technology

Energy, the Environment, and What We Can Do

Monday, April 9th, 2012

John Baez gave a Google Tech Talk on the issue. The slides include links to more detailed arguments and his home page also links to the Azimuth Project wiki is collecting information and ideas from a larger group of participants.

Selfish Blogger Syndrome

Thursday, October 27th, 2011

The Selfish Blogger. Well that could certainly be me! So I'll stick to form and post my thoughts here rather than in Tony Bates's comment stream.

I have not been following #Change11 except through the blogs of people I found interesting in previoous MOOCs like #CCK11 and #PLENK2010, so without Jenny's (selfish?) post I would never have read Tony's piece or the presentation it refers to. And part of what I took as takeaway from the CCK experience is that what Tony describes as selfish is in fact the best way for all of us to be sharing. One thing I did not like in PLENK was the difficulty of recovering my own thoughts from the Moodle comment stream and I liked the CCK11 emphasis on facilitating communication and connection between individual blogs.

Tony is concerned about not being able to see and follow the comments on his work but I think we now have the technology to address that without forcing everyone to give up ownership of their own contributions.  It is true that once, in the absence of appropriate technology, it was always necessary for people to meet in person to exchange ideas. Then we invented writing, and all that was needed was a common location for all the written material. Then we invented telecommunication and computers, and the libraries and discussion threads became accessible remotely. And now we have trackback...

It seems to me that whatever the limitations of trackback, the issue is one of technology and the answer to Tony's complaint is not to force everyone back into the domains of recognized "leaders" as in a prehistoric centralized community, but rather to appropriately extend and use the technology of networking to allow each voice its own home while collecting whatever is relevant to any particular individual's interest in a particular chain of discussion for easy access as needed.

What seems to me to be needed is to integrate trackbacks and pingbacks into the comment stream (rather than listing them separately as an afterthought) and displaying a more useful excerpt  so that they actually do contribute tot he conversation. (This might require some slight extra work from the responder when posting so as to identify an appropriate "teaser",  and ideally the technology should be extended so that eg replies to me in Tony's comment stream would appear also here as comments and vice versa)

 

 

No Liability for Linking

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Michael Geist - Supreme Court of Canada Stands Up for the Internet: No Liability for Linking. Well, duh! In one sense it's amazing how this could ever have been an issue, but on the other hand publishing a link/reference to something could legitimately be seen as promoting whatever the target contained at the time the link was created, and so if "promoting" a point of view were illegal, then perhaps links would sometimes be liable.

What is most interesting to me about this is on the converse side. Justice Abella's  comment that she "would conclude that a hyperlink, by itself, should never be seen as “publication” of the content to which it refers" appears to provide protection against those who would presume to declare that others should not link to their material. Such declarations are clearly nonsense as it is the responsibility of the publisher to control access if that is what they want and if they choose to make their material freely accessible via a public address then anyone else is free to refer to that address.

 

Sustainable Energy Choices

Wednesday, June 29th, 2011

Barry Brooks at 'BraveNewClimate' has made a brave effort at summing up the need for nuclear power as part of the CO2-free mix in a brief video, but parts of it still felt to me like “industry propaganda” – to the extent that I might be a bit embarrassed if anyone seeing my earlier references to the BNC site should subsequently come across it.
My first concern is that very little argument is given to support the claim that non-nuclear options won't suffice. No-one is likely to be convinced that just because Denmark has not yet displaced anything close to the major part of their coal use with wind that they may not eventually do so (though I suspect that in fact they won't), and the use of that as an apparent argument will just make the case seem weak and forced. Another point that troubles me is at the conclusion where the video compares the golf ball sized lump of nuclear fuel that is capable of providing enough energy to meet the needs of a typical western human lifetime with the many tons of coal that it would "displace". I suspect that this will seem obviously “unfair” even to those who cannot say why (The only comparison that really matters is with volume of ore rather than volume of fuel).

Of course is hard to tell the full story so briefly, but if it can’t be done well enough then it were better not done at all. The BNC site has a lot of credibility but the video actually undermines it so I actually hope  it doesn’t "go viral".

