Save the bears!

October 12th, 2008

You know Michael Arrington loves startups. How else could you explain this outburst of poetry?

Just like a bear in the woods (I imagine) has to slow its activity in the Winter as food supplies dwindle, startups need to go into cash conservation mode to increase their chances of survival when the market slows. They need to be prepared for a hit in revenue, and they know they can’t necessarily go to the capital markets to get money to stay in business.

But to argue that a company should always cut costs to the bare minimum is the same thing as asking that bear to act like it’s Winter in the Spring, just because someday Winter is definitely going to happen. All you end up with is a dead bear.

Well, good luck to all. Especially the bears.

Wozu sind Kriege da?

September 22nd, 2008

Keiner will sterben, das ist doch klar
wozu sind denn dann Kriege da?
Herr Präsident, du bist doch einer von diesen Herren
du mußt das doch wissen
kannst du mir das mal erklären?
Keine Mutter will ihre Kinder verlieren
und keine Frau ihren Mann.
also warum müssen Soldaten losmarschieren?
Um Menschen zu ermorden - mach mir das mal klar
wozu sind Kriege da?

Herr Präsident, ich bin jetzt zehn Jahre alt
und ich fürchte mich in diesem Atomraketenwald.
sag mir die Wahrheit, sag mir das jetzt
wofür wird mein Leben aufs Spiel gesetzt?
Und das Leben all der andern - sag mir mal warum
sie laden die Gewehre und bringen sich gegenseitig um
sie stehn sich gegenüber und könnten Freunde sein
doch bevor sie sich kennenlernen, schießen sie sich tot
Ich find das so bekloppt, warum muß das so sein?

Habt ihr alle Milliarden Menschen überall auf der Welt
gefragt, ob sie das so wollen
oder geht’s da auch um Geld?
Viel Geld für die wenigen Bonzen,
die Panzer und Raketen bauen
und dann Gold und Brillanten kaufen
für ihre eleganten Frauen
oder geht’s da nebenbei auch um so religiösen Zwist
daß man sich nicht einig wird
welcher Gott nun der wahre ist?

Oder was gibt’s da noch für Gründe
die ich genauso bescheuert find’
na ja, vielleicht kann ich’s noch nicht verstehen
wozu Kriege nötig sind
ich bin wohl noch zu klein
ich bin ja noch ein Kind

Musik/Text: Udo Lindenberg

IAP2/NCDD Northern California joint meetup, August 19 in Berkeley

August 13th, 2008

The local IAP2/NCDD Northern California joint meetup I initiated earlier this year is coming together nicely.

Joint Northern California chapter meeting of the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2) and the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD).

Learn more:
IAP2 —

There’s significant overlap in interests, tools, and experiences, and we want to broaden our local network of local facilitation, public participation, and dialogue & deliberation professionals.

The agenda is fairly informal. There will be brief talks or presentations, with plenty of time for conversation and networking.

We’re meeting for the second time next week:

When: Tuesday, August 19 at 6.30pm
Where: NextNowCollaboratory, 1250 Addison, Berkeley, CA:

For more info and to RSVP, go to Upcoming or Facebook or join our Google group.

Feel free to bring your friends and colleagues!

Yahoo! Upcoming product feedback

August 9th, 2008

So Yahoo! is asking Upcoming users for feedback. Here’s mine (the small portion that was free form):

There are ads on Upcoming, really? ;-)

If Upcoming could do private events, I believe it could replace Evite for many.

Automatic notifications (e.g. via SMS) for events that are becoming “hot” fast in my network. General measurement or visualization of “interestingness” for various events (kinda like Flickr does for photos).

For some events, it would be nice to have the option to have the event details be editable to other event attendees (with or without approval, not sure). The use case here is that I may have entered an event prior to the organizers, don’t have the time to keep it updated but trust that others will do so. Have experienced this many times. In fact, it sometimes keeps me from adding new events these days (the ones I don’t own).

Other than that, nice job! ;-)

We’ll see what happens.

Obama Berlin speech tag cloud

July 24th, 2008

Thought I’d condense Obama’s speech in Berlin, Germany today into a tag cloud:

Wordle: Barack Obama Berlin Speech: 'A World That Stands As One'

I used Wordle, which does a really nice job at creating tag clouds.


June 27th, 2008

Interesting project by the University of California Santa Cruz (UCSC) Wiki Lab: WikiTrust, a project in studying author repuation and text trust on Wikipedia.

