2011-01-23

The Virtual Communicator

IT WAS a wintry day of January, in a coldly-tempered land. On this island lived peculiar citizens whose main everyday whereabouts involved producing goods and getting back some credits for the hard work. Arnie was one of them. He was cultivating vegetables, in a greenhouse in the cold season, obviously. He would prepare and send a shipment whenever his plums were ready. But most often his daily production, which departed his ranch daily, did not fill all of the available space provided by the Raw Communicator. The Raw Communicator is the entity whose personhood solely involves delivering the production of a worker's goods to the markets, and bringing back the gained assets to the farmer. And because he was so raw, the Raw Communicator would not even care of visiting other folks after visiting Arnie. He would directly transit to the markets. Afterwards, he would visit Arnie's first neighbour, return to the market, and so on.

Arnie, although being just a potent grower of greens, felt that the Raw Communicator should be less raw and more genuinely efficient. Arnie had brought up the matter to the Raw Communicator, but to no avail. The latter had stated that his raw nature prohibited him from doing anything else from what he was here to do: delivering goods to the markets and bringing back good fortune to the goods's erstwhile owner.

Just like he felt, there was many of his kind who wished communications were faster -- they were insulted by the delays brought by the way of message transportation. And they would not secure a way of grouping their parcels -- before sending them -- by speaking to each other; that would be utterly called communism in this sacred freedom-driven world. Although they knew that the transportation mechanism could hold a particular amount of goods -- an amount being upper-bounded by some arcane physic laws – they held onto their traditions of not gathering their deeds together and instead continued to ship them individually, one by one in these harsh wintering times. What was going on, in fact, was simply an unwillingness to modify their habits. What they needed was a novel mechanism under which they could continue their whereabouts without changing their customs. Should this almighty desired interface be available, the earthlings would only want to send their package to a destination, and to receive a timely response from that very said destination. Less is more. No more, no less.

Then arrived an opportunistic celebrity. His name was Virtual Communicator. And he said on his arrival:

“Virtual Communicator, that is my name. Oh ! Honourable citizens of this spectacular communicative gateway, not only could your population save energy by grouping your merchandise, but your collective wisdom would also save precious time should you select me as your communicator. Yes ! I say drop your vanilla communicator, the Raw Communicator is outdated, rather slow and quite expensive !”

This newly-arrived character then went on:

“My ways are the same for you, but I can group bits and packets to make you save some gas and minerals. All I ask is a mere percentage of your planned financial gains as predictable by scheduled grouping of your workers's production.”

Arnie and his fellow neighbours listened carefully -- they truly thought that the Virtual Communicator sounded like an huge improvement from the Raw Communicator. Being a spectator of these reactions, the Virtual Communicator resumed talking:

“In the end, you can send and receive letters faster, the process saves your energy and your time. You will also gain considerable financial advantages. Should you assign me to this gracious task, I would also be granted an occupation with associated remuneration.”

But the folks from the cold city wanted to know the motivation of this recently introduced entity. The Virtual Communicator then explained his motives.

“Yes, I the great Virtual Communicator am a hub -- a gateway. I make profits from work others perform. These workers -- who produce the goods and needs -- are however wordless when it comes to leveraging efficiency and distribution. Needless to say, I the great Virtual Communicator can't do work like worker Arnie does. And neither Arnie can do my job. Pals, it is clearly a win-win situation here.”

“What about the Raw Communicator ?” asked Arnie. “He too deserve occupational remuneration” he added. The Virtual Communicator then explained that he was not able to actually send and receive merchandises, that all he could do was grouping and ungrouping things. The rest was part of the personhood of the Raw Communicator. To put it simply, he explained that the Raw Communicator actually receives credit on a per-message basis. Although he would notice a reduction of messaging throughput, the state-sponsored part of his salary would remain a frozen asset for him nonetheless.

“What do you say ?” asked finally the Virtual Communicator.


I wrote this story while working on virtual (read abstract) message-grouping in a message-passing-interface environment.
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