Curiouser and curiouser!

 31 May 2004

1:54:28 PM     : Untitled

"If the only tool you have is a hammer, you treat everything like a nail."

*** Abraham Maslow (1908-1970) American Psychologist ***
Life tools too.

 30 May 2004

3:47:19 PM     : The correct interpretation

To the labour party canvassers who had the misfortune to knock at my door this afternoon.  I do hope you will correctly interpret my reaction as:

I'm very sorry but I'm afraid I won't be voting for your party again after what you have done, in my name, and without my permission.
Thank you.

 25 May 2004

10:55:10 AM     : Flying the colours of collective intelligence

When community intelligence becomes market intelligence.... Have you ever wondered what is common in “community intelligence,” "swarm intelligence," "smart mobs" and "tipping points"? According to market intelligence guru, Britton Manasco, they are all about a “drift toward potential innovations that draw on the unspoken and unanticipated knowledge of today's (and tomorrow's) customers.” [Blog of Collective Intelligence]

Very interesting.  Of course there is a problem reading any of Georges posts which is that you quickly become drawn into a whole range of fascinating topics and other works.  Truly an excellent rabit hole.
"Under the right circumstances, groups are smarter, make better decisions and are better at solving problems than even the smartest people within them," writes Surwiecki in a recent issue of Forbes. "On any one problem a few people may outperform the group. But over time collective wisdom is near-impossible to beat. No one, you might say, knows more than everyone."
Intuitively I feel that this principle is true, and from “The Wisdom of Crowds” and the colors of collective intelligence:

Responding to the question “under what circumstances is the crowd smarter” Surowiecki gave a list of four key qualities. According to the Publishers Weekly’s editorial review:

“If four basic conditions are met, a crowd's ‘collective intelligence’ will produce better outcomes than a small group of experts, Surowiecki says, even if members of the crowd don't know all the facts or choose, individually, to act irrationally. ‘Wise crowds’ need (1) diversity of opinion; (2) independence of members from one another; (3) decentralization; and (4) a good method for aggregating opinions.”

In the Q&A, Surowiecki says: “the people in the crowd need to be independent, so that they pay attention mostly to their own information, and not worrying about what everyone around them thinks.”

(Read on there for more about Collective Intelligence (CI), Spiral Dynamics language, self-organization and a host of other interesting topics...)

George goes on to discuss unanticipated knowledge, self-interest based markets, and the impact of spiral dynamics language. I hope to come back to this after I've had time to digest the spiral dynamics ideas & terminology!

10:29:09 AM     : Getting my head shifted

Had a very nice lunch with Lee Bryant of HeadShift yesterday.  We met in #kmtalk talking about the Social Tools for Enterprises Symposium I am helping to create..  Headshift are based in Butlers wharf, right on the river, which is a great setting for a meet up.

Over spinach & ricotta parcels and some Staropramen we chatted about: social software, the challenges facing organisation and employees, the central importantance of people at all stages of collaborative/KM projects, the roles of blognets, projects they are working on, FOAF (esp. how we need to be careful with what we infer from the data), metavalues, LinkedIn, Dave Snowden, K-Collector, ENT 1.0, BlogTalk 2.0, the BlogWalkers, Vienna, services vs. products, and a host of other topics.

I look forward to talking to Lee & co. again in the near future.

9:36:57 AM     : Lessig++ RIAA-- Free culture = more creativity

Something for Nothing in fifteen words. For the terminally short of attention out there, here's my Free Culture audiobook essay in 15 words:



Free culture = more creativity

New publishing models

Download, read, buy = sales up

Discuss! [Chocolate and Vodka]

Suws been doing a lot of thinking about copyright, free culture, and the impact of releasing your content under different licenses so that others may build derivative works.  The full essay makes for interesting reading.

Something I shall be watching is how this model works as it evolves and how it works in general.  So far we are talking about a very few cases and the financials are not well understood.  As an author whose primary motivation is not financial I can see how this makes a lot of sense.  But what if you really do want the money?

Maybe I should read Free Culture ;-)

9:14:51 AM     : Lead me not into disaster

"Dangerous rhetoric" []
One the quotes I especially liked from that piece was:
Conservative columnist George F. Will: "This administration cannot be trusted to govern if it cannot be counted on to think and, having thought, to have second thoughts."
Why are politicians so incapable of admitting error? It's going to lead us into disaster after disaster. This, blind, "no turning back!", "damn the torpedos full steam ahead!" mentality is so full of shit and I'm sick of it.

 24 May 2004

8:17:00 PM     : What's your problem?

Cameras too candid for Rummy? []
Riight... because the photo's getting out was the real problem.

 20 May 2004

5:15:31 PM     : Come friendly asteroid

Israel continues offensive despite outcry []

I'm sick and tired of this whole damn species.  Come friendly asteroid end my pain.

9:49:02 AM     : K-Collector client demystified

More on Topic-Sharing Community.

There's already been a great response to my post last night (see the comments to previous entry). Greg suggested his aggregator Blogdigger could be included in this - I agree! Matt and Andrew also posted very thoughtful responses.

