Hyperbole, media misinformation and The Blake

Cover of Wired When Wired introduced me to the world as the creator of CivicSpace, I was a bit confounded. This was blatantly inaccurate and what made things worse was that they had even fact-checked that point with me and I’d explained that it was Zack Rosen and not me that had come up with idea. But apparently incorporating such a “minor” detail would have made for a less interesting read, so they stuck with their version of the facts.

Okay, fine. It’s not like I trust the media anyway.

But today in my daily news fix, an even more absurd lie is being perpetrated about the development of Firefox — and it’s more widely diffused than the story about me because Bloomberg News is spreading it through smaller papers:

It’s simply a mischaracterization of the worst kind to suggest that Blake single-handedly created Firefox. And it ignores the real story, which is that open source is a viable, alternative model for developing high quality products that meet real-world users’ needs. The story should not be about The Blake or any other single individual that helped forge Firefox (though they all deserve their 30 seconds of limelight). The story should be about an undercurrent taking shape on the internet that has been 30 years in the making: the open source development movement.

It pains me to read stories like this that simply do not reflect this new reality. I understand that it will take time, education and patience before things get better, but in the meantime, a lot of people are getting the wrong idea about what Firefox really represents, which is the work of thousands of volunteers across the globe working under the egalitarian guidance of a few super-empowered individuals, one of which just happened to be Blake Ross.

Out of the Office for the rest of my life

Out of office reply (click to enlarge)So factorycity.net has becoming the unwitting accomplice in a massive spam onslaught. I don’t know who’s using my domain for spoofing, but it’s really not cool. Waking up to 3,500 “delivery failures” just isn’t a good way to start my weekend.

However, I received one failure notice that I thought was particularly amusing and made up for the hour or so that I spent gutting my inbox, unsetting my catch-all email account and setting up the necessary aliases in place of my generic catch-all.

Harrison Bergeron as the personification of the internet child

Where's your free will at?When I was in Mr. Duffy’s high school English class, he assigned a short story that altered the course of my life forever. Harrison Bergeron it was called, written in 1961 by a witty old fart, Kurt Vonnegut.

You see, at the time, I had been growing increasingly skeptical about whether any of my peers had free will. It concerned me that it seemed somehow that I was the only one in my whole high school who could manage an original thought in his head.
Continue reading “Harrison Bergeron as the personification of the internet child”

Networks in cities and fungi

Mushroom CongestionBala Pillai posted this to the Minciu Sodas mailing list… brilliant:

This is such a great example that I need to quote the entire thing. MeshForum wants contributions from people who have looked into this kind of thing. Monkeymagic: Traffic, Congestion and Information Flows

This is exciting from the New Scientist: apparently New roads can cause congestion. [via 3quarks daily]

Traffic should flow best in cities when only a limited number of roads lead to the centre. This counter-intuitive finding could allow planners to prevent gridlock by closing roads rather than building new ones.

It comes from a new way of thinking about complex networks developed by Neil Johnson, Douglas Ashton and Timothy Jarrett at the University of Oxford, UK.

Fascinatingly, the article goes on to say:

The same process of analysing the costs associated with moving across a network could help solve a long-standing problem in biology: why some natural networks are centralised like cities, whereas others are decentralised like the internet.

“Organisms such as fungi have managed to evolve a complex network in which there are centralised and decentralised pathways to move nutrients around,” Johnson says. “Now we can look at biological systems in terms of the ‘costs’ and ‘benefits’ of the connections rather than in terms of the physical structures themselves,” he says.