September 30, 2005

ITP Podcasts

ITP Podcasts, maybe not a gold master, more like a new school style beta*, in that it works but I'm not making any guarantees..

*with a nod to Blackbeltjones, who was in town today..

Posted by Abe at 11:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Get Healthy Fast

A few days ago I watched someone present the idea of healthy vending machine. It hits familiar themes, healthy fast food seems like a can't miss idea, its crossed my mind more than a few times and New York is littered with the failed attempts at making healthy lunch for frenzied workers. Its not that the business have failed, just that they never quite manage to provide that mysterious healthy lunch. Many more are bound to fail too. Why? Because its not the food that's unhealthy in fast food, its the fast that is unhealthy.

First and foremost the problem is a lifestyle problem. If you are living a life where you need your food fast, from vending machines or wolfed on the street, you are not living a healthy life. And its a problem of concentration. Its not that the 700 calories or whatever in a Big Mac are bad for you, and the 30 grams are fat are insignificant compared to the millions of grams that most Americans consume over their lifespan. Its only when those calories and that fat become fast, become something to be consumed in 10 minutes, that they become a problem...

Posted by Abe at 08:18 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 27, 2005

Better Environmentalism

Whenever I see things like this list of ways to shop "green", I always wonder why they leave the obvious out. What's the single thing that so many humans do that has the largest impact on the environment? They have kids.

Talk about wasteful, have a kid and suddenly a couple has increased their contribution to pollution by 50%. No matter how many diapers you hand wash and miserable low flow showers you take, and how many cramped up little cars you drive you'll never be able to undo that one little act of massive environmental damage..

Seriously though, the environmentalists have made steps, but if they really want to succeed they need to prevent be good to the environment as coming across as a sacrificial act. Low flow showers are my pet peeve, I don't care how well meaning you are, anyone advocating those things is my personal enemy, sorry.

I ride a bike everywhere and don't even have a driver's license, but every time I hear someone ranting about SUVs I cringe up inside. People drive those things cause they are comfortable, spacious and make them feel good. If environmentalists are against comfort, space and feeling good, well then they are bound to lose whatever struggle they feel they are engaged in. Its the wrong path towards changing people's behavior. What environmentalists need to create is not just alternative products, but alternative products that are better then the ones they want to replace. A couple on the list above might just do that, its certainly possible, lets see it happen..

Posted by Abe at 12:10 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

September 24, 2005

The Pornography of Conservatism

now that's fucked up dot com, is about as well named a url as you'll ever find. It started out as a site for amateur "wife" porn, and evolved into one for quite a different sort of porn, war porn. Images of Iraqi's murdered by US troops, images of the aftermath of suicide bombers and lord knows what else, I could only stomach a couple clicks.

Billmon's pretty damn disgusted too, but his post leaves me wondering just what the difference is between a photo posted in a bulliten board thread titled "What every Iraqi should look like" (and don't visit that link after lunch please, you will lose it) and a similar photo plastered on the front page of the New York Times. I mean I can barely glance at those images, but maybe they belong on the front of every newspaper in town.

When a photojournalist snaps a shot its a horror story, when a soldier brags about the digital photo of the humans he's shot... I'm not really sure what's more sickening, photos, the people taking pleasure in viewing them or the newspapers to scared to run them. Conservatives would never function without war and sex, more bodies to fuel more hatred, but perversely they find it essential to hide the realities of both as completely as possible. Their broad talks of marriage, just wars hides a far less wholesome interior they obviously crave. And in an age where the media has given up on portraying the horrors of war, could it be that our only path towards realizing the reality of America's violence is through the internet back alleys of the war pornographers?

Posted by Abe at 01:06 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 23, 2005

ITP Podcast Beta 2: Clay Shirky, Social Facts week 3

The files are here. Fast and cheap. Part 1 is way more relevant then 2. Once again I promise better podcasting protocol and hopefully a home somewhere on the itp site. Looking into adding Doug Rushkoff and Alex Galloway to the mix too, we'll see how it goes.

