The Longest Now


Loki’s time
Tuesday October 21st 2008, 1:18 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

TimO : Bravo.

I’ve carried an NY̮T clipping (thanks, NAK) about the trickster’s time to come in my pocket since sometime in early 2005.

I’ve spent half of the past 3 days in LokiHostel in two cities, and they are living the wave of the times, in ways that would make the wanton, charming trickster proud.

We are visiting USMP today; updates on the Sugar localization jam tomorrow.

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Solitaire, sex, and architectures of collaboration
Sunday October 19th 2008, 7:20 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

I´m in Peru at the moment with Scott Ananian, so here´s a quick post from the recyclingbin of recent history:

Clay Shirky and Martin Wattenberg team up to battle the TIMEWARS villains.   They estimate that a weekend of commercials is 1 Wikipedia — 100 million hours of human attention.

That’s not quite right — Wikipedia is a living process, not only doubling in size, scope, and effort a little over once a year; its creation is not simply a matter of time invested, but networks formed, and social connections and research off-wiki that lead to the same.   And commercial watching may be passive… but the point stands.  And as I have noted before, Solitaire is an even more explicit example of this — an active way to waste time, which soaks up billions of hours of attention a year.

And let’s not forget the massive amounts of time spent on indulgences — sex and its trappings, food, artefactless social networking and the like — something which, like idle leisure time, balloons to fit the time available, in crisis and in plenty.   Most people have an extra 4 to 5 hours a day to devote to creative collaboration, especially if it satisfies their social and entertainment drives and overlaps neatly with / contributes to their work.  This comes to 300B hours a year, in our country alone.  This is among the greatest assets in the world, available equally to all; now go change society.



Why I genuinely like John McCain
Friday October 17th 2008, 12:10 am
Filed under: fly-by-wire,indescribable,Uncategorized

…because he doesn’t mind when the chips are down, and can be mighty funny.

Bonus: When Photo Credits Go Bad :

Seen on the latimes blog : “Photo credit: Somebody who’s dead“. Why is it so hard to get these things right?  Isn’t this what photo archivists are for?



Lead discussions about sustainable education
Thursday October 16th 2008, 10:56 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

A bunch of OLPCers and Sugar designers and enthusiasts have been talking about the need for broader discussions on sustainable education, social progress, and the value of one laptop per child in different walks of life. 

If these issues matter to you, please speak about them.  Lead discussions in your communities about the influence and meaning of [lower-case] olpc, and how it could be a useful tool for (or barrier to) the work of others, and to related organizations and projects.  OLPCers want to hear more from those travelling similar roads — both literally, in bringing sustainable education and poverty alleviation to rural parts of the world, and figuratively, in bringing like-minded people together to address the major inequities of our time.

What communities are you a part of where these issues matter?  Is this already being discussed?  If so, help inform people about what OLPC is doing in the field : things are changing rapidly these days, with 300,000 children 7-14 using their XOs to learn every week, and twice as many laptops at some stage of delivery.  What will this mean to  communities not yet affected?  To power, agriculture, economics, local business?
This is change the whole world will feel, and it should be addressed from all sides.  (I already feel it in the traffic distribution to my websites, to youtube videos about the project, in the language and age distribution of applications to XO software repositories).  We are tripling the installed base of Scratch.  We are doubling the number of physical offline subsets of Wikipedia in English, and increasing it by a magnitude in Spanish.  Please consider how this will affect your own work to improve equity and sustainable progress around the world, for better or for worse — and make your voice heard.


Sustainability camp update
Thursday October 16th 2008, 10:12 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

An update on the west-coast Open Sustainability Camp : Chris and crew hope to gather 70 people for the event.  To register and join in person, see the OpenSustainabilityNetwork site; or you can find sustenance online on Appropedia.

If you are running your own sustainability camps or conversations, let me know.  Threads of a winding braid…  I had a lovely debate this past weekend in Berkeley about hosting events in which people are given a set of raw materials and challenged to work their way up to a complex physical invention (a cord, an arch, a kiln, a steam engine, a loupe, a tire, brass) in as short a time and with as few materials as possible.  I’d like to see that come up at these events, and become reality.



Bigoted society : Arabs targeted by pervasive anti-Semitism
Wednesday October 15th 2008, 2:34 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Arabs suffer the brunt of modern American anti-Semitism.  They are considered foreign, dangerous, militant;  blamed for global ills, used as scapegoats.  And despite the presence of respected individual Arabs in most every walk of life and position of authority, these are implicitly considered exceptions, and ‘Arab’ is treated as an epithet, at times even on the most public of stages.

