weblogsky: industrial strength weblog and more

Powered by Blogger Pro
RSS feed  Click for geourl
Listed on BlogShares
Technorati Profile

email delivery

Read Weblogsky via email:


EFF-Austin Cyberdawg Social, November 2003.

Austin: Wireless Future, ongoing project / meetings; conference (March 12-16)

SXSW Interactive, Austin (March 12-16)


Polycot helps organizations determine how to build and use effective web technologies to solve problems, build loyalty, share knowledge, and organize projects. For more information, email consult at weblogsky.com, or check out the Polycot Consulting web site.


CEO, Polycot Consulting. Polycot is a network services company: network consulting, installation and administration, as well as web solutions (architecture and development).

Member of the blog team at Another World (worldchanging.com)

Co-Founder of the Austin Wireless City Project

Manager of the Wireless Future Project for IC² Institute

Associated with Rheingold and Associates, Online Social Networking

Moderator and co-administrator at the Dean Issues Forum

Writer of various interviews, reviews, essays, and articles.

President of EFF-Austin

Member, Board of Directors, Austin Freenet

Local advisor for South by Southwest Interactive

Steering Committee Member and Webmaster, Austin Clean Energy Initiative

Member of the blog team for Howard Rheingold's Smart Mobs weblog.

Cohost of The WELL's Inkwell.vue, discussions and interviews.

Webmaestro for Viridian Design

Co-instigator of Austin Bloggers

Member of Mindjack's Board of Advisors.

links worth traveling

weblogsky archives

November 2003

October 2003

September 2003

August 2003

July 2003

June 2003

May 2003

April 2003

March 2003

February 2003

January 2003

December 2002

November 2002

October 2002

September 2002

August 2002

July 2002

June 2002

May 2002

April 2002

March 2002

February 2002

January 2002

December 2001

November 2001

October 2001

September 2001

August 2001

July 2001

June 2001

May 2001

April 2001

Email jonl at weblogsky.com


Thursday, February 28, 2002

An Australian bank director says the US IT industry "singlehandedly wrecked the world economy over the last couple of years."
That's because the promises were large and by the time they were turned into investor promises at the casino end of the equity market, then the investments that were made were entirely unrealistic.
Hey, it's not our fault that carpetbagging entrepreneurs rode in, ignored our advice, and took the stock market to Las Vegas (and then to the cleaners). But he also says some stuff that I agree with:
We should not be confused about why we are using technology: it's about fulfilling customer needs, its about providing productivity and a shareholder return and enhancing the existing business strategy.

If it doesn't meet these tests, then question its value.
And especially this one:
The same technology that was supposed to make us paperless has allowed the proliferation of papers in various forms that has limited productivity.
He should add that much of that paper is still sitting unclaimed and totally disorganized on tables and desks next to the world's printers.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/28/2002 05:11:13 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Wednesday, February 27, 2002

MySQL faq re. the legal dispute with NuSphere. This is the first court test of the GNU General Public License (GPL) that many developers of open source software use. If this is all geek to you, it's worth digging in and following a few links. A good start might be ">Richard Stallman's overview of the GNU Project:

The term "free software" is sometimes misunderstood--it has nothing to do with price. It is about freedom. Here, therefore, is the definition of free software: a program is free software, for you, a particular user, if:

  • You have the freedom to run the program, for any purpose.
  • You have the freedom to modify the program to suit your needs. (To make this freedom effective in practice, you must have access to the source code, since making changes in a program without having the source code is exceedingly difficult.)
  • You have the freedom to redistribute copies, either gratis or for a fee.
  • You have the freedom to distribute modified versions of the program, so that the community can benefit from your improvements.

Since "free" refers to freedom, not to price, there is no contradiction between selling copies and free software. In fact, the freedom to sell copies is crucial: collections of free software sold on CD-ROMs are important for the community, and selling them is an important way to raise funds for free software development. Therefore, a program which people are not free to include on these collections is not free software.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/27/2002 09:40:09 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Excellent piece of media analysis from disinformation... especially sad for those of us who remember Rolling Stone's origins as a flawed but generally responsible counterculture rag. RS today is essentially a tabloid. This piece analyzes an RS article that exploits drug hysteria to sell a few more fishwraps. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/27/2002 05:33:37 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Tuesday, February 26, 2002

"The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN)is the non-profit corporation that was formed to assume responsibility for the IP address space allocation, protocol parameter assignment, domain name system management, and root server system management functions previously performed under U.S. Government contract by IANA and other entities..." (definition quoted from 'About ICANN'. Since the Internet became a kind of reality-substructure, and as in all aspects of reality, MONEY became a factor, ICANN's power over cyberspace real estate meant the organization was gonna be scrutinized and criticized by those folks who understand its power, if not always its internal complexity. Danny Younger, a customer service representative for a leading domain name registrar and Chair of the General Assembly of ICANN's Domain Name Supporting Organization (DNSO), has written a case for replacing ICANN's management team. (I don't pretent to know enough to take a position here, but his case is probably a good introduction if you're interested in understanding why some have issues with ICANN's current leadership. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/26/2002 06:28:20 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Monday, February 25, 2002

