Monday, October 31, 2005


I'm downloading the UN report now, but does anyone know what the alleged motive for Syria was here? I understand they didn't agree with him, but what made them think blowing him up would help them?

BBC NEWS | Middle East | Syria faces sanctions vote at UN
BBC NEWS | Americas | Chavez calls for ban on Halloween

Thursday, October 27, 2005

BBC NEWS | Americas | Miers debacle hits struggling president

This is a disaster. Bush is being taken out by those to the right of him, probably with a large amount of popular support.

Iraq is a debacle which ought to bring the neocons down. But it won't be anyone to the left of Bush who picks up the lost support.

It will be the anti-war, isolationist right. The paleo-conservatives. Probably with tacit support from the more propertarian faction among the libertarian right, and the backing of Murdoch and co.

Any chance of one of the smarter, more independent minded, anti-war, centrist Republicans taking control of the party next election? Not if the UK conservatives are anything to go by.
Interesting. Captive chimps don't do altruism.

BBC NEWS | Science/Nature | Chimps fall down on friendship

Though is there a possibility that the guy next door was signalling he didn't want the handout? Or rather, not signalling that he did?
Interesting look at the shift from secular nationalism to islamic jihad within the Iraqi bazaar of violence.

Back to Iraq 3.0: A note on Jaysh al-Muhammad

Striking that it's not rival groups supplanting each other, but a growing religious influence inside previously nationalist groups.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Sunday, October 23, 2005

BBC NEWS | Americas | Brazil rejects ban on gun sales
Amusing. Aparently blahsploitation is worth about $8,000.

I think that's too much. There's no way to actually get the money. Interesting to see how it's calculated though

Referendum today in Brazil. The country seems to have voted not to ban the commercial sale of handguns. (Link on the bbc site not working.)

Most people I knew were in favour of the ban. Only my more extreme anarchist brother-in-law argued that the ban would disempower the poor and advantage the state and the rich, given that the police remain armed (and kill thousands each year), and that the rich employ private security guards, who's also retain their right to carry guns.

Mainly the PT and other center-left (and very center-right parties) were in favour of the ban. While the more extreme left and right were against. The argument that won the referendum against the ban seems to have been a rather vague, right-wing "stop taking away our freedoms" and "we need to defend ourselves against criminals" argument rather than "the workers need to arm themselves for the revolution" or "we need to defend ourselves against bad government".

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Ross Mayfield's Weblog: Ward Cunningham on the Crucible of Creativity

Ward left Microsoft and went to Eclipse!

Wow! Wow! Wow!

Is he interested in ProgrammingWithAndInWiki???

Weblog Usability: The Top Ten Design Mistakes (Jakob Nielsen's Alertbox)

Saw this critiqued by Ben Hyde. Sort of agree that none of these look essential problems, but I'm also intrigued. Nielsen is a smart observer of users. I wonder if he's found these things to be real problems?

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Andrew Orlowsky pitches in to the new wikipedia fite.

Traditionally, Wikipedia supporters have responded to criticism in one of several ways. The commonest is: If you don't like an entry, you can fix it yourself. Which is rather like going to a restaurant for a date, being served terrible food, and then being told by the waiter where to find the kitchen. But you didn't come out to cook a meal - you could have done that at home! No matter, roll up your sleeves.

Rubbish! It's like going to a party and complaining that nobody started any interesting conversations, or that no-one brought any decent drinks.

Like a party, wikipedia is a participative community gathering, not a service provided by someone else. You have the right to participate, and with that comes a share of the responsibility.
My take on the the latest anti-wikipedia screed


I would argue, in fact, that the overall quality of an encyclopedia is best judged by its weakest entries rather than its best. What's the worth of an unreliable reference work?


'Now, all the same criticisms can (and should) be hurled at segments of the mainstream media. And yet, at its best, the mainstream media is able to do things that are different from - and, yes, more important than - what bloggers can do.

So why should we judge the mainstream by its best, but the amateurs by their weakest?

Sure, mainstream media *can* produce quality, well researched material, tending away from extremism. But so can blogs.

You want to argue a stronger case : that its more likely for a media *funded* by people buying content (or advertisers) to produce quality than for a pack of amateurs.

I wouldn't be so sure :

If there's an argument to be made that the market for information is better than the gift-economy, its that reader / customers *recognise* quality and switch their custom and attention to it.

But it's increasingly looking as though mainstream media has discovered that it doesn't really need to produce much more than sensationalism, opinion and loose facts in order to win customers.

And if you're going to base your faith in what customers recognise anyway; then why not cut out the middle man and trust the readers to recognise it on wikipedia and in the blogosphere? Are the blogs any worse than media in the hard to measure, but most important metric : 'attention paid to quality'?

Monday, October 17, 2005

A sick front for degenerate cultists. It's blatantly obvious that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is really a badly disguised Cthulhu.

Parents, don't let your kids get involved with these evil people.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

I know the BBC was hamming it up a bit here. But can anyone make the slightest sense of this play?

