Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Building a lever big enough to move the world
been building a big enough lever to move the world. Now, if only enough people jump on...
I said that we'd already changed the world twice, with computers and the Internet itself.
And doc said:
What we have with blogging is a chance for everyone to change the world. Still, what I mostly do is roll snowballs downhill, and once it starts gathering, it's not mine anymore.
I had someone ask me about the Xprize "crew" shirt I'm wearing and the spaceship on it (It was the 2 year anniversary of the first flight
) I said: SpaceshipOne never actually flew - it just hung in the air for a perfect shining moment, and the world moved beneath it.
That's how I feel about blogging, and yet I inadaquately expressed later
what I meant about me "getting off the lever", was that what we needed was more snow balls rolling downhill. See those t-shirts doc and I are wearing? Two lovely snowballs.
I felt compelled the next day to wear my mozilla 1.0 T-shirt - the predecessor to firefox - because mozilla spent years in the woods before it finally "made it", and I got awful tired of using what levers I had to get it rolling downhill.
So I tried to talk about how many times an issue that the blogosphere has fought for has been defeated, how often a good technology got killed or thwarted in the bud like ReplayTV's commercial skip feature - or how the recent debate over "network neutrality" ultimately went down in flames, becuase if there is one thing I'd like to see the blogosphere have is a longer term view.
The cause of returning the analog television spectrum in 2009 back to the people would be one of my picks for a new snowball, as one example. That's a few years off. What sort of snowball could we build for that meme by 2008?
Or re-take the meme "network neutrality" - make it be about something simpler like "network asymmetry"
, or everyone having a right to their own IP address to do with as they will, or something, anything, any positive meme along these lines that sticks together long enough to survive the long roll downhill.
bloggercon and the emotional life
Started taking pics of bloggercon
. The difference between this and supernova is like that between day and night. We're in a well lit room, everybody knows each other (more or less) and the whole conversation, is just that, a conversation.
Supernova - well... it's more like a presentation, more like a black mass with the dark priests officiating. The stage lights are so bright that the speakers can't see more than 5 rows back in the audience and everyone else is in this dark
room. The TRUTH is coming down from the podium on high, and THOU shalt listen...Frank Paynter
remarked: Yea, all they had to do was have sinister flags drop down on either side of the speakers
... and I had visions of the famous Apple 1984
commercial, I just wanted someone like Doc Searls
, or the Identity Woman
to come running up the isle and smash the screens.
So that was Supernova. I'm glad I went. I'm worried about the mutating memes over there
. But to heck with it, I'm over at Bloggercon now and having a grand time.
The Emotional Life
session has been the best chat of them all thus far - for I too, have closed up about personal matters on my blog - but I'm not prepared to talk about why, yet.
Is joho really working for AT&T?
What kind of Kool-Aid do they get
underneath the death star?
Satisfying the anti-spam vigilante urge
Okay, at some point my buddy greg had it with rogue ISP's over in asia who ignore abusive behavior by their users. And those users who go to great lengths to spam for whatever schemes they are up to. Most of these spammers nowadays seem to resort to contact-info forms so that when their whack-a-mole website goes down they can contact the fools who actually clicked on their product. Since we've had it trying to chase after these spammers, the alternate tack is to see how they like taking what they are dishing out. So greg wrote a perl script using WWW::Mechanize to fill their form with junk and submit it repeatedly. Hopefully it'll cost them some time sorting the junk from the real submissions and I can only hope I cost them more time then they cost us.
If you'd like a copy of the script it's available at: http://www.rage.net/~greg/spammerannoy.pl-txt
I messed up my back last week moving rocks from the top of my hill to the bottom. If I were to have been patient another couple years, gravity would have done the work for me, but for today, I hurt.
Driving to the train, taking the train to SF, biking to supernova, and repeating that all in reverse to get home at 10PM - to collapse until 8AM... to gobble aspirins until I felt good enough to rise to vertical a few minutes back...
so anyway, it took me forever to get it together this morning. In particular, leaving the internet bandwidth at home behind to engage in the conference there (for higher human bandwidth) - is hard.
