Saturday, October 31, 2009

What e-waste does to other communities

It provides certain communities with jobs and a living - but at what cost?  Images which - at the very least - will disconcert here, as the interdependence of world trade shuffles the underbelly of the bright side of modern gadgetry to countries like China.  There must be a better way.  Surely we should really learn to pick up our own rubbish.  Via John Naughton's Memex and

Friday, October 30, 2009

Trends that are reshaping communities

More evidence of significant changes taking place in our communities - in this case, at the hands of open source:
The French Government's public finance department will switch 130,000 desktop PC's to Mozilla's email and calendar applications. Mozilla's Thunderbird email service, Lightning Calendar and an open-source groupware will replace IBM Lotus Notes and Microsoft Office. The move signals how more government agencies from around the world are dropping enterprise accounts with major vendors to cut down on costs and get better license agreements.They are turning to open-source providers and companies like Google that can offer email and services such as Google Docs.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Mediated communication? Oh, just get used to the idea!

Since it is inevitable that, in a global culture, our conversation will be mediated in some way or other, our focus should not be on whether this should happen but how.  In any case, mediation always existed - you spoke to someone and prejudice - or simple observation - immediately intervened: was this person richer or poorer, more highly educated or less highly educated, better dressed or worse, taller or shorter?  Mediation, insofar as it provides a context which affects how we communicate with others, has always existed and will never disappear.

We do really have to get used to it.

In a global village, however, it is easier to assign blame - or, at the very least, apportion responsibility - for what often seem to be covert acts of mediation.  A very simple example: the very fact that MSN and other chat clients have popularised an ever-broadening range of ready-made emoticons mean that our younger generations haven't had to learn the short-hand - the code - that originally defined them.  From the codified to the picturesque and literal in one corporate bound.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Prefab politics, and PolicyWiki retreads galore ...

If I had anyone to wave with, I'd wave this idea. Prefab politics. This was an email I sent to a certain Beth Noveck in 2006. It was a bright idea which like all bright ideas before it had already been thought up by someone else. That someone else was Noveck and her colleagues.  Their website was called - or something like that - because, as is my wont, when I have a bright idea, my first instinct is to register a website; I went to do so and to my chagrin found it was taken! The site is, however, no longer operational, as far as I can see, but the germ of an idea remains.

I don't generally publish private emails, but I think the content of this one is worth republishing here.  It's my half of the conversation, not hers, so I don't think I'm breaking any rules:

Microsoft so happy with Windows 7 they launch their own version of Linux

As Ubuntu readies its latest version, Microsoft - apparently pleased with the sales of Windows 7 - decides it has to have all the bases covered and launches its very own version of Linux.  That, anyhow, is what Dell was advertising recently on its website.

Surely, some mistake, as the Register points out.

It's not a bad idea though.

Sunday, October 25, 2009 4 Kids

Here's a beautiful, supportive and community-orientated idea if there ever was one. 4 Kids.  The website introduces the project in the following way:

Why has gone open source

More reason for the British government to take note and understand open source more constructively. This article, via 0pensource's Twitter feed, describing as it does how those running the American government's own website have decided to use open source tools instead of proprietary systems, tells an intriguing tale:
The great Drupal switch came about after the Obama new media team, with a few months of executive branch service (and tweaking of under their belts, decided they needed a more malleable development environment for the White House web presence. They wanted to be able to more quickly, easily, and gracefully build out their vision of interactive government. General Dynamics Information Technology (GDIT), the Virginia-based government contractor who had executed the Bush-era White House CMS contract, was tasked by the Obama Administration with finding a more flexible alternative. The ideal new platform would be one where dynamic features like question-and-answer forums, live video streaming, and collaborative tools could work more fluidly together with the site's infrastructure. The solution, says the White House, turned out to be Drupal. That's something of a victory for the Drupal (not to mention open-source) community.
More from this report here.  More from Drupal itself here

How Postman Meh! Leads To Free Hugs

No.  I'm not going to lambaste you with reasons to support or undermine the CWU strike.  This video came to me via Tom Watson's Twitter feed.  In part, it tells the story which Neil Postman's "Amusing Ourselves to Death" began to define.

The thesis of the video itself, which I post below, seems to be that because we learn to know ourselves through relating to others, the new social media, which allow us to relate to so many more, may change the way we become.  Very little of our communication is unmediated any more.  Replay takes over from the single experience.  Replay isn't only a question of recognition but also leads to a curious kind of re-cognition.  But it's not only the self that plays a part in this process.  The "sociological experiment" that is watching others speaking to camera leads us not only to being distanced by media but also - simultaneously - brought closer to those we know we will never meet in person.  It's not just an act of self but also an act of community.

Facebook lite (or a Twitter with space to stretch)

Facebook lite is launched on a relatively unsuspecting public.  Oh, it's so clean, though, that it makes you wonder how it got so bloated - and, more importantly, how you agreed to put up with it.  Lovely piece of work. 

