Intro to Networked Collaboration

Internet cables under water

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2008/dec/21/internet-cable-cut

For anyone still watching, this is a very good article to read. It relates a bit to the vulnerability of the Internet and global communications. We should all be conscious of how these back-bones work, so that we can track status and continuing investment in them.  One hundred years ago, people were ecstatic about railroads, and then highways. And, today we have run out of money to fix them! Now, we’ve got another network to care for and sustain and we each need to be responsible to make sure that happens!

December 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Here is something really cool, about networked collaboration, fractor.org, etc etc.  Seems like this kind of training is happening out ther and there is a lack of people with the skills.

I think these skills and practices will spill over into marketing too. They are already starting to happen in Publishing where ‘community organizer’ is becoming a real job in publishing businesses to rival ‘editor’.

I totally believe that innovations in marketing and communications are happening in NFP fields today, and the marketers will eventually need them in agency-land. The first direct mail appeal in the US was Dolly Madison writing a letter to other ‘ladies’ to fund the first not-for-profit in this country to provide shoes and uniforms to revolutionary war soldiers (they didn’t have their own shoes back then, and guess what, we’re headed that way again!). George Washington evidently didn’t like the idea of NFPs because that would undermine the power of the government.  Of course, we know what kind of multi-$B industry the direct mail biz became (quickly being replaced by the effectiveness of fund raising and marketing online which has higher yields and lower costs). And, it seems the government is quite capable of undermining its own power itself!  Happy careers in Networked Collaboration!

http://www.neworganizing.com/about.php

December 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Politics360 Event Critique

I was invited to participate in a Politics360 event during the last Presidential Debate.  Politics360 is a social media community forming around our emerging collective interest in politics and the machinations and deviousness of our elected officials!  My friend is involved in promoting them and so invited me to the event.

It was a lot of fun to participate in it. Particularly, since listening to debates has become do depressing or anger inducing, it is a good idea for me to do this in the company of other people.

The idea is a really great one. It looked like about 30 people were logged in, and quite a few of them seemed to already know each other. But, I am not sure where they were. I only knew my friend.  We logged in with a pseudonym. I don’t think any of us were using our exact names. We were all commenting in posts as the debates went on, so it was like a rolling commentary. It was really fun, but in a way I felt that just throwing my ideas out there to a bunch of strangers was not necessarily the best idea. I did engage a few times in side conversations, cause people would respond to something someone else posted.  Sometimes, I am not sure humor is taken as intended, which we’ve talked about already here in Net Collab, and maybe is best to avoid although that is really censoring for me.  As the event went on, there were just more and more comments adding up.  We had to continually refresh our browser to keep the scrolling comments going on, which is the one thing I noticed that isn’t the case with SL or Paltalk.  The format in SL or in Paltalk just scrolls by without refreshing.

In the spirit of the smart mob or crowd sourcing, and networked collaboration, I like the idea of Politics360 aggregated with content from other political or activist sites.  Some of the content and functionality of CREDO or Move-on that actually sends us notices when specific bills are up in our legislatures, with all the links set up so we can write in, it would be a really effective tool for me. This is really powerful for knowing when to tune it to monitor Congress, or White House press conferences, for example and then send out comments and also send out links to the content to other mad voter peeps!

The next thing would be to have the comments scrolling under C-Span emissions!  That would really make Politics360 cool! And, also a way to chunk that content in Jumpcut so we can spread it around our peeps with our commentary! That would be pretty good, cause C-Span format is crap and totally inappropriate for the needs of today’s modern voters who are over-stretched time-wise and underpaid every other-wise. We need to be able to get more control of C-Span and monitoring Congress as time goes by so those scoundrels know we’re watching their every move (and every word they say or don’t say!)! I especially hear they wait till 2AM to pass the really dirty bills that they know they don’t want any journos and cameras around covering! (Matt Taibbi covers that stuff late at night: http://www.rollingstone.com/blogs/taibbiunbound/ )

Politics360 would also be 24/7 then!

Anyway, I welcome all of this participatory media convergence for voters and hope we can make this more and more an everyday occurrence in every voter’s life in order to save the country from the predators!

November 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | Leave a comment

Meeting with Rafi Event Critique

I really enjoyed the visit to SL to hear Rafi in Josephine’s Island. That was really fun. Although, I have no idea how I found the link because searching for the links and wikis on SL is really really tedious and unbelievable for me. It is not the picture perfect idea of usability for me. At least not beyond the ‘enthusiast’, or ‘tech forward’ which I am definitely not.
I did enjoy the novelty of the whole thing. It is cool to be able to gather a bunch of people together who don’t have to be in the same city, timezone, or whatever. That is a real advantage over the kinds of meetings and conferences like this that have to take place at an appointed time and place. The whole thing about the avatar is really cool and being able to make up a name and a whole persona is really a cool game. I am sure there is something deep in there about why that is so appealing (at least to me). And, I guess building your own Island would also be really self-expressive and cathartic in a way.  That would be fun, although I doubt I would ever get around to that.

