May 30, 2005
That Sounds Just Like David Weinberger!?!
We're (Greg Elin, Jerry Michalski and me) sitting here working and listening to Chris Lydon's new show.. streaming live now, called Open Source. The inaugeral show has David Weinberger (Chris introduced him as "blog philosopher"), Dave Winer ("father of RSS") and Doc Searls, ("of Santa Barbara").
What are the social values of this new world (Lydon)
It's that we get to say whatever we want.. we get to connect to each other.. when I was on vacation recently, there was a poor internet connection, and I felt cut off.... (Weinberger)
Does that mean that your addicted? (Lydon)
I know just how David feels.
I just IM'd Doc and asked "if we IM you code words.. will you weave them into sentences on the live broadcast?"
Okay, now we're being pills. Getting off IM.
Good show... Oh, Dave Winer is getting introduced.
There is a thread that connects all these things together.. blogging, podcasting, etc.. (now he's comparing RSS to sushi boats..) where stuff comes down as it's published.. it's called 'disintermediated' (Winer)
Greg just IM'd Doc and said he would pay him $10 to mention his name online.. and I offered $15 and Jerry offered $20.
We just made an IRC here: irc.freenode.net #radioopensource
They are saying things bloggers have known for years.. we are expressing ourselves, we are talking and connecting, we are making things, disagreeing and that's good, participating, supplying for our own demands, telling stories.
May 25, 2005
I read the Larry Lessig article in New York metro, because Julie Leung pointed to it, where at the bottom, John Hardwicke, the plantiff in the case against the American Boys Choir lawsuit, comments on the need for readers to help get a law passed that will keep the state from giving immunity to charitable institutions in sexual abuse cases.
All of this connecting and pointing and commenting happened in 24 hours.. and it's old hat for those who've blogged or played with RSS and link search for years. But remember. It's amazing, and it's never existed before, that people could connect in these ways we are now taking for granted. Taking things like this for granted is good, because we implictly build these practices into our social interactions, but don't forget also that what is so valuable about the internet can be lost, if those who would regulate it and limit it have their way.
So follow John Hardwicke's request for support, but support the medium, the place, the technology landscape that supports these connections, too, by standing up for freedom on the internet. The freedom to connect. Or we'll lose our the ability and freedom we have now to find and connect with each other, and so the promise of better connections will be lost.
One way to do that is to write your congressmen and senators, your state representatives, and tell them explicitly that you support municiple wireless, open networks, and balanced intellectual property laws. Every little bit helps.
The Revolution will be Televised
The other day I was thinking.. it's been just a little over two years since Eddan Katz wrote Revolution is not an AOL Keyword, and I edited, and we did all that beautiful voluptuous linking. Eddan's poem is brilliant. So it deserves a reprint. We stayed up all night.. two nights, making links and editing, and getting it ready to be published on the first morning of the war. In fact, there was an internal bIPlog conflict, because at the time, hosted at the Journalism School at UCBerkeley, one or two of our group thought the subject didn't fit the mission of bIPlog, but the rest of the group did, and we knew we would get it published when John Battelle, one of the profs, lent his support for us.
So enjoy. And, guess what? No Rights Reserved! I love that.
You will not be able to stay home, dear Netizen.
You will not be able to plug in, log on and opt out.
You will not be able to lose yourself in Final Fantasy,
Or hold your Kazaa download queues,
Because revolution is not an AOL Keyword.
Revolution is not an AOL Keyword.
Revolution will not be brought to you on Hi-Def TV
Encrypted with a warning from the FBI.
Revolution will not have a jpeg slideshow of Dubya
Calling the cattle and leading the incursion by
Secretary Rumsfeld, General Ashcroft and Dick Cheney
Riding nuclear warheads on their way to Iraq,
Or North Korea, or Iran.
Revolution is not an AOL Keyword.
Revolution will not be powered by Microsoft on
The Next-Generation Secure Computing Base
And will not star Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee
Or Larry Lessig and Martha Stewart.
Revolution will not promise penile enlargement.
Revolution will not get rid of spam.
