Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Ripped Off Republic

Last night's Rip Off Republic didn't really light my fire but when combined with some reading today and the latest from the Irish Times cartoons I decided to share some ramblings.

2005 © Irish Times by Martyn Turner.

A fine gentleman by the name of Adam Smith made a very relative note on the arrogance of politicans which is as apt today as when he made it in 1759 and goes something like this "The man of system, on the contrary, is apt to be very wise in his own conceit; and is often so enamoured with the supposed beauty of his own ideal plan of government, that he cannot suffer the smallest deviation from any part of it. He goes on to establish it completely and in all its parts, without any regard either to the great interests, or to the strong prejudices which may oppose it. He seems to imagine that he can arrange the different members of a great society with as much ease as the hand arranges the different pieces upon a chess-board. He does not consider that the pieces upon the chess-board have no other principle of motion besides that which the hand impresses upon them; but that, in the great chess-board of human society, every single piece has a principle of motion of its own, altogether different from that which the legislature might chuse to impress upon it. If those two principles coincide and act in the same direction, the game of human society will go on easily and harmoniously, and is very likely to be happy and successful. If they are opposite or different, the game will go on miserably, and the society must be at all times in the highest degree of disorder." (see online here and for PDFs).

This fine quotation came from Smith's lesser known book, The Theory of Moral Sentiments (he is better known as the author of The Wealth of Nations).

The reason I was struck by this quote was that it illustrates the current government's thinking in that it believes that its current plan is working perfectly 10 years into the chaos we call post Celtic Tiger Ireland and more importantly highlights the thinking behind the current government and its refusal to take the necessary action to rectify the obvious flaws which their system of thinking has produced. The knock on effects of these flaws were highlighted by the Rip Off Republic series.

How can find the essential factors of the current complex socio-technological culture we now live and address them in a meanful manner ? One suggestion I belief would be a sea-change in thinking which can only be achieved by changing the stale current government to something new, a spring cleaning so to speak. Today whilst reading Kim Vincente's book, The Human Factor, the work of Jens Rasmussen and his theory for Risk management for a dynamic society was one tool for a new government's toolbox. Rasmussen's framework is a human-centric approach to the design of complex technological systems that fulfill important societal needs whilst still simultaneously protecting the public interest. Vincente concludes the political impretatives section of his book with "The real power isn't in sofware or hardware alone, but in how people use it. Sure, technology is an enabler that can create new and wonderful possiblities, but if we take the very same system (public water distribution system) and either poison or sustain people with it, then the inescapable conclusion is that all of the interactions involving the human factor are incredibly important influences on the safety of any technological system. Therefore, the true promise of the the Technological Age isn't just the things that we build, but in how we use those things as tools to help improve our quality of life. That is one of the fundamental lessons of the Human-tech approach.
Unfortunately, not everyone thinking this way -yet

I'm proud to be part of the agent provocateur leading the change to this type of thinking through our third level education system but there is much to do and many opinions to change to ensure that technology works with humanity to improve our societies and cultures not against it.

Disposable Credit Cards

Heard the latest must have - a disposable credit card with the related Electric News and RTE Radio (Real Media) coverage.

Looking through the FAQ I find that you are required to supply a name (Any really!), an address (some large apartment block), a mobile number (easy to get a clean untraceable one of these) and a email account (hotmail, gmail the list goes on) at which point I'm think that whilst the paying punter will find it a useful payment mechanism that the real user will be organised crime as it seems there is a distinct lack of identifcation required. I recently had to change the details of a club account that I'm involved with, now the club isn't really all that large or have vast money flowing through its coffers but does have an active committee which turns over annually. The process to change the details was simple enough but it required I show proof of my identity and a bill, simple enough really and a good step to defeating money laundering. I'm a bit lost however when I see these disposable credit cards with what looks like a perfect vechicle for criminals with the most basic of social engineering skills which is noted as a growing threat. Now I'm an activist for information freedom but really I can't say I like the way this new disposable credit card is developing as like the original prepaid mobile phones its bound to be picked up upon by todays tech savvy criminals. It's already been suggested for use in a scheme to improve website commission referrals in Ireland.

Friday, August 26, 2005

Say No to Data Retention

Looks like its 49 people who've said 'No' to Data Retention in Ireland.
So get the ball rolling by signing up and saying NO TO DATA RETENTION.

Full details on the plans to keep all telephone and internet traffic data of all 450 million Europeans are available at the campaign's website and on its wiki. Given Ireland's history in this sordid affair and our pushing for this legislation it really is bad form if we don't bump that 49 up by say a couple of thousand at least!

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Designer Chic - Real eye candy

Here's a little selection of treats from the modern design arena with MoCo Loco, Cool Hunting, design*sponge, Core77 and Land+Living. If you don't see something you like on those pages - get glasses as you must be blind!

For the latest in Japanese Toys & Tech, want a sleep timer for iTunes, more on Google for world domination, a nice review on Digital Phoenix: Why the Information Economy Collapsed and How It Will Rise Again, jumping back a little to "21st Century Politics: Consumption vs Deliberation", how to beat that pesky speeding ticket (only California USA so far). Also a nice interesting piece on "Beyond Relief" talking about emerging techology for disaster relief.

