Nature reports that a consortium of publishers is considering hiring Eric Dezenhall to take on the threat of the open research. The man has an impressive resume, he worked for Jeffrey Skilling, the former Enron chief now serving a 24-year jail term for fraud. He helped ExxonMobile in their attempts to discredit GreenPeace.
This is great news. If they think they have something to be that worried about, they're probably right.
The big thing at this year's elite World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland, is to don a cartoon persona and slum around the virtual
world as if you "get it." An avatar, reportsenlarging the Davos conversation" to include the commoners.
the Financial Times, "has become the must-have accessory for [WEF]
delegates." A big attraction on yesterday's program was a session
called "The Age of the Avatar," and another session featured an
interview with a couple of 'tars about "identity in the modern world."
The WEF's impresario, Klaus Schwab, says that the embrace of Second
Life is all about "
Was it Ford who said that when his driver started talking about his stock portfolio he knew it was time to get out? Well, if your stock broker tells you about his SL avatar..
I've always thought of open content / social technologies as
democratic, or democratizing. But maybe what we're seeing is the rise
of a new form of social structure: Reputocracy: governance by
reputation. There's only one rule to this regime: the more you invest,
the more your voice counts. Its a market based system, with a single
currency - reputation. This is a tricky currency, because it does not
obey conservation laws. Therefore, investment is calculated by the
amount of capital you have times the risk you take.
For example, if Jimmy Wales writes "I hate french fries" in an email to
a college friend, he's not really risking much. Hence that expression
does not go far as an investment. If he writes "I hate MicroSoft" in
his bio entry,
he's in for a hell of a ride. So anything Jimbo says on wikipedia will
have a huge impact. Never mind his formal role in the system. On the
other hand, I can say whatever I want where ever I want and few people
would give a hoot. I simply don't have that much reputation capital to begin with.
As with any economy, some investments pay off, others don't. And as
with money economy, if I invest in you and you come good, we're both
The other issue that came to mind is intellectual property. That's
always a pain in open-source / open-content environments. Also, always
a pain to figure out why people contribute where they can't capitalize.
Perhaps, in a an extremely transparent system, we're more concerned
about intellectual persona. Property is a funny thing with goods that
are expensive to produce and cheep to replicate. Ask the music
industry. But what if we can verify where a meme started? Then claiming
possession of someone else's ideas is just, uh, too embarrassing. Let's
say I post a great idea on my blog. Let's say you copy it, develop it,
and get a noble prize for it. Let's say you forgot to mention where you
first read it. All I need to do is post a link to digg. Now who's
Clive Thompson is researching for a Wired article on Radical transparency, and what better way to do it than post a note on his blog asking for input, or, as he puts it tapping the hivemind:
Normally, I don't post about magazine assignments I'm working on --
because the editors want to keep it secret. But now I'm researching a
piece for Wired magazine, and the editors have actually asked me
to talk about it openly. That's because the subject of the piece is
"Radical Transparency". And, in fact, I'd like your input in writing it.
The piece was originally triggered by a few postings on the blog of Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson, and
the thesis is simple: In today's ultranetworked online world, you can
accomplish more by being insanely open about everything you're doing.
Indeed, in many cases it's a superbad idea to operate in highly secret
mode -- because secrets get leaked anyway, looking like a paranoid
freak is a bad thing, and most importantly, you're missing out on
opportunities to harness the deeply creative power of an open world.
Interestingly, much of the discussion refers to scientific process, which seems to tie in nicely with Kaleidoscope's notion of an open research community.
The thing about openness, is to know where it works, where it doesn't and how to tell the two apart. Its just like its absolutely great to be radically transparent with your spouse, but not always a great idea with your mother in law. But then, Clive means radical. Open to all. Again, sometimes, for some things, its great. As the LA times realized, it doesn't work so well for writing editorials. Then again, maybe it could - if you carefully designed the right technology and the right social practices to use it.
I have seen it, touched it, and played with it. The final industrial
design prototype for the XO, the device that the One Laptop Per Child
(OLPC) Initiative is going to start shipping to countries across the
world this summer. AMD hosted a luncheon on Monday to give the press an
update on the project, and to unveil the completed design.
Although the exterior form factor is now pretty much set
("Unless," said OLPC official Michalis Bletsas half-jokingly, "Nicholas
has another late-night inspiration.")
The Milgram experiment
always sends a shiver down my spine. I say it should be a part of any
national curriculum. A reminder of what we're all capable of. Luckily,
you can't do that kind of thing any more. Well, at least not to humans.
A new study
replicated the Milgram experiment with Avatars. The results are..
creepy. Sorry, I can't find any better word. Just look at the videos.
(I shouldn't say that, you should read the paper). What gives me the
creeps is not the fact that people relate to Avatars in much the same
way they react to humans, although I'll get back to that soon. It's
just watching a human administer the electric shock, even if he's
sending it to an avatar. The Horror. The Horror.
This sheds a new light on the potential of interactive narrative environments (such as 'Façade') for learning.
If we react to avatars as if they were humans, then their influence on
us - for good and for bad - could be similar. We would pay attention
more to an avatar we trust and respect, be offended by their insults,
and reflect on moral dilemmas they present us.
But this also puts ideas such as human rights for robots in a new perspective. No, I haven't gone bonkers. I'm not anthropomorphizing
Aibo and Sonic the hedgehog. Its us humans I'm worried about. Our
experiences have a conditioning effect. If you get used to being cruel
to avatars, and, at some subliminal level, you do not differentiate
emotionally between avatars and humans, do you risk loosing your
sensitivity to human suffering?