So you've built a terrific web site parodying 'Steers Weird, Part 2: Driving Down the Mountain,' and your site, like the film, is a huge success. Then you get a letter from Clarence Dervish, attorney for Loogeyfilms Inc., telling you to cease and goddam desist or you'll be hauled into court for infringement, trademark perforation, and related stuff you can't even pronounce. Where do you turn? The Chilling Effects Clearinghouse is where! [Link]
These pages will help you understand the protections intellectual property laws and the First Amendment give to your online activities. We are excited about the new opportunities the Internet offers individuals to express their views, parody politicians, celebrate their favorite movie stars, or criticize businesses. But we've noticed that not everyone feels the same. Anecdotal evidence suggests that some individuals and corporations are using intellectual property and other laws to silence online users. Certainly intellectual property rights should be respected -- and we hope this site will aid you in doing so -- but they shouldn't be misused to impede legitimate activity.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/25/2002 02:54:31 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Jack Valenti of the Motion Picture Association of America tells us why we can't get more movies online (and few of those we can get are strictly legal). [Link]
The reason pitifully few films are legitimately available on the Internet is not producer hoarding. It is that those valuable creative works can't be adequately protected from theft. The analog format (videocassettes) and the digital format (DVDs) are different. Videocassette piracy costs the movie industry worldwide more than $3.5 billion, even though the sixth or seventh copy of analog becomes unwatchable. But the thousandth copy of digital is as pure as the original. Moreover, digital movies on the Internet can be pilfered and hurled at the speed of light to any spot on the planet. This is what gives movie producers so many Maalox moments.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/25/2002 02:47:36 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

In American Libraries, Karen Schneider tells it like it is about the USA Patriot Act. [Link]
The Patriot Act is not antiterrorism legislation; it’s antispeech legislation, and is no more a direct response to the September 11 attacks than the Children’s Internet Protection Act is a direct result of sincere concern by members of Congress about the safety of minors. The cold, cynical reality is that the Patriot Act is a bloated hodgepodge of speech-chilling law that lurked in congressional corridors not only before September 11 but in large part before the Bush administration. It was hustled into reality in the post-9/11 environment so quickly, secretively, and undemocratically that our Bill of Rights had been clocked with a one-two punch well before any of us realized it was under attack.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/25/2002 05:37:25 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Sunday, February 24, 2002

Cory pointed this one out ... In MIT's Technology Review, Henry Jenkins says "Bloggers are the minutemen of the digital revolution." [Link]
At a time when many dot coms have failed, blogging is on the rise. We’re in a lull between waves of commercialization in digital media, and bloggers are seizing the moment, potentially increasing cultural diversity and lowering barriers to cultural participation.
Dang right! Onward, through the fog!
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/24/2002 04:00:13 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Baby Bells seek permission to pass go, collect $200. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/24/2002 09:24:11 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Saturday, February 23, 2002

If theory is beautiful, then a final theory will be to die for! [Link]
Weinberg shares with Einstein a belief that beauty is a lodestar for fundamental theorists. Einstein's eldest son Hans once said that his father's character was more like that of an artist than a scientist as one usually thinks of them: "[For Einstein], the highest praise for a good theory was not that it was correct nor that it was exact but that it was beautiful." Weinberg's aesthetic sensibilities are equally strong, although he is careful to stress that the beauty of scientific theories is not a synonym for mere attractiveness but a special kind of beauty shared by some great works of art.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/23/2002 02:28:06 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Enron was surreal. The company created a fake trading room on the sixth floor of its Houston office to convince analysts it was truly jammin', and staffed it with a bunch of employees who pretended to be trading but were actually on phones talking to each other. Imagine those conversations. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/23/2002 04:54:12 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Friday, February 22, 2002

RIP Chuck Jones. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/22/2002 09:22:12 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Ever wonder where the call goes when you call 911? The Town House Motor Inn in Safford, Arizona is where.

And how do I know this? Read the back of the card:

posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/22/2002 08:36:43 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

You think online payments are risky? Checks ain't much better. Marsha wrote a check for $600, and when the check cleared our account, it had magically increased to $2708.38 (and bounced, o'course). Shocked that our account was suddenly frozen, Marsha called the bank, got the info, and we all started investigating. The bank looked for the check, but what they found was a "substitute check" for $2708.38 which came through a bank in Ft Worth, Texas. Where the signature would normally be, there's a printed statement that says "Replacement check for lost cash letter on Jan 24." Marsha's understanding from her discussion with various bankers is that the 'cash letter' represented multiple checks. but the other bank ran 'em into a single check processed against our account. I tell you, people, BE VIGILANT.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/22/2002 05:03:35 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

You'll be hearing less radio online if the FCC gets its way. Radio stations, internet companies, and satellite stations will have to go off the air 16 hours a day to do the paperwork. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/22/2002 04:56:04 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits. Art Speigelman and Chip Kidd have created a tribute to the late, great Jack Cole and his silly-putty superhero Plastic Man. Tucson Weekly published this review last month, and of course, you can buy it from Amazon. Plastic Man was a whacko superhero, somewhat surreal, often hilarious. Cole eventually went to work at a hip new slick called Playboy, where he helped create the magazine's visual style. For god only knows what reason, Cole killed himself at the height of his career.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/22/2002 02:09:11 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Public information should be made public! And it should be accessible, which means presenting it in such a way that you get clear, chewy morsels of understanding. Richard Saul Wurman's UNDERSTANDINGST>A>NDING is an excellent source of information, expressed in exceptionally well-done Flash pages. It's great to see Flash used as it was (hopefully) intended, for a change. Link
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/22/2002 12:54:58 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Wednesday, February 20, 2002