Link and pic of the day has to be the DIY Bullshit protectors modelled at GW Bush's speech by 73-year-old veteran, Bill Moye in Idaho (for PDF's and howto and also here.)

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

More naming madness

B.R.A.Z.- Biomechanical Robotic Assassination Zombie

Generate your own Cyborg Name with thanks to Bigbro.

Google Talk is good to go

Google Talk is now available and running. Additional installation instructions are available here. Otherwise enjoy but the catch is you must have a existing GMail account.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Random Maps

More interesting tube maps as well as a link to an old favourite. There is also the Freesound project which is collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds (for example) and the Garage Spin blog which touches on Indie, Music Tech and several other interesting tidbits. Cafe press is handy for that different t-shirt.

Daniel Barenboim is to give the 2005 Reith lectures on BBC Radio 4 and will concentrate on the extent to which the visual has become dominant over the aural in our culture (Western) and will dicuss shifting back towards the aural.

John Seely Brown is talking about off shoring and new business ecosystems over at ITConversations. Stephen Wolfram is also on ITConversations talking about "A New Kind Of Science".

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

My pirate name

My pirate name is:
Iron John Flint

A pirate's life isn't easy; it takes a tough person. That's okay with you, though, since you a tough person. Like the rock flint, you're hard and sharp. But, also like flint, you're easily chipped, and sparky. Arr!
Get your own pirate name from

A bit more politically themed

Back to some politics and we've gotten the Political Weblog Project which aims to helps MPs and Councillors to communicate via the Internet, some links to the German Election and a rather damning selection of reports on the UK elections. Useful tools include LiveSupport , a radio management application that is for live or precanned studio broadcasts and allows for remote automation. There's an update to Mod_Survey and a Sudoku Solver as well as Trac which is a nice piece of project managment / issue tracking kit with a wiki.

Atheistism or Religion ? How about "Technocentrism and Religious Faith "? Or for something more mundane you could try the Skype journal.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

This, That and some kiddies on phones

Paper prototying considered by balancing fidelity and as a review of 16 Years of it. How about HP who're writing about "Wearable Wellness Monitoring Using ECG and Accelerometer Data". Is Human-Centered Design Considered Harmful?

A really good one from Wired on "Hearing Aids for the Unimpaired
" which talks about hearing aid devices for filtering out noises and replaying the last snippets of conversations. Its all covered at HearWear -­ The Future of Hearing exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London until March.

On the podcasting front there's a great bit on Children and Mobiles looking at its effect on the family and parent-child relationships from BBC Radio 4.

There's a new web based photographic agency that aims to sell your amateur photographs to the wider media. It's called Scoopt and the Guardian has a nice piece about it.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Tuesday and Stuff

So another warning on Greasemonkey's security and on using papyrus for nuclear waste warnings. Ok-Cancel have a nice one on "Activity Centered Design", whilst ITConversations have a nice recording on the event sphere and some interesting future possiblities. Over at WorldChanging there are a few interesting articles on "What Is Culture Jamming Good For?", "Media and Digital Tech Empowering Indigenous Survival" (see also No Logo for this type of idea), and on "A Question of Urbanization". Darragh has also suggested VOIP buster as the next Skype-like app with the added advantage of really cheap rates to land lines ( including places like Australia and America ;-) ). There's also an update on the essay "Technoprogressivism Beyond Technophilia and Technophobia". Otherwise all is quiet but busy in Limerick.

Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday Roundup

Well I'm a happy camper - I got a great link to a nice photo album from a sweet Ozzie! In other links we gotten more on garbage and waste management actually for a real eye opening on the topic why not take the Ecological Footprint Quiz, Usability Professionals' Association is currently running a survey of usability professionals so click here to take the survey, for your listening pleasure there are a couple of shows over at ITConversations including Lisa See on a language, known only to women in a remote Chinese province and kept secret for 1,000 years, and explore how she went in search of this language. There is also John Lupton of MedCare Systems from Sydney, Australia talking about new tech and how it can improve our health and keep us out of hospitals. The lastest version of Tor is out with some new security fixes. Want to do that armchair tour of European Capitals, well thanks to Google you can!

Speaking of all things interesting, wonder what Dan and the lads will be doing for this year's Puck Fair?

Dale Carrico's response to all the interest to his essay "Live Long and Prosper: A Program of Technoprogressive Social Democracy". Here's one thats more down Shane or Vardit avenue, "Can Nano Learn from Bio?". Still reading Citizen Cyborg which I must say offers quite an interesting set of arguments and possibilities for the future.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Major Flickr upload

Just added a bunch of old photos to my Flickr account but the tagging will have to wait!

Interesting article via Krispin on iPods on how they isolate. Joel on code quality between good and average programmers. A further follow up to the Indy Media computer seize.

More interesting stuff from Boxes and Arrows on "IA Challenges in Distributing Digital Audio". Worldchanging have a bunch of interesting stuff on Dropping Knowledge which aims to be a portal to the collective wisdom of the net, Future Democracy which talks about Dale Carrico and his views on technoprogressivism and on his latest essay "Live Long and Prosper: A Program of Technoprogressive Social Democracy", it also offers a space eye view on Disaster Relief from Space and new agreements on satellite information sharing for disaster relief.

From the HCI Series at Stanford we have "Interaction and Exhibit Design in Museums". On Ruby there is another cool Sparklines library.