Joho the BlogOctober 2007 - Page 3 of 5 - Joho the Blog

October 13, 2007

Why I wish I could get MythTV to work

David Pogue has a piece about TiVo’s support of the National Hockey League’s use of DRM. I don’t care about hockey (unless that’s the sport the Red Sox play, since residents of Boston are apparently legally required to insert “Go Sox!!!!!” into everything they write), but I do care about handing over to my machines the power to override Fair Use and fair use.

So, after about two years of trying, I sure wish I could get my open source MythTV to work :( [Tags: drm tivo nhl mythtv copyright ]


October 12, 2007

A fine Amazon reviewer

Chris Locke, in a mailing to his EGR mailing list, describes his discovery of Caldinoro, a dolt who reviews at Amazon, except he (possibly she) is having the last laugh. Take a look at some of the reviews.

I’ll just give you one tidbit, because it appeals to the miscellaneous side of me. Chris points out that Caldinoro has three Amazon ListMania lists:

1. Hamburger-related books
2. Non-hamburger-related books; and

3. More non-hambuger-related books

[Tags: chris_locke caldinoro amazon reviews humor everything_is_miscellaneous ]

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The best Internet candidate, the best Internet non-candidate, the best Internet spouse, and the worst Internet candidate

if you love the Internet and want to keep it free, I think the Democratic candidate with the best Internet policy ies is John Edwards (Disclosure: I am an unpaid consultant on Internet policy to the Edwards campaign). He’s got progressive positions on Net Neutrality, the 700MHz auction, amd broadband access. The guy who just won an Oscar for best Nobel Peace Prize and Elizabeth Edwards would also be great Net candidates.

And here’s Matt Stoller on Hillary as a Net candidate:

… Here’s Clinton’s ‘Innovation Agenda‘ . Notice what’s missing? That’s right, net neutrality.
And here’s a tip as to what she’s really planning.

Establish a national broadband strategy called Connect America

Clinton is citing a program called Connect Kentucky as a national model for expanding broadband penetration. Connect Kentucky, which is embraced by the telcos as a way of warding off net neutrality and a real internet policy, defines broadband as 256k, which is about 500 times slower than what’s in Japan…


Auto-tag your blog

Jeremy Wagstaff on Jiglu for auto-tagging your blog and its archive…

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October 11, 2007

Veerstichting conference

I’m at the Veerstichting conference in charming, delightful, beautiful Leiden..

I had to surrender my laptop to the AV squad — I would have been the only one taking notes on one anyway — so I could only scribble a few notes on a piece of paper, and even then I only heard the first two speakers all the way through.

Jan Willem Duyvendak is the author of the book on human herds and identity. Since the theme of the conference is the power of the herd, he was a natural beginning. He talked about the Dutch believe that they are a diverse society when in fact there is much commonality among them. “We are a herd of individualists,” he said. He spoke in the context of the current Dutch debate over immigration and national identity.

Next, Shashi Tharoor, an author and once high enough at the UN to be consider for the secretary general post, gave a beautiful and delightful talk about the Indian national identity. After listing some of that country’s amazing diversity (23 official languages, for example), he said “The singular thing about India is you can only talk about it in the plural.” Indian national identity, he says, works in practice but could not work in theory. It is a nationalism of the idea that people can disagree, so long as they agree on the ground rules.

Domitila Mukantaganzwa, the Executive Secretary of National Service of Gacaca Courts in Rwanda, went through in some detail the process of trying almost 900,000 people for crimes of genocide. The magnitude of the legal process implicitly showed the extent of the suffering. She was asked why the South African peace and reconciliation process forgave those who acknowledged their crimes, while the Rwandans are punishing those convicted. She said the severity of the crimes were different. And the Rwandans, she said, need to develop a culture of accountability. The survivors need to see the guilty punished. They also need, she says, to have the guilty tell them where they committed their crimes so parents can find and bury their children with dignity. This is a story beyond comment.

