FiveThirtyEight has a great video about Grace Hopper, one of the first computer programmers or coders in the world. Her first tech related job title was actually “Computer”. Those were crazy times as modern computing was being founded. Hopper retired from the United States Navy as a rear admiral in 1986. She was the oldest active-duty commissioned officer in the United States Navy. She is also featured prominently in a book I recently read, the The Innovators by Walter Isaacson.
I wish I could embed the video here, but go watch it at FiveThirtyEight and learn about one of the pioneers of computing.
I continue to believe that fiber is single best economic development project a municipality can fund. See here, here, here and here. But as fiber continues to roll out in more towns, the advantage won’t be there much longer.
From Walter Isaacson’s The Innovators:
Stallman’s free software movement was imperfectly named. Its goal was not to insist that all software come free of charge but that it be liberated from any restrictions. “When we call software ‘free,’ we mean that it respects the users’ essential freedoms: the freedom to run it, to study and change it, and to redistribute copies with or without changes,” he repeatedly had to explain. “This is a matter of freedom, not price, so think of ‘free speech,’ not ‘free beer.'”
The problem with the new, open source, social media platforms?
They (typically) don’t run on basic php/mysql web servers. Plain and simple.
These new, open source, social media platforms I’m talking about include diaspora* (explanation here), MediaGoblin (explanation here), and pump.io (explanation here). Each of these require server resources above the standard shared server. Thus, the cost is to high for your average user. Typical shared hosting costs anywhere from $5 to $10 per month. Typical virtual private hosting (the next step up and able to run these platforms) costs anywhere from $15 to $25 per month. That’s a big difference for your average hobbyist. Like myself.
Sure, you can find pods or installs of this software to use. But part of the need for these platforms is that you can host and own your content. And there’s no guarantee of ownership when you’re using someone else’s install and someone else’s server. If I wanted someone else to host and manage my content, I’d upload my pictures to flickr or Google+.
I’ll compare to the WordPress content management system (on which this site is built).
WordPress has a huge user base. WordPress powers 23% of the web. Nearly a quarter of all websites run on the open source WordPress software. It’s not all self-hosted, like this site. Much of it is run on wordpress.com, an install of the WordPress software maintained by Automattic. But for most everyone else, it is self-hosted and runs on cheap, shared hosting.
And this is why I think WordPress is so popular. Cheap, shared hosting.
Cheap, shared hosting that any hobbyist can afford. That any business can afford. That any non-profit can afford. That any government can afford.
So here’s a shoutout to everyone working on the likes of diaspora* and MediaGoblin (and many others, and all the future open source platforms). Design it to work on cheap, shared hosting and on php/mysql. This combination powers most of the web. And it allows us hobbyists to run your software. I really want to use it and tinker with it and contribute to the code and contribute back to the communities around them.
But I can’t on my shared hosting plan.
Agile Government Leadership has a great interview with Ben Kallos, New York City Council Member. He’s got quite an interest in technology and process reform, and it shows:
Most people think of government as slow and bureaucratic, but that isn’t a required feature. In fact, it is a bug, mostly tied to old models that were successful in the industrial era. The predominant governing model was the “waterfall method,” an approach that allows for ample input at the beginning of a project, but little—if any—during implementation or once the project is complete. Government must adapt from this industrial model to what it more closely resembles: an information and services based model that allows for continuous feedback along the way.
I’m reminded of a passage from one of my favorite books, Fire Season by Philip Connors:
Time spent being a [wildfire] lookout isn’t spent at all. Every day in a lookout is a day not subtracted from the sum of one’s life.
The same definitely applies to time spent with a sleeping (or should be sleeping) child. These fleeting moments are some of the best moments of my life.
We celebrated Grant’s first birthday today, although it lost a little bit of the gusto when we found out yesterday morning he was sick. With little rest, the party went on, and Grant had a ton of fun. Pictures of him covered in green icing will follow, sometime, after we all catch up on a little sleep.