I 'Verden Af I Går' fortæller Stefan Zweig om hvordan han rejser rundt i verden uden papirer. Besøger panamakanalen og mange andre steder. Den tid er jo for længst forbi, hvor man bare kan rejse sådan rundt og gå i land ved fremmede kyster - men vi har så fået den igen i informationsalderen i form af varerne, der flyder frit - og de informationer de er hyldet i.
Well. I et stykke tid, måske. Kinesernes store firewall er jo en realitet, selv om man må tro, med alle de kinesere vi ser i resten af verden, at verdens hemmeligheder for længst et sluppet ud, også derhemme. Bare uden nogle medier at sætte sig i.
Nu vil russerne gøre kineserne kunsten efter. Og vi har jo egentlig ikke så meget at være stolte over herhjemme selv på den front. Retsløs censur med baggrund i pædofili, svindel og terror - og overvågning; censur ved selvcensur.
Det lugter kort sagt en smule af, at en pessimist om tyve år muligvis vil kunne fortælle den næste generation om dengang i en usandsynlig fortid hvor man, informationelt, kunne rejse frit rundt i verden uden papirer.
Aaron Bateman asks, on Twitter
"Does anyone feel especially emotional about a particular piece of software"
... I did a quick think. Certainly 'Slangemand', the Snake-clone I wrote and played for ages back in the 80s; Great times were had at home with that - my brother would put on a David Bowie record, we'd pop the tape in the Amstrad 464, load up the game, and play for hours.
I rewrote it for the browser some years ago - still play it. It still works on me.
In the 90s Word 6.0 felt like pure text processing perfection. I was particularly fond of the outliner - just a great great tool to plan a text, reorganize a text, get the structure right. To this day I miss that outliner - I've never met an outliner that was as good at getting out of the way and letting you think and write. Everything else I ever tried felt clunky and administration-heavy.
Even modern day Word isn't as good - keyboard shortcuts are missing, and you can't even set them up (on a Mac, at least)
But then I sat back and thought about how much more there is, really - of course the Rocky Horrow Show-game I got for Christmas and we then played, collectively as a family, for 48 of the next 72 hours inbetween all the meals.
There are so many tools that suddenly give you superpowers - and it's very easy to have fond memories of those. Figuring out regular expressions for text processing in MicroEMACS way back when. Running tons of fun simulations in Matlab. The fantastic way Mathematica's functional programming model just feels so reasonable to a mathematician wanting to code.
All that information AWK pulled out of text files for me.
The way Latex can make your shoddy mathematical thinking look as crisp as all the brilliant ideas.
It's different when you write your own, probably. I still miss the toolset we built while I was at Ascio. Sure it had a lot of quirks - but man, was it capable. I miss the fun of putting together a text messaging game system for the company christmas party in an hour, beer in hand, after hours, before going to the party.
I'm always looking for that in tools I use, that "you can actually do that in an hour"-feeling.
I miss the 'today' search in Finder every single day - the searches you can build on your own are not a perfect copy - somethings amuck with default ordering quickly going out the window - and basically 'Spotlight' and the 'today' search were the only things I genuinely love on my Mac. They gave me that quick little move I could make, 1-2 task done, and I can't anymore.
Some of the big IDEs have a lot of those power moves, and it's awesome - and I'm not embarrased to admit I miss Delphi for that - but then I also miss writing cellular automata in Turbo Pascal.
Android Lollipop feels like one of the recent things that'll make this list. The new notification system - with easy access to no buzzing, vibration and social media plings during night, make it possible to use notifications without being killed by your wife, because your twitter friends decide to favorite you at 3 in the morning (not even a goddamned retweet!), waking her up.
It's the little things that just work, that do it. I'm really happy with the code hinting in Atom - even if the editor itself is damned full of flaws and frequently vomits all over you. I fuck up less now I have it - I like not fucking up.
I've too many unhappy "why the hell doesn't that work" experiences with my daily tools to feel as good about them - damned happy about the power of perl and CPAN when I was using that; and pretty happy with Ruby a lot of the time, but so many stupid gotchas every day.
I would love to put a lot of creative tools on here - and it really saddens me I can't. I'd love to love 'that video editor' or 'that music thing' - but none of them give me that 'what you can do in an hour'-feeling. Which is just because I'm not, you know, good at it. But I'd like to be happy about that, not miserable. I'd rather be happily mediocre - but done in an hour - than still mediocre and hours from deadline.
I'm more of a Skitch guy, than a Photoshop guy - and pretty bummed they decided to fuck up Skitch.
I was hoping Macaw would do it for writing websites. I was hoping Imitone would be an instrument I could use - but none of them deliver that happy moment where, hey I actually did this! And it's done now! And I did it!.
Just not what you want. Too much 'Made You Look!'. Too much rehashing. Too much process journalism. No consequences. No real world building. No real analysis, just storytelling. I'd like less of what I get and all of these. Also: It's not on my Kindle, so not on my phone and not on my forthcoming Kindle Paperwhite, readable in bed, after my girlfriend turned the light off.
It's one thing that not enough sources output them anymore, but the feed reading process is broken. I've recently recovered from feed reading bankruptcy after about 2 weeks of not attending to my feeds. The experience was horrible; too much piling through the same shit, too much piling through shit I've actually already seen on Twitter or Facebook. What I'd like from my feed reader is higher relevance and "scale adjusted relevancy". When I don't have the attention, I want the required attention to scale so I can catch up in one go on 14 days, not have to do 14 days of feed-tending work. My feeds should be a newspaper. A week old feed-surface should be a weekly magazine. A month old feed-surface should be a monthly magazine. A year old feed-surface should be an annual review. None of this should require anything but collaborative work.
Well, mine is anyway. What's particularly broken about is it subpar integration with the flows, and the absence of readership after everyone moved to flows.
Shutting down the client competition and innovation. Shutting down feeds and unauthorized access. Shutting off access to the follower graph. This is all bullshit. Twitter has become old media, like Edd Dumbill says, and is as broken as old media.
Are the fixes for all of these connected? Is it one-true-thing? I think I have a dream about what it is. It's blogs again, but this time hooked up to a 'reasonable' aggregator with a mission to act as an infrastructure company. The aggregator connects islands of users to form a distro twitter. The aggregator is uniquely positioned to sell firehose access to the social feed, to the graph, to collaboratively enhanced shared links. It Just Might Work.
I'm imaging this getting built off an open source conversational platform - you're allowed to think Diaspora - which initially thinks of itself as a caching hosted twitter client, but really is intended to allow other hosted islands of friends to connect. I think Diaspora got it wrong by inventing too much, and claiming too much. What I really want is just to leave, without slamming the door shut.
Is Instagram even a tech company? I'm not trying to be flippant here. I find this a real and interesting question. There's been hundreds of succesful social image sharing companies before and there's going to be a hundred more. In that sense, Instagram is just a recent hit in a string of hits.
In fact, Instagram's engineers keep it simple on purpose. They try to invent as little as possible.
The consumer side of the mobile revolution is more a media revolution than a technical revolution. Most of the hits are simply new rides at the amusement park, or fresh hit singles, because we got bored with last years' hits.
Isn't Instagram more the Angry Birds/Rovio of photos than the Apple of photos?
That's not to take away from Instagrams colossal succes, more power to them! It just means that we need to evaluate the succes differently. Instagram didn't disrupt or disintermediate or transform or restructure anything. Instagram entertained and connected a lot of people for some time. That's a different function than a typical tech company. It doesn't generate the same kind of aggregate benefits more and more tech output from a company does. It doesn't produce the kind of grinding deflationary pressure on older technologies, other companies, other kinds of photography, for instance, that we're used to. Sure, Kodak is dead - but didn't Apple do the killing? Was it Instagram? Weren't we sharing visuals at about the same clip before - just on Facebook + Photobucket + Twitpic + Yfrog + Flickr and on and on.
What's your take? Is Instagram transformative - or just this really nice way to share photos right now....
This video, with delicious robo-voice, sounds like viral advertising for some razor-smart near future sci-fi film, but is in fact an a real promovideo for an ad-hijacking server discovered in the wild by Justin Watt during a recent hotel stay. Movies routinely sell the in-film ad space to companies, so it's to be expected that this will happen in a fully mediated reality as well. Still great sci-fi fodder. Our lives online are subjected to unwilling full on transparency, while the transparency of the layers of tech beneath our world of ends degrades. Network neutrality is all about this kind of rewriting. Throttling is just another kind of rewrite.
I'm not a taste maven, an influencer, on the leading edge or any of that nonsense, but I find the following practices helpful for quality time on the internet. I always try my best not to
On the eve of Jobsos exit, let's have another look at the famous video where Steve Ballmer responds to the iPhone
The interesting thing here actually isn't how ridiculously wrong Ballmer was about the success of the iPhone, but rather what he says about his own product - a recent winphone from Motorola
It's a very capable machine. It'll do music, it'll do internet, it'll do email, it'll do instant messaging[...]
It's a chestnut of interface critique: Embodiment is good, the concrete beats the abstract, nobody reads online. It drives interfaces towards the tangible, and I'll be the first to agree that good physical design (and design that *feels* physical) is pleasurable and restful on the mind.
None of these facts are, however, easy to reconcile with the fact that every day 15% of the queries seen by Google are queries Google has never seen before. Put differently, the information space Google presents to the world grows by 15% every day. Imagine a startup experiencing this kind of uptake. You'd consider yourself very lucky - even if a lot of those 15% will be spelling mistakes etc.
The 15% number sounds staggering, but it's when you compound it a little it becomes truly mindblowing - and in fact hard to believe entirely - 15% daily discovery means that in a month, the entire current history of Google searches fades to about 1% of all queries seen. Obviously this isn't a description of typical use, but it is a description of use, none the less. This is complete rubbish and I'm emberrased to have written it, read on below
Now, try to imagine building a physical interface where all uses it has been put to, since the beginning of time, fade to 1% in a month. That's very hard to do. The thing is, that thinking is different, language is different, information is different. The concrete approach breaks down when confronted with the full power of language.
This is also why we'll always have command lines.
So, above I make a really embarrasing probability calculus 101 error, when I tried to compound the "every day we see 15%" new queries statistic. This isn't a toin coss, but something completely else. Chances are that "every day we see 15% new queries" compounds on a monthly basis to .... 15% new queries. To see why, I'm going to make a contrived draw of numbers that match the "every day we see 15% new queries" statistic.
Let's suppose we wanted to produce a string of numbers, 100 every day, so that we can say that "every day we see 15 numbers we haven't seen before". The easiest way to do that is to just start counting from 1, so the first day we see the numbers 1..100. Of course on the first day we can't match the statistic, since we haven't seen any numbers before.
On the second day however we draw 85 times from the numbers we have already seen - we just run the numbers 1..85 - and for the remaining 15 we continue counting where we left off on day 1, so on day 2 we would have the numbers 1..85,101..115. On day 3 we run 1..85,116..130 and so on.
This way, it's still true that "every day we see 15 numbers we haven't seen before" but at the end of the first month (30 days) you will have seen in total the numbers 100+29*15 = 535 numbers.
In month 2 (let's say that's 30 days also) we change things a little. Instead of just running through 1..85 we continue upwards until we have cycled through all the numbers we saw in month 1. There were 535 of those, so that'll only take 7 days. You'll see 30*15 = 450 new numbers and 535 old ones when doing this or 46% numbers you've never seen before of all the numbers you see in month 2.
In month 3 (still 30 days) we do the same thing as we did in month 2, but this time there are 535+450 old ones, so the 450 new ones only amount to 31% of all the numbers we see in month 3.
We continue like this. The most already seen numbers we have time to run through doing 85 a day for 30 days is 30*85, and we'll still have 30*15 new ones, so lo and behold, when we continue this process we end up seeing 15*30/(15*30+85*30)=15*30/(15+85)*30=15/100=15% numbers we have never seen before.
The Law of Requisite Variety tells us that, the more complex your control of an environment, the more limited the space of outcomes. This is usually framed in a positive manner - you can pin down the response by adding controls - but in a pull media environment, like most social media, that's not a plus. Add complexity to what you say, and you diminish your likely audience.
Google+ has resurfaced the discussion on the purpose of the 140 character limit. Experience tells us that Twitter is a horrible medium for debate, but a fantastic medium for sparking debate.
Keeping messages below 140 characters keeps conversation starters short and open, and that is very fruitful as conversation seed material. It does however also mean that you can only seed conversations. There is limited scope for definite statements that lock a debate down, once a consensus begins to emerge. For that you need to go off Twitter. G+ is designed differently. The entire conversation can stay in one medium. I'm guessing conversations will lock down much better because of it.
Maybe the lack of limits won't matter for G+, because we're used to the short stuff by now, and stick to it for transmittability. But that advantage of course will only last if G+ is a failure, otherwise the new medium will shape the perception of what's possible and appropriate.
So, I was a little underwhelmed, initially, by Program or Be Programmed by Douglas Rushkoff, and I still think the book is too alarmist for its own good. There are however a number of great observations of bad patterns in the digital experience, and I have a clear feeling that I'll be taking them with me when evaluating digital stuff in the future.
The first great use of the book since reading came on the news of Osama Bin Laden's death in an American attack. All of a sudden practically all digital media were afloat in a right or wrong-debate over the killing and the reactions to it. And this is where the following Rushkoff quote comes to mind
The digital realm is biased toward choice, because everything must be expressed in the terms of a discrete, yes-or-no, symbolic language. This, in turn, often forces choices on humans operating within the digital sphere. We must come to recognize the increased number of choices in our lives as largely a side effect of the digital; we always have the choice of making no choice at all.
Har interessant diskussion (FB-link) med Christian Dalager (og også Kenneth Auchenberg) om bogoplevelse vs e-bogsoplevelse baseret på nyligt køb af Kindle og oplevelserne med den.
Den er entydigt det mest bog-agtige ikkepapirmedium jeg har brugt, og giver totalt læselyst. Man bliver ikke træt af at læse på den, og man kan se nok af gangen til at læsningen synes forankret. Jeg har hidtil mest læst Kindle-bøger på min Androidtelefon, og det funker i og for sig fint, men forankringen i teksten kommer til at mangle, man svæver bare lidt gennem ordene, uden helt at få afsat sig selv i materien, eller omvendt, sådan at ens erindring af det læste simpelthen ikke helt får samme karakter som papirlæsning - uanset om man så læste en pdf man lige har printet eller hvad det nu måtte være.
Det er det diskussionen handler om. Christian siger
[...]der er stadig et eller andet med at man mister den taktile/visuelle kobling mellem værk og objekt. F.eks. hvis man kædelæser.[...]der sker også nogle gange et mnemoteknisk sammenbrud for mig, hvor min hukommelse ikke har et "anker", hvis det giver mening?Og det giver fuldstændig mening. Bøger er forskellige. Jeg kan ikke være den eneste der har kasseret en bestemt fysisk udgave af et værk, for at skifte til en anden med bedre typografi, papir, sidestørrelse, marginer og derfor større læseoplevelse. Den form for sanselig erindring af skriften får man mindre af med en ebogslæser, og hvis det anekdotiske vidnesbyrd fra mig og Dalager kan tages for gode varer, går det udover det recall og den glæde læsningen efterlader hos en bagefter.
[In other stock & flow news: FBs (nye?) mulighed for at hjemtage hele samtalelagret i en zip-fil er a thing of beauty. Mange års samtalehukommelse regained]
A few days ago my brother asked me if I know of a good way to record what was going on on the screen of his Windows laptop. The following conversation then occured
Arthur C. Clarke has this famous quote that "any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic", and here it is, realized almost to a T: How do you operate Google? Through magical incantation. You can find anything - if you know the magic spell. In this case, channeling Harry Potter, findus screencastius!
Me: There are a number of good options. The good word to search for is 'screencast'
Brother: Alright, I'll search then.
Me: I think it's easier that way.
Brother: Agree. But the search word is important.
I sidste uge tror jeg det mest interessante jeg læste på Twitter var en lille dialog* mellem Niels Hartvig og forskellige om den på det sociale net så gængse samtalekritik - at virksomheder ikke har ørerne ude i de sociale samtaler. Det er desværre langt hen ad vejen blevet til en rygmarvskritik. En doven måde at være mildt utilfreds på, eller som Hartvig siger:
Det er når det bliver brugt på samme måde som hvis du sendte en mail og cc'ede alle dine kontakter at jeg får kvalmeog
Det er det største problem med Twitter. Firmaer monitorerer feeds i dialog angst og folk finder ud af at de bare skal råbe højt på Twitter og så bliver tingene løst. Resultat; Det bliver et inferno af brok.
Det lyder som noget man ikke er nødt til at sige, men: Samtale, der ikke er samtale, er ikke samtale.
Drive by kritik, a la LA appen, har intet med politisk debat at gøre. Samtalen er stendød, lige så snart den bliver udsat for et forsøg på "skalering". På samme måde er der ingen samtale i at tage en virksomhed man er utilfreds med som gidsel på Twitter. Det er ærligt talt lidt svært at se hvad en virksomhed får ud af at please twitterbrugere. Det minder mere om beskyttelsespenge, end god service.
Så hvad er egentlig temperaturen på den samtalende virksomhed? At den sociale virksomhed virker indadtil, hvor samtalen ikke er på skrømt, er der vist ingen tvivl om. At den virker med genuine stakeholders udenfor virksomheden, tror jeg også gerne på - men er det det, der sker? Er de fleste samtaleforsøg ikke fanget i de problemer jeg taler om ovenfor?
So, last wednesday I wrote an email to everyone who attended Ersatz last year, inviting everybody to attend a collaborative planning session the next day. The idea was to just do something quick online instead of dragging our feet by having to schedule meetings and so on and so forth.
We ended up co-authoring a Google Doc file with ideas for speakers, sessions and activities. In the end it both worked better than I ever expected and a little less than I had hoped.
It worked way better than I expected because of the rich flow of suggestions we had during thursday. Around 25 people contributed edits to the document during the day, suggesting a diverse range of topics we now need to collate into some meaningful - but that's a fun task. My favorite part of that was suggesting almost none of the topics myself.
There was a lot going on in that document at times during the morning.
It worked less well than I had hoped, because we ended up having a lot of the fun stuff done, not the boring stuff, of making sure we have a venue and so on. For fixing real practical problems you just can't beat picking up the phone and just doing it.
It's probably unfair to expect to be able to de-labor setting up another event using google docs.
But Ersatz is going to happen. It will be in June. It will be about a lot of different things.
As much as people are writing and thinking about the net, what you really need to read to understand anything about the net is
For extra credit, teach yourself some of the basics of the theory of computation, to understand exactly how malleable models are. It's way too easy to set out to discuss the internet, and not realize the central current powering it all - which is the extraordinary capability given to us by digital machines - of making any abstraction a reality, and in turn move our thinking to this new platform. Thermodynamics tells us that perpetual motion machines are impossible - but that's only in reality. In the realm of ideas we truly have perpetual motion machines, and you're reading these words using one, right now.
Once in a while it's worth wondering what profound changes we're in for in the next decade if any. With that in mind, what's going to be the most common prosthetic in 2020 that none of us have today? Phones and smartphones are out of the running - we already all have those. Tablets are almost out of the running - or they would probably be the answer.
Let's exclude them - then what is it going to be? Or is the question wrong - like asking "what will be the most popular programming language in the home in 1990" in 1978? Will evolution be elsewhere? Won't technology be evolving in the prosthetic space at all?
My professional bet is on biohacks, but that might just be a little too science fictiony for a while to come. Other than that a swarm of chips around the phone seems likely to me. iPhone ready jackets and watches and glasses and pockets. 2020 might be too close for that. It might take another 5-10 years.
Situationen omkring det jordskælvsramte, og muligvis katastroetruede, japanske atomkraftværk er illustrativ for et problem vi har med flowmedierne - og de omfatter desværre også netaviserne, sådan som de bliver fremstillet. Flowmedierne er simpelthen elendige til at fortælle os om tingenes tilstand, når tingene ændrer sig hurtigt. Nogle af dem er rigtig gode til at aktivere vores interesse i lynfart, men når tingene begynder at ske, falder billedet af hvad tilstanden er hurtigt sammen.
Doc Searls skrev en god blogpost, hvor han samlede op på hvordan vi fik nyhederne fra Japan, og han har den rigtige observation, at det ender med at Wikipedia er det bedste sted at holde status - simpelthen fordi Wikipedianisterne rydder op i de gamle historier efterhånden som nye data kommer ind, hvor aviser og flowmedier bare rapporterer det næste flow.
Lige nu er netaviserne for eksempel et rodet miskmask af snak om nedsmeltning på reaktoren - baseret på pressekonferencer fra i går - nye rapporter om øget radioaktivitet, og endnu nyere om en (mindre) eksplosion på værket.
Jeg anbefaler i den sammenhæng en blogpost fra februar om forskellen på stock og flow.
I'm in Berlin for the weekend, to meet tons of nice people, and attend the Cognitive Cities conference, which was a concentrated yesterday, and more of a mellow sunday. Probably best that way - other events take note. Just got a guided tour of Betahaus from Henrik Moltke, which seems to be an allround great place. They certainly have really great chairs.
But let's go back to yesterday and a very full conference day: While we seem to be waiting indefinitely for The City Is Here For You To Use, Adam Greenfield has certainly polished his story, and struck an excellent balance between caution and openness. The inevitability of technology always comes up in these kinds of talk, but I understood Greenfields suggestions for law or design principles for technology of public spaces as trying to strike a balance; between simply requiring of the users of technology that the consequences of their technology use be reasonable and requiring the technology itself to be - something I simply don't believe it can be. It can't not be either.
The presentation was crisp, and I found it the language much more transparent than what I usually consider Greenfield's style. To me, a great improvement, so I'm hoping that'll translate into the book when it makes it to the publisher.
A little later, Sami Niemelä gave us a guided tour of some practical principles for urban information design. When done well, this kind of thing is simultaneously abstractly pleasing and very concrete, and I thought it worked here.
I really liked the short pitch from Vini Tiet on doing Cognitive Buildings, in particular for the accidental observation that a lot of this informational urbanism isn't really being developed on an economic model of utility, but more to deliver particular specifications. This is a weakness of the movement towards informational infrastructure. At some point it needs to start to pay for itself, and it's a little bit unclear as yet, how that works out. Tiet's view is that, a certain quality of a building can only be built with information, but obviously some of us were hoping that the technology curve also works for houses, and that we'll get cheaper greatness, not just higher luxury, from the technology.
I didn't particularly care for Dannie Jost's whatever-it-was-she-was-talking-about, except for the quips ("I consider architecture a kind of agriculture, but that's my problem" is a great example) and the reminder of what a particular narrow focus physicist arrogance, I remember from university, looks like. If she said anything at all, I think it was terribly trivial, actually (this is a little better, and then just add cities. Epistemology 101, though).
I quite liked Georgina Voss' polished pitch on the Homesense Project, and I like the combination of ambition and practicality of the project.
Post lunch highlights for me were Anil Bawa-Cavia's Urbagram images. To me they had some refinement that is often missing from this kind of thing, and which really makes the difference. Matt Biddulph seems to be up to interesting things, but I got the sense that we'll only get to hear the exciting stuff a little later. The amazing garbage tracking project from MIT's SENSEable City Lab that Dietmar Offenhuber showed us had everything you could want in terms of being actually embedded in an urban landscape, having a truly urban scale, and having depth of analysis and presentation. Great stuff.
And then to close out the day, Warren Ellis gave us some powerful imagination fueling lines on ghosts seeping from the ground; the electric world around us, and the electric world inside the brain. Great closer - and a suitable match to the opening.
That's a lot of good stuff in a day, I think. Clearly we need these organisers to put on more shows like this.
The term time shifting used to be about personal DVRs and avoiding ads and separating appointment television - like sports games or the stuff kids like and lunch rooms talk about - from the rest of television, but for me, personally, it's beginning to mean something else: When is cultural product X available on the service I'm hooked into. So, many films premiere when I can get the DVD on Lovefilm and albums are released when they show up on Spotify.
This all comes at a loss of coherence, of course, but a lot of that is regained as the cultural artifacts become linkable talking points in online media.
So, this wasn't really supposed to happen, but I've got a job again.
I was approached with the coolest idea I've seen in a long time, certainly the coolest idea I've seen out of Copenhagen in years, and that's why I'm now the architect/tech/team lead (sorta, startups don't do titles) at Carecord.
So what's cool about the project?
But here's the thing - we're building out the tech team now and if you have chops, we want to work with you.
Technically we're looking for people with pretty broad skillsets, at first primarily a backend style developer with web roots. We're technology agnostic but our own skills are with .NET and Ruby on Rails. We're looking to do this on a Linux/Unix platform.
There's a lot of low level detail in this platform, so if you have some experience with designing scalable robustness at a network and protocol level, that's very interesting to us.
We're planning for a small team with a lot of influence for devs, so if you're a versatile type, that's a definite plus.
What we have to offer is an incredibly exciting project, a flat company structure with a lot of influence in the design and nice coworkers. If that sounds interesting to you, contact me.
Den danske twittersfære er så lille at nogle af twitterbrugerne tror twitter er en dagligstue. Det er det ikke. Sociale konventioner fra dagligstuer gælder ikke. Twitter er en agora i en eller anden forstand. Et offentligt sted, hvis altså ikke bare det er et stykke teknologi som over tid bliver helt socialt transparent for os, sådan at vi bare er dem vi er inde i det, uden videre.
I anledning af kedsommelig dunken i hovedet med ligegyldige vaner fra en bestemt - ganske lille - twittersubkultur skal jeg derfor bekendtgøre et faktum og en holdning.
For øvrige meninger om sociale medier og sociale forlangender i dem, erstat venligst blogging med det ønskede sociale medium i denne blogpost og fra den linkede posts.
Her er min hurtige påstand om valget 2011 og sociale medier, formuleret på Twitter i går aftes:
Skal vi ikke bare være helt ærlige fra bunden af: Heller ikke dette folketingsvalg vil blive afgjort på de sociale medier.
Et gængst argument om politikerlede og vælgerpassivitet og vælgeruforudsigelighed og designerpolitik er at politikken er blevet meningsløs fordi den ikke længere afspejler livsstile, sådan som i gamle dage hvor en arbejder simpelthen bare *var* en socialdemokrat og en bonde en venstremand - og vice versa. Vi lider altså af en slem mangel på relationer med den politik, der er på bordet i folketinget. Mulighederne i den situation fik vi illustreret henover sommeren i varmluftsballonen Udkantsdanmark og med Fælleslisten, der så ud til at kapitalisere politisk på skismaet i den danske vækst, der skabes i de store byområder, mens industriproduktionen lukker ned ude i lavtlønsområderne. Det viste sig bare, at der ikke rigtig var nogen politikere inde i Fælleslisten. Det var bare en dampventil. Politik er kultur, og der var ingen politisk kultur i den harme, Fælleslisten gav luft for.
Det minder fuldstændig om hvad vi så med Ny Alliance for fire år siden. Liberal alliance har denne gang langt bedre odds end Ny Alliance havde sidst, simpelthen fordi Liberal Alliance bare er en slags venstrefraktion, peppet op med de mest borgerlige radikale.
De sociale medier er relationsmedier, ikke kampagnemedier, sådan plejer vi jo at sige om dem, når vi skal kritisere politikere der kun liige blogger i en måned op til valget og den slags ret hule forsøg på at komme i øjenhøjde med vælgerne. Relationsmedier burde jo passe lige ind i billedet. Men hvis det skulle passe på den politiske situation, så skulle vi jo allerede se det nu. Selv online tager det tid at lave relationer. Og ærligt talt, det gør vi bare overhovedet ikke. Liberal Alliance har været dygtige til at markedsføre deres skatteberegner med spareeksempler, men det er der jo ikke meget socialt fællesskab i, og Fælleslisten er dykket grundigt under opmærksomhedsgrænsen igen.
Konklusionen er derfor den nogenlunde enkle: Det bliver en kampagne. Den bliver domineret af kombattanter vi kender til bevidstløshed. Der bliver svinestreger og overfladisk leflen, og en pressedækning, der - værre end nogensinde før - vil svigte i at skille spin og human interest fra politik. Og vi kommer til at snakke om den på Facebook, ligesom vi snakker om hvad vi ellers ser på TV. Og så ikke meget mere end det.
At the time of writing, the two Kickstarter projects Blue Like Jazz and Diaspora have raised almost exactly the same amount of money - about $200K. But take a look at the graph above. Do these projects look almost the same to you? Clearly they're not. Diaspora's donations are dominated by large numbers of small donations, and Blue Like Jazz is dominated by a few very large donations.
So much for power laws and treating people like statistics. Clearly huge cultural differences are hidden in the crowds and in the almost identical sum of the donations.
That being said, I would love for Kickstarter to generate sparklines similar to the graph above for all their projects. Gives you an immediate idea of the flavor of the community around a project. Is it a "mass project" or is it more a strong core with fans.
Working under the assumption that Marc Hedlund's post - on why Wesabe didn't make it as a personal financial aggregator - is accurate, there are a couple of superficial conclusions: At play in success are convenience, utility and perceived utility - which is not the same thing as actual utility.
By Hedlunds reasoning, Mint was way better at perceived utility than actual utility, having a low quality of imported financial data, but was clearly more convenient.
Supposing only these three things are in play, there are two possible conclusions: Utility doesn't matter, only perceived utility does. And the other one: Convenience is essential. You don't need to compete on utility above a basic threshold, you need to change the rules a little, so people care about your product at all, and then you simply win on convenience after that.
So a week ago some of us met to talk about things and eat marshmallows at Holmen, here's my list of takeaways, a summary of sorts.
I tried to organize the schedule into a friday oriented around people and a saturday oriented around stuff, or a slightly different take, a Friday around how what we do is received, and a Saturday oriented around how it is made. We didn't stick to this plan in a strict way, but it worked out well as an organising principle.
Moving on to more hopeful ground, Nadja Pass gave a nice introduction to the hopes behind Borgerlyst, and for me the high point of that was actually a nice discussion I had with Ernst Poulsen and Emme about the plight of local news (and Ernst's enthusiasm for fixing that). Hope to hear more about that in a future KCast.
Morten Gade told us about the "democracy problem" of the largest Danish coop, FDB, after which we moved outside to eat and continue the conversation - and talk about more democracy problems, this time in a public housing setting, from Kristoffer Rønde Møller.
To me a high point of the day was when Kristoffer blurted out - having told us about how hard it is to persuade immigrants to take in interest in the governance of the buildings they live in - "I just don't think you get to these problems in your world", meaning approximately that most of the web technology we make simply doesn't get this close to really hard problems, like overcoming language barriers and cultural barriers on the scale Kristoffer runs into in the environment he works in.
My best bet is, that he is absolutely right. Most of us work in relatively safe domains where the users are more similar to us than we like to admit. Most of us probably - to much to high a degree - design for people like ourselves.
This is good news, of course. It means there's tons of ideas still to be had, and still to be brought to life.
Henrik Føhns came by and gave is an impression of the Singularity University. Mark Wubben gave a really nice presentation with some good dogma rules for fast hacking. I particularly liked that the presentation was based in part on a botched attempt at fast prototyping, and not just cheerleading for "fast is good".
I would like to suggest also the following work principle, not in Mark's slides - but maybe implied: If you don't know how to solve your problem, take away resources - maybe you're just confused by your options, not by the problem.
And then we closed out the talking portion of the day by hearing about an interesting project that Riem and Marie are doing, about identifying different "inventive personas" (<- my term) and how they fit into a "proper", commercial invention process. I found the work crisp and memorable.
- I was really happy with the overall level of conversation and participation, this was a very flat 1:1 type of event, and we probably couldn't have done that if we'd filled the venue to capacity, so in the final analysis, I was quite happy with the whisper marketing too, I thought it brough a great crowd together.
I don't know how much of the presentation material I'll be able to get and make available, but if you're interested, leave a note here, or on the Ning network.
Sidste uge mødtes en lille gruppe mennesker og diskuterede Apples nye lukkede regler for brug af iPhone-platformen og Facebooks massive landgrab annonceret under den nyligt overståede F8 konference.
Snakken var god, men en smule svær at referere. Det kunne være blevet en meget aktivistisk samtale om principper, men det blev istedet en forholdsvis bred samtale om hvordan teknologiverdenen egentlig udvikler sig, i en dynamik mellem markedet - der er bedst til "dyb" innovation - og de enkelte virksomheder - der er bedst til fokuserede hurtige fremskridt. Vi snakkede om at der er en dynamik mellem de to måder at udvikle på. Virksomhedens forsøg på kontrol skaber værdier for virksomheden, men provokerer også konkurrence andre steder, og i det lange perspektiv udligner den slags sig så.
Virksomhedsperspektivet på åbenhed vil være at det er nødvendigt for at vokse - i et stykke tid. På et tidspunkt vil det ikke nødvendigvis, for den modne virksomhed, give mening mere, fordi det ikke genererer mere vækst - og så er det fokus flyttes ud på markedet igen, hvor åbenheden kan producere innovation.
Så diskuterede vi om der trods alt er noget anderledes ved de nye nær-monopoler. Ved Google, ved Facebook og ved app-storen. Om man kan udkonkurrere den enorme akkumulation af data som f.eks. Google har. Konsensusformodningen efter et stykke tid var nok "ja", men det tager helt klart tid.
