Category Archives: Political

Is an Economy of Leisure closer than we think?

I do feel like we are decades away from being able to create a leisure economy, and I think it’s a necessity.

On the epoch of the information age, we have been doubling our ability to store, archive and create data. We do it on blogs, on social networks and as we browse each website, and as we search via google. We are creating data from satellites, from outside our solar system and we are creating data at home with phones, camcorders, games, and cameras.

As a software engineer I think that we are upon an age of personal manufacturing and automation like we can not even begin to imagine. With so much data, and so many opportunities to create, organize and discover what all of this data we are entering into an age that demands creativity. It won’t be the means of ‘work’ or ‘production’ that enables great ideas to flourish, but how we share, discuss and appropriate resources to those ends.

We will demand creative solutions to existing problems rather than productivity. The means of creativity might be described as prolific, but not as something that can be measured in hours. I think going forwards as more jobs implore creative solutions, will will find that productive work will be taken over by systems that can be automated. Our network should start to fall, while our creative means will be required to increase.

Centuries ago economist and philosophers would talk of the leisure economy, but it was something that only the aristocrats could participate in, however, those that did, designed the 1st telescopes to explore the stars and the first microscopes to explore our cells. We had an age of enlightenment like never before in our history. Today we are on such a dawn, such an age where all of us should have the creative freedom to explore again, to investigate the vary nature of our world and to share in the tools to do it.

Software like Code Academy, Udemy, are putting classes online and disseminating knowledge like never before, while tools like ‘Light-Table’ will make it easier for anyone to understand how programing works. Did you ever wonder how someone might reconfigure a warp coil in 15 min on Star Trek? I can tell you that if they had to use the software debugging tools we have today, that it would always take hours. In the future we will have tools that as you work, as you create, as you think through a problem we will have smart agents that understand us and will test out millions of variants as part of that dialogue between us and our computer counterparts. Debugging and analytics of our designs will be a solve problem, we will measure everything in a simulation and we will be able to predict with ease the results of our creative effort.

The a new age of creativity and leisure is upon us. Those that wish to experience it first will find a way to limit their own ‘productive’ work, and will increase their creative means.

It’s Good to Promote ‘Women In Tech’

Every day I remise that my profession, one that is pictured as this brute, as a relic of an old era. I love my career as a software engineer. I get to choose my hours, hold great responsibility, and get paid pretty well. In the end I create things, and that too brings joy. But I hear that my life is privileged and that I was only given access to those things because I am a white male born to well off parents. I find violent sorrow in my soul when people tell me that the women I love can not do the same. The funny part, is it’s not men I hear murmur this. It’s women I hear shouting it.

Something must be wrong.

I would love it if my girlfriend, daughter, or mother were able to work in tech. They are all very smart women, and technology empowers people. It empowers women, it empowers the world. Technology equalizes the bar and no one knows who is sitting behind a keyboard at the end of the day except for you. Technology enables 3rd world countries to take part in the success of 1st world and 2nd world countries. Technology allows all of the worlds knowledge to be given to a young child in Africa for $100. It allows people to move from country to country, to work and to learn about other cultures. Technology has brought us so much closer. But for some reason women feel disenfranchised from it all.

When I have a daughter, I want her to feel what I feel in technology and if that means my industry needs some work, then yes, let’s start now. I want her to feel like she can do anything with a well trained mind and a computer.

Today, things especially got awash when I responded to a tweet that @ashedryden had posted.

@ashedryden : Reporter asked me if it was hard being a woman in tech. I immediately said “do you wanna pull up a chair?”

I quickly retweeted, and FAILed at twitter with

@jdavid: @ashedryden, women don’t get into tech because they get impression is that it’s easier to be a lawyer or doctor. good things are hard.

This spun out of control, and my point was lost.

I had written a much longer tweet, but upon that being closer to 200-300 chars, I started pruning it a bit, which had the undesired effect I was afraid of. I find it harder and harder to use twitter for anything that matters. So, instead, it came off as an attack, rather than support of women in tech.

My response should have been a larger response, because in whole I think technology as an industry get’s better when the ratio of men to women more closely matches that of a well balanced society at 50%. I also think that many of the problems we have in gender equality have to do with the simple fact that there are more than twice as many men in tech as there are women. In fact some studies suggest that just 27% of tech workers are women, and that there are as many as 9x as many men in ‘C’ level executive roles as there are women. Legislating requirements would be hard, and for larger companies there are laws, but tech is forged by small teams, and that means the changes need to come from within each of us.

