Little Brothers and the Rebels’ Island

December 15, 2006

*Update*: There’s a long and interesting discussion in the comments’ section, including Jamais Cascio, the man behind the Mic


“Soon, probably within the next decade, certainly within the next two, we’ll be living in a world where what we see, what we hear, what we experience, will be recorded everywhere we go. There will be few statements or scenes that will go unnoticed or unremembered; our day to day lives will be archived and saved. What’s more, these archives will be available over the net for recollection, analysis and even sharing. And we’ll be doing it to ourselves”


So starts a daunting yet highly important and certainly interesting lecture by Jamais Cascio, who describes a future where everything will be not only recorded but also verified, a future governed not by a single “Big Brother”, but rather by billions of little brothers and sisters that will voluntarily and eagerly capture, upload, share and explore sights, scenes and conversations using their ubiquitous multi-modal, nomadic, capturing devices (and see the previous post on Anina and the Nomads).

As Jamais Cascio points out, this is a world where lies are almost impossible, and errors are detected on the spot, hence dramatically reduced. How can you lie if you are constantly recorded by multiple devices? How can the recordings be tempered if hundreds of different recording devices are creating hundreds different representations of the same event? It’s practically impossible. You can temper one or two, you can destroy another couple, but you cannot fight the statistics of an infinite number of recorders.

In other words, we’re creating a world of timeless (real-time) truth, which is what we’ve always been after, at least since Plato.

Personally, I think it’s the right moment for a Cyberpunk time-out (more to be posted soon in my alter-blog, and seeds could well be found already here)


podcastIcon.gif Jamais Cascio: Participatory Panopticon, 37:09 min, May 2nd, 2005

Original Podlink: Jamais Cascio: Participatory Panopticon

technorati1.jpg Technorati Panopticon, Technorati the Podlink


Anina and the Nomads

November 12, 2006

nerdtvpng.jpgI listened to Anina with great pleasure and interest. Pleasure – because hearing a bright, passionate, unpatronizing and communicative person is always a pleasure; interest – because for the first time I could really taste and experience the mobile life-style, and could therefore fully realize how mobile people are dependent on their mobile device.


Anina, ~24 years old, demonstrates a rare unison of yin and yang. She was born in the US but is currently living in France – two different cultures; she communicates in five native languages, and one mobile, synthetic language. She’s deep into the mobile standards and technologies – programming-level – and yet she’s working as a top-model and an artist, bridging the right and left hemispheres, the mental and the physical, the individual and the social, the functional and the aesthetic.

And she’s got the eye of the observer, that which is open for the other. In several occasions, Anina illuminates the socio-political implications of the computer vs. the mobile device, the former being a representation of the “knowledge is power” paradigm, encrusted with cryptic symbols and letters – the marks of the literate dominance over the illiterate (those lacking knowledge and, consequently, power), while the mobile device, which employs universally understood visual symbols such as the red, green, + and – signs, represents hope and belonging in this flat world, even to technophobes, illiterates and all those who are, relatively speaking, weak.

The nomads, who represent constant change and instability, and are usually alienated by the institutions, finally got their symbolic, nomadic device, which speaks in a different language than that of the computer. Anina’s project and ambition is to provide the nomads with that platform which will allow them to connect, as equal citizens, into the matrix.

The mp3 is available here, but there’s also a video recording of the session at NerdTV, for those preferring video over audio.


podcastIcon.gif Anina: High Fashion Meets High Tech, 62:16 min, Nov 9th, 2005

Original Podlink: Anina: High Fashion Meets High Tech

technorati1.jpg Technorati Anina, Technorati the Podlink

An Introduction to Enterprise 2.0

October 19, 2006


Sandy Kemsley gives an excellent introduction to the next generation of Enterprise2.0 Software, using BPM (Business Process Management) as an example.

Two of her insights should be placed high up in our enterprise-consciousness:

1. The MySpace Generation will necessarily reshape the Enterprise eco-system. It will influence the way ISVs build software, the way users consume services and inevitably the way Enterprises are structured. Software, services and organizational structures are all reflections of societies.

