Women Don’t Ask

Men graduating from Carnegie Mellon with a Masters’ degree earned $4000 more in their first job out of the program than women did, according to a 2002 study.
It turned out that only 7% of the women had negotiated their starting salary, but 57% of the men had asked for more money. Those who negotiated raised their salaries by an average of $4000.
The striking difference in salary was explained by the willingness to negotiate.
Currently Women Don’t Ask, about women’s reluctance to negotiate.

Congressman Boucher engages copyfighters on Lessig’s blog

There’s a lively, thoughtful, substantive discussion going on over on the Lessig Blog, where Congressman Rick Boucher is engaged in conversation with the “free culture” crowd, while Lessig is on vacation. The congressman is reading comments throughout the day, and writing thoughtful, informed, reasonable responses, with insights about the political process. Participants are asking good questions and bringing up relevant angles to the discussion of copyright policy and the INDUCE act.
This is the real deal. Congressperson takes a leadership role on an issue, and uses a blog as a way to meet with constituents who are active advocates in the issue area. The blog community of activists is catalyzed by a thought leader.
No “messages”, no flames. Cluetrain live.

Modeling Emergent Democracy

Over the weekend, I’ve been reading the draft of a once and future book on emergent democracy. The thesis is that many-to-many network communication is transforming human political and social organization. Theorists of emergent democracy draw on metaphors of self-organizing in networks, termites, flocks of birds.
The argument has truth and explanatory power. All changes in communication affect the nature and organization of human society. Networked communication facilitates network behavior patterns that can be described with network math.
There is also something profoundly unsatisfying about network determinism, where current forms of government are inevitably replaced by ad hoc swarms of citizens. There are two items that are missing in the ant metaphor — the nature of the nodes, and the nature of the ecosystem. In a human population, the nodes of the network are intelligent; the pheremones are ideas. The human self-organization takes place within a cultural ecosystem, with resources and constraints like money and laws, unlike termite colonies or flocks of birds, whose forms are shaped by food and weather.
Intelligence in the political network can be described along two related dimensions:
* coordinating action — in networked environment, the ability to draw groups in alignment, rather than in continual brownian bickering
* coordinating ideas — framing discourse to enable shared understanding
This frame makes the affect of the network easier to see: the network makes it easier to co-ordinate groups to take action, and makes it easier to spread ideas among groups.
By taking the environmental metaphor too literally, theorists of emergent democracy refrain from drawing models of the networked polity. After all, if the change is emergent and self-organizing, prediction misses the point. But the human environment is a built environment. Therefore, a theory of the evolution of a networked polity should take into account the constraints of the environment, and the adaptive paths from here to there.
Today, the elements of politics are election campaigns (mass marketing, fund-raising), and inter-election policy making, influenced by activist campaigns and donor money. Emergent democracy enables peer to peer get-out-the-vote activity and decentralized fundraising at election time; and enables groups of citizens to self-organize around issues in the creation and administration of policy.
Blogs, discussion groups, and “peer media” countact the centralizing tendency of mass media, and help provide greater visibility in local politics and particular issues. One chronic mistake made by the prophets of blogging as a political force is to see the conversation, opinion, and journalism in blogs as directly connected to political change.
Conversation, debate and deliberation is important in a democracy, but citizen conversation alone doesn’t make policy. There are two missing steps. First, citizens need to relearn to organize. The conversation needs to translate into action – effective advocacy for specific policy, or campaigning for specific candidates. Second, government officials need to learn how to listen. Today, politicians check polls to see what voters think. Tools like Technorati will give politicians a richer view of the opinion of particularly active citizens.
Yes, say advocates of emergence, but legislation and administration are passe in a networked age. Social decisions will just “emerge” as the sum of a million conversations. There is clearly room for greater decentralization and experimentation. However, as Stewart Brand observed in “As Buildings Learn”, buildings (and the civic infrastructure) consist of layers, with different lifespans.
One failure mode in underdeveloped states is the lack of a reliable legal system. Businesses need a stable foundation for contracts and dispute resolution, in order to conduct the shifting and fast-changing process of entrepreneurship and innovation. Roads, bridges, water and sewage systems are amortized over many decades. (Privatized decentralization is not a complete solution — if water and sewer systems are allocated to those with the ability to pay, epidemics will kill poor people and threaten the rich.) There will continue to be some stable organizational structure to create slow-changing rules, and and to choose, pay for and maintain longlasting assets.
There are other areas currently supported by government — education, health care — where there is some social agreement to spend common resources, but many opinions about how to do this, with competition between centralized and decentralized approaches.
The current geographical basis of governance — local, state/province, national, international — is shaped by geographic concentration of interests, and communication costs. As communication costs decrease, and it’s easier for citizens with common interests to band together across geography, jurisdictions will probably change.
It is useful to think about which aspects of social policy should continue to be set, funded, and managed by slow deliberative government process, which functions should remain but shift jurisdiction, and which functions should be handled by other social structures.
In sum, ideas of emergent democracy provide valuable tools for thinking about the networked polity. But a strong model of emergent democracy includes a picture of how people organize and deliberate, and how government functions in a networked world. Because the nodes of the network are intelligent, and the environment is built by people, it is not at all pointless to discuss a model of governance in a networked polity, and the answers are far from deterministic.
This essay can be found in live wiki form, here


Washington DC closes streets, puts up security checkpoints.
In the words of a taxi-driver interviewd by the Washington Post: “During the Cold War with the Soviet Union, you didn’t see this kind of thing,” the 49-year-old Nigerian immigrant said. “Fear shouldn’t grip the nation like this. It’s demoralizing that a few people could cause a wall of change that affects the city’s character and image of this country.”

Hiring open source developers

Socialtext loves to hire developers with open source experience and reputation. We know people are good developers. We know they have initiative and have gotten things done. We know they have creative ideas, because thos ideas are public. People who’ve been active in open source have a public community reputation.
And I’m beginning to think that it is a great way to do the R part of R&D. One of the big problems with classic corporate R&D is that innovations don’t see the light of day. The typical corporate reaction is to put researchers on a short leash, and tell them their blue-sky research needs to turn into a commercial product in a finite amount of time.
An alternative approach is to do open source experimentation. If the experiment is interesting and valuable, it will attract other developers. So you’re building an ecosystem from the start rather than stifling it. If it works and seems valuable, you can package and develop and commercialize it — or leave it to an independent noncommercial life.
It increases one risk, because new ideas aren’t secret. It decreases the risk of developing products in the lab that don’t ever work or get done or find users.

Two open source business models

John Koenig has a nice article in the IT Manager’s Journal listing seven open source business models: Optimization, Dual License, Consulting, Subscription, Patronage, Hosted, and Embedded.
From the perspective of software developers, however, there are only two. Patronage works for individual developers who are so brilliant, innovative and famous that a corporation or foundation will hire them to do whatever it is they do next. A few people merit this approach.
All of the other business models are based on a single principle — provide software and services that someone else wants. The stereotypical open source model is to “scratch your own itch” – build software that you want. That is a powerful motivation that gets a lot of software built.
But if you want to make money, you need to do something that somebody else wants, and that is valuable enough that they’re willing to pay you to do it. That something could be optimization, custom consulting, service and support, or a packaged product that uses your code (Koenig’s list). There’s also a patronage model that’s at the level of a project, not an individual — IBM’s sponsorship of Apache fits this model. In this case, the sponsor is paying for ongoing development and maintenance.
The solipsistic/bohemian model of open source — artists make software only for other artists, and talk only to other artists — falls short if those artists are looking to make a living. Unless you’re one of a handful of superstars, you need to provide a product or service that’s of immediate value to someone else.

Missed business opportunities

During the INDUCE Act hearing, Bainwol of the RIAA countered claims that file-sharing doesn’t decrease music sales.
But, he said holding up a colorful line graph, our sales from hits have declined. Which means sales of mid-list non-hits must be going up.
In other industries, when companies see sales of one type of product declining and sales of another type of product increasing, they switch strategies to focus on the new product category. The recording industry is missing business opportunities that are staring it in the face.
The recording industry instead wants to use the US legal system to maintain their old product mix.

The Daily Show by Paid RSS/Bittorrent

I wish it was available now. I would pay.
As is, I don’t watch enough television to subscribe to cable. Just not in the habit. I watch series’ occasionally on video.
As is, Bittorrent will do. I’d rather pay for reliable, high-quality, scheduled delivery, and compensate Jon Stewart.
I hope the industry takes this opportunity instead of suing it out of existence.