“Rewilding” the political party system

What if we didn’t have two political parties?  What if we had a million parties?  What if we had one party?  What if the number and makeup of the parties changed in real-time?  What if party members could join, leave, merge, secede, delete, etc their parties as easily as they change clothes or even websites?  What if users were able to make a case for their views and support those views with evidence found online or put online?  What if other users could engage in debate/dialogue/reasoning to persuade others to join their party and vice versa?

What if we created a clean slate  or “rewilded” the political party system.  Everyone is an independent to start.  Anyone can create a party.  Anyone can join a party (but only one party at a time).  Anyone can leave a party and join another party.  A group of party members could decide to merge with another party or persuade another party to merge with their party.  A party could decide to change its name or views or not.  A party could decide to disband or delete itself.

What would be the point of this system?  Ultimately, to create a political system that the people want it to be, one that has its rules written by its constituents.  A system free of the shackles of the past (and tradition).  A system free of its corporate, union, and $$$ masters (of course anyone will be able to participate in this new system however).  It will start as a social and political experiment but could it eventually become more?  Could it influence real candidates?  Show them that the only safe harbors are not simply A or B.

This new system would be one of conversation not marketing (Cluetrain).  It would be open and nimble and owned by its users (currently reading What Would Google Do by Jeff Jarvis).  It would hopefully be a platform for true discourse.  A market of ideas.  A network of constantly changing niche networks (again Jarvis).  The antithesis of the talking heads in the mainstream media.  A system based in the ideals and values of the open source movement.  Currency would be information, ideas, and reputation.

The tools of this system would be the current and future social and construction tools that are being made possible by the Web and the current generation of internet companies.    News, information, and data shared thru Delicious, ad-hoc networks created on Facebook and Twitter, collaborative position papers and platforms hashed out and published in Google Docs, Audio and Video shared via Youtube and other sites, and new ways of cooperating in Google Wave.

We will need someone to launch this system.   We will need a person or group to set up the basic rules.  A group to build the basic functinality of the system and unleash it to the masses (and make sure it is open sourced and freely distributable).  From there it will need to be governed by a neutral body interested in refereeing, maintaining and even innvoating in a way that is lead by the users but that maitains fairness across the system.

I see no reason why this could not be done by a handful of political junkies, passionate human beings, AJAX coders, and some recession provided free time.  Anyone care to join me?

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CLUMPC

Q: What is a CLUMPC

A: Cheap Linux Ultra Mobile Personal Computer

EeePC and the Rise of the CLUMPC

I personally own the Asus EeePC and feel as if I am using the first real device that can make it to the mainstream American classroom.  Linux is the key to making it cheaper (no MS Windows tax saving 20%-25% and cheaper components that Linux runs on just fine). FOSS is the key to making it usable (free software that can be installed with a click or two).

Will Asus dominate or will other (OLPC) take market share?

Will they run MS Windows or Linux?

Will they get bigger screens and larger solid state memory?

These are important questions but ultimately not the most important.  What is critical is how will instruction change (or will it) when for the first time most (if not all) students will be able to have a digital, Internet connected device at their finger tips 24/7.  The “CLUMPC” helps to solve part of the equation but certainly not all.

Guide to Free Software and Web Apps

This is from Lifehacker.  I love this site.  They are doing something right.  Every other time I click on a good story in Digg it turns out to be from Lifehacker.  Enjoy!

Best of 2007 Free SOftware and Web Apps

OpenOffice.org and Google Docs….the missing link

A free extension is now available to better connect OpenOffice docs and Google Docs.  After the extension is installed, one-click will upload your current OpenOffice doc into your Google Docs account.  I need to test more the specifics such as sharing and publishing within Google Docs, but this seems to be yet another nail in the coffin of the  MS Office monopoly.

More info

Link to extension

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gOS: Interesting but not intuitive

After reading about gOS and the $200 machines it comes on now selling at Walmart, I had to try it for myself.  I downloaded the torrent, fired up Azureus, burned the DVD, and tried it on my Dell 610.

Notes:

  • gOS is a custom version of Ubuntu with close Google integration (hence the g in gOS)
  • Instead of installed apps, much of the functionality is based around one-click access to Google’s suite fo web-services
  • Frees and open source OS

First impressions:

  • Clean interface
  • Not very intuitive
  • Couldn’t remove mounted drives from desktop
  • Unusual implementation of an OS X type doc (Apps on one side minimized apps/docs on the other)

Thoughts:

  • I love the integration of web apps and installed apps in the OS.
  • I think the GUI is to different from XP, KDE, Gnome, and not enough like OS X
  • Everything feels v1.0 because it is v1.0….I will save any more time playing with this distro for v2.0

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Asus Eee PC…second impressions….

I have now been using the Eee for  3-4 days now and contineu to be very impressed.  I am impressed espically from the view point that we can and should be putting this machine in the hands of students.  I do have some first generation gripes:

  • Software installation:  I can only install what Asus allows me to install.  The point of running a FOSS system is to have open access to many, many apps.  The only way around this is to install extensions/add-ons in FireFox (which works very well).
  • Wireless networking:  I can connect fine each time, but that is the problem.  Each time I restart or sleep/wake the computer I must manually re-connect to my open wireless network.
  • Flaky BIOS: I tried to install the latest BIOS upgrade.  Once restarted I couldn;t use the built in scratchpad.  Another restart seemed to remove the BIOS update and return scratcpad control to me
  • Trackpad button:  It is great that it is one button with two sides(right and left click), however, the button is way to stiff.
  • Easy GUi only….I want full control of the Linux environment or at least the choice of one or the other.

And some praise:

  • I am writing this connected to a Samsung Syncmaster monitor and a usb keyboard and mouse.  This a a wonderful way to use the laptop as a full-fledged workstation.  Only problem is that I have to keep the lid open on the laptop.  if not the machine sleeps.
  • Just tested a basic headset with mic…worked great connected via 1/8 male for both.  USB adpater didn’t work at all.  Easier/cheaper to find the working 1/8 male!

Overall…when this thing gets to $300, I will recommend it to EVERY parent!

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“Google, Apple and the future of personal computing’

This article by Nick Carr seems very seasonable and very reasonable.  This can’t make Microsoft happy.  I wonder where FLOSS fits into all of this???  Both Apple and Google use FLOSS software.  Will the system be closed (AppleTV, iPhone, etc) or will Apple and Google let the “community” have their say.  Time will tell.  Regardless, this article should be on anyones list who cares about what their computing environment will look like in the near future.