Archive for the ‘books’ Category

Practical, Pluralistic, Participatory, Provisional: Pragmatism

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Chip Bruce reviews david H. Brendel’s book Healing Psychiatry: Bridging the Science/Humanism Divide.

Chip highlights Brendel’s “Four P’s of Pragmatism” – offering an useful explication of the terms and their relevance to Pragmatism:

The first p, pharmacy website like this order practical, patient emphasizes pragmatism’s insistence on considering the consequences of any concept, pill to steer away from abstractions and idealizations that have no conceivable effects in our ordinary experience. The second p, pluralistic, reflects the fact that pragmatism is not so much one method or theory, but rather, an approach that considers any tools that may increase understanding, thereby achieving better practical consequences. It also reflects the assumption that interesting phenomena are unlikely to be captured within a simple category or single way of viewing. The third p, participatory, follows from the second in that multiple perspectives, Peirce’s community of inquiry, are needed to accommodate a pluralistic understanding. And the fourth p, provisional (cf. fallibilism), acknowledges that in a complex and ever-changing world, any understanding is subject to change as we learn more or as events occur.

Pragmatism is a major influence on my thought, and a strong influence on my community work. The four P’s work well for me, and are very appropriate to both the kind of science and the kind of civic life we need.

Chicago Art-Speech Activist, Local Hero

Tuesday, December 8th, 2009

I found this statement of Natalia Ginzburg’s – after a friend suggested her work: “The Little Virtues”

“I think they should be taught not the little virtues but the great ones. Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt for danger; not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but a love of one’s neighbor and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know.”

I found this statement of Natalia Ginzburg’s – after a friend suggested her work: “The Little Virtues”

“I think they should be taught not the little virtues but the great ones. Not thrift but generosity and an indifference to money; not caution but courage and a contempt for danger; not shrewdness but frankness and a love of truth; not tact but a love of one’s neighbor and self-denial; not a desire for success but a desire to be and to know.”

Chris Drew is a Chicago Artist engaged in a heroic effort for free speech and a vibrant cultural climate in our fair city. I’ve known Chris for many years thanks to our mutual involvement in Open Source & Community Technology efforts. I had a great discussion with him early this year and received quite an education on his campaign while attending the Making Media Connections conference. I even received some exquisite pieces of his work.

Chris views Chicago’s policy on the public selling of art as a matter of free speech. I won’t make his arguments for him — you can read up on his campaign on his blog. I will say that I find his argument compelling, viagra and that our city would be better if these policies were overturned.

Recently Chris was ticketed for his activity of selling art without a vendor license, ed within the Loop area. On another occasion he was arrested and charged with a felony for taping his encounter with the police. There is a recent article in the Sun Times with a plethora of comments from supporters of the Free Speech campaign and decrying the misapplication of the eavesdropping law. I urge you to add your comments to the article, and to spread the word on this valiant campaign.

Here’s the comment I posted.

Mr. Drew is undertaking a heroic effort to make our city better – not just for Artists, but for all of us. I want my city to be a vibrant cultural center, with artistic endeavor at every scale. The art he offers for sale is of the most humble and accessible form.

Art indeed is speech, and if Mr. Drew’s account of Supreme Court opinion on Commercial Speech is correct, then it is clear that the city’s peddler law is overly broad and therefore unconstitutional.

If the law were really about public convenience (i.e. for pedestrian traffic, etc.) why would seeking donations rather than a sale exchange make a difference? I’m not up to speed on the legal distinctions or constraints against regulating these other activities, so I’d love to be informed. Perhaps the Sun Times could do a bigger story, exploring the irony of the eavesdropping charge, along with the contrasts of civil rights and free speech pertaining to different classes of behavior and different public spaces.

This of course brings to mind the absurdity of specially designated “Free Speech Zones” established during large scale events. That’s something else that needs to be challenged.

I do hope that local media will take up the broader issues, and do us a public service informing us on this important topic. Spread the word, for Free Speech, whether you agree with Chris or not, this deserves public consideration.

Frank McCourt

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

On my mind while walking in the neighborhood this morning….

From the pain come the dream
From the dream come the vision
From the vision come the people
From the people come the power
From this power come the change

Peter Gabriel (Fourteen Black Paintings)

On my mind while walking in the neighborhood this morning….

From the pain come the dream
From the dream come the vision
From the vision come the people
From the people come the power
From this power come the change

Peter Gabriel (Fourteen Black Paintings)

Tonight the news came that Frank McCourt died of cancer in NYC, approved aged 78.

Just last night I watched him on PBS (my alma mater) on a Dublin pub crawl.

He was my English teacher at Stuyvesant. It’s probably the proudest thing I mention about H.S. I’ve been so pleased with his successful second act career and the honor he received as a result. But I have greater honor for his role as a teacher. We were so lucky to have him as our teacher – and we knew it. I was in his creative writing class, healing and was so glad I got in the class. I don’t know how I heard or how I lucked out.

