So I'm here at eTech attending a talk at about DIY-IT by an IBM guy. Forgive me while I feel validated.
IT Garage has been about DIY-IT from the beginning.
What's interesting here at eTech is that the role played by vendors is now supportive of DIY activities...
Ever since I reported the discovery that Linux is a species, a provisional insight that alpha kernel developer Greg Kroah-Hartman endorsed, calling it one of the most insitful descriptions about what the Linux kernel really is, I've been thinking about the distinction kernel developers make between kernel space and user space, and between usefulness and use.
The kernel folks make a sharp distinction between the two. I have heard (and read) Linus say, many times, "that's user space... I don't do user space". Even though, clearly, he lives in it.
A few weeks ago Don Marti told me that a similar distinction exists betwen usefulness and use in all open source projects.
So now I'm wondering about similar relationships from three other angles:
- Standards developers
- Commercial developers
- IT professionals on the "customer" side (even when nothing is being bought), putting stuff to use.
Seems to me we need all these parties to make the world work. Also that they bring different values and approaches to usefulness and use.
Through a series of coincidi, I was introduced to IPcop. It's a very well done, dead simple, linux distribution customized to be a firewall.
Setup is about as easy as any standard Linux install. Tell it which ethernet cards are which, the particulars of your network addressing, and you're done.
You'll probably never have to deal with Linux, or the command line. Management of the box is done through a web browser. Forwarding ports is dead easy. It supports multiple external addresses, so we can use it to handle traffic from both internet connections. The update process is painless as well.
I was listening to Doc on a recent podcast, and he mentioned this site, and the need to figure out just what to do with it. Podcasting would be interesting for one use.
I'm writing this to suggest another use as well. I belong to APCU, the Chicago based computer club. We lead our meetings with something we call "Random Access", which is a group discussion where we try to help each other out with the technical issues which we can't figure out on our own.
Even in the age of Google, Technorati, etc... there is still a need for this form of interaction. Perhaps we could do something like that here, we'd need to focus on one subject at a time to maintain the flow.
Not quite sure why I would need to blog on somebody else's web site.
Kim Cameron: I run my blog on a LAMP stack... Now Kim, the lead Architect for Identity at Microsoft, is talking about hacking PHP in Wordpress. These involve about 100 lines of PHP that he'd like to submit to the WordPress project. He adds, We're looking for a partner to do an InfoCard on the Mac, and on Linux.
InfoCard is not in this case a Microsoft program, but "a type of visualization." Of which the first example is the Microsoft Identity Selector known as InfoCard. So the term InfoCard is a bit of nomenclatural camouflage here.
First, go read Terry Heaton's The Ammunition Business. Terry's been whupping the TV industry with a clue stick for years. I don't know how much effect he having, but I also don't know anybody who's better at it.
So, a big Amen for what Terry is saying.
Now, here are a few more points I don't see many (or, any) people talking about. So I'll lay them out here, because the underlying theme is pure DIY. If I'm wrong about anything, correct me. This is mostly new stuff.
First, if LCD screen price/feature trends continue in their same general down/up directions, by the end of this year, we'll see 1080i and 1080p HD flat screens for under $1k at Costco and the big box electronics stores. (For what it's worth, folks at Sony and Sharp told me at CES that they expect resolution improvement to plateau for awhile at 1080p as a maximum resolution.)
Now, where will the best-looking source video for those screens come from?
They don't have the bandwidth, because they're wedging too many broadcast channels in a pipeline of finite width. Even at 720 "HD" resolution they're full of artifacts. I was at Circuit City the other day, watching some golf on ESPN-HD or some channel like that. A shot following a golf ball through the sky looked like a tiny black donut moving through a field of shimmering rectangles. Any frame looked like a .jpg saved at "lowest".
Direct over-the-air digital transmission (where all the analog TV stations are moving all stations will be off the 2-13 VHF band and transmitting in HD on the UHF band) is capable of relatively artifact-free tranmission (because the stations don't have the burden of carrying 500 channels), but who bothers with a TV antenna anymore? HD stations look to me like anachronisms at birth. Expensive ones, too.
