PEF: "I don't understand how all this XML/XHTML/XLink/XPointer/XPath/XSL/SVG/FO stuff is going to work together, what the goals are, where the vision is. I mean, it's all great, don't get me wrong. I use it to build Ftrain.com."Just drink the koolaid, children.
W3C: "Just look at the standard and all will be manifest."
PEF: "But it's 9000 pages, and is filled with Backus-Naur grammar statements. I'm a human, not a computer! What are you guys really trying to do? What vision are you trying to promote?"
W3C: "We're trying to build <bigbrightlights>The Semantic Web </bigbrightlights>"
PEF: "But what is it? Can Ftrain.com be part of <bigbrightlights>The Semantic Web </bigbrightlights>?"
W3C: "Whether you wish to or not, all must belong to <bigbrightlights>The Semantic Web </bigbrightlights>."
PEF: "You're transforming into a giant terrifying aluminum robot!"
W3C: "<loud>Must...<louder> have... <loudest>corporate...<loudest-yet> funding... </loudest-yet> </loudest> </louder> </loud>"
Friday, August 30, 2002
Thursday, August 29, 2002
- It's the drunk looking for his keys under the streetlight. It's only when it comes to a country like the US that these people have a chance of getting heard; it's not because US is the best place to make improvements.
- If they believe that all cultures are equal, then they must beat down American culture because it is so infective. The belief that all cultures are equal is so primary to them that facts must get reinterpreted to fit with this belief. Thus, the American culture is infective but low, unsophisticated, cheap, materialistic; therefore not in fact better in any way!
Coincidentally, this evening I also ran across a speech by Larry Wall, writer of the Perl programming language, in which he says that cultural relativism is ... the notion that everything is as good as everything else, because goodness is only a matter of opinion. It's like claiming that the only thing you can know absolutely is that you can't know anything absolutely. I think this is really just another form of Modernism, a kind of existentialism really, though unfortunately it's come to be associated with postmodernism. But I think it sucks.
A delegate from Sweden pointed out that "the poor should not be allowed to make the same mistakes the developed made leading to pollution, the poor should leap-frog in order to attain sustainable development." But what gives the developed nations the right to make choices for the poor?
Wednesday, August 28, 2002
Although Gar is proud that friends commute via bicycle or mass transit (Gar doesn't say if he does), Gar doesn't seem to realize that public transport (and bicycle manufacture) depends highly on electricity and other modern inventions. And his friends would not be able to live in large cities and commute to their jobs if it weren't for the highly electricity-based economy that keeps water clean and running, removes sewage, runs grocery stores, and otherwise allows so many people to live in such close proximity.
Even the founder of Greenpeace thinks this guy is a nut.
Monday, August 26, 2002
I do sometimes wonder how much differences between speakers of different language depend on the way they phrase things. But I don't think that accounts for the American vs. Euro differences at Johannesberg this week!
On the other "side", Nitin Desai, the Secretary General of the Johannesburg summit, defines sustainable development in this interview. Part of his answer: "What does it mean to talk about sustainable energy? It means that you are not going to approach this simply from the perspective of pure environmental management, nor or we going to approach this simply from the perspective of: here is the demand for growth, how are we going to meet it? We need something which seeks to combine the two!" South African president Thabo Mbeki, who spoke at the summit, says "A global human society based on poverty for many and prosperity for a few, characterized by islands of wealth, surrounded by a sea of poverty, is unsustainable." However that seems to be an incompatible (or irrelevant) definition next to Desai's.
According to this article, the phrase was invented in 1987 in the Brundtland report. 'Sustainable development seeks to meet the needs and aspirations of the present without compromising the ability to meet those of the future,' said the report. 'Far from requiring the cessation of economic growth (the notion of sustainability) recognizes that the problem of poverty and underdevelopment cannot be solved unless we have a new era of growth in which developing countries play a large role and reap large benefits.'
Although the article states that "our government gave more foreign aid, in absolute terms, than any other country in 2001, topping second-ranked Japan" (in absolute terms means counting private charitable donations as well as government foreign aid), I wish the article had done a better job of including numbers from outside US. E.g if Japan is second-ranked, I'd like to know how much of its foreign aid is private and how much is public.
