What they're reading in the Snowboarding Hall of Fame

(Second in a series.)

Jake Burton Carpenter, also known as Jake Burton, is the founder of Burton Snowboards and, by all accounts, one of the two or three most significant people in the history of the sport of snowboarding. I know the guy. (How I know him is a story for another time.) The last time I saw Jake, I told him about my plan to ride my bicycle all over New England & interview famous people, and/or interesting people, about a topic of great import to everybody on the planet. (That bike trip, which I *will* do, is another story for another time). Anyway, I asked Jake if I could interview him for my bike/video project. “I don’t want to interview you because I care what you have to say,” I told him. “I want to interview you because you’re famous.” “Not all that famous,” Jake replied. “Oh yeah?” I said. “So, how much did Hewlett Packard pay you to be in that commercial you did for them? How much did American Express pay you?”

If I remember right, it was Peter Krygowski who added, “Jake, for Christ’s sake. Your face is plastered on the side of every public bus in Chicago.” Jake said, “It is? I wonder if I’m getting paid for that.”

(Although the only IMDB link I could find for Peter was related to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Peter was also, before getting fired, the Art Director on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Season 2. Or one of those early seasons. So when you meet him, prostrate yourself.) (Forgive me if I don’t recall the conversations precisely; the three of us were pretty drunk by the time this exchange happened, and for good reason.) (I believe Peter K. currently has something to do with “Guitar Hero”, although Google was pretty unhelpful on this topic.)

Anyway, whatever Hewlett Packard and American Express paid Burton to be in their ads is guaranteed to be a fucktonne more than I paid him to be in the advert below, since I didn’t pay him a thing. The production values of this vid are not exactly up to HP/AMEX standards, but what the hey. I certainly got my money’s worth. My only problem with the bit is that I expressly asked Jake to push the “buy the books” meme over the “download the free books” meme. Oh well. So thanks, Jake, and I look forward to interviewing you for real sometime this summer.

The rest of you, please imagine Jake saying “buy John’s books”, and act accordingly.

Could have been written by John himself

From an announcement one second before its time, by Google:

“Research group switches on world’s first ”artificial intelligence“ tasked-array system.

For several years now a small research group has been working on some challenging problems in the areas of neural networking, natural language and autonomous problem-solving. Last fall this group achieved a significant breakthrough: a powerful new technique for solving reinforcement learning problems, resulting in the first functional global-scale neuro-evolutionary learning cluster.

Since then progress has been rapid, and tonight we’re pleased to announce that just moments ago, the world’s first Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity (CADIE) was switched on and began performing some initial functions. It’s an exciting moment that we’re determined to build upon by coming to understand more fully what CADIE’s emergence might mean, for Google and for our users. So although CADIE technology will be rolled out with the caution befitting any advance of this magnitude, in the months to come users can expect to notice her influence on various google.com properties. Earlier today, for instance, CADIE deduced from a quick scan of the visual segment of the social web a set of online design principles from which she derived this intriguing homepage.

These are merely the first steps onto what will doubtless prove a long and difficult road. Considerable bugs remain in CADIE’S programming, and considerable development clearly is called for. But we can’t imagine a more important journey for Google to have undertaken.”

Follow the links through to the autoblog. Right out of Cheap Complex Devices.

Matt Stoller joins the Ranks of Progressive Elders of Policy


Dear fellow members of super secret progressive cabal, fellow travellers in the Angry Left, community organizers, and other Fringies out to destroy honest small town American values and/or discredit the Democrats with our wild, out of touch ideas like not giving industry free checks and actually solving problems with our health care system, decaying infrastructure, and crappy broadband network.

I am pleased to announce that ace rabble rouser Matt Stoller will be joining the Inner Circle here in the DC Bubble by taking a position on the Hill. As you all know, Matt has been one of the amazing mainstays of progressive policy blogging — particularly on the media and telecom issues so near and dear to my heart. I hope you will all join me in welcoming Matt and familiarizing him with the Protocols of the Progressive Elders of Policy so that we may better destroy the true fabric of America by replacing the current amazingly successful free market model with our evil centralized socialist soviet-style top-down centrally controlled broadband infrastructure.

I know I personally, am looking forward to Matt’s help in imposing highly restrictive network neutrality regulations that will ensure that network administrators have no say in how they manage their networks, and — ultimately — lead to the nationalizing Veizon, AT&T, Comcast and Time Warner and all other broadband providers in Socialist Workers paradise.

We will celebrate by pulling out the still beating heart of a Libertarian (assuming we can find one) (still beating heart, that is) at the Secret HQ of our Google Overlords who are, of course, bankrolling our entire effort.

P.S. Please do not forget to vote for us for Best Technology Blog of 2008.

Stay tuned . . . .

The Google Non-Story On Network Neutrality — And Once Again Why Citizen Movements Are Citizen Driven.

Both Dave Isenberg and Tim Karr have already cast a rather skeptical eye over the Wall St. Journal story claiming that Google is in secret negotiations to get “fast lane” treatment for its content in violation of Network Neutrality principles. I’ll therefore limit myself to a few additional points. I’ll not along the way that one of the nice things about having a blog is that I can point to stuff I said a long time ago for the inevitable accusation that I am simply an apologist for the Great Google Overlords.

More below . . . .

Continue reading

Context is King

Musing: While Google’s business model is based on advertising, it seems to me that the essence of their business is that they are all about meta-data. They don’t own or deliver data, but rather they keep subject, ranking, tagging, and other data about the data. In an information world, if you can’t own the info, owning or at least organizing the metadata about it is pretty good.

