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Thursday, October 31, 2002
Jim Leftwich on gaming at the leading edge
Jim Leftwich (J I M W I C h) had this response to my note earlier today about Fathammer's new mobile 3D tech:
Jon Lebkowsky is SO, SO RIGHT about gaming being the leading edge in digital development that's dragging the rest of the software world along. It's not only a more front edge set of technologies, but the engineer/developer/creative culture in the gaming industry is fundamentally different and (I think) superior, to that found in (especially) the desktop application world (just thinking about that makes me yawn), but also the web community.
Complexity, Trust and Terror (Langdon Winner)
Read this, it's important... Langdon Winner explores how the technological complexity of our infrastructures has made the U.S. (et al.) vulnerable to attack, and how, having seen a demonstration of that vulnerability in 9/11, we have hardened social and political systems and accepted a sacrifice of fundamental rights and freedoms that would have been unthinkable before the terrorist attack. Winner suggests better ways to deal with the perceived vulnerability. [Link] Thanks, Howard.
In my view, there are far better ways of responding to 9/11 than the kinds of knee-jerk militarism, Orwellian surveillance and pre-emptive strikes on human rights that our leaders currently prefer. Urgently needed are measures that would address sources of insecurity and terror found at the very roots of modern civilization. Hence, it seems wise to design technical systems that are loosely coupled and forgiving, structured in ways that make disruptions easily borne, quickly repaired. Certainly it makes sense to rely upon locally available, renewable energy and material resources, rather than foster dependency on global supplies always at risk. It seems sane to rely on technologies operated by people in local communities whom we get to know in a variety of roles and settings, not just as technical functionaries. It also seems high time to begin reducing our dependence upon overwhelming, risk-laden powers wrested from nature. Now we know: these powers may destroy not only fragile ecosystems, but the habitats of freedom as well.
PalmOS incorporates BeOS
PalmOS 6 will incorporate BeOS frameworks, either real BeOS code or some of its algorithms and architecture. It'll also accommodate roaming from one network connection to another, which has terrific implications as wireless access points proliferate. [Link]
it would provide the functionality offered by Intel's Skamania - which maintains several virtual network interfaces and switches between say a tethered Ethernet, wireless Ethernet, cellular packet data and cellular circuit switched calls, depending on where you are - and simply hops onto the nearest, best connection.
Take your universe with you!
Evidence that game tech still drags digital technology forward... in this case, Fathammer's new engine for high res 3D on mobile devices. [Link]
Wednesday, October 30, 2002
Open Source Biology
One scientist's thinking about genome structures (focusing most recently on nematodes) and their marketability leads him to conclusions which resonate with open source and free (as in freedom) software licensing concepts. [Link]
Not content with helping to translate the "Book of Life", Sir John has described the idea of venture capitalists patenting our genes or making private profit out of their work as "despicable".
Tuesday, October 29, 2002
Making the Case for PHP at Yahoo!
Michael Radwin's slides for a presentation on Yahoo's selection of PHP for development going forward. The bottom line is that everything has pros and cons, but for web development, PHP has better pros, and the cons are quite bearable. The important point here is that big hairy systems can use php, it's not just for small to medium sites. It's fast and functional, and sites built with PHP don't feel bloated, because they're not. [Link]
Mark Fiore's figured out a solution to the Saddam problem. [Link]
Monday, October 28, 2002
MoveOn.org: No War on Iraq
Don't know about you, but I'm at a point where I think this war with Iraq is a mistake and more - it breaches world confidence in America's leadership. Those of you who know me know that I'm not coming from partisan thinking. I listen to Republicans and Democrats and consider their agendas, and I consider myself an independent at this point because I have issues with both parties. In fact I think we need more political parties with real weight, or no parties at all, but that's a different story for a different time. The link below allows you to send a petition letter to your legislators indicating opposition to a war with Iraq. There's a canned message, and you can insert your own words. I should add tha moveon.org is one of the better activist sites.
