Attentive Troppodillians will recall Rooter, one of Troppo’s stable of cars, frequently flown to locations around the world in order for the winners of our comps to to take do a few doughies with it. Now comes the learned journal article on Rooter (pdf). It’s a hoax generated by a computer program. And more than a hundred of them have been accepted to conference databases. Pretty amazing stuff.
OK so you all kind of know this, but I’m going to go out on a limb and just put it out there as one younger member of my family has been heard to say. It’s depressing how much stuff is sent our way which repackages what’s already in the ether – stuff we already know, indeed stuff we may have grown up knowing, which is then fed back to us as AMAAAZING new insights into our contemporary world. You’ll laugh, you’ll gasp, you’ll savour those ‘aha’ moments – NOT.
This is the profundification of the commonplace.
The TED Talk above is on a subject that’s dear to my heart. It’s on the over-reliance on experts, the way experts can worship their paradigm and ignore what’s pretty obvious, and in the process tyrannize the wisdom of the lifeworld. I’ve even written whole essays on subject suggesting some possible ways to tackle the problem. So you’d think I’d love a TED Talk on that subject, especially since I agree with it.
Now I’m not expecting rocket science. I know that this is retail speechifying. The speaker is trying to explain ideas about which they’ve thought for some time to people for whom it may have no special significance. They need to be engaged and, dare I say it entertained. That’s as it should be. But lots of talks like that can be really interesting. I’m sure you can point us to some in comments. (On a second run through this I offer this TED talk as an illustration).
But really, having endured the hokeyness of the introduction, gritting my teeth thinking “this is the price of her TED Talk, this person will know something or say something of interest, perhaps compellingly, with cool illustrations” it turns out there is virtually no there there. Just the rehearsal of platitudes we already know – plus the obligatory reference to a brain scan. (Having invested in the technology, Troppo is scanning your brain as you read this and in the future you can be the first to learn the amazing fact to which our research will lead simply by staying tuned to Troppo.) Continue reading
It may not prove much, or rather it proves the obvious – that stuff that makes its way between two pieces of land tends to take place over the sea - but it’s kind of fun.
Above is my presentation to the Berkman Centre for Internet and Society – the background blurb of which is here. You’ll find the first half of the presentation on the fractal ecology of public and private goods is effectively the same content as the first half of this presentation from late last year. However where the first presentation takes the introductory framework as a basis for talking about social capital, the same framework is used as a basis for sketching out a terrain for public-private partnerships. Anyway, I mention this to save you time. I’m not much of a fan of watching videos, as it’s more efficient to read something but in case you’re OK with them – here’s another. But if you want to read the ideas presented you can read them in very summary form in the column here. But I’ve also completed a draft paper on the whole thing. If you’re interested, please email me at ngruen AT gmail and I’ll send you a copy on which I’d be grateful to receive comments and suggestions for improvement.
Prologue to a blog post:
Gentle Troppodillians, as you know, we keep up with the times here at Troppo. Some people like to think just five minutes ahead. Here at Troppo we’re focused on the long-term – eons are seconds in TroppoTime – or seconds are eons depending on the way you look at it. So I know you want to get the latest on Bitcoin – and in that regard this post should not disappoint. It is indeed about bitcoin. But . . . there’s more. This post is also a meta on academic discourse – and how limited it is.
Academia is where one would hope to find a large proportion of the most insightful minds. But for some time I’ve been struck by how limited the academic genre is at engaging with the social and economic transformations that are going on around us. Thus Tim O’Reilly’s “What is Web 2.0” and Clay Shirky’s Here comes everybody, were far more insightful than anything in academia. Indeed I remember the articles on government and web 2.0 I first came across in around 2008 or so were particularly woeful.
Their methodology was often something like this:
- Interview some practitioners
- If it’s an article about government, interview some government practitioners
- Ask them some questions and then report their answers in wide-eyed form.
Voila, there’s your article – ready to be published by some worthy mid-level government administration or policy journal. And something you can present at seminars. The people you’ve interviewed may not have a the slightest clue what they’re talking about, but their ‘outputs’, give you ‘inputs’. They’re answers to your questions (they might not be the right questions either) will give you ‘data’. And you understand what that means. It means that in seminars you will be able to begin responses to questions with expressions like “According to our data”.