Finally, after rewriting and rewriting the talk I’d prepared on the challenge of the implicit in forming groups (summarized here), I at the last moment decided not to switch. So I gave the one on the implicit. I have no idea how it went over. [Tags: veerstichting crowds india rwanda leiden ]

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Explain cookies, win $5,000

Berkman and, sponsored by Google, are having a contest. Create a YouTube that explains cookies and win yourself $5,000. And before you waste your time getting out the flour and the cookie cutters, be sure to read the rules. [Tags: cookies videos contests youtubes berkman ]

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October 10, 2007

My maybe-talk at Veerstichting

I’ve been working hard on a new presentation, to be given tomorrow at the Veerstichting conference in Leiden, in the Netherlands. After tonight’s speakers dinner, I’m thinking maybe the last half (including the Wikipedia portions) of my Everything is Miscellaneous talk would be more suitable. I don’t what I’ll decide.

Here’s the gist of the new talk. I’m going to be sketchy, because I have to go to sleep very soon, but mainly because there’s something missing at the talk’s core. The title is something like “The Challenge of the Implicit.” It’s a 20-minute talk.

The Web is best understood as a social realm. But groups (vs. mere groupings) become real when people know more about one another than they can say. For example, I can’t tell you much of what I know about my kids. And when you can express a character in just a phrase, the character’s been badly written. What makes a group a group is not the lines among the people, but what is unsaid and can’t ever be said fully

But computers are monsters of the explicit. That’s why in the 1950s they symbolized the mechanizing of relationships. From the beginning, information itself was invented to manage, and thus reduce, complex relationships. Now this poorly defined word (few use it in Shannon’s sense) has become an assumed part of how we know our world.We think we’re constantly emitting info. E.g., a street scene used to be a river with eddies of public and private. Now it’s all info. This has enabled a switch in how we think of privacy, from that which we exclude from the record, to what the authorities are not allowed to pay attention to in the record that now includes everything.

The Web is a disruption in this informationalization. It is built of links, which use language to contextualize relatioships. Links are the opposite of databased information: They enrich rather than reduce, are decentralized, personal, and fundamentally social in that they are written by one person for others to use.

Yet the Web is (in a sense) lousy at the social. It knows about links but not about people or groups. That’s why social networking sites are rising so quickly. They internalize the Web, providing the connective features we’re used to on the Net (email, IM, etc.).

While groups depend on the implicit, social networking sites start by asking for explicit info about our network and interests. But that’s ok because they so quickly transcend those sticks and twine. Real, messy social relations grow. Good!

But: (1) Making things explicit can be highly disruptive. Computers — and software designers — are not always good at this, especially since we don’t have good norms yet, and perhaps never will. (2) Much of what’s of value in the implicit was created without intending to. There are thus issues about how much we are entitled to make not just explicit but public. (3) The implicit is by its nature messy and connective. It always drags more into the light than it intended. It’s thus hard to keep the above issues separate and containable. (4) We have an obligation and an opportunity to increase and preserve the unspoken. Explicitly.

The end.

I’m thinking that this talk is not ready to be presented. Too bad. I’ve worked hard on it. I guess I’ll decide tomorrow morning. Sigh. [Tags: implicit sociality veerstichting ]


Google buys Jaiku

I like Jaiku both because as the second entrant, it learned from Twitter, the first entrant, and because Jyri Engeström is one of those brilliant, sweet people who make the world better in several dimensions at once. (Disclosure: Jyri is a conference buddy.)

It’ll be interesting to see where Google surfaces the UI for entering Jaiku microblog posts and where it surfaces the posts themselves.

And most important, of course, is whether Jaiku will be renamed Jaigoo or Jookle. [Tags: jaiku twitter google blogging Jyri_Engeström everything_is_miscellaneous ]


October 9, 2007

Berkman lunch: Drew Clark , Media Tracker

Drew Clark of the Center for Public Integrity is giving a Berkman lunch about the Media Tracker project. [As always, I’m paraphrasing, missing things, getting things wrong. You can always hear the entire talk at Media Berkman.]

