|Ken Novak's Weblog
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Ken Novak's Weblog
Saturday, December 27, 2003
A year of thwarted ambition
: ". Iraq is the first true test of that American imperial ambition and it has already served to suggest some of the limits to that power. " 12:09:23 AM
Tuesday, December 23, 2003
Metacrap: "Putting the torch to seven straw-men of the meta-utopia." Excellent rant y Cory Doctorow on why meta-data doesn't help much. Jon Udell's comments on LinkedIn narrow user input, and the way that Google could derive better info than they ask for as metadata. "I'm skeptical as to the benefit of a parochial reputation system such as LinkedIn, which requires extra effort to join, to feed with metadata, and to use. If we have (or are rapidly evolving) a global reputation system that can absorb and contextualize our routine communication, then parochial systems will need to deliver huge amounts of extra value. " 2:53:20 PM
BlogStreet : RSS Ecosystem: Neat collection of RSS processing tools, including
- WAP reader
- RSS generator from any web page
- IMAP converter, so you can read RSS in a mail client
Parkervision WLAN adaptors: Products that promise 1 mile open field access, from a $200 access point and $100 PCcards or USB adapters. Compatible with 802.11b and 802.11g as well. Proprietary technology extends the range between their AP and their adaptor. 2:24:48 PM
Fast Internet Lines Jump 18 Percent in First Half '03
: "High-speed Internet service [in the US] via cable showed a 20 percent jump, narrowly outpacing the 19 percent growth in digital subscriber lines (DSL) offered by traditional telephone lines." Overall growth was 45% for year ending June 30, 2003. 8:58:26 AM
Monday, December 22, 2003
The twilight of the tyrants:
A list of the ones fallen, and ones left in power. "Dictatorship is fading, but democracy doesn't always replace it.. "Apart from residual communism," argues Bernard Kouchner, the former United Nations administrator in Kosovo, "there are two sources of dictatorship: extreme poverty and oil." Almost all the energy-rich nations in the Middle East and Central Asia figure on Freedom House's list as among the least free in the world. At the same time, 37 of the 49 "not free" countries have an average per capita income of less than $1,500 a year. ..
Washington picks and chooses its targets when it comes to pressing autocrats. "If they don't like a government, such as Mugabe's, then democracy becomes the whipping instrument," says Nega. "They don't use it against governments they do like." Such governments include Ethiopia's ruling People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, which claimed to have won 97 percent of the vote at the last elections, but has the virtue in American eyes of having offered support for the US 'war on terror,' as has Uzbek strongman Islam Karimov. "That is one thing making Africans cynical about Western intentions," argues Nega. "You don't see any principled, consistent policy by the developed countries to push for democracy in Africa." ..
Mr. Palmer, the former US diplomat, who has just published the book "Breaking the Real Axis of Evil: How to Oust the World's Last Dictators by 2025," agrees. "The key question is, have we actually changed? and I don't see any hard evidence beyond the rhetorical statements," he says. When the Saudi Arabian authorities arrested several hundred people protesting in Riyadh for greater political freedoms in October, Palmer recalls, "the State Department did nothing and said nothing." ..
"There are more interesting forms of international intervention than the use of military force," notes Ackerman. Milosevic's departure was bloodless because repressive security forces dropped their loyalty to his government. "We have to tell dictators that if they don't let their people communicate freely, we won't let them communicate outside their countries, that if they won't allow their people to travel, we won't let them travel," Ackerman argues. "As people understand that dictators have tremendous vulnerabilities that can be exploited non-violently, the international community will get more innovative." 12:26:09 PM
Info-Share - Collaboration software for conflict management in Sri Lanka: More details on the Sri Lanka peace process use of Groove called Info-Share, with contacts provided. Collaboration spaces listed:
- Track One, a "one text" negotiation space, where "a third-party facilitator draws out the stakeholders' underlying interests, help them create a series of proposals and ultimately assist them in selecting one."
