Keepin' IT Simple

by M. David Peterson

Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life - Simplifying Your Life

Over the past year I've been on a mission to simplify my life piece by piece. Along the line I've made some promises to myself which I've kept and others which have been more difficult to stick with.

Typical news channels have become the junk food channel for the soul. Blogs have helped square things out a bit, but creatively paraphrashing Tim Bray's recent "The Long Form", blogs can easily become the HoHo to the typical news channel Twinkie.

I would start with Tim's piece and move on into Dare's. If you read nothing else today, or even this week, you'll probably be all the better for it.


2006-04-20 07:04:12
You must both be single. Marriage is the most complexifying force in nature. There isn't a RESTful thing about it.

Your whining and whinging are disturbing the other slaves at their oars. Cease or the drummer will hit you with his HoHo.

Tim's discovering that position in the Long Tail isn't an indicator of quality. Opinions are free; insight based on in depth research costs 5 cents for a fully paid up subscription.

Quality is the bifurcator of all open markets.

M. David Peterson
2006-04-20 15:48:52
Hey Len :)

I know I am, and if not mistaken, Dare is unmarried but "with Girlfriend" (based solely on previous posts that make mention of her).

However, I have been in a long term relationship and as such, can understand your point ALL TO WELL :)

"Put down the HoHo and step away from the boat!" ;)

Where do I deposit my nickel, by-the-way?

2006-04-24 14:01:10
Give it to the girl at the door so she can put it in an offshore bank account for later application to your first son's bail when he gets a driver's license. :-)

The long tail isn't a statistical curve; it is a tool. If you hook up to it in a 'gain sensitive' spot, you can have a lot of influence and almost complete anonymity. You just have to accept that the idea if unsuccessful will be tried again later and if successful, that you get none of the credit. On the other hand, if you invest that nickel well, you will get many happy returns and none of your poor relatives will be wiser.

M. David Peterson
2006-04-24 15:18:50
Hey Len,

Thanks for providing reason and opportunity for me and anyone else who reads this to think about life outside the inner-box > < and as such gain a greater understanding as to what life is really like (or at least can be like) when you live inside the outer-box, but outside of the world-defined box :)

2006-04-25 07:09:41
You may want to consider Scoble's tirades for full-text feeds and the comments about content theft. It all feels good until you are the owner of the pilfered silver and not the person buying it on the cheap from the pawn broker. So don't expect everyone to be really happy about it. In the ancient days of Hippie Freedom, liberating food from a grocer to feed one's mates was considered an act of kindness by the band; the grocer considered it shoplifting.

On the other hand, if you have enough stuff, giving it away doesn't hurt as much. That is one of the tough decisions one makes on the way to evolving a soul, David; when to let go of stuff that is cluttering up the garage of one's own head so others can have a better living room.

See Monty Python: The Meaning of Life (the scene where Palin and Idle play American business men explaining the meaning of life).

M. David Peterson
2006-04-25 08:01:42
Hey Len,

Thank you for this. :) Whats interesting to note is that about two weeks ago I finally decided it was time to start the long journey to the uncluttered mind, which includes not just whats stored in my head, but extends into whats stored on all of the various hard drives I have running the various machines I have working for me.

The ongoing result can be monitored via At some point this will redirect to, but that will happen transparently with the proper 'Permanent Redirect' code in place.

I guess the timing of your advice really couldn't have been any better as this definitely gives me a great deal of confidence in understanding that this process and the eventual result is the absolute correct journey I need to be embarking upon.

Of course, this only covers all of the technical stuff, and if not mistaken, your advice goes WELL beyond just the tech, and stares down the very heart of my soul as if to say "get ready. your next." ;)

Thanks Len! I truly appreciate your time and EXTREMELY well placed, and timely advice.:)

M. David Peterson
2006-04-25 08:08:53
re: > Scoble's tirades for full-text feeds and the comments about content theft.

I guess I missed this one... I will take a look a bit later today as it sounds like I might need a bit of time to both read, and then possibly write as well. In regards to this blog in particular, full-text feeds are beyond my control. On my personal blog the Atom feeds (one sent as applciation/atom+xml (feed.atom) the other as application/xml (atom.xml)) have always been full-text. I agree 100% with the general 'full-text feeds' argument of Scobles I have read in the past. Will be interesting to see what he has to say after being on vacation for the last two weeks... Sounds like he's been doing a lot of thinking (I've read a few posts, but need to get caught up obviously)

NOTE: re: personal blog - This will become active again here before too long... The server it was on here in my office has been having 'issues' so for now I have moved all the static files to another box, and when time permits, will get the actually software running the site up and running again.)

2006-04-26 06:31:48
As long as you have excess capacity, giving away stuff, be it ideas, old books, your youngest daughter, whatever, makes economic sense. Scoble has a lot of stuff. Others see the involuntary pilfering and republishing as IP theft and in fact, that is what it is.

