Archive for 'General'

The most productive thing possible

With a schedule that’s suddenly become insane, I keep thinking about this poster I found a few years ago. Kidding — or serious?

I know. Maybe Kitty’s datebook could help!

Fifth blogiversary

Mele Kalikimaka me ka Hau’oli Makahiki Hou!

While it’s true that Twitter has absorbed some of my blogging rays, I do have a post-of-substance in the works that I hope to share with you before the year is out. But I didn’t want to let this occasion* pass without a thank-you to my readers here on (also known as and

So, here goes: Mahalo nui loa!

*Hey, maybe this is another opportunity for a custom Paul-designed card

Both a data borrower and a data lender be

Christian Scholz and his Data Portability Project pals have roped me into their Data Without Borders podcasts. On Friday, Christian and Trent Adams and Steve Greenberg and I had some fun relaunching the series by talking about the DPP Terms of Service and End-User License Agreement (TOS/EULA) task force.

Steve was passionate in describing this work. I think he’s right when he says that you first have to ensure that people are aware of a site’s terms of service; disclosing them in a form human beings can grok (à la Creative Commons or the nutrition label approach I wrote about here) can begin to empower humans to change things if they so desire, using a variety of means.

At one point we talked about the Archive Team project run by Jason Scott, which I think of as “data portability of last resort”. These folks are like digital historian ninjas who swoop in to save data that might otherwise be lost forever — like everything on GeoCities.

The thing is, website-sanctioned bulk import and export of data isn’t all that huge an improvement on this kind of rescue operation. True data portability wants granularity and timeliness. For example, if you choose to host (so to speak) your current location info at FireEagle, you might still want to reuse it in other places for other purposes, and luckily OAuth lets FireEagle, Dopplr etc. give you a nimble and safe way to “port” this data back and forth.

This is a kind of data statelessness, in that when you tell various sites they can set, read, and republish your location, they’re letting go of any pretense of exclusive hosting control so that they can offer you a different kind of value.

Now, in the IdM and VRM worlds, some of us have been talking about identity statelessness for a while, which is similar but looks more like straight data-sharing (reading) rather than arbitrary service access (setting). For some reason this is a tougher sell — even though CRM systems and user accounts are shot through with pale copies of stale data (and, in the enterprise case, even though syncing directories and replicating databases is brittle and no fun).

Even when one party — say, you yourself — is authoritative for some piece of personal data (like your home address), all the sites insist on making you provision a copy of this data into their profile pages by hand and by value, and insist on thinking they own something truly valuable even after you move and forget to tell them.

In short: To the extent data is volatile, copies of it leak value. If the chain of evidence between its authoritative source and a recipient of data is broken, it quickly becomes value-free. And if the chain of authorization breaks, you’ve got digital shadow cruft. Why oh why can’t we get to a place where, as Scott Cantor put it to me once, identity-aware apps think in terms of data caching rather than data replication?

The Data Portability TOS/EULA work is helping us raise our standards for what true data portability should look like: Open Arms – Ever Fresh – Graceful Exit. OAuth already helps us get a bit beyond disclosure of site terms, closer to a world where users have an active say in what sites do with our stuff. I’m hoping UMA (recent deep-dive Technometria podcast here) can help us go even further because of its notion of user-dictated terms that recipients must meet in order to have the privilege of fresh access.

We’re likely to discuss this topic in the DWB podcast sometime soon, so I hope you’ll give a listen.

Modern home entertainment: land of contrasts

To give our new 60″ high-def TV a good workout, we felt it was important to…regress to the 80’s and play the original Star Soldier as WiiWare. Ahh, there’s nothing like that tinkly music and unchanging shoot ’em up action.


Seriously: I love this game. Many years ago we gave names to the swarms of enemies. There’s the snails, the swallows, the figs, the peanuts… The trick with them all is, you have to use an aftermarket controller that has a turbo shooting button. I’ve got my original NES console, a super controller, and this game in storage somewhere, and after spending 500 Wii credits (US$5) to buy it all over again in this form, I’m embarrassed to say how much I’ve spent in peripherals just to play the damn thing properly.

Experience is what you get…

…when you didn’t get what you wanted.

Eli and I went to a potluck dinner in Seattle last night, hosted by Kaliya and also attended by, among others, Drummond and Gabe. That was the good part — a great time was had by all, and Kaliya was a gracious host not only during the dinner party, but also when we showed up on her doorstep twice (evening and morning) after failed departure attempts.

Here are some of the many lessons we learned in the last handful of hours:

  • By all rights, Seattle should be paralyzed by chance of snow.
  • It’s called Capitol Hill for a reason.
  • Real snow extraction devices are better, but square Tupperware works pretty well as a shovel.

With luck, we’ll be able to extract our car later today. I didn’t have the heart to take pictures, but if you want to see dramatic images of the white stuff further north, try these.

And to think we moved from Boston to Seattle exactly four years ago yesterday for some snow relief. :-)

What happens in Vegas

…could end up anywhere.

On vacation last week in Sin City, I got an offer someone thought I couldn’t refuse, and was put under surveillance in an interestingly creepy way.

For custom service, you have to pay — in money, attention, or personal data. The Wynn hotel-casino (which is gorgeous, but has such a useless website that I’m not linking it) desperately wanted me to sign up for its Red Card loyalty club. Here’s the deal: If I sign up for the card by showing them a valid government ID and giving them my full name, Social Security Number, date of birth, mailing address, email address, and cell phone number, they will give me a buffet meal for free. This is all listed right on the rather large offer card, and there’s nothing about privacy policies on there either. The Wynn buffet is a treat, but I’d rather give them mere dollars for that, thanks. (One person in my traveling party — a frequent gambler, something I’m not — did go for the deal.)