Jeff Kramer just sent a link to this page, and it's one of those "aha" moments where you stumble onto something that resonates with everything else you've been reading and thinking... in this case, for a decade or so. In his concise "Innovation Architecture," Peter Morville talks about the tension between innovation and emergence as they relate to information architecture on the web (and you could say he wrote the book, with Louis Rosenfeld). My own work and thinking since 1990 keeps bringing me to "the lessons of complex adaptive systems" he mentions, "using bottom-up methods to incubate online ecologies and economies that exhibit the capacity to learn and evolve over time." Other references: books like Steven Johnson's Emergence, Kevin Kelly's Out of Control, and Ralph Stacey's Complex Responsive Processes in Organizations. [Link]
Can we combine simple elements of innovation architecture to create self-organizing web sites and intranets? Perhaps. But only if we relax control and encourage experimentation.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/20/2002 04:18:41 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Tuesday, February 19, 2002

Scientific American posts an excerpt from Edward O. Wilson's The Future of Life... "The Bottleneck," about the necessity for ecological balance. [Link]
For every person in the world to reach present U.S. levels of consumption with existing technology would require four more planet Earths. The five billion people of the developing countries may never wish to attain this level of profligacy. But in trying to achieve at least a decent standard of living, they have joined the industrial world in erasing the last of the natural environments. At the same time, Homo sapiens has become a geophysical force, the first species in the history of the planet to attain that dubious distinction. We have driven atmospheric carbon dioxide to the highest levels in at least 200,000 years, unbalanced the nitrogen cycle, and contributed to a global warming that will ultimately be bad news everywhere.

In short, we have entered the Century of the Environment, in which the immediate future is usefully conceived as a bottleneck. Science and technology, combined with a lack of self-understanding and a Paleolithic obstinacy, brought us to where we are today. Now science and technology, combined with foresight and moral courage, must see us through the bottleneck and out.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/19/2002 05:57:03 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

German study shows that karma works! [Link]
Without controls, individuals tend to use more than their share of the resource, destroying it for everyone. A common way of dealing with this is to punish the greedy people, which acts as an incentive for others to behave.

An example is the recent unsuccessful attempts to turn public transport systems in Melbourne and Perth into 'honesty' systems. People stopped buying tickets knowing they wouldn't be caught, resulting in the need to employ more and more inspectors to police the system.

The authors of the German study suggest positive reinforcement as an alternative. If people can see others performing good acts then they are more likely to behave in a publicly beneficial way.
(Thanks, Derek!)
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/19/2002 02:39:33 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Monday, February 18, 2002

The Guggenheim Museum has an Internet Art Exhibit. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/18/2002 11:10:01 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Wired News piece about Turn On, an experimental housing vision by Austrian architectural firm Alles Wird Gut. The concept: rooms with rotating functional modules. [Link]
But the most bizarre wheel is the bathroom. Called -- perhaps unfortunately -- the "Wet Cell," the bathroom integrates shower, toilet and bath in one wheel. Whenever you wish to use any function, simply rotate the wheel to access it.

For example, when you take a bath, the toilet is above you, on the ceiling. To use the toilet, rotate the wheel again.
Guys: this is one situation where you want to make sure the lid is closed on the toilet, okay?
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/18/2002 06:21:17 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Bill Weinberg's WWIII Report posted at the InterActivist Info Exchange. Subtitle: Independent Sentinel of Truth in the War on Terrorism Don't know about that, but it's cool to find an alternate perspective on the war du jour that isn't a fog or a mindless rant. You can also subscribe to the report via email: ww3report-subscribe@topica.com [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/18/2002 05:40:23 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Sunday, February 17, 2002

A setback for the community network movement: two important programs supporting expanded access to technology for the 'traditionally underserved' (i.e. minorities and rural communities) had funds reduced in the new budget. The Technology Opportunities Program (TOP) of the US Department of Commerce was cut by 65%, and the Community Technology Centers program (CTC) was cut by 50% (and almost lost all its funding). [Link]
In response to the budget cuts, the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (LCCR) and the Benton Foundation sponsored an emergency meeting February 12th. Over 60 civil rights organizations, foundations, federal, state, and local government entities, and the business community were represented. Many felt that irrespective of party, ideology, or administration, information literacy for all Americans (access to and utilization of technology) is too important an issue to be left to chance.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/17/2002 07:40:42 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Voices of the Holocaust is a UK site created for students, but the recorded testimonies posted there are potent reminders for anybody born late enough to've missed the point of World War II. I'd say let the aryan brotherhood types, and the holocaust revisionists, listen to this stuff... if I thought it would make a difference. [Link]
Transcript of an audio commentary by Barbara Stimler:

"When we got to Auschwitz, which I didn't know it was Auschwitz, I didn't know nothing about it; I did not know about concentration camps, I did not know what was going on at all. When we got there they told us, 'Raus, raus, raus!' They didn't let us take the clothes at all, they started separating women from men. Cries. It was just terrible. The husbands were from wives, the mothers from sons, it was just a nightmare. I started to get diarrhoea, I was sick and diarrhoea, suddenly. We started going through the… through the gate; the SS men were on both sides. And the girls, young people that could see what state I was in, they had a bit of sugar and they started putting sugar in my mouth to revive me. And when they were going through the gates, they were just holding me up, and was left and right, left and right. I went to the right, they told me to go to the right, the SS men. And we had to be…. we were…. they formed us like fifths, five, five, five, we had to stay in five, five girls. And it was dark; it was dark, and they are starting to march us. And can you imagine the screams, the…. the mother was going to the left, the daughter was going to the right, the babies going to the left, the mothers going to the right, or the mothers went together with the babies… Oy oy! I cannot explain to you the cries and the screams, and tearing their hair off. Can you imagine?"
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/17/2002 07:26:32 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Is the Digital Rights Management industry down for the count? [Link]
In a way, it’s a classic chicken-and-egg question: is the digital rights management industry hampered by a failing market, or are e-books floundering for want of better digital-rights technology? Either way, publishers, record and movie studios, and other businesses haven’t given up on the idea of exploiting their valuable content via the Internet—nor are they contemplating distributing it in free or unprotected form, the way Napster once did for them.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/16/2002 03:28:48 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

