Friday, September 22, 2006

orderly global economies / drm: redux in situ

I posted on the question of intellectual property and global economies here [link], and posted a video of Cory Doctorow at LIFT 06 speaking on DRM here [link]. Great comments followed both posts.

The conversation bleeds over to reBang blog [link], where Sven, Cory, The Mad Natural Historian, and I get into an discussion about all this in the context of a contest design posted at BoingBoing, following on one of Sven's post about how designers are exploited under the auspice of an "open source" contest.

Librarians not only have to worry about the impact of root kits on our computer systems, but we've also got to wonder about the fallout of DRM and IP law on our lending policies. How long before we're forced to buy restrictive licenses for [what we used to call] books at a jacked-up "institutional" price?

I don't know if small libraries could survive that. What do you think?


Weather: hot, wet, windy.
Reading: The 39 Steps again and again and again.

Vinay Gupta: worldchanging

You should get to know Vinay Gupta and his hexayurts project.

At Mind is Moving blog, he keeps a page detailing the idea. Hexayurts have been written about in the New York Times, and were featured at Strong Angel III.

It's a quick & endemic diaster relief project that uses simple materials to make a very sturdy shelter -- no complicated international NGO bureaucrastructres required. An excellent design makes duct tape and cardboard into roomy hexagonal shelters.

What he's done, as Surgeon Captain Peter Buxton, O.B.E, put it, is make "teaching people how to use materials that are availabe for them" primary over shipping in materials and techniques from developed countries (see vlog link below). This really does empower those who are affected by disaster.

Nominate this man for a Genius Award!

Here's Vinay's vlog from Strong Angel III [link].

Some questions come to mind... I wonder about modding the hexayurt for the needs of specific environments -- for instance, how would they have fared in SE Louisiana after the hurricanes of 05, in such a wet environment?

Might these structures be cheaply chipped, so that they become spimey (trackable in space/time for recycling, usage statistics, and info on wear and tear)?

Or might they be outfitted with arphids so that a collection of structures in a community could ooze info about which families live in which yurts, etc.?

How tough/expensive a task would it be to outfit these structures with a solar panel and basic wiring?

How tough/expensive a task would it be to use the structure of the walls (the fiber itself) as part of a water filtration system, Katavolos style?

What's the max lifespan for this structure?

The hexayurt is simple, elegant, and eminently helpful.

This could be a world changer.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Cory Doctorow on Digital Rights Management

Cory Doctorow, novelist and former EFF man, breaks it down at LIFT 06. Now I think I get DRM.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

14 comics: Rushkoff

Why do I have this dreadful (and not-yet very deeply explored) suspicion that Testament and Club Zero are very like Waking Life and What the Bleep?

Is it because the "story" is utterly sacrificed to the "ideas" the author is trying to share? I love ideas (and Rushkoff's work is mostly full of cool and good ideas), but I love stories more -- and, yes, the best stories are able to communicate ideas without the audience feeling like "uh-oh, I think this is some kind of statement or idea or something... I think I'm supposed to be getting it or something..."

Maybe it's because I don't like being instructed in what constitutes cool. Maybe I like to be shown, not told.

The characters in Testament read like walking barcodes. These aren't people with an array of terrible and wonderful and meaningful particularities; these are cliche cardboard people that the author musn't realize he's parodying. I really don't think he meant to parody the counter-culture he's writing about -- I do, in fact, take him at least that seriously.

I mean, who care'ss about all this Torah-as-metaphor stuff? We get it already! And it's atemporal and all that too. Eternal struggle against the forces of singular domination, yada yada yada -- we get it!

What Testament should have been was a story that started as a story -- instead of a manifesto that got a spackling with plot.

Well. I won't be buying any more comics by Mr. Rushkoff -- but I might check them out from the library some time, see if future attempts make for better stories. And good luck to him... his non-fiction rocks, after all.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

1 library program idea

LEARN the art of sousveillance, "watching from below"!
BECOME an active watcher of watchmen!
REALIZE the potential of ketai!

Sousveillance means you're watching the cameras that watch you. In a world of total surveillance by 'the man', why not take back the streets and turn the panopticon culture on the corporate-government overlords who would seek to see all?

In this library program, you'll learn how to use ketai, or cellphone-camera-gadgetry-culture, to manifest your right to watch the world around you. Police abuse? Thing of the past! Detention without charge? No more! Now you've got streaming video documentation of every breach of your civil liberties!*

So bring your cell phones, digital cameras, laptops, baggy clothes, offensive hats/buttons/teeshirts, loud music, and bad attitudes to your library this Saturday afternoon at one o'clock.

Cookies and punch served to a soothing background of techno-ambient musical compositions by local DJs and electronic artists.^

*No guarantee or assumption of liability for indefinite detention implied.
^If we don't play your track, we're not dissin' ya!

Monday, September 18, 2006

1 happy world: forget the 5th amendment or any of that other stuff

It just gets in the way!


The U.S. military in Iraq has imprisoned an Associated Press photographer for five months, accusing him of being a security threat but never filing charges or permitting a public hearing.

Military officials said Bilal Hussein, an Iraqi citizen, was being held for "imperative reasons of security" under United Nations resolutions. AP executives said the news cooperative's review of Hussein's work did not find anything to indicate inappropriate contact with insurgents, and any evidence against him should be brought to the Iraqi criminal justice system.

Hussein, 35, is a native of Fallujah who began work for the AP in September 2004. He photographed events in Fallujah and Ramadi until he was detained on April 12 of this year.

"We want the rule of law to prevail. He either needs to be charged or released. Indefinite detention is not acceptable," said Tom Curley, AP's president and chief executive officer. "We've come to the conclusion that this is unacceptable under Iraqi law, or Geneva Conventions, or any military procedure."

Hussein is one of an estimated 14,000 people detained by the U.S. military worldwide -- 13,000 of them in Iraq. They are held in limbo where few are ever charged with a specific crime or given a chance before any court or tribunal to argue for their freedom.

In Hussein's case, the military has not provided any concrete evidence to back up the vague allegations they have raised about him, Curley and other AP executives said.