Here's some of my feedback (copied from the comments - I must get these enabled inline...):

Overnight while pondering my post (which I regard as just a 'starter for 10' btw, not a final solution by any means), I did conclude that KC essentially already does what I describe - polls registered RSS feeds with ENT in them and aggregates them. It would be great if TE also had that functionality.

It's the client ping that I think is unnecessary and possibly holding back community uptake - with TE the ping is a manual process for the blogger, and with KC you need to install an add-on tool to enable the pinging. Both require too much manual effort for the blogger (IMHO of course). eg Bloglines does all its aggregation automatically (every hour I think), with no pinging required from the blogger.

Although Andrew I take your point about bandwidth utilization. But if Bloglines (and Blogdigger) can do it, why not KC and TE?

[Read/Write Web]
There seems to be some confusion about how K-Collector server works and the role of the K-Collector client so I thought I would try and give an explanation of how things fit together.

The first thing to understand is that you absolutely do not need the K-Collector client for your blog to be part of a K-Collector site. The client offers a set of benefits aimed at improving the experience for the user, but they are entirely optional. We currently aggregate many feeds to the W4 site which are not using one of our clients.

There are three reasons why we think using the client is beneficial:

1) The ping (it's the least important, but seems most misunderstood so I'll cover it first)

The K-Collector server contains an aggregator which reads all feeds on a rotating basis. It aims to read each feed more or less once per hour but this isn't guaranteed. It collects posts from feeds and assigns them to topics using either ENT metadata supplied in the feed or choices which are auto-discovered using various word-stemming and matching techniques.

This all happens entirely independent of the client ping. All the ping does is to move your feed up the list so that new posts you have written are likely to be collected sooner. If you don't ping the server just reads your feed automatically a little later on, that's all.

2) The topic manager

Through the client, the topic manager is integrated into the blog editing process and gives authors the ability to assign community topics to their posts as well as being able to create new topics. The topic manager also attempts to suggest topics which may be relevant to the content of the post to make choosing topics easier.

Without the client you have no way to decide which topics should be assigned to each post. In this case the server will, when it reads the feed, use it's own automatcher to automatically assign those topics it thinks are relevant.

3) ENT feeds

Where the author has choosen topics in the topic manager the client adds the appropriate ENT metadata to the outgoing RSS feed. K-Collector can then use this metadata to accurately assign posts to topics.

In summary the K-Collector client offers what we think are very useful benefits to weblog authors, however it is entirely optional and you do not need it for you weblog to be part of a K-Collector site. Equivalently K-Collector itself only cares about RSS.  It doesn't care whether ENT metadata was created by our client or some other application, we're completely agnostic about that.

I hope this goes some way to clearing up how the K-Collector system works.

 19 May 2004

7:48:20 PM     : Not the end, not even the beginning of the end, but, maybe...

DomainKeys draft specification. Jeremy Zawodny notes that Yahoo's DomainKeys proposal is now public. Here's the Internet-Draft; here's the blog chatter as seen by Technorati. ... [Jon's Radio]

Looks interesting, workable, and Yahoo! seemed to have done the right thing in making it open and freely implementable.

7:32:13 PM     : STES#1 transcript available

I've just posted the outcomes & transcript of the first online meeting for the Social Tools for Enterprises Symposium.  I think I have everyone's permission for this (it would have been so much easier if I'd got it while we were all online).

The second meeting will be on Friday at 9am PST, 12pm EST, 5pm BST, 6pm CET and will be held in #kmtalk and #kmbackchat.  Trying to do everything in one channel proved challenging.  Next time we are going to try and use two channels and see how that goes.

1:12:12 PM     : What government is all about

ID card backlash: is the poll tax effect kicking in?. Large numbers prepared for demos, even prison By John Lettice . [The Register]

The governments ID card scheme will, inevitably, lead to compuslory requirement to carry backed by prison & fines.  It will inevitably lead to us registering our changes of address backed by prison & fines.  It will inevitably lead to large central databases holding information about us which will be inaccurate & poorly managed.  It will inevitably lead to corruption and malpractice.  It will have minimal positive impact in the areas the government will claim.  It will also cost us a fortune to install and maintain.  This is, after all, what government is all about.

1:01:46 PM     : Show me the value

Met with Torben Anderson yesterday for a very agreeable drink in his local pub.  We chatted about how social tools (people tools and software tools) are going to be important in making knowledge management more valuable to organisations.  Torben has a great philosophy about keeping projects practical and delivering client value quickly - this is very much in tune with our own people centred approach.

8:27:36 AM     : Social Tools for Enterprises Symposium

Yesterday at various times around the world we held an IRC chat in the #kmtalk channel to get started organising an event in London in July (July 12th it now transpires).  The working title is 'Social Tools for Enterprises' and the event is aimed to be a practical get go for CxO's in Enterprises as to how social tools & methods can help them with problems like insufficient collaboration, low innovation and unmanaged risk.

This first session was really a chance to ensure that everyone had a similar vision of what we want to achieve and to get some vital details like the date sorted.  Over the next couple of days we'll be working on the programme and there is another chat planned for Friday (details will be on the wiki soon).

Everyone with an interest is welcome to join the next IRC chat and get involved.

 14 May 2004

6:36:08 PM     : Mistaken Identity

The Stand are stepping up to the plate on ID Card starting with an event on May 19th

Mistaken Identity

A public meeting on the Government’s proposed National Identity Card

Wednesday May 19, 2004; 13:30–17:00 hrs

The Old Theatre, London School of Economics
Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE

Organised by Privacy International, in association with Liberty, Statewatch,, The Register, The 1990 Trust and the Foundation for Information Policy Research. Hosted by the Department of Information Systems of the London School of Economics

The government has introduced draft legislation for a national identity card. The card system will cost at least £3 billion and is likely to become an essential part of life for everyone residing in the UK.

If the draft legislation is accepted by Parliament, everyone will be required to register for a card. Biometric scans of the face, fingers and eye will be taken. Personal details will be stored in a central database. A unique number will be issued that will become the basis for the matching of computer systems.

The proposed card may be required to access vital public services and to receive benefits. The government proposes to enforce the programme through numerous new criminal and civil offenses, including provision for unlimited financial penalty and up to ten years' imprisonment.

The implications for everyone in the UK are far-reaching.

Join us at this important meeting to hear from key figures in the fields of law, politics, security, technology and human rights. Decide for yourself whether this is a plan that should be supported.

The meeting is free of charge.

I'll be going and I hope lots of other people will as well.

2:07:23 PM     : Subverting comment spam

I had an idea about comment spam and I'm wondering if I've had a flash of the blindingly obvious.

As I understand it the most problematic spam is bot-generated. If not then my idea is probably useless, however it goes like this:

To sign up for Yahoo groups and some web sites you are required to enter a special word in the sign-up form. That word is contained in an image which is displayed in the form. A spam-bot is presumed to be unable to read the image, so if it submits the form it won't work.

Is it practical to have weblog comment forms duplicate this approach? It should only add a couple of seconds to the time taken to write a comment. I don't think it would put me off.


 12 May 2004

10:03:13 AM     : 800 topics bouncing around

Visualizing social networks. Increasing the capacity of people and communities to visualize their (online) social networks is essential to the evolution of Collective Intelligence. [Blog of Collective Intelligence]

I still really want some kind of visualization for K-Collector.  We're generating lots of data, relationships between topics and posts, topics and topics, people and posts, people and topics, people and people and more all the time.  When all you have is tables full of data it's hard to work out what might be interesting or valuable.

The prefuse visualization library looks very neat although I have done similar things in the past with Touchgraph.  However a key problem remains, when dealing with large data sets, how to make a meaningful subset of them usable.  Do you really want a graph with 800 topics bouncing around?

8:33:14 AM     : Social network software frenzy

Social Networking Services Meta List.

I have marked all new updates to this list, since 01 May 2004, with an asterisk (*).

The transition of this list to a “parking place” in the right hand column is still in the planning stage. It is still my desire to set up a wiki space associated with the ongoing discussion of this list, along with a topical news aggregation system for details related to each service.

Comments, appropriate links, and recommendations for additions and deletions are welcome—as always.

business networking sites

Affinity Engines, Business Parc, The Conneck, Contact Network, Corporate Alumni, ecademy, eConozco, Eliyon, EntreMate, Friendly Favors, GoingProfessional, Growth Company, I’m Not From Here, InterAction, ITmob, ItsNotWhatYouKnow, Join Network PLUS, LLC, Konnects, LinkedIn, Link Silicon Valley, matcheroo, Mediabistro, Monster Networking, NetMiner, Netmodular Community, Networking For Professionals, Online Business Networking Resource, Open Business Club (openBC), OrderGenerator, Point Relevance, Polypol, PowerMingle, RealContacts, ReferNet, Reunion, Ryze, SelectMinds, Shortcut, Silicon Valley Pipeline, Spoke Software, Sullivan Executive Networking Community, Tacit - ActiveNet, TENG, Visible Path, WisdomBuilder, Zerendipity Networks.

common interest networking sites

ANTfriender, ArtistNow!,, BookCrossing, Buzznet,, Collegester, Community Zero, Company of Friends, DeanSpace, Delphi Forums, Digital Squeeze, Downelink, Foodsters, FunHi, GamersGlue, Globe Alive, gradFinder, HRTS - Hollywood Radio & Television Society, Meet Me at HOT or NOT?, Netplaya Burning Man Community, Neurona, PayDemocracy, quad5*, Schoolster, SongBuddy, Talk City, Thefacebook, TheSquare, threedegrees, UpMyStreet.

