Jon Udell, on Ward Cunningham’s new “federated wiki” project:

Mr. Udell, Thank you for sharing this news about the “federated wiki”. This will make the “old” dominant Wikipedia, for example, obsolete pretty quick, because it is a “consensus engine”. If I understand this new thing correctly, it provides for divergence of opinions and perspectives and paradigms.

The currently dominant “Wikipedia” web site is great in general, but only for areas where there is no controversy, and it compels a kind of “forced” consensus because of its dominance on the Internet, being the general go-to site for knowledge. The result is that anyone with a minority view is sidelined. The “neutral point of view” does not exist because the idea of “consensus” has pretty much the same flaws as the majority rule idea of “democracy”.

So there have popped up wiki’s everywhere, a sort of partitioning of the Internet space, isolating groups of opinion somewhat, but with differing collections of facts. Dissent from the “consensus”, which does not mean a truly neutral point of view the way most of us think of it There is no narrative of “facts” in text without a perspective.

That’s why you can’t get the real deal on divergent and dissenting perspectives or paradigms in Wikipedia. Wikipedia’s perspective reflects that of its arbiters who decide how to apply the “neutral point of view” mandate.

Federation is better than centralization. This is why localization of governance is better than centralization.

But with a network of peered nodes, if I understand this vision correctly, will allow for nodes that refer among themselves and may provide a way for readers to compare the different perspectives. It may work out better than a formalized debate would. IF we can keep itchy censoring bureaucrats and political control freaks from interfering, like they’re doing with trying to push a censorship regime in another “neutral” disguise.

Some of them are pretty funny, too:


IBM i (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been to just one of Trevor’s presentations, and he is an entertaining speaker. Users and developers that use the IBM i generally know who he is.

Some in the audience actually did have a real “AS/400“, at that time, and had not yet moved to the current offering from IBM, the “IBM i on Power”, from before, and he said, “Well, yeah, you do have an AS/400″.

I can understand how he might be considered “caustic” in his conversations, and call it my opinion if you want, but he is right.

It’s not the same machine it used to be. People have the green screen idea when they think of our succession of machines. Maybe they’ll be calling it “IBM Next” after 7.0 but we’ll see.

They called it “Mac”, “Windows“, but when they do, the brand is not held back by those names. People regard it as a general brand. None of us has any problem at all calling an automobile by the name the manufacturer gives it. But the Rambler is dead. The Edsel is not coming back.

One well-known creator of a very much-used language, whose name slips my mind, gave a talk about branding at a conference, and gave a few examples.

Once upon a time, there was a phone company that accumulated one of the worst reputations for quality, overhauled it to get one of the best, but the consumer brand was irreparably damaged. So, they changed their name to Verizon.

Has anybody here ever used IBM Visual Age for Java? Or ever hear of it? How about Eclipse?

That’s branding.

The other day I went to a Java Users Group. Despite the fact that the IBM i can run all the java you ever want, PHP, Python, web servers, XML, and almost anything you can run on Unix, about half a dozen good GUI‘s, you can run just about any popular file system, including the one for Unix, the one for Windows, for the i.

I’ve heard there are knockout applications running web sites, few viruses can do it damage, there’s nothing ancient about the latest offerings for IBM i on Power.

They had never heard of the IBM i. So I explained that it was the modern replacement for the old AS/400. They immediately stopped listening and did the same thing when they heard “RPG“, and didn’t even seem to hear that RPG can do all this great stuff and is getting updated faster than any other standard language.

From now on I’m not even going to mention the AS/400, I’ll just talk about the IBM i.

RPG needs a re-branding too. IPG or i2100, or something.


Brain-like chip outstrips normal computers – tech – 22 November 2012 – New Scientist:

When will we ever learn?

This is just another example of the hundreds of ways in which scientists are learning how to design things from the multitude of ingenious designs they find in nature. Biomimetics is taking over!


Judge rules that the warrants issued against Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom (yep, legal name) were invalid because they were too vague, after most everything seized has already been returned in previous rulings. Also, therefore, the evidence collected was invalid and was improperly released to be sent out of the country. Nothing on their hard drives can be used, which is pretty much the only thing they’ve got.

Looks like Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder may get his wish that Kim Dotcom wins his case.

The U.S. piracy case against MegaUpload founder Kim DotCom appears to have run aground, with a New Zealand court ruling that the search warrants issued in January were invalid.

New Zealand High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann ruled Thursday that the warrants did not adequately describe the offenses alleged, according to a report in the New Zealand Herald. “Indeed they fell well short of that,” she said. “They were general warrants, and as such, are invalid.”

She also ruled that it was unlawful for the data confiscated in the raid to have been sent offshore, saying “the release of the cloned hard drives to the FBI for shipping to the United States was contrary to the 16 February direction” [given by the court] “that the items seized were to remain in the custody and control of the Commissioner of Police.”

