Searching for the Moon

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

Archive for July, 2004

Greater Democracy: After the Convention: A Call to Action

Posted by shannonclark on July 30, 2004

Greater Democracy: After the Convention: A Call to Action

I posted a comment to Jon’s post on following up from the convention, on the danger I see in echo chambers and the risk we run in the modern highly specialized networked world of not engaging with those who disagree with us.

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Barack Obama — Text of Speech to the Democratic National Convention

Posted by shannonclark on July 28, 2004

Barack Obama — Text of Speech to the Democratic National Convention

Early on I had mixed feelings about Barak Obama, on the one hand he clearly is an extremely smart, significently capable legislator (got complex issues passed with bi-partisan support), and a rising star in the Democratic party. However, in the primaries I disagreed with him over Iraq and his ferverntly anti-war position (spoke at demonstrations against the war in fact), so I supported a different candidate (and neighbor of mine).

Now, however, he clearly is the favorite to win here in Illinois (the Republicans do not even have a candidate at the moment and are highly unlikely to have one that I would even consider voting for given their positions on social issues).

In his speech last night he went a very, very long way towards getting not just my vote but my active and interested support. Specifically he presented a message tailored towards the center (where I am as a centrist independent) and with a reasoned position on international affairs, more reasonable than I expected.

In his campaign site he has a blog, many of the comments on his speech are suggesting that we may have just seen the start of a national career, of someone who could be the first black president of the US (likely in 2012 if the people on the site have their way.)

I think this is not unlikely, though I suspect more likely is for Hillary Clinton to run in 2012 (though if, as I hope, Kerry/Edwards are elected this year and again in 2008, Edwards clearly will be a candidate to contend with as well). Barak Obama clearly, however, will be a leading and rising star for the Democratic party.

As a centrist, I hope, however, that he and the Democratic Party in general keep firmly to the center, rather than drifting as far to the left as the Republicans have to the religious conservative right.

I have at many times in the past expressed my personal wish for a strong, vibrant, active third party in the US. Baring a real centrist party (Pragmantic Progressives is a label some I know have suggested), a Democratic Party that sticks to being socially libral, but offers restraint and a recognition of the need to remain deeply engaged in the world (militarily if necessary but absolutely economically as well) would be a welcome second option.


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Posted by shannonclark on July 22, 2004

Sally Duros, a friend and talented writer in Chicago sent me the following link wirearchy

Bears more time and rereading – will blog about it later.

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Posted by shannonclark on July 21, 2004


A group written poem. My line is the third one – “double rainbows cross the sky, you and I”

Who know where it will go and what will become of it – but a somewhat cool concept, I’ll check back and see what and where it has gone.

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Software That Lasts 200 Years

Posted by shannonclark on July 20, 2004

Software That Lasts 200 Years

Doc Searls points to this article – which raises a bunch of stuff, I will be forwarding this to many different groups, more on it when I have some time to think about it further, but I think it is a step in the right direction.

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Something I would like to see

Posted by shannonclark on July 16, 2004

or a site I may try to put together
Having the opportunity this afternoon to meet two people who work for a very large firm (over 100,000 employees just in the US and most of their business is overseas) I was struck by the fact that while a large organization can have flaws, it can also have motivated, interesting, smart employees, such at the guys I met with today.
From this spark comes the following “simple” idea.
Create a list of ALL employers WORLDWIDE.
Rank by # of employees (at least into rough categories)
Show ownership links (where known either publically or privately) perhaps to the level of individual owners, perhaps to the level of major shareholders & funds that own the stock, perhaps only noting ownership of one entity by another corporate entity.
Include a link to the company (or links)
Over time I would then like to see the following added to the data collection:
Locations (ideally with estimates of numbers from each location, perhaps also what they do where and how much it contributes to their total revenues)
Links to news articles, rss feeds, etc related to the firm.
Links to patents issued to / owned by the firm
Links to patent sharing relationships the fim is part of (where known)
Links to public data on the company (easy with publically traded firms for which there is a wealth of websites that might be partnered with, a bit harder for private firms), links as well to data on non-share tradeable items such as bonds etc.
Link to legal proceedings against the firm, perhaps sorted into jurisdictions
Don’t neglect to include public entities such as governments and government agencies in the lists. Perhaps include (and show overlap, via percentages and/or raw numbers) unions into the listings as well – especially where the unions are the most stable cohesive unit for that class of workers (building trades, stagehands, writers, actors etc)
Possibly, though this is fret with issues, allow for public commentary on the companies – better might be pulling such commentary and notes from other sites which handle vetting and other legal issues with the data.
My thought is that while some of this list would be easy to assemble, there are hundreds of firms that few other than their employees know much about, could be interesting to learn more about them and if this were extended worldwide, the data could be useful to a lot of people.
Further, the more that this data held out the possiblity of being vetted by lots of people and the more accurately it could grow to become, the more useful and valuable it would be, to lots of people not just investors or geeks.
I think to, it would be interesting to see how the comments on such a directory would compare with those on various national survies, and to the raw statistics behind the performance of the firms themseleves.

