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Kallisti on Dreamwidth: Hiiiii! (waves)

dreamwidth logoEver since Skud’s 2009 OSCON talk I’ve been meaning to check out DreamWidth, and now I finally am.  My account there is kallistixf, and at least for the time being I’ll move some of my more personal posts there and keep Liminal States focused on social networks, diversity, innovation, software engineering, security, and politics. I think that’s enough topics, don’t you?

Here’s some excerpts from my Hiiii (waves)! post there:
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Starting the day out …

Morning MistAm I the only person out there who takes a step back every few months to observe how I’m starting my online and day decide what kind of changes I want to make?

If you haven’t ever done this, it can be very illuminating.  Back in 2008, for example, when I was doing a lot of political activism, I looked where I was getting my news, and quickly discovered substantially more interesting and diverse perspectives.   More recently I’ve been focusing on writing Tales from the Net, and also laying the groundwork for a new startup and/or consulting gigs, so have been thinking a lot about how to adapt.

So here’s how I’m currently starting my online days. The order varies, and sometimes I leave some of these out, but it gives the basic idea.  I’d love to hear what others think about this — or what you do. Continue Reading »

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social computing
Tales from the Net

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Pyr0 on “the art of espionage” at Shakacon

Sarah Blankinship and I are presented Securing with the Enemy: Social strategy and team of rivals at Shakacon today.  More about our talk later; this post has notes from the keynote presentation on The Art of Espionage, by Luke McOmie (aka Pyr0) of British Telecom.

Luke’s consulting includes “real world risk assessments”, which sometimes involves breaking into his clients’ companies to test their security.  So it’s a great opportunity to hear about the kinds of techniques the real bad guys use.  Fascinating stuff!

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Cognitive evolution and revolution, part 1: #polc09 and a #diversityfail

Intersectionality and you

Opening slide from early draft of Hashtags at #polc09

Politics Online (1, 2) was a great conference, at least from my perspective.  Starting with the opening session by Secretaries of State Debra Bowen and Jennifer Brunner, every session I went to had great content.   It was a wonderful opportunity to meet friends and colleagues in-person, many for the first time,* and to be on a panel with people like Judith Donath and Clive Thompson.   And of course was also a good chance to continue the Twitter *is* a strategy debate and explore progressives’ bizarre resistance to embrace social network activism; more on that soon.

First, though, I’d like to follow up on the experiment in cognitive evolution and revolution I kicked off in the opening panel.
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Notes on quotes

Somebody pointed out to me in email that my repeating the characterization of me as “airing dirty laundry” looks like an example of something that politicians (and persuasive communicators in general) are warned against: publicizing the attacks against you.  It’s an good point, especially since attempts to combat or defuse the attacks often reinforce them — think of Tricky Nixon saying “I am not a crook”.

On the other hand, it’s often very important to talk about the language your critics and opponents [or others for that matter] use; and there’s usually no way to do that without repeating their language.  In a situation like this, I try to explicitly use quotes, to highlight that “airing dirty laundry” is a phrase that has some meta-level significance.  Links to a web page with a definition or discussion of the term are also useful — bear in mind, though, that they call further visual attention to the phrase.

This does require awareness of the convention from readers, and making the effort to apply it.  Most people are pretty familiar with the idea of visibly quoting something to be able to discuss it when talking — you often see people making stylized quotation marks with their fingers to show this.   While folks may not have seen it in online discourse, it’s a straightforward extension — and one that people ware used to thinking about abstraction already understand.  And while there’s always a risk that people reading quickly will misunderstand, noticing this convention becomes second nature, so I think given the target audiences of this blog it’s a reasonable tradeoff,

Or so it seems to me that this stage.  My position may well evolve … I’m curious what others have to say.

jon, “asking for feedback”

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New theme (much of the time): Goodfell3s

Update on April 12: back to Goodfell3s.

Note on December 12: the theme randomly spontaneously resets to the (blue) default. If that’s what you’re currently seeing, this post may not make a lot of sense.

Another theme from Amsterdamn, as pink as the less-than-successful Leone experiment but at first blush a lot more readable. We shall see. I’ve found the theme editor, and so will be trying to play with font sizes. Apologies in advance if things occasionally look screwy.

To install it, I had to download the .zip file to my mac, FTP it up to the hosting site, SSH over to unzip it (I guess I could have unzipped locally and FTPed to avoid this step), and then bring up the WordPress theme selector UI page. This seems like a lot more complex than it needs to be. I’d really prefer a field on the theme selector page that lets me (as administator) provide a link to the .zip file on Amsterdamn’s site, which would get rid of several steps in the process.


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w00t, w00t: just “claimed” my blog on Technorati

and in the two minutes from when I signed up until I checked the blog’s summary page, its rank went from 4,446,976 to 3,053,157 — at this rate, I should be top 10 by dinner time!

