I go to an event called Super Happy Dev House. It’s an event for hackers to share their technical interests in a free-form semi-party environment. So you basically get a lot of people interchanging between conversation and typing on laptops.

A friend recently pondered about how to form a system to gather all of the secondary/summary data about attendees to facilitate intellectual pollination. As it is, the current SHDH is haphazard (though extremely fun). There is a wiki page where some attendees put their project interests. Sometimes there aren’t name tags.

My ideal hacker party system is one where acquiring information about people and preparation for introduction is implemented by a communication and location support system. When an attendee arrives, they get a name tag, positioning system, and walkie-talkie. Let’s say they are interested in hacking robots and they currently program in Python. They write this down in the system through a webpage. Or they temporarily bind a notification service such as Twitter or Facebook Alerts to their locater. No matter what publishing channel they use, they now have a way of entering asynchronous information into the system.

The other guests can go to a webpage that shows where everyone in the house is. When they click on a person’s icon, they see everything the user has published while at the party. There will also be a feed of notices created in the last fifteen minutes, so you could for instance see all the things people have been talking about or want to talk about.

Here is my ideal use case. I come to SHDH wanting to talk about robots. I input this into the system. Someone sees this and quickly gravitates to me to show me their robot. They talk to me about what programming languages I know. I put on my position feed that I know Ruby and C# fairly well. A friend contacts me on my walkie-talkie to ask me if they would join a Ruby conversation they are having. This behavior goes on throughout the night.

The potential for such a system and the new types of behavior it could foster would be amazing. It’s like being part of a group mind. Not to mention there would be a group memory, as the logs of the party would be saved. They could later be scraped for data to characterize each event. And all this knowledge would shape the next event. It would be glorious. A party that became an organism.

At this Ad Hoc City site, I enter in: who I want to live by and how far from work I want to be. My friends and coworkers enter this in too.  The website spits out a place where we can all live by each other and where we can position our offices. It’s an ad hoc, made-for-community city.

Initially I wrote a huge defense of this idea of ad hoc community organization. I imagined how one would work it into the current world. But I don’t want to work it into the real world. It’s just too damn hard.

I just want this image: I type in my info, everyone else types theirs, we all move to the same place together and we experience no problems in finding work or leaving houses and what-not behind.

As I meet new people and some relationships fade, my geographic position moves. It gets cold where we are, we winter in some other location. Great geographic fluidity earned not by transportation speed, but by social flexibility.

Centralization is Valuable

January 2, 2008

The web is a decentralized mechanism for creating and accessing consumable information. However, centralization is very valuable to people and that’s how we’ve gotten a lot of institutional brands.

Here are some examples of companies and the resources they have successfully centralized.

  • Google: Advertising Space
  • Wikipedia: Summary Knowledge
  • Slashdot: Software Nerd Culture News
  • Digg: General Newness
  • Delicious: Bookmarks
  • Blogs: Journals/Columns
  • Youtube: Videos
  • Flickr: Photos

Like steel, oil, rail, radio, television, electricity, mining, and any other resource, there are efficiencies and profit to be had from consolidation of a resource. This is received with relish and disdain by different parties. Industry consolidation often means the death of out of the box thinking. People fail to recognize that such changes set the backdrop for new revolutions. What should be hoped for is a healthy cycling between centralization and decentralization.

What are other examples of centralized business/resource pairs on the web?

A Prototype of my New Site

November 6, 2007

I’ve released a prototype of my competition site. Here is the competition to name my site. You can win a book.

Please tell me what you think. It is obviously a work in progress.

I wanted to set a default, checked radio button in a group of radio buttons. Though Agile Development w/Rails is a great book, it doesn’t tell you much about the radio buttons. And most of the examples on the web where unsatisfactory for finding this little detail. Perhaps my search queries were poorly written, but given that I had trouble finding the solution it will probably be valuable to post my own.

The problem lies in that I didn’t quite understand this: “If the current value of method is tag_value the radio button will be checked.” – Rails API for Radio Button Besides, I wanted to arbitrarily set which button was checked. I knew how to do this in normal html/js, but I waned to pass it the adjustment in RoR. In the end, it was actually pretty simple.

All you do is add “:checked = true

Your Ruby looks like this:
<%= form.radio_button :ending, “true”, :checked => true %>

And the page source looks like this:
<input checked=“checked” id=“competition_ending_true” name=“competition[ending]” type=“radio” value=“true” />

This should give you a radio button that is checked by default.

If there are better ways to do it or anything else I’ve missed, there’s always room in the comments for improvements. Rock the RoR!

Operating along the lines of my generalized synthetics muse, a piece of software that combined words from a database to form novel combinations, I’ve thought of a Patent Muse. This software would search the US patent office and randomly select two inventions which when juxtaposed may form a novel combination. As with my Random Muse, if the Muse and its output is not worthy of utilitarian consideration, then it may at least result in amusement.

If anyone would be interested in developing this with me, or has found something equivalent, as always, do tell.