Updated: 5/16/2006; 11:54:33 AM.

Ken Novak's Weblog
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daily link  Sunday, August 15, 2004

Open production:  I talked with Brewster Kahle briefly in 2001, and got the idea that the degree of collaboration is a spectrum.  At one end is the conventional commitment to play a role in a team; at the other is the incidental activity that leaves a trace that can be datamined in an implicit collaboration.  At the implicit end, we see Google mining the links I make as though I were collaborating with all other web authors; and Amazon mines my purchases and makes recommendations on my behalf to similar buyers.  Howard Rheingold sees this as part of a broader pattern, and ends up sounding like Buckminster Fuller:

Besides Google and Amazon, "there's open source [software]. Steve Weber, a political economist at UC Berkeley, sees open source as an economic means of production that turns the free-rider problem to its advantage. All the people who use the resource but don't contribute to it just build up a larger user base. And if a very tiny percentage of them do anything at all -- like report a bug -- then those free riders suddenly become an asset.

And maybe this isn't just in software production. .. The dogma is that the two major means of organizing for economic production are the market and the firm. But [Yale law professor] Yochai Benkler uses open source as an example of peer-to-peer production, which he thinks may be pointing toward a third means of organizing for production.

There's also Wikipedia [the online encyclopedia written by volunteers]. It has 500,000 articles in 50 languages at virtually no cost, vs. Encyclopedia Britannica spending millions of dollars and they have 50,000 articles. ..  [Rheingold also mentions unliscenced wireless "open" spectrum] ..

If I was a Nokia or a Hewlett-Packard, I would take a fraction of what I'm spending on those buildings full of expensive people and give out a whole bunch of prototypes to a whole bunch of 15-year-olds and have contracts with them where you can observe their behavior in an ethical way and enable them to suggest innovations, and give them some reasonable small reward for that. And once in a while, you're going to make a billion dollars off it."

  11:44:56 PM  permalink  

Social networking sites: a postmortem: One articulate users' decision to abandon social network sites, as "officially useless to me.. [Their] messaging functionality offers nothing but an extra spam channel .. What this indicates to me, incidentally, is something wonderful: that people are so manifold and multiple that the mere fact of friendship with someone is a remarkably poor predictor of affinity for that person's own friends. At least the people I seem to know. Walt Whitman would be delighted"  10:15:35 PM  permalink  

3D Holograms Detect Fake Signatures: Scanning handwritten text with lasers can measure the 3D structure of the writing.  From that it's possible to infer the pressure and direction of the writing.  With those attributes, identification of the author is much better than 2D analysis, approaching 100%.  Ancient manuscripts could be easier to identify; and maybe there's new life in the signature as a biometric ID?  [Thanks again Roland!  I'm catching up on a whole summer's worth of your excellent work!]  10:08:12 PM  permalink  

RFID in Japanese Restaurants: Finally, RFID in the sushi bar -- I've been talking about this for 2 years, finally RFID has gotten practical:  At a Tokyo restaurant, under each sushi plate "was a small square shaped bump, barely visible under blue lacquer. It was an RFID chip implanted in the plate. Different chips for different prices. Cool. The tallying up of over 18 plates literally took less than 5 seconds. "  9:49:54 PM  permalink  

Protégé-2000: Intesting interactive Java-based data modelling tool for capturing ontologies.  Good online demo of a newspaper.  2:14:12 PM  permalink  

UNV Online Volunteering: UN Volunteers has an online program:  "Volunteers from all over the world are helping organizations that serve communities in developing countries -- but without leaving their own communities. These online volunteers translate documents, write articles, research data, build web sites, mentor young people, design logos, and engage in many other projects to benefit organizations serving people in the developing world. Online volunteers are volunteers without frontiers."  2:11:32 PM  permalink  

Microsoft OS for third world: "Microsoft is set to roll-out a 'no-frills', low-cost version of its Windows XP operating system for third world markets.   The new OS, Windows XP Starter Edition, offers lower-resolution graphics and restricts the ability to connect computers via a network. Also, the OS can only run three programmes at any one time.   The stripped-down edition of the operating system is an attempt to undercut the spread of Linux in developing countries.

Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia and 2 other countries are in the rollout.  "As part of the program, certain schools in 67 developing nations can qualify for free upgrades to the regular Windows software and for copies of Microsoft Office that cost $2.50. " 

Gartner released a report on it, approving the concept, but criticizing certain limitations and the lack of an upgrade path to the full XP editions.  "Microsoft would continue to gather feedback from consumers over the next 12 months." 

