Archive for the ‘social’ Category

An Inconvenient Distribution: A Web 2.0 Geek’s Letter to Al Gore

Wednesday, December 27th, 2006


I just sent a hand-written letter to Al Gore:


Dear Sir,

Your lifelong environmental work is to be applauded. Everyone should see the vital message you convey so effectively in “An Inconvenient Truth.”

Unfortunately, theaters are unable to deliver your ideas to the necessary scale. Even with a version available on, downloaders must still pay $15. Any fee is an economic inconvenience that guarantees a limited distribution.

You must reach everyone, in a way only “free” can.

I humbly urge you to give it away.

Social connectors like myself will carry your message to saturation. If your film were freely available on the Internet, I would personally share it with my network of hundreds.

There are many profitable ways to make the film freely available. By widening exposure, you will be increasing the pool of DVD buyers. Also, increased merchandising revenues and donations will supplement DVD sales. Perhaps you only give away a low-resolution version.

Please enable this epidemic of ecological awareness. All you need to do is give your film away.

Michael Eakes


It is important to note that the filmmakers have implemented several grass-roots distribution techniques, but they are not enough.

If the warnings in the film are correct, they are too important to be delayed by traditional and inefficient distribution methods. The current fee and copy protection are inappropriate. The film should be free (as in beer).

By utilizing existing peer-to-peer technology, like BitTorrent, Mr. Gore won’t even have to shoulder the hosting burden.

I appreciate your constructive comments on this matter.

UPDATE1: I realize that content sometimes becomes available on YouTube or via BitTorrent without the permission of the copyright owner. However, I am advocating for the owners to give it away legally, and then to publicize, promote, and encourage the distribution of the free release. I have offered to volunteer any technical assistance Mr. Gore might need in order to achieve this.

Post Thanksgiving Abundance

Monday, November 27th, 2006

Something strange happens over the course of Thanksgiving weekend in busy people’s minds.

Early this morning, I sent three emails checking on the status of my outstanding project proposals. Not long after, I received half a dozen new consulting leads from friends. A colleague sitting next to me had two big opportunities in his inbox today.

You have all of us Type-A people who are forced to relax with our families for a few days. Then monday hits. Christmas, Chanukah, New Years, Kwanzaa are threatening productivity!

I wonder if:
1. A holiday ostensibly about celebrating abundance manifests more abundance.
2. Thanksgiving is a blaring-clock-radio-between-stations wake-up reminder that 2006 has not abandoned its intention to end.

Reply-All Micro-Groups

Wednesday, November 8th, 2006

I am fascinated by Reply-All Micro-Groups. These are the temporary social groups that are formed when someone sends out an email message to a small group of addresses that are exposed in the To: or Cc: fields of an email.

Of course, this happens all the time. However, for a true Reply-All Micro-Group to develop, at least one person needs to Reply-All.

Example: Lets say my friends Volker, Ember, and Ojvind do not necessarily have any prior connections amongst them. When I send an email to all three of them, I’ve formed a Reply-All Micro-Group with membership that consists of the four of us.

Interestingly, socialization often emerges in this seemingly arbitrary micro-group. When Ember opts to “reply-all”, she shares her witty idea with the members of the Reply-All Micro-Group. When Volker is looking for people to meet him for dinner at Suppenküche, he might toss out an invite to one of his recent Reply-All Micro-Groups.

Reply-All Micro-Groups have a very limited lifespan. Once the most recent “post” is no longer presenting itself on the first page of anyone’s Inbox Address Book, the critical benefit of addressing convenience is lost and the Reply-All Micro-Group ceases to exist.

Yet all forms of Micro-Groups live on in our collective memory like little “creatures” in a cellular automaton. Maybe a few weeks later, inspired by the original Micro-Group, Ember will send a mail to myself and Volker, but forget to include Ojvind because perhaps he wasn’t so memorable. Maybe she’ll also add Bryan because he’s been on her mind lately.

It’s fun to think of members getting added and dropped as two possible forms of mutations in the Micro-Group genome. The genetic algorithm continues with each new Micro-Group formed.

The Semantic Divide

Wednesday, March 8th, 2006

Its what I call the “semantic divide.” This is the mountain range that semantic web robots are not (yet) adept at crossing. On one side is a plethora of electronic information made available in well-defined machine-readable forms. Over on the other side (where some of our moms hang out) there are troves of useful data. All of it has even been made publicly available, though it was never intended for anything more than a mere human to interpret. For a little while longer, those of us building aggregators can keep busy with the various formats on the machine-readable side, but soon the divide will be crossed by grass-roots tech efforts. For those that can’t be asked to create machine-readable versions of their electronic data, someone else will happily do it. Yes feedyes, the grass-roots semantic web is coming.

LinkedIn Privacy Mystery Solved

Wednesday, December 7th, 2005

The main benefit of keeping my LinkedIn contacts visible, as Chris Alden put it, is “showing who you know helps place you in a community and can therefore help with networking.” But I’d been curious if there was some benefit to hiding your contacts unbeknownst to me. I noticed that a small percentage of my contacts had inaccessible contact lists. Was there a secret social motivation for enabling that privacy setting?

I decided to do a little survey and see if there was any common aim. To my surprise, survey responses from each of my non-sharing contacts trickled in expressing more or less the same sentiment as Scott McMullen:

When I signed up for LinkedIn the default was “not shared” and I didn’t know you could share them… I’ve since discovered they’re [shareable] and haven’t bothered to go back and share them. Mostly laziness, combined with the unclear benefit of listing them.

Looking over the lot, I can see that all of these folks probably were LinkedIn trailblazers. At some point after my seemingly-private contacts registered, LinkedIn must have realized the utility of opening up the privacy default (and the futility of expecting users to tweak it).

So, the reality turned out to be completely unrelated to social networking practices. In the end, the whole mystery goes down as nothing more than a quirk of default-preference history.

SF Geek Dinner

Friday, December 31st, 2004

Robert Scoble with Channel 9 schwag

The Geek Dinner at Chaat-am cafe, and after-party at Matt Mullenweg‘s last night was a quite a good time. As for the little people, they were all in order when I left.

I got to speak with Tantek more about the addition of tags (keywords) to the attention.xml draft. I especially like the fact that tags can be applied to both feeds as well as articles.

Renee Blodgett wrote a nice write up of the event, and so did Thomas Hawk.

The Geek Dinner Attendance List via Robert Scoble:
Robert Scoble | Steve Gillmor | Steve Sloan | Dori Smith | Farida Paramita | Michael Eakes | Dan Gould | Christopher Carfi | Masha Solorzano | Scott Rafer | Dan Farber | Lisa Canter | Marc Canter | Mimi Canter | Lucy Canter | Lyndon Wong | Ron Lichty | Tom Conrad | Marc Novakowski | Pierre Wolff | Nadeem Bitar | Kaliya Hamlin | Brian Hamlin | Ian Jones | Nicole Lee | Kevin Marks | Thomas Hawk | Neal Drumm | Tony Chang | Zack Rosen | Kieran Lal | Jasmeet Singh | Jason DeFillippo | Ian Kallen | Kevin Burton | Brad Neuberg | Renee Blodgett | Jeff Minard | Om Malik | June Parina | David Sifry | Jonas M Luster | Micah Alpern | eleanor kruszewski | Jim Grisanzio | Tantek Celik | Rebecca Eisenberg | Curtis Smolar | Russell Beattie