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Sandhill Trek: What BloggerCon Was Not…

Posted by shannonclark on July 13, 2004

Sandhill Trek: What BloggerCon Was Not…

A report on a past “Jerry’s Retreat” – lots in here for me to learn from as I put together my own conference, MeshForum which I most definitely want to be an experience that will set people thinking and spark ideas (and perhaps businesses) as a result.

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Re: Recommendation for Grad Student’s 5th anniversary

Posted by shannonclark on July 5, 2004

Chowhound’s Chicago Area Message Board: Re(1): Recommendation for Grad Student’s 5th anniversary

I just posted this, another fairly long list of reviews by me (capsule not lengthy) as well as some basic questions/comments about picking a place in Chicago for a special occasion.

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Nice coffee places in Chicago that’re NOT Starbucks??

Posted by shannonclark on July 4, 2004

Chowhound’s Chicago Area Message Board: Re(2): Nice coffee places in Chicago that’re NOT Starbucks??

I posted a long list of cafes in Chicago that I would recommend, I am sure that as I refer back to my own list I will think of dozens of others to suggest as well.

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My Bacon Number

Posted by shannonclark on July 1, 2004

or as well, the power of small ties

I just looked up my “Bacon Number” at the Oracle of Bacon – specifically I looked up the Bacon number of many people who were in the one major movie I have been in, Visa Versa.

I kept going until I found one who had a Kevin Bacon number of 2 because of having been in Visa Versa with Mike Bacarella.

It turns out that Mr. Bacarella, who was a “Limo Driver” in Visa Versa, was “Traffic Cop #1” in the Kevin Bacon movie, Stir of Echoes.

Thus, I, who was an extra in Visa Versa, have a Kevin Bacon number of 2, as well because of Mr. Bacarella.

More generally, however, this is an illustration of the power of connections that are not the “obvious” one – not the ones that first come to mind, but the “regular folks”. I had first assumed that the quickest path for me would have been via the stars of Visa Versa, either Judge Rheinhold or Fred Savage. Instead, it was a “bit” actor in a small role that was, in fact, the quickest and shortest route.

In the “real world” we often focus on our connections at a very high level, who we know at a given company who has a very high position, who we know who has some degree of “fame” etc. Instead, I suspect, when looking for the “fastest route” we should try to discover the loose connections between people with whom we only have small ties, not big ones (i.e. treating fame/reputation as part of the strength of a connection/recognition.)

What also intrigues me is that there is quite clearly multiple levels of networks that exist within even a fairly simple, though easily documented, network of “actors in movies”. Namely, while there is a “well known” path – stars to other stars, there is a much larger and vaster, as well as highly tied together, network of the “bit” players to each other. It appears, at least on my casual poking around, that this second network is both larger and “closer” – that is people have smaller paths (in this case to Kevin Bacon) – that the network of “big name stars”.

In part this may be that these smaller bit players fairly frequently are in many more movies over the course of a career than the starts – as a result they have a much larger 1 degree network than people who spend more time with a given movie (the stars).

In business, this may be akin to a difference between the possible networks of someone who has a career that includes working (either directly or as a consultant etc) for many firms vs. individuals who rise up within the ranks of a single or just a few firms.

Business people do have other ways of “forming ties” – professional organizations, business networking groups, health clubs, country clubs, golf courses, business schools, etc. But the basic lesson, that the network of people, perhaps, who are at the top may not be as “short” as the network of people who are lower down.

That said, it may not be the case that “shortest distance” is the best metric to use when navigating networks. Rather some means of judging potential for success should be attempted. Consider business – as a consultant I have worked within dozens of firms, however my connection to the individuals at many of those firms is very different than someone who worked there for many years, and different again from someone who knows the leaders of those organizations. In a few cases, however, my connections are to the people at the very top, the ones who make decisions, in those cases my recommendation could very well be stronger than that of most ex-employees.

The challenge is how do you estimate the strenght of such networks? As well, how can you explore a network and estimate the likelyhood of success of a given need making through the chain of your connections.

Consider a movie related challenge:

– Casting a movie. I have a movie that I want to cast. If, for example, I already had Kevin Bacon signed to the movie, I might find that people who had worked with him directly would be a first set of people I reach out – though I would want to know if that interaction was positive or negative.

Next, I might want to reach out to people 2 degrees away – whom I might be able to reach via someone who had directly worked with Kevin before. To do that I might start with people who had a positive experience with Kevin, then look at their networks (non-overlapping with Kevin’s) and see who they had positive relationships and then look through those for potential casting.

However, another approach might be to start with someone who we really want in the movie. Starting from that person, we might then look over their network – the “shortest path” might not, however be a path that also only involved very good, positive relationships between each of the people in the path. In short a path to success.

More on this later… and see MeshForum for other discussions on this and more Network topics.

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