The Democratization of Knowledge

Found through Boing Boing as usual. Again, is it just me or is this *the* theme of the moment.

Who Says We Know: On the new Politics of Knowledge – by Larry Sanger, co-founder of Wikipedia. Quote:

Professionals are no longer needed for the bare purpose of the mass distribution of information and the shaping of opinion. The hegemony of the professional in determining our background knowledge is disappearing—a deeply profound truth that not everyone has fully absorbed.

The votaries of Web 2.0, and especially the devout defenders of Wikipedia, know this truth very well indeed. In their view, Wikipedia represents the democratization of knowledge itself, on a global scale, something possible for the first time in human history. Wikipedia allows everyone equal authority in stating what is known about any given topic. Their new politics of knowledge is deeply, passionately egalitarian.

I was recently commenting to my boss that the days of so-called experts who make themselves relevant by creating powerpoint slides and layers of abstraction are numbered. Why? Because with the technology you have nowadays, you can have all the information you need by say just doing a Google search on your handheld. Suppose you were in a discussion with some “expert” and you wanted to argue a point. The playing field is a lot different nowadays.

Interestingly Stephen Colbert’s take on “Wikiality” is mentioned in passing. Heh. I used to watch the Daily Show a couple of years back and am a big fan of both Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, and I have to say that Stephen Colbert is the Greatest Living American.

Find out why.

Traditional news-media will die

I came across this blog post Live Internet Video Stream while surfing Techmeme (which is really useful btw!) about how easy it is to connect a bunch of people over the internet using a variety of technologies, webcam, skype, twitter etc. and it was fascinating to read. Quote below:

Just as things were starting to pick up, an earthquake struck Acapulco. Local twitterers started tweeting – and Scoble picked up on the trend. Before long, a Mexico City blogger (who had experienced a 6.0 aftershock) was connected to the Ustream chat. I requested his Skype ID for a video chat – and we were connected within minutes. More people tuned into the live A/V stream, more people re-twittered the link, more people became active in the Ustream chat room, and #twitter on irc.wyldryde.org also started to receive a flurry of activity.

At some point during this convergence, I had started a live (free) teleconference using the LiveOffice service. Dozens of people were talking to one another in real-time, while watching me speaking with a man in another country about an event that was unfolding quicker than could be covered by traditional media outlets.

Awesome at many levels. I guess I should take a look at Twitter. And get a decent webcam.

But of late I can’t help thinking that this kind of nerdvana news is popping up more frequently than before. A couple of months backl I was reading about Ray Kurzweil. I like to think that the pace of technology is really accelerating and building upon itself in the way that Ray Kurzweil declares. Or maybe the new thoughts planted in my mind just makes it more likely for me to spot these kind of news items.

But just a sampling of the other news items that stood out for me over the last few weeks:

Two Episodes Into Prom Queen And I’m Completely Hooked
A direct-to-internet video series. One of the comments on that post said:

The advantage of being web based is that there are no FCC regulations to worry about.
So they will be able to take ” sex sells” to a much higher level than [their] TV counterparts [...]

Mmm. Disruptive technologies :)

Brain waves control video game
Title says it all eh.

Blood groups ‘can be converted’
Scientists have developed a way of converting one blood group into another. Just one example of how we are re-defining ourselves. As per Ray Kurzweil, nanotechnology is a big part of the future. I used to dismiss nano as nonsense, but now I’m not so sure.

Who Created “Hillary 1984″? Mystery Solved!
It is worth reading what “ParkRidge47″ wrote when he owned up to making the YouTube clip. If you are a true geek, some of it will give you goosebumps:

I made the “Vote Different” ad because I wanted to express my feelings about the Democratic primary, and because I wanted to show that an individual citizen can affect the process. There are thousands of other people who could have made this ad, and I guarantee that more ads like it–by people of all political persuasions–will follow.

This shows that the future of American politics rests in the hands of ordinary citizens. [...]

This ad was not the first citizen ad, and it will not be the last. The game has changed.