This is the sort of thing I can worry about: fishing trawlers are wiping out the flora and fauna of the ocean depths... [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/16/2002 03:25:35 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Duncan Frissell on the "national ID card." He says
When you present your National ID to complete a transaction, you will actually be asking the Federal Government for its permission. It converts most significant transactions that you make from private ones to public ones. It creates a government license for all jobs, all travel, all medical care, and many purchases. This is a profoundly troubling departure from American traditions.
Departure? I don't think so... I have to show my ID to fly, to get a job, and to make some purchases (like with a check). The complaints I'm used to hearing are about the government tracking your moves and moods and using a common data store as a record from which red flags may emerge... remember Brazil? The movie, that is, not the country. Anyway, he goes on...
But even if you are you, the ID card is valid, and your transactions aren't suspicious; your right to travel, work, and buy will still likely be blocked by social control measures added by Congress or the administrative bureaucracy. We know that this will happen because that is exactly what *has* happened with drivers licenses. A drivers license once meant that your state considered you a safe driver. Today, you can be denied a license for failing to pay child support, failure to pay traffic and other fines (including library fines), being a non-resident alien, and for hundreds of other "offenses".
Then pay up! I mean, are we saying that there shouldn't be some measures for enforcement here? I mean, if I was a single mom and my ex wasn't paying his child support, losing his license would be the least of his worries, ya know? [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/16/2002 03:18:51 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Evan of Pyra and Blogger has a story to tell about PayPal. Pay heed. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/16/2002 10:28:47 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Friday, February 15, 2002

Forget Hangar 18... the place to store aliens is the Advanced Curation Lab at Johnson Space Center. [Link]
The guest room in this new twist on Southern hospitality includes a pressurized "glovebox" containing a robotic arm, and the whole lab's water and nitrogen "air" are ultrapure.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/15/2002 03:08:13 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Who bugged the Chinese president's plane? Maybe it was an inside job. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/15/2002 03:02:43 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

The Bureau of Inverse Technology is was will be wasn't at it again... [Link]
Bureau has developed the following information products to provide accurate information for the World Economic Forum meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria, New York City Feb 01-04 2002. These projects manifest technical strategies for inserting local information into global debates. NB this document released post hoc for assessment of BIT product performance under actual field conditions.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/15/2002 04:18:25 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Thursday, February 14, 2002

Somebody beat us to the patent office! (United States Patent: 6,341,372 – thanks to Dave Farber for pointing this one out. [Link]
The present invention relates to the creation and use of synthetic forms of existence, or androids, and more specifically relates to the development of a universal epistemological machine in which any forms of the universe, conventional technologies included, are represented, embodied and realized as eternal moments of an infinitely expanding continuum of enabled existential forms, as an alternative approach to resolving the problems of the human condition.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/14/2002 10:10:42 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Speaking of hallucinogenics, we wonder what British Telecom has been has been smoking? "The British telephone company had set out to prove in a U.S. federal court Monday that the company developed and holds a patent to the hyperlink technology used to whisk Web users from one site to another." I think these guys need to be bushwhacked. (Luckily, the judge seems to agree...) [Link]
Upon making the fortuitous discovery that it had developed hyperlinks, BT contacted 17 U.S. ISPs, including America Online and Prodigy, in June 2000, asking them to buy a license to use hyperlinks. After receiving unanimous refusals from the companies they contacted, BT decided to take legal action.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/14/2002 10:02:37 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Feeling paranoid? Check out this web page for Todd Fahey's novel Wisdom's Maw, which is built around Project MK-ULTRA, through which the CIA was researching various brain scrubs and mind control strategies... hypnotism, hallucinogenics, sleep deprivation, television. Urgh, scratch that last one. We like television. [Link]
...appearing front and center in Wisdom's Maw - toward the novel`s premise that the CIA, using LSD, created "The Sixties" for the purpose of containing, then destroying, a burgeoning youth rebellion - are no less than Hunter S. Thompson, the Hell's Angels, Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Al Hubbard and other known and suspected MK-ULTRA spooks, as well as one former Oregon wrestler who shall here go nameless.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/14/2002 09:55:56 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Xena was here? [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/13/2002 06:29:53 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Spinsanity.com's being featured on Salon, which is very cool... but you might want to bookmark their site (right under Salon, o' course) Spinsanity's subtitle is "countering rhetoric with reason"... somebody's gotta do it. Consider it an antidote to those Sunday morning television "news" shows. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/13/2002 06:27:44 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Wireless Internet Service Providers talk about their difficulties deploying in urban areas. (Some of these are rural issues, too, like line o' sight.) ISP Planet - Fixed Wireless - Business - Metro Wireless Obstacles
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/13/2002 05:55:02 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Tuesday, February 12, 2002