I do know that my deeper awakening to writing can in part be credited to him and his teaching manner.

“Washington is the party of money.”

Thursday, February 7th, 2008



This was David Cay Johnston’s closing statement when interviewed on Bill Moyers’ Journal in January, sickness 2008. David Cay Johnston is an investigative reporter for the New York Times and author of Free Lunch. Listening to this interview segment for the second time, phimosis I reflected upon the discipline of community informatics and the practice of civic entrepreneurship (as well as new modes of philanthropy).

If social justice is the scale with which we are to measure our effectiveness and our national character, we must not blind nor bind ourselves in a hyper-localism amounting to a head-in-the-sand response to the many policy shenanigans now written out as the law-of-the-land, or passed over – de facto – in the exercise in neglect by those who are entrusted with enforcement of the law.

The extent to which Washington has been the party of money, irrespective of the party nominally in charge, has led to a long-standing regime of laws (and enforcement) at odds with principles of sound governance. This scenario has given many a strong motivation to dismantle government. We have long been distracted by conflicts over the legitimacy of entitlement programs, while we have overlooked the institutionalization of rampant profiteering at the expense of the people and our long term interests.

As citizens, community informaticists, civic and social entrepreneurs and philanthropists, what is our response to the challenge of restoring justice and good governance to the nation?

Civic Entrepreneurship, Community Informatics and the Gift Economy

Wednesday, January 30th, 2008

A cool site/tool I was recently made aware of… LibraryThing.

I like that it uses an open standard for managing my book collection: Z39.50.

I also like that I can export my data.

You can see a more extensive listing of my library here.


A cool site/tool I was recently made aware of… LibraryThing.

I like that it uses an open standard for managing my book collection: Z39.50.

I also like that I can export my data.

You can see a more extensive listing of my library here.


A cool site/tool I was recently made aware of… LibraryThing.

I like that it uses an open standard for managing my book collection: Z39.50.

I also like that I can export my data.

You can see a more extensive listing of my library here.


I composed a short list of some essential readings that reflect a world-view appropriate to the Internet Era, site I shared it with friends studying Community Informatics and Civic Entrepreurship, erectile two domains seeking a better world. Since I recently catalogued (part of) my personal library using health open standard” target=”_blank”>LibraryThing, it makes sense to share these here as well (as they are part of my virtual library).

These writings provide a conceptual matrix for an interesting breed of Civic Entrepreneur- (it’s a partial list) … really a new model of Citizenship and Society/Polity. They aren’t new to a lot of you – and if you have other works that you think really need to be on the list, please let me know.

Movement as Network, by Gideon Rosenblatt, also: The three pillars of social source

David Isenberg’s Rise of the Stupid Network

Pushing Power to the Edges (pdf) by Jillaine Smith, Martin Kearns, Allison Fine

The Cluetrain Manifesto (Doc Searles, et al.)

Cory Doctorow’s Down & Out in the Magic Kingdom

Coase’s Penguin: (by Yochai Benkler … his book The Wealth of Networks is also recommended. There’s a wiki inviting discussion of his ideas.)

The list doesn’t represent any hierarchic ordering.

LibraryThing

Saturday, January 26th, 2008

A cool site/tool I was recently made aware of… LibraryThing.

I like that it uses an open standard for managing my book collection: Z39.50.

I also like that I can export my data.

You can see a more extensive listing of my library here.

Truer than Truth

Thursday, January 10th, 2008

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Excellent framing of consumption.

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Excellent framing of consumption.

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Excellent framing of consumption.

What’s a tasty domain? The domain you want! (and sometimes the domain you had….)

Slashdot points to an important story for those following Internet/ICANN policy issues.

Domain Tasting occurs through a nice set of loopholes in Internet domain name governance. Some feel that the market will eventually sort this out, approved and others think that this much abused policy is a nice perk of the industry.

Most tasting occurs in what is known as the ‘add grace period” (agp) … a window of 5 days in which a domain can be returned to the pool of unregistered domains, more about but tasting can also occur after a domain expires.

Tasting refers to determining whether the domain has value… value has some subjective dimensions here, but two rather reductionist perspectives narrow in on whether 1) a domain is likely to attract plenty of traffic (so that even when parked it can generate profit) or 2) there are parties who will pay a premium price for control of that domain. This boils down to “what financial value can be extracted from control or resale of the domain.

A domain name being held by a Taster may be returned to the pool of unregistered names before the grace period ends at no cost… (excepting the case of .org domains, PIR.org having instituted a nominal restocking fee to dis-incent this behavior.

Tasting connects to a number of behaviors that may be detrimental to the name system and against the interest of Internet users in general.