Authority = 1 for now, but no doubt once everybody starts crosslinking and adding to their Technorati faves, it’ll no doubt soar.

adding to their technorati favorites

The language they use — “claim your blog now” — is interesting. From a marketing perspective I can see that this is a great framing: they’re positioning themselves as helping me take better advantage of an asset I already have; and the analogy to frontier times and staking claims to land or mineral rights is a powerful one. There’s also a subtle implication that my ownership of the blog in some way requires their (or somebody’s) ratification or validation — and of course agreeing to their terms of service.

The interface is straightforward enough, and you get a nice tag cloud (although their index and hence the tag cloud doesn’t include any of my posts from the last three days).  Anyhow, it feels like a steep in becoming more real.  w00t.

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I’ve got fans! Kind of.

In  a comment in the Power vectors thread, Vanita said:

You were useless (I met with you several times at Microsoft) and it looks like you still are. I am glad to hear you are gone – it made no sense for Microsoft to pay you a hefty salary given the “work” you were doing. All this high level bullshit…

I let the comment through because it’s a great illustration of the kinds of attitude and environment that’s disappointingly common at Microsoft these days, unwilling to take the time to understand new ideas and so threatened by anything “high level” that might actually lead to a change in the system, that the response is to hide behind the cloak of anonymity to spread around virulent negative abuse in completely inappropriate situations.  Yeah, that’ll help.

Imagine working in an environment where this kind of behavior is widely tolerated.  When I was at Microsoft, I got reactions similar to this from maybe 5-10% of the people, and so on large mailing lists or with the 200+ people who attended a mashup the odds were extremely high that somebody would jump in with some garbage like this — with superficially more polite phrasing if their names were associated with it, but still the same mix of knee-jerk uncomprehending rejection and personal attack.

And bear in mind the impact this has not just on the person receiving the abuse (me), but all those witnessing it.  No wonder so many people at Microsoft are unhappy and frustrated.

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Power vectors and HTML in comments

I just made my first HTML comment here, at the end of the Lorelei experiment, pointing to its continuation with Leone (the theme not the director).  w00t w00t!

It’s not at all obvious but by default WordPress blogs are set up to allow HTML in comments. There’s no preview feature or WYSIWIG editor though so it’s a little nervewracking to post something with formatting in it … I think I’ve got the ability to edit comments so I can always clean things up if need be.

[This is by the way an excellent example of a technology-imposed power differentiation between the original poster and commenters.  While it’s not inherent in the blog format, and some systems avoid it (ezBoard and Joomla/Community Builder for example, using bbcode instead of HTML), it exists to a fairly large extent in most implementations:   Sharepoint by default has HTML disabled in the comments and a huge differential in font size — and doesn’t have preview; Blogger allows just a subset of HTML and doesn’t allow editing after the comments are submitted; etc.   But I digress.]

Of course once I had posted the comment I discovered that it wasn’t strictly-speaking necessary; WordPress had auto-generated a trackback from my continuation post, and even managed to extract a very useful summary.  Impressive.  What I really want is a combination of the two, both the explicitness of “story continued here” and the quick summary to be able to read in place and see whether to follow the link … that should be equally easy to generate automagically.

Looking closely at this reveals another power differential: links in posts get these kinds of trackbacks generated, but links in comments don’t.  I’m not saying that’s a bad thing [there are a lot more comments than posts, so autogenerating this for links in comments might overwhelm threads with these notifications — and the comment-spam problem would be magnified hugely] but there is an asymmetry.

Or as they say in the What Kind of Postmodernist Are you?  quiz: “Foucault.  It all starts with Foucault.”

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New theme: Leone, by Andiz

“a lovely theme by Amsterdamn“. alas, it shares the “tiny font” weakness of Leone. it’s two-column layout is clean (and has a blogroll, unlike orchid) although Leone’s three-column layout has more useful information and navigation options on the screen. and it certainly responds to the points that Adam made in the Leone thread: black text on white background, and noticeably more pink.

maybe this is a good time for me to learn how to tweak font sizes in CSS files.

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New theme: “Lorelei Bliss 2.0”

by Lisa Kazo of Lorelei Web Design.  Usually, when I think of Lorelei, my head spins all around; then again, I do like the three-column layout and color scheme, so it’s worth a try.  Comments welcome.

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How to use categories and tags? (meta)

I’m thinking through how to use categories and tags on this blog … I know I won’t get it completely right the first time so it’s worth starting from the beginning tracking the different experiments I do.  Usefully, WordPress allows multiple categories as well as multiple tags, so one way of thinking about this is that I’ve got two different dimensions to label things in.  On top of that, I can use conventions to have (potentially-fuzzy) subdimensions, for example tagging each post as one or more of “personal”, “political”, “professional”, “entertainment”, and “meta”.  Or would those be better as categories?

Hmm, not sure.  So let’s use this thread to discuss.  References and citations, pointers to good/bad examples, anecdotes about good/bad experiences — using this or other technologies (e.g., Mediawiki categories) are all welcome.

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