Surfacing back into Cyberspace at Building 43 today

Basically this post is to say I am “back” – I have a bit more time on my hands this summer to pay attention to Cyberspace and want to give attention to expressing my thoughts and ideas in text online again. I am inspired by this mention by Scoble around the launch of  Building 43 that is happening today. I thought it was an actual physical space when I got the invitation. Turns out it is a website that Robert Scoble is leading. It is focused on what he calls the 2010 web and others call Web 3.0.

Here’s another way to put it. When you look at Techmeme and see all the tech bloggers yammering on about the latest cool things, the way they were this week about Facebook’s new URLs that are coming out tomorrow, or Apple’s new iPhone, do they look backward and think about the average businessperson? Not in my experience. We don’t have an industry conversation about how to actually use all this cool stuff to improve lives, make businesses stronger and closer to their customers, and have some fun.

A few people here and there are trying. I watch what Chris Messina, David Recordon, Marc Canter, Joseph Smarr, Kaliya Hamlin, and a group of others are trying to do by pushing a more open web. Those are the kinds of efforts that inspire me and are inspiring Building43. Can we build on what they are trying to do and take it to main street?

This actually impresses me cause I thought Scoble had just become an internet micro-celebrety for its own sake. I look forward to contributing to the conversation about the future of what is becoming a very social web where peoples identity online matters deeply.

Here is where I have been since my last post.

Since Social Web Foo Camp and posting the 80% complete article about communities context and online life. I haven’t blogged. I have been very busy though.

Immediately following I attended the “identity day” at RSA on Monday April 20th –  talks were given from the front of the room for a day. Liberty Alliance put the day together along with the Information Card Foundation- The Kantara Initiative was “launched”. I am not clear that the format of the day actually provided greater understanding by those outside our community that are confused by all the activity.

The exciting thing that happened leading up to this day was the launch of the new Information Card Foundation Website – I gave some feedback that was included in the core language and messaging. It has great Flash animation explaining the cards along with featured projects including the GSA Demo.

RSA was fun – I didn’t spend to much time in sessions mostly talking to people in the community. I led a peer-to-peer session on Business Models for Claims Based Identity. A good group attended however the room layout was cold and stale. (I will be writing about it on my unconference blog shortly).

Penguin Day followed on April 25th. This is a super fun day facilitated by Allen Gunn focused on Non-Profits and Open Source. I learned more about TikiWiki as a content management system (I am considering it as the platform for She’s Geeky). I also was impressed by how much CiviCRM had improved. I also talked to a college registrar very interested in how information card technology might play a roll in getting them out of paper based management of student records and certification.

The Nonprofit Technology Conference followed – they had a large exhibit hall and I talked to many of the vendors there about OpenID and Information Cards – about 1/2 had heard about OpenID and almost none about Information Cards. It was great to talk to my friends in the industry (I have been attending this conference since 2004). Social Actions is progressing and is creating a way to aggregate action information for social good.

I flew to NYC to facilitate the Creative Unconference on May 7-8 put on by the One Club for Art and Copy collaborating with the Society for Digital Agencies.  This was during Creative Week. The One Club gives out bronze, sliver and gold pencil’s – some of the most prestigious awards in the advertising business. They attended their interactive awards on Friday night – I brought Robert Tolmach along as a guest and he told me about his new project – Class Wish.

I went to DC and spent the day at the Sex 2.0 conference at the intersection of social media, feminism and sexuality. I was particularly interested in how this community was thinking thinking about and dealing identity online and off. Many people had names they went by within the community that were different from their “every day” names. Several presenters talked about having two facebook profiles (one for their sex life and one for regular life) I pointed out that this against facebook policy and they were surprised – it seemed very natural to have two persona’s. Other presenters talked about being fully “out” completely linking their sex life.

I attended the Anita Borg Institute for Women in Technology Women of Vision Awards. It was a very inspiring evening. Padmashree Warrior the CTO of Cisco was the key note speaker – she was super inspiring and gave ideas about how to connect to the community 2.0 audience.

I spoke at Community 2.0 about identity technologies. I covered OpenID, OAuth and Information Cards and at the end mentioned project VRM for those who were very forward looking. It was a relatively small conference and I spent a lot of time preparing for the talk with my speech coach. My issue has been having to much to say – I can talk about identity for hours and in great detail. Lura helped me figure out what to say. I did a good job clearly communicating and had several people say they enjoyed my talk and it gave them some practical information not just social media guru hype.

I went to the first day of the VRM workshop and was totally impressed by the quality of projects and companies working in the space. Several attendees didn’t know about IIW and a few signed up to attend.

The Internet Identity Workshop was AMAZING. We had the same number of attendees as we usually do. I am going to write some more posts about the event soon. The next IIW is November 3-5 in Mountain View.

I went to the Maker Faire on Sunday the 31st of May – it was fun to see all the stuff people are making. I also got a LiveScribe Pen. I will be using it for diagrams on this blog in the coming months.

June 1 was CommunityOne where i saw Jono Bacon talk about Community there were 10 people to see him speak in an auditorium that held 1000.

I flew to Boston and met with Fabio Carara of the Venice Project Center and Venice 2.0 – they are considering how to leverage 20 years worth of geo-data. We are discussing building a community including a few unconferences.

I had dinner with Mary Ruddy and we continued progress on Identity Commons infrastructure – particularly our new blog/website.

I facilitated the Mass Technology Leadership Council Spring Meeting that asked the question “What is the future of Software and the Internet” I lead a session on identity – they asked good questions and were impressed by all the activity in the space.

I flew to San Francisco – to make it back for the 2nd Scala Lift Off. Scala is a programming language – some describe as Java++, Lift is a web framework. This is a great programming language community with an healthy online community life. I work supporting them in community building when the meet face-to-face.

Yesterday I was working with Forum One facilitating the 4th Online Community Unconference. This is a great community of online community managers (the folks who moderate online community), platform providers (software providers) and hosts (companies that have online communities). I presented a session about OpenID, OAuth and Information Cards – I even got a bottle of wine during the closing from one of the attendees thanking me for the quality of information that I shared.

Today it is the Building 43 party at Tech Crunch and next week is SemWeb in San Jose – I will likely make it to the Personal Democracy Forum. The next “identity” event is Burton Group Catalyst at the end of July in San Diego.

I look forward engaging in this medium again with a post every few days.

SXSW – Hula Hut edition of Social Web TV

Lots has happened here at SXSW – The previous post is what i put up on my blog was what we posted on the screen during the OpenID – Oauth and the Enterprise session. hash tag #sxswid

The next session that afternoon in the same room on Open Spec development was very entertaining and I will be writing about it more this week. Hash tag #sxswos

Yesterday after the She’s Geeky Lunch I headed out to the Hula Hut for the OpenID lunch – I couldn’t help but noticing when I arrived that i was the only woman at the table :) – it is one of the reasons I gave my blog its name – because in 2005 after working in the user-centric identity field for a year of going to meetings with the guys working on it I was the only woman I ever saw at a meeting about the topic.

Following that I hung out on the deck of the Hula Hut and talked with Dave Morin, David Recordon, Chris Messina, Josh Elman, Joseph Smarr, John McCrae the Gowally guy and others who were in and out.

While there Josh and I started talking about one of the things I blogged about the Facebook post I did from Day one of SXSW.

I am not sure if Facebook understands that having people use their “Real Names” is not actually what creates authenticity – the issue has been on the web is not “who you are in real life” but the inability to have online persona’s that are persistent over time and context. The investment into these and the ability to have them be useful has not been solved until recently.

It was decided this would be a good topic for Social Web TV so we recorded it on the spot.


I also got to invite folks to the Internet Identity Workshop happening May 18-20th in Mountain View.

Identity Panel & Lunch at SXSW

I am really excited to be heading to Austin tomorrow for SXSW Interactive. After attending for 2 years in a row I didn’t attend last year and watched as all the tweets went by – wishing I was there.

