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Saturday, November 01, 2003

BobF at 2:25 PM [url]:

The Value of Dallying and Community

According to www.dictionary.com one definition of "dally" is "To delay unnecessarily; to while away". I'm using the term in a positive sense, waiting a little while before acting. One example is Amazon's 90 minute wait before committing single click purchases. It allows time to collect multiple books into one shipment. For the writer dallying allows time to collect one's thoughts. There is too much "content" in the world and I feel a responsibility to put together ideas rather than publishing quick comments without giving enough background to make them meaningful.

I'm recovering from attending interesting events including BloggerCon. What is most important about blogs is that they make it very easy to publish and that there is a community that can exchange tools and protocols. At PopTech, Clary Shirky presented an analysis of blog connectivity and showed that there are only a small number of blogs that are widely read. More interesting was the observation that blogs generally clustered into community that referenced each other though were not highly connected to the rest of the world. I wonder how many of these clusters reflect existing communities (in the physical world) and how many are formed without the limitations of geography. As we move from a world defined by broadcast media to the ability to reach audiences without forcing everyone to watch the same programming at a given time or, perhaps at all, what kind of patterns will emerge?

To the extent a blog is like publishing there is a reason to post on a regular basis in order to avoid being considered a zombie site. That's a partial antidote for procrastination and I have started to post a series of essays that I've been working on. Since www.frankston.com doesn't have an RSS feed (yet -- I will do one!) I presume no one gets notified of the new postings. RSS is a great example of the value of having a concept of a blog even if only to give a name to a set of technical standards. RSS itself is still evolving and there are alternatives. The continued evolution and controversy are part of the vibrancy of the blog phenomenon. Learning by doing is what makes the Internet marketplace to effective.

Given my lack of RSS, I'll use this opportunity to say that I've posted two essays on consumer electronics. Unlike telecommunications, consumer electronics is a marketplace. The Consumer Electronics Show is as much a computer show as an entertainment show. In "What Isn't" I try to explain the important of thinking beyond ones initial concept of what a product is. I also look at an example, the Panasonic SV AV-100, which is a product straddling the worlds of consumer electronics and the PC.

My interest is not in consumer electronics in isolation as much as its role as an aspect of the world as we interact with it and it interacts with us. Gadgets are interesting as ends in themselves but far more interesting as means.

I guess I better post this because I keep seeing new things to write about and comment on. Just today (a word I use to force myself to post) the Boston Globe has an article entitled "For drivers, electronic overload". The real issue is one of effective interface -- the overload is a symptom of bad design. Having test driven a high end car with one of the fancier control panels my reaction was one of annoyance because of stupid design. At least software allows for rapid iteration and shared innovation but freezing it into hardware denies us that capability which is why … well, that's another story. People act is if function and style were to unrelated issues when the interactions are much more subtle but if I get started on that then … better to finally just post and not let my concern about writing complete and coherent essays paralyze me.

Monday, October 27, 2003

DanB at 9:03 PM [url]:

Some DRM postings

I've made two postings to my personal weblog that relate to Digital Rights/Restriction Management (DRM):

The most recent is a notice that today's Microsoft demo of Longhorn running VisiCalc as an example of backward compatibility owes itself partly to the fact that Dave Reed kept around a bootleg, noncopyprotected copy of VisiCalc. The original was on copyprotected 5 1/4" diskettes. See "VisiCalc, Longhorn, DRM, and Larry Magid's weblog".

The second posting was from Wednesday, October 8, 2003. It's a long write-up of a meeting with the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Secretary of Administration and Finance about Open Standards and Open Source. The Secretary described how long-term data migration is a major issue for the state. It routinely uses data recorded as much as 200 years ago (such as property and legal records). Likewise, the State needs to make sure that it can still use data from today 200 years from now. I wrote: "An issue I didn't get to raise during the meeting: Given the importance of long-term access to data, what should the State do with regards to initiatives on Digital Rights/Restriction Management (DRM) brought on as a reaction to the entertainment industry? Will Massachusetts and other states use their huge buying power to require computers that are open to Open Software and Open Standards? I worry, as I pointed out in my "Copy Protection Robs the Future" essay, that such "protection" techniques, together with the DMCA making it a crime to publish descriptions of protection methods and transformation techniques ("Rosetta Stones"), will thwart the goal of long-term access to, and the sharing of, data.

For more, see the Archive.

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