Posted by Abe at 03:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 22, 2005

ITP Podcast Beta, Clay Shirky Thinking About Networks

Playing around with recording some of the classes here at ITP for public posting. This the trial run, from Clay Shirky's Thinking About Networks class, week 3. Audio and a few images. Its a pretty geeky experience listening, try it out. Will work on getting all the proper podcasty protocols running real soon... Until then, the goods are here.

Posted by Abe at 05:53 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 18, 2005


Bringing a laptop to a classroom presents a particular problem. Its tempting to locate the problem in technology, in say students sitting at laptops IMing friends or reading dirty emails. But the relevant technology is actually far more primitive and its called a hinge.

First off let me note this is really about small classrooms, seminars, settings around a table small enough for everyone to know everyone's name. It need not be a classroom, its may as well be a boardroom, a conference room, a situation more relevant to a corporate setting than say a large lecture in a university.

I attend a technology oriented school, large for a graduate program, and a big majority of the 200+ students own a laptop. That's about 160 laptops that are officially discouraged in the classroom. This is a casual place, there never was a real ban, just a guideline, and there never was a real stated reason, beyond some mumbling of people surfing during class, and IMing their friends, etc, etc. The real reason though is clear as you sit around a table. The digital bits are somewhat irrelevant, students have found ways to zone out since before they invented puberty. The real problem with a laptop is one of walls, shields and hinges.

A laptop on a table is pretty nondescript, until you open it up that is. Suddenly the flat space connecting everyone in the room has been divided. A wall swings up and breaks the laptop user out of the circle of conversation. They can do it by daydreaming, but only in one direction. The laptop functions as a shield, it blocks both ways. The little portal into the internet doesn't hurt, but in the end it is the other direction that is most damaging. The physical vertical presence of open laptops on a conference style table shields the user from the speaker, interrupting the dynamic balance that guides a good "tabletop" experience.

Its exactly this reason that so many failed digital "notepad" type devices are on the market. Microsoft's initiative is the most prominent, but pen manufactures and assorted gadget makers have attempted to push into this space as well, with no major success that I know of. Why? Because of where decisions are made in modern corporations. Sitting inside a conference room, making those fateful product development decisions, what could seem more useful then a flat PC to replace those yellow legal pads and archaic pens. Of course that's just about the only place a generic notepad PC is really useful. They are necessary for computing while standing too, but stand up computing activities tend to be too specialized to map straight to a generic notepad device. So in a rather extreme version of a rather common mistake, the people in a conference room mistake their own needs with genuine demands for a product.

Now if a tablet PC where priced a bit closer to the legal pad side then the laptop side, then that might be a genuine product... Leaving the hinge aside the laptop filled classroom is a genuine improvement. Ignoring the largely unproven and uncharted idea of a backchannel behind, there are three main uses for the computer in a meeting or classroom, note taking, distraction and instant research. I'm not much of a note taker, perhaps the only valuable lesson in high school I actually learned from a teacher was that if you stop taking notes and use that energy to listen you might just learn a lot more. But some people are natural born stenographers, and the keyboard is their main tool. I knew one person who would take notes straight into Movable Type and publish them as a blog post at the end of class, quite effective.

Using the computer for distraction is the classic anti laptop in the room case, but I'm not sold. Sure their is a certain dynamic to IM that might pull people farther away from the topic at hand, but just how much does it differ from someone handwriting a love letter, doodling or reading all the small print on whatever they pulled from their briefcase? Any additional distraction the internet might bring is easily offset by what it can add to the conversation, no?

I like laptops being in a classroom for about two reasons, google and wikipedia. Fast, cheap information. An in room error correction machine. When used correctly the internet can transform a room from a closed information space, into an open one. For the most part this is a subtle addition, an anecdote here, a better definition there. But what can't be overlooked with error correction is that occasionally an error can unstablize an entire process, sending the room off on a tangent based not on reality but a mistaken fact. A group of people in a small room can sometimes produce the strangest results, a small lifeline to reality is perhaps a good thing.

Now if only they good get rid of that damn hinge...

