- z2005-02-16- Jwz Contra Groupware
Jamie Zawinski on the horrors of Group Ware. "Groupware" is all about things like "WorkFlow", which means, "the chairman of the committee has emailed me this checklist, and I'm done with item 3, so I want to check off item 3, so this document must be sent back to my supervisor to approve the fact that item 3 is changing from "unchecked" to "checked", and once he does that, it can be directed back to committee for review." Nobody cares about that shit. Nobody you'd want to talk to, anyway. If you want to do something that's going to change the world, build software that people want to use instead of software that managers want to buy... So I said, narrow the focus. Your "use case" should be, there's a 22 year college student living in the dorms. How will this software get him laid? "How will this software get my users laid" should be on the minds of anyone writing Social Software (and these days, almost all software is social software). (Compell Ing)
He's referring to NovEll's HuLa.
TimBray notes LiveChat and WiKi-s are not exactly what the Collaborat Ive-future visionaries of past years had in mind. But they seem to hit an awfully-big 80/20 point.
Ian Bicking notes I get paid to do that kind of stuff. I bet that's what a lot of us get paid to do. And yeah, I hate to admit it, but it's fucking lifeless. It doesn't make anyone happy. Sure, commerce isn't about Happi Ness (I guess), but it's not about life-sucking bureaucracy either. The word "Enter Prise" gives me a sinking feeling of sadness and grief.
- z2014-04-15- Nuvu Project Based Learning
NuVu is the brainchild of Saeed Arida, a former PhD student from MIT who believes that young people should be taught to solve real-world problems, like using new materials to design higher-quality prosthetics.
“Studios are not subjects in the traditional sense, as they involve finding a solution for a very real human problem,” said Arida. “What students do here is a very different kind of educational experience.”
Here’s How NuVu describes the program: NuVu is a full-time magnet innovation center for Middle School and High School students. NuVu’s pedagogy is based on the architectural Studio School model and geared around multi-disciplinary, collaborative projects. We basically teach students how to navigate the messiness of the creative process, from inception to completion... No Course... No Subjects... No Classrooms... No One-Hour Schedule... No Grades.
- z2011-02-01- Greer Lalanne Fitness Physical Culture
John Michael Greer on Jack Lalanne's Physical Culture. We don’t like to think about the fact that by and large, Americans these days are weaker, less healthy, and less capable than their great-grandparents... from its beginning, the physical culture movement took a critical stance toward the products of industry and the Life Style-s made possible by the extravagant use of Fossil Fuel-s... His accomplishments, like those of the great physical culturists before him, depended on something utterly unmentionable in contemporary industrial culture. It’s more strictly tabooed than sex or death or the total dependence of today’s Middle Class American lifestyles on Third World slave labor. Yes, we’re talking about Self Discipline (Self Control)... James Francis’ useful 1994 study Subvers Ive VirTue: Asceticism and Authority in the Second-Century Pagan World chronicles how Rome’s rulers found the reasoned self-discipline taught by Stoic (StoicIsm) and Platonic philosophies an unendurable challenge to their authority. You can find similar conflicts in the history of imperial China, the Muslim world, or, really, wherever the decline of imperial (EmPire) states is well enough documented. The reason behind these conflicts is simple enough: people who are ruled by their passions and appetites can be ruled just as efficiently by any political system willing to pander to those things, while those who control themselves can’t reliably be controlled by anyone else. Thus the Roman government regularly sent Rome’s philosophers into exile, failing Chinese dynasties praised Confucius to the skies while doing away with anybody who took his teachings too seriously, and modern America uses every trick in the media’s book to marginalize those who remind us that the life of a channel-surfing couch potato might not express the highest potentials of our humanity.
- z2004-12-07- Lind Defense Disorder Terror
William Lind on Dealing With Terrorism via defense.
First, the threat America faces is not merely terrorism, which is only a technique. The threat is Fourth Generation warfare (FourGw), which is a vastly broader phenomenon... Second, no state armed forces know how to defeat Fourth Generation opponents militarily, and thus far none have been able to do so...
