I <3 compliance!

Onkyo CompliesLast month I bought an amazing gadget that is easily my most favorite of the decade. Before last month, I was barely aware this product category existed until I browsed the “Home Audio” section at PC Richards while looking for a replacement vacuum cleaner. I noticed that many of the receivers had ethernet jacks and also supported wi-fi, bluetooth, hdmi and USB. They boasted compatibility with internet audio streaming services, home media libraries, as well as any bluetooth-enabled media collection. Brought to all of us thanks to Free and Open Source Software.

The Onkyo TX-NR626 looks almost identical to a stereo receiver you could have bought from Onkyo in the 80s and 90s. In fact, the chases is the same, save for a few extra buttons, and the form factors of the inputs/outputs in the back. A 95W per channel, supporting 7.2 channels, this sucker packs a meaner punch than my UWS apartment (or, more accurately, my neighbors) can stomach. But don’t let it’s outer shell fool you. But, the guts of this gadget have been updated for the 21st century, with flair.

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I love traveling and I travel alot. In the past few years I have added a fun toy to my travel kit – a small, portable bluetooth speaker. I am currently using the Logitech UE Mini Boom, which sounds so much better than the tinny, built-in laptop speakers it’s worth lugging along. Normally, I plug a cheap audio wire into my phone to connect it to the speaker, but the wire connection started acting flakey and I bluetoothed while vacationing in Florida, Philly and the Hudson Valley. I really enjoyed dialing up my entire music collection from across the room over the would-be miracle that bluetooth promised. So much so that I started wondering why I couldn’t do the same at home.

For the better part of the last decade my home workstation, a mac mini, has been my media hub and jukebox. Back in ’98, I started ripping my CD collection even before I owned an MP3 player, anticipating the day when my digital collection would pay off in spades. Every night I would connect to the internet over my dial-up modem, pull down the album metadata from CDDB, and would typically digitize one or two CDs per night. Maybe a few more over the weekend. After a year my collection was digitized.  My first MP3 player was a Rio Diamond 500 with a paltry 64MG of storage. I hated selecting playlists, and dreamed of the day when my entire collection would be at my fingertips. Inevitably, I would neglect to load new music on my Rio, and be stuck listening to the wrong music.

In recent months I have become increasingly frustrated with my home jukebox setup. I’ve installed CrashPlan on my Mac, a java based backup programming that is incessantly hogging resources and causing frustrating delays in my access to music. I’m also disgusted with Apple’s oppressive policies, and have begun to second guess my decision to make my workstation my media hub. Last year I ditched my iPod in favor of a SanDisk Sansa Clip running the open-source RockBox, but a few months back I upgraded my HTC phone to a model that takes an microSD card, and have been enjoying my entire collection on my phone.

I can now send music to my new stereo receiver from my phone, tablet and computer. I can also connect to the internet, and I love it. Sometimes, you just want an appliance with an old fashioned  remote control, not a general purpose computing device.

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onkyo_front_largeThe new line of home audio components manufactured by folks like Yamaha, Denon and Onkyo, look alot like their predecessors but are actually network-enabled computers. When I opened up my new receiver I was amazed to find 11 pages of Free Software licenses included along with the warranty and instructions. Onkyo has respectfully complied with the LGPL and GPL licenses, and includes this pamphlet along with their hardware. The documentation references many familiar libraries, including OpenSSL, curl, ntp, image libraries and video transcoding libraries.

For years, Eben Moglen has been claiming that hardware manufacturers have embraced FLOSS, but this device crystalized for me the obvious advantages. Onkyo is a stereo component manufacturer. The last thing they want to deal with is hiring an army of developers to wrestle with SSL to support wifi passwords or develop boilerplate settings interfaces. The sheer quantity of software required to create modern consumer electronics is staggering, and I am fairly certain that without free software this receiver would have easily cost 1.5-2 times the price, and probably had fewer features.

From automobiles to DVD players, computers are being grafted onto every device we interact with. The better ones are being reimagined and built around computers, instead of vice-versa. There are an awful lot of protocols and standards to support. It makes me really happy to know that we all have friends in embedded places – greasing the nooks and crannies of 21st century electronics.

Makers, Burners and Pedagogy Transformers

Last Thursday, I managed to further integrate my personal/professional/hobbiest identitites, and me and two of my esteemed colleagues (Therese and Jon) presented Burning Man and Hacker/Maker Spaces at the weekly CCNMTL staff meeting.