As far as the actual event goes, I really like the scrolling typing chat. It would have been more interactive for me if we had been able to view the I Dig Tanzania Youtube right in second life instead of having to open up separate browsers and leave SL for a while. that goes on , and also talking in the mics if we want to. I have seen this before on Paltalk, which is a great format even if most of the content I have seen there is not too compelling for me. I also participated in a Politics360 event, which I will critique separately. I was delighted to be able to sit down in the sofa and not have to walk around much, cause I haven’t mastered that yet in SL. I more or less bump into things, and can’t walk a straight line. I was so glad Josephine recognized that and just told me to right-click and sit down. I still have no real pathway in my brain about how to find destinations on SL and I am very glad that I can just be teleported as long as I can send an IM to the people I am trying to meet. I also got timed out twice the next time I went to the Art tour Josephine invited me too, but my friend added like tons more memory to my machine the other day, so hopefully that won’t happen again.

Also, recording it and making that available is a really cool way to revisit, review and firm up the learnings. I am becoming more and more used to this now that so many First Life events are also being recorded and I can download them at my leisure later. I think it is part of the emerging paradigm for how we will consume both live events, and online events. Also, it would be cool to do blog posts and comments on a wiki format or something. I guess a little like we’re doing now, except we aren’t watching the recording now simultaneiously. One time, I couldn’t even get to a First Life event, but watched it on the simultaneous webcast, and then watched it again, or send the links to other enthusiasts in my peeps full of my comments and recommendations, which may be more and more. This is like in Jenkins except it is also convergence with real-life or First Life.

I definitely like what Rafi and Global Kids do, and wholeheartedly support them.  I actually listened to the whole thing again later when Josephine sent it out and I made notes this time about the actual work and design process Rafi talked about and also the concepts they seek to teach the students who participate from all over the world. I really think the things about collaboration, media and information literacy, and cultural awareness all over the world, etc.  We really need that now before things get tenser and worse globally.  I’d like to see what Global Kids do happen more and more and everywhere. I am working with colleagues to try to introduce these formats more into media and to get sponsors interested in this kind of thing over broadcast formats, so the timing was really get for Rafi’s talk.

I look forward to more live events in SL.  I could definitely see it for myself for this conference thing. Not sure I would hang out much there to meet new people cause I do that so much already in First Life, and am not done with that yet! I am not at all a talk radio person, which is why Paltalk doesn’t work for me, so meeting random people in SL would have absolutely no appeal to me.  I also wonder about all the server farms out in Oregon and really just how much disk space all this content is taking up and also how we’ll get it back if there is a major disk or energy crash!  So much of our output is ending up there that used to get written down on paper. Now, we have no paper copy backups! But, that is a topic for another day.

November 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

SL sub-adventure

OK so I am trying to get back to orientation island. I had a great time there last week, and created my avatar. But, now I am at this screen and it is not at all obvious to me how to get back to Orientation Island with that interface that seemed pretty good.  This is the kind of thing for which I need like hands-on instruction.  I need a help desk for the most basic things till I get the hang of it. Can anyone help? (Of course way after the fact).

sl-1

November 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Smart Mob Democracy

It is inspiring to read how crowds are using tech to make democratic things happen in the public sphere.  I personally love participating in it, although I myself don’t use text messaging for that.

I am working to get a project off the ground that would give some partipatory information tools to youth groups who participate in UN general assembly sessions about sustainability economics and food system. Right now, these groups don’t have the money to invest in detailed statistical presentations like all the other lobbyists and country delegations, so their presentations are mostly emotional pleas, and are perhaps treated as such. We want to create information tools so they can do information and data mash-ups in real-time in response to the official presentations on the floor, with real hard core compelling evidence that they can present during their comments period and also enter into the official proceedings. So, I love this stuff.

There are two things that are issues for me. One is the vulnerability of mobile networks or the Internet to getting shut down in a crisis by a despotic government under threat. The next time a democratic mob in Philippines tries to shut down a government, those guys are going to know exactly which switches to ‘inadvertently’ switch off for a few hours. “Ooooops!  We didn’t know. We didn’t do it on purpose!” Like we had a black out here on the whole East Coast because someone in Buffalo, or Cleveland made a little mistake in a power plant!  Then of course there are the vulnerabilities from a rights and law perspective that Lawrence Lessig talks about the previous chapter ‘Wireless Quilts’. The legal frameworks that protect the Internet for what it is are quite fragile and there are plenty of big company lobbyists trying to change them to give more power to the infrastructure pipeline and information companies. So, we should not take this lightly, although we mostly do since legal stuff is so boring to talk about, or think about, or do anything about.