2. Security is too often a pretext

Fear is a great way to align IT with Business. Security risk, a very basic fear-oriented and blurred-enough meme, is too often used as a pretext by those resisting the forthcoming change. Be suspicious of those guarantying ‘Apocalypse Now’ in face of a change – it is an efficient way to preserve existing structure of command & control.

Sandy Kemsley

podcastIcon.gif Sandy Kemsley: Web 2.0 and Business Process Management, 11:07 min, Oct 11th, 2006

Original Podlink: Sandy Kemsley: Web 2.0 and Business Process Management

technorati1.jpg Technorati Enterprise2.0, Technorati the Podlink

Lovely 9: An Introduction to Second Life

September 12, 2006

I loved Michael Johnson‘s introduction to Second Life – a rare combination of a medium and a message: voices from the latest SL Community Conference held last August in SF, enriched with Johnson’s narration and musical intermezzos – all packed into lovely 9 minutes’ podcast.

In this unique occasion, the medium was indeed a massage.

In the conversations that are managing the informational markets of which we’re all part of, companies, bloggers and podcasters are all fighting for attention. Consequently, anyone who wishes to participate in these conversations, must understand and adopt marketing techniques. Marketing is no longer the luxury (or rather the concern) of large corporations, but a craft that anyone has to master, just like the rhetoric of old times.

This is to say that Michael Johnson’s This American (Second) Life is one of the finest marketing examples that I have encountered in a long time.

Second Life Community Conference

Michael Johnson

podcastIcon.gif This American (Second) Life: Community Conference in San Francisco, 08:56 min, Aug 24th, 2006

Original Podlink: This American (Second) Life: Community Conference in San Francisco

technorati1.jpg Technorati Second Life, Technorati the Podlink

Unconferences, Unpeople and Unplaces

July 11, 2006


The concluding session of BloggerCon IV dealt with logistics issues: where will the next BloggerCon take place? Could it run simultaneously in different geographical locations, so as to make it more accessible (time & money) to people from all around the world? Could it be video streamed in real-time to campuses and universities so students (i.e. future bloggers) would be able to present their ideas about blogging? … and so forth.

It was interesting to follow this discussion, waiting in vain for someone to propose what I thought to be evident, i.e. the option of running future events inside a virtual world, such as the NMC campus in Second Life.


These kind of unplaces provide, already today, a perfect setup for unpeople (aka avatars) to participate in unconferences.

Moreover, if we get along with a virtual representation of food and drinks, then all Dave Winer’s preconditions for a pleasant uncoference, as included hereafter, are satisfied.

Scripting News 5/22/2006: Dave Winer’s conditions for a successful unconference:

What won’t change. It’s free of charge. Lunches and dinners are at local restaurants, and there are lots of them in the neighborhood. We will organize Food For Thought dinners on Friday night. There will be lots of room for schmoozing outside the studio at all times, and this will be open to everyone and anyone… Totally non-commercial, leave your business models at home.


podcastIcon1.gif BloggerCon IV Concluding Session, June 24th, 2006

Original Podlink: BloggerCon: Dave talks about exiting the blogosphere

technorati1.jpg Technorati BloggerCon, Technorati the Podlink

Economy and the Formation of Virtual Societies

July 10, 2006


Philip K. Dick explained once how he became a passionate writer of a genre perceived as “not serious”:

“I became interested in writing stf [scientifiction] when I saw it emerge from the ray gun stage into studies of man in various types and complexities of society”, Introducing the Author (1953).

Online multi-players games (MMORPGs) and Virtual Worlds (Metaverses), such as Second Life, bear great resemblance to the remote galactic colonies depicted by many sci-fi dreamers. And just like early stage sci-fi, MMORPGs needed a certain setup time to overcome the ray gun stage and become what they are today – a viable alternative to our existing world.

Philip Rosedale Linden, CEO, Second Life: “I’m not building a game; I’m building a new country.” (ref.2)

One prominent trait of any society/country is the existence of economic processes and regulations. Edward Castronova describes in a fascinating lecture the developing economies inside those virtual worlds and their diffusion into our current world (through eBay for instance).

