When I first arrived in Bhutan, I was invited to help the government's Department of Information demonstrate the power of technology in an effort to get more government funding. Today, I see that Ericsson have begun work with Bhutan's education department to install videoconferencing into five remote schools so their students can take lessons from a central group of specialists.
For many years, I've looked at open source as the start of a new economy, a way of life, not just a model for software development. My Masters thesis looked at online communities who were volunteering their time to collaborate with like-minded people to create a better version of something that would otherwise be a commercial product. Doubters among my colleagues and friends ask why it would happen now when it hasn't worked in the past. To me, the answer is clearly that the foundations hadn't been set. This is not simple philanthropy where one's donation (usually money) benefits unknown people on the other side of the world - the donors benefit directly from others who add their complementary skills to their own. This is not communism, driven from the top down. It must be driven by the masses, and until now, the masses haven't had the time or the tools. Nor were experts from around the world as able to easily connect and share ideas. Despite the efforts of groups like OSCar, my vision still had limited application to physical products. It worked for software, and it could work for governance, but you still need specialised components to build a car. Alastair Parvin, in his TED talk, Architecture for the people by the people, has shown me that we're a step closer. The 3D printer now makes it possible for people to create the components they need even to build a house. Where do you see this trend going next? Is an open source economy possible? What problems must be overcome? Some believe that the power-hungry few will sabotage such an economy. I worry that the raw materials used by the printer may still
Have you ever heard people say 'If it's not on facebook, it's not real'? You're not really in a relationship until you've acknowledged it on facebook. I guess the corollary is that you haven't broken up until you've acknowledged it on facebook. So what happens if only one person in a new / broken couple posts the status of their relationship? Does facebook account for such instances? Apparently not if the news is true about a woman who found out about her divorce through facebook. But I digress. A large population - not just of Australia, not just of the West, but of the world - use facebook and validate their lives through a website. One of my friends proved that earlier this week. As a present to his valentine, he changed his status to 'in a relationship.' This wasn't just to show his commitment to her or to share the joy with his friends. It was a virtual wedding ring, signalling to any other girl that came along that he was off the market. Of course, it assumes that every girl he meets is going to look him up on facebook, but in this country of iphones and eternal connectivity, that's not such an unrealistic assumption. I can see girls giggling at the bar, commenting on the guy one of their friends is seducing. They catch his name. A few moments later, one of them walks up to their friend and whispers in her ear. 'Give it up. He's taken.' There are sites that give advice on how to use facebook to find love and how to avoid ruining a relationship. I wonder if they cover using privacy settings and teach young people that
I've designed a new look for the site that will fit better with the social network plugins and makes better use of new features of Wordpress and CSS3. With a book on the way, this seems the right time to make the change. In preparation, I'm making changes to the metadata (category names, tags etc) associated with each post as well as to comment logins. Please excuse any oddities you see in the next few weeks until the new design becomes active and stable.