Ramblings & ephemera

Unix: An Oral History

From ‘s “Unix: An Oral History” (: ): Multics Gordon M. Brown … [Multics] was designed to include fault-free continuous operation capabilities, convenient remote terminal access and selective information sharing. One of the most important features of Multics was to follow the trend towards integrated multi-tasking and permit multiple programming environments and different human interfaces […]

Some facts about GPL 2 & GPL 3

From Liz Laffan’s “GPLv2 vs GPLv3: The two seminal open source licenses, their roots, consequences and repercussions” (VisionMobile: September 2007): From a licensing perspective, the vast majority (typically 60-70%) of all open source projects are licensed under the GNU Public License version 2 (GPLv2). … GPLv3 was published in July 2007, some 16 years following […]

Open source & patents

From Liz Laffan’s “GPLv2 vs GPLv3: The two seminal open source licenses, their roots, consequences and repercussions” (VisionMobile: September 2007): Cumulatively patents have been doubling practically every year since 1990. Patents are now probably the most contentious issue in software-related intellectual property rights. … However we should also be aware that software written from scratch […]

How to increase donations on non-profit websites

From Jakob Nielsen’s “Donation Usability: Increasing Online Giving to Non-Profits and Charities” (Alertbox: 30 March 2009): We asked participants what information they want to see on non-profit websites before they decide whether to donate. Their answers fell into 4 broad categories, 2 of which were the most heavily requested: The organization’s mission, goals, objectives, and […]

Socioeconomic analysis of MySpace & Facebook

From danah boyd’s “Viewing American class divisions through Facebook and MySpace” (danah boyd: 24 June 2007): When MySpace launched in 2003, it was primarily used by 20/30-somethings (just like Friendster before it). The bands began populating the site by early 2004 and throughout 2004, the average age slowly declined. It wasn’t until late 2004 that […]

Social networks can be used to manipulate affinity groups

From Ronald A. Cass’ “Madoff Exploited the Jews” (The Wall Street Journal: 18 December 2008): Steven Spielberg. Elie Wiesel. Mort Zuckerman. Frank Lautenberg. Yeshiva University. As I read the list of people and enterprises reportedly bilked to the tune of $50 billion by Bernard Madoff, I recalled a childhood in which my father received bad […]

Real-life superheroes

From John Harlow’s “Amateur crimefighters are surging in the US” (The Times: 28 December 2008): There are, according to the recently launched World Superhero Registry, more than 200 men and a few women who are willing to dress up as comic book heroes and patrol the urban streets in search of, if not super-villains, then […]

Social networking and “friendship”

From danah boyd’s “Friends, Friendsters, and MySpace Top 8: Writing Community Into Being on Social Network Sites” (First Monday: December 2006) John’s reference to “gateway Friends” concerns a specific technological affordance unique to Friendster. Because the company felt it would make the site more intimate, Friendster limits users from surfing to Profiles beyond four degrees […]

Protected: American courts and government and the f-word

There is no excerpt because this is a protected post.

Richard Stallman on the 4 freedoms

From Richard Stallman’s “Transcript of Richard Stallman at the 4th international GPLv3 conference; 23rd August 2006” (FSF Europe: 23 August 2006): Specifically, this refers to four essential freedoms, which are the definition of Free Software. Freedom zero is the freedom to run the program, as you wish, for any purpose. Freedom one is the freedom […]

How Obama raised money in Silicon Valley & using the Net

From Joshua Green’s “The Amazing Money Machine” (The Atlantic: June 2008): That early fund-raiser [in February 2007] and others like it were important to Obama in several respects. As someone attempting to build a campaign on the fly, he needed money to operate. As someone who dared challenge Hillary Clinton, he needed a considerable amount […]

Credit cards sold in the Underground

From David Kirkpatrick’s “The Net’s not-so-secret economy of crime” (Fortune: 15 May 2006): Raze Software offers a product called CC2Bank 1.3, available in freeware form – if you like it, please pay for it. … But CC2Bank’s purpose is the management of stolen credit cards. Release 1.3 enables you to type in any credit card […]

Smallest state park in the USA

From Gideon Lewis-Kraus’s “The Water Rush” (Oxford American): Anywhere else, the four and a half acres of muddy, flat grass cross-hatched by asphalt paths and crowned by a green-pink-and-white gazebo would be the town park. Here in Berkeley Springs[, West Virginia], population 663, “the country’s first spa,” it is a state park. It is, in […]

The tyranny of HOAs

From Ross Guberman’s “Home Is Where the Heart Is” (Legal Affairs: November/December 2004): ABOUT 50 MILLION AMERICANS BELONG TO HOMEOWNER ASSOCIATIONS, also known as HOAs or common-interest developments, which are composed of single-family homes, condominiums, or co-ops. Four out of five new homes, ranging from starter homes to high-rise apartments to gated mansions, are in […]

The value of Group-Forming Networks

From David P. Reed’s “That Sneaky Exponential – Beyond Metcalfe’s Law to the Power of Community Building“: Bob Metcalfe, inventor of the Ethernet, is known for pointing out that the total value of a communications network grows with the square of the number of devices or people it connects. This scaling law, along with Moore’s […]

Thoughts on tagging/folksonomy

From Ulises Ali Mejias’ “A del.icio.us study: Bookmark, Classify and Share: A mini-ethnography of social practices in a distributed classification community“: This principle of distribution is at work in socio-technical systems that allow users to collaboratively organize a shared set of resources by assigning classifiers, or tags, to each item. The practice is coming to […]

Laws & enforcement in virtual worlds

From James Grimmelmann’s “Life, Death, and Democracy Online“: … The necessity of a ‘Quit’ option is obvious; no adventure game yet invented can force an unwilling player to continue playing. She can always give the game the three-finger salute, flip the power switch, or throw her computer in the junk heap. … Banishment is the […]

Culture, values, & designing technology systems

From danah boyd’s “G/localization: When Global Information and Local Interaction Collide“: Culture is the set of values, norms and artifacts that influence people’s lives and worldview. Culture is embedded in material objects and in conceptual frameworks about how the world works. … People are a part of multiple cultures – the most obvious of which […]

Some thoughts on strong & weak social ties

From Ross Mayfield’s “The Weakening of Strong Ties“: Mark Granovetter’s seminal paper, The Strength of Weak Ties (summary), revealed the difference between friends and acquaintances and how useful acquaintances can be for certain tasks like finding a job. The difference between a strong tie and weak tie can generally be revealed by time commitment underpinning […]

Brandeis on openness in business, society, & government

From Bruce Schneier’s “Brandeis Quote on Openness“: Louis D. Brandeis, Other People’s Money and How the Bankers Use It 92 (1914): “Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.” [Note: Also in Harper’s Weekly, Dec 20 […]