A-Clue.Com, Giving Thanks, WiFi, Journalism, Clued-in, Clueless; newsletter of 11/20/2006- from Dana Blankenhorn at A-Clue.com
  by Dana Blankenhorn
Volume X, No. XLVII

This Week's Clue: Giving Thanks

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This Week's Clue: Giving Thanks
SSP (Shameless Self Promotion)
Best of the Week
ZDNet Open Source
Clued-in, Clueless

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For the Week of November 20, 2006

It's important to stop every once in a while and give thanks.

We all have personal blessings to be thankful for. But without minimizing them I want to focus on more corporate blessings.

The 21st century marks a truly new phase in our history, the slow development of a "hive mind." The Internet is the first iteration of this idea. It is, by the standards of such things incredibly primitive. It's slow, it doesn't translate languages, it has many other barriers. But the work has begun and that's a blessing.

I am especially thankful this year for the wisdom of the American people. Even when I violently disagreed with their electoral decisions, I was always, eventually, able to place them into an historical context that made them intelligible.

As you know, this is what I call the Open Source Thesis, although you might also call it the Internet Political Thesis. The recent election represents the first real triumph of that Thesis. Democrats organized themselves around the Internet as never before, and for the first time this kind of self-organization trumped the corporate and media politics that has dominated our culture for a generation.

Yes, everyone seeks personal validation in an election result. Conservatives say Republicans weren't "really" conservative. Talking heads on TV will say that Democrats moved to the right. Some Democratic Party leaders will credit the money they raised, or the candidates they themselves recruited and endorsed.

But it's the self-organizing work of the Internet itself that deserves more credit. Not the "Netroots" but the medium these activists used. Many idiots are now busy calling people like Chris Bowers of MyDD or Markos Moulitsas of DailyKos stars, but that's like calling the bartender at the Algonquin the father of the Algonquin Roundtable. These people were mediums through which hundreds of thousands of others self-organized. They were enablers, nothing more. As Markos himself likes to insist.

But there were assumptions that grew out of anyone's participation in this new political medium, even if they did it through conservative sites such as Redstate and its "Rightroots" project. These are assumptions inherent in the Internet itself. They are values – openness, connectivity, consensus – universally understood by active Internet users, universally embraced by these activists, but actually quite new in the political realm.

Compare Internet activism to the top-down activism of the Goldwater movement, or the noblesse oblige inherent in the rise of either Roosevelt to power. There is no "great man" here even though those who have understood these values best, like Howard Dean, have been able to achieve great things based on them.

Recently I learned of a project at my own alma mater that is driving this idea forward in other ways. It's called Connexxions. It's a publishing platform, but it's also a collaboration platform. It lets professors build courses that encompass all kinds of files, not just words and pictures. Just as important, it brings with it an Internet-ready license scheme, the Creative Commons license, which breaks down the cost of distributing these wonders to a mass audience.

My guess is there are other, similar projects going on at universities around the world. Our ability to collaborate, and to distribute, knowledge is increasing exponentially, in line with Moore's Law, thanks to this medium, and the fact that it is not yet reflected in the price of higher education is down more to a need by the educated to consider themselves elite than anything else.

Being highly educated is no longer going to be an elite activity in the 21st century. It is going to become a necessity. And I am thankful for this as well.

The best example of what's possible there lives in my own home. My sainted bride of 29 years is the daughter of educators, and sometimes feels bad that she's not one herself. But she is one. She is constantly involved in either learning or teaching. She is on her third computer language, she has learned a variety of Web technologies, and she is expert at creating requirements, the precursors to any complex program, as well as in documenting her own work. Most of all she loves the process, she loves learning new things and helping others learn them. Could there be a better role model?

Change, and the need for change, continues to accelerate. I know there are people who complain about this. I am not among them. I am enormously thankful for it. It was to track change that I became a computer journalist, and I have not been disappointed.

Happy Thanksgiving.


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Best of the Week

Proof in the Spin

When a political thesis fails the first inclination of its adherents is always to blame the leaders.

Is Ken Mehlman Gay? An Internet Fairy Tale

The toothpaste is out of the tube. Maher said it. People recorded it. It's not going away. In fact, all the efforts by Mehlman, the RNC and CNN (even of Maher) to kill this story (literally) are only spreading it further. To blogs that don't care. Like this one.

A Process Revolution

Carol Shea Porter was out-spent 10-1 in a Democratic primary and won it. She was given no money by Rahm Emmanuel of the DCCC and she won anyway. She ran no negative ads, she couldn't afford them. But the radio ads supporters dreamed up for her were e-mailed all over the district.

The Regulatorium Gets Feisty

One interesting thing about a change of power in Congress is that it tends to wake up what we all the Regulatorium.

Spam, Cars and Risk

The only thing that seems to have changed driving behavior in my memory is high gas prices.

Thesis of Consensus

Consensus, as a process, runs entirely counter to the way we've operated throughout the political memory of everyone now living.

Spam as DoS Attack

For the last few days my mailbox has been filled by a single spam.

Deep Breath

I guarantee that, if Republicans hold Congress tomorrow, no one will ever find out. No one will ever know who did what, and why, and when, and if All Hell Breaks Loose you can continue living in Denial, saying "I didn't know. No one knew. How could one know such terrible things?"

Real Election Reform

This is at least as serious a threat as 9-11 was, so we start in the same place. A commission, drawn equally from both sides, appointed either by Congress or the parties (I don't care).

Election Coverage

On behalf of the American people, I would like to say this about the 2006 election coverage by the national media. It sucks.



2006: Kentucky Post Mortem

2006: Georgia Post Mortem

2006: Florida Post Mortem

2006: Alabama Post Mortem

South: Welcome to the Exurbs

South: Incumbents Tough to Beat

Virginia: Voic.Us Projects Webb

Georgia: Sonny's Coattails Holding

South: The Republican Region

South: Republican Firewall Holding

North Carolina: Don't Steal My Blue Tuesday

Virginia: Stretching for the Finish Line

Mississippi: No Diebold Tricks Necessary

Florida: Will Dems be Washed Out?

Tennessee: Let the Pre-Mortems Begin

Alabama: Every Candidate for Themselves?

South Carolina: Gay Marriage Spin Cycle

ZDNet Open Source

AT&T Uses Open Source to Assure Dominance

The War is Over and Linux Won

Open Source as a Bargaining Chip

Rice Relations and Open Source Connexxions

Would Open Source Make Elections Fair?

Is the Telephone Apocalypse Now?


Clued-in, Clueless

Clued-in is Rice University for Connexxions.

Clueless is the way in which Jeff Immelt is killing MSNBC.

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