Posted by Abe at 05:51 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

September 16, 2005

Open Tag, Close Tag

I'm not sure if its missing entirely, or if I just missed it, but the whole
tagging/folksonomy discussion seems to be lacking any significant exploration of the difference between various types of tags. One difference in particular strikes me as important, the difference in who can author and edit the tags given to any particular item. Whether the tags are open, as in open to the public to create and edit, or closed, for private creation only. This in not a dichotomy, there is plenty of gradation and also approaches that lie somewhat off this spectrum of open to closed. But it is a decent guideline for what is happening.

The best example of closed tags is Technorati, which allows web page authors to add tags to their pages but no one else. How these tags differ from the "metatags" of old school html is beyond me, and its clear from that past that letting people define their own page is not exactly the most reliable way to produce meta data. Technorati compensates for this by using as much tag data as they can snag from outside sources,, furl, flickr, etc... Still searching their index reminds me of the spam filled searches that predate Google. The closed tag has a deep flaw inthat the people with the most incentive to use it extensively are often not the ones that people searching for information have the most interest in.

Flickr's tags are not open, but they are a big move in that direction. Flickr lets anyone inside your social network (as defined inside their system) add tags to your images. This is a simple interface change with potentially radical implications. Suddenly it is no longer necessary for all users in the system to tag in order to get a relatively even distribution of tagged data. Instead a dedicated core of "taggers" can tag up the data of all the lazy people like me who just don't care... Flickr's system works well in part because it is not fully open though, but rather bounded. By limiting the taggers to one's social circle they eliminate anonymity and reduce the potential for malicious tagging. takes a different approach, one that is simultaneously open and closed. If you are using to search and mark your own account, the tags are essentially private. No one is allowed to go into your bookmarks and add tags to your collection. But because is a bookmarking site, and because each bookmark references a unique identify, a url, or more accurately a URI (universal resource indicator), is able collate the numerous private tags, and bundle them into public tags for any given URI. controls this infrastructure of course so this never should be confused with a true public service, but as companies/services go appears to be amongst the most transparent.

What gets market fetishizer's hearts all aflutter about tagging is embedded in the open tag, the possibility that a large group of people might be able to produce more useful metadata than a small set of librarians and catalogers. Whether this will happen is an open question, although at the moment sure seems to lead to better results then Technorati. What happens as tags scale in use is a big unknown though. Or even if they will scale, maybe most people still don't care about producing metadata? Certainly open tags open up the potential for a metadata elite of sorts to emerge. I might not care about tagging my crap, but maybe there are people out there that do, and maybe they'll be willing to take the time to tag my stuff. I've already seen it happen on Flickr, and I'd be willing to bet it will happen in any successful semi-open tag system. The freaks that want things categorized will go ahead and do it, while the rest of are happy with our personal ad hoc processes. Tagging might not eliminate the hardcore classifiers, but instead let them multiply by lowering the threshold for entry. You don't even need to go to library school to enter the classification battles now!

The other side of open tags worth looking at the though, is just how they work. What's really important here is not tagging itself, but algorithmic search. Tags are just an interface that makes it easy to generate metadata. With closed tags this essentially creates locally structured data, and a small set of hooks for algorithmic search. With open tags though the hooks for algorithmic search multiply. One tag saying "nomadic" is pretty meaningless to an algorithm, it needs a means of verification. But in an open tag system there might be 150 tags all saying "nomadic" and another 30 saying "nomadism". This is the sort of information that is extremely useful to an algorithmic search. Of course there will probably be another dozen tags saying "phentermine", or whatever else it is the spammers want to splatter, but one hopes the algorithms of tomorrow will stay a step ahead of the spam... What's important to realize though is that it is not the collection of open tags themselves that produce the relevant search result, but the algorithm that is using the tags (and most likely other information as well). Tags themselves are merely ticks in a database, its only through the execution of code, or through the navigation of a database structure that the information becomes useful and interesting.

Posted by Abe at 03:54 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 15, 2005


Back in grad school for a week and already a dead blog. It's a bit odd, the opposite would seem to be true, I'm studying technology, culture and society, I should be doubling up the blog output, no? But it turns out, for me at least, that blogging output is directly related to how long I have to sit in front of a computer without major interruption. Blogging dovetails flawlessly with days of computer work. Having classes, and moving my computer in and out of school completely disrupts the process. Half done entries die somewhere on my bike commute, rather then evolve in small increments in a working day. Ideas that evolve easily alongside freelance design work, get chopped in half by class time. Clearly I need a new pattern. Either that or give up on the blog for a bit...

