Open Source and Flower Children

I have contributed my share of sweat to the Open Source community over the past five years with emotionally rewarding stacks of thank you letters.  But I can't shake the feeling that Open Source movement is the return of 60's Flower Children, this time with a keyboard instead of a joint in their hands.  Open Source sounds right but smells wrong to me.  Between Microsoft monopoly and Open Source religion, I fear software market is between a rock and a hard place.

I am buying far less software now than 10 years ago.  How about you?

Deleted Entry

I deleted a log entry I made today titled "Corruption in Korea: Part 2".  I did so because it contained references to my father's personal experiences with corruption in Korean politics and I didn't feel comfortable afterward.  Its not that I am afraid of any backlash, for my ass has hardened long time ago.  Its just discomfort without a reason.

Speaking of reasons, one of the reasons I blog is because I think too much.  I get too many ideas most of which I have no time to execute.  Ideas want to be explored and realized.  Not doing either creates pressure in my head like children screaming for attention does.  Writing about these ideas, even briefly in my blog, reduces that pressure because those ideas are on their way to infect others.  Most will die off but some will mutate and live on.

W4Log: Who, What, When, Where Log

One rule I try to live by is don't bitch about what I can't fix.  I brought up the subject of corruption in Korea because I want to introduce a possible solution called W4Log, a permanent log of what key people (who) has said and done (what) in context of time (when) and place (where).  Such a log will require large number of volunteers to enter information and maintain integrity.

One key aspect of W4Log is genealogical links which can be associated with digital identity.  Net effect of W4Log is: what you do and say now will affect your descendents.  Given that biological propagation is a primary instinct, W4Log raises the penalty of misbehaving without building extra jails.  In certain aspect, Big Brother is nothing compared to W4Log.  Still it should affects only those who live in the public's eye and their descendents: top 5% of population and should be implementable in countries like Korea.

Even if W4Log is tough to swallow, I believe the general idea of fine-grained group memory is a useful one.  The media and the web plays that role to some degree, but the media's short-sighted focus and the web's chaotic nature and the level of noise brings the net effect far short of what can be achieved with fine-grained group memory.

Corruption in Korea

I was born in South Korea so I keep track of what goes on in Korea.  Frankly, I don't like much of what goes on in Korea.  Korean economy is much stronger than when I left back in 1976, but corruption still reins strong at all layers of Korean society.  A clear indication of this is that salary level in Korea is substantially below its spending level: people making $3000 a month spending $1000 for a night of entertainment.  A son of current Korean president is said to have spent $200,000 a month without a clear source income and hid boxes of money in his balcony.

Time is on your side

Some of the corrupted get caught, typically before and after the political rein changes hand.  When the eyes of law focuses on you in Korea, time is on your side because attention span of Korean people, politics, and law is short.  If you need some extra time to manuever your way out, you check yourself into a hospital to buy time.  If you need more time, you need to leave the country.  Your destination is likely to be US.  A former head of IRS in Korea, accused of threathening conglomerates into donating money to a presidential candidate, now lives in US.  The candidate he backed lost the election five years ago, but now the candidate is most likely to be the next Korean President.  Time is on your side if you are corrupted.  Korean People forgets.  Korean Law forgives.

Unforgivable, Unforgettable

Some crimes in Korea are unforgivable and unforgettable.  Every Korean boys and girls learn the name Lee Wan Yong from early on.  Lee Wan Yong betrayed the country to Japan in the 19th centry and his name lives on.  His descendents live in hiding even now and will never be able to leave the shadow of their famous ancestor, not even after a thousand years.

Business Browser: Standard Web UI

Although everyone will agree that consistent look and feel in user interface is essential for productivity, they meekly accept website specific user interfaces.  Web application UI are typically designed by web page designers or artists with focus on style over function.  Business browser should support a standard web UI to provide consistent look and feel with some caveats to retain ability to express sense of 'location'.

Business Browser: First Class XML

Both IE and Mozilla has built-in XML support, but they are not as well supported as DHTML.  Everyone talks about XHTML as the future yet there is no clear path from malformed HTML infested world to well-formed and extensible XHTML world.  While everyone raves about how SVG is better than Flash, no one has a clear idea when SVG will be available ubiquitously.  Aside from XHTML and SVG, there are literally stacks of XML-based standards that goes either unused or used only on the server-side.

The client-side has stopped evolving and has stagnated to the point of being nothing more than a dumb terminal.  Meanwhile, heavy reliance on the server-side solutions resulted in obscene workaround solutions.  Advent of web services will not change this picture.  Well, I believe it is time to stop wishing and start breaking new grounds on the client side.

Business Browser

Take either Mozilla or IE and extend it into a rich web application client with XHTML, XML, SVG/Flash, Java, local storage and wallet, digital identity built-in.  Normal web applications are handled in a sandbox of sort to keep them away from secure web apps.  Advertising and user tracking is supported directly under user control using page-transition periods in return for banning other forms of advertising and tracking.  IBM's Sash is nice, but it doesn't go far enough.  Local storage alone will affect e-commerce a great deal…

Inverse Extremism

Extremism can be useful when used appropriately, but is not normally effective in its usual form which attempts to pull opinions from the middle toward one of the two edges or extremes.  More effective form of extremism is Inverse Extremism which attempts to push opinions away from the opposite extreme.  Inverse Extremism is effective because it relies on [negative] emotions to repulse subjects instead of logic or inference to attract subjects.

For example, instead of lobbying against abortion, one could form an Inverse Lobbying organization that propagates extreme abortionist views.  In religious terms, this is equivalent to becoming the demon instead of demonizing others.

disclaimer: Inverse Extremism, as I have described it here, is entirely of my imagination.  If this concept has already been describe somewhere else before, please let me know.

Radio Font Problem

I have yet to figure out why, but most weblogs seems to use smaller fonts than non-weblog sites and its too damn small!  I don't mind and actually like small fonts for extraneous features like calendars and bookmarks, but the meet of weblog needs to be reasonably size as well as resizable.  With Radio's default settings, only the headings (h1, h2, …) are resizable.  I am sure Dave has a hack somewhere that gets around this because Scott Loftesness' weblog is resizable (gosh, a payment guru and a Radio hacker).

One of these weekends, I'll write a utility to let me selectively control the font size as well as automatically resizing fonts for my viewing pleasure.

Publishing is not dead

While I respect Ray Ozzie's creativity and intelligence, I disagree with his, hopefully temporal, view that publishing is dead.  This is why:

  1. Technology will take at least 40 more years to reach the level of availability and convenience necessary to kill off publishing: 10 years to emerge and mature, another 10 years to be cheap and convenient enough, and 20 years of deathwatch (old habits die hard).  Rising cost of paper will obviously become a major fudge factor.
  2. There is no clear business model for weblog-based journalism.  Paying for something you can hold in your hand is a no brainer, paying for a view is more difficult to sell.  Paying for two hours of sharable entertainment via Pay-per-View is also different from paying pennies per weblog articles for casual reading.  Likely only top 1% of commercial weblogs will be profitable, leaving the rest to be simply 'emotionally rewarding'.
  3. Technology and the practice of weblogs are still in their infancy.  There are so much yet to be invented particularly in collaboration and security areas.  Most of blogging phenomenon is due to group dynamics and not technology which is actually pretty thin bridge of convenience.