How is the trust computed?

The trust of text is computed in two steps:

  • First, we compute the reputation of each author by analyzing the author’s contributions. When an author makes a contribution that is preserved in subsequent edits, the author gains reputation. When an author makes a contribution that is undone or reverted quickly, the author loses reputation.
  • The trust value of a new word is proportional to the reputation of its author. When subsequent authors edit the page, words that are left unchanged gain trust: by leaving them there, the authors implicitly agree with them. Words closer to the edit gain more trust, as the author of the edit is likely to have paid more attention to them. In contrast, text that has been rearranged (new text, text at the border of cut-and-paste, etc) has again a reputation proportional to the author of the edit.

See a demo or learn more on their blog.

Via ReadWriteWeb: WikiTrust Evaluates Wikipedia Text by Author Reputation

Ameritocracy: new social fact-checking platform

June 19th, 2008

I just signed up for Ameritocracy, a new social web app (currently in beta) for collaborative fact-checking.


From their blog:

About Ameritocracy

Ameritocracy is a user generated content site that allows people to rate the credibility of statements made by our leaders and information gatekeepers such as media outlets and businesses. Our reputation system helps to make the information you read more credible, and the succinct nature of the content will help anyone keep up with social and political news.

From the about page:

What is Ameritocracy?

The internet today is pretty neat. It’s given us access to more information than any previous publishing medium, and gives everyone with a connection the tools to broadcast their views to the masses. With so many opinions, we can learn about all sides of any issue, but it still takes a lot of time to do the research. Ameritocracy was born out of this frustration of not knowing who to trust and not having the time to try to figure it out.

Our goal is to help people cut through the noise and gain quick access to the whole picture. We want to encourage a healthy skepticism of all claims, and offer a meaningful way to participate in the dialogue between the people who consume information and the people who own it. We want to give the public a chance to say, “We’re listening”, and demand that we be listened to as well.

How does it work?

The core features of Ameritocracy are adding statements (made by a person or organization) and assessing statements. For example, if you hear Jane Doe say something on tv that you find questionable, you can submit that statement to the site to see what the community has to say about it, or you can add your own assessment. Members can then rate Jane Doe’s statement for credibility and relevancy, add their own assessments, or post a comment.

From this, Jane Doe will develop a reputation based on the community ratings, and you and your sources will develop a positive reputation so long as no one identifies your submission as a misquote or deliberately inaccurate information. The goal is to get a few different perspectives for each statement, so anyone looking to know more about a statement can get a broader picture and make their own assessment.

There will be some really exciting trends to watch during this process, such as what the public feels about certain topics, how public opinion changes over time, and how the government, media and business react to the views of the Ameritocracy community.

Over on the IPDI blog, Julie Germany has an interview with Porter Bayne, one of the co-founders (she’s also giving out invite codes so check it out): Building Ameritocracy one quote at a time

At first glance, this looks very similar to Munich, Germany-based Trupoli (which I looked at briefly back in December).

Plantjes en Bloemen V

June 14th, 2008

Following a long year of lackluster garden engagement, the time has come to once again green the backyard.

In an effort to fully maximize value, this year will be herbs only (strawberries didn’t yield enough results, and the vegetables were pretty much all eaten by our little friends on four feet).

Sorry, mates, not this time!

Basil, rosemary, Italian parsley have already been added in large quantities. Mint and a few other weeds will follow shortly.

Tim Russert

June 13th, 2008

Journalism here in the US suffered a big loss today: NBC’s Tim Russert dead at 58

Of his background as a Democratic political operative, Russert said, “My views are not important.”

“Lawrence Spivak, who founded ‘Meet the Press,’ told me before he died that the job of the host is to learn as much as you can about your guest’s positions and take the other side,” he said in a 2007 interview with Time magazine. “And to do that in a persistent and civil way. And that’s what I try to do every Sunday.”

You did a good job, Tim!

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai

May 27th, 2008

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,
Als alle Knospen sprangen, Da ist in meinem Herzen
Die Liebe aufgegangen.

Im wunderschönen Monat Mai,
Als alle Vögel sangen, Da hab’ ich ihr gestanden
Mein Sehnen und Verlangen.

Music by Robert Schumann, from his song cycle Dichterliebe, lyrics by Heinrich Heine.