I am facilitating a panel on Sunday morning 11:30 – it should be a lively one. OpenID, Oauth, Data Portability and the Enterprise.

It will be moderated by me, Identity Woman and include these find panelists, Bob Blakely The Burton Group, Danny Kolke Etelos, Inc., Joseph Smarr Chief Platform Architect, Plaxo Inc

The debate over identity, data and authentication is gaining ground in the social networking world. The more difficult discussion regarding enterprises and Web 2.0 has yet to start. Businesses realize that they must protect the data of their company, employees and customers. Join brave leaders from several Web Application companies that are beginning the discussion, “Are OpenID and OAuth good for the enterprise?”

Following there will be a Lunch for all those who want to continue the conversation – you can RSVP here.

There is a Project VRM Breakfast on Saturday morning (we figured that at least that morning people would be able/willing to get up early).

Monday for lunch I am inviting women interested in learning more about She’s Geeky to get together.

I will be tweeting away – and this is a good way to find me while I am there just DM me.

I will do some schedule browsing and post sessions related to identity tomorrow.

Geeks and Social Algorythms

There is lots of coverage of the inventor of Dungeons and Dragon Mr. Gygax. I have spent a few days working with material about reputation and the difference between human knowing reputation and computational reputation. I have been thinking about how geeks and those coding social software and how for me as a community organizer it so often misses the mark. This excerpt made me chuckle cause it reminded me of part of the reason why. From the NYTimes:

Geeks like algorithms. We like sets of rules that guide future behavior. But people, normal people, consistently act outside rule sets. People are messy and unpredictable, until you have something like the Dungeons & Dragons character sheet. Once you’ve broken down the elements of an invented personality into numbers generated from dice, paper and pencil, you can do the same for your real self.

For us, the character sheet and the rules for adventuring in an imaginary world became a manual for how people are put together. Life could be lived as a kind of vast, always-on role-playing campaign.

Don’t give me that look. I know I’m not a paladin, and I know I don’t live in the Matrix. But the realization that everyone else was engaged in role-playing all the time gave my universe rules and order.

We geeks might not be able to intuit the subtext of a facial expression or a casual phrase, but give us a behavioral algorithm and human interactions become a data stream. We can process what’s going on in the heads of the people around us. Through careful observation of body language and awkward silences, we can even learn to detect when we are bringing the party down with our analysis of how loop quantum gravity helps explain the time travel in that new “Terminator” TV show. I mean, so I hear.

Porn Spam App infects Facebook and “no one” cares?

Mary Hodder has a post up titled: Trashing Our Social Relationships (with Porn) to Get Your Numbers Up. It is quite insightful about the issues that aries when investment is based on ‘numbers’ rather then qualities of relationship.

This situation expresses clearly the social ‘issues’ that arise with the ‘open identity layer’ or ‘social layer’ or meta-systems. The kinds of behavior enabled via the social graph being ‘traversable’. I hope that some reason can prevail and the acceptable norms can emerge soon.

I wonder how open standards for portable social network information will deal with these problems.

The Porn picture app this is what happens:

Nothing “happens.” Except that the message was forwarded to the one person I left checked. In other words. It’s trick porn spam, features courtesy of Facebook and Slide.

So I sent in complaints to both companies (neither have contacted me back after a month — guys, it’s a social network, you know how to reach me.. give it a try!!)

After a while, I called people in each company that I knew through the tech comany. And was appalled at the responses I got. Now, these are people I know socially, and they gave me the real answers, but with the expectation that I would not attribute to them. However, I am confident that their answers reflect the culture and real value sets within these companies.

Facebook pointed the finger at Slide (the app maker in this case), and said, “There is nothing we can do. We have no control over the apps people make or the stuff they send.” Oh, and if I wanted Facebook to change the rules for apps makers? I’d have to get say, 80k of my closest Facebook friends to sign on a petition or group, and then they might look at the way they have allowed porn spam to trick people into forwarding, but until then, there would be no feature review.

Slide said that they thought Facebook was the problem, because as the “governing” body, Facebook makes the rules and “Slide wouldn’t be competitive if they changed what they do, and their competitors weren’t forced to as well.” In other words, Slides competitors use the same features to get more users (or trick more users as the case may be) and Slide didn’t want to lose out on getting more users with similar features, regardless of the effect the features have on us and our relationships.

Also both companies told me that blogging doesn’t affect them, because they don’t read blogs. The only thing they pay attention to are Facebook groups. Because they don’t look at problems that a single person discovers.

So in other words, a person with a legitimate complaint needs to have massive agreement and numbers in a Facebook group before these companies will even discuss a problem.

And, Slide and Facebook are willing to trash our relationships (real relationships) in order to get more numbers.

Now, note that many of the folks who sent the various porn spam (not just the ones in the photos above) sent very apologetic notes, because they were mortified that they had send their contacts porn spam.

Think about that. Your social networking / application software tricks you into doing something terribly socially embarrassing and you have to apologize? Wo. That’s really messed up.

In other words, your social networking software / applications are, gasp, anti-social.

So I have to ask, if these young boys (Zuckerberg, the app makers in the class at Stanford, etc) are so clueless about relationships and social protocols, that they would build apps and a system that promotes bad behavior like this, where are their mentors? Where are their funders (who presumably have some input and sway into what’s going on)? Why aren’t Peter Thiel and Dave McClure or even Jeff Clavier (who sounded like he was trying to or has invested in some of the guys from the apps class at Stanford) advising these people that while they are experimenting, that these are real established relationships, and Facebook is now mainstream, and therefore the apps can’t do this to people? I mean, it seems logical (and has happened in cultures around the world for millennia) that older, wiser men would advise young, clueless hormone driven boys how to act in the community. And what of Max Levechin? I mean, he’s kind of in the middle, age wise, but shouldn’t he know better than this?

Is the desperation for fame and money so great, that people would simply eschew social concerns in favor of ratings which then equal higher company valuations, and more billions on paper? Or do you want your claim to fame to be: “At least 15 million minutes wasted” from your experiments on Facebook (as I would imagine the Stanford student described above could claim)?

I guess the answer is yes, and so my response is, I can’t trust Slide, or Facebook. Nor do I have respect for their founders if this is the way they handle themselves and their companies.

COMMENT FROM ROBBIE:

Well, I remember having a conversation … Facebook as a whole, and a lot of people in general, were persuaded by the argument that You don’t want to get into legislating moral behavior. And really, it’s bad enough in government, but its more than just odd to put that kind of responsibility in the hands of programmers, its a horrible nuisance for those people that just want to build web applications.

But now they are on the long slope after achieving market dominance … they have to go back and tune all this stuff. Since they didn’t sell the company, they might not have a conflict of interest in restricting and redesigning the ACLs.

thanks,
Robbie

Data Sharing Summit 2 – questions to figure out

So I am working hard to pull the details together for the 2nd Data Sharing Summit. This is not an easy task given it is a risk to make commitments to venues and vendors – to make it possible to host the event.

This is an option that would give more time to organize and dove tail nicely with related work in the identity community

OPTION 4 – have it begin Wednesday and continue Thursday May 14-15 immediately following the Internet Identity Workshop
There is also the possibility of having something near Web 2.0 Expo the weekend before seems to make more sense to people are not completely wiped out from a weekend of partying and conferencing.

One of the reasons for this is that I know people come from out of town to attend Web 2.0 expo and some for several weeks so that there will be people in town who would not otherwise come ‘just for this event’.

We currently have 2 venue/time/space options

1) in Downtown SF but only can have at maximum 120 people and only 3 breakout rooms beyond the main space – this would be for Friday and Saturday the 18th and 19th. We would be restricted tot use from 8-5 pm.

2) in Mountainview at the Computer History Museum – a beautiful space that we would have to pay for but could hold up to 500 people and would only be for Saturday the 19th. It could go from 8 am to 8 pm+ even. We could feed folks breakfast lunch and dinner along with a barista.

