New Beginnings

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Having run a blog for some 6 years, I’ve decided to move to Posterous.com – mainly because I’m tired of have to manage software and keep it updated. (I started on Blogger, then to an instal of TWiki, then WordPress.)

I haven’t posted to my blog for almost a year, largely due to technical issues with my WordPress installation, spam and a recent hack. I’m hoping this will now change – in fact, I’m writing from my iPhone, which is a big bonus…

So this is good bye to my old site (pictured behind me), and hello to whatever this new version becomes!

Coming Soon!

Migrating mark-elliott.net to Posterous – oooh so excited!

Twitter Spreads Ideas Like Air Travel Spreads The Flu

Via the Collabforge blog

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A question I’m often asked by clients, friends and people just passing by on the street is, ‘so what’s the big deal with Twitter anyway?’

This is of course a great question – that is, how is Twitter different than Facebook or any other social networking platform and why should one dedicate their precious time to learning and engaging with yet another web community? There are a few reasons why Twitter is a big deal, but from my perspective, the primary one is that,

Twitter spreads ideas like air travel spreads the flu

Simply put, Twitter spreads ideas by liberating them from the ‘Facebook social graph’, enabling them to quickly and effectively leap across networks. This is due to the fact that when you post a message to Twitter, it is sent to the entire 19 Million strong network.So effectively, the tweets of all 19 million Twitter users are thrown into one big heap and then sorted after the fact by followers, or, by hashtags. For example, this allows one to follow the tweets associated with a specific conference – here’s the tag for one I recently attended using: #ccisumit – or discover people interested in and providing information surrounding social media marketing.While it’s true that most messages you send will be read by those following you (i.e. they get your message in their ‘inbox’) the fact remains that your ideas are open for anyone to discover through a vast range of third party tools made possible by Twitter’s API (and this is something you should be well aware of when using Twitter – unless you are using a ‘Direct message’ (D), you words can be discovered and read by anyone and everyone).Once discovered, your message can be remixed through simple copy/paste/edit, and then ‘re-tweeted’ (RT) back out to the entire network, and of course to the network of those following the re-tweeter. To give an example, my modest network of 414 followers gives me a second-order reach (those who follow my followers) of 5,928,649. That’s a heck of a lot of people who will receive my ideas should my followers decide to re-tweet them.So there it is, Twitter spreads ideas like air travel spreads the flu – which makes it a tool like no other when it comes to discovering ideas, news, information and importantly, the people behind them. The flip side of this of course is that you can leverage this tool to spread your own ideas, and if they are contagious, then you just might infect the world…

Presenting @ Princeton, New York, Washington DC

Last week was pretty intense, here was my schedule:

Sunday 26 Apr – New York

After a very cramped 24hr flight I arrived at JFK in New York and while I was tired, I was buzzing with excitement…

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Monday 27 Apr – New York

The view out of my hotel window when I woke up (Madison Square Gardens on the right side of the street one block up):That evening I appeared on Doug Rushkoff’s radio show, Media Squat on WFMU in Jersey City. Here’s a link to a podcast of the show – I appeared in the first half hour or so just before Joanna Harcourt-Smith.It was fantastic to meet Doug, he is an amazing guy with a good deal of achievements to his name, and on top of that, he’s a very friendly, genuine, passionate and intelligent guy. Unfortunately things moved so fast in the studio that I forgot to get a picture, but I did get a shot of this odd if not tragic sculpture in Jersey City near the studio (NYC in the background).

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Tuesday 28 Apr – New York

I had the great fortune to be asked to present at the OpenGovNYC meetup in DUMBO, Brooklyn, and to facilitate a workshop exploring the idea of ‘policy sprint’. It was a really great group and notes were taken in the Sunlightlabs wiki here (thanks Matt and Marquina for scribing!).Me in action (my presentation on left screen, and Twitter backchannel on right):

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Enraptured audience I’m sure :-):

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Workshop underway:

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My wonderful hosts (Matt Cooper-Rider, Marquina Iliev, Britt Blazer and some other strange guy):

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Thanks to Noneck for the tech help!:

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Wednesday 29 Apr – Washington DC

This day was fairly stressful, that is until I arrived at the Sunlight Foundation. I caught a train from Penn Station in NYC to Princeton NJ where I rented a car and drove to Washington DC, and due to cockups/delays with picking up the car, I arrived in DC just in time for rush hour with my presentation being at 5:30pm. After finally finding a parking place and bolting headlong up to the offices, I was greeted by a beer, pretzels and a very interested and warm bunch of folks – thanks to Conor Kenny (senior editor for OpenCongress.org) for organising!!!We explored many of the challenging and subtle nuances of Web-based collaborative consultation and policy generation and once again due to the frenetic pace, I didn’t get any pictures :-(…

Thursday 30 Apr – Princeton University

Thursday I hightailed it back up to Princeton for the conference start in my very comfy rental car:

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And I arrived at last:

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The conference, City Planning, Civic Participation the Internet at Princeton University launched with a dinner, then a screening of Us Now a good primer documentary about how Web 2.0 is opening up opportunities for the public to self organise and engage with government and governance issues in general.

