Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Tribe voting has it's own tribe

This is very interesting because Paul T. has built an application which sits on top of Tribe. And it seems to be gaining traction.
Of course money is one of the media. Douglas Rushkoff sounds like he's getting AltMoney religion.

Douglas Rushkoff's Blog

Bill Seitz alerts me to something I didn't know

Peter Lamborn Wilson is Hakim Bay!
LZW patent expires.

Remember kids, patents are BAD. And just because someone, say Unisys (ie. who?), says they aren't charging for it, that doesn't mean you should use patented formats in your next, possibly world-conquering, project because all sorts of mayhem might ensue.
Will mobile phones replace personal computers?

MSNBC - Your Next Computer

Sure. If they can provide one crucial element that personal computers have, but this article misses : freedom. Freedom for developers to hack their own applications. Freedom for anyone on the net to provide their own services without asking the phone company permission. Freedom to talk back and upload as much as you download.

And for me personally, I need a phone that's a portable software development environment. How would my handheld device work?

1) It would have a built in camera.

2) that camera could take a picture of anything I scrawled on a piece of paper and reliably OCR it, extract the text and diagrams. And it would transparently handle hand-shaking, poor light, weird angles etc.

3) It would have some kind of kinetic sensor that would let me trace symbols and arcs in the air with it, and interpret these glyphs into meaningful commands.

4) It would have headphones

5) And would do text-to-speech conversion from web-sites and RSS feeds to the quality of a Radio 4 documentary. Nice BBC English voices ...

6) It had wiki nature. Ie, not only did it have a wiki built in, but all the UI elements had a notional "edit this" button ...

7) It was scriptable in Python or something higher-level

8) It seemlessly managed and searched my mail / audio messages.

I think petfrog looks beautiful. I kind of want one.

And yet ... I suspect the whole thing would be crap - usability-wise.

Firstly, I can't find out how big it's meant to be. If it's a handheld, then the Internet Browser example is just bogus. Both the screen and the keyboard are implausibly small. And the "petfrog" logo wastes nearly as much space as either.

I like the fact that the navigation, select and undo buttons are big. But imagine this is something where the screen and keyboard are sensibly big. How big is this navigation window then?

The UI is designed in the same style as the physical unit - the user experience is therefore simple , seamless and most sophisticated for every single application.

Is similarity of "style" really what makes the experience simple, seamless and sophisticated? As far as I can tell, the similarity of style consists of the orange and blue colour schemes, but doesn't stop one bit of the UI being a keyboard, another bit of the UI being a picture of a joystick, and another some amazingly retro virtual reality thang to make finding your MP3s more challenging.

I wonder how they get pseudo-physical feedback on a touch pad? Does it go all bendy due to Piezzo-electric effects or something?

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Matthew Yglesias on Gricean analyses of Iraq
The Asian central banks aren't buying U.S. government bonds for investment purposes; they're buying for mercantilist purposes. By buying dollars and dollar-denominated assets like Treasury bonds, they help keep their currencies relatively weaker and the dollar relatively stronger. And by providing a ready market for our government's chief product, they've helped keep U.S. interest rates low. That keeps politicians happy and enables American companies and consumers to do what they do best: borrow tons of money at favorable rates and spend it.

Wanna Buy a T-Bill, Sucker? - The foreign fools who are buying American bonds. By Daniel Gross
ThoughtStorms: SoftwareStuffAndHardwareStuff
A good tribe discussion on Gold backed money.

Tribe Discussion: Alternative Money and Economics -
Randall Trigg's thesis is interesting. Linked from ThoughtStorms: TypedLinks
ThoughtStorms: BlogosphereAsACity
Mark Bernstein has interesting piece on Test Driven Development and the return to a "craft" model for software.

Mark Bernstein: Test Driven
Dave Pollard has a good essay on images and propaganda. Recommended.

(Although I don't, of course, agree with some of the flaky "nature abhores pain" stuff in the last paragraph. :-)

How to Save the World
Paul T has an idea which is just so crazy it might work.

