- TrueSwitch — “the de facto proprietary API that all the big ISPs use to help users switch, a market opportunity that wouldn’t exist if they just opened up access to each other” in the words of Pete Warden.
- Free Publicity: Who Do We Help? (Anil Dash) — I love cool stuff as much as the next guy. What leaves me at a loss, though, is how many otherwise sane and sensible people give their time and energy freely to help support a company like Apple that, despite its elegant designs and generally excellent products (I use many of them), certainly doesn’t need free PR from some of the most talented people on the web.
- World Government Data — the Guardian build a meta-index to open government data from four countries and will add more as other countries build data.gov-like sites.
- Confessions of a Book Pirate — lots of insights into how guerilla book piracy happens. The scanning process takes about 1 hour per 100 scans. Mass market paperbacks can be scanned two pages at a time flat on the scanner bed, while large trades and hardcovers usually need to be scanned one page at a time. I’m sure that some of the more hardcore scanners disassemble the book and run it through an automatic feeder or something, but I prefer the manual approach because I’d like to save the book, and don’t want to invest in the tools. Usually I can scan a book while watching a movie or two. (via waxy)
ISP Lockin, Warped Priorities, Government Data, and Book Piracy
Finland makes broadband access a right, $7 billion US stimulus for rural broadband improvements
As our economy continues to lose mass in favor of information-based goods (U.S. exports lost 50% of their physical weight per dollar from 1993 to 1999*) and we continue to see the decoupling of workforce from workplace, connectivity is a critical factor in economic exchange and competitive advantage. Countries that build wide, fast networks to the last mile will have a huge leg up. This week gave us two reasons to reconsider the state of broadband connectivity in the US.
To the average person, government is represented by an anonymous person on the other end of the phone, a pile of mandatory paperwork, and perhaps at best a friendly neighborhood postal carrier. If you ask the average American not living inside the Beltway to name a single individual who works in the federal government, how would they reply? My guess is that the broad majority of them couldn't give you the first and last name of a federal government employee. In reality they would find it much easier to name their local pharmacist, garage owner, or supermarket manager. From the perspective of the government, this is a shame. How might emerging social technologies help to bridge that gap, in combination with a modification in thinking about government public relations?
Publishing “top 10″ lists is unfortunately a staple of modern journalism. But alas, writers must drive readers’ eyeballs, even when discussing serious topics like the government. And so we find a new list that mixes Web 2.0 with the government: “Top 10 agencies with the most Facebook fans.” For the record, this list is topped by the White House with 327,592 fans, followed by the Marine Corps, Army, CDC, State Department, NASA, NASA JPL, Library of Congress, Air Force, and Environmental Protection Agency. Congratulations to all these hard-working agencies. But what exactly are we celebrating here?
As many of you know, I’ve built a new conference, Gov 2.0 Summit, around the idea of the government as platform: how can government design programs to be generative, to use Zittrain’s phrase? How do we get beyond the idea that participation means “public input” (shaking the vending machine to get more or better services out of it), and over to the idea that it means government building frameworks that enable people to build new services of their own?
- The Slowing Growth of Wikipedia and More Details of Changing Editor Resistance — researchers at PARC analysed Wikipedia and found the number of new articles and number of new editors have flattened off, and more edits from first-time contributors are being reverted. This is a writeup in their blog, with the numbers and charts. It’s interesting that coverage in New Scientist talked about “quality”, but none of the metrics PARC studied are actually quality. Wikipedia launched a strategic review which aims to tackle this and many other issues. (via ACM TechNews)
- The Information Architecture of Social Experience Design: Five Principles, Five Anti-Patterns and 96 Patterns (in Three Buckets) — teaser for upcoming O’Reilly book with some really good stuff. Balzac once wrote, “The secret of great wealth with no obvious source is some forgotten crime, forgotten because it was done neatly,” and many successful social sites today founded themselves on an original sin, perhaps a spammy viral invitation model or unapproved abuse of new users’ address books. Some companies never lived down the taint and other seems to have passed some unspoken statute of limitations. (via BoingBoing)
- Skulpt — entirely in-browser implementation of Python. (via Andy Baio)
- Why Can’t Local Government and Open Source Be Friends? — the Birmingham example is one of many. Government procurement and tendering processes are often fishing expeditions, which biases responses in favour of commercial software companies making mad margins such that they can respond to RFPs that are really RFIs, etc. It’s an issue everywhere in the world because it happens at local, not just central, level.
Syadmin Wiki, Physics, National Archives, and Reinventing the British Government
- Server Fault — Wikipedia-like sysadmin guide, built by the Stack Overflow team, who are branching out to reach a more general IT Professional audience. (via Brady in email)
- Sixty Symbols — 5m videos about the symbols of physics and astronomy. Great stuff! (via Glutnix on Twitter)
- US National Archives launches YouTube Channel — a mixture of archives-nerd stuff (directors of Presidential Libraries talking about their favourite items) and wider-interest collections (such as Touring 1930s America).
- Open House in Westminster — the ever-insightful Tom Steinberg from MySociety has an article in the Independent about British plans to reinvent government. Now the talk of Westminster is all about democratic reform. By my count there are over 50 different ideas for changing the way our democracy works being touted by different pundits at the moment. […] What all these ideas, though, have in common is that they propose structural reforms that could have been achieved any time in the last 200 years.[…] My view is that these proposals are all interesting, and some may be quite critical for a better democracy. But I am also concerned that they do not see Parliament and the process of making laws as a native to the internet would. They don’t ask: “What reforms are possible that just weren’t conceivable ten years ago?”
The Tor Project produces an anonymous proxy services which allows users to evade surveillance. In this interview, Andrew Lewman talks about the Tor Project and discusses some statistics that show its increased use from with Iran. This article also includes some questions and answers with the EFF about the legal implications of running an open proxy server.