The Machine is Using Us
Boing Boing had a post on this a month or so back: Web 2.0 explained in a short, moving video. This is apparently the final version. From the YouTube description you can find links to high resolution versions for download.

It looks like we are built to share the information in our minds. That explains what drives the Internet and maybe even Open Source. We are clearly building technology that enables sharing of our thoughts.

It is exciting and scary at the same time to contemplate what the future will bring.

More Microsoft Madness – the patenting of BlueJ

Via Ed Burnette: “Microsoft copies BlueJ, admits it, then patents it”.

Michael Kölling, one of the creators of BlueJ – writes on his blog:

Let’s get that clear: four months after management were clearly aware of our prior work (and with developers being aware from the start), Microsoft knowingly filed a patent application claiming original invention of this mechanism. [...]

The fact of the matter is that the application has been filed, Microsoft are trying to get control of this interaction style, and they do so while being blatantly aware that they have copied the functionality from elsewhere.

As a result, a product like BlueJ, developed for the education community, that has helped thousands of students to learn programming, may be muscled out of existence by corporate greed.

What’s wrong with these guys?

It does look though now that the patent application was hurriedly withdrawn after news spread.

Previously: Vista DRM the “longest suicide note in history”.

Microsoft bashing

Funny stuff. First a technical paper by Peter Gutmann titled A Cost Analysis of Windows Vista Content Protection which simply says under “Executive Executive Summary” the following:

The Vista Content Protection specification could very well constitute the longest suicide note in history

Now Microsoft comes out with an offcial response which is promptly shredded to bits by the same guy. Here’s one bit I especially liked:

Will Windows Vista content protection features increase CPU resource consumption?

[Microsoft response:] Yes. However, the use of additional CPU cycles is inevitable, as the PC provides consumers with additional functionality.

Note the careful use of the term “additional functionality” rather than “enhanced functionality”. [...] Another way of looking at this is to rephrase the question to “Will viruses increase CPU resource consumption?”, to which the answer is also “Yes. However, the use of additional CPU cycles is inevitable, as the PC provides consumers with additional functionality” (like spamming, phishing site hosting, and so on).

You can get more laughs in coverage by The Inquirer.

Microsoft confirms just about every point in the Gutmann piece and tries to spin it as good. It is one of the most amazing piece of PR weaselwork I have seen for years.

Found through Boing Boing. Actually if you search for “vista” in Boing Boing a whole load of stuff turns up, its crazy.

Say no to DRM!.

Novell bashing

A couple of links:

Interview with Jeremy Allison (part of the Samba team) on boycottnovell.com on why he quit Novell after the deal with Microsoft.

The online petition against Novell (initiated by Bruce Perens) – which is a good read that clearly explains the scams and legal nonsense behind software patents. Quote below:

Let’s be truthful about software patents: there can be no non-trivial computer program, either proprietary or Free, that does not use methods that are claimed in software patents currently in force and unlicensed for use in that program. There are simply enough patents, on enough fundamental principles, to make this so. If all software patents were enforced fully, the software industry would grind to a halt.

Gartner drops SOA, finds Web 2.0

Picking this up from ZDNet, looks like Gartner is starting to disown SOA. Must be the ‘Trough of Disillusionment’ right on schedule :)

This is a nice read as well:

Interestingly enough I notice that SOA isn’t mentioned anywhere in the article however Web 2.0 is:

Operate All Revenue Generating Channels in a Web 2.0 Architecture by 2008. Enterprise architects must act as catalysts that speed the formation of unified business technology strategies and their execution. The enterprise architecture process must shift gears from limiting complexity by limiting choices to accelerating innovation and execution by coordinating complexity through unified business and IT strategy, decentralized execution and loose coupling among all related stakeholder disciplines.

I have read this a couple of times and have no idea what it means but then I suspect neither did the author.

Heh.

SOA is too complex and ‘just vendor BS’

…and don’t flame me :) – those are the words of Tim Bray.

“What do you think we should do about SOA?” Which weirdly, nobody had asked me before, and I could find only one answer: “Don’t do anything. ‘SOA’ may have meant something once but it’s just vendor bulls*** now.”

Heh.

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