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The spork, the pressure cooker, and the back burner …

February 16, 2016

…or  “what I have been doing while I might have been blogging…”

 

So, tiny little self smacking apology here… I expected to follow up Mindless scribblings on a schooldesk with a little something else…this time hopefully original, whitty, awe inspiring and in all other ways truly worthy of the care I typically put into these posts…

I am not sure where to go with all of this…  and sometimes, I think of perfect prose I have wrought with my pen, or keyboard…  and wonder … will this post match?  Probably not.  Because this posts is going to be a major link festival…but one I hope you will attend…

And there it is…
I think too often, I am inspired to find something to write about, to keep my thoughts “out there” (wherever there is..)  The pressure cooker starts sizzling, when I decide “okay..now is the time to post… it’s been (X (months|years)) …” But thought doesn’t always happen that way for me (not in my professional/technical life, not in the ideas for other writing I’ve had, not in the way I decide what to do next week …. )

For me, my best thoughts come from a simmer.  A slow slimmer, on the virtual back burner on the metaphoric stove that is my brain.  I feed ideas into it, one at a time, carefully, or poured in like a firehose, until they are busy back there, not making too much trouble…not making too much noise.

Ideas don’t come from a vacuum, but profound thought can come from silence, and patience…

I have been mulling about various places this week, and feel like I want to share some of what I’ve been reading (with comment where appropriate), to get things stirring… follow if you will…

Read more…

Mindless scribblings on a schooldesk

January 30, 2016

So, back when I was young (end of high school, early college) I wrote (actually on paper ;)) .  I wrote short stories, and a few plays (one or two of each actually in lieu of papers for my classes).  I wrote letters.  And, for a while, I wrote poetry.  Prolifically.

So, I have created a new category, entitled, “A young man’s musings”..and this is the first entry I will share. (eventually, if you all are nice, I might share the epic play “A world I uttered…”  ..  but not tonight.  Also, I leave it to the reader to decide if this topic indeed belongs as a sub-category of Literature, or not..)

I wrote this my Senior Year of high school , 8th period English class, while I was trying to avoid learning the proper way to write college papers…  go figure:


Mindless Scribblings on a Schooldesk

Shattered fragments of glowing dark,

Interwoven in the fabric of Time.

Twisted threads,

of both Right and Wrong

merge in coupled scatterings.

Silent cries for what we already possess

The chilling warmth of love

Shadows – born from sunlight.

Truth exists solely as a lie.

We reap what must be sewn.

Seeds of Life released at Death.

Spring nests in Winter’s battleground.

The  bless’ed rain-

-the curs’ed flood

Oh! The setting sun …

Only now –

Only now I see the brightened beauty

When thick night’s cold seers my soul.

“Help me!” I cry

Pushing them away…

Amorphous shapes

Chaotic Order

Deteriorating growth

Flailing at nothing

Blind to Truth

‘Why?’ – I ask

Pleading for no answer

It pulls me closer – only to push away

We see the Truth – yet mutter lies

Confined to earth – it needs to fly.

The larger it grows – the more it is hollow

The River it flows – but only to follow.

Screaming on the Silent Stage

Grasping Youth only with Age.

Feeling alone in a crowded place

Silencing people who’ve much to say

Light and dark enveloped –

Lost in shades of grey.

A list of rules for Anarchy

Shepherds now led by their flocks.

Ideas stifled by Apathy

Life exists as Paradox …

mindless scribblings on a schooldesk?

hypocrisy                        mediocrity

Drunken Thirst

Complete in Emptiness

To use is to let be

              To keep is to let go…


Copyright 1991, David Scott Williams


Been meaning to share that somewhere for awhile.

I wrote that in 1991.   In some ways, some of it seems forced, and some of it seems to make more sense 25 years later.  Holy shit!  25 years.

Repeat after me, Dave… “I am not old.  I am not old.  I am simply the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything

There, I feel better.

