What is power?

Following up on Gideon’s recent post… what might it mean for ONE/Northwest to “power” a system?

1. The ability or capacity to perform or act effectively.
2. A specific capacity, faculty, or aptitude. Often used in the plural: her powers of concentration.
3. Strength or force exerted or capable of being exerted; might. See Synonyms at strength.

Using Chat Tools During an In-Person Meeting

Clay Shirky just wrote a great article in his NEC Newsletter about his experiences using an online chat tool as a supplement to an in-person meeting. Produced some interesting positive social dynamics. Here’s a link to the full article, titled “In-Room Chat as a Social Tool”.

This is still pretty bleeding-edge stuff, but I can see huge value in this for some kinds of activist meetings — especially larger 20-30 person meetings where lots of people want to participate. In fact, I believe that Institute for Conservation Leadership used technology like this during a recent strategic planning session that they did. I’d love to have ONE/Northwest put together a pile of low-end WiFi-enabled laptops that could be loaned out to “chat-enable” meetings.

Friends of Whatcom County

Tho’ I’ve long known of Friends of Whatcom County, who work on environmental issues in and around Bellingham, I didn’t know they were publishing news online. Although their Web site isn’t incredibly well-designed (they could greatly benefit from using a tool like Moveable Type!) the content is pretty good, and there definitely need to be more folks doing this kind of independent environmental journalism.

Also noted: two other environmental/progressive news sites from Whatcom County… Northwest Citizen and Whatcom Watch.

Creative Commons launches

Creative Commons launched today. It’s a project to provide content creators with easy-to-use licenses that allow copying and sharing — but only on certain conditions. This has huge potential impact for nonprofits and other altrustic content creators.

In-depth review of a Tablet PC

A lot of technology cynics are unimpressed with Microsoft’s new Tablet PC. While I haven’t used one, I know that I’m really excited about promise of this type of device. I write notes in a notebook (not a laptop). I would love to be able to take a “tablet” with me, write notes on it in my own handwriting, and have that machine also be my computer. Not an accessory — my computer. The key question is: does the technology work yet?

To that end, AnandTech has one of the first really in-depth reviews of a Tablet PC.

Review of StarBand Small Office satellite internet access

Scot’s newsletter just posted an informative review of review of StarBand Small Office. Bottom line: he think’s it’s a reasonable option for a 3-5 person office that doesn’t have other broadband options. Cost is $130-170/month, plus $800+ installation and a 12-month committment. Not cheap, but quite possibly worthwhile.

Open-source Outlook-killer?

Mitch Kapor’s new project, codenamed Chandler , is worth keeping an eye on. Although it’s not planned for release until late 2003, it promises an impressive level of peer-to-peer collaboration in an open-source, full-featured email/personal information manager, with no Exchange Server required.

HP switches positions, supports CA e-waste bill

Some good news for folks working to reduce the impact of toxic computer waste. HP decided to support a landmark bill that’s working its way through the legistlature in california.

What’s really cool is that the switch comes hot on the heels of a powerful 3-part series in the San Jose Mercury News, spurred by a hard-hitting report by the Silicon Valley Toxics Coaliton. (See my earlier post about this.) Proof that hard-hitting investigative journalism can influence influentials.


I’m about a quarter of the way into Umberto Eco’s latest, Baudolino. He’s been a favorite of mine since high school (one of the few that’s stayed on the list), and so far, Baudolino is a strong showing. It’s much lighter in tone than any of his previous novels, and although it’s complex and dense as any of them, it’s much better paced and more readable.

Vonage: flat-rate voice-over-ip for the masses

I’ve been keeping an eye on Vonage. The deal is pretty simple: $40/month gets you flat-rate, unlimited local & long distance phone calls over your high-speed Internet connection using your ordinary phone. You get a phone number in any area code you choose (kewl!), voicemail, caller ID and all the goodies. Your phone plugs into a special adapter. You kiss Qwest goodbye.

While Vonage is not (yet?) offering service to businesses, this seems like it would be a great deal for someone working from home who has to make a lot of long-distance phone calls.

Backflip: a handy way to store bookmarks online

Like many people, I often wish I could access my Web bookmarks when I’m not at my desk, or that I could easily share my bookmarks with colleagues. My friend Beth Kanter just steered me towards Backflip which does exactly that. It lets you easily add bookmarks to an online database, and optionally, to make chunks of your bookmarks publicly available. It’s very slick, and I think I’ll find it very useful.