::going too fast can be good for you::

Sunday, November 28, 2004
  New BLog Site
OK, so I have new servers, on So go over there for new stuff for now, as I'll be pointing this there eventually, once I copy all the old posts over.

I'll be mixing up posts on social tech and political thought with my attitude of challenging onseself to better things.. just as with my downhill sports hobby. A heady mix, I think...

cheers for now... 

Saturday, October 30, 2004
  Scientific Method
From Political Scientist via Chris Lawrence and Daniel Dresner. The comments on the Dresner blog are excellent additions to the conversation, and should be read:

The scientific method consists of five steps:

1. Carefully examine the data and take note of any clear-cut patterns therein.

2) For each such pattern, formulate a hypothesis you can test statistically.

3) To avert suspicion, throw in a couple of extra hypotheses that you know are wrong.

4. Using the data from Step 1, tests these hypotheses statistically.

5. Based on the results of Step 4, proclaim that your main hypotheses have been upheld.

thanks Omri, you fascist 

  Four More Days!
Unless they cook the voting of course...

Thanks to a Mr M Moore for the idea of changing the chant to reflect what one hopes is a more accurate count.

Vote, and attempts at cheating and cockups may fail in the end. I am guessing it's the only way.. 

Thursday, October 28, 2004
  Voting Machines
This is what might happen if you vote. But go and do it anyway, so at least some true votes might be cast! Warning: Dark humour...

Also, see the whole story on a documentary at Votergate

PS tell me if it goes down: I dont' know how much the USC servers can take :)
[UPDATE: I've found the original site, and re-linked to there: it's the Boom Chicago troupe from Amsterdam, an excellent bunch whom I remember from a visit there back in 97...] 

Tuesday, October 26, 2004
Votergate, a new half-hour documentary (the whole voting machine scandal to come out on DVD after the election is up for FREE download oir streaming in about as many formats as you can think of on. Russell Michaels and his team have shown segments of the documentary on ITN's Channel4 news.

We all know what happened in Florida 2000, and how Diebold and other voting companies have promised to deliver the election to the republicans, overtly or not. The whole saga is a sorry mess of easily-hackable computers, lax acounting, and political mechinations.

See for yourself: go to to watch the documentary. BEWARE, send people to VOTERGATE.TV, and NOT to copycat sites or This low-taste documentary site apparently stole 20 minutes of the footage from the guys at, and although the real Votergate still had copies of it, they are passing it off as their own. They even are using some of Russell's Channel 4 footage, which ITN is not happy about...

So, share the video with your friends. There's a week to go and the message is, to the Americans, GO and Vote and it may overcome the security of the machines. Send out emails, share the files, and get informed about the problems of corrpution, voting and technology.

(Also posted at perfect

Sunday, October 24, 2004
  John Stewart download (for Brits)
Fellow Brits (most Americans have seen this) see my post on perfect for a video where a satirist takes on the news establishment. John Stewart has one of the most incisive media political minds of this generation.

  badger chocolate
thanks to all my new friends, colleagues, acquaintances at the socialtext workshop for introducing me to the world of badger. So, here's my response

Wednesday, October 13, 2004
  Oh Pants
My interim mblog host has gone under, with my files, so I"m back here for now while I work out how to get my posts back up. Stick with and you'll know where to stay! I've paid them a few dollars to dsend me the dB. as usual, I was going to back up the files in case of this later on today. Bollocks. Looking for a new host in the meanwhile...


Wednesday, March 31, 2004
  Richard's Blog MOVES!
[EDIT OCtobver 04 - that host went down, so I'm back for now, minus the loads of posts I made since then, until I have time to put them back in...]

Type and it'll take you to my new blog at
All the old posts here are moved there. If you're already linked to then you won't be reading this post :)

see you at the new host!

Richard 'hod' 

Tuesday, March 09, 2004
  No wonder I'm 14-stone...
Good old Auntie explains why I'm putting on weight. It's being in America, sitting behind a computer, and unable to walk because the traffic hits me and ruins my knee...


Wednesday, February 25, 2004
  more penguins
an update to the penguin game

and helicopters. ah, productivity...


Thursday, February 12, 2004
  News sources and the power of the mass media
Techdirt hits paydirt: Joe Trippi's ETcon speech on Monday about Dean's campaign has just been seen to be blatantly misrepresented by Reuters, who claim he said the internet hobbled the campaign.