Revolution will not earn you up to $5000 a month
Working from home, because revolution is not
An AOL Keyword, Brother.
There will be no screen grabs of you and
Jeeves the Butler one-click shopping at My Yahoo,
Or outbidding a shady grandma on eBay for
That refurbished iPod 20-gig.
MSNBC.com will not predict election results in Florida
Or fact-check the Drudge Report.
Revolution is not an AOL Keyword.
There will be no webcast of Wil Wheaton boxing
Barney the Dinosaur on the dancefloor at DNA.
There will be no mob- or wiki- blog of Richard Stallman
Strolling through Redmond in a medieval robe and halo
As St. iGNUcious of the Church of Emacs
That he has been saving
For just the proper occasion.
Survivor, The Osbournes, and Joe Millionaire
Will no longer be so damned relevant, and
People will not care if Carrie hooks up again with
Mr. Big on Sex and the City because Information
Wants To Be Free even while Knowledge Is Power.
Revolution is not an AOL Keyword.
There will be no final pictures from inside the
World Trade Center in the instant replay.
There will be no final pictures from inside the
World Trade Center in the instant replay.
There will be no RealVideo of 2600-reading,
Linux-booting white hat hacktivists
And Mickey Mouse in the public domain.
The theme song will not be written by Jack Valenti or
Hilary Rosen, nor sung by Metallica, Dr. Dre,
Christina Aguilera, Matchbox 20, or Blink-182.
Revolution is not an AOL Keyword.
Revolution will not be right back after
Pop-up ads about eCommerce, eTailers, or eContent.
You will not have to worry about a
Cookie in your browser, a bug in your email, or a
Worm in your recycling bin.
Revolution will not run faster with Intel inside.
Revolution, dude, is not getting a Dell.
Revolution will increase your Google rank.
*See generally Gil Scott-Heron, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.
May 22, 2005
B2B Blogging Successes
At conferences like RSS Syndicate and Bloggercon, people hold sessions about how to make money with blogging. Sometimes they mean for the company a blog represents, by running ads in the RSS streams, or by selling (God forbid) the streams. For me, blogging is more like being in a civic club, where the benefits are not direct, but rather come in other forms like meeting interesting people and learning. However, there are people doing well at making money blogging, essentially.
One thing I see over and over, as I mention the few blogs that are making money, is complete disinterest in them because people don't seem to understand the model or what's possible.
Esme Vos at Muniwireless.com is has complete editorial control over her topic blog on municipal wireless, but she also runs ads at the bottom of pages, has a company profiles page where vendors pay to list themselves, and she sends out a weekly newsletter with ads. She's given up lawyering for the time because because it's so lucrative. In addition, she's thinking of doing a conference on municipal wireless next winter which should also make a little money for her time.
She's also creating databases for future ad models as well... but these are currently in development and under wraps. This will further match B2B entities to their benefit, without compromising editorial integrity, which Esme is something she very strictly controls.
The point is, she's making money, but specializing in a niche topic, doing really good editorial that no one can buy off, and selling services to vendors on *her* terms, which means they only get so far in, the information is fairly distributed to them, and it's something they need, so they pay.
Another example is Schizophrenia.com by Brian Chico. Chico is running a central site for people interested in this topic, which means he can sell ads from pharmaceutical companies.. and apparently he's doing quite well.
What's common here are high quality and well written content, high editorial integrity, consistent topic discussions, and good business practices monitizing appropriately the parts of the site that can support the editorial stuff.
May 21, 2005
Baby bloggers are much more fun
They have no constraints.. they are less known.. and they don't have as many relationships usually.. so when they see something or hear it, they blog it and it's fun.
Blogging for a while, and working in tech, I won't blog anyone who's paid me money, unless I was an employee.. so Technorati is okay, but I'm just not comfortable blogging clients. And then there's all the secrets people tell you, and well.. those are offlimits as well.
So I'm telling you, I'm officially boring. Mainly because of these constraints.. it's just hard sometimes to say what I really think, but maybe for other reasons as well. Geez.
Joi notes something about being boring as well.. and he may be for this reason too. Don't know.
