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Archive for April, 2008

John Butler Trio – Funky tonight (Live)

Seems like propaganda now, but this band is great!, and guess where I’m going Wednesday night

Internet, collaboration and participation

Clark Shirky

A users level of participation on the Internet can help understand how the community is structered or how to approach a multi-faceted audience.

On 28 Feb 2008 Clark Shirky delivered a speech on his book ‘Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations’ (42 minutes).

In the speech he distinguishes between four different modes of interaction through the internet:

– Sharing
– Conversation
– Collaboration
– Collective action

The modes increase in the level of engagement, and the end goal of interaction through the Internet can be seen as collective action.

Clay Shirky believes that 2008 will be a year of more intensified collective action. But what his example shows really well though, is how the Internet may be democratic in its structure, and more importantly how it is a tool for democratic processes.

An example would be microblogging on twitter.com, that helps demonstrations get organized on the fly in Egypt. Or Flash mobsa thing of fun in New York, but a very serious business in Belarus, where ice cream eating people were getting arrested by the secret police for nothing else than assembling and eating ice cream.

Ross Mayfield has another way of modeling the participation on the Internet. The following graph is Ross Mayfields model on the Power Law of Participation:

Power Law of Participation - Ross Mayfield

Ross Mayfield has these words to share on the graph (from Power Law of Participation ):

Digg is the archetype for low threshold participation. Simply Favorite something you find of interest, a one click action. You don’t even have to log in to contribute value, you have Permission to Participate.

Del.icio.us taps both personal and social incentives for participation through the low threshold activity of tagging. Remembering the URL is the hardest part, and you have to establish an identity in the system.

Commenting requires such identity for sake of spam these days and is an under-developed area.

Subscribing requires a commitement of sustained attention which greatly surpasses reading alone.

Sharing is the principal activity in these communities, but much of it occurs out of band (email still lives).

We Network not only to connect, but leverage the social network as a filter to fend off information overload.

Some of us Write, as in blog, and some of us even have conversations. But these are all activities that can remain peripheral to community.

To Refactor, Collaborate, Moderate and Lead requires a different level of engagement — which makes up the core of a community.


The different acts of a community can help understand how to approach an audience wether you want to heighten the level of engagement or fine-tune the communication. But more interesting Ross Mayfields model of a community helps explain the way an open source movement is structured.

As a study suggest, 80 % of the actual production is done by the core, which exists only of very few people in the community. Ross Mayfields model helps explain how the larger – and more inactive – part of the community are nonetheless very important as well, as they provide a collective intelligence to be used by the collaborative intelligence in the core of the community.


Film: Scola, Sukorov and Pálfi

If you like historic films with intellectual references and surrealistic elements, then here’s three:

Scola, Nuit de Varennes, La (1982);

Pálfi, Taxidermia, (2006)

Sukorov, Russian Ark, (2002);

Mobile technology changing the world

Frank Gehry Stata Center, MIT, Building on the moveThe Economist of April 12-18th has a 14-paged focus on wireless communication. The future impact on relationships and workspaces is forecasted in several articles.

The main argument is that the mobile technologies are making us nomads, striding as we go about our daily business. Though in one article Paul Saffo from Silicon Valley thinks the term “Nomad” is less fitting, he prefers ”Astronaut” in stead.

An Astronaut must bring what they need, including oxygen, because they cannot rely on their environment to provide it. Astronauts are at the same time defined and limited by their gear and the supplies they carry. This is how the future human should be viewed; carrying with him the essentials that he needs.


Mobiles make stronger ties stronger
The mobile’s impact on the social cohesion of society is another theme. The argument is that the strong ties, or the near relations such as dear friends and family, are getting stronger on the expense of weaker or new ties.

The logic is that as people more easily connects through mediated communication (understood as not-in-the-same-location-communication) makes them less present in their physical location to make new/weak ties stronger.

Another interesting point backing the theory is that we more and more can choose to merge our work-location with our family-location:

“James Katz, a professor at Rutgers University says that the shift, that mobile technology makes possible, amounts to “historical re-integration” of our productive and social spheres. In the hunter-gather, agricultural and pre-industrial artisan eras people did not separate the physical space devoted to work, family and play (…) It was only with the capital-intensive work of the industrial era that a separation of homes and factories became necessary, because workers had to be “co-located” in order to work efficiently. This is also applied to bureaucracies before the digital era. Now, however, the different spheres of life are emerging again.”

