Life in the big (doctorow) Fri 22 Nov 02 12:37
Christian Crumlish (xian) Fri 22 Nov 02 12:51
cory for president! (jerod pore for veep?)
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 22 Nov 02 13:12
If Cory was president, we wouldn't *need* veep. We'd have a prez who could be in all places at once!
Martha Soukup (soukup) Fri 22 Nov 02 13:30
You're going to have to amend the Constitution to account for his age and Canadianness.
"Et toi" is French, and so you're a crack muffin. (madman) Fri 22 Nov 02 14:32
No, we'd just need to assimilate Canada.
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Fri 22 Nov 02 14:53
The Well: Land O Drift
Gail Williams (gail) Fri 22 Nov 02 15:14
This mob is too smart for itself!
virtual community or butter? (bumbaugh) Fri 22 Nov 02 15:33
Howard (or Cory or Dave or Gail or any of the rest of you), what brings about thos cornucopia architectures, as opposed to ones that let The Big Guy dole things out under conditions of artificial scarcity? Obviously, part of this is political and part is technical, but how do we encourage political processes and technological developments that favor the one rather than 'tother?
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Fri 22 Nov 02 15:51
That's a big question and maybe beyond me, but Phred recently turned me onto a paper by Yochai Benkler, about the economics of open source, in which he talked about situations in which peer-organized production systems are more efficient than hierarchically-organized production systems. Phred also gave me a book, "Ruling The Root," which I've just started, which seems to get into the relative advantages of markets, hierarchies, and networks. Perhaps it might be best to inquire about what the right questions are before leaping at answers. I'll offer a couple, and encourage others to offer others -- or provide answers, if you have them: 1. What are the conditions necessary to provision a resource? For example, copyright was originally intended to provide a temporary monopoly on the profit from an invention or work of art -- as an incentive to production. 2. What are the conditions necessary to prevent consumption from depleting a resource? 3. What are the most effective conditions for producing a good? There is a whole economy and ecology of public goods. I only dipped into it. I'm continuing to read about these issues. In regard to spectrum, it looks as if, in regard to question #3, that treating more of the spectrum as a commons, and regulating broadcast devices so they play nice with each other, could create efficiencies that would lead to a multiplication of broadcasters. This seems an obvious advantage. Why create an artificial scarcity of a resource that can lead to innovation, education, and discourse?
excessively heterosexual (saiyuk) Fri 22 Nov 02 23:30
billy dee williams: land o calrissian.
William H. Dailey (whdailey) Fri 22 Nov 02 23:43
Mr. Rheingold might be interested in the technology presented at: http://www.cheniere.org It offers the possibility of instant communication for one thing. A starship could communicate in real time.
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sat 23 Nov 02 08:59
A smart mob is not necessarily a wise mob: The role of texting in the Nigerian riots: <http://www.smartmobs.com/archives/000383.html>
a man, a plan, and a parking ticket (clm) Sat 23 Nov 02 09:11
Yep. Timely example. I'm interested in the trade-off between privacy and cooperation that you mention in the book. What is your current thinking about how the relationship between these two might change as smart mob technologies evolve?
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sat 23 Nov 02 09:48
Of course, many other forces -- like the zeal of US law enforcement and intelligence agencies to prevent terrorism by tracking every breath of every citizen -- are arrayed against privacy. And citizens who would like legislators to offer minimal privacy protections -- for example, to require financial institutions to offer opt-in instead of opt-out plans for sharing intimate details of what we buy and when and where -- seem to be outgunned by lobbyists. At least that has been the case in California. Technological development on many fronts seems to be mounting an unstoppable threat to what we now know as privacy. If you live in a major urban center and get out much, your face is captured by 200 cameras on an average day. Software for matching your face against databases of suspects or dissidents is in its early stages, but who can doubt that it will improve? The movie "Enemy of the State" seems already possible on both the technical and political levels. Maybe Scott Mcnealy was right: "Privacy? We have no privacy. Get over it." I'm not optimistic about this aspect.
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sat 23 Nov 02 09:50
There's encryption. Citizens do have a (still, for the time being) legal technical means of protecting the privacy of communications. But collective action is required. If a few individuals use encryption, we identify ourselves as potential suspects. We need millions to use encryption. Are these going to be the same people who can't figure out how to change the clock display on our VCRs?
a man, a plan, and a parking ticket (clm) Sat 23 Nov 02 10:44
I was just at a conference where, during a session on privacy, someone in the audience suggested that there were over 70,000 cases of identity theft in the US last year. That seems like a big number. (So maybe it wasn't really Scott who said that!) I wonder if a serious loss of privacy might eventually generate a counter force that might cause the pendulum to swing back again.
