12 November 2010

universal folksonomy

This is probably not entirely new. Maybe even not new at all. In fact I've probably just joined legions of people out there who are wondering why ..

There isn't yet a simple plain-text standard for meta-data, that can be applied universally across all services and objects - from web pages and web resources, to documents and files, from books and articles to audio and video files - applied basically, to all digital resources.

Then building on top of all this tagging - all this human-computation and folksonomy - building flexible tools that mine and collate the meta-data from across all possible services, communities, spaces and contexts. Making these tools expandable, so adding another service/context/data-source is as simple as possible.

So, how is this different?
  1. we use it in the same way, but consistently across all services/contexts/collections

  2. we use it even when no provision is made for it - wherever we find space for plain text that can be co-opted to meta-data - like in comment fields, sidewiki entries, bookmark notes, mp3 id3 comment fields, etc

  3. then we build software to collect them from both the formalised meta-data services and the informal - and shape flexible plugins to collect them from wherever the standard can be recognised
what sort of meta-data?
  1. First, the simplest forms of meta-data - tags/labels - flat, informal ontologies - collections of keywords - like those used within services across the so called web2.0.
    And when using services that aren't designed to use tags/labels - co-opting plain-text fields by, say, the following:
    tags = blog, tagging, ideas, software, socialSoftware

  2. Second, simple key value pairs, like author=JaysenNaidoo; date=20101113; license=gpl3

  3. Keeping the set of standards as open as possible - but defining them properly in public. Adding any other std that can be represented in plain-text and gains enough ground - depicting hierarchies, semantics, etc.

.. possibly more on this later.

some almost related links:
Actually some of these suggest practical tagging standards as well:

11 September 2010

the Adliberous idea

Adunblock Communities ..updated for clarity:

The idea is to form additional communities around a tool like AdBlock-Plus. Subscribing to exclusion filter lists that tell your browser which ads to disallow; as usual; but also subscribing to a whitelist of ads and servers that will be allowed through.

Communities could collectively maintain such lists, based on a set of criteria, also collectively arrived at.

The criteria could include things like:
• the type of ad , (text-only, no large downloads, no annoying animation)
• political / consumer activism (for example, only advertisers that behave well; with commitments to sustainability, global justice, workers rights.
• advertise within product ranges / what the community is interested in buying. 
The community could ask for just the type of ads that interest that community (advertisers should be willing to jump through a few hoops for the right to have access to those strongly matched eyeballs) 

• optional fund-raising / activism - where advertisers/adservers pay money to, or support in some way, organisations or a list of organisations, in order to be allowed on the whitelist.

Additional ideas / notes:

• The lists of course should be crowd sourced - using the numbers in the community to monitor for bad matched ads and to suggest products/ads/adservers that the community could include
• Communities manage themselves using the new online tools available for organising and arriving at consensus (wikis, forums, voting)
• Encourage forks/branches of communities / whitelists as required.
• Because community asks for just the type of ads that interest it, you know that whatever ads you see, are for products that are in line with your community's values, and that you can purchase with greater confidence.
• to join, someone would only have to subscribe to the appropriate whitelist
• participation should be under open principles
• a possible fundamental shift in the dynamics between consumer, producer and advertiser.
• effective consumer activism
• a community would decide to sell the right to be on its white-list to ad-servers that meet those criteria.
Then collectively decide on what the money advertisers pay to be on the white-list is used for.

more on adblocking ..
checkout Adblock and Adblock-Plus - already well working crowd sourced adblocking extensions - which by the way, is very usable in both firefox and chrome)

any thoughts, comments ?

31 May 2010


if you had any doubt about how broken international news coverage is.. think about the thrilling blow-by-blow, high-school-hostage dramatic, 911 type awful, that the coverage of the DeepWater-Horizon ecological horror would have been, if only it wasn't so politically unpleasant for the masters of the medium.

22 May 2010

freedom in the cloud

"Everyone wants a piece of you these days: Google, Facebook, Flickr, Apple, AT&T, Bing. They’ll give you free e-mail, free photo storage, free web hosting, even a free date. They just want to listen in. And you can’t wait to let them. They’ll store your stuff, they’ll organize your photos, they’ll keep track of your appointments, as long as they can watch. It all goes into the “Cloud.”

How we got here is quite a scary story. But nowhere near as scary as getting out again. Eben Moglen, a Professor of Law and Legal History at Columbia University and the founding director of the Software Freedom Law Center, warned you about privacy and the cloud before. At a public meeting of the Internet Society of New York on February 5, Moglen asked you to consider how much worse things have become since then and explain what you can do to reclaim your freedom in the era of Web 2.0."

got sent this way by the folks at diaspora. they cite it as one of their motivators.

eyeopening talk. nice bits about the choices that were (not) made about internet architectures - why client-server limits the internet peerage possibility - and some of the political aspects of those choices.

18 March 2010


It is not true that the map of freedom will be complete
with the erasure of the last invidious border
when it remains for us to chart the attractors of thunder
and delineate the arrhythmias of drought
to reveal the molecular dialects of forest and savanna
as rich as a thousand human tongues
and to comprehend the deepest history of our passions
ancient beyond mythology's reach

So I declare that no corporation holds a monopoly on numbers
no patent can encompass zero and one
no nation has sovereignty over adenine and guanine
no empire rules the quantum waves
And there must be room for all at the celebration of
for there is a truth which cannot be bought or sold
imposed by force, resisted or escaped.

From Technoliberation by Muteba Kazadi (Greg Egan)

this is how the novel Distress by Greg Egan opens.. bodes really well :)

Heres another work of technoliberation that bears repeating : the Declaration of Independance of CyberSpace, by the lyricist for the GratefulDead, John Barlow, February 8, 1996

03 February 2010

Blue Brain Project : Year One

just finished watching this preview of a documentary film on the BlueBrain Project - an attempt to reverse-engineer a human brain.

catch it here at The Beautiful Brain

the project site is at http://bluebrain.epfl.ch/