Is the original book equally non-sensical?
Is blogger this bad?

Google: Kill Blogspot Already!!! (Chris Pirillo)
Kiva is a very interesting microlending initiative. Allows anyone on the internet to make a micro-loan to an entrepreneur in Africa.

Unlike most charitible donations, the lender gets a connection with the individual, including regular updates by email. And possibly repaid. (Micro-credit typically has good repayment rate)

Naomi Klein joins the dots between Neocons and Neoclassical Economics in Iraq.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Did I mention I have a new blog?

Platform Wars is a place for further developing some of the notes I was making on ThoughtStorms:PlatformWars.

Not sure what will come from spinning off some areas of the wiki into blogs (or separate wikis) but I feel more confident now we have RollYo to bring it all back together.
Kettles, frogs and fridges unite on the dark side | The Register

Friday, October 07, 2005

Criticism of Creative Class.

Although doesn't seem to have got the same idea of "creative class" that I did from reading Florida interviews. Kotkin lumps tourism, luxury hotels and sports stadia in with the "creative" cities ideal, wheras I'm pretty sure Florida was pretty scathing about sports stadia and I don't remember anything much about hotels and tourism. The cafes and bars he promoted were very much intended for the local residents, and all arts venues were meant to be small, local, cliquey, rather than large. (Although Tate Modern, Bilbao etc. might be exceptions. But does Kotkin have an argument that *they* didn't pay off?)

Sounds like he's knocking down a straw-man to me.
Daniel Davies is now the most important thinker in the world ;-)
BBC NEWS | Americas | Amazon area threatened by drought
Probably an old joke, but I hadn't heard it before.

Donald Rumsfeld is giving the president his daily briefing. He concludes by saying: "Yesterday, 3 Brazilian soldiers were killed."

"OH NO!" the President exclaims. "That's terrible!"

His staff sits stunned at this display of emotion, nervously watching as the President sits, head in hands.

Finally, the President looks up and asks, "How many is a brazillion?

BBC NEWS | Business | US-Brazil rift on cotton deepens

Thursday, October 06, 2005

War on Humanity????!!!!

He's flipped! In the face of failing popularity he's upping the rhetoric to absurdity.

Oh, and dig the new fascist-look photograph.

Deliberate "tough" stance? Or framed by insurgent sympathisers at the BBC?

And if you think this is all hype, remember he's just started unleashing biological weapons on anti-war protesters, and preparing to declare martial law in the event of avian-flu.

No wonder Jeremiah is freaking

BBC's analysis of Blair's comment on Iran
Got involved in a discussion of FOAF and what it's for over at : Danny Ayers, Raw Blog : Micromodels

I think David Janes understands that applications need to precede specifications because he started off as a screen-scraper. Someone who sees there's an application for the data *before* there's even a machine readable version of it. And he jumps through hoops to try to get at it.

Danny seems keen to conflate this with a completely different issue, whether the *model* is abstractable away from the *syntax* of the file-format. But that's a side-show. The question is whether the model is embedded in (and nourished and sustained by) a practice humans actually want to engage in. Or is it floating optimistically free of such constraints, waiting for someone to take pity on it.

This is not a question of syntax vs. semantics. It's all about semantics vs. pragmatics.
OK. So it's perfectly plausible that knowledge (and people) from Iranian backed Hezbollah has found it's way into the Iraqi resistance.

But that's not surprising. This is the bazaar of violence. It's a market. And markets co-ordinate the actions of people at a distance. They move goods and services and ideas from one part of the world to another.

Globalization means you shouldn't be surprised to find influences from anywhere turning up in Iraq today.

So here's the question. Why is this being escalated up the political agenda? BBC NEWS | Iran 'role' in Iraq bombs - Blair

Why is Tony Blair making an issue out of something so obviously likely to happen?

The only plausible explanation is that he is trying to make political capital out of it. He is trying to put pressure on Iran. Or to build up the "case against Iran" for referal to the UN Security Council. And given recent history, we can only presume that that's intended to pave the way for some kind of punitive action against Iran : either economic (although let's face it, if the US and Europe try to boycott buying oil from Iran, the Chinese and Indians will be laughing like drains); or military.

There's no way a conventional war against Iran is possible. So we're looking at punitive air raids or first nuclear strike. Either way, things are getting fucking scary.

There are a couple of other outside possibilities I suppose. But for them to be true Blair (and his puppetmasters) would have to be spectacularly sneaky or spectacularly dumb. Oh ...

One possibility : maybe they're trying to discredit the UN security council for once and for all. Perhaps, as Iraq goes wrong, people will start to feel that the UN was wise to try to resist. So Blair and Bush try to force yet another showdown in the UN (where, at least China, probably won't authorize any sort of punishment of Iran) and everyone will focus on the unworkability of the whole UN system.

