Friends, I’ve decided to focus this blog more clearly by categories so that those of you who want to follow only some of my writings, on economics say, can do so easily. I’ve added RSS feeds by category.
The main category is “Economics and Moral Philosophy” because that is how I see the subject. For me, a technical and dry tratment of economics is of no value. My more applied thoughts on leadreship, design, and other businesslike topics are under “Business, Design, and Software”. I see these two categories as an oeuvre with some aspiration to stand the set of time. The “Commentary and Politics” category is ephemeral, and I may delete what becomes too dated. Posts on Greece and the Eurozone crisis are in Commentary.
As always it gives me great pleasure to reach people with this blog. Thank you for your readership.
An unusual blog post in Greek about the suitability or otherwise of the socialist SYRIZA party for governance. I think it’s what Greece needs. Translate this badly with Google.
Το παρακάτω ακολουθέι απο μια συζήτηση με τον πατέρα μου, που λέει περίπου τα παρακάτω (συνοπτικά):
Ο ΣΥΡΙΖΑ είναι επικίνδυνος γιατί διακατέχεται απο αριστερές επαναστατικές ή λαικίστικες ιδέες που δεν ταιριάζουν στην εποχή μας ή δεν είναι δυνατόν να τις εφαρμόσει η Ελλάδα όταν περιβαλλόμαστε απο μια άκρως καπιταλιστική Ευρώπη που απαραίτητα μας στηρίζει. Αν βγεί λοιπόν θα κάνει κινήσεις τύπου Αντρέα ή τίποτα ή χειρότερες τυχοδιωκτικές ζημιές.
Η απάντησή μου:
Οι δυο παραμετροι που προσδιορίζουν την κίνηση της Ελλάδας ειναι το πρωτογενές έλλειμα/πλεόνασμα, αν δηλαδή μπορούμε να ζήσουμε τον εαυτό μας, και οι προσδοκίες των Ελλήνων για το πώς θέλουν και φαντάζονται τη χώρα αυτή και το μέλλον.
Οσον αφορα το πρωτογενές έλλειμα:
Όλη τη σύγχρονη περίοδο το Ελληνικό κράτος δε μπορούσε να συλλέξει αρκετά χρήματα για τα έξοδα του και κάλυπτε το κενό με κάποιου είδους πληθωρισμό: Έκδοση χρημάτων, υποτίμηση της δραχμής, ή δανεισμό (έκδοση ομολόγων) χωρίς να υπάρχει πρόθεση ή προοπτική αυτο το “χρέος” να επιστραφεί ποτέ. Έτσι κάνει και η Αμερική. Τα ομόλογα των χωρών κατα κανόνα ανακυκλώνονται και αυξάνονται αενάως. Οι πρώτες δυο μέθοδοι έκλεισαν με το ευρώ, και τα ομόλογα δούλευαν μέχρι το 2008 οπότε τα χτύπησαν οι επενδυτές και τα επιτόκια εκτινάχτηκαν.
You may have heard that there’s a move by the ITU, an inter-government telecoms management committee, to take control of the internet. Take control of course means convince governments to give it control. This is a bad thing, and you should sign the petition against it here: http://www.freeandopenweb.com
However everything is not so simple and black and white. Why does the internet “need to be free”. Well we know the answer of course. It’s so we can download porn and make Skype calls without paying. These are important activities that bring the world together and make it a better place, but if we look past the everyday what is it that gives the internet its sense of freedom and power, and how is that in danger?
The republican party lost the election despite fielding the most competent, centrist, and generally acceptable candidate since Bush sr, or even including him. The hate fringe didn’t help the GOP, but it’s not what lost them the election either. The republicans still got nearly half the vote despite including individuals who would alienate more than half of the population. It’s not the individuals, it’s the policies that lost the elections.
The issue at the heart is the future vision for the individualist and affluent society that we call the American Dream. All can see that the dream has ran into problems lately. Instead of delivering prosperity and self-actualization America seems mired in social stress and inequality. The parties differ as to what to do about that. The democrats feel that the Dream has veered and want to do a course correction. The republicans are panicking and would desperately step on the gas.
The cardinal error of design is to survey your users, observe what they do, gather your use cases, understand the use cases in detail, and then design your artifact to embody each of those use cases as directly and faithfully as possible. It’s to design your artifact explicitly according to the way it’s supposed to be used.
Wait, what? Isn’t this how you are supposed to do design?
It’s not. People will not use your system the way you designed it to be used. It’s a mistake to assume it will be used one way, or five different ways, or as many ways as you’ve explicitly enumerated. However many distinct use cases or paths you identify, people will use it in more ways. They’ll use it their way. They’ll combine different ways and jump between one use case and another. Or they’ll interpose a different product in the middle of using yours. A well-designed product accepts that actual use patterns are emergent. You cannot list them, but you can hope to facilitate as many patterns as possible beyond the ones you’ve envisaged.
Amazon got WikiLeaks. Google got The Innocence of Muslims.
Each company hosted the controversial content, on Amazon Web Services and YouTube respectively. Both of these are self-service platforms. Members of the public upload what they wish and are legally responsible for it. The companies neither vet nor admit any legal responsibility for the content. Both companies have terms-of-use clauses that prohibit interfering with IT (flood attacks, etc) and copyright violations. Amazon also has a catch-all “no content that might reflect badly on us” clause, and YouTube doesn’t.
When the stories broke out, Amazon quickly kicked WikiLeaks off their servers. This was not motivated by a legal or political request – Amazon just decided to do so. See their statement here: http://aws.amazon.com/message/65348/ So far, Google is still hosting the anti-Islam video but is blocking it in the Middle East. The White House asked Google to consider taking it down, but Google declined.
No-one has been harmed by WikiLeaks as far as I know, other than the source of the leak who is detained in the US. There was grave risk that people in the spy services, their informants, and perhaps well-meaning dissidents might be imprisoned, tortured, or killed as a result of being identified. The WikiLeaks team made a diligent effort to minimize this risk by redacting, and as far as I know there were no confirmed or officially claimed victims. Of course given the secrecy we may never know. So far, several people have been killed in Libya as a result of anger at the anti-Islam film, including the US ambassador, and there have been riots elsewhere.
I tend to disagree with the common public expectation of “privacy”. I respectfully disagree with the privacy laws common in Europe that put limits on collecting and keeping data on people. Although professionally I greatly respect medical privacy rules, I personally wish we had a different set of rules that put the focus of protection elsewhere. When some court or civil rights organization in some country accuses Google of a privacy breach I tend to think that they bring an outdated, basically wrong, idea of privacy to the debate.
The reason I disagree with privacy is that there’s no such thing. It doesn’t actually exist.
When we think loosely about privacy, in fact, we think about three distinct things: