Monthly Archive for January, 2008

Mindmapping: “The Wealth of Networks” (2006) by Yochai Benkler

MindMapping: The Wealth of Networks (Chapter 1)

I’m still uncertain how useful mindmaps really are (see the Wikinomics one)… does it really help make ideas clearer? Ponder about this as you click here to see a larger image, or check out my interactive version via MindMeister.com. For the lazy bones, I’ve also got an embedded version after the jump…

I’ve been auditing Trebor’s social web class for a while and for this semester, we’re focusing on just one book, in-depth(finately). If its any singular book worth reflecting on, Yochai Benkler’s “The Wealth of Networks” (2006) stands as a seminal book on the economics of our increasingly networked + humanistic lifestyle.

By being human, he contrasts traditional market economics where we develop and stick by highly efficient systems for production. To be open to the variances of possibilities, he refers to how concepts of self-interest, social justice, potentially unlimited creativity, are privileges we can enjoy because we seem to understand how they could be economically viable and effective. Feel free to print the mindmap (tabloid size) and follow along this very abridged tour…

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DataPortability: The Good and The Bad (on Identities)

I recently came across this video seems to explain the buzzword “data portability” simply enough.

After all my rants about the problem of walled gardens (like Facebook), open standards like APML, OpenID (which Yahoo! recently adopted), microformats, RSS, OPML, and more, are now being (crowdsourced-ly) rolled into a integrated (hopefully coherent) reference package for information architects to improve web services, to a point where we might some day be able to share personal information, media and contacts, freely between existing trusted networks.

Quoting their byline:

DataPortability gathers existing open standards into a blueprint for a social, open, remixable web where your online identity, media, contacts and content can follow you wherever you go. Find out more at dataportability.org

So promising, I couldn’t agree more with Charlene Li who hopes this puts an end to her networking fatigue: “[…] new “friends” on Facebook, “followers” on Twitter, “connections” on LinkedIn, “business connections” on Plaxo, and the latest that has put me over the edge, “trust contacts” on Spock. Social networking fatigue has finally hit me.”

All this could mean one login for access to all web services, to all your media wherever they are being shared. Great right? Not so fast… I’m all for convenience, but I’m also looking for potential problems. For one, there could be privacy invasion of a different sort.

Legitimizing boyd’s law
A single identity for all your online activities probably compounds a red flag Cory Doctorow explains as boyd’s law, which refers to how “[a]dding more users to a social network [site] increases the probability that it will put you in an awkward social circumstance.”

Initially, Cory meant that we tend to “not refuse” friend adds on social networks, to a point where our profiles might get over-saturated and unusable. We might tend turn to set up newer, more private accounts to seize back control of our networked lives (thus social networks and their built-in self destructs). I’m realizing that data portability could make it many times worse, by making public evidence of linked identities, be it through crossover contacts or media.

To picture this, we often behave differently under different networks: We’re formal on LinkedIn, casual on Facebook, and possibly overtly relaxed on MySpace. By not having an electronic border around these selves, we then have to deal with a collision of the selves when friends cross-breed from different networks and discover all the other bits about you.

A Workaround?
What I’ve mentioned is a worse-case scenario, which is likely not to happen. I’d believe that the DataPortability group will include ways to protect your various profiles from being linked publicly. Meantime, it’s back to practicing good old Internet safety. While you can’t control what others might share about you online, you should at least build enough presence to manage how you are being portrayed online. For one, perhaps this is a benefit of blogging… since every seasoned blogger would naturally be their own public relations officer.

What’s in my Bag: From 2005 to 2008

While transferring all my stuff from the left Timbuk2 Commute (Basic Black), to the newer Commute (Classy Chocolate Wool) on the right, I figured I’d join the “What in my Bag?” meme. This serves an update to my submission back in 2005: small is more human. This meme is interesting from an ethnographic and voyeuristic perspective… you can play detective by drawing patterns of personal consumption.

San Francisco: The Culinary Rampage Tour 2008

San Francisco 2008

Here’s a massive photoset of my travels in San Francisco over Macworld week. Thanks to friends like Peter, Chris, Marie, Pan, Dennis, Sam and the kids, they brought me to amazing new places to eat and shop. In chronological sequence, you’ll see the likes of the best places to chow.

Here’s the hit list for our week-long culinary rampage:
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Lipdub: Pop! Goes My Heart [in San Francisco]

As mentioned in my earlier Yahoo! post, here’s a lipdub of that pseudo hit song, Pop! Goes My Heart. Yup, I was actually singing on the Caltrain to Sunnyvale!