At the other end of the scale. Maybe Blair just doesn't realize that he has no credibility. He might just genuinely believe that if Iranian ideas found their way into Iraq, then there must be official Iranian state backing. And so he assumes that if he gets up and makes this statement, everyone will go "Tut tut! Those wicked Iranians, huh? Something must be done." And then, maybe, the Iranians will feel a bit shamed, and decide to pull back. When in fact, the natural reaction of any sentient creature listening to Blair is, "Yeah, right. You think we're gonna be fooled this time?" And the Iranians are like. "Weeeelll, if you really wanna make something of it ... if you really want us to get involved ..."

Oh. And it's been said often. But it stands repeating. In the most sober, least pissed-off, shrill or argumentative voice possible.

When Blair says : "There is no justification for Iran or any other country interfering in Iraq You know, he sounds like he's starting from the assumption that what's going on in Iraq at the moment is some kind of home-grown dynamic. That the Iraqis are quietly getting on with their business, and obviously it would be wrong for any other countries to come and stick their nose in and affect political and economic structure of Iraq.

We can't tell, of course, whether Blair says that because he's trying to confuse us, or because he's confused himself. But either way, this man is not fit to run a country.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Me (suffering SemWeb angst over at Danny's) :

But, I, Joe Programmer am not a standards organization. There’s no international fribbling commitee to assign UIDs to Nobbins and Gumpies. What do I do???

Monday, October 03, 2005

Quick update on the O'Reilly web 2.0 piece. One thing missing : the blogroll. While O'Reilly definitely gets TheFlowInternet and the importance of RSS when he talks about blogs, he doesn't mention the importance of the blogroll as the other important factor in weaving together the blogosphere as social network.

In fact web 2.0 doesn't mention Friendster, Tribe or Orkut at all. Are social networking sites dead? Perhaps a case can be made that they're the last gasp of web 1.0 with their centralized databases, somehow failing to make the magic of web 2.0 work? Particularly Friendster with it's dumb, old-fashioned attitudes (no fakesters, firing bloggers) etc.

What's the web 2.0 role for YASNS? Or are they going to be eaten alive by a swarm of niche FOAF applications?

The blogroll was the original "wear your social network in public" phenomenon. Is it the original FOAF? Like FOAF, the blogroll was distributed rather than centralized. And available to anyone to read. What does the formal, RDFness of FOAF do that the blogroll didn't? What can FOAF apps learn from the blogroll?
Dave Winer not very magnanimous in victory. But a fascinating story. Listen to the podcast.
Hmmm. The results are in on the BBC's fantasy government survey. Mandela probably deserves to be "most popular politician in the world", but I think the overall team selected would be pretty lousy compared to my choice.

OK, so I'm a megalomaniac. But I think the BBC's poll shows what's wrong with popularity contests.

Mandela and Clinton? Both capable figureheads, but you don't need two. Chomsky (who I admire, but an anarchist in world government?) As the BBC rightly highlights ... no women!

And, apart from Chomsky, no thinkers either. Kofi Annan seems a strange choice to me, though interestingly his inclusion means there are three black Africans in the selection. No Asians though. The only economist is technocrat Alan Greenspan. And what exactly might we expect from both Bill Gates and Steve Jobs working together?

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Oh, by the way. I passed my driving test yesterday. At the grand old age of 36 I'm finally an adult. :-)
Tim O'Reilly explains Web 2.0.

Whatever the merits or problems with the term "Web 2.0" and O'Reilly's attempt to brand it, what is clear is that O'Reilly talks to a bunch of the kind of people I think of as smart and interesting. And very much gets it. (As we used to say back in web 1.0) All the exciting stuff from blogging to wikis and wikipedia to folksonomies to RSS to the long tail to Google etc. etc. is there.

But this raises the intriguing question - what's missing from O'Reilly's radar?

What are the cool things happening at the moment, that 100% fit into the web 2.0 story, but O'Reilly and co. haven't come across?

Anyone got any suggestions?

Update : reading the OReilly piece I'm struck by the emphasis on "data-inside". Especially this : The race is on to own certain classes of core data: location, identity, calendaring of public events, product identifiers and namespaces. ... For example, in the area of identity, PayPal, Amazon's 1-click, and the millions of users of communications systems, may all be legitimate contenders to build a network-wide identity database. (In this regard, Google's recent attempt to use cell phone numbers as an identifier for Gmail accounts may be a step towards embracing and extending the phone system.)

I hadn't noticed this in the web 2.0 debate, but it ties right in with something I've long been focussed on : AddressableThings.

That's a fascinating idea of Google embracing and extending the phone system, too.

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Here's something surprisingly useful.

Rollyo lets you create "search rolls" ie. short lists of sites that you may want to search. In theory, it didn't sound that exciting.

But then I made Synaesmedia search, a roll which searches all my writing : on ThoughtStorms, Blahsploitation, the SdiDesk wiki and Optimaes. Instantly several fragmented domains are unified. If I know I've written something but can't remember where I wrote it, or want to find everything I've said about, say, currencies, then it's now easy.

Given how I've allowed what I say to become fragmented between various venues, this is really useful.