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    Ludovico Magnocavallo
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Blog comments as reputation

26 maggio 2005

Reading Clay Shirky’s A Group Is Its Own Worst Enemy this morning for my proposal (BTW Ross, sorry for being late in replying to your thoughtful email, will do it soon), I was struck by how well Weblogs Inc‘s Star System implements three of Shirky’s Four Things to Design For in Social Software:

The first thing you would design for is handles the user can invest in.

Second, you have to design a way for there to be members in good standing. [...] Have to design some way in which good works get recognized.

Three, you need barriers to participation.

WI’s Star System has been running on a few of their blogs for the past couple of weeks, and it’s a reputation system built on top of their readers’ comments:

  • users are identified (and comments approved) using their email addresses
  • good comments have scores, and the system tracks and displays members with the highest score
  • comments are approved only if the user’s address is valid, by clicking on the comment approval link sent by email

The benefits for good commenters are not only in seeing their nickname listed in the blog’s sidebar: if they provide a personal URL their nickname points to it with a link that shold bring some traffic (especially from the big blog like Engadget or Autoblog) and, missing the rel="nofollow" attribute, gives them ranking and linking status in search engines.

Jason is a not only a very smart businessman, but a real innovator. Now off to lunch. Update: Jason linked to this post.

Richard Florida e l'Italia

22 maggio 2005

Leandro Agrò prende spunto da L’ascesa della classe creativa di Richard Florida (qui l’audio di un intervento di Florida a PopTech 2004 in cui riassume i contenuti del suo libro) per riportare e commentare i temi di un recente workshop di Assolombarda sull’innovazione. Difficile non essere d’accordo con quanto scrive Leandro, e chi ha avuto esperienze di lavoro in grandi aziende sorriderà amaramente riconoscendo la realtà di affermazioni come questa

ma lo sapete quanti manager “creativi” io ho incontrato in dieci anni di onorata professione? Una percentuale prossima allo ZERO! [...] Io credo infatti che uno dei maggiori vincoli allo sviluppo del Paese non sia l’assenza di una classe creativa (ma quando mai) bensì l’inconsistenza di una classe manageriale che sa fare poco di più che il contafagioli

Quello che sfugge a Leandro (e che sicuramente è sfuggito ai partecipanti al Workshop), è l’effetto devastante sulla creatività di una delle peggiori caratteristiche della società italiana: il clientelismo, che produce spesso aberrazioni degne di un clan mafioso. Non credo ci sia nessun paese tra quelli industrializzati in cui il merito conta poco come in Italia, dove per “fare carriera” (e quindi decidere delle sorti proprie e altrui) non serve — anzi spesso nuoce — essere bravi, creativi ed avere esperienza, ma essere agganciati al carro giusto e comportarsi da perfetti “yes man”. C’è poco da stupirsi poi se la creatività è completamente assente nelle nostre università ed aziende, se le assunzioni sono fatte sempre per conoscenze e non seguono mai le regole di mercato, se prodotti e servizi hanno qualità scadente e costano molto di più di quanto dovrebbero, ecc. ecc.

Blogger italiani si fanno conoscere

19 maggio 2005

1 commento

Fa piacere una volta tanto aprire l’aggregatore e vedere citato in bella evidenza sul post di uno dei soliti a-listers un blogger italiano. Se poi il blogger lo si conosce bene, fa ancora più piacere. Bravo Luca, che armato solo di un po’ di inventiva ha estratto in anteprima dalla presentazione di Google la notizia dell’imminente rilascio del portale personale iGoogle.

Il commento più sensato tra i pochi letti fin’ora è di Dave Winer, con i cui post (nonostante il carattere non proprio accomodante del personaggio) mi sto ultimamente trovando sempre più in sintonia (molto carino il suo rant su Adam Curry di oggi, se ancora non l’avete letto).

Sul fronte delle notizie personali, ho iniziato il lavoro sul backend di LightPress, trasferito il sito su TextDrive, e iniziato ad occuparmi di qualche progetto interessante in ufficio per cui mi toccherà studiare non poco (Java/J2EE, il mainframe e i Web Service non sono proprio il mio forte). Qualche lettura interessante, di cui spero di riuscire a parlare nei prossimi giorni. E qualche progetto (rigorosamente non profit) che mi frulla come al solito per la testa e di cui ho accennato all’altro Luca, appena tornato dal viaggio di nozze e già ripartito.

