Random notes

From WikiDotMako

Hello Darkness?[edit]

A version of this was left as a comment response to a blog post by Mark Pilgrim:

A decent portion of those people on this planet who can understand why control over technology might be important -- i.e., they actually understand that, and why, technology has real power -- want to increase and protect technological autonomy. Not everyone, of course, but enough to make a difference.
However, the idea of technological autonomy remains as fundamentally inscrutable to the vast majority of technology's users as it is fundamental. Until we find some way to address that problem, the Apples of the world will continue to sex up and sell technological servitude while the disempowered line up to thank them for it.
--Benjamin Mako Hill 01:23, 13 August 2008 (UTC)

Quotes from Cube[edit]

Worth: There is no conspiracy, nobody is in charge, it's a headless blunder operating under the illusion of a master-plan, big-brother is not watching you. If this ever had a purpose then it got mis-communicated or lost in the shuffle, this is an accident, a forgotten perpetual public works project. You think anybody wants to ask questions? All they want is a clear conscience and a fat pay-cheque."

Quentin: Why put people in it?

Worth: Because it's here, you have to use it or admit it's pointless.

Quentin: But it is, it is pointless.

Worth: Quentin, that's my point.

Quentin: You make me sick, Worth.

Worth: I make me sick too, we're both part of the system. I drew a box, you walk a beat, it's like you said Quentin, keep your head down, keep it simple, just look at what's in front of you. I mean nobody wants to see the big picture, life's too complicated. Let's face it, the reason we're here is because it's out of control.

Quentin: What do you think the establishment is? It's just guys like me. Their desks are bigger but their jobs aren't. They don't conspire, they buy boats.

Moglen's Faculty Presentation[edit]

Much, much here.

"Careful analysis of the Wikimedia Foundation would take five minutes and explain pretty much absolutely nothing except how the hosting bills for the servers are paid."

"I know, for better and worse, how the GNU Free Document License that makes Wikipedia possible came to be: Richard Stallman and I wrote it in his mother’s apartment on West 89th Street and in a conference room at the MIT AI Lab before the building was taken down and the building named after Bill Gates was put up instead (it leaks, as you know, and MIT is suing Frank Gehry about that; the GFDL still works as designed)."

Ethnographic Work[edit]

Susan Silbey told her advisor, "when am I going to be done?" and her advisor would tell her that, "that's not for me to say; it's for you to say."

Marx on Crime and Innovation[edit]

"The effects of the criminal on the development of productive power can be shown in detail. Would locks ever have reached their present degree of excellence had there been no thieves? Would the making of bank-notes have reached its present perfection had there been no forgers? Would the microscope have found its way into the sphere of ordinary commerce but for trading frauds? Doesn't practical chemistry owe just as much to adulteration of commodities and the efforts to show it up as to the honest zeal for production? Crime through its constantly new methods of attack on property, constantly calls into being new methods of defence and so is as productive as strikes for the invention of machines.”

Karl Marx, Theories of Surplus Value I, 387 - 388 (Marx and Engels Collected Works).

Harpers Weekly on Summum[edit]

Judges in Pleasant Grove City, Utah, were weighing a free-speech suit filed by adherents to the Summum church. Members of the church claim that the city is discriminating against them by displaying a red granite plaque of the Ten Commandments in a public park but refusing to display a monument inscribed with their own faith's Seven Aphorisms, which were communicated via telepathy from divine beings to a man named Corky Ra. Ron Temu and Su Menu, two Summum worshippers, argued that the Commandments were compatible with the Aphorisms, as both were handed down to Moses on Mount Sinai. "If you look at them side by side," said Su Menu of the two monuments while sitting in a metal pyramid and drinking an alcoholic sacramental nectar beside a mummified Doberman pinscher, "they really are saying similar things."

Information and Democracy[edit]

"An equally serious misconception among computer enthusiasts is the belief that democracy is largely a matter of distributing information." [1] Langdon Winner

"Intellectual Property" Disputes[edit]

Mark Prilgrim from http://diveintopython3.org:

As I write this, the year is 2009, and the internet is STILL a battleground of so-called “intellectual property” disputes. Some people would have you believe that without proper financial incentives, music, literature, and software would disappear. After all, who would make music if they can’t make money on it? Who would write? Who would program?
I know the answer. The answer is that musicians will make music, not because they can make money, but because musicians are the people who can’t not make music. Writers will write because they can’t not write. Most of the people you think of as artists are really just showmen. They collect a paycheck and go home at 5 o’clock. That’s not art, that’s commerce.
I’ve been programming since 1983 and releasing my code under Free Software licenses since 1993. I’ve been writing and publishing under Free Content licenses since 2000. I can’t imagine not doing this. If you can imagine yourself not doing what you’re doing, do something else. Do whatever it is you can’t not do.


"You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete." -- R. Buckminster Fuller (apparently from Critical Path)


"I have pimps on my foreskin!" B. Innocenti

"When I ski, I take my balls out!" -- B. Innocenti

"This water is nukewarm..." -- M. Matsuzaki

From Harpers: "We've Created a Munster[edit]

With over five million copies in print, Who Moved My Cheese? has spawned many variations, two of them by Spencer Johnson, Who Moved My Cheese? For Kids and Who Moved My Cheese? For Teens: An Amazing Way to Change and Win!. Transcending culture and borders, 1.6 million copies have been sold in China "despite the fact that most Chinese have never tasted cheese". Chinese books, published in 2002, inspired by the "cheese" concept include:

  • Agitating, Alluring Cheese
  • Can I Move Your Cheese?
  • Chinese People Eat Cheese?--Who Took My Meat Bun?
  • I Don't Bother to Move Your Cheese
  • Make the Cheese by Yourself!
  • Management Advice 52 from the Cheese
  • No More Cheese!
  • No One Can Move My Cheese! The New Allegory of Cheese, The New Enlightenment of Allegory
  • A Piece of Cheese: Reading World Famous Fairy Tales with Mom
  • Who Dares to Move My Cheese?
  • Whose Cheese Should I Move?[2]

License and Programming[edit]

Free software gives our users the license to change their world, but it doesn't give them the means.

— Walter Bender

Ezra Zuckerman on the value of Ethnography[edit]

From a conversation on this review by Syed Ali reported/discussed on Twitter.[2][3]:

The review reinforces the common mistake (apparently made by Lubet too) that Ethnography’s role is to furnish us with hard-to-obtain facts about the social world. But is that what we get from the great ethnographers like Geertz or E. Goffman? No. Rather, great ethnography offers us deep, general *insights* See e.g., how Homans uses Whyte. *Thats* why Whyte is a classic.

Response to Philip Roth from Wikipedia[edit]

Philip Roth posted an open letter to Wikipedia today on The New Yorker’s Page Turner blog, describing a series of curious events. Roth recently discovered that the Wikipedia entry about his novel The Human Stain mentioned, in passing, that the book was “allegedly inspired by the life of the writer Anatole Broyard.” This was “a serious misstatement,” Roth tells us. He contacted Wikipedia to have the line removed, at which point he received a reply from a site administrator perhaps inspired by the writer Roland Barthes: “**I understand your point that the author is the greatest authority on their own work, but we require secondary sources.**”

From https://slate.com/culture/2012/09/philip-roths-open-letter-to-wikipedia-another-possible-inspiration-for-the-human-stain.html this Slate article on the issue.