It is in this context that the other day, in an atmosphere of murderous rally shouts, when an older woman famously called Obama an Arab, McCain rushed to correct her, saying “No, ma’am.  He’s a decent family man...”   As Campbell Brown had the sense to report, So what if he were an Arab?  The more pertinent question for us, dear readers, may be: How can dozens and dozens of MSM journalists report this as though it were a simple and reasonable defense of an opponent?  How very embarrassing



An acorn of politics
Wednesday October 15th 2008, 2:16 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

The Bradley effect :  1982-era pollster Lance Tarrance notes: it never existed.  

Cloture cut : Democrats approach even odds to win 60 seats in the Senate; RNC eyes $5M bailout for GOP senators

Veteran votesDisabled American Veterans and Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, non-partisan groups that rank politicians, give Obama high marks and McCain failing ones.  The details are interesting.

ACORN : The focus on this vote registration group, and the representation of its power to influence elections, is full of confusion… I can’t for the life of me see why it has become a cause of the moment.

Campaign neurosis : campaign collapses tend to reflect deep problems.  McCain’s brother blames un-mccain message control

Buckley is allowed to resign his NRO column… critics say he was never really a Conservative to begin with.  How is that again?

And these two are particularly powerful: 

  • Zach Exley (thank you, Arianna) launches an already-legendary series on the impact of Obama’s  “New Organizers” – a newly empowering approach to organized, volunteer-lead field networks.  Hekebolos follows up. 
  • Christopher Hitchens writes “Vote For Obama : MCCAIN LACKS THE CHARACTER AND TEMPERAMENT TO BE PRESIDENT. AND PALIN IS SIMPLY A DISGRACE.” 


The power of research
Sunday October 12th 2008, 6:51 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I was reminded today by two bright young student researchers of the power of research into education, its extents, dependencies and implications — for inspiration and motivation for all manner of work as well as to help solve fundamental problems in empowerment.  For those readers interested in helping organize research about OLPC, large-scale educational efforts, and uses of technology in education, please subscribe and share your background and ideas:

http://lists.laptop.org/listinfo/research

Or post to research >at< lists.laptop.org. That list includes members from unicef, world bank, global development and university (education, government, economics, politics, sociology); while it is not currently active, it includes people who are already engaged with some few trials of their own; and many are waiting for a serious project they can engage in.  Others are simply waiting to have a project description to post (Suresh and Jennifer, I’m looking at you).  I should like to see it revived.



Photos from overseas
Sunday October 12th 2008, 6:43 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Mozambique : Via Rachel K.

Ethiopia, Iraq and more : the updated OLPC stream



Upcoming knowledge sharing events
Saturday October 11th 2008, 4:07 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

October 11-12 (this weekend!), Berkeley : the Free Culture Conference 2008 on Berkeley campus.  I will be tabling there with a few Wikipedians and OLPCers (I’m bringing my sexy one-volume WP and some G1G1-build XOs for reading the pedia in the sun). Andri & Brian — who should I see while out here?

October 25, Lima, Peru : Open Source Day Peru!  1500 students and educators from around the country gathering for the third+ annual celebration of Open Source.  Preceded by a Game Jam to develop historical games.

December 12, Cambridge : another CC Tech Summit.  all day; place TBA.

January 9-11, 2009, Boston : FUDCon/xocon Boston.  Three days; place TBA but likely in Cambridge as well.



The One-volume Wikipedia : Timely and handy
Friday October 10th 2008, 10:29 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

I am honored to have a copy of the single-volume Abridged Wikipedia (Deutschland Edition) on my desk – 100% free content, beautifully printed and bound, and only 20.EUR.  As such, I’ll be practicing two languages over the coming weeks : German and Spanish.  For German, I’ll be including definitions of any term I think to look up online, first checking my desk reference and sharing the results with you, dear reader.  I will try to post a photo soon; it is a well-bound and illustrated book, with full-color printing and short precises of 50,000 entries, including neatly organized country infoboxes, a photo on every page, a full page of photo credits, and 30 pages of 4-pt author credits (To give you a sense of how comprehensive it is, I’ve made a handful of minor article edits on de:wp and even my initials are in that list).

I am impressed that it was available for purchase online in September, and includes updates as recent as June of this year.

Obama, Barack : Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. (*4. August 1961 in Honolulu, Hawaii) ist ein US-amerikanischer Politiker (Dem Partei), Jurist, und designierter Kandidat der Demokratischen Partei fuer die Praesidentschaftswahl in den USA 2008.

Er wurde 2004 fuer Illinois in den Senat gewaehlt und ist damit der derzeit einzige und insgesamt fuenfte afroamerikanische Senator in der US-Geschichte.  Am 10. Februar 2007 gab er in Springfield (Illinois) seine Kandidatur fuer die Praesidentschaftsfwahl 2008 bekannt.  Am 3. Juni 2008 erreichte Obama die notwendige Zahl von Delegierten, um sich eine Mehrheit fuer die Nominierung zum Praesidentschaftskandidated seiner Partei zu sichern.