Friday 1 May – Princeton University

My presentation was first up for the day with a panel discussion following. It was great to get it over with so I could focus all my attention on the many fantastic presentations and folks amassed at what turned out to be a fantastic conference.Here’s a picture of the panel discussion I sat on with John Geracy from DIYcities and Nick Grossman from The Open Planning Project who also gave fantastic presentations.

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Here’s a few highlights from the conference – not all of them, just one’s I happen to get pictures of!Edward Andersson from Involve that provides:
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Adrian Holovaty, founder of EveryBlock and a lead developer of the Django web framework:

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Bill Schrier, Chief Technology Officer, Seattle who gave an inspired presentation and made me hopeful for the future of the adoption of innovative technologies for city infrastructure. Robert Davis, siting in the picture, also gave a focused presentation on Toronto’s experience as leaders in social media adoption:

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John Wonderlich, Policy Director for the Sunlight Foundation lead a great discussion on and around their many inspiring projects:

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Saturday 2 May – Princeton University

Saturday consisted of a few workshops, the first presented a $200 (if I remember correctly) desktop touch screen solution made by bolting a Wii remote control onto a data projector – very cool!Then Christian Madera the conference organiser led a session on Web tools for planning (well done for putting together such a successful conference Christian!!!):

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And then we wrapped things up with a lunch. Here Wansoo Im from Verticles Interactive Maps is showing off his great community history and mapping projects:

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Sunday 3 May – Princeton University

Before heading back to Melbourne I even got a chance to do some sight seeing around Princeton University – a beautiful campus indeed! Here’s a few of my ‘moving stills’ inspired by having high definition video on my camera:

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Even the student admin building is grand!
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I’ve met a lot of amazing people and learned about an equal amount of amazing projects and programs going on in the US. I think this next year with the Personal Democracy Forum and O’Reily’s Gov2.0 conference coming up, 2009 will have set the pace for the open gov race…

Meta-Collaboration or Just Plain Old Collage?

This is undoubtedly a fantastic video that highlights the interconnection yet independence of individual creative efforts on social media sites such as YouTube.However I don’t think it is right to call it any form of collaboration – unless there were multiple people putting this track together (as opposed to simply contributing their individual elements). I call the individualistic input of contribution that aggregate to form a whole, ‘cooperation’. Collaboration requires multiple participants add/edit/deleting the same domain. Or at least, that’s what I came to in my phd :-). What do you think?In any case, this video rocks and thanks Rob Stewart for bringing it to my attention!

Direct link to the whole album by Kutiman: http://thru-you.com/#/videos/

Daintree Daydreaming…

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We recently returned from a week in the Daintree in the far north of Queensland – way up there in the tropical jungle with the crocodiles (tho we never saw any).We did see lots of amazing butterflies, a spotted tree monitor (the big lizard pictured below), a male cassowary with its chick (a very big flightless bird), a raft of impressive insects, lots of fruit bats, very friendly jungle perch, and, many other things.We stayed at some truly beautiful places and I would recommend a trip up there to anyone looking to get back to primordial nature and even off the grid (yikes! that’s right folks, no mains power, cell phones or, <gulp> interweb)…

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We swam in beautiful streams – we were told by the owners of the property that there just couldn’t be crocs here, nevertheless, we were somewhat nervous, despite the amazing setting…

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We also took lot’s of walks and some got rides

 

Busy Brains

It’s been way too long since I’ve posted, but I’ve been run off my feet with new Collabforge work!Of course I can’t complain, but I’ve been working through weekends for a few months now, which is less than fun when I’ve got two luvsuckers at my heals!Hope everyone has a good holiday season and here’s a few pictures!We just got the boys a ‘twin desk’ – I have no idea how old it is, but it has has holes for ink wells (lower left circle)!

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We went to the zoo for the first time without the pram – it felt like such an achievement. 🙂

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Two’s company!

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Australian Government to Censor Internet Access

I just saw this this morning (emphasis mine):

THE Federal Government is planning to make internet censorship compulsory for all Australians and could ban controversial websites on euthanasia or anorexia.Australia’s level of net censorship will put it in the same league as countries including China, Cuba, Iran and North Korea, and the Government will not let users opt out of the proposed national internet filter when it is introduced.Broadband, Communications and Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy admitted the Federal Government’s $44.2 million internet censorship plan would now include two tiers – one level of mandatory filtering for all Australians and an optional level that will provide a “clean feed”, censoring adult material….Groups including the System Administrators Guild of Australia and Electronic Frontiers Australia have slammed the proposal, saying it would unfairly restrict Australians’ access to the web, slow internet speeds and raise the price of internet access.  EFA board member Colin Jacobs said it would have little effect on illegal internet content, including child pornography, as it would not cover peer-to-peer file-sharing networks.