Vi snakkede om hvad man bør stille af krav til sine platforme, for ikke pludselig at være med i en lang sej dødskamp, hvor kontrollen strammes for at tjene flere penge. "Der skal være en kattelem", sagde Niels Hartvig, og brugte sit eget Umbraco som eksempel. Der er ingen tvivl om at Umbraco-projektet primært drives af den sponserende virksomhed Umbraco, men kode er kode, og hvis balancen mellem Umbraco - virksomhedens - interesser og Umbraco - open source CMSet - bliver uspiselig for nogle af deltagerne/brugerne af projektet, så kan de gå deres vej og tage koden med sig. Det vil koste, måske, på innovationstempoet, men ikke på virksomhedens strategiske beslutninger.
Vi diskuterede også hvordan man ikke skal glemme at nogle af de her truende monopoler er blevet monopoler ved overhovedet at etablere et marked, og det er lige præcis det en god privat sponsor kan bidrage med. Det er Amazon, der med Kindle har skabt verdens første volumenmarked for e-bøger. Det er Apple, der med iTunes og App-store har skabt markeder for mobil musik og software. Det er Google, der har skabt moderne søgemaskinemarketing. Man kan ikke bare sådan på principper sige "åben=godt". Der er nogle kvaliteter - transparens etc. - der er gode for markedet, og nogle problemer når markedsdeltageren pludselig også er med som markedsdeltager f.eks., men det er ikke så sort hvidt.
Dynamikken er mellem de krav vi andre stiller til markedsdanneren før vi synes der er lavet et økosystem, og så de krav markedsdanneren har, før det overhovedet giver mening at lave et marked.
Vi snakkede om hvordan modstillingen "åbne platforme" vs "dybt integrerede, brugervenlige platforme" som man set lavet for Apple-casen, er forkert. Der er masser af convenience og brugervenlighed i at være åben; at lade folk drage de fordele af f.eks. iPhonen som de gerne vil.
Vi snakkede forbløffende lidt om Flash og de konkrete forhold v Apples særlige lukkethed. "Langsigtet dynamik vs direkte kontrol" opsummerer balancen i kontrollen fint der, kom vi vist frem til. Vi diskuterede om Apples argument at "kontrol giver bedre software" overhovedet passer. På kort sigt måske, men på langt sigt udelukker man innovation, og der er plausibelt at det gør platformens langtidshorisont mere ustabil, end den ville være som åbent marked.
Endelig så snakkede vi om, for tilfældet Facebook, hvorvidt Facebooks sociale graf er lock-in eller ej. Hvordan beskytter vi os mod en alt for absurd switching cost engang i fremtiden. Thomas Mygdal foreslog et par spørgsmål om det at runde aftenen af med.
Forslag til hvordan man kan lade være med at aflevere ejerskabet til al den adfærd Facebook samler ind. Til hvordan man kan satse på en distribueret identitet, istedet for den Facebook-identitet, der lige er blevet aktiveret på tusindevis af websites, og endelig om ikke Facebooks seneste afprivatisering af data vil føre til en øget offentlig opmærksomhed på om firmaet overhovedet lever op til databeskyttelseslovgivningen rundt om i Europa.
Der var almindelig tro på at der også er en vekselvirkning mellem det distribuerede og det monolitiske/monopolkontrollerede, men stor spredning i budene på hvad tidshorisonten så er for at det flipper over til mere individuel kontrol igen. Sådan som hovedregel, tror jeg budet var, at der måske er en 5-års horisont tilbage at være ubekymret monopolist i for Facebook.
[Sådan så aftenen ud, set fra min notesblok. Det er farvet af den ballast jeg selv kom ind i samtalen med, og dækker naturligvis ikke hvad alle de andre har tænkt; samtalen var god og mangfoldig. Men en slags referat er det dog]
It seems we're in for a reversal of the privacy defaults on the web, unless you want to stay off the social media most of the time. Facebook is reversing the default anonymity we're enjoying now. Sure, doubleclick maybe already did that a decade ago, but at least we've had the illusion. That's all gone now.
This means that the content filters that were previously only relevant for walled-in corporations who did not want their frivolous employees to do frivolous non-work suddenly become relevant for all of us.
It's okay to wear a badge as long as we stay in Disneyland, but we'd probably like to take it off when we're passing through the red light district.
I see a great new market here for the filter vendors. Personal reputation management.
[UPDATE: Thomas was unhappy with the Noboot name so we're changing it to The Ersatz Conference]
Just got back from the first volunteers' meeting to plan a replacement event, now Reboot 12 isn't happening in 2010. The founding committee was @melampus, @tobiashm, @novemberborn, @palnatoke, @mortengade and myself.
Here's the plan, as much of it as we have together: We're going to be scouting for venues over the next week or two. As soon as we have a venue we have a date, and then we'll announce where and when.
We're hoping to do a two day event in June. Since at least one person read the Reboot cancellation email to mean that the theme this year was "Break" we've going with that.
You can still sign up here to show your interest, and here to tell us which date is best. Pretty soon we'll have a site up where you can make suggestions for talks/themes/events - but we're not going to do that until we've fixed the date and place, so we have an idea of what kind of scope we can manage.
The Ersatz Conference will be low cost, but not free, we need food and stuff after all. We're hoping not only Copenhagen rebooters, but also some of the international regulars, will make the trip, even without Reboot. Copenhagen in June is a great place to be, as you know.
If you would like to sponsor, or if your employer would like to sponsor the event or help us out in any other way, contact me.
The conversational revolution of the internet during the last decade has brought about a lot of companies trying to engage with us at a different level than just being corporations. Instead of dehumanizing Terms of Service legalese and Acceptable Use Policies we're treated to an onslaught of microcopy as social markers, that this is a place where people deal with people and we don't need a contract. We could call these social disclaimers.
The problem of course is that some times we just want the frictionless and guaranteed behaviour of the market, instead of conversational engagement.
My list of the top three most overdone social disclaimers is here
De forskellige reaktioner på håndmixeren, som jeg opfandt forleden, var en reaktion på den sædvanlige vi-snakker-om-nye-ting bølge på nettet, aktualiseret af Google Buzz, men ellers senest set i forbindelse med iPadden og sidste år med Google Wave.
Dag 1-reaktionerne på nye ting er som regel helt i skoven. Det er en blanding af at man ikke selv kan høre forskel på de rigtige ting, der trods alt bliver sagt, og så alt det andet - og så en række standardforvirringer i forbindelse med ny teknologi
A while back I started publishing the Twitter Self-absorbtion Index, an index measuring how much of the Twitter conversation was just inane conversation about how to tweet. When I started publishing, the index was in the 30% to 40% range (i.e. 30-40 of the top links found on Twitter were about Twitter), but thankfully, that has given way to general usefulness.
As a consequence of that, I have stopped updating the TSI. The full history of Twitter self-absorption from when the index was conceived, and updated hourly since then, is archived here for posterity.
tryk her for fuld størrelse
Det skal ikke være nogen hemmelighed at det var Timmes undersøgelses-diss, der fik mig til at spørge efter mobilvaner på nettet. Timmes diss, og så en stærkt tværmedieeffektiviseret dag i Århus, hvor jeg havde brug for snart sagt alle faciliteter i den moderne mobiltelefon til contingency planning, som det hedder på nudansk, og til at finde rundt. Pludselig at bruge alle features på min fon fik mig dog til at tænke at det gør jeg da virkelig ikke til daglig; der er det mest noget med tekstbeskeder i forskellige medier.
Og tak for de mange svar. Jeg har samlet sammen på de væsentligste trends ovenfor, og vil lige kommentere på dem; og komme med nogle forbehold.
Trends først - jeg har lært af Timme at man skal komme med sine konklusioner skråsikkert og med det samme, uden tanke på rimelige indvendinger mod de indsamlede tal.
Jeg har to overskriftmuligheder
Der er bare mere træghed i de gamle "kedelige" anvendelser end folk oplever.
Diagrammet ovenfor viser brugskategorier; både hvad folk indrapporterer de lige har gjort, og hvad de mener de gør mest. Jeg har talt dem sammen for alle, for smartphones (her Android, iPhone, Blackberry) og for de andre telefoner.
Det er nok ikke så overraskende at Twitter fylder en del, når nu det er der man spørger - og jeg havde klart glemt en app-kategori i spørgeskemaet, omend tallene også viser at apps stadig kun havde fået en 3. eller 4. plads i kapløbet om anvendelser.
Forbeholdene er indlysende. 65% af besvarelserne er fra smartphonebrugere - til min store overraskelse er det dog kun "overvejende" iPhones og ikke "udelukkende" iPhones - masser af Android og Blackberry også. Twitterbiasen er udtalt.
De færreste vil blive overraskede over at smartphonebrugerne bruger deres telefon mere end de andre telefonbrugere.
Under mit lidt for ubrugte tinker-bord står en aldeles for ubrugt Makerbot. Sådan bliver det ikke ved med at være, men imens den står ubrugt, så nyder jeg købet på den måde at jeg følger med i den utroligt livlige udvikling på Makerbot-forummet. Maskinen virker meget forskelligt for dens forskellige købere. Jeg er nok en outlier i fiaskoenden af skalaen, men folk har allehånde problemer og udfordringer med den, fra overhovedet at komme i gang - som mig - til mærkelige prints fordi vi er overordentlig langt fra den skjulte kompleksitet her. Software og selve printeren skal virkelig tunes og stryges med hårerne for at få gode prints ud af den.
Samfundet omkring makerbotten er til gengæld de helt rigtige brugere i denne fase; de designer den om, tester det muliges grænser, finder på nye printere med nye materialer og andre funktionsmåder, der giver mere stabile prints og det er en forvirrende fornøjelse at følge med i.
Der er to ting, der er interessante ved det: For det første så er hardware i hænderne på disse brugere, simpelthen ikke hardware, men en del af den omkonfigurerbare funktion, ligesom softwaren er det. Hvis den ikke lige virker, så laver man den da om. Der er ikke en producent/bruger-barriere som man ellers er vant til med hardware, hvor software for folk som mig selv, længe har været mere i hænderne på brugeren.
For det andet så er denne her softwaretilstand, omkonfigurerbarheden, en magisk størrelse. Funktionen bobler rundt under fingrene på en. Det er frustererende når man ikke er interesseret i bobler, men hvis man er frisk på at holde øje med om det koger over, så smager det af meget mer.
Jeg er bruger i samme situaton af en Eigenharp Pico. Jeg er ikke rigtig begyndt at lave musik på den endnu. Udfordringen her er lidt en anden; hardwaren er fremragende, men softwaren er mildt sagt en udfordring. Ambitionen med instrumentet har været at lave noget man kan spille på live, ikke noget man bruger med en laptop så *det må man ikke* Der er helt bestemt nogle sjove screencasts gemt i den deraf følgende forvirring. Men igen så er der en masse super intelligente brugere, der ivrigt diskuterer med producenten og igen er producenten med på at lytte, så der foregår en hel masse tilpasninger. Instrumentet er nyt fra denne måned, og der er allerede kommet fire softwareupdates til det.
Early adopter shopping er noget helt andet end normal shopping. Det handler ikke om convenience, nærmest det modsatte. Det er udfordringer til hverdagen.
Fredag var jeg turist til en konference om mobiltelefoner i Afrika. Det er et spændende emne; det er fantastisk at det virker, og mobiltelefoner gør alle mulige andre former for leapfrogging muligt, nu man har lavet den teknologiske leapfrogging og lavet telefoni overalt.
Vi lagde fra land med lidt stats, så dem kan I da også få nogle af: Worldwide penetration af mobiltelefoni er ca 2/3; altså ca 2 ud af 3 verdensborgere har en telefon. I afrika er tallet 1/3 - med enorm variation, fordi der er enorm forskel på hvor rige de afrikanske samfund er. Jeg har kun været i ét afrikansk land, et af de fattigere og der var såmænd også telefoner overalt.
Prisen for at bruge telefonen - set i forhold til indkomst - er skyhøj, men sms og telefoni går lige; datatrafik ellers kan man godt glemme at designe efter. Det er kun sponseret brug af det, der virker.
Dagen havde desværre mest lige-om-lidt projekter med, ikke nogle warstories fra etablerede succeser, men der var masser af lektier alligevel.
Lektie 1: Ting ankommer ude af rækkefølge. Det er ikke bare det her med at afrika pludselig er ligeså telefondækket som vesten, der er besynderligt, det er også rækkefølgen af effekter: Teknologien først, inden i den kommer så
Fra den mere traditionelt indlysende ende, hørte vi (fra Stine Lund) om uddannelse og pleje for gravide og nyfødte med mobiltelefonen som kommunikationssystem. Det handler meget om at lade infrastrukturen rulle sig ud hvor det er nødvendigt; og om at bruge telefonen som digitalt undervisningsmedium. Vanskelighederne i forbindelse med overlevelse og sundhed for gravide og nyfødte er, at dødeligheden ganske vist er høj, men det er stadig særtilfældene man leder efter; det er dyrt eller umuligt bare at rulle en høj standard ud over det hele, så behovet er i bedre diagnostik og rapportering hvor kvinderne bor, og så adgang til hurtigt at eskalere til ordentligt uddannet hjælp når det ikke går som det skal.
Ovennævnte indlæg fra Herman Chinery-Hesse, grundlægger af BSLGlobal, ifølge Tomas Krag, fra refunite.org, der også talte på dagen, virkelig en star i sit hjemland, Ghana, var nok dagens højdepunkt. En af de sjovere pointer var den at international handel i Afrika er nærmest fuldstændig orienteret ud af Afrika, som et ekko af kolonisystemet. Infrastrukturen er lavet lige sådan, men det er ved at ændre sig, og Chinery-Hesse så det næste skridt op som noget, der i høj grad handlede om bare at få Afrika til at fungere som et marked, ligesom EU er et.
Udfordringerne er enorme og meget Afrika-specifikke: Robusthed, adgang til strøm til kommunikation, analfabetisme - altså hvordan tilpasser man teknologien til et marked hvor de handlende ikke kan læse og skrive, transport, regulering. Men omvendt, så er potentialet stort, netop fordi al handel nu er så lokal; værdiefangsten foregår med internationale handlende, meget tæt på råstofkilderne, og meget lidt af forædlingen med tilhørende værdi, foregår i Afrika eller på afrikanske hænder.
Vi hørte også fra en Nokia-finne, om brugerresearch i Østafrika, om hvordan Nokia arbejdede med at bruge de facto distributionen af musik - piratkopiering - som social bærer for nogle af telefonens muligheder. Der manglede lidt detaljer der, men det lød super spændende som idé.
Og vi hørte om hvordan man laver vedligeholdelses- og dieselfrie mobilmaster langt væk fra alfarvej, og sidst, men ikke mindst, antydede Tomas Krag nogle af de teknologiske vanskeligheder ved at tænke på "Afrika" som én ting. Det er et indviklet sted; der er utallige lande, utallige mobilcarriers, utallige sprog, stor mangel på uddannelse og teknologikurven er der, naturligvis, men udviklingen ser anderledes ud, fordi økonomien ser anderledes ud. Man kan ikke planlægge efter hypekurven; men må tænkte et par skridt baglæns og tilpasse sig en enklere verden, som ikke har så meget at byde på teknologisk - udover rigelig besvær - men som til gengæld har en indviklet og levende social struktur.
Det mest interessante v. dagen var næsten at bolden ruller, uden at det har særlig meget med vesten at gøre. Innovationen tilpasset økonomi og teknologi rundt om på kontinentet bliver faktisk lavet, rundt om på kontinentet.
Om sammenhængen mellem regulering og vækst, navnlig for steder, hvor det ikke virker, se - lidt spekulativt måske - Paul Romers TED-talk.
I en dag eller to endnu, kan du også få folks noter fra konf'en ved at søge på Twitter.
Engang vidste jeg alt for meget om hvor mange dage folk, der regner rentebetalinger ud, kan mene en måned består af. Jeg er utrolig glad for at sommertid, vintertid, skudsekunder og den gregorianske kalender ikke var faktorer her - for det var slemt nok som det var.
Vil man vedligeholde en ordentlig ressource med oversigt over tidszoner, sommertid, datoer for skift mellem de to, indregning af skudsekunder og fanden og hans pumpestok, sådan at computerens ur altid kan vise det rigtige, så må man imidlertid igang.
Heldigvis har open source verdenen entusiaster til den slags, der kan gøre det udtømmende, og heldigvis er lige præcis tidszone-entusiasterne ikke bare bogholdere, men ægte tidszoneaster, der får en solid hobby ud af emnet.
Således er den standardressource alle læner sig op ad, fyldt med anekdoter om mærkelige forhold i verdens tidsregning. Fra historien om dengang Detroit insisterede på at bruge soltid - altså: klokken er 12 når solen står højest lige netop i Detroit - til historien om den uge hvor der var to fredage i Alaska - fordi området var blevet solgt fra det juliansk kalendariserede Rusland til det gregoriansk kalendariserede USA.
I Detroit blev det til sidst for meget, og byrådet besluttede at gå over til tidszoner - men det ville halvdelen af byens handlende ikke være med til, så i en periode gik uret på den ene side af gaden 28 minutter forskudt fra uret på den anden side.
I Alaska ver det i virkeligheden nemmere. Da salget fandt sted boede der ikke nogen, der brugte kalenderen til noget alligevel.
Jeg kan iøvrigt også oplyse at der er (var?) en lille særlig tidszone rundt om Thule, der kører amerikansk tid, ikke normal grønlandsk tid.
Når nu erfaringen lærer en at selv ethvert spørgsmål, med mere en et muligt svar, vil blive besvaret med største oprigtighed på alle mulige måder før eller siden, så kan det ikke undre at noget så politisk og arbitrært som tidszoner og sommertid er årsag til utallige mærkelige anekdoter, men omfanget er nu alligevel imponerende.
Det ekstra fine er, at tidszoneasterne har gemt alle de gode historier sammen med alle reglerne i den tidszonefil, der bliver brugt alle steder. En dejlig almanak af bizarre historier fra hele verden er altså standardudstyr rundt om i verdens serverparker.
It never hurts to repeat a good point: The silos we're all moving into now can all be leapfrogged. The second the silos aren't simplifying, but instead hampering, innovation and expression, they'll start to loose. Maybe they are beginning to loose right now. Google seems intent - in everything but search - to make sure the silo is just a convenience, not in-circumventable fact.
In other silos-are-breaking news: The T-mobile/Sidekick catastrophe, and we could end up on a modern, open, federated communications platform instead of a silo, and a silo so stressed by growth, that it's really hard to get data out of it that is more than 2-3 days old.
Googler's current and ex- are also still working on moving people to open social networks. Open social maybe wasn't really the sweet spot that one hoped for, but new projects are trying to get there. One wonders along the way if Twitter is moving to a Mozilla business model? Free to use, we just sell the behaviour of our users.
Facebook is going to have move as well - just because of the things you can do with data you can get at. What I'm trying to say, really, is that if you plan to be doing something interesting in two years, I would personally bet on desilofication over "better, but closed" data, just on general principle of cycles.
I got into the Wave preview, and first things first: This really is a beta. The bugs. It is full of them. It is a dangerous move, lots of people aren't very good at looking at unfinished things, but I personally appreciate the opportunity.
Second thing: You can't really evaluate something that involves communication before you're actually trying it out for communication that you really want to be doing. Trying out Wave without a real need or purpose - because I can't invite the people I usually need to talk to - makes me question any and all user testing of software that isn't done with real paying customers.
That being said, even on the features, it seems the experience is a rewrite or two from being generally useful. Which is not a problem. GMail, famously, was redone 6 times for experience. Wave still feels like a lot of the interface has not been sandpapered down to proper size. I'm even unsure about the basic interface metaphor.
After seeing the original Wave demo, and reading the whitepapers, I wrote about how the project hit all the right marks in terms of openness and technology, and I still think the underlying tech - choice of Problem, Platform and Policy - is incredibly right. It's just that its right for a lot of different experiences and the one we're looking at now isn't polished yet, and doesn't really show off all the 3Ps can handle.
So what could it do and what does it do and what does and does not work?
What the Wave technology does underneath the experience is real time, collaborative, federated, versioned, editing of XML
But of course it is not an experience.
The Wave UI seems to have stayed pretty close to the tech-description above. The experience is "structured, live, collaborative writing". Examples of what it isn't:
However, we could just have a couple of different experiences - much like I chat in Adium, but love the archive in GMail. That integration is incomplete - in that I can't restart the chart later. Once I'm in GMail I have moved on. There's no Adium friendly API into the chat archives. With Wave I could start a conversation with reference in a previous conversation - which could be a great interface. Also, the ability to fork conversations, could be made very nice as an experience.
When I started writing, I wanted to include my list of observations of odd things in Wave (desktop metaphor seems wrong for this, wave/contact/tool organization takes up too much screen compared to content, muting vs archiving hard to understand, 99 changes in a wave impossible to understand, bots vs gadgets what does what? why is there a 'display' and an 'edit' mode?) as well as what seems like bugs - but I think I'll do that separately later in a better format.
Valleywag has a helpful chart of the stormy relationship between progressives and Twitter. It reminds me of how blogging developed. At first it seemed to be some kind of monoculture, talking about particular things - and a lot about itself, trying to constitute the environment in the first place. And people thought that "blogger" was an identity; which of course no media can stay, if it is successful as a mass media.
Later we found out that political blogging is more like talk radio than anything else. Really good for fringes on both sides, energizing the troops - less good as an actual agora of public opinion.
Twitter also seemed to be owned by progressives; they built it after all. But of course that doesn't work with mass adoption and now the monoculture there is going the way of that of blogs.
By which I mean, which awesome features do I have on my phone - and by metonymic extension - in my fingers, because of the software running on my Android phone.
Listed here in order of discovery -
So, yesterday afternoon, Morten suggested it would be cool if there was a site that could score the days at Roskilde against personal preferences as expressed through Last.fm.
Indeed it would be, and since Morten does nice minimal interfaces and I do data gathering and mixing, we agreed to split the work, and build the Best day at Roskilde-finder.
It's worthwhile to have a look at what infrastructure we have used for this and which situational hacks are involved. I didn't have to scrape the concert program myself, as Steffen had already done that, through Yahoo's YQL.
What I needed to do is mine Last.fm's API for relevancy for those bands to merge with the user's favorite bands.
Present that to Morten's website as simply as possible and let Morten make a useful interface for the data.
It doesn't quite end there, though. Morten had previously exploited live play information from Danish National Radio to create a radio station persona on Last.fm.
Through Spotify, using Spotify's Last.fm integration he is also building a Roskilde Festival persona.
- these will give more general than personal answers: "If you're the kind of person listening to this radio station you will like".
It's interesting how much infrastructure is available - and useful - for a mashup like this.
We're using Yahoo, Last.fm, Danish Radio's website, Roskilde's website and Spotify as data sources/web services - and combining preexisting situational hacks from 3 people, on top of the obvious webservers and direct hacking.
These resources can be combined, and hidden away, in less than 10 hours to produce a coherent, simple and fun website.
Add instant distribution through Facebook and Twitter (Facebook wins) and there's a nice useful bit of mashup for an intended audience of 200-10000 people.
I thought Bing vs Wave makes an interesting comparison. Bing is a rebranding of completely generic search; absolutely nothing new. Not a single feature in the presentation video does anything I don't already have. And yet it's presented in classic Microsoft form as if it was something new and as if these unoriginal product ideas sprang from Microsoft by immaculate conception.
Contrast that to Google Wave, which - if it does something wrong - is overreaching more than underwhelming. And contrast also Wave's internet-born and internet-ready presentation and launch conditions. It's built on an open platform (XMPP aka Jabber). The Wave whitepapers gladly acknowledge the inspiration from research on collaborative creation elsewhere. The protocol is published. A reference implementation will be open sourced. The hosted Wave service will federate. It is a concern for Google (mentioned in presentations) to give third parties equal access to the plugin system - the company acknowledges that internally grown stuff has an initial advantage and is concerned with leveling the playing field.
Does Microsoft have the culture and the skills to make the same kind of move? I'm not suggesting that there's an evil vs nonevil thing here - obviously Google wins by owning important infrastructure - but just that the style of invention in Wave, based on other people's standards and given away so others can again innovate on top of it, seems completely at odds with Microsoft's notion of how you own the stuff you own.
So Wolfram Alpha - much talked about Google killer - is out. It's not really a Google killer - it's more like an oversexed version of the Google Calculator - good to deal with a curated set of questions.
The cooked examples on the site often look great of course, there's stuff you would expect from Mathematica - maths and some physics, but my first hour or two with the service yielded very few answers corresponding to the tasks I set my self.
I figured that one of the strengths in the system was that it has data not pages, so I started asking for population growth by country - did not work. Looking up GDP Denmark historical works but presents meaningless statistics - like a bad college student with a calculator, averaging stuff that should not be averaged. A GDP time series is a growth curve. Mean is meaningless.
Google needs an extra click to get there - but the end result is better.
I tried life expectancy, again I could only compare a few countries - and again, statistics I didn't ask for dominate.
Let's do a head to head, by doing some stuff Google Calculator was built for - unit conversion. 4 feet in meters helpfully over shares and gives me the answer in "rack units" as well. Change the scale to 400 feet and you get the answer in multiples of Noah's Ark (!) + a small compendium of facts from your physics compendium...
OK - enough with the time series and calculator stuff, let's try for just one number lookup: Rain in Sahara. Sadly Wolfram has made a decision: Rain and Sahara are both movie titles, so this must be about movies. Let's compare with Google. This is one of those cases where people would look at the Google answer and conclude we need a real database. The Google page gives a relief organisation that uses "rain in sahara" poetically, to mean relief - and a Swiss rockband - but as we saw Wolfram sadly concluded that Rain + Sahara are movies, so no database help there.
I try to correct my search strategy to how much rain in sahara which fails hilariously by informing me that no, the movie "Rain" is not part of the movie Sahara. Same approach on Google works well.
I begin to see the problem. Wolfram Alpha seems locked in a genius trap, supposing that we are looking for The Answer and that there is one, and that the problem at hand is to deliver The Answer and nothing else. That model of knowledge is just wrong, as the Sahara case demonstrates.
The over sharing (length in Noah's Ark units) when The Answer is at hand doesn't help either, even if it is good nerdy entertainment.
Final task: major cities in Denmark. The answer: We don't know The Answer for that - we have "some answers" but not The Answer, so we're not going to tell you anything at all.
Very few questions are really formulas to compute an answer. And that's what Wolfram Alpha is: A calculator of Answers.
Go' Morgen TV havde brug for en "internettet er fuld af fup og det er farligt" historie, som den skarpsindige seer hurtigt indser også hjælper til med at få de gamle medier til at se bedre ud. Subteksten er jo "hvem kan dog stole på historier der ikke er lavet af journalister"?
Desværre ville virkeligheden ude på Wikipedia ikke rigtig leverer en god fejl, lige den dag, så nogen hos Egmont fabrikerede selv en fejl og scorede dermed et subtekstuelt selvmål: Det er journalister, der fabrikerer usandheder til næste udsendelse.
Den kunstige fejl overlevede kun 4 minutter, så havde en behjertet Wikipediaist (sikkert maskinassisteret) rettet historien tilbage - TV-indslaget måtte nøjes med gemt kopi af siden.
Det er lamt med dobbelt skrue at den eneste historie redaktionen kunne finde ud af at lave om (hvis altså det er sådan det er foregået) er værternes biografi: Ikke bare løgnagtigt, men også narcissistisk.
Om andre medielidelser tidligere.
Ubicomp er den gamle drøm om beregning i alting - og her er et virkelig godt slideshow, der diskuterer om vi ikke har fået det allerede uden at lægge mærke til det - i iPods og snedige telefoner og uventede remixes af virkelighedsdata med webdata. Man får virkelig aktiveret tankerne her.
I would like to take this moment to cross link the frequent "Your employer checks your online life on Facebook/Twitter etc." media scares with the gross Domino's employee video.
The point of the scare stories always seems to lie in the perceived asymmetry between the employed individual and the BigCo Facebook-checkers. The asymmetry, according to the typical story, makes keeping up with people 'unfair' and presumably the mass of the corporation makes the check easier to do. It's not just somebody you're about to have a conversation with trying to get a feel for who you are, but BigCo surveillance (we all know that stuff is relentless and 24/7 and impossible to sleep during).
On the other hand the Domino's story tells us that the corporations simply have to. The asymmetry cuts both ways; two random employees can have the same media impact as all of the organization of BigCo combined.
So in fact the asymmetry isn't there at all, except in cost. It's really expensive for BigCo to maintain any kind of assurance that the conversation about BigCo stays civil. In terms of impact, independents have the upper hand.
Ikke i "demokratisk problem" eller som noget med transparens, men simpelthen det forhold at de samtaler, der foregår internt ikke bliver vasket i den store offentlige informationsmølle.
Jeg snakkede for ikke så lang tid siden med en bekendt, der var godt og grundigt træt af den lokale sharepoint løsning i den organisation hun nu var i. Navnlig var hun ærgelig over at søgning var så dårligt. Indholdet til intranettet blev sådan set lavet, men det nyttede bare ikke noget fordi folk ikke kan finde det bagefter.
Problemet er selvfølgelig at intranettet kun har sig selv at basere søgningen på. Der er ingen adfærdsbaseret fremhævning a la Google's rige linkstruktur, Amazons købsanbefalinger eller Digg/Reddit/osv.'s link-communities.
Problemet i en organisation er, at den har en lille population, og det dræber den kilde til viden. Hvis altså organisationen er lukket om sig selv.
Tit og ofte vil en organisation simpelthen være dårligt tjent med at dens arbejde foregår i ly af organisationens yderskal. Problemet i en organisation er, at den har en lille population, og det dræber den kilde til viden. Hvis altså organisationen er lukket om sig selv.
Det gælder også udvikling. Clayton Christensens berømte innovationsdilemma handler om produktudvalg og salg og fokus der, men det kunne lige så godt handle om supply-side problemstillinger. Når en organisation som Google har valgt teknologi (Python på App Engine) og insisterer på at alt skal køres ind i den verden, så giver det mening som stordrift - men Google har så også fravalgt at lære noget af andre organisationer, eller offentligheden.
When we built Imity - bluetooth autodetecting social network for your cell phone - we did - of course - get the occasional "big brother"-y comment about how we were building the surveillance society. We were always very careful to not frame the application as being about that, careful with the language, hoping to foster a culture that didn't approach the service on those terms. We never got the traction to see whether our cultural setup was sufficient to keep the use on the terms we wanted, but it was still important to have the right cultural idea about what the technology was for, to curb the most paranoid thinking about potentials.
It's simply not a reasonable thing to ask of new technology, that it should be harm-proof. Nothing worthwhile is. Cars aren't. Knives aren't. Why would high-tech ever be. And just where in the narrative of some future disaster does the backtracking to find the harm end? Computers and the internet are routinely blamed for all kinds of wrongdoing, whereas the clothing, roads, vehicles and other pre-digital artifacts surrounding something bad routinely are not.
What matters is the culture of use around the technology, whether there is a culture of reasonable use or just a culture of unreasonable use. And you simply cannot infer the culture from the technology. Culture does not grow from the technology. It just does not work that way.
I think a lot of the internet disbelief wrt. to The Pirate Bay verdicts comes from basically missing this point. "But then Google is infringing as well" floats around. But the important thing here is that Pirate Bay is largely a culture of sharing illegally copied content whereas Google is largely a culture of finding information.
I think it's important to keep culture in mind - because that in turn sets technology free to grow. We can't blame technology for any potential future harm; we'll just have to not do harm with it in the future - but the flip side of course is that responsibility remains with us.
I haven't read the verdict, but the post verdict press conference focused squarely on organization, behaviour and economics of what actual crossed the Pirate Bay search engine, which seems sound.
- that being said, copyright owners are still squandering the digital opportunity by not coming up with new ways of distribution better suited for the digital world, but the internet response wrt. The Pirate Bay that they just couldn't be quilty, for technological reasons, does not really seem solid to me, if we are to reason in a healthy manner about technology and society at all.
The What You Want-Web got a number of power boosts this week.
The What-You-Want Web is my just-coined phrase for the lock-in free, non-value-bundled, disintermediated, higly competitive computation, api, and experience fabric one could hope the web is evolving towards. Twitter already lives there, nice to see some more people join.
The important thing about all of these announcements is that they forgo a number of options for making money off free/cheap: Lowering the friction towards zero means the services have to succeed on their own merits. If they fail to offer what I need or want, I can just leave. I don't have to buy into the platform promise of any of these tools, I can just get the stuff that has value to me.
I think in 5 years we will remember Twitter largely as the first radically open company on the web. Considering the high availability search and good APIs, there literally is no aspect of your life on Twitter that you can't take with you.
P.S. (Also, three cheers for Polarrose, launching flickr/facebook-face recognition today. A company adding decisive value with unique technology, born to take advantage of the WYW-Web.)
Pretty good overview of what's wrong with URL shorteners. They destroy the link space, adds brittle infrastructure run by who knows who. We already know that the real value proposition is traffic measurement - i.e. selling your privacy short.
The problem of course is the obvious utility of shorteners.
This is all new stuff, the current state of the art is not how it is going to end.
I går var jeg i Århus, primært for at se Enter Action på Aros, men også for at hilse på bekendte og besøge NEXT expoen*.
