Spontaneous Usage


One success metric that I’ve been shooting for is that I want a user to do something in Croquet that was not specifically intended by the authors of the space or software. It’s very cool to create something that is ideally suited for a particular usage, but it’s really something to create a meta-tool whose usage exceeds the sum of its designed parts.

This fellow Laurence apparently created his blog entry from within the Collaborative.

I had expected and hoped the first such spontaneous use to be something based on collaboration, or on usability or scalability. This was not. It was done because it was fun to do. That’s pretty cool, actually. Shows what I know…

Dick Cheney, “Uniquely Ridiculous”

Pardon me for piling on, and I’ll get back to my usual Wetmachine technoparanoia beat forthwith, but kindly allow me to chime in here with Josh Marshall on the subject of the criminal, nonsensical, dangerous and stupid sociopath who shares the presidency with what’s-his-face, that chimp-faced guy about whom the Grammy-winning Dixie Chicks were embarassed to share a home state:

But Dick Cheney’s an exceptional case. He stands on his own unique ground of ridiculousness. And because of that he’s not simply a bully but a glass bully. Outside of the very hard right wing of American politics, pretty much everyone now sees that Dick Cheney is a screw-up and a moron of historic proportions.

It really is time for us to laugh this guy out of office, is it not, my fellow patriots? Every moment that we allow him to remain in the constitutional office he now occupies (however he got there) is a moment that imperils all of us, and those who will follow us.

Those of you who do not think Dick Cheney is a screw-up and a moron of historic proportions, kindly resume your telephone santitizing or whatever else you were doing. Everybody else, please contact your state senators and representatives and get this impeachment ball rolling. Clearly the congress is not going to take up impeachment until we make them do it. When it comes it will come from the state legistlatures. Do your part. Make sure your state reps are on board.


I have chaged the title of this little entry, which never really worked (something about Cheney being a fart joke). The point I was trying to make, which is small but important, is that this man deserves no respect at all. Fearing him is understandable — he’s a Tony Soprano-like sociopath who manages to extract apologies from people whom he has blasted in the face with shotguns. But he deserves no respect, especially not the phoney-baloney respect “for the office, not the man.” The guy is a first-class moron, every bit as clueless as Bush is. Bush is a universal laughingstock, but Cheney, although he’s despised, is somehow still considered “smart” in some circles. He’s about as smart as the rocket scientists who decided to go to the Sun instead of the moon. To avoid the heat problem, they were going to go up at night.

Overmind hires Rutgers to build PreCog Institute

The so-called Homeland Security Agency is looking to use supercomputers & datamining to find latent terrorism in “open-source web logs” and other nasty & threatening instances of that pernicious “free speech” thing:

Leading the Rutgers effort is the university’s Center for Discrete Mathematics and Theoretical Computer Science (DIMACS). It will include partner researchers from AT&T Laboratories, Lucent Technologies Bell Labs, Princeton University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and Texas Southern University. This group will develop computing technologies that find patterns and relationships in data, such as news stories, open-source web logs, and other accessible information, to quickly identify emerging indicators of possible terrorist activity, and rate the consistency and reliability of the sources. Such information could give officials more lead time to investigate and potentially thwart terrorist plans.

“The challenge involved in this endeavor is not only the massive amount of information out there, but also how quickly it flows and how fast the sources of information change,” said Fred Roberts, director of DIMACS. “We will develop real-time streaming algorithms to find patterns and relationships in communications, such as among writers who may be hiding their identities, and to rate information sources for their reliability and trustworthiness.”

The Rutgers center will undertake nine research projects in its first year and will also create educational programs around the technology it develops, such as courses and certificate programs for undergraduate and graduate students. The center will also establish outreach efforts for high school students and community groups.

I do appreciate that Stasi throwback to “outreach efforts for efforts for high school students and community groups.” So very retro!

Heckova job, Rutgers! Heckova job!

