“What I've always wanted to do would be bad for me, so I've decided that I can't accept your offer.”
Richard Feynman

Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman

Closed Open Source

n

I am a fan of open-source. This started with WordPress and is gradually expanding to cover almost all of my information needs. I am writing this post on an old latpop I resurrected with Ubuntu and purely open-source solutions. In some cases, such as Open Office, I have had to surrender many niceties and make do with simpler and more limited tools. In other cases, such as Firefox, I have found a better overall solution and even some new useful features I didn’t have before.

Open source generally suffers from a poor user-experience. This is an issue for most software tools and developers, but commercial solutions have an upper-hand in this domain. They can afford to make design efforts to either make their products better or at least make them look cosmetically better.

Open-source is rooted in a passion for developers to express themselves – to create software the way they think it should be (technically -and morally). Open source is therefore dominated by developers. Most of “open-source” is hidden from end-users – it is a highly technical environment and social process in which developers in remote locations work together to create software – it’s a pretty amazing process. Though it’s called “open” it’s actually a very private party – you need to have a developer state-of-mind and technical capabilities to participate. This pretty much closes the door on many other disciplines that are essential to making good software.

For some time I’ve been wanting to partake and contribute to open-source products. I have some experience in product design and user experience which I believe are greatly missing from open-source. So far, all of my attempts to help have failed. Actually they haven’t actually failed – I never even got through the door. Actually, it feels like there isn’t even a door for me to knock on.

WordPress

WordPress is a wonderful tool. I’d like to see it evolve into my one and only home on-line. I’d like everyone to be able to get a WordPress website as an alternative to Facebook (and I think BuddyPress is the wrong way to do it). I think that one of the greatest obstacles to moving in this direction is the complexity of the administration interface (which is one of the best in the open-source world) – which is way more then what many non-technical people can handle. WordPress has actually been able to bring graphic designers into an open-source development process – but I don’t think that nice icons or a color palette are enough to make WordPress more accessible.

In this video (3:38) Matt speaks about what he feels is the greatest misconception about WordPress – and he points out that people think it’s only for professional bloggers – when actually much work has been done to make it accessible to everyone. If a lot of people are thinking it, maybe it’s not a “misconception”?

I don’t know what the solution is – but I have some ideas. I’d like to be able to present those ideas and discuss them with others. I’d like the WordPress developer community to be open to product, graphic and user experience designers. But even that is something I don’t know how to do – it’s a great challenge.

I care, I want to contribute, I want to participate, I want there to be a dialogue. I’d like to have an opportunity to express my thoughts and ideas. I don’t know of a place for me to do this, and all my attempts to reach-out so far have met thin air.

Mozilla Raindrop

This recent initiative from Mozilla Labs is exciting. I have been wishing for something like it for a long time and it’s even a part of my vision for WordPress. After reading what information was available about it – my mind begin churning and I began looking for a place a discussion can take place. The Raindrop Community page offers several options:

  • Design is a collection of screen-shot images on Flickr – which I really can’t see as a place to converse and innovate.
  • On Get Satisfaction I asked where I should post my thoughts
  • I was referred to the Ideas section (all the rest are technical/developer oriented spaces) – where the most popular suggestion is about a missing icon.

So again I was left scratching my head. I continued to collect my thoughts and reflections but I don’t know where to share them with the community – which has left with me a feeling that maybe the community doesn’t even want to hear about it.

It’s a frustrating experience –  I haven’t given up yet. I’ve been thinking about this post for some time – a post I read today at Weblog Tools Collection finally prompted me to write it.

Posted in Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff, Wordpress | You are welcome to read 6 comments and to add yours

Recess, Progress, Excess

n

A part of me wishes I could tell you (and myself) that over the years I have practiced Yoga (on the mat) consistently. But that is not the truth. I’ve been through periods of consistent & intense practice, periods of erratic practice, and periods of no practice.

I have observed numerous patterns in the development of my practice:

  • Recess leads to Progress. Almost every time I came out of recess and resumed practice – I experienced substantial progress. I found I could do things with my body and breath that I couldn’t do before. It felt as though recesses enabled my  body to assimilate things I had learned and practiced. My body not only remembered what it had known but found it’s way into new places.
  • Progress usually leads to Excess. Progress leads to a sense of achievement and satisfaction. It enables me to do more, to intensify my practice. Being able to do more makes me curious and curiosity motivates me to push my limits. If I am not attentive I over-do and push my system into excess. Alas, progress is a temporary experience – it is quickly assimilated and then it’s gone. When progress ceases, motivation wavers. So I cannot maintain excess for long, and my practice breaks.
  • Excess leads to Recess. When my practice breaks, it usually wavers and eventually I find myself in a period of no practice. And the cycle repeats itself.

I am currently in a period of consistent and focused practice. My focus and exploration now is on correct effort. I try to approach every practice session, every practice sequence, every asana and every breath with an awareness of correct effort in intentions, breath and body. I have a feeling that I am doing something different this time. I know where the trap to excess awaits me, I am practicing near it and I have not yet fallen into it.

I think that my Shakuhachi practice is tempering me. I am a beginner in Shakuhachi playing so I am revisiting a phase of learning that is slow, unsatisfying and requires persistence, patience and much repetition.

I am curious to see what happens in the coming months.

Posted in inside, Shakuhachi, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to add your comment

In Performance

n

This is a rare glimpse into a rare session of Shahar & I playing around together with musicians from The Meeting. The images that are projected in the background are being broadcast live from my camera.

