mm487: A Truman for our times?

September 2, 2008
© Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime.com

© Oleksii Sergieiev | Dreamstime.com

This one got me.

But, in recognition of Republican week, I don’t have a problem with having the infamous George III smirk atop this post.

I might have a problem with the thesis, but it’s worth exposing, since it represents a point of view that had never occurred to yr (justifiably) humble svt.

prospectuk

A Truman for our times

The received wisdom is that President Bush has been a foreign policy disaster, and that America is threatened by the rise of Asia. Both claims are wrong—Bush has successfully rolled back jihadism, and the US will benefit from Asian growth

August 2008 | 149 » Cover story » A Truman for our times | Edward Luttwak

That George W Bush’s foreign policy has been a total failure is now taken for granted by so many people that one usually hears it stated as a simple truth that need not be argued at all.

It has happened before. When President Harry S Truman said in March 1952 that he would not seek re-election, most Americans could agree on one thing: that his foreign policy had been a catastrophic failure. In Korea his indecision had invited aggression, and then his incompetence had cost the lives of some 54,000 Americans and millions of Korean civilians in just two years of fighting—on both counts more than ten times the number of casualties in Iraq. Right-wingers reviled Truman for having lost China to communism and for his dismissal of the great General Douglas MacArthur, who had wanted to win it back, with nukes if necessary. Liberals despised Truman because he was the failed shopkeeper who had usurped the patrician Franklin Roosevelt’s White House—liberals always were the snobs of US politics.

Abroad, Truman was widely hated too. The communist accusation that he had waged “bacteriological warfare” to kill Korean children and destroy Chinese crops was believed by many, and was fully endorsed by a 669-page report issued by a commission chaired by the eminent British biochemist Joseph Needham. Even more people believed that Truman was guilty of having started the cold war by trying to intimidate our brave Soviet ally, or at least that he and Stalin were equally to blame.

How did this same Harry Truman come to be universally viewed as a great president, especially for his foreign policy? It is all a question of time perspectives: the Korean war is half forgotten, while everyone now knows that Truman’s strategy of containment was successful and finally ended with the almost peaceful disintegration of the Soviet empire.

For Bush to be recognised as a great president in the Truman mould, the Iraq war too must become half forgotten. The swift removal of the murderous Saddam Hussein was followed by years of expensive violence instead of the instant democracy that had been promised. To confuse the imam-ridden Iraqis with Danes or Norwegians under German occupation, ready to return to democracy as soon as they were liberated, was not a forgivable error: before invading a country, a US president is supposed to know if it is in the middle east or Scandinavia.

Yet the costly Iraq war must also be recognised as a sideshow in the Bush global counteroffensive against Islamist militancy, just as the far more costly Korean war was a sideshow to global cold war containment. For the Bush response to 9/11 was precisely that—a global attack against the ideology of Islamic militancy. While anti-terrorist operations have been successful here and there in a patchy way, and the fate of Afghanistan remains in doubt, the far more important ideological war has ended with a spectacular global victory for President Bush.

First thing you have to do when confronting an essay such as this is to consider the source.

Edward Luttwak is one controversial bloke. Even Luttwak’s biography in Wikipedia is controversial.

Read the rest of this entry »

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mm406: Boston, Day 2

June 10, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Quite a bit earlier in the day, as I summarize today’s sessions at the Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston.

Another interesting and useful day, with lots of new and or interesting information, and one really dazzling presentation. Overnight, my lap didn’t get any bigger, and still doesn’t accommodate my laptop computer. Sigh.

Once again, I have six pages of handwritten notes, and I went through two pens! We pick up where we left off yesterday.

4. Keynote: Rob Carter, FedEx

Mr. Carter, the CIO, was a very polished and graceful speaker. FedEx is one of the great innovative companies of the past 35 years, and we didn’t need Rob Carter to remind us. They invented the concept of overnight delivery of small packages, realized with a small fleet of Learjets flying out of their Memphis hub. And now look at them. Although Carter couldn’t help but show us an FAA model of recent overnight traffic at Memphis airport, together with the all too true admonition regarding staying at the airport hotel.

FedEx innovations have been just as paradigm shifting in the information area, as they were one of the first organizations to realize that their true product, not just their tools, was information. In that light, Carter showed us the first true Internet application, the 1994 page that let consumers and business track a shipment without telephoning. Lately, such marketing tools as the playful “Launch a Package,” a Facebook application, keeps the FedEx name and message in front of the next generation of shippers. His message: enterprise walls are coming down, to make way for customer connections.

