Archive for March, 2006

On BBC with the Baghdad blogger, Salam Pax, and one of the Africa Fresh contributors, Gaynor Paynter, we talk about what makes a good blook and a good blog and their experience in blogging and blooking. Both have great things to say. Should run on Monday along with revealing the Blooker winners.

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Got to meet the folks putting on the Journal of International and Economic Law Symposium last night for dinner. Great bunch of folks and a lot of lively conversation. Larry Rosen, Jean Camp, Patrick McCormick, Sophia D.Tawil, Claudette A. Pulido and Matthew D. Satchwell were at our table. Patrick gets to follow me this morning. Sophia, Claudette and Matt are from the Journal and are the organizers of the Symposium.
Put up my slides so’s that they are available on the web along with the symposium announcement with the bios of all of the participants.

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lulu’s Stephen Fraser is delighed to let us know that the Blooker gets a mention in today’s NYTimes Arts, Briefly column just after the section heading Da Vinci and the unstoppable Harry Potter:

Blogs, including the diary of a prostitute and a guide to Britain’s best greasy-spoon cafes, are on the short list of 16 for the inaugural Lulu Blooker Prize, to be announced on Monday, the BBC reported. Sponsored by the self-publishing site Lulu, the Blooker Prize honors blooks, or books from blogs, published in English anywhere in the world.

I note that the NYTimes remains a provincial paper, not doing original Blooker reporting but merely disgesting the news from the motherland (via BBC). The result is that great American finalists don’t get a mention but blooks on bad British habits get the bang.

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Tor and his buddies at Yep Roc have released a free mp3 download with Billy Bragg. The Bush War Blues

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As soon as I got in the cab here in Philly, my cell sang the unknown caller song. It was a reporter for USA Today (she’s in SFO) wanting a Blooker interview. She drove around SFO and I rode into Philly doing a tape. Lord
knows what was said, but be assured that the winners were not announced — that’s for Monday afterwhich all this Blookerness may subside.
Many folks are expecting a Blooker Prize Ceremony, but if there is one no one invited me. My tux hangs alone.

BBC Radio tomorrow early on the same subject (this one will run on Monday and may mention the winners).
Open Source and Developing Nations tomorrow at 9 am.
Dinner with the smart folks from University of Pennsylvania and the other speakers.

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Joey Carr’s favorite Onion article — You Know, I Used To Be Kind Of Cool Once By Sting

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Will be live taping an interview with Peter Shevlin of BBC (Radio) Outlook before my talk at U of Penn law which requires shifting gears between blooks and Open Source and Law. The BBC show will run on Monday — when the Blooker Prize winners are announced.
Also just finished an email interview with Lee Sze Yong of the Straits Times in Singapore — blooker of course. Should show in the Life! and LifeStyle section.

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At the end of this week, March 31, I’ll be the kick off speaker at the University of Pennsylvania Law School’s symposium on Open Source in the International Marketplace: What the Open Source Intellectual Property Movement Means for the Developed and Developing Worlds sponsored by The University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Economic Law.

My topic is “Open IP Practice and its Discontents: Open Source, Open Content, and Open Access vs Contracts, Laws and Treaties.” I’ll contend that the need for openness in content and in access is perhaps better understood in some developing than in those with strong intellectual property regimes. Open source software could be very easily understood in such cultures and they could and will likely be the engines of FLOSS development as we have seen in Brazil and India and with the recent explosion of Ubantu Linux in and from Africa. But barriers and confusion caused by the ladder of restrictions in IP from End User License Agreements to difficult local laws to complex international law to one-sided treaties that supercede national sovereignty place contributors and users of software in an awkward bind. Should they just break the contract/law/treaty? Or should they innovate? What can be done to encourage more innovation if IP as practiced does not? Can FLOSS move from a quasi-political movement to a better, if not well, understood business practice? Can national databases on both patented and copyrighted materials as well as open prior art be coordinated better and more effeciently and in a way that a group of software developers spread around the world can depend on a common pool of resources?

One quick story: At a panel on IP held at UNC Law this fall, Cory Doctorow suggested to Mary Beth Peters and John Whealan that perhaps developing nations should follow the US example when it comes to IP. The US of the 19th Century, when we were developing ourselves. That is strong protection for national actors; almost no protection for foreign actors. “Worked well for the USA” said Cory.

Also want to point to how much Jamie Boyle’s Shamans, Software and Spleens: Law and the Construction of the Information Society influenced my thinking on all of this. Jamie remembers that I gave him grief over the book being over 1/3 footnotes. Now we have more footnotes, he reminds me. And yes those footnotes inform me as they accumulate, but how does the message translate to others who would be developers and users of FLOSS?

