Friday, July 29, 2005


Legal Theory Blog

This morning Larry Solum linked to my recent paper on wikis and blogs. Also, as of this morning, the paper has been downloaded 22 times from SSRN.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005


Self-defeating IT Security Policies

William Jackson at Government Computer News quotes the CEO of In-Q-Tel, Gilman Louie as saying:
The bad guys are winning because we have convinced ourselves that our networks are so insecure, and that we are unable to protect information on them, that we don't put information on our systems.


The Hughtrain

Hugh Macleod at The Gaping Void has his version of the Cluetrain Manifesto. Here is the section on "The Porous Membrane"

"The Porous Membrane": Why Corporate Blogging Works.


The other day somebody asked me to explain why corporate blogging works. Sure, we know it's the hot new thing and people are paying attention to it (including big media)... but why?

Why does it work? Seriously.

So I drew the diagram above.

1. In Cluetrain parlance, we say "markets are conversations". So the diagram above represents your market, or "The Conversation". That is demarkated by the outer circle "y".

2. There is a smaller, inner circle "x".

3. So the entire market, the "conversation" is seperated into two distinct parts, the inner area "A" and the outer area "B".

4. Area "A" represents your company, the people supplying the market. We call that "The Internal Conversation".

5. Area "B" represents the people in the market who are not making, but buying. Otherwise know as the customers. We call that "The External Conversation".

6. So each market from a corporate point of view has an internal and external conversation. What seperates the two is a membrane, otherwise known as "x".

7. Every company's membrane is different, and controlled by a host of different technical and cultural factors.

8. Ideally, you want A and B to be identical as possible, or at least, in sync. The things that A is passionate about, B should also be passionate about. This we call "alignment". A good example would be Apple. The people at Apple think the iPod is cool, and so do their customers. They are aligned.

9. When A and B are no longer aligned is when the company starts getting into trouble. When A starts saying their gizmo is great and B is telling everybody it sucks, then you have serious misalignment.

10. So how do you keep misalignment from happening?

11. The answer lies in "x", the membrane that seperates A from B. The more porous the membrane, the easier it is for conversations between A and B, the internal and external, to happen. The easier for the conversations on both side of membrane "x" to adjust to the other, to become like the other.

12. And nothing, and I do mean nothing, pokes holes in the membrane better than blogs. You want porous? You got porous. Blogs punch holes in membranes like like it was Swiss cheese.

13. The more porous your membrane ("x"), the easier it is for the internal conversation to inform and align with the external conversation, and vice versa.

14. Not to mention it makes misalignment, if it happens, a lot easier to repair.

15. Of course this begs the question, why have a membrane "x" at all? Why bother with such a hierarchy? But that's another story.

[AFTERTHOUGHT:] And yes, this works with internal blogs as well, poking holes in the membranes that seperate people within a corporate culture; aligning "the conversation" internally etc.

The other advantage of internal blogging is that it organises conversation into a long-term manageable form. Two people sharing ideas via blogs is a lot more permanent, viral and useful for the company than two people sharing the same information over by the watercooler.

[AFTERTHOUGHT:] Poking holes in membranes subverts hierarchies. Avast, ye scurvies etc.


Tuesday, July 26, 2005


Yahoo! for Konfabulator

Dawn Kawamoto of CNET reports via ZDNET that Yahoo bought Konfabulator and will be giving the software to developers for free. This way people can build desktop widgets that use Yahoo services.


MS-Earth Blanks Apple

Slashdot reports that its new MS-Earth application shows a large empty lot where Apple headquarters is supposed to be. While some point out that it is just an old photo from the TerraServer, others point out that the surrounding nieghborhoods have up-to-date photos.

Meanwhile, Google Maps introducted their Hybrid maps that combine street maps and satellite photos. Here is I-95 and Franconia Road, just South of the Capital Beltway.


Adventure on the iPod!

Wired News reports that Malinche is selling text-based adventures for the iPod--for $9.95. XYZZY!

Monday, July 25, 2005


A Leopard Changing Its Spots?

Ina Fried at ZDNet reports that the next version of MS-Windows has changed its name from Longhorn to Vista. It is the age-old project management trick of renaming troubled projects to escape baggage. A better strategy is to change the project itself.


Kryder's Law?

SciAm explains how Kryder's Law outperfoms Moore's Law.

Thursday, July 21, 2005


Robot Camel Jockeys

Yahoo News reports that the UAE plans to import 10,000 robots to jockey camels in races, after the country outlawed child jockeying.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005


DHS Secret Network

GCN reports on the Secret-Level Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN) that goes out to state and local governments.


The New Periodic Chart

Is catching fire in the UK and US.


Watch This

End of the Line points to a great video about the Retroincabulator.


Try this at home!

Jonathan's blog references Sun's developer deal. For about $1/day, one can rent a complete Sun developer platform, delivered to one's home.


