Archive for October, 2006

Keith Olbermann: ‘Beginning of the end of America’

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Keith Olbermann of MSNBC addresses the Military Commissions Act in a special comment: ‘Beginning of the end of America’

And now—our rights and our freedoms in peril—we slowly awaken to learn that we have been afraid of the wrong thing.

Therefore, tonight have we truly become the inheritors of our American legacy.

For, on this first full day that the Military Commissions Act is in force, we now face what our ancestors faced, at other times of exaggerated crisis and melodramatic fear-mongering:

A government more dangerous to our liberty, than is the enemy it claims to protect us from.

If you like Olbermann’s article you may also like his recent A special comment about lying.

The good news, though, is that there’s elections coming up. If you are a U.S. citizen and 18 years of age, you really shouldn’t miss it. If you haven’t done so already, you may still be able to register to vote (at least in some states).

Remember: The right to vote is a privilege that should not be taken for granted.

Web Monday Vienna, October 23

Thursday, October 19th, 2006

Looks like Vienna will join the crowd this coming Monday, October 23. Welcome, Austria!

If you know anyone in or around Vienna who might be interested, please spread the word. Thanks!

Europe — sort of a black hole for social application development (and that includes Germany, I take it)

Wednesday, October 18th, 2006

Stowe gives feedback on his More Europe project: The More Europe Project: Two Weeks In Europe

I think it has to do more with the small number of social application start-ups in Europe than anything else. Yes, I know all about Last.fm and Plazes — in fact I saw Felix Petersen of Plazes in Lisbon a few weeks back — but aside from those two (and of course openBC!) there doesnt seem to be much going on, really. (Oh, I am using Fred Oliviera’s Goplan, a Basecamp competitor. and he is based in Portugal, now. Shouldn’t forget that.) On the other hand, I was in San Francisco the other day for Office 2.0, and I saw no less that 25 companies demoing their applications. I had invitations from companies in Mexico, Canada and Israel for meetings, but nothing in Europe.

I think that Europe is sort of a black hole for social application development. For some reason, there is just not much happening. Are there other stealth startups that I just don’t know about? Is it Graham’s hypothesis? Have all the inventive Europeans already departed for San Francisco? Is it lack of VCs? Surely not education; is it a cultural issue? People in Europe being less likely to quit their day jobs?

Sadly, I think Stowe is right on with his assessment.

I’ve been thinking about this, too, for the past 18 months or so (ever since I moved to sizzling Silicon Valley in May 2005). I think it’s a combination of cultural issues (Germans being a little too risk-averse all the time combined with a common disdain for failure) as well as lack of infrastructure (mainly, the aforementionend technology hubs and an ecosystem for funding).

I see small pockets of resistance, though.

Web Monday, the event I started almost a year ago, is aimed at addressing the cultural issues in that it gives people who not only have ideas but also want to do something about them a chance to present to their peers in an overall nourishing environment (that’s what Wiki Wednesday is to me). The recent Barcamp Berlin also helped bring people together (a mini-hub, if you will, though only for a weekend) who share the same passion about people and technology. And judging by what these people had to say afterwards, it will not have been the last barcamp in or around Germany.

A handful of successful internet entrepreneurs have begun to serve as angel investors: Lukasz Gadowski of Spreadshirt (who may join us for the upcoming Web Monday Silicon Valley, November 6) and Axel Schmiegelow of Denkwerk (who has invested in Qype, who will join us over the web and do a presentation from their Hamburg, Germany headquarters) come to mind. That’s only two, you may ask, but it’s a start.

The recent decision by the German government to pursue more of a hub approach with regard to their funding of universities is also a move in the right direction, in my view.

All this will take a while to really take root. In the meantime, if you’re the young and aspiring entrepreneur out there in the German hinterland, please do us all a big favor: Don’t think you need anyone’s permission. Don’t let the risk of failure overwhelm you. There are enough people who will gladly help you (even in Germany). Don’t wait until you have a perfect plan.

Just do it!

Today is Democracy Online Day

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Steven Clift suggested this:

Starting in 2006, every October 17th is to be known as “Democracy Online Day.” In 539 BC, King Cyrus The Great of Persia is thought to have issued the first written list of human rights on this day.

This also happens to be during Local Democracy Week in the UK and a few weeks before U.S. mid-term elections.

