– An Open Alternative to Facebook

What the world needs now is an open source and distributed alternative to Facebook, and many of the other cloud-based services in general. And and are the best examples of what this could be. There should be a piece of software that is pretty easy to install to your own server, with your own domain, that interfaces with other folks doing the same thing. But if you don’t want to run your own site, you could use someone else’s install. The trick is that moving your data should be as easy as exporting a ZIP file, and then importing that same file to another installation.

But Facebook isn’t the only cloud-based service that we’ve become dependent on or ceded control over. Gmail, Google Reader & Calendar, Flickr, YouTube…

It’s Just A Ride

by Bill Hicks

The world is like a ride at an amusement park, and when you choose to go on it, you think it’s real, because that’s how powerful our minds are. And the ride goes up and down and round and round and it has thrills and chills and it’s very brightly colored and it’s very loud. And it’s fun, for a while.

Some people have been on the ride for a long time, and they begin to question: ‘Is this real? Or is this just a ride?’ And other people have remembered, and they come back to us and they say ‘Hey! Don’t worry, don’t be afraid — ever — because… this is just a ride.’ And we kill those people.

‘Shut him up! We have a lot invested in this ride! Shut him up! Look at my furrows of worry; look at my big bank account, and my family. This has to be real.’ It’s just a ride. But we always kill those good guys who try and tell us that — ever notice that? — and we let the demons run amok. But it doesn’t matter, because… it’s just a ride, and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort. No worry. No job. No savings and money. Just a choice, right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy bigger guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love, instead, see all of us as one.

Here’s what we can do to change the world, right now, into a better ride. Take all that money we spend on weapons and defense each year and, instead, spend it feeding, clothing and educating the poor of the world, which it would do many times over — not one human being excluded — and we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever. In peace.

If A Koran Burns Behind a Paywall…

At least the controversy gave the 24-hour cable news networks something to run between commercials. And that really was the point of it all at the end of the day. This issue was perfect fodder for endless back and forth bullshitting between idiots for hours, day after day.

People burn books (religious and otherwise), CD’s, flags, images of the Pope or the president, and praise Nazis all the time in this country. And as far as those acts exercise and help to keep our national free speech muscle in shape, you really have to support them for doing it. Sadly, what we don’t do enough in this country is engage each other in deep conversation about what we believe in and why, fact-check, or even ask if cultural relativism makes sense in this connected world. And I think that is completely intentional.

Think about the fine line that these jokers walk, what they know and how they play the game. Simply reporting the fact that Korans might get burned by a church of about 40 people isn’t controversial. Neither is having an endless debate about it. Your objective is to make the advertisers happy, so you simultaneously achieve good ratings by riling people up but also maintain the neutrality of the host and the network so that you don’t risk a boycott. Net positive for the network, but clearly negative for society. More pent-up anger and some deep confusion over feeling part of a million discussions with no progress and always a sense that there are deeper issues that no one is willing to address.

Will this kind of media survive in a more competitive environment, where anyone can make content and distribute it to anyone at any time and any device easily? Would folks continue watching this crap? Would the cable company be willing to devote the necessary portion of the line to these channels when using it for network bandwidth might be in higher demand, and ultimately more efficient? Or how does the content change when we can easily direct support to the producers and advertisers lose control?