Posted by Abe at 06:04 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 06, 2005

Web 2.02 (bottom up)

Peter Merholz has a response up to my Web 2.0 piece. Peter is one of the sharpest commentators and observers of the internet around and par the course it well worth reading. And he brings up two points that need some clarification, so as Slick Rick would say, here we go:

First off Peter is entirely right that the early web was not a place where "anyone" could build. Not in the least. But I also was pretty careful not to make that claim, so I'm not sure where the "anyone" Peter puts in quotes comes from.

The distinction between and amateur and professional is like that between the ocean and land, very clear most of the time, but almost impossible to pin down at the border regions. And when you talk about amateur and professional skills rather than amateurs and professionals as in people, well then the distinction becomes almost impossible to sort out. But in the end I think it's pretty damn clear that it takes a lot more skills to be rolling your own up to general standards websites now then it did 10 years ago. You just can't learn how to make Ajax sites or database driven sites or write good CSS the way you used to be able to learn HTML or Flash 3. Precisely demarcating that difference is near impossible, but it's pretty clear that it exists. The somewhat arbitrary and perhaps a bit silly distinction I used, of a skill that a reasonably intelligent and motivated person could learn in a weekend was there precisely to make it clear that the amateur web was not one that "anyone" could get onto, but was one that took a very different sort of learning process then what exists today to become a creator.

Peter's second point is well taken and I'm afraid I'm a bit at fault. I never meant to imply in any way that Peter was intentionally arguing that companies should relinquish control over to his company. However whether he likes it or not I do believe that is part of what he in effect did end up arguing. I mean, the article appeared on the website of the company he founded, a company in the business of selling web consulting. And when he says companies should relinquish control he's not saying they should have a gang of monkey's generate their websites or hire 14 year old "script kiddies" to write their code or turn your whole ecommerce site into a wiki. Relinquishing control is not something that you can just do like its a Nike ad. Rather in order to do it, you need to make sure you do it right. And if you want to do it right, hiring Peter and Adaptive Path is probably one of the smartest things you could do. They are among the very best, I have a strange feeling they'll do a much better job figuring out how to relinquish control then you, or most other companies could do on their own.

There is a reason for this, "relinquishing control" is hard, really hard. And not just psychologically, there are an awful lot of ways you can do it wrong. There is a reason why Amazon lets you add comments to book pages, but not edit the author and title of the book or use the page a private bulletin board, and its not because they hate their customers. Flickr lets you upload photos, but not mp3s or java applets. Ebay lets you sell your items online but requires you register with them. None of these businesses would work if they just let customers do anything and everything. They aren't in the lose control business, they are in the business of facilitating the flow of information. Not just any information too, but specific information, quality specific information, information relevant to their particular focuses.

When Amazon opened up its pages to comments they radically increased the amount of information available about each book purchase. In the process they relinquished some control over to their customers, in a rather controlled manner of course. Flickr gives their users control over their own photos online, but the numerous interface innovations that in part drives their success stem from controlling exactly what type of files the users can post. By narrowing the channel of information down to a couple similar image file types, the Flickr team was able to open up a whole array of ways in which that particular type of information could flow.

It is important to understand that openness and control do not necessarily need to be in conflict, they are not paradoxical at all, but in fact often work together integrally. It is only in very localized circumstances, for instance in the specific decision whether to have an API to a system or not, that the two enter into a dialectical relationship. Most of the time the two coexist quite easily, often complementing each other, and sometime quite essential to each others operation. For instance the distributed network that is the entire internet, would be close to useless without the centralized DNS system, which dictates the address on the network of practically every publicly accessible object on the internet.

