Month: June 2009

Sustainabile Shopping

One challenge of late, being the progressive I am, has been finding the right blend of cost and “quality”. Quality is getting special emphasis here as I am adding to the generally understood usage. Besides adhering (or exceeding) our expectations for longevity, accomplishing the product’s purpose, and such, I also add quality of life. Meaning, in more depth, impact upon the earth. This is more than just environmental concerns, but also those of social justice.

What makes this challenging is the huge array of metrics for “sustainability”. There’s Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, Organic, Utz Kapeh, Monterey Bay Seafood Watch, Forest Stewardship Council, USGBCs LEED, Song Bird Friendly, Slave-Free, etc (this is just what rattles off my head). Few people want to spend time considering their purchases, much less researching the different schemes, blah blah.

For me, I often shoot for the easy way. Shopping at such institutions as Whole Foods or PCC (a Seattle area co-op). Allowing me to rest assured that whatever I purchase, it will have been ethically sourced. Of course, Trader Joe’s, long a staple in this sector, has been dinged with some issues surrounding fish. Thus, some use of the brain is still required. However, many businesses have been aware of how important trust is, and are working on maintaining that. (TJ’s is part of that, from what I can see, and I’m sure they’re working on addressing their issues around sourcing fish ->don’t let me down TJ!). So, we should be alert and vigiliant, but probably don’t need to be overwrought, either.

Palm and Apple: Comparing Relationships

Infoworld has a nice article about the differences between Apple and Palm’s hacker communities. Palm was able to post a polite request to not hack tethering for the Pre…and they responded in the way Palm needed/wanted.

The writer opines that “Palm’s hands-off approach may be a reaction to the frenzy and enthusiasm surrounding attempts to hack the original iPhone”. Perhaps, though probably not. This writer is thinking, in typical style, much too short-term. Consider, instead, Palm’s long history with the development community. In the pre-Pre, Treo days, Palm was good about letting anyone develop. And they did a good job in encouraging those relationships. It makes sense to me that this work, all those years ago, is now paying off in good-will.

This is a lesson that the business community needs to latch on to. Work on developing good relations NOW with your primary stakeholders. Then, when you need help, are challenged in some way, you have a bank of trust. When you only show “love” to a group when you want or need something, cynicism is the result (duh).

The Power Of The Net

I haven't followed the developments in Iran today as I've been laid out by a virus. However, this has given me some time to think about all this (with the benefit of a lack of lucidity). It's been clear to me for some time that the activist's role has changed. The speed at which they can communicate, and the variety of media that can be broadcast with comparatively little expense or effort is stunning…and heartening.

Another piece that must be considered: the commitment of many techies to liberty. One key thing I've seen this week is the rapid development of proxies for the Iranian's to circumvent government censorship. Other examples include Pirates Bay and the efforts to circumvent China's filtering.

A few thoughts from a sick-day. My thoughts today, though, reside with the Iranian protesters. The powers that be (the Butcher Of Tehran?) have made it clear that no moderation will be shown. Dissent will be rigorously expunged. My sincerest hope is that the glare of global will shall shame this psychopathic "President". A dream, I'm sure. Pray, though, pray.

Via BlackBerry

The Iranian Election, Twitter, and Popular Movements

I’ve spent part of the morning following the Twitter dialog (Twitterlog?) about the Iranian elections and the ensuing protests (I’m following two threads: #Iranelection and #Tehran. Even with the media black-out, these postings are coming with amazing speed. It, literally, is impossible to keep up. Hundreds of posts per minute, perhaps thousands. With this, certainly, will be a huge amount of bad information, as well as deliberate mis-information. However, within this will be solid pieces of truth. Powerful, indeed. And here lies how this medium has changed the world. A totalitarian regime can’t suppress this much information. Thousands of voices, reaching out instantly. Pretty much a game of whack-a-mole on the government’s end. Sadly, those “moles” who get whacked with get it hard, I’m certain.