dating sites

AfroRomance,,, AsiaFriendFinder, Berkzter,, Cherish,, Country Singles,,,*, eHarmony, Equally Yoked, FriendFinder, Gay Christian Dating*, Gay Jewish Dating*, Gay Military M4M*, GermanFriendFinder, hotsaints, IndianFriendFinder,, Lavalife, LDS Singles Mingle*, LDS Singles Network, LDS Singles SingleSaints*,, M4M Seniors*,, meetic*, MyEMatch, Overweight Date,, POP! PeopleOnPage, PlanetOut Partners, Inc., RateOrDate,, Relationship Exchange, SeniorFriendFinder, Single Seniors*, Swappster, TrueBeginnings,, Vegetarian singles, webdate, Yahoo! Personals.

face-to-face meeting facilitation sites

8minuteDating, Evite, First Tuesday, The Lunch Club NYC, MeetUp, MixerMixer, Netparty, new-in-town, Social Circles, WhizSpark.

friend networking sites

Backwash, Breedster, BuddyBridge, Chia Friend, ChosenNet*,Christianster, Click2Friends, easeek, eFriendsnet, enCentra, everyonesconnected,, Friendity, Friend MAP, Friendoo,, Friends of Friends, Friends Reunited, Friendset, Friendster, Friend Surfer, Friendzy, Gruuve, HeiYou, hi5, hipstir, Huminity, HummingBoard, The Impersonals, iSocialite*, Korea Data House, LDS LinkUp*, LianQu, linkyourfriends, Living Directory, Metails, mrNeighborhood,, NetFriendships, Neurofriends, orkut, PalJunction, peeps nation, qpengyou, Ringo, saywhatz, Tickle by Emode, ticqle,, UUFriends, Wallop, WiW, WorldShine, YeeYoo, YOYO, zenetwork, Zerodegrees.

pet networking sites

Backwash for Pets, Dogster, HAMSTERster, KissyKat, Neopets.

social networking ‘plus’ and/or ‘edge cases’

Blogpod, BuddyZoo,, dodgeball, Dude Check This Out!, Eurekster!, eventSherpa, Expressions, Findapix, Flickr, fonetango,,, Gush, HelloWorld, Home Exchange, HomeLink, Intervac, JournURL, KnowMates, LiveJournal,, Mooble, M-Tone, Multiply, Nioki, The Opinion Exchange, Palbook, PeopleAggregator, Plink, RepCheck, SmallPlanet, Small World Project, SocialCanvas, Social Grid, Squiby, StumbleUpon, TXTParty,, WiredReach, Yafro Moblog, Zdarmanet, Zopto.

[The Social Software Weblog]

Gads, where did they all come from!?!

12:09:17 AM     : You think it won't happen to you? It will happen to someone...

He was, for example, unaware of the biometric technology's influence on his case until 2002, and prior to this had come up with some decidedly paranoid theories to explain why his life was being destroyed because of a traffic violation. As indeed, you might. [DHS and UK ID card biometric vendor in false ID lawsuit - The Register]

Of course the government will argue that this type of flaw will never be possible in their system (just like the way the banks always argue that the ATM system is flawless, only more so). This is the government we are talking about. We should know better.

So before you nod your head about how good an idea all this biometric ID card shit is, just think for a moment about this happening here. Maybe it won't happen to lots of people, perhaps just a good friend of yours, or maybe your daughter, or maybe even you.

Good luck getting your life back.

 11 May 2004

7:31:16 AM     : It's been a good year for hate

The Register reports that web sites promoting hatred of one group or another are on the rise. There are 8,000 more sites being monitored today than there were back in 2000, and the numbers are accelerating: 30% in 2003, 25% in the first half of 2004.

 10 May 2004

3:28:28 PM     : Four more years baby!

[Reproduced with the kind permission of Tom Tomorrow]

3:11:43 PM     : Blogger me no blogs

Pretty templates do not an update make. As reported by Boing Boing and the BBC, Blogger has updated its service and user interface. But not very much.

[Chocolate and Vodka]
Uber-Polymath Suw lays into Blogger and, by the sounds of it, deservedly so.

3:04:51 PM     : EditMe if you can

Terry put me on to EditMe which is a hosted Wiki service and it's quite impressive.

Two things really strike me:

  1. They got rid of Wiki markup and use a WYSIWYG editor like blogs do.  This is great.  I'm not terribly anti- WikiMarkup except that it's grown into this horrible overblown formatting language, or should I say into a hundred overblown formatting language and every wiki has it's own damned brand of it.  Hello? Standards?
  2. They have a good, simple, security model.  Pages are visible to public, registered users, administrators.  Pages can be edited by public, registered users, administrators.  You get a drop-down on the page.  Neat.

It's priced to go at $5/month for the basic service.  If they have an open Wiki-API too I'd be in heaven.

11:51:09 AM     : (ENT2.0 mod RSS1.0) = 0

Time for ENT 2.0?. It's very interesting to read Danny's toughts about ENT and RSS 1.0. Maybe it's time for a new release of the ENT specs, RSS 1.0 compatible. Oh... and what about Atom?
[Paolo Valdemarin: Paolo's Weblog]

I've certainly thought about things which, with the benefit of hindsight, I would have done differently.  I was never comfortable with having the topic name as the text content of the <topic> element and I've no idea why I did it, there are other bugbears in there too.