Tasting identifies domains which can be snapped up and taken from the unregistered pool and which can be made profitable to the owner, but largely useless to everyone else (i.e. more noise and unavailable to meaningful development). If it looks like a domain is likely to generate revenue that would cover the cost of buying it, it makes perfect sense for them to hold on to it.

We have domain holders interested only in what they can monetize out of the domain … we have registrars engaged in holding domains in the add-grace and redemptive-grace period… we have perpetual holding of domains in successive registration and dropping of the same domain within add-grace provision…

Value of a domain should be more than this narrow sense of financial return.

The value of domains to the informational commons (the Internet) should also be considered.

The add-grace period may have made sense in the past. The Internet community would probably be better without it, but following the PIR lead, restocking fees may offer a partial solution. It’s a strategy favored by many as a solution to tasting.

However, if tasting is but one aspect of the behaviors in the domain ecology we shouldn’t treat it in isolation. Unfortunately the ICANN policy process favors segmenting some important issues (tasting, kiting, etc.) This divide the issues and conquer strategy benefits certain constituencies at the expense of others and at the expense of Internet users at large (all of us).

If we got rid of the add-grace period entirely… what would be the disadvantage to that? Think about it: a domain registration isn’t a large expense. The value of the time spent by an end user in the process of registering a domain, and dealing with the registrar easily outstrips the registration expense. (Just calculate the time spent by a modest hourly approximation of earning potential of the person in question.)

If we are talking about any scenario that isn’t a bulk processing of domains, the end user’s time (and the potential time of anyone he’d have to interact with assuming even the slightest possibility of a non-automated interaction) it makes no sense to have the AGP at all! If you bought it you bought it… let there be a restocking fee or return it to the pool (with no refund) if you made a mistake and don’t want to develop it. In short it doesnt save any legitimate buyer any real expense to be able to return a domain during AGP. (imagine the hurdles just in dealing directly with the registrar)

And in the case of bulk processing of domains, what basis would there be for return of domains other than your tasting didn’t return signs adequate value?

So, again, what domain is really tasty? The domain you want. Who has an inkling you might want a domain? A registrar where you checked the availability of a given domain name. They’re in a privileged position if you don’t take the domain. They’re also in a very privileged position if you fail to renew your domain in time, and they stand to make a nice profit off what was once your domain in that scenario. They may even play you off against others all the while offering to act in your interest for a premium price.

But that’s another topic. Or is it?

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Excellent framing of consumption.

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Excellent framing of consumption.

What’s a tasty domain? The domain you want! (and sometimes the domain you had….)

Slashdot points to an important story for those following Internet/ICANN policy issues.

Domain Tasting occurs through a nice set of loopholes in Internet domain name governance. Some feel that the market will eventually sort this out, approved and others think that this much abused policy is a nice perk of the industry.

Most tasting occurs in what is known as the ‘add grace period” (agp) … a window of 5 days in which a domain can be returned to the pool of unregistered domains, more about but tasting can also occur after a domain expires.

Tasting refers to determining whether the domain has value… value has some subjective dimensions here, but two rather reductionist perspectives narrow in on whether 1) a domain is likely to attract plenty of traffic (so that even when parked it can generate profit) or 2) there are parties who will pay a premium price for control of that domain. This boils down to “what financial value can be extracted from control or resale of the domain.

A domain name being held by a Taster may be returned to the pool of unregistered names before the grace period ends at no cost… (excepting the case of .org domains, PIR.org having instituted a nominal restocking fee to dis-incent this behavior.

Tasting connects to a number of behaviors that may be detrimental to the name system and against the interest of Internet users in general.

Tasting identifies domains which can be snapped up and taken from the unregistered pool and which can be made profitable to the owner, but largely useless to everyone else (i.e. more noise and unavailable to meaningful development). If it looks like a domain is likely to generate revenue that would cover the cost of buying it, it makes perfect sense for them to hold on to it.

We have domain holders interested only in what they can monetize out of the domain … we have registrars engaged in holding domains in the add-grace and redemptive-grace period… we have perpetual holding of domains in successive registration and dropping of the same domain within add-grace provision…

Value of a domain should be more than this narrow sense of financial return.

The value of domains to the informational commons (the Internet) should also be considered.

The add-grace period may have made sense in the past. The Internet community would probably be better without it, but following the PIR lead, restocking fees may offer a partial solution. It’s a strategy favored by many as a solution to tasting.

However, if tasting is but one aspect of the behaviors in the domain ecology we shouldn’t treat it in isolation. Unfortunately the ICANN policy process favors segmenting some important issues (tasting, kiting, etc.) This divide the issues and conquer strategy benefits certain constituencies at the expense of others and at the expense of Internet users at large (all of us).