Enter Action er afgjort et besøg værd, endda en rejse værd. Udstillingen er godt nok lidt ujævn, efter min mening, og bærer stadigvæk vidnesbyrd om hvor svært teknologi som materiale er, det kniber stadig en smule med at komme forbi materialet til et udtryk, selv i sådan et creme de la creme setup som her. Nu er teknologi jo i mellemtiden blevet så almindeligt omkring os, så det fint går ind som selve materien i udstillingen også, og det hjælper bestemt lidt på det. Flere af værkerne gør en dyd ud af den synlige teknik.
I enestående grad bedst på udstillingen er Listening Post (video af værket her), der med lyd, mørke og en monumental opsætning af digital tekst hentet fra nettet, sagtens kunne bruges til en hel dags besøg.
Måske har det lidt med hele det her med at rejse efter kunsten også at gøre. Listening Post, i modsætning til de fleste andre værker på udstillingen, har et kultisk monumentalt præg, der fungerer godt som mål for rejsen. Cærket er naturligvis allerede gennempræmieret.
Noget, der så ud som om det kunne være fantastisk, de robotiserede rullestole, fungerede ikke rigtig mens jeg var hos dem, til gengæld var jeg glad for at en virkelig energisk teenager med god balance, gav en flot demo af det utrolige visuelle løbebånd. Jeg havde ikke selv holdt i 30 sekunder.
Mest irriterende på udstillingen: Et kedeligt rum med net-art i browsere. Blah. Aros skal naturligvis linke til det på hjemmesiden, men det er altså ikke noget der funker på stedet. (og dog, jeg må ikke glemme at der er et so last year Second Life rum også).
Mest overraskende på udstillingen: Mit hjerte slår, hvis Pulse Room står til troende, i valsetakt.
Bonus Aros-anbefaling: Gå ikke glip af Lars Arrhenius' skeletvideo et par etager højere oppe. Der er en Tim Burtonsk grum humor over den skeletale hverdag i Stockholm.
NEXT udstillingen var udemærket, men ikke en tur værd i sig selv. Ikke helt så cutting edge som tidligere, men betydeligt mere bred - materialevidenskab og andre ingeniøragtige indslag var også med. Det var dejligt at se The Orb, Wiremap og Cellphone Disco i virkeligheden, men som den sætning også antyder, så er det ikke let at være NEXT i blog-monokulturen. Mange af de objekter, udstillingen kan finde frem, har vi alle set på nettet.
Og så lige en pet peeve: Hvorfor står der en Z-machine printer på udstillingen hvert år, når den ikke kører og printer udstillingsgæsternes egne 3D-kreationer?
Og hvorfor var der ikke nogen Siftables?
* Konference skuffede mig totalt med sin mangel på servietorigami til lunchcam'et, men ellers var Matt Webbs indlæg (og det med naturen) som jeg så på videostrøm, virkelig godt - sorry Nikolaj, men jeg nåede ikke at se din preso.
Et midlertidigt og ufærdigt katalog over måder folk får mening ud af nonsens (som er den naturlige konsekvens af 'gratis og åben adgang')
(interessant nok blander Amazon "pris væk fra nul" og kuratering; anbefalingerne i bunden af hver produktside er jo gratis for alle at skrive, og derfor sander de hurtigt til, men læserne (som der er mange flere af end skriverne) kan stemme dem op og ned. Det hjælper tilsyneladende.)
Fidusen ved de nye medier er at de ikke koster noget. Derfor kan det pludselig betale sig at sige ting, det ikke kunne betale sig at sige i gamle dage, og fejltagelser og dumheder er ligemeget; de kostede heller ikke noget. Hvis du skyder konsulentlønninger ind i det regnestykke så går det ikke op mere.
OK, det her rant har ligget i draft i måske et år, men Here Comes Everybody satte den økonomiske side af det dejlig skarpt op, og dermed grund til at publishe.
Hovedpointen er ikke at man ikke skal have konsulenter, man skal bare ikke tro at de gør noget de ikke gør. Kommunikation er stadig bare kommunikation. Hvis man ikke melder sig ind i "det er gratis, og alle har lov til at gøre det"-ligningen, så kunne de gamle medier det allerede. Ingen grund til at tro at et medieskift og konsulentskift ændrer på noget, hvis ikke man kommer over i gratis-ligningen.
Man kan med fordel også høre på John Gruber om hvordan blogging ikke er noget som helst, det er bare mere skrift.
I noticed one thing in the various round-ups of "women in tech" yesterday. Ada Lovelace would not have recognized the majority of them as "being in tech", since the lists (the ones I saw anyway) contained a minority of engineers/scientists in tech and large groups of women in communication, sales, management, interface design, user experience, usability, anthropology etc. around the actual nuts and bolts of the engineering disciplines.
This is a good thing. Digital technology is no longer a mathematical island hidden away out of sight, but an integrated part of a large field of work with permeable membranes to the humanities, to social studies and to design.
Whether that makes it less likely or more likely for women to switch into the actual technical matter, coding and architecting, is less clear.
When blogging was new we all blogged about blogging. Few people do these days, they're busy twittering about Twitter. But just how busy? To answer this question, please say hello to The Twitter Self-absorption Index (TSI for short). An unscientific measure of how much of the twittering isn't really about anything - except twittering.
The Chrome Experiments seem like an odd departure for Google. All Google properties seem to focus on fundamentals, not experience, but here you have a group of experiments that are pretty much exclusively about experience. Also, what happened to white?
Of course the experiences highlight that fundamentals make a difference: Casey Reas' blog post seems very on the mark to me.
Technically, I think the greatest innovation of Chrome is launching each Window or Tab as a separate process. If you try to run Twitch on Firefox it starts to slow down as more windows open. Each mini-game competes for the same resources from the computer's processor. In Chrome, because each window runs separately, the frame rate remains high.
Don't miss out on Sascha Pohflepp & Karsten Schmidt's socialcollider (which, sadly, sucks performance wise in Firefox)
All of this goes to show that technology is never done. There's always more to do, something different to do. Search is not done either. Where the money goes is not done.
ARToolkit has been around for ages (10 years), but until quite recently was sadly locked up in C and C++ libraries. Recently it has been completely liberated and implemented in Flash, Processing, Java, C# and now runs on any toaster. The power of that is just huge. The usual first instinct with ARtoolkit is "Oh look at this virtual stuff on top of my real stuff. Then you have to suppress a yawn. But now you have all of these platforms and people with a completely new perspective start using ARToolkit in completely different ways.
The T-shirts are nice, but
actually ARToolkit is not a good match, since it's not really a 2d code, but pretrained recognition (read the whole thing, Claus - they added 2d barcodes on top of the FLAR-pattern).
The calibrate and forget on a fixed surface works well.
The one I really think is brilliant is using non-recognition as the signal, with recognition as the steady state.
The ARToolkit code really benefits from coming out into the fresh air of Processing and Flash. New people with fresh energy to experiment and different ideas about what its for.
Konklusionen på blogdødsposten for neden nåede ikke rigtig frem. Blogs er ikke døde, nogen af dem er, og så tror jeg mediet er blevet konsolideret - DIY-blogging er ikke hvad det har været, men i de mere beskyttede avisdrevne miljøer skriver de lystigt; jeg ku stadig godt tænke mig at se overskrifts nyeste graf om spørgsmålet, renset for døde blogs - for kurven tager et knæk i 2008 og renset for blogdød ku det job betyde alt muligt, jeg tror en høj migration til Facebook o.l.
Videre til pointen: Blogging så anderledes ud nede på bunden af skråningen, da det var nyt; ingen konsolidering havde fundet sted, ingen indflydelsesstruktur udover den, der var ved at etablere sig der. Sådan er der på skråninger. Jeg kan personligt bedst lide det sådan, men vækst skal der jo omvendt til, det er der dynamikken kommer fra, så det er en umulig situation.
Det er derfor der er sjovt på Twitter ca nu, måske endda mere for kort tid siden, for det er et andet sted man kan gentage legen. Konsolideringen har sat ind - "store medier" på twitter er "har en million followers" og Twitter markedsfører dem; marketingspammen er ved at blive dansk.
Men sådan er det selvfølgelig med skråninger. De bliver ikke ved med at være der hvis man går op ad dem.
(meninger om beslægtede spørgsmål hos Tveskov)
Forleden kørte der et drive blandt seniorbloggere i mit nabolag for lige at give et livstegn på de mere og mere forladte blogs. Altså, det var på Twitter, drivet fandt sted - for det er jo den egentlige forklaring på at folk ikke skriver mere, der er heller ikke særlig mange læsere tilbage. Min egen blogs altid beskedne læsertal er ca halveret i forhold til højderne for et par år siden - og alle dem der er skredet, er dem der deltog i samtalen; så set fra bloggerens vinkel er blogdøden endnu mere udtalt.
Det har altid været tilfældet at der var flere læsere i at skrive kort end i at skrive langt, og med ting som twitter, og facebooks twitterlignende facelift, der netop er udkommet, så er der simpelthen et bedre medium for den del af blogging, der faktisk kan overleve på 140 tegn.
Hvad skal man så med sin blog? Lade være med at lege Twitter, ville jeg selv sige. Twitter er et flowmedium, med mulighed for at trykke på pause. Det er ikke stedet til at blive hængende og udvikle på en idé. Det virker til et indforstået publikum der får noget ud af at man telegraferer det basale nye om en idé både skribent og publikum havde en stor fælles forståelse af i forvejen.
Indlægget umiddelbart før det her, spekulerede jeg på om jeg bare skulle tweete som
Social produktion af printkort: http://tinyurl.com/cdgzj4
Nu valgte jeg istedet at skrive en smøre om hvad sammenhængen er, for det har man plads til på sin blog, og her med frem til det sidste:
Siden bloggen (min ihvertfald) alligevel er forladt som samtalemedium, vil den hermed vende tilbage til sit udgangspunkt: Skrive-, Tænke- og Forklaringsted for det, der interesserer mig.
p.s. Om mediemodenhed: Når medier taler konstant om sig selv, så er de ved at fødes eller dø (eksempler: Twitter og aviserne) - for tiden er der ingen der snakker om blogs; det er fordi de er hverken eller. Denne post er modeksemplet, der påviser reglen.
Industriel produktion er ved at blive social - jo mere social produktion bliver, jo flere sociale værktøjer får vi til at producere med.
Monome er en populær minimalistisk digital kontroldims til musikere og andre kreative mennesker. Eller, populær er måske så meget sagt, for den er kun lavet i et par meget små oplag - at producere storvolumen elektronik er dyrt og risikabelt. Til gengæld er det den eneste måde at lave elektronik billigt på, så man er lidt fanget i en "sjældent eller risikabelt" fælde. Man kan enten tabe penge, eller arbejde meget dyrere.
Sådan har det ihvertfald været indtil for ikke så lang tid siden, men regnestykket er ved at gå i opløsning. Monomes delvise løsning på problemet - at montage kun kan bestilles i volumen, hvis det skal laves af kinesere - er at sælge Monome som kits, i løsdele. Der er simpelthen nok mennesker, der kan samle selv, til at det giver en vis spredning.
Næste problem for den potentielle Monomekunde: Selv kitsene har der været underforsyning af.
Her kommer næste udvikling på banen, nemlig den stigende talentmasse for bare at gøre det selv. Folk er begyndt at tage deres arduinoboards og designe interface kits til dem, så de kan bygge deres egne Monomes op på Arduinoplatformen. Her stiger vanskeligedstærsklen ganske vist betragteligt - man skal fremstille et printkort, der kan bruges i sit designprogram, finde nogen til at lave det, og så skal man håbe på at det design man havde lavet ikke havde fejl, så kortet brænder sammen når man tester det.
På flickr var der en der gjorde lige netop det for Monome, uploadede et billede af printkortet, og startede en indsamling for at få produceret et batch - billigere i mængder, som sagt. Tom Armitage kalde det for fanufacture, når fans af noget fysisk overskrider tærsklen til produktion.
Den form for interesse er ved at gro sociale værktøjer til produktion frem. Fra Holland har vi i et stykke tid haft Shapeways, der printer ting i 3D - altså også din nydesignede Monomekasse. Shapeways har en social struktur - man kan dele sine objekter, så andre kan få dem trykt også. Nu har hobbyprintkortproducenten BatchPCB introduceret den samme sociale deling af printkort, der faktisk kan bruges. Så printkortdesign er nu blevet en social færdighed, hvor det før ikke rigtig havde noget socialt aspekt - undtagen i særtilfælde som med Ardinomen.
Det er vigtigt, for hverken 3D modellering eller printkortdesign er trivielt. Bare forskellen på 3D, som du gerne vil kigge på, og 3D, som du gerne vil holde i hånden, er stor (det sidste er vanskeligere).
Der mangler stadig en del - montage og lodning er ikke trivielt - men det er dog færdigheder, man langt nemmere kan lære end hele kæden fra idé til produkt.
Der kom endelig en ny Mac Mini, men den er alt for dyr.
Til gengæld er Wireds lange historie om den spæde fødsel af enkelt-neuron hjernemanipulation tvangslæsning.
Og de her links synes jeg så iøvrigt du skulle prøve at læse med arc90s lækre Readability bookmarklet.
Kottke havde fat i dem forleden, men de ser også utrolige ud, den nye bølge af datamoshing videoer (<- godt katalog bag link). Bevidst plantede, og kreativt udnyttede fejl i den digitale kompression.
Der er et observationsproblem - i Youtubekvalitet erstattes de flotte, kreative fejltagelser med kedelige sparefejltagelser. For at se hvor fantastisk det kan se ud må man op i HD - se bare selv (quicktime - HD; det er en gammel single btw.).
Her er en nydelig, teknologifri, produktintroduktion. Det er appetitligt og imødekommende - problemet er bare at det løfte produktet giver er et jeg har hørt, og set svigtet, dusinvis af gange. Alting fra Microsofts "Information at your fingertips" til tagclouds deler løftet. Og det holder aldrig helt. De bedste skud nogensinde på at holde det løfte er Google og Wikipedia.
Den abstrakte venskabelighed kommer simpelthen i vejen; en enkelt konkret succes i videoen havde nok solgt det bedre.
Hvor mange film er der lavet hvor folk går i hundene og beslutter at dele deres sidste tid med offentligheden? Det er ikke få. Nu er det sket på Justin.tv - og publikum levede fuldt op til den tomhed og forråelse mediesatiren siger publikum vil reagere med.
Nick Denton, udgiver af Gawker, planlægger ud fra denne der-er-langt-til-bunden analyse af medieannoncemarkedet i 2009 og frem.
Gad vide hvor mange danske avisudgivere der deler det sortsyn? Gad vide hvor mange af dem, der har læst (og facttjekket) Dentons analyse?
De sidste 12 dage uden posts må være den længste ufrivillige blogpause jeg har haft i et par år. Det er dels det samme som de andre siger - Facebook og Jaiku (snart Twitter) følger folk meget bedre med i, så det er sjovere at skrive der. Og så er ZYB + Spotify DJ et fuldt døgn.
For at lægge mere i puljen ud fra devisen at travlhed bare gør det nemmere at lave mere, fordi man i forvejen er produktionsmindet, har jeg kogt mig et brilliant setup til en nanowrimoroman og starter skrivningen fredag ved midnat.
Er der nogen i nærheden der også er med?
[UPDATE: DJing? Join the Facebook group]
I'm pleased to present Spotify DJ to the world.
Spotify DJ is a companion app to Spotify that turns you into an internet DJ.
Spotify DJ makes your music selection available in a convenient web player for other Spotify users.
Spotify DJ requires Adobe Air. After installation, just launch the app and follow instructions.
If you just want to listen in, find a DJ playing right now at spotifydj.com.
Spotify DJ is a work in progress. It did not even exist as an idea two days ago. I hope you have as much fun DJing as I had making the app. Thanks to Morten for the idea, for testing and for visuals and interface ideas.
- The back story for the app is here.
[UPDATE: You can DJ too, now]
I'm crossposting this hack from my technical blog since I'm pretty pleased with it. Spotify, the amazing online music library with lightweight player, has a "share playlists" function, but sadly it's not live. You have to make the playlists first. Morten suggested on the #spotify channel on Jaiku that Spotify should have a DJ-mode so my friends could hear what I'm playing (or vice versa)
It's an excellent idea. When we all have the same music library why not connect and listen to a shared soundtrack.
As a side note: This is something Morten and I have been discussing for years. It would be cool in a big office to be able to work without disturbing everybody, but still be able to listen to the same stuff and share the experience.
I was so fired up, by being reminded about this, that I went ahead and hacked my way to remote DJ-ing using Spotify. If you're on Spotify and keep this page open in a browser, you're hearing what I'm hearing.
The technicalities are hackish, the app grabs focus when songs are loaded (making the hack a bit pointless), so far it only works with me as the DJ, and it's not really live-live but has 5-30 second delays, but it's a promising start.
Technoratis årlige blogstatus, omtalt på TechCrunch her, er blevet udvidet med en survey bl.a. om de, der lever af at blogge. Det hedder sig i rapporten, hvis man ellers kan tro på den*, at de bloggere der arbejder kommercielt og opnår 100K unikke besøgende om måneden tjener i snit 75000$ om året på det, eller ca 400000 kr.
Konsekvensen - hvis det passer - er altså at der er en urskov af uafhængige, økonomisk sammenhængende nye medier.
Iøvrigt har "blogs" som fællesfænomen over dobbelt så mange besøgende per måned som Facebook. Så helt har de sociale netværk altså ikke slugt trafikken. Det synes jeg er godt nyt.
* det kan man nok ikke
Hvordan en udveksling om Brian Eno leder til annoncer for Georg Jensen, Norsk-Ukrainsk dating, Lars Bom, mobning, NFL og logistik samtidig er langt over min forstand.
Den giver sig selv : Kombiner gårsdagens falske Bush-attentat med "gammel nyhed om United Airlines kommer på forsiden af Google News og kursen mister 75% af sin værdi"-historien og igen med denne uges turbulens på børsmarkedet. Det burde være den ultimative teknologiparanoiathriller.
The Google News/United Airlines sell off sounds more and more like an easily doable, virtually anonymous way to make a lot of money. If all it takes to promote an enormous drop in a highly liquid stock is a large number of clicks on an article in a regional newspaper's website, then the information ecosystem around the stock market is just too porous and dispersed for anyone to effectively control.
One wonders if the original website clicker later bought United stock.
Things I learned from Puredata I:
Puredata is a dataflow language. You connect inputs and outputs to boxes that process the flowing data and outputs other flowing data. As data flows it generates more feedback.
Now, a lot of the time, you want data in some place - but you don't want to cascade more actions*. So Puredata has a common abstraction distinguishing between hot and cold input gates. Hot gates trigger an output pulse. Cold gates just deliver data, but don't trigger more activity.
I want this abstraction built into all my communication devices and all my social networks. There are tons of inputs I want to follow, tons of people whose input I care about - but there's a distinction between caring about inputs, as they apply to stuff I am already paying attention to, and caring enough to want to be actively interrupted whenever there is any news at all.
Right now hot or cold is a feature of a particular medium, more than a specific aspect of a particular communication between me and someone or something in a medium.
*It's an energy thing - you can't have loops at all if every pulse must generate more pulses. So a language that always pulses can't be a very sophisticated one.
The buzz has died down a lot, but since Jim Purbrick was kind enough to remember our real-vs-second life discussion at EuroFoo in talking about CarbonGoggles I have to write about it. Carbon Goggles are "simulated augmented reality" - which is to say, trading reality for the virtual reality of SL, the world is augmented with carbon emission data, so you can imagine what the world looks like if CO2 emission was visible.
Techcrunch is hosting/sponsoring an initiative to crowdsource a 200$ webtablet - basically the simplest Linux/Firefox/Touch screen combination that can be made - completely without any other features. If this can be pulled off without any other organization than an eager sponsor, then it seems distribution is the main problem with making novel hardware. Its interesting in itself if Techcrunch documents the proces - chinese assisted fabbing, but apparently that service is readily available from "a supply chain management company".
Also in fabbing: On demand 3D printing.
Sensing in the iPhone, Radiohead 3D data and a little hacking, and you have Thom Yorke doing his best Leia-Hologram impersonation in the air above an iPhone.
Hans Reiser did it, he killed his wife. Personally I'm so happy the explanation for Reisers "quirky" behaviour turns out to be the obvious one: He killed her. Frankly, as a fellow nerd, I'm glad the "but he's just a geek. All geeks act like homocidal maniacs"-defence turned out to be bogus. I find it offensive that this kind of ludicrous stereotype of nerdish maladaption could make sense at all and even get feature coverage in Wired. People are people before they are nerds or homocidal nerds. Boxing in legitimate behaviour by creating this kind of alienated stereotype ("nerds are so lost, people skill-wise, they could just as well be murderers" is the subtext) is just...bad.
The prototype of this live-action 3D display looks very fifties televisiony and therefore extra much like science fiction.
Bonus: This however is still science fiction. Love the casual, "we're not even talking about it"-tone.
Reprap shoes. That must be the end of any purchasing doubt.
Plazes er solgt til Nokia. Konkurrencen om at være dem de andre får din geoplacering fra er stigende. Plazes har noget automatik på desktoppen der giver en fordel, men en vægt at features der trækker lidt i modsat retning, hvis åben placering med OAuth er fremtiden.
I talked briefly to Nicole Simon about The Sine Wave Orchestra - that we're trying to get going at Reboot on thursday - for her Reboot podcast. If you're going and have a laptop, get your tone on. Hope to see you there.
Bonus: Opulent forurening.
Hvis ikke man har hørt det endnu så skylder man sig selv at høre det lange og gode indslag om Yossi Vardi og den israelsk teknologi-sektor i fredagens udgave af harddisken. Yossi Vardi var en af pengemændene bag ICQ i sin tid, og bruger stadig sin energi på at hjælpe nye bikse igang og netværke på fuld tid. Det kan man måske også finde herhjemme, men der er et schwung over Vardis måde at gøre det på, der er mere sjældent. Jeg kan ikke lige komme i tanke om en dansk angel investor, der holder et årligt hackathon med gæster fra hele kloden for at netværke med og inspirere hinanden.
I indslaget hører man også en kort lydbid med en af de iværksættere Vardi backer, og hans kombination af selvdrift, nationalfølelse og udsyn er også imponerende. Parafraseret siger han noget med: "Vi er et lille land, så vi er nødt til at være internationale. Så vi starter virksomheder, for gør vi det ikke overlever landet ikke".
Polarrose har fået nyt look og ansigtssøgemaskine. Her er f.eks. Abraham Lincoln i mange udgaver. Tallet over hvert ansigt dækker over mange steder hvor det samme billede er fundet, så en nejs feature er altså at man så enkelt som muligt ser forskellige billeder af en person.
I just - for the first time ever - got spam in the form of an invitation to a calendar event. Points for novelty, definitely - and also it feels great to look at the question of whether I want to "attend" this spam. I don't think so.
Nyheden i går om Google Sites, en stærkt nedklippet version af Jot, efter overtagelsen, var lidt undervældende på mig - for så forsvandt hyperfleksible Jot jo. Men nedklipningen er godt lavet og hvis man lige mangler et intranet er der ikke meget at betænke sig på som en hurtigt-i-gang firmapakke. Der er kalender og gmail og docs i google apps og nu kan man lave et hurtigt intranet også. Almindelige wikisider, huskelister, blogs, dokumentlager og så et praktisk dashboardgeneratormodul er bygget ind. Dokumentlageret har fuld indeksering - ihvertfald af tekst i txt, word og pdf format - som er det jeg lige har testet. Og listemodulet kommer med den slags lister man lige vil lave til små adhocprojekter, så der kommer lidt mere form på det end bare en wikiside. Meget nejst alt i alt. Mindre er måske faktisk mere i dette tilfælde.
I don't know why this never dawned on me before - but DRM is a religion, not a technology. The evidence is overwhelming
This question popped up in my referrer log. The fact that someone found their way to my page indicates they didn't find a good answer elsewhere. That is probably because they were using Altavista to search. Who knew anybody does anymore. The Google Search is actually very helpful.
The short answer is: If somebody is using fake sender addresses in their spam messages so that it looks like you're doing the spamming, there's little you can do. Faking email is easy. There was supposed to be this big push for everybody to adopt something like SPF - where DNS is used to announce authorized email servers for your domain - but that hasn't happened yet.
It does make sense for you to publish SPF records for your own domain if your DNS provider supports it, though. Then, at least, when people complain to you about how you're spamming them, you can tell them that it isn't you - and if they were using SPF they wouldn't see the emails posing as you. GMail, among many others do use SPF records in spam scoring.
Det er den spændende påstand til debat i et essay på Terra Nova.
Remember the "we're unhappy to be Yahoo users even though we've been so for years"-debacle? Imagine the perfect storm of user disenchantment when this happens again - and the new account is a MS Passport? If you couldn't be bothered to imagine - don't worry. Flickr users already are.
Related Web 2.0 "build to flip"-thought: Isn't Yahoo the only company that has bought interesting web 2.0 upstarts, kept them alive, and seen interesting growth after acquisition? The jury is out on Jaiku - since the acquisition was so recent - but if an MS-buyout kills the upstarty enchantment with these services completely, we might just be witnessing a revenge of true independence. If you sold it you sold it - and it's just not an upstarty shared love thing anymore.
Answer: Only 930 at the time of writing.
Good god, how the cross promotion practices of the widget companies suck. Install one Slide app and invitations to add other Slide apps will pose as information from the one you installed.
Amazon har endelig selv lavet den "Find den i England" service på bogsider som jeg lavede en bookmarklet til i 2002.
[UPDATE: Hmm - det er vist en interface test. Den kommer ikke konsistent op]
In a series of pullbacks we've learned that Facebook beacon will be opt-in. First opt-in was actually opt-out. Currently opt-in is "well we could track you in principle, but we're not. Honest" - but still on a per vendor basis. The obvious right way to do opt-in: A big visible switch inside facebook with an easy to see unmistakeable once and for all in or out. But...the basic problem is that Facebook isn't really interested in giving people that option, much preferring to wear people down with per partner settings. It's the same problem with most apps on facebook. You have the privacy options there - but most apps follow a "if you're not cheap, we don't want to deal with you" policy and just won't work if you won't play viral-spam with them.
Turns out the design standards of Web 2.0 were already finalized in 1977...
If Facebook's new contextual advertising scheme is not a blind scheme - i.e. marketers can consult with Facebook on what behaviour to market to, but Facebook does all matching of individuals to behaviours internally - then it really should not exist. If it is a blind scheme, the alarmist response to the announcement is probably overblown. It would just be user centered versions of what amazon is already doing. It's interesting that this is causing such concern where Amazon didn't even though it's clear that if you like books Amazon has had a good idea about exactly who you are for some time now - and thorougly marketed to you. They know where you live too.
The danger of course is in the practice that Facebook has not been able to curb wrt. the apps feature: Commercial marketing as cold reading based in information you aren't expecting marketers to have about you: "Friend X wrote something on your Y wall" - only you don't have a Y wall, you actually need to purchase that first.
Snubster: Select Facebook contacts will be sent a snub that says they are now “on notice” or “dead to me”.
David Byrne er på Facebook?
Google's long anticipated plan to "out open" Facebook begins to materialize with the OpenSocial API. LinkedIn, Orkut, Ning, SixApart - all companies facing the risk of a Facebook squeeze - are launch partners.
The countdown to the first "OpenSocial" Facebook application has begun. And one guesses that such an app would be considered in violation of Facebook TOS - so we'll see tons of these pop up - in the same spirit as P2P file sharing - until Facebook just adapts.
Marc Andreesen's post seems the most comprehensive.
Anybody else find it odd that the basic mode of operation of "Facebook virality" is to do what the MS Office based Macro vira of the 90s sent their creators to jail for?
(This in annoyance at getting an email that "XX just added someting to your Funwall" - the hell he did. I don't have one.)
Mozilla is setting up a development presence in Copenhagen to do mobile browsers
Christian Sejersen, recently the head of browsers at Openwave which has shipped over 1 billion mobile browsers, joined Mozilla Monday. He'll be heading up the platform engineering effort and setting up a R&D center in Copenhagen, Denmark.
If Denmark could somehow get out from under the "consulting and Microsoft products"-rock we've been living under, we could maybe actually start making an internet difference...
Rygterne var sande.
Let's think: Less users than Twitter, but better, richer but not complicated, platform. If you're Google, acquiring users is not your problem, so less users probably translates to better price for more platform.
OR - Tim O'Reilly is right, and this is a timely kille app for the GPhone...
[UPDATE: The bad news: "In order to focus on innovation instead of scaling, we have decided to close new user sign-ups for now." uh oh. I'm getting a strong feeling of deja jot. So far it's taken 11 months to migrate Jot - if that's what they're doing]
The title of this post is a digital bumper sticker I would really like to see more around the net in this age of facebook "a friend asks a question" application social graph leeching.
Wow, Andrew Keen blows himself up in less than one minute of Colbert Report interview:
Keen: Even the nazis didn't put artists out of workThat is such a staggeringly stupid comeback. And it's exactly to the point. Keen's position is simply that we're better off with gatekeepers - even if those gatekeepers were Hitler, Stalin or Mao - all of whom of course were adept at using imagery (i.e. art) to further their oppressive politics. Which tells us that art in an of itself is meaningless. Only free art has a chance of meaning anything. Which means that gatekeeper-less media are A Good Thing. For art as well. This man is really, really, an idiot.
Colbert: Tell that to Egon Schiele*
Keen: Well they had their own artists
*Schiele died (in the Spanish Flu epidemic) in 1918 before the formation of the nazi party - but Colbert's point comes across.
So social software sites are horrible ad-machines, seasonal fashiony things with fickle audiences, but amazing attention grabbers - maybe the most infectious media we've yet seen. Clearly something is still missing from the web 2.0 revolution and tons of social networks will fail in a few years as they fail to come up with more compelling ideas than 'eyeballs for ads'.
Should we make a distinction between experience media like games, film and TV and connective media like phones, SMS and social software? It seems experience media generate much larger incomes than connective media - but that the attention reach of connective media is better. Or more precisely, experience media generate more direct income, whereas the income for connective media comes from platform fees and not the media content or stuff in the media stream. With experience media the value is transmitted, with connective media its not.
Some terms must already exist that describe this distinction. I hesitate to say experience media are about stories - because I hate the idea of the age of storytellers - but clearly goals are an important aspect of it. Are experience media good ad-machines because we're mentally in goal receiving/validation mode when we're enjoying experience media, which we're not when we're enjoying connective media?
Chris "Long Tail" Anderson er ikke bare Wired-redaktør og meme-originator, men har en hobby ved siden af som kapabel selvflyvende hobbyfly konstruktør - han er ifærd med at bygge en kameraduelig, GPS-automatat-pilot styret minikopi af Predator flyet, den ubemandede flyver der drøner rundt over Irak og recognoscerer (og skyder folk med hellfire missiler).
Som en lille bonusinformation, så lader det til at Nokia N95 er på vej til at blive en slags standardplatform for hacks af denne slags: Prisen er stadig lidt for høj, men dog tålelig. Til gengæld har man "let at scripte" Python-kontrol over alt man skal bruge: Rigeligt af netværkskonnektivitet, GPS, Kamera. Folk flyver allerede N95ere rundt og tager GPS taggede billeder.
Der kunne ende med at være et langtidsholdbart marked for N95 nær den falder lidt i pris.
...think again, as you read your way through this patent application for an "Advertising services architecture " which does all things evil in one convenient package:
I can't wait for this to be granted and to see which other companies are going to get sued for being as bad as this. The spectacle of someone claiming lots of prior art in the field of total emasculation of unsuspecting consumers is priceless.
They didn't care that it worked in practice because they already knew it couldn't work in theory(on non-commercial community support)
We have always loved one another. We're human, it's something we're good at. But up until recently the radius and half life of that affection has been quite limited. With love alone you can get a birthday party together. Add coordinating tools and you can write an operating system.(closing remarks).
After the initial wow a couple of posts are appearing that aren't so happy with the Facebook platform. In regular snarky form Valleywag suggests that the recently emerged long tail of Facebook apps is surprising/disappointing. Which of course it isn't. More interestingly, Kottke echoes earlier concerns that Facebook is the new AOL, the über-silo in a great reversion to the walled online gardens of the paleo-web.
The AOL comparison seems only half true - as explained here (video here) by Brewster Kahle: As long as the contract between Facebook and developers is that everybody's welcome and they don't charge an eyeball-tax, half of the problem isn't there.
Implicit in the Valleywag piece is the notion that this new audience is much more fickle than the one you get when you build your own silo. But that's also the beauty of it - the facebook apps are what I have just recently started to call casual social networks, an analogy to casual games. The apps aren't immersive total experiences of their own - they're used occasionally and offhand. Which is a good thing. We need more of those and less silos.
I would love for every Moveable Type and Wordpress installation to be an Open ID server with a little social sauce added on so we could do the same thing on the greater web. It seems these kinds of ideas end up suggesting a trusted center anyway - and we already had one company suggesting this and nobody seemed to like that particular hegemony.
Too much data on display that I don't care about - and calling tags folders just confuses the user.
Where to post is turning into a genuine anxiety creating problem with all the accounts in play - twitter/jaiku, del.icio.us, the blog, the photo service, the desktop, the wiki...
