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Three Laws of information, power of knowledge and peasant revolt

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Eggs Igino’s Three Laws of Information (full story here thanks to JP – scroll down to the last bit of the post)

1. Knowledge is Power!

2. Knowledge is not a Candy Bar

2(b). Word Travels Fast

He stared at his theories. He underlined each of them twice as he rehearsed their logic. It was just so beautiful to see the salespeople so powerless and their world going to hell. For an intellectual like Igino, it was as beautiful as mitochondria in a petri dish or a mouse in a maze. Then he wrote below the other lines in large, energetic, slashing letters:

3. Power is Temporary!!!

I love it. This is what JP adds:

We have learnt about the power of many. We have learnt about the corruptions that take place when reading/writing power is in the hands of a few. History is not just littered with examples, even the history we read has had its fair share of corruption.

History has much to recommend it as a guide to the present and the future. It’s a record of evolutions, patterns and powershifts. It can also help to explain the new revolutionary stuff. I often compare blogs and social media to the printing press (I know, I know, everyone does these days but bear with me) and its evolution in roughly three stages. One of the things I learnt when looking closer at the history of publishing was that the first couple of hundred years of its existence access to printing press was heavily controlled and regulated. This slowed down its impact significantly although ultimately couldn’t stop it. So in the long run opennes wins, control loses. (Alas, sometimes the corruptions of the latter make even Keynes right and in the long run we might all be dead.) But I digress.

In the first stage, a blog (the machine or the format) was interesting as it optimised the distribution of writing on the internet. It helped to highlight the nature of the internet as a network by acting as a node by default, not just by design like a website. Much of online communication technology such as blogs, RSS and wikis are like printing press machines, the mechanics of it interesting mostly to geeks and techies.

The second stage was the realisation that blogs are not merely ‘online diaries’ and that you can apply blogging to your own purposes. Just like with books, not all printed books need to be the Bible. And as a result, there are now many different types of ‘books’, using the same optimised format. I encourage businesses to investigate the ‘books’, i.e. the application blogging for their own purposes. So there are
executive blogs, internal blogs, collaborative project blogs, research blogs etc etc.

And finally, the third stage, the one I am really interested in, is the ‘Reformation’ and the ‘Peasant revolt’ i.e. the changes, social, political and individual, that emerge from the widespread application of the technology or tools. The social dimension is emerging as the more important one, it is possible to create relationships, build trust and establish reputations. Partly it is a function of flexibility of the communication tools such as blogs and wikis (accessible and dynamic) and partly a function of the persistence of online communication, iterations or ’rounds’ in interaction. And the biggest part of it all is the human nature finding its way to new/old expressions, knowledge and understanding.

Quote to remember

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Innovations adapt to survive and thrive; for things like Wikipedia, he [Clay Shirky] suggests that increased governance is an evolutionary adaptation necessary for survival. I have tended to agree with him, but now I’m not so sure. I think the retrograde nature of the adaptation is a cause for concern, and that we ought to look at new governance models, not variations of the old.

- JP Rangaswami

Note: There are so many quotable points in JP’s blog posts, I find myself quoting him all the time. Oh well, that’s the way it goes…

Why dilute what you have to say with ads?

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I am not in favour of ads because I think they a) don’t work and b) abuse readers’ attention. I don’t begrudge others the income they make from ads on their blogs, especially if I enjoy their blog and it keeps them blogging. I react badly to an obvious hijacking of my eyeball and making me work hard to find the good bits. Interestingly, blogs I enjoy reading tend not to do that, it’s the less interesting desperate ones that pile the ads on. Dave Winer nails the issue of ads on blogs. Couldn’t have put it better myself.

People think blogs are about advertising, and I would agree, but they’re thinking in terms of clicks and eyeballs, and I’m thinking of technology that’s created using the intelligence of community participation.

Want to see how it’s done? It’s here in the archive of this blog. Don’t have the time to read the archive? Read today’s blog. We will get a whole new flow built here, through persistent experimentation, refinement, listening, promoting, thinking, and looping.

