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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.

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Email jonl at weblogsky.com


Wednesday, July 31, 2002
Saint Juan Diego

The Pope is in Mexico to canonize Juan Diego, the Indian who saw the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531. This is a big deal in a couple of ways. First, Juan Diego is the first native American to be sainted, and second, it brings further legitimacy and attention to a significant cultural icon for the Americas. The story is that Juan Diego encountered a beautiful woman, accompanied by special effects (lights, music), who said she was the Virgin Mary. He mentioned this to the local bishop, who wasn't having any of it... he wanted proof. When Juan D. met her again, the lady told him to pick roses and take them to the bishop in his cloak. He did so, and when he unfolded the cloak, her image was on it. The cloak was preserved and still hangs in the basilica in Mexico City. The image from the cloak recurs throughout the Americas, a ubiquitous and persistent cultural and spiritual icon. [Link]
Debate has intensified in recent months over Juan Diego, who some believe never existed. Several Mexican priests unsuccessfully petitioned the Vatican to delay the canonization because of the doubts. Canonization is the process by which the Roman Catholic church declares someone a sain
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/31/2002 11:42:33 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Cruft Analysis!

Measure your PC's march down the road to decrepitude with this too-true method devised by Verity Stob of Dr. Dobb's. "When you spot a class interface that is no longer used by any client, but that nobody dare delete, that's cruft." (Thanks, Sandy) [Link]
Cruft Force 7. Wounded. Description: No longer able to logon using original account as the system freezes, so must logon as "Verity2" or similar.

There are now nine items in BOOT.INI: the original W2K starter, a brace of two-entries-each NT4s (one Turkish), a Windows 98, and three assorted Linuxen. Left to start up by itself, the machine chooses a broken installation of SUSE and halts with a kernel panic.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/31/2002 11:41:33 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

ArmadilloCon 2002

If you're in or near Austin, don't miss Armadillocon, Austin's annual science fiction conference, August 16-18. Bruce Sterling and yours truly, along with Sara Felix and Lynn Bender, will appear on a blog panel at 4pm on the 16th. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/31/2002 11:40:22 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Saturday, July 27, 2002
NASA's Visible Earth

NASA's Visible Earth web site is rich with categorized high-resolution images of the earth from space. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/27/2002 01:48:50 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

"The Light..."

Blogger published a pointer to this page from the Wall Street Journal, an editorial called "The Light That Didn't Fail" by Peggy Noonan about "all that's right with our great country." Good thing to see in the middle of this godawful national funk... and she includes blogging... [Link]
Blogging. The 24-7 opinion sites that offer free speech at its straightest, truest, wildest, most uncensored, most thoughtful, most strange. Thousands of independent information entrepreneurs are informing, arguing, adding information. Imagine if we'd had them in 1776: "As I wrote in yesterday's lead item on SamAdams.com, my well meaning cousin John continues his grammatical nitpicking with Jefferson (link requires registration) 'Inalienable,' 'unalienable,' whatever. Boys, let's fight. Start the war." Blogs may one hard day become clearinghouses for civil support and information when other lines, under new pressure, break down.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/27/2002 01:44:32 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Friday, July 26, 2002
Spam Blocking vs Spam Filtering

It is amusing but also a little irritating that, after years of active opposition to spam including involvement in what was probably the first successful lawsuit against a spammer, my own emails are blocked as spam by scn.org. Evidently scn has blocked emails originating from Time-Warner's Roadrunner broadband service, which is my broadband provider.

Blocking whole domains is an unfortunate method for handling the problem of spam, because it can result in the rejection of legitimate messages. Consider how many users a service like Roadrunner has: of course there might be spammers passing messages through the rr.com smtp services, but what might you lose if you block the rr.com smtp? It's like asking the post office to block all mail from California because you received a few junk mails with a California return address.

Much more effective is a strategy that supports filtering, like SpamAssassin's, where emails are categorized and scored based on characteristics that suggest spam. If the score is greater than five, the message is not rejected but marked so that you can filter it into an email box for spam, and review messages before deleting them to ensure that you're not rejecting something of real value.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/26/2002 06:06:10 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
The world will end unless it doesn't.

