Archive for February, 2013|Monthly archive page
So, a revolution is happening and has been now for several years. It’s not the computer one but one that has more to do with informatics and, even better, the way in people’s doings are understood, characterized, and made then available for further use: as data.
(Of course, Asimov’s Hari Seldon, Robert Silverberg’s Stochastic Man, and the most wildly brilliant, Bester’s Golem^100 anticipated this move. Bester went furthest in deconstructing the self.)
Professionally, I help organizations with building communities to make things, usually software. But in many places, and that includes the most developed nations, the right kind of developer and company which might employ her may be missing or at least not present enough. So developing a community entails working with education institutions, which is to say, national and subnational government. And it also entails helping small businesses understand the market that is being created and how become part of the emerging ecosystem that includes that market but also other externalities.
I’m thus always interested in learning how community, big, with diverse populations, each with its own notions of identity, yet (more or less) agreeing to national boundaries and expectations, comes into being. (The game model of community as an economic state is equally interesting, though for different reasons. Still, I’ve been exploring ways in which one might model various commons-based peer set ups as a practical tool.)
South Sudan, born as a nation not even two years ago and proving, by the remarkable spirit of its people, an indomitable courage and pride, is fascinating. The country faces harsh challenges. Yet, as the article that prompts my entry here shows, it seems nevertheless to be progressively making itself as a modern nation.
What tactics are being used? Are they working? And if not, why not? And what other techniques and strategies be used? (The Guardian, btw, has a good series of articles on South Sudan.)
And would it make sense to promote technologies that would link students and education institutions to the Web? If so, I’d suggest P2P tools and SMS innovators like Telerivet. But the issue here would not be advancing a particular sort of technology or learning or awareness–that would be even more arrogant than I’m used to being–but working within the existing and emerging structures.
As is often the case, a good examination. But I’d emphasize that the issue is not open source v. open source but the shift to event-driven systems, architectures, programming.
I think that Stephen is more right than wrong and probably if anything needs to be bolder in his predictions. I’d also love to see investigation of the use/development of apps outside of the already-developed markets.
I’ve been playing around with Miro, one of the very few open source apps listed on Apple’s App Store and an excellent player of audio/visual media. But Miro’s mother group, Participatory Culture Foundation, also makes Amara, as well as other tools that expand the usable effect of the Internet, including crowdsourced material (which is what makes the Internet other than an “official” library).
PCF’s goals are ambitious and realizable. The app itself I use (or am anyway experimenting with), Miro, has some bugs, such as minuscule fonts (and these are dimensions seem opaque to alter), as well as other UI shortcomings. There’s too much going on, for instance, and most of it is not interesting, in that it is not actually related to the task at hand, e.g., listening or watching or playing games. As well, and more up my alley, though Miro is open source and the project itself is not business nor ad shy, it’s still oddly difficult to work directly with the code. It’s by no means impossible–I can download the source, via Git–but there seems to be little in the way of inviting contributors to, well, contribute.
There are some banners proclaiming it’s openness and nonprofitness and *virtue*, but why not have more direct links to filing bugs? To fixing them? To making extensions?
I’m not really faulting the project. It’s done wonders and is great and the app is superb. Congratulations. But their community outreach, and I mean that community that can produce, as well as consume, seems lacking in important ways. And the evident desire to control the course of development seems, to me, too weighty.
I can see the point of focus and indeed I’d be appalled if there were not the sort of focus that pitilessly ignores all the other really desirable things to do in the act of doing what what is needed. I think the translation platform of Amara is really, in fact, groundbreaking, in that it provides precisely the tool needed to use the vast wealth of informational resources the Web has made available.
But this magnitude of ambition demands an equivalent, if not greater, community play.
(For comparison: look at the way that Kaltura has managed its business. Not quite the same, but an interesting correlate.)
Stephanie Kelton in particular is worthwhile following. The fun thing about modern economics is that, like other efforts to formally describe simple actions that are then repeated into complexity, it can become bewildering counterintuitive. Which is why math is so useful: we don’t have to keep on thinking about negative things that persist on having positive effect, we let the symbols operate as they are ruled to.
An important test of an open society is whether or not people with disabilities are actually included in the mainstream. Working on disability rights in societies that are not fully open, can help open up space to work on many other issues. For example, as you raise the expectations of parents about the inclusion of their children in the education system, you’re helping to raise expectations around a whole host of other issues like ensuring that as their children grow in adults they can assume productive lives and also be agents of their own change in the democratic process. From that point of view, I see the disability issue almost as a vanguard in creating open societies. It makes people face the mirror, and face the contradiction between their professed universal values and how they’re actually implementing them on the ground.