Category Archives: Web/Tech

I’ll be at the Liquid Feedback Hackathon this Sunday, 3pm

The German Pirate Party created Liquid Feedback over a year ago to allow party members to debate and decide on their platform and other issues. They have been using it successfully. Here is a video explaining it (in English):

On Sunday, 7/1, I will be helping with the Massachusetts Pirate Party’s hackathon to get our own copy of Liquid Feedback running. We will start at 3pm and will go until we are done or until asked to leave, whichever comes first.  The hackathon will be at 45 Bromfield #2, Somerville 02144.

Please sign up if you want to help so we know who will be there.

If you cannot make it in person, then you can join us on the #masspirates irc channel at  We will also post our progress at the #masspirates twitter hashtag.

Links 6/25/2012

Slides of my copyright talk available. Comments welcome.

I had a great time presenting my talk at the Play-jurisms conference this last Saturday. I stayed up late until 3:30 am to finish the slides for the talk.  Considering that I was typing away in bed while my wife slept, she was very understanding.  The talk didn't suffer for the fact I was up so late writing it, but no doubt I can improve it.  I did end up changing the title from what I had originally envisioned, but I felt the new title better matched the spirit of the conference.

You can view the slides as a pdf if you want.  Comments are most welcome.

HP announces the TouchPad months before it will be available

As a long-time Palm user (though not for over a year – anyone want a used Verizon Treo 600?), I am happy that HP will be releasing a new webOS tablet computer, the TouchPad, and two new phones.  The articles on it look positive, though none of them mention the devices' battery life. 

With any luck the TouchPad is faster than the Samsung Galaxy Tab, which was increadibly slow when I tried it at Bust Buy.  However, the phones are not out until the Spring and the TouchPad won't be out until the Summer, so my guess is that HP's plans to be the next Apple will get dashed when Apple releases the iPad2 in the next few months.


I think Steve Jobs got this one wrong

I was showing my five year old daughter panoramic photos of different cities when she started to touch the screen to make it do things, ala my iPhone.  Her efforts only put finger prints on the screen, but had no measurable effect on what the computer did of course.  I think Steve Jobs assertion that no one would want to use multitouch on a laptop/notebook screen is one that will get reconsidered in a year.

Web users will have to pay for what they watch and use & Where do people find the time?

Clay Shirky wrote an interesting blog post about "The Collapse of Complex Business Models" (thanks to Boing Boing and TechDirt, among others).  Here is an excerpt:

About 15 years ago, the supply part of media’s supply-and-demand
curve went parabolic, with a predictably inverse effect on price. Since
then, a battalion of media elites have lined up to declare that exactly
the opposite thing will start happening any day now.

To pick a couple of examples more or less at random, last year Barry
Diller of IAC said, of content available on the web, “It is not free,
and is not going to be,” Steve Brill of Journalism Online said that
users “just need to get back into the habit of doing so [paying for
content] online”, and Rupert Murdoch of News Corp said “Web users will
have to pay for what they watch and use.”

Diller, Brill, and Murdoch seem be stating a simple fact—we will have
to pay them—but this fact is not in fact a fact. Instead, it is a
choice, one its proponents often decline to spell out in full, because,
spelled out in full, it would read something like this:

“Web users will have to pay for what they watch and use, or else we
will have to stop making content in the costly and complex way we have
grown accustomed to making it. And we don’t know how to do that.”

With that article in mind, it seems time to revisit another one of his articles, "Gin, Television, and
Social Surplus
" that I mentioned to my friend Amy last month and haven't gotten around to sending her:

I started
telling her about the Wikipedia
article on Pluto. You may remember that Pluto got kicked out of the
planet club a couple of years ago, so all of a sudden there was all of
this activity on Wikipedia. The talk pages light up, people
are editing the article like mad, and the whole community is in an
ruckus–"How should we characterize this change in Pluto's status?" And
a little bit
at a time they move the article–fighting offstage all the
while–from, "Pluto is the ninth
planet," to "Pluto is an odd-shaped rock with an odd-shaped
orbit at the edge of the solar system."

I tell her all this stuff, and I think, "Okay, we're going to
have a conversation about authority or social construction or
whatever." That wasn't her question. She heard this story and
she shook her head and said, "Where do people find the time?"
That was her question. And I just kind of snapped. And I said, "No
one who works in TV gets to ask that question. You know where the
time comes from. It comes from the cognitive surplus you've been
masking for 50 years."

how big is that surplus? So if you take Wikipedia as a kind of unit,
all of Wikipedia, the whole project–every page, every edit,
every talk page, every line of code, in every language that Wikipedia
exists in–that represents something like the cumulation of 100
million hours of human thought. I worked this out with Martin
Wattenberg at IBM; it's a back-of-the-envelope calculation, but
it's the right order of magnitude, about 100 million hours of

Here is a talk he gave on his book "Here Comes Everybody" which elaborates further on the post's topic.

Looks like I need to pick up a copy of his book.

The iPad is out today, I will not be an early adopter

As most people know judging from the volume of hype, Apple's iPad is out today.  Being a long-time NeXT supporters and now a Mac/iPod/iPhone convert, you might think that I would be receiving an iPad today.  Thankfully for our bank account, I won't be.  It certainly looks cool, and I am sure it will do well and I know I will drop by the Apple store to take a look at it, but there is no way we can justify an additional LCD screen in the house.  Besides, I like to wait until they fix the inevitable bugs in the first generation of any product.

That being said, the inexpensive, bare-bones Kobo eReader looks intriguing.  If only I had the time to read enough books to justify it.

location, location, location

In the spur of the moment I signed up on a few location-aware social networks.  I am not sure how useful they will be to me when all of my friends who are on it live on the west coast and I live on the east coast.  Facebook becoming more location-aware, as the rumors indicate, might solve that problem.  However, at this time of year, my locations are pretty constrained: home, work, kids' schools, coffee shop, grocery store, soccer practice.  Me thinks I am not the target demographic.