For years articles have interested me in how to get women more involved. I have been reading article after article. Look at years of my twitter and facebook streams and you can see that I promote great groups like the Bay Area Geek Girl Dinners, scholarships for women to get into tech and anything else I can do. I invite my girlfriend along to all of the tech events I go to and would be happy to bring anyone with.

In the end I don’t know all of the reasons why women don’t end up in Tech. I do challenge the notion that it’s ‘just’ sexism and that men are actively keeping women out. I believe that happens some of the time, but it’s hardly the whole reason. Instead I see a lot of men trying to bring their loved ones along. I see fathers and daughters at Maker Faire and I see guys taking time out of their week to hold programing classes just for the ladies. I see Google and Microsoft offering scholarships just for women, and I see companies as ruthless as Zynga promoting women because the web is now Social, and 70% of purchases online are made by women. Tech needs women more now than ever.

If there is a larger problem with the industry then I think we should fix it. If we don’t know why it is, then we shouldn’t ignore that there is an issue, but we should move on to the things we can do. Not every problem is fix’able now, and in a ‘get things done world’, we often put things off if there is no clear solution now. I see articles all of the time where the tech industry is trying to figure out why smart women choose to be lawyers, or doctors or other professions that require more or similar aptitude as technical degrees.

There are things we can do now, and there will be trailblazers that have unique insights later, but I think at the root of it all we need to be positive an alluring to women in tech. We need to make the industry interesting enough that we can work at the gender balance issues, and then work on the other issues together. Adding more women to tech can only improve the industry.

Having more women in tech will make it easier and more probable for women to offer suggestions to make it better. It will make it easier to rally and build support for new ideas, to build consensus and to create a workplace and technology that favors both sexes equally.

Whose Responsible for our Country?

If the CEO isn’t ultimately responsible for his or her company than who is? If the captain is not than who is? When Steve Jobs was captain of his ship he did amazing things at Apple. When Bill Gates created MS he did amazing things. I certainly believe that a great president can help us build a great country. I also absolutely know that Mitt is not a great man, and I am pretty sure that Obama is not as well, however, he is much better at selling what he wants than Mitt is, who just comes off as angry and whinny. I want a leader in office, one who doesn’t need the government to do everything, but one who leads this country in all of it’s facets to make this country great.

When we finally stopped giving SETI money from the government, they rethought the problem and started a revolution in cloud computing. I would argue that Amazon’s EC2 is because the government stopped giving money to SETI, and people were so enthralled with the fun of searching for aliens that we started to share computing resources. It got people thinking of computer’s as a cloud to send data to and fro.

Durring this administration we stopped flying shuttles, and now private industry is going to pick up the slack. They are rethinking the problem and we have visionaries like Elon Musk and Burt Retan that can take their passion and get all of the support that the world has to offer. They are free to chaise their dreams with the world as their tail wind. When the government does it, they do a job that’s just good enough for no one else to try.

Yes we need services to take care of people when they get sick. Yes we need services to take care of people when they loose their job. Yes we need services when people make purchasing decisions that encompass the what they might earn over decades, but the government does not need to do those services.

I also strongly believe that, a good government inspires hope when there is none, and finds a way to charge forwards. To not go down the path of traditional liberalism, but to actually find it’s true latin root, in which liberalism means either to be libre or free or to drive change and actualization of some sort.

We are a wondering country who blossomed into something more than we were when we won WWII and since that greatness we have not had a proper vision to be more than to find the next bully and the next evil to attack.

For us to move forward we need to put aside this notion of bettering other nations, and we need to find out who we are and what we want to be. Essentially we are having our mid life crisis.

What if our census asked people what their 3year, 10year, and 100year goals were. What if as a nation we tried to understand where we want to go and we put plans together to get there. What if we had metrics that allowed us to not only track those goals but how well our laws and governance were working to get us there?

We would transform this nation from one of sound bites, to one of substance.

I am so sick of the rhetoric and the ‘red’ vs. ‘blue’ propaganda. I am sick of us throwing votes at a meaningless argument of who is the better politician, when we should be discussing what would make us a better country and how 100% of American can work together to get there.

In 10 years we could solve AIDs if we wanted to, if we wanted to dedicate the resources to it. I’m sure we could figure out how to produce enough food for the world if the world came together under that goal. Sure we don’t all deserve to eat like kings, but we all deserve to eat something. We all deserve to have access to the worlds knowledge, although we may not all have the privilege to have private tutors.

If as humans we can land a machine on mars that sends data across a solar system that takes at the speed of light minutes to get here, we can surely accomplish great things. 30+ years ago we sent a space craft into space that is now escaping the solar wind of our sun. Just think about that we launched something 30 years ago that is still working and is sending data back to us.

There is a foundation brewing called the long now foundation ( ) their goal is to engineer things that will make humans think about a new time scale, maybe moving from status update to status update isn’t enough for a Great Culture. Maybe quarterly reviews isn’t enough for a Great company. Maybe every 4 years isn’t enough for a Great Country.

Where do you want our nation to be in 25 years? How do we answer that question? How do we make and keep those commitments over that time span?

The Truth of Libertarian-ism..

The point of libertarian-ism is not forgo care, but to encourage people to volunteer care.

When 911 struck I didn’t know what to do, I was scared, and everyone was in shock, and things were closing down. The best idea I had at the time was to go to the hospital and to donate blood. It took 6 hours for them to finally get to me, but, while I was there people came in and brought food to the hospital workers working late, and to the people donating blood. As we where all there together it had a sort of healing effect to just give blood.

After that day I gave blood every 2 months for 6 years while I lived in Milwaukee. But one day, I went in and I was in a bad mood and I made a joke that the Vampires were coming to take my blood, and one of the nurses stopped me and said. Justin, we appreciate your gift, but we do want you to give cheerfully, and if you can’t do that then you should find something else you can do.

That’s the point of Libertarian-ism, we just want people to give cheerfully, rather than by the force of the Law.

The problem with forcing people is that they will fight it, and then we spend time fighting the people who fight it. In the end we end up spending all of our efforts fighting and not caring.

On the other hand, people who give with a cheerful heart, are those that will go an extra mile to care for someone.

I want to live in a world where people want to help each other out, and not say, hey here is a government that can take care of the sick and the homeless and I don’t have to. That’s what my taxes do.

The reality is that everything is in decay because we are leaving it to someone else to fix. What if you started fixing things you saw were wrong on your own?

Efficiency and Independence, Mankind’s next giant leap forwards

It’s July 4th, and it dawned on me today that so many of the things we grew up being futuristic actually depend on us getting greener. Look at any popular science, or popular mechanics issue from that last 50 years, and you’ll see articles discussing leisure, space travel, or solving large problems like world hunger. If you look at it, system efficiency are the largest hold ups. As we approach more efficient processes, things will get cheaper and easier.

Greentech is not just what’s needed to save us from a controversial end like, Climate Change, instead it’s how we can make Mankinds next giant leap forwards.

When my great grand father was growing up he witnessed something amazing, he witnessed the moment when mankind learned how to fly. He saw us go from failed experiments to creating roadways, and a deep transportation network that could transport resources over great distances cheaply. He witnessed what it took for us to land on the moon. At the core of it all was a shift in engine power density, or rather the amount of mechanical power we could generate with less weight.

Our generation will witness fantastic changes in efficiency:

  • Farming
  • Water
  • Computational
  • Lighting
  • Transportation
  • Manufacturing

For us to approach many of the challenges that we need to travel into deep space, we will need to be masters at living on less. It’s not about living with less, but that we might use less to do more. My hope is that we can look at green tech not as a way of scaling back, but as a way of reaching out.

Being green will allow us to leap farther, because we are weighed down less.

A clear and present danger

There is a growing danger in this country. We are granting centralized authority to commerce and communication. Today, we are not killing people to silence them, instead we bestow a digital death upon them. Digital silence and censorship is death nun the less to net citizens.

It’s a scary time when you no longer can be assured to speak your mind. When what you say or do, could cost you your business and lively hood. It’s a sad time when just talking about legal action with the US could grant you in major trouble, an act popularized by 9/11 and the patriot act. Today it seems like the government is using the fear of prosecution as a means to silence us by proxy of our digital services.

We need to have a constant, open and fair exchange of ideas between the people and our government. It is the freedom of speech that allows each of us to be seen as valued and heard.

Using centralized services like att, gmail, facebook, amazon, twitter and others have come under threat. The government has made it quite obvious that it’s too easy to make threats at these large companies and have them compromise our constitutional rights. In the case of ATT the government admitted that it did so, and then gave them immunity. Think about that for a bit. They admitted to it being wrong, and then gave immunity to ATT for sharing data that would never have been allowed by our founding fathers.

It’s clear that the government is loosing respect for us and our rights. We need to be a country of responsible and free people. We need to respect each other.

