A firstmonday article on Wikipedia, Nettime and Nologo by Felix Stalder and ass.  (via potlatch.net)  --- some articles on Louise Erdrich ------- A short bit by Jorn Barger --- 185884 Guardian --- 185809 Fisk ----- the info gap by Todd Boyle ---- abolish double entry accounting ---- keep double entry ------ user sovereignty --- freedom skewered or ledgered
felix stalder on open source intelligence at first monday and Sarah Lai Stirland at the Village Voice on 'other people's property ----------------------- http://firstmonday.org/ issues/issue7_6/stalder/index.html The Open Source movement has established over the last decade a new collaborative approach, uniquely adapted to the Internet, to developing high-quality informational products. Initially, its exclusive application was the development of software (GNU/Linux and Apache are among the most prominent projects), but increasingly we can observe this collaborative approach being applied to areas beyond the coding of software. One such area is the collaborative gathering and analysis of information, a practice we term "Open Source Intelligence". In this article, we use three case studies - the nettime mailing list, the Wikipedia project and the NoLogo Web site - to show some the breadth of contexts and analyze the variety of socio-technical approaches that make up this emerging phenomenon. Contents Open Source Collaborative Principles A Few Examples of Open Source Intelligence The Future of OS-INT In the world of secret services, Open Source Intelligence (OS-INT) means useful information gleaned from public sources, such as scientific articles, newspapers, phone books and price lists. We use the term differently. In the followings OS-INT means the application of collaborative principles developed by the Open Source Software movement [1] to the gathering and analysis of information. These principles include: peer review, reputation- rather than sanctions-based authority, the free sharing of products, and flexible levels of involvement and responsibility. Like much on the Internet in general, including the Open Source Software movement, practice preceded theory also in the case of OS-INT. Many of the Internet's core technologies were created to facilitate free and easy information sharing among peers. This always included two-way and multicast communication so that information could not only be distributed efficiently, but also evaluated collaboratively. E-mail lists - the most simple of all OS-INT platforms - have been around since the mid 1970s [2]. In the 1980s, bulletin boards, FidoNet and Usenet provided user-driven OS-INT platforms with more sophisticated and specialized functionality. In the 1990s, many of these platforms were overshadowed by the emergence of the Word Wide Web. Tim Berners-Lee's foundational work on Web standards was guided by a vision of peer collaboration among scientists distributed across the globe [3]. While OS-INT's precedents reach back through the history of the Internet - and if one were to include peer-reviewed academic publishing, much beyond that - a series of recent events warrant that it be considered a distinct phenomenon that is slowly finding its own identity, maturing from a practice "in itself" to one "for itself." The culture of the Internet as a whole has been changing. The spirit of free sharing that characterized the early days is increasingly being challenged by commodity-oriented control structures which have traditionally dominated the content industries. At this point, insatead of being the norm, free sharing of information is becoming the exception, in part because the regulatory landscape is changing. The extension of copyrights and increasingly harsh prosecution of violations are attempts to criminalize early Net culture in order to shore up the commodity model, which is encountering serious difficulties in the digital environment [4]. In other areas, years of experience with the rise and fall of "proto-OS-INT" forums has accumulated to become a kind of connective social-learning process. Uncounted e-mail lists went through boom and bust cycles, large numbers of newsgroups flourished and then fell apart due to pressures from anti-social behavior. Spam became a problem. Endless discussions raged about censorship imposed by forum moderators, controversial debates erupted about ownership of forums (is it the users or the providers?), difficulties were encountered when attempting to reach any binding consensus in fluctuating, loosely integrated groups. The condensed outcome of these experiences is a realization that a sustainable, open and collaborative practice is difficult to achieve and that new specialized approaches must be developed in order to sustain the fine balance between openness and a healthy signal/noise ratio. In other words, self-organization needs some help. The emerging field of OSI-INT is made up of numerous, independent projects. Each of them, such as the Nettime e-mail list, Wikipedia and the NoLogo.org Web site which will be discussed in the following, has a distinct history that led them to develop different technical and social strategies, in order to realize some or all of the open source collaborative principles. Open Source Collaborative Principles One of the early precedents of open source intelligence is the process of academic peer review. As academia established a long time ago, in the absence of fixed and absolute authorities, knowledge has to be established through the tentative process of consensus building. At the core of this process is peer review, the practice of peers evaluating each other's work, rather than relying on external judges. The specifics of the reviewing process are variable, depending on the discipline, but the basic principle is universal. Consensus cannot be imposed, it has to be reached. Dissenting voices cannot be silenced, except through the arduous process of social stigmatization. Of course, not all peers are really equal, not all voices carry the same weight. The opinions of those people to whom high reputation has been assigned by their peers carry more weight. Since reputation must be accumulated over time, these authoritative voices tend to come from established members of the group. This gives the practice of peer review an inherently conservative tendency, particularly when access to the peer group is strictly policed, as it is in academia, where diplomas and appointments are necessary to enter the elite circle. The point is that the authority held by some members of the group - which can, at times, distort the consensus-building process - is attributed to them by the group, therefore it cannot be maintained (easily) against the will of the other group members. If we follow Max Weber's definition that power is the ability to "impose one's will upon the behavior of other persons," [5] this significantly limits the degree to which established members can yield power. Eric Raymond had the same limitations in mind when he noted that open source projects are often run by "benevolent dictators" [6]. They are not benevolent because the people are somehow better, but because their leadership is based almost exclusively on their ability to convince others to follow. Thus the means of coercion are very limited. Hence, a dictator who is no longer benevolent, i.e. who alienates his or her followers, loses the ability to dictate. The ability to coerce is limited, not only because authority is reputation-based, but also because the products that are built through a collaborative process are available to all members of the group. Resources do not accumulate with the elite. Therefore, abandoning the leader and developing the project in a different direction - known as "forking" in the Open Source Software movement - is relatively easy and always a threat to the established players. The free sharing of the products produced by the collaboration among all collaborators - both in their intermediary and final forms - ensures that that there are no "monopolies of knowledge" that would increase the possibility of coercion. The free sharing of information has nothing to do with altruism or a specific anti-authoritarian social vision. It is motivated by the fact that in a complex collaborative process, it is effectively impossible to differentiate between the "raw material" that goes into a creative process and the "product" that comes out. Even the greatest innovators stand on the shoulders of giants. All new creations are built on previous creations and provide inspiration for future ones. The ability to freely use and refine those previous creations increases the possibilities for future creativity. Lawrence Lessig calls this an "innovation commons," and cites its existence as one of the major reasons why the Internet as a whole developed so rapidly and innovatively [7]. It is also important to note that an often overlooked characteristic of open source collaboration is the flexible degree of involvement in and responsibility for the process that can be accommodated. The hurdle to participating in a project is extremely low. Valuable contributions can be as small as a single, one-time effort - a bug report, a penetrating comment in a discussion. Equally important, though, is the fact that contributions are not limited to just that. Many projects also have dedicated, full-time, often paid contributors who maintain core aspects of the system - such as maintainers of the kernel, or editors of a slash site. Between these two extremes - one-time contribution and full-time dedication - all degrees of involvement are possible and useful. It is also easy to slide up or down the scale of commitment. Consequently, dedicated people assume responsibility when they invest time in the project, and lose it when they cease to be fully immersed. Hierarchies are fluid and merit-based, however and whatever merit means to the peers. This also makes it difficult for established members to continue to hold onto their positions when they stop making valuable contributions. In volunteer organizations, this is often a major problem, as early contributors sometimes try to base their influence on old contributions, rather than letting the organizations change and develop. None of these principles were "invented" by the Open Source Software movement. However, they were updated to work on the Internet and fused into a coherent whole in which each principle reinforces the other in a positive manner. The conservative tendencies of peer review are counter-balanced with relatively open access to the peer group: a major difference from academia, for instance. Most importantly, the practice of Open Source has proved that these principles are a sound basis for the development of high-end content that can compete with the products produced by commodity-oriented control structures [8]. A Few Examples of Open Source Intelligence < nettime > Nettime is an e-mail list founded in the summer of 1995 by a group of cultural producers and media activists during a meeting at the Venice Biennale. As its homepage states, the list focuses on "networked cultures, politics, and tactics" [9]. Its actual content is almost entirely driven by members' submissions. It is a good example of true many-to-many communication. Nettime calls its own practice "collaborative text filtering." The filter is the list itself - or to be more precise, the cognitive capacities of the people on the list. The list consists of peers with equal ability - though not necessarily interest - to read and write. The practice of peer review takes place on the list and in real time. The list serves as an early warning system for the community, a discussion board for forwarded texts as well as a sizeable amount of original writing, and, equally importantly, an alternative media channel. This last function became most prominent during the war against Yugoslavia, when many of members living in the region published their experiences of being on the receiving end of not-so-smart, not-so-precise bombs. By March 2002, the number of subscribers had grown to 2,500. The number of people who read nettime posts, however, is higher than the number of subscribers to the list. Nettime maintains a public Web-based archive that is viewed extensively, and some of the subscriber addresses are lists themselves. Also, as a high-reputation list, many of the posts get forwarded by individual subscribers to more specialized lists (another kind of collaborative text filtering), in addition to being published in print and other electronic media. The majority of subscribers come from Western Europe and North America, but the number of members from other regions is quite sizeable [10]. Over the years, autonomous lists have been spun off in other languages: Dutch, Romanian, Spanish/Portuguese, French and Mandarin. A Japanese list is currently in preparation. Despite its growth and diversity, nettime has retained a high degree of coherent culture and developed an original of technology-savvy, leftist media critique, stressing the importance of culture and social aspects of technology, as well as the importance of art, experimentation and hands-on involvement. This flexible coherence has been strengthened through a series of real-life projects, such as paper publications including a full-scale anthology [11], and a string of conferences and "nettime-meetings" in Europe during the 1990s. Since its inception, the list has been running on majordomo, a then popular open source e-mail list package, and assorted hypermail and mhonarc based Web archives. Technically, the list has undergone little development. Initially, for almost three years, the list was open and unmoderated, reflecting the close-knit relationships of its small circle of subscribers and the still "clubby" atmosphere of netculture. However, after spam and flame wars became rampant, and the deteriorating signal/noise ratio began to threaten the list's viability, moderation was introduced. In majordomo, moderation means that all posts go into a queue and the moderators - called "list-owners," an unfortunate terminology - decide which posts get put though to the list, and which are deleted. This technological set-up makes the moderation process opaque and centralized. The many list members cannot see which posts have not been approved by the few moderators. Understandably, in the case of nettime, this has led to a great deal of discussion about censorship and "power grabbing" moderators. The discussion was particularly acrimonious in the case of traffic-heavy ASCII-art and spam-art that can either be seen as creative experimentation with the medium, or as destructive flooding of a discursive space. Deleting commercial spam, however, was universally favored. In order to make the process of moderation more transparent, an additional list was introduced in February 2000, nettime-bold. This channel has been carrying all posts that go into the queue prior to moderators' evaluation. Because this list is also archived on the Web, members can view for themselves the difference between what was sent to the list and what was approved by the moderators. In addition to increasing the list's transparency, having access to the entire feed of posts created the option for members to implement parallel but alternative moderation criteria. In practice, however, this has not yet occurred. Nevertheless, giving members this option has transformed the status of the moderators from being the exclusive decision makers to "trusted filters." It has also provided the possibility for forking (i.e. the list splitting into two differently moderated forums). Nettime is entirely run by volunteers. Time and resources are donated. The products of nettime are freely available to members and non-members alike. Even the paper publications are available in their entirety in the nettime archives [12]. Reflecting its history and also the diversity of its contributors and submissions, nettime has maintained the rule that "you own your own words." Authors decide how to handle redistribution of their own texts, though to be frank, it is hard to have control over a text's after-life once it has been distributed to 2,500 addresses and archived on the Web. Despite its many advantages - ease of use, low technical requirements for participating, direct delivery of the messages into members' inboxes - the format of the e-mail list is clearly limited when it comes to collaborative knowledge creation. Moderation is essential once a list reaches a certain diversity and recognition, but the options for how to effect this moderation are highly constrained. Nettime's solution - establishing an additional unmoderated channel - has not essentially changed the fact that there is a very strict hierarchy between moderators and subscribers. While involvement is flexible (ranging from lurkers to frequent contributors) the responsibility is inflexibly restricted to the two fixed social roles enabled by the software (subscriber and moderator). The additional channel has also not changed the binary moderation options: approval or deletion. The social capacities built into the e-mail list software remain relatively primitive, and so are the options for OS-INT projects using this platform. < wikipedia.com > Wikipedia is a spin-off of Nupedia. Nupedia - the name is a combination of GNU and encyclopedia - is a project to create an authoritative encyclopedia inspired, and morally supported, by Richard Stallman's GNU project [13]. However, apart from being published under an open license, Nupedia's structure is similar to the traditional editorial process. Experts write articles that are reviewed by a board of expert editors (with some public input via the "article in progress" section) before being finalized, approved, and published. Once published, the articles are finished. Given the extensive process, it's not surprising that the project has been developing at a glacial pace. Wikipedia was started in early 2001 as an attempt to create something similar - a free encyclopedia that would ultimately be able to compete with the Encyclopaedia Britannica - but it was developed via a very different, much more open