- Conflict Transformation Library, containing 400 MB of "documents and texts ranging from studies on child soldiers to handbooks on conflict resolution to a comprehensive audio-visual compilation of documents related to the on-going peace process"
- Peace Partners, with a database of people in government and non-governmental agencies involved in the peace process, guides for donor support, and shared calendar
- Peace Tools, "developed by experts in conflict resolution," with "a comprehensive way of mapping Sri Lankan peace process activities"
- A map of conflict and analysis assessment;
- A framework for conflict transformation and peace building;
- A Sri Lankan multi-sector reconstruction framework;
- A peace stakeholders framework
Sunday, December 21, 2003
Like zoneEdit, it offers dns, web redirection, mail queuing -- and domain registration. 11:06:31 AM
Napster Runs for President in 04: Many good observations on the Internet in the Dean campaign from NYT's Frank Rich: "Rather than compare Dr. Dean to McGovern or Goldwater, it may make more sense to recall Franklin Roosevelt and John Kennedy. It was not until F.D.R.'s fireside chats on radio in 1933 that a medium in mass use for years became a political force. J.F.K. did the same for television, not only by vanquishing the camera-challenged Richard Nixon during the 1960 debates but by replacing the Eisenhower White House's prerecorded TV news conferences (which could be cleaned up with editing [like a newsreel]) with live broadcasts. Until Kennedy proved otherwise, most of Washington's wise men thought, as The New York Times columnist James Reston wrote in 1961, that a spontaneous televised press conference was "the goofiest idea since the Hula Hoop." ..
Dr. Dean runs the least personal of campaigns; his wife avoids the stump. That's a strategy befitting an online, not an on-TV, personality. Dr. Dean's irascible polemical tone is made for the Web, too. Jonah Peretti, a new media specialist at Eyebeam, an arts organization in New York, observes that boldness is to the Internet what F.D.R.'s voice was to radio and J.F.K.'s image to television: "A moderate message is not the kind of thing that friends want to e-mail to each other and say, `You gotta take a look at this!' ..
Thanks to the Supreme Court's upholding of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform, he also holds a strategic advantage over the Democratic National Committee in fund-raising, at least for now. ..
For all sorts of real-world reasons, stretching from Baghdad to Wall Street, Mr. Bush could squish Dr. Dean like a bug next November. But just as anything can happen in politics, anything can happen on the Internet. The music industry thought tough talk, hard-knuckle litigation and lobbying Congress could stop the forces unleashed by Shawn Fanning, the teenager behind Napster. Today the record business is in meltdown, and more Americans use file-sharing software than voted for Mr. Bush in the last presidential election. The luckiest thing that could happen to the Dean campaign is that its opponents remain oblivious to recent digital history and keep focusing on analog analogies to McGovern and Goldwater instead. " 10:58:52 AM
Students assemble 'Big Mac' supercomputer
: "University students at Virginia Tech have put together a cheap supercomputer using  off-the-shelf G5 Power Macintosh computers. Students assembled the computer in a few weeks at a cost of $7 million US -- much less than research supercomputers used for weather simulations. The students call it "Big Mac," and it's ranked as the world's third-fastest supercomputer, at 10.3 trillion operations per second. " The first and second ranked cost $250m and $215m. 10:05:29 AM
Update on Quovix: "as it turns out, the community approach is good for the smallest jobs. Quovix has set up sub-communities that are good at things such as Java and feeds them, on a rotating basis, micro projects that take a few hours. Customers win because they normally can't find anyone willing to take on small projects, and Quovix developers get a steady enough stream of small jobs to make it worth their while."
And an explanation from the CEO's Blog: "I don't really like selling us as an alternative to offshore outsourcing but, after four years, it seems to be the message that customers understand. Yes it is cheaper, yes, it does involve resources from around the world. The reason it's cheaper isn't because someone in Russia is willing to work for $7 per hour. In fact, we pay our members the same rate no matter where they live. It's cheaper because a) we don't have the overhead of people sitting around getting paid while requirements are being developed, b) we're not paying the team to train themselved on the toolsets that will be used, c) we don't engage highly skilled workers until all the upfront planning has been done and they can go immediately to work." 10:01:40 AM
More on Libya
: After the Lockerbie settlement, "Congress and the Bush administration said sanctions would be maintained until Libya gave up its illicit weapons programs and links to terrorist organizations. That position, American and British officials said, forced Libya, economically crippled and desperate for the return of foreign oil companies, to consider the new concessions. A State Department official said Libya felt an urgency to act because of the American stances on Iran and North Korea and the war in Iraq. An intelligence official said Colonel Qaddafi was also concerned about the threat to his government from militant elements in the country." 12:41:39 AM
Why did Libya disclose and renounce WMD?: "Secret trips by American intelligence officers, late night meetings with Muammar Gaddafi and disclosures that the United States knew about Libya's arms programs led to Tripoli's pledge to give up its unconventional weapons, senior intelligence officials said on Saturday.. The American and British team was taken to dozens of sites, where they saw centrifuges and parts for centrifuges that appeared to be in working order. They also saw tons of sulfur mustard produced about a decade ago. .. When Libya learned how much the United States already knew about its weapons programs, that appeared to give Tripoli the final push to give up its banned weapons.." 12:27:30 AM