This article suggests that an asteroid is on a collision course with earth and "has now become the most threatening object in the short history of asteroid detection." The collision would be in 2019, but because there's a large margin of error, scientists suggest that additional observations will likely eliminate the probability of collision. [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/24/2002 11:27:57 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

More from the "Blogging's not a fad, it's a killer app" department

I hate to go meta so often, but these dang articles about blogging keep popping up, and some are pretty good. I like this one (by John Foley in Information Week, probably the most clueful I've read so far. Like this: " A blog is essentially a repository of a person's intellectual capital--a record of their thoughts, observations, contributions. People may switch employers, but they'll take with them electronic journals of their best ideas. Blogging is a way to protect the most important brand of all: yourself." And dig the longer quote below, about blogging in the workplace and the implications for knowledge management and training (including the potential down side). InformationWeek > Blogging > Are You Blogging Yet? > [Link] For companies that go down this path, the trick is to capitalize on the mental energy that's unleashed by blogging. In the business world, after all, the destination counts more than the personal journey. "Unless people take the effort to get something else going, all you have is interesting discussion. It doesn't move much beyond that," says Andy Chen, a blogger (kumquat.weblogs.com) and chief technology officer at Quovix LLC (http://www.quovix.com), a company that develops software and processes for building electronic communities. Chen has given a lot of thought to the life cycle of ideas, which he describes in three stages: water, slush, and ice. In the water stage, ideas are tossed around freely, but they tend to be intellectual exercises. The goal, Chen says, is to push ideas to the ice stage, where dedicated resources and action plans can lead to business opportunities.

Corporate cultures will need to change if blogging is to fulfill its promise as a tool for collaborative business. There's a "reluctance to open the floodgates of letting opinions fly around and not be able to control that," Chen says. Good point. There's little reason to invest in this democratizing application if strict authority remains the status quo. On the other hand, companies that blog need to be prepared for the bad ideas, disagreements, and general dissonance that might also be generated by the system. "If there's anything blogs aren't, it's succinct and direct," says Dinsdale. The flip side of blogging for business innovation would be this: hours wasted recording, reading, and responding to low-value meanderings. There's a risk of getting bogged down in blogs.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/24/2002 05:46:00 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Tuesday, July 23, 2002

Bruce Sterling on 21st century ubiquitous computing (ubicomp) technology as a platform for emergency response. [Link]
You don't want to wander into a Kazaa and Napster version of George Orwell. Ubiquitous computation, unlike information, does not "want to be free." This is not a technology of freedom. Ubiquitous computation wants to make you its slave. Try to remember that, for all our sakes, all right? This is not a water-cooler for gossip, like the Internet is. This is a hard-case, hard-times, hands-on, rather ruthless command-and-control system.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/23/2002 12:17:37 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Monday, July 22, 2002
Free software activists protest anti-copying technologies (News.com)

Declan McCullagh of News.com tells how free software activists spoke out at last Wednesday's commerce dept. meeting on the subject of digital rights management. Declan also posted photos on his personal web site. The issue was the exclusion of the free software community from the 'official' group, which included MPAA, Walt Disney, the Recording Industry Association of America, Microsoft, Intel, News Corp., the Home Recording Rights Coalition, and digitalconsumer.org. [Link]
The assembled band of free software devotees said later that they believed they had won a commitment from the Commerce Department to include a representative in a future roundtable. But Bond did not seem to agree. "I'm not going to be dictated to," he said.

Valenti predicted the U.S. government would need to intervene in the debate over digital content and set security standards. The MPAA has welcomed a bill, written by Senate Commerce Chairman Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., that restricts technology not adhering to government-approved "standard security technologies."

Jack Valenti The legendary lobbyist also said that he never "wanted to abolish the VCR" but acknowledged he had used vivid language during the debate in Congress in the 1980s. In 1982, he told a House committee that "the VCR is to the American film producer and the American public as the Boston strangler is to the woman home alone." [So much for Valenti's predictive ability... - Jon L.]

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/22/2002 07:36:47 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Poynter to Blogsphere!