Either way we will be charging money for the event about $100 – and working on raising sponsorship money. I believe events should be funded both by the people who do attend AND by sponsors. This helps create balance and by paying money to come people make a commitment to ‘be there’ for the event and the organize can plan for their attendance.

I am trying to get a read on what will work best.

I am still asking Lucy to put in OpenID for commenting on my blog and she still can’t get it to work even in dialoguing with Pam about it. So if you want to chime in you need to email me kaliya (at) mac (dot) com.

The third option people have put forward it so have it on an ‘large’ tech companies campus and I have said that doesn’t work cause the topic is neutral – so this is not an option in my mind.

Six Appart Open Action Streaming

This morning I was pleasantly surprised to learn about this announcement from 6A. I actually had seen David (he mentioned he as hacking his site on twitter so I went and checked it out) working on it this past week but I thought it was a ‘personal hack’ rather then something that would ship.

Today, we’re shipping the next step in our vision of openness — the Action Streams plugin — an amazing new plugin for Movable Type 4.1 that lets you aggregate, control, and share your actions around the web. Now of course, there are some social networking services that have similar features, but if you’re using one of today’s hosted services to share your actions it’s quite possible that you’re giving up either control over your privacy, management of your identity or profile, or support for open standards. With the Action Streams plugin you keep control over the record of your actions on the web.

Fighting all the terrorists at home?

A friend sent me this article “The Internet Must Die” today. I was a bit shocked by the legislation it highlighted H.R. 1955 the “Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007″.

it’s coming up for a vote in the Senate early this year. If it passes, which seems likely, a Bush signature is a given

Yes the article itself is on the hysterical side. This is what the Huffington Post said about the legislation late last year:

One would have thought that the systematic dismantling of the Constitution of the United States would have been enough to satisfy even the most Jacobin neoconservative, but there is more on the horizon, and it is coming from people who call themselves Democrats. The mainstream media has made no effort to inform the public of the impending Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act. The Act, which was sponsored by Congresswoman Jane Harman of California, was passed in the House by an overwhelming 405 to 6 vote on October 24th and is now awaiting approval by the Senate Homeland Security Committee, which is headed by Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut. It is believed that approval by the committee will take place shortly, to be followed by passage by the entire Senate.

Harman’s bill contends that the United States will soon have to deal with home grown terrorists and that something must be done to anticipate and neutralize the problem. The act deals with the issue through the creation of a congressional commission that will be empowered to hold hearings, conduct investigations, and designate various groups as “homegrown terrorists.” The commission will be tasked to propose new legislation that will enable the government to take punitive action against both the groups and the individuals who are affiliated with them. Like Joe McCarthy and HUAC in the past, the commission will travel around the United States and hold hearings to find the terrorists and root them out. Unlike inquiries in the past where the activity was carried out collectively, the act establishing the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Commission will empower all the members on the commission to arrange hearings, obtain testimony, and even to administer oaths to witnesses, meaning that multiple hearings could be running simultaneously in various parts of the country. The ten commission members will be selected for their “expertise,” though most will be appointed by Congress itself and will reflect the usual political interests. They will be paid for their duties at the senior executive pay scale level and will have staffs and consultants to assist them. Harman’s bill does not spell out terrorist behavior and leaves it up to the Commission itself to identify what is terrorism and what isn’t. Language inserted in the act does partially define “homegrown terrorism” as “planning” or “threatening” to use force to promote a political objective, meaning that just thinking about doing something could be enough to merit the terrorist label. The act also describes “violent radicalization” as the promotion of an “extremist belief system” without attempting to define “extremist.”

As currently envisioned, the Commission will not operate in perpetuity. After the group has done its work, in eighteen months’ time, a Center of Excellence for the Prevention of Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism will be established to study the lessons learned. The center will operate either out of the Department of Homeland Security or out of an appropriate academic institution and will be tasked with continuing to monitor the homegrown terrorism problem and proposing legislation and other measures to counter it.
As should be clear from the vagueness of the definitions, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act could easily be abused to define any group that is pressuring the political system as “terrorist,” ranging from polygamists, to second amendment rights supporters, anti-abortion protesters, anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, and peace demonstrators. In reality, of course, it will be primarily directed against Muslims and Muslim organizations. Given that, there is the question of who will select which groups will be investigated by the roving commissions. There is no evidence to suggest that there will be any transparent or objective screening process. Through their proven access both to the media and to Congress, the agenda will undoubtedly be shaped by the usual players including David Horowitz, Daniel Pipes, Steve Emerson, and Frank Gaffney who see a terrorist hiding under every rock, particularly if the rock is concealing a Muslim. They and their associates will undoubtedly find plenty of terrorists and radical groups to investigate. Many of the suspects will inevitably be “anti-American” professors at various universities and also groups of Palestinians organized against the Israeli occupation, but it will be easily to use the commission formula to sweep them all in for examination.

Saving Kids from Predators – parents blog their e-mail addresses

NYTimes:

From Connecticut’s attorney general, Richard Blumenthal: “If for nothing else, this set of principles is a landmark and milestone because it involves an acknowledgment of the importance of age and identity authentication and a commitment to explore and develop those means,” he said. “If we can put a man on the moon we can do age and identity authentication. Today we form a partnership that will protect children , purge predators and expunge inappropriate content including pornography.”

I could highlight my usual point when it comes to sexual predators online….kids are far more vulnerable to being sexually abused AT HOME by people the know including family members. This fetish with predators online is a mass projection to avoid looking at this real fact.

Outside Digital Realm: Food Shortages Expected this year

A friend of mine sent me this article. Granted it is from a website with a left leaning perspective – it draws on information from UN, US and other government agencies from around the globe. I am posting it because sometimes I think we forget we live on a planet, with weather, that grows food.

Severe Food Shortages, Price Spikes Threaten World Population

Worldwide food prices have risen sharply and supplies have dropped this year, according to the latest food outlook of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The agency warned December 17 that the changes represent an ³unforeseen and unprecedented² shift in the global food system, threatening billions with hunger and decreased access to food.

The FAO¹s food price index rose by 40 percent this year, on top of the already high 9 percent increase the year before, and the poorest countries spent 25 percent more this year on imported food. The prices for staple crops, including wheat, rice, corn and soybeans, all rose drastically in 2007, pushing up prices for grain-fed meat, eggs and dairy products and spurring inflation throughout the consumer food market.

Driving these increases are a complex range of developments, including rapid urbanization of populations and growing demand for food stuffs in key developing countries such as China and India, speculation in the commodities markets, increased diversion of feedstock crops into the production of biofuels, and extreme weather conditions and other natural disasters associated with climate change.

Because of the long-term and compounding nature of all of these factors, the problems of rising prices and decreasing supplies in the food system are not temporary or one-time occurrences, and cannot be understood as cyclical fluctuations in supply and demand.

The world reserves of cereals are dwindling. In the past year, wheat stores declined 11 percent. The FAO notes that this is the lowest level since the UN began keeping records in 1980, while the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) has reported that world wheat stocks may have fallen to 47-year lows. By FAO figures, the falloff in wheat stores equals about 12 weeks worth of global consumption.

It continues….

UK Data Loss

In case you are not paying attention this week in identity news – The UK lost massive amounts of PII for its citizens.

Here are two good articles – Christian Science Monitor:
Computer files on 7.25 million families – everyone with children under 16 – have been missing ever since they were sent on two compact discs through the domestic mail system a month ago by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs.

SFGate – SF Chronicle
This one is a summary of a range of coverage of the incident.

Kim calls it an Identity Chernobyl.

Kim Cameron that has more context about reports written earlier about the risks of centralizing information about children big databases.

Ben Laurie who lives in the UK has comments on the scans of correspondence by the National Audit Office about the lost data.

From the Web 2.0 World

I spent a lot of today looking through my ‘tech’ feeds (yes I have an RSS reader going again) and found some interesting posts….

