"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Blog Utility in Onlline ID

For anyone with a passing interest in the Biz game, y'aughtta know that my current feeling is that the user-controlled and people-friendly projection of secure and authenicated identity into the internet will herald the next generation of e-commerce and be the principle cause of our next economic boom. I didn't say it first, but it's the first time I've said it here. Maybe I'll elaborate on this in the not too distant future, but in the meantime, I'll explain why blogs are a good foundation for this. Again, this isn't a totally original idea. Doc Searls has a little ditty about it on his blog today, but I can tell you this sort of thing has been on my mind for quite a while.

Basically, it occurs to me that If you're willing to put your name on your blog and keep it real -- my original inspiration being Jusin's Links -- it could be the ultimate "I ain't scammin' you" proof. Using my blog as trust collateral first popped up when I wanted to buy something on eBay a while ago, and I realized that all these people had thousands of transactions and I had the goose egg zero and those suspicious-looking sunglasses. EBay lets you put up a little something about your self, so I stuck this up there. I like to think it helped me put prospective sellers at ease.

That was nice, but the real ah-ha! moment was when I started including my url in exploratory emails for freelance gigs off of craigslist or one of the innumerable job boards. This provides tremendous initial value for me as opposed to just some dude with an aol account: people can click my link and immediately see what I'm about and that I'm a real person, far more so than we'd be able to establish in an initial phone call. They also have a sense of what I'm about and so forth, lets them know if they want to deal with me or not.

Also, I used the term collateral specifically for a reason, that being having a personal blog gives me something to loose. Unlike a hotmail address or a monster.com login, this website gives me a non-disposable stake in the online world. Should someone decide to take the next step with me, this gives them peace of mind. If I put my blog on the table, you can bet I'm going to follow through. Sure I could chuck it all and start from scratch, but at this point I would be leaving behind over a year's worth of almost daily effort. It's not giving up my whole life, as if I decided to dissappear for real, move to Mexico or something, but it's far from insignificant. Someone who's thinking about entering into a virtual agreement with me knows how to recognize me online, where to find me in the future, and how to tell other people about me, three of the core tennants of identity, the underlying basis for any trust.

Of course, once real ID management (with legal backing) is here my outlandishjosh competitive advantage will be lessened if not eliminated, so you might ask why I'm still stoked about digital identity. Well, I want this sort of thing to become the norm because I think if it happens right it will open us up as a society and help integrate the world in more efficent and meaninfgul ways, and that's worth more to me than a competative advantage for freelance gigs. Besides, I probably loose some potential clients right off the bat because they're all freaked out to see me talking about using drugs and my sex life. Then again I don't really want to work with those people anyway. If things get tough and I need a temp job, I can just email them a word document with one of my other email addresses on it, but for now, I'm keeping it real to the fullest.

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Domino Positive

I helped by buddy Sam move a bunch of stuff today, and we were privileged to walk across Brooklyn in the sun from Greenpoint into his old neighborhood of South Williamsburg. It's a jumpin' Latin area, with lots of people immaculately attired in hip-hop gear. The kids are allright, even if the boys are a bit testosterony. Sam and I hashed out the state of the world as usual, with him giving some really interesting isights into the importance of design in things. Got my mind working on some good Buckminster Fuller tangents (ala Design Science). One of the things Sam is good at seeing is the interconnection of things, and how it's possible to do one thing which has other positive benefits.

I saw that mirrored in this little article about the people who are making computers (the Open BSD operating system) more secure:

The research was funded by a $2.3m (about £1.5m) grant from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to the OpenBSD Project, but the latest changes go beyond the original grant request, de Raadt said.

"This really wasn't part of the DARPA grant," he said. "But it happened because the DARPA grant happened, because when you throw a bunch of... guys into a room and get them drunk, this is what you get." De Raadt was careful to point out that the group paid for its own beer

So one DARPA grant not only gets a bunch of geeks loaded and the Pentagon's needs addressed, it fixed buffer overruns as well. The reason for this (and the reason the Internet works at all, by the way) is that the people who are working on these technologies are passionate and motivated about what they do. This is in the end what scares the pants off of Microsoft, the fact that their quickest-growing opposition is a decentralized network of capable and self-motivated people. These are the kinds of human beings who will give you an exponential return on your investment. If only there were a similar network for politics...