Poyner.org has published a backgrounder on weblogs, focusing on their use by journalists. The article has a link to a resource page with several links to meta pages about, or pointing to, blogs. There's so many blogs now and so many variations on blog 'form' that I'm beginning to think we can start calling them, er, web pages! [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/22/2002 07:21:15 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Sunday, July 21, 2002
Alan Lomax, Ethnomusical Anthropologist, 1915-2002

Alan Lomax passed away the morning of July 19. Because I love music, and because my love of music began with jazz, rock and roll, and blues (in that order), I've been seeing references to Lomax most of my life. Without him, we might have lost essential pieces of American musical culture or known them only by written reference. He and his father John Lomax developed the Library of Congress' Archive of American Folksong and did substantial work in American ethnomusicology, hauling whatever sound equipment was current and available into the field and capturing whole libraries of America's musical roots, including Huddie Ledbetter (Leadbelly), Jelly Roll Morton, McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters), and many others. This site includes his autobiographical Saga of a Folksong Hunter as well as a list of his field trips, bio, etc. – even some tunes! [Link]
(From Saga: In the early days, when we were taking notes with our recording machine for that imaginary American opera or for our own books, we normally recorded only a stanza or two of a song. The Edison recorder of that first summer was succeeded by a portable disc machine that embossed a sound track on a well-greased aluminum platter; but the sur­face scratch was thunderous, and besides, we were too hard­pressed for money to be prodigal with discs. Now, the recol­lection of all the full-bodied performances we cut short still gives me twinges of conscience. Even more painful is the thought that many of the finest things we gathered for the Library of Congress are on those cursed aluminum records; they will probably outlast the century, complete with acoustic properties that render them unendurable to all but the hardiest ears.

This barbaric practice of recording sample tunes did not continue for long, for our work had found a home in the Archive of American Folk Song, established in the Library of Congress by the late Herbert Putnam, then Librarian, and there were funds for plenty of discs. By then, we had also come to realize that the practice among the folk of varying the tune from stanza to stanza of a long song was an art both ancient in tradition and subtle in execution- one which deserved to be documented in full. So it was that we began to record the songs in their entirety.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/21/2002 01:27:58 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Yahoo! Groups : smygo Messages :Message 2835 of 2835

European activist groups were infiltrated by Manfred Schlickenrieder, a spy working for a business intelligence bureau, Hakluyt & Company, based in London and linked to British foreign intelligence. The text version of the piece that's linked here from smygo, written by Eveline Lubbers and originally appearing in PR Watch, refers to Schlickenrieder as 'a freelance spy' who might've worked for government agencies as well as Hakluyt. He spied on organizations like Greenpeace. Intelligence agencies are also interested in groups that oppose corporate globalization. [Link]this pdf file from PR Watch.

My own opinion is that evolving global corporations would gain more from dialog with activists than from these spy games, which suggest a paranoia that is perhaps too extreme. Or is it that some corporations fear that activists will ultimately stumble onto something they'd rather hide? (Thinking of Enron and Worldcom...)

In 2001 the FBI listed "anarchist and extremist socialist groups" such as the Workers' World Party, Reclaim the Streets and Carnival Against Capitalism as a "potential threat" to the United States. Reclaim the Streets is actually more a tactic than a movement or organization. In 1996, activists in England decided to hold the first RTS "street party," a daytime rave with a political spin, complete with sound system, dancing, and party games, in the middle of a busy intersection. The party aimed to temporarily "reclaim" the street from cars and point out how capitalism and car culture deprive people of public space and opportunities for festivals.

The fact that dancing in the street could become terrorism in the eyes of the FBI can only be explained by the aftershock of Seattle, where, according to the FBI, "anarchists, operating individually and in groups, caused much of the damage." This statement, made on May 10, 2001, mentioned these groups as part of "The Domestic Terrorism Threat," soon after a section on "The International Terrorist Situation" featuring Osama bin Laden and individuals affiliated with Al Qaeda. The attacks on the World Trade Center four months later illustrate the enormous disproportion between the two "threats."