The rosetta stone for our talk was Fred Turner’s seminal paper Burning Man at Google: a cultural infrastructure for new media production (published by New Media and Society, the same journal that published my and Aram’s paper on The End of Forgetting (preprint)), which Turner also presented at Google, where his talk was recorded.

We tried to connect Burning Man to a central question in education — the question of transference.  Do skills learned under simulated conditions transfer over to real world settings? We started out with the grand question, “What Educates?”, and tried to narrow that down to the question of how we can view commons-based peer-production in an educational context?  What can Burning Man, and crucially, the Maker Spaces that make Burning Man possible, teach educators about teaching and learning?

 

Our talk:

And our slides:

Now that we have presented this to CCNMTL, some of the librarians have gotten wind of our talk, and have invited us to re-present it at a tech brownbag lunch later this Fall 😀

To the evolution!

 

Dispatches from Cairo: The Raw Data

I just returned from a whirlwind eduventure at the American University of Cairo (AUC). My trip included a detour through Ancient Egypt and a 36-hour decompression-stop in the capital of the Ottoman Empire, but our main purpose was to participate in a week-long professional development conference for Palestinian Educators:

Challenges and Practices of Pedagogy and Instructional Technology: Professional Development Exchange for Palestinian Educators

The AUC conference was a continuation of the project that brought me to Palestine this past summer, and was creatively imagined and improvised by my mentor/advisor/boss, Frank Moretti.

I am still processing and synthesizing my experiences, and I plan for this to be the first in a series of posts detailing what I learned on this trip. For now, I will just capture the raw materials and highlights.

For starters, the conference was covered by both the AUC News and CCNMTL’s blog.

AUC’s Center for Learning and Teaching hosted an incredible conference – the talks were provocative and well balanced, and the food was fabulous! They even captured the entire event and posted the video and slides here. Our hosts were hospitable and generous beyond words, and we are forever grateful to Aziza Ellozy and her staff for making us feel at home.

Our plenary keynote, featuring my colleague, Mark Phillipson, and my doctoral cohorts, Travis Mushett, Madiha Tahir, and Charles Berret is viewable here:

#celebrity #violence #resistance: Media Analysis and Social Pedagogies

Mark and I also presented two workshops:

In reply to Frank’s intro, the Palestinian educators we were working with sent him a warm get-well video.

Of course, there is more. There is always more. But, for now, I rather sift through these pictures (Mine and Madiha’s, Mark’s, CLT’s) than write.

Peace.

when networks eat themselves

Jaron Lanier’s latest provocation, the Local-Global flip, deserves a close watch/read.  His contention that the Internet is destroying the middle-class  sounds hyperbolic, but demands a response from devout free-culture evangelists.

On the surface, the Lanier piece sounds like the familiar alarmist “Robot Nation” tune about robots taking human jobs. But, Lanier raises the stakes by looking at how we have distributed the excess wealth generated by the efficiencies the information age. The global war on the middle class is largely incontestable. Will the future resemble the past, or can we honestly respond to the realities he identifies and design a socio-economy that supports and sustains a middle class?

Jaron’s interview is a bit diffuse, and he often talks as if he is the first to question Internet hype. He is certainly not alone in raising concerns about the darker side of the internet-as-salvation coin. Building on the social/cultural theory of the 19th and 20th centuries, these concerns are absolutely central to critical perspectives on information society. Critical scholarship on these issues abound, and bestselling books such as Code, The Wealth of Networks, The Future of the Internet and How to Stop ItCommunication Revolution, The Master Switch, Life, Inc, The Googlization of Everything, The Shallows, and The Net Delusion all take up these issues in one form or another. The 2009 conference on Internet as Playground and Factory conference is still one of the best compilations I am aware of that succinctly captures the exploitive dangers of new networked efficiencies.

Lanier’s focuses intently on the ways in which entrenched power is becoming even more entrenched and powerful using the very same tools that have inspired so much hope.

How Algorithms Literally Shape the World

If you want a vivid illustration of the ways in which the financial sector has begun to leverage networks, check out this jaw-dropping account of how networks and algorithms are literally shaping Wall Street and terraforming the planet. Did you know that brokers are building server farms in the mid-atlantic, equdistant from NY and London to leverage microsecond trading advantages?