Graffiti in the clouds

January 23, 2015

Over the past few years (the period of blog dormancy) I have spent time perfecting my art.   A transition that started back at Company type 2 … has taken leaps forward.  I have made impossible things work, and charted courses through the wilderness with a machete’ and a canteen.  All in all, it has been a good three years for growth.   It is kind of funny, though.  On my 41st birthday, I found that I felt a decade older.  Dedication has been matched with disregard, and sometimes derision.   And so I have wanted to write so many things, and I have tried to figure out where I feel technology may be headed, and what I can do.  And I have measured where I am, and thought back to what kind of contribution I thought I’d be making at this point in my life.  And this…  this is not it.

I should begin by saying, I never quite expected to actually be writing software for a living.  Of the various things I imagined I would be doing (activist lawyer, musician, writer, and weighty list of others…) … this wasn’t it.  Don’t get me wrong, I have been a technologist since an early age… I grok computers, and software.  At the approximate age of 12, my parents’ wisdom landed a Commodore 64 in my hands.  I see software as an art form, unto itself.   If there’s one thing my Political Science degree has taught me, its that there is no one path to where you want to get to.   But I never expected to specifically be here.

That being said, as time has gone on, various recruiters from my past have checked in with me.  “I’ve got this thing working for the banks, XYZ hourly..”, etc…  “This insurance company is hiring techs with your varied experience…”   and so on..  It is nice to have such an eclectic and “jack of all” portfolio to draw such attention, but, I while I have been growing silently (and sometimes not so silently) disatisfied over the past 18 months, I still kinda had to say “no”.  Same shit, different company.  I have the gig where I can put in overtime, build beyond expectations, and get little but a pat on the back in return.  I work there already.  One recruiter, though, said: “So, Dave.   What is it that you ARE looking for?”

Read more…

Chilling effects.

January 21, 2015

It’s been awhile.  I have not been without ideas or thoughts, or the need to express them… but I have felt stifled… The need to write perfectly trumped the perfect need to write.

And then I wrote the previous post.  I thought: “Cool.  Got that out of the way… you can now write about topics of substance…”   The joke is, as you can tell from the dates, it didn’t help.  Busy with work?  Check.,  Tired and stressed?  Check.  Writer’s block?  Check.    I wrote three other false starts, and then, as you can tell, let it lie again,.

A few months ago, I had some ideas I wanted to write about .. thoughts about where we’ve come from..thoughts about the world..and the politics… the tech and the software… the internet deserts… a feeling that I was spinning my wheels, and wasting my talent…and turning 40, and then 41…and still not knowing what the F I’m doing with my life.

So.. Stops and starts.  So, Chilling effects?  Yeah.  That’s what came next.  Thinking about how 41 made me realize I’m 40, and all that.  Thinking about what comes next, where the road leads…how to add purpose back into my art.  Ready to write.   And then the ice water.

And, you’ve read this far.  There’s an object lesson which follows.

Or a parable.

Or something.

A colleague gets called into a meeting with the manager.

He works from home.

A lot.

Read more…

an email to myself…

January 24, 2014

David,

You have always had a way with words.  You enjoy them, and the way they resonate when strung together just so.  Once, you fancied yourself a published writer. 

Writing a journal is a contract between you and yourself.   It is capturing the time needed to focus thought, and funneling it through an expressive medium.

No.  It does not have to be a high school term paper… it doesn’t have to be daily.  But you enjoy words… and others enjoy reading them from time to time…

Writing a weblog simply means that others get to see when you can’t get your shit together…

So.  Congratulations!   TWO years.   Time to get back to it.  Vacation’s over.

Sincerely,
Dave

PS.  don’t show this to anyone.  Talking to yourself out loud is considered odd in most cultures…

Citizen Powered Government? A call for a “GRM”(?) solution.

January 18, 2012

Somewhere, and I can’t recall the place, I heard the term “citizen powered internet”.    It may have been “citizen powered broadband”.  Doc Searls often (correctly, such as here), brings light to why the terms matter — certain companies use the term broadband to mean internet, and vice-versa.  There is a distinction (a “place” versus “pipes”), but not one that I intend to cover here.

I’ve heard of citizen powered *energy* initiatives.  This is where a group of people band together to explore spreading the cost and risk of alternative energy initiatives across a small community.

Maybe it is “Community Powered Internet”, that I heard?  (The idea of initiatives where those who are un- and/or under- served with regard to internet access can leverage a community to distribute the costs of bringing high speed internet {aka ‘broadband’} to their neighbors and themselves..)  Of course, better for private entrepreneurs (WISPs and such) to see the potential to serve/service those who are still wandering in the high-speed desert, but without any interest (big corp or small entrepreneur) — you take whatever oasis you can find😉

I wrote a little thing here on the whole SOPA (and without mentioning it, as many seem not to, PIPA) thing.  Seriously.   This is not in the past yet, so don’t assume “quick coverage” means that this particular fight is over.  However, it is one of many symptoms of what is a greater problem for the Citizens of the United States, and by aggregation, the world.  Doc has some good summaries here, and here.  And as SOPA seems to have lost its steam (and hopefuly PIPA behind it) … I was reading some Cory Doctorow.  Okay, specifically this Cory Doctorow.   I think he is right.  Except in a few minor ways.

  • The war isn’t coming, it’s here.  (SOPA isn’t end game, but it isn’t the first volley either.)
  • And it is not a war on general computing.  “General computing”  is one of many battlegrounds.

[INTERLUDE:]

If you are reading this post on January 18, 2012 … many of the links will be sour.  Many places of research and such have underwent a SOPA ‘look into the dangerous future’ blackout.   I am pretty sure they are correct, though …

[/INTERLUDE]

… and even if SOPA/PIPA are gone… guess what.  The bastard stepchild might slip by the radar.  These challenges are not likely to stop — things kind of have a way of being resuscitated until someone falls asleep at the wheel.

In draft, from somewhere around my first few weeks writing this blog, I have an unfinished post “On this land, I plant seeds that take root … (Part II)”.  It is the other shoe dropping of a discussion about the internet that I had linked to the concept of a mature garden.  One of the chief arguments I stated as “Make no mistake: Food is politics.”  (As an aside, I often wonder which subjects I should lend my ideas to, and sometimes feel a bit pretentious re-stating things stated well elsewhere… the unpublished state of the post is due to one of such crises of confidence I have, at times.)  The argument was about local.  It was about markets and their conversations .  It was about freedom.  And self reliance.  It was about techno solutions for techno problems, and true (literal) down to earth solutions to a feeling of groundlessness in The Cloud.  It was all of these things, and in addition: unwritten {essentially}.  It was shorter than this paragraph about it, but much more of a topic than I have time for here.

You see?  It can be crippling:  How pretentious is it to write about gardens, broadband, IP (Intellectual Property) and Patents , IP (Internet Protocol) blocking {SOPA}  — all on a technologist’s blog?

Apparently, not so much as I thought.  A friend writes about the New Zealand “Food Bill” being shopped around in his neck of the woods.  Essentially, corporations writing legislation because corporations have found that easier than legitimate competition.  I think it is  a well thought out piece.  His *fight* is local, as it should be.  That being said, we in the US should feel good that *we* don’t have that type of thing here, right?  Wrong.  Here’s one in the early stages (H.R. 307: Seed Availability and Competition Act of 2011), a re-hashing of   H.R. 2749: Food Safety Enhancement Act of 2009.  (Here’s the link that came up as I was searching for the specific bill I was looking for.)   And that is not all…   Monsanto spent a great deal of time genetically engineering crops, but not so much time figuring out the answer to a few thorny details:

  • Seed spreads by wind and water and fowl and  …
  • …some people do not believe in GMO .. and ..
  • …patents seem to stifle innovation …

..and so, they sue the farmers whose crops are actually **contaminated** by this franken-seed.   As I told my friend, when he shared his fight with me — “we’re way ahead of you” (to paraphrase: down this legislative road to hell.)

