Monday, October 23, 2006

Made me laugh...

'Doomed to repeat it' quote of th' day...
"Had it not been for the US and the UK, the Iraqis would still be ruled by Saddam Hussein. This is a country in transition. We have been brutalised by 35 years of brutality."

(Iraqi deputy PM, via BBC News)

Monday, October 16, 2006


Scotch is good. Everybody drink Scotch.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Technopolitical Fork

Well, it had to happen. With the onset of a full-time PhD, I've started a new blog to keep track of all the "technology + politics" stuff that would otherwise go on here. Signal to noise, and all that. It should also tie in neatly (or overlap way too much, we'll see) with Into the Machine, which deals with more of the "top-down" use of technology, rather than bottom-up deliberation etc etc.

Anyway, go check it at Sphereless, add it to your RSS and all that.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Social Interfaces

eXmosis: Social Interfaces - why is connected technology such a lonely experience?

Looking for more examples of proper social technology...

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

The Rise of the Multinets

BBC article on the break-up of the Internet.

Strikes me there are some interesting analogies.

1. Perhaps this is natural evolution, based purely on the size of the internet and the need for a fractal evolution of hierarchies. Just as some communities and some companies "split off" once they get to a certain size - to avoid conflicts, inefficiency, etc - so maybe the Internet is reaching the point where the multitude of "communities", which until now have happily fenced off their own internet space but which have also subscribed/agreed to this fencing off process, has grown beyond the ability to solve scalability using the existing technology.

2. The emergence of troubles as the result of increased usage/expansion by different cultures, and what's effectively an emergent conflict arising from scale of same, could I think be said to mirror the trend for "globalisation" off-line.

Multiculturalism is a "problem" that we haven't had to face before - each to their own, but only so long as there's enough space and the networks that our infrastructure consists of allow it. However, the solutions have the potential to be very different. I see technological solutions - at least at first - to an on-line clash of culture, especially as the culture is embedded in the technology to begin with. Such a path is harder to take in the real world.

However, following the "Balkanisation" outlined in the article, the issue of network borders rears its head, of course. How will data get "translated" between networks? Who controls this translation? In other words, there is a whole bunch more scope for the economic kind of activities we currently see between real world borders - exchange rates (why buy a service on Internet A when you can get it cheaper on Internet B?) and sanctions (cutting communications/translations for various normative purposes) for example.

All of a sudden, the politics that we deal with on a day to day basis, but that we think the Internet is safe from, are very much in play again. The more things change...?

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Google and YouTube, sitting in a tree

Just got back from Uni to see that Google have bought YouTube. In light of previous posts, the relevant stuff is probably:
the company will keep operating its own Google Video as a separate operation.


Universal Music Group has signed a distribution deal with YouTube, which will protect the rights of the music firm's artists.

YouTube also says it has signed a deal with CBS, which will offer short-form video programming, including news, sport and entertainment on YouTube.

Google has also signed distribution deals of its own, with Sony BMG and Warner Music to offer music videos.

Is this the beginning of a new YouTube?

Monday, October 02, 2006

Fractal goodness

One from a month and a half ago, but I like it, so nyeh.

Mouse brain and universe look the same.

See original NY Times article without picture, plus Exmosis: Fractals.

Who Owns The Deliberation[tm]?

Amongst various commentary on the recent launch of David Cameron's video blog thing,, Phil picks up on the battle between traditional and emerging media platforms, while David Wilcox asks whether we can trust Government to talk directly to us online.

This issue of Trust is a big one - hence the capital 'T'. I suspect - and intend to find out for sure soon - that this issue isn't related purely to matters of an online nature, but that it has been resurrected as technology opens up the avenues through which we conduct our politics. The relationship between the 'public', the media and the politicians is a triangle that needs to be considered carefully - that is, we should not sit back and see where we're taken with all these new-fangled toys.

If indeed the question is old, then there will be plenty of examples - both around us, and from the history books - that we should take into consideration when deciding what kind of democracy we want as a collective.

To take one, concerned directly with institutional trust (yet pushing the media aside for the moment), as an illustrative analogy: Who should decide the technical details of the voting and ballot processes?

In other words, who is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the link (or links - in both directions) between the elected and the electorate? The same question can be applied to an ongoing accountability that - currently - is provided (in a way that is, at least, the most possible/plausible given the state of technology) by mainstream media channels.

As technology integrates itself even more with our daily lives, and becomes more applicable to this field, my question (to reiterate) is: Do we want to just see where the mix of established competitive democracy and emerging integrative technology takes us? Or should we (as a whole nation) be considering what form of politics we want, and then designing infrastructures to this end?