Is there money in this? A lot more than most people think, because they’re still thinking in 20th century terms.

I don’t share this space with hitch-hikers. I use my blog for my own ideas. They make good money. No point diluting what I have to say.

Amen to that.

10 reasons you should never get a job

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Steve Pavlina has a harsh but basically true analysis of why working for somebody else sucks.

It’s funny that when people reach a certain age, such as after graduating college, they assume it’s time to go out and get a job.  But like many things the masses do, just because everyone does it doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.  In fact, if you’re reasonably intelligent, getting a job is one of the worst things you can do to support yourself.  There are far better ways to make a living than selling yourself into indentured servitude.

It gets better.

The idea that a job is the most secure way to generate income is just silly.  You can’t have security if you don’t have control, and employees have the least control of anyone.  If you’re an employee, then your real job title should be professional gambler.

And oh so true:

It takes a lot of effort to tame a human being into an employee.  The first thing you have to do is break the human’s independent will.  A good way to do this is to give them a weighty policy manual filled with nonsensical rules and regulations.  This leads the new employee to become more obedient, fearing that s/he could be disciplined at any minute for something incomprehensible.  Thus, the employee will likely conclude it’s safest to simply obey the master’s commands without question.  Stir in some office politics for good measure, and we’ve got a freshly minted mind slave.

Alright, just read all ten reasons.

Disclaimer: I don’t agree with Steve about how to make money out of a blog, his is truly uninspiring and cluttered with adverts. I feel like I have to wade through a lot of foliage to get to a clearing.

via The Obvious?

Not the elevator pitch

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Chatting to Alec earlier tonight, he shared a link to a blog post by Geoff Arnold from the time everyone at Sun was posting their favourite Scott McNealy stories. He posts one of his, which is hilarious:

…as I walked towards the front door I was joined by Scott. We chatted about this and that as we walked to the elevator, and he offered to show me the view from his office.

Just as we got into the elevator, a young man in his mid-20s dashed in. He was wearing a snappy blue suit, a perfectly knotted silk tie, and dazzling cuff-links. (Scott and I were in polo shirts and jeans, of course.) The sharp dresser recognized Scott, and became very confused. “Oh, excuse me, I didn’t realize… Is this the executive elevator?“ Scott and I looked at each other, barely suppressing hysterical laughter. After a moment, Scott managed to say, “You haven’t been at Sun very long, have you?” The red-faced newbie got off on the second floor….

He then relates his experience at HP, which was rather different. Read the whole thing.

  • Author: Adriana
  • Published: Aug 19th, 2006
  • Category: Quotes
  • Comments: 9

Quote to remember

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The people who don’t get it can’t understand altruism, think every gift horse is a toothless Trojan. Can’t understand openness and sharing and community. Can’t understand trust. The people who don’t get it live in this weird bondage of isolation and distrust. I couldn’t do it. Just couldn’t.

- JP Rangaswami, Confused of Calcutta

Update: Here is what I have written about altruism on Samizdata, in the good old days when I had more time to ponder such things at greater lengths. May the days come again soon. :)

  • Author: Adriana
  • Published: Aug 16th, 2006
  • Category: Trends
  • Comments: 2

Mind allergies

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An amazing column in the FT by James Boyle, A closed mind about an open world, where he coins a phrase ‘openness aversion’ to describe our tendency to undervalue the importance, viability and productive power of open systems, open networks and non-proprietary production. A must read:

It is not that openness is always right. Rather, it is that we need a balance between open and closed, owned and free, and we are systematically likely to get the balance wrong. Partly this is because we still do not understand the kind of property that exists on networks. Most of our experience is with tangible property; fields that can be overgrazed if outsiders cannot be excluded. For that kind of property, control makes more sense. We still do not intuitively grasp the kind of property that cannot be exhausted by overuse (think of a piece of software) and that can become more valuable to us the more it is used by others (think of a communications standard). There the threats are different, but so are the opportunities for productive sharing. Our intuitions, policies and business models misidentify both. Like astronauts brought up in gravity, our reflexes are poorly suited for free fall.

via JP who adds his bit also worth remembering:

Understanding why “we” undervalue these things is critical to the three big I-battles we face: Intellectual Property, Identity and the Internet.