 

Retail Internet Pricing - Without Slogans

Thursday, April 7th, 2011

All sides in the debate on "Usage Based Billing" are off base. The issue is quite complicated and not helped by the use of simplistic slogans which often either ask for the impossible or run counter to the interests of those tricked into reciting them. ...more »

UBB - How Should Cost and Price be Linked?

Tuesday, March 29th, 2011

Michael Geist is concerned because internet service providers do not match price of service at all levels to its actual cost.

But when a commodity is in short supply, selling at the cost price will lead to shortages. (In the internet billing situation, users downloading tons of movies will degrade the quality of my own less demanding service)

What the ISPs are doing is aggressively penalizing heavy use in order to keep the total demand within the capacity of the system (or perhaps just to make a lot of extra money). It should be noted that despite the rhetoric this is NOT "Usage Based Billing". It is a differential pricing scheme set to penalize both high and low usage rates.

Perhaps a fairer idea is to have true Usage Based Billing with the uniform unit price matching what the cost of  supply would be if supply were extended to meet all demand (and then get on with actually providing that extended service).

Anti-Nuclear Inflation

Saturday, March 26th, 2011

I was disappointed to see Geoff Olson's citation  of a totally bogus figure for the number of deaths due to Chernobyl in his anti-nuclear panic piece in the Vancouver Courier on Friday.

The particular figure, which he quoted fourth hand (from another journalist's report of a translation of a collection from various other sources), is a hundred times higher than the World Health Organization estimate. This is so far from anything remotely plausible that one suspects it may even be a misprint.

In fact the New York Academy of Sciences explicitly denies editorial endorsement of the book in question (which consists of translations from a wide variety of Eastern European sources), saying "The expressed views of the authors, or by advocacy groups or individuals with specific opinions about the Annals Chernobyl volume, are their own."  It may have been legitimate for the NYAS to bring these materials to the attention of the Western scientific audience for consideration and assessment, but for Olson to report their most extreme assertions as fact was totally irresponsible.

no analytics, :-)   ;   no conversation, :-(

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

The blog blog analytics issue means little to me as I am here mainly to clarify my own thoughts rather than to find an audience, but D'Arcy Norman's comment that "distributed blog conversation has basically vanished" disappoints me (especially in the light of what people are trying to do in distributed learning exercises like cck11 and ds106).  Twitter and Facebook may be useful for becoming aware of new conversations but, so far as I can see, they do not provide either the opportunity for really extended comments nor the control necessary to keep track of them.

Flex in a Week video training | Adobe Developer Connection

Monday, February 28th, 2011

I was using Flash back at the end of the second millennium when it was still called 'FutureSplash' (and was identified by the visionaries at CodeMonkey as a "Plugin that Sucks"). Now it is often buggy and crash-prone and Apple is trying to kill it, but I wouldn't count it out by any means yet. So although I haven't used it in a long time I may check out this Flex in a Week video training from Adobe Developer Connection.

Many Views on UBB

Monday, February 7th, 2011

Michael Geist provides some useful links to opinions about the "Usage-Based Billing" issue, and has just expanded on his own view, as has also Teksavvy's Rocky Gaudrault.(More here, here, and here.)

My take on all this is that it is not the principle of UBB but rather the specific implementation and lack of transparency that are the problem - and that the objections to UBB per se are misguided and actually harmful because they identify legitimate objections to current billing practices with the ill-founded and selfish demands of a greedy minority. ...more »

More MOOCs

Thursday, January 20th, 2011

Massively Open On-Line Courses allow large numbers of people to participate at varying levels of commitment in a process of shared learning. Part of the openness aspect is that there are many avenues of participation and rather than relying on a centralized Course Management System people are encouraged to control their own involvement by contributing comments etc through their own social media and blogs. But rather than let contributions to these courses dominate the flow of my personal thoughts here, I will set up separate blogs for each such course that I join.
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Stop The Meter?

Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

I'd like to hear more of what someone like Stephen Downes or Michael Geist thinks about this. (Both have reported the campaign but not really made a clear statement of their own reasons for doing so favourably.)