If we got rid of the add-grace period entirely… what would be the disadvantage to that? Think about it: a domain registration isn’t a large expense. The value of the time spent by an end user in the process of registering a domain, and dealing with the registrar easily outstrips the registration expense. (Just calculate the time spent by a modest hourly approximation of earning potential of the person in question.)

If we are talking about any scenario that isn’t a bulk processing of domains, the end user’s time (and the potential time of anyone he’d have to interact with assuming even the slightest possibility of a non-automated interaction) it makes no sense to have the AGP at all! If you bought it you bought it… let there be a restocking fee or return it to the pool (with no refund) if you made a mistake and don’t want to develop it. In short it doesnt save any legitimate buyer any real expense to be able to return a domain during AGP. (imagine the hurdles just in dealing directly with the registrar)

And in the case of bulk processing of domains, what basis would there be for return of domains other than your tasting didn’t return signs adequate value?

So, again, what domain is really tasty? The domain you want. Who has an inkling you might want a domain? A registrar where you checked the availability of a given domain name. They’re in a privileged position if you don’t take the domain. They’re also in a very privileged position if you fail to renew your domain in time, and they stand to make a nice profit off what was once your domain in that scenario. They may even play you off against others all the while offering to act in your interest for a premium price.

But that’s another topic. Or is it?

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Excellent framing of consumption.

What’s a tasty domain? The domain you want! (and sometimes the domain you had….)

Slashdot points to an important story for those following Internet/ICANN policy issues.

Domain Tasting occurs through a nice set of loopholes in Internet domain name governance. Some feel that the market will eventually sort this out, approved and others think that this much abused policy is a nice perk of the industry.

Most tasting occurs in what is known as the ‘add grace period” (agp) … a window of 5 days in which a domain can be returned to the pool of unregistered domains, more about but tasting can also occur after a domain expires.

Tasting refers to determining whether the domain has value… value has some subjective dimensions here, but two rather reductionist perspectives narrow in on whether 1) a domain is likely to attract plenty of traffic (so that even when parked it can generate profit) or 2) there are parties who will pay a premium price for control of that domain. This boils down to “what financial value can be extracted from control or resale of the domain.

A domain name being held by a Taster may be returned to the pool of unregistered names before the grace period ends at no cost… (excepting the case of .org domains, PIR.org having instituted a nominal restocking fee to dis-incent this behavior.

Tasting connects to a number of behaviors that may be detrimental to the name system and against the interest of Internet users in general.

Tasting identifies domains which can be snapped up and taken from the unregistered pool and which can be made profitable to the owner, but largely useless to everyone else (i.e. more noise and unavailable to meaningful development). If it looks like a domain is likely to generate revenue that would cover the cost of buying it, it makes perfect sense for them to hold on to it.

We have domain holders interested only in what they can monetize out of the domain … we have registrars engaged in holding domains in the add-grace and redemptive-grace period… we have perpetual holding of domains in successive registration and dropping of the same domain within add-grace provision…

Value of a domain should be more than this narrow sense of financial return.

The value of domains to the informational commons (the Internet) should also be considered.

The add-grace period may have made sense in the past. The Internet community would probably be better without it, but following the PIR lead, restocking fees may offer a partial solution. It’s a strategy favored by many as a solution to tasting.

However, if tasting is but one aspect of the behaviors in the domain ecology we shouldn’t treat it in isolation. Unfortunately the ICANN policy process favors segmenting some important issues (tasting, kiting, etc.) This divide the issues and conquer strategy benefits certain constituencies at the expense of others and at the expense of Internet users at large (all of us).

If we got rid of the add-grace period entirely… what would be the disadvantage to that? Think about it: a domain registration isn’t a large expense. The value of the time spent by an end user in the process of registering a domain, and dealing with the registrar easily outstrips the registration expense. (Just calculate the time spent by a modest hourly approximation of earning potential of the person in question.)

If we are talking about any scenario that isn’t a bulk processing of domains, the end user’s time (and the potential time of anyone he’d have to interact with assuming even the slightest possibility of a non-automated interaction) it makes no sense to have the AGP at all! If you bought it you bought it… let there be a restocking fee or return it to the pool (with no refund) if you made a mistake and don’t want to develop it. In short it doesnt save any legitimate buyer any real expense to be able to return a domain during AGP. (imagine the hurdles just in dealing directly with the registrar)

And in the case of bulk processing of domains, what basis would there be for return of domains other than your tasting didn’t return signs adequate value?

So, again, what domain is really tasty? The domain you want. Who has an inkling you might want a domain? A registrar where you checked the availability of a given domain name. They’re in a privileged position if you don’t take the domain. They’re also in a very privileged position if you fail to renew your domain in time, and they stand to make a nice profit off what was once your domain in that scenario. They may even play you off against others all the while offering to act in your interest for a premium price.

