"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

A Little Volunteer Work

So on Thursday a message came across the Redwood Tech Consortium mailing list proposing to set up a website to help offer housing for people displaced by the SoCal fires. I thought it sounded like a good idea, and me and a few heads from the Drupal Dojo created a site in one night that's up for the job:


Big ups to Matt Koglin for cooking up an excellent design, Michael Welch for snagging the domain, and to Larry Goldberg for spearheading the organizing. He's working w/the Rotary club to get folks registered, and gotten the site some press:

”We are going to simply be a broker between people in need and people who have housing to offer,” he said. “People, especially with children and families, who need to get out of the smoke can go somewhere temporarily until literally, the dust settles.”

Those who can provide housing type information, such as the number of people and pets they could accommodate and whether smoking would be permitted, into the Rotary Home Matching system. The site then matches volunteers with those in need, and it's up to the person providing housing to contact the other party.

”We're a facilitator, it's up to the volunteer to contact the person,” Goldberg said. “It's just a person-to-person endeavor.”

Anyway, it's pretty neat that this can be done in a matter of hours. Speaks well to the potential for the internet to continue driving change.

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Radiohead Pioneers

Score one for the revolution:

bq.. I didn’t pay anything to download Radiohead’s “In Rainbows” last Wednesday. When the checkout page on the band’s Web site allowed me to type in whatever price I wanted, I put 0.00, the lowest I could go. My economist friends say this makes me a rational being.

Apparently not everybody is this lucid, at least not in matters related to their favorite British rock band. After Radiohead announced it would allow fans to download its album for whatever price they chose, about a third of the first million or so downloads paid nothing, according to a British survey. But many paid more than $20. The average price was about $8. That is, people paid for something they could get for free.

p. That's $8M that the band just pocketed. Very nice. Considering most artists make between $1 and $2 per CD sold (and that's after the label recoups their contracted recording costs), it's a safe bet that this will shake up the industry. You can download yours here.

I paid for mine, the first time I've paid for recreational music in close to a decade. In the above-linked article, much is devoted to the "crazyness" of this notion, although the author seems to grasp the reasons why fans respond generously:

bq. Some economists suspect that what is going on is that people get a kick from the act of giving the band money for the album rather than taking it for free. It could take many forms, like pleasure at being able to bypass the record labels, which many see as only slightly worse than the military-industrial complex. It could come from the notion that the $8 helps keep Radiohead in business. Or it could make fans feel that they are helping create a new art form — or a new economy.

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Teh Politix

Frankly it's a bummer out there. American politics is stuck in a quagmire. This is why I trust Stoller as a proxy.

In the past year, nothing seemed more vital than this:

bq.. Internet geeks share a common style, and Ko Latt and his four friends would not be out of place in cyber cafés across the world. They have the skinny arms and the long hair, the dark T-shirts and the jokey nicknames. But few such figures have ever taken the risks that they have in the past few weeks, or achieved so much in a noble and dangerous cause.

Since last month Ko Latt, 28, his friends Arca, Eye, Sun and Superman, and scores of others like them have been the third pillar of Burma’s Saffron Revolution. While the veteran democracy activists, and then the Buddhist monks, marched in their tens of thousands against the military regime, it is the country’s amateur bloggers and internet enthusiasts who have brought the images to the outside world.

Armed with small digital cameras, they have documented the spectacular growth of the demonstrations from crowds of a few hundred to as many as 100,000. On weblogs they have recorded in words and pictures the regime’s bloody crackdown, in a city where only a handful of foreign journalists work undercover. With downloaded software, they have dodged and weaved around the regime’s increasingly desperate attempts to thwart their work. Now the bloggers, too, have been crushed. Having failed to stop the cyber-dissidents broadcasting to the world, the authorities have simply switched off the internet.

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Another Box Checked

Well, here's a milestone: I'm a published author.

I'll have to buy one. Here's an excerpt from my chapter:

bq.. America is full of characters, freethinking individuals with the kinds of personalities that don’t necessarily fit well into blunt institutional molds like High School or Corporate Bureaucracy. A lot of us also happen to be highly capable individuals: creative, hard working, intelligent and passionate. A campaign that lets these sorts of people connect as supporters can tap deep resources unavailable to those that enforces rigid “message discipline,” that sees their would-be citizen-enthusiasts as pawns.

