The Longest Now

Chinese Internet discovered to be full of memes: Top 10 Edition
Sunday December 09th 2012, 3:57 am
Filed under: %a la mod,chain-gang,Glory, glory, glory,international,meta,zyzzlvaria

via Global Voices, the Top 10 Chinese Internet Memes of 2012.

Three Copyright Myths and Where to Start to Fix it – a policy brief

A lovely short policy brief on designing a better copyright regime was published on Friday – before being quickly taken offline again.  I’ve reposted it here with light cleanup of its section headings.

If you care at all about copyright and its quirks, this is short and worth reading in full.

The benefit of passion, focus, poise & wit. For Sebastian.
Tuesday November 20th 2012, 12:53 pm
Filed under: international,meta,poetic justice,SJ

:A pinch of poise, a twist of wit,
:    Suffice to foil the darkest fit of  pique –
:      or set the mind  at  ease when seeking
:              ancient   remedies   for  tweaking  the   e t e r n a l    drive
:                                              to make, sing, see, feel, learn, & thrive.

John Taylor Gatto’s Seven-Lesson Schoolteacher Manifesto: Read it!
Wednesday November 14th 2012, 10:24 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,international,meta,Not so popular

The 7-lesson schoolteacher.

"I teach school -- and I win awards doing it.  These are the things I teach, these are the things you pay me to teach.  Make of them what you will:"

So begins one of the great essays on the modern school system.

Via Doc Searls.

George Washington’s political farewell address: such timely advice!
Thursday November 08th 2012, 10:51 am
Filed under: %a la mod,meta,poetic justice,popular demand

The original, and updated to modern lingo.

Gline, Simmons-Duffin, and the fine Physics snarXiv
Tuesday October 30th 2012, 12:26 pm
Filed under: meta,poetic justice

Comphysic relief:  arXiv vs. snarXiv

You can learn a lot from browsing the arXiv that way; I discovered Tang’s variation on a neutrino counter-nuke.  Along with some papers which would be awesome if anyone managed to write them.

I was delighted to rediscover David SD’s homepage and musings, and reminded of my long-term bet with Matt Gline about the progress in semantic clustering and searching.[1]

[1] Whether or not we will have meaningful deep searching of patent/idea databases that allows classification anad clustering across all dimensions of ‘idea’, and idea diffs, in the next few decades. If we can find the original statement of the bet, and its deadline, one of us will treat the other to a meal at any restaurant of his choice.

Gyrovague muses on fast-food franchises in…
Tuesday September 18th 2012, 1:52 pm
Filed under: chain-gang,citation needed,meta,Uncategorized

the age of lawsuits.

you thought this would involve SPACE, didn’t you?

Amanda Palmer on the subtleties of pride for working artists
Sunday September 16th 2012, 9:51 pm
Filed under: gustatory,meta,poetic justice,popular demand

A great multi-sided discussion from the AFP blog, with at least three incompatible views worth considering (and unifying in one moral code, if you’re looking for a challenge).  

How should artists set expectations for how large popular shows and venues play out, when they each draw on dozens of performers, from pick-up –> auditioned one-night –> well-known drop-ins from past collabs –> long-term tour staff?

New ‘Geeks Without Bounds’: sustainable geekery memification
Wednesday July 25th 2012, 7:13 pm
Filed under: international,meta

Geeks Without Bounds is an inspiring Seattle-based group that I learned about through the Awesome Seattle foundation. Their work is similar in ways to NetHope and Benetech in terms of the sorts of networking and sustainability-review they hope to provide. But they are primarily volunteer-run, founded in the work already supported by hacker spaces around the world.

They focus on making hackathons and prototypes for humanitarian tech work in practice — implemented through local practitioners, and embraced by active communities of develoeprs once they have proven their use. I wish them and their network-building success. We need better circles of shared practice in this area of life!

Here’s an introductory video via Dailymotion.

The Mathematics that Matter for Planet Earth, in 2013
Wednesday July 18th 2012, 5:56 pm
Filed under: international,meta

An idea born in 2010, by the American Mathematical Society and friends, now bearing fruit at a beautifully burgeoning MPE 2013 website.

The mathematics of interest includes everything related to four themes: Discovering the planet, Supporting life on the planet, Human organization on the planet, and Risks to the future of the planet.

Alex Howard scans digital bills of rights; says “use the original!”
Monday July 16th 2012, 3:23 pm
Filed under: meta

From his ‘Gov 2.0‘ O’Reilly blog:

Why propose principles for Internet freedom and a “Digital Bill of Rights” when existing ones will do? We the People need our existing Bill of Rights to apply in the digital domain.

Y-Worlds: At last! A fellow pattern-seeking collaborative
Tuesday July 10th 2012, 10:34 am
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory,meta,SJ

Still in its infancy: “A collaborative platform to organize complex knowledge, visualize systems that propel our lives and build a universal exchange for knowledge, wealth and value.

I love it when one of the seventeen pillars of society starts to emerge anew.

If “Interactive Interactive-Fiction Non-Fiction” Then: Club Floyd
Thursday July 05th 2012, 9:32 am
Filed under: Blogroll,meta

Club Floyd collects collaborative IF meta-stories. via Jacqueline A. Lott Ashwell.

General knowledge is social infrastructure, not commodity
Monday June 25th 2012, 10:54 pm
Filed under: %a la mod,chain-gang,international,meta,Uncategorized,wikipedia

For ages, learning was assumed to be social, interactive, oral. Written knowledge, where available and somewhat portable, was a specialized complement that few scholars, recordkeepers, explorers and other specialists used or needed.

As long as you needed a tutor or guide to learn, whether or not good static (lifeless) written material was available was a lesser concern.