The Real Killer App
It's not some new web service for video or whatever. No.. the real killer app is transmitting smell and taste over a web page. Man, if last night's dinner came through over my firefox browser, every chain restaurant would be out of biz. Kiss Olive Garden good bye. It was five hours of delicious beautiful food at Union Square Cafe.
Could someone please start working on this? Because that meal was a rare and perfect experience... and you just want to have it a little more often.
(One more small thing, much as that was lovely, I've got to get out of NY. People here don't work as hard as people in CA I know, and they party way too much. Being in NY is actually kind of like visiting a European city, sophisticated, fun, quaint, but you've gotta get some work done and they're not motivating to be around, with all that langorous strolling and dining and hanging out. Aren't NYers supposed to walk fast? Everyone is walking so slowly down the street. Time to get back to CA and the real work!)
May 20, 2005
The Chat as Art, The Chat as Theater
Personal Democracy Forum: Power to the People with Chat
The backchannel was fantastic. During the last panel, it was particularly good. However, there was a panel just before lunch that had the audience laughing so hard, between what the speakers were saying, and the chat behind them.. that one speaker suggested they should just give up speaking so we could just all do the chat. That was when the chat moved to a new level, an art mob of flowing moving commenters listening and speaking through the chat. Not all of it was great.. but there were moments where it was serendiptously so on the mark. The whole audience was engaged, pounding on ASRC.. talking back to the panelists. And the panelists had no choice but to listen and respond and integrate it into their talk. About 40 people were on it, out of 200 in the audience.
At the last panel of the day, there were about 300 in the audience, with about 60 people on the chat. It again ripped into high gear, so much so that the panelists were twisted around trying to read it, while the audience was roaring over the discussion onscreen verses onstage. People were totally engaged in what the speakers were saying, questioning and riffing on it. Jay Rosen later noted that it was a big neck strain to turn to read it .. and Arianna Huffington finally got a laptop from someone in the audience so she could face us and maybe respond to it onscreen, though she didn't appear to type anything. However, she too noted that it had a life of it's own, and maybe their panel should just keep silent in the face of it. But they kept going, as the audience kept on. Weaving a discussion on many levels, fast and furious.
It was a new level of theater, one I haven't seen before this intensely. Good show!
In fact, if you do panels, which in larger setting are required, the chat is a must onscreen behind. And if you are lucky, you'll get this good an interaction.
Last panel of the day (note, Jeff Jarvis had to leave part way through for a media interview):
May 19, 2005
Trapsing around from wifi to wifi
I'm working at the corner of University and 12th Street in Manhattan. I was in a diner for three hours.. but they have no power.. however I was seated 4 feet from the wifi Verizon grey rubber thingy. So my batteries ran out. And I moved across the street to Buona Sera, which has a plug.. and a direct line of sight to the grey thingy on top of the Verizon pay phones. Except when a truck drives by and gets stuck in traffic.. blocking the grey thinging.. and then I fall off IM and everything else.
Drat. It's never perfect. Though Buona Sera staff did tell me they would be hooking up their own wifi soon. And then, I'm going to camp out here always.
May 18, 2005
RSS Syndicate: Martin Nisenholtz and Doc Searls
Yesterday, Martin Nisenholtz of NYTimes talked about design issues and information online. Specifically, he stated this design problem: showing serendipity and showing organization.
I love this. Two years ago, I heard him speak, and interface, social information issues, design, were not on the table.
He scrapped his speech in favor of talking off the cuff with everyone about yesterday's announcement about TimesSelect for $50 a year for Op-Ed and news columnists, and a few other things.
He justified this charge as needing to cover the the cost of reporting.
Doc is now talking about the 'inevitable end of print' and how the NYTimes should charge for the new stuff, because it's timely. The old stuff 'lines birdcages' and therefore because the archives only make $1 million a year now (compared to the $1.3 billion a year they have in revenue), charging for archives is a folly.
In fact, charging for content in these ways, I think, is a folly, no matter whether it's old or new. Because you remove yourself from the conversation by having articles behind the firewall, where it can't be linked to, and it's only for a few people. But information economics is about having the network effect where information matters the most because the most people see it and use it.