  2:02:26 PM  permalink  

Kokopelli Seed Foundation for organic seeds. "Preserving biodiversity in heritage crops"  1:59:34 PM  permalink  

Who are the neocons: Another excellent essay by Steve Clemons on politics within the Bush admin and its effects on foreign policy.  The commentary from other readers is worth a visit -- here's  a choice bit:  "I believe that many of the decisions [Bush] made President have turned out badly for the same reason he made bad decisions as a businessman: he's never been confronted with the consequences of failure. Every time he failed in business, family friends bailed him out, and he suffered no real setbacks. In politics, friends are still bailing him out: the excellent RNC PR apparatus is in high gear. As a result, the President seems to have developed the bad habit of making decisions based on instinct rather than careful analysis."  The commenter makes a good analogy to VC's Tim Draper and Jeff Osborn.  1:50:28 PM  permalink  

Juan cole on clans: "I think the Americans are gradually incurring feuds with all the major clans of Iraq, and this is undesirable. Americans are individualists, and don't understand clan societies. How many Americans are close enough to their cousins even to ask one for a loan? But many Iraqis would risk their lives to protect or avenge a cousin.

Ernest Gellner argued that it is industrialization that breaks up the clans. If you have factories all over the place, going in and out of business, then individuals are pulled away to them by the work opportunities. Clans and clan solidarity depend on people staying put, either on farms in villages, or in close-knit urban neighborhoods. Iraq's industrialization never proceeded far enough to really break up the clans, and many have emigrated jointly to city neighborhoods, keeping their ties even in an urban environment."  I think this applies to many pre-industrial societies, not just those in the Arab world. 

"If you want a stark visual account of what is going on in Najaf, look at the pictures at Karbala News.net. The pictures of people walking or marching show Shiites hurrying to Najaf in hopes of forming a human shield around Muqtada. Most are self-explanatory. Mostly these kinds of images are absent from US mass media reports"  1:36:00 PM  permalink  

Bluetooth phones are hackable:  Recent tests have expanded the list of issues. "Adam Laurie of A.L. Digital Ltd. discovered that there are serious flaws in the authentication and/or data transfer mechanisms on some bluetooth enabled devices. .. Confidential data can be obtained, anonymously, and without the owner's knowledge or consent, from some bluetooth enabled mobile phones. This data includes, at least, the entire phonebook and calendar, and the phone's IMEI. .. Access can be gained to the AT command set of the device, giving full access to the higher level commands and channels, such as data, voice and messaging. " Dozens of models are affected.  Combined with new long range antennas, many demonstrations have been done with hundreds of phonebooks harvested, calls made remotely (allowing listening in conversations at a distance), and messages sent impersonating the owner of the phone.  The likely fix will be to reduce the time the devices keep Bluetooth open.

  9:49:13 AM  permalink  

Goatse at Defcon: Nasty wifi attack demonstration (with hilarious and disgusting images). A program running on a machine with 2 wifi nic's can inject responses to HTTP (browser) requests, thus impersonating web sites.  New vector for phishing?  Linked from Bruce Schneier.  8:59:47 AM  permalink  

(Almost) Instant Cash Transfer with Mobile Phones: "last week Philippines' largest mobile phone company, Smart Communications, launched a cash transfer service that uses text messaging to speed up the process. Overseas workers still have to go to the bank to initiate the transfer, but the recipients in the Philippines get a text message on their phone notifying them that they have immediate access to the cash, which is stored in their phone's "electronic wallet," a feature included in all 16 million Smart Communications subscribersâ019 accounts. The recipients can then use their Smart Money debit cards to withdraw the cash from ATMs. An International Herald Tribune article on this story has some interesting details about why this could be a very successful service: Eight million Filipinos work overseas and send $7.6 billion dollars home every year. The average income of a Filipino is under $1000 a year. Nevertheless, 30 percent of the country's 84 million residents have a mobile phone. Most people use SMS because it is much cheaper than making voice calls. All this adds up to a potentially huge income opportunity for Smart Communications, which is charging about 4.5 cents per transaction"  7:59:58 AM  permalink  

Computer Couture: Nifty review of electronics in clothing, like wearable displays, fabrics that change color, and medical or other sensors.  7:51:16 AM  permalink  

The Wireless Robotic Gas Worker: Neat - a wireless snake-shaped robot that surveys pipes for damage and leaks.  A useful starting point for other out of the way inspection devices.  12:24:27 AM  permalink  


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Last update: 5/16/2006; 11:54:33 AM.