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/21/2002 07:44:35 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

The (Spooky) return of 21C

Paul D. Miller (aka DJ Spooky) and Ash Crawford have revived 21C, the technoculture slickzine originally published in Australia. The new version is a webzine, but a print version is forthcoming. Amonth the articles... Jaron Lanier on his role as one builder of Minority Report's vision of the future, and DJ Spooky on the Sonar electronic music festival in Europe. [Link]
Sonar. Like any street corner intersection in the city, you have to always look in every direction, and that's what makes this kind of electronic music just as fun to create to as to listen to. That's one of the core issues for me for the festival. How to balance between all of the new impulses electronic music has unleashed in us. Whether its "electro" retro-1980's techno, hip-hop, drum n bass, or whatever title you want to call it, the basic sense is of total theater. Think of Wagner's "gesmakunstwerk" mixed with, oh, I don't know, Basement Jaxx's "Where's Your Head at" that was directed by TRAKTOR or the Avalanche's Kuntz & Macguire directed "Frontier Psychiatry" - check the vibe: pop culture staged as a freak show, cracked up musicians from the planet of the apes, every musical element on the stage of the theater of the mind gets its proper musical meaning - the patients entire analytic scene lies open: a nightmare come to the surface. Think of the circumstances: we all use software, we all use programming. What changes the mixes are the cultural conditions each person brings to the situation. What Guy Debord called the "dérive" you flip and take out the é and get: drive. Or even better, think of it in the same way that Gaudi used surface elements for his architecture of the unconscious in Barcelona. The impulses are the same. The format is what's different. Use your eyes to hear and your ears to see - check the rhythm reality. Basically, its a new way of doing something that's been with us as humans for a long time: creating with found objects. The rotation gets thick. The constraints get thin. The mix breaks free of the old associations. New contexts form from old. The script gets flipped. The languages evolve and learn to speak in new forms, new thoughts: the sound of thought becomes legible again at the edge of the new meanings. After all, you have to learn a new syntax but the modus operandi remains the same... Think of it as an inheritance from Charles Babbage's "Difference engine" - but alot more fun. With no specific hardware to weigh you down, the mix becomes open ended - a new kind of magic opens up the situation to all sorts of interpretations in that liminal space between physical and non-material space - music is how we interpret the process - the graphic interface of urban culture translated into digital environment. Sonar. Sound Text.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/21/2002 06:41:30 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Saturday, July 20, 2002
Cuban Underwater Mystery

Ocean engineers have discovered a possible "sunken city" in the waters of Cabo de San Antonio,just off Cuba's western tip. The megalithic stones discovered so far are granite, which is not native to Cuba. They could be the result of some natural process, but according to geologist Manuel Iturralde-Vinent, they "are not easy to understand and I do not have any easy explanation for them in a natural geological process." [Discuss] [Link]
The stone we recovered from ocean bottom is very polished granite. All of the peninsula of northwest part of Cuba, all of this peninsula is limestone, very fractured limestone. So, geologically, it (megalithic granite structures) is totally foreign to Cuba. But it's also not known in Yucatan because Yucatan is also limestone, not granite. Granite is found only in the center of Mexico.

It covers approximately a beautiful, beautiful, flat, clean area. Nothing else in this area. And it covers approximately 20 square kilometers of this area. It's flat, completely flat. Huge white silicon field. In the middle of all of that are these megalithic structures surfacing out of it.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/20/2002 04:57:54 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Gilmore v. Ashcroft

John Gilmore is suing the federal government over an unpublished regulation requiring airling passengers to provide identification in order to travel. [Discuss] [Link]
Gilmore v. Ashcroft, filed today in Federal Court for the Northern District of California, challenges every secret regulation that demands identification from innocent citizens, or restricts their domestic travel. Such regulations are unconstitutional because they are unpublished; require government agents to search and seize citizens who are not suspected of crimes; burden the rights to travel, associate, and petition the government; and discriminate against those who choose anonymity. The case also argues that because the regulations are secret, they violate the Freedom of Information Act.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/20/2002 03:17:18 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Thursday, July 18, 2002
Life sentences for hackers?

This MSNBC headline was kind of chilling, especially if you're attached to the original definition of hacker, before it was conlfated with cracker and became a pejorative term. Also spooky is the escalation of police power as structures for police accountability seem to diminish. Slippery slope? On the other hand, we all know that as more and more critical systems (i.e. financial systems, government databases, systems for controlling physical infrastructure, etc.) depend on digital networks, the more vulnerable we become to 'cyber' attack. The hell of it is that we're not getting much time for informed debate. [Discuss] [Link]
“Until we secure our cyber infrastructure, a few keystrokes and an Internet connection is all one needs to disable the economy and endanger lives,” sponsor Lamar Smith, R-Tex., said earlier this year. “A mouse can be just as dangerous as a bullet or a bomb.”
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/18/2002 08:05:39 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Tuesday, July 16, 2002
Dig Infinity!

