June 10, 2002
Inappropriate Technologies
Up all Saturday night in a very demeaning minor "boot floppies monkey" rôle helping Matthew Garrett with Frankenstein's own OS project, Debian GNU/NetBSD. He now seems to have an installable system working and the ability to download such packages as are available via apt. Thoroughly enjoyable hacking fun. On Sunday, attended NTK's Festival thing. Crazy day. Learnt a lesson in media communications stuff - I was called up on stage to talk about the DMCA/EUCD, and was interviewed by Dave Green, who had been doing stand-up comic schtik for about half an hour by this point. I had half been expecting this, but a programme change meant that it happened an hour before I was expecting it, and I didn't have anything prepared to say, so I probably came across as totally deadpan. In the middle of the first long sentence I uttered, after about twenty seconds, Danny O'Brien quietly and very usefully commented that I was probably boring the audience (or at least a substantial section thereof) with detail, and he was right. Note how long the sentences in this paragraph have been. I even talk like that. So I guess it's time to concentrate on thinking up some punchy short-and-to-the-point messages about the EUCD. This method of communication - getting the point across efficiently and making the best use of people's attention while you still have it, is something I need to learn, and has been the theme of this weekend. On Saturday I was chatting to someone I knew from Cambridge who'd gone off to Harvard, where there's a very different style of education - a lot of what the public policy students produce as written work is two-page policy proposals, rather than the sorts of five or six page essays they do in Arts at Cambridge. Tristan was asking "how can they do justice to these complex issues in two pages?", but he explained that really this was all good practice for what a lot of these students would be going on to do. So, efficient explanation, or summary, is what it's about. This is now about to turn into a cyberactivist namedropfest. The previous day (Friday), jtjm and I had been in London to meet Cory Doctorow of the EFF and the NTK guys. Cory was trying to convey the idea that lawyers should not be allowed near a press release, as they'd diminish its effectiveness by quadrupling the size with disclaimers and pathological corner cases. Sounds a bit like software engineering / debugging to me :) . I spent that night worrying about the moral hazard of all this - how much detail can you omit before it starts to get dishonest? how easy is it to navigate a way through all the necessary compromises without compromising yourself? Hmm .. should there be an Inappropriate Technology boot camp? (private joke)
Posted by mk270 at June 10, 2002 03:46 PM (permalink), 0 comments (Post | View)