Archive for technology

Review: Flow: For Love of Water

Posted in business, Culture, Environment, Media, Movies, Philosophy, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 14, 2009 by 99ppp

While channel surfing, we had the good fortune to stumble upon a terrific documentary on The Movie Network : Flow: For Love of Water (TMN, DVD) which highlights the importance of our potable water and challenges our preconceptions about its treatment, abundance and accessibility. This documentary also provides a robust critique of privatization and how these huge conglomerates make exorbitant profits while limiting access to the impoverished local populations. When profit reigns supreme, it is unsurprising that control by a few of this precious resource, necessary to sustain human life, jeopardizes and marginilzes the most vulnerable whose welfare depends on it. Corporate control of potable water is not solely a concern for those in the developing world as a legal battle between Michigan citizens and a Nestle bottling plant emerges. The safety of bottled water is also challenged and the perception that is somehow better than tap water.

It isn’t all bad news as the film also presents those communities who’ve applied creative solutions in a local, decentralized, and affordable manner, showing that innovation can come elsewhere than a corporate boardroom and at high infrastructure costs. I highly recommend this enlightening film, and check out this review from the New York Times on this award winning documentary.

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Beyond Web 2.0 : P2P (Peer-to-Peer)

Posted in Culture, Media, Philosophy, Relationships, technology with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 14, 2008 by 99ppp

Web 2.0, the effect of social software where collaboration and sharing are gaining importance, and its a beneficial trend of the internet. Now, people are less passive consumers of media and creating content like links, photos, contacts and text to share on their own. Facebook, MySpace, and  here on WordPress.com gives users both the ability to share their creations, explore the creations of others, and build online communities around them.

Online entrepreneurs have been quick to jump abort and some have had a substantial windfall, for example, Facebook has been valuated by some at $15 billion. This company has done an excellent job creating a framework to facilitate connections but I question whether such valuation is warranted.

Web 2.0: You make all the content, they keep all the revenue. – Paraphrasing bash.org post

Many believe we all should be grateful for getting these tools for free, yet these companies are not providing these services out of the goodness of their hearts, they eventually wish to profit by investing in the tools and hoping you’ll add as much content as possible and add to your social network. Usage data can be used to calculate, sculpt and deliver targetted advertising. We don’t question how television operates, that we get content for free but they sell commercials to pay for it. It appears to me that many give Web 2.0 companies greater goodwill than they would give television networks for instance, when the models are roughly analogous.

WordPress.com,  a Web 2.0 service is also experimenting with ads, and some users (likely wp.com bloggers) just don’t see them. To WP.com’s credit, they are looking into possibly incorporating some form of sharing ad revenue, recoginizing the value of user content. At this moment, I am happy with WP.com services, but fully understand that the relationship with this blogging platform is mutually beneficial, not some altruistic gesture from wp.com. In the future, I may opt for greater customization and freedom a wordpress.org blog would offer, at the cost of paying for a hosting service.

The P2P Model

Peer-to-Peer (P2P) is a decentralized model of computer networking, where the expense of resources such as bandwidth, storage and computer power are shared between the users instead of relying on a server to supply it for clients (server-client model). The picture below demonstrates clearly:

As you can see, the P2P model can be robust, the loss of any one of those computers will not disrupt the network. With the server model on the right, the loss of the central server would keep the other clients disconnected from one another. P2P is closer to how the world wide web was envisioned by its creator,  with each node contributing resources to the network. In the days of dial-up internet and high cost computers, that model may have been premature, yet now, in these days of much cheaper storage, fast bandwidth and computer power, the P2P model becomes increasing viable.

Some current uses of P2P

A well known example of P2P technology succeeding in the commercial area is Skype, a VOIP company (internet telephone). The technology is closed software, yet the Skype network works without a central server. The company was bought by eBay for $2 billion and its hoping to compete with larger content providers such as Google. Skype has a customer base of 115 million, a large foundation to make an impact. In addition, Skype is working on refining video conferencing and instant messaging.

The P2P model is now used in banking and supplying an alternative to banks for lending and borrowing money. Zopa is a service where people can lend and borrow while taking less money per transaction than a bank would. By cutting out the middle man, both borrowers and lenders can get better rates of interest. Zopa operates out of the UK, yet there is a similar service called Prosper working out of the US.