I've been experimenting tonight with reducing the problem by making sure that harmless but useful crossposting happens in Just The Right Way. Stay tuned.
Sony should be happy - having the cheapest blu-ray player on the market and now having been indirectly endorsed by Blockbuster. Could this be a sign that Sony for the first time ever is actually going to win a platform war?
The Facebook platform that I talked about a week ago is already demonstrating how incredibly powerful distribution through friends can be, when it's well executed. The most popular Facebook app, iLike, is rapidly beating speed records for application growth, signing up
25%more than 10% of all Facebook users in two weeks.
This led to desperate email like this from iLikes CEO to...basically everybody (one wonders: Would he have gotten faster help on Facebook).
Vis a vis my comparison of Ning and the Facebook platform - Marc Andreesen now has a blog and did a thorough blog post on this problem and the Facebook platform in general. What he's saying about the death from success scenario is that, far from shifting control to humble developers, the size of Facebook means that you either need to be big already or have venture capital to use the Facebook platform - if you're going for success that is.
There's a couple of strategies to survive of course. Charge users - or limit your distribution to some identifiable subset of Facebook at first (a specific network). I'm unsure how you can make it polite to be invitation only on Facebook - since gifting is so much part of social network friendliness - but possibly you could do a cheap-to-serve static app for everybody and the rich experience for paying/selected customers.
Mahalo is opening up a new microeconomy (if it works) by accepting submissions and paying for them with Mahalo Greenhouse
I think the metaphor for Mahalo is pretty fluid, and possibly will solidify as some kind of wiki-nomic system and not search once its all done. Earlier Calacanis was of the opinion that he did not want to be a destination, but a search site, but I think the search metaphor is failing. For me I'm sure that's the case - search works mentally as a universal blank slate kind of interface - when universality goes, so goes the search feeling.
It's interesting that Calacanis did user testing, not of Mahalo but of the big search engines, in prep for Mahalo. I still feel as if Mahalo wouldn't help me with the kind of spam problem Google arguably has these days. I'm probably professionally biased in that direction, but what I want is just better filtering on what I know is the full index.
Til lageret: Solide tæsk til Andrew Keens lamme og usammenhængende antidemokratiske vrøvlebunke af en bog.
Facebook's push to be The Social Software Operating System seems credible. The model sounds right, the interface (contractual as well as software) between application builders and Facebook sounds right - and lastly, the technology seems to be as good as possible. Thinking of that combination of factors makes me think of Google. Technical excellence, a clear and open vision and an unwillingness to treat users with anything but respect could win the day.
It's shocking for old farts like myself to see how young Mark Zuckerberg is - but the keynote launching the new API (for some reason it only ran in IE for me) sells the tech, the vision and the attitude towards the users pretty well.
(is Facebook completely shooting down Ning with this by the way?)
I'm not a big fan of Google's latest pull to make the Google search pages more sticky and more tightly integrated with the other Google properties.
I like my search engine to be a public place and to see what other people are seeing.
I realize that this has been a partial illusion for some time - as search results are regionalized to be more "meaningful" to me. But I have always found that annoying as well.
I am reminded of a post I wrote a long time ago about the huge difference between Amazon's suggestive "people who bought also bought" feature and the "based on your actions you might also want" personalization. I like the former and hate the latter. The former: That's just giving the web a lived-in feel. Not a problem. The latter: Minority Report nightmare. Big problem.
- The web is ready to refind the pleasure and freedom of connections that are only weak.
Scott Heiferman pulls a "don't be evil"-esque karmic stunt on Google as he tries to persuade you that working at small open-minded and transparent company Meetup beats working at BigCo Google.
(+1 for hosting on Google Docs)
The main difference between Mahalo and Yahoo 1.0 - as of 1994 - seems to be the information research inherent in gunning for top search terms instead of "a catalog of the world" - investments in human editing are optimised for traffic. It's like a blog network - with only the links and no content. The tumblelogging of weblogging networks.
Good roundup of differences and similarities with past ideas. A point from that article - you want to be a search site not a destination site - was my immediate reaction when I saw Mahalo - but I also felt that Mahalo had failed to do that. There's too much flavour in the site.
(Bonus unrelated side note from Mahalo founder on virtuous cycles of influence in the evolution of the web.)
Am I the only one experiencing a complete disconnect between the GTalk "You have mail" icon in the Windows tray and actual new mail in my inbox? The lag before GTalk picks up on email status update has gone to something completely unusable (>
10 20 30 minutes), so the tray tells of email I handled long ago.
Jeg ser først nu de fine blog-trusselsniveau bannere. Både sjovere og pænere end O'Reillys sherifstjerne.
Good grief, if this is from "the leading contemporary critic of citizen media" as the bio would have us believe, then old media is truly in trouble. Not from citizen media, just from lack of quality. It's almost as if Keen - by blog posting this - is intent on proving his own point about blogs and wrongheaded ideosyncrasies.
The piece gets off to a good start by identifying Dan Gillmor as a "radical utopian". Clearly, Andrew Keen has never met the soft spoken and cautious Gillmor. In my understanding, utopias are fictional places and a utopian should therefore be somebody lost in some future pipe dream - but Gillmor mostly talks about some very real phenomena that are already here and are already transforming online culture - and maybe just culture in general.
Before I describe why Keen's post is wrong, let's talk about the only thing he maybe gets right: Sure, some of what's happening aligns well with a certain sunshiny, Californian "Let's all get along and do great things"-sensibility. But, as witnessed by the widespread response to Tim O'Reilly's recent suggestion for a shared Code of Conduct, citizen media escaped from that niche a long time ago.
What Keen gets wrong is mainly two things: First of all, a "level playing field" does not produce flat results. There are winners and losers just as in the old media, and talent still floats. Whether the talent that floats is one of writing, know how or "just" marketing and likeability is another matter - but that was true for the old media as well. The consequences of citizen media is not that you can't be good and grow a large audience (and possibly live off that audience). The new thing is that you don't have to win to play or even to play to win. You get to play for whatever reason you like with whatever success you can produce. In the old model, distribution had such a threshold cost that only the winners could afford to pay it. In the new model, everyone can afford to play. At a deeper level one wants to ask: "How do you think we got the old media in the first place". Once upon a time, they looked more like citizens media and they were an alternative to even earlier power structures. As the cost of playing, and consequently the advantages of winning big grew, we got the old media we have now. This by the way could very easily happen again. At the edges, you can already hear the noises from those who feel they are late to the party and that "A-list status" is some kind of entrenched advantage. I think they're still wrong but the voices are already there.
The second major flaw in Keen's post is a confusion of causes and effects. The age of the amateur did not come about to topple the New York Times. It came about, because the New York Times didn't write about, care about or even know about the subjects that interested the bloggers. Old media was loosing its footing before the explosion in citizen media at the start of this century. Decline in newspaper readership is an old story. If there's an interesting story here it is that citizen media has been able to connect millions of people with writing again, not that citizen media has transformed paper buyers to blog readers. It's more of a classic Innovator's Dilemma story - blogs start out adressing audiences that are simply not being served by old media and only gradually invade the turf of the old media.
Which leads directly to the elephant in the room: How good was the old stuff anyway? As for the news - where I live it is at least blatantly clear that we are not being served with journalism that is quantum leaps from what anybody with a microphone in front of partisan spokespeople could do.
(The Publishers Weekly review - as quoted on Amazon - sounds like the book isn't much better than the superficial blog post)
I'm with Matt. I think the blogger code of conduct is a horrible idea. I can't understand at all why usually level headed people aren't crying foul at the idea. I can't understand why Tim O'Reilly suggests a code in the first place. I think having one is fear mongering of the worst kind.
[UPDATE Why no code? Apart from the obvious "there is no good speech control", Tim Bray has some good notes on the issues - my favourite :"simply because it dodges too many judgment calls". Damn Straigt. And the judgment calls are the conversation. The rules can't be. First comment on that post is good to.
Even more reasons: If stuff like this spreads all blogs are going to suck as much as old skool corporate websites where the paymasters have the idiotic idea that I care about their TOS's and their AUP's. Of course I don't. I care about what they say and what I have to say and absolutely nothing else]
[UPDATE II: More good reasons from Jason Calacanis]
I have to say: It makes me fucking angry that whatever it is I do here and millions of other people do where ever it is they do it is, in some people's opinion, in any way shape or form related to the badmouthing skirmish going on somewhere else on the web. What happens here has absolutely no relation to any other piece of writing elsewhere. No moral or ethical evaluation of anything somebody else wrote somewhere else has any bearing on what I write here. The choice of medium is completely irrelevant. The idea that there is some common social ideal that I am bound to because of the technology I use to make my opinions known is ridiculous and harmful. And in that technology I include the aggregators and other infrastucture services I rely on.
As to the kinds of social contract I follow here - I hope it is clear to my users. I resent the idea that the ethical (mis)conduct of others somehow bind me to a renewed social contract.
Microsoft is working hard to go beyond 100K employees - i.e. turning into IBM, slowly but surely.
The cool kids know that inbound links are valuable context for users of a web app. The best apps go out of their way to hang on to that context even if they need to interrupt you for something else. A very nice case from Flickr: I saw a Flickr link on some page and clicked it. However before I could continue, I had to do the flickr/Yahoo merge. However to do the merge, I had to setup a Yahoo account. However to do that, I had to click an activation link in an email. When I clicked the link, I was sent back to Flickr for the merge, went through a slight merge flow and was dropped back at the original picture. That's a
(some webpage) => flickr merge => yahoo setup => yahoo Find an ID that isn't used flow => yahoo setup => yahoo activaton email => flickr merge process => flickr merge OK => the link I clicked - without missing a beat. Very nice. Not that I had to do it - but that I wasn't punished for going through the boring forms.
If only Windows was like that. If only modal dialogs were like that. If only Microsoft update notifications and security alerts were like that.
(note. I don't particularly like that fact that they couldn't just have come up with a "stupid but workable" default translation so the whole process would have been needless. But at least they didn't try to sell me something in the process)
Wikipedia-bashing is much to common. The potential problems with a site like Wikipedia are glaringly obvious. The concrete benefit of having Wikipedia is equally obvious. When faced with a choice between potential problems and concrete benefits I go with the benefits. But of course that only works as long as the process works, and the recent story of repeated lies and no consequences for the liar - with the lies uses explicitly in promoting Wikipedias trustworthiness seems to me to be the first case of something truly broken. "I don't have a problem with that" wasn't really the answer we were looking for.
Seth Finkelsteins pull out quote from a letter intended to specifically but an academic at ease about Wikipedias trustworthiness is particularly grotesque.
This story, chronicling the Second Life adventures of one Bizarre Berry is, to me, much better Second Life PR than exaggerated traffic numbers and stories of Reuters, IBM, Sun, GM et al jumping on the bandwagon. Bizarre negotiates an interesting fractal boundary between the reality based community and Bizarre's own personal reality distortion field.
Whether there's a genuine mass market for this kind of fantasy or it will remain mainly relevant in works of fiction is another question, but suspending disbelief for half an hour can't hurt.
What with Scoble flaming out on both engines: Accusing other people of not pitching his stuff, and then there's that Intel thing. Gapingvoid's recent consistent Apple dissing combined with that looks like a working relationship with Microsoft isn't too pretty either. To be fair it's hard to tell if he's getting paid or just liking the guys - which is part of the problem of course. Knocking the other guy's product for $ would certainly not meet my idea of "a new honest way to do marketing". Or maybe it's honest - but it's just not any cooler or more human than the old heavy handed marketing.
And on top of that we have the completely obvious despicability, the "you really don't have to tell them we're paying you" blog-for-$ advertising brokers that are popping up all over the place.
Whatever happened to the whole people making money with not from their blogs (or whatever the indirect vs. direct line was), and the whole religion of "just talk about what you like"?
I'm not saying I'm any good at joyful and happy, but I sure liked it a lot better.
And on another note, Is the new aggressivness a bubble metric? Seems to me the stakes are getting higher and the voices consequently a lot shriller.
Very good Terra Nova piece on the whole "How big is Second Life" thing by Edward Castronova. As far as I'm concerned you need only read this alongside the Shirky diss. For extra grounding, combine Shirky and Terra Nova in the comments here.
Using the "people who ever took an interest in Second Life" number used (which just passed 3 million btw.) as the official size of Second Life truly has backfired - and it's probably not done backfiring yet. Its a a pity, since there are interesting real numbers below, just not quite to the scale of the "people ever taking an interest". The only ones I personally find interesting are "maximum online concurrently in the last 24 hours" and "number of people economically active last month" which has been pretty consistenty at 4-5 times the max number of users concurrently online. It seems there's a about 150K users of Second Life these days. Furthermore it's in the nature of an accumulated number like the "people who ever took an interest in SL"-number to get further and further ahead of reality as time passes. Last september the ratio of max concurrent users to people who have ever tried was about 1 to 70. Now it's more like 1 to 100. So the hype will only become more insincere as time passes. Probably wiser to just stick to the real story and hope that's interesting enough.
Castronova compares Second Life to Mayberry and if we assume that virtual characters have only one tenth of the expenses of real people, that's probably not to far off.
I missed this story on how Google is actively fighting google bombs.
Interesting Tim O'Reilly piece on Radar: All culture is being driven to short formats, both because short is faster to consume and because short is simpler to collaboratively produce.
Clearly there's a personal bias here because I was trained on the long stuff - but I do think we still need full texts to genuinely immerse ourselves in a topic and deeply appreciate it. Depending on the subject matter, the immersion comes through reading or - and I suspect there's another culture change driver here - through doing the material. The modern mind simply isn't ready to be schooled in the old way. It wants to produce.
On a personal note, I sure hope the new owners of Ascio realize what a stellar team they now have developing domain registration software for them. Tons of experience and there's not one of the guys I'm not proud to have worked with. Good luck to you all, under new management. Kick pan-european, domain name management providing ass*.
* Hmm, doesn't really work, does it?
We're presenting af NEXT where I've met tons of nice people. One of them is the funny guy Vuk Cosic who has a whole ASCII art thing going with ASCII art portrait snapshots. At ITU where the event takes place, there's permanent ASCII displays in the lobby. We talked about it. Vuk looked at it and said "No, I don't really like it so much. It's not pure, It's too flashy. Too luxurious. It's like Dubai ASCII, you know?"
Min blogs tosprogspolitik er under genovervejelse. Mens jeg gør det blander jeg lige nogen tråde på flere sprog
Gårsdagens historie om hvordan Second Lifes ejensdomsret er overgået fra systemfeature til social rettighed, og hvordan staten (altså firmaet der driver Second Life) har vist sig ikke at være klar til pludselig at skulle håndhæve loven manuelt i stedet for ved systemdesign, er smukt dækket her i Second Lifes bedste blogavis.
De potentielle science fiction romaner omkring dette her spørgsmål bliver flere og flere, og snart sagt alle elementer fra Neal Stephensons og William Gibsons cyberpunk kan findes i historien et eller andet sted. Det er kort sagt awesome.
For lige at pege et perspektiv ud så kan man f.eks. lave futuristiske videoer som denneher pga. denne nye rift i The Matrix:
An ad hoc movement inside Second Life that we can only call Citizens against abundance is protesting the new wild west inside Second Life where a clever client hack has made all intellectual property copyable which has transformed property rights in Second Life from a system feature (uniquely possible in a single server authority virtual world) into a social contract (the norm in the real world). Imagine a matrix you can't get out of and this story is simply a brilliant setup for all kinds of science fiction.
(The computer science geeks are hard at work debating how to provide hard guarantees against this kind of thing. The geek fashion for how to model this kind of thing revolves around capabilities and the very interesting E language)
If you read the Wired article and/or the blog and was thinking of getting the book, because you're a completist, then don't. There is quite simply nothing new that is in any way important. The corrections to the numbers from the Wired piece have all appeared on the blog. And then of course the irony is strong in this one: This is a book whose only purpose is to sit alongside 10 other "out there" business books in the airport bookshop - as far from the Long Tail as is humanly possible. The potential long tail audience for this book got all the info from the blog already.
It's still a good story. If I have a gripe with the book, apart from the lack of news, it is that I don't think Anderson does much more than point out the technological mechanisms of the long tail. I don't think the outlook on the world that has grown this demand is particularly deep. Reading Andersons book you could get the idea that we have always had this kind of long tail demand and the only news is that technology is now able to satisfy it. I don't buy that for a second.
We live in a society of previously unknown complexity. Complexity creates niches, since nobody can expertly participate in all this complexity. Niches create Long Tail demand. The complexity is constantly going up (because increased complexity adds value), and it's going up faster than the audience is growing, which in turn means that the market is fragmenting more and more. So we should expect demand to skew further down the tail, not because of the structure of the sales channel, but because of the structure of the demand. I think this point is underdeveloped in the book - and I think it is the most interesting aspect of the Long Tail.
These days an unprotected Windows machine on the internet lasts less than 5 minutes before it's turned into a zombie spam emailer. I am unwilling to buy that Google Code Search is evil, but nonetheless certain really stupid ideas - like posting your password in an archive that "no one will notice" - can quickly turn into hard security problems. In that respect, the digital world is a lot like the physical world would be, if the road was made of molten lava and every wire in your home was uninsulated. You'd be okay if you stayed on the sidewalk or in your asbestos covered heat resistant car and if you never accidentaly touched those wires, but the consequences of being wrong would be very bad.
The old biological world has fuzzier risky edges. We are surrounded by risks, but the consequences of the risks aren't fatal most of the time. What can we do to blur the risky edge of technology?
I wrote about this kind of idea before - but if biology was to tell us what to do, the answer would be mass redundancy of all information, and just amping up the attacks and the countermeasures. The body is under constant attack and is constantly losing and winning minor battles at the risky frontier - but there's enough mass redundancy of the systems under attack that we don't suffer when we lose a battle.
(I wonder if there exists a model genetics study that says that multi-cellular organisms have an advantage over single cell organisms in this respect. It could be one of the key drivers for biological complexity at the lowest level of biological organization).
What definitely does not work is the "Are you sure you want to touch these electrical wires?" type of security. Attention is much too flaky for that to work.
Apple is moving to own "anything with pod in it" which probably means it's time to telle Apple to get stuffed. To think that Apple takes in interest in killing an enormous market for iPods that they didn't foresee, don't control and arent paying to build up. That's just silly, even if the courts go along with it. Who says no to free advertising. If somebody was selling hardware called "Pod" that would be another story of course.
So, when is "burn all podcasts" day going to be?
Aside: The recent EuroOSCON expended great effort to refocus open to account also for open data, which is battle field for open when everybody's apps are running hosted. Maybe a session or two should have been spent on going further and talking about "open language". Not that it isn't sickening to have to do this.
Aside II: I wonder how the trademark lawyering business actually works: Do the lawfirms trawl the web looking for potential infringement cases they can sell to their clients (kinda like selling defensive domain registrations to businesses works) or do the companies actually do the TM searching on their own and push the cases to the lawyers. I ask because I really wonder why a lawsuit like this one would appear if it was driven from the Apple and not the lawyering side. The lawyers of course have a clear incentive to shake the tree and see if some money falls off.
Aside III: As far as I recall the web 2.0 case turned out to be more of a Tonkin Gulf kind of event in the copy wars than an actual battle.
I've been modifying the text of websites for some time now, trying out various transformations and insertions. What I hadn't thought of doing before now was a complete text transplant. It's easy to do with the tools I've been using for the other transforms, so herewith, The Moby Times - today's edition of The New York Times, only the text is the opening chapter from Moby Dick. The results are interesting and confusing. Looking for the famous opening line? Check the title bar of your browser.
A while back I blogged about Luis von Ahn's Google Tech Talk about the ESP game - an online two player game that has high quality image metadata as a side benefit. During the talk von Ahn muses about the possibilites if this idea got applied on a Google or Yahoo scale. Muse no more, Google licensed the idea. I can't help but wonder if there's going to be both a Safesearch on and a Safesearch off version? I can imagine the audience for the NSFW version could be quite enormous.
On SearchEngineWatch, Danny Sullivan confirms that it's a license not just a loan and immediately thinks industry strategy: Is this Google's way of making Flickr tags irrelevant?
Found this delightful blast from the past - back when Yahoo as a link collection and search engines did not yet rule the world. This was also way back when Tim Bray wasn't yet known as XML specification editor (XML didn't yet exist) or blogger extraordinaire.
The WWW5 conference had a panel on Internet Indexing that a former incarnation of Bray, then cofounder and VP of technology of document search and indexing company OpenText, was on:
- Tim Bray, OpenText: servers are getting free benefit from being crawled (exposure), yet crawlers do all the work! You servers should do your share of work! (metadata, update protocols, duplicate detection, canonical names, etc)
I don't see how a nonprofit org. whose content has no direct commercial value is going to be convinced of this, but Tim seemed arrogant, er, confident that even non-commercial servers would see the value in being crawled and make the extra effort. I agree that metadata and canonical names are a good thing anyway, but I didn't like the way he framed the argument.
- Tim also said OpenText was considering taking money to allow a particular site to be at the top of a results list for particular queries, "as long as they were clearly marked as such". I thought this was appalling and would undermine any credibility in search engines. I pointed out that there were already advertisement-filtering proxies, and it couldn't be very productive for anyone to just go down the path of users and advertisers fighting each other to see who can be the more clever. The reply was that in the long run this would produce more robust software, just as the "fight" between the cryptographers and the crypto-breakers has produced stronger algorithms. I think there is absolutely no parallel here, but I thank Tim Bray for helping me choose my future search engine.
- There was a call for a "crawling consortium", to
- develop crawling standards and eliminate redundant crawls
- establish metadata standards and solve the "text-inside-gifs problem"
- establish authenticated-crawler standards to address copyright protection
- Tim Bray thinks a crawling consortium won't work, since current services regard their crawled data as their primary advantage, not a commodity. Of course nobody said the crawlers had to give data away...Tim's justification was also that "brute force" still works just fine for crawling the whole web and doesn't waste a significant amount of bandwidth.
How long ago that seems in so many ways. Nobody believes in metadata anymore. Everybody believes in search engines none the less. Advertising in search engines is what it is. And sadly the only thing still going on is the copywars.
(meta ironic end commentary: Yes, I found this using absolutely no metadata, searching for "tim bray opentext" in a search engine that did not exist then. There were no ads in the search result. Don't know what that last fact means.)
In computer security "zero day exploits" are real world security problems occuring the same day the defect that makes them possible is announced.
It just struck me that what blogs do compared to the real media (you know, with reporters and research and press conference access) is to reverse the time flow of serious news stories: It used to be the case that we got the news in the abstract politicized form on weekdays ("Israel bombs Beirut", "Terrorist plot against Angle-US airflight thwarted) when they happened and then the newspapers would have a human interest angle for the sunday magazine ("Joan Sullivan was on her way, 3000 miles away from home, but she wasn't going to get any closer than that for the next couple of days").
Blogs reverse the news so the human interest story gets frontloaded. For a recent example, I read Doc's airport story at the same time as, or even before, I read about Heathrow closing and all Anglo-US transcontinental flights being grounded.
Access still matters. The mainstream media is much better at reporting the birds eye view of the story than most bloggers, but the way the wake develops as the story drops is completely changed.
Browsing today I came to thinking of the data/ink ratio and how we need a similar notion for websites, called something like the attention/interest ratio. The Attention/Interest ratio measures how much of our attention is needed to use a particular website compared to how much data we find interesting we're able to get out the web site in the end. A low attention/interest ratio is better a high ratio is worse (so it's the inverse of the data/ink ratio which might lead somebody to call it the Interest/Attention ratio or just the I/A ratio - which of course might just be a nice pun on Information Architecture. Sites with high I/A would then be considered better).
What increases the A/I ? "We value your input!" customer satisfaction survey pop ups. "To server you better we would like to know your postal code" entry pages. Ads, ads, ads. Miniscule body text per page load spreading even short articles over 15 page loads. What decreases the A/I? Good IA. The Google treatment, The Wikipedia treatment. Good use of peripheral navigation (e.g. the enormous amount of possible navigations on a Flickr photo page).
There's definitely a treshold where the A/I gets too high and people just give up and go elsewhere. And there's ethics in this, not just competence: A site with a very high A/I is abusing you, not just sucking. They're getting paid to abuse you most of the time.
Ah, YouTube, feels like the Napster glory days; beyond any doubt a life-enhancer. [...] And, like Napster, it feels doomed. Pumping video around the Net isn’t cheap for anyone, and I just don’t see how it gets paid for.I think Tim Bray's YouTube comments are right on the money: YouTube truly is the Napster of the second bubble. Vast and fun and communal and ultimately unsustainable. YouTube could only happen in the upward slope of a bubble. A certain air of irrational exuberance is required to shell out all the money required to pay for delivery and apart from that we would be kidding ourselves if we didn't realize that a lot of the fun comes from outpacing, if only by days, the Copyright Mafia*. TV snippets and old music videos and stuff like that is a lot of the YouTube fun. The fact that so much of what is fun happens on the upslope is interesting.
Having just been on a micro-vacation to Chamonix I can't help but reflect how much life in a tech bubble is like hiking in the mountains. I like hiking. The fun is in going up. You're exerting yourself, but you can pace the exertion to just the right level. The view is constantly changing and you walk around with this tremendous feeling that the view is going to be even more spectacular a little higher up. The air is fresh and new - and the other slope-dwellers tend to be really nice people. Basically people who exert themselves for enjoyment tend to be nice people.
Of course mountains, like tech bubbles, have a slope down on the other side as well and generally the further up you've gone the longer the tedium of the downhill march afterwards. And as if that wasn't enough, mountain meteorology tends to mean that the tedium of the downward journey is often combined with a nice afternoon thundershower so you're not only tired when you make it down to the village, but also wet and miserable.
* Yes, I of course agree if we had good law makers we would not have this problem.
Det var et spørgsmål om tid før laptopmusikerne droppede ideen om at man er nødt til at efterligne de gamle instrumenter for at lave mosæk. Det skal da laves direkte i kode (og der er mere, og det er helt sikkert en rigtig gammel nyhed).
Nice, if somewhat dated, story on the death of an online world where the few denizens left wander around alone and isolated waiting for termination date. Could be an interesting story on the end of morals (being good is suboptimal under a finite time horizon) but apparently the main feeling is one of loss and loneliness.
Jeg er sikker på alle synes at Datatilsynet er irriterende - så må man ikke få beskeder fra biblioteket, så må man ikke dit og så må man ikke dat - men hvis man troede at ACLU's pizza-film stadigvæk var tættere på Hollywood end på virkeligheden, så kan man læse her og tro om - linket et halvgammelt, men jeg havde ikke lige nærlæst det før nu. Med simple (ok, simple hvis man er hacker eller noget der ligner) værktøjer og offentligt tilgængelige data konstruerer forfatteren et fint USA kort over læsere af "undergravende" bøger, så det er nemt at finde hen til dem når de skal arresteres.
Jeg vil tro jeg personligt kender de første 10-50 mennesker der med lethed kunne gøre ham kunsten efter. Stort set alle jeg kender, der nogensinde har skrevet software, kunne gøre det hvis de fik penge for det. Så mon ikke der er en ti-tyvetusind mennesker i Danmark der kunne uden videre anstrengelse? Man skal med andre ord forestille sig at alle der har lyst til at få sådan noget gjort har fået det gjort eller kan få det gjort på fantastisk kort tid.
Se iøvrigt også Sørens egen Big Brother oplevelse - og læs om Reasons magazines personaliserede cover - hvor forsiden af hvert eneste nummer sendt til abonnenter var et luftfoto af abonnentens eget hus.
Det virkelig interessante ved historien er faktisk at der ikke engang skal økonomiske ressourcer til. En hvilkensomhelst person kan gøre det af en hvilkensomhelst grund uden nævneværdig anstrengelse. Da Reason lavede sit cover kostede den slags stadigvæk penge, men takket være Google er selv den service gratis idag.
I've seen the future of the Internet - he was bumming 20 kr off me so he could buy a beer. As we all know the future is already here just unevenly distributed. And one of the reasons it's so thin here at my end is that the density is so high back at Justeren's place. Having a country-playing-weather-predicting-girl-machine at your house is truly space age.
It's open and it seems slick enough and all importantly - not too slick. I still think calendaring is waaay too much like work.
My gripe: If it looks like a Gmail and it quacks like a GMail it should be inside GMail. (I know it integrates - my problem is the amount of real estate the calendar takes up. For me to love a calender it should take up way less real estate and just sit with my email. (No, I don't mean "like outlook"))
[UPDATE: The built in Danish holidays calendar is broken - but Google Calendar supports iCal and you can find danish holiday iCal calendars here]
On the face of it, a good post by Doc Searls correctiing the phrase attention economy in cluetrainy fashion to intention economy. On the face of it, I say - since I think we've all known for years that this is in fact what (the well behaved) attention economy is about. Kill the sticky, stick with intention.
My GMail access over the last week or so has been absolutely horrible. Frequent disconnects, frequent inability to send email and just now no access whatsoever. How's your GMail doing?
Just a reminder to go into my datestream....
(Yes, I need del.icio.us. on this front page somewhere)
It is worthwhile mentioning that this is Skype investing and not some kind of recently disinterested Next Big Thing for Zennström and Friis. Also, I haven't been able to figure from the reports if the main Skype/Google investment will consist of reach (hundreds of millions of happy users) or money. We're still waiting for when they do their investment turn (applies equally to Brin/Page of course).
Brilliant research on this long bet by Kottke. Blogs are winning over media in news on the net. Apart from people's perceptions of blogs vs. news I think Nisenholtz was bound to lose just based on how search engines work and how established media has chosen to operate online.
email/ password, signupfront page makes you indistinguishable from about 100 other upstarts. Please do something to help us distinguish you crom the crowd.
1. box, 2. box, 3. box
Case in point, and I have absolutely nothing against this company, except the front page: Spongecell.
In both cases Google's profitability is an issue. Bellsouth simply wants a cut, Nielsen thinks Google is gouging advertisers. In both cases the argument doesn't seem to go much deeper than "They have money, they should give more to others (me/my clients)". Sure, Nielsen runs through a toy example of what competition does to profitability (drives it to 0) but the argument is unconvincing, at least in the case of Google: The ads are sold on auction. They are sold to whomever is able to extract the highest value from them. If ads are routinely bought at unsound prices there will at some point be a correction. This is just basic economics. It's not even the case that Google is charging some absurd monopoly premium. It's just an auction. And yes price inflation does happen occasionally - but it gets corrected eventually. (If it's not in fact an auction I'd be interested in pointers)
In fact Nielsens article is not as bad as the title - Nielsen is not proposing stupid schemes to curb Google's "obscene profitability" - but he does call it obscene profitability - and I would just hate for Nielsen's title-meme to germinate into another front in the battle against the unified web in favor of a pay as you go web. Why is everyone so busy for the good days to be over?
It's a shame the Long Bets website does not reflect the outcome of finalized bets.
Get your self an NYT byline. This will trick google into showing images of people in all the productions you've reviewed and your own image will be safe.
I wonder if the Goowy anti-meme will outpace the sucky goowy recommendations? I'm personally 4 anti vs 0 sucky so based on a sample of 1 the answer is yes. It struck me that what is going on here is that since blogging is - in certain circles - the most efficient meme-wessel there is, it can actually combat other meme-distrubution channels very efficently.
The Udell Barrier An invisible condensation point when the attention around your web business idea condensates into a major capital event, i.e. an acquisition. The Udell barrier is so named because it occurs a fixed number of days after your idea is mentioned on Jon Udell's weblog.
Not that tons of webloggers couldn't claim similar pre-knowledge - and not that Jon Udell doesn't mention tons of companies that never cross the Udell Barrier, but still...
Man suffers unwitting Oedipal conflict by anonymously net-dating his mother. We have no news on whether or not he later blinded himself.
The most interesting thing about the Siegenthaler/Wikipedia scandal was that it took so long to happen. Wikipedia has had a good run of it with a no-rules approach, relying on social cleanup of inexcusable behaviour. Now apparently has come the era of by-laws and formal citizenship. The social setup of wikipedia still works.
And once again, it is not going to matter in the long run that there are thousands of similar inaccuracies, because as I have mentioned recently, while the editorial succes of Wikipedia is a social effect first and an economic effect second, the mindshare and readership success is an economic effect first and a social effect second. While there's no question that the new tighter editorial guidelines will slow the growth of the material, the economics of Wikipedia will continue to outperform the economics of commercial dictionaries in terms of readership.
Microsoft seems to be trying to do the right thing with respect to fair access to implement the MS Office XML specifications, but frankly, they get trapped in all the legalese. Taking the high road works best using simple, emotional, unmistakeable terms like "Don't be evil".
(Yes, simple, emotional terms are just a form of trickery - you need behaviour to back them. But no, I don't feel more reassured by cut and dried legal language that it is hard to even understand the legal scope of)
This web 2.0 checklist is a nice opportunity for me to recycle my Web 2.0 matrix. The original got caught in over heavy posting back when I did it. On the checklist my favourite item has to be the (thanks, Waxy!)
Once again we have to say though: It's way to easy to laugh about these things. And secondly, when I run over the check list: What's not to like? All of the practices/features mentioned really work very well. Does it matter that everybody is doing them?
(link: (thanks, Tveskov!))