Here's the paragraph I wrote for my letter:
I talk to a lot of people, online and off, and I can find no one who supports the idea of war with Iraq. They understand that even more people will die, and the rationale isn't there. Furthermore, talk of preemptive strikes by the U.S. completely changes the perception of our role within the world community, and I say that based on exposure to transnational publications and forums. I implore you to examine your conscience and consider the implications fully, and consider the full weight of your role as a leader within a sophisticated democratic government. I mention the latter because we are supposed as a democratic country we are supposed to give weight to consensus, and as a country with sophisticated structures for governance, we are supposed to understand that there are many alternatives to war, not yet exhausted here, in my opinion.
Sunday, October 27, 2002
Rep. blasted for open-source attack
Here's a USA Today piece that adds more dimension to the Newsforge piece I just blogged. Tom Davis wasn't digging the attack on OS, which is good news. You can bet that this discussion ain't over, though... still worthwhile to make legislators smart about the advantages of OS and GPL. [Link]
Smith's attack on open-source drew an angry response from one of the original authors of the letter, Rep. Tom Davis, R-Va., chairman of the House Government Reform subcommittee on technology and procurement policy.
New Democrats Don't Get Open Source or Free Software (Let's help 'em)
Evidently buying a certain Washington company's self-serving misrepresentations of Open Source and Free Software strategies, 'New Democrats' are saying that GNU and OS licenses "restrictive, preclude innovation, improvement, adoption and establishment of commercial IP rights." If you get how totally wrong this is, this page tells you who to contact. [Link]
Thursday, October 24, 2002
Insect Trust tribute- Ed Ward
Although neither of their albums is 100% successful, when they do work, they work beautifully. I marginally prefer the second one, because "Eyes of a New York Woman" is so perfect and "Our Sister the Sun" has Elvin Jones thrashing away on it. But I also like the "singing bridge" version of "Special Rider" on the first album very much. As for what makes them still vital today, that's because so much happened at that particular period that a lot of the implications of some of that music has yet to be worked out. For instance, the Byrds. When R.E.M. started, people said they were "ripping off" the Byrds. Well, the Byrds never stopped long enough in that particular place, and, as we've seen, there was a lot to explore in that particular idea. Ditto country rock: during the 70's, a lot of that degenerated into L.A. singer-songwriter soft-rock wimpiness, and the rock end of it sort of got lost. Bands like Whiskeytown are still processing a lot of that information. Nobody has gone back to the sort of roots that the Insect Trust were involved with, let alone tried to attempt that particular fusion. I think there's a lot on those records worth exploring today, given young musicians with the sort of interest and background in these musics.
O'Reilly Network: Building Online Communities
chromatic, co-author of Running Weblogs with Slash, wrote this piece about online communities. If you haven't given the subject much thought before now, this is a good intro. [Link]
Community members will continually surprise you, especially if you've never really analyzed an online community before. The issues and themes you find important may never really resonate with your users. They'll latch onto and chase down ideas you've never found important or even knew existed. They'll also tend to develop some strange characteristics. Not everyone will exhibit every behavior, but these are general trends in every community I've observed.
Latest buzzword: The Real-time Enterprise
Went to a conference this week where there was talk about "Real-time Enterprise," evidently the newest buzzword. I wondered where it came from; evidently Gartner is the culprit. Note that this is supposed to be new thinking. Are they just now figuring this out? Nothing new, everybody wanted it, and we're certainly getting closer, but I'm not sure you can put it in a box, ever. [Link]
Tuesday, October 22, 2002
Universe is 'doomed to collapse'?
Latest news from cosmologists: the Universe is doomed to collapse, like soon, like only a few billion years from now. Before you start hoarding supplies, though, consider that collapse may be part of a cycle, which means we might all do this again, but sdrawkcab! [Link]
The Internet is Resilient!
A denial of service attack against core internet servers was a bust. [Link]
Open Letter to FCC Chairman Powell
Adina submitted an important open letter to the FCC to /. The gist:
We hold that the primary cause of current telecom troubles is that Internet-based end-to-end data networking has subsumed (and will subsume) the value that was formerly embodied in other communications networks. This, in turn, is causing the immediate obsolescence of the vertically integrated, circuit-based telephony industry of 127 years vintage. CLEC, IXC and ILEC bonds used to purchase now-obsolete infrastructure assets have become (or inexorably are becoming) bad debt. Weak last-mile competition prevents the most powerful technological advances from reaching all but a few customers; this is the largest cause of long-haul over-capacity.