I'd also like to give more thought as to how ENT feeds can be supported by topic map resources in real applications.  At the moment we don't publish XTM or XFML maps out of K-Collector but we could (I used to publish XFML from liveTopics but those files got big!)

Lastly I would really like to make a push for ENT support in other applications.  It seems a shame to me that, more than a year on, no other applications seem to have picked up on the benefits topic based aggregation offer to users.

11:39:33 AM     : Dinosaur thinking at work

Sony US music service an 'embarrassment'. Too many wrongs, too few rights By Tony Smith . [The Register]


9:24:00 AM     : "It will be china shop rules in Iraq: you break it, you pay for it."

Peter Galbraith: How to get out of Iraq. [John Robb's Weblog]

A very long and interesting piece from someone who has experience in Iraq and seems to have done a lot of thinking about how to go forward.  His conclusion is that the best odds of avoiding full-on civil war are to establish a loose confederation of 3 republics.  Each republic having management of it's own security & administration.  The central authority would be a weak presidency, rotating among the 3 groups, with control over foreign policy, monetary issues (e.g. sharing of oil revenues).

 08 May 2004

11:53:24 PM     : We built a better mousetrap, where are the mice?

Wouldn't it be cool?.

Wourldn't it be cool if otehr people started parsing the ENT tags embedded in this post?

That way if I talked about FOAF - for instance - someone like danbri could scarf JUST the FOAF posts and do anything he wanted with them!

This would create an incredible two-way kind of capability because systems could then communictae back to me based upon what I said. I know I know -it's RSS2.0 but that becomes a really nice gateway to a world that has 75% market share of feeds(maybe even more.)

[Marc's Voice]

I think it would be pretty cool -- I've been hoping other would start grokking this for a while now.  Yes it's RSS2.0, yes it's not perfect, but it's here, now and I think that by the 80/20 rule it's good enough.  If there's anything we can do to help get ENT support included in other applications please let us know and we will do our best to help.

I'd also like to see applications start using the SGUID information that Paolo and I have had in our feeds for about the same length of time as we've been doing ENT.   Using SGUID one post in an RSS feed can refer directly to the permalink of the post it is quoting from.  Standard RSS2.0 only allows you to refer to the feed.  So for example, tags like:

should allow a clever aggregator to thread posts.

An aggregator that did topics and sguid-based threading, that would be nice...

7:47:20 PM     : We're down the slippery slope now

In the commentator's calculations he balanced one guilty party killed against hundreds of innocent lives saved. However, that is not the right equation. For each such success, there are thousands who are tortured or murdered on the guess that they will reveal valuable information. More often than not, as history shows, they do not possess the information sought or do not have the power to do what the torturer wishes them to.


The central issue is this: once you turn to torture you have not started down the slippery slope to lawlessness, you have slid down and fallen off. Those living under a regime that uses torture have much to fear. They have no guarantee of due process, no presumption of innocence, no opportunity to present an opposing view to protect themselves. Their torturers believe they will find the justification for their work as the victim is being tortured. First the punishment, then the investigation, and later, the cover-up. Torturers will display dead bodies and tell us what the victims would have revealed, had they not unfortunately died first. Torturers without results will dismiss any suggestion that they have erred, all blame is on the victim: they were tough and didn't talk. Or the information "revealed" is too sensitive to discuss. There are many excuses, but no one can undo the suffering of the innocent.


This is no defense of the tactics of the terrorists, but it is an example of how lawlessness breeds lawlessness. Government A oppresses group B, group B-- being militarily inferior -- responds with terrorist tactics (they have no other means of fighting back); A cannot fight B with conventional armies and resorts to torture and other oppressive measures, justifying it by pointing to B's "illegitimate" use of terrorism (forgetting their own illegitimate oppression) and so forth. Oppression creates terrorism. Every injustice increases the legitimacy and fervor of the opposition (there is a lesson here these days for Israel). Without injustice, acts of terror are random and rare. Being unsystematic, they cannot be entirely prevented, but being rare, they are not a major threat either.

[The Flawed Calculus of Torture - Jef Raskin]

3:55:13 PM     : "walk without rhythm, it won't attract the worm"

I don't know why I thought about it but Christopher Walkens dancing in the Weapon of Choice video drifted into my mind.

Last time I couldn't find a copy, but this time I did.  Groovy.   [Photo: from the Astralwerks Weapon of choice site.]

3:03:28 PM     : You dare to dicker with your pontiff?

Watching The Agony and the Ecstasy as I code.  Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II -- my kind of Pontiff.  I wonder what the direction to Rex was, something like: "Get on that horse and be... Popish!"

12:40:04 PM     : Break out the violins


We're functioning with peacetime constraints, with legal requirements, in a wartime situation in the Information Age, where people are running around with digital cameras and taking these unbelievable photographs and then passing them off, against the law, to the media,... Donald Rumsfeld  [The Obvious?]

 07 May 2004

7:48:18 PM     : Enough is enough. I don't want to pay!