My favorite example is still Brian Eno's Music for Airports. On this record Eno set out to create a generative system for music, a way to create music without the rigid control proscribed by western (and most other) music tradition. But to give up control completely is to give up being music at all. Even John Cage, whose 4'33" opens the entire piece up to the audience to create, relies upon the piece being done in a controlled environment. Outside of the performance hall, absent a performer on stage to provide a focal point, the piece no longer is music, is no longer recognizable. Eno, went far beyond this, he carefully curated the sounds going into his record. He went through an elaborate and convoluted process to create longs loops of sound out of rhythmic sync with each other. He hijacked the entire studio space to make the mechanics possible. He gave up control over certain key elements of the piece, the time when any given sound would play, and opened up a vast potential space for variation in the piece, but in order to achieve that liberation, he needed to control most of the process.

From a creators point of view it might be helpful to think not of control, but of self-discipline. Mike Migusrki has a piece doing exactly that, and its quite insightful. As a creator, in order to achieve the freedom to create what you envision in your head you need to achieve a certain mastery of your discipline. Only once you have achieved a certain control over your tools are your free to create what you want. Translated into a networked environment this transforms into a slightly different discipline. Suddenly the tools are shared, in order for information to flow from site to site, system to system a shared discipline must be developed and maintained. This discipline then becomes both a potential means to achieve a freedom and a potential for control to be implemented.

I wrote most of the above last week, before Katrina and its aftereffects disrupted all thought patterns. Since then the Web 2.0 conversation has advanced a bit, most notably with danah boyd's "Why Web2.0 Matters: Preparing for Glocalization". Have a feeling there is plenty more to come too. But overall I have the feeling there isn't really much disagreement. Expansion yes, Web 2.0 is a pretty amorphous thing, but there is something there and everyone wants to finger it. But perhaps the real answer is that old stand by, "all of the above". Or perhaps not, I'm looking forward to what comes next...

Posted by Abe at 12:56 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Really Simply Now

As horrifying as last week was, a vicious wake up call reminding us just how real a disaster can be, this week has smashed in with an even harsher realization.

Really simply now:

They turned New Orleans into a prison.

Step back, breathe, think about it for a second. Breathe. FEMA shuts everyone out. The National Guard prevents those left inside from leaving. The army comes in guns alight. The Red Cross isn't even allowed inside.

They turned New Orleans into a prison.

Maybe that's what Barbara Bush was talking about today when she claimed that "this is working very well for them.", with the "this" meaning being stuck in a refugee camp and the "them" being refugees of America's worst natural disaster in a 100 years. Yeah things are working out very well, they may be refugees, their homes may have been washed away, but at least they aren't being held in that half submerged prison that once was New Orleans.

They turned New Orleans into a prison.

I'm an American, I love my country. I may not agree with every action it takes, but I do love my country and a good part of what it stands for. I still do, but a little part of me froze ice cold last week, and little more so this week. Why? Because the country I saw, the actions we all witnessed, they had nothing to do with the country I love, the country I believe in, or the country I want to live in. Something is deeply wrong in America today, it needs to change at the top and it needs to change at the bottom. Really simply now: New Orleans is not the exception, it is the reality that could strike any part of America, the storm that blew back the facade on the foulest aspects of our society.

And they turned it into a prison.

Posted by Abe at 01:17 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 04, 2005

Anarchy, New Orleans Edition (bottom up)

The first warning sign I caught was in midst of the Hurricane build up. Can't remember where, but buried in some article was a line about long lines to get into the Superdome, the shelter of 'last resort'. Long lines because security at the door was searching everyone for drugs and guns.

The storm of the century is blasting towards New Orleans and police are busy searching people for drugs and guns, something was ajar, the record skipped a groove. The impact wasn't in yet the storm had not landed, this was supposed to be a story about a natural disaster and the human response, where the hell did the drugs and guns, the search and seizure, where did it come into the picture.

Welcome to New Orleans.

Beneath the jazz history, oil flows and 24 hour drinking establishments, is a city of deeply entrenched poverty, distrust and inequality. Its a city where a quarter of the population lives in poverty. A city where a largely white police force plays enforcer to a population that is 70% black. As liberated as the city may seem to a drinker, its never escaped the shadows of slavery and the equally insidious but far more subtle structures of racism that followed. As in much of the south the Civil War never quite ended in New Orleans. Beneath the Marti Gras facade of the city is a perpetual tension, a poverty that goes beyond economics, a poverty of communication, a poverty of politics, a poverty of trust.

