Searching for the Moon

Shannon Clark's rambles and conversations on food, geeks, San Francisco and occasionally economics

Archive for February, 2004

Grey Tuesday

Posted by shannonclark on February 24, 2004

Grey Tuesday

I’m interested in this, both as an artist myself (writer, not musician) and as someone who is very involved and interested in IP issues. As well, I’m interested in the phenomenon that this implies – the rapid organization and dispersal of a network of sites working towards a given goal. The Online Protest aspect of this intrigues me, the use of mulitple online tools and mediums does as well.

I’ve seen notices of this on many of the mailing lists to which I belong, on many of the blogs I read regularly, and on many other sites. Tools such as bittorrent and the like are also intriguing to me as they show in part what can happen when the resources of the net are dispersed and used, and when machines have the capacity for both being clients and servers across the net (i.e. when many machines are not hidden behind NAT and firewalls but are opened up at least in part and can share services with others as well as consume services from others – in the case of bittorrent in the form of getting and share parts of data.

As well, I am curious to hear the remix, intellectually I like this concept and I appreciate the skill that it took.

There is also a friend of mine who has been working on a new business venture that is related to all of this, can’t say more until he starts talkiing about it publically, but as a result of having worked with him over the past year plus talking through some of the IP issues involved with new media, I have a new and growing awareness of the issues.

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very cool Javascript Analog Clock

Posted by shannonclark on February 23, 2004

Perhaps a bit showy, but also very cool indeed.

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GROW

Posted by shannonclark on February 19, 2004

GROW

just too cool. Found via BoingBoing which found it via my friend Jed.

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In Which I Discover My Wife’s Adult Magazine Collection

Posted by shannonclark on February 16, 2004

In Which I Discover My Wife’s Adult Magazine Collection

had to link to this – (thanks BoingBoing).

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Sarbanes-Oxley: Road to Compliance

Posted by shannonclark on February 16, 2004

Sarbanes-Oxley: Road to Compliance

This has to be an opportunity for JigZaw. We make software that manages a company’s contracts – whether with suppliers, customers or partners. It provides a centralized repository for contracts, with easy to use web tools to view and compare contracts at a clause level of detail. In turn, this allows for greater transparency and compliance monitoring of contracts – leading to the finacial controls (in part) that Sarbanes-Oxley requires.

Our newest product which we are just launching takes this one step further by incorporating models of contract compliance connecting the contract repository to the transactional/accounting systems of the company and providing an automated compliance audit. This provides a timely and powerful means of discovering potential risks, savings, and other key financial concerns buried within the ongoing transactions of a typical company (suppliers who owe rebates/discounts, customers that might demand rebates, unenforceable terms, contradictory agreements signed with different parties, purchases made to parties without a contract or with an expired contract or just outside of the terms of the existing contract, etc.

Now I have to get my message out there, work with partners to deliver our products and sell, sell, sell (and then deliver, deliver, deliver).

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TIMEasia Magazine: Clans on the Run

Posted by shannonclark on February 16, 2004

TIMEasia Magazine: Clans on the Run

One of the best articles on business – anywhere – I’ve seen in a very long time. In this case it is TIMEasia Magazine and the topic is the family’s of Asian businesses. Most notable to me so far is the family that has been running the same construction firm (specializing in temples) for 1400 years.

As a writer, this type of stuff is inspiring. As a thinker on networks I suspect we all have a thing or two to learn from these families. As the founder of a business myself, I can only barely contemplate what type of company it takes to be providing service 1400+ years later (the temple they built in the 500’s they have rebuilt 7 times).

Consider for a moment what a 1000 year garuntee is. In America it takes you back to Peublos. There are a few institutions in Europe that come close, the Roman Catholic Church, the Greek Orthodox church, some monastaries, a few churches, no current dynstasties that I’m aware of, and certainly no firms that I know of – though I have read of restaurants in Italy in cellars that were built by Romans. In the Middle east there are families that trace themselves back to the Prophet, the Armenian religion is quite old, and there are certainly buildings in Istanbul and Jerusalem that are ancient, but consider just how long and how much change happens in 1000 years.

