Tag Archives: random

Atlanta: the good, the bad, the ugly

So it’s been an intense week of blogging and writing, two posts I’m proud of and an op-ed I’m even more pleased with. Good times! On the lighter side, I’m just finishing up two days in Atlanta that started badly but have become really enjoyable.

The bad was the taxi ride in. After asking the driver if I could pay with a Visa before getting in the taxi he then said (mid-trip!) I was supposed to have done all this special stuff at the airport (something the hotel concierge said sounded fishy). I’m so tired of American cities where taxis don’t take Visa… Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver, even Montreal most of the time, take Visa no problem. What is up with that? (Other than the obvious tax evasion that dealing only in cash allows you to engage in).

The ugly of Atlanta is the traffic. If ever there was a case for more robust public transit, Atlanta has to be the definitive case study. It is gridlock in the town… incredible.

The good is pretty much everything else during this trip. The crew I’m working with are nice fun guys. I’m at the “W” hotel where the staff (right down to the repair men) are the nicest I’ve ever met (and the most fun). The client took me out to see the Thrashers play the Penguins (that’s a hockey game for non-canadian readers) and I got to see Sid the Kid score from about 30 feet away. Brilliant. And the hockey fans here are awesome – good spirited and up for a laugh. Atlanta is also surprisingly racially integrated – I’m not citing facts here, just casual observation, so I could be dead wrong on that one.

Best of all it’s been nice getting a steady stream of emails about yesterday’s piece (which they told us would only be online, but then somebody emailed Taylor saying they saw it in the paper… so now we’re just confused, but happy – anyone know for sure?).

Next stop Ottawa to give a talk on public service sector renewal to Stats Canada and do a few brown bag lunches. See you Monday!

Improving the tools of open source

It is really important to recognize that free software and open source spring not just from a set of licenses but from a set of practices and often those practices are embodied in the tools that we use. We think through the tools that we use and if you give people different tools they think differently.

– Tim O’Reilly, O’Reilly Radar update, OSCON 2007 (min 9:16 of 22:03)

For those coming to the Free Software and Open Source Symposium at Seneca College, and for those who are not, I wanted to riff off of O’Reilly because he is speaking precisely to something that I hope Dan Mosedale and I are going to dive into during our discussion.

The key is that while the four freedoms and the licenses are important they are not the sum total of open source. Open source communities work because of the tools and practices we’ve developed. More importantly – as Tim points out – these tools shape our behaviour. Consequently, we should never treat the tools or practices in open source as assumptions, but rather things that my must be questioned and whose benefits and limitations must be understood. It is also why we must envision and innovate new tools.

This is why I blog and write on community management and collaboration in opens source. I am trying to imagine ways to port over the ideas developed at the Harvard Negotiation practice into the open source space. I see a set of practices and tools that I believe could further enable, grow and foster effective communities. I believe it is a small, but important piece, to enabling the next generation of open source communities.

I know Dan enjoyed the presentation from last year and has some of his own thinking on this subject – with luck some interesting new insights will emerge which I promise to blog about.

Whatever you do today please, vote.

No matter where you are, what your day looks like, or who you intend to vote for, I hope you’ll take the time today to vote.

If you’ve left it all to the last minute and your not sure where the polling booths in your riding are – check out this page on the Elections Canada website. You can search by postal code.

Makes it easy.

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Also, for those who care, did a little upgrading of the blog over the weekend. Some new stuff under the hood that you won’t notice but also some cool stuff for your browsing pleasure. Among those things that are visible:

  • New section on the sidebar tracks my most popular posts (obvious winner here – Firefox pledge map – pledges as a % of population was slashdotted and before my server crumpled into a crying lump of clay it logged over 20,000 hits in 24 hours)
  • After clicking on a specific post a new sidebar will feature lists three posts that may be of interest
  • For non-Canadian techies interested in my writing on open-source but not much else, there is now a special open source subject specific RSS feed

Pollster Deathmatch (part 2): Ignoring the young people

So it turns out that others are also concerned about the differences between the Nanos poll and the Decima poll. The Ottawa Citizen has run a story about it today.

