A World That Donates As One

Barack’s visit to Europe again makes clear how important it is to people over here who exactly is the POTUS. A lot of people in Europe are interested and invested in American politics and for good reason if you see the effect the American’s actions can have on the rest of the world.

Polls show that Europeans overwhelmingly support Barack Obama and would like to see him in office as opposed to McCain. This makes it extra annoying that our power to influence the process is severely limited. American elections are in a large part dominated by money and the raising of it. Unfortunately non-Americans are excluded from making donations. Something about foreigners not being allowed to elect the American President.

This is of course stupid. The people electing the president are still the Americans. Seeing as campaign financing has been regarded as a form of free speech, don’t people from outside the USA have the right to speak their minds on this matter? I’m sure that if Trichet would look under the sofa in his office, he could find a spare €50’000’000 —per the wishes of the European electorate— to give Obama’s campaign that extra push.

Wireless typing

A lot of raves for the new line of Apple Keyboards also from me. Cris has been so kind to import one for me from London.

This keyboard has improved my workplace conditions massively. It’s a pleasure to sit down at my desk and start typing on it. I’m currently pairing it with my old Logitech MX500 mouse but that is bound to go wireless as well. I may be tempted to haul the whole installation on the road but I don’t want to end up looking like this.

Package

Now I just need to find something to prop up my Macbook much much higher. I’m currently putting it on a pile of UX books, which could be a sign I need to increase my reading speed.

About the sizing issue. The Bluetooth keyboard’s size is perfect. The layout is nearly identical to my Macbook keyboard’s layout, which means I have no switching costs going back and forth. A numerical keypad I would hardly use anyway, and the six buttons above the arrows are easily replaced with the Mac key chords.

Socio-locational disconnection

I’ve been tremendously enjoying the stuff Jan Chipchase writes on his blog both current and digging deep into his archives. A dream job if ever there was one.

His current piece is especially pertinent as the iPhone 3G release with builtin GPS and accompanied unlimited data plans will herald the location based revolution. Many of my friends say that they do not want to broadcast where they are and know where their friends are most of the time. That they would rather get together using premediated consensual communication.

I think in user research you have to adopt the same maxim that everybody lies maybe unknowingly or unwillingly. It remains to be seen how many people will not succumb to the temptation of total information. Broadcasting your location, but even more attractive knowing where your loved ones are at any given moment. The same initial reaction to mobile telephony didn’t prevent everybody I know from getting a mobile phone.

What this will do to the mystery of travel and unknown locations is a whole different question asked by Babak. I think unequality in economic, communications and political circumstances will always keep parts of the world shrouded in mystery.

Linguistic Waves

Talking about catching waves, I had been annoyed majorly by the uselessness of Safari not incorporating any decent URL shortcut function without either a paid for extension or a dreadful input manager hack.

Now Shaun Inman has launched a somewhat more circumspect but more cross platform way of invoking the same functionality: Shortwave. His initial list, though useful is not what I would use the functionality most for in my Saft days. So I’ve added some links to dictionaries I use a lot and some I don’t use that much: alper.nl/wave.txt

Additions for the linguist’s shortwave are most welcome. Still looking for decent French, Mandarin, Arabic and Russian dictionaries.

Pre holiday wrapping up

The summer may not have brought the best weather but still good times are around. This week finishing off some work before we’ll be going on an ill-prepared week long surftrip somewhere along the French Atlantic coast.

Seasoned travellers as we deem ourselves and busy as we are, we have dispensed with most of the preparation one would think would be necessary. We have some camping equipment, surfboards and roof carriers and lots of good humour to go around. That should be enough for any holiday.

iPhone Queue

That’s also a reason I won’t be getting my iPhone 3G right away like a lot of people are. I’m planning on travelling some more and this device is more of a hindrance and a risk than it is a benefit on the road.

I’m still debating whether or not I should take my laptop. Odds of us finding solid power let alone WiFi are slim and 7GB of CF memory should be enough for a week’s holiday: 1GB/day. And a week of disconnection will probably do me more good than I realize.