A while back I referenced Just's insightful comment that one of the memes driving the Web 2.0 companies is simplify, which is to say they're targeting your attention sweet spot, not your attention capability - or in Just's words "Web 1.0 was about 7 +/-1. Web 2.0 is about 2 +/-1".
It turns out there's a whole movement about attention ownership and preserving your right to your attention, The Attention Trust, which exerts exactly what you want to assert: "You own yourself. You own your data. You own your attention."
Having a non-profit to guard your attention like your privacy and your money may sound like a joke, but the founders are not kidding. They even have a declaration of gestural independence. I see a collision coming along at some point in the future with the RIAA and MPAA jerks on the analog hole, and of course there's going to be a collision with all television people on the obvious attention problem of advertising.
Jon Udell's summary of the web 2.0 meme bubble is, as always, very good.
My server (the one serving this page) also handles my personal email. It runs no public mailing lists, it's not an open relay even if it once was so I was very surprised to learn that my server had been blacklisted by a spam database. The base in question was sorbs and the error of my ways was apparently "sending email to spamtrap adresses". Spamtraps like that are not accurate in any way shape or form. There's plenty of ways email from my server could legitimately end up in any email folder, starting with the obvious case of someone using the spamtrap address as the sender address for spam to my server. This kind of test will have tons of false positives.
Annoyed as I was that these people were groundlessly causing me problems I went looking for a way off the list only to learn that SORBS demand you pay a 50$ "fine" to get off the list. The SORBS anti-spam bigots are oblivious to the fact that their test is quite simply broken. Blackmail. It doesn't really matter thay you can pay the money to a self proclaimed charity (a legal defense fund for some anti-spammer) it's still blackmail. No wonder they need a legal defense fund; this ought to be illegal. It's a pity for the good cause (spam prevention) that jerks like this are tainting the concept of an anti-spam database. Contrast this with the polite service you get from ORDB.
Needless to say I'm not going to pay, so I can only recommend if you have any connection to any system using SORBS, that you stop doing that immediately.
One of the worst things about reliving the bubble is that a lot of bad bubble ideas are getting a rerun. Case in point: the 'meta'-search engine or supersearcher that goes out to ten places and runs a search. Latest entry: gada.be. It's like one of those pages any able programmer puts together for himself that links 10 convenient search resources in one. It gives you the information overload you're not interested in. It adds very litte - except ads. Saving grace is a scraped down appearance for mobile devices, but personally I'm underwhelmed.
So I'm testing Yahoo Search as a Google replacement. On each search page I get the above internal notice for Yahoo employees. What's up with that? The link is to some walled of intranet URL. Bothering the user with this kind of internal gunk seems utterly clueless to me. What am I supposed to do when I see bad search results?
Now I've posted about it here, and contacted Google Accounts about it. Let's see if anyone responds.
[UPDATE: I'm not perfectly sure that this isn't somehow also horrible breakage in Firefox, but still Yahoo doesn't give me this problem]
Here's the classy.dk Web 2.0 quality matrix:
The news that weblogs are media properties to be bought for huge sums of money by incumbent media conglomerates is
[Update: I like this discussion. Is Web 2.0 really easy to summarize in two words: cash out]
I'm unable to attend the Web 2.0 conference, but in spirit I'm there!. To prove the point I whipped up a quick, light, revolutionary, simple, user oriented Web 2.0 reality checker.
Web 2.0 is all about the user, sorry, the conversation partner, so the Web 2.0 companies need your input on how well they're doing on the whole Web 2.0 thing.
Go ahead. Rate'em.
Leave a comment if you have any suggestions.
(update II: New and improved look. Less annoying "we own the topframe" refreshes)
So, rapid response to questions is the new black. A few months ago it took DHH about a day and a half to respond to my backpack observations. Scoble is reporting mych faster response times (but of course he's Scoble). Abe Fettig took 5 hours to respond about Jotlive. I just got the fastest ever response to a question I've ever had though. It took all of 5 minutes for Sam Schillace to respond to my question about the current suckyness of Writely when used with tabbed browsing (answer: They're fixing it). I'm not discounting the possibility that the answer was a robo-answer, since I can only imagine they kinda got this question before, but still, that really is fast.
(Unfortunately I no longer have the email signed /Sergey in response to an early question I asked about Google back when it was in beta...)
Don't know the guy, but it seems he's always putting some social idea and/or gathering together. In real virtual worlds and now also in virtual virtual worlds.
This could be really old news, but I never heard of the "Flag as objectionable" button on top of all blogspot.com blogs before. There's a glib, self-congratulatory description of the feature here that says:
This feature allows the blogging community as a whole to identify content they deem objectionable. Have you read The Wisdom of Crowds? It's sort of like that.
Andy Hertzfeld, one of the original heroes of the Apple Macintosh team, was the first interviewee on Robert Cringely's NerdTV. The most striking thing about it is what a nice person Hertzfeld seems to be. No ego, lots of insight, lots of passion. No aggresion. It helps that Cringely and Hertzfeld really click.
(here's a transcript, but you'll miss the fun of listening to Hertzfeld)
Google blog search. What took them so long?
It's got subscriptions, here's a tag search. I'm missing a functional "Link cosmos" though. You can check for backlinks obviously, but with the intense self linkage inherent in blogging results are useless.
Also: Only 8 blogposts link to the technorati tag 'hacks'? Somehow I doubt that.
So I'm done doing danish language posts about the Venice Biennale for now. Back to technology. The absence of good free text search in any web application is a bug. That's all there is to it. Having good personalized search in your application today is like having "internet enabled" applications in 1995 - completely obvious but surprisingly scarce (or poorly done when not outright missing).
In response to that users hack. Here's a bloglines hack for this feature. It exports your bloglines subscriptions to GMail. Which has search. Also, just as bloglines is, GMail is available off-terminal in contrast to doing the exact same thing but dropping the posts to the file system and letting desktop search provide the remainder.
I am unsure whether it is really true that this is a better interface though. I use bloglines in part because of the ability to scan large volumes of posts quickly (sadly, this breaks as soon as the number of posts grow above some hard to find but way to low limit - the browser DOM simply does not get built right).
Jason Kottke takes offense that news.com is lifting his stories and making them their own. Give me a break. "Google wants to take over the world via loose integration" is hardly news and the News.com story does not follow Kottke's pitch at all. The news.com story seems independently reported.
More often than not the easiest way into an organization or computer system is getting physical access or social hacking.New York Times carries this story on Mark Seiden, who gave a very interesting talk on the subject at last years Chaos Computer Conference.
Apparently Longhorns official name will be Windows Vista. I'm guessing 50% of all the disapproving reviews will somehow use the phrase "Hasta la Vista" in the title. And I can see the many, many "Tux dressed as The Terminator finishing Windows off" cartoons already.
This news story belongs in The Onion. Turns out American internet users are ignorant of recent buzzwords in weblogging like "RSS", and "podcasting". Oh my goodness, that's not good - not only is America falling behind in ADSL usage, but even the world of buzzwords is no longer a competitive advantage for the old Red White and Blue.
Once again I can't help thinking of General Buck Turgidson in Dr. Strangelove:
"We cannot afford a buzzword gap!"
The sheer evil of Longhorns hardware integrated copyright protection measures makes Longhorn a completely unacceptable operating system.
In short, Longhorn supposedly will include "production to bio-hardware" DRM protection. Every subsystem, including the monitor, will have to support DRM.
Apparently Microsoft is not in the business of pleasing their customers. There is no possible way it is in the customers interest to give in to thjis kind of DRM.
More and more, Longhorn seems like the most gigantic attempt at corporate suicide since IBM decided to see if it still owned the PC platform. On the other hand, Microsoft have some assurance that this kind of thing goes down smoothly with consumeres, since people are storming to buy iPods, a device with similarly non-consumer friendly "protections" built in. Digital rights is mainly a geek fest. Digital consumption is not.
To be fair – it’s not just Microsoft. The next generation of digital content will, by and large, be protected to the display. Recently Toshiba released their HD-DVD specifications and have dictated HDMI/HDCP as a display requirement for playing back high-definition content. Most expect Blu-ray to have similar restrictions.
DON'T LET THOSE MOTHERFUCKERS KICK YOU AROUND
Tim Bray tells a story of a Sun hardware donation to PHP site Drupal, mentioning the nervous question from donation beneficiaries of what terms the donation was made under:
Hal wrote back saying a mention on the site would be nice, “and no offense, but the legal cost of any more ‘terms’ than above exceeds our cost of the hardware.”
[UPDATE: Mygdal responds in the comments. Well, sort of anyway - he's mostly just angry about being asked it seems]
In "Other upstarts": I would personally like an explanation from Mr. Bootstrapping on why 23 isn't like Flickr at all... Not acknowledging that there's already an (on the face of it) identical wildly popular platform for photosharing seems disingenious to me. Everybody knows the score.
[Preliminary testing suggests an answer along the lines of "We're more web 2.0 applicationlike. And we want to make it big in China"]
Odeo launches and so far they're simply so doing all the hip things that it's almost funny. Let's list'em.
[UPDATE: On a more serious note, it seems like Odeo has a good chance of being the service that drives a social interaction off a category of objects we care about. (I think the "social space around sociable objects" meme discussed at reboot is a meme of the times and possible of the future)]
Here's a little blast from the past - a story on entrepeneurship during the bubble from '99. Of course from bubble phenomenon thestreet.com.
The spin on that story is the difficulty in hanging on to your garage spirit when you've got lots of money - at least that is a problem many companies don't have today..
There's evan a genuine bubble quote in there from Katie Peterson, founder of WebOrder (which seems defunct?)
But if you're starting a company now, she says, the best bet is to "raise $50 million or forget it
It is apparently a good day for ridiculous lawsuits - a perl developer was sued by his employer for ... writing software; more specifically for accessing the source repository from home over ssh.
The details of the case involves the developer threating to blow the whistle on the employers sleazy practice of routinely using open relays on zombie machines to harvest web pages (thus circumventing attempts by website owners to combat harvesting attempts) - this according to the developer, obviously.
Sounds like nice people - unethical business practices and lawsuits against employees.
It's either an elaborate joke or just plain bizarre.
This claims to be a complaint filed in a US court against any and all "anti-SCO" advocates filed by one Jeffery Merkey. Merkey claims that a large number of people are involved in a concerted effort to smear his name, defame mormons (he's from Utah) and do other kinds of damage. The claims in the lawsuit are completely bizarre. Among many other things open source software is made indirectly responsible for beheadings in Iraq, and in general aiding international terrorism and other kinds of evil by bringing technology into the hands of evildoers. At this point you will not be surprised that according to Merkey open source is also responsible for the creation of weapons of mass murder and mass destruction.
Even more bizarrely, Merkey refers to open sourcers as "extreme right wing". Granted, there's a libertarian bent to tech, but if you wanted to pin a political tag on open source it would be left wing, not right.
Among other claims is a story that Bruce Perens wants to put Merkey on a hitlist as a person to be killed - this seems to be based on this misunderstanding.
What makes the story completely bizarre is that Merkey runs Linux (tried to get a netcraft readout on his server but it seems he blocks netcraft)
The lawsuit filed by Click Defense against Google must be viewed as pure advertising. Click Defense sells exactly the kind of service they're accusing Google of not using and the value of the publicity generated by the lawsuit probably far outweighs the damages claimed in the lawsuit. I'm not sure I like the idea.
The notion that it is possible to strongly protect web advertising against automation is absurd, by the way, even if usage filtering techniques learned from anti-spam solutions can probably limit the volume of automated attacks.
As much as we all like Google's services, their corporate communication is not up to scratch. The Google blog is the lamest collection of sales fluff - and comments and trackbacks are off, so no conversation there. Not very impressive for the owners of blogger.
And now spokesperson Nathan Tyler must have missed the company memo that Google actually likes open source. - the point is to enable hacking - to bring the user full control.
I guess it was inevitable, but it's worthwhile to note that AT&T is turning IT-security into entertainment (and yes, that is what I think CNN does for news)
Insert your "Office of Homeland Security threat level already there" comments below.
How odd: A South African investment company has reversed the usual roles in internet badmouthing: Instead of being the target of a corporate defamation site, this company set up a defamation site to attack an investigative reporter in quite a vicious way.
I have no idea of the merits of the journalist and/or the company, but this tactic at least is unusual.
As long as it is a separate service there's no problem, but if Yahoo ever integrate the search behind paywalls feature into their standard search that will be the same as selling paid placements in search.
The user will be shown results that will lead him nowhere, except to an invitation to pay money to someone.
A slashdot thread refers the story of a child pornography case where the debate is over whether you've had child pornography in your possession if you have viewed a webpage with child pornography. This brings to the fore the discussion over metaphors for the web that Doc Searls was talking about at Reboot a week ago. Whether a conclusion that viewing stuff on the web is possession means that the web is a medium or a place is another matter though: possession would indicate place, but since that place would seem to be "our place" maybe a ruling that viewing is possession actually indicates web as conduit instead. Interesting stuff.
At a more practical level this raises the question of whether or not we are legally entitled to control what is shown to us in the webbrowser. Is a company responsible for the content of pop-ups we are shown on the web? If we are ultimately responsible for what gets shown wouldn't the natural conclusion be that it should be illegal to show us anything we have not explicitly agreed to view?
It would seem that a pop-up becomes some kind of "breaking and entering" albeit with the strange objective of putting things into our homes, not taking them out.
I like Google as much as the next guy, and I can't wait till the translation we saw in the Google Factory Tour comes out of the lab.
But that is in fact not the most shocking revelation of the factory tour. This questionable honour fall on the "fun facts about Google employees" sprinkled throughout the presentation. These turn out to be almost exclusively about employee sock buying habits. And from this simple fact we can determine that apart from being driven and brilliant, the Google people are also terminal bores.
Sock buying habits just aren't that funny. Relying on sock jokes for comic relief for an antire hour long presentation is just...painful.
Item II about that presentation: The frequency with which the word monetize was used in presentations made me think of that horrible web 1.0 term, sticky eyeballs.
I'm at the Reboot conference here in Copenhagen and I am taking notes on paper to enjoy the luxury of rewrites when I blog this properly later.
So far, it's a pretty good set of talks. Jimbo Wales impressed by being all about taking the high road in every aspect of his project. Doc Searls was very professional and interesting and engaging, but the talk was a rehash of the slides from Les Blogs.
I'll have specific comments on what they said later - for now I'm just enjoying a better than last time speaker lineup.
I'm beginning to think that web 2.0 doesn't really indicate 2nd generation but rather the new aggressively 2-way nature of the web. Case in point, this years edition of Reboot. It seems the social momentum of blogging (and a grassrootsy turn of the program, maybe) has changed the dynamic of the conference from wanting to be an audience drive event to actually being one. It is in fact almost as if the audience has taken over, which I'm sure is very much the idea. The conference home page is a wiki - and none of the pages are edit locked. There's already a reboot podcast and this was not put together by the organisers. A number of reboot related semi-official and unofficial events are popping up before and after the conference
In contrast the 2-way approach wasn't tried 4 years ago and at least partially failed 2 years ago.
Number of Google references to Star Wars joke, Revenge of the Shit
[Morten er meget fornærmet over at han ikke har sendt en kommentar til classy.dk om de 16.300 hits der var i morges. Undskyld du ikke gjorde det Morten.]
The 1.0.4 Security patch for Firefox bungled the auto update completely. I was left Firefox less to a degree where nothing but a full removal of all earlier copies of Firefox and removal of all my personalized setup helped. On top of that when I finally was able to install, it installed the Danish version even though that's not what I wanted (I most certainly did not click any "localized version"/"Danish version links.
Slogger has improved by leaps and bounds. When I first installed it, it bungled your harddrive by storing all files in a big pile (incredibly slow after a year of browsing) and bungled Firefox search history. Now it does neither, instead it has logging profiles for easy integration with whatever personal search option you're using - including background integration with no less than three web based personal search solutions: Furl, Spurl and Yahoo My Web (gotta love the innovation speed in diverse, competitive environments unhampered by patents)
What used to be a hack now simply works, and you don't even have to store the index any more. Nice.
And then of course Firefox users enjoy the marvels of Adblock and the final solution to simple extensibility, Greasemonkey. The speed with which these innovations are changing Firefox from a viewer for web pages to a de facto application platform (without the hype inherent in that name, mind you) is just staggering.
The case of Greasemonkey is an interesting example of collaborative revolution.
To think that allmusic.com far from destroying something actually ended up creating this revolution. Talk about unintended consequences!
So someone at Google should obviously blog the outage. Excellent occasion to show that the blog is not just plain old marketing. But then again, maybe it is.
So I was working on GPack, extending Mail::Webmail::Gmail and otherwise reverse engineering GMail when I suddenly lost all contact to all Google properties. Of course I immediately donned my tinfoil hat and started protesting this kind of nuclear counterattack from the evil eye of Google, I mean - they should be able to handle a little criticism, but it appears I was not exactly alone.
A short while ago I commented on Infoworlds adoption of del.icio.us as a watershed moment in killing the ridiculous notion of "deep links". I am unsure if this was foretold in that mightee prophecee of The Web 2.0 known as The Cluetrain Manifesto under the banner "hyperlinks subvert hierarchy" or if indeed the concept of "deep links" was an attack of an advancing expeditionary force from Fort Business, striking back at the hyperlinks laying siege outside the firewall, only to fall unavoidably when finally the Free Army of the Links brought unto the Fort the mighty war machine of The Tag?
Tech jobs obviously aren't safe any more. Off-shoring has commoditized this kind of work. You need something extra. But now, shockingly, it turns out that even entrepeneurship is not enough - indeed you can buy it at low prices on Ebay.
Here's a story on the chilling effects of DRM. Microsoft wants you, the consumer (and that's what you are, not a user), back in the box. What you have is more interesting television, not a general purpose computer. Granted, it's a partisan view but free culture has never been more important.
It's difficult to distinguish the conspiracy theories from the legitimate problems here, but just as government budgets rapidly decaying into bankruptcy may be construed by some as a deliberate attempt to undermine social security and 'big government' so one understands that viruses, spam and science fiction nightmares like botnets, armies of zombie PC's taken over by organized crime, may be construed as the excuse needed to introduce widespread crippling of the rights you have to your own computing equipment,
It may simply not be in Microsoft's interest to combat viruses effectively as long as the virus threat can be used to bootstrap total DRM onto the Windows platform.
A whole new breed of microcompany could be under way - the Independent Web Service Aggregator.
I wonder if this entry on the Google blog has passed through Google's legal department. If it has it's almost an endorsement from Google of quite thorough Google Maps hacking, in that the blogger mentions and even praises the marriage of Craigslist and Google Maps that I've mentioned before.
Let's hope this means that Google reall think this kind of service is a benign use of their data. Considering how eager Yahoo has been lately at beating Google at developer friendliness, this could be a very big deal for the search landscape around us.
Four great productivity drinks that alter your brain chemistry for faster processing. Strictly limited beta edition.
Now that Google has started answering questions, it's time to start the game of finding the web's answers to deep questions. We'll start at the lighter end of the scale and get the boring answer to the question What is the Matrix?
Or we could ask What is Life?, or Who is God.
Any other good ideas?
This is the conclusion one must draw from the ThinkGeek "Years Supply of T-shirts" giveaway.
If I hadn't seen it in my referrer logs I wouldn't have believed that gppgle is actually a Google owned domain. A sligthly surprising variant of the technique of buying typos of your name to get all the intended traffic. Yes, I do realise that 'p' is next to 'o' on the qwerty keyboard.
You can now search for material with a free to reuse license.
Whoever said metadata is crap, will obviously have to rethink that idea as more and more services like this Creative Commons Search becomes available.
I'm entirely on board with the observations fueling the anti meta utopia movement, but there are too many interesting cases that do work to forget about metadata just yet. The main things that work are
Tool automated metadata. RSS works. Trackback works. Technorati is in business. This is because bloggers have their metadata automatically created.
Performative metadata. When you add Creative Commons licensing metadata to your website, you are actually granting this given license, not just mentioning the license. The Creative Commons metadata is a performative utterance on your part. The good thing about performative metadata is that it can't be wrong. It might be unintended, but whatever you said, you actually said. Toy examples of metadata are rarely performative. It's usually something silly on the order of <dog><link rel="hasa" url="http://tail"></dog>, but there are tons of examples of performative metadata like the Creative Commons one, it's just not very common yet, because nobody has set up a good infrastructure.
Oddly, it took until march for Slashdot to pick up on the fact that Google Print is live in searches. It's been so for months and there was even a K5 post on hacking the "page loads in one sitting" limit to create PDFs of full books. For casual use above the 3-5 page limit there's an extremely simple hack. When you reach the limit - simply find the last 4-5 words on the page and search for them. That will restart you page limit from that page.
...make sure your email obfuscation does not backfire. The popular email obfuscation technique of writing (myname AT somename DOT com) instead of firstname.lastname@example.org actually backfires. Because it is such a common technique, this google search is an excellent way to search specifically for this obfuscation. Spammers don't even have to harvest your address, Google (or Yahoo or MSN or ...) does it for them.
Just so I don't forget: Russell Beattie is exactly right regarding the Niall Kennedy/Technorati blogging issue.
This is so obvious I can't believe people are getting it wrong.
It doesn't sound like Kennedy's post was necessarily one to be proud of, but if my boss wrote to an offended third party something like "I'm very sorry that we let you down. I assure you that these are not Technorati's official positions or feelings about the companies and projects mentioned, and I humbly ask for your forgiveness." about non business stuff on my personal website that is not hosted on the corporate webserver, I would quit immediately.
The destruction of perfectly good jokes is an entire Wikipedia genre! Witness the Wikipedia entry on nonexistent words used in 'The Simpson's'. We learn that Kwyjibo is a fictional word used by Bart in a game of scrabble, and then with perfect joke killing bored delivery:
Humorously enough, earlier in that same episode, Homer moans words to the effect of "How could anyone form a good word out of these letters?" His Scrabble letters spell OXIDIZE, and were arranged in that order. The word would be worth a minimum of 74 points, including 50 points for using all his letters.
(That the article exists on the other hand is one more point i Wikipedias favour over traditional dictionaries)
As the surf goes on from Reason magazine, we find this NPR segment inspired by a Reason magazine cover. Reason printed a personalized edition where the over was tailored to each individual subscriber so that it contained an aerial photo of each subscribers house.
Surprisingly, the price of doing these personalized covers is less than 1 DKK (approx 10 cents ($ or euro)).
This obviously ties into GPS based map hacking Jon Udell demoed recently.
Living in a small, heavy government, heavily data mined country I always find it amusing to see ads in Wired magazine for "online paperless automated bill handling". They seem quaint - we've had these things in place for years - for so long in fact that I can't remember when it wasn't happening. It seems extremely odd that the world's biggest economy, the worlds most productive nation, hasn't latched onto this a long time ago. Database Nation is obviously a concept where William Gibsons adage applies - The future is already here, it's just not evenly distributed.
I wonder if any studies exist comparing some "life quality" metrics with these kinds of "technology metrics". We all know the tradeoffs between big government and small government and low vs. high taxation, so the interesting question is how much of this is comes from just the technology and how much from associated goverment.
I would like to suggest that somebody organize a conference for WI15IC's - that is:
Would-be or Inadvertent 15 minute Internet Celebrities.
What's cool about full time blogging for money, Kottke style, is beyond me. Making a living as a writer would be nice , I guess (feel free to hire me for that purpose) - but blogging seems a tad limited in scope to be fun as a full time activity. Seems to me Kottke needs to read up on the sex & cash theory. I just don't get why it's a cool idea, but to each man his own idea of happiness.
If Kottke was Pressthink or some similar focused info source I might just get it, but Kottke very much isn't that kind of forum.
In the ever raging "is Google turning evil?" blog debates, the latest evidence is "Autolinks" in the Google Toolbar 3 beta. These are hover links added to web content that direct you to Google searches for the material in question. They are similar to the Microsoft invention Smart Tags, and quite obnoxious. Not something I think I would turn on if I was using that browser. Main difference to MS Smart tags:
Not that one couldn't see it coming, but for online games "Product placement" is simply a misnomer for shopping. If you add the product to the game, why not let the player order it right away. Case in point: You can now order pizzas from Pizza Hut inside Everquest.
(via Boing Boing)
Here on the outskirts of the blogosphere, the bad guys aren't so savvy. It took until today for the first mass trackback spamming to hit classy.dk. So it looks like I'll now be auditing trackbacks as well.
Until I set it up, trackbacks are down.
I wish I had the energy to set a deadline for my complete migration of Moveable Type - but I don't.
This page, tracing the üse of ümlaüt's in the names of heavy metal bands, is an excellent demonstration why it will be impossible to beat Wikipedia in the long term. You just can't get that kind of dedication with money, certainly not with any amount of money you're willing to pay. Yes, we don't yet have the same kind of dedication for all kinds of material, all the stuff the 'classical' encyclopediae excel at is in trouble, but that's just a temporary condition.
(via Jon Udell. Through his link you can catch a live film of the intense editing history of this entry unfold)
Mr. Sun is a mysterious figure, a blinding light. Do not look directly at Mr. Sun. Bask in him. Although 93 million miles away, Mr. Sun uses this Blog to share his warmth with others.If it's good enough for Kottke, it's good enough for me. Subscribed.
Specifically, why is it so important to predict the doom of Google's "Don't be evil" culture (arguably the best piece of marketing since Nike's Just Do It or something similar) or why is it so important to predict the doom of Wikipedia? More than 1 million articles exist, close to half a million in the English edition alone. Lookups related to current events get grafted onto the encyclopedia at a pace no established coherent source can match.
Sure there are quality problems, but come on. By any standard, the speed with which this volume of data got assembled, at the level of quality that it does actually have, is remarkable.
The latest batch of attacks are reruns of a round of "But, but, it's written by pimply hackers, not experts" attacks of a couple of months ago. I think the attacks are disingenious. First of all, in fields where experts embrace The Reputation Economy wikipedia is pretty damn good. As an example, I'd have to say that the mathematical material in wikipedia is much better than the material in any general reference I use.
Phenomena like blogging means that more and more people, from a broader and broader range of fields, get a feel for how reputation works online, and as they get comfortable with blogging they will also get comfortable with something like Wikipedia. Needless to say, wikipedia has trouble in fields that are tradionally mastered by old guys in tweed jackets - classical literature, some elements of history, classical music etc.
The prediction of imminent doom is really a theme in present day culture. I'm sure that means something (in fact my brother may just have written a book (in Danish) about it).
OK, so transcripting text from audio may look like a seamless process. You can order it cheaply and easily online, and results come in fast. But it is still done by human beings, and cheap isn't always good.
Witness this transcript of a Churchill Club event hosted by AlwaysOn. John Doerr, Esther Dyson and Roger McNamee discuss among other things the opportunities in Wickies (i.e. Wikis) and RSS speeds (i.e. feeds).
Dave Winer is Google Paranoid. Which is to say that he has been predicting a Big Brother effect on the use of Google's massive collection of data for so long that any non-positive news on Google openness can serve as an "I told you so". This isn't news and he's not alone. Based on the experience of Microsoft (or worse - Enron and others) everybody expects big corporations to serve only their own interests and harm the public interest in doing so. Concerns are a good thing. The only problem with this particular concern is the absence of evidence that Google's management is really a bunch of evil money grabbers.
The latest bit of paranoia doesn't originate with Winer, but with Scott Rosenberg and surprisingly (to me at least) the otherwise levelheaded Jon Udell chimes in a little later.
The story itself belies the scepticism. Supposedly it's a story about stewardship over the Google Library project, with prima facie legitimate concerns on Google's right to control the material. But Rosenbergs story itself details how all the data produced will also be made available to participating universities free of charge, no questions asked. What's not to like? More than one company will have access to the data, so there's no evil Google data monopoly. The world at large will have a lot more access to data, and if a problem comes up with Google's use of the data the world will still have gotten digitized version of a lot of texts essentially for free outside of Google's control. In addition, as I pointed out earlier this seems to me to be an effort in parallel to Amazon's "Search Inside" - where were all the concerned voices when Amazon introduced that feature? Clearly this is paranoia first and legitimate concern second.
The only case of clearly sub-par performance of Google in terms of policy was the decision to go along with chinese censorship. In all other cases they outperform the competition policy wise. GMail is a good case in point. It's as far as I know the only mass market webmail that has a full POP3 interface to boot so you can maintain your own copy (and therefore ownership) of your email. And that's free. It's hard to do webmail better than that wrt. to ownership of data. If other companies were held to this kind of standard, the software world would be a happy place indeed. Winer's high profile role in repeatedly hammering in this message is even more ironic considering his awful track record as steward of RSS. Rarely has the weapon of ownership of something previously promised to be free been wielded quite so bluntly.
To me it feels as if Google, simply by saying that governance and policy is an issue for a company, has opened up this particular way of attack. By acknowledging that this is important Google is, ironically, more subject to this kind of criticism than competitors offering the same minds of services without offering any answers to questions of governance and policy.
Some things just don't work well enough. Tim Brays Cherry-Tomato Challenge revolves around finding just one example of a search engine that uses the img tag's title or alt attributes as search guides in image search. He's harped on this before, but this seems like a good one to watch. As a testament to how fantastic they seem, I'm a but surprised Google didn't fix this after the last time it got a mention on Bray's blog.
[UPDATE (as of 2006-02-11, but it has been fixed for a while) : Google does this right]
A rare sight - Amazon.com seems to be down at the moment.
[Update: It didn't take long - they're back up]
Excellent point by Seth Godin on why blogs aren't just something people with "old media access" should do:
Here's the problem. Blogs work when they are based on:
(maybe Utility if you want six).
Does this sound like a CEO to you?
Short and sweet, folks: If you can't be at least four of the five things listed above, please don't bother.
What's with the Bloggers Making Money meme (Starting I think with a Making Money session at Bloggercon. Also JoHo, Battelle)? I am reminded of gapingvoids Sex & Cash Theory. Almost all the bloggers have dayjobs (the cash). So blogging for them is supposed to be the fun extra curricular stuff (the sex). What's with the sudden interest in getting paid for sex?
There are exceptions to the rule (Denton, Calacanis), but the discussion seems forced to me. It's not media types discussing a new publishing model so much as it is people introduced to publishing via blogging who are thinking "Whoa - I've got eyeballs. Quickly, I have to monetize them". It's a bubble instinct, and it's wrong. Not every personal activity needs a businessplan.
I think it is absolutely true that a corporation is better of with comments-open weblogs running. Conversation is always good, and the naysayers who say that you never know what negative stuff will get said or what loons will abuse the comment system clearly haven't been paying attention to the worldwide mass experiment in voluntary collaboration that is building e.g. Wikipedia.
But I still have doubts about the consequences for the corporate bloggers of actually blogging for their corporation. To keep it short, I believe that people's distrust of corporation will rub off in a distrust of the corporate blogger. I know it's my personal instinct to think so. People accept roles in corporations and do things they wouldn't do if they weren't there. That's all fine and dandy when I am able to recognize that they're in that role. I think corporate blogging blurs that.
I think I'm also repeating myself. You might want to follow the discussion attached to this post.
Amazon, the flexible e-commerce giant has specific offerings both for web site owners and for software developers. The choices are staggering.
There's a new UserAgent in my web server logs:
"Mozilla/5.0 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; +http://www.google.com/bot.html)"
This is not the regular Google crawl - that is done by UserAgent
The requesting IP for the Mozilla faking UA is assigned to Google, so it's not just somebody else using Google's name. Is this a test whether more servers are willing to serve content when you force the UserAgent to something browser-like or could it be (conspiracy theory drumroll building) the Google browser?
The former is more likely, but since I don't discriminate bots in any way, why am I being crawled by both bots?
Incidentally, the Mozilla impersonating bot is not as smart as its older brother - along with msnbot it has fallen inti thi Intirnit.
Even more incidentally, the big brother Googlebot was either fixed so it no longer crawls accessibility world or accessibility world closed its doors on the Googlebot. Oh, wait - it was accessibilty world that got fixed by having a robots.txt file.
Dan Sherman is a "self professed remarkable entrepeneur". He is also the author of the zaniest business proposals I have ever seen. It's as if Ned Flanders had suddenly been born into the real world and started a weblog.
Before I tell you about them I need to make sure you're clear about the rules: Dan gets a kickback when you make it big off his hard earned ideas. That's only fair. With that off my chest I give you Dan's house of horror business proposals:
Donate to the Wikipedia fund drive. The wikipedia is a wonderful achievement of the kind you thought couldn't happen anymore. An open collaborative society that hasn't splintered or fragmented. No mass exodus of 20000 contributors who would rather go start their own thing has happened (I do know that looked like it could happen at one point but at this point I think Wikipedia has established itself as the place for this kind of thing).
On the outskirts of the project the usual threats do exist: Tacky me-too operations whose only skill is search engine optimisation sometimes manage to make their pages of ripped-off Wikipedia content hide the actual Wikipedia. If this was loyal open mirrroring that would be great, but it's not - it's just another ad-serving platform. Old media people disregard the fact that a lot of smart people do most of their work connected to the internet, so they (the old media people) take it as self evident that an open system on that crazy internet can't possibly produce information of value. Finally, there is of course a problem with vandalism and partisan crackpotism - but the amazing thing is that none of this stuff matters.
