Weiter geht’s auf mathiaspicker.net

August 11, 2020

mathiaspicker.net, in deutsch…

Clojurescript and Om/react: a great combo!

March 21, 2014

I recently started working on http://omanimali.net/ (if your german is no longer fluent, the tagline means “Passports for cuddly toys”, some fun idea of a friend of mine 😉

I hadn’t worked on a public web site in a long time, and really never with client-side technology, e.g. Javascript.

Luckily, my current go-to language, clojure, has a twin which compiles to javascript, the aptly named clojurescript. It’s a lisp dialect running in-browser, with repl, really nice libraries, csp-styled channels (think goroutines) and more.

And the indefatigable David Nolen created om, a wrapper-cum-enhancement for facebook’s react, so I had something to use for the UI.

This combination was a joy to work with: I had only passing aquaintance with Javascript, none with react, and only a beginning draft of understanding clojure, but I build a simple oder page with validation, voucher input and dynamic price display in 10 days or so. Including storage in a rdf databse (virtuoso) and image download, scaling and cropping.

So, if you think about using clojure/script to do web development work: go for it! Even om, still being alpha, was elegangly designed, robust and well enough documented to give me a running start.

Protected: Political Participation through MOOC?

March 14, 2013

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Time management by feedback?

February 16, 2013

Many time management programs tell you to keep a log of your activities for one week, to get an idea of how you actually manage your time, instead of how you think that you use your time. What if one doesn’t stop?

My experience with biofeedback and version control systems (yes, quite different, but both giving feedback) shows me that the feedback and intention alone will  change my behaviour. No complicated system needed.

Maybe my recent experience at the  Munich Quantified Self Show & Tell #6 nudged me into thiniking about this. Especially all the material I read afterwards. Like keeping a mood log, and what that could do for your emotional stability.

So, what will happen if I log my activities and accomplishments continuously? No system behind it, just “log it, look at it and compare it with how i would have wanted to spend the day”. The mobile makes this so easy:  just log my actions now in a simple text file, one line per entry with time, date, maybe hours spent and a description per activity and/or accomplishment. This basically is (can be seen as)  a quantified self idea…

I’m curious in what ways this will influence me. Will it actually change how I use my time? Thrilling!

Introspection through Extrospection?

February 11, 2013

John Berson mentioned the term “Extrospection” today in a talk at the Show & Tell #6 of the Munich Quantified Self Meetup Group.

In contrast to introspection, it names the knowledge gained through external sensors, sensors that record and show you your bodily processes. (This interpretation is wholly mine, if I’m totally wrong it’s my fault and not Josh’s…)

Which brings me to my thoughts on the matter: what use can this extrospection have? Why? What for?

In my Quest (yeah, capital Q!) to control my blood pressure, which is not classically treatable, I found that we do not use our internal sensory apparatus all that well. By going through a series of experiments with NLP, meditation, breath exercises, self hypnosis and biofeedback with and without external sensors I am now pretty good at gauging my blood pressure (well, I know pretty whell when it’s “to high” ;), and I start to get good in controlling it. I’m even discovering that this process is starting to habituate, to run wether I concentrate on controlling my blood pressure or not.

To get here, I discovered I just needed to trust my “to high” feeling and to take a 15  minutes time to get it down. But it took me a long time to do this without actually measuring my blood pressure with an external sensor, and to allow me to excuse me out of allmost any situation to tend to my health.

And as a boon I found out that I also do not need external input to know when I’m sleepy. I just need to trust my internal senses and to act on it 😉

And maybe that’s it. That’s what makes external sensors so eminently likeable: in our world, “objective” data is so eminently more trustable than bodily signals. Or, even: “feelings”.