5. From the Bottom-Up: Building the 21st Century Intelligence Community, Don Burke and Sean Dennehy, Central Intelligence Agency.

Yup, the CIA has gone all social media on us. The Intellipedia, built on Wikipedia but with some security enhancements, is the product for which both are the technical evangelists. They set the tone for the process-altering nature of their tool by displaying their presentation via Intellipedia pages, rather than the more usual PowerPoint.

Read the rest of this entry »


mm361: Gin, television, Web 2.0

April 27, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Ever have one of those moments? You know, the ones where you read or see something that just simply closes a loop in your mind that you didn’t know was open? Where you (one hopes, figuratively) slap yourself on the face and say (one fervently hopes, subvocally): Wow, I wish I thought of that?

Had one of those today.

I’m a history of technology guy; I even alluded very briefly to that a couple of posts ago (featuring one of yr (justifiably) humble svt‘s favorite headlines, if I may be so unhumble to say so!).

So, I enjoy taking a global, macro view of technology, and how it shaped the story of civilization (technology = civilization — can’t have the latter without the former). And I also enjoy making connections.

So, my attention was captured today by the first paragraph of this post, found during typical stream-of-consciousness blogging today.

So, I read on, and the connections and insights about technology and where it’s taking us, and why it’s taking us there, were jaw-dropping.

See, I’ve often said (once, here) that one of the things I really like about this blogging mania obsession habit of mine is that after more than 15 years of consuming the Internet, now, in my infinitesimal, nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© way, I’m now contributing.

And, that’s the point:

herecomeseverybody

Gin, Television, and Social Surplus

By Clay Shirky on April 26, 2008 10:48 AM

I was recently reminded of some reading I did in college, way back in the last century, by a British historian arguing that the critical technology, for the early phase of the industrial revolution, was gin.

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mm327: Of encyclopedias, child-men and more non-men

March 24, 2008

MUDGE’s Musings

Yes, faithful reader has undoubtedly guessed that it’s time for another installment of…

shortattention_thumb2 ©

… wherein we are even more eclectic than is our habit (a frequent self-criticism: what’s this blog about, anyway? Ouch! It’s about what interests yr (justifiably) humble svt: a little bit of this, a smidgen of that.)

Of encyclopedias…

I was thinking of encyclopedias the other day, and so was the NYTimes.

nytimes

Start Writing the Eulogies for Print Encyclopedias

By NOAM COHEN | Published: March 16, 2008

It has never been easier to read up on a favorite topic, whether it’s an obscure philosophy, a tiny insect or an overexposed pop star. Just don’t count on being able to thumb through the printed pages of an encyclopedia to do it.

A series of announcements from publishers across the globe in the last few weeks suggests that the long migration to the Internet has picked up pace, and that ahead of other books, magazines and even newspapers, the classic multivolume encyclopedia is well on its way to becoming the first casualty in the end of print.

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mm222: Social networks — Encyclopedic, Careeric, Blogic

December 14, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

It’s all about making connections, here at Left-Handed Complement. Once again, several threads have appeared from different directions, just in time to create the fabric of post no. 222.

Encyclopedic

First, two entries noted Google’s new contender for encyclopedia of choice, Knol, challenging Wikipedia. The straight story from, where else, NYTimes:

google

Google Develops Wikipedia Rival

By JEREMY KIRK, IDG News Service\London Bureau, IDG

Google is developing an online publishing platform where people can write entries on subjects they know, an idea that’s close to Wikipedia’s user-contributed encyclopedia but with key differences.

The project, which is in an invitation-only beta stage, lets users create clean-looking Web pages with their photo and write entries on, for example, insomnia. Those entries are called “knols” for “unit of knowledge,” Google said.

Google wants the knols to develop into a deep repository of knowledge, covering topics such as geography, history and entertainment.

The target of this new community is not only Wikipedia, but also Yahoo “Answers.” And they’ve coined new nomenclature (don’t you just love the English language?), “knols.”

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Google Develops Wikipedia Rival – New York Times

Poking around some of our usual suspects, i.e., our blogroll2 , Machinist blog at Salon.com weighed in on Google’s new adventure with some useful analysis. Does the world need another encyclopedia? The folks behind Squidoo and Mahalo think so in their own unique ways (if less scholarly, in this observer’s opinion), and now so does the web’s 8,000,000-lb. gorilla.

