March 2006 Archives

For one of the last resolutions of the ICANN board meeting, Vint asked the board to show their support by swaying back and forth in their seat. He promised to explain it later, but wasn't able to. Therefore, I believe it is my role in the interest of transparency, to explain the reference.

Last night Veni told us a joke.

Lenin, Stalin, Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev are on a train heading towards communism.

Suddenly the conductor says, "Oh noes! There are no rails left. We can not move on."

Lenin says, "no problem, Saturday is Lenin day and we will all work for free and cut down trees and build the rails."

Then Stalin says, "no, we must find out whose fault this is and kill them."

Khrushchev disagrees and says, "no, we can plant corn in the fields, sell the corn to the American and we can buy the railroad."

Brezhnev says, "no, we must all sit in the train and sway back and forward so we have the appearance of forward motion towards communism."

Finally Gorbachev stands up and says, "Comrandes, you don't understand the modern times. There is a new spirit of glasnost and perestroika. We need more transparency. We need more openness." At this point, he opens the windows and starts shouting, "there are no rails! There are no rails!"

After the joke, we tried replacing communism with new gTLD's and discussed which board members were like which Russian leaders...

Bret blogs about the vote.

I've been deleting a ton of comment spam from this spammer recently. I took a moment to read it and realized that it is, in a nutshell, a kind of weirdly poetic rendering of the state of the Internet today.
cleavage He stared at the clock in the dashboard instead <a href="http://www.backgamm0n.com">backgammon</a> [url=http://www.backgamm0n.com]backgammon[/url] Hi Marty!.
Maybe I'm just punch from too many long meetings...

I'm at the Wellington ICANN Meeting and the public forum is just about to begin. There is a webcast. I'm sitting next to fellow board member Susan Crawford who has blogged in more depth about this meeting.

Wikia is the for-profit wiki company founded by Jimmy Wales, the founder of Wikipedia. They announced their raise today. I invested as an angel investor and will be serving on the board. Wikia will be using and contributing to the MediaWiki wiki platform that Wikipedia uses, but will provide free hosting for people who want to use the Wikia for special interests and topics. The content will be GFDL licensed. See the press release for more information.

Jonkvisa
Phillip Torrone blogs about the future of credit cards on the MAKE blog featuring yours truly on the World of Warcraft card. ;-) He writes about the interaction of credit cards, real money and virtual game money.

Hyperwords, which I wrote about in June last year, released a new version. Hyperwords is a nifty extension to Firefox that creates contextual menus that sends words selected on a web page to various services. It's improved significantly since the initial release and has become a standard part of my Firefox setup.

Disclosure: I've agreed to be an advisor to Frode and the Hyperwords team.

Great Wired article by John Seely Brown about World of Warcraft and what you learn when you play it.

And that's exactly what Gillett is doing. He accepted Yahoo!'s offer and now works there as senior director of engineering operations. "I used to worry about not having what I needed to get a job done," he says. "Now I think of it like a quest; by being willing to improvise, I can usually find the people and resources I need to accomplish the task." His story - translating experience in the virtual world into success in the real one - is bound to become more common as the gaming audience explodes and gameplay becomes more sophisticated. The day may not be far off when companies receive résumés that include a line reading "level 60 tauren shaman in World of Warcraft."

The savviest employers will get the message.

Boundbylaw
Fellow Creative Commons board member and friend James Boyle helped work on and just released this very cool comic book that depicts in a cool and easy to understand way, the copyright struggle going on right now. You can buy the book or download it since it is available under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 license.
Duke Law School's Center for the Study of the Public Domain has just released "BOUND BY LAW?" - a comic book on copyright and creativity -- specifically, documentary film. It is being published today --March 15 under a Creative Commons License. The comic, by Keith Aoki, James Boyle and Jennifer Jenkins explores the benefits of copyright in a digital age, but also the threats to cultural history posed by a “permissions culture,” and the erosion of “fair use” and the public domain. You can read or download the whole thing for free at http://www.law.duke.edu/cspd/comics/ and hard copies are on sale at Amazon.

Justin and Merci shot some video for my upcoming TV show and did a on-the-road quick cut of the first night and uploaded it to Archive.org. [Note: Try the YouTube or Vimeo link. The 200MB archive.org one will take ages, but if you want to mess with the video, feel free to download.] We'll put up a torrent soon, but you can see some of the people I met last night wandering around Austin.

Thanks for the help Justin and Merci!