Let’s mash the preceding stuff back in with: Copyright.   As I was creating this blog, back in May 2011, I was reading some stuff about the Internet and the Cloud that I had not read during my semi-sabbatical from the Web (Lessig’s Code and Free Culture   and  about the technology, and its possible side-effects .. etc.. ).  The Internet was not a safe “wild west” for techies, geeks, innovators and outcasts– after all, the “wild west” had been tamed.   And that is a trite summary of the books by Lawrence Lessig that I have had an  opportunity to read.  The books were predictive, scary while reading “alongside” the current events …  I first heard of Lessig with regard to copyright.  The “content industry” reps (RIAA, MPAA, etc..) , and their shills, have been extending copyright law in the USA ad absurdium for years and years.   It was time for another challenge.  Eldred was that challenge.  From the jaws of defeat, Lessig spearheaded(created?) the Creative Commons license(s)…  to content what the GPL is to code.

Following the money, we can tell where varied initiatives such as the above come from.  And we can tell, from those drafting the legislation, where their true loyalties lie.  We know it is not with us.  And we feel that we are voiceless.

GRM : Citizen Powered Government

And, lest you think that this whole blog post was some sort of advanced bait-and-switch attempt to do a little blog-rolling and indulge in a self-blog-cross-reference love fest, we come to the spark that ignited this piece to begin with (…okay, one more tiny topic linkage, and then we are golden.)

From the guy that brought you “Markets are conversations”, and a whole bunch of other people whose hard work and dedication he will more than share the stage with, comes ProjectVRM (Doc is where I heard about it..)   You see, the business world developed a whole suite of knowledge, software and expertise surrounding the managing of clients(|customers) — CRM {Client Relationship Management}.  Taking a term and coining a new one is a pastime, I think, of Doc’s. —  Or recognizing a good re-coining {I think, and hopefully.} —  VRM is the idea of turning the relationship back to where we (call us clients, customers, cattle {don’t, actually.  that would just piss us off}) have tools to manage our relationships with vendors.

And so, to the point.  A re-re-coining in the “RM” paradigm:

GRM == Government(|Governance) Relationship Management.

And before you say — “but wait!  Dave, we have that– it’s called the United States Democracy!” — bear with me the final stretch.  (And since I have a Poli Sci degree, let me say, we are a republic..not a democracy.  Our government is “representative democracy” {at least in theory}).

The American Citizen lacks true agency with regard to the laws that are passed in his/her name.  Nominally, these laws represent our wishes.  Actually, these laws have been bought and paid for by interests that do not represent a majority.  The elections are often remarked as being a choice between the “lesser of two evils”.  That there are only two (in my opinion) is an evil unto itself — but take that out of the equation — That it is a choice between apathies **is the evil**.  The game is rigged, and the system allows politicians into it who play by the rules, and the roles, that have been etched in stone.  Even “Washington outsider” is a co-opted role that is meaningless lip-service weighed against pathetic returns.

The government, the elections and the representation is suspect.  We as a populace have, for the large part, distanced ourselves from the making of laws (the sausage factory), and distanced ourselves from ownership of our government.  Bring your favorite conspiracy theory, or just accept that the way history as played so far has brought us here, one thing is for sure:  The American government is a corporate shill.  And no.  Corporations AREN’T people.

In short, I think it is time for the United States of America to experiment with democracy– It is an idea whose time may have finally come.   And I think we need the tools to provide democratic agency to ourselves, and our neighbors.

I do not know what each of these tools would like in the final product, but I’d like to propose my own brain-child for consideration.

Maybe we’ll call it ‘referendi’.. the first of varied ways that we as a citizenry can manage our relationship to the government institution.

Referendi : First generation GRM software

Software to provide registered and eligible voters of a specific district / electoral classification some (or all) of the following capabilities:

  • Plain spoken summaries of pending legislation/initiatives
  • Forum for discussion
  • An up or down voting option

We live in a digital age.   Greek democracy required going to the political forum.  We can do better.