Btw, I think this is Doc's best talk.
How do you build systems that are not paternalistic but still protect consumers.. but give users control
That's the question on the table at the panel Marc Canter is moderating, with Bob Wyman, Matt McAlister and George Kane.
Bob Wyman thinks we shouldn't collect Attention XML data until we have good privacy methods in place, Marc doesn't care if people know what he reads, and I asked what to build to answer my question:
How do you build systems that are not paternalistic but still protect consumers.. but give users control?
They didn't have a clear answer. But I think it's an important question for all of us to address.
May 17, 2005
RSS Syndicated: Biz Models for RSS
I'm at this conference, RSS Syndicate, at a panel called New Pathways to Profits: Exploring Business Models. Amos Schwartzfarb, of Work.com, Alex Williams of Corante and Paul Forster of Indeed.com are talking with Mark Harmon.
So, Forster just suggested that one business model might be to have a conference blogger doing regular updates, and then charge for those, via RSS.
Say what? How bout that's a value add to make the conference better. And what about all of the rest of us who live blog.. are we competitors in that model?
And Forster just talked about sponsored job results? But not with ads. Is that like sponsored search results? I really love those.
Consumers, markets, monitization. Over and over. Wo.
Okay. As Doc just blogged:
- Listening to a panel talking about "monetizing RSS feeds" with advertising, among other forms of "content" they "pour" into a "stream" for an "audience," yada yada yada blah blah blah... arf.
I say.. guys, you're in the matrix. You need to take the red pill, and get off the consumer rant.
Ps. this is freely live blogged for your pleasure. No ads. Just in the moment. Enjoy.
May 16, 2005
Adam Pennenberg Column Republished: With Credit Card Fraud The Merchant Pays
This is open sourced journalism.. Adam wrote this column but he can't run it on Wired because his column is on online media and this is not an online media issue. So here is it.. published openly.
Please republish at will.
With Credit Card Fraud The Merchant Pays
By Adam L. Penenberg
Lawrence Comras, owner and operator of Greenhome.com, figured out an elegant solution to credit card fraud. Unfortunately it worked so well, he almost went out of business -- and therein lies a cautionary tale for any merchant who has set up shop on the internet.
Greenhome, founded five years ago, is a small scale Bed, Bath and Beyond for the environmentally conscious (think Mother Jones readers). Products include appliances "that keep your home free from toxins and pollution" and "minimize your energy consumption;" apparel (loads of hemp); furniture constructed from "sustainably harvested trees" or "post-consumer plastics;" and for the kids: toys, bedding, clothes and art supplies that are free of toxic chemicals. With a low overhead -- Comras runs Greenhome out of his Bay Area garage -- and a growing demand for all natural products, he has created a nice niche business.
But as any online merchant can tell you, there is an awful lot of credit card fraud. And who pays? Unfortunately, the merchant. So while you have to hire a bank to authorize credit card transactions, if the card turns out to be phony, you're the one stuck with the bill.
For instance, in 2002, Greenhome got fleeced for a few thousand dollars in fraudulent charges. Someone purchased three flat screen computer monitors ("They take a tenth of the materials to make, Comras says, which means "they take up less space in landfills.") Only later did Comras find out that the card had been stolen. When Comras reviewed the transaction, he learned that the zip code didn't match. But it went through anyway. That's because all it takes for authorization is for the credit card number and expiration date to match. Even if the street address and Zip code don't, the bank typically OKs the transaction.
Before this, Comras hadn't given much thought to credit card fraud. But he realized he faced a significant problem. The approval process was completely binary: yes or no, yet he didn't have access to all the data he required to ensure a smooth transaction. Comras realized there was almost no limit to how much money he could be liable for if he were hit with a flurry of fraudulent transactions.
But being something of a geek, Comras came up with a way to combat the
problem. He set up a system that would rely on preauthorization, much like the system hotels use when they ask for a credit card when you check in. In Greenhome's case, it would ping the credit card account for $1. Of course, almost everyone will have $1 available in his account. But in the process, Comras would learn whether the zip code and address match the credit card number and expiration date. If it didn't, Greenhome would reject the transaction.
