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I started selfhosting my Known instance at https://1500wordmtu.com

The folks at withknown.com are nice, but their focus isn't on end-users these days and I need to get this on SSL, plus would like to use more plugins. [And if all goes well this posts to my social.coop mastodon account!]

 

The @worldbrain Memex system is working well for me. Full text index of all the pages I visit. Injects search results in Google/DuckDuckGo. Recommended.

 

Before there was Commons Clause or Affero the University of Minnesota Gopher team tried to license the server code with carve-outs for non-commercial use.

http://www.nic.funet.fi/pub/vms/networking/gopher/gopher-software-licensing-policy.ancient

 

ACEs

4 min read

Sit back a spell and let me tell you a story about the Association of Concerned Employees (ACEs).

Back in 1991 the academic computing teams at the University of Minnesota were set to be laid off and we could "apply" for a job with the new quasi-private sector outfit the "Minnesota Supercomputer Center" (MSC).
So none of us liked that.  Over 300 of us set up an effort to stop it.  The VAX/Unix/MVS/Unix/PC/CDC units stopped fighting for crumbs and joined forces.  Letters to the editor were written, politicians where contacted, petitions were circulated.


Mailing lists, and even a BBS were put into use to coordinate.


Even, ahem, a listening device was placed in the Board of Regents office.


We were not in a union but AFSCME supported our demands and upped the pressure.


The efforts worked.  The privatization was called off.  There were job losses, but we had a voice that we used to make the best of the situation.  We had input into how we could reorganize the units and better support the students and faculty.


Oh and we finally got the audit of the corrupt MSC a few years later:
https://www.auditor.leg.state.mn.us/ped/1994/backgrd.htm

`U' backs off of plan to privatize computer services
Published: October 23, 1991
By Jim Dawson; Staff Writer 

 
Intense pressure from many of the 330 civil service employees who
operate the University of Minnesota's computer systems apparently has
forced school officials to back away from a plan to privatize computer
services and place them under the Supercomputer Center.
Ettore Infante, vice president for academic affairs, who
announced the privatization plan last week met with computer workers
Tuesday.
      He told them that because of concerns regarding his
original plan, a reorganization of computer services would occur
"without the involvement of the Minnesota Supercomputer Center or a subsidiary of it."
    Instead, Infante said, an outside consultant will be hired to
 determine the best way to  consolidate and reorganize the university's
several computer service centers.
  About half of the 330 computer specialists would have been laid off at the end of the year under Infante's privatization plan.
       There will probably be layoffs under any new plan, but how many and when hasn't been determined.

  Infante's privatization announcement caught the computer
specialists by surprise last week, but they quickly used a computerized
electronic mail network to organize their opposition.
    Their main objection focused on the involvement of the Supercomputer Center.
       The center, a quasiprivate corporation partially owned by
the university, is not subject to public accounting.  Gov. Arne Carlson
recently cut $8 million in state funding from the center's budget, and
many of the computer specialists believed that Infante's move was simply
 a way to funnel new funds into the center.
    Infante denied that charge and cited the inefficient,
outdated computer systems and networks throughout the university as his
reason for consolidation.
    His move yesterday was welcomed by most employees, but many remained skeptical of his motives.
       "I was encouraged that they seem to be backing down," said
 Cheryl Vollhaber, a specialist with academic computing services.
    The employees demanded to be involved in the planning for
consolidating the computer systems, something most agree is badly
needed.
      However, Infante was noncommittal about employee participation.
    The computer specialists said that they have been calling for
 a consolidation and reorganization of computer services for a long
time, but that the administration has ignored them.   They are
frustrated, several said, because although they are the computer
experts, they are not being consulted.
    "Our focus will be having an employee representative on the
planning board," said Stephen Collins, of the university's
micro-computer center.