It is not enough for those that “get it” to go into a mutual-admiration huddle and back-slapping frenzies, as we are often wont to do. Those that don’t get it don’t get it for a reason. The commonest reason is an inability to comprehend three apparently simple things: that people can be altruistic; that extreme nonrival goods can and do exist; that people can make money because-of-rather-than-with.

IPv6 = social change

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A commenter on Groklaw confirms something that’s obvious but needs to be spelled out often, especially for the business types who like to box everything in so they can manage and measure it (just don’t get me started) – new technology changes human behaviour, which in turn gives rise to more new technology and more stuff that is even harder to manage and measure. So there:

Multicast is built into IPv6. This means that a broadcast to 1000 people does not use 1000 times the bandwidth required to deliver the data to 1 person. In fact, it requires exactly the same amount of bandwidth as that required to deliver the data to 1 person. At least from the "broadcaster" up to the point where recipients are on different networks. At that point the data is duplicated by the router and sent along both networks. So, on any one network, the bandwidth needed is only that required to deliver the data to a single user.

This means that anybody can broadcast. Cheaply. This could bring about as large a social change as that which occurred when the Internet became popular.  If anybody can broadcast, then people will want the freedom to do so, and will want all the flexibility that goes along with it.

For the non-geeks:

IPv6 is short for "Internet Protocol Version 6". IPv6 is the "next generation" protocol designed by the IETF to replace the current version Internet Protocol, IP Version 4 ("IPv4").

via the forth place

The only sensible copyright notice

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Woody Guthrie’s copyright notice, as published in a 1930s songbook:

This song is Copyrighted in U.S., under Seal of Copyright 154085, for a period of 28 years, and anybody caught singin it without our permission, will be mighty good friends of ourn, cause we don’t give a dern. Publish it. Write it. Sing it. Swing to it. Yodel it. We wrote it, that’s all we wanted to do.

via JP

Ostrich media?

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The title is a mere paraphrase of Cathy Seipp’s NRO column headline Head-in-Sand MSM

It’s amazing how, even in 2006, the mainstream media can sound like it’s sticking its collective fingers in its ears and yelling “Not listening! Neener neener neener!” at the mere thought of online competition.

It’s a great read as Cathy relays a couple of conversations with the mainstream media types. The first was with a TV critic from some paper in a minor American city:

I’ve never read a blog in my life. Who has time? They’re just for unemployed people who stay at home all day. No one’s ever made any money from blogging. No! I’m not worried about my job at all. My kids don’t read blogs either, and they’re in their 20s.

To which Cathy adds:

Then he looked at the lifeless form of the newspaper in front of him on the table and said, “I do believe in fairies. I do, I do, I do believe in fairies.”

Just kidding about that last part, but really, he might as well have.

I am so going to use that phrase! The second conversation was with Alan Wurtzel, NBC’s president of research and media development, whom Cathy asked what he thought of this kind of old-media attitude:

“For you guys, it’s not as though they don’t want what you do, but they’re going to consume it in a different way. The news business isn’t trending down; it’s the paper business that’s trending down.”

“Never fight with the consumer,” Wurtzel told me, about these MSM types who seem so sure of kind of news the public ought to want, “you’ll always lose.” He added: “Boy, there are two businesses I wouldn’t put money into right now — newspapers and TV stations. There’s just too many other ways to get news.”   

The rest of Cathy’s post reminds me of why public events/gatherings in the US creep me out too.

Quote to remember

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Studying intellectual property and the internet has convinced me that we have another cognitive bias. Call it the openness aversion. We are likely to undervalue the importance, viability and productive power of open systems, open networks and non-proprietary production.

- James Boyle, A closed mind about an open world, FT

via Confused of Calcutta

Blowing smoke

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Yeah, it was that kind of a dinner. Blowing Smoke producer is in town, so the evening went up in smoke splendidly. More later here or on

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