As these virtual worlds are young, most of the economic structure is created in a trial-and-error fashion. Many interesting details about these trials in emerging economies can be found in the Wikipedia article dedicated to Second Life under the “Economy” section, as well as in the articles mentioned in the References hereafter.


podcastIcon1.gif Edward Castronova Gold From Thin Air: The Economy of Virtual Worlds 00:27:07, 12.4 mb, Oct 31st, 2005

Original Podlink: The Economy of Virtual Worlds


Virtual World, Real Money, BusinessWeek

Fun in Following the Money, Wired News

Terra Nova, A weblog about virtual worlds

technorati1.jpg Technorati Metaverse, Technorati the Podlink

I, Leftover

July 6, 2006


Web2.0 gives power to the people, but those who talk about it are mostly interested in how the newly empowered people could be re-tamed and harnessed (what a horrible word) into a huge, faceless mass of buyers.

How do we make money from Open Source? When will Jimmy milk the Wikipedia cow? How do we harness the billion 50 cents? In other words, the mainstream discussion is always evolving around the “show me the money” and “where’s the business model”, with the underlying assumption that the right to exist (and to be empowered) should only be granted to money-generating objects.

Somehow, Prof. Benkler succeeded in discussing Grid, Wikipedia, Skype, Open Source and Citizen Media without falling into the “show me the money” trap. There was a different, human undertone to his lecture and I think it’s the first time I heard a web2.0 talk that really empowered me for what I am, i.e. a leftover.

I, Leftover.

The leftovers are taking over; the residuals and the idles are beating up the stronger and the brighter. It’s the time of the “Ordinaries” (and some are absolutely abhorred by that).

This is the real change, as so far the leftovers were only valuable because of their money. No one expected nor wanted them to contribute. “Contribution” has always been institutionalized, and research was always funded by econo-political interests.

But now the power to decide is at the hands of “I, Leftover”. When “I, Leftover” downloads a SETI@Home screensaver, she’s not only contributing processing power to a noble cause, but also making the SETI@Home project possible. When “I, Leftover” uses Skype, he’s not only saving money, but also helping to bring free voice to everybody, by making Skype possible (because of Skype’s p2p nature).

My point is that great things are now dependent on individual, layman decisions. I, as a leftover, find it encouraging.


podcastIcon1.gif Yochai Benkler – Participation Revolution, 33:32, 15.3 mb, Oct 21st, 2005

Original Podlink: Participation Revolution

technorati1.jpg Technorati Yochai Benkler, Technorati the Podlink

P2P Business Platforms and the Story of Digital Identity

June 6, 2006

the story of digital identity.jpg

Aldo Castañeda recently hosted Johannes Ernst, Dick Hardt & John Kemp in what he called a “User-Centric” episode. Paradoxically, what I got from this excellent show was the entire opposite, i.e. that there’s nothing “user-centric” in Digital Identity. Here are my impressions from the sub-text of that show.

Johannes Ernst maintained that in the future we’ll have an eBAY without an eBAY. Meaning: instead of having eBAY as a broker, people will engage in eBAY-like transactions without relying on a central entity. Ernst added, that this vision of completely decentralized business transactions, running on a global, peer-to-peer infrastructure, is currently under construction.

This insight shed an interesting light on the Skype-eBAY deal (Skype as a p2p infrastructure company. And see also A Skype Rashomon: P2P, Voice and the Read/Write Web ).

Naturally, Identity makes an essential part of any business infrastructure and a globaly distributed p2p business platform makes no exception. It is therefore logical to envision a decentralized Identity infrastructure as part of the future p2p business sphere, and indeed, that’s one of the key success factors for Digital Identity, as presented by Dick Hardt.

But the explicit and repetitive mentioning of the Digital Identity’s decentralized architecture serves, imho, another goal. Usually, when decentralization is discussed, people think about the centralized opposite with its Big Brother connotation. Decentralization triggers, therefore, an immediate, tangible sensation of freedom and user-control. I’m afraid that Digital Identity rides on these feelings; some of its promoters describe its decentralized nature as if this will bring salvation (and control) to the users of the virtual-o-sphere. (I disagree with this sub-textual message, and see also Identity2.0 Illusion of Control).

