An interesting, if aggravating, development following on the coattails of ubiquitous information access is the tendency for individuals, whether qualified or not, to comment on every piece of news that crosses their desks. Everyone, it seems, has an opinion e is just itching to share with eir fellow man ... which is unfortunate, because absolutely no one cares to listen.

Hence, the necessity behind the invention of the all-concerned, ever-attentive DevNull. The precise nature of the DevNull daemon has long been veiled by the mists of time, and while it may have once had a real, "useful" function once, long, long ago, its current purpose is widely held to be to listen to the opinions of anyone who wishes to express them, acknowledging and validating these opinions regardless of their intrinsic social value.

Most view conversing with DevNull as only a small step above conversing with a brick wall. Its replies, while expertly crafted to promote warm fuzzy feelings in their recipients, are inevitably devoid of insight. Some have experimented with arguing against DevNull, but most usually find that, while it can range from cathartic to indescribably aggravating, it is seldom a productive venture.

DevNull itself is probably a specialized memetic AI, designed to analyze patterns of human expression and respond in socially optimal ways. That it persists on the SI:1 channels of the Known Net (and even, it has been rumoured, the GodWeb), despite no outward appearances of having a useful function, suggests that it either really does have some greater purpose, or that it is just as capable of schmoozing transapients as it is of placating ordinary sophonts. Since conversations with DevNull are always (ostensibly) private, and since it never maintains any logs, it is impossible to tell whether the daemon communes with higher transapients on a regular basis.

And even though most people (transapients included) deplore talking to DevNull as a fruitless and egotistical exercise ... many have nonetheless indulged themselves with the guilty pleasure of a late-night chat with it. In the final analysis, even if DevNull serves no other useful purpose, its value to society is assured in that, at least, it keeps us from spouting off to one another.
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Development Notes
Text by David Jackson
Initially published on 07 October 2004.