In a sense, Comras was able to code a program to instantly pre-authorize transactions before the bank authorized them. And all it cost him was 35 cents a transaction – the same the bank charged to authorize them. For 70 cents a sale, plus the usual 3 percent credit card charge all merchants pay, Comras thought he was protected.
It worked well -- for a while. Then earlier this year, Bank One customers started calling, asking why they were being charged a $1 transaction fee. Someone was running stolen credit cards through his system at the rate of about one a minute. It was very methodical. Maybe automated, maybe not. The perpetrator ran about 30,000 of them through the site in one month. And for each one, Comras was charged 35 cents. That wiped out every penny of profit he earned that month.
He called his bank, which had helped him engineer his credit card fraud solution in the first place, and demanded it not charge him this fee. Greenhome had been proactive, trying to help prevent fraud, he argued. Yet his bank refused to let him off the hook.
Comras' theory is, "It's possible that the banks have done the calculus and it's more in their interest to force the merchants to put whatever they want through because the banks can charge more when there is not a match." What he means is that the banks charge a slightly higher rate for transactions when the zip code doesn't match, yet they don't inform the merchants.
In other words, the banks don't care, since they make more money on
fraudulent transactions anyway.
So let the seller beware
May 11, 2005
These are real people communicating with each other -- Josh Leo
Watch the vlog post here: The Josh Leo Rant #1. It so rocks out. "Vloggywood." Sorry. Laughing.
I've watched it 5 times in the past few minutes. Wo.
Okay. Back to work.
The Heterogeneity Issue, Part I: Pop!Tech
Update: the person mentioned below who is affiliated with Poptech is not an 'organizer' but instead is one of a 'loosely affiliated working group' that many people are apart of that do different things for Poptech.
This is a subject I haven't blogged about too much, though I've discussed with people in person. Diversity, homogeneity and heterogeneity are difficult issues, because it's easy to be misconstrued. I don't want favors for people due to their demographics or some sense that they are supposed to be included in order to create heterogeneity. I want people to be included because of their work, perspective or ideas. I'm not interested in quotas.
I choose conferences that see and talk about new and diverse ideas and perspectives. I also go to see people, but the first choice is around the conference material itself. I realize the world is much more interesting and broad than just my white female Bay Area perspective; it's a dead end without other ideas. I cannot survive doing work without knowing people and work beyond my own little world. However, not everyone needs to share this. They are free and welcome to make groupings of work and people from a singular perspective, and present these in conferences or anywhere else.
So when I choose a conference to go to, what I want are discussions, work, perspectives and ideas framed to reflect what they really represent.
After listening to Pop!Tech's sessions last fall, I blogged about how the conference was just in need of reframing. Okay, this was cheeky. But I don't believe in forcing a conference like that to change or telling them they are bad for not including people who are not white men. Rather, I want them to be honest about what they represent. They had mostly white males presenting last year, with one woman and one black man, and so, Pop!Tech 2004, in addressing "The Next Renaissance" was really addressing the next renaissance from the perspective of white men, about white men's experiences with the concept of it.
For 2005, the Pop!Tech theme is Grand Challenges..
- PopTech will explore some of the greatest challenges confronting humanity, and the role that new ideas, and new technologies, will play in responding to each in the future.
Sounds really great. I'd love to listen to people exploring great challenges.
But here too, it's not all humanity that Pop!Tech is addressing or giving perspective from.. it's from the perspective of mostly white men. Nothing wrong with that. Currently on their site, they have 12 speakers, with 2 that are women (one appears to be Indian), two Indian men. So they have 16% women, and 25% non-white. That's fine. Just frame the conference as addressing "grand challenges" from the perspective of *mostly* white men.
After I wrote the Pop!Tech post last fall, I was talking with one of the people who helps with it in a loosely affiliated working group (note, this sentence was updated). He told me he'd read my post, and didn't understand why women complained about not having women speakers at conferences. He thought that women should just make their own conferences if they wanted to speak. I said in response, you mean, separate but equal? I think he got it, that this was a silly way to see things.