Oliver Trager's discussing his biography of Lord Buckley, Dig Infinity!, in the WELL's Inkwell.vue conference. If you have questions or comments you'd like to see posted in the interview, send to inkwell-hosts@well.com. Lord Buckley's open-form word jazz, forged from influences including the language of the streets, hip slang, and a parodic form of atristocratic jive, influenced the performance art we call 'standup comedy'...as well as rock 'n roll and, perhaps, the beebop rhythms over everyday speech in some quarters. [Discuss] [Link]
And yes, Lord B could never be put into a box. Really, I hardly ever even describe him as a comic. More like visionary storyteller. I think using the word "comic" sets up certain expectations that are just not there. Describe him as a comic and the uninitiated is waiting for the punchline that never comes. I think of almost like quantum physics where if you set up an experiment to find the wave, you'll find the wave. If you set up the experiment to find the particle you'll find the particle. With Buckley, if you listen for the comic you will hear it. But if you listen for the sage philopsopher you will hear the sage philosopher. If you listen for the post-modernist storytelley you'll hear that. If you listen for the holy fool jazzster goofball, you'll hear that. Me? I can usually hear them all simultaneously but that took years of work. Perhaps "Meta-comic" works best.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/16/2002 07:05:30 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Sunday, July 14, 2002
Reveral of earth's magnetic poles imminent?

If you're not feeling apocalyptic enough already, consider the evidence that the earth's magnetic poles are on the verge of a reversal, the impact of which might be catastrophic. [Discuss] [Link]
We know the magnetic polarity goes topsy-turvy from rocks on the bed of the Atlantic Ocean. Along the middle of the Atlantic runs a gigantic crack from which lava oozes. As the lava solidifies into rock, it records the Earth's magnetic polarity at the time. These records show that we are due for another flip about now. But the Earth does not keep a regular rhythm, so no one could make a prediction based on past performance alone. There is, however, more convincing proof that we are heading for a tumble. Each time the magnetic field heads for a reversal, it grows weaker over several thousand years until it almost disappears. Then it switches and starts up again with renewed vigour.

Magnetism trapped in ancient pottery shows that over the past 4,000 years, the magnetic field has weakened by more than 50%. This past century, the strength has dropped by 5%. At this rate, the field might disappear in the next few hundred or thousand years. Another warning sign of an imminent flip has come recently from satellite measurements of the Earth's magnetic field.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/14/2002 05:42:18 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Secret messages hidden in images?

Many people assume Al Qaeda are passing encrypted messages through images on ebay or azzam.com because news sources have been floating the rumor, (Notice how many rumors are reported as news these days? Or perhaps you didn't notice, and perhaps that is the point.) Declan McCullagh publishes several email messages that question whether terrorists are actually using steganography to hide messages in images. According to Declan's correspondents, there's little evidence to support the contention, though it's certainly possible and, according to one correspondent, may have been happening at azzam.com. Declan notes that "when some politicos have used 9-11 as an excuse to talk about encryption restrictions, it makes sense to be appropriately skeptical, though not entirely dismissive." [Discuss] [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/14/2002 11:56:30 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Saturday, July 13, 2002
Social Network Analysis of a Terrorist Network

Valdis Krebs created this social network analysis of the terrorist network associated with 9/11. Peter Merholz interviews Krebs about his analytical visualizations of social networks and how the modeling tools for analysis are evolving. There's also some good SNA links. [Discuss] [Link]
From an organizational analysis perspective, the guys at RAND are screaming at the government -- They're saying we need to have as good or better of a network than they have. What we're fighting is a network. And if we just keep building hierarchies, it's not going to work. We need to be able to swarm and self-organize and all those things that networks do, and do it better than they do.