He's working on a screen / feed scraper for Tribe discussion forums which lets you turn threads into polls. The poster who starts the first thread places a list of options, simply by wrapping them in double equals signs like this :

Which is your favourite exotic Brazilian fruit?

== Acai ==

== Cupuacu ==

== Pitanga ==

== Caja ==


Any later post can then vote for an option by pitting a single = in front of it. eg =Caja

That's it. It then totals the votes for each user.

Very nice. And very wiki :-)

Tribe Discussion: Social software intellectuals -
A quick comparison.

ThoughtStorms: InternetPlayas/PlayaMatrix
RageBoy was right!

BW Online | June 28, 2004 | Blogging With The Boss's Blessing

I am, of course, very excited by this

Monday, June 21, 2004

Inspired by the Richard MacManus comment on Generalists I talked about here, another Stupid Tribe Hack.

Recovering Generalist Network -
ThoughtStorms: WikiInterchangeFormat
ThoughtStorms: HowToFindStuffInThoughtStorms is still worrying me.
This just gets weirder and weirder ...

FAA Managers Destroyed 9/11 Tape (

via Ron
ThoughtStorms: TheDownsideOfHappiness
ThoughtStorms: SpaceVsInformationFlows/WebVsPrint
A miserable posting from Richard MacManus : Mama don't let your baby grow up to be a Generalist :-(

Ok, maybe there's a Friday Five style question to be asked here. If you were to specialize your blog to be about three things, what would they be?

For example, I'd like to say something like :

- AltMoney

- Pattern Languages for internet culture (which would include both the social and technical patterns)

- "Smart Disorganized Individuals" and the tools they need.

But, of course, these are only really interesting to me because I don't really know much about them, hence writing and thinking about them is an exercise in personal learning.

Being a good specialist means becoming an expert means stopping discovering and starting to simply apply (well) what you already know. Which is, of course, dull as ditchwater.

But now I have an idea for a new kind of YASN. A network of recovering generalists, each of who promises to specialize in a limited number of specific topics. However, the twist is, no two people can own the same topic. So if MacManus has bagged "Strategy" and "Knowledge Management" then no one else can have them.

Or maybe there are some rules for how other recovering generalists can buy or win ownership of certain topics. Or how topics can get subdivided. But generally, ownership of topic namespace would force the specialization.

Hence the YASN as a whole becomes a kind of competitive network or recommendation architecture.
Hmmm. I hadn't figured on this. But apparently there are critics of the US government who think Bush has screwed up. They offer cogent arguments as to what's wrong, and then suggest the solution is killing all the Muslims

Huh? There's something worse than Bush's gang?

Or is this one of those "get a minor intelligence official to float a really crazy idea so that by comparison, our actual crazy policies look sort of sensible" political ploys?
Commission chairman Roger Robinson put it politely: 'A number of the current trends in US-China relations have negative implications for our long-term economic and national security interests, and therefore that US policies in these areas are in need of urgent attention and course corrections.'

Asia Times Online - News from greater China; Hong Kong and Taiwan

Interesting. This comment is also noteworthy.

It is not Beijing's fault that foolish policies in Washington have created a consumer boom that is drawing in imports more than stimulating domestic production. Beijing did not create currency policies that allow Americans both as individuals and as a nation to live on debt.

So despite all that bluster from the commission, Congress is highly unlikely to act in the aggressive and assertive way the commission suggests, unless Beijing does something silly like disband the Hong Kong government or attack Taiwan, almost certainly not.

Simply put, there are too many companies in the US, from Wal-Mart onwards, making a lot of money by selling Chinese products. They are hardly likely to call for protective tariffs when they are designing, ordering and importing their products from China. Indeed, they will lobby and have lobbied strongly and successfully against any restrictions on outsourcing. And no one is going to stifle credit or increase taxes when there are closely contested and highly partisan elections in the offing.