10th Reboot – day 2 and on

Jerry

The second day started off with a talk about Free by Jerry Michalski which reminded me a lot of the topics that I had covered the previous day in my talk. Jerry’s talk being in the main hall made this turn out a lot differently than my talk.

David

David Recordon followed with a talk about the open web and reminded us that not that much has changed in the last six months since I saw him on the same topic in Berlin. The big social conglomerates that have each other in a chokehold make for glacial progress.

Arduino Workshop

I dropped in on the Arduino workshop which was a very nice introduction into building electronic stuff. Because I was already somewhat familiar and I wanted the freedom to bounce around the conference, I hadn’t registered but I did get some questions in to further my own ideas.

Joshua’s talk proved to be one of the best of the conference —with this great quote— marred slightly by the fact that his partner could not make it for a more complete stage presence. His work and vision how technology works towards freedom is very relevant and interesting though we usually stare ourselves blind at Silicon Valley and the likes.

After the conference we made a yearly chaotic meetup somewhere in the city trying to get something to eat more or less succesfully after which we made our way to Vega. The party in the bar was quickly replaced with a party outside with tipping beers and music where everybody had a great time. Even the arrival of police could not really stop our party.

The next day I was going to get some coffee at Kafeplantagen when I remembered that some people were having a post-Reboot brunch at Pussy Galore’s Flying Circus. I was a bit hesitant to join after having already spent two days with these people but I’m glad I went inside. I got to catch up with Chris Messina, Brynn Evans and Janetti Chon and talk about the differences between the USA and Europe.

10th Reboot – day 1

Reboot 10 is over and in my experience they simply get better every year.

I’d signed up for a session and got slotted on Thursday morning so I spent a good part of Wednesday preparing and running through the story. Of course after having gotten over my early flight and having eaten something at the Laundromat.

My session on Free Economics was filled over capacity while it was meant to be a cosy conversational session. Fortunately that also meant more than enough people willing to participate and add information, so I think it went well and it proved a good starting point for the rest of the conference. My stress relieved could follow the rest of the sessions.

There were a number of other Dutch presenters most notably: Kars, Ton, Ianus and Iskander. Unfortunately I didn’t see any of them present, but I’ll catch up on that when the video’s are posted. Being programmed against Andy Budd meant that I missed his presentation as well, but maybe I wouldn’t have fitted in the completely full small room anyway.

Thomas vander Wal

Thomas Vander Wal’s talk —always nice to have him over at this side of the ocean— gave us some great elements for social software to base our thinking on and concluded with a way to get organizations to think about the dichotomy between keeping information and sharing it.

Mandoline

It was a joy to hear music in the presentation on Tradition by Jeremy Keith. More music is usually a good idea as we would also see in the final party.

On Reboot I never can keep up going to sessions and usually it’s better not to. The interactions in the hallways and the lobby especially during the lull when there are sessions going on are more interesting on a personal level than anything else.

Lawn

The first day’s talk got concluded by a fun treatment of information by David Weinberger. During dinner it was also very interesting to get a preview of his session from Siert Wijnia about his Fablab and what the commoditization of the production process will do to product design and manufacturing.

Off to Copenhagen

By the time this post has been published I will be on a train on my way to Schiphol to fly to Copenhagen to attend the 10th edition of Reboot.

Copenhagen has become familiar territory and I’ll be there for only four days. Acclimatizing on Wednesday which kicks off with a boat trip. Thursday and Friday will be conference days during which I hope to see a lot of people and I have been alotted a small session where we’ll talk about Free Economies.

Saturday will be spent recovering, maybe a run along the lakes or a decent brunch or burger and Saturday evening my train will depart for the Netherlands. The train journey back I’m looking forward to a lot more than the plane ride in.

Value Added

The Dutch government is thinking of increasing the VAT from its current 19% to 20% at the end of this year (source). That may seem like a lot, but for instance in Denmark I believe it stands at 25% and Denmark is a pretty nice country.

I’m curious to the rationale of such an increase of 1%. Why increase it at all? In the current political climate it will only increase perception that Jan Modaal is being screwed over by government. And why then not increase it directly to 25% or 50%, if it’s such a good thing?

In other news a radio commercial claiming that ‘taxation is theft’ (source) was banned this week.