To me, the logic of true usage-based billing seems very reasonable, and it's only the implementation that is problematic. ...more »

Denis Dutton

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

For several years now, Arts&Letters Daily has been my favourite source of on-line stimulation. Sadly, its founding editor, Denis Dutton, died on December 28.

What is Wrong with Web-based Networking

Friday, December 24th, 2010

Yahoo Shutting Down Del.icio.us, Ning's recent abandonment of its free service, and the end of Bloglines are just the most recent examples of why it seems dangerous to rely on proprietary solutions to the problem of data storage for web-based networking - and of the shared bookmarking aspect in particular.

And even without the question of stability, there is the ongoing problem of duplication and overlap - whether it's Del.icio.us vs Diigo vs PearlTrees for sharing links, or Facebook vs LinkedIn vs whatever for personal newtorking. For me it seems that the time wasted in trying to decide how to use these things is worth more than all of the benefits they provide.

What I would feel much more comfortable with are open source redundantly distributed solutions which share information in a common format (similar to the design of the web itself) - and which somehow seamlessly blend and extend the contents of the various proprietary systems now in place.

Pipedream?

PLENK2010

Monday, December 6th, 2010

Over the last three months I spent a considerable amount of time following the #PLENK2010 Massive Open OnLine Course organized by Dave Cormier, Stephen Downes, Rita Kop, and George Siemens.
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One Bandwidth Rate for ALL Content

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

The concern expressed here, and here and here, is much more valid than that about usage-based billing. It is not the possibility of having to pay for bandwidth that is problematic, but that of being charged differential rates depending on who owns the content.

For each level of connection service quality (ie combination of speed, latency, reliability etc) there should be one bandwidth rate that applies equally to regular TV and internet. But I suspect that allowing infrastructure owners to also own or control content will always give rise to an irresistable temptation to favour their own material and to give inaccurate or misleading reports about relative costs so it may be necessary to force an arms-length separation of functions in order for the goal to be achievable.

The Inheritors of What?

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

A new book by Eric Kaufmann entitled Shall the Religious Inherit the Earth?: Demography and Politics in the Twenty-First Century is reviewed by Phillip Longman in 'Big Questions Online'. An open question, I guess, is whether or not there is an inheritable tendency towards religiosity and, if so, how it is related to fertility within a particular society. But a bigger related question may be:  if the over-breeders can't be stopped, then what kind of earth will there be for them to inherit?

Letter to Tony Clement

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

Here's what I wrote re Net Neutrality and Usage-Based Billing:

The public internet has provided a wonderful stimulus to the economic and cultural life of our country and the entire world. But that stimulus depends on its equal accessibility to all users including small innovators as well as large existing corporations. Net "throttling" and other practices of the infrastructure owners threaten that equality of access and provide them with unfair economic advantage.

The introduction of Usage-Based Billing eliminates the argument about a few heavy users overloading the system at the expense of others, and so also eliminates the case for "throttling" of certain traffic types as well. So I urge you to continue on the path of eliminating that practice entirely.

But in addition to throttling certain parts of the internet relative to others, there is also a risk that utility companies will throttle the public internet as a whole in favour of their own privtely controlled content.

So protection of the internet requires also that the bandwidth cost rate that is applied to public internet traffic does not exceed that aplied to CableTV and other private traffic controlled by the owners of the infrastructrure (who are licensed to use public space and radio bandwidth for its implementation).

People must be able to buy video (and other content) from independent producers for the same delivery cost as they get it from the TV networks.

Please make sure to address this aspect in your supervision of the industry and the CRTC.

Thank you,
sincerely
Alan Cooper

What's Wrong With Usage-Based Billing?

Wednesday, November 17th, 2010

OpenMedia.ca wants to Stop The Meter On Your Internet Use. But if all kinds of bandwidth were charged at the same rate (so that the carriers couldn't favour one type of content, such as cable tv over another, such as internet) then usage based billing would be perfectly fair and would undermine the arguments usually given for "throttling". So why is this considered a problem (except for heavy users who want me to subsidize their bandwidth)?

Personal Knowledge Management

Friday, November 5th, 2010

The #PLENK2010 topic for  discussion in Week 8 is PKM. ...more »