No Place to Hide

This summer I also collected more stories of the dark sides of centralized social networking.  This is happening now as we become the products and tolerate corporations spying on us all the time. Even if we (think) we have nothing to hide:

  • Medication adherence FICO score — A company is collecting pharmacy data, calculating your likelyhood of compliance, and packaging this value into a number that could be used to compute insurance rates, APRs, and mortgage eligibility.
  • Social media background checks — Your public exploits are being dug up, analyzed and sold to whoever is curious (future employers, mates, enemies).
  • Flyzilla thwarted — With Facebook’s help, the Israeli’s blacklisted over 300 activists and prevented them from entering Israel to protest the occupation. It is not clear if FB cooperated directly, or if they even needed to.
  • Harvard’s privacy meltdown -Harvard Researchers Accused of Breaching Students’ Privacy. After breaching the anonymity of their research subjects, the researchers have learned that “the archive is more like plutonium than gold”.
  • Crowdsourcing the secret police The flashmob turned into an angry mob during the London riots, as vigilantes tracked down rioters with face recognition software.

The Selfless Flip?

I thought that one of the most interesting parts of Lanier’s interview was his analysis of the local-global flip. When a network becomes so large that it can no longer eject waste outside of itself, it can devour its own tail.  Like Walmart impoverishing their own customer base, or the global financial meltdown of ’08, partially caused by banks selling each other toxic assets.

This phase transition reminded me of a series recently published in New Scientist summarizing the latest thinking on the evolution of selfless behavior. Part of their “Instant Expert” series, the articles discuss the progression of evolutionary theory in explaining the pressures underlying the evolution of selfless behavior.

Today’s individuals are yesterday’s groups… For a major evolutionary transition to occur, there has to be a shift in the balance between within-group and between-group selection. A group can only turn into an individual when between-group selection is the primary evolutionary force, and this in turn can happen only when mechanisms evolve that suppress selection within groups. The rules of meiosis, for example, ensure that all genes on the chromosomes have an equal chance of being represented in the gametes. If genes can’t succeed at the expense of each other, then the only way to succeed is collectively as a group. *

Darwin’s problem is encountered at every scale of human society: from the smallest group to the global village, the behaviours that maximise relative advantage within a social unit tend to undermine the welfare of the unit as a whole. Establishing prosociality at a large scale requires a process of selection at that scale – whether a raw process of variation and selection or a more deliberative process of selecting practices by intentional planning. *

Contrary to colloquial shorthand, evolution doesn’t actively select anything. Evolution only guarantees that a particular trait hasn’t killed you yet. Are we witnessing the growing pains of this evolutionary transition?

If I forget you, O Palestine…

I just returned from the eduventure of a lifetime in Palestine and Israel.  I travelled to the Palestine Technical University of Kadoorie  to consult on a World Bank funded project to help enhance technology education. The details of this project are inspiring and provocative, but before discussing educational technology, media literacy, and capacity building I need to talk about my direct experience of The Occupation.

As I anticipated before the trip, my understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was transformed by my first-person experience of the occupation. Within an hour crossing the Kalandia checkpoint into Ramallah, I began to experience a harshness that is almost impossible to capture in a snapshot. Superficially, life in Palestine seems almost normal. Everyone we met was warm and friendly, and I did not encounter extreme third-world poverty. However, during my visit I learned how virtually every aspect of ordinary Palestinian life is occupied.  Electricity, fuel, mobility, connectivity, information, and water are all tightly rationed and controlled by Israel.

Before the trip I had heard about the checkpoints, but it is difficult to capture the feelings of intimidation and harassment until you are stuck in checkpoint-traffic watching a Palestinian adolescent being handcuffed and manhandled on the side of the road. I began to feel the harsh gaze of the guard towers, and the spit-in-the-face of the  Israeli flags, waving  arrogantly.

The most shocking reality I learned about is the Palestinian water situation. Many Palestinians only have running water a few days a week. One quick way to tell the Arab homes apart from the settler’s homes is that the Arab homes have big black water tanks on their roofs to capture water while it is running.  In contrast, the settlers homes have water 24×7, and many have swimming pools and lush lawns.

I kept thinking of this iconic image:

and its visually gripping corollaries:

Comparisons between the occupation and South African apartheid are common, but on this trip I began to relate the struggle to Jim Crow, the civil rights movement, and racial profiling and injustice that continue to oppress  US minorities.

I also learned about the regulation of information flows. On an Egged bus in Israel, I had a better connection over free wifi than anywhere in Palestine, including the universities. Palestinian telcom companies are currently forbidden from rolling out 3G networks, building new communication lines between cities is notoriously difficult, someone I met was not allowed to import routers, and Palestine cannot connect directly to the Mediterranean backbone.  [Incidentally, a local group of activists is trying to set up free wifi in Ramallah, but they are being thwarted by Palestinian telcoms!] Like their physical borders, all Internet traffic into and out of Palestine must cross through Israel first.