But that’s another topic. Or is it?

There’s a confessional book out on the New Hampshire “phone jamming” effort to impact the elections back in 2002. The author was interviewed on Democracy Now (Tuesday, generic Jan 8 2008). His work in New Hampshire and New Jersey under the direction of leadership is a emblematic of the most impoverished war mentality: winning at all costs.

Witness the two examples offered: first, the “phone jamming” … the overloading of the phone system at the NH democratic campaign offices embodies a straight-forward tactic in warfare, it amounts to taking out communications of your opponent. (Do you hear an echo of Sun Tzu?)

A second example, fits the category of psychological operations … creating pre-recorded messages simulating an automated phone message campaign of the democrats, republican operatives played upon racial fears and labor force insecurity by using minority voices/accents in NJ. Ugly rumors, manipulation of media messages, cultural stereotypes in the general school of low-rhetoric has become accepted. Impersonation of the opponent’s communications, and selective targeting of their likely supporters with divisive messages is significantly more calculated and abhorent.

(Other infamous moments in electoral history reek of the war mentality and speak poorly of our national politics: watergate – irangate.)

Party leadership (of any party) should not conduct itself in a manner beneath the dignity of our republic. Playing hard and playing to win – i.e. with determination – are not the same as winning at any costs. (We can debate this, but I think that even in war, we should not seek to “win at any cost”.) If in our politics we aim for a simple majority of the votes that are counted… partisan electioneers will tend to lose interest in a whole and healthy polity in the scramble for what amounts to a cheapened “victory”.

There’s a lot of room for criticism of our political system… winner take all appears much less attractive than proportional representation (beyond the two-party system), alternative run-off and consensus building paradigms.

Winning at all costs has a deleterious effect… it debases all involved. (But, as debasing as phone jamming and domestic psy-ops may be – challenging voter eligibility and undermining the integrity of the ballot system seem more nefarious. The former being a mean spirited and perhaps racially charged invoking of the letter of the law, the latter demoralizing those who might otherwise argue that our system works despite it’s flaws.)

I’m once again brought back to Kant’s maxim: never fight (a war) in such a manner that would preclude a future peace. I try to apply this at many layers of my life… personal relationships, issue advocacy, political rhetoric. It places one in a very different mind than the war profiteers and war mongers who are vested in perpetual domination and conflict.

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Excellent framing of consumption.

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Excellent framing of consumption.

What’s a tasty domain? The domain you want! (and sometimes the domain you had….)

Slashdot points to an important story for those following Internet/ICANN policy issues.

Domain Tasting occurs through a nice set of loopholes in Internet domain name governance. Some feel that the market will eventually sort this out, approved and others think that this much abused policy is a nice perk of the industry.

Most tasting occurs in what is known as the ‘add grace period” (agp) … a window of 5 days in which a domain can be returned to the pool of unregistered domains, more about but tasting can also occur after a domain expires.

Tasting refers to determining whether the domain has value… value has some subjective dimensions here, but two rather reductionist perspectives narrow in on whether 1) a domain is likely to attract plenty of traffic (so that even when parked it can generate profit) or 2) there are parties who will pay a premium price for control of that domain. This boils down to “what financial value can be extracted from control or resale of the domain.

A domain name being held by a Taster may be returned to the pool of unregistered names before the grace period ends at no cost… (excepting the case of .org domains, PIR.org having instituted a nominal restocking fee to dis-incent this behavior.

Tasting connects to a number of behaviors that may be detrimental to the name system and against the interest of Internet users in general.

Tasting identifies domains which can be snapped up and taken from the unregistered pool and which can be made profitable to the owner, but largely useless to everyone else (i.e. more noise and unavailable to meaningful development). If it looks like a domain is likely to generate revenue that would cover the cost of buying it, it makes perfect sense for them to hold on to it.

We have domain holders interested only in what they can monetize out of the domain … we have registrars engaged in holding domains in the add-grace and redemptive-grace period… we have perpetual holding of domains in successive registration and dropping of the same domain within add-grace provision…

Value of a domain should be more than this narrow sense of financial return.

The value of domains to the informational commons (the Internet) should also be considered.

The add-grace period may have made sense in the past. The Internet community would probably be better without it, but following the PIR lead, restocking fees may offer a partial solution. It’s a strategy favored by many as a solution to tasting.

However, if tasting is but one aspect of the behaviors in the domain ecology we shouldn’t treat it in isolation. Unfortunately the ICANN policy process favors segmenting some important issues (tasting, kiting, etc.) This divide the issues and conquer strategy benefits certain constituencies at the expense of others and at the expense of Internet users at large (all of us).