The US import to export ratio with China is 5:1

Update : AltMoney tribe discussion
Robert Cringely : What's obvious to me is that Microsoft as a corporation sees itself above all this. Rules, regulations, laws, and agreements are for the little people, not for those whom history has shown are able to finesse the system. This attitude isn't peculiar to Microsoft, it is an artifact of privilege.

PBS | I, Cringely . Archived Column
Graham found a purpled version of Cory Doctorow's DRM talk

I prefer the wikid version myself.

But it's interesting that the plurality of online formats really makes Doctorow's point about eBooks. I can forsee a day when books will have a PurpleWiki mix, a MoinMoin mix, a MovableType mix etc.

But I don't entirely buy the purple numbers thing. More on ThoughtStorms:PurpleWiki

Hilan gets one of his poems translated and published in an Argentinian workers party magazine.

For more Hilan poetry, check the Primavera show site. And even if you can't read the poems in Portuguese most of the music I created can be downloaded. :-)

Sunday, June 20, 2004

Saturday, June 19, 2004

As is well known, I never manage to hit a deadline or release without some major fuck-up. Hence, in last night's soft-launch of SdiDesk, I managed to lose the .exe extension from the main executable.

So, if you already downloaded and there doesn't seem to be a program, rename the SDIdesk file in the application directory to SDIdesk.exe

If this isn't a problem for you, it's because the package is now fixed.


Just remember to kick me, when we next meet.

SdiDesk Wiki: DownloadSdiDesk
There's a Momus Museum of rarities. Including the great "Human Diversity" :-)

So we're still evolving,
simply by the force of personality,
they say that ontogeny repeats phyllogeny,
and we've lost our gills and lost our tails

Who else could get that ontogeny / phyllogeny line into a song?

Friday, June 18, 2004

Today, a very soft launch of ThoughtStorms: SdiDesk

It's a simple, desktop wiki-like notebook I've been working on over the last couple of months. All comments and bug-reports welcome.
Joel wants a new DHTML with loads more cool stuff for client side apps.

But how can he have this with a) graceful degredation on old browsers, and b) without requiring people to download something new?
Continuing resistance to Free Trade by US.

BBC NEWS | Business | US 'to fight back' in cotton war
BeatBlog on Webjay.

Webjay - "BeatBlog: The New BeatBlog" by playthispage

I haven't quite worked out if someone came and did this, or if it was automatically generated when I started creating another BeatBlog beat. Nevertheless, here are the beatblog beats, on webjay.

NB : BeatBlog is back. I have a bunch of new beats on my hard disk and I'll start uploading them again, now I have a faster connection.
Forget all the hot air about DaveWiner and The big question for me is what's with this 502 Proxy Error thing at Bill Seitz's place?
I can't go on about it every day. But just to point out Fafblog! the whole worlds only source for Fafblog has been added to my blogroll.
Dave Winer, remixed :-) Daily Log: Dave Winer Remix Contest
There are two unpleasant alternatives: either Mr. Bush knew he was not telling the truth, or he has a capacity for politically motivated self-deception that is terrifying in the post-9/11 world.

The New York Times > Opinion > The Plain Truth

Thursday, June 17, 2004

BBC NEWS | Health | Better diet 'would save millions'
Graham Lally : "Here's an idea. Give people access to the data, and let them build the tools.

(My emphasis)

Comments I'm making on the AltMoney tribe.

Basically your intuition is that a global market has a lot of independent agents who's actions must, more or less, cancel each other out. But with global communications, we have a lot of agents, all of whom are watching each other like hawks to spot opportunities. These aren't "independent" in a way that makes their actions cancel out. These are highly "coupled" agents, who tend to follow and copy each other's behaviours, giving rise to larger, world-wide bubbles because of *resonance*.

Tribe Discussion: Alternative Money and Economics -

Notice I've TribeCast two of my tribe-friends along with my blogroll.

