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Enforcing a balance

It burns in my heart that we spent on any offensive military action what we could have spent in education instead. Many former students of the current system come out doubtful of the current political system's ability to ever help them, permanently disillusioned in their leaders' ability to care about the people.

I have found a voice to describe how I feel about Iraq, in 20 days in spring (thanks). The budgets for next year's students are traded for the costs of humanity elsewhere — but how can we help others when we're so unable to help ourselves? The world has no further desire for our form of help, now, so perhaps we'll be left to heal our broken country instead.

I propose a budgetary enforcement that military spending not exceed human services spending, per year. There must be an equal and fair allocation of these resource, something that seems to be lacking in today's dwindling school budgets and world-spanning military. An amendment, of sorts, designed to enforce that which we hold dear: the people of the country itself.

I feel that it's urgently time to take care of ourselves, to reduce our military action, and to work on repairing some of the flaws within our society: the trend towards a lack of emotional intelligence, the lack of interest in a damaged education system, hanging on a thread near collapse with no budget in sight.

In what ways do we matter?

What have blogs done for the world as a whole thus far? What will they be doing soon, or not so soon? Why is all this RSS mumbo jumbo important? How can I make money from this? Why do I have hope for what blogging will do for the world?

I can't answer these questions, not without help from y'all out there reading this. Real-world intelligent people are asking me some tough questions that I can't answer. They look at me like I'm in a cult — and in a way, I am; I'm only beginning to understand the reasons.

Finding people takes a lot of sifting. It's been a lot of work to find people on the Net I enjoy talking to, and harder still to be their friends. I've put years of my life into social groups, and yet still I try to find more.

Individuals are as important as groups. Random people from life and the net, combined with loosely-tied social communities, and suddenly I'm part of a hundred little worlds, each different. They all have their ups and downs, and my attention drifts where it wishes

Participating is hard, this early in the game. This kind of thing isn't something that comes naturally; it's a shift in thinking, and may yet require some thought. Eventually this will all be easier, but right now it's rather uncut around the edges.

Things will be what they are, and are never the same. In the end, all of this is an expression of myself, and this is who I choose to be. My opinions are as flexible as I desire them to be; people communicate differently here, and I've come to enjoy it.

This path is a new one, combining many fields of experience. The "blogging thing" has tied together sociology , politics, diaries, and people-movers. A small community has formed, roughly a thousand people (more or less – anyone got better statistics here?) haved formed a continuous feedback loop between themselves, their information being whatever they choose; they've created something no one yet understands, a kind of social mob that doesn't fit any known classifications.

Got more to say? I'd love to hear it. Anonymous posting is open as always; I ask for respect, though passionate is fine. I'm here to try and understand.

Integrating blogs and DMOZ

The k-collector project is working on integrating topical directories with individual MovableType posts, in an RSS 2.0 feed. DMOZ currently publishes the category list (as RDF), so it'd be possible to assign DMOZ categories to posts on my blog, using DMOZ as a topic cloud.

Over time, I'd assign multiple DMOZ categories to the posts, and then publish the posts in a DMOZ-like tree structure somewhere on my blog (recursive tree-surfing html-producing plugin, I suppose). Eventually all my posts would be heavily weighted with categories, and the linking would be good. "See the other 4 URLs in this category at DMOZ", for instance.

Building mappings between one category and another for the major portals would provide the ability to speak everyone's category structure; then you add automatic feedback routines, and you've got content that publishes itself to the indexers for review. End-to-end Internet publishing, with the categorical depth of Usenet.

I'd like to hear comments on this one; if I'm dumb, say the word :) I'll be happy to listen, and respond.

Continue reading "Integrating blogs and DMOZ" »

Aspects of serendipity

Serendipity is a wonderful side effect of diverse, splintered communities; you get to meet people for the time, over and over again.

An interesting side effect of participating in electronic communities is the occasional need to introduce yourself multiple times to someone: "Hi, I'm Richard Soderberg, and also floating atoll", for instance. This has become more and more common recently. One example:

I learned about k-collector during an ETcon talk by Ben Hammersley. At the time, I've never met Ben Hammersley in person, but my nametag links to my site; the connection is made.

Weeks later, when I'm reading through a pile of unread articles, I find a call for help in a random blog post; I didn't notice which site it was from, but I did leave a comment offering help. A couple hours later, a post lands on the blog from Matt; he lists off the usual collection of multiple instant messenger contacts, and we converse. I ask after which blog he's from, and start finding references to k-collector.

Continue reading "Aspects of serendipity" »

To: O'Reilly, Re: ETcon

This was the first talk I�d been to since EtCon and given my inability to concentrate on such things I realised how boring talks can be without the distraction of EtCon�s ranks of laptops and Wi-Fi. I desperately wanted to exchange instant messages with friends about what was going on or force myself to concentrate by getting stuck into some collaborative note-taking. Looking at your neighbour�s notepad just isn�t the same.