More from the Bizarro universe. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/12/2002 08:52:24 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Scene from Miyazaki's 'Spirited Away'
Hayao Miyazaki's new film Spirited Away is a huge hit and Japan, and it's competing for the Gold Bar at the Berlin Film Festival. Ghibli studios promises an English version and American release soon (they're talking to Disney). [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/12/2002 12:49:47 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Open Source Bioinformatics: a piece on Ewan Birney's keynote at last month's O'Reilly-sponsored Bioinformatics conference. Fascinating stuff... [Link]
Ewan went on to make the point that he thinks all the hype surrounding bioinformatics is justified--and there should probably be even more. The recent dramatic decrease in the cost of acquiring biological data will revolutionize many areas of science and medicine, he predicted. He used cancer research as an example, where until recently, scientists were looking at single genes and how they related to a specific type of cancer, the equivalent of looking for a needle in a haystack. The Cancer Genome Anatomy Project is now able to look at every gene and every type of cancer, which is completely changing cancer research, and the expectation is that within five years this research is going to reap great rewards. "It's all about human health," Ewan said.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/12/2002 10:55:20 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Ronald Dworkin argues that counterterrorist legislation like the 'USA Patriot Act' " has ... gone too far ... in displacing the constitutional and legal rights that we have evolved as our own national standard of fair play in the criminal process." [Link]
The most powerful argument in favor of the administration's new measures, however, is very different, and it has undoubted force. What any nation can afford to provide, by way of protection for accused criminals, must at least partly depend on the consequences such protections would have for its own security. The terrorist threat to our security is very great, and perhaps unprecedented, and we cannot be as scrupulous in our concern for the rights of suspected terrorists as we are for the rights of people suspected of less dangerous crimes. As Justice Jackson put it in a now often-quoted remark, we cannot allow our Constitution and our shared sense of decency to become a suicide pact. Professor Tribe put the point this way: it may be right, in more normal times, to allow a hundred guilty defendants to go free rather than convict one innocent one, but we must reconsider that arithmetic when one of the guilty may blow up the rest of Manhattan.[17]

We must, however, take care to distinguish two conclusions that might be thought to follow from these arguments. We might think, first, that the requirements of fairness are fully satisfied, in the case of suspected terrorists, by laxer standards of criminal justice which run an increased risk of convicting innocent people. Or we might think something very different: that even though laxer standards would be unfair we must nevertheless adopt them to protect ourselves from disaster. If we accepted the first conclusion, we would think ourselves justified in setting lower standards of protection for anyone suspected of terrorism, and we would see no reason to attempt to mitigate the heightened risk for innocent suspects by adopting substi-tute protections. If we accept only the second conclusion, however, and concede that we are treating some people unfairly, we should demand a much more discriminating approach. We should insist that government show that unfair treatment is necessary, not for some widely defined category of persons, but, so far as this is practicable, for individual suspects or detainees, one by one. We should also try to mitigate the unfairness in every practicable way when we deem that unfairness necessary. When we treat individual people unfairly for our own safety, we owe them as much individual consideration and accommodation as is consistent with that safety.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/12/2002 07:44:54 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Art as emergence... an interview with Mark Beam of Creative Disturbance. [Link]
There's a huge role for distributed file sharing. It makes total sense and perhaps will be as world-changing as the Web itself. The trick is in the metadata - the organizational structure and tagging system that accurately describes the underlying data. In physical communication between humans there is vast capability to transfer incredibly rich and deep information with just the slightest glance or the most subtle nuance. We should aim for clairvoyance in our augmented realities. God knows we transfer enough information about ourselves to our PC's, laptops, and PDA's. These instruments are incredibly stupid however. Imagine what might happen when biosensors register our body temperature and our line of sight is mapped and matched to previous motion patterns? There may eventually be hundreds of experts with access to 'my files' and who are capable of dramatically extending my senses and capabilities. Of course this can also be quite annoying and invasive, and we may not want to know or have these powers. Ignorance is bliss.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/12/2002 06:00:21 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Mexico's monarch butterfly colonies were mostly wiped out by a winter storm. (NY Times requires registration) [Link]
In the report Dr. Brower, of Sweet Briar College in Sweet Briar, Va., and his colleagues estimated that 74 percent of the monarchs at the Sierra Chincua colony and 80 percent at the Rosario colony had been killed. Along with a few smaller colonies, which scientists have not surveyed, the butterflies in these major colonies make up the entire breeding stock of monarchs for the eastern United States and Canada.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/12/2002 05:59:10 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Monday, February 11, 2002

Art as emergence... an interview with Mark Beam of Creative Disturbance. [Link]
There's a huge role for distributed file sharing. It makes total sense and perhaps will be as world-changing as the Web itself. The trick is in the metadata - the organizational structure and tagging system that accurately describes the underlying data. In physical communication between humans there is vast capability to transfer incredibly rich and deep information with just the slightest glance or the most subtle nuance. We should aim for clairvoyance in our augmented realities. God knows we transfer enough information about ourselves to our PC's, laptops, and PDA's. These instruments are incredibly stupid however. Imagine what might happen when biosensors register our body temperature and our line of sight is mapped and matched to previous motion patterns? There may eventually be hundreds of experts with access to 'my files' and who are capable of dramatically extending my senses and capabilities. Of course this can also be quite annoying and invasive, and we may not want to know or have these powers. Ignorance is bliss.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/11/2002 08:16:26 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

An airline passenger with the unlikely name of Bizarro evidently didn't get that the feds were serious when they made the 30-minute rule for the Salt Lake City Olympics. Guess his bladder was just bursting. His bathroom run 25 minutes before landing might mean 20 years in prison (and since he's 59, that could be the rest of his life!) Unless he pops back into the bizarro universe, that is. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/11/2002 02:28:54 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Anti-globalist activists seek legitimacy so that they can work "inside the system." [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/11/2002 02:16:49 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