And if you want to be a bit of a coquette in the twenty-first century, apparently you have to be put under close and possibly recorded observation without any notice given or consent obtained whatsoever. Hey, I’ve watched CSI — I realize that in Las Vegas you aren’t safe from security cameras anywhere except the bathrooms. But then I sat down at the iBar in the Rio and started futzing around with the Big-Ass T…uh, I mean the Microsoft Surface. At first I didn’t realize other private citizens could observe me closely from their B.A.T.’s elsewhere in the bar. It’s supposed to be for flirting:

Flirt Vegas style by adding a hip ultra-lounge vibe to the flirting experience. This application allows guests to create an exciting new way to chat and meet people from one Surface to another. Strategically placed video cameras at each Surface add even more energy to the action, allowing guests to interact with old friends, flirt with new acquaintances, and take and send photos across the lounge.

Luckily, this also meant I could observe the action at other B.A.T.’s myself, which was useful when I couldn’t figure out how to find the Virtual Earth app and caught the camera’s-eye view of the people at the next table using it. Well, honestly I could have just looked over to see that, but using the spy-eye gave me such a sense of power. :)

Eli and I did play a few games of virtual bowling, which was fun in a flashback-y sort of way. It reminded me of one of the bars my first band Sleeper played regularly in ’80-’81 — the long-lost 23rd Step in Kailua. They had a game table where you could sit across from someone and play Galaxian. It was just offstage next to my keyboard setup, and I would lunge for it whenever we finished a set, about the time the other band members were lunging for the next-door 7-Eleven if it was before midnight and beer could still be legally bought. Ah, good times.

(In case anyone else who loves those old games goes to Vegas, check out the dim corners of the Gameworks on the south Strip, where you’ll find Space Invaders, Centipede, and — yes — Moon Patrol.)

Um. And with that, I think I’ve proven once again that I’m the queen of TMI (why does that acronym spring to mind every time I bring up video games here?).

Exit question: Are privacy policies positively pointless for someone who just spews random data about themselves on a public website anyway?

The swinging shindig that was Gnomedex 8.0

What a trip my first Gnomedex was — I think I’m hooked. It’s Chris’s happening, baby, and it freaks him out! (Think he can be convinced to dress up full-Austin next time? I did notice a bit of a shiny-jacket trend in the crowd.)

Lots of people have done roundups, so I’m mostly going to be lazy and point to Beth Kanter‘s, which gives a great sense of the breadth, the depth, the value, and the occasional silliness of this event. I was very glad to meet Beth and to see her demonstrate, right in front of our eyes, the principles she was teaching. Really, the two-plus days were a virtual parade of interesting people, compelling stories, and cool tech.

Speaking of virtual… Gnomedex’s sheer level of online+meatspace social connectedness was something new for me. The 8.0 community feeling started early, with the @gnomedex Twitter feed. It continued with the conference badges that came with a social network. It got really strong while several hundred people watched the conference from home on the video feed (archive) and hung out on Twitter or in Chris’s chat room. (I daresay this feeling wouldn’t have been possible without the single-track setup.) And it continues even now. I mean, I tweet, and I speak at conferences, but I’ve never before sat down after giving a talk to find that dozens of people — some in the same room and others a world away — have just started following me. Delighted to meet you all! (Admittedly, I also exchanged business cards with some folks during coffee breaks, the old-fashioned way.)

I’ll post some thoughts later about my talk on online data-sharing relationships. But, staying “meta” for now, I’ll just send you to one more roundup, Micah Baldwin’s 3 Rules of Gnomedex 8.0, which I think nicely captures what made it special. Quoting will just spoil it, so just go ye and read…

I can has photo?

This is a special moment.

I get to sit here at Gnomedex watching Ben Huh of ICHC review the Lolean Timescale of lolcat history — apparently the correct pronunciation is lole-cat and I’ve been doin it rong.

And I just met Kris Krug, photographer extraordinaire, who has promised to do portraits on-site for those who give him some linky love. I’m only too happy to oblige (uh, literally).

A (g)newbie at Gnomedex

Somehow I’d been missing out on the phenomenon of the Gnomedex tech-enthusiast conference, even though its location in recent years coincides perfectly with my new(ish) Northwest residency. (Hey, I haven’t gone to Bumbershoot yet either — bad, bad Eve!)

This year I’ve got a great chance to fix the situation. I met Chris Pirillo and his lovely wife Ponzi through Eli, and after a couple of fun evenings where I blabbed excitedly about Vendor Relationship Management and he blabbed excitedly about a project that was soon to become his WicketPixie social-media WordPress theme (it would be interesting to “VRM-enable” this theme, yes??), they were kind enough to invite me to speak this year. I’m looking forward to introducing VRM concepts to this audience and getting some discussion going on how to improve the customer-vendor nexus.

If you can be in Seattle August 21-23, I hope you’ll register and join the fun.

It’s a nice day for a Facebook wedding

In addition to our wedding anniversary and the anniversary of our first date, Eli and I now have another event to celebrate: July 27, 2008 was the day we confirmed our “married” relationship on Facebook. We immediately got two messages of congratulation, one facetious…and one seemingly sincere! For the record, we’ve been married for 18 years and together for 22 — but we love having another special occasion to add to the list.