Blunkett risks ID card battle with EU. Legal questions as real cost exceeds £3.1bn By John Lettice . [The Register]

I think this is a deplorable waste of £3.1bn (and counting) of our tax money. We are being forced to pay to have our own civil liberties curtailed!

9:24:11 AM     : The System Works

White House aides said Bush had chastised Rumsfeld for failing to tell him about pictures of prisoner mistreatment. [Source: Salon]

It's clear the torture system works and is in full swing (cf. CIA contract interrogators).  Is this the cost of invading other countries?  That we have to have torture to get the intelligence we need to save our asses?

Also I think that what has Bush so steamed is that Rumsfeld didn't tell him about the leak of the photos.  I didn't believe his mock "outrage" at all; This is a man who makes fun of people he has executed (see #1, #2, #3) what does he care about Iraqi prisoners?

 05 May 2004

8:40:01 AM     : Virtual Audio Cables & Skype

Following links from Stuart about running multiple Skype instances I came across the Skype Forums where people are talking abut how to run multiple instances of Skype, but also streaming Skype conversations into other VOIP and Net2Phone services using a nifty gadget called a  Virtual Audio Cable.

Virtual Audio Cable is a Windows multimedia driver allowing you to transfer audio (wave) streams from one application to another. It creates a pair of Wave In/Out devices for each cable. Any application can send audio stream to Out device, and any other application can receive this stream from In device. All transfers are made digitally, providing NO sound quality loss.


If more than one applications are sending audio to VAC, it will mix all streams together. If more than one applications are receiving audio from VAC, it will share the same audio data between all targets.


VAC is useful to record application's audio output in real time (for example - Generator, Reality or other software synth), or transfer a sound stream to another application processing it. You can, for example, use two or more software audio generators/synthesizers/sequencors to produce audio streams sending them to VAC Out, and record the mixed stream from VAC In using any recording software - Windows Sound Recorder, Sound Forge, WaveLab, Cool Edit, Gold Wave, Cakewalk, Cubase etc.
This opens up all sorts of interesting possibilities like running a stream from a Skype conference to an internet radio broadcast.  Very cool.

 04 May 2004

11:27:15 PM     : Lisped Java

On the subject of dynamic languages for Java I wondered whether anyone had created embeddable Common Lisp.  Turns out they had and it's called Jatha.

10:51:25 PM     : Advantage BeanShell

The role of Jython. "Whether or not you like dynamic languages, you better warm up to 'em because they're not going away any time soon." [ Daily Update]

Whilst I agree with the message I'm puzzling over the seemingly popularity of Jython when something like BeanShell is available.  For one thing I don't get Python, to me it looks like a mess (although I'm sure it all makes sense really.)  But, more important, since I am writing Java applications it makes sense that I have interpreted Java as my dynamic scripting language.

Not only does it mean I don't have to mix/learn another language but it also holds out the possibility of being able to move compiled code out into scripts where flexibility was an advantage, or bring scripts back into compiled code where performance becomes an issue.

10:39:36 PM     : Beware SonicStage

Sony opens US music download store. Connect to MiniDisc By Tony Smith . [The Register]
Even if this weren't totally a brain dead idea (as Marc observed earlier) SonicStage sucks ass. I may not like iTMS but at least the iTunes software is smooth.

8:35:47 PM     : Send him a postcard

How Ahmed Chalabi conned the neocons. The hawks who launched the Iraq war believed the deal-making exile when he promised to build a secular democracy with close ties to Israel. Now the Israel deal is dead, he's cozying up to Iran -- and his patrons look like they're on the way out. A Salon exclusive. []

This makes for fascinating reading.

I think any reasonable American (of whatever persuation) must vote against George Bush in the next election. Not because he is monstrously wrong in his policy decisions (although I believe it to be true) but because of the risk that he is monstrously wrong.

The dust won't settle properly for another year at least. Do you really want him still sat there smugly telling you how great everything is when you have finalized realised he has, after all, dropped you in the shit? On the other hand, if Iraq does turn into a democratic paradise in the Middle East you can always send him a post card to say 'sorry.'

8:09:23 PM     : Catalyzes recurring revenue model, it says here.

Here's locking down you, kid - MS hawks vision of DRM future. Catalyzes recurring revenue model, it says here By John Lettice . [The Register]

Needless to say I won't be buying one of these devices, nor will I be licensing the legitimate content to go on them.  I intend to boycott all such things until the industry takes a serious approach to consumer rights, i.e. forever.

11:21:04 AM     : Little stars

More little stars. Got back from London today after a fantastic night out on Saturday with a covey of fellow bloggers: Doc Searls, Euan Semple, Matt Mower, Gary Turner, Tom Coates, Cory Doctorow, Danah Boyd, Julian Elve, Tom Dolan, James Cox (who also has photos here), plus a few other people who turned up later that I didn't manage to talk to properly.

So yes, a sterling evening out. Must do it again sometime. Oh, wait, I am... [Chocolate and Vodka]

I wish Radio let you do the little stars.... ;-(

 03 May 2004

9:16:59 AM     : In the future, every momentous historical occasion will get a crap soundtrack.

