Joho the BlogAugust 2007 - Page 3 of 6 - Joho the Blog

August 17, 2007

FCC Commissioner on censorship and Net neutrality

Matt Stoller has YouTubed Michael “the good FCC Commissioner” Copps connecting AT&T’s censoring of Pearl Jam with the need for Net neutrality. (At another level of the stack, so to speak, David Isenberg shows the disconnection. They’re both right.)

Matt has a second YouTube in which Commissioner Copps explains how the reclassification of Internet carriers in 2005 meant the loss of the Net neutrality that used to be the law of the land. [Tags: net_neutrality fcc michael_copps david_isenberg at&t pearl_jam ]

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August 16, 2007

Andrew Keen’s Best Case

I’ve posted a long piece at Huffington Post that tries to put together the strongest, most coherent version of Andew “Cult of the Amateur” Keen’s argument against the Web…and then critiques it. Tags: andrew_keen web_2.0 everything_is_miscellaneous ]


David Sifry resigns as Technorati CEO

My friend David Sifry has resigned as Technorati‘s CEO because it’s grown to the point where it needs a person with strengths other than the founder’s. He’ll stay on as chairman of the board. The company is looking for a replacement. In the meantime, a triumvirate will act as an Office of the President.

Technorati also announced it’s laid off eight employees in order to “focus” and “adjust our expense structure,” according to Dave’s email. That’s painful. I wish them well.

Dave, too. Dave is one of the people who keep contributing and giving. I can’t wait to see what he does next. (Disclosure: I am on Technorati’s board of advisors.) [Tags: ]


OpenCourseWare director appointed Massachusetts CIO

In what sounds like a promising move, the commonwealth has appointed Anne Margulies as our Chief Information Officer. Margulies is currently the executive director of MIT’s inspiring OpenCourseWare project. She’s the fourth CIO in two years, so let’s hope she’s there long enough to do some good. (Here’s a podcast of a session at the Berkman Center she led.)

A predecessor, Peter Quinn, resigned after false charges were leveled against him, suspiciously after he championed requiring the commonwealth to use only software that supports open standards, i.e., not Microsoft. David Berlind has the full story on that requirement.

So, Margulies is not entering a humdrum environment. Her commitment to openCourseWare is a good sign.

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August 15, 2007

Susan Crawford explains the 700MHz give-away, um, auction

Susan Crawford goes through the details of the FCC’s decision about the rules for auctioning off the 700MHz chunk of our (yours and mine, sisters and brothers) spectrum. The quick overview is that the closer you look, the worse it gets, and it doesn’t start off that great to begin with [Tags: susan_crawford fcc 700mh net_neutrality ]

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Hello, it’s the crowd calling on line 3

From Christopher Herot at Zingdom Communications:

The concept is very simple: you add this application to your Facebook account, give it your phone number (just US and Canada for now), provide some selection criteria, and wait for your phone to ring. You’ll be connected, for free, to another person on Facebook who made matching selections. You talk for a minute and it disconnects. You see their first name and their photo, but no other information, such as your phone number or profile, is revealed. At the end of the call, if both of you so agree, the application will re-connect you for a more extended conversation. Otherwise you can move on to the next person.

Chris warns that the app works best when there’s critical mass. Also, he writes (in an email): “To install it, you’ll need to add it to your Facebook profile. So, log into Facebook, then cut and paste the following URL into your browser. .”

I haven’t tried it. I’m not that social. [Tags: zing facebook social_networks ]

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Well-trained news

Paul Graham‘s Y-Combinator has come up with a variation on the Digg theme. Y-Combinator was the incubator for, a Digg-like site that was bought by CondeNet about a year ago, and Y-Combinator has been maintaining a site focused on news about start-ups. Paul — who is a superb writer and thinker, as anyone who has read his stuff knows — is now opening up its topics to news of interest to startups and hackers, which is a much wider range.

What’s most interesting (well, to me, anyway) are the changes the site is making in the social dynamics. Reddit, says Paul, became of less interest to hackers like him as it succeeded with a wider public. Since the readers determine what make it onto the site, that’s the price of mainstream-ish success. To keep HackerNews focused on news of interest to hackers — and presumably, to exclude the sort of tech tabloid stories that show up at Digg that may be of interest to hackers but irrelevant to hacking &mdash a team of techies will “train” the system on what are relevant stories and what are not. (Since Paul is directly responsible for the widespread use of Bayesian spam filters, the word “training” makes me think there’s an element of that here.) People who thumbs-up stories that the system thinks are relevant will gain authority within the system (their thumbs up and down will count for more), and those who thumbs-up irrelevant stories will lose authority.

In addition, the site’s comments will be moderated to maintain “civility,” i.e., not ad hominem arguments.

I suppose there may be purists who think this is a betrayal of the wisdom of the crowd. But there is no such thing as untouched crowdal wisdom. In every case, someone has made decisions about how to gather the crowd’s input, who counts as a member of the crowd, how much authority the crowd will have, whether and how the wishes of the minority are respected, what the means of redress are, what typeface should be used to announce the crowd’s decision, and a thousand more factors. No single crowd mechanism works for every issue. We need lots and lots of ways of creating collective understanding. HackerNews sounds like a very interesting experiment at the least, and quite possibly much more than that. [Tags: hackernews digg reddit paul_graham media news everything_is_miscellaneous wisdom_of_the_crowd ]

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August 14, 2007

Globalization of corporate ethics

John Palfrey and Jonathan Zittrain, of the Berkman Center, have an article at C-NET on the ethical difficulties of doing business in tyrannical countries.

The more promising route is for one or more groups of industry members to come up with a common, voluntary code of conduct to guide the activities of individual firms in regimes that carry out online censorship and surveillance. Such a process has begun. Google, Microsoft, Vodafone, Yahoo and TeliaSonera are actively working together on a code. This process includes nongovernment organizations (NGOs)&mdashincluding Business for Social Responsibility and the Center for Democracy and Technology…

As JP and Jonathan say, “The development of a code of conduct itself solves only a small part of the problem.” But it’s a key part. I’m proud to say that the Berkman Center is one of the NGOs working on this project. [Tags: berkman john_palfrey jonathan_zittrain corporate_responsibility ethics google microsoft yahoo ]


August 13, 2007

Gwabs – crowdsourced desktop combat

Gwabs has a cool little trailer up showing how much fun it’ll be to go hand-to-hand where the destructible environment is your desktop. (Windows only. [Tags: games gwabs ]

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12 worst presidential sites has a slightly amusing review of 12 presidential candidates’ Web sites [Tags: politics_humor ]

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