The workspace changes
At the same time workplaces are challenged from increasing mobility of the work-force.

At the Googlecomplex in San Francisco the workers only carry with them their blackberry, leaving laptop, papers and -for some- even the physical office for good. If they should be in need of such, when they are at the complex, an open-for-every-body computer has Internet connection and the Google-workers can open documents from on-line personal archives and print (if needed!) right there.

In the Googlecomplex there is a volleyball game going on, there is a laundry service on site, and a fleet of Google-community shuttles extends the workspace throughout the entire San Francisco Bay Area.

This challenges the architecture of the modern work place. Stata Center at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) [link to flickr pictures] created by Frank Gehry is an example of such a modern work place. It is a new kind of hybrid space: Cafés and lounges are interspersed between work desks and whiteboards.

(Though in November, 2007, MIT sued Gehry, citing negligent design in the $300M Stata Center. Read about Gehrys hazardous buildings at wikipedia).

The estimated number of mobile phone users worldwide is 3.25 billion, while Internet users (dial-up and broadband) are estimated to be 1.25 billion users. Since 1996 the growth of Internet users has been linear, while the growth of mobile-users has experienced an exponential rise until today. Source: International Telecommunications Union.

Internet regulation in Singapore under review

All aggregated from theonlinecitizen:

A group of bloggers, led by Choo Zheng Xi and Alex Au, sent a 20-page proposal to the Minister for Information, Communication and the Arts, Dr Lee Boon Yang, today (April 21, 2008). The paper , titled “Proposals for Internet freedom in Singapore”, expresses the bloggers’ concerns about Internet regulation in Singapore and offers proposals for the government to consider in its current review of such regulations.

1.3 Executive Summary
a) All regulation of speech should be platform-neutral. Laws and regulations
specific to the Internet, such as the Class Licence Scheme and the
Internet Content Guidelines, should be abolished, as should the powers
conferred on the Media Development Authority (MDA) to ban and
penalise producers of content and owners of websites.

b) What regulation there needs to be should be based on clear, narrowlytailored statutes and prosecution, not through administrative discretion.

c) However, only in extremis should there be prosecution, and only in
instances where public safety is directly undermined. Otherwise,
community moderation is the way forward, and to this end a consultative
body (IC3) should be constituted.

d) Limitation and regulation of political content is unjustified in principle and
unrealistic in practice. The attempt to do so impairs Singapore’s maturity
as a nation. The freedom to use the Internet to discuss political issues
and promote political views should be guaranteed.

e) Racially and religiously offensive speech should not be proscribed by
law; only incitement to injury and violence. Offensive speech should be
handled through the community moderation (e.g. the consultative body)
marshalling public opinion towards sensitivity and rationality.

f) The depiction of sex and violence should not be proscribed by law except
when minors are involved in sexual situations, or real injury to
participants or coercion took place during the making of such depiction.
Matters of taste and offence to moral sensibilities should be mediated
through community moderation, such as the consultative body.

Rorty on Truth, metaphor and common sense

Alan Blackwell

What we call common sense—the body of widely accepted truths—is, just as Heidegger and Nabokov thought, a collection of dead metaphor. Truths are the skeletons which remain after the capacity to arouse the senses—to cause tingles—has been rubbed off by familiarity and long usage. After the scales are rubbed off a butterfly’s wing, you have transparency, but not beauty—formal structure without sensuous content. Once the freshness wears off the metaphor, you have plain, literal, transparent language—the sort of language which is ascribed not to any particular person but to ‘common sense’ or ‘reason’ or ‘intuition’

Richard Rorty, Contingency, Irony and Solidarity. Cambridge University Press, New York. 1989, p. 152

Dead metaphor as used by Lakoff and Johnson in Metaphors we live by, 1980, but as well by Nietzsche in 1873, “illusions of which we have forgotten that they are illusions”.

Thanks goes to Alan F. Blackwell to have unraveled the discussion of metaphor in The Reification of Metaphor as a Design Tool.

(Picture is images of Alan Blackwell)

Spoon – The way we get by (live)

Live from Austin, Texas!

The wordpress community – recent status

Matt Mullenweg from WordPress describes the recent status of the wordpress community under the development of the latest upgrade wordpress 2.5

The Community is Growing

More than growing, it’s on fire. We always talk about things like downloads, and the 2.3 branch has already had 1.92 million downloads as I write this post, but this time we have some far more interesting information I’d like to share.