Aside from the obvious issues regarding censorship and freedom of speech (something not constitutionally enshrined in Australia and therefore not ensured) this is a very bad idea. This will at a minimum,

  • introduce a ‘state approved’ perspective on reality which can then be more readily extended,
  • generate network inefficiencies for most of us, and for those who actually want to get to what is blocked, they will work it out (even most primary school kids I talk to these days know how to get around access restrictions imposed upon them).

To draw upon that a classic web quote attributed to John Gilmore: “The net treats censorship as damage and routes around it”.I thought this kind of logic would depart our federal government with the Howard administration! Apparently I was wrong.And why isn’t this making bigger news? Perhaps mass media doesn’t care? – after all, the medium is the message – i.e. if you’re interests and life are all bound up in broadcast (push) media, perhaps you aren’t so likely to care about distributed media etc?..

Lucas & Cedar @ 2yrs (+ a little)

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It’s been a few months since my last update on Cedar and Lucas, and of course a lot has happened in that time.

(in the photo: Cedar left, Lucas right)

They’re moving from the ‘telegraphic’ phase of speach (two word combinations) to the beginnings of sentence construction. The other day, Cedar said ‘nice day outside’, which was a surprise to hear. And then, the very same afternoon, while reaching up towards the moon in the sky, Lucas said ‘get moon, tricky!’, which, aside from being one of the cutest things I had ever heard, was also quite a big conceptual/lingual jump in complexity.

They had their second birthday last month (their bday is September 11th) and Keri made them an amazing Thomas the Tank Engine cake (this is currently Cedar’s favourite show).

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Here’s Lucas giving a demo of that lovely blue frosting all over his face:
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Here they are talking one of their first walks around the neighborhood (Lucas left, Cedar right). Walking with us while holding a hand really took some work – their initial impulse seems to be to run at full pace everywhere all the time. But finally, we seem to have made some progress and they are getting into it. Now Lucas comes up to me and says ‘daddy walk?’ and he’ll grab my hand and lead me all over the house :-).

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They are active as ever, as the next video illustrates. Incidentally, only upon watching it did i realise that I had them confused – it is actually Cedar in the box. I wonder how often this happens but without the digital hindsight of video – and I would generally say (and I’m sure Keri would as well) that we always feel like we know exactly who is who…

Here’s a moment of calm (1 minute 10 seconds to be specific). The game that’s all the rage these days is playing ‘nitenite’ – getting a hold of anything blanket-like and then laying down where ever they are and covering themselves up. They also do a kind of snoring imitation – i have no idea where they picked that up, maybe from listening to each other sleep?.. Notice Lucas (on the right) is doing is silly face – he kind of stares off with a goofy smile, then starts sticking his tongue out. This is often followed by meowing, barking and or eating something without hands (this might be mocked eating, or the real thing). He’s a budding eccentric character, that’s for sure. I wonder where he got that from?.. The kiss Cedar gives Lucas is precious to be sure, however this is definitely the exception. How this clip ends (with them screaming over unlimited blanket rights) is more the norm…

More nitenite play (Cedar left, Lucas right):

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Headwear has also been in fashion this spring with a wide variety of pieces trialed in a very innovative market (Cedar):

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Cedar:

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Lucas (on left) is having troubles getting his hat at the right angle. Meanwhile, Lucas is just fine:

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Lucas at the park:

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Lucas (left) Cedar (right) in their toy box:

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Having a ‘sit down dinner’ as Cedar calls it (Lucas on left, Cedar on right) this is distinguished from their tenancy to be always on the move – even when you’re trying to feed them!

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Cedar on left, Lucas on right:

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That’s all for now folks!

0. Prelude: Meta Contexts, Stigmergic Collaboration

I’m in the process of migrating my phd from the wiki where I wrote it, to this site. I thought I’d write a post for each chapter as I get them up. You can find more out about my phd here, or in the links in the banner. So, here’s the first chapter!  This initial chapter sets the scene – how does a long time artist / composer move into the world of online collaboration? Easy:

  • creative exploration + digital media + collaborative practice + research + synthesis = stigmergic mass collaboration.

Here’s an excerpt:

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Having grown up in Alaska spending a great deal of time in small aircraft (my first fly-in camping trip was at the age of 3 months), I grew up accustomed to seeing and thinking about vast and variegated spaces from an aerial perspective (see figure 0.0). Later in life, I came to realise that my thinking had been dramatically shaped by this —I still experience a strangely disorienting feeling in new places if I don’t know what the terrain looks like from the sky. This desire for aerial, meta, holistic and encompassing understandings has stayed with me throughout my life, evolving in its application and complexity.