2 differences apparently account for the gap. One, Decima prompts people with a choice of who they are supporting whereas Nanos asks an open ended question – meaning the responding has to choose. The second is more interesting:

Nanos pays more to get cellphone exchanges included in its calling list. Cell users tend to be young and more transient than those with land-lines, Mr. Nanos says.

So, Nanos sample is actually more representative. Decima is going to be skewed towards older voters. What is more interesting is that this problem isn’t a new one…

Some foreign policy questions for your candidates

Once again, as Jeffrey Simpson recently pointed out, foreign policy seems to be a non-issue in the election.

It is somewhat understandable. With our soldiers in Afghanistan, the polar ice caps at a record low, our non-compliance of kyoto, the environmental implications of the tar sands, Obama and McCain’s reliance on Canadian oil in their energy security plans and the continued erosion of human rights, its not like foreign policy should be relevant to Canadians.

Well our friends over at Canada’s World are trying to change all that. Better still they have a list of questions they are encouraging people to ask candidates in their riding. Ask a few questions here and few questions there, and suddenly the main stream media might start paying attention.

Vision School Board Candidates Debate

Just a little update – I’ll be hosting Vision Vancouver’s school board debates tomorrow. If you are interested in getting to know the school board candidates come on down and join us. For Vision members not in the know, Vision will be having its nomination vote on the September 20th at Sir Charles Tupper Secondary.

The debate will take place 7pm tomorrow (Tuesday) at The Vancouver Community College, Downtown Campus (250 West Pender), Room # 112 – Theater.

I’ll be hosting the event and panelists Anne Guthrie Warman, Parker Learey, and Patrick Clark will be asking the candidates questions.

Baseball, politics and Palin vs. Biden

I’m up at hollyhock for open everything, having an amazing time. Fantastic people and unbelievable conversations. In addition, want to say thank you to the emails and text-messages(!) asking me to blog on Palin. Okay, but be careful what you ask for…

There is a long and glorious history of baseball analogies in American politics. Among the most famous was during Jim Hightower’s 1988 Democratic convention speech when he roared: “George Bush was born on third base and decided that he’d hit a triple.”

More recently, Ohio Governor Ted Strickland rifted of this line at this years Democratic Party Convention, saying “You know, it was once said of the first George Bush that he was born on third base and thought he’d hit a triple. Well, with the twenty two million new jobs and the budget surplus Bill Clinton left behind, George W. Bush came into office on third base. And then he stole second.”

Playing along this theme, I’ve got a baseball analogy that sums up my thinking of the Biden and Palin VP nominations.

Biden was a good, safe hit. Probably a solid double. Nothing fancy – that’s for sure. But no baseball player will ever complain about hitting a double. No points scored, that’s for sure. But runners are in scoring position.

Selecting Palin was more like a bunt – specifically a squeeze play bunt. No one expects it, the defense isn’t ready for it. In this case, the crowd certainly wasn’t either.

Most critically the squeeze bunt is a low odds play. It’s only used by a manager desperate for some points on the board or worse, by one who has poor judgment. Is McCain desperate? Definitely. Has he exercised poor judgment? He’s definitely taken a serious risk but his judgment will be determined by the results.

The upside, regardless of all this, is that the choice got the fans excited. There is no doubt that we are all focused on Palin. The only question is… for better or worse?

Ultimately, we are about to witness an amazing race: Can Palin’s charisma and buzz keep her ahead of the scandals and baggage that are chasing her? The right wing blogosphere, seeing only the charisma and conservative bona fides, says yes. The left wing blogosphere, seeing only the scandals, says no. My sense, is if the republicans can keep her appearances completely managed – if she can avoid a single press scrum – she will be a dangerous weapon. The only Democrats who underestimate here, are those who’ve already forgetten they’ve been beat for 8 years by a man they repeatedly labelled the dumbest president in history. That didn’t stop him from beating them. Twice.

At some point Palin is going to explode – the only question is, can the republicans shape her to detonate against the democrats in an effective, populist attack, or will she explode while still in their camp. Either way, It’ll be fun to watch.