As Howard Rheingold suggests on his smartmobs blog today, I wonder why the framing? The ahistorical and out of context quoting in the article is what the news editors will consciously or unconsciously have decided is their truth. Unless it was on purpose. More grist for my forthcoming paper on media practices.


  etcon diverts bloggers from Kerry
My USC colleague (and politically er, interesting) Omri has noticed that significant parts of the blogosphere are curiously quiet on the Kerry topic. I realised why: ETCON. They're all in San Diego nursing hangovers from last night's loft party and listening to the excellent Dan Gillmor. I had to get back to LA this morning so am plugged back into the real world...

Well, some blogs are covering and have been covering the Kerry sex scandal. But many, like Weinberger, Meg et al are all also at ETCON in San Diego, so have been concentrating more on Cory's talk or Electric Sheep. Indeed when I wandered into #etech this afternoon and casually mentioned it, there was a little reaction, though as the afternoon wore on some posts emerged a little later.

There may or may not be IRC transcripts to see if anyone was paying attention, but it strikes me that a bunch of the most read bloggers are in one place, including Ross Mayfield, Cory et al, Doc, another friend-of-Howard John Lebkowsky and even me old mate Crabbers and other fellow Brit Tom Coates and they didn't pick it up until later in the afternoon US Pacific time, though it broke about 9am. Since they're (rightly) concentrating on the fine speakers there, we have a significant hole in the Blogosphere, where the usual comment is not first. It may be worth checking out the stats on the network structure of the posts today, to see if the attendees at the conference received who might usually be expected to talk about this lost indegree or traffic for the day...

So we have a minor phenomenon: gather bloggers togther for an IRL meat and then you lose them to their own devices for a few days. Whither the brave new public sphere?


Wednesday, February 11, 2004
  Is this real?
Soldiers kill people (it's a big MPEG download)

Warning, not for the faint-hearted.


Tuesday, February 10, 2004
  iWire censors comment on Skyhouse at ETCON
Well I never! I tried to get the lads a comment on our collaborative blog iWire to their post as below, but the nanny-filter forbade me! Evil people. What do you think?
it was a good talk, but then I only heard the non-linear end bit where thay go off into vague-ish yet highly perceptive fulminations on the nature of collaboration, information and social capital. Oh yes, and how bottom-up sucks for social capital catalysis.

so far, so good (though it wouldn't allow 'sucks')

Furthermore, it was well-commented on how the talk was the most Brit,and very nicely relaxed. It's not often you hear phrases liek "arse over tit" and "crap" in serious American conferences.

Gentlemen, we salute you. But not movable type. Grrrr


  Dinner after ETCON
Well, we went out with some of the members of the emerging loft where my iSociety colleagues are laying their heads. George's belly is worth following. We're now fat bastards on tapas and some funny moose desserts. watch this space for pictures.

Oh, and some random penguin games which were going around the other week. I"ll take bets on that the next animal fad will be.

bat the penguin (highest score we can get is 324.x)

don't poke me


  ETCon and friends
Down in San Diego today to see my pals James Crabtree and Will Davies who are giving a talk about a skyhouse project they'r doing with big architects Marks Barfield (the London Eye ones).

A mini-diversion arose silently in small segments of the audience as Will claimed that money is a Top Down concept, requiring authoritative control. Will thinks emergence is bollocks, and posited, quite persuasively, that at least some kinds of arenas require that if social software is to be useful, it must be managed, not emergent or bottom-up. For example, public works, or public good projects where you are looking to stimulate social capital. Trust is paramount, says Will, and this is where an authority and at least some degree of centralised control is necessary.

I'm not so sure, since most social agreements emerge from convention and social practice, especially in smaller societies. It's only a) when societies get too large, and b) there's a class of more powerful people who want to solidify their control over the means to acquisition that money becomes either deisrable or necessary to be organised by a central bank. ie. Money is mostly only top-down because some rich people want it to be. Oh, and it makes going to Safeway that much easier.

Also ran into old acquaintance Matt Jones from Advance for Design days in London, though he's now in Finland with Nokia (and looking healthy for it). Also good to see IRL Tom Coates, a partner-in-crime of Crabbers, and occasional emint inhabitant, where, thanks the the famous Oink, this online social network networking thing all started for me back in the old days...

[updated 11.01pm]


  LA encounters
yesterday I went to the dentist. A very nice Beverly Hills dentist, who's going to claim his money back from my lawsuit against the city for knocking me down painfully wiht one of their trucks in October.

So, a little dazed, and hungry I wandered out at lunchtime and found a nice little sandwich shop across the road, and let a nice young lady into line in front of me. Beaming she says, 'oh, another Brit' tlling me her name's Gerry, and we order things etc. Well, I only had a few minutes as I had to get to class, but I join her for a quick bite in the cafe and intend to find out who this rather nice shiny smiley Brit-ess is, with a view to downing a beer or two at some future stage and discuss the usual ex-pat Brit things. Ah, but I reckoned without the idiot instinct. Even the famously unfazed Hod can get the nerves and stuff it up bigtime sometimes when he meets someone nice.

Do you know that instinct you have when you're with a rather good-looking stranger and you forget yourself, and just rabbit on, and on, and on, not letting them have a word in edgeways. Yes, the nerves got to me, the relaxed urbane and inquisitive Hod. Didn't ask her a thing about herself, well, not much. Years since I last did that. So I sense she goes off since I've forgotten to ask about her. And she's already told me she's a Leo too (big sign, apparently). D'oh. Ah well. But perhaps somehting in my subconscious was saying I didn't want to ask, as I'd be scared of the answer? Because as she leaves I remember why she looked a little familiar: rather a good performer she is, and I hope planning some more good things to go with her charity campaigns. Ah, a somewhat brief lunch with the thoughtful and rather cute Geri Halliwell. I wish her luck.


Friday, January 30, 2004
  Authoritative sources: Trust Greg Dyke or Roland Rat?
Dyke critical over Hutton report: This is a BBC report, where the late departed of the BBC Greg Dyke makes his position clearer, and raises some uncomfortable consitutional issues. His comments are especially perspicacious regarding newsroom and public news culture.

"Lord Hutton does seem to suggest that it is not enough for a broadcaster or a newspaper... to simply report what a whistleblower says because they are an authoritative source. You have to demonstrate that it is true. That would change the law in this country," he said.

Of course, is Mr Dyke, the most popular BBC DG for aeons by all accounts, an authoritative source for me? Some would say his presiding over the appearance of Roland Rat on ITV a while back would disqualify him. I personally privilege his integrity and downgrade my belief and trust in the veracity of government sources because of the information I receive... but then have to admit that information comes from the very BBC and other media reports which we talk about.

Ah yes, the bone of contention: the recursivity of daily life. How can I find information not filtered through professional media? Blogs? Well, where do blogs get their stories and information?
Unless we are actually there at the time, judgements on where an objective standpoint become difficult. And, as we see, even then it's not so easy for the actors in the political scenarios themselves to come to a gentlemanly, discursive agreement.

Journalists generally use certain practices for obtaining their stories, such as contacts books (using the same sources again and again, because they fulfil the criteria of making it easy for the journalist to write the copy in time. Attributes like easy to find, articulate, reliable, powerful, friendly, eager, understandable, close by, attractive, are all the sort fo thing which may help a course be well-used by a journalist for these ends.. This means sometimes their information is the most likely to be accurate, and sometimes it is not: that is not - sadly - the top criterion in the practice of news.

However that being said, as Gavyn Davies and Mr Dyke himself complained, the referee was not necessarily an independent choice. And note the commentator in that second link is a Labour party stalwart. The Government gets to choose the referee: Imagine Manchester United being able to choose the judges over the Rio Ferdinand case..

Even if the BBC made mistakes, they admitted it. Rather than castigate the BBC, one might examine instead the very journalistic practices of what is a source, and what makes a source an authoritative one when you're a journalist trying to get the newest news out under trime and professional aesthetic constraints. I'd recommend Prof. Barry Glassner on this subject, whose PhD seminar I happen to be taking this term. Now Now there's an authoritative source. But then we all know that because he's been on TV...

Update 31 Jan 04, 13.54: Greg Palast wirtes about this issue on Alternet 

Monday, August 04, 2003
  Speakers' Corner
Another hot Sunday in London yesterday, passing by the fun but too-crowded London Red Bull Flugtag to celebrate my birthday (today) with some friends, and cycling past I saw for the first time in a while all the polemicists, demagogues and religious preachers who come out to the Marble Arch corner of Hyde Park every week. It is easy to forget how lively the debates can be, and the character and eccentricity of some of the speakers reminds one of the ideal Habermasian public sphere for political debate, of the polis, the ideal of spoken argument and politics. Among others, the marxists were out in form, as well as an silent old bearded chap with no listeners with a placard reading:
"Christian Atheism: Find Christianity without God".

Speaker's Corner is a wonderful, diverse, a fascinating attraction. Please go and visit, exhort, argue. Yet passing by reminds me of a troubling aspect of this often earnest political spectacle. That is exists is a wonderful thing; a space, but don't most of us see it more as entertainment than a real political forum where we can make a difference?