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Sunny Day

Walking around the sunny realms of Brooklyn and Chelea today, taking in photography and fresh air as I battled a headache-inducing hangover, the world seemed beatifically ready to evolve. Last night Sasha, Kim, good old 12th-Floor Caroline and I were on the town, cought some rock at the Luna Lounge, slurped some frozen tequila at the hat (El Sombrero) and downed a pint at the Brooklyn Ale House. Bumping in to people and friends all along the way. According to Sasha I was drunkenly disinhibited and amorously grabby towards the end, a plus in her eyes. I recall repeatedly telling her, "I'm going to ruin you," in my best sexy/threatening coo. We woke up with our heads at the feet of the bed and though the details are lost to flashes of whispered blur, from this I infer greatness.

Of all the worthwhile things to do and see today in the City, Nan Goldin's "Heartbeat" exhibit in Chelsea must ride near the top. Lots of pictures of adults in love, fierce europeans, the children and parents of real bohemia. In the mix of it all, I once again realize how American sex is such such a childish thing, what with our adolescent obsessions and quick-fix mania. Goldin's photographs capture the essence of real human passion, lines around the eyes and fit-but-realistic bodies. Most of all there's the human electricity and reality of feeling, leaping out of the saturated colors with the nearly-inauthentic heightened authenticity and livewire brilliance that only true intimacy can bring. It was a treat for the heart.

We bumbled through a few other places, saw some massive foam-rubber sculpture by Ernesto Neto -- including a little house with catacombic overtones you could go into if you put on a special white suit -- and some fascinating manga-like paintings on photopaper. Also enjoyed partaking of the atmosphere in a few outrageously expensive clothing stores, and me with my orange Che Guevara cuttoff t-shirt and cowboy boots. It was a good day for art. Reminds me why people need intention in their lives.

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For a while now I've been thinking about the future of videogames as a means of artistic expression and culture-building. Altering the premium blend that is America Culture is one of my long-term life goals, and I don't believe I have the chops to ever make it as a TV/Movie star, so there's a natural interest in other forms of expression. In addition, I don't think TV is going to be the cultural dominator that it currently is in another 20 or 30 years. Virtual entertainment will still be important, but the interactive forms are far more engaging and potentially impactful.

This is not idle speculation. Videogames, far more than television, can be a force for developing cooperative and equitable social norms and ways of thinking around highly charged issues of the day. At their best they can create a space in which something uniquely human can happen. This is not possible on the one-way street of movies and TV.

Jane of GameGirlAdvance has written a fascinating article about the use of gender in videogames entitled "Genderplay":

Something you hear over and over again in the research around what girls want out of games are themes like "open-ended" and "less-goal oriented" and "co-operative play". These are also the themes which most adult gamers seem to want, too. Talking with my friends who are game developers and designers, they don't want to see bouncy boobs, necessarily (although there's a place for that, sure); they want evolved gameplay, emergent gameplay - with great characters.

whole article>>>

Videogames offer a lot more potential in terms of cultural development and nuanced creative expression than any other entertainment form other than (perhaps) participating in team sports. Games offer the ability for users to test and develop their own personas as a creative act in and of itself. They can facilitate identity development and understanding, as the part of Jane's article about how her boyfriend deals with flirtation as a female character in online multiplayer role-playing games illustrates:

In another server on the sunny plains of Albion, Justin has an enchanting enchantress who caught the eye of a young paladin. I asked him whether he responded to the paladin's tentative flirting. "Well, sure," he said. "I would say, 'Thank you for the necklace, milord' and 'Thank you for the necklace - again , milord" because that's part of the game." And who knows? The paladin could well be the avatar of a young woman halfway across the world.

This is happening right now all over the world. Extrapolate five to ten years and integrate people's cell phones, email, IM, blog and other means of digital connection/expression. See the potential? If this sort of safe and creative exploration of roles becomes more of a norm, I believe the impact will be nothing short of revolutionary for our culture. By allowing users a means of understand social interactions from different perspectives, albeit in a simplified and fantastic context, the world of gaming can contribute to the development of more open-minded and well-rounded individuals.

A few weeks ago I was taking a car trip with two gentlemen I do occasional work with, Peter and Robbie, both of them fathers. They were talking about how videogames were toxic to children, Robbie having a nearly-grown son who he feels plays too much Xbox and Pete having two kids too young to play anything, yet.

"I'm never allowing it in my house," Peter says, as I bite my tongue. I understand the desire to not have a vidiot child. However, putting aside the fact that prohibition is the quickest avenue to producing keen interest, my belief is that videogames are a potential source of good things as well as bad. I tried to hint at this point of view, but it was clearly a sore spot for the two of them. I was suddenly in the awkward position of being across a generation gap from these men -- we might have been 45 years back in time and talking about Rock and Roll.