The personal remittances part is really interesting. A government report says that "Remittances increased from $8.4 billion in 1990 to $11.8 billion in 1995. More than 60 percent of remittances went to the countries of Central America, the Caribbean, and South America". More probably goes through uncounted, brought directly across the Rio Grande inside peoples' wallets. Remittances are finally being seen as a development tool. "In 2000, over $20 billion was sent overseas from immigrants in the US in 80 million separate transactions... the remittances sent to Haiti, Ecuador, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Jamaica account for 10 percent of the GDPs of each of those countries." Holy cow.
Many governments (Kenya, Cuba) restrict personal remittances from residents (Cuba limits to $300 per quarter). Other countries tax remittances (Brazil) even though they may already have taxed the money once as income. The US remittance limit seems to be $10,000 without requiring any paperwork, and more if you do the paperwork to prove you're not laundering money. I do not know if there's an absolute limit.
Thursday, August 22, 2002
Tuesday, August 20, 2002
I was really tickled by Mangione's statement that "We may not be there today but the reality is, the way you're going to interoperate, the way you're going to bring it together is all going to be over standard protocols. I think the biggest thing in the 10 years I've been at Microsoft is to finally realize that protocols really do matter." That wasn't really true two years ago, judging by the effect my standards work had on my career there, but it may be true now.
Also in the Mangione article, Gillmor asks "Things like SIP [Session Initiation Protocol], for example. There's no XML in SIP, right?" Umm. That's a really, really stupid question with no relevance to the discussion before or after. It's a stupid question because SIP is a standard protocol whether or not it contains XML. XML is just a way to format data; SIP chose another format. Did Gillmor leave the question in just to make fun of Mangione's repetitive response? Or is that a glitch?
Finally, Mangione repeats the new keyword "federated" that Bill used in his .NET speech. No doubt they've been hearing loud and clear from customers that it's not OK for Microsoft to run centralized services for businesses. Like AOL IM, for example!
Friday, August 09, 2002
I also noted that protection of intellectual property is one of the new variables, but the news article doesn't say whether protecting intellectual property increases a country's rating or decreases it. I'd guess the former, although I'm seeing more and more libertarians argue that protecting intellectual property decreases economic freedoms.
Saturday, August 03, 2002
Last week Bill and Steve gave an interesting Microsoft strategy presentation at Redmond. I haven't worked there in years, and my focus may be myopic, but here's some thoughts.
|"There were some competitors who dismissed this approach, the centricity of XML, the importance of Web services"||I still don't get the importance of Web services. Or rather, I understand that but I don't understand the value-add of UDDI and WSDL.|
|"this is a software problem, one of the toughest software problems ever tackled, easily greater than tough engineering problems like getting to the moon or designing the 747"||In some ways, I agree with this. If they're smart, however, the problem will be broken up into many smaller problems, which can be far more independent of each other than could be possible in a space mission or airplane. Software is very complex, but it can be extremely modular. Hey, XML can help with that!|
|"today think of your address book information that's in your buddy list, it's on different machines, it doesn't get up to date, somebody can change something, it doesn't automatically get to you, so the information management is not people centric, and .NET My Services, the direction there is to solve that"||It's definitely not clear from this who "owns" your buddy list. That's the problem with making something centrally available. On the other hand, we've gotten over that anxiety with email - many people use hotmail for email without worrying about Microsoft owning their emails.|
|"It's important to think of the breakthroughs that were required once we got that connectivity really in two parts. One is how you represent the information and the other is how do you exchange that information. The first is about information formats and schemas and the second is about a rich set of protocols."||Yes! It's not enough just to have the Internet, we have to define how data is represented, exchanged and used. There's much confusion on that score. Today somebody posted a proposal for a RPC protocol to the general IETF list, as if it were the protocol to end all protocols. Well, we can have layers and layers and layers of protocols, but there still needs to be an understanding about how the information is formatted and what it means to the sending and receiving computers.|
|"In a sense you could say it's the Holy Grail that computing has talked about for a long time, having applications written by people who don't have to meet each other, because the number of connections are too great for that, they don't have to trust each other, their system can run even if the other guy's system is unreliable or even if it's malicious you can make sure that the wrong things don't happen to that application."||OK, this is totally bogus. .NET is not the holy grail of computing. It won't give computers the intelligence to talk to each other! Duh.|
|"Jet Blue is an example of a competitor in the airline industry who's decided they're going to keep their IT costs below 2 percent and that's against a fairly typical industry average there of about 5 percent."||Wow. That's exciting! IT costs are too high. Cutting IT costs like that, if it's generally applicable, would rock for the world economy. Not that I believe the cost reduction is all Microsoft's doing, however.|