How dare you act on a feeling. Prove that your body needs [sleep|exercise|food|whatever], now! And no talking of some silly feeling of being hungry. It’s not time for it, look at your watch!! And that’s something we probably say to ourselves, our upbringing taught quite a few of us these mantras. And in our working life, they are happily reinforced and amplified. Don’t trust you judgement, we need data. Which often is just an invention, trust me on this, I did some creative invention in my time 😉

So I feel somewhat uneasy of where this extrospection might lead. It’s a great tool, but going more in the “objective” data direction feels wrong for me. OTOH, I can see many interesting and helpful results obtained from the collected data. So, interesting times ahead 😉

Damn. All this sounds like I didn’t enjoy the meeting. Which is quite wrong:

I really liked the talk and the meeting a lot. I even intend to partake in quantified self experiments. But I had to get this out.

Stay tuned for a more positive outlook on some of the ideas Josh mentioned in his talk, it was really first rate!

Knowledge Based Server

February 6, 2013

I’m again thinking of my old idea, a knowledge server.

What would be the minimal service I could envision? Will it be directed to the consumer of the site, or to the content creator?

Hmmm, the simplest thing directed to the user would be to tailor a page to the information scent the user is following. Since we have no user model at the first encounter with our user, all the server has is the search string via google. And from this the server might tailor the navigation around the main content to the possible paths the user might want to follow….


Designing support for the information architect and writer seems much more difficult. What services would they want? What do I want? Actually, I expect more work, just as it is more work to create the data model for a database. For a database I do this because I can get at the information in so many ways… Can I use this for a one-off thing like a thematic website? Or can I do this for “website”??

I’ll have to think some more about this, but tailoring the navigation to the user search seems a well defined goal, and maybe something where I can learn more about the services the author needs.

So, that’s my goal: create a server which tailors the page navigation to the google search string, plus maybe to the path the user navigates through the site. As a first guess I need a user model and a domain model and, maybe, a navigational / ui model.

And I will realise this using erlang and virtuoso, using n3 (really) as my meta language… Damn, I have to create an rdf lib for erlang 😦

Maybe use http://amine-platform.sourceforge.net/ as KB-layer?

Bind patent to industry innovation cycle

February 6, 2013

Patent valid for 4x innovation cycle. That means 4×0.5y = 2 years for it, 4×30 years = 120years. Oh my, that’s long 😉


February 6, 2013

Freshly found:

The word decision, closely related to incision, derives from the meaning ‘a cutting off’. Making effective decisions—and learning effectively—requires massive elimination and the removal of options.
—Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Chef

Why the “content” industry isn’t, and why the current “copyright” controversy is idiotic.

January 31, 2012

Why does most everyone love copying and does not feel any guilt about it?

Because the media industry never earned their money with producing content in the first place! The earned their money by distributing media! And that’s over!

Distribution is where all the revenue came from. And that’s what people, customer, end user, were willing to pay for. Because it’s  complex and pricey work: you need production facilities like  printing presses or vinyl or cd production facilities, you need distributors, everything has to be shipped, quality controlled, made known (yes, advertising can be a real service 😉 and all of this costs money, so it always felt right to pay for it.

Looking at the situation now, none of this is still necessary: production (copying), distribution (downloading) and advertising (social media, word-of-mouth), basically production and distribution  is in the hand of everybody, is available with machine everybody has anyway, and costs nothing. So now it feels wrong to pay for it!

So all the fury about copyright laws, all the SOPA and ACTA initiatives is basically one thing: try to recreate a real-world business model that was killed by technology with judicial maneuvers, and I’m quite certain that this will not work for an extended time. In the end, the law bows to reality, and the reality of it is: that business model is gone for good!

All the licensing and copyright models they try to uphold now are mostly business-to-business tools to control the redistribution of the considerable wealth that could be earned in the distribution business. It was never targeted at end users. And for end users, I think it’s a silly concept.

And yes, the media industry did produce content, to increase the profits to be made in distribution, content never was the source of the money! Just because they had such a real-life clampdown on the distribution that they could start to put big money in content production, it was never the other way round, that someone put millions of dollars to produce some nice feature film and then though: “well, how can I bring this to the masses, oh, wait a minute, how do I earn money with this?” The money came from the the real life cinema, or the dvd, cd or book  in our hands. And most of that is gone, as is the money that came with it.