Col JohnBoyd, USAF, America's greatest military theorist, defined Grand Strategy as the art of connecting to as many other independent power centers as possible, while isolating the enemy from as many independent power centers as possible. The grand strategic question facing the US is how to do that in a 21st century that will increasingly be dominated by non-state, Fourth Generation forces...
The answer begins by considering why the state first arose toward the end of the 15th century. Medieval Europe was a highly ordered, cultured, and successful society. It was brought down primarily by the Black Death, a point of more than historical interest in a world where many non-state forces may be able to carry out biological attacks. After the medieval order fell, it was succeeded by disorder, which led naturally to a strong desire for order, which in time was supplied by the state.
In a Fourth Generation world, surviving states will not be the only centers of order. One of the central characteristics of the Fourth Generation is a return to a world where culture will often be more significant than statehood, and some cultures tend toward order... In general, Isolation Ism will mean minimizing contacts that involve flows of people, money, materials, and new primary loyalties, such as religions and ideologies, into the United States...
The second part of our prescription, an annihilating counteroffensive, needs some elaboration... When that is the case, it will be imperative that the employment of unconventional weapons follows instantly after a successful attack on the United States. As Machiavelli would understand, such a reaction must appear to be a "spasm" on our part, not a calculated act...
As dangerous as the importation of Fourth Generation war into America is, more dangerous still is the Fourth Generation war that America may develop from within. To survive the crisis of legitimacy of the state that lies at the heart of Fourth Generation war, a state needs two qualities: an open Political System (Open Society) and a unitary CultUre...any state that has neither is likely to experience a crisis of legitimacy... That means opening up the political system and abandoning Multi Culturalism (Cultural Pluralism?) for a policy of encouraging what used to be called Americanization (and is in fact the adoption of Anglo-Saxon norms, at least in the public square).
From a Fourth Generation perspective, America and ChinA are united by the most powerful of all strategic common interests, an interest in the preservation of order. China should be viewed as a strategic ally of the first importance under any government that can maintain China's internal unity.
I think his strong desire for order colors his thinking. Perhaps it's a matter of definition and measure. I think a certain amount of order is necessary for a Civil Society that's stable enough that you don't need to worry about your house getting burned down when you go to the corner for milk.
JoelMarch Crash Course: 31 lessons
- z2014-08-01- Caulfield Federated Wiki
Mike Caulfield has been doing some work with Federated Wiki.
Apr'2014: his gloss on the general idea... I'm not talking here about Ward Cunningham's Smallest Federated Wiki, which was largely the inspiration for this, but about our local attempts to make DokuWiki work in a way that approximates federation. But I think the use cases apply to Ward's work as well. Note this piece isn't about EduTech, but rather producing support documentation for your faculty, though he extends the details into teaching-process thoughts... On a wiki every page has an edit button; on a federated wiki, every page has a fork button. He also notes the UI issue: But that step of deciding what comes onto your wiki from the federation — what does that look like? It could get really noisy. It could get very difficult to know which updates of a dozen you want. It could be so time consuming to scan the updates and understand what they are that it’s easier to roll your own. Alternatively, the process could be so silent that everything flows into your drafts folder but never gets used. Things like attributing cleanly without gunking up the articles with too many lines of credits are also issues. Tracking what you have approved and not approved may get confusing as well (Did I review this already?) unless the system handles it elegantly.
Jun04: He's digging into Smallest Federated Wiki, and gives a good pitch of wiki and specifically SFW as getting closer to Ted Nelson's bigger Hyper Text vision. Federation is really a smaller idea in a larger vision. The core problem addressed in Smallest Federated Wiki is how to make a wiki that resists calcification. Parallel columns, draggable elements, and revision features make reorganization cheap and attractive. The JSON basis prevents fossilization of data elements, and allows an easy route to bring dynamic third party material into the site.
Jun10: he sees federation as the best way to support the Emerg Ence of x-MOOC content. People don’t vote on content around which to create groups — rather they use the content, and for each person that use connects them to the creators of that content in specific ways. (Alternative to Student Wiki Web thinking?)
Jun11: pitch for content-survival (Perma Link) via Federation.
Jun12: he walks through the process of forking a page and making changes and scanning changes that other people have made at various points in time. The combination allows for some of the personal vibrancy (and diversity) of blogging while engaged in very un-bloglike, recursive, news-peg-less activities.