process. The two projects are related but independent - Nupedia links to articles on Wikipedia if it has no entries for a keyword, and some people contribute to both projects, but most don't. The project's technological platform is called Wikiweb, named after the Hawaiian word wikiwiki, which means fast [14]. The original software was written in 1994 but recently rewritten to better handle the rapidly growing size and volume of Wikipedia. The Wiki platform incorporates one of Berners-Lee's original concepts for the Web: to let people not only see the source code, but also freely edit the content of pages they view. In the footer of most Wikipages is the option to "Edit this page," which gives the user access to a simple form that allows them to change the displayed page's content. The changes become effective immediately, without being reviewed by a board or even the original author. Each page also has a "history" function that allows users to review the changes and, if necessary, revert to an older version of the page. In this system, writing and editing are collective and cumulative. A reader who sees a mistake or omission in an article can immediately correct it or add the missing information. Following the open source peer-review maxim, formulated by Eric Raymond as "given enough eyeballs, all bugs are shallow," this allows the project to grow not only in number of articles, but also in terms of the articles' depth, which should improve over time through the collective input of knowledgeable readers. Since the review and improvement process is public and ongoing, there is no difference between beta and release versions of the information (as there is in Nupedia). Texts continuously change. Peer-review becomes peer-editing, resulting in what Larry Sanger, one of the original project leaders, hailed as the "most promiscuous form of publishing." At least as far as its growth is concerned, the project has been very successful. It passed 1,000 pages around February 12, 2001, and 10,000 articles around September 7, 2001. In its first year of existence, over 20,000 encyclopedia entries were created - that's a rate of over 1,500 articles per month. By the end of March 2002, the number of articles had grown to over 27,000. The quality of the articles is a different matter and difficult to judge in a general manner. Casual searching brings up some articles that are in very good shape and many that aren't. Of course, this is not surprising given the given the fact that the project is still very young. Many of the articles function more as invitations for input than as useful reference sources. For the moment, many texts have an "undergraduate" feel to them, which may be appropriate, since the project just finished its "first year." However, it remains to be seen if the project will ever graduate. Both Nupedia and Wikipedia have been supported by Jimbo Wales, CEO of the San Diego-based search engine company Bomis, who has donated server space and bandwidth to the project. The code-base was rewritten by a student at the University of Cologne, Germany, and for a bit more than one year, Larry Sanger held a full-time position (via Bomis) as editor-in-chief of Nupedia and chief organizer at Wikipedia. In January 2002, funding ran out and Larry resigned. He now contributes as a volunteer. There are currently close to 1,200 registered users, but since it's possible to contribute anonymously, and quite a few people do, the actual number of contributors is most likely higher. Wikipedia has not suffered from the resignation of its only paid contributor. It seems that it has reached, at least for the moment, the critical mass necessary to remain vibrant. Since anyone can read and write, the paid editor did not have any special status. His contributions were primarily cognitive, because he had more time than anyone else did to edit articles and write initial editing rules and FAQ files. His influence was entirely reputation-based. He could, and did, motivate people, but he could not force anyone to do anything against their will. The products of this encyclopedia are freely available to anyone. The texts are published under the GNU Free Document license [15]. This states that the texts can be copied and modified for any purpose, as long as the original source is credited and the resulting text is published under the same license. Not only the individual texts are available, the entire project - including its platform - can be downloaded as a single file for mirroring, viewing offline, or any other use. Effectively, not even the system administrator can control the project. The scale of people's involvement in the project is highly flexible, ranging from the simple reader who corrects a minor mistake, to the author who maintains a lengthy entry, to the editor who continuously improves other people's entries. These roles depend entirely on each contributor's commitment, and are not pre-configured in the software. Everyone has the same editing capabilities. So far, the project has suffered little from the kind of vandalism that one might expect to occur given its open editing capabilities. There are several reasons for this. On the one hand, authors and contributors who have put effort into creating an entry have a vested interest in maintaining and improving the resource, and due to the "change history" function, individual pages can be restored relatively easily. The latest version of the platform has an added feature that can send out alerts to people who request them whenever a specific page has been changed. The other reason is that the project still has a "community" character to it, so there seems to be a certain shared feeling that it is a valuable resource and needs to be maintained properly. Finally, in case of read differences over content, it's often easier to create a new entry rather than to fight over an existing one. This is one of the great advantages of having infinite space. So far, self-regulation works quite well. It remains to be seen how long the current rate of growth can be sustained, and if it really translates into an improvement over the quality of the individual encyclopedia entries. So far, the prospects look good, but there are very few examples of the long-term dynamics of such open projects. Given the fact that its stated competitor, the Encyclopaedia Britannica, has been publishing since 1768, long term development is clearly essential to such a project. < NoLogo.org > NoLogo.org is perhaps the most prominent second-generation slash site. This makes it a good example of how the OS-INT experience, embodied by a specific code, is now at a stage where it can be replicated across different contexts with relative ease. NoLogo.org is based on the current, stable release of Slashcode, an open source software platform released under the GPL, and developed for and by the Slashdot community. Slashdot is the most well-known and obvious example of OS-INT, since it is one of the main news and discussion sites for the open source movement. Of particular importance for OS-INT is the collaborative moderation process supported by the code. Users who contribute good stories or comments on stories are rewarded with "karma," which is essentially a point system that enables people to build up their reputation. Once a user has accumulated a certain number of points, she can assume more responsibilities, and is even trusted to moderate other people's comments. Points do have a half-life however. If a user stops contributing, their privileges expire. Each comment can be assigned points by several different moderators, and the final grade (from -1 to +5) is an average of all the moderators' judgments. A good contribution is one that receives high grades from multiple moderators. This creates a kind of double peer-review process. The first is the content of the discussion itself where people respond to one another, and the second is the unique ranking of each contribution. This approach to moderation addresses very elegantly several problems that bedevil e-mail lists. First, the moderation process is collaborative. No individual moderator can impose his or her preferences. Second, moderation means ranking, rather than deleting. Even comments ranked -1 can still be read. Third, users set their preferences individually, rather than allowing a moderator to set them for everyone. Some might enjoy the strange worlds of -1 comments, whereas others might only want to read the select few that garnered +5 rankings. Finally, involvement is reputation- (i.e. karma-) based and flexible. Since moderation is collaborative, it's possible to give out moderation privileges automatically. Moderators have very limited control over the system. As an additional layer of feedback, moderators who have accumulated even more points through consistently good work can "meta-moderate," or rank the other moderators. The social potential embodied in Slashcode was available when Naomi Klein's January 2000 book No Logo: Taking Aim at the Brand Bullies became a sudden international best-seller. In the wake of the anti-globalization protests in Seattle in November 1999, and after, the book began to sell in the 10,000s and later 100,000s. She found herself caught in a clash of old and new media and facing a peculiar problem. A book is a highly hierarchical and centralized form of communication - there is only one single author, and a very large number of readers. It is centralized because users form a relationship with the author, while typically remaining isolated from one another. This imbalance of the broadcast model is usually not a problem, since readers lack efficient feedback channels. However, today many readers have e-mail and began to find Naomi's e-mail address on the Web. She started receiving e-mails en masse, asking for comments, advice, and information. There was no way she could take all these e-mails seriously and respond to them properly. The imbalance between the needs of the audience and the capacities of the author were just too great, particularly since Naomi had no interest in styling herself as the leader or guru of the anti-globalization movement. (Of course that didn't stop the mass media from doing so without her consent.) As she explains the idea behind the Nologo.org: "Mostly, we wanted a place where readers and researchers interested in these issues could talk directly to one another, rather than going through me. We also wanted to challenge the absurd media perception that I am "the voice of the movement," and instead provide a small glimpse of the range of campaigns, issues and organizations that make up this powerful activist network - powerful precisely because it insistently repels all attempts to force it into a traditional hierarchy" [16]. The book, which touched a nerve for many people, created a global, distributed y"communityy" of isolated readers. The book provided a focus, but nowhere to go except to the author. The Slashcode-based Web site provided a readily available platform for the readers to become visible to one another and break through the isolation created by the book. The book and the OS-INT platform are complementary. The book is a momentary and personal solidification of a very fluid and heterogeneous movement. The coherent analysis that the traditional author can produce still has a lot of value. The OS-INT platform, on the other hand, is a reflection of the dynamic multiplicity of the movement, a way to give back something to the readers (and others) and a connective learning process. More than the book, Nologo.org fuses action with reflection. Of course, all the problems that are traditionally associated with public forums are still there, dissent - at times vitriolic and destructive - is voiced, but the moderating system allows members of the group to deal with differences in opinion in ways that do not impede the vitality of the forum. The learning process of Slashdot, in terms of to how to deal with these issues, benefited NoLogo significantly. Within the first year, 3,000 users registered on the site which serves requests of some 1,500 individual visitors per day. The Future of OS-INT As a distinct practice, Open Source Intelligence is still quite young and faces a few challenges. First, there is the issue of scale. Compared to traditional broadcast media, OS-INT projects are still very small (with the exception of slashdot, which has about half a million registered users) [17]. Since scale and exposure significantly affect the social dynamics, growth might not come easily for many projects. Second, there is an issue of economics. Most OSI-INT projects are pure volunteer projects. Resources are donated. Wikipedia, for example, depends on Bomis Inc. for hardware and bandwidth. NoLogo.org is financed through royalties from book sales. Most OS-INT project have not yet produced any revenue to cover some of the inevitable costs. So far, they have quite successfully relied on donations (from sympathetic individuals, corporations or foundations), but prolonged crisis of the Internet economy does not necessarily make it easier to raise funds, which becomes more important as the projects grow in size and the infrastructure/bandwidth needs increase. Compared to traditional production and publishing models, OS-INT projects take part to a large degree outside the traditional monetary economy. Contributors, by and large, are not motivated by immediate financial gain. However, not all resources can be secured without money, so new and creative models of financing such projects need to be found. Slashdot, for example, which could rely for a long time on advertisement as a main revenue source, recently had to increase the size of banners in order to keep up with costs. However, it gave users the possibility to access the site without advertisement - in exchange for a small subscription fee. It is likely that OSI-INT projects, from an economic point of view, will develop into a hybrid involving direct revenues (e.g. subscription, advertisement), goodwill donations and volunteer efforts. How these different elements will relate to one another will change from project to project. There is a lot of room - and need - for creative experiments. Despite these challenges, there are good reasons to be optimistic about its future. First, the socio-technological learning process is deepening. The platforms and practices of OS-INT are becoming better understood, and consequently the hurdles for users as well as providers are getting lower. On the users' side, the experience of learning how to deal with participatory, rather than broadcast media is growing. Their distinct character is being developed, mastered and appreciated. For providers, the learning experience of OS-INT is embedded in  sophisticated, freely available GPL software. The start-up costs for new projects are minimal, and possibilities for adapting the platform to the idiosyncratic needs of each project are maximized. The resulting diversity, in turn, enriches the connective learning process. Second, as the mass media converges into an ever smaller number of (cross-industrial) conglomerates, which relentlessly promote and control their multitude of media products, the need for alternative information channels rises, at least among people who invest time and cognitive energy into being critically informed. Given the economics of advertisement-driven mass media, it is clear that the possibilities of an "alternative newspaper" is rather limited. OS-INT platforms, by distributing labor throughout the community, offer the possibility of reaching a wider audience without being subject to the same economic pressures that broadcast and print media face to deliver those audiences to advertisers, particularly considering the fact that paid subscriptions allow access to advertisement-free content. The more homogenous the mainstream media becomes, the more room opens up for alternatives. And if these alternatives are to be viable, then they must not be limited to alternative content, but must also explore the structure of their production. This is the promise and potential of OS-INT. The range of technologies are as wide as the range of communities, and a close relationship exists between the two. Technologies open and close possibilities in the same sense that social communities do. As Lawrence Lessig pointed out, what code is to the online world, architecture is to the physical world [18]. The way we live and the structures in which we live are deeply related. The culture of technology increasingly becomes the culture of our society. About the Authors The authors are associated with some of the projects analyzed in this article. Felix Stalder is currently one of the moderators of the nettime mailing list (nettime-l). Jesse Hirsh is closely involved with Nologo.org. Acknowledgments An earlier version of this paper was presented at the conference "Critical Upgrade: Reality Check for Cyber Utopias" (Zagreb, 4-5 May 2002). Notes 1. We use the term Open Source for its deliberate openness. Contrary to the more narrow term Free Software, Open Source seems better suited to label a general collaborative approach not limited to code. We acknowledge the historical and ideological differences between the two concepts, but we believe that they are of limited relevance in the context of the present argument. 2. http://www.zakon.org/robert/ internet/timeline/#1970s, accessed 25 March 2002. 3. Tim Berners-Lee with Mark Fischetti, 1999. Weaving the Web: The Original Design and the Ultimate Destiny of the World Wide Web by its Inventor. New York: HarperCollins 4. Lawrence Lessig, 2001. The Future of Ideas: The Fate of the Commons in a Connected World. New York: Random House. 5. Max Weber, 1954. Max Weber on Law in Economy and Society. Translated by Talcott Parsons. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press 6. Eric Raymond, 2000. "Homesteading the Noosphere," at http://www.tuxedo.org/~esr/writings/  cathedral-bazaar/homesteading/x349.html. 7. Lawrence Lessig (2001). 