If we got rid of the add-grace period entirely… what would be the disadvantage to that? Think about it: a domain registration isn’t a large expense. The value of the time spent by an end user in the process of registering a domain, and dealing with the registrar easily outstrips the registration expense. (Just calculate the time spent by a modest hourly approximation of earning potential of the person in question.)

If we are talking about any scenario that isn’t a bulk processing of domains, the end user’s time (and the potential time of anyone he’d have to interact with assuming even the slightest possibility of a non-automated interaction) it makes no sense to have the AGP at all! If you bought it you bought it… let there be a restocking fee or return it to the pool (with no refund) if you made a mistake and don’t want to develop it. In short it doesnt save any legitimate buyer any real expense to be able to return a domain during AGP. (imagine the hurdles just in dealing directly with the registrar)

And in the case of bulk processing of domains, what basis would there be for return of domains other than your tasting didn’t return signs adequate value?

So, again, what domain is really tasty? The domain you want. Who has an inkling you might want a domain? A registrar where you checked the availability of a given domain name. They’re in a privileged position if you don’t take the domain. They’re also in a very privileged position if you fail to renew your domain in time, and they stand to make a nice profit off what was once your domain in that scenario. They may even play you off against others all the while offering to act in your interest for a premium price.

But that’s another topic. Or is it?

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Excellent framing of consumption.

What’s a tasty domain? The domain you want! (and sometimes the domain you had….)

Slashdot points to an important story for those following Internet/ICANN policy issues.

Domain Tasting occurs through a nice set of loopholes in Internet domain name governance. Some feel that the market will eventually sort this out, approved and others think that this much abused policy is a nice perk of the industry.

Most tasting occurs in what is known as the ‘add grace period” (agp) … a window of 5 days in which a domain can be returned to the pool of unregistered domains, more about but tasting can also occur after a domain expires.

Tasting refers to determining whether the domain has value… value has some subjective dimensions here, but two rather reductionist perspectives narrow in on whether 1) a domain is likely to attract plenty of traffic (so that even when parked it can generate profit) or 2) there are parties who will pay a premium price for control of that domain. This boils down to “what financial value can be extracted from control or resale of the domain.

A domain name being held by a Taster may be returned to the pool of unregistered names before the grace period ends at no cost… (excepting the case of .org domains, PIR.org having instituted a nominal restocking fee to dis-incent this behavior.

Tasting connects to a number of behaviors that may be detrimental to the name system and against the interest of Internet users in general.

Tasting identifies domains which can be snapped up and taken from the unregistered pool and which can be made profitable to the owner, but largely useless to everyone else (i.e. more noise and unavailable to meaningful development). If it looks like a domain is likely to generate revenue that would cover the cost of buying it, it makes perfect sense for them to hold on to it.

We have domain holders interested only in what they can monetize out of the domain … we have registrars engaged in holding domains in the add-grace and redemptive-grace period… we have perpetual holding of domains in successive registration and dropping of the same domain within add-grace provision…

Value of a domain should be more than this narrow sense of financial return.

The value of domains to the informational commons (the Internet) should also be considered.

The add-grace period may have made sense in the past. The Internet community would probably be better without it, but following the PIR lead, restocking fees may offer a partial solution. It’s a strategy favored by many as a solution to tasting.

However, if tasting is but one aspect of the behaviors in the domain ecology we shouldn’t treat it in isolation. Unfortunately the ICANN policy process favors segmenting some important issues (tasting, kiting, etc.) This divide the issues and conquer strategy benefits certain constituencies at the expense of others and at the expense of Internet users at large (all of us).

If we got rid of the add-grace period entirely… what would be the disadvantage to that? Think about it: a domain registration isn’t a large expense. The value of the time spent by an end user in the process of registering a domain, and dealing with the registrar easily outstrips the registration expense. (Just calculate the time spent by a modest hourly approximation of earning potential of the person in question.)

If we are talking about any scenario that isn’t a bulk processing of domains, the end user’s time (and the potential time of anyone he’d have to interact with assuming even the slightest possibility of a non-automated interaction) it makes no sense to have the AGP at all! If you bought it you bought it… let there be a restocking fee or return it to the pool (with no refund) if you made a mistake and don’t want to develop it. In short it doesnt save any legitimate buyer any real expense to be able to return a domain during AGP. (imagine the hurdles just in dealing directly with the registrar)

And in the case of bulk processing of domains, what basis would there be for return of domains other than your tasting didn’t return signs adequate value?

So, again, what domain is really tasty? The domain you want. Who has an inkling you might want a domain? A registrar where you checked the availability of a given domain name. They’re in a privileged position if you don’t take the domain. They’re also in a very privileged position if you fail to renew your domain in time, and they stand to make a nice profit off what was once your domain in that scenario. They may even play you off against others all the while offering to act in your interest for a premium price.

But that’s another topic. Or is it?