Obstacles to adoption of the P2P model

Skype is a hybrid P2P model as they hold a centralized index of users, so the reliance on Skype for people to connect still remains, yet they show how reliable and robust a P2P can be. Indexing and search remains a challenge for P2P networks, and so far, there hasn’t been a convincing solution to such a problem, P2P seaches are notoriously slow so Google can rest easy for a while.

The Open Source community, which has produced excellent software like Firefox, Linux and Open Office has a golden opportunity here to specialize and become the forefront of P2P technology, as commercial interests are less likely to spend resources developing an indexing and search system. It would jeopardize their ability to profit since they wouldn’t have exclusivity to user lists. Open source development is quite decentralized, and the affinity between the P2P model and free software is clear to see.

Despite the obstacles, there are many who believe (myself among them) that the P2P model can have profound societal and philosophical implications along with technological ones. One such site is the P2P Foundation, a terrific resource on exploring more deeply into ideas closely related to the P2P model such as participatory democracy.

The P2P model has enormous potential to further decentralize and democratize the internet, allowing each of us greater freedom to connect without relying on the willingness or financial capacity of some big dot com, or some small startup begging for users. Widespread usage of P2P may take us to the next stage, Web 3.0, a fully decentralized and democratized internet.

Will the New Iron Man movie Peddle or Decry the War Machine?

Posted in Anti-War, Culture, Media, Movies, Philosophy, Uncategorized, Vids with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2008 by 99ppp

As propaganda is our bread and butter here, I just saw the trailer for the Iron Man movie, and was dismayed to see few arguments against the Military-Industrial complex within it. I haven’t seen the movie, but according to the book “Comic Book Nation” :

The most political of Marvel’s superheroes was Iron Man, a hero literally forged on the battlefields of Vietnam. In his first act as a superhero, he demolishes a Viet Cong military base and overthrows a sadistic Communist warlord. As Tony Stark, he serves a vital function in America’s military-industrial complex, both as a weapons inventor and a defense contractor. As Iron Man, he foils Communist agents and battles Soviet supervillains in symbolic Cold War contests of power and will….. The Iron Man series showed the extent to which Marvel endorsed Cold War assumptions. There was little room for dissent. As Iron Man once asserted, “No one has the right to defy the wishes of his government! Not even Iron Man!”

Now replace Vietnam with Afghanistan, Communist/Soviet with Terrorist, and Cold War with War on Terror and suddenly the film may be updated to modern times while pushing the same agenda.

In fairness, the comic did take a turn and begin to question the initial premises during the early seventies and the film may take a similar approach. Yet taking a peek at the trailer below, especially Iron Man flying “majestically” alongside high-tech products of the war industry, it doesn’t bode well that the film will be a critique of the Military-Industrial Complex. For that, I recommend Lord of War, Why We Fight (documentary) .

Robert Downey Jr. is one of my favourite actors who usually picks interesting roles, and it’d be a shame if he’s compromised himself to land the big paycheck.

Here’s Eisenhower’s warning on the Military Industrial Complex:

Here’s the Iron Man Trailer:

Technologically Advanced, Socially Fucked

Posted in Culture, Love, Media, Poetry, Relationships with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 7, 2008 by 99ppp

When we talk of peace
We talk about war.
When we write about peace
We inevitably write about war.
When we dream of peace
We still see war.
Which reality do we believe
Which reality do we manifest.
Resolve the war within in our minds
Until then we shall not know peace.

The images we see
Do they reflect the world we live in ?
Images bombard us day and night
of strife, violence, hunger and poverty

where is the joy?
Where is the love?
Where is peace?

We stand alone
We forget community
We struggle alone
We get confused by the messages
delivered to us through different forms
of technology.

Television, computers, messengers
and e-mails, texting and cel phones.
Have we lost our way of communicating
to one another ?

We fear the strangers.
They have now become the new demon.
No longer the ones we read
from the many books that have been written
so long ago.
Still passed on to instill a new fear.
Fear of one another.

Trust only a higher power
Not the power within’
What is this “ higher power”?
Have we lost touch
with our inner selves.

Are we so out of touch
that we have lost faith in humanity
Faith in ourselves
Stop and listen

Silence..

The noise of technology
drowns out the song in our soul.

Express your true voice
Find your own voice
Music,art,writing
Find your individuality
create a new self
Not what a 30 second spot
magazines or even Oprah
define who you are.

Turn off the television
Tune out even this blog
Make your own choices
We need no more sheep.
We need more individuals.
We need more love
which has many new faces.