Truthiness showdown: Google’s “Knol” vs. Wikipedia

Having just written a book about how digital technology is changing cultural ideas about truth — shameless plug: to be released mid-March from Wiley; pre-order here — I’m fascinated by Google’s announcement, late yesterday, of a Wikipedia-like application called Knol.

Knol’s goal, writes Udi Manber, Google’s engineering chief, in a blog post, is “to encourage people who know a particular subject to write an authoritative article about it.” The system, which is currently running in an invitation-only beta, offers free Web hosting space and editing tools to allow anyone to write up a page about whatever they like. Google is calling each article a “knol,” which it says stands for a “unit of knowledge.”

Experts contributing knols will not be anonymous, or aggregated, says Machinist’s Farhad Manjoo, but rather will contribute separately and openly to create what Google hopes will become collective knowledge, and perhaps, maybe, wisdom, the pinnacle of the knowledge pyramid (anyone still care about knowledge management? data, information, knowledge, wisdom).

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Machinist: Tech Blog, Tech News, Technology Articles – Salon

And of course, Google will sell and place advertising, to be shared with the article authors.

Imagine advertising in the margins of the 30 printed volumes of Encyclopaedia Britannica.

Well that’s why Larry Page and Sergey Brin are $zillionaires, and yr (justifiably) humble svt is so humble…

Careeric*

(*New coinage!) Several posts ago, while noting Facebook’s stumble over its intrusive Beacon privacy-blasting tool, we mentioned LinkedIn in passing, as a site we (still very much in the world of Web 0.79, much less 2.0!) participate in rather desultorily.

I’ve got 41 people in my network, which LinkedIn tells me expands to “41,700+” (their friends — astounding!) and “2,563,400+” for their friends (science fiction).

MUDGE doesn’t know if he wants to know that many people.

But, besides accreting millions of supposed contacts, what is one supposed to do at LinkedIn. David Kirkpatrick, senior editor at Fortune magazine, tells us he was in precisely the same boat (of course, MUDGE likes to think of himself as extraordinarily unusual, so for senior editors to have had similar feelings makes one uneasy!):

linkedin

Why you’ll finally use LinkedIn

The buttoned-down social network has a new CEO, a growing membership, and an increasingly-useful set of features.

By David Kirkpatrick, senior editor

NEW YORK (Fortune) — For years, I’ve been befuddled by LinkedIn. I knew it was supposed to be the social network for work, but to me it was like war. “What is it good for?” I asked myself repeatedly, even as I occasionally poked around and accepted requests to link with people. I belonged to it, but I really didn’t know why.

The other day I had a chance to sit down with LinkedIn CEO Dan Nye, who’s been on the job since February. He told me about a few changes that Linkedin subsequently announced (VentureBeat has a good description of them.). And his PR person upgraded me to what would otherwise be a paid account. (It can be $20 to $200 per month.)

Who knew that LinkedIn charged anything? I’ve been a member for more than five years, and have never been solicited, until tonight when I poked around a bit after reading Kirkpatrick’s story, and the link to VentureBeat clipped above. LinkedIn is getting more ambitious about its available tools, as you’ll see.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

Why you’ll finally use LinkedIn – Dec. 14, 2007

Most intriguing. But here’s a concern:

(Nye recited the depressing figure that only 30 percent of LinkedIn’s members have read any business magazine in the last 30 days.)

Hey, LinkedIn, I’m picking up the slack on that one, with my subscriptions and devotional readership of Business Week and the best magazine on the planet, The Economist!

But if only 30% of those 2,563,400+ third degrees in MUDGE‘s network read business magazines, one has to be concerned about how useful the 70% business illiterates of them might be when the day comes that I am expelled from HCA (the Heart of Corporate America, not its real name, as constant reader will recall) and I have to network for real. Down to a mere 769,020 viable networkers. Not nearly enough to find viable employment for this overaged supernumerary.

Sigh.

Blogic**

(**More new coinage, from the fertile tidal pool of MUDGEdom.) This third leg of today’s tripod has to do with the social network of bloggers, who gather under that extraordinary circus tent called WordPress.

I can’t be complimentary enough about WordPress. The first-ranked member of MUDGE‘s Blogging Process Hall of Fame©, as unveiled here, and anointed here, WordPress has been a resourceful and supportive, and most breathtakingly cost effective blogging host.

