The goal of the Linux-Society (LS, dating back to the mid-90s as a professional club and tech-mentoring group) has been a purely-democratic Information Society; many of the articles are sociological in nature. The LS was merged with Perl/Unix of NY to form multi-layered group that included advocacy, project-oriented learning by talented high school students: textbook constructivism. Linux has severe limitations such that it is useless for any computer that will, say, print or scan. It is primarily used for webservers and embedded devices such as the Android. (Google is high-invested in it).

Technology is problematic. During the heyday of technology (1990s), it seemed it had the democratic direction Lewis Mumford said it should have in his seminal
Technics and Civilization.

Today, we are effectively stuck with Windows as Linux is poor on the desktop and has cultured a maladaptive following. Apple is prohibitive, and all other operating systems lack drivers, including Google's Android, an offshoot of linux.

In the late 90s there was hope for new kernels such as LibOS and ExoOS that would bare their hardware to programs, some of which would be virtual machines such as Java uses. Another important player was the L4 system that is a minor relation to the code underlying the Apple's systems. It was highly scientific but fell into the wrong hangs, apparently, and has suffered from having no progress on the desktop. There is a version, "SE" that is apparently running in many cell phones as specialized telecom chips, but is proprietary. SE's closed nature was only recently revealed, which is important because it is apparently built from publicly-owned code as it is not a "clean room" design it may violate public domain protections, and most certainly violates the widely-accepted social contract.

Recent attempts to enjoin into L4 development as an advocate for "the people" have been as frustrating (and demeaning) as previous attempts with the usual attacks to self-esteem by maladaptive "hacks" being reinforced by "leadership" (now mostly university professors).

In short, this leaves us with Windows, which is quite a reversal if you have read earlier posts here. But, upon Windows, we have free and open software development systems in the forms of GTK+ (the windows usually used on Linux) and the Minimal GNU Windows (MinGW and MSYS) systems. It is very likely this direction that development should go (that is, on Windows) such that s/w can then be ported to a currently-valid microkernel system that includes a driver system that can be adapted by hardware developers to reuse of their windows and apple drivers.

From a brief survey of L4, it appears that the last clean copy was the DROPS system of the early 2010s, was a German effort that used the Unix-like "OS kit" from an American University.

If we are going to be stuck on Windows, then it seems that a high level approach to free and open systems integration, such as creating fully transparent mouse communication between apps so that they can seamlessly work together as a single desktop (rather than deliberately conflicting). This would be very helpful for GIMP and Inkscape, both leading graphics programs that are strong in the special ways, but suffer from an inability to easily interrelate.

Another important issue is the nature, if you can call it that, of the "geek" or "hack." Technology is formed democratically but "harvested" authoritarian-ly --if I can coin a term that Mumford might use. Authority is plutarchy: a combination of aristocracy and oligarchy that is kept alive after all these millennia by using, or maligning, the information society as a part of the civilizing (or law-giving) process that embraces the dialectic as its method. Democratic restoration, that is to put humanity back on an evolutionary (and not de-evolutionary) track, I think, will require the exclusion of the "geek" from decision-making. As is, the free/open s/w culture attempts to give leadership to those who write the most lines of code --irrespective of their comprehension of the real world or relationship with normal users. We need normal people to somehow organize around common sense (rather than oligarchic rationalism) to bring to life useful and cohesive software and communications systems.

Interestingly, the most popular page on this site is about Carl Rogers' humanistic psychology, and has nothing to do with technology.

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Google Docs: No privacy, No free speech

I use Google Docs nearly purely for academic research, usually as a scratch pad or Web formatting tool for work I do in the Wikipedia and Wikiversity.

The work I do is essentially classical in that it develops well-known areas such as economics and psychology and attempts to wrap societal concepts into a single model, such as Einstein attempted to do for physics.

A large proportion of human society is the Information Society--today the Internet, and if you understand human history, the Information Society, and with it information technology, has defined humanity's success for at least many thousands of years.

Recently a page with my citations was flagged as an abuse of Google Docs terms of service, and was "unpublished" as a violation of a rule against spam because it contains URLs that link to sources. The rule specifically says that a document cannot consist "mostly of links," but
there were no links, just URLs. (Later I "self-published" the document, with the links.)