It's the Amazon Kne-Jerk Contrarian Game. Waxy has the right idea, the bad reviews are the most interesting, being written either out of sheer malice or by people who just don't get it. Here's a good batch on John Coltrane's "A Love Supreme"
* "Coltrane's A Love Supreme is the most overhyped jazz album in history. It is music? Maybe. But I find it to be unlistenable, despite several efforts to find something good in it."
* "The first number is torture if you like melodic music. There's no connection between the phasing and the rhythm. Again, is this supposed to be clever?"
* "Nobody will care about the technical achievements of these guys in 100 years."
* "I think about Kenny G., for instance. His rythmic session is much more regular, whereas Coltrane's session seems sometimes to loose the beat."
I can only say amen to this audioblogging manifesto which basically says "Don't believe the hype".
Consider also this - the average person speaks at one hundred, perhapsDave Winers audio message that he was going to stop hosting radio weblogs, running ten minutes but communicable in 1 through reading exemplifies all the problems. Connecting via speech usually takes conversation. Good public speakers are rare, and audio blogging is public speaking. To me, there no additional information in spoken half sentences interspersed with coughs, uhs, uhhums and coughing. That wouldn't be so bad if speech helped the emotive connection. But that only happens in conversation - unless the speaker has rare natural talent.
one hundred fifty words per minute. Meanwhile, an accomplished reader
can read ten times faster - up to a thousand words a minute, and that's
straight-up reading, not even skimming. You're forcing people to listen
to you at a speed that's barely faster than the speed at which they can
type. Why are you wasting their time? Is your voice really that
The only real promise of audio blogging is good availability of speech for mashups.
By the way: Maciej, the author of the manifesto, not only likes the written language. The written language likes him back. Bookmarked.
I hadn't looked at the Moveable Type website for a while, since I long ago decided I would never upgrade MT again. But I just got there via various links.Talk about taking the grassroots out of a website!
The MT site used to look like the website of a small company, that wasn't really a company at all. They had this software you could download without any hassles, use is you didn't exactly make a living out of it, and pay for if you appreciated the convenience of the software.
Now it's all product, and you're nothing but a consumer.
I don't really know if that's a sad thing or just an inevitable consequence of growth. In many respects I'm sure the service of the new MT is better for non-hobbyists - it's just that bloggers used to all be hobbyists.
[UPDATE: I should probably have sent some credit for the observation this way]
Finally, spam has a use with the invention of the spamshirt.
We knew they cared about their IP, but the linking policy of the Frauenhofer Institute (of mp3 fame) is particularly lame:
The contracting party shall inform the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft that the link has been inserted, or that the target page has been installed on a webserver, by sending an e-mail message to email@example.com within 24 hours of setting the link. This message must contain the path (URL) via which the webpage containing the link can be accessed.
Some time real soon this idea that you have any right to define how others link to your websites must be stopped.
That's my conlusion on this finding that 44% of large american corporations eavesdrop on outgoing mail. No wonder they're so eager to outsource if they see no more value in the loyalty of their own employees. I like to think this percentage is lower in Scandinavia, and not because Scandinavian managers live in the stone age but because of the quality of the workforce.
...angermann2. The collage-like CSS styling with -label lookalike titles. The wild font sizes. The huge images. It looks like ... something else. It's cool in a cool way, not in the all too common "Look at me I'm imitating cool guy #5" way. Add to that high quality content and the sense to go away on a real summer holiday. Bookmarked.
Bonus feature: No content about blogging.
A community backlash against (free) required registration schemes: bugmenot is a database of working logins for websites that require you to register to view content. With convenient plugins (that pop up some usable credentials) available for Mozilla and Internet Explorer I have registered as user Cheddar Cheese from Osteby, a 93 year old albanian female CEO in the $20.000 to $25.000 income bracket for the very last time.
Obviously we need to do just a little better: The plugins should actually load the login form itself automatically, just like Password Manager does in Mozilla if you ask it to. The "submit this login to bugmenot" phase is poorly supported by the plugins. Hmm, maybe it's time to tinker.
Everybody is linking to the recently created torrent search engine and I want to do that too, so here goes.
The RIAA and MPAA lawyers must be very happy: At last there's someone to sue over BitTorrent. Now there's a new torrent search engine at bitoogle.com and yes, it does link to torrents of what just *might* be copyrighted materials.
There - that's my bitoogle link.
So I was looking for the "Contingency design hall of shame" that 37signals had running at the URL http://www.37signals.com/dnf/ some time ago.
But that link had died - and instead I didn't get a well designed error page like you might expect, given the content of the site that used to be there, but instead an advertisement for a book. The table of contents was listed, and the book's 7th chapter was described like this
7. Get Out of the Way
Eliminate obstacles to conversion (e.g. unnecessary ads, registration, navigation, etc.).
Sadly the item of value to me on the 37signals was gone.
It's either a brilliant parody or just brilliant. But it is most certainly l33tish:
bak 2 skewliez :(:(:(
omgz sooo i hvant riten n a looonong wile!1 haf u missD mi? hahah omgz i missD yaLL!!! butt i geus prt of mah gruoundin wuz dat i wuz off da comptrer...ah wel i'v bene doin gode sooos mah Daddi let meh on 4 a wile.
2dai wuz da friste dai off skewlie. :(:(:( da onlee gude prt wuz dat MeLiSsA wuz rite n dere iz a HOTTIE NU BOI!!! loloerzzz
He totalli wunted mi, i culd tele. n hiz naem iz...
omgomgomzzzz hez soooos HOTTIE!!! n he iz totalli n2 mei. i juss kno it.
There's more where it came from.
It was on April 1st Google announced GMail and started handing out test accounts. In the time from then till now a market for test accounts got started, matured (several competing operations offered to broker "Gmail for good deeds" deals between inviters and invitees) and now it has almost disappeared as reported by Wired News (some 10 days ago - a lifetime apparently in this kind of environment). In less opportunistic environments (like here in Denmark) invitations have been going for free for some time).
As a side note, artificial scarcity just kills as a marketing strategy. Two and a half month worth of free editorial advertising and blogger bragging is amazing. It works like Harry Potter preorders on Amazon or like dollars in high inflation countries.
Side note to side note: I tried really hard to combine the two words blogger and bragging into a new 'blogword' (brogging? blagging?) but none of them seem to convey the original two words very well.
[UPDATE: Ah - turns out that blagger is already in operation (but means something in the nature of complaining). It was the best of the two.]
David Weinberger is up receiving more than 2000 pieces of spam every day. That's spam every 40 seconds around the clock. That is in short a lot of spam.
In term of download bandwidth, assuming a modest 5K a piece (it is almost certainly more) that's 10 MB of spam, which means Weinberger actually needs ADSL or better just to download his email. Using a modem it would take ~ 30 minutes daily connection time to just receive all the email.
Reading the comment thread on Weinbergers announcement is also interesting. Employing a spamfilter is obviously a necessity for mail to remain useful at all. But even with a filter assuming a sounds-nice false negative percentage of 1 (i.e. assuming 1% of the spam is not filtered) that's 20 emails for manual sorting every day. That about as much spam as I receive total and I'm annoyed. Weinberger needs to move into the next digit. Handling false positives, i.e. accepting any messages scored as spam by manually removing them from quarantine is mostly useless with this volume of spam, so in order to ensure reception of messages there is no way around some kind of challenge response like scheme. It may be done socially instead of automatically but it must be done.
My long running obsession with Area Man has finally been proven worthwhile by the find "Area man charged in panty theft case". Usually he's too busy getting killed - or killing someone else - or remembering D-Day, but this time he's up to some interesting mischief at least.
Remember the old Weblogging will explode or die post, or the follow up? It seems weblogging has already exploded. I discovered this (I am very, very far from claiming that mine is the first discovery) when I realized that all the pages of all the O'Reilly websites (ONLamp, etc.) support trackback as part of the comment system. Combined with the implicit trackback lookup of my w.bloggar/MT 2.64 blogging client/server combo (so much better than the old trackback scriptlet) this means that fortuitous linkage of shared but distributed conversations is simple and completely automatic.
Clearly, calling the entire O'Reilly site a "blog" misses the point completely. It's just new smarter two-way hyperlinks that augment the hypertext dramatically.
Dear maintainer of site that I casually visit from time to time:
[Update: here's a recent case (20040731)]
Also, a manager of "Microsofts security business and technology unit" (who knew they actually had one - their products bear no evidence that such an effort exists) boldly claims that We have never had vulnerabilities exploited before the patch was known.
When spin gets that thick it feels a little as if the world is turning into a television court room drama. A place where all sanity ends, where the truth is completely irrelevant and the only thing that counts is to utter your unfounded self serving opinions strongly and with great conviction.
To its credit Microsoft itself provides security bulletins proving the statement false. This bulletin contains the following statement
What are the new security vulnerabilities addressed by the patch?
There are a grand total of five newly discovered vulnerabilities:
What’s the scope of the first vulnerability?
The first vulnerability is a denial of service vulnerability [...] The vulnerability is being actively exploited by the “Code Red” worm, and this has been widely, although incorrectly, reported as being due to a flaw in the patch provided in Microsoft Security Bulletin MS01-033. In fact, this is a completely different and previously unknown vulnerability.
Then of course there is the much bigger issue of a generally unsafe architecture like the many security problems with HTML email and with ActiveX in browsers as well as scripting in Office applications. These features make virus writing so simple that literally any kid can do it. I have always felt that there was a distinct mismatch between the simplicity of virus writing and the harsh demonization of virus writers - the carelessness that makes virus writing so simple should be factored into the equation also.
Its hard to believe but VeriSign is suing ICANN over SiteFinder. In idiotic statements by VeriSign representatives it says that "This brazen attempt by ICANN (news - web sites) to assume 'regulatory power' over VeriSign's business is a serious abuse of ICANN's technical coordination function,". ICANN does regulate the assignment of names and control VeriSigns franchise to manage the com/net zone. It's been a while since I have seen such a die hard attempt at commercial suicide. VeriSigns contract will come up for review. Nobody is interested in Sitefinder except VeriSign and by suing they have virtually guaranteed a grassroots campaign to take away the management franchise from them or at least to tighten the terms and conditions enoug to kill Sitefinder for good.
The latest edition of Wired carries a story on the uptake of ID theft with a simple demonstration for how you can do that - as soon as you have e.g. someones social security number. That reminded me of a good suggestion from Jon Udell, which is to do an occasional Google search for your social security number. It is supposed to come up negative - if it doesn't you could be in serious trouble. Obviously your number may still be out there but a partial test is better than no test at all.
The same search strategy should apply to other vital statistics, your credit card number etc.
Sensitive information like this raises the only real issue with archives like the Wayback Machine, since automated complete archives would heighten the risk of exposure: If your sensitive data was published by accident at any time in the past the perfect archive would still have a copy of it.
The latest "social software buzz" is for Orkut (no link gratuity today) and according to almost everybody in the blogging world, Orkut is failing in a big way to deliver on Cory Doctorow's requirements for socal software. Joi Ito summarizes. David Weinberger jokes and complains. Some guy named michael with a truly crappily implemented weblog writes better than he codes html (for the curious; I would say I suck a good deal more at web design/HTML hacking than at writing but my typing is so terrible that this fact is probably not really believable from my web log)
At the same time ridiculous legalese and horrible web design. I am guessing the gambling industry is a litigous place to be.
A while back I wrote, in response to what I considered a misguided attempt to define the danish blogging scene, that as far as I am concerned weblogs will have to either explode or die, that is either defy the current scope and (attempts at) definition or die as just another fad. So on that note I was happy to read Never mind the bollocks - here's the wonderchicken, which seems to say just about the same thing. At great length. With lots of style. Subscribed.
It sounds like an april fools joke but unfortunately it is true: A patent has been issued for using the domain/email naming scheme christianname.surname.tld for a URL and firstname.lastname@example.org for an email address. How ridiculous do these Patent scams have to get before somebody does something and gets rid of software and method patent for good ? Why is a government agency involved in the business of protection rackets?
The DRM mafia is of course inadvertently boosting Linux and IP6 on the desktop by taking away from the standard closed platform freedoms we have come to take for granted. Doc Searls writes about two examples: 1) The adoption of NAT and closed by default routers on ADSL connections means you need to hack to actually run a machine on the internet. 2) Highly restrictive rights management schemes are making their way into mainstream consumer devices from major vendors.
When these kinds of things become pervasive the appeal of free alternatives will become greater thus boosting the open source desktop. The idea that the less capable product will win the consumer war is unthinkable to me.
They have been getting a lot of (blog-) press but that's well deserved: Cory Doctorow's statement for 2004 is right on the money, in fact it's so good I'll just reproduce verbatim, I'm sure nobody will mind but otherwise it's real easy to complain to a blogger
The last twenty years were about technology. The next twenty years are about policy. It's about realizing that all the really hard problems -- free expression, copyright, due process, social networking -- may have technical dimensions, but they aren't technical problems. The next twenty years are about using our technology to affirm, deny and rewrite our social contracts: all the grandiose visions of e-democracy, universal access to human knowledge and (God help us all) the Semantic Web, are dependent on changes in the law, in the policy, in the sticky, non-quantifiable elements of the world. We can't solve them with technology: the best we can hope for is to use technology to enable the human interaction that will solve them.
On that note: I have a special request to the toolmakers of 2004: stop making tools that magnify and multilply awkward social situations ("A total stranger asserts that he is your friend: click here to tell a reassuring lie; click here to break his heart!") ("Someone you don't know very well has invited you to a party: click here to advertise whether or not you'll be there!") ("A 'friend' has exposed your location, down to the meter, on a map of people in his social network, using this keen new location-description protocol -- on the same day that you announced that you were leaving town for a week!"). I don't need more "tools" like that, thank you very much.
An important note for 2004: stop trying to build an Internet without malefactors, parasites, freeriders and inefficiency. There is no such thing as a parasite-free complex ecology (thank you Kathryn Myronuk for this formulation). Some organisms lamented the existence of mitochondria. Others adapted to exploit them and integrate them. Some lament the existence of spammers. Spammers will always exist: stamping your foot and demanding their nonexistence won't change that: adapt or die.
Guan found a company hring mercenaries, and either a lot of people are having fun with him or his blog comment system has turned into a runaway mercenary market by accident.
The company Guan blogged represents a scary development by the way - namely the privatization of the military. I don't know if Sandline has performed any large scale operations for any reputable government, but other companies have.
The amazing Wikipedia project, already a very credible and coherent on line reference, is in need of funds. The popularity of the site had led to demand for new hardware, and for that reason a pledge drive was set up. I guess christmas is a good time to be aksing people to donate because as of new years (December 31st - three days later) the goal of $20000 was already exceeded by more than 50%. I think the $20000 was a very modest sum to ask for, and I'm sure the wikipedians could use your donation as well as mine. So go give some.
It's easy to see why people find the story of Peter Ludlow and his banishment from Sims Online - a Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game - interesting. Ludlow was banished for running a newspaper on the virtual world, detailing some of the sleazier aspects of the game with the exposure of minors posing as adults offering virtual prostitution as a high point. It is easy to see the kind of corporate intervention that Ludlow experiences as a warning of times to com. Physical artificial communities with highly restrictive bylaws are already a reality even if your human rights would of course be protected in an actual artificial setting. The economics of defending your rights may however make it economically unfeasible to protect them.
The story is covered in a recent piece in Salon (Premium - nonfree registration required) and also covered on the Copyfight blog.
It reads like an advertisement for big government. Somebody has to provide balance against corporate interests.
Just has started a whole new trand, war laundering, i.e. finding WiFI hotspost all over Vesterbro, and in particular finding a hotspot at the local laundromat. Turns out our neighbourhood has quite a lot of connections, which makes sense since it is very much a student neighbourhood. Must have one of those smart laptops.
The digital equivalent of a million man march is the political google bombing, i.e. a concerted effort to make a specific search term refer to a particular page by social engineering. Joi Ito informs us that the much publicized top google ranking of "Miserable Failure" George Bush is a google bomb. It's pretty evident from the second to 10th ranked page by the way.
I think it is time to apply the Gartner Hype Cycle to blogging. Weblogging has now gone sufficiently mainstream to be useful in mainstream advertising (in the Bay Area at least). That marks a new highpoint in public expectation of weblogging. So we're at peak 1 or peak 2. Now presumable everybody will blog, blog.hotmail.com will appear and AOL will regain profitability because of a new AOL blogging craze, and the ensuing cacophony will disappoint - whereafter blogging will find a realistic place in the world of networked media.
Not that I'm looking for bad news; but a plausible onset of a downturn would be the failure of the Dean grassrots campaign to gather sufficient online momentum to fuel a victory offline. I'm rooting for grassrots on this one - but the immediate future (next year or so) will be interesting.
link via CommonMe.
It almost sounds like a joke, but apparently "Nigerian letters" are considered a public relations disaster by the Nigerian government, so a crack down is planned.
There's another impact BT is poised to make. Now, all of a sudden, digital video is on the computer technology curve, not the video technology curve. HDTV has been the video technology of the future for about 20 years now. I still don't have any HDTV gear, but I've watched some movie trailers in 720p, downloaded using BitTorrent, of course. HD isn't widespread yet, but all you need is 3 GHz computers instead of 1 GHz, nice monitors, and fast DSL like they have in Korea. Does anyone seriously doubt that this will happen, and soon?Now that everybody who's online is so thorougly disenchanted with the stupidity of broadcast television, and now that the size of this digital elite is a sizable double digit percentage of (some) industrialized countries [TODO: Insert link to other persons blog post mentioning some high percentage] should we expect to start seeing things like independent news broadcasting that never really originated on television Should we expect another online media first for next years presidential election?
Infrequently Asked Question
Q: Why are you interested in broadcast at all. Isn' t P2P (that's Point To Point) supposed to be The Right Thing To Do?
A: Massivily parallel reception of the same message is not necessariliy evil. It can be a powerful coherence builder. And coherence can be good.
This note by Tom Mangan comments on the notion that a particular subset of the political environment have taken blogs to be 'their' technology - grassrotsy by definition:
...anything perceived good guy Howard Dean can do with technology can be replicated by his enemies (it's possible I glazed over this part, it's long article). Team Bush has $200 million and six months to play catch-up. It also has talk radio, the Fox Network and all the warbloggers on its side, plus the population's inherent tendency to side with the current prez during wartime. The Web knows no politics, it just offers politicians another way to get people to the polls.
I think that underlines a point I tried to make recently (in Danish) : If there is a coherent "Blogging universe" with a shared culture, then that is a temporary phenomenon caused by the fact that technology early adopters tend be more alike than people in general. The format will either explode (as it gets adopted and co-opted into thousands of contexts) or die (because of the decreasing signal/noise ratio as everybody starts posting).
The comment reminds me of Douglas Rushkoff's much publicised joke about "Return of The Jedi": What if Darth Vader hat gotten to the gullible Ewoks first and tricked them into believing that his was the good cause.
Burningbird is moving because the previous hosting service unfortunately ended up on a spam blacklist. Blacklists are no good. Running blacklists to fight spam is the internet geek equivalent of joining the NRA to protect yourself agains burglary. This is the general observation. There are nice blacklists, open relay blockers with automated and fast 'test and remove' services. Those are good ideas.
While looking for a usable reference for the classic joke "Now that's a face for the radio", I came upon the Charleston Post and Courier, and it turns out this newspaper has the most annoying site registration implementation I have ever seen.
Links to the archived stories work - and they are indexed by Google. BUT stories contain a redirect header (or maybe it's script enabled - I didn't bother to look) so that after a few seconds (just enough to read the headline) you're redirected to the registration page. That is actually more annoying than pages that are just not available. It is really, really easy to get and read the pages without running into the registration page, so they are not protecting their content, just alienating surfers.
A good quote on what blogging is good for may be found on BuzzMachine:
Perhaps it's as simple as that. Media was institutional. Now it is personal.(found via Doc Searls' weblog)
By personalizing media, I don't mean customizing it (My Yahoo, Your Yahoo, All God's Children Got Yahoos).
I mean humanizing it, taking on the personalities of people, not of institutions.
That's a good point on blogging. It riffs with my recent reading of Cyborg - where Steve Mann explains the reasoning behind his quest for the ultimate wearable computer. I've covered Steve Mann's concept of humanistic computing before - but mainly from a practical perspective. On reading his book, it becomes clear that Mann (one suspects retroactively) is actually on a political, moral mission as well. His key observation is that so much technology works remotely from us but connected to some big evil database somewhere. The technology is offered to us as smart technology, but the real point of it often becomes stupidifying us instead. If the surroundings are smart we don't have to be and soon we forget how to be. On the surface our lives are made easier, but the main thing technology does when applied like that is make us more controllable and docile and less independent. Mann sees the wearable computer as a radical attack on this way of applying technology. By enhancing our sensory apparatus with technology Mann wants to upgrade us so we can fight back and respond to the technology of control.
The same reasoning applies to the custumized vs personalized distinction. There's no comparison between collaborative filtering and personal free speech. "My CommercialPortalUserProfile" gives us the former, while blogging provides the latter.
...was the helpful hint from Amazon when I looked up the sales rank for the latest Harry Potter book. 4590 revies is an impressive number. You have to imagine that only a little percentage of readers bother to chime in with opinion number 4239 with a verdict of G*R*E*A*T.
Oddly enough the book was only at no 39 in sales on com and no 44 on co.uk - is it a commercial failure, or does the sale just happen so very quickly that they already sold all the books?
Another book with a ton of reviews was Al Franken's "Lies and the lying liars who tell them". The book is rated down from 5 stars to 4 stars because of a largish amount of one-star righ twing dissent along the lines of "Al Franken, you commie bastard, who don't you just move to Cuba". The dissent takes two basic forms: Outright rejection, with almost no comment but 'avoid this' and a 1 star rating, and clever rejection, where the 1-star rating is kept, but the comment is more along the lines of "Isn't it ironic, this vitriliic liar is accusing OUR guys of namecalling and lying".
Along the way, Franken and Michael Moore are also accused of being 'ferries'. They look more like tugboats to me.
Gary Wolf is preparing a story on the Dean campaign for Wired, focusing on the online Dean campaign. As part of this he is interviewing the usual suspects of the Wired/Cluetrain/Well set - Weinberger, Rheingold, Kelly asking them all what's so special about the Dean online momentum. They give various interesting forms of the same answer: give up control. By providing means to let people do the organizing themselves, and more importantly by not controlling the grassroots very carefully, the campaign has been able to grow very quickly, and with an completely different feel from your usual grassrots campaign. So say the pundits, anyway - being 'not there' and 'not American' it is extremely difficult to tell to what extent the claims are true.
What's really interesting so far is that none of the pundits frame their answer in quite the same way, nor do they give the same example of the defining liberating quality. This indicates to me the true difference to any standard way of organising several hundred thousands of people. It's not just about finding some technique to grow the organisation, its a completely different idea about what it means to be organized at all.
The late danish travel tycoon Simon Spies is famous (in Denmark) for having said that there is no such thing as bad publicity. He had a pretty scandalous lifestyle (lots of women, even more alcohol) but according to him the value in the increased name recognition all the scandals got him by far exceeded whatever contempt or dislike toward shis person they generated. Google makes Spies remark absolutely true. There's simply no difference between link in favour and links against a given site. Any mention, any hyperlink can only raise the awareness of the site by increasing the PageRank standings of the offending site.
If you use Microsoft's free Hotmail email service, you have no real rights som complain - it's free after all.
That however does not make the "If you use our product we own you" attitude any less annoying. In Hotmail that is expressed by the obnoxious Hotmail topframe that's loaded whenever you click a link in an email you've received on your hotmail account. They use topframes like that in other places as well. Usually the frame contains a helpful "Loose the topframe" link (e.g. About.com's 'Featured Link' pages). On Hotmail, they just carry the ludicrous message You are visiting a site outside of Hotmail. To return to Hotmail, close this browser window.. As if Hotmail was somehow 'the real world' or my 'home' that I would want to return to. It's not just obnoxious, it's anti-web, it's old-school closed networks thinking, it's AOL, it's ridiculous - but like I say, I have no right to complain.
UPDATE : I have been accused of unfair ranting, and rightfully so. Just, for helvede - du er okay! Det er mig der ikke er okay. Ka' vi stadig starte lodret.dk. Kan vi snakke om det? Just? Just?. What happened was that it is absolutely true that Just did not provide first finder credit. But I am not in a position to criticize that, since only 2 posts ago I failed to do the exact same thing. I wow to change that policy right now. Thanks Just for the flash porn link.
Just's descent into the Adsense netherworld continues. I hardly had time to tip him on Reverend Dan's amazing mash-ups before he steals the link for his own blog. Credit? Only to Just's AdSense account...
From some light websurfing it seems clear that the mash up phenomenon has already gone seriously overground and therefore died. Wired covered the phenomenon over a year ago, as did Salon - and Mash-Ups.co.uk take it further telling visitors "Hey!! you're too late ... the party's over dude!!"
Luckily, no culture spawns subcultures quite at the same speed as DJ culture, so there already a 'mash-up remixes culture', so that this guy is doing Glitch-Ups of Reverend Dan's mash-ups.
As an aside on subgenres, check out this hip-hop subgenre overview. That's just the major subgenres, and leaves out a lot of detail.
Some beautiful flash porn has been added to the Geourl universe. A map of the world checks the weblogs.com pings and then positions all geourl locatable feed updates on the map so you can see where in the world people are blogging.
Very elegant stuff...
Meet The Bass-Station - an Old Skool ghetto blaster tricked out with Wifi and a hardrive. This makes it possible for this device to double as a portable ghetto file server while blasting out your mp3 collection of Run DMC 12" mash-ups.
Dan Gillmor reports that VeriSign do indeed intend to reopen SiteFinder, and are completely nonrepentant wrt to their DNS hijacking. They will try to open this service again. They argue that there's nothing ICANN can do - under the current agreement - to stop them. That may or may not be the case. There is however one thing ICANN can and should do, and do today: Make an early decision that VeriSign's com/net franchise will not be renewed if we ever hear of SiteFinder again. What responsible management will decide on a plan to go out of business in 2007?
I once knew a happy, bright eyed, book reading guy named Just. He published his weblog, with rants and questions and ideas, in his native tongue Danish, and in English if the language fit the subject matter. Much like we do here at classy.dk. Lately things have changed. Just has been busy counting pennies from his AdSense account. It is beginning to affect his lifestyle. Now his blog posts are supposedly funny stories on how he tries to con his coworkers into paying his soft drinks and his Messenger ID - which used to be a statement of character - now simply tells you how much money he has made. How sad is that....
I'm a "Google basher"-basher in general, but if it is true that You can't talk about AdSense if you're enrolled in the program, then I think Joi Ito is right. Google has gone evil. Which underlines the danger and/or power of adopting the "Don't be evil" mantra in the first place. What do you say Just? Is it true. Do you care? Am I wrong?. Extensive linkage on Kottke.
I think Google is basically forgetting that many AdSense'rs see themselves more as Google users than as Google business partners. No wonder they do, since AdSense is clearly marketd at small, hardly commercial, sites. Holding this astounding network of people linking to Google and Google's paying customers to the same kind of business agreements that you would hold corporations to just makes no sense. The outrage on the new Terms of Service clearly underlines the point: The people complaining are all independent, individual web publishers, who care little about profit and much about content.
The entiry story also underlines why you shouldn't mix your personal opinions with advertising in the first place.
According to some reports the SoBig worm is wearing down the Internet. The level of spamming due to SoBig is so intense according to these reports that basic infracturtuce components are breaking. All of this via Ray Ozzie's weblog. I don't know that I'm on the outskirts of the web, living in one of the most connected countries in the world and working at an "Internet company" (The domain name registrar Ascio). But out here, mail still works fine. The traffic problem is real. I think we block 60% of all email we receive during business hours (and a much higher percentage in off hours), but I find it hard to believe that email will cease to function. It is still the killer app. Bigger than the web. It's what convinced my mother to get on the Internet.
Then there's the friction from unwanted and only partially relevant email. The mail you can't filter, since it might be important. This is the equivalent of 'friendly fire' in the spam wars. I'm sure many people receive enough mail, that it has ceased to be a person to person communications system for them, functioning instead like a statistical 'contact meter'.
Ozzie wants us to use Groove instead, and asks rhetorically There is NO possibility of sustainable constraints on email - a fundamentally unaccountable medium. Are we surprised when we can't do productive work in an uncontrollable medium?. Well, yes. What does not surprise me is how I fail to do productive work in controlled media. Open, many authored, heterogenous media rock. Closed, single authored, homogenous media aren't media at all. They are documents no matter how distributed they look. And that immediately takes away value.
Obviously, for many tasks a level of control is exactly what we need, but for general purpose writing and communication I'll take the most open, anarchistic medium I can get.
VeriSigns abominable SiteFinder service will be suspended after ICANN pressure to do so.
No news yet on whether this is for good though. I still think the campaign to oust VeriSign as the keeper of .com and .net should begin...
Just-blog has started AdWhore'ing - and I can see his head transforming slowly into that of a bull as I write this. AdSense is a nice program, and if I ran a commercial or even a non-personal newsservice I would have been subscribed a long time ago. But for my personal rants I prefer a clean and sober style.
Of course the real test of resolve will come when Just starts flashing all his new AdSense paid gadgets. I must say though, that I think "Blogs with AdSense" sounds very much like an internet bubble money scheme to me.The numbers will tell if this suspicion is warranted, but for now I just make note of the fact that I am not alone in thinking like that.
The latest bit of Google paranoia revolves around the Google weblog being the most popular search result for the word 'weblog'. Again, lets do a simple test: The Google weblog has PageRank 7. For lack of a better ranking system, I looked at Bloglines' 'most popular blogs' list. The top listings on Bloglines above 'Google Weblog' (which is ranked 6th on Bloglines) are Slashdot, Wired News, Bloglines' own information feed, Boing Boing's and CNet. Of these, Bloglines, Slashdot, CNet and Wired only have hits for the phrase 'Weblog' on pages of ranks less than 7. Boing Boing best hit for 'Weblog' has a page rank of 7. I know there are link cluster ordering going on in Google search results (otherwise Amazon's many product pages would be much less frequent than they are in search results), but still: The returned results are explainable merely by resorting to page rank ordering. The page rank 7 for Google weblog is completely inconspicuous. Plenty of sites have rank 7 and it would be a very odd rank to forcibly promote a page to.
In short, I think Dan Gillmor, Microdoc News, and (surprise!) Dave Winer are just plain wrong. Conspiracies are so very tempting.
The RIAA is busy doing a 'reverse class action' lawsuit, namely an entire wall of lawsuits against (what they believe to be) various minor copyright infringers. They are in fact quite simply spamming the legal system. Needless to say, with the number of lawsuits they haven't really tested their claims properly, and the completely unfounded lawsuits are beginning to get some press. I think Joi Ito sums the problem with this tactic up nicely:
Being sued isn't like, "oh sorry... wrong number.."That's right. The RIAA aren't calling people names, they are harming their reputation in society in general. I assume these lawsuits are a matter of public record.
A bunch of paraphrases come to mind: Spamming the legal system, as mentioned above, since the level of public resources these lawsuits will take up is quite substantial. This underlines the practical background for the position that "a law that two thirds of the population are against and/or violate on a daily bases is just not a reasonable law". It's 'Commercial McCarthyism', since the main point, or at least the consequense of the lawsuits is the creation of an environment where random accusation is commonplace, with chilling effects on the general climate of society. I wonder if one day we will add the moniker 'The Second Prohibition' to these last couple of years, where rabid Intellectual property law was allowed to create this atmosphere, and almost destroyed the commons.
You've probaly all heard of Bloglines, the web based feed reader. As long as they don't turn in to an ugly monopolized 'will feed for cash' service, it is a very good idea. It takes some of the bandwidth requirements out of publishing a weblog, since they crawl your site only once regardless of number of subscribers, and then they do something very nice in their UserAgent string that they pass along as they crawl:
The Bloglines crawler includes the number of subscribers to your blog with each feed request, so you will always know how many Bloglines subscribers you have
Excellent idea! Some actual localized information. No shame in confessing to being Bloglines. Not the usual "We're Mozilla" UA strings that everybody else is using.
I'm adding a subscribe with bloglines link to my front page...
The usual virus scenario is one of a lone malicious hacker driven mainly by vanity. Virus are usually software graffitti tags. On slashdot however they are speculating about some recent distributed Denial of Service attacks on spam blocking services and their connection to recent heavy viruses. The way this particular conspiracy theory goes, the DDoS attacks on the spam blocking services are being piggybacked on the current SoBig infection.
To the story's discredit it is being propagated by The Register, the most paranoid 'alternative' news source around. But the thought is certainly obvious. Even if SoBig got its start in the usual fashion, it seems like a pretty straighforward thing to create a strain that attacks a particular site.
I don't think the Register is really the origniator of this story. The story is getting coverage from more and more sources, and seems creditable. But please note that some analysts do consider this paranoia. It is simply unnecessary to add the prosecutable crime of spreading a virus to the spamming itself. There are plenty of effective ways to spam.
I wonder what the proper response is. 'More hardware and bandwidth' is probably a losing strategy. If it was possible to distribute the RBL itself somehow, then that might work....
The restaurant guide and listings empire Zagat's has decided that WiFi is one of the things to list.
In Europe that must mean it is only a question of time before Guide Michelin starts dishing out radio beacons along with the stars.