You Departed – so you can leave messages for your family after you die from Tech Crunch

Identity Theft targets pedigree poodle from Boing Boing

Why Open Source Software is Social Media from James Governor’s Monkchips

Their has been an interesting conversation about the word and meaning of ‘USER” in the software world.

Thomas Vander Wal – Still Throwing Out the User
Tech Crunch – Long Live the User
Charlene Li – observations from the ‘user’ debate

The DHS secret list of buildings you can’t photograph from Boing Boing.

Blackberry vs iPhone on TechCrunch
OR
This really cute parody video

Community Organizer #1 Job of the Future by Seth Godin

House Cats and their Domestication History on Boing Boing.

Ikea opens hostel for shoppers in Norway on Boing Boing

From Slashdot: Most Scary to Least Scary

FBI datamining for more then just terrorists:
“Computerworld reports that the FBI is using data mining programs to track more than just terrorists. The program’s original focus was to identify potential terrorists, but additional patterns have been developed for identity theft rings, fraudulent housing transactions, Internet pharmacy fraud, automobile insurance fraud, and health-care-related fraud. From the article: ‘In a statement, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the report [on the data mining] was four months late and raised more questions than it answered. The report “demonstrates just how dramatically the Bush administration has expanded the use of [data mining] technology, often in secret, to collect and sift through Americans’ most sensitive personal information,” he said. At the same time, the report provides an “important and all-too-rare ray of sunshine on the department’s data mining activities,” Leahy said. It would give Congress a way to conduct “meaningful oversight” he said.'”

from the just-forward-your-mail-to-homeland-security dept:
“You probably already knew that the FBI was data mining Americans in the “search” for potential terrorists, but did you know that they’re also supposed to be looking for people in the U.S. engaged in criminal activity that is not really supposed to be the province of the federal government? Now the feds are alleged to be data mining for insurance fraudsters, identity thieves, and questionable online pharmacists. That’s what they’re telling us now. What else could they be looking for that they are not telling us about?”

From the is-that-anything-like-the-lime-in-the-coconut dept:
“The kernel meets The Colonel in a just-published Microsoft patent application for an Advertising Services Architecture, which delivers targeted advertising as ‘part of the OS.’ Microsoft, who once teamed with law enforcement to protect consumers from unwanted advertising, goes on to boast that the invention can ‘take steps to verify ad consumption,’ be used to block ads from competitors, and even sneak a peek at ‘user document files, user e-mail files, user music files, downloaded podcasts, computer settings, [and] computer status messages’ to deliver more tightly targeted ads.”

From the how much can you remember department:

The research reveals that the average citizen has to remember five passwords, five pin numbers, two number plates, three security ID numbers and three bank account numbers just to get through day to day life.

Six out of ten people claimed that they suffer from “information overload,” stating that they need to write these numbers down in order to remember them.

However, more than half of the 3000 people surveyed admitted to using the same password across all accounts, leaving them at risk of potentially severe security breaches.

Professor Ian Robertson, a neuropsychology expert based at Trinity College Dublin who carried out the study, said: “People have more to remember these days, and they are relying on technology for their memory.

“But the less you use of your memory, the poorer it becomes. This may be reflected in the survey findings which show that the over 50s who grew up committing more to memory report better performance in many areas than those under 30 who are heavily reliant on technology to act as their day to day aide memoir.”

Who ownes that copy?:

‘Copyfraud is everywhere. False copyright notices appear on modern reprints of Shakespeare’s plays, Beethoven’s piano scores, greeting card versions of Monet’s Water Lilies, and even the US Constitution. Archives claim blanket copyright in everything in their collections. Vendors of microfilmed versions of historical newspapers assert copyright ownership. These false copyright claims, which are often accompanied by threatened litigation for reproducing a work without the owner’s permission, result in users seeking licenses and paying fees to reproduce works that are free for everyone to use…'”

Second Life – the real picture emerges:

The LA Times is running a story today saying that marketers are pulling out of Second Life, primarily because — surprise, surprise — the ‘more than 8 million residents’ figure on the game’s Web site is grossly inflated. Also, as it turns out, the virtual world’s regular visitors — at most 40,000 of them online at any time — are not only disinterested in in-world marketing, but actively hostile to it, staging attacks on corporate presences such as the Reebok and American Apparel stores.

THIS IS FUN:
RunBot Robot Walks:
“The basic walking steps of Runbot, which has been built by scientists co-operating across Europe, are controlled by reflex information received by peripheral sensors on the joints and feet of the robot, as well as an accelerometer which monitors the pitch of the machine. These sensors pass data on to local neural loops – the equivalent of local circuits – which analyse the information and make adjustments to the gait of the robot in real time.”

THIS IS GODO NEWS:
from the free-at-last dept:
“IBM is making it easier to utilize its patented intellectual property to implement nearly 200 standards in the SOA, Web services, security and other spaces. Under a pledge issued by the company Wednesday, IBM is granting universal and perpetual access to intellectual property that might be necessary to implement standards designed to make software interoperable. IBM will not assert any patent rights to its technologies featured in these standards. The company believes its move in this space is the largest of its kind.”

Tinfoil Hat for WoW … When is it coming to First Life?

Identity issues in Virtual worlds are interesting. World of Warcraft an online Massive Multiplayer Online Game MMOG recently launched “The Armory

a vast searchable database of information for World of Warcraft – taken straight from the real servers, updated in real time, and presented in a user-friendly interface. Since the Armory pulls its data from the actual game servers, it is the most comprehensive and up-to-date database on the characters, arena teams, and guilds of World of Warcraft in existence.

This needles to say freaked some folks out enough that Blizzard has chosen to address “player aversion to the Armory…by adding a new item, the Tinfoil Hat.”

The Burning Crusade added an abundance of new profession recipes and player-created items to World of Warcraft. One of these brand-new items is the Tinfoil Hat. While the Tinfoil Hat provides the wearer with added protection against mind control and other befuddlements, the hat’s most interesting and truly unique property is that it completely removes the wearer’s character profile from the Armory website and provides enhanced privacy for its wearer!

Now if we could only do that with our digital records.

http://games.slashdot.org/article.pl?sid=07/04/01/1414240

In Wired about CFP

I just checked my visitors log and found a link from WIRED that mentions me.

While many websites do not collect names, addresses, Social Security numbers or other “personally identifiable information,” or PII, the information they do collect is extremely revealing. “They don’t need to know your name to know who you are,” Chester said.

A very different perspective came from Mike Zaneis of the Internet Advertising Bureau. Dressed in a much better suit than any other CFP participant, and sporting a John Edwards-quality quaff and a smooth manner, Zaneis faced a hostile, privacy-loving crowd.

Zaneis stressed that profiling does not capture PII. But the audience appeared to agree with Chester that browsing history and search information was nonetheless private. “My clickstream data is sensitive information,” said privacy activist Kaliya Hamlin, known as the Identity Woman, “and it belongs to me.”

I am not sure that I would describe myself as a privacy activist but rather an end-user advocate passionate about open standards.

I found the panel described in the article frustrating. It was one angry progressive anti-consumer guy vs. the super corporate marketing guy. The ‘activist types’ tend to deny that we are people who actually might want to buy things in a market place. The ‘corporate types’ tend to think that we always want to have ‘advertising’ presented to us at all times of day or night because we ‘want it.’ Neither view is really right. I pointed out that there was an option to give users back their ‘attention’ (clickstream) data from the sites that they visit. There could be ways to actually express one’s market needs/preferences and get advertising related to that specific need (this is not enabled anywhere that I know of right now). The VRM (Vendor Relationship Management) discussion is getting interesting and hopefully we can talk more about the issues raised in the space in between privacy and advertising at IIW next week.

The Nature of the Web

This is a great documentary about Net Neutrality by the folks who did Four Eyed Monsters. It gives a great overview of the history of other communications technologies and how they were enclosed after their initial burst of freedom and expression. I have a deep affection for the web and its power to empower people am also very concerned about the future of it as a communications commons.