The destruction of New Orleans began long before the hurricane hit. The looting, chaos and armed gangs began long before the levees broke. You could read it in the paper as Katrina approached, a storm is coming and what are the police doing? What they always are doing, searching the population, imposing their will. The city is being evacuated, but the police and general population can never work together in this city, the divides are so deep that they stand up strong and violent even as the levees fall.

In the intensely disturbing days that followed, that as I write this still appear to continue, two news items hit even harder, even nastier, then the rest. One was the stories of New Orleans police turning in their badges, their ties to the community had been severed by the waters, they no longer cared for the city they had sworn to serve and protect. Nothing could be a stronger indictment of just what a wounded community existed in New Orleans, of just how much the police force was their to protect property not serve the people of the city. Perhaps even more shocking and nearly entirely blocked from the news is the fact that troops (Louisiana National Guard?) where blocking the bridge out of the city, preventing thousands from walking out the disaster zone and the Red Cross from coming in. New Orleans had been turned into a prison, a war zone, an area not to be helped, but to be contained. If these reports turn out to be true, so far the only source I've found is of all places Fox New's Shepard Smith, then the story evolves from disaster and into one of crimes against humanity. And I suspect its damn true, I was wondering just why no one was walking out long before that report, and was filled with reports of people being denied entry to rescue people at confirmed locations.

What this all builds up to goes beyond just the racism, repression and persistent
low level class warfare at work and into anarchy. Anarchy is a funny word, the mainstream news was full of it for the past few days. Anarchy as chaos, lose of control, the inmates running the prison while the lights stayed out. Anarchists however have quite a different definition of anarchy however, and completely out of step with their philosophy, are rather insistent that others use their definition despite the fact that a vast majority of people use a quite different definition.

My friend tobias c. van Veen provides a good example, in his other wise spot on essay "A Black Rainbow Over Downtown New Orleans", he makes the claim that no, New Orleans is not in a state of anarchy, but rather "the rupture of the facade of global capital". Which is all probably true if one follows one of the rigid definitions of anarchy favored by practitioners, but utterly incomprehensible to those of us who still are aware of word in its common usage. New Orleans was in a state of anarchy after the disaster, a state where the law was absent, a non force, a state of chaos.

What's really interesting to me though is that neither definition of anarchy, the anarchist's own definition or the common more frenzied one need to be contradictory. In fact both anarchies are easily contained within one definition, and both are in reality potential states of one concept, potential states of anarchism.

Anarchy is the social state free of political authority, and in the days after Katrina hit New Orleans is a clear example of what can happen in such circumstances. That "can" is essential though, it does not mean that is what will always happen and in fact there are plenty of examples quite to the contrary. New York after 9-11 is the one that immediately springs to mind, but perhaps Chalmette, Louisiana is even better, a small town seven miles east of New Orleans where the Katrina tied together rather then divide the community.

Anarchy is by its very nature an emergent system. What emerges does not necessarily need to be intelligent or organized, but since there is no direct centralizing force, whatever group behavior exists must be emergent in some manner.* But just how anarchy emerges is not predetermined in any manner, and in fact there are a variety of potential states that it might take. What determines what state anarchy enters into is largely determined by environment, culture and forms of energy circulating within the anarchistic space.

In New Orleans a culture of distrust and borderline warfare was long present in the environment. Poverty, racism and drugs where part of day to day life. As nearly all the white people, along with the black middle class and elite fled New Orleans what remained was largely two groups the helpless and the deeply repressed. Free of the persistent police presence, hungry, lacking water, plumbing and electricity anarchy emerged. Some of the anarchy was people breaking into stores for food and water. Some was people breaking in to obtain those material goods they never obtain in the political and economic climate that was New Orleans. And some of it was just plain people breaking. Pains and pressures snapping into the form of rapes, beatings and bullets directed at the police.

It was all there and apparent as the Hurricane approached. The police officers slowly and intensely searching every person as they entered the Superdome seeking shelter clearly illustrated the failure of this community and the vicious environment constructed to keep it that way. This was a community already at war, a long drawn out police action of a war. A community without trust. These are the force that directed the emergence of anarchy. The forces that pushed the anarchy towards its violent emergence, its most tragic form.