If you were in doubt about what the world thinks of SiteFinder, VeriSigns large scale commercial hijacking of DNS, take a look at the news. Absolutely nobody thinks it is a good idea. VeriSign has said that they are waiting for various advisory groups to comment. They have started to do so: here's the IAB, here's ICANN's security and stability advisory committee. There's plenty more where that came from.
As if SiteFinder itself wasn't obnoxious enough, think a second about the security concerns. VeriSign receives a copy of all HTTP request that had a misspelled domain name, and they are forwarding all of these requests to a marketing analysis company. This is simply pure evil, ranking VeriSign up there with SCO in the competition for "most despicable business initiative of the year".
And then of course there are all the standard utilities that all of sudden don't have proper failure diagnostics (samples are windows tools, but the conclusiong applies everywhere).
Maybe we should simply start petitioning ICANN to take .com and .net away from VeriSign at next review of the agreement, regardless of whether or not they take down SiteFinder. It appears they are just not trustworthy. It's pretty ironic that a company whose other business is to make sure you only go where you want to and always in a safe fashion, are at the same time busy eroding the trust in addresses in general. Or maybe its not so much ironic as deeply cynical. One wonders if there is some internal memo floating around at VeriSign HQ that analyzes the possible spin off value of an increased deplyment of certificates by people who want to be absolutely sure that their customers aren't misdirected to SiteFinder and therefore shit their web traffic to https instead of http.
The latest voicemessaging 'phone-killer' - Skype - works quite well. Excellent sound quality and apparently limited bandwidth and processing hit (why wouldn't it be? It's just voice data).
Of course the Kazaa people have a less than stellar track record on spyware, so watch out for bad news.
Through heavy recommedations from the cluetrainers, I found isen.blog and it is indeed a good read, being a little heavier on the arguments than the cluetrainers (I wonder if Nike makes ClueTrainers?).
Mailinator beats my previous throwaway email provider spamhole. Mailinator cuts out the forwarding to your address. On 'nasty spam site X' you simple use the emailaddress 'email@example.com' the 'i_wont_have_it' should be your own secret and something other than 'i_wont_have_it'. That address is now a login (no password) for Mailinator's website where your password conformation email will be waiting. Nice.
Via Joel on Software.
Thanks to the pioneering efforts of among others Paul Graham (with the now classic A Plan for Spam) bayesian filters have reached the mainstream, to the point of AOL implementing bayesian filters (annoyingly Hotmail hasn't yet and there are known holes in their filtering approach - so Hotmail should be avoided even as an MSN messenger identifier).
Graham has identified what could be the next frontier in anti-spam, namely raising the cost of spam by fighting back: Hitting the advertised websites with traffic proportional to the number of emails they send out. When spam success rates are low enough this will raise the cost per sale significantly and could be an efficient way to stop the sending of spam, not just filtering it.
Details in "Filters that Fight Back".
The possible problem if the approach becomes standard is of course that rabid anti-spam activists will be able to abuse this notion in the way they are abusing the open relay databases today. The idea amounts to making DoS attacks common and accepted practice. In contrast to spam filtering, this is close to vigilante justice, and I am never in favour of that - the annoyance of spam notwithstanding.
One lousy week you're too busy to follow the news and you end up missing the best April Fools joke of the year, the Policy Analysis Market
The elevator-pitch for the idea is: "It's like The Hollywood Stock Exchange, only it's about stuff that really matters". Of course the notion that people would discuss on market terms the likelihood of actual political events was a bit too much for polticians to stomach and the exchange is now gone.
It all took 1 (one) week. And I missed it due to a busy work schedule. A year on internet time is truly a very long time.
That the game is still being played - only not so overtly - can be seen from the frequent 'google mindshare' or 'memewatch' jokes on the web.
And once again Google's cache proves its worth by enabling full reconstruction of the website.
This underlines that everybody - including Google - has got it wrong on the policies and rules that should apply to the cache. The ability of the public to hold on to content that once was there is essential and absolutely necessary to meaningful digital free speech.
The alternative - an Orwellian edited continuously edited reality - is not an alternative but a nightmare.
A WiFi backlash is in process. The nature of the backlash: "Wifi won't generate billions of revenue". That is however no reason for a backlash but rather it is a good thing. To think that there's a way to wire the world that cosst so little that we can have essentially free wireless. Imagine the possible uses of that.
Witness the leapfrogging possible:
Even though it didn't distribute the computers and PC cards necessary to tap into the service, the Internet Users Society Niue built a comprehensive network -- which includes solar-powered repeaters in coconut trees -- to give everyone on the island and its visitors open and free Wi-Fi Internet access. About 300 of the island's residents own computers, according to Bill Semich, president of the nonprofit.
What's not to like? Boingo shares? I think I'll get along without them.
[...] his parents are claiming damages of $160,000 from the families of the four classmates who digitized and published the video. Ghyslain's parents claim their son was so humiliated, he is undergoing psychiatric care and may be marked for life by the experience.
Doubly sad because the kid got hurt (reports on this appear to be true although the lawsuit does not help the credibility of the parents IMO) and because the life of the story is now extended with this parody of justice.
For a while there it looked like a happy ending as some nice people tried to exert a little damage control on the kids behalf, but now it seems that blogs and newsgroups have finally grown up as a medium, being the target of defamation lawsuits...
More precise news coverage on the lawsuit. (And check those Google ads to the right: When I load the story they're for ambulance chasers and light sabre replica vendors)
I wanted to play with AdSense so I applied for it just now and started obfuscating four letter words in my blog so Google won't think I am a porn site.
Good point. Does Google tell you that this would be a good idea?
Park is not doing such a good job as a self censor though. Three posts below in a post about broadband Google's porn buying audience will learn that Park was recently "at the receiving end of a gang-bang".
Another issue with AdSense for weblogs: The suggested adds are invariably adds for 'weblog stuff', and not the stuff you write about - if you manage to escape the blogs about blogs disease once in a while.
"The Genuine Article" is a piece on a little 2? man operation (I'm just guessing from their website), Featurewell, syndicating journalism online. It's probably never going to make billions of dollars, but it is probably a nice little business to run.
A self fullfilling prophecy, in light of the intense Winer flamewar and other recent bloxplosions: The world of A-list bloggers is undergoing a gargantuan vanity implosion. Possible Escapee's are the bloggers who actually write about something (InstaPundit (Sadly, at aleast from a euro-perspective), maybe Gilllmor and as entertainment BoingBoing). Possible non-escapee's: The Trott's, Winer, Scoble, Searls.
I think people will tire of the 1000 voiced conversation when it loses the interest of novelty - surely, they will tire of the 2000 eyed navel staring.
And yes, I WAS first (no Google matches anyways) to coin the inept 'bloxplosion' - You'd think the 'new words containg parts of the word weblog' space was actually filled by now.
Maybe a 'help Dave' foundation should be created, since clearly something is wrong (and it's not Aaron Swartz or Tim Bray).
So none of the ECHO people are doing something nasty? Not strictly true. Mark Pilgrim certainly is with the Winer Watcher. If blogging is personal space, then surely Pilgrim is stalking Winers space, no matter how justified he thinks it is. This is maybe the blog worlds first true case of paparazzi activity, and certainly the most vicious persecution of an individual (presidents and royalty excluded) I can remember on the web.
I think a bold 'Shame on you' is in order.
On 'no matter how justified': This is how bad Winer gets. So in all fairness I'll add a Shame on him.
I was tempted to use the flamebait title
The internet interprets Dave Winer as damage - and routes around him
The aggressive debate over RSS seems to mostly be aggressive due to Winer. There's an interesting counterpoint in Winers largesse in describing the content of blogs and his pettiness when it comes to the protocol underpinnings. No willingness to discuss anything it seems.
Obviously there are plenty of flaming bloggers around, but the primary ECHO backers aren't among them.
Arguments against a new shared standard are shallow at best. That the project to develop the new RSS is currently in 'feature explosion mode' is unsurprising. It is just beginning after all. Let's hope that the criticism that the spec changes too much leveled by other people also won't hold up when the dust settles. At least Sam Ruby seems like a nice guy who just wants something standards compliant (i.e. applying XML best practices if there is such a thing).
Fighting has now moved on to another discussion on XML-RPC, SOAP or just REST as publication API (I think we should just all support WebDAV - so that's closest to the REST position). Personally I would like some REST applied to the discussion itself.
I can't really figure out the battle lines. I've yet to see the most prominent ECHO backers do anything spiteful. The whole pledge to Dave thing seems downright absurd and the attack (by Mygdal) on ECHO that there's FUD at play is obnoxious. They started a couple of weeks ago. Designing stuff takes time.
Winer is also busy censoring the Userland community. John Robb's weblog got pulled - and rumours abound that Winer did it personally. It's time to head for the exits if you're a Userland user apparently. Put your stuff in a place where you know it will remain yours. (And by the way, isn't "It should be, net-net, good news for Manila and Radio users, and for the weblog community" just a nasty thing to say in public?) In contrast to that, Dave thinks Tim Bray is saying something awful here. Come again? He is being nice.
Then there's the paranoia on Google's use of the word 'DEPRECATED' to describe the old RSS specs. They are exactly that. It just means that if you're starting to implement now, you should use a more recent spec. And Google isn't to blame, Ben Hammersley is - AFAIK he doesn't work for Google in any way shape or form. Even if he did, why should Google be accountable to Dave for the use of the word?
The recently completed Reboot 6.0 mentioned what is turning into the story so far (if not the political reality) of the presidential race, namely the digital grassroots movement that is the Howard Dean campaign.
One place from which support does not appear to be forthcoming is The Washington Post: Short-Fused Populist, Breathing Fire at Bush is the title of a piece on Dean, and...
The man who would be president after 11 years as governor of a one-area-code state is confident enough to tell voters that if he could balance the budget, provide almost universal health care and protect open space in Vermont (pop. 609,000), he could do it for the whole country
...is the quote.
I'm working on a version using material in the html nut the URL of the product pages. This will work for more pages. Amazon's default URL scheme no longer quotes the ASIN unfortunately.
The interpretation of Google as cultural phenomenon - even soap opera - takes on stronger form on kuro5hin.org's story on 'Google Update Esmeralda'.
The article is written in a an informal talkative style and the author anthropomorphizes Google versions (named like hurricanes) and different parts of Google's software as well:
To add to the mysteriousness, Freshbot began to act a little more like the Deepcrawler. Traditionally, Freshbot came from a different IP range and added pages to the index immediately as opposed to once a month like Deepbot did.
It's interesting to contrast this treatment of Google versions, and Google's crawlers as soulful natural creatures with the way we (or I at least) treat our personal software. While the same infusion of soul applies, we are at all times aware of being using only a copy of something. Insignificant on it's own. It is just a form. The Googlebots on the other hand have a subjective nature. They have identity after all, and location.
Scott Heiferman talked about it at Reboot 6, and I just spent the worthwhile hour it takes to revisit Douglas Rushkoff's mindblowing talk at Reboot 4.
Rushkoff should spend some time with The hypercomplex society, because his intro on our current renaissance is so well-described in this wonderful book. The ad hoc nature of our reality, the 'many scales' fractal nature of reality and the reinvention of perspective is all covered better than I have seen it covered elsewhere (well maybe, except in Rushkoff's talk - but that is too short to include the powerful reasoning in Qvortrups book.)
UPDATE II: Hans 'Rytme' Hurvig (Not the guy you can see at rytme.dk) asked that I correct his nickname from 'Silk' to 'Rytme'.
UPDATE: Seemed to forget my Jason Fried notes in the first run (thanks for the reminder Benjamin).
We'll do this faux bloggish, with entries in chronological not reverse chronological order. I'll highlight key themes of the day (key point: Who did Mygdal trash in his intro or outro to talk)
Also - inspired by Jason Fried I'll try to relate my impressions to easily understood standard references.
Interesting talk on personal freedom, copyright legislation and the crippling of society by said legislation. Some scary examples of rights related decisionmaking are given. Best one: As reported by Doctorow, Nokia cell-phone batteries are built with strong crypto so Nokia can detect that the battery is true Nokia. If not, the phone is programmed to drain it as fast as possible. Is this true? The story didn't pop out on Google.
Aside from a call to action against new insane copyright legislation (more on this later, because the legislation is truly outrageous) the key pitch is to shift the rights management to something similar to the licensing format used for radio: You pay a standard license fee regardless of the content you put out. Fees are then colleced by a copyright agency and distributed to rights owners according to distributions either reported or statistically measured.
The current mess is either unmanageable (at best) or allows rights holders to curb invention in internet use of copyrighted material (at worst)
Outrageousness of copyright legislation: 100% Franz Kafka
Unasked question: Are we talking milk-quotas (EU-style) for music on the internet?
Slammed by Mygdal in outro:Audiences at past Reboots. Heavy sermonising on doing good things.
Summary: Very stimulating, even with the sermonizing. Most important thing remains Doctorows assertion that the copyright wars are just getting started, and that Europe - in contrast to what I believed - have every intention of matching (even exceeding) the insane American legislation. It seems like it is time to do something.
The mainframe era custom of giving employees three or four letter identifiers and using these as email adresses is vulnerable to dictionary attacks. It is also unpersonal.
At our company a simple relay filtering setup cuts more than half of all attempted email traffic. In off hours the number is much higher. Spam is not free in any sense of the word, the cost is just firmly with the recipient not the sender.
The magazine Baseline has the positively most annoying subscription signup page I have seen. If you try to leavy without having signed up - they flash you a pop-up instead with an 'are you sure you want to surf? This will only take 5 minutes!' message.
Are they teaching department store sales people to block the exits for non-buying visitors now? When should we expect telemarketers to call back if you hang up on them?
This link via Python owns us.
Online shopping is nice, for objects that you can easily assess on the web. Even if you have to order abroad and accept longish, expensive delivery options. I found this very nice notebook wallet via somebody's blog. It's small and contains paper - in short: I want one. I am always annoyed at having to carry a jacket or other optional clothing if I want to keep a pen about. From the color selection it is clearly marketed to women, but that is not a problem. Black is available. I found it particularly annoying that the shop couldn't figure out how to tell me what shipping would be on a page before I gave them my credit card info. That almost asking international customers to shop elsewhere.
Sometimes place matters, but this shouldn't have to be one of them.
Now that every week does not bring 100 new b2b e-business portals anymore, InformationWeek as an interesting story on Oregon's use of eBay to sell governmet surplus property.
That's an e-business disruption happening right there. It might just be the case that for many transactions the infrastructure that is eBay is enough even for offering complicated portfolios of merchandize.
It is an interesting example of low-end general use consumer functionality being quite sufficient for high-end specialized use. We might soon say our final goodbyes to specialized portals.
Ward Cunnigham in an article on perl.com explains why he invented the concept of a wiki:
Back in 1994, the Web was a pretty wonderful place, with lots of people putting up stuff just because they thought someone else would find it interesting or useful. Wiki preserves that feeling in a place that has become too much of a shopping mall
Amen to that. The graphics/content ratio of the web is too high as is the commercial/noncommercial ratio.
Wiki's are being used for quite wonderful things - from the hard to navigate original pattern repository - with material of very variable quality, to the surprisingly serious Wikipedia a free (as in freedom) online encyclopedia wikied together by voluntary submissions (no less than 130094 at present in the english edition - many partial translations are also being worked on). In fields where geeks are good resources the material is of very high quality - often surpassing the material in some of the other encyclopedias I consult on a regular basis. In fields where an editorial stance is required, e.g. politics, it is less so. But even that is an interesting departure from standard encyclopedias - clearly in an open editable medium you will have competing factions fighting over the meaning of politically charged terms.
Wikipedia has augmented the wikiprocess with a dispute resulution process to settle such issues. Pages in dispute carefully display a notice that they are.
I realize it might be useful to some people but the FindTutorials - Searching the Internet - Tools & Techniques Course is quite simply a course in intelligent websurfing.
That's like taking a course to learn how to watch television.
After the Red Herring called it quits, the questions was where to go then. The other tech magazines all seem a bit lightweight (heavy on the management and communication issues at best) but furtunately Tony Perkins had moved on to AlwaysOn. This is a community site with a lot of investment focus, but done thoroughly with respect for the industry content. As an example, their coverage on SCO & UNIX is first rate.
If your name is David Nelson you're about to be permanently out of luck. Your rights to interact with computer systems has been revoked. If you desire to interact with any computer system that requires you to use your name, then that system will be permanently unavailable to you. You should consider yourself lucky though. There are other names out there, so powerful, that having them will lead to your immediate apprehension.
If you desire in the future to interact with anything we suggest you change your name. We should point out however that a record of a name change while adult is itself an immediate red flag to monitoring authorities. You will be watched.
Scale that story to Total Information Awareness proportions and you have a nightmare. Reasons enough to proceed on that road with great caution.
Spam blocking software blocks all occurences of the letter 'p'. Sound familiar? Well - you could have been reading La Disparition - Georges Perec's cult classic novel, written without the use of the most common letter in the alphabet - 'e'. OR more recently Ella Minnow Pea which employs the disappearance of certain letters directly as a plot device.
Perec's novel is a little more discreet in employing the missing letter overtly in the storyline but it is almost there: The book is about a disappearance - and the missing person is called Anton Vowl.
Furthermore the english translation I read had a very elegant review from The New York Times Book Review on the book cover: "There is not a single E in this novel. That's right: no here, there where, when; no yes, no love, no sex!"
Volvo - Swedish safe-car manufacturer - has banned employee camera-phones from their premises as reported in this Danish newsstory.
This is exactly as predicted by the inventor of the term sousveillance. Reclaim The Streets style invasion of the public space by netenabled cameras is not popular with big organizations.
So much for living in the real matrix.
If I had 3000$ lying around I didn't need for anything it's a safe bet that I would send them to Dynamism to purchase a Sony Vaio U101 - The World's Smallest Full-Featured Notebook.
This is a machine no bigger than a standard paperback that quite simply does everything. Full windows install. Swiwel screen so you can hold the machine in book fashion for reading. Excellent resolution. Size like a std paberback. Weight approx 1.2 kg with 8.5 hours extended battery life (or 800g weight with 3.5 hour life). To complete the picture, it has built in WiFi and ships with a 30 gb disk so it doubles as a creditable mp3 player.
What a brillian machine. One would consider travelling more just to show it off!
The weight and dimensions means that you really can keep it with you at all times (- you may need decently sized pockets but it's not like you're carrying luggage...) and the 8.5 hour battery life makes it worthwhile for simple tasks like writing notes, browsing and other light paperwork.
Product style bonus: It comes with a US layout keyboard, only with japanese sign subscripts on all keys and weird layout of the non-alphabetic keys.
One get's so accustomed to searches working that the disappointment when it does not work is quite heavy.
What I was looking for and couldn't find was any indication as to whether amazon's API works for amazon.de also. Doing a site specific search for web service API at the worlds largets bookstore was less than helpful however (and you are complete right also: I should have searched for some german description but there you have it). All of the returned pages have similar rank and they about books on web services instead of Amazon's own offering.
Interestingly - the amazon.com description of webservices works nicely.
The always interesting Jon Udell has recounted an instance of rabid anti-spam filtering on Jon's Radio.
What he is talking about is 'registered email', where mail is spam by default and only known senders get through. This clearly removes spam, but as Jon points out If we rule out spontaneous association then we will not have defeated the spammers. They will have defeated us. A world in which no one can approach you is a sad world indeed.
We're back to that identity thing. When we're approached in the real world we know for sure that we are approached by a real person, and we can directly hold that person accountable for the approach. Sure, we all know the handout spammers on the city streets but they are a minor annoyance. Receiving email should be like that.
An identity header to a navigable 'sender' information source would keep email free, but upgrade the message with more reliable sender information. Obviously I wouldn't expect the person at the other end to share their life story - but something else will do. A photo or any other kind of sharing of trust will do.
I think it would be interesting to see if spammers would actively seed such an identity pool with 'fake people'. IF they do - at least there's now an infrastructure path for building trust chains for that kind of information.
This would open up a 'reputation economy' like the one in place for mailservers (open relay databases). A personal profile with a low reputation for spamming would be marked 'below threshold', sorta like slashdot, only for person to person email, not forum posting.
A couple of months ago the best tech business magazine died. Salon carried an obiturary, 'Death of a cheerleader' (also a trashy Tori Spelling movie and a famous new journalism piece if you were wondering). Tony Perkins (a Red Herring founder) famously got out before the bubble burst and published his book about the impending bust before it happened. Furthermore, the Red Herring staff always examined the ideas more than the hype.
Btw: You should get yourself one of the dirt cheap Salon Premium subscriptions. Salon is great. "Scumsucking liberals", surely - but from a European point of view quite balanced.
An interesting study on where spam comes from has a non-surprising conclusion. Email adresses filtered from crawled webpages and newsgroups are the major source of unsolicited email. Whois records seem to be less of an issue. Most whois providers have abuse blocking in place anyway and most registries do not publish zone files to just anyone (zone files are the files listing all the domain names 'taken' within a top level domain). That newsgroups and the web are the main source of data is unsurprising. The connectedness of the web makes crawling a real possibility. In fact, web archives of newsgroups could very well be the main source of newsgroup data also.
A surprising brute force attempt at emailing everything thinkable at some mailserver was also seen. This sounds like a particularly stupid way of searching. The space of just 6 characters wide emails is vast (26^5 ~ 2^28 ~ .25 billion) at every mailserver on the net. This is not like port scanning (i.e. systematically attempting connections on an entire IP range or across all possible services at one address) which is feasible due to the high density of machines on the internet. The space of resolving emailaddresses is very sparse in comparison. But it does tell you that your email needs to be safe against dictionary attacks - like your password - so include special characters if possible.
Another recent criticism of Google is a criticism of the meme changing effects of search found in
The Register. The story on the subversion of the term 'second superpower' (a misappropriaiton of the term seemed to have sucked all meme energy out the original) is largely punctured by the present state of affairs: Almost all references to the term 'second superpower' are now to references to the story in The Register and the newly coined term 'Googlewash'.
Rather than a global conspiracy, the story is evidence of memetics at work. James Moore the original abuser of the term 'second superpower' was able to reach a lot of people with hisuse of the term and that stuck. That's how meaning of terms has been established since words first came about. Public use of words spreads to the listeners, and more so for some speakers than others. Nothing new. Nothing to do with Google - except that Google is sufficiently updated that you can actually follow stories like this on a day to day basis.
However The Register saw further grounds for outcry, claiming that the Googlewash criticism was being censored by Google. This is pure uncontrolled paranoia. A search for Googlewashed return a ton of weblog results, all of them quoting and agreeing to (the incorrect criticism in) the first article in The Register. In fact, the fourth highest ranked link is the article verbatim quoted in another newssource. What happened to the original was most likely some text comparison (maybe through the computation of a hash value representing a page). Since the text appears verbatim as result no 4, the result is filtered. Clearly the chronology of publiciation is an interesting piece of data Google is not using, but there's a way to go from there to censorship.
Since the original Googlewash does not appear immediately in the search results, Andrew Orlowski (the author of both pieces) feels he is hanging on to a juicy bit of censorship ('Clearly, someone at Google doesn't like the word "Googlewashed"' is the soundbite) but clearly he is not. The Google searches for the terms in question are not in any way hindering the propagation of his Google backlash or his new Googlewash term.
The most interesting thing in the later of the two pieces is the allegation that there's a ghost in Google's machine: Somebody is doing something sinister behind the scenes.
This is a very human reaction. Faced with events we cannot explain we immediately interpret these events as 'actions' and equip the actions with an 'actor' responsible for them with some kind of human motivation. The history of ideas oscillates between 'romantic' periods where everything is infused with actors and 'rational' periods with an emphasis on decloaking the actors and redusing actions to mere events. It seems clear to me what we are in one of the romantic periods now.
It is interesting to compare this belief in the sinister behind-the-scene plot with that of The Turk - Wolfgang von Kempelen's chess playing 'machine' which saw the light of day towards the end of the enlightenment. Von Kempelens chess playing automaton was in fact a trick. An actual chess player was hidden within the machine to make the moves, but the illusion caused quite a sensation in it's day. The Enlightenment was very much a period where things were being pulled apart, not put together, and that of course is the basis of the illusion; the onlookers were willing to accept the fact that a machine could in fact play chess, and marveled at this mechanical masterpiece. Von Kempelen's illusion would not work with Andrew Orlowski in the audience. His predisposition is quite the opposite. Somebody is doing something behind the scenes.
Surprise, surprise - a Google backlash is going on. At GavinsBlog.com some really stupid paranoid thinking about Google can be found.
Is the problem, quite simply, that Google works - and that technology that works so well at information gathering is scary? Efficient search clearly has privacy implications, but surely the real concern here is the publication of data, not the fact that the public data is utilized.
Some people are shifting to AllTheWeb in response. That's just great - AllTheWeb recently was purchased by the most evil company in search, Overture - the paid listing company, whose business is to make ads and content indistinguishable.
Gavin makes reference to Google watch a watchdog site. But the criticism there is as inept and largely unrelated to Google, which makes it hard to see why Google should suffer the criticism especially:
Again, webserver tracking is brought up. A legitimate issue but hardly Google specific. The use of search terms in referral URL's means I know what you're looking for when you reach my site - again hardly a Google problem. Supposedly some guy who used to work for NSA works for Google (Google-watch is here employing the fine tactic of guilt by association that I'm quite sure they would like Google and the government to refrain from). Did it occur to the whistle blowers that Google may need engineers with clearance to sell google search to secured government intranets?
The most ridiculuous criticism is that of PageRank as a monopolizing feature harming the openness of the internet. It's not that there isn't a problem it's just that the problem is not the one being discussed.
Here then is the real problem: If you're looking for something you have to read one text first. That's how attention works, not how Google works. That means that some ranking algorithm will apply.
The mode of your search plays an important role then in whether or not the dominance of PageRank is a good thing. If your mode is 'search for something specific' - i.e. the more and more popular 'Google as DNS' mode of search, where you know the content of your location but not the exact address, then it doesn't matter what the ranking algorithm is as long as it works. Then there is what you might call 'auction search' - where you are looking for something which has a large number of equally qualified providers, or to be more precise: A large number of providers you have no information about.
For that kind of search you might say that you want to stratify the usable results into equally qualified strata and then choose randomly among the searches within each stratum.
You could accomplish this by adding a small random number to the PageRank and ordering by this new rank. You would still get a usable overall ranking but it would be 'fair'. It remains to be seen if a real rank difference of, say, 0.10 has qualitative meaning or not. Whether this adds any value for the user of a search is doubtful
Generally speaking attention monopolizes. The complaints against Google are almost always 'supply-side'. The criticism waged at Google is of the 'I have a rank of 7 - and these 50 sites with a better rank are in the way' kind. Well, a rank of 8 will - for most searchers - translate to a more relevant site. And what's more. Having a site with a rank of 7 puts you in a much larger group than the sites with rank 8. So a fair distribution of hits among the rank 7 sites would not necessarily generate a lot of traffic for you. Your contribution would drown out because of an owerwhelming supply of information.
Google is showing more signs of Yahoo envy, as if Froogle wasn't enough, with the purchase of Blogger, or Pyra Networks as the company behind Blogger is known.
Exactly which part of Google this ties into is not that easy to say: Weblogs are similar to threaded dialog (so groups.google.com comes to mind), they are mostly commentary on news of some kind (i.e. news themselves and they are of course simply webpages. It seems most likely to be the news angle and aggregation that will get play as a valuable new source of information on the web. Consistently applying pagerank or collaborative filtering methods to trackbacks and such would be a valuable addition to the blogosphere and if Google maintain their "you don't have to be evil" approach and drive open standards for indexable metadata on weblogs instead of a proprietary Blogger standard, that would be just great.
Alternatively, as a way to build community around Googles own news and search pages (The Google cache is of course a favourite source of permalinks to off-blog resources) this move is also much more meaningful than some kind of my.google.com idea...
If it's not that, it looks a little too much like buying simply a valuable community of home page builders, used to paying for premium service, even if the homepages are of a modern more meaningful kind than the usual Geocities "Hello World" page of the Mahir kind.
Interesting things are happening in identity space through the use of FOAF. It's identity done like it should be, namely first and foremost as assertions by an individual - not of an individuals relationship to government or corporate entities.
What is on the table is a person to person identification service for the fastest growing two-way web there is, namely the space of weblogs. An implementation by the always on Ben Trott is already available. So now there is a way to handshake when using a weblog which of course makes your digital space (your weblog) much more lived in. While I work for a company with a technology to do something like that I think it can only happen in the way it is happening now from the ground up from the rightful owners of the information. The organizational push of identity from above is a completely different matter of course.
The second information is published, privacy concerns kick in of course.
And these privacy concerns are not so easy to put to rest. FOAF affords signing and encryption of content with PGP, and that works nicely for point to point connections, but conversely encryption completely screws up your ability to casually meet new people and thus the ability to establish public space. To establish a public space you need (in the digital world) indexing.
And that means you're left with a dilemma: You want to publish information about yourself to establish a public persona, but you want to keep some information private (for obvious reasons).
The technical fix that applies is simple. Establish the notion of a persona (which is a role distinct from the identity) explicitly and provide barriers of privacy by establishing a layered presence around that persona. To simplify your interactions you want these personas to interrelate: The private You can of course act directly on behalf of the amazon shopping You and can sign on behalf of the amazon shopping You, but not vice versa. The amazon shopping You and the google searching You don't know anything about one another, nor should they (or sinister behind the scenes information aggregators will be able to correlate way too many of your online behaviours)
Note that the PGP signing approach is too simplified for this kind of thing. Your PGP public key is as dangerous as a publicly known social security number when it comes to learning things about you by aggregating information from various sources that should have been kept private.
A model like that would mirror the way we organize our physical world. Different relationships you have with different entities afford different rights to know stuff about you and to act on your behalf.
Interestingly for any kind of privacy to remain you need quite oblique namespaces to hold these personas, or the namespaces themselves will give the private person away, just like the PGP key did. The human accessible rememberable space for this kind of technology must be rights based and strictly point to point.
What that means is that the namespace of today cannot be used as a safe public space for individuals. You need new dynamic services with a rights system built in. They can be aggregated in the very loose knit fashion of DNS, (in fact the notion of zones make a lot of sense as something akin to personas) but the descent through zones would have to occur at the client and could not safely be aggregated via a server. What that means for the network intensity of this interaction is unclear to me.
Disappointed as I was by Small Pieces Loosely Joined, in particular about the naive descriptions of the 1-1 society, and the 'global village' approach to networked life, I was happy to find a much heavier (in content not pages) book that adressed the problem of information saturation in the networked society within the five first pages! I am talking about The Hypercomplex Society which is just about in print in an english edition but came out in Danish in 1998.
This is a brilliant book by a Danish professor of multimedia, Lars Qvortrup, and it is good to see that it is being translated into english. The (danish edition that I have) is extremely well written and kept in a light-hearted style in a mock dialogoue with Qvortrup's daughters - supposedly preparing an essay for school on the information society The text makes no excuses about explaining the content with reference to a host of philosophers and social scientists, with quotes dating from 1486 to the present.
The book does what Small Pieces fails in trying - namely present the nature of the networked society from a human perspective as opposed to a technological perspective. It is refreshing to get a a view on the impact of technology in the networked society that explains this society entirely in terms of the ideas and developments driving people and society and not in terms of the enabling technology. The concept driving the book - the Hypercomplex society - is a real eye-opener for me, in pointing out the fundamentally changed role people play in this new society. This is not just mysticism but a workable rational theory about people, communication, and networks. It manages to be very simple to explain and still have a very great explanatory power in describing our present society.
The idea makes perfect sense, and furthermore it also makes sense of the development in our understanding of meaning since the ideas about safe universal meaning finally collapsed completely in the 1920s. It's easy to feel (or at least it was during the postmodern wave of the 80s) that the collapse of universal meaning has left no meaning at all, but this book does a fine job at delineating what boundaries we have to accept for meaning, but still recovering the meaning that is left for us to share.
If you're conversant with the literature it's based on this should not be shocking, but the ideas are presented in a a very straightforward and understandable style, considering the depth of the material. You're greatly helped in your reading if you know your history of ideas up until 1900, but for later developments the text is fairly self-contained.
A word of warning for the casual reader: The english edition promises to be much more scholarly and probably more condensed, being a reworking of three danish language titles into one monography.
Tim Berners-Lee summarises what the web is all about here. And the message (mine, not necessarily his) to newspapers is simple:
I'll rephrase my position from a previous post.
Hypertext consists of text - with functionality added - in the form of links. It is the full thing that is the text, not just the words. The links are part of the meaning of the text not somehow 'a delivery device' or 'functionality' auxiliary to the text but not really text - hence speech - itself. On the other hand, the links are machineable, i.e. easily accessible to software. The machineability of the links is what makes them interesting.
There is an interesting but fundamental fact in the theory of computation: There is no fundamental distinction between program and data. What that means is that if you interested in producing a particular result by entering data into a computer program, you can be reworking the program and the data basically move any of the information involved from what is considered program to what is considered data and vice versa.
The idea is simple: To add two numbers a and b, you can either use your plus program plus to compute plus(a,b), or you can use your plus_a program on b:
plus_a(b) or your plus_b program on a: plus_b(a).