8. Often, but not always, these principles are supported by licenses setting the legal parameters for what can, or cannot, be done with the informational products governed by them. For an overview of the different licenses, see the Open Source initiative's list of more than 30 "approved licenses" at http://www.opensource.org/licenses. 9. http://www.nettime.org. 10. http://amsterdam.nettime.org/Lists-Archives/ nettime-l-0203/msg00080.html. 11. J. Bosma, P. Van Mourik Broekman, T. Byfield, M. Fuller, G. Lovink, D. McCarty, P. Schultz, F. Stalder, M. Wark, and F. Wilding (editors), 1999. Readme! Ascii Culture and the Revenge of Knowledge. New York: Autonomedia. 12. http://www.nettime.org/pub.html. 13. http://www.gnu.org/  encyclopedia/free-encyclopedia.html. 14. http://www.wiki.org. 15. http://www.wikipedia.com/wiki/ GNU+Free+Documentation+License. 16. http://www.nologo.org/letter.shtml. 17. OS-INT projects take place on the Internet hence they still cannot have the broad reach of traditional broadcast media. 18. Lawrence Lessig, 1999. Code and Other Laws of Cyberspace. New York: Basic Books. Editorial history Paper received 15 May 2002; revised version received 20 May 2002; accepted 20 May 2002. Copyright ©2002, First Monday Open Source Intelligence by Felix Stalder and Jesse Hirsh First Monday, volume 7, number 6 (June 2002), URL: http://firstmonday.org/issues/ issue7_6/stalder/index.html --------------------------- Academics Square Off Against Hollywood on Internet Content Other People's Property by Sarah Lai Stirland bevy of legal minds are facing off against Hollywood over the corporate control of Internet content. After hearings this fall, a Supreme Court decision may determine the level of access Americans have to a wide swath of their cultural heritage. This latest chapter of the ongoing battle went public in January, when Stanford law professor Larry Lessig wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post chastising entertainment conglomerates for inhibiting the growth of high-speed, or broadband, Internet access. Citing unchecked piracy and more competition, the industry prevents the distribution of digital movies via the Internet, and as a result the U.S. lags behind many other countries in the rollout of broadband. The following month, Jack Valenti, chairman and CEO of the Motion Picture Association of America, issued a rebuttal, again in the Post. According to Valenti, Hollywood does want to work with Silicon Valley to enable the secure delivery of digital movies online, but piracy threatens to undermine the very revenue streams that make the financing of movies possible. Valenti went so far as to claim the $35 billion film industry is "under siege" from a small community of academics. The phrasing seemed especially curious shortly thereafter, when Senate Commerce Chairman Fritz Hollings introduced the Consumer Broadband and Digital Television Promotion Act, which would require computer and consumer-products manufacturers to embed anti-copying technology into their products. The entire industry may not be under siege, but one of its wealthiest members—namely Disney—may be feeling a bit nervous. The week before Valenti's editorial was published, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Eldred v. Ashcroft, in which Lessig and a Harvard legal team charge that the Sonny Bono Copyright Term Extension Act of 1998 is unconstitutional. They allege that the act, which increases the term of copyright ownership from 75 to 95 years, violates the "limited times" section of the copyright clause in the Constitution. Since Mickey Mouse made his first public appearance in 1928's Steamboat Willie, Disney's exclusive rights to their mascot were set to expire next year, but now won't run out until 2023. Others approaching their 75th birthday who were granted a stay include Pluto, Goofy, and Donald Duck. Billions of dollars are at stake for Disney, since all of these characters play starring roles in the company's theme parks, filmed entertainment, and merchandising. For Lessig and his colleagues, the question is how to apply U.S. constitutional law to the Internet; for Valenti and his cohorts, it's how to make the Internet conform to the rules of every other entertainment conduit. The academics maintain that neither copyright law nor the Constitution have ever guaranteed authors and inventors complete, infinite control over their creations. The industry, meanwhile, frames the debate as a matter of intellectual property rights. "Property talk limits our imagination—it is severely limited when influential figures such as Jack Valenti use the word theft eight or nine times in a given speech, because it is impossible to argue for theft," says cultural historian Siva Vaidhyanathan, author of Copyrights and Copywrongs: The Rise of Intellectual Property and How It Threatens Creativity. In a debate with Lessig at the University of Southern California Annenberg School for Communication in Los Angeles last November, Valenti stated, "Copyright is at the core of this country's creativity. If it diminishes, or is exiled, or is shrunk, everyone who belongs to the creative guilds, or is trying to get into the movie business, or is in television, is putting their future to hazard." But what of the past? In an amicus curiae brief supporting the petitioners in Eldred v. Ashcroft, Berkeley law professor Mark Lemley quoted some troubling statistics: Only 20 percent of American films made in the 1920s still survive; for the 1910s, the figure drops to 10 percent. Just 174 books out of 10,027 published in 1930 remain in print. Digital archives could preserve access to this material via the Internet, but the Bono act presents a massive stumbling block to such efforts. Lessig and a group of academics from four other universities propose the creation of an intellectual-property preserve—an online environment that preserves cyberspace's culture of innovation. Which is only possible, Lessig believes, if people can tinker with others' work without having always to obtain permission first. Part of the effort, named the Creative Commons, involves intellectual-property licenses that artists, authors, and software programmers could use to label their work and make clear under what conditions it may be re-used. Meanwhile, Rick Prelinger, proprietor of Prelinger Archives in New York and San Francisco, has already embarked on creating his own version of the national cultural park. His stock-footage company holds more than 145,000 cans of ephemera from 1903 through the '80s: advertising, educational, industrial, and amateur films. At his Internet Moving Images Archive (www.archive.org/movies), about a thousand of these artifacts—all in the public domain—are available free of charge and for re-use; since the site's debut 18 months ago, nearly 1 million have been downloaded. Brian Balogh, a history professor at the University of Virginia, has designed a similar site for his course "Viewing America: The United States From 1945 to the Present." To teach the class, he uses a Web site—what he calls his "electronic sourcebook"—holding excerpts from a dozen or so films, including a revealing Disney short commissioned by the U.S. government during World War II called The Spirit of '43, which promotes tax-paying as a patriotic duty. "I want my students to actually experience what Americans experienced at the time," Balogh says. "It's important because it gives them a more direct experience of history." Balogh stresses the site's features that make his use of the material lawful: multiple passwords, the use of brief excerpts only, and its strictly educational purpose. "It would be nice if a site like this were available to the public—I get requests all the time to make it available, but I can't take the password protection down because then I'll be in violation of the current copyright law," he says. Likewise, many films that Prelinger previously offered on the Web have been ushered out of the public domain by the Bono act. "We now have a great deal of post-1964 material that remains unusable except to look at in-house," says Prelinger. Still, in what may come as a surprise to Valenti, the project has actually increased Prelinger's business—the archive effectively works as advertising for his offline enterprise. "We see this project as an example of a new business model for providing access to cultural property—the intellectual property preserve," Prelinger says. "Its concept supports freedom of inquiry and freedom of expression." -------------------- she runs the birch bark book (or was it pottery?) store http://www.findarticles.com/cf_0/ m2342/1_33/58055909/p1/article.jhtml "Where the Maps Stopped": The Aesthetics of Borders in Louise Erdrich's Love Medicine and Tracks. Author/s: Rita Ferrari Issue: Spring, 1999 The language of margins and borders marks a position of paradox: both inside and outside. - Linda Hutcheon (Poetics 66) In her novels Love Medicine and Tracks, Louise Erdrich engages the paradox of employing and glorifying the oral tradition and its culturally cohesive function by inscribing this tradition.(1) The text that simultaneously asserts and denies the presence of voice makes explicit the paradoxical presence and absence that is the condition of all language, of all texts as they compose words to call forth a world. In Erdrich's work this paradox plays itself out in representing a people, and their culture, who have been unrepresented or represented in manipulative ways in the service of a dominant group's ideology. Her work thus questions the politics of representation. Erdrich's early novels, Love Medicine (1984, 1993) and The Beet Queen (1986), have received the highest praise for their stylistic beauty and lyricism, yet they also have been criticized for a lack of psychological depth and inattention to the historical and political conditions of oppression suffered by Native American characters. In her essay "The Silko-Erdrich Controversy," Susan Perez Castillo argues against such accusations, urging a more sophisticated hermeneutical approach to Erdrich's texts. She emphasizes the importance of attending to their silences and, following Brian McHale, to their postmodern use of"representation itself to subvert representation, problematizing and pluralizing the real" (292). In her reading of Tracks, Nancy J. Peterson situates this subversion in terms of Erdrich's renegotiation of historical discourses: "The new historicity that Tracks inscribes is neither a simple return to historical realism nor a passive acceptance of postmodern historical fictional ity. Tracks takes up the crucial issue of the referentiality of historical narrative in a postmodern epoch and creates the possibility for a new historicity by and for Native Americans to emerge" (991). For instance, "the evocation of the oral in the written text implicates [a] counterhistory in the historical narrative [constructed through documents] that it seeks to displace" (985); "The documentary history of dispossession that the novel uses and resists functions as an absent presence" (987). Erdrich innovatively participates in "[w]riting history (as historical novels and in other forms)," which, Peterson says, "has [...] become one way for marginalized peoples to counter their invisibility" (983). Indeed, the play of absence and presence imbues Erdrich's texts in multiple ways. Perhaps most striking among these is precisely the inscription and thematization of the invisible and the visible. In her texts, this inscription and thematization acquire both negative and positive significances; invisibility signifies cultural oppression but can also signify access to the transcendent when invisibility inverts and expands into vision. Yet the significance of invisibility and vision constantly shifts in Erdrich's novels according to the speaker and the reader who situate themselves inside or outside of Native American culture. In the fluidity of their meanings - their crossing the boundary of definition - the concepts of invisibility and vision, along with concepts of the inside and the outside, reflect the complexity of Erdrich's aesthetic engagement of the idea of the border. In her novels about Native American characters confined within and defined by the borders of a reservation and t he boundaries of ethnic definition, Erdrich (who is herself part Chippewa, part German American) uses the concept of the border as metaphor and narrative strategy for a newly imagined negotiation of individual and cultural identity. --------------------- http://itech.fgcu.edu/&/  issues/vol1/issue2/erdrich.htm Native American Humor: Powerful Medicine in Louise Erdrich's Tracks by Leslie Gregory An old adage claims that laughter is the best medicine to cure human ailments. Although this treatment might sound somewhat unorthodox, its value as a remedy can be traced back to ancient times when Hypocrites, in his medical treatise, stressed the importance of ?a gay and cheerful mood on the part of the physician and patient fighting disease? (Bakhtin 67). Aristotle viewed laughter as man?s quintessential privilege: ?Of all living creatures only man is endowed with laughter? (Bakhtin 68). In the Middle Ages, laughter was an integral part of folk culture. ?Carnival festivities and the comic spectacles and ritual connected with them had an important place in the life of medieval man? (Bakhtin 5). During the trauma and devastation of German bombing raids on London during World War II, the stubborn resilience of British humor emerged to sustain the spirit of the people and the courage of the nation. To laugh, even in the face of death, is a compelling force in the human condition. Humor, then, has a profound impact on the way human beings experience life. In Louise Erdrich?s novel Tracks, humor provides powerful medicine as the Chippewa tribe struggles for their physical, spiritual, and cultural survival at the beginning of the twentieth century. While the ability to approach life with a sense of humor is not unique to any one society, it is an intrinsic quality of Native American life. ?There is, and always has been, humor among Indians . . . ? (Lincoln 22). In deference to their history, this can best be described as survival humor, one which ?transcends the void, questions fatalism, and outlasts suffering? (Lincoln 45). Through their capacity to draw common strength from shared humor, Native Americans demonstrate how ?kinship interconnects comically . . . . [in] a kind of personal tribalism that begins with two people, configurates around families, composes itself in extended kin and clan, and ends up defining a culture? (Lincoln 63). In Tracks, the power of Native American humor to profoundly affect human experience is portrayed through the characters of Nanapush and Fleur. In his role as ?Nanabush? the trickster, a central figure in Chippewa (Ojibwa) storytelling, Nanapush demonstrates the power of Native American humor in his own life, when he challenges the gods and cheats death by playing a trick on them: ?During the year of the sickness, when I was the last one left, I saved myself by starting a story . . . . I got well by talking. Death could not get a word in edgewise, grew discouraged, and traveled on? (Erdrich 46). The trickster figure is characterized as a man of many guises, dualistic in nature?good and bad?and often considered quite a lover. He is a survivor, physically and psychologically. As one who endures, he transcends the temporal and functions as an affirmation of the self. The trickster is also ?central to the tribe?s worldview,? with power that extends beyond himself, guiding his people toward a view of themselves and of possibility that they might not have seen otherwise (Ghezzi 444). To fulfill his role as trickster, Nanapush uses humor as powerful medicine not only for himself, but also for his tribe. Nanapush purposefully directs his own special brand of humor?raucous bantering?at Margaret, guiding her away from her hardened widow-view of life toward the possibility of a romantic relationship with him. He goads her by boasting of his sexual prowess, to which she is less than receptive. Nanapush describes her as ?headlong, bossy, scared of nobody and full of vinegar? (Erdrich 47), while she calls him an ?old man . . . . [with] two wrinkled berries and a twig.? When he replies, ?A twig can grow,? Margaret retorts, ?But only in the spring? (Erdrich 48). Through humor, each comes to view the other with new possibility. Out of their bantering evolves a deeper, more meaningful relationship, one that binds them together in strength, companionship, and love. Through a more subtle, gentle humor, Nanapush guides Eli Kashpaw, who is like a son, toward a successful romantic union with Fleur Pillager, a union that is both an uninhibited celebration of life between two lovers and a symbol of hope for the people of their tribe. When Eli pleads for advice on how to woo Fleur, Nanapush imparts the humorous wisdom of a man who has had three wives: ?I told him what he wanted to know. He asked me the old-time way to make a woman love him and I went into detail so he should make no disgraceful error? (Erdrich 45). He also gave him ?a few things from the French trunk my third wife left . . . ? to help him in the courting process (Erdrich 45). Nanapush is pleased when he hears nothing more from Eli after he returns to Fleur, interpreting this ?as a sign she [Fleur] liked the fan, the bead leggings, and maybe the rest of Eli, the part where he was on his own? (Erdrich 46). A powerful, sensuous relationship develops between Eli and Fleur that provides solace to themselves and inspiration to their tribe during a bitter winter, when there was no food and little hope, and the people of the tribe chopped holes in Lake Matchimanito to fish. They ?stood on the ice for hours, waiting, slapping themselves, with nothing to occupy them but their hunger and their children?s hunger? (Erdrich 130). From Fleur?s cabin across the frozen lake, the people could hear faint calls ?uncontained by the thick walls of the cabin. These cries were full of pleasure, strange and wonderful to hear, sweet as the taste of last summer?s fruit. Bundled in strips of blanket, coats stuffed with leaves and straw,? they pushed the scarves away from their ears to hear the sounds of pleasure that ?carried so well through the hollow air, even laughing whispers . . .? Erdrich 130). The people listened ?until they heard the satisfaction of silence. Then they turned away and crept back with hope. Faintly warmed, they leaned down to gather in their icy line.? (Erdrich 130). The celebration of life between two lovers, born from the humorous wisdom of Nanapush in his advice to Eli, was transferred to the tribe as spiritual nourishment and the possibility of hope. Nanapush unleashes an unmerciful humor on Pauline, the tragic, self-tortured figure torn between her Chippewa heritage and her desire to reject it, in order to guide her away from her path toward self-destruction. Through his role as trickster, Nanapush tries to force Pauline toward a new view of herself, one that will end her persistent practice of self-mortification in rejection of her heritage and return her to her place within the tribe. ?[W]hen Pauline has limited herself to urinating only twice a day, Nanapush tells a ribald story, fills her with tea, and tricks her into using the outhouse before she is supposed to? (Towery 104). Sadly, Nanapush?s attempt at survivalist humor, which can steer ?a neurotic from the shoals of self-torment,? fails with Pauline, who chooses instead a path that leads her away from the kinship of the tribe, as well as from the humor that could heal and save her (Lincoln 166). Through Fleur, Erdrich epitomizes the power of Native American humor to ridicule fate and to transcend sorrow. When Fleur learns that she has lost her land to a logging company, she devises a plan that allows her to ?[alchemize] her suffering toward ironic perception and comic possibility? (Lincoln 166). She will have the last, ironic laugh. If her beloved trees must fall, she will not let them be felled by white men?s hands. During the months that mark the logging company?s march of destruction through the forest toward her cabin, Fleur uses a stolen axe and a stolen saw to cut almost, but not completely, through the bases of the last remaining stand of trees surrounding her cabin. When the loggers finally arrive at her doorstep, she is ready for them. Fleur has alchemized her suffering toward an act of defiance that will give her the strength she will need to transcend the sorrow of her loss. A strong sense of uneasiness and foreboding drives Nanapush to Fleur?s cabin. As he passes through the desecrated remnants of the woods, he sees that all that remains is ?the square mile of towering oaks, a circle around Fleur?s cabin? (Erdrich 220). When he reaches her cabin, Fleur is standing at the front door, surrounded by wagons and logging men, ?waiting for the signal, for the word, to take down the last of the trees.? Nanapush expects to see sorrow and defeat on Fleur?s face, but ?[h]er face was warm with excitement and her look was chilling in its clear amusement. She said nothing, just glanced into the sky and let her eyes drop shut,? drawing silent strength from the ironic triumph of her secret (Erdrich 222). Nanapush realizes what Fleur has done when ?along the edge of the last high woods, a low breeze moaned out of the stumps? and he hears the sound of the first tree crashing down beyond his sight (Erdrich 222). As other trees fall, closer and closer to where the loggers are standing, Fleur has ?bared her teeth in a wide smile that frightened even those who did not understand the smiles of Pillagers? (Erdrich 223). A final gust of wind topples the remaining trees, and they fall away from her cabin ?in a circle, pinning beneath their branches the roaring men, the horses . . . Twigs formed webs of wood, canopies laced over groans and struggles. Then the wind settled, curled back into the clouds, moved on? (Erdrich 223). In the quiet shock of the aftermath, Nanapush and Fleur ?were left standing together in a landscape level to the lake and to the road? (Erdrich 223). Although Nanapush urges Fleur to remain with the tribe, she rejects his offer. ?[W]ith her face alight,? she buckles herself to a small cart that holds no possessions, ?only weed-wrapped stones from the lake-bottom, bundles of roots, a coil of rags, and the umbrella that had shaded her [dead] baby,? and sets out alone (Erdrich 224). No force is powerful enough to reconcile the desecration of her land, but through her ironic act of defiance, Fleur has drawn the strength she will need to survive. In Louise Erdrich?s Tracks, Native American humor challenges fate, nourishes the human spirit, and gives strength and hope for survival. ?The powers to heal and to hurt, to bond and to exorcise, to renew and to purge remain the contrary powers of Indian humor? (Lincoln 5). For the Chippewa, this humor provides powerful medicine for the physical, cultural, and spiritual preservation of their tribe. Works Cited Bakhtin, Mikhail. Rabelais and His World. Bloomington: Indiana UP, 1984. Erdrich Louise. Tracks. New York: Harper Collins, 1988. Ghezzi, Ridie Wilson. ?Nanabush Stories from the Ojibwe.? Coming to Light. Ed. Brian Swann. 1st ed. New York: Random House, 1994. Lincoln, Kenneth. Indi?n Humor. New York: Oxford UP, 1993. Sergi, Jennifer. ?Storytelling: Tradition and Preservation in Louise Erdrich?s Tracks.? World Literature Today 66 (Spring 1992): 279-282. Towers, Margie. ?Continuity and Connection: Characters in Louise Erdrich?s Fiction.? American Indian Culture and Research Journal 16 (1992): 99-115. --------------------- carolhurst.com/titles/birchbarkhouse.html The Birchbark House is what many of us have been seeking for many years: a good story through which the Native American culture during the Westward Expansion of the United States is realistically and sympathetically portrayed. This band of Ojibwa (old name: Anishinabe) live on an island in Lake Superior and we are witness to much of the custom and ritual, successes and tragedies of these people who lived so closely bound to the earth. The book has been nominated for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. It makes an excellent read-aloud choice for children as young as third grade and should appeal to youngsters all the way up through seventh, at least. It's the good story and strong characterization that lift what could have been earnest and dull into the realm of good literature. If you are introducing children of any culture to that period of United States history or just looking for a good book to share, you will want this book to begin to balance the picture. The author is a member of the Turtle Band of Ojibwa and has written several outstanding novels for adults. This is her first children's novel and she's done a remarkable job. The non-Indian settlers and voyageurs, called "chimookomanug", are viewed from a variety of perspectives. One man, Fishtail, is going to the mission school to learn their language so that he will know what the treaties say. Deydey, Omakayas' father is half white and loathes and ridicules the chimookomanug, yet he trades with them for his living. Old Tallow refuses to have anything to do with them. Fishtail compares them to greedy children, always wanting more. Omakayas herself seems removed from their influence. The story itself is divided into seasons: neebin (summer), dagwaging (fall), biboon (winter), and zeegwun (spring). We first meet the main character, Omakayas, age seven, as she and her grandmother, Nokomis, search for birch bark for the birchbark house they will live in until next fall. Nokomis is wise and her relationship with Omakayas is strong and loving. Old Tallow, an eccentric old woman, is another vital character in this story. She has no children although she has had three husbands. Tall and powerful even in her advanced age, she is guarded by three fierce dogs and has little patience for most humans. Omakayas, however, is treated with kindness and it is within Old Tallow that the secret of the story lies. Comic relief is provided by the antics of Little Pinch and by the character of Albert LaPautre who comes to Deydey frequently sure that his latest dream is significant. Although the others are amused, they take care not to hurt his feelings. One evening at the dance lodge, a visitor comes with his voyageur crew. He says little and appears ill. The scourge he brought is smallpox. One by one, everyone in the family becomes ill. Eventually Omakayas is the only one not stricken and she nurses the others tirelessly. In spite of her efforts, her baby brother dies. Many others in the community also lose their lives but it is the death of her brother that changes Omakayas into a sad, joyless being. Old Tallow brings Omakayas her only relief and encouragement. The very last pages of the book contain the secret of Omakayas and bring the whole book full circle. As you begin sharing reactions to this book, stay within its confines for a while. Read favorite sections aloud to each other and describe your reaction. Consider each character, no matter how briefly the appearance, in relationship to the other characters in the story. There's so much here for discussion and research that it's hard to know where to begin. Encourage the kids to grab the angle that appeals to them and go with it. Certainly you'll want to locate the setting and describe the topography of the area. Tracing the Anishinabe as they were moved farther and farther west might be the next step. A search for the various Indian treaties can be started at http://www.inac.gc.ca/treatdoc/ which has a copy of the Robinson Treaty with the Ojibwa of Lake Superior in 1850. The rituals and beliefs of the people may intrigue some readers. Comparing them to those of other cultures may be a thread to follow. Notice the creation story that Nokomis tells and compare it to creation stories from around the world, particularly in Virginia Hamilton's book In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World (Harcourt, 1991 ISBN 0152387404). You'll want to compare this view of the westward expansion with those in other novels such as: Grasshopper Summer by Ann Turner (Troll, 1991 ISBN 0816722625.) Call Me Francis Tucket by Gary Paulsen (Yearling, 1996 ISBN 0440412706.) The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz (Viking, 1987 ISBN 0 140 32256 6) Prairie Songs by Pam Conrad (HarperTrophy, 1993 ISBN 0 06 440206 1) The Way West by Amelia Knight (Simon & Schuster, 1993 ISBN 0 67172375 8) The Log Cabin Quilt by Ellen Howard (Holiday House, 1996 ISBN 0 8234 1247 4). Be sure to add to the Native American viewpoint by including: The Life and Death of Crazy Horse by Russell Freedman (Holiday House, 1996 ISBN 0 8234 1219 9) Plains Warrior by Albert Marrin (Atheneum, 1996 ISBN 0 689 80081 9) Sweetgrass by Jan Hudson (Paper Star, 1999 ISBN 0 698 11763 8) Morning Girl by Michael Dorris (Hyperion, 1999 ISBN 0 786 81358 X) Guests also by Michael Dorris (Hyperion, 1994 ISBN 0 786 80047 X). Related Areas of Carol Hurst's Children's Literature Site Native Americans and Children's Literature, Featured Subject. Classroom discussion, activities, related books and links. carolhurst.com/subjects/nativeamericans.html ================= 
What distinguishes Google from other search-engines isn't the number of pages it indexes, nor the frequency of its updates... it's the way it sorts (or 'ranks') the results. In general, you can type in any phrase, and be confident you'll get a handful of topnotch hits within the top ten results. And I expect Google will continue to refine their ranking algorithms, so that fewer and fewer _duds_ slip into those highest ranks. But so far Google's sorting has been a strictly _one-dimensional_ ranking, and they haven't given any sign of exploring alternative approaches. My own 'content-centered' theory-- http://www.robotwisdom.com/web/ --is that, depending on the _topic_ of the search-phrase, the entire body of search-results can and should be sorted into an organised structure of subtopics... currently only by hand, by the web-page authors themselves, but eventually with more-and- more-automated assistance... For example, any time the search-phrase is (or includes) a person's name, the search-results could be sorted along a chronological timeline of that person's life: interviews where they discuss their childhood, awards they won, newsworthy events they were involved in... If they're an artist or author, there should be a definite list of the works they created, and the sorting of search-results could position, eg, book-reviews together by title, along with pages that advertise the book, and sample chapters, and chatboards or netnews-threads about the book... etc etc etc. (One important-but-ignored dimension that emerges as you explore this problem is the basic _classes_ of information on the Web: etexts, maps, images, reviews, essays, advertisements, etc.) These are *semantic* categories, and the Semantic Web Initiative (in theory) ought to be encouraging web-authors to explore such sortings. But that challenge is really an authoring challenge-- a _literary_ challenge. When it's undertaken, the result should simply be a _well-organised_ page. One has to discover the most economical and efficient _human_ presentation of the information... but one has only to visit w3c.org to see that the human (literary) dimension has never been their strong point! My site now offers, at the bottom of every web-design-theory page, a series of links to "Design prototypes" that include various experiments attacking particular classes of search- phrase-topic, trying to find the best human/literary/economical sorting of all relevant search-results. The prototypes include: topical portal : dense-content faq : annotated lit : random-access lit-summary : poetry sampler : gossipy history : author-resources : hyperlinked-timeline : horizontal-timeslice : web-dossier ...but following my onsite links will show hundreds of minor variants, as well. -------------------- 'TITANIC' WAR ON TERROR HEADED FOR ICEBERG (english) Robert Fisk 2:22pm Wed Jun 12 '02 (Modified on 2:45pm Wed Jun 12 '02) address: Independent UK article#185809 First it was to be a crusade. Then it became the "War for Civilisation". Then the "War without End". Then the "War against Terror". And now, believe it or not, President Bush is promising us a "Titanic War on Terror". This gets weirder and weirder. What can come next? Given the latest Bush projections last week, "we know that thousands of trained killers are plotting to attack us", he must surely have an even more gargantuan cliché up his sleeve. http://argument.independent.co.uk/  commentators/story.jsp?story=304347 Mr Bush's titanic war on terror will eventually sink beneath the waves Meantime, all the men who claim to be fighting terror are using this lunatic "war" simply for their own purposes Robert Fisk 12 June 2002 First it was to be a crusade. Then it became the "War for Civilisation". Then the "War without End". Then the "War against Terror". And now, believe it or not, President Bush is promising us a "Titanic War on Terror". This gets weirder and weirder. What can come next? Given the latest Bush projections last week, "we know that thousands of trained killers are plotting to attack us", he must surely have an even more gargantuan cliché up his sleeve. Well, he must have known about the would-be Chicago "dirty" bomber, another little secret he didn't tell the American people about for a month. Until, of course, it served a purpose. We shall hear more about this strange episode, and I'll hazard a guess the story will change in the next few days and weeks. But what could be more titanic than the new and ominously named "Department for Homeland Security", with its 170,000 future employees and its $37.5bn (£26.6bn) budget? It will not, mark you, incorporate the rival CIA and FBI, already at each other's throats over the failure to prevent the crimes against humanity of 11 September, and will thus ensure that the intelligence battle will be triangular: between the CIA, the FBI and the boys from "Homeland Security". This, I suspect, will be the real titanic war. Because the intelligence men of the United States are not going to beat their real enemies like this. Theirs is a mission impossible, because they will not be allowed to do what any crime-fighting organisation does to ensures success, to search for a motive for the crime. They are not going to be allowed to ask the "why" question. Only the "who" and "how". Because if this is a war against evil, against "people who hate democracy", then any attempt to discover the real reasons for this hatred of America, the deaths of tens of thousands of children in Iraq, perhaps, or the Israeli-Palestinian bloodbath, or the presence of thousands of US troops in Saudi Arabia, will touch far too sensitively upon US foreign policy, indeed upon the very relationships that bind America to the Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, and to a raft of Arab dictators. Here's just one example of what I mean. New American "security" rules will force hundreds of thousands of Arabs and Muslims from certain countries to be fingerprinted, photographed and interrogated when they enter the US. This will apply, according to the US Attorney General, John Ashcroft, to nearly all visitors from Iran, Iraq, Syria and Sudan, most of whom will not get visas at all. The list is not surprising. Iran and Iraq are part of Mr Bush's infantile "axis of evil". Syria is on the list, presumably because it supports Hamas' war against Israel. It is a political list, constructed around the Bush policy of good-versus-evil. But not a single citizen from Iran, Iraq, Syria or Sudan has been accused of plotting the atrocities of 11 September. The suicide-hijackers came principally from Saudi Arabia, with one from Egypt and another from Lebanon. The men whom the Moroccans have arrested , all supposedly linked to al-Qa'ida, are all Saudis. Yet Saudis, who comprised the vast majority of the September killers, are going to have no problems entering the US under the new security rules. In other words, men and women from the one country whose citizens the Americans have every reason to fear will be exempt from any fingerprinting, or photographing, or interrogation, when they arrive at JFK. Because, of course, Saudi Arabia is one of the good guys, a "friend of America", the land with the greatest oil reserves on earth. Egypt, too, will be exempt, since President Hosni Mubarak is a supporter of the "peace process". 