In this way, I think my professional activity is all about context. I don’t create or control collaborators nor the artifacts they collaborate on, but I do try to provide a means for people to organize and recognize the contexts in which these act. When we can access everything that anyone in history has ever done, plagiary becomes meaningless, and content is no longer king.

3 p.m., FCC approves another item. Crowd Thins, But Reporters and Hardcore Policy Wonks and White Space Folks Hang On.

O.K., now coming up on 3 p.m. on the meeting that should have started at 11 a.m. The FCC has announced that the Commissioners voted another relatively non-controversial item on circulation, the grant of the Verizon C Block licenses.

As some folks may recall, Google filed a Petition with the FCC after the 700 MHz auction requesting that they put some teeth into the C Block conditions and provide further clarity on how they can enforce the conditions against Verizon if it plays games. It is expected that the item basically says “yes, we mean it,” but not give any further details. We’ll have to wait for when they publish the Order to find out.

Meanwhile, those of us desperate for a white spaces vote continue to sweat it out and hope the Order doesn’t get derailed. Those opposed, unsurprisingly, are now hoping for the opposite.

NEWSFLASH: According to FCC staff, while Commissioner Godot will not vote today, he will surely vote tomorrow!

AAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Vote this thing!!!!!!!!!!!!

Stay tuned . . . .

Live Blogging the FCC Vote — What If They Called A Vote and Nobody Came?

So here I am, waiting for the white spaces vote, votes on the merger items, and a few other things. The FCC adopted two orders on circulation already — an item on closed captioning and an item on distributed television systems, a technology that will allow digital television broadcasters to keep their current viewers after the transition (I will explain this later). Given that Martin pulled the USF/Intercarrier comp itemyesterday at the insistence of the other Commissioners, that leaves (a) The Verizon/Alltel deal, (b) the New Clearwire deal, (c) the white spaces item, and (d) Google’s pending petition to have the FCC put some teeth into the C block conditions before granting the licenses to Verizon.

The meeting was scheduled for 11 a.m. It’s now after 12:30 p.m. Martin was down here for about an hour before heading back upstairs again. He appeared surprised at the delay.

Stay tuned . . . .

The Other Road Ahead

Last time I argued that from a technical perspective, the “server”, “client”, and “P2P” labels were complicated. That narrow view deliberately ignored the roles that these technologies have on the user, and on communities and business built around them.

I’ve been looking back at Paul Graham’s 2001 essay on “The Other Road Ahead.” He laid out a bunch of benefits that accrued from his successful company’s use of what he called a server-based architecture. While Viaweb originally relied on generic “Web 1.0” clients not distributed by his company, his essay looked ahead to richer clients such as what would come to be known as “Web 2.0.” I think the essay applies just as well today to mixed-technology deployments like Google’s current development. And I think it applies to some Croquet deployments, including those by my employer Qwaq. A lot of what Paul describes turns out to be things we’re already doing. But by explicitly identifying the benefits and what enables them to be realized, even a peer/client-centric geek like me can appreciate the operational value of the different technologies I’d mentioned last time. From this perspective, I’d say we’re “half-server-based.”

Worth a read (as are his other essays). See if you don’t agree.

The McCain Tech Policy In Action!

Apparently, the Dems were accused of being too wonky by having Mark Warner talk about bringing tech jobs to America, and the Republicans vowed not to repeat that mistake. Even former EBay CEO Meg Whitman, once such a strong advocate of network neutrality she sent an email to EBay users asking them to lobby Congress, remained silent about that series of tubes that Republicans find so gosh darned perplexing. No doubt this is in deference to Mr. McCain, who has boasted that he is a computer illiterate.

But this latest gaff, running a picture of Walter Reed Middle School on the green screen behind McCain instead of Walter Reed Hospital because they screwed up a Google images search, has certainly cemented not merely McCain, but the McCain campaign, as being in the ranks of the terminally clueless on matters technical. Mind you, it seems a piece with the general slovenly way they ran the convention. In a city run like a friggin’ police state, where “preemptive raids” are being used to lock up reporters and supposedly “keep us safer,” how the heck did protesters manage to infiltrate the candidates acceptance speech? More importantly, perhaps, how is it that the Dems could keep their own convention safer with less draconian security means?

Well, I shall leave the rather blatant messages on this as an exercise to the reader. While I hope to post about the Republican manipulation of the spineless wussies of the MSM later (what a sad state of affairs when the best running commentary and reporting on the convention has been the Indecision08 blog), I intend to focus here on the McCain Tech Policy or, more accurately, the utter absence of one.

As I observed when I first wrote about the McCain tech policy, it is unbelievable that the Republicans treat a multibillion dollar industry that has become one of our most critical pieces of infrastructure and major drivers of our economy as an afterthought to the business of cutting taxes and extending offshore drilling. All this lip service about “the jobs of tomorrow” and doesn’t mean squat if you still think “the interwebs” is all about downloading porn, stealing music, and soliciting minors in AOL chat rooms and this newfangled thing called “my space.”

And no, having Carly Fiorina and Meg Whittman or Michael Powell in your party does not mean squat about your commitment to this stuff unless you actually let them talk about this stuff in prime time. The Daily Show may have mocked Warner for getting into details only geeks could love, but the fact that the Democratic keynote speaker was all about how technology brought good jobs to rural Virginia and the Dems will bring those same good jobs to the small towns and inner cities tells us something about the parties priorities. And the fact that none of the Republican speakers, even the supposed tech experts, could take time away from mocking community organizers and helping the poor to mention anything vaguely tech-related tells us something as well.

Stay tuned . . . .