UPDATE: Sorry it's a bit large. I thought Archive.org made smaller versions of it. We'll try to upload a smaller version tomorrow for people who don't feel like downloading 200MB. ;-P

UPDATE 2: I just uploaded an 8.5M version. Please do not deep link this since it is not a permanent location, but I just wanted to save people from having download 200MB+ just to hear us ramble. Also, the credits say "Creative Commons Share Alike", but the CC license used is CC Attribution 2.5 license. (I just realized that I uploaded a slightly older version with crappier sound and the mistake at the end with the license. We'll update this once Justin wakes up. ;-) )

UPDATE 3: The Director's notes:

One evening's interviews with people in Austin, Texas for South by Southwest: Interactive. Here Joichi Ito interviews Eric Steuer of Creative Commons; Wagner James Au, of Second Life; Mike Hudack of blip.tv; Trei Brundrett with Forward Together (Mark Warner); Doc Searls; Halley Suitt of toptensources.com. The camerawork and editing by Merci Hammon and Justin Hall. This is the first experiment taping Joichi Ito's travels and conversations in technology culture.

UPDATE 4: On YouTube and Vimeo.

UPDATE 5: Thanks to Justin and Merci we have hours and hours of excellent footage. They're dumping onto disk now. All of the footage is originally shot in HD format. The uploaded video is a rough cut of just one of the eight tapes or so that they did overnight just to try the "field editing" thingie. Hopefully we'll have a steady flow of stuff as we get more of the footage edited. Stay tuned...

Ever since I met Gillian Caldwell the executive director of WITNESS in 2003 I've been fascinated with their work. WITNESS is is an organization that "partners with human rights defenders, training them to use video to document abuse and create change".

Witness Mission Statement

WITNESS advances human rights advocacy through the use of video and communications technology. In partnership with more than 150 non-governmental organizations and human rights defenders in 50 countries, WITNESS strengthens grassroots movements for change by providing video technology and assisting its partners to use video as evidence before courts and the United Nations, as a tool for public education, and as a deterrent to further abuse. WITNESS also gives local groups a global voice by distributing their video to the media and on the Internet, and by helping to educate and activate an international audience around their causes.
I'd been talking to Gillian about using the Internet and blogs more for their work and last year we set up a TypePad blog for her when she went to Sierra Leone with Angelina Jolie to deliver recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission's (TRC) to the government. The blog was a big success. Since then, I had been trying to provide advice and support and recently they allowed me to join their board. I'm very excited to be working with them and any thoughts on how we can make WITNESS better would be greatly appreciated!

This ended up becoming a longer and more rambling post than I expected, but I'm going to post it anyway since I don't write enough these days...

The other day, I was doing an interview for a management and strategy magazine and one of the questions that came up in the conversation was why the management structures in Internet companies often end up being very old-fashioned. There is clearly some innovation, but not as much as you might expect considering how much the Internet enables us to be innovative in our communications and collaboration. We talked a bit about leadership and I was reminded of some conversations I had about the Howard Dean campaign.

My theory is that Howard Dean was a "place". He was a cool place to hang out at and the cool kids hung out there. Some of the elements of a cool place is that there isn’t so much of an "authority" but there is a sense of safety. The community was vibrant and Howard Dean seemed to be listening more than he was asserting. Years ago I created an IRC channel called #joiito, at the time for a place for people I was communicating with to hang out. It continues to survive with about 100 people always logged into the channel. I don’t hang out there as much these days, but it survives as a cool place, all of the regulars taking their share of leadership responsibility. One interesting thing about the channel is that I have never had to exercise any "authority" and people don’t really look to me as anything more than a custodian or a quiet host. I was just the trigger for the creation of a place.

Recently I have started playing World of Warcraft (WoW). Our guild, created in September last year, has grown to about 160 people and we have just begun running "Molten Core. Molten Core is one of the higher-level areas that require around 30-40 level 60 (the maximum level) players. It requires a lot of coordination, a balanced distribution of classes, training and leadership.

People pay a $15/month fee to play WoW. In the real world, most people get paid to work. The members of our guild and our raids are people who are paying to participate in what is often very tedious and hard work. Although there are clear goals and rewards for putting time into the game, most of the people in our guild play because they enjoy being together.

I’m sure there are other guilds that are managed differently - our guild is very inclusive and I changed the role name of "Guild Master" to "Guild Custodian". The next rank in our guild is "Guild Admin". Like my IRC channel, so far I have not had to exercise power or authority and Guild Admins are focused more on mediating conflicts and providing stability more than dishing out orders or punishment. We have had our share of problems, but considering the diversity of backgrounds and the geographic and political diversity, it’s amazingly cozy and friendly. Hanging out and chatting in guild chat has slightly more purpose than an IRC channel, but is similar in many ways.