MegaUpload is a cloud-storage locker that DotCom claims was completely legitimate and protected by the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. U.S. officials, who are trying to extradite Dotcom and six associates to face piracy and wire fraud charges, say he encouraged users to store pirated videos, music, software, and other media and then share them with others. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted.

Remember when the FBI shut down MegaUpload?Boy, that was sure a win for the federal government!

Except, uh, not. Ever since the raid, the US government has consistently been losing in New Zealand courts, where MegaUpload is based. They’ve had to free Kim Dotcom, had to return some of his assets, and, most embarrassingly, had to actually fork over the evidence they have that he was breaking the law. It’s rapidly become clear that the FBI and the Department of Justice did not do any research into where American and New Zealand laws intersect and where there might be issues.

And now the case is essentially dead

New Zealand High Court Judge Helen Winkelmann ruled Thursday that the warrants did not adequately describe the offenses alleged… “Indeed they fell well short of that,” she said. “They were general warrants, and as such, are invalid.” She also ruled that it was unlawful for the data confiscated in the raid to have been sent offshore.”

Roughly translated, this means the United States can’t use anything it found on those hard drives, if it did happen to find anything, because it’s illegally confiscated. This is a wee bit of a problem because their entire case is likely built on what they found in those drives.

In short, the entire case has collapsed. The US government walks away with a black eye, the labels walk away with an object lesson that you can’t game the system, and hopefully MegaUpload users get their data back.

Read more:
Well, I’m not so sure that the labels will get such an “object lesson” that you “can’t game the system”. It’s hard for me to judge where that all goes next. Of course in the United States a Fourth Amendment right to be left alone without worrying about your free speech or free exercise of your religion might result in such a fishing expedition –like the non-specific “general warrant” they used–, and apparently in New Zealand there are some comparable rules.

I, Cringely » Blog Archive Not your father’s IBM ~ I, Cringely – Cringely on technology:

The article covers some interesting views on IBM, and insights that extend much broader than IBM.

It’s a prediction of failure for iBM’s plans to grow earnings-per-share, and his conclusion that the result will be a failure. He make a very good case for this.

He shared a good quote from Steve Jobs about big companies that grow into a monopoly position. They can’t get more market share, and doing a better product can’t make them more profits. The people running them become sales and marketing people.

This is the first thing to understand about the IBM of today: the company is being run by executives who for the most part don’t understand the products and services they sell.  The IBM of today is a sales organization.  There is nothing wrong with sales if you can also deliver, but increasingly IBM can’t deliver.

He goes on to quote Jobs again specific about IBM:

The reason IBM can’t deliver is also explained well by Steve Jobs. It’s IBM’s maniacal fixation on process, once a strength but now a cancer.

Companies get confused,” Jobs told me.  “When they start getting bigger they want to replicate their initial success. And a lot of them think well somehow there is some magic in the process of how that success was created so they start to try to institutionalize process across the company.  And before very long people get very confused that the process is the content.  And that’s ultimately the downfall of IBM.  IBM has the best process people in the world.  They just forgot about the content.”

In this instance content means the deliverable, whether a product or service. IBM smugly thinks it knows so well how to do things that they can export their entire business model to cheaper labor forces in less expensive places to do business. While this is correct to a very limited extent it has been embraced as religion in Armonk.

Like he says, Global Services is IBM’s biggest money maker but they’re losing customers.

In another article Cringely showcased two companies in Memphis that replaced IBM’s outsourced services with its own employees and used a local company to monitor its services to prevent outages, one of those companies having had an outage that IBM discovered only when it was reported..

The read is worth it:

Very very good article, and I wrote a response from a similar perspective in my own blog at, in reaction to the editor’s letter for the latest ACM Communications edition.

I would only amend this one by “svpow” with this.

Corporate profit-making (disdainfully called “greed”) has driven science and technology into new heights for centuries now with accelerating results. There are many of us who would pursue our own ideas if we had support for them, and open source software is an example of this, and a fantastic good for all of us.

I would call profit-making as “greed” when it passes the line of respecting other people’s own rights to enjoy the fruits of their labor.

The profitability model that pits publishers against the rest of us is crumbling from the onslaught of the Internet, and even from the new realization that the “gatekeepers” are actually choking out new ideas, new combinations of old ideas, and holding us back.

It worked once because academic publishers had a limited audience and needed a bottleneck. No more.

Throw it open to everybody in the world. Put the profit motive to work for us by letting anybody in on it that wants to. If it’s funded by taxes it sure should be open, but the actions of government agencies and the diversion of research funds to politically decided causes means taking your money to fund their own interests whether you like it or not. Politically selected “independent experts” are not independent at all.

For example, if you listen to government-funded peer-reviewed climate scientists, you might not even know that one of the hottest summers in decades comes timed together with one of the hottest, most active solar cycle maximum in decades.


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