Note the parallel to the problem of extensibility of standards and extensibility as a concept (ausdehnunglehre). Where say RSS/Atom gets extended and you adopt that extension, as long as it is unencumbered and remains unencumbered, the whole 'let a thousand flowers bloom' and the ancient law that allows the poor to glean in a field work. IOW, let the bowl fill to the capacity of the stream to feed it. On the other hand, given shorts on your stock and a stockholder revolt at the gates, as you start laying off friends and having to hire former competitors, as the sales nazis become the privileged with access to the board and the CEO, then you have to rethink the strategy by which extensible features are allowed to be reused by others.

In short, the 'information wants to be free' meme is based on excess capacity. In the 60s in the Haight when the Diggers were helping the newly arrived and the witlessly lost, it was because it was a rich city full of giveaways, say, excess capacity. But when you have to start filling other companies, communities and countries with much deeper bowls, you may start rethinking where you put the dam and where to redirect the river.

At that point, take a hard look at your stuff. How much do you really need? One mans' garbage and another man's treasure, etc. Just don't be envious if the old painting you hated when your grandmother kept it over her mantle turns out to be a Matisse. Indian givers aren't well appreciated.

M. David Peterson
2006-04-26 08:41:21
Hey Len,

Thanks for this... As long as I am understanding things correctly, I agree with ALL of it!

It is my personal belief that the most important work I can be doing is helping to lay the groundwork for the next generation of computing that is evolving from the world of web feeds. Much like MS and Sun both give away the .NET and Java (respectively) runtime engines, I see a lot of the work I am doing in much the same light (although obviously nowhere even close to same level of foundation/functionality).

With the proper infrastructure in place that can be used as a foundation to build upon, then actively and openly giving away the farm just because it seems and/or feels like it's the right thing or neighborly thing to do, instead (at least it seems this way to me) does more damage to the overall economy than it could EVER do good.

It seems to me folks need to ask themselves the old adage,

"Is it better to give a man a fish, or teach him how to fish."

While it's not a 1 to 1 comparison, the connection I am attempting to make is that of building a culture, and a subsequent economy in which we can build and extend from and in doing so, thrive as a community. If all we do is give away the fish we just spent all day catching, holding back the knowledge of how one could go about fishing for themselves, then it would be impossible for the community as a whole to grow.

On the flip-side, if we instead provide the foundational infrastructure, the tools, and the knowledge of how to use the two of these together, we have now given this same community the opportunity to build and extend from this foundation, and as such thrive as a community who is enabled to feed themselves, instead of waiting for us to get back from our daily fishing ventures such that they can continue to simply survive from one day to the next.

What do you think?

M. David Peterson
2006-04-27 01:03:06
One thing I forgot to add...

If we teach folks how to fish, but expect them all to build their own boats as well (and hold back the knowledge in regards just what it is they need to do to either build a boat, or at least get a good deal for one Craigs List ;), at best progress is slowed to a snails pace, and at worst everyones already long since past on into the next life due to both frustration from understanding how to fish, and where the fish can be found, but no clue how to build a boat and therefore no way to get to where the fish are at, as well as starvation. Obviously the first is the cause of the second.

2006-04-27 08:29:36
I can only quote something I've said elsewhere, because there is a technical dimension (what is extensibility, how can it be sustained) and a humanist question (what to do about predatory opportunism) and there isn't a single right answer. The first has to do with the limits of communication and memory, but for the second, there are some observations that help with situation semantics by removing some religious or superstitious positions that lead to frustration and disappointment:

1. Rationality is a weak predictor of human behavior. Humans are not logical by design. They are emotional. Logic is a bolt-on. It is necessary to understand the process of analogy and abduction and induction that precede deduction. IOW, the computer science bit comes last and is trivial.

2. Even given a Nash equilibrium for a game, the rational behavior is only a bet. There is no perfect knowledge by all players that would enforce a single strategy. Why? Because not all people share your values and if they don't, the probability they share your goals is weaker.

3. Some games are of the RPS form (rock paper scissors). There is no logical strategy; just PSYOPS.

4. Because of this, in some cases, many in fact, rationale squeezes out innovation. For some decisions, you do it because it feels good. Trust that and avoid martyrdom unless your relationship with a greater good is such that you feel you should pursue a strategy. It's ok to give away things. It's ok to lose. Set a price and if the deal exceeds it, get out.

Love is a verb, David. You can't get it, hold it, give it, keep it or make it. You can do it or not do it. It may sound sentimental, but over time and many mistakes, I found it to be true. You try to build a better society because you love them, that's all. An evolutionary stable strategy (ESS - you can wikipedia that one) recognizes legitimacy as the key concept for systems design. See the writings of Aldo de Moor and the Pragmatic Web.

M. David Peterson
2006-04-27 10:41:19
Hey Len,

Thanks again for your time, and for your overall advice. Seems I need to do some research/reading, something that I quite enjoy, so I'm thankful for the opportunity.

I'll update this thread once I have.

Thanks again!