 Large EU Flag

I was warned that it was utter madness to arrive in Warsaw on the last day of April, the day before Poland and nine other countries were slated to join the European Union. There was a meeting of the World Trade Organization under way, the city was filled to the gills with prime ministers, central bank heads and other luminaries, and fully half of the city center had been designated a "red zone", accessible to residents only, with no vehicle traffic allowed. Traffic gridlock surrounded the city, the airport was overwhelmed with clouds of black helicopters, every window within throwing distance of a Warsaw street had been boarded up in preparation for the "alternaglobalists" who follow WTO meetings like tie-dye artists used to follow the Dead. Anybody who could find the means had already left town - the capital was utterly deserted, menacing, bristling with police and furtive al-Qaeda operatives wrapped head to toe in plastic explosives. I was to understand that my father bore no responsibility for fetching me at the airport, none at all, that I would have to fend for myself, and God help me.

Continued... [Idle Words]

 02 May 2004

1:37:07 PM     : The garlic has landed

Rather spiffing evening care of Euan "Supernode" Semple who was hosting Doc Searls. We all met up at Garlic & Shots where I have to say I wimped out and didn't try the Garlic Beer, nevertheless a good time was had by all until the management stop serving us drinks and the Doc got a bit rowdy.

Holding him back were: Gary Turner, Suw Charman, Tom Dolan, Tom Coates, Julian Elvé, Cory Doctorow, Danah Boyd, James Cox, and some other cool folks I hope to meet properly at a future shindig.

 01 May 2004

2:08:37 PM     : Getting Wiki

Wikis described in Plain English. Lee LeFever has made an excellent effort to describe wikis in plain terms. To quote: Ultimately, a wiki is a specific type of website. A wiki is special because it allows a group of people to build, edit and modify... [Column Two]

I wish Lee had posted this before my PCKM presentation earlier this week - it would have saved me some time. I gave a very brief description and there was definitely some interest from the audience at the time and, later, in discussions.  Whilst I mentioned that there were many free packages available I referred people to SocialText because I think the challenge is not buying or installing the software but to find the right partners to help you use & sell it internally.

12:13:54 PM     : What ever happened to the Event Share Framework?

The Event Share Framework seemed to have some buzz a little while back.  I posted a question about implementation (we really wanted to do something like this in K-Collector) to the ESF list but got zero response and can't say I've seen anyone talking about it since.  Did it disappear off the radar?  Has it gone underground?  Does anyone know?  Or care?

12:01:52 PM     : A thought about nested facets

Quick thought about nested facets while I was in the shower.  Paolo and I have chatted numerous times about typed RSS feeds.  The idea being that when <item>s don't come from blogs we may get different information about them.  For example an item corresponding to an event will have useful metadata which might correspond to some nested facet.  An item from a database feed of helpdesk tickets could have different (or possibility similar) metadata.


11:40:23 AM     : Teenage Taxonomies

I've been thinking about how topics are organized in K-Collector. As of my writing the largest K-Collector site is W4 which currently has 726 topics defined in 3 classifications.

  • What - 410 topics
  • Who - 227 topics
  • Where - 89 topics
This is beginning to present some challenges. For example current interfaces in K-Collector clients for selecting topics highlite suggested topics but also display all available topics (under their classifications) for you to choose from. The problem is that, with this number of topics, it's all rather unwieldy.

I already think that it would be advantageous to allow a further subdivision of the classifications to form a 3-level hierarchy. For example What could subdivide into things like products, protoocols, principles, patterns and so on (sort of modelled after Denham Grays Information Gathering Template). But this is not a complete answer.

First I do not want to grow arbitrarily nested taxonomies. If you think about your own experience with menu bars, how often do you look more than 3 levels deep? And how irritating is it to have to poke around like that? Also the deeper the taxonomy the more effort has to be put into designing it and this is the domain of experts and to be avoided

Second faceted classifications only work when they narrow things. As you descend the hierarchy you become more precise about the term you are talking about (Anything => any person => a member of a group => an individual). But for example, when I am writing a post about politics and economics I am really only interested in topics related to those subjects, i.e. I have cross-cutting concerns (like Aspects w.r.t. OOP)

I've been thinking a little bit about Peter Van Dijck's suggestion for nested facets. As Travis Wilson described it in a post to the facetedclassification list:
For example, Peter's article poses a "Product Type" facet where "Cameras" 
is a heading down in the taxonomy somewhere. Cameras have certain
properties like "Resolution" and "Lens Type" that just aren't relevant to,
say, hubcaps. So "Resolution" and "Lens Type" are facets with a scope of
"Product Type = Camera". A faceted navigation interface would expose them
whenever a search was already restricted to "Camera". Otherwise, they're
structured like every other facet you've ever seen.
to see whether there is a role for nested facets. I'm still thinking about that.

It's also possible that we could also use the many relations (thousands and thousands of them) that K-Collector builds up to create dynamic cross-cutting hierarchies. The idea here would be to take one or two dominant topics and then order all other topics according to how relevant they were. This should, in theory, put more relevant topics closer to your attention.