Perhaps this is what the internet does for politics too? It is a space, but mostly it is powerless unless there are many other contextual factors at work. That there is a space for debate does not mean that space will work in opening up real active seeds of change. The existence of a useful, global forum such as the Net may be necessary for open debate in the modern age, just as perhaps Speaker's Corner was in the 19th Century, but as with speaker's corner, the internet's existence is not sufficient in itself for opening up democracy and accountability.


Friday, August 01, 2003
  The Choices: Digital rights, music and the recording industry
Hello World.

OK, my new Blog: first post is on a seminar at a PhD summer school I'm currently attending at Oxford Internet Institute on digital music rights, hosted by John Palfrey from the Berkman Law School at Harvard (who host and write blogs too.

John, who's managed to blog a note about the session already, suggested five scenarios, or directions music rights might go in the future. We also added two extra from Nimrod Kozlovski, a fellow summerschool student studying at Yale.

When reading them, he asked us to think:
1. What kind of further information would you need to know about these 5 possible scenarios in ofrder to make an informed position
2. Methodologies: if we can identify the information we need as policymakers in this, what is a good methodology to get hold of it?
Please COMMENT yourselves on these scenarios. I will be adding some of our comments as you post your replies.

1. No Change to the status quo: keep the present unease, lack of clarity. Maybe move further downthe iTunes road.
2. Taking Property Rights seriously – I create therefore I own: IP shifts away from the current balance between a) rewarding creativity, innovation; and b) contributing to the public good. The shift would reverse recent trends from a) towards more b),a nd back to a).
(Hodcomment: Some less-conservative commentators might complain that this doesn't reward creativity as much as it rewards big record and distribution companies to strengthen their economic rent-taking.)
3. Explore technological defences to piracy. EG. DRM technologies. Watermarking, encryption, and sue. Spoofing, putting out fakes on the P2P network. Sending messages to P2P filseharers on the network to cease and desist
4. Music as a Public Utility – Regulate the way that public good is provided in the market. Esp where an oligopoly / natural monopoly is involved, such as the music business. Eg for comparison: Electricity company regulation., or making flat pricing. Or Clamp down on what the content providing industry can do. EG anti-media concentration.
5. Tax + Royalty/Compulsory Licensing Scheme. Tax providers of services on the front end. EG ISPs, hardware manufacturers, blank media/disk manufacturers. Count the no. of times people use any form of downloaded media, and redistribute the proceeds in proportion. Have a tech. system to survey how many times people listen to the songs. Prof. Fisher. Stream as 1, download as 150.. But, some people get less – Recording industry doesn’t like it. They get CD and sold media money, but have no control over how much money they get from online sales, as it's distributred centrally according to stats, not marketing or competitive pricing. This is option a. Tax proportionately option b) is a levy, which is a flat rate tax, which avoids the redistribution problem.
6. No copyright at all: To make money you have to perform it. You can’t sell it leveraged across a medium. You have to show up and do the graft.
7. Public-sector storage and dissemination of copyright material. (done a little in Israel). Government builds a central archive, where they can’t censor: people have access. Access could be reliable, easier, and is cheaper, as you don't need blank media. Administratively easier than 5. Something like 4: brings government into the loop.

During the discussion I came up with another, which John suggested should be option 8. I'll be writing a paper on this when I get the time.

8. You can only make money on new songs and songs you haven't made a lot of money on. For this, you must shorten copyright time for songs which have gone platinum or which have made N amount of money for the artist (enough to incentivise the musicians). Then once they've made a shedload of cash from the song, copyright automagically expires so they HAVE to perform it live - and write MORE songs!!!
This means that unsuccessful or young, new, niche artists still receive their money, but once your song becomes mega-successful, you make a lot of money, up to a point, so then everybody can share the love. You then capitalise on your new chart / reputation fame by performing!. Artists make a lot of money still, but not from copyright, which is mostly economic rent for the record label in any case.
In other words, you are a) reducing copyright terms for popular works and b) making artists perform and create more music.
This may well have the added side-benefit of stopping established artists getting tooo lazy.
This one is a version of 6 which is less extreme.

Top marks to Dr PAlfrey for cunningly using us to see if we might have some thoughts which might further research in this arena!

So, I'll post our responses to these questions while you post your responses here, and the discussion will on... has moved to guess where...:: ::communication : networks : information : music : mayhem : streetluge::

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