Now imagine that the same family manages to run a company for that long, continuing to be in basically the same business, adapting to changes all that time, but servicing the same sets of clients for centuries and even millenium. Very amazing and worthy of not just respect but study and contemplation.

In my own business of writing software it is hard to imagine what that will mean just a few years from now, let alone decades and centuries is almost mind boggling.

But it points out that probably what needs to be thought about it not the tools that are used, but the purpose. In the case of the family described here, they have a fairly timeless primary product – wood temples.

What then is my company’s timeless product? A question I will ponder and strive to answer.

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SemanticWeb.org

Posted by shannonclark on February 16, 2004

SemanticWeb.org

“The Semantic Web Community Portal” – i.e. a site that I should spend some serious time reading and following the links from, not specifically because my current software is “Semantic Web” but because so many people I know are working in this area, the site would help me understand what they are working on significently better.

As well it appears to be a well organized and thought out site (which you would hope it would be given the topic, but you never know).

I think there is some overlap between the Semantic Web and my MeshForum conference, though clearly the two topics are not completely related either. SemanticWeb is very much more of a technical challenge and problem while MeshForum is more about (I hope) theory and practice, and the theory in question covers much more then just computer programming.

Anyway, a good resource and worth looking at.

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Social network search and other comments and ideas

Posted by shannonclark on February 15, 2004

or something I really need

So, having recently be contacted by a friend from my distant past, it occurred to me to check whether he was on any of the many networks to which I belong. As I began this process I realized, this is more than silly. It is something that really should not be neccessary to do.

Rather, I should, in theory, be able to search all of the many networks to which I belong at once. Ideally in a way that honors each network’s information access controls and network topology (i.e. some networks may not show information on someone “unconnected” others might show the presence of that member in the network, but request some “proof” that I know them etc.).

This would then be a means by which I might search:

LinkedIn, Spoke, eCademy, Ryze.com, Friendster, Tribe, Orkut and any other network that shows up to which I join (perhaps even quasi networks such as Slashdot’s membership pages etc.

As well, it might be great to have tools which would synch and link my various profiles – that is, provide a means by which my various identities on various networks can be interlinked. If I updated one, it would be nice to update them all, if someone joined my network on one site and was also a member of another site, and I thought the two networks roughly equal in what “joining a network” meant on each site, then could be asked to join my network on the other site as well – would be very nice indeed.

As it stands at the moment I have a truly huge network on some sites – Spoke shows over 9, almost 10 million people in my network (but shows more weak ties than other networks so it is somewhat less useful) but LinkedIn which is mostly stronger ties shows me with a network of nearly 110,000 and counting (much but not all of which is due to a few very highly connected people in my network – Thomas Powers comes to mind, but he is only ~40% of the 2nd degree connections I have, so he is not the only cause of my wide network there.

Over time I think that the many networks currently coming into being will be rationalized in some manner, just what and how I do not know. Already I find myself looking at them and trying to decide which one or ones are worth significent investment – ideally I would like to spread that “bet” around and not be focused on a single network, but rather on the actual “network” of my contacts – vs. the “network” revealed by that portion of each contact’s network they have shown to a given site.

As well, what happened to me this weekend of a friend from my distant past shows the weakness of all of these networks, they do not and indeed cannot show all of someone’s connections. Not just distant friends that have been lost touch with, but the many daily important contacts from coworkers to neighbors to the barrista at your regular cafe or the other regulars at your favorite diner or bar. These contacts are every bit as important in mapping out your “network” as the ones that usually show up online, but rarely are all of these captured by any tool – for one, you rarely email all of the people you see on a daily basis (at least I don’t). Not to mention the many people most of us know and have known for far longer than our current email addresses (family, family friends, childhood playmates, teachers, classmates, coworkers from our first jobs etc.)

So, while many of the online networking software sites are trying to map out our “networks” they are not, in fact, doing this task.

What then are they accomplishing? They are mapping out some subset of our networks, and a similar subset of the people to which we become connected (and on and on). This implies that they will always be somewhat flawed, but understanding this on the part of the site, the members, and new potential members likely, I would claim, results in a more effective and “useful” site.