Thus America's new security rules are already being framed around Mr Bush's political fantasies rather than the reality of international crime. If this is a war  between "the innocent and the guilty", another Bush bon mot last week, then the land that bred the guilty will have no problems with the lads from the Department of Homeland Security or the US Department of Immigration. But why, for that matter, should any Arabs take Mr Bush seriously right now? The man who vowed to fight a "war without end" against "terror" told Israel to halt its West Bank operations in April, and then sat back while Mr Sharon continued those same operations for another month. On 4 April, Mr Bush demanded that Mr Sharon take "immediate action" to ease the Israeli siege of Palestinian towns; but, two months later, Mr Sharon, a "man of peace", according to Mr Bush, is still tightening those sieges. If Mr Sharon is not frightened of Mr Bush, why should Osama bin Laden be concerned? Last week's appeal by President Mubarak for a calendar for a Palestinian state produced, even by Mr Bush's absurd standards, an extraordinary illogicality. No doubt aware that he would be meeting Mr Sharon two days later, he replied: "We are not ready to lay down a specific calendar except for the fact that we've got to get started quickly, soon, so we can seize the moment." The Bush line therefore goes like this: this matter is so important that we've got to act urgently and with all haste, but not so important that we need bother about when to act. Mr Sharon, of course, doesn't want any such "calendar". Mr Sharon doesn't want a Palestinian state. So Mr Bush, at the one moment that he should have been showing resolve to his friends as well as his enemies, flunked again. After Mr Sharon turned up at the White House, Mr Bush derided the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, went along with Mr Sharon's refusal to talk to him and virtually dismissed the Middle East summit that the Palestinians and the world wants this summer but which Mr Sharon, of course, does not. In the meantime, as well as Mr Sharon, all of the men who claim to be fighting terror are using this lunatic "war" for their own purposes. The Egyptians, who allegedly warned the CIA about an attack in America before 11 September, have been busy passing a new law that will so restrict the work of non-governmental organisations that it will be almost impossible for human rights groups to work in Egypt. So no more reports of police torture. The Algerian military, widely believed to have had a hand in the dirty war mass killings of the past 10 years, have just been exercising with Nato ships in the Mediterranean. We'll be seeing more of this. It was almost inevitable, of course, that someone in America would be found to explain the difference between "good terrorists", the ones we don't bomb, like the IRA, Eta or the old African National Congress, and those we should bomb. Sure enough, Michael Elliott turned up in Time magazine last week to tell us that "not all terrorists are alike". There are, he claimed, "political terrorists" who have "an identifiable goal" and "millenarian terrorists" who have no "political agenda", who "owe their allegiance to a higher authority in heaven". So there you have it. If they'll talk to the Americans, terrorists are OK. If they won't, well then it's everlasting war. So with this twisted morality, who really believes that "Homeland Security" is going to catch the bad guys before they strike again? My guess is that the "Titanic War on Terror" will follow its unsinkable namesake. And we all know what happened to that. Also from the Commentators section: http://argument.independent.co.uk/  commentators/story.jsp?story=303766 Robert Fisk: Gangsters, murderers and stooges used to endorse Bush's vision of 'democracy' hargument.independent.co.uk/commentators... add your own comments ya (english) junglejaws 2:45pm Wed Jun 12 '02 comment#185816 maybe the saudis are on the way out, or just something i read somewhere. ================ Guardian Newspaper Editorial Calls for End to Capitalism (english) Paul Foot 10:15pm Wed Jun 12 '02 (Modified on 7:02am Thu Jun 13 '02) article#185884 However much the capitalist critic lectures his capitalist colleagues about their individual misdemeanors, he cannot and will not correct the intrinsic flaw in the economic system he represents, so starkly symbolized by the greed of the people who run his bank. Is capitalism sick? Yes, disgustingly so. Its sickness is terminal, and it urgently needs replacing. Published on Wednesday, June 12, 2002 in the Guardian of London Cash for Chaos Is Capitalism Sick? by Paul Foot "Is capitalism sick?" inquires a challenging headline in the Sunday Times. The answer, over many paragraphs, is no. Capitalism, the article reveals, is in fine fettle. The only thing wrong with it is the occasional rotten or greedy capitalist. Hank Paulson, chief executive of Goldman Sachs, warned the National Press Club in Washington last week: "Business has never been under such scrutiny. To be blunt, much of it is deserved." The Sunday Times moaned its way through a litany of recent scandals. First there was Enron, whose disgraced chief executive Kenneth Lay is a close friend of President Bush, whose audit committee was chaired by former Tory minister Lord Wakeham, and one of whose more ideological paid advisers, Irwin Stelzer, still has a weekly column in the Sunday Times. Now there is Tyco - presumably short for tycoon - whose former chairman, Dennis Kozlowski, is charged with tax evasion and whose director, Lord Ashcroft, is a former treasurer of the Tory party and a generous donor to British state education. ADT College, named after Ashcroft's company, still teaches children in South London, but perhaps now it should change its name, since ADT was swallowed by Tyco in 1997. Last week there was great news for another great A: Bill Allan, chief executive of a telecoms company ludicrously called Thus. Allan and his fellow directors got bonuses worth 70% of their salaries to mark something called "exceptional business performance", presumably a reference to the 72% fall in the company's share price. Last week, these heroic As were capped by a sensational B - for Bonfield, the knighted former chief executive of ailing British Telecom, which recently wound up its final-salary pension scheme for ordinary workers, but somehow managed to find a few million to "top up" Sir Peter's already vast pension by another £2,000 a week. Bonfield has a perfectly good job elsewhere, but when he left British Telecom he took a year's salary (£820,000) and a bonus of £615,000, no doubt as a mark of respect for his record as mastermind of one of the most disastrous privatizations of modern times. These companies and individuals, Paulson argued, are letting down the system. They are giving capitalism a bad name. If only individual capitalists didn't lie, cheat, perjure themselves in libel actions, stuff their pockets with grossly excessive or ill-gotten gains, deceive the taxman by buying expensive paintings with other people's money and then hanging them on their own walls, if only their accountants didn't spend their extremely valuable time thinking up complicated schemes to avoid tax and then shredding the documentary evidence, then the beautiful symmetry of the capitalist system would shine forth. If only the rotten apples could be rooted out of the capitalist barrels, the full glory of the fruit could be properly appreciated. The problem with this argument is that it overlooks the central feature of capitalism: the division of the human race into those who profit from human endeavor and those who don't. This division demands freedom for employers, and discipline for workers; high pay and perks for bosses, low pay for the masses; riches for the few, poverty for the many. Under capitalism the gulf between rich and poor grows wider and wider. The whole point of the system is that it works against equality, against co-operation. It stunts, insults and criminalizes the poor; glorifies, cossets and pardons the rich. All human life is corrupted in the process. So even if you could discipline all the offenders, lock up all financial advisers to the US president, ban from public life all former Tory vice-chairmen, even if company directors spent a year in jail for every bonus they steal, there would still be no hiding place from capitalism. The rotten apples are the barrel. Reading last week's sermon from Paulson, I was reminded of a brace of challenging headlines in the Guardian on December 10 1993. These headlines highlighted the difference between a group of 26 million people who shared $2.2bn and another group of only 161 people who shared $2.6bn. The first group was the entire population of Tanzania, the second the partners of Goldman Sachs, the company Paulson heads. And however much he lectures his capitalist colleagues about their individual misdemeanors, he cannot and will not correct the intrinsic flaw in the economic system he represents, so starkly symbolized by the greed of the people who run his bank. Is capitalism sick? Yes, disgustingly so. Its sickness is terminal, and it urgently needs replacing. © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2002p add your own comments original LINK (english) you're welcome 11:40pm Wed Jun 12 '02 comment#185894 http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/  Article/0,4273,4431871,00.html www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,427... ===========  used to be able to bathe the babe but (english) piet 1:15am Thu Jun 13 '02 comment#185907 . .. it'll take more intense guidance to get it on track and off its present course of juvenile delinqencency . . started off so co-operatively, so inquisitive, but balls are subject to the tides of recklessness as much as the exhibitionistic variety of mammary gland carrieress plays that sort of exposure for all it's worth I imply it has long life ahead of itself, sure but not without a lot of reform and forgotten norm brainstorm. You could do worse than start at the link below. Time saving warning concerning what you might be about to see ; if you are a lazy reader, don't bother, it hasn't been put together that way. poetpiet.tripod.com/guest_appearances/in... ===========   Ok, end capitalism..... (english) Realist 7:02am Thu Jun 13 '02 comment#185925 Ok, end capitalism. Then what? What system will you replace it with. Please do not use some romantic utopian ideals. Some concrete, realistic plans would be refreshing. ============ Todd Boyle: the info gap nov 2001 The Info-gap (how "the thumb on the scale" rules, in daily life, and how metadata repositories can help. ) Real outcomes in life are often decided more by the manipulation of what is in the other guy's mind than by real or tangible things. Efficiency in business processes and the macro economy can be greatly improved if we address this fundamental problem directly. GLdialtone home "the map is not the territory" --Alfred Korzybski links In the modern economy, most goods and services will be consumed by one and only one consumer --a win/lose game. People are deadly serious about this question and the outcomes are determined by an endlessly complicated social and political process, ultimately, of persuasion. In all living beings, there is a gap between perception and reality --mental models cannot fully correspond with what is real, in the phenomenal universe. Information gaps are not new, and have always existed, and all of us work very hard creating and maintaining them. Nobody individually wants to reduce them, and nobody will accept or use software which reduces their freedom or privacy, or their ability to transmit "partial truths" and outright lies. Nevertheless, software itself can accelerate the truth. Many examples exist in which technology itself brought broad social changes regardless of the wishes of any particular individual or group in society. Other humans are of course, real things in the universe, which all of us study very deeply! Other humans do real things like giving you their money, or power, or sex, or services. They do these things as an expression of their free will, which is of course highly associated with their mental models. Accordingly, real outcomes can be influenced and manipulated by intentional manipulation of information available to the observer, or influencing their approach to decisionmaking or analysis. OK. Boring, so far. Right? Even animals practice illusion, persuasion, and deception. We all try to broadcast information that creates a favorable impression, detect and repair the outbreaks of doubt or disbelief in the other person's mind, block the spread of information unfavorable to us, etc. To survive as adults in this sea of lies and misinformation, we maintain very sophisticated bullshit detectors, maintain translations or interpretations different from the literal content of messages (often as much as 180 degrees opposite), devalue information that is being transmitted loudly to us, amplify information that is trying to hide from us, and in general, invest a tremendous amount of mental horsepower in these corrective adaptations. We create info-gaps customized for the particular audience. What men tell women is different from what they tell the alpha male. What companies tell investors is different from what they tell customers. Employees invariably tell different truths to their bosses than their colleagues or subordinates. I happen to believe that everybody would be better off by transmitting clear and accurate information, particularly in business. It would result in better decisions based on fundamentals, on facts, with full understanding and consideration by decisionmakers based on their own interests. At present, much business and consumer decisionmaking is far from optimal, effectively tricked into making the wrong decisions by omissions and, well, lies. "All multifarious means which human ingenuity can devise, and which are resorted to by one individual to get an advantage over another by false suggestions or suppression of the truth, and includes all surprise, trick, cunning, or dissembling, and any unfair way by which another is cheated." - Definition of fraud, Black's Law Dictionary Clearly, much of today's economy is affected and guided by the blocking of information. All supply chains and distribution channels are based partly on info-inefficiency. Nobody wants their customers to know their wholesale costs, for example, or wholesalers or alternative suppliers. Nobody wants their competitors to know what products are selling well, or which products have good margins, or particularly, which products have low support costs, low returns, etc. Nobody want their employees to know which customer account or distribution channel or activity is really profitable, or how easy that really is. Nobody wants their competitor to know how to organize production. This barely scratches the surface of these things. There is a very deep academic and industry vernacular on topics like confidentiality, security and the prevention of industrial espionage, in which you can find catalogs and listings of the financial damages suffered by companies from information leaks, both on the supply side and demand side, in various industries. Furthermore, most sales and marketing and advertising messages contain deliberate info-poisoning, i.e. they are hardly intended to be objective. The fundamental structure of the modern economy, government as well as corporate sectors, are held in place by information gaps. This is so pervasive that it creates a collective illusion that our fundamental well- being depends on maintenance of this status quo, through privacy and confidentiality. Actually, well-being depends on secrecy and lies only at the micro level. When customers find alternative suppliers, your sales truly go down. When your suppliers find alternative markets for their goods, your business costs truly go up. When employees find higher-paying jobs, or learn the salaries of their co-workers, your labor costs certainly go up. When customers find that your product does not really grow new hair or improve their sex life, sales truly go down. These are real outcomes. But at the macro level, this is a classic tragedy of the commons where almost everybody is impoverished, needlessly. Massive resources are wasted in manipulation of information to poison and reduce its usefulness, and more problematically, the production of real goods and services are corrupted into forms that do not accurately reflect the actual desires of consumers. Reducing the info-gap is an ambitious goal that will take 100 years, and will be wildly disruptive but our institutions and our cultural and spiritual foundations would certainly meet this challenge with aplomb. Organizations will remake themselves. A human is a very great being, capable of great adjustments in the space of decades. The status quo has at least three components. 1) huge, entrenched, willful BLOCKAGES of information. 