In 1934, the Fed Communications Act was passed and the FCC was created. It got authority over radio and the Bell system. “So, for many years you had effectively two sides of the FCC: The wireless side and the wired side.” The past couple of decades has made that much messier. Drew’s group watches the FCC.

He shows the Media Tracker. Type in a zip code and it searches 5 million records and it shows the which media are available there, including TV radio, cable, broadband and newspapers. IT shows that for 94306, Clear Channel has 13 stations. Media Tracker provides three different views and lots and lots of detail, including type of license and parent company. And, of course, you can slice by media company as well, seeing not only how many outlets they own, but also how much they’ve donated to each political rep. Then you can click on a member of Congress to see all the contributions she’s received from individuals and companies in the media sector. (Here’s Google. Here’s Comcast.)

The Media Tracker is part of the Well Connected project which also includes blogs, investigative reports, and the telecom portal at Congresspedia.

Drew also talks about FCC Watch, still in beta. But the work they’ve done on the 700MHz auction gives a taste of what’s to come. They scrape the ex parte summaries every hour to see who’s lobbying which commissioners. (Frontline is the most active lobbyist on this issue, followed by the CTIA .) You can click all the way through to see the summary of a particular lobbyist’s phone calls to a commissioner. You can easily see who, say, Chairman Martin is meeting with.

Q: You’re familiar with Connect Kentucky…?
A: Connect Kentucky has gained a lot of traction in the past year, for some good reasons. It’s a state-led initiative, housed in a non-profit. It started out to get tech deployed in deprived communities. They connect data about broadband availability. It’d be good to also know about competitors, speeds, and prices. Drew would like to build a system for tracking all of this nationally.

Q: (ethanz) I’m dumbstruck to find out that companies are required to register every telephone call their lobbyists make. But what are the data sets that you can’t get? What are the crown jewels that should be available and aren’t?
A: 1. Broadband competition, speed, and price. 2. More detailed reporting about the Congressional lobbying. 3. Do that for the states as well . 4. Likewise for lobbying disclosure for international.

Q: (jpalfrey) We’ve been interested in a distributed app that you download onto your PC. The ONI is interested in this as a way of gathering data about which sites are being filtered, but you could do this for speed tests as well. It’d have three checkboxes: Check for malware, check for filtered sites, and check speeds.
A: eCorridors has a distributed speed test (using NDT, an open source network diagnostic tool) that does something similar.

Q: (doc) How about harnessing the power of the crowd?
A: We want to do that.

Q: (me) Has the ONI thought about having say, Google Tools include its reporting sw as an opt-in? It could also gather Dave’s data.
A: ONI has so far only aimed at “gold standard” data. But we have a project for developing this distributed software, which would provide useful data but not totally trustworthy.

Q: [missed it]
A: This is both a journalism effort and a citizen data effort.

A: Newspapers will be gone in 20 years. It’s time to play taps and move on. We have to think creatively and work collaboratively in some new ways. It has a bright future but a very different future.

Q: (jp) What difference is this info making?
A: It’s always hard to tell. The openness of the Internet is of the same value as the traditional values enshrined in our Constitution. [Tags: center_for_public_integrity media_tracker fcc mashups web2.0 fcc_watch connect_kentucky broadband 700MHz everything_is_miscellaneous net_neutrality ]

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October 8, 2007

Tags needed

Why oh why aren’t there tags in Google Calendar? Oh my sweet Jeebus, I want tags for events! I get so tired ot trying to find every birthday, every speech, every “maybe” event. In fact, I try to use those terms — embedded tags! — in the content itself just so I can find the events again. Please, oh great Google, give us, your unworthy supplicants, calendar tags!

Wordie started out as a joke – a site that was all tags and no content. Now it’s added tags. I have to run for a train, so I don’t have time to step into its infinite loop of metareference, but John McGrath explains it all here. [Tags: tags tagging folksonomy google_calendar wordie ]


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