Specifically, say that instead of the broad “link to whomever you know” a site explicitedly set up a series of criteria for the people you linked to – a broad criteria but something that all the members of the site would agree to and/or could be explicitely embedded into your “link”

– this might be very broad – i.e. business contacts or very narrow “people who like Dr. Who”

But written this way, and opened up so that people can easily and somewhat transparently belong to many networks and quickly and easily participate in them, perhaps we (as users) would find them of significently greater utility.

Anyway just some thoughts on a Sunday night… put out there for people to comment on and ponder.

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Comments on emergant democracy

Posted by shannonclark on February 14, 2004

(these were my comments to Britt Blaser’s recent post on Emergant Democracy) repeated here for my own records and to further clarify/answer some questions that were raised.)

first, my orginal comments:

Britt,
A few quick thoughts – just thinking aloud here.

There is, I believe, a difference between the “tools” and the “design” which might be important and critical.

Tools for tools sake are one thing.

Well designed implementations transform “just” a tool into something effective and perhaps revolutionary (using your own “Amazon One-Click” analogy, pre-Amazon most online stores were very cumbersomel, indeed many still are, what “One-Click” did was emphasize ease of use as well more subtly an assumption that customers would purchase many times in the future)

Indeed, a critical difference between Amazon and in fact almost all other online companies is built into their view of historical information. Most online sites – from hotmail to online stores, routinely “purge” data from customers who have not returned for a long time (in hotmail’s case as short as one month).

Amazon.com in contrast, seemingly never deletes any data from a customer. This is in large part due to their recommendation engine (a tool) which using purchasing data to make suggestions – but it is also a valuable part of why I keep going back – the memory of my past has value.

This combination of an effect which powers the site’s goals, with an effect/benefit for the individuals is also, I would argue, the result of really good design PLUS good tools.

In the Electronic Democracy “space” there are a number of seperate issues to address. First, the identification of a candidate, his or her positions, and the technical aspects of an election (ballots, staffing, petitions, fundraising).

Second, once identified and registered, the candidate’s positions usually need to be refined and publicized, volunteers and funds raised, and opponents reacted to.

Third, the candidate’s support needs to be shown at the polls (first a primary, repeated many times for a national campaign; secondly an election)

Fourth, the candidate – assuming a win, transforms from a campaign strategy to a governing strategy – which may mean transforming from volunteers to some paid staff (locally and at the government center), perhaps political appointments (depending on the position ran for), and critically transforming from election promises into actions.

Fifth, the cycle typically repeats, though if successful, incombants have many advantages in reelection campaigns.

Looking from this perspective, is it possible that one challenge facing Emergant Democracy is that tools and the design of their use has, so far at least, not focused on all the critical aspects outlined above (and the many which, I am sure, I missed)? Perhaps the focus on fundraising and volunteer mobilization, while critical, is not sufficient.

For one, I believe, that in most things if you set up the assumption of success, it tends to help achieve that success. In an election perhaps this is “electability” – i.e. signalling that the candidate and the organization around the candidate is capable of not just the campaign, but also winning, helps win.

Anyway, hopefully this makes some sense, looking forward to your ongoing thoughts.

Shannon

Shannon Clark 2/14/04; 6:51:34 AM

Then, a comment about my comments:

Shannon, I think you’ve confused the republican form of governance with democracy. Democracy isn’t about picking a candidate, therefore tools for democracy won’t necessarily have that focus.
Jon Lebkowsky 2/14/04; 8:13:57 AM

My reaction to Jon’s comments:

I’m not confusing two systems. If you look at our elections, there is generally speaking only a small set of people who run, and there is some degree of picking and choosing amongst these people when they do run (i.e. picking elections they think they can win). There are also a lot of technical criteria that a candidate has to meet (living in a district they are going to represent in many races, not having a felony criminal record, being a certain age, being a US Citizen and not a naturalized one in the case of presidential elections etc.)

Further, I would argue that “emergant democracy” is not just about the “movement” after a candidate has been declared, but is equally about finding the candidates and convincing them to run (think the “draft Clark” movement for a small example of this). I would predict that some future candidates will also be “drafted” by an emergant group, perhaps from the leadership of the group itself.

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Etech: ConCon

Posted by shannonclark on February 13, 2004

Etech: ConCon

yet another reason I probably should live in San Francisco at some point in my tech career – random, semi-spontanous events such as this.

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