1. Lessig and emergent corruption

    It is with interest that I've noted Lawrence Lessig's announcement a career shift away from his work on restoring sanity to the copyright regime. I too once grew frustrated and fatigued with the policy process around copyrights, patents, and privacy because of that which Lessig now calls "corruption." (Fortunately, Lessig …

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  2. Dunc-Tank and Money

    Like Biellla, I have been following from afar the controversy [1,2] associated with the dunc-tank project: a way for a few Debian developers to accept donations. The moderate amount of money (appreciated nonetheless I'm sure) caused an extraordinary ruckus among other volunteers, leading to protest and resignations.

    How is …

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  3. Why Culture is Important

    During a conference on Friday, panelists from popular social network sites were asked to speculate about the future. Scott Heiferman, co-founder of Meetup, presented a vision of technological advance and social progress along familiar lines: technology, information, democracy, etc. For example, we might not have to worry about privacy and …

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  4. Epistemic stances

    When it comes to making claims, about reality or anything else really, a number of different stances might be adopted by the speaker:

    • Objectivity: the claims have a correspondence to reality; they are typically embedded in a framework by which their validity is affirmed. For example, the scientific method posits …
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  5. Lost Minorities

    In a discussion on the possibility of limiting anonymous edits to the Wikipedia -- resulting from the mad dash of unwelcome activity during April Fool's day -- a participant replied "This one comes up again and again, and the consensus has always been 'nope, anon edits will continue thanks.'" I am always …

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  6. Early cooperative norms

    Just ten years after the first electronic computer was built, and two years after the release of IBM's first mainframe, a collaborative association was formed by which IBM customers could collaborate, called Share. The following is reminiscent of the many the Wikipedia dictates on keeping a humble and open mind …

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  7. A new model of design

    A new model of design

    First there was designers design. Then there was user-centered design. But even that, is now behind the times. Given open development paradigms and "extreme programming" practices, there is another approach to design, which is no "design." Instead one has frequent, incremental, releases that the user …

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  8. Abstractions: the benefits and dangers

    Why is abstraction such a powerful technique in computer science, but a potentially befuddling one in the social sciences? In computer science, abstractions permit one to:

    1. increase the scope of the construct being abstracted
    2. hide unnecessary details
    3. cleanly define object/functions and their interfaces

    Yet, in social science it:

    1. increase …
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