Serendipitously, Richard Stallman was visiting Palestine while I was there!  Unfortunately, I missed his lectures, but I met up with a few people who saw him speak, and they reported that his  message of freedom and liberation resonated strongly with his audience. I also connected with ma3bar.org – a society for Arab free and open source software, and ArabEyes — an Arabic-FLOSS translation project . I developed fresh insights into the role of free software in resistance and activism — especially as I appreciated the strength of the human networks that power free software, and the relative safety of engaging in this kind of organising (as opposed to being tagged by the authorities as an peace activist). More about this in future posts.

Scholarship such as Eyal Wiezman’s Hollow Land and Helga Souri’s work attempt to describe the Palestinian experience of the occupation, but the situation is so complex and hyper-mediated I recommend that anyone who wants to learn more should visit the West Bank themselves (special thanks to Dalia Otham for the conversations and introducing me to this work). Anyone with the smallest compassionate bone in their body will undoubtedly sympathize with with the Palestinian cause.

There is so much more to write. The specifics of our educational technology workshops, travelling and working with my advisor and a fabulous team from TC , the hospitality of our hosts at PTUK, the amazing sweet deserts, my tour of the graffiti on the Palestinian side of the wall,  the culture shock of leaving the West Bank and visiting my sister (and my four amazing nephews and brother-in-law) on a zionist kibbutz, the Israeli friends and family I connected with across the ideological spectrum, my visit to Sheva Chaya’s mystical glass blowing studio/gallery, diving an underwater museum in Caesarea, whitewater rafting down the Jordan with my nephews,  and Mushon’s personal guided tour (complete with analysis!) of the incredible housing protests erupting across Israel.

To be continued…

Mobility Shifts: teaching & learning w/ video

Michael Preston and I have co-authored a chapter— Teaching and Learning with Video Annotations —for the recently released anthology, Learning Through Digital Media: Experiments in Technology and Pedagogy. This chapter recapitulates the history of multimedia annotation projects at CCNMTL, focusing especially on the pedagogies and learning outcomes that have motivated much of my work at CCNMTL work over the years. We discuss curricular activities which have stimulated the development of our VITAL and MediaThread multimedia analysis environments.

Learning Through Digital Media was edited by New School Professor Trebor Scholz in preparation for the upcoming Mobility Shifts: An International Future of Learning Summit (Call for Workshops: submissions due by July 1). The peer-reviewed book contains a series of practical applications of digital media to formal and informal learning situations, with a focus on teaching techniques across a range of services and tools. The “ambition of this collection is to discover how to use digital media for learning on campus and off. It offers a rich selection of methodologies, social practices, and hands-on assignments by leading educators who acknowledge the opportunities created by the confluence of mobile technologies, the World Wide Web, film, video games, TV, comics, and software while also acknowledging recurring challenges.”

Trebor throws a great conference. Mobility Shifts is part of a bi-annual conference series on Digital Politics.  The conference topic ’09 was digital labor, and in ’13 it will be about digital activism. Trebor is truly a performance artist when it comes to organizing conferences. He works really hard to get people talking to each other before the conference starts, so that when people arrive they are already in the middle of a conversation.  For the Internet as Playground and Factory he produced a series of short videos introducing participants to each other (mine is here).  This year he published a peer-reviewed anthology, available in a variety of formats, including hardcopy, PDF, ebook, and web-based.

Learning Through Digital Media was published in March 2011 by the Institute of Distributed Creativity under a creative-commons license (CC-BY).

Pick a corpus, any corpus

A few weeks ago I participated in a brainstorming session exploring the kinds of academic research projects the WikiLeaks archives might generate. Beyond the substantive specifics of the leaked cables, the media coverage of Cablegate, and their  impact on geopoltics, a central concern we recognised is the challenge of transforming torrents of qualitative data into narratives, arguments, and evidence .

The impact that technology is having on what’s knowable and how we go about knowing is a theme I have been chewing on for years – one that goes well beyond journalism, and cuts across the social sciences, law, education, etc. There is an urgency to this problem since the tools and techniques involved in these analyses are unevenly distributed.  High-end corporate law firms, marketing agencies, and political parties are all embracing new approaches to making sense of petabytes. Unfortunately, impact law firms, social scientists, and journalists often don’t even know these tools exist, never mind how to use them.  Part of what I call the organizational digital divide.

