Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Monday, May 19, 2003day link 

 Blogging
Hm, some days I don't seem to hit on anything I feel like blogging about. Not that I wouldn't be able to find material. But I'd much prefer to feel somewhat inspired when I pick out what to write about. And I'd prefer to believe there's some kind of useful thread that weaves through the items I pick, and the pieces I write. So, if I don't feel it, I can't honestly do it. OK, on many days I'm just picking out a few items from the news that flows by, without adding much of myself into it. But I still need to feel a minimal inspiration of some kind.

If I'm not in the mood, or when I'm out of my element, traveling for example, it also reveals that I don't necessarily write about just anything that happens to me. Some people do, but that is often boring. If I really was just writing about anything, without filtering it much, I should never have any problem. But I suppose I usually try to write from a slightly elevated place. Meaning, I'm at a broadband connection, and I've had a sufficiently leisurely time to idly browse around various news sources, or sit and philosophize about life. It might not work if I'm sick or stressed or my laptop takes forever just to download my mail at some hotel somewhere. Except for once in a while, I might even wake up in the middle of the night with something I just have to go write down to share. During some parts of my life, that would happen every day - that I'm just burning to write something. Recently it is only happening occasionally.
[ | 2003-05-19 14:28 | 8 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Like-minded users do similar searches
Researchers from University of Chicago suggest that a good way of finding like-minded people is to connect up people who do the same searches in search engines. That shouldn't be too much of a surprise. But it is fairly untapped territory. So how can that be tapped? Hm, unless Google does something with it, I suppose a bunch of people could agree to pass all their searches through an intermediary page, which keeps track of who searches on what, and notifies people when a pattern is forming. Maybe all those people who come to my site looking for "naked ganguro girls" should talk.
[ | 2003-05-19 15:19 | 12 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Ratcliffe on Emergentism
Mitch Ratcliffe is writing a book, about something right up my alley. The transformation of power. How monolithic government and corporate monopolies get replaced with networked communities.
This book will explore the use of power in the 21st century from a variety of perspectives. Emergentism, which seeks to gather together the lessons of the streets in densely connected societies with the organizational ideas developed as the Internet became the predominant system for global communication in government and business. It will consider the role of the citizen, what is required of the citizen and how the existing states and new entities can organize to provide for the needs of a citizen who participates both directly and indirectly in the social decisions of their world. Business and economics' place in the emergent world will be incorporated into a worldview that seeks to address the power of individual or collective generosity and greed. The role of technology and power in diplomacy and war, as well as in addressing large-scale human and environmental crises, will provide a possibly disturbing insight into the future of the nation-state.

Consider for a moment that virtually all political ideas in their current form today are fewer than 400 years old. In 1650, the Prince and state were one, literally all power was endowed in one person, though the Prince struggled mightily to manage the intrigue that accompanied that power. Nationalism is a phenomenon of the late 18th and 19th centuries. Capitalism, socialism, conservatism and liberalism are all creations of the period since the Prince and the state parted ways, and power began to devolve first to a few and now to many people. Society is a constant flow of change and the state is idea among theses ideas that is the least bound to individual interests. Few today identify with their government, "the state," instead they passionately believe in their neighbors, their culture and the identity they associate with a territory, their nation. Many commentators have predicted the end of the nation and the reemergence of the tribe or village as the central organizing institution in society.

The theory behind this book is that the state, the mercantile-industrial kludge invented to separate the people and the prince from the levers of power, is the most transient organizational artifacts of the modern era. Along with the state will go all the accepted ideas about the meaning of a company regulated by a state and property ownership guaranteed by the state. At the same time, the corporation is an awesome organizational force and private property isn't going anywhere, as most humans are only now getting their first taste of ownership or they are still peering in over the gates at the propertied world wanting at least part of the security in ownership that they see--even collectives perceive themselves as entitled to access to resources, so a traditional village that shares land considers itself as stewards of resources that is analogous to ownership.

Most importantly, with no monolithic state to guarantee their rights and enforce responsibilities, the individual will experience a profound change, one with all the risks and rewards of Pandora's Box. Everything will be possible and permission will come through collaboration with others. With the state fading, but national and local identity still an important component of human identity, a vacuum will open into which someone will step. My bet, the one I hope fervently will succeed, is that no one institution will emerge, but that an emergent community of communities will take pieces of the power of the state, and these communities will begin to interact together with the remaining institutions of the state, international non-governmental organizations, religions, private business and what will surely become a freelance, stateless security "industry" formerly known as the military. Handled deftly, this could turn out very well. If it is bungled, history will turn out very badly indeed.

Having seen first-hand, many times, the power of networked groups, I hold out not hope, but a task, to organize and act, no matter who you are and no matter what it takes.

[ | 2003-05-19 15:26 | 16 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 Printwash
A few ornery journalists who don't like blogs are complaining that blogs are represented unfairly in Google search results. In other words, anything said in a popular blog is likely to place very high in a search engine search. It is sometimes presented as a sort of conspiracy termed "googlewash". And the old fashioned media companies might be thought to have reason for considering it unfair that little one-person blogs are more authoritative on many subjects than they are. But there's no such conspiracy, and it is quite obvious what those media companies should do to be equally well placed. Doc Searls has an excellent overview on PrintWash.
Tim Jarrett summarizes what I said two days ago about why Google search results are often thickened with blogs, and why the situtation could quickly be corrected by full exposure of print journal archives on the Web:
In other words, if you choose not to participate on the public, freely linkable, not for pay Web, don¹t complain when others who do participate by the rules of the game are easier to find.
Dave agrees:
Anyway, Doc Searls, the happy blogger (always!) finds a glass-half-full solution. The print journalists should walk down the hall to their publishers' office and request that they make their archive publicly available so it can be indexed by the search engines. Google is just indexing what's on the Web. If you want to be in Google, you gotta be on the Web. It's pretty simple.
Very simple indeed. And very fair and democratic. If you want mind-share on the net, you need to put out a lot of good stuff that people like. It has to be easily available, and it has to be possible to link to it and quote from it. But then again, maybe we shouldn't tell the big corporations about this. I kind of enjoy my splendid google rankings.
[ | 2003-05-19 15:42 | 5 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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