If education was like ETcon all the time, as opposed to just for three days, there'd never be any problem getting students to attend.  I've never found an environment so automatically accommodating to the needs of a thousand people, without breaking the fragile social connections that bind them.

Hydra, the Rendezvous editor, has totally surpassed all the possibilities I could dream of for workflow shifts.  The user interface alone makes CVS merging amazingly simple.  I'm glad I was a participant in that; it's not something I'll ever forget.

The best venue of the entire week was the balcony eating area upstairs.  From dawn until midnight it was continually populated for four solid days, a thriving ebb and flow of a community that had never been in the same room like this, yet somehow coexisted and interacted beautifully.

Something I have missed forever since is a target market for my thoughts.  I found myself submerged, unexpectedly, into an ocean of people who care about similar things as myself -- social software, adaptive networks, the reasons I came!  Deciding that my role in the conference would be "catalyst", I was able to connect two people four times, to some effect; the ripples have spread in several directions, and I think they're for good (for instance, Esther Dyson now has a blog).

The chance to do that, just for a day, would entice me more than any job in my life has offered.  The chance to do that for a year in an educational setting would change my life.  Thank you for the three best days this year.

Microphones in the corporate embassy

"Conference organizers cannot make an event off the record only for the official journalists anymore," wrote Gillmor. "The rules of 'journalism,' whatever that is, are changing. This is just one more example."



It's like a Freedom of Business Information Act, implemented by individual interested parties (and, perhaps, shareholders).

What's amazing about the Web as a social space is that it has succeeded in reproducing and in many ways even reinforcing traditional power relations between social groups.



We have implemented one important feature, though: it is acceptable to disagree with as much passion as you wish.  People may be driven off, you may cause arguments, dissent, anger, or pain; but you're welcome to your opinion, and that is a protected ideal in this blogging thing.

In general, there is a higher standard of behavior expected from the media and a higher level of formality when dealing with the media, not just because they report things, but because people believe what they say and act on that belief, sometimes with serious consequences.



I'm not sure that I want a corporation choosing whether I have the right to tell others about what they say to me.  I don't like signing non-disclosure agreements because of this: it's not in my interest to be limiting my freedom of speech.

Well, duh. Although such bloggers really should be wearing one of these. Big Blogger is blogging you.



This is a brilliant idea; does it glow in the dark?

If we're going to want these sorts of conferences with this sort of people, with wifi and unrestricted access, and all sorts of other lovely attractions, then we must, as a community, respect people's wishes. Creating false distinctions between bloggers and journalists in order to let one of our number break the rules can only backfire on everyone.


I will uphold the Chatham House Rule; can you tell us more about Chatham House?

When it's 'off the record' there are normally good reasons why it's not for publication but they want to tell you something so you can understand the context. Does this mean that Chatham House Rules don't apply to journalists with blogs? What if a newspaper wants to quote Denise's weblog, because the info is already out there now? Should all journalists with blogs be asked to leave the room first? Are the rules, as Dan suggests, changing?

As the public media is corporate these days, you could quite seriously file antitrust if they try to restrict journalism directly.  We're not *powerless* in the legal system, just without funding – though Blogger's got a little bit of that.

First, conference organizers cannot make an event off-the-record only for the official journalists anymore. If they truly want it that way, they'll have to get everyone else to make the same agreement. Second, in the world of blogs and other self-publishing, these kinds of arrangements are unenforceable in any event. The rules of "journalism," whatever that is, are changing. This is just one more example.



The rules of ethics are changing.  The protocol of communication between business and blogger is fresh, and not yet set in stone.  I'm heartened greatly by the comments I see about this issue; they're a discussion ranging free, with one apparently shared opinion: this event has changed things.

Now, I have no idea what the conference's press pass policy was, but I'm assuming those who attended on one�and agreed to the associated terms�were exempted from registration fees. In other words, as we lawyers might say, there was consideration given for the reporting ground rules imposed on the professional journalists attending as such. And perhaps not just financial consideration. As Wurman also pointed out, some conferences are off limits to the press altogether.



The event organizers could be trapped in their own contracts: the restrictions may not be in place for those who paid to be there &mdash.   If you put new restrictions in place, attendees can't share things learned with their corporation back at home, for fear of the information "leaking" -- which it will, in any case.

Continue reading "Microphones in the corporate embassy" »

Gems in the rough?

many of whom hadn't heard of the bill before we arrived

Maybe it's just a matter of distinguishing one bill from a thousand. It only takes a single person talking to everyone to make them aware -- and aware people are more likely to think about it. That and a bit of presentation. More on this.

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