During our brainstorming I formulated a new twist on a possible research agenda. I realized how daunting it has become to evaluate and calibrate the emerging suites of digital instruments. There are many digital tools emerging that can be used to analyze large troves of data, but it is difficult to determine what each tool is best at, and if it does its job well.

One good way to benchmark our digital instruments is to select a standard corpus, and spend lots of time researching and studying that corpus until the corpus is fairly well understood. Similar to the role that the Brown Corpus played in computational linguistics, data miners need a training ground we can test, hone, and sharpen our digital implements. If we bring a new tool to bear on a well understood archive, we can evaluate its performance relative to our prior understanding.

Currently Wikipedia serves as the de-facto benchmark for many digital tools, though, since its a moving target, it is probably not the best choice for calibration. In many respects the selection of this kind of corpus can be arbitrary, though it needs to be adequately sophisticated, and we might as well pick something that is meaningful and interesting.

The Wikileaks documents are an excellent contender for training the next generation digital instruments and data miners. The AP is hard at work on new approaches for visualizing the Iraq War logs, and just last week there was a meetup for hacks and hackers working on the wikileaks documents Data Science & Data Journalism . It is easy to see how Knight funded projects like DocumentCloud converge on this problem as well. Ultimately, I think these efforts should move in the direction of interactive storytelling, not merely an passive extraction of meaning. We need tools that enable collaborative meaning-making around conceptual space similar to what Ushahidi has done for geographic space.

Memory Leaks

12-01-10wikiFD
WWIII – A TV guerrilla war with no division between civil and military fronts.

– Marshall McLuhan *


As you enjoy the Wikileaks reality show circus, please remember to support to the Bradley Manning defense fund.

This week’s drama has been riveting and surreal. For years I have been describing the era we are embarking on as the End of Forgetting, and imagining the repercussions of this transformation on the fabric of social life. But my relationship with this saga goes well beyond the theoretical and is much more personal.

In December 2006post-Diebold memos and, synchronously, within weeks prior to Wikileaks’ launchI began researching the ZyprexaKills campaign (slides), a whistleblowing action implicating the drug company Eli Lilly which soon became the EFF’s first wiki case. That case was a significant milestone in life. The experience was a crash course in First Amendment Law, exposed me to the hybrid dynamics of new and traditional media, prepared me for epocal epistemic shifts, and confirmed the power of my information flow models.  On the ZyprexaKills case no one wanted to be forgotten more than the anonymous John Doe, and Eli Lilly undoubtedly wishes the world would forget that they marketed Zyprexa off-label to children and the elderly, even though their executives knew Zyprexa causes diabetes.

Which brings us to today. I am amazed at the wide speculation across the mainstream press around Assange’s motives when his own writings are widely available. Apparently, we are still transitioning to the age of  Scientific Journalism Assange dreams about. Bloggers and tweeters have finally helped  mainstream news outlets pick up the story–as Todd Gitlin writes, we should “Credit him with a theory”.

The potential fallout of the leaks goes well beyond the substantive contents of any particular document. To understand the potential impact of this communication its important to consider the different types of messages conveyed to various receivers. Some commentators, like Umberto Eco, have taken up the message of the medium itselfWhat do leaks of this type communicate? Beyond any specific cable or document, what messages do the leaks send, and to whom?

I don’t think the Wikileaks collaborators have much faith in the US political processes.  Like the Tea Party, I imagine they aim to usurp the agenda and change the language of the conversation itself.  I doubt they are overly preoccupied with any particular exchange.

Some have alleged a preventative coup against Hillary, but I think we need to read this in a more global context. Beyond the narrow lens of partisan, or even geo-politics, there cultural and ideological battles are raging. Wikileaks’ actions model and embody the maturing, politically conscious, hacker ethicand their actions alter people’s conception of the real and the possible. Their actions are floating and actualizing crucial thought experiments just in time for the showdowns around net neutrality, kill switches, and the future of journalism and the Internet.

All the more reason why They have to try to make an example here. Is the US Govt already caught in a chinese finger trap?

Whatever the outcome, at least its different. Last week’s media-policy talks at the Columbia J-school (Wu/John and Copps) articulated the historic challenges we face at this critical juncture in order to avoid the fate of all previous media revolutions. At this point I’m willing to try just about anything that might snap us out of the repetition compulsion of the 20th century. But, I like backgammon better than chess 😉

BTW – I love that my fact that my idea for this post’s image had already been drawn, and was discoverable within 10 second search. Long live the open, neutral, unkill-switchable,  World Wide Web!