By having a simple day where all providers of online democratic/governance and political content alike can celebrate their efforts, more people will be made aware of the positive uses of the Internet for citizen participation.

I was hoping to be able to release today some of the findings my summer research on online deliberation and citizen participation has yielded, but I’m about a couple of weeks behind.

I will, however, point to the following two events coming up November 11/12:

Since there seems to be a lot of overlap, I have suggested that the two merge. We’ll see if that happens.

October 17, 1989

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

17 years ago today, the earth shook here in the San Francisco Bay Area in what became known as the Loma Prieta Earthquake. I was an exchange stundent at Saratoga High back then. That afternoon, I happened to be only a few miles away from the epicenter (though we weren’t the hardest hit and suffered only minor damage). We were hanging out watching tv, I remember MTV was playing Love Shack by The B52’s at 5.04pm when the house and everything in it started moving as if a giant had stopped by to casually hand out a massage of the entire building. According to official resources, the jolts lasted only 15 seconds, but to both my Colombian host brother and me it seemed like much longer. And of course we did what everybody tells you you’re not supposed to do: we ran outside as fast as we could once we realized what was going on.

Oh well, exciting and memorable times. Which reminds me, I still need to get my disaster preparedness kit in place. You never know: the Big One might be just around the corner…

Google goes solar

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Venturebeat reports: Google builds largest solar installation in U.S. — oh, and bigger than Microsoft

Search giant Google will begin constructing the nation’s largest solar electricity system on its Mountain View campus, the company said today.

Panels will be built for Google’s entire Mountain View campus, decking the roofs of its four main buildings plus two that are nearby. With a total capacity of 1.6 megawatts – enough to supply 1,000 average California homes – the Google system will be the largest solar installation on any U.S. corporate campus, and will be among the five largest installations in in the world.

Truly an energetic workplace.

Web Monday Second Life, October 23

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Web Monday Second Life has been scheduled for Monday, October 23, at 11am Pacific Time (8pm in Germany). This marks the third time we’re doing this, and it looks like we have quite an interesting agenda (suggested topics):

  • Building a “German Business and Conference Center” on Second Life
  • Architecture and architecture prototyping
  • Art, museums, exhibitions
  • Online deliberation — Ideas and opportunities for porting participation and deliberation models from real life to Second Life
  • German scene on Second Life

Open to newbies and experts alike. Sign up, join us, bring your avatar friends.

Barcamp tips and tricks

Tuesday, October 17th, 2006

Useful: 10 Tips for making the most of BarCamp

In retrospect, I find that the one thing that could have made Barcamp Berlin even better is the actual camping (including meals), but some things you just don’t realize until after the fact. Maybe Barcamp Nuremberg will be able to figure it out. I can only recommend it.

Something cool from Berlin

Monday, October 16th, 2006

Whenever I hear the words “Germany” and “cool” in the same sentence, the patriot in me gets all warm and fuzzy (there, I said it).

Om asks: Is than an iPod Shuffle or an IP-PBX?

This has to take the honors in the coolest device sweepstakes. Berlin-based 4S newcom GmbH has created iBlue, a tiny IP-PBX1, that comes on an Apple iPod Shuffle.

Apparently, Berlin, Germany-based 4S newcom knows how to make a pretty device: iBlue®: 4S newcom turns the Mac mini® into the world’s slickest IP PBX

Btw, PBX:

A Private Branch eXchange (also called PBX, Private Business eXchange or PABX for Private Automatic Branch eXchange) is a telephone exchange that is owned by a private business, as opposed to one owned by a common carrier or by a telephone company.

Aha, good to know. Someone should sign these guys up for Web Monday Berlin (maybe not because what they do is web 2.0 per se but rather because I would imagine they can share a thing or two about creativity, technology and design and, well, how to make a cool product!).

Charlie Haden: Nocturne

Sunday, October 15th, 2006

Nocturne, a wonderfully calm album by Charlie Haden. He’ll be in town November 4, for the San Francisco Jazz Fest: Alice Coltrane Quartet featuring Ravi Coltrane with Charlie Haden & Roy Haynes (Upcoming). Anyone wanna go?

Btw, if you like jazz and web apps, check out Matt’s keynote he gave at Blogtalk Reloaded: Wordpress and Jazz (PDF, 2.3MB), also available on Google Video.

Funny, I keep getting into conversations lately about music and rhythm and the web.