Jun17: he revisits the culture-shock associated with people learn to write the WikiWay. By “chunking” large, complex observations and histories into terms and pages you make it possible for people to see patterns that would otherwise be invisible... We’ve never asked the class to develop a new language (Shared Language) in the study of a subject, or to extend an old one. Instead, we gravitate to more traditional modes of academic production. I Commented about the encouragement that comes from using Smashed Together Words for Automatic Linking.
Jun18: he shows how to get a page from another SFW site brought over into yours: he drags the icon next to the URL in the browse Location area over to the empty space at the far right of the window for your own SFW space....
Jun18: he shows how to see the specific version of a page that has cousins in multiple spaces.
Jun19: he notes how the combination of Page Name As Url and federation works invisibly.
Jun20: he notes how a link to a page will give you different results depending on the ConText as defined by the Wiki Space you're currently "in". (This is only confusing because of SFW's style of having you always working in 1 window.)
Jun20: he shows how even your Recent Changes view depends on the breadth of your current Wiki Neighborhood.
Jun20: he notes how SFW's JSON and Structured Wiki focus brings it toward JonUdell's concept of Universal Canvas. SFW isn’t really even a wiki to some extent. It’s more like a networked document.
Jun24: he demonstrates how content spreads via Inter Wiki across mostly-unrelated Wiki Space-s.
Jun30: he introduces the concept of Federation through the example of "Family Movie Night". (NetFlix UX challenge.) Showing how messy getting multiple people to share info gets without federation.
Jul03: he explains how a UI that seems more helpful in the first 60min of use is often less efficient for use over time (Ease Of Learning vs Ease Of Use).
Jul11: he demonstrates how plug-ins work with JSON to have a Structured Wiki encourage Open Innovation by lowering the bar to Iterat Ive-ly defining and collecting data.
Jul24: he revisits the WikiWay of Sense Making via WiKi NoteBook.
Aug05: he pitches the SFW approach of having lots of similar forks of pages "out there" rather than a single master page (as in Wiki Pedia) to have EditWar-s over. There are Too Few Wiki.
Aug08: he shows how awesome Link As You Think page-creation is.
Sept01: he gives clues on how to get started in using SFW in the classroom. (cf Student Wiki Web)
Sept22: he documents the classroom-management workflow that's working for him.
Oct14: he notes the awesomeness of Iterat Ive WritIng (of bushy Hyper Text).
Oct17: he gives a progress report on his "TL521" class's work.
Nov06: he gave a keynote at NWACC. He anchors the pitch with the story (cribbed from Steven Johnson) of Arthur C Clarke's idea for the GPS system back in 1945. I hope this can open up an honest discussion about the ways in which Social Media is not serving our needs as it currently stands. As advocates we’re so often put in a situation where we have to defend the very idea that social media is an information sharing solution that we don’t often get to think about what a better solution for Collaborat Ion would look like. Because there are problems with the way social media works now... We can build systems that return to the the vision of the forefathers of the web: Augmenting Human Intellect.
I still feel the SFW approach is too Tightly Coupled, compared to the looser WikiWeb model. (And I really hope that SFW gets back to Smashed Together Words for Automatic Linking!)
Outcome: bought the NexusSix.
- z2011-03-11- Rao Return Of Barbarian Vs Civilization
Venkatesh Rao on the return of the Barbar Ian.
History is only written by the winners if the winners can actually write. At their apogee, when Civilizat Ion-s have the most surplus wealth, they indulge in the most refined forms of writing: writing histories with autocentric conceit, they focus on the visibly-refined glories of their own age, rather than the higher-barbarian sensibilities at the foundations.
Hunter Gatherer-s and settled modern civilizations loom large, as bookends, in our study of history. The more I study history though, the more I realize that hunter-gatherer lifestyles are mostly of importance in evolutionary prehistory, not in history proper. If you think about history proper, a different lifestyle, Pastoral Nomad-ism, starts to loom large, and its influence on the course of human history is grossly underestimated. Modern hunter-gatherer lifestyles are cul-de-sacs in cultural evolution terms. They stopped mattering by around 4000 BC, and haven’t significantly affected world events since. Pastoral nomads though, played a crucial role until at least World War I. Until about 1405 (the year Timur died), they actually played the starring role. And in reconstructed form, the lifestyle may again start to dominate world affairs within the next few decades. (Pre Industrial vs Post Industrial?)
