shift in knowledge might next be created in widening the perspectives rendered through web search engines.

linear perspective


Portrait of Olga Picasso by Pablo Picasso, 1923 © Succession Picasso/DACS
non-linear perspective


Marie-Therese Walter Picasso by Pablo Picasso, 1937 © Succession Picasso


linear search


1: Single perspective closed search algorithm
non-linear search


2a, 2b, 2c: Multi-perspective open search algorithms






"My perception is itself a thinking, and my thinking a perception." - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, 1749-1832
"Children must be taught how to think, not what to think." - Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist, 1901-1978
"We may soon end up losing our ability to tolerate confusion, doubts and contradictions." - Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus, 2016
"We make the world by understanding it, and the way we understand it changes it." - James Bridle, 2016





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contact
ted@else.is
Ted Hunt
Studio 53
Somerset House
London, WC2R 1LA