Friday, October 18, 2002
Gladiators: A New Order of Insect
This Scientific American article describes the discovery of a new order of insect, Mantophasmatodea, nicknamed 'gladiators.' Biologists are busy: also ran across an article describing the discovery of a hundred new frog species in Sri Lanka. [Link]
But the fact that the evidence of this new order sat in museums, unnoticed for decades until a chance encounter (and an alert student) put the pieces together, makes us wonder. Are there more orders of insects we have yet to discover? To bug lovers like us, the natural world suddenly seems a bit wider and wilder than we had imagined it to be.
Thursday, October 17, 2002
Barlow on the War
Barlow sent an essay today about the surge of war talk in the U.S., and I thought to blog it but couldn't find a link until Xeni Jardin blogged it on boingboing (she filed the message on her site and pointed to it, so you can read it here. I think I pretty much agree with much of what John says, even when he says the Internet is partially to blame for the frenzied pulse thumping the U.S. collective unconscious: you can build mobs here, and lose all reason. He calls for sane opposition to this war. I'm less sure, thinking the Bushapoids may know something I don't, there maybe be a real reason for their concern, though I know they can lie. I'm not into partisan thinking; I distrust politicians of every stripe; power knocks people loose from their humanity and the most powerful are unlikely to recover. Whatever the case, I can encourage you to read Barlow because he will tell you the truth, or as close as he can come to it.
Tuesday, October 15, 2002
Boing Boing's David Pescovitz won the Foresight Institute Communication Award for journalism in the filed of nanotechnology. Congratulations, Pesco! [Link]
A new kind of observatory
Jules Verne would dig this (sorry, bad pun): scientists are going underground to study the cosmos. A mile below the South Pole, they'll study objects farther away than the Hubble can see. [Link]
Monday, October 14, 2002
Miyazaki on Spirited Away
I saw Hayao Miyazaki's stunning animé Spirited Away yesterday (there were a half dozen of us ranging in age from seven to sixtyish). The kids loved the film, but I'm not sure they actually thought about it. I'm thinking how to bring them to an understanding of Miyazaki's intentions, expressed here in his proposal for the film. The film itself has powerful mojo. (Then again, they may well have better understanding than I do, what do I know?) [Link]
A word has power. In the world into which Chihiro has wandered, to say a word out of one's mouth has a grave importance. At Yuya, which is ruled by Yu-baaba, if Chihiro says one word like "No" or "I wanna go home," the witch would quickly throw Chihiro out. She would have no choice but to keep aimlessly wandering until she vanishes, or is changed into a chicken to keep laying eggs until she is eaten. In turn, if Chihiro says "I will work here," even the witch cannot ignore her. Today, words are considered very lightly, as something like bubbles. It is just a reflection of reality being empty. It is still true that a word has power. It's just that the world is filled with empty and powerless words.
Saturday, October 12, 2002
Andy Oram: Why Human Rights Requires Free Software
In this piece at oreillynet.com, Andy Oram examines the relationship between human rights and free software, and writes a bit about human rights hacktivist Patrick Ball's work. [Link]
Imagine an American scientist bringing a closed, proprietary encryption program or statistical package to political activists in a foreign country and saying, "Just use this; take my word that it works right." That's a non-starter. If the software is open source, even though the human rights staff might not be able to personally verify that it's accurate and free of bias, they can take the source to a university or other expert and have it vetted. The same challenges arise when a human rights organization publicly presents its results. The politicians, generals, and other power-holders will dispute every step in reasoning. A lot of an organization's credibility lies in its process for collecting data and its use of statistics, but the software has to be certified to be trustworthy, as well. An open package whose source can be checked by any technically qualified person removes a potential area of dispute.
Wark on Ray Johnson: From Mail Art to Net Art
My friend and fellow traveler, mail artist and cyberopera impresaria Honoria, was telling me about John Walker's How to Draw a Bunny, a film about Ray Johnson, patron saint of network artists and of Honoria's cross-disciplinary academic work. The film is reviewed in this piece, submitted to nettime by McKenzie Wark..
