All posts by Howell Oscar

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Relics and Social Networks

This is a photo of a reliquary holding a tooth of Mary Magdalene, held at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  As I stood in front of this piece and took this photo I could not ignore the flood of information it conveyed to…

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Pervasive Social Production Networks

It is remarkable that the development of online collaboration, of social production networks and online communities, and of the New Commons itself, is happening in a backdrop of increased wariness with the perceived maladies of over-extended globalization, the surge in power of transnational corporations, the…

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The Herd Effect

We digital citizens are sometimes described as a herd.  We follow leaders, gather at certain places to exchange information, roam.  The herd can muster collective action, very much like swarms, using the most basic signals and feedback.  The herd is also a New Commons and its social capital…

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Reality Mining and Obscurity

Human Ethics is based upon 3 principles: The first is a claim that there is something bigger than the human being itself that supports every system of thought or natural law.  The second two are about how humans relate to one another in a social and political setting: Reciprocity and…

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Everything Global?

Everything seems to be going “global”.  Some examples will show this: Wars are looking more and more like global police actions, rather than international conflicts. The financial systems allows money to flow globally, very much like in the heyday of the Gold Standard.  Even the…

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Space, Change and Citizenship

We exist in a constant balance of freedom and constrain.  This is so in the physical space, in our spiritual and moral spheres, in our relationship with the economy, politics and the law, and it is the reality of our body in relationship with its surroundings.  The outcomes of evolution and ecology…

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Moving to Boston

In the last weeks I have been moving from Mexico to Boston.  For the next couple of years I will be attending classes at MIT and working from my Boston office.  I will resume posting in a few days.

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Collective Memory

Some years before Vannevar Bush wrote about the Memex, the solitary Jorge Luis Borges penned a singular short story: Funes el Memorioso.   There is a good translation by Andrew Hurley, with the somewhat awkward title of Funes, His Memory.   At first it may seem strange to…

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Writing Diaries

Robert Musil, a writer and novelist, author of “The Man Without Qualities“, was a prolific writer of diaries and letters.   He viewed the diary as complementary to his work as a writer, and thought of how it fitted his artistic and political vision.  The diary as a collection of…

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The PC and its user

In reading the first chapters of Jonathan Zittrain’s “The Future of the Intenet” some interesting ideas come to mind. It is JZ’s argument so far into the book that the “generative” Internet is under threat from what he sees is a pull back to the days of…