This is an interesting development. But I think Tribe need to do a bit more work. If I'm going to put TribeFriends in my blogroll I really want to be more selective. To either tell TribeCast which friends it can use. Or to have gradations in my friendships, only some of whom I would TribeCast.

For example, what if my TribeFriend switched his picture to something I don't want on my blog? Right now it looks like I have to choose between dropping TribeCasting or dropping the friendship.

Also, it's crazy to put loads of Tribe friends automatically on your blogroll. Why make all those extra downloads for my reader(s)?

Maybe I really need a FaceRoll. For my blogroll, but that never really appealed.

In fact I might drop this feature after all ...
Good Seb Paquet posting on Links and Citations

Seb's Open Research
Joel Spolsky : However, there is a less understood phenomenon which is going largely unnoticed: Microsoft's crown strategic jewel, the Windows API, is lost.

Joel on Software - How Microsoft Lost the API War
ThoughtStorms: WhenProphecyFails
Ross Mayfield : There is a revolution going on in Brazil.

Ross Mayfield's Weblog: Viva La Revolution

ps : note that "Viva la revolution" is spanglish. In portuguese is should be "viva a revolucao" :-)

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Why not try to understand the structure of the University of Brasilia with this helpful organogram?
John Robb notices unions are starting to think like Global Guerrillas. He points to this :

Protesters cut power to French presidential palace


BBC NEWS | Teleportation breakthrough made
In the past three years, thousands of alleged militants have been transferred around the world by American, Arab and Far Eastern security services, often in secret operations that by-pass extradition laws. The astonishing traffic has seen many, including British citizens, sent from the West to countries where they can be tortured to extract information. Anything learnt is passed on to the US and, in some cases, reaches British intelligence.

The Observer | International | Secret world of US jails
But get ready. It is going to get much worse. The graphic videos and photographs that have so far been shown only to Congress are, I have been persuaded by someone who has seen them, not likely to remain secret for very long. And, if you wonder why formerly gung-ho rightist congressmen like James Inhofe ('I'm outraged more by the outrage') have gone so quiet, it is because they have seen the stuff and you have not. There will probably be a slight difficulty about showing these scenes in prime time, but they will emerge, never fear. We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see.

A Moral Chernobyl - Prepare for the worst of Abu Ghraib. By Christopher Hitchens
In the last couple of days Bill Seitz links to two stories

Philip Greenspun on Google


BEA's Alchemy

If I were him, I'd put a link between those two nodes.
I like Eric Raymond's hacker emblem

hacker emblem

Quick admission. I always suspected the 9/11 attacks were probably not micromanaged by Osama Bin Laden. Looks like I was wrong.

Al Qaeda Originally Envisioned Plot With 10 Jets (
Google reminds us that it's Bloomsday. Not only that but the 100th anniversary.
John Robb : I find it very hard to believe that it will come down to this, but I have been wrong before.

John Robb's Weblog
Philip Greenspun goes trolling and gets (at least up until number seven as of time of reading) some good pushback in his comments.

The funny thing is this :

"What would stop a Reagan-style optimist from saying "look at all the children that our poor people are having, confident that their future will be bright" and citing that as an example of what a fantastic country this is for a poor family?"

If I recall, that's pretty much what Eric Raymond does say

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

Must keep practicing my Portuguese ....

BBC NEWS | Health | Being bilingual 'protects brain'
David Chalmers' Philosophical Weblogs

Seems kind of late. 24HOURDOTCOM

What happened to those 30 day people?

Note for Brighton readers : Hangleton Blogs
Good Matthew Yglesias article on Bush's record on democracy.
Hey! I have DSL again!!! Though had to buy a new modem because the evil phone company changed to PPPoE and my old modem wouldn't support two machines.
Or rather : Fafblog are "under" God.
Interesting. Apparently, according to UN inspectors, Saddam shipped out WMD on eve of war.

I wonder why? Presumably the weapons weren't actually usable to fight the war. (Or he didn't dare use them.)

