25 November 2006

Cost Structures

... As a result, when the cost structure for creating, say, an encyclopedia changes, our existing assumptions about encyclopedic value have to be re-examined, because current encyclopedic values are relative, not absolute. It is possible for low-cost, low-value systems to be better than high-cost, high-value systems in the view of the society adopting them. If the low-cost system can increase in value over time while remaining low cost, even better.

... Barriers to both access and re-use are built into the Britannica cost structure, and without those barriers, it will collapse. Nothing about the institution of Britannica has changed in the five years of Wikipedia�s existence, but in the current ecosystem, the 1768 model of creation � you pay us and we make an Encyclopedia � has been transformed from a valuable service to a set of self-perpetuating, use-crippling barriers.

... The measure of possible virtues of an encyclopedia now include free universal access and unlimited re-use. As a result, maintaining Britannica costs more in a world with Wikipedia than it did in a world without it.

Clay Shirky in Social Facts, Expertise, Citizendium, and Carr

9 November 2006

Playlists and Glimpse

Bloglines just added a new feature called Playlists, which lets you re-organize / filter your feeds for various feed reading modes.

Playlists lets you create short groupings of feeds to access from your main list. Create as many as you like, and use them to personalize your Bloglines experience that much more. Create them, change them, even delete them – all without changing your original “tree” of feeds.

For extra fun there is also a Glimpse View in singlepage-aggregator style.

6 November 2006


Wow, Google Reader has one absolutely fabulous feature I completely missed: a next bookmarklet, which takes you to the next unread item of your subscriptions when you click it right within your browser.

(Google Reader -> Settings -> Goodies)

It is particularly useful for subscriptions which only include snippets or when you want to read an article in context.

You also can filter it by tag, so you can mark the feeds you want to read this way with some metatag if you’ve got too many subscriptions.

2 November 2006

Repetitive Strain Injury


a program for Mac OS X that helps prevent RSI (repetitive strain injury) and other computer related stress. It does so by forcing you to take regular breaks, yet without getting in the way. It also detects natural breaks so it won’t force too many breaks on you.

1 November 2006



I’m a huge fan of Niklas Luhmann (a sociologist with a system theoretic approach who organized his research with index cards in a gigantic Zettelkasten – which roughly translates to box of paper slips), so I was delighted to stumble upon zettels

Zettels is a personal web memo note box easy to use, fast and reliable. All your ideas and notes are saved on notes in Zettels. You maintain the overview. You have access to your notes from anywhere…

There is no shortage of note taking, idea drafting, or brainstorming apps around, but this one is quite charming.

31 October 2006

Markets and Profits

Pro-markets, Anti-profits might be a good link to inject some life into this blog again.

A market is at it’s core simply a place of exchange, a bounded area where people converge, either physically or via a mediating technology, in order to move exchange goods, services and information. To be pro-markets is to be in favor of the existence of markets, and to understand that each and every one of them behaves differently. Sometimes this behavior can have quite positive results, sometimes they can be rather negative and generally what reality gives us is a complex and nuanced mix of the two. Overall though markets are places of exchange and exchange itself is a healthy operation. By realizing that some markets behavior better than others we can begin the process of designing better markets, emphasizing those that work well and improving those that need work.

In order to evolve and create better markets, we need to make at least one key conceptual leap, me must break the historic tie between market functions and profit. Markets do not need profits in order to function at all. In fact it’s possible to interpret profits in such a way that they are actually indications of an improperly functioning market, where the existence of profits indicates an inefficiency in market actions, a flaw that a more perfect market would correct. It’s not an approach I’m about to follow, because perfect markets do not exist in the real world, and what I’m interested in is working markets, and the task of making them actually better.