… a few images from that session:

[slidepress gallery='shahar-at-tel-aviv-meeting']

Posted in Photography | You are welcome to add your comment

One Percent

n

Imagine that of every 100 hours of work that you do, 99 hours would be spent on lunches & coffee breaks and only 1 hour would actually be spent on work that is actually productive. If this sounds ridiculous, think about it next time you get into a car.

In a typical combustion engine car about 80% of the energy created by the engine becomes heat, only the remaining 20% is actually transformed into locomotion. Those 20% are used to move the combined weight of you and the car itself – your weight is only about 5% of that. So only 5% of the locmotive energy is used to move you from place to place – that equals 1% of the total energy created by the car engine. Terribly inefficient.

This information comes from a book titled “Natural Capitalism: Creating the Next Industrial Revolution” (which is also available as downloadable PDF’s). I have only started reading it and am currently in the second chapter which is about the automotive industry. I am enjoying it.

Yet as I read it I can’t  help but thinking that there is a very basic perspective missing altogether, not just from this book, but from many so called “ecological” endeavors. How much energy can be conserved through personal awareness and lifestyle changes – such as driving less? One of the deeply planted hooks that the industrial revolution has left in greater society is consumerism. Would the automotive industry continue to evolve as is amazingly outlined in the book knowing that the number of cars sold worldwide would drop drastically? Would they actively work and support such a reduction?

What is the vision/motivation that drives the automotive industry? Is it about “creating efficient transportation for the greater needs of society” or “making a profit by selling vehicles”? Though some (mostly business stakeholders) claim that two such motivations can live in harmony, I believe that they are very different points of origin and that they lead into very different journeys.

Posted in AltEco, outside | You are welcome to add your comment

Welcome Mozilla Raindrop

n

Mozilla has just revealed Raindrop – a new messaging project from the Thunderbird (email client) team. I am happy about this project. I have been thinking about it quite a bit since I heard about it last week. It’s not clear to me yet what Raindrop is. I like that it is an exploration.

I view Raindrop as a key piece in a bigger puzzle. The bigger picture I see is that of an online personal space that is mine. A place where my information is stored and shared with others, a place that I can access from any computer or mobile device, a place where I can meet people and people can meet me. Naturally this involves much sending, receiving and processing of communication. This website (based on WordPress) is in some ways that home, but there are still some pieces missing in it. Raindrop is can be one of those pieces.

“A central principle behind Raindrop is that messaging should be personal”
(Mozilla Labs – Introducing Raindrop)

Email is no longer a means of communication with the outside world – it IS the outside world. Email, whether you have surrendered to it (and it contains tons of information accumulated over many years) or constantly fight it (by working to keep it clean and empty), is not just a highway – it’s a storage place.  The “Inbox” is a very impersonal experience – it contains everything the world wants me to have. “Personal” is the context in which I view the Inbox and the choices I make in dealing with it. The information that makes an Inbox personal cannot be found in the Inbox. I believe this is a gap that Raindrop is trying to fill. To do this I feel it’s going to have to perform a magic trick – it is going to have to disappear! Raindrop should sit on the shelf  closer to HTML then Thunderbird.

If Raindrop wants to help me and truly become personal it is going to need help. It needs to become a parasite and hook into existing services in which I already “exist”, that already know me fairly well. For me this would be my website, for others it may be their accounts on social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. Imagine, for example, how differently a communication can be treated if it comes from a known or unknown associate/source? Or how it should be treated if it comes from an associate with whom I communicate frequently?

If you think about it there is  an irony in this process. Much incoming communication (especially the kind that Raindrop is trying to identify, filter & organize) is generated in systems in which there is a known context. Context gets lost when communications are funneled into an email Inbox. A direct message on twitter is a communication with specific context (it’s on twitter, it’s from someone I am/not following, it is a reply, a retweet, contains a reference to another twitter account, is part of a sequence of messages, is in a different timezone, etc.) – but when it’s passed into an Inbox as an email it loses much of that context and becomes another incoming message for me to figure out.

I’d like to see Raindrop become a technological infrastructure that:

  • Can hook onto and listen to on-line resources in which I have a presence.
  • Can collect and store communications (and payloads) that are dispatched from these resources.
  • Can be taught to extract from stored communications (and payloads) contextual information.
  • Can automatically extract from stored communications (and payloads) contextual information.
  • Can dispatch outgoing communications using various communication protocols/infrastructures
  • Can operate on standard open-source web technologies.
  • Can be easily deployed in a self-sustained package.
  • Has building blocks that designers & developers can use to create front-end applications.

Specifically I’d love to see Raindrop offered as (for example) a WordPress Plugin that will:

  • Enable millions of non-developers (including me) to experience it directly and provide feedback as it grows and develops.
  • Benefit from an easy and seamless installation/update process.
  • Enable the WordPress Developer Community to bind it’s capabilities into WordPress (developing contextual capabilities and user interfaces).
  • Provide owners of hosted WordPress installation an alternative self-owned email hosting service tightly bound with their websites.
  • Provide a built in mail server which can relay raw or processed communication into email clients such as Thunderbird (which may act as a native interim client GUI for Raindrop).
  • Free the Raindrop developers to focus on the core/infrastructure technology (while other developers can experiment with and maintain front-end applications).
Posted in Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours