Is Real Time Next? [Clue: Yes]

2 05 2009

The man who made gMail says real-time conversation is next.

“So, here’s a summary. The father of the best web email program on the planet believes that a real-time streaming interface for simplified aggregation of conversation and content from all around the web is going to join the handful of tools we use regularly, like email, IM and blogging.”



Greenwald Calls Out Some Hypocrisy

26 04 2009

David Broder and the media’s culpability.



The Blackberry Killer?

18 04 2009

Most of you have already heard about this so-called “Craigslist Killer.”  This labeling is the worst type of media laziness and it perpetuates the fear of information technology that our society still can’t seem to shake.  Fear of new things is, itself, nothing new.  But our ability to rapidly disseminate and amplify that fear certainly is.  A couple of years ago – when this same kind of panic had reached new heights with Chris Hansen’s MySpace hysteria – I told Tom Zeller at the New York Times basically the same thing I’m going to say now.  At around the same time, Andrew Kantor at USA Today smartly called out our fear of everything tech – cameras, Lite-Brites, and things with “batteries and wires.”

So, I find myself (not) wondering:

If he drove a Toyota, would we be calling him “The Toyota Killer”?
If he wore Nike sneakers, would we be calling him “The Nike Killer?”

The shooting incident happened at the Marriott – why isn’t he “The Marriott Killer?”

And I’m sorry to belabor this, but I noticed the suspect appears to use a Blackberry cell phone – so why aren’t we calling him “The Blackberry Killer?”

Because we’re much more comfortable with cars, sneakers, hotels, and even cell phones (however fancy they may be.)

But online communities still scare us; we don’t get them.  They’re still weird, new, foreign, or somehow sinister to most people.  So we draw an association that does not exist.  And in doing so, we irresponsibly do damage to a brand.



Where Am I? Crossing The Streams, Baby!

6 04 2009

I’m still curating a lifestream over at FriendFeed; most of the stuff I want to share with you is over there.  As I said last summer, it’s a lot easier to do than blogging and it enables me to share lots of interesting stuff with you – along with a quick comment or brief discussion – without the “work” of writing a cogent, thoughtful, formatted article about each one.  And you don’t have to sign up to see people’s feeds.  But you might want to, because then you can comment, discuss, and share stuff with me (and the rest of us over there.)  A short refresher: FriendFeed lets you to funnel all your social media stuff (your Twitter updates, your Facebook status, your flickR photos, your blog, LiveJournal, Amazon wish lists, etc. etc.) – through one single stream that everyone can see, comment upon, share, and enjoy.  It’s great.

The Cosmic Tap will continue to be my personal outlet, so don’t unsubscribe and don’t go away.  It’s just slowing down because FF lets me to do most of the things that motivated me to blog in the first place.  I also am now contributing to the Huffington Post, so the newsy stuff is likely to end up there.

FriendFeed is growing rapidly and getting better by the day.  Today, they launched a new feature which enables truly real-time streaming.  See cNet’s coverage of the redesign.  Many people will like this – but many will find real-time overwhelming (and you don’t have to turn it on.)  Also: there are plenty of filters to help you manage the “flow” in case you end up with too many friends, feeds, etc.  But it does rock.  Give it a shot.



Who Didn’t Know?

11 03 2009

parker-palmer“I don’t think we should ever doubt our capacity to deny reality. Until you get to be my age, you really believe you’re not gonna die – that fundamental fact of human life. That’s part of our problem. I could make the same argument about the current economic collapse. Who didn’t know this was coming? Who didn’t know that a system that encouraged us to live beyond our means – and provided all kinds of devious and ethically doubtful ways for us to do so – was going to fall apart someday? Who didn’t know that housing was overvalued and stocks were overpriced? Who didn’t know a system that makes the rich richer while the poor get poorer would someday face a curtain call? We all knew it at some level, just like we all know we’re going to die. And yet our capacity to deny reality is huge and I think that we don’t want to know what we really know because if we did then we’d have to change our lives.” – Parker Palmer [on Bill Moyers' Journal]



My HuffPo Drug Policy Piece

16 02 2009

Please check out the drug policy article I did for The Huffington Post.  And if you like it: by all means, pass it on!



