Thursday, November 22, 2007

E8, XML, PHP, SEO, RDF and My Friend Wheel

70 million blogs were tabulated in July 2005 and I hear that 120,000 baby blogs are born into the blogosphere each day.

It seems the explosive growth of the weblog phenomenon worldwide - especially amongst the younger set of internet users - may be due to two factors: (1) the newer blog templates accommodate multimedia encodings which allow bloggers to post not just rich text but also audiostreaming and embedded videos; (2) blogs are interactive and encourage instant feedback by way of comments.

And, of course, advances in software programming have made functions like RSS (Really Simple Syndication) a routine part of the browsing experience. When I began blogging in December 2006 I surfed smack into a wall of acronyms incomprehensible to anybody who isn't a professional nerd: esoteric terms like RDF (Resource Description Framework), XML (Extensible Markup Language), SEO (Search Engine Optimization), PHP (Hypertext Preprocessor - NOT Pothead Pixie and don't ask me why it isn't called HPP!). For someone who hasn't begun Podcasting and who doesn't even own an iPod, all of this was somewhat daunting. Slowly, I began to understand the value of getting my blog listed on Technorati and having an account with

Two-dimensional E8 image courtesy of Peter McMullen and John Stembridge

However, what's truly amazing about these new developments in the web-dweller's world is the exponentially increasing interconnectivity that is beginning to resemble the latest mathematical model of the fabric of reality, proposed by a 39-year-old Californian physicist named Garrett Lisi who also happens to be a surfer - not just of virtual reality but also of some very wet waves. This stunning mathematical model has been dubbed E8 and I don't pretend to understand it one bit, except perhaps on the intuitive level - and I must admit to being drawn to it mainly because it's so aesthetically gratifying! Here's a beautiful video showing how Lisi's "Exceptionally Simple Theory of Everything" looks when the E8 is rotated through eight dimensions:

Yesterday I spent a few minutes on Facebook generating a Friend Wheel, which graphically represents how each friend is connected to another and ultimately to me. The sheer beauty of the Friend Wheel makes me happy to be connected to at least 300 people on Facebook alone. There are hosts of other friends and acquaintances who are unlikely to squander their time on Facebook, but if I add them to the mix, my Friend Wheel will ultimately resemble the E8! Mind-boggling, ain't it? Rainbow Fractals forever!