As I am behind on the con, but everybody is podcasting live, so I'll just download all the casts I've missed this morning onto my mp3 player - from both bloggercon and supernova - and maybe I'll be in sync by the time I get to SF... If I make it as far as the car.
You have 200 people in a room with laptops. 180 of which are running windows, 18 of which are running Mac, and the remaining 2 run Linux. Everyone (but me) has blackberries. Some have two.
I'm the guy running Linux. 64 bit linux, to be exact. My laptop probably has more ram and hard disk than nearly every machine in the room. I have my own web server on it, my own phone server, and hell, I could make it be my own access point if I could just scam a wired ethernet connection.
Now, you'd think, that maybe these 200 people would have a clue that 4 wireless access points and 4 T1s is simply not up to the load... but no...
What happens? about 50 of us get on an irc channel and start backtalking the speakers, substituting fact for hype, and sarcasm for padded phrasology - and transmitting other bits of truly important information, like the status of the Stevens Bill - and the url for a bill that actually might make a difference (http://dpsproject.com/)BUT
some other !@#!@#!@s get on 2nd life and clog the whole network - there are people around me watching inch high videos of themselves being filmed earlier - and all I want to do is get my BLOG POSTS through - a few dozen k - and I put a sniffer on the net and watch packets going to download vista of all things for god's sake and...
and I suddenly want to be a net vigilante - in the gallager sense - I want to track down the 2nd lifer and shoot the selfish bastard's laptop in the head with a dart gun marking the guy as clueless and needing a life - and wishing everybody would do that to other bandwidth offenders - to hell with network neutrality - what I want is clued network citizenship - what I want is some antisocial software that will electrocute anyone that is abusing the conference net....
... and anybody with 5 darts on their laptop gets pulled out of the conference and sent to a massage palour in the red light district, or told swimming from Alcatraz was actually a popular sport here.
Supernova is streaming in a Microsoft proprietary format
. Nice. How Web 0.9 Beta. (at the same time it is certainly representative of the audience)
There's nothing earthshaking here, except for maybe the rumor that the guy that was going to ask AT&T's rep about the NSA's sniffing was dragged off - "I know I can pay you to turn on call block, and pay to disable my directory listing - how much do I have to pay to keep the NSA out of my private conversations?"
"That piano is just for show"
So I take a break from the break and the panel format, and spy a beautiful yamaha piano in the dining room. I look both ways - there's no security present - and sit down and wheel out a few of my prettiest pieces. I get a few nods and smiles from the people around me for my opener, then I roll into a basic blues, then start "Estonia", this thing in Gminor that I've been fiddling with
Then security shows up to tell me that: "that piano is not for customers, that piano is just for show."
I say, "It's an awfully nice and well tuned piano to have just for show."
He says - "well, you're obviously qualified to be playing it, but it really is, just for show."
I ask: "Is it ok if I finish this song?"
And the security man looks both ways (for his supervisor?), and agrees, politely. And I, politely, finish my song, straighten up the piano, close the lid, and leave.
This same scenario has been repeated in 75% of the hotels I've been to - someone officious comes up and kicks me off the piano. I've thought about disguising myself as Elton John or Billy Joel, but no doubt, they'd get the same treatment. Is it a conspiracy? That pianos not be played? That they sit there, inert, without life or song emanating from them, out there, just for show?
The other 25% of hotels welcome someone playing the piano - and those are the kinds of places I like to stay at. It's way too expensive for me to pay 300 bucks for hotel room - but 300 bucks for a hotel room and a couple hours 7' 10" piano rental (and free drinks) is always totally worth it everywhere I've found one. There's a hotel in San Diego that asked me to come back....
Ah, well, this hotel is full, anyway. Maybe a youth hostel will take me in.
... I'd planned on closing with "It GPLs me".
That piano - the GPL - is not just for show.
Bill Gates gets human
I'm feeling so mellow that I'll say something nice about Bill Gate's exit from Microsoft (aside from being snarky and saying he's picked a good time to step down.