And in the end, law follows the real world. It lags, it may take struggle, it may be painful, but law does not run completely counter real world processes. And the real world says there is no longer any physical base beneath that old business model, so there is no longer the same amount of money to be made. The production of media and the distribution is now basically free, and it will stay so. And no lawsuit will change that. The media industry will go the way of many industries or workers made superfluous by technology, they will need to adjust, and they will never again be as big as they where in their heydays.

Some of this can be seen in the advent of live shows and cinemas, where distribution is still well controlled, where there is actual cost in producing and running it, where people willingly pay, sometimes obscene amounts of money, and where producer actually earn things.

And some of it can be seen in megaupload: people still gladly pay for the distribution, but only what they deem fair in the new technological setting.There is money in this, only a lot less than there was in the old days of physical media. And yes, that probably means there will be less money to produce big shows and films, and more small producer going alone. Actually, I think that we see more and better art because of this.

At least in the US there is some sign of change, Netflix and Hulu show some of what is acceptable, a modest monthly fee for easy and high-speed access to most everything. But even they still have only a small fraction of what is available, and they’re us-only, because of “licensing”. Which is just a business-to-business concept and of no use to the consumer. I want my show now,  not in a few years after big business has finished their licensing and localizing deals.

Kopieren ist menschlich

January 31, 2012

Kinder lernen, indem sie uns nachahmen. Schüler lernen, indem sie nachahmen, was vor Jahrzehnten von anderen entdeckt wurde, Kunststudenten lernen, gerade anfangs, indem sie andere nachahmen. Und nachahmen ist ein netteres Wort für kopieren.

Menschen (na gut, alle Primaten) haben sogar eigene Gehirnzellen, die zu nichts anderem gut sind als dazu, die Aktionen anderer nachzu”äffen”: Spiegelneuronen.

Ohne die Fähigkeit zu kopieren hätten wir nichts gelernt, könnten wir nichts lernen. Ohne zu kopieren wären wir keine Menschen.

Ohne Kopieren keine Renaissance, kein Historismus, keine klassische Musik, kein Blues. Wenn es “früher” die heute oft als erstrebenswert angesehenen Copyright- und Lizenzregeln gegeben hätte hätten wir keine Häuser, keine Zuchtvieh, keinen Hammer, kein gar nichts.

Kopieren ist sozial.

Copyright und Lizenzhandel sind einzig und allein sinnvoll, um Geld zu verteilen, das beim kommerziellen verbreiten von geschütztem Material verdient wird. Es sind geschäftliche Konzepte. B2B, wie es im denglischen so schön heißt. B2C macht Copyright keinen Sinn, ist sogar schädlich und unsozial. Wie sollen wir lernen, wenn wir nicht kopieren dürfen?

Und wie kann man mit dem “Verbreiten” von geschütztem Material Geld verdienen? Nun, bisher durch die Produktion und Verbreitung von physischen Medien: Buch, Film, DVD, CD, Schallplatte. Doch das ist vorbei: jeder hat heute die nötigen Produktions- und Distributionsmittel um Medien millionenfach zu kopieren und zu verbreiten, im Grunde ohne Geld- und Zeiteinsatz. Die realwirtschaftliche Grundlage dafür ist zerstört.

Und damit – bis eine neue Grundlage für das Geldverdienen gefunden wird – lässt sich mit Copyright langsam immer weniger Geld verdienen.

Und der versuch, die verschwundene realwirtschaftliche Basis (Druck- oder DVD-pressen, Distributoren, Spediteure, Material) durch reine Gesetze zu ersetzen, wird nicht funktionieren. Schlussendlich richtet sich das Gesetzt zumindest grob an der Realität aus. Und die Realität ist: das Geschäftsmodell ist verschwunden, verduftet, perdü.