Love Versus Lust on Valentine’s Day

14 02 2009

Cupcake Love, by me

(Cupcake Love, by me)

“Love makes the world go ’round, it’s true, but lust stops the world in its tracks; love renders bearable the passage of time, lust causes time to stand still; lust kills time, which is not to say that it wastes it or whiles it aimlessly away but rather it annihilates it, cancels it, extirpates it from the continuum; preventing, while it lasts, any lapse into the tense and shabby woes of temporal society; lust is the thousand-pound odometer needle on the dashboard of the absolute.”

– Tom Robbins



Michael Phelps Should Not Be Sorry

6 02 2009

This Product Contains Cannabis [by me]

ZOMG, this product contains cannabis!


Michael Phelps has nothing to apologize for.  I understand the reality he faces, however, and why he has to say what he said.  But let’s go beyond the breathless theatrics and think about the core issue.  “He broke the law,” the pundits are saying, as if that is necessarily the end of the conversation.  Sorry, but Phelps was not wrong; our marijuana laws are wrong.  Really wrong.

Does anybody alive even remember why it was outlawed?  No, of course you don’t – but you’ll do yourself well to look over the historical – and hysterical – record.

Let’s take a few choice quotes from the era of marijuana criminalization, shall we?

“Marihuana influences Negroes to look at white people in the eye, step on white men’s shadows and look at a white woman twice.”
[1934 newspaper editorial in favor of criminalization]

“All Mexicans are crazy, and this stuff is what makes them crazy.”
[Texas legislator arguing for criminalization]

Read the rest of this entry »



flickR works against photographers by stripping EXIF data

31 01 2009
Orphan Works, by itadela

Orphan Works, by itadela

For years, ignoring the pleas of its customers, and seemingly unbeknownst to most of us, flickR has been stripping author, license, and other information from the resized versions of every image we upload.

To most of you, this probably sounds like pointless geekery, but it poses a serious copyright problem.  This practice contributes massively to the developing “orphan works” issue and needs to be addressed by flickR, pronto.

Most cameras insert data into images when they are created, and many photographers insert additional data such as copyright information, author information, and so on.  The idea is that this information follows the image as it travels the world, and hopefully helps people (who are curious enough to look) to understand who made it and how.  It also helps honest people who, down the road, discover an image they like and want to find out how – and if – they can legally use it.

Read the rest of this entry »



Be The Change – Don’t Be The Ass

25 01 2009

I found this new video very disturbing:

Britney Spears was [rightly] excoriated for saying “I think we should just support our President in everything he does.” I expect to hear at least as much criticism of this stupidity – which brings Oval Office hero-worshiping to a new and nauseous level.

I totally agree with the “be the change” concept – nothing new (although still very rare).

But Ashton Kutcher (not the world’s brightest sociopolitical bulb) and Demi Moore pledge to be “servants” to President Obama. What the fuck are they talking about? Kutcher is the same moron who recently referred to President Bush as our “commander”.  Is he channeling jungsturm or something?

Who are these people?

And how many of them do you think could actually sit down and engage in a substantive, nuanced conversation about the important issues they’re pledging about?  Two, three, maybe?

This new Harpo Productions video feels right out of a 1930s propaganda machine. I truly sympathize with President Obama – a human facing inhuman expectations. He will have a very hard time living up to the high-style, breathless absurdity of fluff like this.

Hey idiots: pledge loyalty to ideals, or goals, or foundational principles that stir your heart and soul. Respect others, hope for the best for them, empower them, agree and disagree with them, but don’t worship them.  Pledging to be a “servant” to a single person is called a cult.

Hollywood needs political cluefulness, not a new branch of Scientology.

Here’s my pledge: I pledge to fight against blind, unquestioning loyalty of any kind. It’s what got us into the mess we’re in – and it’s certainly not going to get us out.