How email was critical infrastructure for Americans responding to 9/11. A UCLA study "found that 57.1 percent of e-mail users -- more than 100 million Americans -- received or sent messages of emotional support, messages of concern for others, or questions about victims of the attacks." [Link]
Tens of millions of Americans shared an emotional connection through e-mail after the attacks -- communication that in almost all instances would not have occurred through telephone or letters," said Cole. "This was not simply an exchange of information -- this was a type of 'I care mail'; after the attacks, e-mail users reached out, sent messages of emotional support or concern for others, and looked for information about victims of the attacks. Users established new connections, and reconnected with old relationships.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/11/2002 09:47:09 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Sunday, February 10, 2002

And while we're at it, here's something from EFF:

EFF Action Alert: You Buy It, You Own It! Back Philips vs. Tainted CDs (Feb. 6, 2002)

As many EFF members know from firsthand experience, several record companies are beginning to ship music disks that are dysfunctional. Consumers are buying CDs in a record store or online, paying full price for what they believe is a normal CD, only to return home to discover that the CD won't play on their computers, in their cars and even on certain other CD components. Because corrupt CDs may bear the 'CD' trademark and are sold alongside ordinary CDs, consumers are being fooled into purchasing inferior products.

In mid-January, Philips, the Dutch consumer electronics manufacturer that co-created the CD format and now owns the trademark in the term "CD," came out in favor of consumers in response to this growing problem. Philips started warning record labels about the "troublesome and cumbersome" nature of these disks, noting that dysfunctional disks should not rightfully be called "CDs," and indicated the disks might not wear as well as real CDs.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/10/2002 08:23:47 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Press release relayed by Project Censored:

Committee on Democratic Communications
National Lawyers Guild
240 Stockton Street, 3rd Floor
San Francisco, CA 94108
fax 415.397.9801
e-mail: aakorn@igc.org


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, early today, rejected the National Association of Broadcasters' (NAB) and National Public Radio's (NPR) attempts to silence the microradio movement, and threw out as unconstitutional a law passed by Congress to limit the FCC's Low Power FM ("LPFM") service.

Alan Korn, CDC Litigation Director, states "For years microradio broadcasters tried to get the FCC to approve a low-power radio service that would address the local needs of people in their communities. After years of struggle, the FCC recognized the legitimacy of these efforts, and issued regulations authorizing the licensing of hundreds, if not thousands, of LPFM stations. But the NAB, NPR and Congress refused to leave well enough alone" Korn said.

In response, the National Association of Broadcasters and National Public Radio lobbied Congress to overturn the FCC's Low Power Radio service and protect their economic and corporate interests that dominate the airwaves. Congress dutifully drafted legislation pursuant to the NAB's and NPR's request. The influence that Enron exercised over the Bush White House pales in comparison to the power that the NAB holds over the Congress.

Today's decision is unquestionably a victory for the microradio movement. Today's court's decision is typified by the incredulity with which it evaluated the government's argument that Congress did not intend to regulate the content of microradio broadcasts. Rejecting the government's claim, the court suggested instead that Congress' "objective was not to increase regulatory compliance, but to penalize microbroadcasters' 'message'."

This morning's decision is the culmination of the efforts of thousands of microradio broadcasters who had the courage to take to the airwaves in spite of regulations prohibiting anybody but the rich from broadcasting, and to their legal supporters: the National Lawyers Guild Center for Democratic Communications, the Center for Constitutional Rights, and in particular to Robert Perry and Barbara Olshansky.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/10/2002 08:18:45 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Saturday, February 09, 2002

The Association of Computing Machinery announced the Turing Award for 2001 last Tuesday.
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has presented the 2001 A.M. Turing Award, considered the "Nobel Prize of Computing," to Ole-Johan Dahl and Kristen Nygaard of Norway for their role in the invention of object-oriented programming, the most widely used programming model today. Their work has led to a fundamental change in how software systems are designed and programmed, resulting in reusable, reliable, scalable applications that have streamlined the process of writing software code and facilitated software programming. Current object-oriented programming languages include C++ and Java, both widely used in programming a wide range of applications from large-scale distributed systems to small, personal applications, including personal computers, home entertainment devices, and standalone arcade applications.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/9/2002 01:51:37 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Steven Johnson discusses his new book Emergence: The Connected Lies of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software in Inkwell.vue on The WELL.. The book describes how adaptive intelligence emerges from the complex interactions of relatively simpler entities... ant colonies are an example, as are cities. Emergence is an aspect of software, as well, where complex behaviors can emerge from simple rules. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/9/2002 01:38:26 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Friday, February 08, 2002

Dell cover, 1969.

Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me

Found this excerpt from Been Down in some archived files from a webzine I used to edit called TazMedia. I found this book when I was 19 or 20 and figured it was pretty cool (though prepostmodern profesore Joe Kruppa at the University of Texas thought it was pedestrian when I suggested writing an honors dissertation about it...everybody and his uncle's brother was writing about Gravity's Rainbow at the time, and I probably would've, too, but I fled from academia for a while, influenced, of course, by Fariña's character Gnossos Pappadopoulis, who figured he was immune.

Of course, nobody's immune.

My late friend Bill Morton and I read and re-read the book and spent a lot of time bopping around Texas shouting "Beware the Monkey Demon" at unsuspecting drugstore truckdriving d00ds who figured we were dropping grass or smoking acid.