Rather than a massive top-down effort, analyzing all the emails and phone conversations in the world, turn it around, look at known suspects, use their planning and communication process, and unearth the network around that person. By having certain people under surveillance, it would have been easier to figure out what was happening. Look at known suspects. Monitor those who have a higher probability of being guilty. You reduce your data requirement significantly.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/13/2002 03:18:42 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Blogging and Linking

Justin Hall and Cory Doctorow have a conversation about the boingboing.net's form – a paragraph of text with (usually) a single link at the end. This is incidentally the form I'm into, though I might tend to include more links. I do link identifying the pivotal link, though, and the fact that the structure overall is similar to the structure of reviews in Whole Earth Magazine. Justin tends to write longer, more personal texts that are filled with hyperlinks wherever they fit, and that's cool, too, and it fits Justin's rambunctious personal style. [Discuss ] [Link]
(Justin:) Perhaps we are at a liminal stage with these brilliant electronic mnemonic devices, where the information space becomes reverse chronological - a giant long spool of paper being printed into giant piles. I want to see more hypertext within rich sites like BoingBoing, where the new references the old and each post contributes to a sense of a growing web. At least let's make a rich tangle of our paperspools! Not just joined neatly, moment to moment, weblog to weblog, but folding back on themselves, information resembling rhizomes.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/13/2002 01:57:13 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Friday, July 12, 2002
Another piece of the evolution puzzle

A team of scientists digging in a desert in Chad found a seven-million-year old skull suggesting that evolution was monkeying around in a less tidy way than "we" had imagined to produce modern man. (In fact, what we know of human evolution is theorized from bits and pieces, so perhaps we don't know much?) According to this BBC story, the Chad discovery puts away the tidy but unproved theory of a "missing link." [Discuss] [Link]
"A find like this does make us question the trees people have built up of human evolution," Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum, London, UK, told the BBC.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/12/2002 04:41:06 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

And we thought those Enron execs were a bunch of crooks! Turn on CNBC and pass the Picasso, please...! [Discuss] [Link]
The impact of the ruling was widespread. Investigations into hundreds of firms were cancelled, and collectors began snatching up original balance sheets, audits, and P&L statements from WorldCom, Enron, and Global Crossing. Meanwhile, auditing firms such as Arthur Andersen (now Art by Andersen) were reclassified as art critics, whose opinions are no longer liable.

"Before we had to go in and decide, 'Is it right, or is it wrong?'" said KPMG spokesman Dan Fischer. "Now we must only decide, 'Is it art?'"

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/12/2002 04:40:25 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Tuesday, July 09, 2002
Andy Oram at O'Reilly: Marshall McLuhan vs. Marshalling Regular Expressions [Jul. 08, 2002]

Excellent piece by Andy Oram demonstrating how Marshall McLuhan's vision relates to regular expressions. NOt at all a stretch, it turns out... and Gutenberg's in there, too. Sure, Oram's selling books here... and it works, I'm ready to buy a copy of Mastering Regular Expressions! And I don't even write code! [Discuss] [Link]
McLuhan portrayed electronic media as an assault against reasoned choice. We swallow everything that comes across the radio waves; we can no more differentiate and filter television images than a newborn baby can distinguish what is put in its mouth. Infantilism reins in mass media, as viewed from the vantage point of the 1960s. But with digital processing, we can become finicky eaters indeed. Now we analyze, we extract, we rotate and we scale.

The key lies in choosing our tribe carefully. Instead of McLuhan's vision of a resurgent oral/tactile culture of television, we can embrace hacker culture. With the help of regular expressions and other digital processing, individuals can shape media into what they want.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/9/2002 08:50:04 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Sunday, July 07, 2002
Apocalyptic Trends

A sobering report by the World Wildlife Fund: based on current rates of consumption, the world will be so low on resources within 50 years that we'll have to colonize two planets. These guys are definitely not in denial. [Discuss] [Link]
The Living Planet report uses an index to illustrate the shocking level of deterioration in the world's forests as well as marine and freshwater ecosystems. Using 1970 as a baseline year and giving it a value of 100, the index has dropped to a new low of around 65 in the space of a single generation.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/7/2002 03:55:15 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Saturday, July 06, 2002
P2P "Random Walkers"

A team of scientists has suggested a way to make peer to peer (P2P) computer networks and massively distributed computing more effective by controlling network attractive more effectively. This is done with search algorithms that assign searches to a few "random walkers," or messages that move at random between machines. (7/7/2002: adding link to Slashdot commentary. [Discuss] [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/6/2002 09:08:08 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Those *$%&#*@ Supermarket 'Loyalty' Cards...