No, the best-looking source video will be produced by the same people who own the screens. Sony's HD cameras make very pretty pictures, at 1080i. (Can they do 1080p yet? Need to check.)
I already know of people whose main uses for big flat screens in their homes are personal photos and home movies. That's probably what we'll do too, when we move to our next house.
New standards for DVDs are in dispute, and may end up splitting the baby. Meaning, we're stuck with prettified
Watch Apple. Count on them going all-out with video production enablement for amateurs, and -- count on it -- distribution through uploads and downloads from the great .Mac in the sky.
And, of course, others will follow.
Here's the kicker.
Most of my writing goes in one of four places: Linux Journal, SuitWatch (some of which also runs in LJ), here in IT Garage, or my blog. So when I write something I want to find again, I'm not always sure where it ran.
This morning I wanted to find a piece where I quoted Terry Heaton about unbundling. That brought up a goose egg on Google. So did leaving my name out of the search. I got farther with Terry Heaton and Unbundled, but not to what I wrote about the subject.
So I looked around my hard drives and found a draft of the piece, with the phrase "This morning, fortuitously". The top result on Google got me to
Doc Searls' IT Garage - 5:08am
This morning, fortuitously, he treats us to some important wisdom in 2006: The
Unbundled Awakening. Here are the core paragraphs: ...
itgarage.com/ - 28k -
Cached - Similar pages - Remove result
Which was helpful, because I could read the cached page and then locate it in IT Garage.
But there was no direct link to the original piece.
Yahoo brought many more results, all around IT Garage, but nothing on the first page pointing sraight to the piece.
So I tried some Live Web engines.
These results highlight the differences between the Static Web and the Live Web (which I first wrote about in Searching the World Live Web, in Suitwatch and Linux Journal).
Then read Dave Winer's How to reform the VC industry.
Dave's case compresses to these two points:
1. One word: disintermediate. Take out the middleman. We don’t need the partners, limited or general, they gum up the works. We need money to start new ventures. Luckily we know the people with the money, they’re the users. And we need people to validate the ideas. Same people, the users.
I keep running into Rick Segal. Doesn't matter how remote or large the event might be, there's Rick. It happened last summer in Copenhagen, when Rick was the first guy I recognized in Denmark sitting in a steetside cafe on the evening before Reboot started. And it happened again earlier this month at CES in Las Vegas, when I ran into Rick somewhere in the bowells of the monstrous South Hall, which is possibly the largest single conference space in the world.
Rick is a VC: a venture capitalist. He's also a rebel. So, every time we meet up, we naturally find ourselves talking about how venture funding is ripe for disruption (in the manner of Clayton Christensen's Innovator's Dilemma, which describes how old slow-innovating industries are disrupted by small, original and inventive newcomers). While the technologies and markets funded by VCs continue to change, Rick says, the VC business itself has changed very little. Partners rotate through, but the dance stays the same. And it's getting as old as disco.
So this past weekend, in the midst of a many-city junket, Rick came by our house in Santa Barbara (a nice warm Winter break from Rick's native habitat), and we brainstormed all kinds of fun stuff. Which was an education for me, because I've generally avoided the detail side of the Venture business. Sure, I've sat in on pitches, and advised VCs and their funded companies at various times and in various ways (more often informally than formally). But my eyes usually glaze over when talks turn to term sheets and angels and burn rates and A-, B- and mezz rounds of funding. But Rick wasn't talking about that stuff. He was talking about speeding up and otherwise improving the simple act of getting good ideas off the ground.
But rather than share his ideas (which maybe oughta be his job anyway), I thought I'd ask the rest of ya'll what you'd do to improve the venture business especially in the earliest stages, when you've got a good idea that needs a bit of funding to help get started.
I'm especially interested in exploring what I've been calling the because effect. This is what you get when your new business isn't just about inventing and controlling technologies and standards, but about taking advantage of the new opportunities opened up by fresh new technologies and standards. For example, making money because of blogging, or RSS, or desktop Linux, or whatever rather than just with those things.
The because effect is a kind of jujitsu. While other people look to make money with something, you're finding ways of making money because of something.