Oh, yeah... there was a movie, too, with Barry Primus as Gnossos... an abomination. They filtered Fariña's vision through soapy glass and it came out like an episode of The Young and the Restless. Go figure.

"All about them the golden girls, shopping for dainties in Lairville. Even in the midst of the wild-maned winter's chill, skipping about in sneakers and sweatsocks, cream-colored raincoats. A generation in the mold, the Great White Pattern Maker lying in his prosperous bed, grinning while the liquid cools. But he does not know my bellows. Someone there is who will huff and will puff. The sophomores in their new junior blazers, like Saturday's magazines out on Thursday. Freshly covered textbooks from the campus store, slide rules dangling in leather, sheathed broadswords, chinos scrubbed to the virgin fiber, starch pressed into straightrazor creases, Oxford shirts buttoned down under crewneck sweaters, blue eyes bobbing everywhere, stunned by the android synthesis of one-a-day vitamins, Tropicana orange juice, fresh country eggs, Kraft homogenized cheese, tetrapacks of fortified milk, Cheerios with sun-ripened bananas, corn-flake-breaded chicken, hot fudge sundaes, Dairy Queen root beer floats, cheeseburgers, hybrid creamed corn, riboflavin extract, brewer's yeast, crunchy peanut butter, tuna fish casseroles, pancakes and imitation maple syrup, chuck steaks, occasional Maine lobster, Social Tea biscuits, defatted wheat germ, Kellogg's Concentrate, chopped string beans, Wonderbread, Bosco, onion rings, escarole salads, lentil stews, sundry fowl innards, Pecan Sandies, Almond Joys, aureomycin, penicillin, antitetanus toxoid, smallpox vaccine, Alka-Seltzer, Empirin, Vicks VapoRub, Arrid with chlorophyll, Super Anahist nose spray, Dristan decongestant, billions of cubic feet of wholesome, reconditioned breathing air, and the more sholesome breeds of fraternal exercise available to Western man. Ah, the regimented good will and force-fed confidence of those who are not meek but will inherit the earth all the same."

– Richard Fariña, 1966

About Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me, Thomas Pynchon (Fariña's college roommate) wrote:

"This book comes on like the Hallelujah Chorus done by 200 kazoo players with perfect pitch, I mean strong, swinging, skillful and reverent--but also with the fine brassy buzz of irreverence in there too. Fari¤a has going for him an unerring and virtuoso instinct aboiut exactly what, in this bewildering Republic, is serious and what cannot possibly be...."
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/8/2002 03:15:47 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Thursday, February 07, 2002

Blogged at bOING bOING, from the New York Post's web site... Gene Simmons of KISS talks trash to Terry Gross of NPR's Fresh Air. "The notion is if you're going to welcome me with open arms you also have to welcome me with open legs."
At one point, Gross asked Simmons about his "studded codpiece."
"It holds my manhood, otherwise it would be too much for you to take," Simmons said. "You'd have to put the book down and confront life."

posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/7/2002 08:02:28 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Found a poem I wrote over 30 years ago. At the time I sent it to Allen Ginsberg along with a letter complaining about my life... he responded with a postcard (since lost) calling my letter "peter pan yak"... but he did like the poem!


Hamlet entering
his father's house
after death:
a sudden shadow,
a ghost--

the television screen
and I sip
stale beer.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/7/2002 07:46:47 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Scientific American article on "television addiction" also talks about computer and video game, er, abuse.
For growing numbers of people, the life they lead online may often seem more important, more immediate and more intense than the life they lead face-to-face. Maintaining control over one's media habits is more of a challenge today than it has ever been. TV sets and computers are everywhere. But the small screen and the Internet need not interfere with the quality of the rest of one's life. In its easy provision of relaxation and escape, television can be beneficial in limited doses. Yet when the habit interferes with the ability to grow, to learn new things, to lead an active life, then it does constitute a kind of dependence and should be taken seriously.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/7/2002 07:42:02 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Wednesday, February 06, 2002

If UFO's exist, this is their view as they travel our way from distant galaxies.[Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/6/2002 07:40:53 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Interesting hard drive hack... in a perfect world this wouldn't be necessary, because they'd build 'em this way, no? Thanks to Cynbe by way of Sandy [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/6/2002 03:34:01 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

I was sitting around with the members of a seminar on death and transfiguration the other night when the word 'foo' came up in a distinctly postmodern context, and we were wondering about its origin. One person thought it was derived from the acro fubar, and the professor (Sandy Stone) remembered the assocation with Bill Holman's Smokey Stover comic strip. Found a comprehensive definition... has all that stuff and more. (Foo is a metasyntactic variable, for those who dig labels. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/6/2002 01:55:59 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Want a play-by-play of the World Economic Forum protests in NYC? Indymedia has a "breaking news" page at the NYC site. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/6/2002 01:13:13 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Poke around the South by Southwest (SXSW) Interactive web site... this is one jammin' conference, even given the tight sphincter around web biz spending at the moment. SXSW gets into business and technical aspects of the web, but it does more than any conference I know to address web culture as well. Also note that my partners and I, along with our bOING bOING buddies, are planning a big PARTY at the conf. I'll post more about that later... [Link to top page for SXSW panels.]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/6/2002 09:12:50 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Monday, February 04, 2002

