Archive for June, 2013

Suppose they gave a war on terror and a few exposed it as terror

Sunday, June 9th, 2013

I do not recommend anyone join the murderous institutions of the U.S. security state (and the minimum age for making such a grave error needs to be raised, worldwide). Those who do not are everyday heroes. Those who make the mistake of joining a criminal network and, realizing at least in part what they have done, seek to expose its systematic criminality, are extraordinary heroes, e.g., Bradley Manning and Edward Snowden.

Obviously Manning should be freed and granted something with more meaning than the so-called Nobel Peace Prize, and Snowden should remain free. Both tremendous uphill battles that I fully support.

But punishment of murderers is also necessary. I look forward to the U.S. submitting to the International Criminal Court, and many officials and contractors of the Bush-Obama regime being tried.

An unlikely dream, yes. But unlike the saying this post plays on, leaking does not require unanimity. Unfortunately the nature of the terror war has been in full view for a long time and I don’t expect new revelations to change anything.

Speaking of dreaming, I hold some hope that those who see a little into the future (i.e., the dominance of computation) might have an outsized impact on increasing the probability of a slightly better future. Unfortunately the security state is making us look like clowns, even while we laugh at their awful slide designs.

Life in the possibly bright future of the federated social indieweb

Saturday, June 8th, 2013

After about five years (2.5 year update) it’s hard not to be disappointed in the state of the federated social web. Legacy silos have only increased their dominance, abetting mass spying, and interop among federated social web experiments looks bleak (link on different topic, but analogous).

In hindsight it was disappointing 5 years ago that blogs and related (semweb 1.0?) technologies hadn’t formed the basis of the federated social web (my pet theory is that the failure is in part due to the separation of blog post/comment writing and feed reading).

Another way of looking at it is that despite negligible resources focused on the problem, much progress has been made in figuring out how to do the federated social web over the past five years. Essentially nothing recognizable as a social web application federated five years ago. There are now lots of experiments, and two of the pioneers have learned enough to determine a rewrite was necessary — Friendica→Red and the occasion for this post, StatusNet→

Right now is a good time to try out a federated social web service (hosted elsewhere, or run your own instance) again, or for the first time:

My opinion, at the moment: has the brightest future, Diaspora appears the most featureful (inclusive of looking nice) to users, and Friendica is the best at federating with other systems. Also see a comparison of software and protocols for distributed social networking and the Federated Social Web W3C community group.

The Indie Web movement is complementary, and in small part might be seen as taking blog technologies and culture forward. When I eventually rebuild a personal site, or a new site for an organization, indieweb tools and practices will be my first point of reference. Their Publish (on your) Own Site, Syndicate Elsewhere and Publish Elsewhere, Syndicate (to your) Own Site concepts are powerful and practical, and I think what a lot of people want to start with from federated social web software.

*Running StatusNet as I write, to be converted to over the next hours. The future of StatusNet is to be at GNU social.

“Admit it! You’re freaked out by my robot hand!”

Thursday, June 6th, 2013

The Open Hand Project looks like a good idea, and realistic — I couldn’t discern the latter at a glance, but it seems several projects to greatly decrease the cost and enhance the functionality of prosthetic hands through use of 3D printing exist (e.g., another advanced project and a mechanical-only one).

Via and because Chris Webber’s film reference needs highlighting.

How many widely shared cultural references spring from recent free cultural works, apart from [citation needed]? Zero? If anyone was to pursue a kill hollyweb project as I sketched out, manufacturing many — and reviving more found in old public domain works — would be part of the plan.

I’ve mentioned in writing peer production of (free) cultural relevance a few times over the past couple years, and probably will more soon. I think it may be a major missing tool holding back freedom. Clearly most knowledge goods can be created without exclusivity (and if we can’t build or perform the knowledge equivalents of pyramids or mass games without, consider what we gain instead), but creation is not primarily what proprietary vendors offer — rather promotion and distribution is. Isn’t it time to compete directly?

Futures of Copyrestriction 2.0

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

Last year I was impressed with Modern Poland Foundation’s crowdfunded (the prize set by donations) Future of Copyright contest — my entry and review of the winners/contest anthology. I’m honored to be on the jury for this year’s contest. Please donate (deadline July 7) to support the prize, enter your text or audiovisual work (less than 15,000 characters or 10 minutes; deadline July>August 1), and spread the word.

I really encourage reading last year’s anthology (each entry linked from my review, or all as a pdf) and note how broadly and provocatively “future of copyright” might be construed. Also, all entries are BY-SA licensed; some may be useful as remix material.

Previously I noted Modern Poland Foundation’s excellent Right to Culture campaign; also tangentially I recommend Usta (, the music of MPF president/contest juror/poet Jarosław Lipszyc, and Circulations of Culture, a report on informal sharing by another Polish NGO.

Addendum 20130706: The deadline for entering a work in the contest has been moved to August 1. The deadline for donating to support the prize is still the end of July 7, pacific time: 35 hours from the time I write this. Rules and donation info both on the same page,

The nominal goal of US$500 has been met, but more support is welcome. If you’re into patron rewards, the $50 level is probably worthwhile — good for a printed book of the top entries. Last year I donated at a similar level and was surprised to receive a thin large format volume in hard binding, scanned above. (But I have no idea what the organizers have planned this year.)

I’m looking forward to selecting the best of this year’s entries with my fellow jurors Beatriz Busaniche, Shun-Ling Chen, Jarosław Lipszyc, Joe McNamee, and Jérémie Zimmermann. Maybe yours?