In a raid, the dynamics are quite different. There are dozens of people who have all decided to assemble after preparing various items to use during the raid, training, gearing up and otherwise preparing for the raid. Excitement and tensions run high and a little screw-up from one person can get every killed (a wipe), causing huge repair bills and delays that causes more tension. One of the most important things about a raid is the mood of the raid. When everyone is upbeat and having a good time, mistakes and wipes are shrugged off and people continue to push forward. A well-run raid is an amazing thing to participate in. Each of the classes has a class leader and a class chat channel. There are leader channels, healer channels and voices over teamspeak. Everyone uses all of these modes of communication to coordinate the activities and we are able to execute extremely complicated strategies with very minimal control. However, if one person begins to complain or become abusive, the bad mood quickly spreads and what used to be fun and easy becomes impossible and tedious. People start dropping out of the raid and it unravels. The primary role of the raid leader to mitigate this kind of corrosive behavior while making sure each of the groups are communicating with each other.

I am not the raid leader of our guild and I am in awe of Persimmon who is our raid leader. She works in a hospital in real life. She is the stabilizing force during the raids, supporting the class leaders, nudging the conversation and keeping the raid moving as fast as possible without moving too fast. I find that she reminds me of many successful open source project leaders or Jimmy Wales of Wikipedia, except that what she has to do happens much faster and in real-time. Without her fully customized user-interface and scripts she would never be able to manage what she does.

The other leaders in our guild including class leaders and admins include unemployed bartenders, construction workers, students, a priest, a folk music singer, web designers, moms and government employees. Although WoW has been called “the new golf”, it isn’t about elitist country clubs and privilege but about an amazing melting pot of personalities and backgrounds tied together with a strong sense of sharing and belonging.

Although the larger raids are scheduled in advance with people preparing and showing up at the scheduled time, many smaller raids are organized at the spur of the moment where a leader is designated on an ad hoc basis. To be successful, a raid requires particular class compositions sometimes requiring our guild members to reach out to people they don’t know to join the raid. We are getting better at raiding and many of these “pickup” members end up joining our guild eventually.

The structure and the organization required to complete missions or quests in WoW adds a great deal of focus and complexity to the community compared to a chat room and the communications and management begins to feel much more like collaboration in a work environment. I think that the ever-evolving user interface and communication tools that we are developing might impact the future of management in the real world. My feeling is that what we are doing in WoW represents in many ways the future of real time collaborative teams and leadership in an increasingly ad hoc, always-on, diversity intense and real-time environment.

UPDATE: I chatted about this at SXSW in Austin yesterday and Daniel wrote about it in CNET.

I'm about to leave for San Francisco for a Mozilla board meeting before heading over to South by Southwest. I've set up a wiki page to coordinate stuff I'm going to do at SXSW. Let me know if you're going to be there or if there are any events I should know about. See ya!

Sean Bonner has just posted an almost "too weird to be true" story about a guy who works at SmartFilter, a web filtering company that "protects children" from dirty content. They have been the target of a lot of blogging recently after Boing Boing ended up on their filter list and have been trying to be removed. It looks like the guy that they have been interacting with at the filter company is an Adult Baby or AB. (ABs like to dress up and act like babies.) Sean cites Violet Blue, a noted sex educator who thinks it is probably a bad idea for an AB to be in the business of "protecting children".

I personally don't like digging up trash on people and generally believe that people's sexual preferences shouldn't be "outed" in public. However, I think that bad filter companies really hurt the Internet and if someone's motivation to "protect children" is possibly driven by a fetish, it should probably be noted.

UPDATE: A balanced post about this from Xeni on Boing Boing.

Endo-Icon
Adriaan, who works for me at Kula and is the author of the blog editing tool Ecto and 1001, just released Endo his new aggregator/feed reader. Check it out when you have a chance.

Make sure you try smart groups and don't expect it to behave like a normal 3-pane application. ;-)

More about it on his blog.

I am considering buying an island on Second Life so I can donate land to various non-profit projects that I'm involved in. I've set up a wiki page for this. I will also probably set up a set for shooting video for video blogging and my TV show. If you're interested in participating in this project or have thoughts, please contribute to the wiki.

I was recently approached by a publisher who wants to translate my Chinese Anti-Japan Protests post and some of the comments into Japanese and publish them as a book. This site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license so legally they can do this without asking permission. However, I am worried that some people might be posting comments on this blog without being aware that their comments are also covered under this license. If you have contributed to the post and would not like to have your comments translated into Japanese and reprinted, please let me know. Any royalties or fees I might receive for this I will donate to Global Voices, which is the most relevant project to this post.

By

Very interesting story on CNET about how distributed computing helped crack one of the last remaining dispatches using Germany's Enigma code from World War II.

Check out the original coded message and the translation here.

The codebreakers, the M4 Message Breaking Project, worked by enlisting volunteers to downloaded the codebreaking software into the background of their computers.

What other historic mysteries could distributed computing help solve?


Note: I may cross-post comments on the IHT blog and they may be reproduced in the paper for publication.

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This page is an archive of recent entries in the Energy category.

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