From hunter-gatherers to early pastoral nomads, you get a gradual evolution, and at some point (the Neolithic revolution, probably between 15,000 to 10,000 BC) you get a fork in the road. One path leads to settled civilizations and the other leads to increasingly sophisticated modes of pastoralism.
Basically, if anything looks like it came out of a mobile lifestyle, pastoral nomads probably invented it. At a more abstract level, barbarian cultures create fundamentally predatory technologies: technologies that allow you to do less work to get the same returns, freeing up time for idleness. What Hegel would have called “Master” technologies. The barbarian works to earn the idleness which the luckier savage gets for free. Barbarian technologies, like savage technologies, are fundamentally sustainable, since using them tends to fulfill immediate needs rather than causing wealth accumulation. The connection to mobility is central to this characteristic: nomadic cultures do not accumulate useless things. It is a naturally self-limiting way of life. If it doesn’t fit in saddlebags or is too heavy to be carried by pack animals, it isn’t useful.
The mark of “Civilizat Ion” is the replacement of sustainable predatory patterns of life based on immediate consumption with Un Sustainable non-predatory ones based on accumulation. Civilized cultures create different types of technology compared to barbarian cultures. What Hegel would have called “Slave” technologies. Technologies that keep you working harder and harder to accumulate stuff.
“Barbarians” are on average, individually smarter, but collectively stupider than a thriving settled civilization. One-on-one, a lower barbarian can outthink, outfight, and out-innovate a civilized citizen any day. But a settled civilization at its peak can blow a lower barbarian civilization away. (Collective Intelligence) The ideas of the smartest people (usually embedded higher barbarians) are externalized and encoded into the design of institutions, which can then make far stupider people vastly more effective than their raw capabilities would allow (this is the reason why the modern economic notion of “productivity” is so misleading).
At some point, you get a peak, and the decline begins. As entropy accumulates, it becomes a simple matter for another wave of lower barbarians on the periphery to take down the civilization. The reason this seems like a strange phenomenon is that we confuse refinement with advancement. Finely-crafted jewelry is not more advanced than roughly-hewn jewelry. A Boeing 747 is about a million times more capable than the Wright Flyer I, but it does not contain a million times as much intelligence. It is merely more refined (in the sense of cocaine, by the same logic I applied in The Gollum Effect). The difference between advancement and refinement is clearest in disruption. A beautifully-crafted sword is not more advanced than a crude gun. It is merely more refined. (Disruptive Innovation) The intelligence manifest in an artifact is simply the amount of human thought that has been externalized into it. Refinement on the other hand, is a measure of the amount of work that has gone into it. In Hegelian terms, intelligence in design is fundamentally a predatory quality put in by barbarian-Masters. Refinement in design is a non-predatory quality put in by civilized-Slaves.
Today as institutions of all sorts crumble and collapse, and the written word becomes a living, dancing, hyperlinked thing that would have made Plato happy, the barbarian is set to return. I’ll blog about this in a future piece.
- z2011-03-29- Kling Psst Economic Activity Recovery
In thinking about recovery from Credit Crisis2008, Arnold Kling has started staying that we need to think of Economic Activity not in terms of GDP (spending) but rather PSST - "Patterns of Sustainable Specialization and Trade".
Feb14 summary - It is possible that some economic slumps can be traced to un-discovery. However, the more interesting possibility is that slumps can be caused by very rapid technological discovery (he's referring to widespread adoption of the InterNet), with the process of discovering new patterns of specialization and trade lagging behind... It is no longer appropriate to treat the economy as a system of equations with a definite solution. Instead of the Walrasian auctioneer, we have individual business ventures groping for sustainable patterns. Some new ventures will work. Most will fail, as will some existing ventures. There is a tendency for some industries to rise as others fall, but there is no automatic guarantee that the successes and the failures will exactly balance one another. Sometimes, the adjustment can be a difficult one, and the successful new ventures can lag behing the failing old ones. To put it in terms of a single sentence, slumps can occur because discovery takes time. See Technological Revolutions And Financial Capital.