The other thing is that only 5M out of 70M Filipinos made the action happen in the Estrada case. They clearly represent a pretty high economic or urban status to be playing in the mobile network, so I wonder what the other 65M people would have done re: this regime. In our own country, really smart ‘mobs’ use their money and power to push things through legislation, while the rest of the people are not even in the Conversation. They just did that in California. They can create all kinds of emotional media and blast that on TV, under the guise of one thing, but really being acts of intolerance against a minority or tyranny of the majority against a minority and it is all protected under ‘free speech’ at the moment.  I am thinking mostly about Washington and all the secret Lobbying that goes on under our noses while we’re working and studying and child caring and elder caring…or entertaining ourselves into bankrupcy…So, how does this networked mob democracy thing change that?

Clearly though with participatory networking, we are able to connect with other people and share our truly democratic ideas through these tools (not without sacrificing anonymity to some information ‘authority’ however ), but the threatened minority shouldn’t have to rely on the largesse or ‘kindness’ of a privileged minority with mobile phones to look after their interests in the democratic sphere. That sounds unreliable to me and isn’t the way it was designed here at the beginning, although it is breaking down with these state constitional amendments and a Supreme Court Chief Justice who is overtly ‘anti-activist’ and will do nothing to correct inequities as they creep up.

November 17, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Aggregators

I played around with Aggregators the last week. I really decided I liked using Live Bookmarks and Simple RSS reader. I loaded all my favorite news sites and a few blogs I like.  I now have icons on the toolbar for my most important news sources, and some scrolling headlines from some others. For the blogs, I settled on Live Bookmarks, so I have to check them from time to time to see what new headlines have been posted.  This has been really great as I got used to this during the week. It really streamlines everything. I found the aggregator sites to be a bit too complex with a lot of extraneous functionality for me. I really wasn’t sure what I was looking at half the time, and in the end it is better for me to have it all right in Firefox.  This works extremely well, except sometimes I am not sure everything is rolling through the Simple RSS reader.  We’ll keep working on that. I feel much more connected to the news I care about now everytime I open up the browser.

November 14, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | | 1 Comment

More on long-tail and clue train -esque

After two days at New School 75 yrs since the founding of the University in Exile, academics who fled Fascist Europe in 1933 as well as those who fled Columbia Univ in 1919 after the University President reinforced the National President Wilson’s ‘aliens and seditions’ acts which banned all commentary critical of the US government entry into WWI against the Germans.

There were some fascinating statements made from those panels about the status of education, free-speech, academic discourse etc which really fly in the face of the trends we see in Long-Tail, Clue-Train or Rhizome.

The whole idea of Cluetrain and Long-tail is that there is much more power in involving everybody and as many people we can into ideas markets, that will in the long-run be more productive for society.  It all comes down to the idea of control by a few to run the whole economy and the whole world.

All our readings and everything we see positive happening in society is about opening up control from the few to the many, and using the new tools for collaboration, and connection to give us more opportunities for creation and growth from all sorts of angles and unforeseen places.  The troubles we see in the economy today are directly related to a few gurus with special access and secretive knowledge controlling huge markets to benefit themselves, only to have their few bright ideas so well supported by University graduates of financial engineering and neo-liberal economics faculties come tumbling down, taking everybody else down with it.

We can see the perils of having power concentrated into the hands of a few.  It only takes a few ‘cronies’ (with usually the same ideas, educations, goals, objectives and understanding of the world) then to make a few BIG mistakes that wack everybody.  Our readings offer exciting alternatives to such an antiquarian world view enabled by many things including mindset and technologies.

The government taking stock holdings in banks may work to address that ‘crony concentration’ problem by opening these banks up to more scrutiny by Congress and Public Opinion, rather than the way it was run the last few years since Glass-Steigel and de-regulation.

But, the irony that came out at the Conference is that Conservative movements in the US have been about squelching the movment to de-concentrate power and give more power and means democratically to the many.

Conservative movements have worked systematically since the 1980s to dismantle the higher-education system through de-funding from Congress in favor of vocational training at Community College levels. I remember when I was in college in the 1980s, the war path from Washington against universities and tenured professors. Today, 60% of teaching is provided by non-tenure track, adjunct teachers who work part-time and have other jobs to make a living, and will never have a full-time job protected so that they can pursue research contradictory to the government or the business interests of major donors to the University. They have absolutely no protections for academic freedoms that might challenge power people who disagree with their ideas, research, and writings, even so far as having the rights to survey students or populations for social scientific research about how life has changed for families over many years or in response to policy or economic conditions.