We built a government of the people and for the people to avoid revolution, and when it becomes US vs THEM, we are in danger of creating disparity and violence. We must be vigilant and true to ourselves, we must weather the storm of truth and we need to face the facts every now and then. We need to accept our short comings and work together to resolve conflict. Silencing the voices of others is unjust, and it will rally the battle cries of the unheard. The freedom of speech is not about an individuals right to speak, it’s about a societies right to listen. We need to listen to those that want to be heard. I am not saying we need to agree, or to even act, but we do need to keep listening in the open as a united community.

#TSA2.0 imagine you are an Evil Web Genius ( ninja, rockstar ) hacker!

If you were some evil web genius hacker type ( otherwise known as a ninja or rockstar ) how could you mashup TSA’s new scanner’s to your favorite webapis?

If you have not heard, TSA is at it again. It’s almost like they took a look at the past 20-50 years of sci-fi and said, “what don’t people want us to do?” “Oh, let’s do that.” So, they just decided to do it, even though fiction paints a bleak image of it. These days they are doing full body scans, and not the type you might see in Total Recall, where you see someones bones and maybe a weapon or two, but this time TSA seems to have contracted out to a company that seems to have their inner 12 year old boy on overdrive; and as a result TSA’s new scanners don’t just find weapons, no they snap photos of your naked body for the world to document. The technology uses a form of x-ray vision, no joke. Which has raised concerns for cancer patients and others whom care about their health.

So the question is what will TSA come up with next?

How good, bad can it get?

Maybe it’s time to have a little fun of it to raise awareness. Maybe we should create a few mashups in jest of the new procedures.

So, If you were some evil web genius hacker type ( otherwise known as a ninja or rockstar ) how could you mashup TSA’s new scanner’s to your favorite webapis? Would you cache a copy of the photo for yourself? Would you share it on Path with your 50 closest friends? ( MySpace, Facebook, Twitter? ) Would you tie it into your Gowalla or Foursquare checkins? Maybe you could use it as part of a google interview question, ” How can you determine someones BMI or weight from a ‘Naked Body Scan?”

Maybe you could track how much people eat/ gain between the holidays if you compare their departure and return flight images?

If you combine that with the data from ( which has been acquired by facebook ) you could even merge the data from an anonymous photo, and tag that with an ID, and then later use rapleaf to look up that user’s web history before they board a plane.

So if you were one of those web ninja’s what mashup would you build?

Data is a paradise?

#NUD National UnFriend Day

I have been using Jimmy Kimmel’s announcement of #NUD or National Unfriend Day as a reason to clean up my social connections.

So far I have been clearing myself off of old Meetup Groups, Google Groups, Yahoo Groups. I have also been removing old apps from my Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace apps. It’s good to to do a bit of social fall cleaning. Not only have I been removing my self from these email lists, groups and other things, but I have been unsubscribing form newsletters that I don’t read any more. It’s great. I think I now get about 20 less emails a day that were otherwise not spam, but I had no continued interest in, and it was blocking my communication with the people and topics I care about.

I recommend for you to take action and to pair down who you spend your attention on. ( in a few cases, I actually friended a few new people, when I discovered they were now married )

My blog here is no exception and I found that I have 444 subscribers, and most of them are some form of bots ( an interesting number in Asian cultures ) I would like to apologize if I am deleting a valued reader, but if you are real and have something to tell me, please tweet me @jdavid, or just re-register. ( I think there are only a handful of humans that have registered here on my blog. maybe everyone else was afraid of the bot-apocolypse, so like a good John Conner I am clearing out the junk. )

I have added a few tools to make it harder for bots to register, and to track user activity on my blog. I am hoping that I can start fresh with users that are per-capita more human.

Notes from the Future

here are a few random thoughts about the future of tech.

Next up in sever farms, arm-mobile cores with system on chip gpus. I have direct word that google and facebook are both experimenting with this tech. nVidia is well positioned to take this market in 2-5 years with tegra2/3 / tegraX, and compete with intel/ amd in the low power server space.

There is a growing walled garden api problem. this results in the need for openid and oauth to support 4th party authentication, or granting someone the ability to delegate authority for you. you could think of this like if api’s could act via proxy, representative, assistant, or agent. 4th party delegated identity will be huge, and will allow you to pay for agents that filter and aggregate socially restrictive data. google doesn’t own this, and neither will facebook. there is room for a newcomer.

gov2.0 will happen, i am calling it #agilegov, and it will be less like democracy, and more like wikiocracy/ do-ocracies. others are calling it #bigsocial

3d games, will move into the web, and the web will finally move to 3d in the next decade. there are way to many gaps in platform tools for 3d worlds.

edu2.0, better connect top educators to more students. create smaller more engaging learning tools, or microlessons, that track behavior to a learning group online. think github for edu.

anyways that’s my rant.