I learned a lot about the network-centric point of view at the ITU-T IdM Focus Group meeting. I have a much deeper respect for the complexity of the issues that affect ‘the network’ and ‘the internet.’ I am committed to an ongoing engagement to build shared meaning, understanding and figure things out. I am speaking next week at Emerging Telephony and I believe that ‘identity’ is a key to giving Telco’s a way to support the web’s network.

I will be blogging more about the past few weeks in the next few days.

Security on the web a topic at Davos

This was from Ashok Vemuri – SVP and Head of the Banking and Capital Markets Business, Infosys Technologies on the Forum Blog.

Often, the informal conversations you have over coffee are far more valuable than the public forums and one of the more interesting themes that came up amongst those I spoke to today was security. I’ve attended several meetings since my arrival and been involved in a number of discussions with banking institutions and business executives about the threats they’re currently facing.

Phishing, phreaking and pharming are now everyday terms and the kind of attacks that are having a massive impact on customer confidence driving the demand for some kind of security governing body. There is a definite feeling amongst delegates that trust is slowly dissolving amongst customers who are getting increasingly disillusioned about the safety of their information with their bank.

I had several fascinating statistics thrown at me in conversation. Whilst three years ago 90 percent of hacker attacks were benign with little dollar impact, 90 percent of hacking nowadays is malicious designed to disrupt data or steal information. One of the newest concepts I heard about earlier was ‘data-kidnapping’ – where hackers break into business systems and block a company from using its data, effectively holding them to ransom.

This provoked fierce debate about accountability amongst many of my fellow delegates. If an online banking customer has his account details stolen and loses money, who is responsible? Is it the user for not keeping his identity secure or is it the bank whose security may have been compromised? Doubtless, this is set to be the biggest driver behind the calls for regulation and standards with banks crying out for guidance from a governing body.

It makes sense. If we have regulators for the Internet, telecommunications and accounting then surely we should have some standards in place for security? Someone to turn to so there is no doubt over where the responsibilities lie or what actions should be taken when a security breach happens.

This post proves 1) Open Space is a great way to do events. Even at this incredible event the coffee breaks rock. 2) The issues that the Identity community is seeking to address are front and center amongst world business and political elites.

I also think there is a problem with he thinking that we need to have a security ‘governing’ body. I hope that those thinking along these lines can get with the ‘internet’ paradigm and read the Accountable Net: Peer Production of Internet Governance White Paper (Crawford, Johnson, Palfry) and Article (by Esther Dyson)

The Abstract:

Three problems of online life – spam, informational privacy, and network security – lend themselves to the peer production of governance. Traditional sovereigns have tried and, to date, failed to address these three problems through the ordinary means of governance. The sovereign has a role to play in the solution to each of the three, but not as a monopoly and not necessarily in the first instance. A new form of order online, brought on by private action, is emerging in response to these problems. If properly understood and encouraged, this emerging order could lead to an accountable internet without an offsetting loss of those aspects of online life that we have found most attractive.

There has been a great deal of loose talk about the need for internet governance, particularly in the context most recently of the World Summit on the Information Society, but much less careful analysis of the question whether the online world really does pose special problems, or present special opportunities, for collective action. There has been a general discussion as to whether the internet, as a general rule, lends itself to governance by traditional sovereigns or if something in the net’s architecture resists such forms of control. We do not seek to re-open this debate, acknowledging at the outset the important role that traditional sovereigns have to play in most areas of decision-making and enforcement on the internet. Rather, we seek to look more closely at a series of particularly thorny issues that have proven especially challenging for policy makers seeking to impose governance by states. We seek the special problems — and corresponding opportunities – of online activity and assess the relative merits of various options for how to resolve them.

World Economic Forum and World Social Forum

I have friends who blog at both events this week. It should be interesting to watch them both unfold.

Halley Suite of (Halley’s Comment) is at the World Economic Forum and Karri Winn who I work with at Planetwork and writter on World Changing SF is at the World Social Forum.

I just checked out the Davos ‘forum Blog’ and it turns out Jim Fruchterman of Benetech is also going to be Blogging. I also have met Gillian from Witness at SVN related events.

URL’s are cool.

Apparently some people think that I don’t like URL’s. I truly think they are great. I have since the first I heard about them. I am very excited that this model for doing SSO now exists. I think the model is very empowering truly (except for the domain name part) decentralized. I think it will be great for millions of web literate folks. Weather they have their own domain or if they just have a blog and use that URL. The way wiki travel is doing it to support interop between the different wiki travel sites is cool too.

I want to see this model flourish.

It is true that I am also not a technical person and I don’t think that they will work for ALL people (they will work for many millions of people). This is a Yes AND situation. The AND is I don’t think it will work for ‘everyone’ and particularly the user communities that I got inspired to try and build social networks for the Spiritual Activists. There are lots of web-literate folks on this list who can weave their way through domain naming and setting up stuff on their servers. I feel that part of my role is to speak up for those who are less technically savy and what could work for them in a ubiquitous identity layer. I would like to see the diversity of identifiers and ways of doing SSO flourish under OpenID. I really want a ubiquitous user-centric identity layer that can serve a diversity of people.
I had a conversation with a friend of mine yesterday. She is in her 50’s and we talked about the different things going on in our professional lives. I shared a little bit about what was happening in OpenID. I told her about this new way of doing SSO with URLs and that in the universe of possibilities there was also i-names. She said to me that she thought the URL thing would never work for her mother. That is who I care about…her mother. So went I say I like i-names and I think they will work as a way to for spiritual women over 45 to use these systems I really am just talking about those folks in a different part of the web. Who normally don’t have non-tehcnical allies on their side as these things are formed thinking about what might work for them in a ubiquitous identity layer.

Please don’t take what I say as against anything else that lives under the OpenID2 umbrella. I really love the fact everyone has found a way to cooperate despite their different angles. It gives me great optimism for the future of the web.

Why i-names? I think they work for my people.

There is a follow up post here on how URL’s are cool.

It is no secret that I happen to like i-names. They are an open standard that I think has a lot of promise to help people have more control of their identifiers on the web. I will start out with a story and go on to a few practical reasons why.

I first ‘got into’ identity it was 2004 and I was helping spread the word about the upcoming Planetwork conference – where we were going to demo a really early clugy version of i-names doing SSO between 3 systems AND talk about the Identity Commons and how it could evolve. I got my first ever VOIP phone call from Owen who was in Greece and he sent me all their documentation to date- so I could write a summary for the brochure and website. (Over the holidays I went through papers and found the folder where I had printed out all that old stuff it was fun to reflect back and realize how much had changed since then. ) I wrote a great one page summary and they liked it a lot – it was the best conscious articulation about what they were doing they had seen. This was a year after that Augmented Social Network White Paper was published – I had read it and absorbed it throughly and wanted to ‘build’ that vision for my community.

I don’t just abstractly care about this stuff. I want people and communities that I care about to have identity services that meet their needs and make them more effective in the world. In 2002 I founded a project to build such networking tools – we actually did do two prototypes in Drupal by 2005. We were early to market and those folks were not ready for what we were offering (I may turn my attention back to serving this community in 2007).

There was no other user-centric identity anything except for the i-names guys and Identity Commons who were working closely together. I got along with everyone and enjoyed their spirit and energy. So I joined - I started working for Owen Davis evangelizing for the ‘first’ Identity Commons. I will admit looking back I was perhaps ‘overly’ enthusiastic and a bit naive about where the technology was. I was having a conversation with a friend in the community saying…”you know thinking about it if I had known what I know now I am not sure I would have done that job”. His response was well “that is why the young kids get things done – they don’t know better.” I think he is right on this. I also must say I have no regrets about the path I have taken the last three years. Indeed I think I have found myself and a place in the world that I really make a difference.