In the last three millennia, it gradually became cheaper to produce text, commonplace for scholars to learn to write concisely and convey ideas so that others could learn them on their own. In every field, books eventually replaced ritual and oral record as the standard for precipitating knowledge into a lasting, canonical form, and passing it on. This was driven forward by personal memorials and finance and law – pillars of clan- and city-building.

Certain forms of knowledge were considered a shared good of society – from how to find resources to social and practical norms. And some were actively disseminated as necessary, such as legal and religious dictates. Other knowledge was something that could be sought out, or bought and sold. During the time when knowledge about the world was a scarce resource, yet easy enough to write down and transmit, even basic information about the shape of the planet was bartered and sold like any other good.

Today we both have bounteous knowledge, and pressing problems that better global education can address. The opportunities that could result from a more broadly educated world society are far greater than the short-term opportunities of a commodity market for practical texts.

And we will get more thorough, more accurate, and better texts of all sorts – once we think of general knowledge as a part of culture and civic infrastructure, not as something that can be owned and hoarded. We made this transition with scientific discoveries centuries ago, with mathematics before that, and today we reap tremendous benefits from that. It is time for all knowledge to join their ranks as a cornerstone of our civilization.

How can we help this come about? Take a piece of awesome, inspiring, practical knowledge that you currently buy or rent as a commodity, and make a free version of it. Publish it to a shared commons that makes it easy to maintain and update over time. Tell others who get it from the same source you did. Stop using general knowledge that you can’t repurpose, and your use of the alternative will make it the best in the world in its niche.

Car Racing Ex-Con meets Orphaned Insomniac: They Fight Crime!
Sunday May 27th 2012, 8:01 pm
Filed under: Blogroll,indescribable,meta

He’s a war-weary devious gentleman spy who knows the secret of the alien invasion. She’s a vivacious mute advertising executive with an incredible destiny. They Fight Crime!

World’s Tiniest World
Sunday May 27th 2012, 12:33 pm
Filed under: indescribable,meta

A simple little puzzle, that will charm you blind.

Copyright failure: terms are much much much too long; solution needed
Monday May 21st 2012, 6:28 pm
Filed under: Blogroll,chain-gang,international,meta,SJ,wikipedia

David Gerard recently pointed out that despite recent expansion of the global commons of “freely-licensed knowledge”, all license terms still last for much too long. “Free licenses” still rely on copyright laws which impose restrictions on reuse for unreasonably long term lengths: currently “Life of the author + 70 years” in most countries — roughly 10-50x as long as the average commercial lifespan of a new work.

Economists and researchers studying copyright have often noted that copyright terms have been extended with little justification, always on the request of the publishing industry, since the first copyright term (14 years) was set centuries ago.  And that there is no data to suggest that longer copyright terms are good for society or useful in encouraging creative work.

The social memes of “free culture” and “free knowledge” have been shaped in large part by a community that bought into the idea of copyleft in the past decades: a derivative of copyright law which defines the copyrights the author wishes to exercise in a way that lets people reuse their work, as long as they release the result under the same license.

We should figure out a reasonable maximum term for the sort of rights that are currently covered by copyright – say, something no more than 14 years – and embed that term into the most-recommended free culture licenses. That includes all Creative Commons and free-culture and other FOSS licenses. All of these licenses should explicitly transition to the Public Domain before the ultralong default term enshrined in international law.

(In practice this could mean automatically switching to a CC0 license at the end of the shorter term.)

Related discussions about license reform

David’s comments started a recent discussion on the Wikimedia-l mailing list, about whether Wikimedians should help push for a saner copyright term.  Mike Linksvayer noted similar discussions on the Creative Commons licenses list from last December – part of brainstorming how to improve those licenses.

Two people made comments along these lines: “Shortening the copyright term is totally infeasible in the near term; instead we should encourage people to switch to free licenses.

This misses two key points. Firstly, free culture groups are now some of the largest around; they include major content providers and platforms; and Creative Commons itself is a powerful global brand. Secondly, while convincing slow, conservative national governments to change their laws is hard, almost everyone who is not working/lobying for content publishers — including the vast majority of content creators — feels copyright terms are too long.  So this is an obvious place for citizen innovation to come first, and legislation second.

A few publishers are already adopting limited terms.  O’Reilly Books uses a license that switches to CC-BY after 14 years.
Some free culture groups have taken a position here as well: Sweden’s Pirate Party advocates for a maximum term of 5 years.  Richard Stallman of the FSF recommends a maximum of 5 or 10 years (though only for society as a whole; and only if it comes with open source requirements for proprietary software).

What can we do?  Won’t this make free licenses harder to use?

Adding an explicit term after which works become PD should not complicate the “opt-in commons”, to use Mike’s term. This could be implemented with a few simple changes (I am imagining how CC could implement this; as they have great authority to recommend licensing norms):

  • Define “PD-friendly” licenses as those which become PD in at most N years.
  • Define the PD-date of a composite work as the latest of its component sources.
  • Ask people to use a PD-friendly license.

Within that framework, people can use terms that make sense to them; some may want a license with a fixed PD date, so that a large group can collaborate on a shared work which is set to become PD in 2020.  Ongoing collaborations like Wikipedia could use a license set to become PD after 8 years – so the latest version of a project would always be under a CC-SA license, but one from today would become PD in 2020.

Creative Commons and others could then promote the use of PD-friendly licenses.  Collaboratives like Wikimedia communities, and publishers like O’Reilly, could switch to those licenses for their projects and works.  Together we would return to building a true intellectual and artistic Commons — something which in the US has been starved of almost all works produced in the past 35 years.


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