Feels, in fact, like a Twitter with space to stretch.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why a politics of equality may make us all richer

A good argument in these BNP-ridden times; a more than convincing argument as we prepare ourselves for the intellectual miseries and poverties of Tory misrule:
[...] Here, we have clear evidence that a more equal society does leave almost everyone better off. It is not simply the case that in England and Wales economic inequality means bad outcomes are shunted down the social scale; it is also true that inequality means bad outcomes are being distributed across the social scale, making even rich English parents more vulnerable than poor Swedish ones.

The future of IT is also the future of politics

This, from the Guardian and Mitch Kapor last week, is so right:
While Firefox is widely regarded as a huge success, Kapor warns that it is not actually the best example of the victory of open source. Instead, he suggests, the movement's main achievement actually lies out of sight – amid the systems that underpin the web itself.
"I tell people that the history of Mozilla and Firefox is so one of a kind that it should not be used – ever – as an example of what's possible," he says. "The accomplishment of open source is that it is the back end of the web, the invisible part, the part that you don't see as a user."
More here.

Embedding Wave on Blogger (II)

As per my previous post, if you have a Google Wave account and are logged in - or log in when requested - you should be able to see my wave below. I'm now going to try and see if it provides realtime updates.

Nope.  That didn't quite work out as expected.

Well, there's another update for you.  It won't render properly on Blogger for the moment but it does seem to update in real time on the website I've set up.  As long, that is, as you have a login for Wave.

Why do online companies follow this policy of invites?  Surely not to create interest.  Not any more.  Does it simply make upscaling manageable and serve to outsource to the crowds the debugging?

Is that all there is to it?

Embedding Wave on Blogger

This is an experiment - after a bit more Googling than I would have liked.  Let's see if it works. If it does, below you should see a wave I've been working on. Content-wise, it's nothing to write home about. But if it works, I'll try and post something more useful in a minute.

Update: didn't work. :-(

Further update: twenty minutes later - ah, but maybe it did after all.  :-)

Or, at least, I can now see the wave in question at the following site I've just created using the Google Apps website tools Labour Wave functions with.  The issue is whether you can see it as well.  I've made the page public but I'm not certain of the myriad of permissions that these systems generate amongst each other.

Next thing is to try embedding on Blogger itself, rather than a separate webpage.

Aha.  The updates flood in.  I've just tried to access the page I've set up with my embedded wave using a different browser and not logging in to Google.  It doesn't allow me to see the wave and asks me to log in first.  But the gadget exists and embedding in webpages is possible.

Extremadura, LinEx and owning one's means of production (no apologies for repeating myself)

I've posted this video several times - but make no apologies for posting it again.  The lessons are being learned, but ever so slowly.  We need to keep things moving.

More background from itself here (Google English here).  The video below.

Mozilla's Raindrop (II)

More on the Mozilla Raindrop community can be found here.  The @raindrop account at Twitter doesn't however seem currently active - or indeed searchable.

As always, it is my hope that we can find synergies that allow all these technologies to work together and support each other - that, in fact, people can impose their own virtualised socialising behaviours on those companies which would - otherwise - have us become consumer robots.

Mozilla's Raindrop

Mozilla is fast on the heels of Google with its Raindrop proposal.  At first glance, it seems to be more of a mightily sensible attempt to evolve email than a startling revolution in auditing trails of thought.

See the video below.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Lessig on the Pirate Party and why an American version would make things worse

According to Lessig's thesis, the term "Pirate Party" itself would create barriers and lead to unnecessary misunderstandings, reinforcing existing prejudices and making the work of the free culture movement all the more difficult to carry out.  The YouTube video in question below.

Is this the real reason why Labour's hierarchy is so against free culture?

Background to the Pirate Party can be found on Wikipedia.  This came to my attention this evening via Lawrence Lessig's Twitter feed.  Interesting that:
Founded in 2006, it is now the third largest party in Sweden in terms of membership. Its sudden popularity has given rise to parties with the same name and similar goals in Europe and worldwide, forming the international Pirate Party movement.

When you're not in the business of telling the truth (but we are)

Sad that the word "media" doesn't automatically equal "truth".  A nicely sharp and to the point overview of exactly where we're going wrong in our latterday communities can be found below, via Labour Matter's Twitter feed this evening.

Question time (and the threads of hope)

I saw the newspaper headlines for the day this evening. The vast majority criticised the BNP's Nick Griffin - as well they might. A video of Griffin was referred to during the proceedings last night.  I've already posted it on - but it deserves to be posted on as many sites as possible.  Here it is again, if you missed it.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

News moves too fast for me (but all I can say is it's getting yucky)

No, I'm sorry.  The principle still stands.  Either I'm responsible for my tweets and they belong to me or I can say whatever I wish because they belong to Twitter to do as they please.  In Web 2.0 land, making money out of advertisers seems fair game.  I can choose to click or not.

Twitter and Bing (or that retread of a remould)

This is definitely not what I was thinking about in my previous post!

Google Wave and working people

This project has arisen out of an initial contact with Google Wave. The idea which Google Wave represents seems sufficiently powerful to warrant exploring not how it could replace other social media technologies such as Twitter and Facebook but, rather, how it could help to begin to knit them all together in a more productive and efficient manner.