This nanocorner of the ‘Sphere© has been hosted there from absolute day one; in fact, it was mention of its free site (where? at Lifehacker?) that provided the spark that, several months later, burst into this vigorous flame of daily commentary.

This week Anne Zelenka, writing in the always useful GigaOm, presented her observation that WordPress is not merely a host for nearly 2,000,000 blogs (!), but a social network in and of itself.

wordpress1

The Next Social Network: WordPress

Anne Zelenka, Tuesday, December 11, 2007 at 3:45 PM PT

Could open-source blogging platform WordPress serve as your next social networking profile? Chris Messina, co-founder of Citizen Agency, thinks so. He’s started a project called DiSo, for distributed social networking, that aims to “build a social network with its skin inside out.” DiSo will first look to WordPress as its foundation.

This could be the next step towards the unified social graph that some technologists wish for. WordPress suits the purpose because it provides a person-centric way of coming online, offers an extensible architecture, and already has some features — such as an OpenID and a blogroll plugin — that can be pressed into social networking service. And its users represent exactly the sort of audience that might appreciate the permanent, relatively public identity that DiSo aims to offer.

The contrast is with the MySpace and Facebook paradigm. Zelenka argues that those sites provide a space for one online, but it’s not one’s own space. Not “person-centric.”

Clark was responding to an ongoing conversation launched by blogger and cartoonist Hugh MacLeod, who proposed that blogging is far more important to him than social networking. Bloggers including Stowe Boyd and Darren Rowse seconded the idea. This growing disenchantment with social networking and return to blogging suggests that in the future we could see a migration, at least among tech bloggers, towards more distributed social networking — along the lines of what Messina envisions.

This is all rather esoteric, but interesting all the same.

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

The Next Social Network: WordPress – GigaOM

As we’ve discussed above, and before, this writer came to the creative end of the web quite late. While for many years a consumer, only in the past seven months have I been a content creator. Never was tempted by MySpace (we’ll let MUDGElet No. 3 enjoy his age appropriate time there); only a bit tempted by Facebook (as discussed previously); and the jury is still out on the value to me of LinkedIn; but I feel I’ve found a home (lonely as it is, but she always has told me that it’s quality not quantity that matters) here at WordPress, among 2,000,000 fellow bloggers.

Maybe Chris Messina of DiSo is on to something.

So, there’s our tripod of social networking. Encyclopedic, careeric, blogic. An icky stretch, right?

Google’s Knol, LinkedIn and WordPress. Hope it came together for you, the way it did for me.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE


mm160: UC Berkeley first to post full lectures to YouTube

October 3, 2007

MUDGE’S Musings

Lots of children have been left behind, in this country where that Bush administration typical Potemkin Village of an initiative has dashed more hopes than fulfilled them; and around the world, where surviving to age 18 is a challenge, much less becoming minimally educated.

But when every child does get that laptop, UC Berkeley will be ready for them (at least when they get a little more learning under their belts!).

cnet

YouTube is now an important teaching tool at UC Berkeley.

The school announced on Wednesday that it has begun posting entire course lectures on the Web’s No.1 video-sharing site.

Berkeley officials claimed in a statement that the university is the first to make full course lectures available on YouTube. The school said that over 300 hours of videotaped courses will be available at youtube.com/ucberkeley.

Berkeley said it will continue to expand the offering. The topics of study found on YouTube included chemistry, physics, biology and even a lecture on search-engine technology given in 2005 by Google cofounder Sergey Brin.

And, all YouTube content is free to the viewer, right?

[Please click the link below for the complete article — but then please come on back!]

UC Berkeley first to post full lectures to YouTube | Tech news blog – CNET News.com

Click one of the links, and enjoy some higher ed.

In the dark, dark ages of MUDGE‘s youth, the gold standard of information for the home was Encyclopaedia Britannica. In the ’50s, owning such a set was as aspirational as the filled two car garage, and represented a considerable expense for many families.

Now, Wikipedia and its like has democratized the encyclopedia, perhaps to the detriment of nano-accuracy, but it’s brilliant and self correcting in the main, and it’s free to all. All with PC and Internet access, of course, where OLPC comes in.

Today, UC Berkeley is showing the way toward liberating higher education.

Some days even a curmudgeon can’t help but smile.

It’s it for now. Thanks,

–MUDGE