Ideas for the online revolution.

RSS Feed to MySpace Converter - An Alternative

I recently got an email from the person who works on RSS on MySpace.

It is a better RSS to MySpace converter than the one I worked on MySpace Feed. It has better formatting, and uses redirection so that if you click on the feed headline it will bring you to the actual story.

Apparently, the other way of doing this, namely to use Flash (and Spring Widgets), no longer works because you cannot do outgoing links from Flash.

Thoughts on Activism Network 4.0 - A Network of Anything

Currently I'm doing some work to see if it is realistic to try and make the next major version of Activism Network allow for user customization of what is in the network. Here comes the "Network of Anything"! The goal is to increase the number of people using the software (and thus create a community of developers by opening it up to non-activist networks), and to make it easier for activists to create their own networks.

Thus instead of just being useful for activist networks, the software could be used for any type of network. There would be a user-interface that lets you choose 1) What is in your network and 2) What properties those things have. You could design your own type of network, without understanding how my software is structured and without knowing PHP or MySQL.

Campus Climate Challenge - Making History

The Campus Climate Challenge is perhaps the largest student activist campaign in a long time - possibly since the Sixties. This is particularly true if you consider the level of organization which is high and proportionate to the high level of funding (over a million dollars/year). At a bare minimum, it is the largest US student environmental activist campaign.

I don't like using terms like "largest campaign" because it is hard to compare this campaign with things like the hundreds of local campaigns that diversified the student body, faculty, staff, programs, and academic courses of colleges and universities (ex. ethnic studies). You could call the establishment of a thousand student lgbt groups a campaign - in which case it'd be larger and more succesful than the Campus Climate Challenge. I guess the difference is that these grassroots movements for diversity where generally not coordinated at a national level.

Students For a Democratic Society - An Update

The New Students for a Democratic Society is a paradox. It benefits from a huge name appeal that is attracting a considerable number of new people and groups, but it also hurts from nasty organizational in-fighting and from a lack of structure.

This past summer, the new SDS held its first national conference. However, they chose to not develop a national structure or values - leaving that up for the next national conference (which I expect in the summer of 2007, or perhaps that fall). In the mean time, SDS has organized several regional conferences.

For instance, the SDS 2007 Northeast Regional Conference sounds particularly impressive according to Thomas Good's account. Getting 90 people from around 20 chapters is impressive for a new organization without a budget or staff. Particularly if these chapters actually hold regular meetings and aren't just paper chapters. It's also impressive that groups are starting with the SDS name.

Democratizing Education Network - A (Relatively) New Growing Network

I've been terribly amiss in failing to report on the development of the Democratizing Education Network (DEN) which has organized several conferences and is launching a Week of Action - April 16-20, and a month of Tent State Universities and Teach-Ins.

Their main focus is on democratizing education by fighting tuition hikes and for broader access to education. They're doing so within the context of a pro-democracy / anti-corporate analysis.

This effort is being sponsored by the Liberty Tree Foundation, and is in some respects a rebirth of the 180 - Movement for Democracy and Education which died a couple years ago. MDE-180 grew out of an analysis of corporate power and the takeover of higher education, advocating real grassroots democracy as the alternative. Democracy was seen as a common goal that could unify people working on all types of different issues. Ben Manski was a key figure in starting MDE-180 and is now very active in the Democratizing Education Network (through Liberty Tree).

Ontario Citizen's Assembly votes 80% to modify their voting system

Recently an assembly of Ontario citizens, convened by the Conservative government, recommended 80% in favor of mixed-member proportional system for voting.

The second place option - single transferable voting - only got 8%.

See the following excellent blog on Canadian politics (also features election result prediction):
Democratic Space Blog

In the last BC provincial election, a referendum to change to Single-Transferable-Vote (really not as good as proportional, but at least a change) got 57%, falling 3% short of what it needed to pass. Kind of strange that the referendum came from another rightwing government and a Citizen's Assembly. Strange also that they went with STV, whereas Ontario chose MMP.

Chocolate Prevents Tooth Decay

Recently I went to the dentist for the first time in ten years. I was very concerned about the state of my teeth given that I have several existing cavities, had not been to the dentist for a long time, and eat a ton of chocolate (nibbling on it too - which is much worse than eating it in a shorter time period).

However, I didn't have a single cavity! So I looked up to see if chocolate is good or bad for teeth and found the following link. In general, chocolate with sugar is better for the teeth than plain sugar (though it is still bad). I'm guessing the caffeine/drying out the mouth effect from dark chocolate is very minimal (saliva is a good thing for your teeth - one of the reasons coffee is bad).

Future 5000 - Beta

The Future 5000 website is up and running. It looks like it might be in beta - I'm not sure if it has been officially released.

It is a database of around 600 youth organizations which plans to grow to 5000.

The site has great graphics, but a number of usability issues. My top suggestion would be make the browsing option more obvious. In my experience with Campus Activism, users really don't like searching. This is unfortunate if you have a database of several thousand things, but then you can turn the "search" experience into a simpler "browsing" one. For instance, by providing a link to "browse" all the groups in a state (instead of requiring that they search). Or to browse the most active groups.

Activism Network - 3.1.6

Today I finished another release for the software.

The big thing is more caching. All the display pages are cached (if the client chooses to do so).

But perhaps the bigger thing is the lack of bugs. There was one minor bug fix, but other than I didn't know of any other bugs. Of course part of this is the lack of feedback I get from users, but it also testifies to the fact that version 3 is getting pretty solid. Hopefully this new caching system doesn't break anything.

Vegan Jerkey

I highly recommend Stonewall Jerkey as a tough tasty vegan treat that comes in many different flavors.

The one problem is that it is too salty - so don't eat 4 oz of it at a time like I do.

Buying it online is the way to go if you want to save money. The website for Lumen Foods is horrible, but it does work.

I haven't tried it yet, but I think the jerky could make good sandwich material.

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