Johnson is one of those artists for whom there is no division between art and life. The work that ends up in the frame is a document of a process than an artifact. It is not the completion of the creative process but merely its medium, its means; art as a verb, not a thing. The challenge for an artist like Johnson is to live aesthetically. Cheap-rent New York of the 60s, with its remarkable concentration of spaces within which to explore such a possibility and people with the wit and sensibility to see it when it manifests, is one of the few places this was ever really possible. In the wake of the hyper-commodified art world of the present, How to Draw a Bunny looks like something from the Lives of the Saints -- an exemplary life from another time.
Thursday, October 10, 2002
No Substitute for Wetware
Close examination reveals flaws in Orwellian policebotsCan you automate police work? This clueful piece from Fox News reviews the inevitable botches when enforcers are clueless about the limits inherent in the technologies they're using. It's been long enough by now that they're forgetting SJ Games vs. the Secret Service. [Link]
At the bail hearing for Johnston, Tinney and three other defendants in Houston, the FBI's Kristen Sheldon ... testified that an IP address is, "in very simple terms, a Social Security number. Only one person at one specific time can have that number." In fact, an IP address identifies a computer, rather than a person, and may not even consistently map to a particular machine in networks that use dynamic IP addressing. Midway through the hearing, the presiding U.S. magistrate asked, "What are GIF files?" (Emphasis added.)
Monday, October 07, 2002
Bryan Alexander on Lessig and the Future of Ideas
From Mindjack: Bryan Alexander's analysis of Lawrence Lessig's recent work and Lessig's book The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World. You know your world changed as digital technology proliferated, but were you aware how much it changed? Lessig's there, and he's focused on changes in the world of ideas, where something called "intellectual property" proves to be hard to pin down when it's no longer associated with a specific material form, when ideas and creations can be replicated at WELL and transmitted everywhere at once. The old-media response: try to control IP, keep it in the box. Lessig's message: when you do that, you constrain the public domain and the creative commons. [Link]
Both sides equally offend him: "policymakers on the Right and on the Left race to embrace a system of perfect control". Put another way, his resistance to overweening control regimes draws on a mixture of the new left's liberation/democracy discourse and old libertarianism. It's also a stance appealing to common sense and rationality, in attacking "[c]ontrol without reason". Disappointment at the market seeps through the struggle of arguments, as when Lessig admits that competition should generate ISPs to guarantee free access, but fails to do so because of a state-limited bandwidth. "This control is largely benign, at least where markets are competitive" (110). As Christensen argues in his Innovator's Dilemma, innovations can threaten the stability of business models, whose stakeholders react in a limiting way. However, a hint of a slant towards progressive politics, or at least discourse, emerges over the course of the book, from the (albeit ironic) call for "environmentalism in the Internet era" to repeated appeals for the good of society, to the accumulated attacks on corporations. Arguments against increased concentration of ownership of media properties appear fairly unparsed or hedged. A swipe at the entertainment industry for overdefending "a puny part of the American economy" simply misses the enormous scale of IP monies.
RIP Tim Rose
Folksinger Tim Rose was buried today. He had been living and working in Europe for years. Somebody mentioned him to me the other day, and I realized I had all but forgot his work. I was mostly into his first album, which included Morning Dew, which appeared soon after on the Grateful Dead's first album, and Hey, Joe, which was recorded by damn near everybody. Digging through his web site, I see that Rose was quite busy over the years, but I always think of his version of Joe, against which I always measured the versions that came later. [Link]
The Eonic Effect
John Landon challenges Darwin's thinking in his book World History and the Eonic Effect, arguing that Darwin's theory doesn't account for intermittent instances of accelerated change and historical evidence of a nonrandom emergence in the pattern of human evolution. (At least, that's what I think I'm reading in Landon's text on the web page. Whatever the case, this appears to be a fascinating new approach to the concept of evolution, worth watching as it's developed.) [Link]
We can take as our prime objective to show that this claim of randomness is not true of human history, that there exists a long-range 'pattern of universal history' as a non-random emergentist system transcending the stratagems and potential of human free activity, which is itself a considerable 'derandomizer', but one, we can argue, that is insufficient to account for the rise of civilization. This pattern must answer both to the emergent derandomizing of 'real evolution' yet at the same time avoid the trap of universal generalization taken as surrogate universal law. Our pattern indeed suggests just this. This generates both the consideration of complex systems, and the displaced ideas of freedom, seen in the primal genesis as organismic locomotion.