2) huge entrenched CHOKE POINTS where information is readable and accessible ONLY by somebody having interests which are adverse to other party(ies) e.g. VISA, the banks, government tax collectors, Microsoft Passport, etc. 3) huge entrenched ORGANIZATIONS operating as naming czars, who manipulate outcomes and prevent developments that would otherwise occur in a free society by either BLOCKING the appearance of certain vocabulary and at the same time FORCING the usage of other vocabularies having the results they require. The motivation and mechanisms for this have been articulated by George Orwell and many other authors. http://www.k-1.com/Orwell/1984.htm The control over the names of things, and the grammars for assembling of those names into messages controls outcomes just as the shape of the table at the Vietnam peace talks controlled outcomes. The legal industry of course is the primary ministry of truth, standing behind all kinds of rackets FBO various elites, i.e. whatever arbitrary collection or aggregate of economic interests happens to have the most money. It doesn't matter what the industry or activity is. If it is a source of energy, you will find the legal industry. At this point, you can say just about any damned thing you want; we're still at a stage of trying to stop the most atrocious wrongs, http://www.rbs2.com/infotort.htm The involvement of the legal industry is a feedback loop that reinforces whatever arbitrary info-gap happens to manifest first. Whatever results in economic power, eventually, results in legal force. (I would concede, western legal and government activities are a font of mercy and humanity at times. But when does the legal and government industry concede the opposite?) "The law" and its courts and courtesans now a force beyond anyone's control, from which even its maintainers seem unable to escape. I am referring to the grammar of contract law, GAAP reporting, copyright and trademark, definitions of all things regulated. All of these things have spun into endlessly complex forms, which no single person could possibly master, but which are absolutely binding and final. Superficially they seem simple and fair. Ultimately, they are full of loopholes in which only the best lawyer prevails. I am not leveling any accusation at the legal-government industry that is any different from other industries: in a mass economy of billions of people, it is subject to the same mechanisms as everybody else, and in Darwinian fashion, it reorganizes itself around its food sources. We are all pretty powerless before these forces as long as we obey them. The law most directly supports and increases information gaps by its unequal protections of stakeholders in intellectual property, privacy, and security. A lot of this nonsense of intellectual property and information gaps will crumble away, if everybody adopts ISO 11179 data element registries. This is an international standard for a neutral registry for storing the names and definitions of data, i.e. these are called MDRs (Metadata registries) and they make the definition of language more democratic. The process of defining data is totally open, and each actor within any community of users can adopt elements, or ignore others. How will actors behave, when freedom of choice in semantics exists? There may be some precedents in the behavior of subcultures or urban gangs. Subcultures create their own language when they feel that gives them a more accurate map to the territory of life, or better prospects than the existing language and society offers them. One may observe in cults and gangs, direct examples of rule by redefining grammar - in other words, governing by lying, by creating a reality warp. A really good metadata registry would have a very interesting debate over specification and goals. The software would take more than a week to write. Certainly it would never happen in the current goodcop-badcop routine of Microsoft, IBM, Sun, none of whom sincerely wants to change the status quo anymore than their global 500 clients or the governments they run. The software industry itself is totally united around some shared goals--that software industry shall obtain some rent-collecting position in the global economy. This is fundamentally based on information spreads. The IT industry has for 40 years been on an absolute romp, very successful at this. Nobody who has a clue about the strategic value of information wants to share information, itself, in any way. They always want to construct artificial messages, to send the most positive constructions of the English language as legally permitted, and commercially expedient. Whatever the truth may be, it certainly has no influence on the stream of messages that flow out of today's soviet corporations. The voice of today's corporation is calculated to maximize revenue, i.e. hit the middle of the bell curve. To be sure, messages are reasonably honest, since the public is not totally stupid. Messages are as honest as necessary and not more. Markets and laws make them honest, for example when the public already knows enough facts that they cannot lie outright. Corporations like people, generally want to block *all* information outward to the public and this is legally permitted, indeed the right to "privacy" is protected by laws. If corporations could block all outbound info. channels without harming their intake of incoming information they would do that, in a heartbeat, giving their marketing and PR departments complete control over the public message. Indeed many companies continue working hard to prevent any employee talking or emailing anybody outside the company. Software companies are typical of this. They are always trying to gain info-advantages i.e. get clues to software design without anybody getting clues in return. Or to lock information into their software products, for their own enrichment first, for their users second, and explicitly to screw and disadvantage everybody else other than themselves and the users of their software. A software company is a classic externality pump. It externalizes costs and harms, while acquiring and securing gains and advantages for itself. So, under the economic rules today, the software industry is a sick industry. Let me illustrate this with an example. If there were a software program that did nothing positive whatsoever, but disadvantaged everybody else in a particular industry and resulted in its user getting 10% more sales, and the software did nothing illegal, ask yourself, "would I buy that software?" Of COURSE you would and there are many examples of programs like that. SPAM programs are one example at the business level but most of these "abusers of the commons" are at the software level. Software companies always want to appear "open". While posturing to customers about data openness, they actually practice every possible mechanism that customers do not understand, which effectively immobilizes customer data or prevents users from abandoning their applications by moving data to competitors. That is why it takes an act of congress to get software companies to agree on any data standards. Major software companies view standards for sharing data or descriptions of data is very similar to the nationalization of an industry by a military junta or something. It just takes away some of their profit margins. So, they all pretend to work on standards, and put out the same message that they want standards. In fact, the nature of the software market, and the incentives in our twisted system of IP laws, ensures there must never be standards. Progress only happens when users collaborate on this, and in America this is only possible for large corporate users. Accordingly, large corporations have achieved quite a lot of control over their software providers. The result is that all software today (Windows, Linux, Unix -- all of it) is fundamentally built around an assumption that its network interactions are oriented around servers. Servers will control your permissions and rights on the network, and the software on your PC will be secure and private but not sovereign. Some element can be controlled by servers. Why are there so many millions of people in the software industry scheming and conniving to get control of other people's software and other people's data? This even includes the linux communty. Why does everybody want to control my data? Why doesn't somebody write an application, for once, that gives the user sovereignty over his own data? Much of modern life seems to consist of continual battle to prevent other people from manipulating us by controlling our information stream, manipulating our data, preventing us from accessing data about yourself, or finding direct ways to get the things you need to buy, and sell the things you need to sell. Why don't we build something that gives total control of the data to its owner finally and totally. Obviously nobody would recognize its usefulness at first and would not know how to use it, any more than the Russians know the value of freedom, free markets or free elections. These things take generations to learn. But learn they will. Because this device will achieve lower transaction costs at the interpersonal level: it will enable P2P commerce with unambiguous description of goods/services, and strong and persistent reputation. The economic savings derived from more people getting more of what they really need, and the absence of giantism and giant info- poisoning and lies. It will have to be a device, if it's going to be secure. A PDA or tablet PC with something like BSD unix, since Windows can never be secure. What you want is a hardened vault that cannot be hacked and having all of its execution in silicon, having no programmability whatsoever. I question the whole security model today. Windows, linux etc. are always designed to give control to a sysadmin. Everything you see in the market about security is **still** oriented this way. There's nothing happening that strengthens the individual or makes the PC sovereign. Anything that makes the PC sovereign obviously is the enemy of the state, and every software company everywhere, and all corporations. Any sovereign computer reduces the economic profits that are achieved by the manipulation of outcomes, by the manipulation of information. This has to be different. It has no rights system. Whoever buys the device can setup access to the device, by its PIN for example. It should delete its memory after five consecutive bad guesses, for example. In other words, the machine gives rights to whoever has it in its possession, plus knowing its PIN. Achieving this simple feat, reliably, will be sufficient. The key functions you need are secure messaging (PGP email for starters), web browser, and something like MeT security element which enables you to digitally sign *whatever you want* not just what the government or the bank clerk puts in front of you. The big bosses of the universe wish you could not agree to dealings with those immediately around you, and have succeeded in creating stupendously large pyramid entities like the US government with its $4,000,000,000,000 debt. I view this with a combination of dread and bemusement, how so many people could be sucked into this scam. Regardless of the hardness of the computing platform you have to assume it would be outlawed and that the internet itself will not carry its traffic. Who are we kidding? The internet costs hundreds of billions to build and maintain--- it is a very expensive operation and its operators will inevitably tighten their grip on consumers and raise prices and spreads, on all fronts. Or go bankrupt and surrender their equipment to the remaining carnivores. Worse carnivores. The prospects for alternate networks are accordingly pretty grim. They will be blocked by a broad variety of legal and economic attacks. You have to assume an entirely parallel network. The device will need local ad-hoc radio (802.11b perhaps, in 2001) with a built in router that automatically assembles router tables of all the devices nearby out to at least 3 or 4 hops, and dutifully cooperates with them to collaborate, efficiently, on routing decisions. Obviously the truth-in-commerce device would need a mechanism for money. Perhaps a mini-mint for issuing its own digital cash. Digital Cash mints are not high technology. The choreography etc. are well known. Digital bearer cash = my promise to pay to the bearer, X amount of money, or commodity. Nobody can outlaw your issuance of digitally signed promissory notes like this in the course of buying something from somebody. You're not a bank, accepting money in deposit. So, under this scenario, all the people and businesses would increasingly issue promises, rather than governments. Verifibly paper of large, established businesses would be regarded as good money. One of the mechanisms of digital cash mints is to enable party B to pass part or all of your scrip to Party C, by giving party C the capability to check back with the Mint to prevent doublespending and, perhaps, maintaining title registry of who is the rightful owner of the scrip. The secondary purpose may be, perhaps, to enable everybody to confirm that Party A didn't issue more Digital Cash than he has got money in the bank (Some parties will have incentives to disclose their currency reserves or other collateral to each other.) Digital cash mints are not that complex, particularly when mechanisms for masking identity are left out. The sovereign device would perhaps, never conduct any communications, send or accept delivery of anything, unencrypted. When everything is universally, strongly encrypted, everybody benefits. The method of ecommerce would be exchanging standard XML documents for orders, invoices, and payments, within a business process framework such as ebXML. The system of accounting could be local applications, or newer ones such as shared transaction repositories or trading systems in the sky. http://www.gldialtone.com/fbc.htm Why not? This stuff works beautifully at low bandwidth, with low performing clients and hosts. It allows the individual the capability to do business without trying to taking away intrinsic freedoms we already have. http://www.gldialtone.com/glism/glism.htm Open commerce, based on ebXML and honest metadata standards, is still workable for giant corporations, governments, and other huge aggregation schemes. It does however, remove their existing built-in advantages for giantism. You want an architecture for ecommerce in which the costs of participating in the business process do not decrease geometrically based on the size of the company. The code rules, as Lessig said. What kind of future do you want to create? Today-you have command hierarchies. A total P2P commerce solution gives every sovereign party the total privacy within each binary interaction, without injuring any other party's capabilities to operate bigger, more complex information systems when desired. In other words you have automated the bookkeeping saving everybody a hell of a lot of time, without having to pick up the unnecessary burden of changing anybody's behavior, or requiring any centrallization of anything in centralized accounting hosts, registries, etc. that are susceptible to takeover and rent extracting. I think the man in the street would use this device. Lots of people would use it just because it's wireless and secure and has a browser and messaging. People would use it to conclude ordinary business such as shopping. People are fed up with the 5% fees on credit cards, and with banks and governments reading all their transactions. Stores could lay one by the cash register and it would carry on simple buy/sell choreography by itself. People selling prohibited contraband would jump on it, just as they are already economic bases for cellphones (buying new phones and new accounts frequently). Gray markets would grow very very fast in every trade, etc. which now operate in cash. The government would have to outlaw the things. It would be very interesting. Todd Oct 4 2001 some links - http://www.agorics.com/Library/  agoricpapers/aos/aos.7.html#section7 here's more of this stuff, sorry for my tedious writing style. Whitepaper Roadmap to GL integration with ebXML Core components definitions for the accounting context Todd Nov. 15, 2001 ======================== The argument to ABOLISH DOUBLE-ENTRY ACCOUNTING and ABOLISH THE ASSETS=LIABILITIES + OWNER'S EQUITY equation Accounting software, and all forms of business software, really may be viewed as a representation or a set of symbols, for some underlying reality. Obviously you have words like "customer ID", "supplier" and names of accounts throughout the system, for which meanings are not ambiguous. You also have a lot of structures representing relationships and hierarchies, which are more subtle. Like all systems of notation and semantics, double entry accounting can never be anything but a model. It is a map to a territory, whose validity may be evaluated by reference to that underlying reality in the "real world". The double-entry model is based on solid foundations mapping to the thought processes of business owners which were prevalent during the 20th century However, double-entry would never have happened, historically, in the presence of today's computer platforms and internet connectivity. Those who remember the discipline and procedures necessary to make a paper ledger balance at end of month will understand, the system of journals and ledgers primarily arose to improve mechanical accuracy-- a need which computers solved. The trial balance, double-entry, and current notions of GAAP reporting are obsolete and should be replaced. [with a network-centric model.] Systems for buying and selling (and all execution of business transactions) have profoundly different requirements and economic drivers. Because these are intrinsically shared events and data, they are being rapidly constructed in a variety of shared architectures on the internet in numerous vertical communities, SCM and B2B hubs, etc. Systems for accumulating historical audit trails and the associated entity financial reporting will necessarily take a different track from the shared execution platforms above, and there is little utility for double entry trial balance other than to the extent it maps to the human mind. To be complete and accurate, the accounting model would include the Subject and Object symettrically. But such models have never taken root even in distributed systems, because so many of the human actors is still dwelling in a self-centered model of thought--- they install software which is capable of modelling duality the way they think, rather than the way things really are. Todays accounting consumer wants software which depicts "My Assets minus My Liabilities equals my Equity." Nobody cares what the other guy's "view" of each transaction might be. Nobody is remotely interested in an accurate entity/relationship diagram of the whole system, yet. They cannot imagine drilling down into an expense to understand their