From bOING bOING blog: Marion Pritchard is a quite, shy grandmother living in Vermont, but she's also a hero of the second world war, a woman who saved Jewish children from Nazi persecution and ultimate execution, who stormed a house to rescue a two-year-old from torture, who even killed one Nazi to caught her hiding some Polish Jews. She was imprisoned by the Nazis, but went right back to work when she was freed. Later she married an American, moved to the U.S., and settled in Vermont. Few knew her story until recently, when Vermont legislators approved gay marriages, after which "...anti-gay rhetoric spawned something darker. Swastikas began to appear all around her, on lawns and mailboxes and the elementary school across the street from her office. She couldn't keep quiet any longer." She wrote the local newspaper, reminding them about that Hitler thing they seemed to have forgot.
It often happens this way. Pritchard's family doesn't get too excited about her daring past. They glide over the fact that she rescued scores of children from the Holocaust, survived seven months in a Nazi prison and killed one Nazi who got in her way. They take for granted that Grandma is a war hero--or else they can't quite believe it. The stories of extraordinary bravery don't fit with the aproned woman they see before them, who is frightened of squirrels and public speaking and who feels guilty when she swats a fly.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/4/2002 05:49:26 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Sunday, February 03, 2002

Worried about the detainees at Guantanamo? Don't be: they're treated far better than the visiting press corps, according to this piece from The Weekly Standard. {Link: Guantanamo's Unhappy Campers}
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/3/2002 06:16:21 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

The Taliban's left Afghanistan... now the infighting begins. Salif Ullah wont't relinguish his control of Gardez to Badshah Khan, the new governor appointed by Hamid Karzai. Khan and Ullah are fighting for control of the area. You can see where this is going:
Beneath the petrol station, whose mud walls vibrated with massive explosion and rocket fire, an old man, who had just fled the city center, burst into a room. "There are dozens of corpses littering the streets, and I watched seven men bleed to death," says Haji Tur Gul. "We want this stopped. Why don't the Americans bomb these renegades who won't permit our president's governor to enter his own capital?"
It ain't over 'til it's over...   [Link.]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 2/3/2002 06:10:25 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons License.

Hibiscus by Jon L.


Interview with David Weinberger for SXSW Interactive Conference's Tech Report

Discussion with Bruce Sterling at The WELL, January 3 - 17, 2003.

Jon L. interview for South by Southwest Interactive conference's Tech Report.

Jon L. interviewed by Adam Powell (5/13/2002)

jonl interviewed by R. U. Sirius (A version of this interview appeared in The Austin Chronicle)

Conversation with Bruce Sterling at the WELL's Inkwell.vue Forum

Interview with R.U. Sirius at CTHEORY

interview conducted by Yoshihiro Kaneda in conjunction with the publication in Japan, in the book CyberRevolution, the essay "Inforeal."

interview with Allucquere Rosanne Stone.

No Stone Untenured: May '98 Interview with Sandy Stone

Bruce Sterling interview for bOING bOING #9

The Tedium is the Message, Assholes: Interview (for AltX) with R.U. Sirius and St. Jude

Don't Believe the Hype (Austin Digerati Roundtable published January 28)

Why We Listen to What They Say: Interview with Doug Rushkoff

Interviews with
Doug Block and Michael Wolff

Projecting the 21st Century: An Interview with Gary Chapman

Information Junkie, an interview with Reva Basch (Researching Online for Dummies)

Webb on the Web

Wired to Virtual Reality: Interview with Howard Rheingold

Interview with Carla Sinclair, author of Signal to Noise

Making Movies on Cyber Location: an interview with director Doug Block (Austin Chronicle, February 1998)

Untangling the Web: interview with Gene Crick of MAIN and Sue Beckwith of Austin Freenet


Review of Paulina Borsook's Cyberselfish, in Whole Earth Magazine.

review in HotWired of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest.

Cyber Top Ten for 1997 (Austin Chronicle, December 1997)


2001 Blues
in Rewired

What Happened to the Cyber Revolution?
in Signum

A Few Points about Online Activism in the March '99 issue of the UK journal Cybersociology

ZapSpace, published as A Fistful of DOS in the Australian magazine 21C

The Cyborganic Path from the April '97 issue of CMC Magazine

Essay: Are We a Nation? We Are Devo in The Ethical Spectacle.

Chaos Politics!

Fiction that Bleeds Truth!


Little Nemo in Slumberland (bOING bOING, February 1998)

Technopolitics, a 1997 essay on cyberactivism originally appearing in the Australian magazine 21C.

Your 15 Minutes Are Up, Mr. Gates!

1998 Top Nine List from the Austin Chronicle!

Dungeons and Draggin's: a look at the Ultima Online phenomenon

"We Do Cool Things": a profile of Austin's George Sanger, aka The Fatman, and Team Fat

The Opera Ain't Over 'til the Cyber Lady Sings: Honoria in Ciberspazio (Austin Chronicle, November 1997)

Shout Spamalam! The Austin Spam Suit

Election Notes 2000

Who Are You? Who Owns You? A consideration of Amazon's privacy policy.

Nodal Politics

Amicus Brief filed with Supreme Court regarding the "Communications Decency Act"

11.25.96 Freewheelin' in Austin

1.7.97 Cyberdawgs and CyberRights: EFF-Austin

2.25.97 VR in 3Space: Brian Park

1.28.97 Going Native in Cyberspace: Bob Anderson

3.25.97 A Parisian Spring in Austin: Joseph Rowe and Catherine Braslavsky

4.22.97 On a Rock and Roll Firetruck: Shawn Phillips

Search the web Search weblogsky.com