After he got married, and had kids, he became more human.
In a recent interview
, Bill Moyers quoted Oscar Wilde and said:
Oscar Wilde once said, "it's the mark of a truly educated man," and I'm sure he would today say woman, "it's the mark of a truly educated man to be deeply moved by statistics." What is that capacity that enables someone to transform a fact or figure on a page to a human being a long way off?
And Gates replied:
I think there is a general difficulty of looking at a number and having it have the same impact as meeting a person. I mean if we said right now, there's somebody in the next room who's dying, let's all go save their life. You know, everybody would just get up immediately and go get involved in that.
When my daughter whose 7 saw this video, you know, showing the kid who's got difficulty walking because of polio, her reaction was: "Who is that? Where are they? Let's go help them. Let's go meet that kid. What if he gets polio in his other leg?"
You know, so she's immediately drawn into that human on the screen.
It's a lot easier to connect to the story of the one person or the five people. It now, you know, because I'm mathematically literate, you know I know that when there's 3 million kids every year dying of things that are completely preventable with the technology we have today. You know I can try and magnify how I feel about that one situation by a factor of 3 million. It's tough. But at least you know it's super important.
Stevens bill hung up
Stevens attempt to institute even more restrictions for everything
appears to be hung up with 200+ amendments proposed for it.
Something will pass eventually, mostly likely a bolus.
(heard in #supernova)
Snarky in Supernova
Probably the best part of supernova has been sitting 5 tables away from Joho the blog
... sitting in the back, on irc, being snarky to the speakers. How people many different worlds are sitting in this one room, but with at least a bit of their attention elsewhere?
Thankfully, the 2nd life addict has moved on, giving the rest of us some bandwidth to post.
Power to the People
Here I am live blogging the Supernova
conference, noting that for once the m/f ratio is closer to 70/30 rather than my usual 99/1.
I find the plain spoken Craig Newmark of Craigslist
to be the simplest and most direct and genuine speaker there is.
Quotable bits from him:
"Just get out of the way. "
"There's a guy that said markets are conversations"
"People are pretty good at things. "
"Email is for the old, IM for the young".
The Interruption Society
From Chipper: Sent at 4:34 AM on Wednesday
I was co-miserating, (well not co, I was doing it alone) on the lack of social interaction in this here Untitled State with a fellow from South Africa, who is living in Japan, An activist, who is doing the "appropriate technology" dance (a good dance I might add) and explaining that we the people no longer THINK out loud at parties and get togethers anymore
A whole (hole) nation of folks suffering deeply from brand-allergies and attention defici-'hey! look, a bunny!' He has an image of the US in the 60s/ ideas, ideals, gone underground perhaps under the weight of folks whimpering about their tax loads (too many taxes? Perhaps you have TOO FUCKING MUCH MONEY!)
I was explaining that it's all gone, all dead No interaction any more.
Cocktail parties, where folks talk about golf for 5 minutes, the best dentist for their kids for 10 minutes, and a few anecdotes about the latest leadership training or something they saw on Fox News, or read on slashdot.
The days of groups of folks floating through the farm house for days maybe even weeks on end are well over. the conversations at the 'big table' that might go on for hours, or days never happen.
The closest things we have to something -real- are raves, and those only last for maybe a day, 2 at the outside and thats just stimulation junkies mushing around there is something to it, sure. Beats a sharp stick in the eye, anyday
In parts of europe, particularly eastern europe, folks do 'squats' parties, that go on for days and days, converstations, about ideas, ideals, ideologies, philosophies, world views, true alternative economic structures,
But that's in the former eastern block. What else do they have to do? They are all fucked anyway.
But here, in the US. Try and have a conversation, that goes on for more than 5 mintues, the FUCKING CELLPHONE will ring, and your talk-mate, will shoot up a 'chin up' acknowledgement of some indeterminate type, implying something unknowable, (but at least friendly) whilst they flip open that little box jam it to their head, and turn their backs to go off and address something completely different.
In the "Interruption Society" it's not polite to have a stream of conciousness that lasts more than a couple of minutes.