Elusive Clarity

A wisp of clarity visited me while I was thinking about Chris and Kathy. Allow me to capture it before it flutters away:

One's capacity to harm is not bound by one's capacity to understand.

<blockquote><p><em>One&apos;s capacity to harm is magnified by </em><em>one&apos;s </em><em>capacity to misunderstand.</em></p></blockquote>

Re Tim O'Reilly's Code of Conduct proposal, I think it is both unnecessary and overly restricting.

Social bounds are enforced by scars and fears, not by words and hopes. 

Flash Backend: Flex Data Services and Red5

I've been playing with Adobe's FDS2 (Flex Data Services), LCDS 2.5 (LiveCycle Data Services), and open source project Red5 to build the server part of a project I am working on.
I think FDS2 and LCDS are unnecessarily complex and tragically misdocumented. As most Java projects tend to be, these servers are built with layers and blocks of interlocking design patterns and abstractions which, in the end, confuses more than clarifies. While Adobe does put a lot more effort into documentation than the industry norm, they tend to be focused on the breadth and neglects depth in areas where deeper understanding is needed. Simple block diagrams are not enough to explain complex live ecosystem of components. Sketches and recipes of extensions are not enough to give developers the understanding necessary to build applications because there is more to an application than being just a collection of extensions.
Red5 suffers from much of the same mistakes except, being open source, it's relatively easier to figure things out. Its biggest problem is instability and unacceptable requirements and dependencies for production use.

Performance without stability is flatulence.

What I ended up doing is building from scratch just what I need using low-level components from Red5. More sweat but less headache.

How Awful?

People who think Scoble is overreacting should read this cached post from Mean Kids:

Maryam Scoble – the internet's most annoying pregnancy

[DELETED: use the link to cache if you really need to see it for yourself because I can't stand having the filth on my blog any longer now that enough people have read it.] 

     That was a post at MeanKids.org, not a comment. Who wrote it? Comment to the post by someone named Joey mentioned Frank. Not sure which Frank. [see update below] 
     Maryam is a sweet talented girl. &quot;how now brown sow&quot;? She doesn&apos;t deserve this kind of crap from chicken shits hiding behind free speech.
     It&apos;s good to see <a href="//doc.weblogs.com/2007/03/27#gettingPastTheBottomOfWhatWentWrong" target="_blank">Doc Searls wading into this mess</a>. I hope he can make some sense of it all for us because I am too angry to even make the attempt. BTW, I am not angry at the people who wrote trash like above. Free speech is free speech and idiots will say idiotic things. I am angry at people who thought it was a good idea to create a site like MeanKids, a den of meanness-junkies disguised as intellectuals who robs sense of safety and acceptance from a pregnent woman to feed their addiction.

According to Mary Hodder who checked Bloglines cache, it was posted by Rev ED. An email from Frank Paynter also confirmed that it wasn't him. In fact, that very post prompted him to close MeanKids.org down. My sincere apology to Frank Paynter for not being careful enough to prevent readers from assuming Frank wrote the post. As to who Rev ED or Joey might be, we'll probably never know because, according to Frank Paynter, the database has been destroyed.

Simply Awful

As Tim Bray wrote, something is badly out of control when some wellknown bloggers create an environment that breeds threats of death and sexual abuse. The victim in this case is Kathy Sierra, author of wonderful and clueful Creating Passionate Users. She is now too scared to even go out and her ETech session had to be cancelled.
I rarely pick on individuals on my blog. When I have to vent, I try to vent out at companies. But this is the kind of bullshit that I would even defend my worst enemy against so I am making an exception.
Kathy points to two websites, meankids.org and unclebobism.wordpress.com [UPDATE: Bob's Yer Uncle site was started by Chris Locke], both apparently started by Frank Paynter who wrote on Feb. 8th:

Who’s the real meanie and what does that mean anyway? Who will the Mean Kids pick on next? Kathy Sierra? Doc Searls? IBM is a Linux shop for goodness sakes, don’t tell me none of that rubs off on Doc.

         <p>And today, he commented at <a href="//www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2007/03/26/Kathy-Sierra" target="_blank">Tim Bray&apos;s blog</a>:
         <blockquote>   Kathy mentions me prominently in her post. I am mortified by what happened and have done my best to help her through this. I will post a more detailed response at some time in the future when my own shame and anguish has diminished enough to permit clarity.</p> </blockquote>
         <p>You are mortified that readers of MeanKids.org could be so mean? This is what happens when you create a website whose theme is to gang up on fellow bloggers! Were you expecting meaningful discussions after throwing rotten tomato at people? The damage is done and Kathy will never be the same. What use is your shame and anguish to her?