Ever wonder what supermarket loyalty card programs are really about? I mean, aside from the fact that they alienate customers who find they have to get the dang card or lose money at the register. There's a method to their madness, explained at length by CASPIAN, Consumers Against Supermarket Privacy Invasion And Numbering. (This page made me think about the personalized commercial holograms in Minority Report... ) [Discuss] [Link]
The practice of "customer specific marketing" or "customer specific pricing" is slowly being implemented around the nation. While most consumers are unaware of the practice, they are less than appreciative when it is discovered. A few years back Amazon.com was caught in what they referred to as a "test" where they offered individual consumers different prices on the same merchandise. They were only caught when consumers on the retailers' web forums started discussing prices, and subsequently raised a furor.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/6/2002 08:26:28 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Friday, July 05, 2002
TouchGraph GoogleBrowser V1.00

TouchGraph LLC shows you that the web is really a web! View maps of links from specific points, every couple of clicks a new world. [Discuss] [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/5/2002 10:04:22 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

For those of us who were raised on science fiction, an eventual voyage to Mars is a given. We figure it should've happened before now – per 2001, we should be hanging in orbit around Jupiter. Better late than never: Russian space officials are proposing a trip to Mars by 2015. [Discuss] [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/5/2002 09:55:39 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Deep linking illegal?

Kim Elmose posts that deep linking has been ruled illegal in Denmark. "The Danish Newspaper Publisher's Association accused Newsbooster of violating their intellectual property by linking directly to the articles instead of linking to the front page of the online news sites." Newsbooster has appealed. [Discuss] [Link]
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/5/2002 09:49:25 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Wednesday, July 03, 2002
ICANN lawyer Joe Sims to John Gilmore:

From Declan McCullach's Politech: Joe Simms responds to John Gilmore's Salon interview , saying Gilmore "remains today on the extreme fringe of rational thinking on ICANN issues. " [Discuss] [Link]
Gilmore is one of a group of American critics who assume that American values and reactions are and should be determinative in decisions about ICANN, and who thus dismiss as inconsequential the contrary views of those around the world. To Gilmore, there apparently are no other relevant governments other than the US government, and he certainly demonstrates no understanding at all of the complicated geo-political issues swirling around ICANN. This head-in-the-sand attitude is unfortunately quite common among ICANN's American critics -- who not coincidentally are far louder than the non-American critics, which may mean there are fewer of the latter, or may mean only that the Americans are particularly boorish in the enunciation of their views. The plain facts are that the US government cannot act unilaterally in this area; the Internet, after all, is a global resource, not the property of the United States. Just as we have seen in the US government approach to the .us registry, other national governments have strong views about these issues, and their views are not uniformly consistent with those of John Gilmore or Karl Auerbach. To those folks, this just means that those others don't understand the true values of the Internet; to those others, the views of the Gilmore's of the world simply demonstrate how incredibly parochial some people can be. ICANN must accomodate all those views, ranging from the Gilmore's to those of governments around the world, and try at the same time to produce a workable organization that is not as cumbersome and unresponsive as the typical multinational governmental bureaucracy. Whether Gilmore understands it or not, creating global consensus is hard work, and requires compromise, not extremism.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/3/2002 07:19:02 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

RIP Philip Whalen: "Join mirthfully to earth"

Gary Gach has written an elegant obituary for poet Philip Whalen,. Thanks to mitsu [Discuss] [Link]
A Whalen poem:

The Memory Of

Mr J who had been poor for years
Inherited all the money in the world
Bought a gun to blow a hole in his head
To let in air and light he said
To let me out

Today, I have my head to shave
There are lights and shadows in it
All too soon empty open ashes
Join mirthfully to earth

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/3/2002 02:03:49 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

John Gilmore on ICANN

Salon's running an interview with John Gilmore focusing on Internet governance... that is, the controversial ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. John and other critics complain that ICANN is too secretive and ultimately ineffective. [Link] [Discuss]
Regarding domain names, the policy that would actually satisfy the public interest would be to have thousands of top-level domains, in which anyone could register a name. The whole monopoly problem arose because everyone wanted a name in ".com"; ditto for the squatting problem and the trademark problem and the price problem. If squatters had registered your favorite name or your trademark in a thousand TLDs [top level domain names], just use it in one of the other thousands of TLDs. This would let every trademark holder register their name as a second level domain; if Sun Microsystems got sun.com, Sun Oil could have sun.oil and Sun Photo could have sun.pix or sun.photo or sun.camera or sun.inc or any other one they wanted. You couldn't use the DNS as a White Pages directory, but you can't do that now anyway. If the guy who registers names in .oil wants too much for the domain, get sun.oilco or sun.gas or sun.petrol or petrol.sun instead.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/3/2002 07:32:14 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