Feb15: he contrasts his thinking with Tyler Cowen's Great Stagnation thinking (which implies permanent Un Employment).
- quick summary of Cowen
David Henderson critique
Aug01'2011: Byrne Hobart sides with Tyler Cowen. A heavily indebted country doesn’t have the freedom to allow deflationary forces without facing some serious consequences. Interestingly enough, these consequences are somewhat balanced: older people tend to spend far more money on the Internet, and they tend to get far more of their income from fixed income sources, whatever those might be. So this web-based deflation will transfer money to older, wealthier savers—who will promptly transfer some of it right back to web companies. Whether that is an unstable equilibrium or a self-balancing one depends mostly on whether or not web companies will hire more people.
Feb21: In the long run, if more people adopt the paradigm of Patterns of Sustainable Specialization and Trade, they will stop looking at static concepts like sectors and instead look at the dynamics of what I call discovery. I think if we are going to get anywhere with the new paradigm, we will have to come up with new metrics. I think we will have to get a handle on adjustment costs, including the cost of firm formation, the cost of expanding enterprises, and the cost of integrating new labor and capital into an existing enterprise.
Nov'2011: Race Against The Machine by Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew Mc Afee (B005WTR4ZI) sounds a lot like the Great Stagnation argument.
Tyler Cowen compares them. The story of a largely stagnant median will become progressively less important relative to the story of labor market polarization (Income Inequality), and I suspect that over time Erik and I (I didn’t get to chat with Andrew as much) will agree increasingly.
Arnold Kling does the same. My opinion is that the chances are increasing that we will see sudden "tipping" in Educat Ion away from traditional models. I think that the technology is pretty much here to do better than the old-fashioned classroom. It's being held back by the incumbents, but they are going to lose, just as the music publishers have been losing and the book publishers have been losing. In Health Care, I am not sure that all of the necessary technology has arrived to replace your doctor with a computer that uses DNA, scans, and blood samples to develop treatment plans. But I would estimate that the chances are greater than 50-50 that we will be there within a decade. Again, there will be adoption lags. I expect the medical profession to undertake an all-out effort to raise fear, uncertainty, and doubt about technology to replace the doctor, until eventually people realize that they have more fear, uncertainty, and doubt about doctors themselves. (Education Healthcare And Leisure)
Arnold Kling has his another comparison of these ideas to his PSST thinking. I believe that the Great Depression of the 1930s can also be interpreted in part as an Economic Transition. The impact of the internal combustion engine and the small electric motor on farming and manufacturing reduced the value of uneducated laborers. Instead, by the 1950s, a middle class of largely clerical workers was the most significant part of the labor force... What took place after the Second World War was not the revival of a 1920s economy, with its small farming units, urban manufacturing, and plurality of laborers. Instead, the 1950s saw the creation of a new suburban economy, with a plurality of White Collar workers. With an expanded transportation and communications infrastructure, businesses needed telephone operators, shipping clerks, and similar occupations. If you could read, follow simple instructions, and settle into a routine, you could find a job in the post-war economy. (A20th Century Economic Theory) The proportion of clerical workers in the economy peaked in 1980... If a job can be characterized by a precise set of instructions, then that job is a candidate to be automated or outsourced to modestly educated workers in developing countries (Off Shoring)... In the long run, the economy does not run out of jobs... There are two challenges. One is the sheer speed of adjustment. In a hyper-Schumpeterian economy, the main work consists of destroying someone else's job. Garett Jones has pointed out that the typical worker today does not produce widgets but instead builds Organizational Capital. The problem is that building organizational capital in one company serves to depreciate the organizational capital somewhere else... The second challenge is the nature of the emerging skills mismatch. People who are self-directed and cognitively capable can keep adding to their advantages. People who lack those traits cannot simply be exhorted into obtaining them. The new jobs that emerge may not produce a Middle Class... I think it is possible that technocrats will be able to come up with programs that offer decent work and reasonable incomes for workers with modest skills. However, I have more faith in a process in which technocrats must compete for charitable donations than a process in which they compete for government power. I guess the point here is that the transition from farm-drone blue-color-drone to white-color-drone is less psychologically dramatic than the transition from drone to Network Economy Free Agent.
