Tom Friedman on winning the Peace in Iraq

Best quote:In short, we can oust Saddam Hussein all by ourselves. But we cannot successfully rebuild Iraq all by ourselves.

Because it will be a marathon, we must undertake this war with the maximum amount of international legitimacy and U.N. backing we can possibly muster. Otherwise we will not have an American public willing to run this marathon, and we will not have allies ready to help us once we’re inside (look at all the local police and administrators Europeans now contribute in Bosnia and Kosovo). We’ll also become a huge target if we’re the sole occupiers of Iraq.

Senate votes to block TIA!

The US Senate voted to block the Total Information Awareness program!
The Senate accepted the Wyden amendment to the omnibus spending bill. The amendment requires the administration to report on the impact of the TIA on privacy, and requires Congress to vote again about whether to appropriate money for TIA.
The next step is to make sure the amendment is included in the compromise bill that will reconcile the Senate and House spending bills.
So read up at the Center for Democracy and Technology, and call your Congressperson.
Democracy works when we use it!

Tonight: ACLU on Austin Bill of Rights resolution

When : Thursday, January 23rd, 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm
Where : ACLU of Texas statewide headquarters, 1210 Rosewood
What : Initial strategy and organizing session for local resolution campaign
Before the meeting,
(1) Please take a look at the “Safe and Free” section at the ACLU national website at, including the model resolution.
(2) Also take a look at the website at, particularly the tools section that shows the outline and planning for a successful campaign in Massachussetts.
(3) Bring a list of personal contacts and resources that you can ask to support or contribute to this campaign. (I.e. other organizations, churches, institutions, friends, etc.)
(4) The Austin Chronicle published an article about an effort already in the
works by the Austin Against War Coalition. I can’t get those people to return my emails, so if you have contacts or know who they are, please try to wrangle a status report out of them.
(5) Please rsvp if you can attend so I can tell the office how many to expect. Also, you can invite individuals that you know are willing to volunteer on the campaign, but this is not an “all hands” call for volunteers. That will come later.

Distributed Book Club

DJ Adams has created a distributed book club application that “finds if anyone has been talking about any of your favourite or current books”, by crawling This creates an RSS file, “which represents a sort of ‘commentary alert’ feed for that user and his books.”
From the “to do list” in DJ’s code:
Would be nice to be able to retrieve:
1) user book list for *all* book types (completed, purchased, etc)
2) book *comments* (recorded in allconsuming) as well as blog mentions
This is wonderful! This is one of the things that I started blogging for.
via Euan Semple

A patent on footnotes

Ross Mayfield reports that the SBC’s is claiming a patent on website navigation, via BoingBoing

SBC is claiming that it holds a valid patent on website navigation and has begun to shake down websites for license fees. Near as I can tell, they think their patent applies to virtually every website extant.

SBC is claiming to patent the concept of a menu with tabs that correspond to specific locations within a website.
This is the online equivalent of somebody attempting to patent footnotes and tables of contents.
The Printing Press as an Agent of Change, by Elizabeth Eisenstein, is a long but fascinating study of the impact of printing on European culture, including the renaissance, reformation, and scientific revolution.
Standard navigation in books — tables of contents, indexes, tables of figures, footnotes — were made possible by the printing press. Each printed book in an edition had the same page numbers, makeing it possible to refer to the same content in different books by the page number. This wasn’t possible with handwritten books; each manuscript had different pagination.
The standardization of print navigation made it easier for scholars to collaborate across distance, since they could easily refer to the same content in the same book. Better scholarly collaboration helped fuel the renaissance and scientific revolution.
Think about the different destiny of European civilization if a single publisher had been able to patent footnotes.
also thanks to Chip Rosenthal for a heads-up on this.

Dave Winer’s proposal for blogconversation

Dave Winer has proposed You Know Me to enable threaded cross-weblog conversation by means of a central server that identifies users.
The need is real — it would be very handy to be able to aggregate conversations across weblogs. But that approach seems like centralization and ID overkill.
* Usenet doesn’t require unique IDs to thread discussions — just a unique ID for the discussion thread and a time stamp on the entry
* Threaded cross-blog conversation is valuable enough that it shouldn’t depend on a single server or service.

Copyright and The Sea of Stories

Doc Searls explains that Supreme Court ruled against Eldred because copyright is conventionally understood to be a form of simple property.
Here’s a gorgeous quote from a Salman Rushdie novel explaining why the conventional wisdom is wrong.

The Ocean of the Streams of Story… was made up of a thousand thousand thousand and one different currents, each one a different color, weaving in and out of one another like a liquid tapestry of breathtaking complexity… these were the Streams of Story… each colored strand represented and contained a single tale. Different parts of the Ocean contained different sorts of stories… all the stories that had ever been told and many that were still in the process of being invented and could be find here…
And because the stories were held here in fluid form, they retained the ability to change, to become new versions of themselves, to join up with other stories and so become yet other stories; so that unlike a library of books, the Ocean of the Streams of Story was much more than a storeroom of yarns. It was not dead but alive.

Stories and music and movies aren’t just property. They are part of the ocean of stories that make up our culture.
The founding fathers defined copyright as giving a monopoly to content creators for a limited time. After that, stories should return to the ocean from which they came, to help combine and create new stories.
from Haroun and the Sea of Stories

Deadline tomorrow: Senate may vote to limit TIA

Opportunity to ask our Senators to support amendments to limit funding for the “Total Information Awareness” program until the Pentagon has fully explained the nature of the program and its effect on Americans’ privacy and other civil liberties.
Read about it here and here, and then call your Senator to support the amendments by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Senator Charles Grassley (R-IA).