 

 

I don't know much about co-ops and education. But this is an interesting development:

https://techcrunch.com/2018/05/24/google-opens-its-g-suite-for-education-to-home-school-co-ops/

 

Wired UK with some good coverage of the movement including @resonatecoop

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/the-tech-cooperatives-changing-the-way-startups-do-business

 

Hi German folks! Please vote out racists like @c_lindner. I'd rather be mistaken in my mentions for singer @patricklindner_.

https://www.politico.eu/article/christian-lindner-german-liberal-fdp-angela-merkel-leaders-bakery-ta...

 

Fantastic performance tonight in San Francisco by @dessadarling@twitter.com She's a fabulous performer and member of Doomtree Collective. Here's a thoughtful interview from 2015 about Doomtree's unique path to success:

http://www.minnesotabusiness.com/dessa-ceo

 

Reading "The World of Knowbots" from "The Digital Library Project". circa 1988
http://www.cnri.reston.va.us/kahn-cerf-88.pdf

 

Thievery Corporation's Treasure from the Temple is on Resonate Coop:

Click through from https://thieverycorporation.com/treasures/

Give it some mutual aid :) If you're a member it's a good album, if you're not a member plz sign up!

xpost: https://social.coop/web/statuses/99893173661512731

 

Cleaning up my Xmarks bookmarks so I can import them into @pinboard before they disappear forever. Interesting look back at the default bookmarks that came with Safari/IE etc.

https://helpdesk.xmarks.com/bookmark-manager-basics/import-and-export/

 

Get ready for GDPR with avocado and sprouts on whole grain bread (aka California Style)

https://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billTextClient.xhtml?bill_id=201720180AB2182

 
 

Everything in our world will soon be technology-mediated. @anildash offers some wisdom on how we can make these changes in a net-positive way. Recommended.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/12-things-everyone-should-understand-tech-anil-dash/

 

When Pong played Humans

3 min read

It was a blistering July day in Las Vegas, with temps hitting 109.  Inside the SIGGRAPH 91 convention hall Yello's Rubberbandman looped on the speakers. On each chair: a red/green paddle.

I was a student volunteer, stamping the finest hands in Computer Graphics.  Those hands (and my own) each controlled those paddles.  Then 5000 people looked up and saw a Pong Game appear on the screen.

And then..  the machine started playing us.

In response to visual stimuli we changed the color of our paddle.  The ball moved left, then right.  The crowd shouting "red red red", "green!" and cheering as the game played on.

The rules of the game and the feedback loops directed our actions.  It was a complex adaptive system with emergent behavior.

And luckily there is some footage of this moment.  Watch this excerpt from "Machines of Loving Grace" that talks about this moment in history:

Loren Carpenter Experiment at SIGGRAPH '91 from Zachary Murray on Vimeo.

Loren Carpenter cofounded Pixar.  Check out the TurboGopher appearance at the 5:00 minute mark.

Today the simple pong game is now the multilayered technological environment we interact with on a daily basis. Instead of red/green paddles with 1 bit of data we carry phones that generate a wealth more.  These devices also provide the aural/visual and haptic stimuli.    With that our collective actions power all kinds of "games" today:

  • Aggregated location data and movement speed generates traffic data in maps.
  • Aggregated search queries and click data deliver better search results.
  • Aggregated likes, views and interactions with content power trending data and even news and politics.

As technologists we need to remember that by controlling the game, we are indirectly controlling the players.  The choices we allow (and forbid) define the behavior.  The game "plays" the player.  And often the only way to be free is to not play at all.

Except that is if maybe, just maybe, the people start playing a different game than the one we designed.  In the giddy demonstration it was assumed that people wanted to win at Pong.  But we didn't play long enough for abuse or scheming.  It would have only taken a few people to cross over to sabotage the other side, or for trolls to have changed the outcome.

Finally this level of power and control demands great responsibility.  The only thing worse than control used for malicious purposes is control wielded without thought, without thinking of the consequences.  So the next time you're designing a product think about the whole system and all the inputs and ask "who's really in control?".

h/t to the General Intellect Unit podcast and their Machines of Loving Grace episode for reminding me of this unsung moment in history.