The rule is obviously bogus with respect to academic work, which is a major use for Google Docs, as the Google advertises it as a collaborative environment. So I can't possibly be the only person with lists of online references. The rule is not a show-stopper, as anyone can easily get a web space and use the HTML editing tool to cut and paste their writing into any web page. The main loss is the use of Google Docs as a collaborative tool, which is primarily why I use Google Docs.

The history of the situation is thus. I had been happily embedding Google Docs text in pages that collect my work to essentially create a mini-site out of a page (and I got straight As for my work). At a certain point, I learned that my citations had been "unpublished" (is that a word?), and I immediately associated this event with web posters on the Care2.com site who had been hostile in the past for writing I had done about the Native America connection to the natural environment.

A poster here in the Google help forum, probably correctly, pointed out that I had violated one of the terms (CLICK), which he immediately added is BS; that I had created a list of links to third-party sites. The rule implies that I am advertising by creating a list of links, and hence I am using Google Docs as a vehicle for spam. But as I wrote above, there were no links, only URLs. And, it seems purely logical, that any page suggesting references--teachers' aids come to my mind as the most common example--will be flagged as abuse, and that the writer will hence be labeled abusive.

The TOS clearly states that "flagged material" will be read by Google employees to determine if there is a violation, and if what Google has had written in the TOS is true, then at least a single person read at least one of my documents. If the writing in the TOS is false, and employees are not reading Doc pages, and this does not happen, then, well, that is another issue... (or maybe it is the same issue on a deeper socio- and psychological level).

Now when I look at my table of contents, I see that many pages have been unpublished that I do not recall publishing. This implies to me that many of my pages are being read because they contain citations, and that there is no reasonable privacy on Google Docs.

Knowing that Google employees are reading my documents creates concern for me that my primary field of discussion, the Information Society, may be targeted by Google employees because there is criticism of their employer, the World's largest information company: Google.

In fact, here is criticism of Google in this very writing. I am very specifically saying that Google is using an unreasonable rule to suppress information that happens to be critical of how society
functions. I am explicitly saying that Google is denying my basic right to free speech as described in the first amendment of the Constitution of the United States, the law of the land, a grave crime. Google may rationalize information suppression in terms of spam, a security issue, but that does not make their suppression of free speech rights valid. In fact there are obviously no security issues associate with scholarly citations.

It can easily be argued here that my writing does not represent a desire on the part of Google to suppress information, but is simply the enforcement of a stupid rule. If that is the case, then it should be simple to request a modification of the rule by Google, but then another problem arises. There is no one to contact to modify the rule. Google employees, and possibly managers, (there is a difference) may or may not read this writing, but I feel certain that the issue will not be addressed. I feel this because Google, as many corporations, has successfully insulated its employees from contact with the people of the outside World, a condition described as a cult by Aaron Beck in his book Prisoners of Hate. (Aaron Beck is the most famous psychologist of all time.) Beck in this book shows information insulation to be the common form of organized abuse, what he calls hate, and a most extreme form of the abuse of information --by the largest Information Society corporation in the World.

Besides critical inquiry of the Information Society, which I tend to publish, there may be writing of a more personal nature, such as psychological work, which I would never publish, that could be damaging if read by others, a complete violation of privacy and trust even in the most liberal sense. My writing, and nearly everybody elses', is simply none of Google's business, and should be left alone, unless there can specifically be shown to be published writing that is either a threat to system security, or egregiously damaging in some way.

This happens to be the law of the land, but because of the economic situation here in the United States and around the World, corporations have become more powerful than nations. If nations are to protect the sovereignty of their protective laws, then nations must move to the next step. You can imagine what that is!

I would like to close this by saying that technologically Google Docs has not been a "seamless" experience for me; I have encountered endless problems. For instance, Google Gears has never worked properly, not even once, even though it is a fairly straight forward technology. Google Docs, as with most WYSIWYG HTML editors, does not make effective use of Object Oriented "objectification." The Spread Sheet system makes it impossible to quickly transfer information between documents (not to mention that spread sheets themselves are obsolete on too many
levels to count). I have been unable to use Google Office as a Microsoft Office replacement. Its only use is as an HTML WYSIWIG and document repository, and only with moderate success, if you discount this particular problem.