Solo lipdubs are hard… it makes you look really silly especially when you do it in public, so I had to be discreet. Too much on my mind; needed a creative outlet.

A Photographic Journey to Yahoo! HQ

Journey to Yahoo!
Click to see entire photo set…

My Singaporean friend Biao offered to give me a tour of Yahoo! in Sunnyvale while I am in San Francisco. Since he was busy working on the next-gen advertising platform for Yahoo! (possibly Panama), we arranged to meet somewhere closer to him.

Taking the BART to Millbrae StationGoogle Maps made it really easy for me, as it gives really detailed travel information whenever you’re in a metropolitan area. For instance, from my downtown hotel to the Sunnyvale Caltrain station, it gave me the cost of public transit, travel time (factoring in schedules), and a breakdown of buses and trains I had to take. You can check out my actual journey here.

Is there help for me?I loved the train rides, especially the Caltrain, since it blew through all the picturesque scenery San Francisco had to offer. I really love the west coast, the weather was perfect, people seemed friendlier, and the sun… oh how I miss the sun, coming from a wintry land. I was even inspired to do a solo lipdub along the way, so if you feel like torturing yourself with some bad Milli-Vanilli, check in later.

Since I arrived early at the Sunnyvale station, I took a gamble on the bus getting closest to the Yahoo! campus. I had recalled from Paul Stamatiou that Lockheed Martin was just next door, so I picked the bus that got me in that vicinity.

Yahoo! URL's CafeteriaAt Yahoo!, I checked in at the reception and got a little purple sticker tag. Biao showed up soon after, and we had lunch at the Yahoo! URL’s cafeteria. Lots of cuisines to choose from, and my grilled chicken pasta costs about $5. Soft drinks were free, and so was coffee. I loved the Asian Iced Expresso, which tasted like Vietnamese iced coffee thanks to the use of condensed milk.

Since the only other campus I’ve ever visited was Apple’s, the Yahoo! campus itself was smaller, but more spread out. There was a basketball and a volleyball court for those inclined, with foosball tables were in every building. We finished off with a picture by the Yahoo! campus sign, which felt touristy, but necessary.

Biao and Kevin in front of Yahoo!

There’s plenty more to see in my photo set if you’re interested. Thanks Biao!

Cloverfield… beyond the monster (warning: potential spoiler)

Yes, this has spoiler potential, so read more only if you’ve watched already…
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Macworld 2008: Paddy Tan on BAK2u anti-theft for iPhone

I caught up with BAK2u CEO Paddy Tan at Macworld this morning.

He shared with me on the surprising number of attendees who came to his anti-theft software booth after losing their iPhones at the expo, either due to negligence or theft right on the show floor. Speaking of which, there are so many iPhone users in one place that calls, SMSes and EDGE Internet connectivity was brought to a crawl.

As the only Singaporean business in an international exhibition, I asked how his software has been received at the show and I learned more about his plans to get BAK2u on the iPhone. It’s all about the SDK… Apple wants control, thus developer support in the iPhone front has been less than forthcoming. Hopefully it’ll all change in February.

China struggles with growing Internet population

Test your website on the "Great Firewall of China"
I’m personally tracking China’s Internet development as part of my dissertation work on the regulatory forces of online space.

It’s only a matter of time… Wall Street Journal highlights a China Internet Network Information Center report that China’s total number of Internet users rose 53% to 210 million at the end of 2007 up from 137 million at the end of 2006 and 162 million in June 2007. More importantly, this means that China is now just five million users shy of surpassing the United States as the world’s largest Internet market (via TechCrunch).

Meanwhile, supporting this growth, Reuters reports that China’s online game market grew by 23% to 40.17 million in terms of users last year. As Raph Koster counterpoints, the numbers may fall as China goes on a crack down.

“Although China’s online-gaming industry had been hot in recent years, online games are regarded by many as a sort of spiritual opium, and the whole industry is marginalized by mainstream society,” Thursday’s China Daily quoted Kou Xiaowei, a senior official with the General Administration of Press and Publication, as saying.

Despite the Chinese government’s stance, the lack of a proper rating system in China and easy access to pirated games makes such regulation difficult.

Macworld 2008: Here’s proof that MacBook Air runs for 5 hours+

Macworld 2008 - 51

My friend Peter unplugged the MagSafe connector from MacBook Air and left it for a minute. A short while after, it calculated a battery life of 5hr 53mins with everything turned on, including Wifi and Bluetooth. This is the 80Gb 1.8″ hard drive version, so anyone who opts for the 64Gb SSD version can expect a longer battery life. Now that’s impressive!