No solutions yet, just questions & ideas.

11:08:04 AM     : What kind of crummy Marxism is this?

Can you imagine this? Here are a bunch of commies who are offering sweetheart tax breaks to Western companies. Low taxes benefit business. Aren’t commies supposed to be anti-business? I mean, what kind of crummy Marxism is this?

Other executives complained bitterly that the Department of Homeland Security is making it so hard for legitimate foreigners to get visas to study or work in America that many have given up the age-old dream of coming here. Instead, they are studying in England and other Western European nations, and even China. This is leading to a twofold disaster.

First, one of America’s greatest assets – its ability to skim the cream off the first-round intellectual draft choices from around the world and bring them to our shores to innovate – will be diminished, and that in turn will shrink our talent pool. And second, we could lose a whole generation of foreigners who would normally come here to study, and then would take American ideas and American relationships back home. In a decade we will feel that loss in America’s standing around the world.

Still others pointed out that the percentage of Americans graduating with bachelor’s degrees in science and engineering is less than half of the comparable percentage in China and Japan, and that U.S. government investments are flagging in basic research in physics, chemistry and engineering. Anyone who thinks that all the Indian and Chinese techies are doing is answering call-center phones or solving tech problems for Dell customers is sadly mistaken. U.S. firms are moving serious research and development to India and China.

Friedman concludes: "We have got to get our focus back in balance, not to mention our budget. We can’t wage war on income taxes and terrorism and a war for innovation at the same time." Call this "the education of Thomas Friedman." Who knows? Maybe this perspective will actually have some influence on the editorial page of the New York Times. But don’t bet your pension money on this possibility. [Gary North via]

A snippet from Gary North's latest piece on the developing relationship between Eastern and Western economies.  I usually enjoy his perspectives as well as his prose.

More and more my view is that our conservative governments are a millstone around our necks.  They don't understand the flow of events around them and yet they seek to control them, grabbing whatever powers they need to do it.  In the process they are damaging us all and we are letting them.

You don't have to look to hard to see the consequences.

9:13:39 AM     : It's all about 'Quadrant 2' innit?

If It's Urgent, Ignore It.

Differentiating between urgent and important is the trick though isn't it? After the fact, it may be easy but in the moment it can be devilishly hard, especially in a world that treasures action over reflection.

Perhaps one heuristic would be to simply ignore any decision (excepting immediate threat to life and limb) that claimed a need to be made immediately.

If It's Urgent, Ignore It. If It's Urgent, Ignore It -- From Seth Godin at Fast Comany...

"Smart organizations ignore the urgent. Smart organizations understand that important issues are the ones to deal with. If you focus on the important stuff, the urgent will take care of itself.

"A key corollary to this principle is the idea that if you don't have the time to do it right, there's no way in the world you'll find the time to do it over. Too often, we use the urgent as an excuse for shoddy work or sloppy decision making. [...] Urgent is not an excuse. In fact, urgent is often an indictment--a sure sign that you've been putting off the important stuff until it mushrooms out of control."
Obvious, but worth repeating from time to time. [Frank Patrick's Focused Performance Blog]
[McGee's Musings]
Hmm... I don't think this works because what is important changes. When the plane dives into a tail spin, what's important ceases to be "arriving on time" and becomes "saving our asses." At that moment I don't want the pilot looking at MBA programmes!

For me urgency and importance are independent qualities which can apply to any task or decision. If Stephen Covey were here I think he would be jumping up and down and shouting "Quadrant 2! Quadrant 2!" at the top of his voice.

This is probably the thing that sticks most in my mind from my attempts to practice the 7 Habits. Covey has a particular approach to how to prioritize and handle what is important in your life. If you haven't come across it before goes something like this:

Draw a square on a piece of paper, then divide it into 4 smaller squares, labelled as per this example.

Quadrant 1

Quandrant 2
Not Urgent

Quadrant 3
Not Imporant

Quandrant 4
Not Important
Not Urgent

Now write down each of your current tasks, projects, activities, ideas and so forth into the appropriate quadrant (your open loops in AllenSpeak.) You should include business, home life, everything you do.

  • Quadrant 1 : is the fire-fighting quadrant. It pressurizes you and you need to get it under control or else you're going to go under.
  • Quadrant 2 : is everything of long-term importance to you (which is why you need to be careful that tasks relating to important relationships with others don't inadvertently end up as Quadrant 3 or 4 activities.).
  • Quadrant 3 : is what's important to others, but not to you (otherwise it would be in Q1)
  • Quadrant 4 : is what's important to nobody.
The idea is to steal as much time as possible from Quadrants 3 and 4 to invest in Quadrant 2 since it is that quadrant which will have the most life changing effects. If you end up with a huge Q1 & Q2 and empty Q3 & Q4 you probably have a problem and need to start simplifying your life (or start buying ulcer medicine in bulk!)

The trick, of course, is to work out what's really important to you and I think this is what is missing from the "If it's urgent ignore it!" creed. You can ignore urgent things but only if they are not important to you. To ignore what is both urgent & important may be slitting your own throat.