What to say about how restraints like Digital Rights Management however badly done cripple innovation? There is almost too much to say in fact.

Dykki says that Intra is “eveloping a comprehensive FOSS package for Human Resources for Health Information Systems for Ministries of Health. We are currently actively developing HRIS strengthening activities in Bangladesh, Rwanda, Uganda, Lesotho, Swaziland, and now Tanzania/Zanzibar, with Kenya, Namibia, Zambia, Ghana, Senegal and Armenia (?!) expressing interest.

Of course, we are using Ubuntu, Apache, MySQL and PHP as the core architecture. One system focuses on public sector HRH management. Another on whole-country HRH training, registration and licensure. The
third is a workforce planning tool that uses predictive modeling to project actuals, needs and models interventions to close the gaps.”

Dykki and I wrote about how hard it can be to get people to gain skills and innovate when they can simply steal software — as I saw in Russia and in Africa.

http://wiki.africasource2.tacticaltech.org/ is an African conference that looks like it was very productive (but how does it address this topic?

Richard Schafer suggests that Open Source software could have a function in the IT area much like generic drugs do in the pharma area, that is, closed source vendors would have to deliver obvious quality differences in their products in order to compete and/or drop their prices (as the invisible hand would dictate).

Who is the author? What is the work? Who is the inventor? What is the invention? How do those basic questions play out in FLOSS and in non-European cultures?

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Ruby alerts us via the OrangePolitics crowd to the Billy Sugarfix and Brian Risk Custom SerenadeIt’s Carrboro!
You love it you know you do. And it’s under Creative Commons license (as befits Carrboroness).

Listen here!

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Padilla
One of my favorite moments was seeing/hearing Heberto Padilla read from Hans Magnus Enzensberger‘s “Sinking of the Titanic.” The book and poem are a critique of the changes in Cuba and include a line, something like, “Where is the poet, Heberto Padilla?”
Padilla, who had only recently been released from many years spent under house arrest, looked up and said: “Here am I. Here am I.” Then he laughed.
I had invited Padilla to come down from his new home in Princeton and talk in the Carrboro ArtCenter’s poetry series. It was easier for him to laugh in Carrboro than in Cuba, but he as a poet and writer wanted to be in a Spanish speaker/reading country and was uneasy about his new freedom which included a large dose of linguistic exile in the mix.
Enzensberger
Since I have a lot of opportunity to read the various writings from Enzensberger (in translation) including his wonderful children’s book, The Number Devil: A Mathematical Adventure. I haven’t read his direct cultural criticism much.

While reading the Habermas entry at signandsignal, I found myself drawn to Enzensberger’s essay link on the sidebar. “The radical loser: Hans Magnus Enzensberger looks at the kind of ideological trigger required to ignite the radical loser – whether amok killer, murderer or terrorist – and make him explode.”

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Sign and Sight — Arts, Essays and Ideas from Germany — features portions of Jurgen HabermasBruno Kreisky Prize for the advancement of human rights speech. While the speech is mostly about a United States of Europe. Habermas does take a brief (translated) look at the Internet:

“Use of the Internet has both broadened and fragmented the contexts of communication. This is why the Internet can have a subversive effect on intellectual life in authoritarian regimes. But at the same time, the less formal, horizontal cross-linking of communication channels weakens the achievements of traditional media. This focuses the attention of an anonymous and dispersed public on select topics and information, allowing citizens to concentrate on the same critically filtered issues and journalistic pieces at any given time. The price we pay for the growth in egalitarianism offered by the Internet is the decentralised access to unedited stories. In this medium, contributions by intellectuals lose their power to create a focus.”

(quote, bolding and translation from signandsight.com)

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And only one slash. In an interview with Brian Runciman of the British Computer Society, the person hereafter known as Lee-Berners Tim Sir opines on the state of the Net including a note that he wishes he had done a few things differently. Dropping one slash (who cares most browers will add http:// anyhow) and that he had used the British name notation going from the more general to the more specific instead of the European/American model which goes like a mail address from specific to general and which by the way LBT Sir was very widely sided before you created the Web. Not complaining about your contributions but clarifying that the Net was well along and much established before the first http was typed. Pretty good interview overall.
At least one surprise, he wishes he had not included SGML folks:

Looking back on 15 years or so of development of the Web is there anything you would do differently given the chance?

I would have skipped on the double slash – there’s no need for it. Also I would have put the domain name in the reverse order – in order of size so, for example, the BCS address would read: http:/uk.org.bcs/members. The last two terms of this example could both be servers if necessary.