There’s a confessional book out on the New Hampshire “phone jamming” effort to impact the elections back in 2002. The author was interviewed on Democracy Now (Tuesday, generic Jan 8 2008). His work in New Hampshire and New Jersey under the direction of leadership is a emblematic of the most impoverished war mentality: winning at all costs.

Witness the two examples offered: first, the “phone jamming” … the overloading of the phone system at the NH democratic campaign offices embodies a straight-forward tactic in warfare, it amounts to taking out communications of your opponent. (Do you hear an echo of Sun Tzu?)

A second example, fits the category of psychological operations … creating pre-recorded messages simulating an automated phone message campaign of the democrats, republican operatives played upon racial fears and labor force insecurity by using minority voices/accents in NJ. Ugly rumors, manipulation of media messages, cultural stereotypes in the general school of low-rhetoric has become accepted. Impersonation of the opponent’s communications, and selective targeting of their likely supporters with divisive messages is significantly more calculated and abhorent.

(Other infamous moments in electoral history reek of the war mentality and speak poorly of our national politics: watergate – irangate.)

Party leadership (of any party) should not conduct itself in a manner beneath the dignity of our republic. Playing hard and playing to win – i.e. with determination – are not the same as winning at any costs. (We can debate this, but I think that even in war, we should not seek to “win at any cost”.) If in our politics we aim for a simple majority of the votes that are counted… partisan electioneers will tend to lose interest in a whole and healthy polity in the scramble for what amounts to a cheapened “victory”.

There’s a lot of room for criticism of our political system… winner take all appears much less attractive than proportional representation (beyond the two-party system), alternative run-off and consensus building paradigms.

Winning at all costs has a deleterious effect… it debases all involved. (But, as debasing as phone jamming and domestic psy-ops may be – challenging voter eligibility and undermining the integrity of the ballot system seem more nefarious. The former being a mean spirited and perhaps racially charged invoking of the letter of the law, the latter demoralizing those who might otherwise argue that our system works despite it’s flaws.)

I’m once again brought back to Kant’s maxim: never fight (a war) in such a manner that would preclude a future peace. I try to apply this at many layers of my life… personal relationships, issue advocacy, political rhetoric. It places one in a very different mind than the war profiteers and war mongers who are vested in perpetual domination and conflict.

The Story of Stuff with Annie Leonard

Excellent framing of consumption.

What’s a tasty domain? The domain you want! (and sometimes the domain you had….)

Slashdot points to an important story for those following Internet/ICANN policy issues.

Domain Tasting occurs through a nice set of loopholes in Internet domain name governance. Some feel that the market will eventually sort this out, approved and others think that this much abused policy is a nice perk of the industry.

Most tasting occurs in what is known as the ‘add grace period” (agp) … a window of 5 days in which a domain can be returned to the pool of unregistered domains, more about but tasting can also occur after a domain expires.

Tasting refers to determining whether the domain has value… value has some subjective dimensions here, but two rather reductionist perspectives narrow in on whether 1) a domain is likely to attract plenty of traffic (so that even when parked it can generate profit) or 2) there are parties who will pay a premium price for control of that domain. This boils down to “what financial value can be extracted from control or resale of the domain.

A domain name being held by a Taster may be returned to the pool of unregistered names before the grace period ends at no cost… (excepting the case of .org domains, PIR.org having instituted a nominal restocking fee to dis-incent this behavior.

Tasting connects to a number of behaviors that may be detrimental to the name system and against the interest of Internet users in general.

Tasting identifies domains which can be snapped up and taken from the unregistered pool and which can be made profitable to the owner, but largely useless to everyone else (i.e. more noise and unavailable to meaningful development). If it looks like a domain is likely to generate revenue that would cover the cost of buying it, it makes perfect sense for them to hold on to it.

We have domain holders interested only in what they can monetize out of the domain … we have registrars engaged in holding domains in the add-grace and redemptive-grace period… we have perpetual holding of domains in successive registration and dropping of the same domain within add-grace provision…

Value of a domain should be more than this narrow sense of financial return.

The value of domains to the informational commons (the Internet) should also be considered.

The add-grace period may have made sense in the past. The Internet community would probably be better without it, but following the PIR lead, restocking fees may offer a partial solution. It’s a strategy favored by many as a solution to tasting.

However, if tasting is but one aspect of the behaviors in the domain ecology we shouldn’t treat it in isolation. Unfortunately the ICANN policy process favors segmenting some important issues (tasting, kiting, etc.) This divide the issues and conquer strategy benefits certain constituencies at the expense of others and at the expense of Internet users at large (all of us).

If we got rid of the add-grace period entirely… what would be the disadvantage to that? Think about it: a domain registration isn’t a large expense. The value of the time spent by an end user in the process of registering a domain, and dealing with the registrar easily outstrips the registration expense. (Just calculate the time spent by a modest hourly approximation of earning potential of the person in question.)