Often people and organizations say that they "may not be nice," but that they "are effective." (CIA) That is impossible; if you are not nice, you are lacking the neural constructs necessary for effective collaboration (Darwin, de Waal), and hence the ability to truly self-actualize technologically.

Google, as has been well-predicted, has, along with Microsoft, become so powerful that it can violate nearly any accepted social contract of the Information Society, and is impervious to reasonable rights laws. I will update this writing .

I will attempt to find a suitable web forum for extending this exceedingly serious discussion and I will update this writing with the URL.

I will also very likely contact a US congressman with whom I have worked in the past on information issues, and I will bring this issue to the attention of the New York State governor, who has become a personal associate of mine on various rights issues.

Monday, December 07, 2009

Photographs at Brazen Betty's

Bessa's Photographs at Brazen Betty's Boutique and Gallery, Torrington CT

John Bessa

Having experienced much of my political and philosophical inspiration here in the mountains of Northwest Connecticut, or the Southern Berkshires, I am very happy to present for you photographs taken in the region that will be exhibited in Litchfield County's biggest city, Torrington Connecticut at Brazen Betty's

With time, the photos there will be replaced with photographic constructions that leverage back lighting in a way that resembles Joseph Cornell's Boxes. See them here: Windows and roots (click)

My photography is the art of photojournalism. What I see, and how I feel when I take a picture what I want to convey to the viewer truthfully. I photographed many crows in Poughkeepsie and many landscapes of Poughkeepsie's many artifacts, but rarely did a good crow shot appear within the perfect landscape. So I made this, my only composite from a picture of a crow landing on construction equipment, and typical Poughkeepsie roof-scape under a hanging cloud. The scene and the feeling it conveys is genuine however: the smart, social and often maligned crows over this old and beautiful, yet often troubled, city.

Window in Rain

The Window is an unplanned theme in my art, a happy accident. Many pictures that look good on a computer may not work in print, in fact, some dramatic pictures of clouds have come out muddy. Back lighting solved this problem, and I used glass panes from an old door for my first light box. Since then windows have become important, and this window is in the stairway where I live in Torrington.

Roll of tape
1/8 s, f/2.8, 8 mm
This roll was found in the abandoned lot of a long-closed factory in Poughkeepsie. It is old and useless, but iridescent. It is part of my series memorializing America's closed factories and discarded workers that hopes to help revive American manufacturing.

Warm Window in Torrington

Another in my window series, this one gives a warm feeling of the house within.

Late commute through the Poughkeepsie rain

Taken near the Poughkeepsie factory that gave me so many scenes, it is the trip home in the rain, snug and warm in the car with a pleasant, if cold, drizzle outside. Power-lines provide strong symbolism for photography. They are beautiful and imposing, and represent the power of our society, and also bring us back to the early days of modern America, the rural electrification of the 30s. The 30s were also a Rennasaince for photojournalism, especially during the continual crises in Europe photographed by the amazing photojournalists of the time.

Mythology on Birch Bark Parchment

Birch bark has significant meaning to the Native culture here, one of the most important documents of our continent, the Anishabe Prophecy that predicts a joining of all the World's people in peace through stages called "fires."

I was searching for the perfect representation of birch bark as an symbol of knowledge, and I found also a quill, and then mythological beast with in the span of the same roll of film, near Music Mountain.

The Anishinabie Prophecy has been maintained on birch bark since the mid-1700s, as European colonialists began the Native decimation. Today the Great Medicine Lodge, or the Midewiwin, maintains the prophecy only having stepped forward in the 1970s. Today the Mediwinin elders hold social science PhDs.

Julia Sloan, as Brazen Betty, Super heroine, has a fine jewelery, clothes, and art store that seeks only the efforts of desingers and artists in the Litchfield, or Southern Berkshire area of Connecticut. The clothes she features come from as far away as New York City, but the inspiration is purely local.

Julia Sloan, as Brazen Betty