The point is, if you purport to represent the world, and cover the world, in your conference or discussion, then do it by including people who are beyond your demographic, and work that goes beyond your demographic (and there is lots of amazing work out there by folks who happen to have other perspectives), for projects and ideas covering other worlds than yours. This isn't about forcing a change, it's about being honest about what you're perspective is.
Right now, Pop!Tech doesn't appear to have changed much over last year, though they have slightly higher participation from non-white males right now. However, when they post the full 30 speakers they intend to showcase, they will need to have many more people with different perspectives if they expect us to believe they cover the whole world. Though, to show they have women, they've put one of the two woman at the top of the speaker's list. See the image below, but note the list is vertically placed on the Pop!Tech page:
Yes, I do love my Flickr. And yet, there is one small thing I'd like.
Oh Please Flickr.. and Yahoo. Please add spell checking to your list! Now that I spend time blogging in Flickr as well (my 14th blog, eek!) I find I need this.
Titles and tags I've got covered with my uploader. But I need my posts checked. And that's something I put directly on the Flickr site.
Save me from myself, Flickr. Or at least my typos. And I'll love you forever.
May 10, 2005
Friday night, 6-9pm Citizen Journalism Event in SF
Friday night (YES, the 13th!) at Varnish Fine Art 77 Natoma street between 1st and 2nd St. and Mission and Howard.
This event celebrates and supports two things:
1. support for Dan Gillmor's Citizen Journalism project and the conversation in general
2. celebration and support for JD Lasica, who's book, Darknet, came out yesterday according to his website .. or Amazon says 4/15 but whatever.. it's still fantastic as he's worked long and hard on this book about the Darknet and remix culture!
And look forward to seeing all you citizen journalists on Friday.
May 08, 2005
The Open Media 22
At first I thought about not participating in this awards contest. But I decided that I would do so if only to nominate people who've done really cool things, teach me daily about open media, or push the boundaries and change things for the better over time, though they may not be so obvious. Or maybe they are. But they aren't all on the Technorati Top 100 list for inbound linkage or at every conference panel.
My reservations about this process and the awards generally include:
1. Aren't things in online media just a little young for awards at this point? I mean, only one or two of the companies associated with the people below have revenue of any consequence, much less are profitable and the internet is changing so fast in such a short time, what is the value of spending time on these awards?
2. I think of awards as something people who've spent maybe twenty years doing something and they are about to retire get. As it is, this crowd is constantly invited to talk and show leadership and authority in demonstrable ways. So do we really need to give out awards at this point?
3. On the other-hand, much of what has been in development for a long time isn't necessarily where the coolest and most innovative work is going on.. so my list is not a reflection of what I think really matters right now or who's most innovative at the moment, with the exception of one or two.
4. Most importantly, isn't this just a popularity contest for the nominees, categories and contest makers? We're likely to nominate who comes to mind, which are the people we see (online or in person) most often right at this moment in time. I tried to think about people who've consistently done thoughtful and innovative work, including the hard and unglam stuff that none-the-less is important, not just those with notoriety. Though a few of them are also my friends (and one is an employee!!). So take it all with a giant grain of salt because there's no way this is objective. These are the people who teach me things that I find valuable, stick their necks out for the good of open media or have made something I value.
As for the categories. Well, they seem very very limited, and redundant. What about artists that are creating open media arts, the push the boundaries.. like Illegal Art, or DJ Spooky, or DangerMouse. There are many more. And what about emphasizing non-text open media. By implication, the categories are open to all media, but they tend to give terms that are most associated with textual media.
The contest may not be entirely open to all who participate in open media, in the sense that by requiring the blogging of votes, means that you must have a blog to participate.
Regarding the contest makers, right now the blogpost tag structure means that we must link to something, instead of nothing, to make a tag and get it scraped, and be included in the contest. In order to have the links resolve to something that makes sense in the blog posts, we will most likely link to the companies involved instead of to an open source, open media webpage aggregating the nominees, because that doesn't exist.