This is what Frank Paynter wrote, supposedly after his shame and anguish diminished enough to permit clarity:

MeanKids was purposeful anarchy. […] Misogynistic postings at MeanKids.org led me to try to moderate, but indeed the group there was of the “You Own Your Own Words” tradition, so moderating or central editorial control wouldn’t work. I tore the site down.


A core group that gathered at both these sites includes people I consider important artists, thinkers, and writers. Most of those who posted were not posting the kind of hurtful trash that made Kathy feel threatened. Some of the stuff was brilliant. Some was interesting. Some was mundane.

It makes no sense to expect moderation to work in purposeful anarchy. What was he trying to accomplish? Pan the river of nastyness for nuggets of brilliance? Based on what Frank wrote above, he suggested Kathy Sierra as one of the people Mean Kids should pick on. Did Kathy ask for a gang of intellectual anarchist to pick on her? All I read form Frank's post of clarity is pointing fingers at others and admitting his inability to control an intentionally uncontrollable situation when, IMHO, he is directly responsible for letting his naivety and vain pursuit of brilliant conversations hurt others.
How did that go? The road to Hell is paved with good intentions? So fucking true.

To Chronicle: Fire Everyone

It seems the thing to do this weekend is save Chronicle so here is my advice: Fire Everyone.
Fire all the reporters and editors then hire them again as independents based on ad-revenue profit sharing and performance-driven contracts. Reporters write stories. Editors pick and polish stories from reporters. Newspapers package and distribute news, ads, and classifieds. With cost shaved down to ankles and revenue optimized by performance feedback, they can survive.
It's all done with a mix of technologies: CMS, feeds, IM, VOIP. Editors subscribe to writers' feeds and selected articles go out to candidate feeds. Augmenters subscribe to the candidate feeds and output enriched (spellcheck, grammar corrections, image, article layout hints etc) versions. Section editors selects from daily harvest of enriched articles for each edition. Layout designers and ad providers feeds off that to add section layout hints and ads. All newspaper has to do is select section editors and print what they produce. It's a complex mesh of people working in real-time. Some will work part-time and some will be amateurs but pros will get the premium they deserve for availability and quality.
Although the component technologies to make this happen exists, integration and deployment will be tricky. But, in the end, successful newspapers of tomorrow will resemble a mix of manufacturing clusters at low level and factory line at high level , populated independents each working out of self-interest, a tightly integrated ecosystem, a Jungle of Journalism.

Twitter for Stars

I think Twitter, as designed, has at least one compelling application: linking fans to stars. Fans want to know what their stars are doing and they will even pay to know. Seemingly mundane details of little or no value in peer-to-peer use of Twitter changes into precious tidbits in fans-to-star use of Twitter. To stars, it's a way to cultivate their fan community. Once the communication channel is estabilished, it can be used to syndicate attention. By attention, I mean commercials but not the old kind.
When Michael Jackson drinks Coke in TV commercial, what's the message? The message is Michael Jackson prefers Coke over Pepsi. The same message can be sent via Twitter if Michael Jackson used Twitter: I am drinking coke, he'll twit. Once the advertisers grok what's going on, they'll offer substantial money to twittering stars, not for commercials, but to simply use their product so the stars will mention their products when they twit. That's big and more effective than TV commercials in my opinion.
I haven't experienced it myself (by nature, I have never been a fan of anything) but I suspect there is a pleasing psychological effect when fans mimick stars…in real time. It's like the way crystals resonate, hives hum, and flocks line up. I am sure consumer psychologists could explain this better than I can.

Closing Doors to Identity Abuse

It's not the theft of identity that concerns people. It's what thieves do with stolen identity. So if there was a way to prevent high damage activities thieves can do with stolen identity, we would all be better off. How often does an average adult apply for a new credit card or get a mortgage? For most people, the answer will be rarely. And when those occasions arise, the time window is relatively brief. So why are we keeping the door open all the time, inviting thieves?
I wouldn't mind paying for an identity service that helps me control specific uses of my identity, informing providers of affected services accordingly. In a way, it's a security related application of Doc Searls' VRM idea. When I am ready, I'll let you know. Until then, refuse applications from me. Even better, call the police so unsuspecting identity-thieves will get caught.
Related Post: Inconvenience as Service 

Lolicons prefer Amazon Japan

I wonder what Jeff Bezos would say about this. Above picture is of a DVD on sale at Amazon Japan. Apparently, it features a 12 year old girl (my chinese is rusty but I recognize the age character next to 12) wearing what appears to be a thong. I know there were some controversies over whether underage girls should be allowed to wear thongs in America and some probably do but, as far as I know, no one is selling DVD of them posing erotically. It may be legal in Japan but it's disturbing nonetheless to see America's close ally pushing their obsession with kawaii so far.

According to a recent informal street poll of japanese men, more than 90% admitted to having some attraction to underage teenage girls, 5% to preteen. When is it too late for a society to right itself? When should a foreign country interfere and at what level?