The example may look silly but of course this underlies all that we do with software, and the browser is a case in point:
Accessing web pages involves numerous formats of data, parsed and interpreted by a stack of processors. At the very least this stack contains at the bottom IP packets, on top of that TCP connections, on top of that the HTTP protocol, and on top of that an HTML rendererer. Conversely each layer provides data to the next layer, the HTML data is packaged inside an HTTP interaction, which is packed inside a TCP socket connection, which is packaged inside. The important thing is that each layer provides a computed result as if it was just data to the layer above. So when we say that we retrieve an html document from berlingske.dk we are actually computing an html document from a large number of IP packets we have received from the Berlingske server (well actually I received the packages from my ISP who in turn received them from ... (insert arbitrary number of links here) ... who retrieved the from a server at berlingske.dk).
This is of legal interest since you would generally consider the program 'active', i.e. the executor of the program is legally responsible for it's use or misuse, whereas the data is 'passive' i.e. just used. And the fact that you can move any specific bit of information from the active part to the passive part and vice versa is of course essential to the problems with digital technology and intellectual rights and legal responsibility. It should be clear from the above that my reading of pages at berlingske.dk involves a largish number of actions by many people. The actions span from writing the Windows TCP/IP stack to typing the words I end up reading to actually clicking the URL. There are many intermediaries (machines or people) that are responsible for assembling some of the meaning presented to me as data and/or software at various levels. Exactly which of these many intermediaries should be considered to play a direct part in my ability to access the information is almost impossible to say.
Clearly each of the actors involved have the ability to move responsibility around by repackaging what used to be 'passive' data to 'active' software. Newsboosters latest idea does exactly that. There are tons of other cases. I use an adblocker plugin for my browser, so when I look at berlingske.dk I don't have to wait for all the silly GIFs and - even more important - I don't have to look at them, which is the real annoyance of ads. Clearly this is automated use of data published on berlingske.dk in a way berlingske.dk did not originally endorse. But it should be equally clear that it is entirely legal. The use of published material is clearly not controllable by the web site providers and it is impossible to establish a boundary between what constitutes "the published work" and what constitutes "illegal derivation from the published work" when the work is made available in a machineable format and therefore can be decomposed through layers of automation/software.
So the 'no to deep links' position makes absolutely no sense, as long as I am able to run software on my own computer. Should the newspapers manage to get an injunction against the new 'active' link provision, the responsibility for finding the links can be moved to other places in the software.
What does make sense then and how do people get paid then? Clearly that is a problem that needs to be solved, but not in this heavy handed manner. I think that is the job for another post that may be considered 'in progress'.
Reading this book so close to reading The Cluetrain Manifesto was a mistake. There are too many similarities, and Weinberger even reworks one of the examples from Cluetrain into the new book.
Small Pieces is a nice enough book. It is very chatty and the points Weinberger makes about what human interaction on the internet is all about, while well made, aren't really as new or as unique as the reviews of the book had me believe. The biggest problem with the book is that it is not really about the technology that has enabled the new ways of communication, nor is it about the social mechanisms of people that makes this technology interesting. It is exactly an account of some cases where existing technology has afforded some new social situations and an account of some of the aspects of the impact of these particular situations.
That is of course of independent interest, but in not pointing out why we create the technology or why the technology has the power it does, the book does not really help you speculate about the next new mechanism we will see.
In that way the books seems like too little too late. Many of the observations made are readily available to any actor in the social situations described (like the painfully obvious lengthy discussions of the importance and nature of 'netiquette', i.e. the informal one-on-one communication form of newsgroups).
Furthermore the focus (cluetrain all over again) on the one-to-one feel of the individual networked connection in this book also overlooks the actual layout of the internet where the information hubs are really the bread and butter of information age life. With the size the internet has now, I have to say that the usefullness of the one-to-one features of the net are somewhat dominated by the brilliant hubs that are typically automated systems. But then again I'm a techie and that means of course that the automated systems serve up a lot of (inhuman) information of value to me.
It's always funny to read optimistic statements that have since been proven a little too optimistic (I have a brilliant book from the fifties with the title 'Design for a Brain' - complete with electrical circuit diagrams) and The Cluetrain Manifesto which was of course a must read 2-3 years ago and not this year is an interesting case.
It's not that they are really wrong, it's just that the revolutionary tone really doesn't begin to describe how one feels about the present day internet with more and more intrusive spamming and less and less interesting new stuff.
But I shouldn't complain, and won't really. I prefer the 'brand new net' lovefest that Cluetrain tries to rekindle to the e-commerce babble one hears most of.
One thing is apparant from the enthusiatic descriptions of the one-to-one internet: The authors haven't fully taken in the 'power law' nature of the connected society described in Linked. One of the results of the power law structure of the internet is the notion of hubs - network hotspots that many network nodes find it useful to connect to. If you've ever been furtunate enough to functions as a local hotspot of some kind, you'd know that the gratifying experience of being useful is quickly replaced with a paralyzing sensation of not really being able to do much of anything except handle all of the requests streaming against you.
The dream of the one-to-one network where you can reach out and touch someone, and that someone can be someone who realy matters all the time is stifled because the hubs in interperson networks are very easy to saturate, i.e. paralyze intellectually by piling information requests on top of information requests. That's why there is such a thing as proper channels in a well-run organization. It is a device to liberate the connection points that all communication would run through to actually do something useful instead of just passing messages around.
There's an interesting equilibrium mechanism to this though, which could deserve to be properly mathematically modeled. Say you have a network, where the value of a node is the amount of information it is able to produce disseminate throughout an organization, and introduce prices for information production as well as for transmission.
Let every node try to optimize. What kind of network does those rules breed. Suppose the nodes are allowed to price their information production as well as their information dissemination as part of their own optimisation. What is optimal behaviour and what kind of network does the optimal linking behaviour afford.
The final conclusion is that the manifesto itself is a lot more interesting than the book about it.
In The Cluetrain Manifesto Wired is rightfully ridiculed for plugging PUSH as The Next Big Thing back in 1997 (it's ironic to be reading this near the end of post-boom 2002) and while I used to like Wired a lot as the only place where one could get a proper feel of the new, the list of ridiculous claims about the immediate future that havae appeared in Wired is getting rather long (along with PUSH, one can mention 'the demise of Apple', 'The Long Boom', all of 'The Wired Index' and countless others) and you're left thinking: Are these just the bold mistakes of the daring, or is it really ridiculous hype with magazine sales as the only reasoning and function?
I like to think that the balance has shifted towards poor, and that the magazine really was better back when I liked it so much in 1995. If it's just me getting wiser I guess I shouldn't complain, but in general I think there's little enough magic as it is.
It's all to frequent to find yourself really annoyed at the information you find on the web. It's been there too long. It's not good enough. It's all business or technology. What happend to the fun, the sheer joy of the hyperlink, the disorientation of the early internet. Why is the web so much like a shopping mall, and why exactly is it that I find that I do indeed shop at chain-stores. All of these questions are important and hard to answer (mostly it's just that I'm a a really boring guy of course) but the sad fact of all this boredom is rapidly washed away with a quick surf off the Rageboy weblog. The title says it all: all noise - all the time.
That's what surfing is all about! Can I just say right here and now that 'sites' are really the scourge of the web - only pages should matter (that's right the notion of deep links is absurd - it's old world - it's just not getting it). You can spend a happy if boring life surfing slashdot and amazon and wired and mayby a newspaper or two but in the end it just gets so boring, and it's not only that it's boring - it is just a sad replica of a good time with a decent book, or a beer, or some really loud music.
Weblogs in general are no better - but of they are as strange and off-linking as Rageboy's they really do offer something you couldn't possibly have without hypertext.
Classy.dk fails miserably in being as wild. Maybe it's because it's tamed by Moveable type or maybe it's just that I actually manage to spend my log-life at the boring edge of digital society.
An interesting site-statistic, completely computable, is how diffusive a site is. Given markovian off world linkage, how much ground do you cover by linking off a site. 'Sites' are not very diffusive, since they have mainly intra-site links, weblogs are very diffusive.
For weblogs alone this is already enabled at the myelin blogging ecosystem and WMDI would probably like to be enable something like that but I would really like it for the whole web.
Tim O'Reilly has some very good points on copyright, piracy and digital distribution in an article on his website. Best quote: "Obscurity is a far greater risk to artists than piracy".
A mention of the article would be incomplete without a reference at the very same time to Creative Commons - which could be called CINGO - the Commons Is Not the GNU Organization. In other words it is an organization branding, and publishing a set of new open licenses with specific rights from public domain to right before an actual exclusive copyright.
An IBM scientist has an old new idea as reported on Wired News: Charge spammers a nuisance fee.
The net is basically free today, and making people pay for anything has been an uphill struggle. The most successful campaign has been the RIAA/MPAA campaign against napster et al, and even that is a partial failure.
This anti-spam concept is misguided for two reasons. First of all: open email - even with the spam - is still a benefit to the consumer, and spam is simply not a big enough problem to make 'priority email' a killer-app. If you don't think so, you simply have forgotten what the world was like without email.
If this assumption was wrong in any significant way, mail clients with listed senders would be out there. It is entirely possible to stop spam completely using an intelligent mail client verifying senders, and issuing an 'I don't know you, so I won't receive your email' receipt to unknown senders automatically. Nobody I know uses such a system.
But even if my assumption was wrong, a scheme as radical as the one proposed without strong corporate sponsorship is unlikely to succeed, and corporate sponsorship of traffic limiting technology is hard to see as a very possible event. It could only work as an ISP value add or something like that, and it seems to me that the main theme of the internet today is that nobody cares who their ISP is these days - hence AOL's current problems.
We're left with the slight possibility that the OS monopoly power would get into this as a new way of extracting revenue from users.
A luxury goods company is now making $19,450 luxury cell phones. The phones have not been augmented technically in any way, just been made very expensive by plastering old-world design values on the outside.
Style matters of course, but the complete lack of technical excellence in the product makes it look like stone age arrowheads made from green bottle glass to me. A meaningless artifact made by and for somebody left behind by the modern world, to - by appearance only - adapt to something new that is simply beyond the comprehension of the makers and users.
While there's a beatiful embedded statement about tradition and the resilience of cultures in this, the flip-side of that statement - the inability to understand rapid change - is really the important one. It doesn't help any Nokia is involved in the making of this phone. That only tells us that technology is really boring right now.
I just generated this wonderful product idea with the Prior-Art-O-Matic: Googleized milk.
A BBC news story tells us something we've known for a long time: The hi-tech workplace is no better than factories. It involves long hours, insecure job outlook, and a poor working environment.
This fits right into the interesting dividing line of the modern society, with an educated class - who work a lot and identify primarily with their work - and a not so educated class - who identify with their home and leisure activities.
An interesting turn around from earlier days when the the term 'leisure class' referred to the non-working rich.
And there's also an article in The Wall Street Journal about profiling gone wrong.
The examples from that article all seem to be about cultural overfitting in the profiling models. Some random selection by a purchaser is used a high-valued proximity generator in search space, and suggestions for like-minded but fatally off-target titles are the result.
One has to wonder why this happens to these people. Granted, the stickiness of a particular search session of amazon can be annoying (browse one unrelated item and idiotic links will be added to the conversational state of the current search for the duration of the search). In general though, I don't experience this kind of thing very much. But then I don't have a TiVo of course - and would really much rather have ReplayTV if I had the choice.
Among the possible reasons are
I think the first and second explanations are the most probable and that the third only matters inasmuch as when I'm browsing for technical literature there are very few strong personal feelings attached to the individual book selection and furthermore technical books tend to cover a subject more evenly, so any failure to match true preferences isn't nearly as intrusive as it would be to receive a suggestion to buy a ridiculous band like the now defunct Guns'n'Roses just because I happen to like Iggy Pop.
The failure to model overfitting shouldn't be discredited at all.
A pure bayesian 'most likely secondary purchase' model on a per book basis would probably fail miserably.
Due to the relative sparseness of the purchase space considering the true number of dimensions (3 million books in print) you definitely need to emply some technique to not fit the noise. A principal compenents analysis of the search space is probably a good idea and good incremental algorithms exist to compute one.
It would be interesting to know how people work with overfitting when the only observations that really make any sense are the successes. It would make sense to assume a general decay of success for a particular association of titles and let then to let the successes enforce the probabilities that aren't failures.
In this installment - Free web services with no incentive to pay any money to use them - will be very unlikely to stay alive. The very nice Backflip online favourites service has been down now for 9 full days due to a database crash. (Memo to users: If you care about your data make sure they are stored in a safe place, i.e. in more than one place) The reason for the lengthy downtime seems to be mainly financial. There's simply not enough money to guarantee against downtime for this service.
Update 20021125 : Backflip did come back up. Keep fighting!
De medarbejdere i Orange der ikke bliver fyret ?nsker man åbenbart rejser så hurtigt som muligt. Ihvertfald sender man nu et klart signal om at man ikke stoler på medarbejderne ved at fyre nogen af dem uden at v?re helt sikker på de har gjort noget galt.
Det kan man kalde management by fear!
Amazon apparantly realized how ridiculous the apparel links looked on book searches and changed the recommendation text to 'Customers who wear clothes also shopped for' instead of claiming a connection with the book searches.
Further evidence favouring openness (and even the throwaway certificates i mentioned below) can be found in a long and entertaining interview with Bruce Schneier one of the worlds leading cryptography experts.
His contention is that even for that very important function of verifying identity there are no safe measures deployed, and any and all of the grand schemes to do so will fail very often. This tells us two things: First, that schemes that don't have to be grand are better. They too do eventually enjoy a network effect, but they don't require everybody to be plugged in to work. Secondly, interfaces will be compromised, so you better prepare for it somehow, by limiting the consequences per breach.
His point of view is directly related to thought about digital identity and comes out in favor of loose-knit reputation systems and throwaway identification in specific cases to guard against the consequences when (not if) your identification point itself becomes compromised (either because you were careless or for systemic reasons).
However one can't help but feel that even though the computation of identification is the most powerful computation there is, the points should apply to all the other computations also. So in a way I think the Schneier article comes out - indirectly - in favour of the openness of design efforts also. Any idea that we can keep our world closed through the application of technology is flawed, so we might as well build it open from the start. Open with anti-intrusion measures that is.
Just a note to myself - now that I'm in webservices open computation etc. etc. mode. Link farms, i.e. networks of circular refererers who try to boost site relevancy in search engines are simply viruses attempting to piggyback information to your machine using the open interface of HTTP
When all of these ideas about openness take off, the grand scheme notions of security and identification will all fail and we will have to fall back of a security model that is open and experience- and reputation-based. It will probably employ huge masses of throwaway certificates manufactured for specific computations/validations but kept around for reputation purposes.
The certificates themselves will, sooner or later, enter the address space, so that addresses are essentially anonymous. The navigation for adressess will be based on dynamic content based services like Google, not static services like DNS, and the whole system will end up lookin gmore like a biosystem.
Amazon.com is about to loose it's long time standing good guy status when it comes to usable and information rich websites. The many shops, the decision to complicate life for us book-buyers by making book search a two-click operation instead of a one-click operation, the terrible "Your Gold Box" idea were all nails in the coffin for the usability of the site - whereas "The page you made" and 'See Inside' vindicated the site. The latest attempt at upsale linkage is particularly lame and insensitive to what the user is actually interested in. You're now getting suggestions from the apparel store when you're browsing for books. Seen many underwear/book stores on your local high-street lately ? Didn't think so (although I guess FNAC actually does this with some success). An example of how stupid this looks: Do they really think that the average buyer of The Windows Interface Guidelines for Software Design: An Application Design Guide would want to buy pink cheetah print slippers in girl sizes - as was suggested to me when I looked up the book. No. Misdirected efforts at tailormade information make really intrusive advertising ploys - not much better than spam. Intrusive advertising makes enemies - at least one, anyway.
More and more intrusive direct marketing ideas involving email and tele-marketing are being developed, allowing those who use them to spend a maximum amount of time actually bothering people, instead of waiting around for people who could not be bothered. The techniques - and means to fight them, are discussed in the November issue of Wired.
I guess it is not really surprising, but one of the techniques is automated dialing so that tele-marketers do not spend time reaching people who aren't at home, but rather talk all day to potential customers. The upshot of this is that you actually have to wait for a an annoying telemarketer to become available once you answer the phone.
The issue is really too important for shameless plugs, but can I just say that Ascio has had a technology for selective disclosure for some time now. Hear our thunder, said the mouse to the elephant....
We all know about the 90/10 and 80/20 salary plans - where the last 10 or 20 percent respectively is dependent on the performance of the employer and the company in general. John Chambers - the CEO of Cisco is stepping forward and taking a 0/100 salary plan. His fixed salary is now one dollar. So that his only pay is the payoff from his stock option plan. I'm sure he can afford it after the golden years, but still. Way to make a statement Mr. Chambers.
More fortuitous linkage from J. Udell's weblog - this time indirectly : Dealing with Diversity covers some of the same bases I failed to address properly in a previous incomplete post. Sam Ruby seems to like typing - but in an open permissive perlable kind of way.
I think types are fine - when pragmatic development practices make typing something that simply happens without the conscientious effort of the developer. I think most of the reservations against typing are related to this thinking also: Text-centric computation can make do without typing to a large extent because the ultimate consumer - the reader - can do all the type inferencing machines can only dream of.
Approaches at distributing large scale, open, universal type systems beyond the variable set of C seem to fail a lot - and I think this is mainly because it's just hard work. Strongly typed web-services do not subtract from this work without a new level of service of the systems consuming the data from the services. And even then the general guidelines on data before computation, and open by default data universes are the rules to go by.
This whole thing is of course also related to some of the remarks in this post on explicit versus implicit design, and failure or nonfailure of object design.
While I think the patterns movement and the mode of thought it supports is a usable way out of specification hell, I think explicit generalization in strongly typed languages through complex object interactions are a cost to the developer that is is not entirely clear is justified by functionality or reusability or clarity of form and function.
Once again I think the perlish notion of scripted orchestration of compiled code wins hands down in this respect. In weakly typed languages the orchestration can be quite briefly written, and if there is a well-written interface to strongly typed libraries the confrontation between strong and weak types need not hurt so much.
I found more notes related to the thoughts in a previous post on identity and the internet in a post on Jon's Radio - Jon Udell's always informative weblog. The point of his message is different but similar - The network will connect you regardless of your desire to connect. What remains in your power is what you look like when you connect.
If you think I was somehow making a crack at internet-boom risktakers, you're dead wrong. I even work for a 2 guys < 25 yrs old + 4 powerpoint slides => 4 M$ in funding-company...
A new initiative (I think it is new at least) gives you that good old 1999 'everything is possible' feeling. A network for Danish Entrepeneurs.
Gone are the elevator-pitches and the "2 guys < 25 yrs old + 4 powerpoint slides => 4 M$ in funding" equations, but the attitude, the out-there nonconventional meeting formats and the general mantra, that loose knit networks (this time it's only made of people) are everything, remains. Even the sound bite is from 1999!.
It appears that if you install Kazaa, Morpheous or LimeWire P2P filesharing apps you also install software so that all redirects to amazon.com from an Amazon affiliate is modified to look like redirects from Kazaa, Morhpheus or LimeWire affiliate bookshops, i.e. they are stealing the affiliate bookstore kickback from the original link-provider.
What complete and utter scum these people are! There's even a developer trying to justify this as somehow legitimate. What an asshole he is.
One would expect Amazon to promptly refuse these organizations access to the affiliate programs for good and in fact According to the NYT report on the matter they don't. Morpheus has already been kicked out of the affiliate program.
The site appears to be utterly non-commercial, does not endorse vigilante method but urge abused wives to call the police, so you'd think it would be difficult to find something to accuse the site of.
It appears to be a case of non-profit America adopting corporate tactics to protect their operations.
The story has grotesque appeal of course, but is also interesting for a Dane. A similar action would make absolutely non sense in a Danish environment where the ties between the larger non-profits and government are much tighter making tactics such as the above unnecesary and in fact distasteful.
Just to add a little more info on e-begging: I do of course completely respect the right of the needy to ask the more fortunate for help. It's more this new high-tech approach and the sheer capability of these people that seems strangely self contradictory. It's a little like being asked for free cigarettes by well-dressed student types on the street. Buy your own!
Why this note. The above should be obvious - at least to people who now me. Well the original blog entry was commented. For some strange reason classy.dk is the fourth most relevant page on Google referencing the "Help Me Leave My Husband" site. This led to a complete stranger posting a note that the poor woman was actually on the level and that this was much nicer than actual poor people who look scary asking for money.
Well I guees it is a good thing that the money will not be spent on alcohol and drugs.
I leave the site open for comments to allow this, so fair enough. Post on. The woman posting the comment was however conveniently also posting a reference to her own porn site. She's more than welcome, and I am sure I'm being a prude and applying all kinds of chauvenist morals, but the porn advert does detract from the message as far as I am concerned.
This got me thinking...
...of all the new ways in which we imprint ourselves on each other when the digital life is gradually enriched.
First of all - it is clear that weblog comments could easily become a new carrier for SPAM. And this time built into a publication system which in turn hooks into search engines, etc. By using algorithms like Google's to relate sites, Jenna of tightdisplay.com has created a connection between me and her porn site that (if classy.dk was the web's most relevant anything - which it isn't) would be published regardless of my feelings on the matter. But of course Google also scans newsgroups so this is nothing new I guess.
Secondly, Jenna's digital persona (real or fictional) is an interesting choice to use for non-commercial communication.
To me classy.dk is a step up into the digital life. I have claimed a name (A tacky one, but that at least has ironic purpose) and the name is enabled with all kinds of technology: Web and on top of that publication. An open approachable feedback channel via the comment system. I have an email server that I use to manage various social relations around me - maintaining mailing lists etc. When posting elsewhere I would gladly include (a costum spam-filtered) email address and a site link to Classy.dk, which of course makes the me posting, more interesting to interact with - since people would be responding to a comment-receiving extrovert rather than just firstname.lastname@example.org.
My poster, Jenna Nugent (her emai l address is porn too), is now a (text-)pornographer with a heart of gold instead of just some anonymous poster.
This has both a technical and a social aspect: The technical aspect is the "I've got my own server" aspect. I am always present on the net, even when I'm not really there - and I am more so than just be being able to receive email and posting HTML pages. The company I work for has a take on this
The social aspect is the 'server-fabric' of the internet - The name classy.dk via DNS. The weblog notification service via weblogs.com. Search engines.
The two aspects have an interplay since the social fabric is what makes the technical aspect valuable.
The upgraded edge-network (I am not just a browser and email user) is on the other hand important both in term of sense-of-ownership (There's that physical world biting the virtual world thing again - but maybe that's just me not keeping up with the times) and as a driver of new things, e.g. weblogs as a real publication medium.
To me the enhanced Jenna, and the enhanced Classy Dee are examples of media-convergence. It's not the old convergence of phone, TV, and internet - But it is a convergence of different internet media, and the connection is made at the edge where the communicating entity resides.
Ascio's take on this particular convergence has been fat names. Leveraging DNS as an information source for personal information. Lately the technology has been refocused for commercial reasons towards a light website instead but the vision remains.
This technology is still server-based, i.e. pure web technology. Other takes - which appear to the user as Instant Messaging on steroids play with the technical side of things also by moving processing - at least for some interactions - to the edge of the network, by enabling clients as publication devices. In some cases - like Radio - the use of the client as server or peer is circumstantial. For others - like Groove - it is the very idea. Groove is interesting, but to me the pure peer-to-peer is also missing the benefits I derive from classy.dk: A presence when I'm not present. My personal view on what would be the most interesting vision for Ascio Digital Identity is something like server based Groove.
What is missing is the the "rich client part" of Groove.
At the amazing website HelpMeLeaveMyHusband.com you can make donations to an anonymous woman ("My name is Penny" is the identification given) claiming to be caught in a bad relationship. It may be true it may not - what's interesting is that this new approach for getting cash out of complete strangers appears to be working, and that it uses e-cash. Convenient and confrontation-free. Begging has never been less humiliating.
This is a trend, at least according to wired
Now you can see, with the use of Pornolize - a new webserivce that will turn even the most conservative media into smut. The New Porn Times is hilarious - if you have bad taste. Oh and by the way , since classy.dk is one of the only classy.* domains that isn't porn. It's nice to know what would happen if it was.
Yesterday when I got home from work and actually went into my kitchen I could hear a faint noise. I thought for a while that the steady hum was from the refrigerator, but no it was in fact Fusijama - the classy.dk server. I logged on the server and found to my horror that the server was acting as an open relay! For those not in the know, that means that ANYBODY can log on to my mailserver and forward mail from an essentially anonymous address to anybody else in the world. In short a spam machine. And horror no 2 was that some evil spammer had found out about it. I was, when I stopped the mailserver, infested with 500 MB of spam (that's more than 100000 offers for cheap loans, free porn, low interest rates, and fast university diplomas).
The error of my ways: I had upgraded my XMail mailserver and it had kindly updated my smtprelay setting to the default - which is to run as an open relay. I generally like the Unix philosophy that the user should be in full control and should know what he's doing. I like the mailserver a lot, but NOT the decision to leave it up to the user to discover the correct setting of smtprelay.tab (the file should be completely empty to disable all relaying), and certainly not this behaviour during upgrade. For the casual user, that ends up being a lot of work. (OK, so I was using an RPM to upgrade and maybe I shouldn't expect application specific sound upgrade policies from a general purpose package manager, although I think RPM does allow for stuff like that) (OK2, I know full well that Windows installation routinely violates your privacy and turns on crappy features - including some with security issues attached to them - by default)
The good news with this bad news was that I discovered how efficient the Open Relay databases are. I immediately logged onto ORDB to
check that my server was indeed a relay. They had gotten the first report of the harmful nature of my server configuration by someone other than me at 4AM the same morning. I fixed the problem, and asked for a retest, and within a couple of hours the server was unblocked again. I haven't really been around the net to check other relay databases although I should.
Why haven't I checked. Well it appears that no one in my immediate vicinity use the relay blockers. I was never blocked when forwarding from my own server to my company server. And the few mailing lists I operate seemed to function appropriately.
It's a pity really. I can live with a short mail outage after a bad config, if I get a responsive spam-free network in return. The email-server "honors system" of the open relay databases works and should be used.
I Amerika - home of the brave - tager folk der mister deres arbejde meget kontant fat
for arbejde må man jo have. Man kommer til at tænke på Rasmus Trads, avisbuddet, og på ostehandleren Klaus Riskær.
Take a look at the5k.org : entries : Scale Model of the Solar System. Relative planet sizes are (supposedly) representative, and then a very large scrollbar depth is used to indicate the enormous interplanetary distances. Usual models are never scale accurate. This one is...
What do you call a fake grassroots movement?
AstroTurf of course!
This term is being applied to new unintrusive advertising ploys, hooking into standard niternet communityware using fake postings to newsgroups (posing as personal recommendations) and fake personal websites touting products (which became very popular after the Mahir phenomenon)
The immensely popular and simply fantastic Google si a cultural phenomenon of enormous proportions. We've all heard of Googlewhacking i.e. the sport of finding two words that - when searched for on Google - return exactly 1 (one) hit. My esteemed colleague Jasper was a googlewhack until I posted this story.
Now there's a new sport in town, namely the intentional posting to newsgroups of material that - when found in google and highlighted in yellow - presents a nice graphic.
I hereby challenge all post order merchants:
Beat this in your mail order catalog.
The whole idea is somewhat reminiscent of the age-old sport of Just another perl hacker email tags: The art of tagging your email with 4 lines of dense perl code that runs, only to print the words Just another perl hacker.
No this is not an article about a failed 2M Invest company... Actual legislation is being proposed in the US Congress to allow any copyright holder to hack the hackersas reported on K5. In short, the proposed bill provides immunity for a number of possible liabilities caused by interfering with another party's computer, if the intent was explicitly - and upfront - to foil illegal use of copyrighted material.
This is the old "If guns are outlawed only outlaws will have guns" idea. Let the good guys give the bad guys a taste of their own medicine. Only, in the virtual world, where boundaries of location (especially in a P2P world) are abstract and hard to define, it seems to me that this bill is an extension of the right to self defence and the right to protect the sanctity of the home, to actually allowing aggresive vigilante incursions on other peoples property, when the other people are accused of copyright infringement.
It goes right to the core of current intellectual property debates, and raises in a very clear way the civil right issues involved in the constant and rapidly increasing attempts at limiting right-of-use for lawfully purchased intellectual property. Whose property IS intellectual property anyway?
In the olden days - when intellectual property was securely tied to some kind of totem, a physical stand-in for the intellectual property, in the form of the carrier of the information, i.e. a book or an LP or similar, there was a simple way to settle the issue. Possesion of the totem constituted an interminable right of use of the intellectual property. The only intellectual property available on a per-use basis was the movies. Live performance does not count in this regard, since live performance is tied to the presence of the performer, and the consumption of live performance is not therefore a transfer of an intellectual property to the consumer, in that it is neither copyable or transferable or repeatable.
It is of course the gestural similarity with live performance that has led to the rental model for film.
As the importance of the totem began to degrade, so began the attacks on the physical interpretation of intellectual property. We have seen these attacks and reinterpretations of purchase through the introduction of casette tapes, video tape, paper copiers, copyable CD rom media, and now just the pure digital file.
At each of these turning points attempts are made to limit the right-of-use to film-like terms. Use of intellectual property is really just witnessing of a performance. So you pay per impression, and not per posession.
What is interesting of late, and in relation to the lawsuit, is both the question of whether this 'artistic' pricing model is slowly being extended from the entertainment culture to all cultural interaction. Modern software licenses are moving towards a service-model with annual subscription fees. This could be seen as a step towards pure per-use fees for all consumable culture - an idea that is at least metaphorically consistent with the notion of the information grid. Information service (including the ability to interact) is an infrastructure service of modern society, provided by information utilities, and priced in the same way as electrical power.
In practice you do not own the utility endpoints in your home - the gasmeter and the electrical power connection to the grid. And ownership of any powercarrying of powerconsuming device does not constitute ownership of the power/energy carried or consumed. In the same way the content companies would have us think of hardware. And Microsoft would like you to think of Windows as content in this respect.
Secondly, there is the important question of how this interpretation of information and culture relates copyright to civil right.
The sanctity of physical space (i.e. the right of property) is a very clear and therefore very practical measure of freedom. Actions within the physical space are automatically protected through the protection of the physical space. There are very real and important differences between what is legal in the commons and what is legel in private space. And of course the most important additional freedom is the basic premise of total behavioural and mental freedom.
The content company view of intellectual property is a challenge to this basic notion of freedom. There is a fundamental distinction between the clear cut sanctity of a certain physical space, and the blurry concept of "use".
The act of use itself can be difficult to define, as property debates over "deep-linking" make clear.
In more practical terms, any use of digital data involves numerous acts of copying of the data. Which ones are the ones that are purchased, and which ones were merely technical circumstances of use. The legislation proposed enters this debate at the extreme content-provider biased end of the scale. Ownership of anything other than the intellectual rights to content are of lesser importance than the intellectual ownership.
The difficulty of these questions compromise the notion of single use and use-based pricing. And ultimately - as evidenced by the deep-link discussions - the later behaviour of the property user is also impacted by purchase of intellectual property according to the content sellers. This is a fundamental and important difference between the electrical grid and live performance on one hand, and intellectual property on the other. Intellectual property simply is not perishable, and, as if by magic, it appears when you talk about it.
Interestingly a person with a semiotics backgorund would probably be able to make the concept of "use" seem even more dubious, since the act of comprehension of any text or other intellectual content, is in fact a long running, never ending and many faceted process. In the simplest form, you would skirt an issue such as this, and go with something simple like "hours of direct personal exposure to content via some digital device". That works for simple kinds of use, but not for complicated use. And is should be clear from endless "fair use" discussions that content owners are very aware of the presence of ideas made available in their content in later acts of expression.
A wild farfetched guess would be that as we digitize our personal space more and more, expression will be carried to a greater and greater extent over digital devices, so that the act of thought is actually external, published and visible (witness the weblog phenomenon). In such a world, the notion that reference is use becomes quite oppresive.
Ultimately the concept of free thought and free expression is challenged by these notions of property. It is basically impossible to have free thought and free expression without free reference or at least some freedom of use of intellectual materials.
Som rapporteret i Computerworld Online kan der stadig tjenes penge i konsulentbranchen - dvs. blandt IT folk der arbejder med forretningsudvikling og på timetakst - altså forretninger hvor IT- konsulenten kan betragtes som bare endnu en rådgiver med endnu et speciale. I alle de brancher hvor software ellers VIRKELIG burde v?re profitabelt - dvs. software fremstillingsvirksomhed med en bruttomargin t?t på de 100% (fordi al udvikling er faste omkostninger) er der dyb krise.
Det er selvf?lgelig knap så overraskende at en virksomhed uden fleksible udgifter taber penge når markedet er dårligt. Men det er alligevel skidt at det er dem alle sammen der går så dårligt. Det der er galt med det er naturligvis at man som IT person så heller ikke har den fabelagtige mulighed for at geare sin personlige indsats ved at skyde sin produktivitet ud i oms?ttelige intellektuelle rettigheder - altså software.
Man er i stedet reduceret til en jobtype som l?gen og advokaten. Vell?nnet konsulentarbejde jovist, men bundet til ens fysiske tilstedev?relse og de timers arbejde man l?gger i det.