There were over 1,200 commits to our repository since 2.3.0 and over 90 people were credited in them. This means in our core code, not plugins, there were at least 90 individual folks that contributed something high-quality enough that it made the cut to be part of the download you guys get today. I had no idea this group of people was so large.

Outside of the core commit team, there was particular help from these people, in rough order of number of credits and tickets: mdawaffe (Michael Adams), azaozz (Andrew Ozz), nbachiyski (Nikolay Bachiyski), andy (Andy Skelton), iammattthomas (Matt Thomas), tellyworth (Alex Shiels), josephscott (Joseph Scott), lloydbudd (Lloyd Budd), DD32 (Dion), filosofo (Austin Matzko), hansengel (Hans Engel), pishmishy, ffemtcj, Viper007Bond, ionfish (Benedict Eastaugh), jhodgdon (Jennifer Hodgdon), Otto42, thee17 (Charles E. Free-Melvin), and xknown. Also want to thank MichaelH and Lorelle on the documentation side, and moshu, Kafkaesqui, whooami, MichaelH, Otto42, and jeremyclark13 for helping with support.

The 2.5 branch is nicknamed “Brecker” in honor of Michael Brecker, an exceptionally talented saxophonist who could cross styles effortlessly and never stopped experimenting and pushing himself until he passed away last year.

Here is a bit about the new features with wordpress 2.5.

Menonema – Evil Bee (Spoon and Swederock)

Menonema – Evil Bee

Menomena is recommended by Thomas, he mentions as well Fabchannel, live recordings in great quality. I found Spoon:

.

Flemming noticed the other day the Where the action is-concert in Stockholm June 14. The headliner is Foo Fighters, other bands are Queens of the Stone Age, The Hives and The Hellacopters

Luhmann and deconstruction

On the path to understanding Luhmann I seem to try to understand him with an observation point focusing on other Discourses or Grand Stories. (Actually I am using exactly the system/environment-tool, because system theory (which is the system) is observed in relationship/difference to deconstruction (which is (a part of) the environment))

When Luhmann addresses the need to understand and choose the observation point for a second-order observation before the observation can be processed, and when he constitutes past and present as horizons of the now, does he not just align himself with the findings of deconstruction? Deconstruction acknowledges that knowledge about the world can only be obtained in “the edge” of own system (or should we say Grand Story), hereby acknowledging that you are still a part of the system, which you are describing, and therefore not without biased/absolute observation point.

Luhmann acknowledges this when he distinguishes between first-order and second-order observations, but seems to believe that the second-order observation cures the paradox:

“Constructivist theories maintain that cognitive systems are not in a position to distinguish between the conditions of existence of real objects and the conditions of their own knowledge because they have no access to such real objects other than through knowledge. It is certainly the case that this defect can be corrected at the level of second-order observations.” (Luhmann, The Reality of Mass Media, 2000, p5)

Am I caught in the discourse of deconstruction, when I lay out like this?

This is though only observing one part of the environment, that of deconstruction.

When the act of finding the differences (the relationship) between system and environment, it is actually similar to the psychic process that cognitive metaphor-theorist describes. For them new knowledge is obtained through interpretation of the object by aligning it with the already known. The question the mind is asking is: How is this new thing (the system/the object) different from what I already know (the environment).

It aligns well with Luhmanns stressing of the importance of the environment:

“The system is neither ontologically nor analytically more important than the environment; both are what they are in reference to each other” (Luhmann, Social Systems, 1995, p177)

The beauty of Luhmanns system theory though, is that he provides the guiding distinction system/environment, the ontological tool, where the goal of the second-order observer is to determine the reference in the difference between system and environment in the observations moment and space.

Even though deconstruction is turning its back to metaphysics, it seems that Luhmanns social system is much more grounded in a phenomenological perspective, when it simply deals with the basics of reality’s communication.

The guiding distinction system/environment becomes a helpful tool, that will keep any analysis grounded in nothing but a theory, that can be counter-proved by same method in the next moment, as communication is only a communication at a given situation.

(the picture is Res Koolhaas’ Casa de Musica in Porto. Mostly an existing building, but surely a building that gives a new way of understanding a building or the world at large:)

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