If we are talking about any scenario that isn’t a bulk processing of domains, the end user’s time (and the potential time of anyone he’d have to interact with assuming even the slightest possibility of a non-automated interaction) it makes no sense to have the AGP at all! If you bought it you bought it… let there be a restocking fee or return it to the pool (with no refund) if you made a mistake and don’t want to develop it. In short it doesnt save any legitimate buyer any real expense to be able to return a domain during AGP. (imagine the hurdles just in dealing directly with the registrar)

And in the case of bulk processing of domains, what basis would there be for return of domains other than your tasting didn’t return signs adequate value?

So, again, what domain is really tasty? The domain you want. Who has an inkling you might want a domain? A registrar where you checked the availability of a given domain name. They’re in a privileged position if you don’t take the domain. They’re also in a very privileged position if you fail to renew your domain in time, and they stand to make a nice profit off what was once your domain in that scenario. They may even play you off against others all the while offering to act in your interest for a premium price.

But that’s another topic. Or is it?

There’s a confessional book out on the New Hampshire “phone jamming” effort to impact the elections back in 2002. The author was interviewed on Democracy Now (Tuesday, generic Jan 8 2008). His work in New Hampshire and New Jersey under the direction of leadership is a emblematic of the most impoverished war mentality: winning at all costs.

Witness the two examples offered: first, the “phone jamming” … the overloading of the phone system at the NH democratic campaign offices embodies a straight-forward tactic in warfare, it amounts to taking out communications of your opponent. (Do you hear an echo of Sun Tzu?)

A second example, fits the category of psychological operations … creating pre-recorded messages simulating an automated phone message campaign of the democrats, republican operatives played upon racial fears and labor force insecurity by using minority voices/accents in NJ. Ugly rumors, manipulation of media messages, cultural stereotypes in the general school of low-rhetoric has become accepted. Impersonation of the opponent’s communications, and selective targeting of their likely supporters with divisive messages is significantly more calculated and abhorent.

(Other infamous moments in electoral history reek of the war mentality and speak poorly of our national politics: watergate – irangate.)

Party leadership (of any party) should not conduct itself in a manner beneath the dignity of our republic. Playing hard and playing to win – i.e. with determination – are not the same as winning at any costs. (We can debate this, but I think that even in war, we should not seek to “win at any cost”.) If in our politics we aim for a simple majority of the votes that are counted… partisan electioneers will tend to lose interest in a whole and healthy polity in the scramble for what amounts to a cheapened “victory”.

There’s a lot of room for criticism of our political system… winner take all appears much less attractive than proportional representation (beyond the two-party system), alternative run-off and consensus building paradigms.

Winning at all costs has a deleterious effect… it debases all involved. (But, as debasing as phone jamming and domestic psy-ops may be – challenging voter eligibility and undermining the integrity of the ballot system seem more nefarious. The former being a mean spirited and perhaps racially charged invoking of the letter of the law, the latter demoralizing those who might otherwise argue that our system works despite it’s flaws.)

I’m once again brought back to Kant’s maxim: never fight (a war) in such a manner that would preclude a future peace. I try to apply this at many layers of my life… personal relationships, issue advocacy, political rhetoric. It places one in a very different mind than the war profiteers and war mongers who are vested in perpetual domination and conflict.

I’m taking a course on storytelling. Although I have been involved in community informatics for several years as an activist and organizer on digital divide/digital excellence and community networking, resuscitator I found this work to involve the telling of stories and general reframing community and what we are about, more about or what is possible for us.

I was watching a video from the TED conference where Isabel Allende offered the old adage: What is truer than truth? The story. (Variants on this answer may be a matter of translation: Legend, Myth, Story, Narrative.)

I grew up on Grimm, and many mythologies… great preparation for an early encounter with Joseph Campbell via the Power of Myth (where Bill Moyers, another hero, interviewed him). I later made extensive study of semiotics and have an enduring interest in narrative, and the importance of story and discourse.

In recent years Italo Calvino brought me back to the play of stories/storytelling in the work of the OuLiPo — where art is craft that you work at each day, and good art or literature arises from finding the right combination of signs through experiment and experienced judgment.

Campbell’s work on myth and ritual, the idea of the story opening a path to greater truth than mere facts, or perhaps a greater truth in discourse around a story than in any particular telling or offering of an account, and the idea in Calvino that folktale is not myth degenerated but that myth arises out of folktale when the right combination his hit upon, these are all connected.

Storytelling is part of the natural and necessary repertoire of human behavior… it helps us cope and adapt as well as honor and remember. Though stories can be used to divide, their healing potential is critical in this moment. Our creative play can reconfigure our individuality and our collective life.