Orrin Hatch, vigilante

Orrin Hatch has been catching hell around the blogosphere for advocating that the RIAA should be able to destroy the computers of customers it thinks are stealing.
If we’re legalizing vigilante justice, why stop there? Lessig suggests that along those lines, we should be able to “bomb the offices of stock brokers thought to be violating SEC regulations. Or bulldoze houses of citizens with unregistered guns.”

More on wiki patterns of use

Tim Appnel clarifies what he meant yesterday:

What I meant to say (and did rather poorly I suppose) is that a wiki does not sufficiently facilitate discussion over time or communicate reason for the change nor does it alert me to the change which may change the context of the collaboration elsewhere. I have to really dig for it. (Perhaps this is just my experience with MoinMoin the wiki Sam Ruby is using.)

Part of this social process, not technology.
Several classic wiki pages on techniques for effective wiki-based conversation:
* How to Converse Deeply on a Wiki
* How to use Thread Mode in a Wiki
* Soft Security
It seems to me that some of the small confusions can be cleared up (and are being cleared up) with these types of techniques. For example, a person who disagrees with a sentence shouldn’t change the meaning of that sentence, but should add a signed comment. When discussion converges, create a new document in Document Mode, not Thread Mode.
I agree with you that it’s good to use wiki with other communications tools. In a membership group, it works nicely to have the back-and-forth conversation in email. In this case, the community is open and ad hoc, so the public modes (wiki and weblog) are a good fit.
Completely agreed that email notification would be useful. I don’t know if MoinMoin has that feature or not.

Patterns of use, wikis, and the weblog data model

Sam Ruby wrote a blog post about the components of a well-formed weblog entry, and started a wiki to flesh out the picture.
It looks like the discussion on the wiki is percolating nicely.
Tim Appnel is somewhat concerned about the use of the wiki; because people can edit the pages, he’s worried that people will go into loops, changing the meaning of content.
But a well-formed social process can assuage that concern.
It looks like they’re doing a good job abstracting the discusion, and using the data model diagrams to express emerging concensus.
This is a good example of using the different modes in a decision cycle.
* Start with people bouncing ideas back and forth using a mailing list or weblogs
* Use the wiki to converge the discussion. Generate a prototype document and build shared definitions of concepts and terms
* Use individual weblog posts to explore particular ideas in depth, and link back into the discussion
* Once the wiki conversation has reached agreement, use the document as the starting point for the next phase of action.

Are blogs democratic

Perry de Havilland makes the not-very-interesting point that an individual weblog is not democratic. Of course, a single weblog represents the view of its writer or writers. Within the framework of democracy, a weblog is a vehicle for free speech, which helps citizens articulate ideas and make up their minds.
Following up to the de Havilland article, Jon Lebkowsky talks about the role blogging can play in a deliberative process among citizens.
Blogs help generate broader discussion of ideas. But discussion doesn’t inherently lead to convergence and decision-making. Therefore, we need to have explicit processes for leading discussions to…
* reach conclusions that bloggers can use to advocate within the political process.
* form constituent groups, who can actually aggregate influence, advocacy, votes, and (in our corrupt system), campaign contributions.

Hiawatha Bray on Blogs in Business

Hiawatha Bray of the Boston Globe caught two themes of the Jupiter conference: blogs as marketing, and blogs as self-expression, and is convinced that they will cancel each other out.

“It’s a clever way to give Internet companies a human face. But is it really blogging? Sure, the corporate weblogs use the same technologies,
but their hearts are not really in it. The best blogs don’t just deliver
authoritative information; they resonate with the personalities of their
“Just as e-mail, born as an academic convenience, is now a marketing
tool for human growth hormone, the blogs are bound to go commercial. Who
knows? Maybe a few will even get it right. There are good TV
commercials, after all.”

These stereotypes aren’t much like the top work-related public blogs
(Mark Pilgrim, Jon Palfrey), where articulate professionals converse
with peers and build reputation with articulate essays on technical
subjects. Nor are they like the real-life intranet blogs in the IT
departments of Verizon and the State of Connecticut, in which employees
manage projects, talk with internal customers, and brainstorm about
managing through a reorganization.
Bray caught the hype and missed the reality.