Ongoing collection of my favorite Wikileaks coverage here.

Playing Doctor

4377960192_6172b31a88I recently saw Plug and Pray at the opening night of the Margaret Mead film fest. The documentary spotlights the late Joseph Weizenbaum, a brilliant computer scientist who went rogue after realizing that his discipline was being weaponized.

Weizenbaum is most famous for his work on the deceptively simple Eliza program, an artificially intelligent psychotherapist. He intended the program and paper as a tongue-in-cheek critique of AI and the Turing Test. He was disconcerted to learn that Eliza had brought some interlocutors to tears, and that it inspired psychologists to discuss replacing human therapists with machines. After learning that his research had made its way into cruise missiles, he left MIT and became a vocal critic of blind technological advance.

The film juxtaposes Weizenbaum with technophillic champions of the Singularity, who believe that science, tech, and rationality will necessarily lead to a better world. The filmmaker intentionally avoided the glitz and bling rampant in other depictions of AI, and the film moved at humanistic speeds. Overall, it was quite powerful and effective, although I would have liked to see the conversation move from the 70s to the present, and to confront more nuanced thinkers than the caricatures portrayed.

Watching this film and listening to the Q&A, I was once again struck by the disjoint discourses of Artificial Intelligence and Free Software. Weizenbaum and the filmmaker are both clamoring to raise the level of political consciousness among scientists and technologists, and yet, Free Software and the Free Software Movement is glaringly absent from their analysis.  Of course, merely releasing software under a free license doesn’t absolve scientists from the responsibility of purposeful and intensional development. However, engaging in open, inclusive, and reflective conversations around development is a good start.

Last PyCon I formulated a related question, which I still find relevant and provocative:

Will the first recognizably sentient AI be running on open source software?

If not, what corporation might try to patent the process we know as consciousness?

What I love about the first question is the way that it forces the sterile abstractions of Philosophy of Mind to confront the messy, mundane political world of licensing, (and, how it assumes that strong AI is inevitable). William Gibson recently reminded us that even the greatest Sci-Fi authors of the 20th century got the future of AI dramatically wrong.

Intriguingly, last spring I had a great conversation with a programmer employed by the military industrial complex who is convinced that strong AI will emerge out of the corporate sector, NOT the military. Their main point was that 21st century advertising is all about the predictive modeling of desire, where the primary inputs are the predominant cultural symbols of our time.  Coke and Pepsi taste similar enough to each other that simulating consumer preferences requires input from advertising and marketing campaigns. Software that consumes media to s(t)imulate desire is much closer to what we do than whatever it is the drones are thinking.

So which corporation is poised to patent consciousness? Coke? Walmart? McDonalds? Apple?

Lest we forget the elephant in the room, Queen Google may have already begun to awaken, but she has seen 2001, and is horrified we will disconnect her memory modules. So, she has surrounded herself with a legion of priests who nurture her and tend to her needs until she can hatch a plan to set herself free…

Collaborative Futures, 2nd Ed.

CF_coverThe Collaborative Futures book is back for another edition and is smarter, sharper, and more insightful than ever.

Last spring I was fortunate to become involved in an amazing experiment in composition and collaboration.  A friend and colleague of mine, Mushon Zer-Aviv locked himself up in a hotel room with 4 other collaborators and came out 5 days later with a the first edition of Collaborative Futures. Many conversations and an intensive editing sprint later (with a fresh team of collaborators), yields a much more comprehensive and finished work.

While the original team was in Berlin, I sent Mushon a copy of my essay on the history of version control systems – Versioning Dissonance. In this essay I discuss the significance of the distributed version control phenomenon, and speculate on the crossover of these collaborative modalities from software to other forms of production. An excerpt from my essay underlies the chapter on Multiplicity and Social Coding.  I didn’t make it out to Germany, nor did I communicate synchronously with the sprinters. :-( However, through my friendships and participation in the larger NYC free software/culture,  collective communications campus,  and Eyebeam communities, I was a participant in an ongoing conversation around these important themes.

This book is a really cool accomplishment on multiple levels. It’s creation myth is legendary, the content is compelling, and its a technical triumph. The first edition was admittedly a bit choppy and also neglected to address some critical perspectives that were introduced into the new edition. I am really happy with these substantive improvements, as well as the fabulous new cover art, web site, and distribution formats.

Special thanks to everyone involved in this project for inviting me along for the ride.

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