Many bloggers have told me they specifically don't use tags in their blog posts even though they'd like to because they don't like linking repeatedly to a company in the tag structure. Right now their blogging tools don't allow them to make a tags page for their own blog's tags, something that essentially nullifies the link but allowes the link to be clicked to somewhere useful. They can make the tag link point to any website, but as long as there is a link requirement, they feel uncomfortable about the current situation and won't use it until it changes. For these users, there will be less participation. Maybe it doesn't matter so much, but if this is discouraging for some, the pool of participants is reduced, composed of bloggers who tag, and therefore the pool of nominees and winners may not be as representative or interesting for open media, which is a much larger universe than that of the blogosphere.
Pioneers: industry luminaries who created the vision of open media and continue to shape it.
The Tool Smiths: web service entrepreneurs and companies building the open media tools (blogs, social software, wikis, RSS, analytic tools, etc.).
(Question: isn't the concept of open media at odds with the concept that everyone in this category is an entrepreneur or company? Can't open source, non-proprietary, non-company open media tool makers be on this too?)
The Trendsetters: the influencers driving and evangelizing the adoption and applications of Open Media.
The Practitioners: the top bloggers in politics, business, technology, and media.
The Enablers: the venture capitalists and investors backing the Open Media Revolution.
Broadcast Flag: Yippee!
You know this is a major issue for me and I've blogged it a lot. Friday a Federal Appeals Court vacated the BF ruling the FCC made a year or so ago. I was out when I heard it, and yesterday was crazy. But I just wanted to say, this totally rocks! Thank goodness!
And here is Ernie Miller's explanation of what the BF is about:
- For those who are unfamiliar with the Broadcast Flag, it was ... it was a regulation promulgated by the FCC at the request of Hollywood that would have required all HDTV receivers to incorporate certain copy controls. Starting this July, all HDTV receivers sold in the US would be required to enforce restrictions on copying HDTV broadcasts that were tagged with the "Broadcast Flag." Although you might be able to record HDTV shows, you wouldn't be able to make additional copies for personal use (such as watching in another room) without a lot of hassle, if it was possible at all, not to mention taking a copy to watch at a friend's house. The ramifications of this authority grab by the FCC were enormous, since it would have, among other things, essentially given them the power to control significant aspects of the design of anything capable of using HDTV signals, i.e., modern PCs.
May 06, 2005
My Virtual Candidate: Andrew Rasiej
I'm not a New York City resident, so I don't vote there. But I do care about NY, and visit regularly. My interest in the way it's run is, from my vantage point outside NY, somewhat virtual. However, NY's problems are very real, and so anyone who looks for new and interesting ways to solve them gets my attention.
I like Andrew Rasiej a lot. He's running for NYC Public Advocate. The Public Advocate is sort of a vice-mayor, though he is independent of the mayor and can oppose him. Before this, Andrew founded MOUSE (Making Opportunities for Upgrading Schools and Education), "a non-profit organization focused on integrating technology into teaching and learning in urban public schools."
Andrew is a really smart, thoughtful guy, who I think really cares about making things better than they are now. You can check out more here at Adam Penenberg's TechnoAdvocate Q&A.
And he is running based on three things I really like:
- 1. Getting people more connected through public wifi, open technology, transparency and engagement in New York City government.
2. "Our supporters are smarter than us" is his slogan, and what I see him doing is getting people to use group problem solving to work on NYC. This includes but isn't just about online systems that are easy and in place already to share the collective smartness of the populace. Example: getting people to tag Flickr photos of potholes, text messaging each other with quick information about something that needs immediate attention, and using online systems to inform and organize.
3. Andrew is accepting contributions of no more than $100 and if you donate before May 11, there is 4 to 1 matching (so your $100 turns into $500!! Wow!!)
Show that a candidate worth supporting can do this with small contributions in with an online infrastructure by donating and participating.
And get on the bus!