Fold n Drop

slashdot points to an interesting technology for dragging and dropping between overlapping windows


To the Moon, Alice

Google Moon is now available, in case you want to take a trip and want to see where you are going. They have done something very clever with their most zoomed view. Try it!

Tuesday, July 19, 2005


Fiber to the Home

SciAm reports that Verison is going to draw fiber to 3M homes this year. They will increase DSL transfer rate to up to 100Mbps, more than enough to watch HDTV streaming video.


Google for Firefox

Google has created three extensions for Firefox as free downloads: search toolbar, text message to phone, ans search suggest. This is just the beginning of the power of "open source" development for Firefox.



Real Time Rides

Ride Finder from Google Labs shows where various taxi and limousines are in near-real time. There is an 'update locations' button that lets you watch the vehicles as they travel around the city. It also lets you know how many vehicles are in service at any point in time. Can I get this so I can watch where my teenage children go with my car?

This is, of course, a virtual model of the real world. The "electronic sensorization" of the real world, however, will begin to blur our perceptions of where the virtual and real worlds start and end. Not only can FedEx watch where each and every package goes, Walmart is trying to watch where each and every one of its products is--even where it goes after it is purchased.

This is not one big brother, but thousands of big brothers.

Monday, July 18, 2005



Thursday, July 14, 2005


Get a (Second) Life!

Second Life, a Massively Multiplayer On-line Role Playing Game (MMORPG), has one really cool feature: The money one makes "in-world" (Linden Dollars or L$) can be converted to an "out-word" currency, such as US Dollars (US$). See Gaming Open Market. The current exchange rate is about L$1000=US$4. Now, when the dad comes home from work and tells his lazy teenage son to go get a job--the teen can actually make real money playing computer games!

Gaming Open Market (GOM) also allow people to put GOM ATMs into Second Life. Now imagine this conversation: "Dad can I have $20 to put into my GOM account, because I need an extra L$5000 to have my avatar go on a date with Susie's avatar?" (You fill in the rest of the conversation. . .)

There is even a wiki devoted to Second Life, called Game Slave. It really focuses on the games avatars play inside Second Life.

And don't forget the several Blogs devoted to Second Life "in-world" societal happenings. This posting tells of a young Chinese woman who was told by her employer to make US$2 a day inside Second Life. She makes the money by having her avatar dance in an "in-world" club. So let's talk ethics. Do out-world ethics apply to in-world behavior?

Wednesday, July 13, 2005


Free Software has no Pirates

Jonathan Schwartz on his blog says:

The most popular credit cards are the free ones. The most popular handsets, search engines, and checking accounts are the free ones. Just like the most popular operating systems will be, in the long run, the...

Free ones.

He also says:
Companies that suffered from piracy a decade ago now know the lesson well - piracy is a good thing so long as the pirates are folks who could never afford your products. So stop calling them pirates, call them users. Free software has no pirates. As I've said forever, there's value in volume, even if you're not paid for it.
Right. If 10 people use MS-Word, do I care to interoperate with them? No. If 10 billion people use MS-Word, do I care to interoperate with them? Yes. So, if MS can get the 1st world to buy their software, it is in their interests to have the 3rd pirate it. The 3rd world pirating makes software more valuable in the 1st world.



This is the place to find out how, or tell other people how to do anything. Started out as copyrighted material and is now available under the Creative Commons license.


Better Late than Never

AP via USA Today reports Microsoft will pay IBM to settle the OS/2 dispute. It's about time. Microsoft clearly breached their contract with IBM. And gained much more revenue than the $850M it will "return" to IBM.


Can the Big Boys Podcast?

Michelle Kessler of USA Today reports via Yahoo! that ESPN, CNN, ABC News and others are now in the podcasting business. I hope they have read the Cluetrain Manifesto.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005


Google Sightseeing

This blog finds interesting sites in Google maps and then posts them. Check it out.

Monday, July 11, 2005


No more books, but still get teacher's dirty looks

AP via Yahoo News reports an Arizona high school which will not use any physical textbooks this next year. All reference material will be on-line. Instead of textbooks, the students are required to have a net-capable lapt0p.

Thursday, July 07, 2005


Opera does BitTorrent

Thomas Mennecke reports at Slyck that Opera is considering incorporating the BitTorrent protocol into their software. I'm guessing this would eliminate the need to download the BitTorrent client as we do now.

BitTorrent allows people to share large files without crashing the file server, through distributed cooperation. It is billed as a free speech tool.

Friday, July 01, 2005


Root Beer Review

Spike's Root Beer Reviews rates our local Dominion Root Beer as only a C+, but the readers give it a B+. I gave it an A-. After reading the Capt'n Eli's Root Beer review, I went to the Capt'n Eli website and ordered a case. Can't wait!


Two Book Recommendations

Am at an offsite. Two books recommended to me:

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