Chris (cooljazz) Sat 23 Nov 02 10:48
Hi Howard. I'm looking forward to reading the book. At the risk of a bit of drift, you mentioned economists "...economists, mathematicians, political scientists have begun to converge on issues of collective action, problems of commons, the evolution and maintenance of cooperation...." and "...Economists have told me that eBay is a market that shouldn't exist ..." Since this topic started (and having at one time studied Economics) the conversation here has inspired me to do a bit of my own research. The recent Nobel Prize was awarded to an economist/psychologist pair who are at the forefront of (imho) a "Scientific Revolution" more commonly called Behavioral and Experimental Economics. I think much in this field must be germane to your observations and study of Smart Mobs. The field involves the study of some of the most cherished assumptions of economics "homo economicus" that rational selfish creature presumed to be the decision maker throughout economics. One of the award statements was "..for having integrated insights from psychological research into economic science, especially concerning human judgment and decision-making under uncertainty..." In a sense Behavioral Economics studies how individuals are making decisions, (based on emotions and whatever else governs and motivates individual) especially when the decisions aren't "rational". (And there are actual experiments as well). Issues that you mention above "ride sharing" <#24> and "public goods" have been studied and desribed with the seemingly tongue in cheek title of "Anomalies". Anomalies - means only that there is a phenomenon which can't be accounted for by the "assumptions of rationality". The experiments try to determine why people actually cooperate (when the "rational behavior" would be to follow ones "self interest" or "defect" from the public interest) I assume its only a matter of time before the "natural experiment" implied by the smart mobs use of commmunications devices is studied more formally - if I find something sooon on that I'll let you know. (I'm sure there's a dissertation on the topic waiting out there for someone :) )
Life in the big (doctorow) Sat 23 Nov 02 12:05
166: "Privacy? We have no privacy. Get over it." That's a tad techno-deterministic for me. If we live in a civil society, we can make laws that govern how and where we may be surveilled.
Gail Williams (gail) Sat 23 Nov 02 12:41
That touches on a deeper question for me. The word "mob" implies something other than civil society. Is it possible to create technology that could make civil society impossible? Do we collectively want civil society, expecially when we are able to act without planning and reality-checking? Over in the WELL's town square, the <news.> conference, an observant user posted that he had heard a report on NPR that the Nigerian Miss World riots were orchestrated by instant messages ordered by Islamic leaders. I did a quick search on Google News and found a newer instance: The newspaper that published the blasphemy is now threatened with a boycott organized in part by text messages to mobile phones. > Meanwhile, all attention is now focused on the outcome of today's Friday > sermon by major Islamic scholars in Kano. Already, anti-ThisDay messages > are being flashed through the GSM message network. Part of the messages > sent by various unpublished numbers reads "boycott ThisDay. Don't buy, > and don't advertise if you love Allah and Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)." http://allafrica.com/stories/200211220171.html This is not pure anarchic group think, but something which sounds more like mob with a capital M, with powerful leadership. I guess it's debatable whether it is an attempt to make society even more civil, according to one set of values, but it is an eye-opener.
Howard Rheingold (hlr) Sat 23 Nov 02 13:10
Thanks, Chris. From what I understand of the Nobel-winning economist's ideas, one key factor is that people tend to overestimate risk when making decisions. In regard to cooperation, a couple of the factors that tend to override cold rational decision-making are reputation (I cite some interesting work on "costly signalling") and...well, actually, I think reputation is the main one. In costly signalling, humans and other creatures expend energy and take risks that are not rational if they can signal that they are good candidates for trading partners or mates -- reputation. Cory, the problem in California, which I somewhat cynically extrapolate, is that most polls indicate that people would like a law that simply requires our banks to ask us to opt in before they tell thousands of their sister institutions how much liquor, cholesterol, condoms, and Prozac we buy. However, as you probably know, the California legislature has failed three times to pass such a law. Civil society is diffuse and not well-funded; lobbyists are concentrated on their special issues, and have lots of what legislators want -- money to buy TV ads. I don't know the solution in terms of politics. It seems that technical solutions might be better, but as I said, the problem is getting a sufficient number of people to be aware of the solutions, and to use them. Do you encrypt all your communications and pass out your public key? I don't, because I had some problems getting PGP to work with Mac and Eudora a few years ago -- problems that are probably a result of my technical deficiency. And compared to most citizens, I'm an arch-geek. Gail, the Nigerian mob is the one I pointed to on the Smartmobs blog this morning, and I think I posted a link above. In the opening pages of the book, I made it clear that technologies of cooperation can help criminals and terrorists as well as others. Wasn't that true of the printing press and the telephone?
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Sat 23 Nov 02 13:47
Howard, is the Benkler essay you mentioned called "Coases Penguin, or, Linux and the Nature of the Firm"? Just want to be sure I've got the right one. http://www.benkler.org/CoasesPenguin.PDF
Marla Hammond (marlah) Sat 23 Nov 02 13:47
Hello all - catching up on the topic. In some of these cases, I think we have to ask: Would this event have happened even without the new technology that was involved? The American Revolution was organized with Minute Men who relayed messages as quickly as possible in the time they lived. "One if by land . Two if by sea." was a powerful and fast low tech message delivery. The social conditions of the times caused the people to find the most effective way possible to communicate. On the flip side, would the American Revolution have had a different outcome if both sides could send instant text messages across the ocean?
Gail Williams (gail) Sat 23 Nov 02 14:30
I missed that pointer in <37> above, Howard. I'm asking something rather different than "can't bad guys use this," I think. It may be unanswerable, but I'm wondering if some delay and latency in forming mass consensus is an advantage to societies. I know there is no clear answer, but I tend to be pro-async and some of the things I like about not having to be simultaneous in a small group may be true about larger groups too. Perhaps time will tell.
David Gans (tnf) Sat 23 Nov 02 14:37
Anyone reading this who isn't a WELL member can contribute a question or com- ment by sending email to firstname.lastname@example.org
a man, a plan, and a parking ticket (clm) Sat 23 Nov 02 15:04
> not having to be simultaneous in a small group That reminds me of another interesting part of the book: how texting may lead to a more flexible sense of time.
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