The genius of making empowerment the core of Dean’s candidacy, something that was explicitly made possible by the campaign’s Internet-enabled character, is that it turned the whole operation into an incubator of new leadership rather than a place for conscripts to sign up and wait for their day to be called upon to act (or more likely, to donate money). The grassroots movement growing around Dean's candidacy was decentralized, yet connected. It was in some ways elite, yet very heterogeneous, inclusive and transparent. It was unabashedly idealistic, but also stubbornly pragmatic. It was a nationwide network of individuals grouping together in organic and ad-hoc ways to reclaim responsibility for their country.

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One Laptop Per Child

I will buy this.

If you want they have an email reminder form.

There's some coverage in the NYT:

bq.. One of the machines will be given to a child in a developing nation, and the other one will be shipped to the purchaser by Christmas. The donated computer is a tax-deductible charitable contribution. The program will run for two weeks, with orders accepted from Nov. 12 to Nov. 26.


The machines have high-resolution screens, cameras and peer-to-peer technology so the laptops can communicate wirelessly with one another. The machine runs on free, open source software. “Everything in the machine is open to the hacker, so people can poke at it, change it and make it their own,” said Mr. Bender, a computer researcher. “Part of what we’re doing here is broadening the community of users, broadening the base of ideas and contributions, and that will be tremendously valuable.”

p. Think of it as something to do for the revolution.

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Technical Difficulties

My webserver is dying a slow and painful death after several years of neglect. I need to start fresh, and I feel like renovating around these parts anyhoo. I've been enjoying the return to more personal-type writing, and I want to take that to the next gonzo level. Escape from dirtstyle and start pushing the envelope.

So, that's my way of saying there could be some downtime in the future. Possibly while I'm retreating in Mexico.

I'll make a comeback though, with more verve and sizzle than ever. Be ready to tell all your friends, k?

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Threads of Opportunity

As a follow up to the previous post declaring my new tag -- The New Cultural Movement -- I'd like to outline some of the specific threads of opportunity that I see as being germane here. This is kind of internally remedial for me, but seems like a good exercise anyway, and probably helpful for others to get a sense of the scope of things.

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Best Use Of Cell Phone Yet

This is one of the many reasons to go to conferences. You might end up at your nominal competition's rented beach-house, watching drupal 5.0 release maintainer Neil Drumm open beers with a cellphone.

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Overheard at Drupalcon

A few quotes from a an interesting couple of days:

"This [the registration table] is nice: it's all really nerdy guys and really hot girls. I like the future... Let me at this corporate campus." (franz)

robertDouglas: "I was doing so much underpaid work, like 'let me do this whole website that takes six months... for $300' type stuff."
moshe: "I remember those days. You can't even talk to me now for $300."

"I am not able to code everything. There is too much to do." (chx)

"You need that charismatic leader... Chant! Chant! Chant! Drink. Die." (jjeff)

It's been a good time here. Corporate campus and Sunnyvale aren't as much fun as a University campus (more open) and Downtown Vancouver (less driving), but the level of attendance and intensity is up.

It feels like the End of the Beginning. I do believe this is the year that things will tip and change quite a lot.

Also, if you're in college and you want to spend the summer getting paid by Google to write Drupal code, you can apply here this weekend.

...Later on, back at the Zack shack:

Farsheed: So what goes on at these things?
Zack: I imagine drugs, sex, stripping; things like that.
Farsheed: What? That's the opposite of what I thought! I thought it was a bunch of guys sitting around with laptops and pizza!
(everyone confused)
Me: Oh! You're talking about Super Happy Dev House; they're talking about the stripper-party.

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Aggregation: Keeping Track of Friends and Whatnot Online

Apropos the post below, I started thinking a bit about the number of friends (let along colleagues, fellow-travelers, etc) put their stuff out there online these days. I think it's great, and I like pulling together the network. But "blogrolls" are so web 1.0.

In that spirit, here's new little featurette here on the OJ.com, aggregation. I just took 15 minutes and plopped in a bunch of feeds from friends and family, and the results are good so far. I plan on working this into a AJAX widget similar to my tag cloud at the top o' the page here, and heck, even if I'm the only one to use it it's worth my while.

For instance, I discovered this and this and this. My people are up to amazing wonderful things.

So this feature, such as it is, will evolve a bit. Content from the aggregator will get more categories, and make its way up to the front page in some blocky headlines-only pop'n-and-lock'n form. Let me know if you've got something I aught to include.

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