The user-centric identity community has really grown and flourished in the past 2 years. Thanks to the energy and support of Doc, Phil Windley, Phil Becker, Eric Norlin, Kim Cameron, Brett McDowell and many others. It has been exciting to watch it evolve.

Johannes has been particularly instrumental in bringing the ‘web based identifier’ user-centric crowd to convergence. Like all technical communities people come at things from different angles. He is a deep sceptic about anything new. He has been patient and listened to Drummond and the other XRI guys and has come to see some real value in what they are putting forward here are two posts one on XRI resolution and the other on XDI. Phil Windly also a thoughtful voice in the space has written about how he has come to understand their offering. This is a post about attending Andy Dale’s XDI workshop. His post about i-names at IIW starts out “Over the last few years, I’ve been impressed by a new Internet naming convention called XRI, or eXtensible Resource Identifiers”.

The convergence of LID, OpenID and XRI/inames into one thing called Yadis – to reduce end user confusion is a really great thing (of course Sxip joined the party later and this too reduced confusion even more and is also a good thing). I think the choice to not continue with the ‘Yadis brand’ and go back under the OpenID brand is a good thing…it is a much nicer brand. It also means that the people coming to this need to get that OpenID now includes these other ‘threads’ in the ‘web based identifier’ way of doing things for end-users. I think this diversity is good. If you don’t want to use i-names don’t but let the diversity flourish.

On a more practical level why do I like i-names?

I think i-names are easier to get for the marginally internet literate:
It may be news to folks but there are some internet users who don’t know how to scroll. There are not a whole lot of super literate users – we hang out with a lot of them in silicon valley but normal people….they are not like us. I think there are a bunch of bloggers who are going to ‘get’ that the URL they have for their blog is something they can use to login to other blogs to comment etc. That is cool. I think it is going to be the majority of OpenID users in the next year. I also really think that it is going to be a lot easier for regular folks to ‘get’ i-names.

Domain names system usabilty sucks:
I think that the domain name system and the tools for normal people to work in it are atrocious. I can hardly get things to work right and I am reasonably tech literate. I don’t know how to do domain mapping so that identitywoman.net is the URL that you see when you look at the top of my blog – rather then the http://www.kaliyasblogs.net that you see cause I can only figure out how to forward it. I can’t figure out for the life of my how to transfer domains from one registrar to another or merge the 4 accounts I have on one registrar into one. IT IS TOTALLY NOT USER FRIENDLY. Maybe by some miracle the UI and architecture can be changed – you know I am not betting on it.

i-names are less confusing then URL’s:
So lets go back to the community that I got started with trying to serve. They are very social people they come together at groovy conferences and go on retreats at spiritual places. They are web mail and Yahoo group users. They need systems and tools that are truly empowering and meet them where they are at with web-literacy. I think i-names have a better chance of doing this then URL’s. For starters they will have to ‘get a URL’ then use it a bunch of different places – each of those places will have URL’s for their profile in that system. People have multiple URL’s and clearly not all of them are OpenID enabled. I would rather just give them all community i-names then they clearly understand this new ‘thing’ (it is not a URL and not an e-mail address) is what they use to login different places and manage identity services from (like profile management when that happens).

I can upgrade and not loose my name:
I like the fact that I could start out with a community name like @integrativeactivism*morningglory and use that on several sites around the web and then….decide you know i want a top level name just for me … so I go and get =morningglory and all the logins that I have under that other community name don’t break. The i-number under @integrativeactivism*monrningglory is mine and can be resolved to =morningglory.

Group membership and micro-app ecology:
I also like i-names because from my understanding there is a way to assert group membership by the issuance of an identifier that one has control over. This gives you the potential weave together networks of applications for different communities that you are in. For example the solstice planning group could all have i-names @integrativeactivism*solsticeplanning*morningglory Then the wiki they went to to organize could be not on the same platform but work non-the-less for the people in that group. I really want to see an ecology of mico-apps that can be woven together and manage access control in ways that work for “simple people.”

Simple workable tools for personal link management:
The example from Phil’s blog explains a lot about how it is simple and I think it will work for the spiritual woman over 45 who are part of those communities that I care that these systems work for.

Lately I’ve started to feel like i-names and XRIs are coming into their own. Not long ago, for example, my i-name registry, 2idi, started offering XRI forwarding services. That means that I can create XRIs from my i-name that resolve to other things on the Net. For example:

http://xri.net/=windley/(+index) forwards to my “index” page on the Web.
http://xri.net/=windley/(+contact) is my contact page
http://xri.net/=windley/(+blog) resolves to my blog
http://xri.net/=windley/(+call) points to me on Skype (i.e. Firefox will launch a call to me through Skype if you click on this.)
http://xri.net/=windley/(+feed) forwards to my RSS feed
http://xri.net/=windley/(+photos) points to my online photo collection

What’s the point? Easy: I own =windley, my i-name, for the next 50 years and I control the resolution. If my blog URL or my Skype handle changes, I can change how those XRIs resolve and you can still find me and all the service related to me. Plus, the XRIs above are (mostly) based on a standard semantics, so if I know your i-name, I can easily find your blog.

XRIs are more complicated than URLs, but I remember everyone screwing up their face when URLs were new too and somehow we got used to them. XRIs make up for their additional complexity in semantic mappings and flexibility.

I must also chime in and say that I agree with Marc Canter

I’m also getting tired of waiting for ‘attribute sharing’ working.

I hope we can get this next layer of tools working relatively quickly now that we have the authentication layer stuff figured out. I am hopeful that the open standards for Datasharing that are getting traction now in the nonprofit community. I spent most of the last two weeks working organizing and writing up note cards of quotes from the vast repository of papers I have on the Open Social Network. I have an outline of a paper that I hope to have a working draft released in the next few months. As for my ‘enthusiasm’ I really want this vision to materialize and I am more committed then ever to reality based thinking and action so it can happen.

Unfortunately the $100 laptop is closer to reality

I am writing about this because it is one of the things happening in the tech world that seems really nuts to do. There is an article about it moving closer to reality.

Why? Isn’t good to get kids wired up? Won’t it give them advantages? I think it is good in culturally appropriate ways bring networking tools to people in the third world. I don’t think plunking down laptops for 10 million of the ‘poorest kids’ by the end of 2007 is a good idea.

How hard that is should be one key measure of the project’s success. One Laptop plans to send a specialist to each school who will stay for a month helping teachers and students get started. But Negroponte believes that kids ultimately will learn the system by exploring it and then teaching each other.

By July or so, several million are expected to reach Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Nigeria, Libya, Pakistan, Thailand and the Palestinian territory. Negroponte said three more African countries might sign on in the next two weeks. The Inter-American Development Bank is trying to get the laptops to multiple Central American countries.

I am particularly erked by this project because it feels just like western attempts at so called development in the past. We gave the third world free grain in the 50’s and 60’s and in doing so we found a place for our excess supply but also ended up collapsing local markets – reducing their long run ability to feed themselves.

Then there was the green revolution that brought mechanized agriculture, fertilizers, hybrid seeds and debt to big agriculture.

How about large scale infrastructure projects those were really awful…the recycling of petro-dollars into the third world. Confessions of an Economic Hit Man is a good place to read more about that stuff. I studied Political Economy and Human Rights in college – I wrote my thesis on the Lost Opportunity for Sustainable Development in Palestine. I know all to well the way ‘big projects’ happen and largely ‘TO’ people in the third world they are not initiated BY people in the third world by by western trained elites and the people who manipulate them. Negroponte seems to have the White Man’s Burden in spades. Why because he is bearing a computer is it any different then past efforts?

Look at Elena Norberg-Hodge’s work she first went to Ladakh (basically the part of Tibet that has always been in India) in 1975 trained as an anthropologist she documented the culture as the west ‘arrived’ Hs has a book and movie called Ancient Futures: Learning from LadakHe. The International Society for Ecology and Culture is her organization.