May 05, 2005
Follow up on the Gender Guessing Game
I was telling a couple of people the other night about my experience playing the Gender Guessing Game. They had played as well, and we compared notes. Anita Wilhelm and I both guessed correctly in our two tests, but we managed to do this in very different ways. Since the test only gave 5 minutes to figure it out, and two IM's had to be conducted at the same time, in order to guess the male and the female IMers, we each used very different strategies. Anita decided to just make general conversation, with the idea that girls are more tentative in the nature of their answers to questions but they explain a lot more. She said that the boys don't give any extra information and were more definite. She said it was obvious, using this criteria, who were boys and who were girls.
Since I felt under pressure to get answers quickly, and to start the test right when they gave me the IM's, I decided at the last second to ask them a series of questions about going out on a date, to see how they would manage the situation. I asked what they would do if they went out on a first date with someone they thought was really hot, and they wanted to sleep with them, and the opportunity was there, would they. In each case, the girls said no, they would want to go out more, but the boys said that no they wouldn't, but with caveats. The caveat was that if they knew they didn't want to see the date again, and could do it without any problem, they would sleep with the date. Based on that it was easy to figure it out, though the 5 minutes did fly by trying to get the answers.
So I was a little dismayed with myself, that I resorted to such stereotypes and this dating line of questioning to figure out gender, rather than Anita's more subtle route of just asking random questions to look for response style and tone. In retrospect, it was kind of funny to do it, but it also shows how easy it is to rely on stereotypes, even if those stereotypes are not true all the time. Using them allowed me to effectly figure out gender, very fast. It was sort of the Blink method, in a way, to just get a hit on something to understand it very fast, even though it's not at all deep or nuanced.
So when I told Anita and the others the other night, they thought it was very funny, and that I should report on what had happened. I'd love to hear how and what others did when participating in the study. I'm sure others used more interesting ways to determine the gender of someone in 5 minutes of IMing with them.
May 03, 2005
cc: on Meetup
I sent this to a mail list I'm on, but decided to blog it too. It was feedback on Meetup's new pricing structure which asks for $19 a month or approximately $240 a year from each group:
Maybe people *should* pay for Meetups, but the current structure and pricing does tend to encourage either loose groups or small groups to go elsewhere and not pay, and the fact that people are having more fun after they switch may be a problem too.
At the Flickr Meetup the other night, Mike, the organizer, introduced himself and then a bit into the conversation, mentioned that the usual Flickr Meetup had approximately 7 people show up each month.
Then he said that there was no way he was going to pay the $240 a year, for 8 people total, when an email list would do, or he could get a hosted website for $150, or better yet, a free google group for free, except that he doesn't like the interaction there. He was quite adamant about it, as were the other 5 or so people around him, nodding in agreement about the fees at $240/yr being a huge problem.
As it turns out, about 70 people went to this one (photos), and so I asked Mike about the increase in numbers, and he said most of the attendees Monday had never been on their Meetup list, but when it got posted to Upcoming.org, it became much more popular because you don't have to login to see the event location, people can leave comments about the event that resemble Flickr comments, and since everyone in this group was already into that mode... there was lots of activity that made the event look like it was going to be fun with a lot of different people.
I asked whether he would consider doing a tip jar, or asking participants each month to pay, and he responded that he just wanted to enjoy the event and not have to hit everyone up for money, (especially doing so monthly, though he like the idea of a yearly fee because he said it would be much easier to manage and ask for donations). Asking for money sort of ruined it for him, since he already had to put in the time to organize it. I also asked if he would pay $40 a year, and he said absolutely, but that $240 a year was ludicrous.
And he mentioned that no one asked him about the new fees, but as meetup has his contact info and he is a Meetup organizer, he though they ought to have asked organizers for input before charging.
There is one last problem: when and if structured blogging becomes easily searchable and reliable, people will list meetups on their blogs, and others will find them through Google, Pubsub, Technorati and Feedster. At that point, all of Meetup's current value will go out the window, because people will be able to find each other based on location, topic, tags, etc. much more easily than they can now, so Meetup should probably consider some additional services that structured blogging can't cover in order to remain relevant.
Also, see this photo of Flickr getting a massage.