Jan'2012: Joseph Stiglitz seems to agree in some ways. The real economy has been in a state of wrenching Economic Transition for decades, and its dislocations have never been squarely faced. A crisis of the real economy lies behind the Long Slump, just as it lay behind the Great Depression... It was government spending—a Keynesian Economic Stimulus, not any correction of monetary policy or any revival of the banking system—that brought about recovery. The long-run prospects for the economy would, of course, have been even better if more of the money had been spent on investments in education, technology, and infrastructure rather than munitions, but even so, the strong public spending more than offset the weaknesses in private spending... What we need to do instead is embark on a massive investment program—as we did, virtually by accident, 80 years ago—that will increase our productivity for years to come, and will also increase employment now... The good news (in a sense) is that the United States has under-invested in infrastructure, technology, and education for decades, so the return on additional investment is high, while the cost of capital is at an unprecedented low. (Those don't sound like a transition to a service/info economy.)
Steve Denning agrees with some adjustment. Stiglitz sees it as a transition from manufacturing to a Service Economy. A service economy is certainly one looming possibility for the US economy, but a service economy per se is unlikely to be an American success story... Instead the needed transition is from a factory economy to the Creative Economy.
Feb'2012: Arnold Kling again: If the Keynesian demand story is not valid today, then perhaps it was not valid during the Great Depression either. The 1920s and 1930s were, like the present, a period in which major technological changes were working their way through the economy. Economic historian Alexander Field has argued that the decade of the 1930s saw more technological progress than any other decade in American history... The Keynesian story would lead one to expect a recovery to consist of workers returning to the jobs that they held prior to the recession. That is not what happened after the Great Depression. It is not what has happened in recent recessions in the U.S., particularly the one that ended in 2009. Regaining full employment requires significant restructuring of the economy, rather than simply returning to the pre-slump status quo. More government spending can at best create some Un Sustainable jobs in the short run. In the long run, it will only distort and impede the adjustments that are needed to create patterns of sustainable specialization and trade.
- z2009-09-15- Social Obesity
ObesIty may have a Social (Socio Genic) component. A study published in the August issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition finds that how much tweens and teens eat can be influenced by how much their friends weigh... Lead researcher and clinical psychologist Sarah Jeanne Salvy says her research demonstrates an eye-opening social theory: obesity can be contagious.
Here's a story from 2007 on the same topic. "It's almost a cliche to speak of the obesity epidemic as being an EpidemIc. But we wanted to see if it really did spread from person to person like a fashion or a germ," said Nicholas A Christakis of Harvard Medical School, who led the study, being published tomorrow in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). "And the answer is, 'Yes, it does.' We are finding evidence for a kind of social contagion."
Apr'2010: pair of articles noting the OutBreak (heh) of Social Contagion studies. Social Network Analysis undoubtedly will play a key role in deciphering how social relationships affect health. But as the field develops, there is a danger that health professionals may fall too hard for this attractive new web of causation, while giving short shrift to key environmental factors that undeniably shape health.
Jun'2011 update: Andrew Gelman looks at some criticisms of the statistics.
- z2010-09-24- Ideo Future Book
IDEO shows VidEo of 3 concepts of near-future EBook-s.
Nelson: surround book with DiaLogue/debate
Coupland: tie into your professional Social Network to help you find what you should be reading to keep up
Alice: turn fiction into ARG, with Co Creation
Cory Doctorow isn't impressed: it feels more like the kind of thing you'd get if Time's business reporter put in a couple calls to the tablet vendors and a couple of corporate futurists and built from there. There's nothing here that excites, nothing that projects much past the present-day, and nothing that has that "out-of-the-box" frisson I get from the best of IDEO's designs and provocations.
My Intro Blurb:
This is the publicly-readable WikiLog Thinking Space of Bill Seitz (a Product Manager and CTO).
My Calling: to accelerate Evolut Ion by increasing FreeDom and Opportunity and AgenCy for many people via DAndD of Thinking Tools (software and Games To Play) that increase the LeverAge of Free Agent-s and smaller groups (Small World).
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