Later

Going back to the idea of anything I would change, I remember Dan Connolly – who really understood SGML – asking me if HTML was SGML. I really wanted the SGML people on board so I said yes.

I should have said no – and we would have developed XML a lot sooner. This all happened at the beginning of the Web, in a pub in Edinburgh. This May there’ll be discussions in pubs in Edinburgh again, where we can talk about what we’ll need to change now – it’ll be a blast.

Thanks to Sayan for the initial pointer.

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This morning on page C7 or online. In fact, a lot of news is covering Justin on this one.

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The current NewsWeek, with cover story “Putting the We in WEb,” has a “How Geeky Are You? Quiz.” The quiz doesn’t show on the second most geeky of all combinations, Mac OSX and FireFox, and it tries to send you a pop-up advert!
This is sad.
Note: Newsweek is hosted by MSNBC.
UPDATE: Doesn’t work with Safari either.
UPDATE 2: Doesn’t work on Windoz with FireFox (Thanks Sayan for the Windoz testing)
UPDATE 3: Does work with Internet Exploiter on Windoz after sending a bunch of pop-up adverts.
UPDATE 4: Selffulfilling question:

19. Which Web browser do you use most at home? Explorer
Firefox
Safari
Opera
I wrote my own
What’s a Web browser?

UPDATE 5: Doesn’t render the quiz on Firefox 1.5 over Linux. (thanks DLS)

UPDATE 5.1a: the round-robin advert under what would have been the quiz depicts a very non-geeky Triceritops in a suit inviting us to explore the absolutely-devoid-of-geekdom Microsoft Office calendar.

UPDATE 6: Doesn’t work with Moz or FF in Linux (Thank Roblimo).

BOTTOM LINE: If you can take the quiz, you are not a geek.

UPDATE XXX: MCNBC just added a one line, “Click here to start the quiz”

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As if the Blooker Prize weren’t enough (it’s plenty but there’s room for more), a blook by an anonymous Iraqi blogger is on the BBC Four Samuel Johnson Prize for non-fiction. Baghdad Burning by Riverbend is in the final 19 for the 3000 pound purse. (BBC reports on itself).

I note that the Johnson judges are less distinguished than the Blooker judges ;->

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Lyceum logo
JJB announces a new 0.20 release of the ibiblio-developed Open Source Multi-User Blog Environment, Lyceum.
Test it here. Download it here. And be sure to sign on the mailing list for updates and let us know your experiences with Lyceum.

Lyceum is a multi-blog derivative of WordPress, suitable for installations with 2 or 200,000 blogs!

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Just learned that Charles Edward Eaton has died at age 89. I’ve delighted in Eaton’s poetry for many years. His relaxed formalism and his subject matter which is at once refined and sensual has been not only a joy but a guide. I found his “Work of the Sun” online tonight which while it does not show his favorite form — long relaxed lines rhyming in surprising ways — demonstrates much of his pleasures (and ours).

The first stanza of The Work of the Sun:

Verlaine said the poem slowly rises like the sun,
Spreads over the landscape, a bird that hovers,
Moves on to find and bless a pair of lovers:
The work of the sun is never done.

Charles Edward Eaton Obit in Chapel Hill News.

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Wayne Marshall‘s talk on Friday afternoon was partially (but not wholely) based on this paper he paper presented at Caribbean Soundscapes, New Orleans called “Mad Mad” Migration: Caribbean Circulation and the Movement of Jamaican Rhythm. There’s also a bit showing up on his blog.

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Justin and the parody
Former UNC student and current Californian Justin Watt received a cease and desist letter from Liberty Council representing Exodus International calling for Justin to remove an image from his Justinsomnia blog. The image a clear parody of Exodus’ billboards inviting uphappy gays to try to become straight. Justin’s mod invites unhappy straight people to become gay.
Justin, instead of ceasing or desisting, contacted ACLU. Justin’s new ACLU lawyers countered with a strong letter of their own [PDF]. Reports are that Liberty/Exodus has since backed off.
Additional coverage in USA Today and on boingboing.net

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Roger McGuinn’s CDs on Amazon are all Safe, but the Byrds and Stones get a Warning that they are issued by RIAA members according to RIAA Radar.
Black Sweater, White Cat gives details on how to use FireFox, GreaseMonkey and RIAA Radar to give you an icon that indicates whether the CDs you are purchasing on Amazon are from RIAA members or not. Only takes a few seconds to install and works great.
Be amused and be an informed consumer. (Thanks Fred).

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