Anarchists, expect perhaps a few lunatics, want no part of this sort of anarchy, and in fact will go to great measures to redefine anarchy to exclude these realities. But in fact the anarchies of the anarchists are merely other potential states of the exact same anarchy that New Orleans produced. Far more positive potential states, and ones that can be glimpsed at in places like Chalmette during this disaster. There residents ignored by authorities for six days distributed food via boat, did their own rescuing and created their own shelter. Just as in New Orleans it was anarchy, the absence of political control, the parish officials had fled. But a very different state of anarchy, guided by an environment not nearly as oppressive as New Orleans.

Just who is responsible for the various police actions around New Orleans is still pretty clear, but its becoming evident that the various government agencies at work went out of their way to ensure the anarchy of New Orleans would be pushed towards a negative not positive state. The searches at the Superdome where just the prelude. The combat operations, "little Somalia" approach of the US Army was the most over the top. Most odious and damaging though was the sealing of the city, the turning of the city into a prison where people could not walk out. Volunteers with boats where turned away, people with confirmed locations could not enter to pick up relatives and friends. Even the Red Cross was kept out. The government it seems was far more concerned with containing the poor of New Orleans then in solving any problems. Its not a new story, its merely a wretched retelling of the same foul story of slavery in America and lord its not pretty. Its a story that will get told again and again too, perhaps never with the same catastrophic energy of Katrina pulsing through it, perhaps never with the same media attention, but the same old story, same old tragedy once again.

* This it should be noted gets directly at one of the biggest confusions surrounding emergence, there is a massive difference between an emergent intelligence, an emergent system and an emergent property.

Posted by Abe at 12:07 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

September 02, 2005

September 11th, 2005

Not sure where the idea comes from or where it will go, but the time is sure seems ripe.

If political protest in America has any legs left it needs to stand up in one massive formation. At least two million people. The buzz is September 11th 2005 in Washington DC. Let Bush know he has failed the American people, the people of New Orleans for certain, the people of the Mississippi Delta for certain, but also the parents of dead soldiers, the relatives of hurricane sufferers, and every other American out there, we all suffer from the incompetence and failure of this administration. September 11th, 2005, lets come together, en mass, and create a voice loud enough to be heard.

Sounds good to me.

Maybe its late in the game, maybe its unorganized, maybe a hail mary pass. But if you like the idea spread it along.

September 11, 2005, Washington DC

update, looks like September 24th for the IMF/World Bank meetings is when the professional protesters want to do their thing, odds are it'll be as ineffectual as usual. Hate watching these fools pump the status quo and let good ideas go to waste...

Posted by Abe at 06:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Trial By Tabloid, New Orleans Edition


used to do this over on my long since discontinued politics blog American Dynamics, and perhaps its time for a revival. Actually, been thinking it'd be good to make this an automated feature/site/piece of netart, but the skills required are a bit beyond mine, if anyone wants to help out that'd be spectacular, just let me know, abe at this sites url.

Posted by Abe at 06:11 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

The Constant Gardener

Not really down with movie reviews, the less you know going into a film the better the experience tends to be. If the films any good of course, the secret is to pick up on the buzz without learning too much. So with that said, go see The Constant Gardener, well worth it.

Posted by Abe at 04:51 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Post Technorati?

Put me in on that anti Technorati bandwagon. Been a passive supporter since before it even began, but like others I'm hitting my tipping point. The one problem, the reason I never spoke out before, is that there is no good replacement, or at least I haven't found/used one yet. Blogpulse is the closest, but they just don't catch as many incoming links as Technorati can. If of course you can get Technorati to actually give you results.

My technique is to constantly reload their "sorry" page in the background. Tends to work on about the 30th try. All the while taxing their servers even more. I wrote this post because I started thinking about ways to automate my little fake DOS attack on their servers, just to catch the results. Which of course would do nothing but make them even less effective to everyone else. Bad move. So what works? I think I've followed ever link to alternatives I've seen over the last month, and been disappointed close to every time... There must be something better out there, yes?

Posted by Abe at 12:20 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack