by way of explanation.

The electric car is perfected. You can drive now, with no emissions. Obviously, the oil companies are pissed. Because, they have a monopoly on providing energy for drivers. Getting the energy to move a car is what oil companies exist for. But suddenly, beautifully, they aren't as important. You don't need to buy the gas as a means of conveying the energy to your car. You can just buy the energy. Or even MAKE it. And some people, some way, will find a way to steal energy, because electricity is a hell of a lot easier to transport than gasoline. Leeching off the grid unauthorised is massively simpler than hijacking a transport truck filled with liquid kaboom.

Now, the oil companies are pissed. They are getting fucked over, here. Decades and billions spent creating this functional, if wasteful infrastructure, and now some bastard makes it all worthless. There's only two options. Either they can realise their core business was never oil, it was energy. They can start again at the bottom, but with their massive war chests, important connections, and influence; or they can fight tooth and nail to demand that everyone keep buying and using gas-powered cars.

So guess which one they choose.

They bribe/lobby government representatives, talk about the ease of stealing energy as opposed to being forced to buy it in a physical form. They start suing people who slip past their stranglehold on the new technology, after convincing the government to pass a law that makes it illegal to break through the industry created locks on automobile systems. The issue of efficiency, and of the actual product versus the popularised means of transport are occluded it's about theft, and right, and how much they put into creating the current, though obviously inferior system.

So, people do the logical thing. They make and buy their own electric car systems when they can, and sometimes, they go a little further. When the electric car sneaks through legally, and companies insist you buy electricity at artificially inflated prices, from a specialised grid that will intentionally be incompatible with certain car systems, consumers start stealing the energy from the grid, because, really, fuck it. At a certain point, it's no longer logical to keep bending to a market that forgets you are the one making them rich.

Eventually, the threatening lawsuit idea proves insufficient as a scare tactic, and society needs to decide whether to put everyone in jail, or to stop listening to an obsolete industry that has no clue how the world works now.


This all came to mind while I was driving home from starbucks, and wishing I had a good adapter for playing my ipod through the car stereo. There's a CD player, and a radio that doesn't work, but both of these come with limitations that make them more irritating than pleasant. Obviously, the above was an attempt at pointing out the idiocy of the music industry, who have forgotten that the only product that ever made them money, was music. Not vinyl, tapes, cds, radio play, whatever. They sold music. And suddenly, when you could buy music without having to buy it on some form of plastic slab, they freaked the fuck out and forgot that music had been the product all along.

Stop trying to recreate the plastic slab model in digital form, stop trying to make everything the way it was. I understand most of the people in a decision making position are old, and confused, and have no concept of how to operate in the conditions that have arisen in their market. Much as any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic, any massive shift in the realities of a market, provided it destabilises enough limitations, will always be taken as an attack, and probably morally wrong.

if you keep trying to sell people an electric car that ensures you get paid just as well as you did for the internal combustion engine, PEOPLE ARE GOING TO STEAL. In anger, in defiance, in acceptance of the fact that you really, really, refuse to help them out even a little here.

Does anyone else think it's crazy than in less than a decade the music industry has created a situation in which the majority of the population would rather face the risk of a lawsuit demanding tens of thousands of dollars, than pay for music? Any subway system in the world can create a happy medium that ensures more people will pay to ride, rather than jump the turnstiles and risk attack. Hint: they didn't do it buy increasing the fine for turnstile jumping until it would ruin a family financially. They just didn't demand that each rider submit to being handcuffed to a seat until they reached their predetermined destination, in a form they submitted a month earlier.

People are afraid of retribution. But not to the point where they will put up with anything to avoid it.


liveblogging the inconsequential (1)

9.32pm experiment starts. A line has developed at starbucks, and the cute manager girl is herding people in an attempt to make it faster. I’m drinking a caffe vanilla frapp. I’m also reading LVHRD magazine (pdf).

9.35pm I take a sip.

9.35pm there’s an irritating mass of high school aged girls sitting in the corner behind me. The phrase ‘ohmygod’ is being tossed around like al gore’s name at a hipster dinner party. Or, I guess, like the word ‘like’. If it was socially acceptable, I would argue that these are the girls who should be sold into slavery in eastern bloc nations. But I doubt it is socially acceptable.

9.36pm ‘do you really need another dress’ – justification for selling them into slavery?

9.37pm I remember that, as a black man, I should probably not be so free and easy with the slavery jokes. I go back to my magazine.

9.39pm LVHRD magazine is now my go-to example for design ‘style’ being more important than readability, or functionality, or anything that actually matters. Pretty is good. Pretty and works is infinitely superior.

9.40pm I’ve learned to tune out the prostitots in the corner. Am I the only person in the world for whom working in PR is actually mellowing?

9.41pm the phrase ‘on crack’ is the new black.

9.43pm paul pope is my hero. I need more THB.

9.44pm my parents call. I inform them I have taken out the garbage. Rejoicing follows.

9.46pm deep notes that ‘it’s pretty loud for a Monday’ I respond with ‘it’s pretty fucking loud, yeah’. I hate everyone in the room excepting deep, cute starbucks girl, and my mac. We will move outside when the situation permits.

9.48pm I am running out of frappaccino. Alert the authorities.

9.48pm I am nearly certain that this is more interesting than the last liveblog I read, which was basically ‘crapcrapcrapcrap what, no love for children of men? Crapcrapcrap’.

9.51pm I am currently eavesdropping on another example of one minority group attempting to corner the market on being discriminated against. No, not black. Guess again.

9.53pm I really should be spending this time working on my press release writing skills. Trust me, it’s harder than it looks.

9.54pm I have finished reading LVHRD, I am again an advocate, that shit was beautiful.

9.55pm when the hell is PULPHOPE coming out already? The wait is killing me. Screw harry potter, this shit is important. There is currently 3.50 left on my macbook battery. I am seriously impressed, considering I’m refusing to turn down the brightness for no good reason.

9.57pm I’ve begun to read coroflot number 2, because it distracts me from the frat-boy-esque tards that keep talking about trashing hotels with their hockey teams.

10.00pm I just wasted two minutes reformatting the word doc of this ‘liveblog’. Two. Minutes. And still, the tedium.

10.01pm so is this more stream of consciousness, or just idiocy? Is this any more or less relevant than most liveblogging? Experiment ended.

I once wrote that the revolution wouldn’t be televised, it would be liveblogged and photocasted, it would be available from the citizenry and for the citizens of the world. I’m wondering if that’s the case, or if the revolution will be lost in the twitter storm of ‘I just had a sandwich’ that you can currently watch on a google maps mashup (insert link).

This was a proof-of-concept episode of LTI. Next time, it’s going to be a more focused event, although meaningless. The real dream is to pull off an LTI that is completely within the topic.

Meta. Meta. Meta.

10.05pm Okay, I just had to add this. One emo, pete wentz looking guy, and an army of not-quite-aware-they-are-chubby emo girls just walked out of the starbucks, talking about how they are going to some place on Richmond, and it’s amateur night. Teen whores heading to a strip joint. Like, 15. There is no god.

Not that I thought one was coming.

liveblogging the inconsequential (intro).

Sometime this week I hope to start a new random feature, called 'Liveblogging the Inconsequential'. The gist of it is, liveblogging is one of those popular, common, and arguably useless things that crop up around new tech as part of the law of unintended consequences. I can understand the theory, which is that someone will be watching the Oscars with a laptop, and read your hilarious commentary by the minute, clicking refresh in-between bouts of laughter.

More likely, however, someone reads it later that night, or the next morning, or while not watching the show at all, or while never having the intention to watch. And what they get is a list of timestamped posts with commentary like 'Jack Nicholson sure has a creepy smile. I wonder how much charisma one needs to expend to overcome such a disability.' But hopefully funnier.

Given my teensy readership, I see no need to actually update a post ad-nauseum, time by time. Instead, I'll just post my timestamped observations and thoughts, while doing something meaningless. Candidates for the first LTI post include re-watching the season of entourage thus far, listening to classic reggae albums that my father insists are relevatory, or on-site people watching from some cafe with wi-fi.

I'm sure you are amped about it.


addressing my laziness.

For once, my radio silence isn't about looking for work. I'm currently putting in some intern time, and as such, haven't really had as much time as I'd like for things like brokengent.

But, I'm still posting when I can, and readying a few comments and statements about Pownce (hint; I compare it to livejournal).

Still, I want to draw your attention to two things.

One, is a post of the Freakonomics blog, asking a simple and powerful question, 'How well would the concept of libraries go over today?'

This is an important question to ask, because to me, the library is one of the low-tech examples of the kind of freedoms that digital information isn't really allowed to have, at least according to some corporations and representative bodies that push hard for tighter copyright laws. Is the library a good thing? I hope most people would argue yes. Is it an example of societal benefit being put before the concerns of an industry? Obviously. (This is the part where you wonder why that is supposedly a bad thing.)

Thing two is a company called 'Subvert & Profit', who's raison d'etre is selling influence on the Digg community, and trying to get advertisers on the front page.

I was listening to the CBC yesterday, and someone pointed out that there had been definite tension between market supporters, and those who were, if not anti-market, than pushing for an alternative to total market dominance. Obviously, the market won. This is why revolutions are so consistently profitable; the concept of revolution only exists within the market. Every revolution is really just a new product that changes the status of old products when it is introduced.

Social networks, user generated content, the blogosphere, whatever. It's revolutionary, yes, but it is also, at core, a new paradigm in a market framework. Everything is a medium through which to create a product. Everything will be, at some point, made into an attempt to turn a profit.

[To anyone who thinks this sounds dystopian, you are living in the wrong civilisation. Try harder next time.]

short one.

I managed to receive a Pownce invite (thanks, Brian) and am currently playing around with it. Clean interface, everything has been easy, and works as well online as it does as a desktop client.

But, I need a wider network to really test it out. So, anyone who wants an invite, let me know. And anyone who takes one, add friends, people I might know if possible.

I have a feeling the features will become clearer if I widen my net.


observations on open source

When I first made my never-far-from-the-conversation switch to Apple, I decided I was going to put my actions up against my words, and use OpenOffice for all of my text editing needs. And, for a little while, it was tolerable. When a fellow user and friend switched back to microsoft Word, he did so because OpenOffice felt like 'a windows app that just happens to run on a mac.' I later corrected him that it was much more like a linux app that just happens to run on a mac, but you get his point.

I persevered. But, today, I reached my breaking point. The hassle of settings, of formatting, of doing pretty much anything other than entering text, was getting to me. Hell, the hassle of saving a set of changes, and then opening .doc files to find that they had reverted, got to me. Moreover, my friend was right. The interface was hideous, counter-intuitive, and didn't work well with anything in a .doc biased world.

Today I learned something very odd. Microsoft products can look appealing. Apparently only when they are coded for a Mac, though. Confusing. Still, I had to abandon my open source ideals, and for one simple reason; it doesn't work well enough.

It works, inarguably. I COULD, if forced, live with using only that one program. But, for me, open source isn't just about escaping the tyrrany of massive corporations, or harnessing the power of crowdsourcing. For me, open source is mostly about creating alternatives to fight the limitations intentionally imposed on users for corporate gain.

Today I learned that unintentional limitations and failings are worse, on an individual experience level. Worse because being unable to do what you are supposed to do will always be more glaring than being unable to do something the designer doesn't want you to do.

Still, using Word makes me feel dirty. Maybe I should switch to Pages...


hitting close to home.

I just received my new phone in the mail, and was fairly certain the handset was broken - i couldn't set any mp3 ringtones that i attempted to transfer via bluetooth.

But no, this is a common problem in Canada, for fido customers, apparently. They DRM locked my phone so that it will only play ringtones downloaded from the online WAP store, accessible only via the phone.

They also, just to piss me off, seem to have locked out the option that lets me connect to my home internet through the phone, via bluetooth.

Fido is doing a really good job at making me regret customer status.


the broken gentleman wants a Pownce invite.

(And yes, I know I wanted an 8apps invite, and got one, and didn't really write about it, but that was mostly because I saw potential, but didn't feel I had either enough experience, or enough connection with the suite to judge. Frankly, it seemed like it would be good in the future, but at the time, felt rather Beta. So, I'm waiting, mostly because the potential there is enough that I refuse to write it off until I've seen anything resembling failure, rather than just a slow build to full functionality.)

But yes. Pownce. Ignoring the Digg / Kevin Rose connection, this is the first thing I've seen that gave me any indication that I would ever make use of Twitter. Then, about 3 seconds later, I decided that Twitter was weak in comparison, and so I'm holding out for Pownce.

Someone help a gentleman out.


finally going to talk about the iphone.

I haven't actually had the opportunity to NOT buy one yet, being Canadian, but I have essentially made it impossible for me to justify doing it financially, whenever it is that the iPhone gets a Canadian release. I am trying not to lust after the thing further, and the only method I have is to list the things that piss me off about it. Not the least of which is, the oft mentioned moratorium on third party development. No outside programs on your iPhone unless they run online, without flash. And over embarrassingly slow EDGE service.

Funnily enough, part of the reason I bought a Mac was to avoid Vista, because everything I'd heard had led me to believe that it was a DRM devil OS, designed to penalize me for using any non-microsoft approved software.

And yet, here we are.

I never cease to be impressed by Apple's ability to use it's position as a contender to obscure the decidedly non-little-guy-friendly stances being taken with iPods, the iTunes music store, and now the iPhone. The ubiquity of Apple branded media playing devices makes them, in my mind, one of the worst offenders when it comes to sales of locked media. At the same time, I'm typing this on a MacBook, which is connected to an iPod, and I'm saving for an AppleTV (my reasoning is at least somewhat solid on that one, see below). Obviously, I have developed a kind of cognitive dissonance that can only be described as having taken a liking to the Kool-Aid.

It was easy for me to blow off Microsoft products wherever possible, mostly because the simple act of USING them is enough to make you hate the corporation. Couple that with a distaste for practices, and I'm out the door. However, my Mac is a joy to use. The mixture of iPod and iTunes is, in my opinion, the best digital music experience (from a UX standpoint), and that makes it harder for me to flip out when I hear that there will be no third party apps on the latest Apple object of obsession.

I don't like this hypocrisy coming from my end, but I'm having a hard time seeing an out. So, I look at all the post-release hullabaloo coming from the south, and I'm repeating flaws like a mantra because there are MANY justifiable reasons to dislike the device. But at the same time, Apple has, in recent years, developed some kind of direct stimulation for the 'BUY IT' reaction in my reptile brain.

So I'm looking for a happy compromise, like maybe Jobs will wake up tomorrow and consider policies that are better for the community at large, even if they slightly complicate things in Cupertino.

[In relation to the AppleTV, I want one as a solution to two problems; 1) I hate waiting for DVDs, 2) I don't keep a TV schedule. An addendum to this is, even though I pay for cable, I think subscribing to specific shows over iTunes on a per season basis would be a reasonable and useful option for me. And, even the time spent 'finding' 'reruns' is worth enough that I would be willing to pay.

That, and the salve to my conscience that would come from actually paying for battlestar galactica.]