Firefox on Windows without admin rights

14 maggio 2005

2 commenti

I am sitting at an Internet Cafe in Macerata where we are spending the weekend, and there’s only IE installed. I did not remember IE was such a pain to use, and since the owner claims that Firefox trashed one of his machines a while ago (uhm…), I have been forced to find a way to install it on Windows without administrative rights. Google is no help in this occasion, but if you resort to one of the basic principles of Unix systems administration (“it’s always a permissions problem, stupid!”) it turns out it’s very easy: just select the Custom install, and select as a target folder one you can write to, such as a new “Firefox” folder on your Desktop.

Un piccolo mondo...

10 maggio 2005

13 commenti

Sul tram a Milano, domenica 8 maggio 2005Possibile che la rete riesca a diminuire le distanze in un mondo già piccolo? Domenica pomeriggio ero sul 29 con Enrica diretto verso la stazione Garibaldi, quando l’occhio mi è cascato sulla maglietta con il logo di Firefox indossata da un ragazzo seduto di fronte a noi. La maglietta era il segnale più evidente che lo classificava come geek nostrano, ipotesi confermata anche da altri particolari. Soddisfatto di sentirmi in buona compagnia, mai più avrei pensato che il giorno dopo avrebbe citato un post dal mio blog, e che oggi sarei capitato sul suo journal on line e le sue foto su Flickr. Ciao Antonio, chissà se capiterai su questo post.

Making Peace with Autism

9 maggio 2005

Ned Batchelder is a (Python) programmer who has to deal daily with the autism that afflicts his oldest son:

For most people, the degree of examination is a matter of choice, a reflection of your interest in introspection and self-awareness. Most people can adjust their level of self-examination to balance the effort with the reward. With an autistic child, there is little room for laying back and letting things be. “Go with the flow” doesn’t usually apply.

His wife Susan Senator is a writer and activist, who has just published the book Making Peace with Autism: One Family’s Story of Struggle, Discovery, and Unexpected Gifts. Ned is asking his friends, readers, and fellow programmers to help raise his wife’s Google ranking:

Could I ask a favor? Susan’s name makes Google searches difficult. Searching for “Susan Senator” tends to find Senators named Susan, and “Sue Senator” is worse: there are lots of news stories about people suing their senators. Here’s the favor: make a link to Susan Senator to help Google find its way.

It’s an easy favor to grant, and maybe reading Ned and Susan’s experiences will make you stop for a while, and give some thought to many important things we all take for granted in our daily lives.

Blogs, hype, LesBlogs

8 maggio 2005

3 commenti

Nick Denton’s New York Times interview mentioned today by Scoble gives me the occasion to write a few thoughts I have been ruminating after LesBlogs, which I have been discussing for the past week or so with David Tebbutt in an ongoing email exchange.

Is there a “blogging revolution”? Yes, despite what Denton says to the NYT reporter. But the revolution is over, what we are seeing now is its secularization. A few things struck me at LesBlogs, all distinctive characteristics of revolutionary movements that, having exhausted their innovative charge, turn themselves into institutions:

  1. the emergence of a new, self-referential establishment with its periphery of sycophants and wannabes (including myself probably)
  2. the superficiality and repetivity of many discussions, which showed a suspect resemblance to a political party’s official doctrine (or a large company’s vision)
  3. the feel that much of what was being said was for the benefit of potential customers, or of the many journalists attending the conference

It’s very clear to me that a new hierarchy/power structure has emerged, with lots of capital at its disposal with which to fuel enough hype to try and push social software in the enterprise. It won’t be long before we see CEOs and top managers falling for the new buzzwords, and forcing blogs/wiki/etc, onto their users and IT departments, without having a clue what they’re about.

As for LesBlogs, I have finally understood why Dave Winer insists that BloggerCon remains a users’ conference…

Backpack, Google Accelerator, HTTP

6 maggio 2005

As often happens, Sam Ruby saved me from wasting too much time idly browsing the web (no energy to work on more important stuff on Friday night) with his latest post: This Stuff Matters. Sam links to a post by Robert Sayre on the Google Accelerator / Backpack mess (If you’re going to do RPC, have the courtesy to tunnel it through POST), which in turn links to Ajax Considered Harmful, which links to the “Just” use HTTP presentation Sam gave at ETCON 2005.

If you do web development (or any kind of development since you can’t escape HTTP nowadays) and have not seen it, take a half hour to do so. It’s full of great advice and interesting facts, a few of which you may be familiar with, while others will be a surprise. The four-sentence summary is:

  • Comparing characters and uris is surprisingly more difficult and important than you might otherwise imagine (think: security holes)
  • Layering is the problem, not the solution
  • You won’t find reality in any specification
  • Spec authors are responsible for the confusion that they create

There’s always a subtle and evil sense of satisfaction in watching the successful ones take a beating for programming or architectural errors you would not make. Of course, working harder and being in their place would be much more rewarding. :)