A pint of politics
Friday October 10th 2008, 4:27 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Electoral-vote tracking :

And, from the nonprofit news site dailysource : A detailed Palin history.



Reffer Madness, part II : Cite Unseen
Thursday October 09th 2008, 11:26 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

The result of a hard hour’s work: <now stored on the draft Reffer Madness wikipage>

Over the past few decades, work has been done on the topic of citation classification in academic papers.  Most of it has focused on identifying the intent or semantic use of a classification as part of an academic argument : supporting, dissing, using as a source of data or axioms.  Applying a bit of generalization to this work should yield an effective tiered classification into 4 main and 15 specific classes.  As Ben notes in an earlier comment, this could be converted into different-color footnotes to make the flavor of usage clear without breaking the flow of a concise text.

To start using this as an example in my own blog, I’ll use the following draft citation classes:

  • Axiomatic ref: a ref with data or axioms I’m using to define or inspire an argument.  Axiomatic arguments with the argument should be transferred to the ref; errors in the ref should apply to my argument.  By using such a ref I am usually, but not always, supporting the reffed work or data.
  • Similar, Supporting, or Supported ref : Similar – a ref that follows similar lines or makes similar arguments.  Supporting – a ref that directly or implicitly supports an argument.  Supported – a ref whose arguments I am directly or implicitly supporting; an example of what should be supported based on my argument.
  • Contrasting, Contradicting, or Counterproved ref: Contrasting – a ref that follows very different lines or contrasting arguments.  Contradicting – a ref that counters or disclaims an argument.  Counterproved – a ref whose arguments I am countering,  or which should be discounted based on my argument.
  • Related, Canonical, or Hat-tip ref: Related – a ref that touches on similar topics without being clearly similar or contrasting.  Canonical – a ref that is considered standard reading on the subject.  Hat-tip – a ref honoring the work of its author, though it is not necessarily considered standard reading by others (and could be either pro or con my argument).
  • Unclassified ref : A reference that hasn’t been classified into one of the above.

Phoebe noted later that another dimension of reference is the extent of text to which a ref refers… some apply to words or clauses, some to paragraphs, some to entire chapters.  A “further reading” section is effectively a Related ref that applies to an entire section or work.



Daily vibe : vactrains, universal dictionaries
Thursday October 09th 2008, 11:02 pm
Filed under: Uncategorized

Vactrains : Very High Speed Transportation, Planetran, and Channel Tunnel engineers

I stumbled upon a lovely article on various “vactrain” ideas : for a high-speed train running in low-pressure tubes with minimal air resistance, powered by superconducting magnetics and regenerating most of the energy from each trip.  1-hr commutes between NY and LA or across an ocean.

  • Robert Salter was in the 1970s the first promoter of this idea after it had become physically feasible.  While he was at RAND, he published detailed papers on the subject and applied for related patents on behalf of the government.
  • Frank Davidson and Yoshihiro Kyonati are recent enthusiasts for a version floated above the ocean floor, anchored by cables.
  • For fun, see also Bernhard Kellermann‘s million-copy bestseller, Der Tunnel.

Universal dictionaries : OmegaWiki, XOXO

Back in 1998 I drafted a design for a universal dictionary, with detailed usage, history, etymology, synonym and translation information — similar to the OED but covering the major human languages.  I’ll post more about this in a bit (parts of that design are going into OLPC’s XO-2 laptop, to my delight), but in the meantime it’s worth noting how far we’ve come with other massively multilingual dictionary projects.



Study superstructure, forecast the future
Thursday October 09th 2008, 4:17 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

…and save civilization.  Take a moment to visit this colorful preface to what will be a real force in worldwide forecasting ten years hence.  (The Institute for the Future may not see it as a preface, but that it is.)

Catherine notes that the superstruct wiki is up @ wikia, with some fine material, including a few pages from our friends @ the 2000-era Hexayurt project.  Unfortunately, wikia has no subgroup dedicated to world-changing, so this is currently part of the gaming portal; write to your local wikia rep asking for a change!



How I became a Wikipedian
Wednesday October 08th 2008, 5:37 am
Filed under: %a la mod,Glory, glory, glory,international,Uncategorized

I had forgotten the long essay I wrote about this transition here on my blog… or rather, on my first law school blog, when blogs.law was new and cuddly.  My transition to the current wordpress skin made it more visible, new-found visibility online made it a repeated spam target, and I rediscovered it today.  So spam has done something good for me.  Thanks, spam king!  

For those of you who missed it the first time around in early 2004, before I knew how wikipedia works or even that it was community owned and run.  Here it is again: On Multilingual Encyclopedia and Dictionary (public domain).



No Comment
Monday October 06th 2008, 6:53 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

Euronews “no comment” news : my journalistic role model for the month.  Hat tip to Dogi.




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