On a certain level, they have a point. Just as Rock and Roll was correlated with drug use, teen pregnancy and dropping out of college, heavy gaming often correlates with a shut-in lifestyle. At least, that's the popular perception. There are many happy, healthy, well-rounded people who play videogames; I'd go so far to say they're the majority. And while there are certainly game addicts and a number of otherwise socially stunted individuals who find a questionable and isolated solace in the virtual world, these phenomena are not necessarily caused by gaming itself. Far more likely these phenomena reflect pre-existing problems that are brought to the surface vis-a-vi videogames. Better the Playstation than gangs, drugs, spousal abuse, etc.

Furthermore, especially as games evolve to become more interactive, cooperative and open to user-instigated forms of expression, they could very well have the opposite effect: contributing to the development of more worldly and experienced adolescents and providing adults a meaningful way to engage with each other and have fun with their own identity. Games could be healing. They could be agents of progress. What actually comes has yet to be seen and is far from certain -- it's conceivable that games will become even more of a cultural sewer than cable television -- but I think the possibilities here are quite a bit more culturally exciting than those of American Idol.

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This is the Good Stuff

Life is beautiful right about now. It's about 77 degrees (enjoy it while it lasts), Pete and Swetlana just had a baby, I've got Monkey-Kim in tow. Oh, and I'm in love. Yeah. Love. More on that in a while.

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Bad Dreams

I had two very disturbing dreams last night. In the first I was a young father having a backyard birthday party for a little daughter, when suddenly air-raid sirens started going off and we watched a massive arial battle commence above our heads. Planes of many different kinds we zigzagging and dogfighting, and then big planes were streaking through, dropping all-white-clad paracheuters across our neighborhood. Men with guns and masks and bad intentions. "Are they going to kill us Daddy?" Trying to be brave. Get the kids in the basement. Stress. Weakness. Terror. Why don't I own a gun? I woke up seconds later, palatably afraid.

The second dream was of a smilar military nature, but had a more structured plot. I can't recall the details, but it was also highly agitating. It's been a while since I've had bonafide nightmares like that. Am I finally suffering the feedback from the cuture of fear?

Also, it must now officially be spring: I have misquito bites. Any guesses as to how long before the West Nile media distress machine ramps up? Oh God, another flu-like virus that can kill people with feeble immune systems! Damn you Saddam!

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I got a response to a question I posted to a more established personage online, asking about what one aught to do with ones life at a time like this. I talked about this a little last night with new friend (Reed/Portland Connection) Kathrine Sharp. Anyway, the advice that came through was good old human poetry:

Best advice I can give you is to seek the truth, fantasize, know the difference, do art, make love, eat good food, hang with good people, listen to music, practice non-violence, sing even if you can't carry a tune, speak the truth you find, travel, look around you, never be afraid to change your mind.

The whole think is here. While at first I thought this smacked a little too much of the "random acts of kindness and senseless beauty" that I was raised on back in good old Eugene (saw that bumper sticker everywhere), I gave it a second read and I really liked some of the practicals, especially the parts about fantasy, travel, and being able to change ones mind. It's still a little inspecific, but when it comes to asking strangers what to do, this is about as good as it gets.

All this makes me even more want to start meeting with people to talk about a vision, a future, a life worth living. Maybe I'll start asking around, see if other people are interested in meeting once a week or so.

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I kind of got a kick out of this religious cartoon. Of course, as a non-believer, I simply enjoy it for the comic value. Still, it's a larf. Got the link off of JT's site, which is back in action and long-winded as ever. Shazam!

For other lovely bite-sized media, try www.freedomads.org. Here's my favorite so far. Thanks to reader Paul Feine for sending the link. Great stuff! Seemlingly connected to the essay contest I linked to a while back.

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Holy Shit, Blogs Save Lives

Yeah, I'm a day or so behind on this, but it takes some time for memes to work their way around the world. I've got a few Koenig Originals in the hopper, but for now please enjoy this story about how a dude with an accordion was warned off from dating a complete psycho by someone who read his weblog. It's quite a harrowing tale. And if after that you're still hungry for more nail-biting first-person accounts, I gladly refer you (again) to back-to-iraq.com, possibly the best $20 I've ever spent.

Another thing to stare at: Come on, Dow, support the troops (theonion.com)

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Forward Progress

So I more or less have a job through June. This is good news, and it's making my stress-load feel much lighter than ever before. I'm also working on some interesting peace stuff and a new site feature. I want to add a little grafitti board in place of the poll, which I can never seem to come up with good questions for. Maybe we could have both. I'm also thinking about room-renovations, a new desk, some new hardware, etc. And I'm making travel plans for Ren Fayre and the little monkey gathering that's brewing later this month in Boston.

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