Sunday, October 06, 2002
Xeni goes bOING
Note to fans of the bOING bOING blog: fabulous guest-blogger Xeni Jardin is joining the main bOING bOING team. Congratulations, Xeni!
Friday, October 04, 2002
Steve Cisler on Community Networking
Steve Cisler is blogging from the Global Congress on Community Networking in the Digital Era in Montreal, Canada. [Link]
One place that stands out is in Northwest Alaska around the town of Kotzebue. Eugene Smith, head of information technology for the Maniilaq Association gave a short keynote address, and by chance I ran into him later that evening outside of an Anchorage restaurant where we talked about his networking efforts in this remote I?upiat community. He has instituted some great telemedicine programs, all kinds of training for young people plus reasonably priced high-speed wireless Internet access. ($45/month buys you 256 kpbs wireless service.) He is experimenting with other technologies for use by Inutek.net. Smith seems to have overcome local politics and avoided the debilitating telecom wars that plague the state and limit competition.
Wednesday, October 02, 2002
Weekly Standard: www.free-iran.com
Very good article about bloggers in the Middle East, and their potential impact on ME cultures. [Link]
According to the tech-and-culture magazine Shift, there are now more than 1,200 blogs in Persian. Iranian women are especially enthusiastic bloggers. Shift reports that one woman, going by the pseudonym "Lady Sun," sparked a debate about sex roles in Iran based on her discussion of a man who groped her while she was entering a taxi. One man used her "comments" feature to ask what she thought of hijab, the form of veiling required by Iranian law. Women readers described their frustration with men, and their sense of oppression; perhaps more surprisingly, one male reader confessed that he had not realized that the law requiring hijab "has had a negative impact on society."
Tuesday, October 01, 2002
Last Train to Acroville
To my embarrassment, I had to ask my friend Nancy this morning what ICT means. "Internet Communication Technologies," I believe she said, though I'm also seeing it defined as "Information and Communication Technologies"... but GAHhhhh! Enough with the acros, already! One more fershlugginer acro, and my head's gonna explode? Besides, we had this one nailed a decade ago, only it was a different acro. CMC. Computer-mediated communications! Same thing, no?
Ahem. Kill ugly acros.
BTW the ICT acro's been tossed around quite a bit at CivicNet '02, an online conference I've been kibitzing for the last couple of weeks. It's about civic uses of technology... an important aspect of community networking. It's a nonprofit sector thing, which can be frustrating or challenging, depending where you're at, because nonprofits have to work within financial and legal constraints. Unfortunately I can't say that I'm gaining much from the conference, but that's probably just me. I do think that civic and community networks are crucial. If we build digital highways through the rural U.S., there's a potential leveling effect such that urban centers won't have all the advantages. I spent some time recently with the Communities of the Future folks, who expect the workers of the future will live wherever they want and telecommute. Sounds peachy to me!
Happy Birthday, Slashdot!
Slashdot is five years old! Try to imagine a world without Cmdr Taco... thanks, Rob et al! [Link]
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)
No Stone Untenured: May '98 Interview with Sandy Stone
Don't Believe the Hype (Austin Digerati Roundtable published January 28)
Why We Listen to What They Say: Interview with Doug Rushkoff
Information Junkie, an interview with Reva Basch (Researching Online for Dummies)
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
Cyber Top Ten for 1997 (Austin Chronicle, December 1997)
ZapSpace, published as A Fistful of DOS in the Australian magazine 21C
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!
The Opera Ain't Over 'til the Cyber Lady Sings: Honoria in Ciberspazio (Austin Chronicle, November 1997)
Shout Spamalam! The Austin Spam Suit
11.25.96 Freewheelin' in Austin
2.25.97 VR in 3Space: Brian Park