The movement has been to systematically move middle class people out of higher education that might lead to graduate school and Phd’s, toward schools that teach practical skills to work in the economy, but never challenge it with new ideas of political, social science, judicial, or humanities nature.  It pounds that drum that the economy is the most important thing to what we do in life, and that everything we learn should have some foreseeable practical purpose to use in a job.  But, it presupposes that somebody knows what the right skills are to work in the economy of ‘tomorrow’.  Just who today with grey hair running a school or an education department of a government do you trust with that budget allocation decision facing your future?

Even though Friedrich Hayek from University of Chicago is considered the leader of conservative movement thought,  he was really all for doing away with centralized power in a few potential mistake makers.

Hayek was used as a beacon by conservative movement seeders for 60 years to get his ideas out there as alternatives to the ‘statist’ or ‘labor union’ ideas of their political opponents, which seek to concentrate large blocks of power for the many property-less workers away from the few owners of businesses and property. They started youth clubs for young conservatives on college campuses all over the country, and spread the ideas as a higher morality, funding institutes like Heritage Foundation or Cato Institute to further create the information they needed for media and outreach, and lobbying.

Hayek is used by Conservatives as a hammer against ‘collectivisation’ of any kind,  which Conservatives apply to Union movements, or business cooperatives or collectives. But, they did not go after large corporations, also run by a few and to often deleterous ends for investors as evidenced all around us now, or the corporate lobbyist control of congress and legislation which protects the status quo by also putting power in the hands of a few people who come from the same backgrounds, cultures, values and cloth.

This game can be directly attributed to the huge losses for shareholders today in bankrupt Big Auto stocks because of the years and years of rigging of emissions and mileage regulations to protect the gasoline combustion engine and its supporting petroleum industry, rather than open up competition to new energy forms.  The petroleum stocks are the only ones still standing from that game!

The Ayn Rand craze also fits in here. Her books inspired people of the same age and time to higher ideals about self-interest, self-determination, hard-work, idealising the entrepreneur, etc. But, those books are also seen as dehumanizing people, families and communities into units of production and consumption as the most productive way to think about life. Alan Greenspan cites Rand as the greatest influence on his life and philosophy of work, and after 50 yrs of this and promotion of Milton Friedman’s ideas in universities, so many people fervently believe that Self-Interest is the highest guiding ideal and will fight tooth and nail anyone who posits an alternative viewpoint.

No wonder our economy is teetering once again because the minds of a few concentrated with power have been steering it all by themselves, and they’ve managed to get millions to believe along with them.  The problem as discussed in Cluetrain or Rhizome is that these structures, don’t have a broad enough view of where they’re headed, or the potential pitfalls or effects for everybody brought on by their ideas and narrow frame of reference.  The Long-tail, Cluetrain and Rhizome readings make it plainly clear how this has to go if we’re going to shake this monkey on our backs for good.

The sad thing is private ‘philanthropic funds’ like BB&T Bank are today seeding all kinds of institutes for free for colleges all over the country now to further propagate the Ayn Rand belief system, against the will of tenured faculty members in colleges all over the country who disagree with such an overt promotion of a single ideology but who increasingly have less influence over academic affairs on their campuses. The professors say though that this program promotes one static view of economic philosophy rather than a broad understanding of multiple viewpoints and teaching a process for students to arrive for themselves at new and applied discourse for a new age.

The BB&T CEO, like Greenspan, credits Rand with forming the basis of his personal philosophy and he wants students to have that chance to. Our IRS allows this to happen through the use of tax-deductible ‘charitable’ contributions.

This is exactly what Hayek hated and won a Nobel Prize for. Concentrating power in a few and propagating ideas from one school of thought as an unchanging non-adaptive orthodoxy as a means to controlling the economy.

It is exactly the impulse we’ve got to figure out how to manage for our generation using the new tools and the mindset and vision they enable us to have for the first time to create a much more prosperous and dynamic world for many more.

November 1, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Comments on Long-tail and Cluetrain

I really enjoyed reading these again.

Long-tail is really an inspiration, and I am working with publishers and other content people to help them understand the concepts and figure out how to use Google Book Search, or Live Book Search and semantic tagging to reach that untapped market that is doing searches for obscure topics online. I know from my publishing days that the back-list carries the House and getting just another one of those almost out of print and completely amortized books sold can really stack up new revenues with like 80% margin!

