Packing & moving digital domains

I have been collecting stuff over here since 2005. The space has become cluttered and messy and more unloved as time passed.
One way to go would be to clean it all up and to re-create a space that’s useful to me. But who has the time to empty the digital spaces of their lives?

Instead of cleaning the alternative is maybe deletion. I swift painless (or do I mean painful) solution to the overload problem. But that seemed a tad extreme.

So I chose a third option and started a new site. It will be more focused on my current work and less dependent upon the stuff that was created here. At first I thought that I would just leave everything here, but nostalgia got the better of me and I exported the texts and left the images.

So my new sleek digital profile is http://klangable.com. This matches my twitter handle @klangable and (of course) klangable@gmail.com.

Creative Commons Generation 4 Licenses Launched

After a lot of work and hard discussions Creative Commons now launches the fourth version of their licenses. From the CC blog

We proudly introduce our 4.0 licenses, now available for adoption worldwide. The 4.0 licenses — more than two years in the making — are the most global, legally robust licenses produced by CC to date. We have incorporated dozens of improvements that make sharing and reusing CC-licensed materials easier and more dependable than ever before.

Godard on Originality

The French filmmaker Jean-Luc Godard has an excellent quote on originality:

‘It’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to.’

I came across this on Doctorow‘s blog where he was quoting Jim Jarmusch who was quoting Godard.

“Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination. Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations. Architecture, bridges, street signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows. Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul. If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic. Authenticity is invaluable. Originality is non-existent. And don’t bother concealing your thievery—celebrate it if you feel like it. In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said, ‘It’s not where you take things from. It’s where you take them to.’”

Both are similar to, but much better than the worn Picasso quote

“Good artists copy, great artists steal.”

Structural disincentives and Innovation

This is not a blog about business administration but after reading an article about the demise of Microsoft and the Stack Rating system, I needed to vent. This is the most horrible and destructive staff system I’ve ever heard of (this side of an actual whip).

The use of stack ranking actually creates a structural disincentive to be creative and nurturing a team spirit. It might be rather good for created fear and paranoia. But these are going to help innovation.

Kurt Eichenwald at Vanity Fair explains stack ranking:

At the center of the cultural problems was a management system called “stack ranking.” Every current and former Microsoft employee I interviewed—every one—cited stack ranking as the most destructive process inside of Microsoft, something that drove out untold numbers of employees. The system—also referred to as “the performance model,” “the bell curve,” or just “the employee review”—has, with certain variations over the years, worked like this: every unit was forced to declare a certain percentage of employees as top performers, then good performers, then average, then below average, then poor. …

For that reason, executives said, a lot of Microsoft superstars did everything they could to avoid working alongside other top-notch developers, out of fear that they would be hurt in the rankings. And the reviews had real-world consequences: those at the top received bonuses and promotions; those at the bottom usually received no cash or were shown the door. …

“The behavior this engenders, people do everything they can to stay out of the bottom bucket,” one Microsoft engineer said. “People responsible for features will openly sabotage other people’s efforts. One of the most valuable things I learned was to give the appearance of being courteous while withholding just enough information from colleagues to ensure they didn’t get ahead of me on the rankings.” Worse, because the reviews came every six months, employees and their supervisors—who were also ranked—focused on their short-term performance, rather than on longer efforts to innovate. …

Slate Magazine sums it up nicely: So while Google was encouraging its employees to spend 20 percent of their time to work on ideas that excited them personally, Ballmer was inadvertently encouraging his to spend a good chunk of their time playing office politics. Why try to outrun the bear when you can just tie your co-workers’ shoelaces?

Bradley Manning’s letter to the President

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

 

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized that (in) our efforts to meet the risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

 

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

 

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown out any logically based dissension, it is usually the American soldier that is given the order to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

 

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy – the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, and the Japanese-American internment camps – to mention a few. I am confident that many of the actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

 

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

 

I understand that my actions violated the law; I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

 

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have a country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Via Gizmondo

New York Times’ prophetic 1983 warning about the NSA

The scary part about the whole NSA Prism story is the predictability, if not inevitability of the whole affair. The shock of the disclosure lies mainly in the hope that government will not do what they have the power to do.

Via BoingBoing comes this 1983 article from The New York Times written by David Burnham: THE SILENT POWER OF THE N.S.A.

No laws define the limits of the N.S.A.’s power. No Congressional committee subjects the agency’s budget to a systematic, informed and skeptical review. With unknown billions of Federal dollars, the agency purchases the most sophisticated communications and computer equipment in the world. But truly to comprehend the growing reach of this formidable organization, it is necessary to recall once again how the computers that power the N.S.A. are also gradually changing lives of Americans – the way they bank, obtain benefits from the Government and communicate with family and friends. Every day, in almost every area of culture and commerce, systems and procedures are being adopted by private companies and organizations as well as by the nation’s security leaders that make it easier for the N.S.A. to dominate American society should it ever decide such action is necessary.

Slutshaming and gossipmongering

Eminem played a concert at Slane Castle in Ireland and 63 people were arrested. But the news online was not about the performance or the arrests but about a girl giving a guy a blowjob. She is now being mocked and shamed and has been given the epithet SlaneGirl. Sadly the hashtag #slanegirl is apparently trending in Ireland.

The slut-shaming is apparent with nobody criticizing the men involved, the people who took photos, the people who put photo’s online or the people who happily spread the photo’s on various social media. Some of the discussions are balanced this blog post or this but there are also the discussion threads on Reddit and other sites. Most harmful in the wider sense is the widespread shouting on Facebook and Twitter.

There has also been good support in discussions online, on Twitter and what about the Facebook page: Solidarity With Slanegirl We Suck Dick Too

So thanks to social media I wake up in the morning to find out people are angry at other people having sex. Oh the shock and horror. Imagine that.

What still surprises me is the way in which the gossiping about someone nobody knows but feels the need to include photographic proof and judgements of the person. All this rage and indignation… does it really stem from the fact that someone we don’t know gave a blowjob to someone else we don’t know? Really?

There are social reasons for gossip and pointless smalltalk but the need to be among the ones who spread the images are difficult to tease out for me.