In Ladakh and elsewhere, modern education not only ignores local resources, but worse still, robs children of their self-esteem. Everything in school promotes the Western model and, as a direct consequence, makes children think of themselves and their traditions as inferior.

when you introduce this Western schooling, you’re turning whole cultures, whole peoples, into failures.

These quotes are from excerpts that you can read below.

He has this slide in his TED talk.

The basic principles:
1) Children are our most precious natural resource
2) The solution to poverty, peace, environment is education.
3) Teaching is one but not the only way to achieve learning

I think he is missing a critical part of this analysis that western education is disconnecting people from their cultures.

More from Helena:
In every corner of the world today, the process called ‘education’ is based on the same assumptions and the same Eurocentric model. The focus is on faraway facts and figures, on ‘universal’ knowledge. The books propagate information that is meant to be appropriate for the entire planet. But since only a kind of knowledge that is far removed from specific ecosystems and cultures can be universally applicable, what children learn is essentially synthetic, divorced from the living context.

He talked about how Steve Jobs had been to africa and seen early on how kids just swam in this new medium. This is no doubt true. That’s what kids do is get into things. The question is deeper…it is about cultural context meaning and relivancdy.

More from Helena:
For the young Ladakhis, especially the teenaged boys, who are looking for an identity and a role model, this image [of modernity] has a very powerful impact.He speaks in his talk about how this worked in Maine (the US state) where they legislated one laptop per child in 2002 and 3 years later have great results. Ok those are western kids using western machines. He says the time for pilot programs is out…we know this works (works for WHAT?) and that if countries don’t buy one for every kid in their whole country then they are not eligible for the program.

He says that there is one thing people have an issue with noting that people “really don’t like to criticize it because it is a humanitarian effort and to do so would be stupid.” The one thing that people had an issue with is that they

Brian has written about the project’s lack of environmental consideration in several posts….The Race To Cheap,

Without an e-waste program in place, however, it may be a terribly great addition to the progress of industrial technology in polluting the entire world with its heavy metal laden products.

How can the industrialzed west spread complex, resource heavy products into every remote reach of the world, with no responsibility for their end of life care? The people receiving them have no capacity to deal with them, by definition.

Electronics Everywhere, for Kids

At the same time, the Semiconductor Industry Association reports some dizzying figures for growth of semiconductor sales of all kinds worldwide (basically, electronic components). Put that together with the science that is showing subtle and powerfully ill effects of chemicals from electronics on pregnancy and small children, and we have got what I call, a health issue.

If I am so against the $100 laptop then how do I propose the network expand? I do like the last/first mile projects that I first learned about at a conference in Santa Barbara. They do “Hybrid Real-Time, Store-and-Forward WiFi Mesh”

Helena Norberg-Hodge text that the quotes above are drawn from.

From an essay the Pressure to Modernize:
Western-style education
No one can deny the value of real education—the widening and enrichment of knowledge. But today in the Third World, education
has become something quite different. It isolates children from their culture and from nature, training them instead to become narrow specialists in a Westernised urban environment. This process has been particularly striking in Ladakh, where modern schooling acts almost as a blindfold, preventing children from seeing the very context in which they live. They leave school unable to use their own resources, unable to function in their own world.

For generation after generation, Ladakhis grew up learning how to provide themselves with clothing and shelter; how to make shoes out of yak skin and robes from the wool of sheep; how to build houses out of mud and stone. Education was location-specific and nurtured an intimate relationship with the living world. It gave children an intuitive awareness that allowed them, as they grew older, to use resources in an effective and sustainable way.

None of that knowledge is provided in the modern school. Children are trained to become specialists in a technological, rather than an ecological, society. School is a place to forget traditional skills, and worse, to look down on them.

Western education first came to Ladakhi villages in the 1970s. Today there are about two hundred schools. The basic curriculum is a poor imitation of that taught in other parts of India, which itself is an imitation of British education. There is almost nothing Ladakhi about it.

Most of the skills Ladakhi children learn in school will never be of real use to them. In essence, they receive an inferior version of an education appropriate for a New Yorker. They learn from books written by people who have never set foot in Ladakh, who know nothing about growing barley at 12,000 feet or about making houses out of sun-dried bricks.

This situation is not unique to Ladakh. In every corner of the world today, the process called ‘education’ is based on the same assumptions and the same Eurocentric model. The focus is on faraway facts and figures, on ‘universal’ knowledge. The books propagate information that is meant to be appropriate for the entire planet. But since only a kind of knowledge that is far removed from specific ecosystems and cultures can be universally applicable, what children learn is essentially synthetic, divorced from the living context. If they go on to higher education, they may learn about building houses, but these houses will be of concrete and steel, the universal box. So too, if they study agriculture, they will learn about industrial farming: chemical fertilisers and pesticides, large machinery and hybrid seeds. The Western educational system is making us all poorer by teaching people around the world to use the same industrial resources, ignoring those of their own environment. In this way education is creating artificial scarcity and inducing competition.

In Ladakh and elsewhere, modern education not only ignores local resources, but worse still, robs children of their self-esteem. Everything in school promotes the Western model and, as a direct consequence, makes children think of themselves and their traditions as inferior.

A few years ago, Ladakhi schoolchildren were asked to imagine their
region in the year 2000. A little girl wrote, ‘Before 1974, Ladakh was not known to the world. People were uncivilised. There was a
smile on every face. They don’t need money. Whatever they had was enough for them.’ In another essay a child wrote, ‘They sing their own songs like they feel disgrace, but they sing English and Hindi songs with great interest… But in these days we find that maximum people and persons didn’t wear our own dress, like feeling disgrace.’

Education pulls people away from agriculture into the city, where they become dependent on the money economy. Traditionally there was no such thing as unemployment. But in the modern sector there is now intense competition for a very limited number of paying jobs, principally in the government. As a result, unemployment is already a serious problem.

Modern education has brought some obvious benefits, like improvement in the literacy rate. It has also enabled the Ladakhis to be more informed about the forces at play in the world outside. In so doing, however, it has divided Ladakhis from each other and the land and put them on the lowest rung of the global economic ladder.
from an interview in Context:
A family would not have $100 in traditional Ladakhi society, and yet people are not poor, because their basic needs are met. But for the young Ladakhis, especially the teenaged boys, who are looking for an identity and a role model, this image has a very powerful impact.

I think this at least partly explains why, if you travel around the world, you see that in almost every culture on this planet, teenaged boys are desperately trying to get blue jeans and cassette players and sunglasses, the symbols of modern life. More than anything, the drive is a psychological one. We need to be much more aware of our impact on other cultures. And often, because they’re not aware of that, the impact of westerners’ presence is a very destructive one. But there are ways that one can try to change that.

These are exerpts from an interview in 1992.

You’re very critical of modern education. You write that “it not only ignores local resources, but worse still, makes Ladakhi children think of themselves and their culture as inferior. They are robbed of their self-esteem.” How does modern education rob Ladakhi children of their self-esteem?
On many different levels. We need to keep in mind that this is true everywhere, and it is a good example of why I’m saying that it is appropriate and relevant around the world. Just recently I overheard a Ladakhi teacher saying to her Ladakhi students, “Our best poet is Wordsworth. Now let’s read some Somerset Maugham.” The same thing is happening in Bali, Africa, South America. The fact is that Wordsworth is not their poet. The distance between this English poet and Ladakh or Bhutan or Bali buries their own history and heritage. It’s become so shameful that it isn’t even visible. It’s making their heritage and their resources invisible. It also robs them of self-esteem. Everything that they represent–and this is particularly true of earth-based or indigenous culture–is seen as primitive and backward. It inevitably is within this spectrum that we have created of progress, meaning away from nature, away from spontaneity, away from the uniqueness of individuals, of a particular culture and place. All the time towards a type of monocultural standardization which is inherently eurocentric. Interestingly enough, it isn’t just education itself, that is the schooling. At the same time the media operate to produce the same impact. Your sense of identity is being formed by stereotyped, very distant media images. All around the world they are literally Barbie doll and Rambo for little children. That Barbie doll bears no resemblance to who I am as a Ladakhi. Barbie doll is not who anybody is. So these distanced models are destructive for everybody, even in the West. No one can live up to those models. Anorexia and bulimia and a whole range of very serious disorders are directly related to this. So this alienation, trying to remove you into another culture that is completely alien to who you are, creates a deep sense of self rejection and loss of self-worth and self-esteem. It’s just heartbreaking to watch it.
In addition, the way that Western education robs people of self esteem is that this whole process is so alien that most students fail. When I say most, I mean ninety-eight percent fail. That means that overnight, when you introduce this Western schooling, you’re turning whole cultures, whole peoples, into failures. The sense is that you are stupid, inadequate, backward. I have people in the villages in Ladakh now saying that they’re like “asses,” a Ladakhi expression that says you’re really stupid, because they don’t speak English. The whole world is being made to feel inferior if they don’t speak perfect English.
What are the implications of that?

