Ideas for the online revolution.

Taking Friendster and MySpace Down - Building a Noncommercial Alternative

MySpace was recently purchased as part of a $550 million deal. I think part of its value lies in trying to build profiles of people so that corporations can sell them products and target online advertizing.

We need a noncommercial/free/open social network that won't sell out to corporations and that will end the need of having to maintain a profile on seperate commercial networks so as to stay in touch with friends.

I believe I have a good idea to make it work. The technical aspects of creating a friendster or myspace is relatively easy. A good programmer or team could crank it out in a year or so. The trick is publicizing it.

Social Responsible Investing - A Couple Theories

Theory #1 - Short Term - The Impact
Thesis: Either socially responsible investors receive a lower rate of return than other investors, or their investment has little to no social impact.

The US economy has a standard rate of return on investment. This is the average rate that an investor can expect to get. Of course this rate fluctuates all over the place due to economic cycles, and it is difficult to predict what it will be in the future. However, there is still an average rate of return.

Regular investors will invest in companies which they believe will give them this rate of return or better. These investors do not care if the company is socially responsible or not, and will thus provide enough investment to both responsible and irresponsible companies up until the point where any additional investment would be less productive, and provide a below-market rate of return.

Mapping US Military Casualties

Someone made a map that shows US Military Casualties from the Iraq war.

Hopefully someone will be inspired to create a map of Iraqi civilian casualties. You could use data from Iraq Body Count, and the Geonames database to convert Iraqi cities into longitudes and latitudes.

Maybe the Left Hasn't Done Anything Wrong

There is a recent trend in the US discussion about politics that argues that the Left needs a big rethink, because it has failed to get its message across and we're seeing a New Era of rightwing dominance.

There are numerous problems with this assertion. First of all, you can find evidence for it, but finding conclusive evidence is very difficult as this is a very hard thing to demonstrate.

The "Left"
Unfortunately this is narrowly defined as the Democrats. Thus what people are really concerned about the fact is that Democrat canidates, who are moving closer and closer to Republican/rightwing values, keep losing elections. Instead we should be focussing on the fact that society is making very little progress on issues of racism and class inequality.

Mapping the Workers Rights Consortium - Member Schools

I did a map of the Schools that belong to the Workers Rights Consortium - an anti-sweatshop monitoring/accountability organization that was created by anti-sweatshop activists, the majority of whom were students.

I used the data from the WRC Affiliate Schools page, which I combined with my existing data for school locations.

Hope to come up with more activist uses of mapping. Days of Action for instance.

The geographical distribution is typical of privileged white middle to upper-middle class student activism.

Ghirardelli Introduces 60% Double Chocolate Chips

Ghirardelli has replaced their Double Chocolate Chips with new 60% Double Chocolate Chips. The older chips had a lower cocoa content (perhaps 50-53%).

Unfortunately, Ghirardelli also added Milk Fat to their chips. Thus making them non-vegan. This is very sad, as they had been producing the best chocolate chips that I've tasted, and were also doing a good job of breaking the whole "vegans cannot eat chocolate" myth.

I called Ghirardelli to confirm this, and learnt that the amount of Milk Fat in their product is between 1-2%.

Up until now I've been a relatively strict vegan, who eats honey, but doesn't eat anything that I know contains even just 1g of dairy -- unless it is going to be thrown out (so that I'm not adding to the oppression/environmental costs of dairy).

Find Radio Stations

I'm creating a website to Find Radio Stations using the FCC database and a Google Maps interface. Pretty basic stuff so far, except the innovative use of Google Maps to show where stations are located.

And, where Google has good satellite data, you can actually see the antenna towers!

Experimenting with Google Maps

I am playing around with the Google Maps API. You can see a list of
Activism Groups in PA

All of the Activism Groups

Other states work too. Unfortunately the point-loading is rather slow, but I used the Faster Loading Hack which really helped.

The API is cool.


Advocacy Dev II

I went to Advocacy Dev II - a conference for activist software developers. Read about it on the Wiki link.

It was good. High energy and good networking with perhaps 60-70(?) people.

I spent most of my time on the database track - talking about how to create standards for nonprofits to share their data (between organizations or even within the same organization), and to create one or more good nonprofit databases (note: Groundspring has stopped working on Ebase - the leading nonprofit database). CivicCRM is one good canidate for becoming this database. Unfortunately, developing standards is hard because you have to convince a critical mass of people to make it useful.

Activism Network - Software Release

After about ten months of work, I'm proud to release the Activism
Network software client!

Activism Network
You can see two examples or download it.

Basically this takes the software that has been running on for three years, and lets you install in on your
own website. Doing so, we can create a network of a hundred websites
sharing activism data!!!

Website owners can customize what data they receive from the network.

This is an early (alpha?) release that I'm hoping to use to generate
interest and feedback. Particularly I need some ideas about what kind of

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