|Portals are mentioned, in the sense that a government (or I assume a company) can standardize on a portal and then plug all sorts of value services into it without planning a single architecture for all the services.||That wish will not come true for 5-10 years. Since I've had recent experience working with and comparing portals, I can attest that they are so different there's a significant learning curve and even some architectural differences required to plug into them. Some portal products (Sybase's) are all about architecture, and locking a bunch of valuable services into one architecture.|
|"Federation, the idea that all these different systems can be connected together without their being any unique root, that is if two companies want to trust each other they can just federate."||This is a cool thing, but not that new. We federate email, why not instant messaging? Competition amonst IM services has stifled federation in that area. I won't be surprised if IM stays in its isolated islands, or if more services are islands.|
|Sharing authentication information"What we announced recently is what we call "TrustBridge," where you can take that internal Active Directory and say OK, if I want to share these identities outside the company, how can I use this WS security protocol to, say, take the Intel Active Directory implementation and the Microsoft one and exchange that information? That's the corporate-to-corporate case..."||OK, but does every TrustBridge require individual attention? It won't do me much good most of the time, because the IT departments of companies employing my collaborators couldn't be bothered setting up a TrustBridge with my employer.|
|"Notification is the idea that instead of going and finding information there are certain things you care enough about that you want to be notified."||I've discussed this technology recently on this blog. It sure sounds from the way Steve talks about notification that they want to centralize it. E.g. rather than getting new-email notifications via IMAP, and appointment-reminder notifications via CAP, and document-unlocked events via WebDAV, they want to use one protocol to transport all these notifications, and one notification server to collect them for the user. That's not the way the standards are going, so MS is either going to drag the standards in that direction or be non-standard. Probably both to a large extent.|
|To remove barriers in communication media, to improve user centricity: "A big part of this we believe is bringing the voice world and the screen world together and you're seeing this in a number of real time things."||I believe in this big time, but again, it's very hard. How does your IM client know what your email contact book is? These are so separate today, separate servers and protocols and clients, that it will be hard to unify.|
|"Outlook will evolve from being an e-mail client to being far more than an e-mail client."||Yeah, you can see that happening -- its had calendaring and contacts and journal and tasks for years, recently a little buddy list functionality, next I imagine it will integrate NetMeeting|
|"SharePoint, you're going to see, is really a key part of Office."||Ouch. SharePoint is really not standards based. In fact, open standards are really not a focus of this strategy. I guess this is the "extend" phase of "embrace and extend" the Internet. I hope the damage from MS not following open standards in key components won't be too great, but I'm pessimistic.|
|To break down barriers between islands of information on your own computer, e.g. so you can search across your files and email with one search command, they plan to unify storage of this information.||This shouldn't be too hard, since modern file systems are half-way there, having dual streams so that the file contents can be stored with arbitrary amounts of metadata. But I'm not intimately familiar with the problems here.|
|"So you're going to see with the PC a lot more changes in these next three or four years than in the last three or four."||That's really unlikely. Systems get larger and more unwieldy as time passes. Unless they've spent the last three years simplifying PCs rather than adding features (which they have not), the next three years are more likely to involve smaller and smaller incremental changes in PCs. Unless they're talking hardware form factors rather than software GUI, in which case a breakthrough may radically change things.|
Summary: It's all about putting the data in XML to exchange via Web services (SOAP); that's .NET. SOAP is now built into Windows XP. Increased privacy, but at the same time increased authorization information exchange. Increased federation, but also increased centralization. "So there's a lot of direction here." No kidding!
Friday, August 02, 2002
The article goes on to discuss the medicalization of unhealthy behaviors, the increasing tendency to see addicts as helpless, either sick or insane people. It's a little overly wordy but otherwise interesting.
The report discusses subsidizing low-income customers. This recommendation makes much more sense to me than subsidizing everybody, or subsidizing those who waste more as the more common flat price scheme does. (OTOH, I also find it wasteful for every social program that exists to have a separate way to subsidize low-income customers. Wouldn't it be more efficient to centralize that too? )
BTW, only 20% of the US population gets charged according to how much garbage they produce (at the time of the original SERA study).
The main thing I'd like to see changed in libertarians is more compassion. The pro-personal-independence stance of many libertarians seems to encourage them to overlook suffering. I guess that reveals my preferences to be as much socialist (that is, I support taxes & many social programs) as libertarian (I support individual liberties).
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