The implications are profound. It’s the single most important message. The implications are that your whole relationship to the universe changes. You feel a type of union and communion with the rest of life and with others. I would go so far as to say that I think that our human nature needs that sense of interconnectedness, that it’s deep within us, and that it’s the only way to happiness and even the only way to real love and compassion for others.

Something we haven’t touched on enough with education was that we talked about how people’s self-esteem is lost, but more important, perhaps, their self-reliance is also destroyed through education. So we put children in schools, whether in Ladakh or Sumatra, and give them a poor imitation of the same education that a child in New York gets. That means that first of all, during your entire schooling, you are robbed of the knowledge of how to survive with your own resources. You’re not taught anything about how to grow barley in Ladakh at 12,000 feet, how to use yaks, how to make houses out of the mud that is available there. Not a word about any of the activities that you need to make yourselves self-reliant. Instead you’re studying Wordsworth, mathematics and Western history. So when you finally graduate from that school you do not know how to survive in your own environment based on your own resources. You do know how to survive as a clerk or a specialist in an urban center, but those jobs are very few and far between. It’s a prescription for unemployment, for larger and larger numbers. Also, interestingly enough, the more education you get, the further away it pulls you from your local resources and environment. So if you’ve just had some schooling, you might still stay on in your region. If you have more education, you’ve got to go to New Delhi. If you have even more education, it’s off to the West. This is the brain drain, which again is a direct consequence of policy and planning.

Thers don’t like them much either for good reasons.
Darren:

You think these mini-computers will “address the world’s education problems”? There’s the difference–I don’t. Computers haven’t addressed the education problems here in the US, where computers are much more ubiquitous than they ever will be in the bush of Africa or the forests of southern Asia or Brazil.

Jim Heynderickx:

I think back to Redmond O’Hanlon’s Into the Heard of Borneo, which raised interesting questions of how first world products and services could have radical effects on indigenous cultures, and how the societies themselves could be permanently transformed by the integration. The end result could be a community that is much less sustainable and independent in the long run, or one that dissappears entirely.

So, I have one reaction that makes me think hard about how this is different or the same as missionaries building churches and converting the populations to Christianity. Is what is being provided stronger and better than what is being displaced? In pilot programs, the argument is that the laptops leverage the kid’s ability to learn and to teach each other. The laptops are about learning about learning, problem-solving, programming, the Papert approach, etc.

From the comments:

The difference seems to be that the programs that work start with teacher training, a clear idea of what goals will be accomplished in what classes using what software, and a lot of curriculum thinking around the idea. The programs that doesn’t work involved handing every kid a laptop and expecting teachers and students to create miracles. The latter sounds a lot like this project.

Profile Linker – is the time right for open standards…?

Tech Crunch has a review of Profile Linker.

They have one partnership sealed already, with Photobucket, and hope to do more. But for sites where they are unable to get a partnership they’ll have to gather information using the user’s credentials. There’s a risk that networks will simply cut them off.
They have portable profiles:
Portable Profiles allow you to take your content with you anywhere on the web. Mobilize your bio, share your photos.

Best of all, you only need to make updates in ONE place and all your portable profiles will be automatically updated all over the web.

one way they do this is...Don’t feel like entering ALL your profile content again?Well we can do all the work for you. Just tell us your Facebook login or MySpace URL and we’ll get your photo and more . .

All this proves the time is really right for open standards to do this.

The Network of Me in 2007?

Marc’s Blog post on the decentralized network.

Because there is no benefit to human beings for clustering with 1,000,000’s of other human beings. Yes – having lots of people helps bands promote themselves or marketeers reach these folks, but it doesn’t directly help end-users any.

Humans cluster between 15-25 – and 150 or thereabouts. That’s why military units are organized as companies and squadrons and businesses have departments and middle level managers. No one can remember more than 150 people’s names.

So the logic follows that social networks should be MUCH smaller – certainly under 10,000 – and more likely under 1,000.

He picks up on this article – Network Once, Socialize Anywhere article:

The question I’ve always asked is: how many of these networks can a single user remain faithful to? In this coming world where everything will include some form of social networking, I have to scratch my head and wonder if I’ll be able to remain current on anything more than two or three of them. Who has the time for more, if even that many? (Though part of the new ubiquity, I’m guessing, will be the idea that social networking tools will in many ways become more transparent, there will still need to be some maintenance required for most.)

If You Network Someone, Set them Free
This fretting about the overhead of social networks seems especially important if, as some suggest, the path to success for these networks will be exclusivity, the idea that “these networks are only as strong as their members” and that the gatekeepers would do well to “keep the riff-faff out.” It seems like a small leap though from strategically exclusive to enduringly proprietary; if you’re looking to keep unwanted users out, it follows that you’ll also want to lock ‘good’ users in.

Which just fills me with greater discouragement about the prospects for a decentralized social networking framework that can ensure a moderate level of inter-operability. I call the idea, “Network Once, Socialize Anywhere.” Why should I have to connect to my best friend, say, once on Flickr, once on LinkedIn, once on Twitter and again for as many new cool networks as will arise in 2007?

Speaking only for myself, though: what I want out of the Web, as in most things, is simplicity. And the current mode of continually reflecting my personal information and buddy lists across multiple networks ad infinitum seems sadly complex, frustrating even. Here, at the onset of the new year, I have to take a slightly broader view and ask myself, how many more social networks will I join in 2007 alone? At least a dozen, I imagine, and unless something changes, each time it’ll be like starting over from scratch.

Eric Rice has a great comment on Marc’s blog post.

Aren’t ‘decentralized distributed social networks’ the thing that it has always been? Our shit is in a million places and no site will ever gather it in one place. And then, there’s so much emphasis on the public transparency of it— until you get into that stick place of humans, who might actually want to quietly and discretely nudge someone out of the picture.

And then if you COULD get all the networks together, you have to worry about the people in the social networks bitching at each other. My blog network don’t care about my Second Life network, but does care about my Warcraft network, which some of my blog network doesn’t care about, but my iPod/Apple network does. My Apple network is also my XBOX network for some reason. And what if we need to hide part of our network from the other?

I need the platforms to talk to each other and because we all want our stuff to be THE thing, it won’t happen.

To me, ‘decentralized distributed social networks’ = what we’ve always had: chaos, anarchy, rationality and irrationality, emotion, and tech, with a focus on self.

My social network is me, all about me. Nothing is serving the ‘me’ market. Why?

I sure hope this market gets served in 2007. I believe this is what Higgins, Social Physics and Parity are supposed to be about. I hope that Paul can explain it all soon. I remember the diagram that was a semi-circle with wedges with me in the middle and all the different social networks I was connected to visible to me through some interface. This is a great idea.

I am thinking a lot these days about how we can really support individuals having profiles that move between a few social networks that agree to do this (there are some potential ones in the wings).

The notion of Entity Based Social Networks is complementary to how the individual networks together. How can members of one organization be validated as such and then take that membership ‘assertion’ with them to other social network contexts where they can interact with other members of the organization and others.