Take this software  (or some service like it) and tie it to a representative’s vote. 

That’s right… we’re looking for a candidate (or many ;)).. all they have to do is show up, make impassioned speeches that back the ideas of their constituents (no — not those guys — the ones who actually live in your district), and vote their majority.

I think it would have to happen semi-locally (House of Representatives, or even State House of Representatives) at first… but who knows… Either way, it could be clear where the actual constituents stand on a situation … perhaps more electoral intelligence than a fax to the Senator, and a step toward true representation.  (There is evidence that the Founders feared true democracy.  But we can do better)

Daily, the forces that currently own our representatives try to chip away at the freedoms and rights that we as citizens of the United States of America have fought for, and that we as citizens of this world have a right to.  Somehow, this tide needs to be turned.  And every battle–be it SOPA, Food Bills , PIPA or campaign finance [[26 mins later :: I forgot the war on internet radio …. just thought it deserved a nod –DSW]]— needs to be fought, no doubt.

But somehow, as we fight each incursion, we owe it to ourselves to evolve to a truly democratic society:  to see the bigger picture.

IS: On the importance of an open internet [[WAS: On the importance of Open Source software]]

December 28, 2011
tags:

So… in various ways, I’ve been at the edges of the Open Source Software phenomena for awhile.  I cut my teeth as a software engineer compiling linux code and drivers from source while learning about the history  of “unix”, “the internet”, and all that cool stuff; this was in tandem with writing my own open source software “for fun”.  My first industry trade-show was a Linux World, and I have had thoughts about intellectual property, software, the interwebs, and all that, for some time now, since before that first trade-show…since before an email I wrote to a CEO at a company I worked for changed the path of my career back towards “technologist” and away from sales…

A few weeks ago, realizing that I had been running silent, starting a new job, etc.. I came across people that actually did not “get” open source software.  Not that they disagreed with the concept on principle, and not that they were non-programmer types (who are simply ‘less likely’ to get it–not a slight..people who don’t deal with computers in terms of “source code” have no frame of reference for “open source code”), but a person or two who *should* know what the conversation is actually about, and don’t.  That was when I committed myself (okay, really, I didn’t, as that draft sat for another 3-4 weeks, and now this one is being written in its stead), to writing something about it.  Something all of my readers could “grok” (yeah, that term came to public usage, coined by Heinlein, via the internet hacker (read: programmer) culture), despite whatever background they came from…

“On the importance of open source” was to be a writing experiment and a chance to post some new insights, were I to come up with them.  Find a pulpit, and hopefully not preach to the choir.   It is still an awesome topic.  The gist is, the source code of a computer program can be made available to other programmers, the net result being more people (eyeballs) looking at and improving the source code (recipe) that makes the programs on our computers work.  I have a lot more to say about that, but something else is in the wind.

(HR:3261) Stop Online Piracy Act:

You see, open source is an important ingredient that lead to the creation of the internet as we know it.   An incredible medium for communication, speech, commerce and thought, the internet something the hackers built.  With open source tools.  You see .. it ties in.  But as has been warned, the “free and open” internet would only be free for so long.  For so long as it could defy and route around interventions that would restrict its reach and capabilities.

Since this new place that defied jurisdiction came to the scene, there have been people interested in curtailing it.   “Intellectual Property” rights holders and “content manufacturers” (of all sorts) feared what this place would do to their business model.  The model is based on “closed”.  It is based on creating artificial scarcity, and marketing that as product.   On the surface, this bill goes up against the big bad pirates, and protects the starving artists from their rapiers and steel.  What it really does is give broad capabilities to “take down” websites from the internet without legal justification.  You can take down a site just by *claiming* their is infringing material (material that infringes a copyright, not even sure if it has to be your own).  This broad reaching censorship made law is  a true strike against the open internet, and a strike from the hand of free society at the very heart of free society.  For that, it is time to (call, email, show up at the office of, tweet, facebook message, google+ post, fax …) your senators and representatives– before doing any (or all) of these things is also no longer protected speech and redress😉

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