supplier's costs and sources. Double entry accounting has certainly proven a durable metaphor for reflecting economic transactions. Perhaps this is somehow related to Karma. Nothing is free. The third law of thermodynamics states that every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Double entry accounting is Newtonian: you record an asset only if you can record the related liability. I suppose it is something of an achievement, actually, that so many people have risen from the relative ignorance of single-entry list software, to understand the usefulness of double-entry accounting products. Recording the obvious half of any transaction into a single-entry list is easy, for example, some cash has gone out the window. Double-entry forces the bookkeeper to record the other half of the story: the offsetting liability, asset, etc. connected with it. Taking the extra time to consider the offsetting entry leads naturally to improvement in accuracy of both the primary and offsetting entry. There are at least 10 million people using personal accounting software and most of those software are capable of use without taking the extra step of double entry. But I can testify very few of these people are still bringing incomplete single-entry Money or Quicken lists to their CPAs at year-end. Double- entry rules. You get correct bank and receivable balances. Let's look deeper. The balance sheet is intended to be a snapshot of the company's karmic balance in the marketplace, at a point in time. Every asset or liability that has been recorded must be balanced by identifying it with the other asset or liability or equity account representing that trading partner, owner, debtor or creditor with whom the business transaction was concluded. I believe that there is an entry for the "self", and an entry for the "other". Income and expenses are of course part of the balance sheet. They are an explosion of the detail of retained earnings. Accountants are well aware of this but it bears repeating: there is really no such thing as an income statement. It is a breakdown of the retained earnings account in the equity section, for a particular period. The balance sheet is really an income statement, and the income statement is a balance sheet. There is no such thing as a balance sheet or income statement. They are both artificial constructs. It is a myth, that the balance sheet represents a "State" and the income statement represents "Changes in State". This is one of the biggest psychological mistakes people make. You've just added up a diverse collection of events, which are apples and oranges, and added them up into totals. Displaying all these totals within a format such as a "balance sheet" and "income statement" provides no use at all. The entire edifice of financial reporting and audit of publicly listed companies is a pragmatic creation, born of political economy. It is a residual legal artifact of the historical opposition between corporations who do not want to disclose, and shareholders who require degrees of disclosure. As such, this statutory reporting edifice has no reliable compass and is arbitrary. Nobody is going around deconstructing the two-column trial balance, or questioning its metaphysical accuracy as a model of commerce. DOUBLE-ENTRY IS WRONG AND OBSOLETE: What we are really modelling in the classic notion of an accounting system is a sequence of transactions. That's all it is. A historical trail of events, which were real enough, but recorded in a particular, peculiar way. You begin with zero of anything. You start the model at a point in time. You begin conducting business, and make a notation for cash in the bank (whatever THAT is-- a subject for another day.) The totals on your balance sheet begin to increase and decrease. Those are not real things in any sense; rather they are just running totals of how much water is in each of the buckets. Look at the typical SME (small/midsized enterprise) income statement for example: SENDING RECEIVING REVENUE PURCHASE ORDER INVOICE SETTLEMT OF INVOICE CASH/ONETIME PAYMENTS EXPENSE SALES ORDERS BILLS SETTLEMENT OF BILLS CASH/ONETIME PAYMENTS PAYROLL This really should be an N-dimensional grid since everything on the revenue side is really somebody else's expenses, and vice versa. You would need to have a sheet for each party in the global economy. Whenever you are forced to put a 3-dimension cube on a 2-dimension paper, you have to use recurring bands of rows, and that is exactly what we have in every accounting system in the world: first you iterate thru the incomes, then you iterate thru the same exact transactions as expenditures. The recurring rows are natures' way of saying, something's wrong. Accounting is such a hall of mirrors. Luci Pacioli didn't have any three dimensional software so he built it on 2-dimensional repeating list. he didn't have any network so he built a model of the reciprocal entry of his trading partner into his own general ledger. The whole thing is stupid. HOW TO FIX IT 1. The world's accounting infrastructure needs to move out to a shared architecture on the internet, because all transactions are inherently interconnected and shared with trading partners. The access security will be solved. Don't talk to me about it. The execution systems are already moving to the internet. If the internet architecture is secure enough for actual execution of orders, deliveries and payment it is certainly secure enough to provide views of those transactions to their historical owners and block them from the view of everybody else. 2. The historical reports and views of transactions have to be redesigned to support their multidimensional nature. It is a requirement, that we escape from the limitations of the "income statement" and "balance sheet" which are riddled with denormalized views, repeating rows such as described above. The user should be able to navigate (drill down) from their root ledger or interface, into totals such as money balances and types of transactions, in their native hierarchies that really exist, to get views by date, by supplier or customer, by various categories of goods and services, and other attributes as they so desire. The root ledger interface would have a single, top level node called "Me", analogous to the root node in an XML document. There are hierarchies of subtotals that would appear when you drill down, would be the native characteristics and attributes of the transactions that you have executed, in accordance with the terms of those deals with your trading partner agreed at the moment of the transaction. There would be one primary record of the transaction on a shared host someplace. You would only have indexes to the real entry. You could maintain your own additional labels and attributes privately. But the application of later judgment to recharacterize and re-label things would be reduced. Some people would be systematic. Businesses would subscribe to a shared ontology such as the XBRL taxonomy and agree to label everything that way. Easy solution. Other people would leave the descriptors blank. Who cares. When they drill down into the "unclassified" row, they would get the native listing, just like you see in your personal checkbook. That works just fine for most people in the US. The whole assemblage of your transactions on diverse shared hosts on internet would be no more, and no less, auditable by governments than today's paper and cash obsolete systems. Your transactions would be on numerous hosts all over the internet, maintained in encrypted form not even accessible to the sysadmins in most cases; the owner would have the encryption key. You lose the key, effectively you erase the audit trail. Giving your key to a sysadmin is infantile anyway. It is the original mistake that causes all the bad outcomes and scenarios. Why do we beg, and kiss the asses of regulators, to control invasions of our privacy? This is a real head-scratcher, to me. We can control all those things, unilaterally. The overall income statement or balance sheet would cease to exist, it is simply irrelevant and a fiction. It doesn't exist. The periodicity of one year doesn't exist. All periodicity is an arbitrary construct. These arbitrary labels and structures cause more harm than good. The world is immediate and spatial. It is not a two-dimensional static report. What businesses need are tools for efficiently conducting business. Tools to answer specific questions about liquidity and receivables and so forth. The tools and reports for those needs lie completely outside the financial statements of course, and have nothing to do with double entry. http://www.gldialtone.com/EndRedundancy.htm and http://www.gldialtone.com/Exploration.htm . * Todd F. Boyle CPA http://www.GLDialtone.com/webledger.htm * tboyle@rosehill.net Kirkland WA (425) 827-3107 * XML accounting, WebLedgers, ASPs, GL dialtone, whatever it takes =================== From: Todd Boyle [tboyle@rosehill.net] Sent: Tuesday, July 11, 2000 1:14 PM To: xbrl-public@egroups.com Subject: Draft Schema for General Ledger As SMEs (small/medium enterprises) begin to conduct business over the internet, their systems of storing information must change. Webledgers will dissolve the "accounting" business. The word "Accounting" doesn't mean anything. There isn't "accounting" software anymore. I'm not sure there is even *business* software. There is just commerce. Still, there must be an abstract model of your financial life, i.e. your balance sheet, whatever you want to call it. I call it a webledger, or the root ledger. When these models live on the internet reconciled with everybody elses' model, life is going to be a whole lot different... For over 25 years, business software became more and more integrated as it relentlessly pursued automation of cash, payables, receivables, and inventory across all the systems in the office. We learned after great pain, that our software had to be integrated, and "integrated accounting software" meant choosing a single vendor to supply all the modules. Now, we must unlearn that lesson, for these reasons: 1. The internet manifestly contains thousands of excellent BSPs (business service providers) which are the "software modules" for conducting business. These include every selling, purchasing, payment and admin activity formerly accomplished on desktop or LAN based software. These thousands of BSPs will not in near future, be owned by the same company, 2. There is no likelihood that all of your customers, suppliers, and services providers will use the same BSPs. This fact will cause millions of businesses to experience great pain, while, others will understand and accept this immutable fact. For the last 70+ years, the general ledger has been the absolute foundation of accounting. Classic double-entry accounting (CDEA) provides a whole set of double-entry solutions and journal entries encapsulating every possible transaction type in the business universe. The CDEA and A=L+OE system of representing business transactions was, if anything, strengthened during the past 25 years of integrated software. To repeat: millions of accountants practice, every day, this system of notation for recording and summarizing business dealings. This is a language, a set of symbols, and a whole bunch of rules that are so deeply entrenched that no other system of notation can gain market share, at the human interface level. Business systems have obviously moved on, becoming optimized for different things and paying not the least attention to CDEA. Especially in internet commerce! But when you get to the controller or the CPA or even the AP/AR clerk, whenever you have a human being, CDEA is entrenched at the user interface and in reporting. One place to begin deconstructing CDEA is the chart of accounts. The notion of an "Account Code" may be obsolete; the Chart of Accounts has historically been overloaded with multiple uses. It has often been an intricate, denormallized table combining multiple codes such as organization structure, department, and accounting classifications. These are called "segmented" account codes, for example 5110-10A Overtime - branch 10 (peoria office) department A 5110-10B Overtime - branch 10 (peoria office) department B etc. Charts of Accounts have served multiple needs including ease of keypunching, permissions/internal control, reconcilation with external entities, and downstream reporting. Charts of Accounts are an unmanageable mess and obstacle to systems improvements in many companies. Most accounting software does not provide adequate solutions for retroactively changing or merging account codes in the chart or in the transactions databases. For example, Quickbooks enables overwriting of account codes with a new ones, and merging accounts. This is highly useful in small business but you can no longer reproduce financial reports that had been published before you changed the codes. Whenever account codes carry information for several different dimensions, companies should explore other accounting software that reports those dimensions separately. For example, the Chart of accounts should NOT encode information related to organization structure, geographic, product, party, or any other unrelated information. YES, those may be required in a general ledger. But NO, they should not be combined into the chart of accounts, especially as the need for global integration increases. I argue that general ledgers should not even have "Charts of Accounts" in future. After you strip away the tangled up mess of information combined into charts of accounts, the only remaining purpose for account codes is to reflect classifications for the GAAP domain (financial reporting). XBRL now defines the available GAAP classifications natively, in the U.S. XBRL is the universal "chart of accounts". The words "Chart" and "Account" themselves, are artificial and contrived. In the segmented example above, the user interface and the data storage for the accounting system would contain an XBRL classification, a geographic (branch) code, and an organizational (department) code. Voila. No "chart of accounts". (Why does this matter? Because owners, managers, and parties to transactions, cannot achieve economies or effective transaction processing over internet if everybody continues using incompatible naming and coding of transactions. Bear with me.) Now let's consider some emerging problems in classification of accounting transactions. The transactions need to be transported among and between 3 discrete levels of software comprising the business system of an SME: Level 1 - the SELF. the comprehensive, complete general ledger which models the enterprise (the root ledger) Level 2 - the BSP or business software module, or sub-ledger or functional module. Historically the sales journal, purchases, payroll or other journal or module, running on the desktop or local server. These functional modules are increasingly provided remotely on ASPs or BSPs or DotComs thru which we buy and sell. For example, web stores, timesheet systems, payroll services, purchasing portals, and trading hubs and marketplaces of all kinds. These BSPs enable SMEs to conduct business over the internet, integrating customers and suppliers and payment providers, making non-repudiable orders and payments without large investment in local firewalls. Level 3 - the OTHER. the 3rd parties with whom we buy or sell thru our website or BSP, or thru their website or BSP. There is a 3rd party with whom you conduct business, who insists upon data integration just like you. This is like the evolution of plant life into animals, who had eyes to see. The unconnected desktop software are vegetables--they can't understand anybody exists except themselves. They are profoundly autistic. Obviously there are many XML vocabularies between level 2 and 3. However, Level 1 will exist for SMEs in a way that it has never existed for B2B commerce, EDI and so forth, because larger businesses have combined Level 1 and Level 2 in enterprise software. Large ERP/enterprises literally conduct business thru their firewalls, with third parties (the OTHER) thru EDI and other custom connections. SMEs will conduct business thru multiple services (ASPs or BSPs). They will provide summary entries in a whole variety of custom formats, which must be viewed by the root ledger as though they were subledgers. These General Journal postings will need to contain classifications for posting to our "general ledger". This will really be a Root Ledger since some of these DotComs will themselves be General Ledgers having trial balances. The unthinking assumption of every BSP and dotcom I have researched, is that every SME will have their own custom Chart of Accounts and that any interface to the root ledger, accordingly, must be visited and configured and mapped for them, by an expert. Does this sound a little like EDI? It might be a good thing if XML transactions arriving at the root ledger of the company, contain some minimal classification as to the broad category of the transaction. This could reduce the need to push custom account codes or other business attributes outward, to the subledger or module for every party, for every transaction, thru every trading hub. It would be nice if all DotComs, ASPs and BSPs could agree upon an XML schema for the general ledger, which would define unambiguously how to transmit their dealings to the root ledger by reference to the values permitted within that GL Schema alone. The alternative is years of the usual nonsense of asking the CPA what chart of accounts code to use in each case, futzing with local configurations and then configurations of the interfaces. Think about this. There WILL be a general ledger folks. It WILL have account classifications. I believe it is possible to articulate a "standard chart of accounts" coded into the GL Schema. It might have only 20 codes. These are never very abstract. They are always Payables and Receivables of various kinds (including notes receivable etc.) and of various expected maturities. Even a cash account or merchant card receivable is really a type of receivable. Maybe this is the direction we need to