Real life business weblogs

Heath Row transcribes a great session at the JupiterMedia conference, in which people talk about how they’re actually using weblogs in business, and the affect of weblogs on organizational culture.
Choice quotes:
Paul Perry, IT Director at Verizon Communications:

I knew that a lot of emails were going around about what was going on in the industry. Sometimes I was in those threads. Sometimes I was not. The problem with cc lists is that you have to decide if the email is spam or if you’ve hit the right audience. I needed to find a way in which I would be fully informed but I didn’t have to decide who to inform. Another problem with email is that it’s gone. I didn’t want to have to go into everyone’s email to see what had been read or not. I also needed the right technical people to highlight what I thought was important and what they thought I needed to see….

Even very technical people who were aware of blogs didn’t want to post at all until they saw other people post. I created a private space for them to post in their own private journal. As soon as they were ready to open it up to the project, they could. It was important to post and make mistakes. You need to offer a ramp that is shielded and private. I don’t see any additional candor. The organization size is very large. Verizon IT is 10,000 people. It’s not like we can all share and have enough interaction person to person. With an organization that large, you are open to some misunderstandings if you don’t offer more context first.

Rock Regan, CIO, State of Connecticut

We’ve got probably 90 people using a blog to discuss the architecture of our organization. I have a liaison who deals with the 65 agencies, not just technical agencies but the business folks. It really started in my office. I’m not going to claim that I’m good yet, but I’m certainly open to ideas. How can we use this? How can this make your job better? For me, it’s a critical function that’s going to be instrumental in our survival. A 22% staff reduction in the last two months. We’ve got to do things differently….

We’re beginning to see some great discussion among people who don’t communicate well together. We’ve had some discussions recently to make some differences in core technologies that will allow groups that don’t communicate well know what the other groups are doing. You’ve got to open up the opportunity for people to know what’s going on in those different functional areas.

Stowe Boyd on Social Software

Social software works bottom-up. People sign up in the system (for example, by downloading an IM client and registering an ID there) and then they affiliate through personal choice and actions (I add you to my buddy list, and you decide to remove me from yours).
Traditional software approaches the relationship of people to groups from a top-down fashion. In the corporate setting, its hard to imagine a person existing without being specifically assigned membership to top-down groups: your team, your division, the budget committee and so on.
Over time, more sophisticated social software will exploit second and third order information from such affiliations

Where the blog platforms are going

Jason at Blogger — we’re playing catchup. The customer base isn’t web designers any longer, it’s the Geocities audience. New community features, stat-tracking. Scale a community directory. “Can it GoogleScale?” “my IP lawyer and PR person wouldn’t like that.”
Frankston. Uses blogger, and a homegrown tool.
Bricklin. Spreadsheet automated tedious housekeeping of writing a custom programming. We’re at the stage in blogging tools where Lotus 123 started to displace Visicalc. And we don’t know what Excel will look like. Pictures — that will be as important as the gridlines and formatting we got in excel.
Anil Dash. TypePad. Designed for basic users to create and host weblogs. We think the anatomy has been decided. Comments, trackback, permalinks, blogroll, images. None of our tools have kept up with managing those components. Working backward from the way people work with the format.
Michael Gartenberg at Jupiter. There are a variety of devices and platforms. Has anyone blogged on something other than PCs?
Next-generation Manila. Mail to weblog, server-level aggregation, built-in publishing. Make the interface easier to use. Radio. 2way synchronization, with multiple desktops, backups. Doing things you can only do on the client side adding a very slick mac and windows interface, instead of being inside a browser. P2P system, augment ability to publish large files form the desktop. First 10 people become resources for the next 100.
Anil. Choosing who can read what you publish? If you do that, is it a blog? Anil thinks so. Anil thinks you have a contract with your readers to update.
Doc. Blogger permalinks don’t work.Jason. It was a feature — most first blogs don’t work. Actually, permalinks will work on the new platform.
Question: How open is the code? Robb — everything but the core. Anil — any user can modify. MT Pro on schedule for this year, same license, with code exchange. Enterprise customers can share customizations. Evan — developers will become more important. Anil — javascript blogrolling will happen at API level instead of javascript.
Doc: wants to save pictures from home machine and serve from home machine. The cable guys have the vision of an asymmetrical web. Does blogging have the leverage to make the dream happen.
Rick Bruner: Wants Macromedia Lite for blogger. The answer is using those as front end tools, with an API. Can do this already in Radio. The HTML control is already in Trellix, there’s a gecko version. Works fine. Also pastes from HTML, and Word, and Excel.
Search and replace for regular expressions, feature to flag dead links.
Michael O’Connor Clarke: What about the reading tools?