So did he do it because he knew he was going to lose and wanted to embarrass Bush? Or because, knowing the game was up, he wanted to seed other terrorist movements in Holland? (Saddam really was part of Al-Quaeda all along.)

Or because he figured he'd escape and use them as part of a come-back. Or because he figured without this evidence he'd avoid being shot or locked up for a very long time by the new Iraq authorities?

Bonus question : I wonder if Saddam is being prepared for interrogation by US intelligence services. And if so, what music are they playing to him (VERY LOUDLY)

(via Melanie Phillips)

Saturday, June 12, 2004

If correct, it would be the first time a party in government has finished third in terms of national share of the vote in local elections

BBC NEWS | UK | Politics | Pressure on Blair after elections

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

Bill Seitz has a scary statistic about Fish
Monkey Magic stumbles upon shards of my wrecked academic life. And comes up with some interesting stuff about surnames.

Monkeymagic: Individuals & Surnames
Bhangra Vs. Al Quaeda :-)
BBC NEWS | Africa | Mass starvation starts in Sudan
Optimaes: SimPy
This is amazing. Spelled out, crystal clear and without ambiguity.

BARNETT: Well, one of the arguments that I make is that if you`re going to be serious about a global war on terrorism, what you`re going to end up having to do is integrate these regions that are historically poorly connected to the outside world, meaning the regions that are poorly connected to the global economy, as we understand it. People talk about globalization and they make it sound like it wasn`t there 20 years ago. It`s everywhere now.


LAMB: Define globalization.

BARNETT: Globalization is a connectivity of communication networks. It`s a connectivity of people travel, idea movement. It`s connectivity of economic trade and a movement of money. It`s goods and services and ideas and traffic and all sorts of connectivity that develop in a mature fashion among the most mature economies, OK?

Booknotes Transcript

You followed that, right? You are NOT ALLOWED not to be part of the global economy. If you try to avoid being part of the global economy, the Pentagon will call you a terrorist and try to kill you.

Not only that, but note the "as we understand it". It's not enough to be connected through, say, air travel, tourism, cultural exchanges and friends on Orkut. You must be part of the global economy as understood by the Pentagon, which includes free trade and capital flows.
Flemming Funch : What we need is rather ways of weeding out the fake attention ...

In brief, I think that, no, the thing to do is NOT to treat attention as if it were cash you could just circulate around to create economic activity. It works by different rules altogether. If our shared information space becomes sophisticated enough, we might get better at drawing and giving attention where it really is warranted. Which might include some activities that vaguely resemble self-promotion. But beyond a certain somewhat fuzzy line it starts being virtual check kiting. And that is going to turn out to not be very useful to anybody.

Ming the Mechanic
Seb on GoogleJuice
Netocracy at work.

OK, so a partisan right-wing media have managed to whip-up enough protest to force the legitimately elected president of Venezuela to undergo a referendum. He's holding it and says he'll abide by it's decision. So let's quit all the "tyrant" stuff shall we?

BBC NEWS | Americas | Chavez's recall set for 15 August

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Bill Seitz quotes Bruce Sterling : Why did BraZil never have wars?

Zenith Angle (WebSeitz/wikilog)

Actually Brazil had plenty of wars. Most recent was when they got together in a three way spat which involved invading Paraguay (think, though need to check.)

Brazilians didn't invent much. Well, that explained it.

Brazilians claim one of their guys invented the first airplane. :-)

Probably the main reason Brazil hasn't invented much or had many wars is that it has a pretty small population in huge space. And it's pretty much self-sufficient in raw materials.

Also, of course, there's a lack of the kind of ecosystem necessary for invention : wide-spread literacy, wide-spread education, investment community willing to back innovators, etc. etc. And for a long time it was dominated by the Catholic church.
Cringely on Apple re-organization : And now comes this reorg, in which Apple’s head of hardware engineering becomes the head of engineering for the new iPod division. Think about that. Why would they take someone used to producing products like the G5 workstation and turn his attention to little music players?

PBS | I, Cringely