Last week, the CEO of AIG invoked the phrase "lynch mob" to compare the vitriolic reaction his company received about its employees' 2009 bonuses. Lynching was so common that a writer even referred to it being as "American as apple pie."
You know that $88,000 BMW 8 Series coupe that cut you off in traffic the other day? If you regarded that vehicle as a public menace, you might have been right — economically speaking. Economists regard show-offy luxury items like a high-end Bimmer (or a Maserati, Mercedes or Jag) as a “public bad.” These are items that might produce positive effects for the delighted owner but have negative external effects on the wider world: A fancy car inducing envy in others is an example of a public bad. Compare that to a public good, such as when you shovel the entire sidewalk so that everybody gets to use the path, not just you.
You’ve probably heard of the “cone of silence.” Borrowed from political philosophy, this week’s econ chapter offers us the “veil of ignorance.” No, the veil won’t make you ignorant. The veil is a thought experiment in the form of an imagined opaque curtain. It’s used to assess whether a proposed law or policy would be fair — without knowing whether you would be a winner or a loser under it.
Recently, I made my 100,000th annotation with Hypothesis. I know what you must be thinking: Doesn’t she have a life? Why would anyone make 100,000 annotations? Just a few short years ago, I would have dismissed this prospect as preposterous. I disliked reading online and abandoned most online tools at the first hurdle. Yet, here I am, a self-diagnosed annotation addict. (For those of you who don’t know me, I used to work for Hypothesis. Leaving to build open infrastructure didn’t mean that I left the tool behind — far from it!)
I hadn’t included it at the time, but private groups are also an interesting way to share ideas and private posts with small groups of people. You could also use those groups as taxonomies for keeping private notebooks as well. While the primary instance of Hypothes.is that many use would technically be considered a silo, keep in mind that it’s open source, so you could technically host it for yourself as an IndieWeb project! Now to get support for Webmention and Micropub! 😉
I’d also recently done a quick survey of some of the bigger accounts I was aware of and suspected that there must be one or two edge cases in the 10,000+ range. I knew a bot user or two were likely way ahead, but figured there was at least one person with a huge number of posts hiding out there. Great to know my hypothesis was right!
Last October Doc Searls gave the Ostrom Memorial Lecture for the Ostrom Workshop at Indiana University. In his lecture he carries on what I believe to be an incredibly unfortunate tradition. I’ll call it, “the dance of the not commons.” It’s an incredibly simple dance. Step one (right foot)...
Last week I promised I would write a few posts about reducing friction with regard to OER. When I use the phrase “reducing friction” in this context, I mean taking things that are needlessly difficult and making them much easier. In last week’s post I talked about how we’re making it ridicul...
Unable, or perhaps unwilling, to do my usual exercise due to not being able to wear contact lenses at the moment, I sat down yesterday evening with my back to our bedroom radiator to read Stefan Zweig’s Montaigne. It’s a short book, and quite odd, in that it doesn’t really quote much from Mont...
From the Pulitzer Prize–winning scholar, a timely history of the constitutional changes that built equality into the nation’s foundation and how those guarantees have been shaken over time.
The Declaration of Independence announced equality as an American ideal, but it took the Civil War and the subsequent adoption of three constitutional amendments to establish that ideal as American law. The Reconstruction amendments abolished slavery, guaranteed all persons due process and equal protection of the law, and equipped black men with the right to vote. They established the principle of birthright citizenship and guaranteed the privileges and immunities of all citizens. The federal government, not the states, was charged with enforcement, reversing the priority of the original Constitution and the Bill of Rights. In grafting the principle of equality onto the Constitution, these revolutionary changes marked the second founding of the United States.
Eric Foner’s compact, insightful history traces the arc of these pivotal amendments from their dramatic origins in pre–Civil War mass meetings of African-American “colored citizens” and in Republican party politics to their virtual nullification in the late nineteenth century. A series of momentous decisions by the Supreme Court narrowed the rights guaranteed in the amendments, while the states actively undermined them. The Jim Crow system was the result. Again today there are serious political challenges to birthright citizenship, voting rights, due process, and equal protection of the law. Like all great works of history, this one informs our understanding of the present as well as the past: knowledge and vigilance are always necessary to secure our basic rights.
The illness is on every continent except Antarctica, with more new cases now being reported outside China than within. But how threatening is the outbreak, really?
This week, I’ve been delighted to be able to catch up with Adam Procter, academic, games designer, open advocate, and long-time supporter of Thought Shrapnel.
We discussed everything from the IndieWeb to his PhD project, with relevant links below!
The Russian government is again trying to meddle in the presidential election. In doing so, they’re working to aid two very different candidates.