Your conclusions will contain such gems as “Make sure objectives are clearly specified”. “Be clear about who your stakeholders are, and what they are seeking from the project”. “Stay in close touch with stakeholders”. ”Ensure the project is flexible and responsive to feedback”. “Evaluate the success of your project when it’s complete and (if you’re feeling frisky or a little flamboyant, ensure that evaluation methodologies are considered throughout the process).” All deliciously useless, masking a total lack of insight in generalities. One could offer this advice about any and everything from building a bridge to toilet training your kids. Further elaboration can be had here.
Anyway, here’s another example of the . . . Continue reading
I’m a fan of Angel-list and have invested in two companies already over the platform (as trustee for Club Troppo’s 4.7 billion self-managed super fund). Here’s the disclaimer which you verify before you get to invest. I like it, though even here I’d rather just one or two clear and simple statements to tick. At least on the consumer side, it’s the sort of thing that we should be moving towards in our review of crowdfunded equity. Will we? Well I’m not holding my breath.
Angel investors should expect to lose their money—almost all startups fail. Even if you diversify, you should expect your total losses to exceed your gains.
I understand that I will likely lose my money
Unlike public stocks, angel investments are illiquid. You can’t sell your stake when you choose—it may take years for a startup to return money, if it ever does.
I understand that I have no control over the timing of liquidity
Investing with notable investors does not guarantee a return. Make your own decisions. Watching notable investors can inform your decisions, but you must do your own diligence.
I understand that I must do diligence and read the investment docs
Early investors are diluted every time a startup raises money. Your share gets diluted in every subsequent financing and you have no right to invest in those financings.
I understand that my ownership will be diluted in subsequent rounds
Startups change plans constantly and often enter a different market with a different product. Plans and forecasts are not predictions about the future.
I understand that startups often radically change their plans
You must indemnify AngelList against any losses, even if the startup committed fraud or lied. This includes any investment opportunities you may have missed.
I understand that AngelList isn’t responsible for losses or missed opportunities
Here are some headlines marking various milestones of progress and regress in the Government 2.0 agenda.
As we recommended in the Cutler Report donations to the global commons are growing apace.
Meanwhile it’s not surprising that the Scandinavians, who are some of the most impressive governors in the world – along with us and the Canadians – are moving towards their government becoming a purchasing aggregator of digital content for their citizens. Here’s the news on Norway.
The National Library of Norway is digitizing all the books in its collection, processing the text to make it searchable, and making them available to read online.
It’s similar to the mass digitization efforts in the UK and Finland, but Norway has taken the extra step of making agreements with many publishers to allow anyone with a Norway IP address to access copyrighted material.
The library owns equipment for scanning and text structure analysis of the books. It’s also adding metadata and storing the files in a database for easy retrieval.
Librarians estimate the digitization of the entire collection, which includes materials dating back to the Middle Ages, will take 20 to 30 years. The effort started in 2006.
Meanwhile our government does something like the converse, helping the firms of the world charge our citizens higher prices than those of other countries.
Campaigners seem to be having some success in raising the profile of writers and others giving away the product of their labour for free. The first time I ran into this issue in any big way was in launching the Government 2.0 Taskforce with a design competition. The prize? The love and adulation of the community. Now the case against being asked to do stuff for free has made it onto Books and Arts Daily on RN, where after a nervous start, I thought the editor of the new Daily Review did a good job.
I was surprised last night to follow a tweet by libertarian Russ Roberts to this takedown of TEDx. When this guy explained “Why I’m Not a TEDx Speaker” I thought he might be about to decry its relentless drive down market. But no – it was because he wasn’t going to get paid.
Now Julia Baird weighs in and my friend Tim Dunlop is seeking advice.
Ok, some advice please. I just got a request from a book publisher to reproduce a piece I wrote a while back. It will be in a book for use in secondary schools, a collection of essays on Australian politics with a print run of 2000. While they ask for copyright permission, they are very careful not to mention payment.
So my question is, do I ask for some sort of payment on the basis that writers should be paid? Or do I make an exception because it is being used for educational purposes?
You can read others’ comments on his thread. But I reproduce my own to begin the debate out in the open rather than inside the walled garden of Facebook, which, as I point out in my comment, has the temerity to have Tim writing for it, yet all the while not paying him a cent! Not only that but all those commenters arguing that publishers should pay their contributors, well there they are, giving away their own writing, the sweat of their brow.
I’m shocked: shocked! Continue reading