Tim Wu Writes Incredibly Important Paper on Wireless Networks

Tim Wu, a brilliant scholar who combines an understanding of law, technology and economics to his writing, has written an incredibly important paper on wireless networks for the New America Wireless Future Program. You can download it here.

But Tim has done more than write a brilliant paper about why we need network attachment rules and network neutrality rules for wireless networks. He has — by accident or design — put his finger on the critical issue of public policy of our time. Do we regulate to increase public welfare, or do we only regulate to cure “market failure”?

What the paper is about, why it’s important, and what the opposition to it tells about the state of public policy these days, below….

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Pains at the Panopticon

With the help of my pal Gary, who formats my books for publication, and my pal The Waitress, who has copyedited my most recent hunk o’ words to prevent my most egregious stupidisms from seeing light of web, I have posted Chapter Three of The Pains.

On the evidence, this project is coming out of the induced coma it’s been in for nearly a year now. With any luck the next chapter will be up soon.

Note: attentive readers may notice some allusions to, and borrowing from, the work of the late Chis McKinstry, creator of the Mindpixel project. As far as I’ve been able to determine, there is no copyright holder. I’ll have more to say about this when the final book is prepared for publication, but for now I just want to make this acknowledgement.

Raising the Profile on Franchising and Public Access Cable

The good folks at Saveaccess.org are trying to push members of the House Commerce Committee to press Martin on his order preempting local franchising authorities. You can read about Saveaccess.org’s campaign here.

Public access is one of these very useful things that people take for granted, until its gone. I may not want to watch my local city council or local educational programming that often. But when I want it, I really appreciate it being there. Nothing on cable can replace PEG for local programming or “local C-Span” like coverage. We need to push hard to save it.

Stay tuned . . .

Wireless Broadband As Information Service: Brand X Is Not Enough

According to this story, FCC Chairman Kevin Martin told the Senate he has circulated a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking to classify broadband via wireless as an “information service.”

This might at first seem no big deal. After all, in the wake of the Brand X decision, the FCC has moved to declare broadband an “information service” for DSL and cable and, more recently, for broadband over power lines (BPL). So, while I may not be happy with using regulatory classifications to achieve back-door deregulation, what makes wireless services different?

The answer has to do with the peculiar way the Communiations Act works, and the physical reality that use of the electromagnetic spectrum really is different than laying a fiber line. True, “technological neutrality” is one of the great regulatory shibboleths these days, even if it does to reality what Yiphtach (Jeptha) did to the people of Ephriam. But the law and reality do matter sometimes. Like here.

I must give fair warning that the analysis below hinges on what will appear to non-lawyers an incredibly bizzare and artificial distinction with no apparent difference in immediate outcome. But among lawyers, this is like mistaking a Satmar Chassid for a Hesder bachur.

Some analysis below.

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Watch Me and My Public Interest Buddies Beat the Odds At FTC Network Neutrality Smackdown!

Back in the summer the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided to get in on the Network Neutrality game. As I observed at the time, I’m skeptical the network neutrality will get a fair shake under FTC Chairman Majoris.

But, like the gambler who comes to the crooked poker den because “it’s the only game in town,” you gotta show up to play even if you think the odds are stacked. So I and a number of other public interest folks and sympathetic academics will face off against a less-than-level playing field at the FTC’s Broadband Task Force’s Competition Policy Workshop on February 13 & 14.

Why I consider this playing field “less than level,” and why we will still kick butt, below . . .

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David Broder, well known liar

Being ancient is no crime, neither is it a crime to be an ignorant prissy mandarin. Nor, in most cases, is it a crime to be a liar.

But it’s my blog, and I would like to take this moment to call your attention to the fact that the ancient, ignorant, prissy mandarin known as David Broder, just back from a sold-out performance at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, is up to his usual lying ways.

Now please resume your deliberations over which of Harold Feld’s articles to recommend for the technical writing award.