go-- leave out the accruals, depreciation and other stuff not needed by the ecommerce community and instead, focus intensely on the business purposes which can only be provided by the root ledger, and are inherently impossible to achieve in distributed modules on multiple BSPs. Inherent root ledger requirements: ------------------------------------- - maintain fiscal control (e.g. control totals) over money and accounts receivable and payable that exist out on the remote DotComs and functional modules as well as local systems, fixed assets etc. - maintain near-realtime information of cash balances, cash flow attributes of all events which have happened, and cash flow sources and needs predicted at future dates sufficient to manage the cash flows of the business. - consolidated views of accounts receivable / accounts payable sufficient to maintain control over supplier and customer balances when the enterprise touches those same classes of customers or suppliers thru multiple points (e.g. selling locally and on web storefront; buying locally and thru web purchasing portals) - GAAP financial statements / financial reporting - timely and accurate tax reporting - consolidations and eliminations whereever multiple sub-ledgers exist, including multiple "general ledgers" on BSPs as well as companies/locations. - foreign currency translations Don't believe me? Think for yourself. Companies will conduct business via multiple BSPs, resulting in transactions stored in multiple locations. Most business processes do not inherently require any shared data, for most users. For others, the bank statement provides a unifying view. But are any of the above requirements possible without a comprehensive, combined view someplace? The answer is no. These are the classic financial controller/treasury functions. Companies will still need to implement GAAP classifications at some level. Historically, companies implemented finely granular, custom charts of accounts sufficient to enable GAAP reporting. The XBRL schema, AICPA-US-GAAP-CI-00-04-04.xsd contains over 1100 ELEMENTS classifications. Companies could implement true GAAP classifications, natively, in their accounting systems. Historically, to produce financial statements, companies often mapped their charts of accounts into the lines of their financial statements, - combining some accounts, - changing the order of some accounts, and - changing the label of other accounts. XBRL can be immediately implemented by any accounting system by storing the appropriate XBRL tag for each account into the chart of accounts table. For example if there are multiple accounts receivable, they might all be tagged with the XBRL tag, "aicpa:currentAssets.receivables" For any non-accountants reading this: accounting entries are usually stored as a collection of rows, each having an amount and an account code representing the different results of a transaction (for example the simplest sale might be a 3-line journal entry: sales 100, tax 8, account receivable 108.) There is absolutely no reason this system of notation is necessary; however there is absolutely no likelihood that millions of fulltime accountants worldwide, will change anytime soon. XBRL also enables root ledger scenarios in which BSPs encode every row of transaction *directly* with its XBRL code. Note carefully, the contrast with my previous paragraph in which the XBRL code was associated with the chart of account code. GAAP reporting can be achieved without any other "chart of accounts" than XBRL tags. SMEs always have multiple assets and liabilities which are in the nature of payables and receivables with respect to 3rd parties-- the combination of the XBRL tag and party identity would establish uniquely these accounts and their transactions. Isn't that more transparent than establishing a numeric account code? Traditional account codes were useful in data entry and other mnemonic processes which are de-emphasized in root ledger architectures. Returning to the question: what chart of account classes exist within a root ledger architecture, whenever the enterprise uses BSPs or other distributed processes? The answer appears to be nothing other than XBRL tags. XML Schema for general ledger ------------------- Then, what structures should be included, within any XML Schema for general ledger? The following would please me very much. I have simplified the root ledger to a single table, requiring no Chart of Accounts table. Here is my straw man draft, for the "R" required fields and some optional fields, of a root ledger table (which translates immediately into a very simple XML Schema for general ledger-- a completely flat set of ELEMENTs.) Host - system, host or software where this data originated. R Company - the legal entity which executed this transaction. OrgUnit - department, section etc. Geographic - branch or business location for sales tax Country - ISO 3166 (optional because default driven, in practice.) Language - ISO 10646 (optional because default driven) Journaltype - sales journal, purchase journal, etc R TransactionID - uniquely identifies this transaction (set of rows) R TransactionRow - uniquely identifies this row (e.g. line of journal) R TransactionDateTime - ISO 8601 date/time TransactionType - Actual, Budget, Forecast, TaxAdjustment (default=A) EnteredDateTime - ISO 8601 date/time User - authenticated user recorded this transaction Reference - source doc. number or index, etc. R XBRLtype - classification of this transaction for GAAP reporting R Party - uniquely identifies the reciprocal party to this transaction. Partyclass - role or type of party as customer, supplier, etc. R Amount - any number consistent with your currency. Currency - ISO 4217 Currency codes (optional because default driven) Description - explanation text or memo string etc. TransactionCode1 - user defined category, class, T-code etc. TransactionCode2 - user defined category, class, T-code etc. TransactionCode3 - user defined category, class, T-code etc. TransactionCode4 - user defined category, class, T-code etc. TransactionCode5 - user defined category, class, T-code etc. Maturity - if this is an external payable/receivable, when it is due Cleared - mark this row as matched, settled, cleared, etc. Approved - approval boolean for internal approve. Reviewed - boolean for external auditor or reviewer Employee - internal party executed this transaction Job - uniquely identifies the job, project, etc. Product - uniquely identifies the product or service. XMLdocument - any XML business doc. accompanying this transaction. Obviously, in the accounting business my XML Schema will drive somebody else to apoplexy. I am fully aware of dozens of problems with the above table design and blissfully unaware of dozens of others! Don't you just hate it, when you have to actually identify specific fields, to actually get some work done? For those .01% of companies that have more than 5 transaction codes on their GLs, let them edit the DTD and extend it. Or stuff codes into the XML document field. Or, XBRL GL schema can have 10 transaction codes and that will cover all but .001% of companies. Let the .001% eat cake. While XBRL delays the GL schema, 100% of SMBs are "eating cake". Perhaps what's lurking under the surface is a tension between developers who are already running traditional procedural code and CDEA, versus the newer developers who depend on various object-oriented structures, set oriented commands, XML transformations, etc. and hate writing code to assembling/disassemble their new data structures into bands of general ledger journal entries. Most of the new/better vertical and horizontal business modules are probably not procedural CDEA under the surface. However the new technologists are negligent in articulating any replacement for A=L+OE semantics, and the thousands of different kinds of CDEA postings currently used. Accordingly the "object" people, XML transformation whizzes, etc. basically don't have any business solution for the root ledger requirements other than CDEA. In any case, it will be very useful and worthwhile to publish a GL standard, that can transport data at least among desktop software like Quickbooks and Peachtree, and among small business BSPs on the internet. This flatfile would enable many business processes without even the need for subledgers, AR, AP, or sales/purchase journals etc. Let's get moving and define an XML schema for general ledger. It's going to be CDEA, folks. It consists of Rows. And there are going to be a potentially large, potentially arbitrary collection of fields on each row. So let's get to work. ================ user sovereignty: User Sovereignty This is an unfamiliar topic to some users of computer and internet. Below, you will find a life preserver, thrown to us by people who have put more thought into it than the average CPA or accountant. I preface these readings with one simple observation: people are born free, and are inherently free. There cannot be any tyranny or exploitation but by the ignorant surrender of one's natural freedom. We are all free to act according to our own interests. Nothing is forcing us to subordinate our wishes to the wishes of companies who would like to exploit us. Today's computer hardware and software are profoundly shaped by the imperative of making money for their vendors. Computers are not a pure utility like foodstuffs, minerals, or energy but rather, contain a whole spectrum of tricks and techniques that create additional income for vendors. We have gradually allowed another "broadcast industry" model in which we gave away 1/3 of our precious time to advertising, and allowed the commercial selling imperative and message to permeate even the editorial content of newspapers, radio and TV. In the accounting software industry, these have gotten so far out of hand that they threaten small business' ability to exist in the marketplace, alongside larger companies. Before the internet, it was not a fatal problem that your vendor locked in your data and refused to provide interfaces. But today, if you cannot buy, sell, and pay and receive money over the internet freely, you may be blocked from access to markets themselves. You cannot access goods and services at the best prices, and you cannot sell for the best prices. When you go out to evaluate accounting and business software, keep it in mind: the software should work 100% for the interests of the owner. Not one single bit or byte should be allowed to pursue the interests of the software vendor, or tax collectors, or accountants, or employees, agents, contractors or any other third party, against the interests of the owner. Owners do have social responsibilities, and responsibilities under contracts, and under laws. But until those software vendors or laws require owners of businesses to install automatic enforcement machines in our own homes and businesses, taking away our freedom, it is sheer lunacy to buy them voluntarily. * Todd F. Boyle CPA http://www.GLDialtone.com/ * tboyle@rosehill.net Kirkland WA (425) 827-3107 * XML accounting, webledgers, BSPs, ASPs, whatever it takes http://www.openresources.com/documents/ http://opencode.org/h2o/ http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/projects/governance.html http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/projects/opencode.html http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/projects/security/ http://www.flora.org/flora.comnet-www/1472 http://internet.tao.ca/ http://www.people.cornell.edu/pages/pcs10/revised3.htm http://www.buildfreedom.com/ft/internet_freedom.htm So, what would the internet look like if it had been designed to serve users instead of . What if there was a vast, infinite storage space, just a whitespace and you could put unlimited content out there. What if everybody on the network was required to use 1024 bit encryption because it was built into the clients on the network and therefore, even dumbshits encrypted 100% of their stuff. That's the way Windows and Unix and Linux could have been designed, but they were not. They were designed for top-down control. The client for this network? a pure w3c XML parser and XSLT transformation engine. Is there any kind of content or processing that can't be done or rendered, etc. by an XML processor? And, when you go to read your stuff or process with it, you draw upon all the CPUs that are sitting idle nearby... That would be a computing environment worth having, because it would take back control of security from sysadmins and affix it firmly in the leaf nodes. heh heh! Giving access control over the data to the individual, permanently and irreversibly. The data storage could be same as today, either peer to peer or on some ISP or ASP or even a relational database. Why not? Finally, a good use for an RDBMS. As soon as the peer network has a general ledger built into it, it would start to be adopted. Right now, there is noplace to put your quarter to pay for your resources. Isn't that ridiculous? Surely, this won't continue much longer. Capitalism and the ideology of self determination unleash much greater economic growth because more people get more of what they want. The entire economic system is organized around discovering desires, amplifying them with advertising, and satisfying them. The whole psycho limbic system of the body and mind of customers is tapped. The worker is harnessed more completely. Everybody is compelled to work within a single, pooling of interests. There is only one road system. Only one downtown. Only one school system, telephone and banking system. Our combined power makes us a more powerful society. We can out-produce any country that opposes us, or destroy them if that serves our desires more efficiently. This is democracy because we can vote every 4 years. This proves the people are in control. Isn't that nice? We have this radically symmetrical economy, tuned in to the average desire of all people. We are completely harnessed to serving our neighbors' base desires for oil, SUVs and sports arenas. What next? Is this freedom? Is this the way it's going to be? ============== Subject: Web ledgers -marchin to the freedom land Date: 06/10/2000 Author: Todd Boyle I'm responded to CIO magazine, question April 1, http://www.cio.com/archive/040100_diff.html The most interesting question to me, is how individuals can control their spending decisions with greater granularity, for example, obtaining products and services through the market system, and participating in large joint enterprises like corporations, without giving away power to bosses and hierarchic forms of organization. Let's say, for instance, a persons' convictions are nonviolent. Today, when we buy a product it is like representative democracy. It's all-or-none, and you delegate your power to your supplier. You don't have a line-item veto. You don't even know who is getting the money. On some level, when you pay the clerk at the gas pump, you know some of the money is going for military defense, etc. but you don't know how, how much, or how to stop it. There are some minor outbreaks of consumers buying tuna from canneries where dolphin-safe practices were followed, or wood from renewable forests. As value networks and supply chains permeate the economy, we will have more information about where our money is going, new choices where to buy, and that's a fancy way of saying, more capability to pay the oil driller and refiner but not pay for the foreign extraction tax. You will buy coffee, but not pay for the military dictatorship, etc. We will similarly have new choices where to sell. We will have new choices with whom we wish to work as partners. Economic decisions will be made based on network participants, costs and revenues will be allocations within partnerships. Within this model you have freedom, and there is no way for corporations to extract rents and dividends or coerce consumptive behaviors, or control bodies for 40 hours a week. Here read this: http://www.gldialtone.com/hypercub.htm which explains how the entire economy may be viewed as a mathematical model, with each actor receiving (rather imperfectly) their allocations of costs and income. The new architecture of business has pierced the company-centric view, and moved to hosted systems which span enterprises. Search engine on value networks. This is analogous to the development of human consciousness beyond the individual appetite or ego, but nevermind. The internet is the operating system, and BSPs and dotcoms are the programs. There are 1500 BSPs, look at the directory www.aspnews.com and all the XML interoperability and middleware. Web ledgers give the individual much more power, more granular control over where and how their money and power are spent. Accordingly, they are a better solution anyways and more consistent with the existing culture. I hope I have given you a glimpse into this fascinating new field, * Todd F. Boyle CPA http://www.GLDialtone.com/ * tboyle@rosehill.net Kirkland WA (425) 827-3107 * XML accounting, WebLedgers, ASPs, GL dialtone, whatever it takes Webledger technology is just a quantum leap more intelligent and multidimensional than today's "money system". The unrestrained growth in the power of the state, and the percentage of the national economy directed by the government, is like a cancer. Too many people believe in simplistic answers like Napster, anonymous commerce, digital cash, tax evasion, etc. To make a meaningful, and lasting contribution to human freedom, we have to grow newer financial and software structures that are literally, stronger and more efficient than the state-corporate complex that is strangling us today. That structure will certainly emerge in internet marketplaces, of course. Today's boycott by suppliers, wishing the B2B marketplaces would die and go away, cannot last. Bricks and Clicks will finally be made accountable to customers, because customers will certainly be aggregated, and rich, granular views will be provided to those customers into the vendor choices and the detailed attributes inside the product. The unnecessary layers of costs will be chased out of those products. DO you see what I mean? TOdd