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December 2009

You Don't Fight Terrorism with Magical Thinking

Area 13I AM WITH Bruce Schneier about "magical thinking", the term he uses to describe the knee-jerk American response to terrorism. You won't beat terrorists by "overreacting to every terrorist video, stoking fear, demonizing ethnic groups, and treating the terrorists as if they were legitimate military opponents who could actually destroy a country or a way of life." And yet, the United States response is so predictably theatrical. Schneier has said it several times before. "We'd do much better by leveraging the inherent strengths of our modern democracies and the natural advantages we have over the terrorists: our adaptability and survivability, our international network of laws and law enforcement, and the freedoms and liberties that make our society so enviable." I had these thoughts when I stood outside a Dame Street shop in Dublin, Ireland, on the afternoon of 9/11. I wondered if the American President and the Mayor of New York would have the courage to point out that an open society will always overpower the oppressiveness of a terrorist agenda. I agree with Schneier. "The best defenses against terrorism are largely invisible: investigation, intelligence, and emergency response. But even these are less effective at keeping us safe than our social and political policies, both at home and abroad. However, our elected leaders don't think this way: They are far more likely to implement security theater against movie-plot threats." And that's happened again during the Christmas 2009 holiday travel season.
Bruce Schneier -- "Is Aviation Security Mostly for Show?" on CNN, 29 Dec 09.

Freezing Mobile Update

IcecubeI CANNOT WRITE these words without feeling the Irish winter on my hands. I'm outside underneath a frigid drizzle that's trying to turn into sleet. These conditions made me an outdoor ice cube (see left). I'm listening to CNET's decade-wrapping podcast occasionally being drowned out by the audible mating calls of boyracers splitting the otherwise serene Cashel air with their exhaust boxes. I often wonder if the decade ahead will require the fitting of noisemakers onto cars because if the prognosticators are correct, one-third of cars sold in Ireland by the mid-30s will be electric or hybrid. The future-thinkers working alongside me also think we will enjoy more free wireless access, something I welcome more than the extinction of the boy racer species.That time cannot come fast enough.


Sent mail2blog using Nokia E90 O2-Typepad service with slush on my keyboard in the streets of Cashel, County Tipperary, Ireland.

Direct link to MP3:


The Percolating Decade

Best Coffee in Temple BarTEN YEARS AGO, while near the end of my tenure as a Temple Bar webmaster, I sat down in Central Percs (at left) and had one of my first cups of coffee in Ireland. I had survived more than 3000 flying hours in an Air Force cockpit without a coffee habit and nearly five years in Ireland with a cuppa tea as my preferred drink. But Percs (RIP) changed something--maybe it was the peat fireplace or the Native American artwork but I shifted over to beans and have stayed the course ever since. I remember those Percs chats with Arthouse friends (Where have you gone, Tim Kirby?) and when Central Percs sold to The Clarence, part of my early Irish memories went out with the coffee machines. Looking back, some interesting things have happened to me in Ireland during the first nine years of the 21st century. They deserve mentioning here.

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Qik Sunday News

Qik Sunday NewsALTHOUGH I DIDN'T EXPECT to make Qik work of the Irish Sunday broadsheets, I made a 13-minute cameraphone video this week and promptly reverted to eejit status. That's because I tried to complete the upload while using a one-bar O2-Ireland telephone mast and as a result, there are several five-second chunks missing in the video clip. Lesson learned: write a tick-off list to myself for use before recording, including checking the network connection point. There are sad stories about Minister for Finance Brian Lenihan's health in two of the Irish broadsheets that I read (#disclosure) [1] [2], the continuing austerity gripping Ireland (#recession) [3], an airborne bomb maker with an untold story concerning security cross-checks (#incompetent) and several very good reviews of the Noughties (#socialtech), including one in the Tribune magazine by Una Mullally. I'd be remiss in failing to mention the success of Mr Tayto, the autobiography of Ireland's favourite crisp character which sold 7,043 during the second week of December.

Qik Sunday News

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Christmas in Ireland over 15 years

It's a Satio ChristmasI WATCHED MY FIRST Christmas in Ireland in 1994 and remember that occasion vividly because it was the first time I saw two generations of men clustered outside of a church. They had no intention of going inside ("Someone's in my pew," one told me.) and two of the guys held pint glasses to keep their toes warm. It was like a fashion show inside the church and that surprised me because so many of my friends had told me to expect austerity in Ireland when I boarded the ferry for the trip from France a fortnight earlier. And so much of the pub conversation on the run-up to Christmas Day involved locals returning for the break, telling their friends about better lifestyles in London, Toronto, New York, or San Francisco. I didn't believe the woman who waxed eloquently about the bright lights of Wichita but didn't pop the delusion with any cross-commentary. I think Shane McGowan delivers the reality check better. [3.3 MB MP3 track] A lot has changed in Ireland over those past 15 years.

Fairytale of New York

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Getting Killed by Ambient Streams

My Quarterly Demise

BASED ON A FIVE-YEAR analysis and more than 200 comments on TwentyMajor's blog, my main blog will retire itself within another five years. That's what the downward slope from Statcounter suggests in the above screenshot. I opened my Typepad blog in mid-2003 and watched it ramp up in readership until 2007. It's been downhill ever since, smacked downwards by microblogs, YouTube, and other ambient streams. But that makes my blog a perfect set piece for the web analytics module I teach in Tipperary Institute. During 12 weeks in the classroom, we'll explore how to plumb the ambient streams that can help reverse my downslide. And we'll test drive several analytics packages that may help finger exact strategies. As a bonus, I'll pay students for consultancy services that actually work to reverse the downward slope shown by my blog's statistics.

Techcrunch -- "The Dawning of Ambient Streams" 20 Dec 09.

Twenty Major -- "On Irish Blogging Being 'over'" and some lively commentary on 5 Jan 10.


2010 Pocket-Sized Predictions

Kudos to ClarionI'M NO VISIONARY, but I have a mobile-fueled lifestyle that qualifies me to offer some predictions for 2010. Regular readers know I update my blog as often from my mobile phone as I do from a desktop. It might not be obvious that I make many decisions while walking and riding, not pointing and clicking at a desk. Given that perspective, I have seen some mobile features emerge that allow me to confidently predict developments in the way people will use mobile devices to enrichen their experience while underway. Location-based services will evolve to entice potential customers into doorways and to convert those visitors into revenue. There are quantifications of these mobile experiences worth reviewing, privacy issues and an evolution in social networking that has already started to occur.

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Work Placement to Develop Primary School Material

10000 FacesTWENTY GRADUATES of technology or teacher-training college couirses are to gain work placement positions in Microsoft Ireland to help develop digital material for primary and post-primary school curriculum. The graduates will work with the National Centre for Technology in Education. Their work supports the integration of ICT into teaching and learning. They will be employed under the Government's graduate back-to-work programme which allows them to retain their social welfare entitlements during the nine month placement. This news interests a large swath of our creative multimedia graduates (some pictured at right) because all of them have proven expertise in the production of e-learning material.
Microsoft Ireland works with Ireland's Education Alliance.

Sent mail-to-blog using Nokia E90 O2-Typepad service in O Tuama's cafe, Clonmel, County Tipperary, Ireland.