It is also a big hope of mine that lots of Americans will learn how to tap into the long-tail to develop their own quirky niche product businesses to free themselves from ‘dependency’ on corporate jobs.  I love that, we used to be ‘dependent’ on the welfare state or some such, but now we need to fix our dependency on corporate jobs which is really unhealthy for family life and lots of other life related factors! We really have to get over that as a nation, and take back capitalism for the citizens!

Web, search and the long-tail really eliminate the reasons for growth of corporations in the first place. Distribution networks, supply chains, vertical and horizontal integration, capital risk, etc etc.  Now, we can find each other, source components, work collaboratively and virtually with no overheads, ship our stuff around without needing a big company behind us to buy a lot of capital intensive stuff.  Use the LLC or the LLP, or the cooperative legal forms for ourselves.  We can truly capitalize on our ideas, Intellectual Property, talent for discovering and meeting unmet needs, marketing, etc. to make little businesses for ourselves and the ones we love (or love to work with!). YEAH! This cuts into the stuff Cluetrain covers on de-skilling. I am all for ‘re-skilling’ and getting the value-add pay-off back to the producer, creator and innovator, not the financial engineer who has frankly blown it (but he had a good century plus run)!

Cluetrain was one of our inspirations at work back in like 2000!  I always enjoyed it and looked forward to the day when it is real.  I knew back then that eventually businesses would become like publishers and start to give lots of content to their customers and also eventually network people together to simulate what happens at conferences, and change the way selling and service happens. This is a real way to facilitate a market place.

My favorite part are references to ‘convivial communities’ or ‘knowledge ecologies’ and how we can get collaborative technologies to facilitate those. That is what I am waiting for and want to be a part of. This kind of thing is already transforming new product development and innovation with great results for smart companies.

I totally like Cluetrain, although some of the historic references like to industrial revolution, or the whole history of spice trades, caravans, etc to be a bit simplistic and not very well informed.

There were dozens of models of ‘horseless carriages’ before the Model T ever came on the market.  By then, Ford knew that three wheeled cars with rudders steering them from the back were not going to work, or that stainless steel was not the right material to use, or that windscreens were needed to keep mud off the passengers. A whole lot was figured out by the time Ford made is four wheel, four door with steering on the left hand side, windshield in the front, etc.  The big point was it was cheap, so if wasn’t differentiated because they were moving up the curve to later adopters. The early adopters had played around with these cars for years, and it was the crossing the chasm part that Ford got right. Those principles still hold true today in software or any other technology product.

The references to Marx are just too glib. Marx was way before Taylor and Ford, and the ‘distrust’ between workers and managment was already a big deal way back in Victorian times. Charles Dickens stories and the lives of the kids in David Copperfield, debtors prisons, orphanages, work houses, etc are a great illustration of this. Those conflicts were way in place already in Europe when Marx wrote his books.  There were already dehumanising and debilitating fabrics mills in France, England, Holland when the Pilgrims came here in the early 1600s. My ancestors were weaving linen in workshops already in France and Germany by the late 1500s.  Marx wrote to respond to those conflicts which had spread all around Europe in lots more industries by 1800s when he wrote.  Taylor and Ford came way later in the US in the 20th Century.

But, it is certainly true that today, we have a lot more tools and capabilities for differentiation and mass customization, and opportunities for us to be more productive and satisfied, and engaged in meaningful creative work with the rewards accruing directly to us.  That is the promise of the future for us. Long-tail and search, and maybe some of the collaborative networking stuff emerging will help us realize that promise. Can’t wait.

October 30, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Skyping

This is the second time this has happened where I write a post and press publish and voila, nothing appears on the blog and everything is lost.  Really boring!

Anyway, Kelley and I did our Skype meeting. It was pretty tedious getting started cause Kelley’s invitation was somehow blocked on my acct. I tried and tried to look her up etc etc and it said she didn’t exist. She did exist, she had just been blocked. So, the message was not quite accurate. That is a long story, but eventually I figured it out.

We talked about Rhizome and also about the need to check multiple networks to hear from everyone. We also tried Twiddla whiteboard. I would like to learn how to upload docs. I admire and was envious of Berry and Erin’s screen shots, and all the stuff they did on Skype, but I know my learning style and know I would never be able to figure that out in the privacy of my own home!

Anyway, the video is fun. I like watching people’s facial expressions and it opens up all kinds of new threads for conversations that don’t happen on the phone. In business though, I would rather have the privacy of the phone since I often pull faces and make gestures etc etc when people are talking to slow or saying silly or mean things. Anyway, more later. Wrote a lot this afternoon, but can’t repeat it now.

October 27, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment