Consciousness as an internal dialog between your brain and … your brain.

One clear thing to me about humans is that we exaggerate the implications of the fact we think about things. I’d argue that most reasonable models of human intellect and consciousness should assume that 1) consciousness has evolved over a long period from non-conscious thought in non-human organisms. 2) other animals are conscious and at least some other animal types are self-aware. 3) It is likely that conscious thinking has a fully mechanistic explanations.

I’m wondering about the following fairly simple model of consciousness:

1) Brain as large computing mechanism

2) Brain has many regions, each with great computational power

3) Through learning, esp. language learning and language practice, the brain begins to carry on “conversations” between the regions.

4) As the conversational feedback explodes, we call it “conscious thought”.

….. and then maybe I’m just talking to myself way too much…

Las Cruces New Mexico

No, I’m not in Las Cruces NM right now, but I’m blogging about Las Cruces NM as part of the online NMOHWY experiment in white hat SEO for our travel related websites.

As part of that experiment, which I’ll explain later, I want to tell you more about Las Cruces and provide some links for better information than I can provide here but will eventually have at our New Mexico Travel website which is under major rennovation.

The area now occupied by the city of Las Cruces was part of Mexico until Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo which included a conversion of the Mexican city of Doña Ana to the US city now called “Las Cruces”. The origin of the name is not clear but may refer to crosses in the area placed by Spanish priests.

Las Cruces has a population of about 78,000. Most air travel to and from the region is from the El Paso International Airport about an hour south of Las Cruces in Texas. Las Cruces is in the far south part of New Mexico.

And in what is almost certainly not a coincidence I have a strong personal connection to Las Cruces even though I’ve never been there.    My aunt, uncle, and cousin lived there on a ranch for many years.

The city of Las Cruces website is here
The Visitor Tourism website for Las Cruces is here

Some day the world’s best web page for Las Cruces New Mexico searches will be at the website here.

Oregon Travel

I’m hoping to get my Oregon Travel blog going soon with tips and tricks about great vacation stuff here in Oregon. One of the things I *always* notice after travelling is how nice it is to come home to the great cultural and outdoor attractions within a few hours of my house here in lovely Talent Oregon

We’ve got some good basic detail about Oregon at the Online Highways Oregon Travel section but I’m hoping to do a more personalized version of this. Some will appear at the Online Highways travel blog but that travel blog will be focusing more on destinations around the globe and not digging into Oregon in great depth.

Oregon is home to several great regions. The state defines them like this but I’m going to be a little more precise at the Oregon Travel blog and try to focus in on more of a single city or destination basis.

I’ve already covered some Oregon Travel information in these Travel Highways and History posts but I have quite a bit of information, pictures, and adventures to share in the future. Oregon is one of the few places where you can enjoy skiing on peaks over 2 miles high, smashing surf and sea, and a round of golf all in the same day. (No, it would not be a relaxing day!)….

Balls of Fury * * 1/2

OK, I *LOVE* Table Tennis so it was probably foolish to hold high hopes for the new movie “Balls of Fury” which pokes way too much fun at Table Tennis without helping people gain any sense of what a great and complicated sport it is.

The story was fun as it followed a “has been” table tennis prodigy as he regains his skills to help crack an international criminal who is paissionate about table tennis.   But this is no “Enter the Dragon” and falls pretty flat as a funny movie as well as pretty lousy as a Table Tennis fling.    This Table Tennis Service is …. missable.

Reinventing Yahoo

Kara Swisher at the Wall Street Journal is reporting on Yahoo’s trials and tribulations as CEO Jerry Yang works to regain the glory days Yahoo enjoyed years ago when Yahoo, not Google, was the internet wonder company whose upward potential seemed to know know bounds according to many stock analysts and tech watchers.

Here’s more from PaidContent on what some seem to think is a Yahoo mini-bloodbath.

At an SES Conference lunch table I was sitting with several well connected tech watchers and warriors and asked about Yahoo’s prospects. “They are dead” said one search marketing insider, noting that Yahoo search results remain easy to spam, leading to inferior quality and search problems. Another thought Yahoo needs to become the king of videos, essentially working to become “the” online network, monetizing with extensive advertising embedded in the videos. However the concensus seemed to be that Yahoo needed to move “sideways” and simply consolidate their second place search status in the hopes of stopping the hemorraging of morale and stock price.

On balance I’m a lot more optimistic than most about Yahoo’s prospects, though I think they need to get more comfortable copying Google in several respects. Also, given Google’s accelerating dominance in the online sector it seems an MSN buyout is the most logical course for Yahoo and probably MSN as well. This would allow MSN to continue to focus on their bread and butter with Office and Vista while bringing their clever LIVE staff in line with Yahoo. Yahoo would continue much as it does now but be an MSN “brand” for online stuff while MSN would seek to connect as tightly as legally possible their offline dominance with their current online weaknesses. Despite the fact that Yahoo is the clear number two in online search, it’s currently capitalized at about 30 billion, less than 20% of Google’s massive 158 billion market cap and only about 11% of MSFT’s 265 billion market cap. Is the Yahoo online empire worth a mere *fifth* of Google’s? Sure seems to me the answer is yes. Microsoft what’s wrong with you and

Yahoo – what the HECK is wrong with YOUHoo, too?

Disclaimer: I have some Yahoo Stock. Yes, I’m still proud of that!
No, I’m not making money on it. Wake up Yahoo!

Children’s Musical Theater of Oregon – Bravo!

Here in Southern Oregon we’ve got a lot of outstanding professional and community theater action going on. The Children’s Musical Theater of Oregon is no exception. We just enjoyed their excellent performance of Peter Pan, complete with amazing flying effects, great costumes, rich sets, and some outstanding performances by very talented young people.

CMTO is the product of Rhonda and John Taylor’s enthusiasm for working with theater and with children. Rhonda teaches school and John is a very accomplished musician and director who has worked with many musical luminaries as well as two years at the Las Vegas Bellagio as the musical director and keyboardist with Cirque du Soleil’s “O”.

One of the benefits of living here in Southern Oregon is having great professionals in theater, music, movies and television who bring their expertise and enthusiasm to our community.

More about Peter Pan from Mail Tribune

Google will strike gold with mobile OS

Well, Google does it again with yet another online brilliancy. How do you market a “Google Phone” without paying a dime for hardware development? Engaget is reporting that Google appears more likely to release a mobile OS to multiple phone vendors rather than develop it’s own phone. This is a *really clever* approach because it will allow Google to maintain core competency focus on software and advertising, something that founders appear to think has been lacking lately with the many aquisitions. Also, this will bring market forces to bear to quickly lower the price of iPhone-like mobile devices. How does Google benefit from lower prices on browsing phones? Why, ADVERTISING of course! Ads remain about 98% of Google revenue and mobile ads are arguably the online sector with the most explosive growth potential. Rather than go head to head with the iPhone Google will continue to sing it’s praises and then simply scoop up all the juicy advertising revenues as users demand Googley browsing capabilities on their phones. Vendors may get squeezed by customers to lower prices on the phones but Google still comes out a big ad winner.

No wonder they can throw such a lavish Google Party every year!

Social Networking, Niches, and Facebook

This WSJ piece by Jessica Vascellaro is talking about a clear trend in social networking – noting that we’ve passed the “teen early adoption” phase and entered the professional phase where pretty much everybody will eventually participate in social networking of one form or another.

To filter the noise this social networking will increasingly take the form of highly targeted groups in thousands of interest niches. In fact this may transform socializing from the current scene to a world where most of your friendships are begun online and then extended in the real world.

Facebook’s future is tied up in how this shakes out.    If they succeed and become “the” general social network where you can branch out into specific niches even Google’s current level of success may pale in comparison.  However, unlike Robert Scoble, I’m not enamored enough with Facebook to think this will happen and these social aps will eclipse Google.   Rather I think the “killer application” has yet to be fully structured but will take the form of a robust, transportable, avatar laden, secure personal ID that you can modify easiy and then use to navigate the increasingly socialized internet.     As you visit websites this identity, all aspects of which remain under your own control, will allow other users to interact with you and branch off to your pictures, blog, or other items you choose.    Ultimately we’ll be able to interact online *far more effectively* than offline thanks to the reservoir of information (pictures, blogs, notes, comments, emails, video) many of us now pour online regularly.

One gets a glimpse of this by some of the early efforts like OpenID, bbAuth or Microsoft unified logins, or noting how Facebook cleverly allows the user to import blog posts to their facebook account.  Thus somebody looking at my Facebook profile also is “linked” to my blog posts without much effort.   Unfortunately, however, I have perhaps 100x the number of “active” real world contacts than I have “friends” in Facebook.    This may change, but I’m guessing that many people will never want to maintain much of an online identity, but almost everybody *would* want an application that would help them share and interact with others as they surf.

OpenID is the most promising approach theoretically, but it’s not taking off because there’s no big money to be made which I think has kept away the robust innovations needed for online identity solutions to really take off.

Scoble: Facebook, Techmeme, Mahalo (!) will depose Google

Scoble’s provocatively suggesting that Google should fear Facebook, Techmeme, and Mahalo.   I think his key assumption is that these social media environments are resistant to spammy SEO tricks and therefore will do a better job of delivering relevancy over time than Google which will continue to be weighed down by junky content and spamming.

But … I think he’s wrong.   Google could be deposed by a better search tool, but I don’t think that will come from any of these three.    Techmeme is great and I think will gradually scale into a powerful blog tool, Facebook is already on it’s way to co-dominance (with myspace) as the social network of choice for many.    I’m skeptical Mahalo will gain much traction.   I have not been following it all that closely but Mahalo’s “top of mind” prominence seems to be more from Jason’s amazingly aggressive promotional efforts than from a natural rise in the ranks.    But depose Google?   Nope, not gonna happen from these players.