The Singularity

Ray Kurzweil and Vernor Vinge speculate about artificial intelligence and singularity (" the geometric rate of the growth of technology and the idea that this growth will lead to a superhuman machine that will far exceed the human intellect"). (Thanks, Dennis!) [Discuss] [Link] See also http://www.kurzweilai.net/.
RayKurzweil: The Singularity emerges from many thousands of smaller advances on many fronts:

RayKurzweil: three-dimensional molecular computing, brain research (brain reverse engineering), software techniques, communication technologies, and many others. There's no single Singularity studies. It's the result of many intersecting revolutions.

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/3/2002 07:31:36 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Tuesday, July 02, 2002
Virtually Whacked by Terrorist Geeks?

Thomas Greene speculates in the U.K. register why the Business Software Alliance is spreading rumors, er, survey results suggesting fear/uncertainty/doubt about potential exposure of vast digital infrastructures to terrorist hackers. Is this a commercial for Palladium? (Thanks, and a tip of the hat, to Phil, the Red Rock Eater). [Discuss] [Link]
Actually, if you bother to read the 'report', you'll find that the BSA drivel does nothing more than record the fears of "IT pros" convinced that this is an eventuality. It offers not one shred of evidence that plans are in the works; not one hint of how this diabolical assault on your life and you daughter's virginity might be accomplished; not one scrap of actual, firsthand research.

Their entire FUD campaign is based solely on the perceptions, imaginations and fears of unnamed "IT pros" -- more than 300 of them, we're assured.

And yet, CNN went so far as to declare a crushing al-Qaeda cyber blood-fest inevitable. The Washington Post went one further, liberally quoting the eternally alarmist Richard Clarke, Ron Dick and John Tritak, and publishing a six-page FUD tome by staff twinkie Barton Gellman, who lapped up every word. (He's a Pulitzer Prize winner, kids.)

posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/2/2002 07:23:53 AM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Monday, July 01, 2002
Rudy Rucker

frontwheeldrive.com has published a recent interview with science frictioneer par excellence Rudy Rucker, who was one o' them cyberpunk guys back in the day. He was a scientist/mathematician in another life, but he's in recovery: all he wants to do is write science fiction. Then again, he's written a historical novel. [Link]
I have a vague sense that it's about time for a new cohort of exciting SF writers. You could say we had the Golden Age guys in the 40s, the New Wave in the 60s, Cyberpunk in the 80s, so there ought to be something interesting in the 00s. But I'm not out there reading the magazines and the first novels, so I'm not the right guy to ask. Just at random, one first novel I did recently happen to read and like is Cory Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, due from Tor Books this fall. He does this next-generation thing of pretty much taking for granted certain far-out SFictional notions that I still think of as a big deal; for instance, his characters are online all the time via implants, which still strikes me as a kind of shockingly evil possible development. Why evil? How would you like to have Muzak, spam, telemarketing calls, political ads, polling, and surveillance going on in your head 24/7?
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/1/2002 08:15:02 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Internet and Law

Cory mentions a couple of people who are live-blogging the Internet and Law conference at Harvard:
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/1/2002 08:14:51 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Viridian Note 00319: Grand Challenges

Bruce Sterling on the technological sublime and ubicomp. Weed it and reap! [Link]
Many technologies of profound cultural importance, such as immunization, plumbing, recycling and the birth control pill, never become sublime. They are high technology without the high. The height within high technology has very little to do with the scientific principles involved or any inherent difficulties of the engineering. The height is entirely a social judgement. It has distinctly metaphysical overtones. Science fiction is one of the arenas in which these judgements are cast, in which some forms of technological advance are valorized as marvelous and worthy of mass attention, while others remain the obscure work of specialists or even die off entirely. And the clock never stops ticking, especially for science fiction. Sublimity is as thin as lipstick, it wears off at a kiss. The sense of wonder has a very short shelf-life.
posted by jon lebkowsky on 7/1/2002 02:30:31 PM | ~permalink~ | ~post a comment~

Creative Commons License
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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

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