This time, though, I heard a different tone – some kind of disillusionment from that alleged spirit of freedom. The panel agreed that federation and/or decentralization don’t imply personal control. Actually, they sort of agreed that the only control a User maintains is whether or not to engage in a business transaction, and that’s basically it. If the user elects to do the transaction, then she must provide the service provider with whatever Identity attributes the provider requires. There’s no Identity Bazaar in which the user negotiates what attributes to reveal and what to conceal. Moreover, without a 3rd-party – a trusted Identity Provider that confirms the User’s Identity claims – no transaction is possible, because in the world of Digital Identity the User is by a paradoxical defaultuntrusted!

So if Digital Identity is not about user’s empowerment, what is it about?

I’d say it’s about the service providers making more money in the virtual-o-sphere. Both Hardt and Ernst mentioned, more than once, the importance of a trusted Digital Identity for the enablement of business transactions (for instance, proving that I’m over 18, that I live in the US, that I have that credit in my bank account etc.) and in the peer-to-peer reality, where business transactions will happen at the edges of the network, a peer-to-peer trust has to exist.

I would therefore suggest that the whenever Identity is discussed in an authentication/authorization context, the user-centric theme should be viewed as nothing but a marketing strategy in the spirit of the current web2.0 Zeitgeist (Identity2.0…). There’s no user-centricity in Identity2.0.


There are other voices and other aspects to Identity. A prominent speaker of this “other Identity” is Marc Canter. My next post will describe his take on the matter.


User-Centric Identity part 1 May 18th, 2006

User-Centric Identity part 2 May 24th, 2006

Original Podlink:

The Story of Digital Identity, episode 27 [part 1]

The Story of Digital Identity, episode 28 [part 2]

technorati3.jpgTechnorati User-Centric Identity, Technorati the Podlink

Voice 1, 2, 3…

April 27, 2006


I blogged in the past about how Web2.0, which pretends to be the incarnation of the personal, social, human, interactive web, is lacking the most fundamental human protocol – Voice. I'm not talking about Voice as an application – Skype, or Gtalk, but rather about voice as a mean for communication – with people, humanoids and applications alike.

Well, Yahoo!, so it seems, is going this way (and Google is undoubtedly going there just the same). Jeff Bonforte, Senior Director of Voice Product Management at Yahoo!, described Yahoo!'s take on Voice 1, 2 and 3:

Voice 1 – the hundred years old, boring yet highly successful (business-wise) dial tone.

Voice 2 – Voice as an application: Skype, Messanger. Voice is Data.

Voice 3 – Voice as an invocation protocol – an interface to Yahoo!'s vast amount of content.

Rest the never ending problem of voice recognition. And here Bonforte describes a brilliant bypass to the problem: instead of trying to figure out what the speaker really said, Yahoo! sends the transcription to… their search engine. The search engine returns the "Did you mean: ___" which is the outcome of a machine-learning, based on the next thing users are searching (when users are mistyping their search query, the next thing they usually do is to re-type the correct string). So just like the search engine is "learning" over time what is a real search string and what is most probably a typo, the voice recognition engine will learn what a meaningful interaction is and what is not.

These voice advancements are highly symbolic. They represent a change in the current Browser paradigm, and they are the first steps toward a physical integration of human beings into the World Wide Web, an inevitable outcome of the technology that shapes up our lives.

jeff bonforte.jpg

podcastIcon1.gifYahoo! and Emerging Telephony 00:19:38, 9 mb, Jan 25th, 2006

Original Podlink: Yahoo! and Emerging Telephony

technorati1.jpg Technorati Voice Telephony, Technorati the Podlink

The Browser As a Platform

April 27, 2006


I was listening to Phil Windley's AJAX Progress and Challenges when the bells rang. While describing the JavaScript programming that is taking place inside the Browser's guts, Windley pointed out that browser-based client applications have become O/S indifferent. Operating systems have been finally abstracted out from the entire transaction chain.
And then the inevitable metaphor of the Browser-as-a-Platform was mentioned, triggering a bunch of thoughts in my head on the Browser-as-a-platform interfacing the Internet-as-Platform, and how RSS is disrupting these two platform metaphors. But to get more details on that, you'd have to jump over to my alter-blog and continue reading over there.


podcastIcon1.gif AJAX Progress and Challenges 00:50:27, 23.1 mb, March 1st 2006

Original Podlink: AJAX Progress and Challenges

technorati1.jpg Technorati Ajax, Technorati the Podlink