Besides Twitter, Flickr has an amazing stream of images, YouTube has videos, Digg is going crazy…so much, so very fast. Opposition now has a powerful, global tool. That, and a willingness to use it. The world has changed, indeed.

Web 2.0 or Me vs. We

One of my chums posted a very thoughtful piece about the Web 2.0 and how it is resulting in more ego-centrism (give the Angry African a read here). Thoughtful thoughts should beget thoughtful thoughts, don’t you think? Well, here are mine (for what they’re worth…money back if not delighted).

One great danger of Web 2.0 comes from our ever demanding ego. The temptation is great to simply feed it by tracking our followers on Twitter, reviewing our blog stats, ever checking our Technorati ratings, ad nauseum. Also, the temptation to simply post things to generate more readers is challenging. I see this thinking related to the adolescent mind. The form of thinking that only sees the group in terms of me. Group acceptance is paramount, even though it stems from a desire (or so claimed, at least) for independence.

Perhaps the issue, really, stems from the fact that the web, like all societal institutions, is accessible to people regardless of the state of maturity. Thus, we’re stuck with people focusing more on the numbers of interactions than on the quality. The members of our society are evolving at different rates, starting at different times. Web 2.0 loves them all.

The Angry African also brings up poverty, and the resulting lack of access. My sincerest hope is that Moore’s law combining with the economies of scale will bring these tools to more and more people globally. However, until that time, we are left with hoping their voices are heard. Most of that comes from those who “care”. Sadly, many of those are drowning in paternalism. Finding ways to ensure the voices of the impoverished and exploited are heard in a genuine way is deeply challenging.

For me, the medium summed up as tech, offers the world so very much. Perhaps I’m too Pollyannaish.


Reading stories like this one, always sadden me. (quick summary: a toddler dies suddenly due to a respiratory infection) Nothing is more painful to me than lives cut short. Especially children. Another element, though, comes as a reminder. The great phrase, “there but for the grace of God go I” resonates now. I look at my son and know that, despite all my efforts to protect him from enemies foreign and domestic, those efforts are quite paltry compared to the destructive forces we face. It would be easy to become overwhelmed by all this. Thus, it’s easier to focus on what I CAN do.

I know that, God forbid, my son’s death would destroy me. Shattered to dust. And though I would survive (I always have), I know that I would be profoundly and utterly different. When I think of the stories I’ve heard, of marriage broken asunder by the death of a child, I know what has happened.

Are such things God’s will? As God doesn’t chit-chat with me, I can’t answer this with a definitive “yea” or “nay”. However, I don’t believe so. Of course, I walk the edge of blasphemy with my hybrid agnotisim. Perhaps God exists with us, grieves with us. Perhaps we’re just products of a cold, uncaring universe. Neither, though, is remarkably comforting at times of deep grief. Each can, with the right mind, summon peace. I know, for I’ve seen it. Painful journeys, to be sure, but survivable ones.

These are the moments I wish I could shut my brain off, to quit asking the probing questions. For good or for ill, I can’t. However, I do have things to do.

Ba Da Bing

I’m exploring Microsoft’s latest effort in the search category, Bing. As there has been a number of articles, and some ads touting its features, I felt it was time to give it a test-drive. M$ has learned from Google. The interface is nice and clean, very much like Google’s. Currently, they have a lovely background of Normandy. This is filled with hyperlinks to D-Day topics, but done in a rather unobtrusive way.

Anyway, the main thing to check is search. For my first effort, I decided to try and find a BusinessWeek article that I’d just read and wanted to seed to Newsvine. My search terms were the title of the article (“Microsoft’s Search Savior”) with “BusinessWeek”. In Bing, sadly, the article didn’t appear in the first page of results. Google had the article as it’s first link. Trying a vanity search, I find my LinkedIn profile first, followed by my main website, second. Not too bad. I do like the list on the left side with related searches.

In the end, I’m not really wowed. I will continue to use this for a little while and see how it “sticks”. Anyway, the best thing about this is the media attention, which should drive Google to accelerate their innovation.