Greenwashing Iran

Posted by | Uncategorized, xml | 3 Comments


[ Andrew Sullivan posts a Churchill style Victory V, to symbolize Obama’s response to Iran. Unfortunately, it’s shown from the back, and where Churchill comes from this means “fuck off”. ]

Twitterers are twatting, 10 a second, in breathless support of Iranian democracy, painting little icons green and spewing vapid, cliche ridden, 140 character essays which represent the general level of depth and understanding of Persian politics.

The general train of thought seems to be this – we have democracy, democracy is good, Iranians want democracy, Mousavi says he represents democracy, he must be good.

Except nothing is quite that simple.

The Iranian election results are weird, and they look rigged in the details. In the overall outcome, however, they do not look rigged – Mousavi was always way behind even in polls by neutral foreign observers.

Mousavi may indeed look like the moderate, but these things are relative. He may not have called for the extermination of Israel in the manner of his odious opponent, but he was involved in killing 30,000 political opponents, supporting the US Embassy hostage taking and Prime Minister of a repressively religious regime. Sure, he might be reformed, but resumes with their listings of past achievements are important when looking for a job at McDonalds let alone running a country.

But then again, the Khomeini regime was put in place in ’79 by majority will, to replace a brutally repressive and corrupt secular dictator, the Shah. On one level it was a triumph of a democracy, on another it was a democratic installment of the anti-democratic, as happened tragically in Algeria. Democratic election of the undemocratic is to tolerate intolerance.

The Shah was put there by the US and UK. A democratic Iran would not be a triumph of America bringing democracy to the world and more than it would be a triumph against America and the UK who paid street gangs with bundles of cash to beat the crap out of people and start the coup which ousted the democratically elected leader in the 50s. Coincidentally, it was my former room mate’s father who organized the coup.

Perhaps the twatting is understandable, Iran, after all, has a notably young population gagging for reform and Mousavi seems up for it. But unless you are Iranian the sentimental support on social networks normally remarkable for their transient superficiality smacks of fashion rather than reason, like sticking a Che Guevara poster on a dorm room wall.

In particular lets not get carried away as Andrew Sullivan does for The Atlantic:

“The rejection of al Qaeda in Iraq and Afghanistan; the ground-up election of Obama in America; and now the rising up of Iranians for freedom and civility with their neighbors: these are the green shoots of recovery from 9/11 and its wake”.

These are pendulum cycles, and elsewhere like in Britain, Holland, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria etc. they are swinging back to the right. This is not an Obama trend and if it were it wouldn’t represent an American trend because the American influenced trend in the region is not democracy.

A more sober Tweet might be: we have democracy (but we took it away from Iran), democracy is good (unless you elect anti-democratic people), Iranians want democracy (Iran has elected un-democratic people before), Mousavi says he represents democracy (he didn’t used to), he must be good (if you believe what he says now rather than did in the past).

But, of course, you can’t say something like that in 140 characters.

In the end these things are relative, as the image at the top of Sullivan’s post, accidentally and ironically shows. It displays two fingers, painted green, in a Churchill style Victory V under the heading “Obama’s Response”.

Unfortunately it is photographed from the back, which, where Churchill came from, traditionally means “fuck off”.

OPML and iCal

Posted by | xml | No Comments
Am wondering: Is there a format for lists of iCalendar file subscriptions - seems like an ideal thing to use OPML for? What's the best way to include links and images in syndicated iCal.
Read More

Weblogs.com should be the defaut ping server

Posted by | xml | No Comments
Blogrolling has opened up its own ping server, instead of reading Weblogs.com to alert updates. I think this is unfortunate, if ping servers become a Balkanized mess this will cause confusion. One solution may be to federate the Weblogs.com server much like DNS, i.e. have updates propagate through a network but have Weblogs.com become the top of the tree. I can't see any objection to this since weblogs.com is open and allows xml access. The Weblogs.com ping server is potentially a crucially important piece of the web's infrastructure. Blogrolling allows pings Update - Dave writes that Weblogs.com can indeed be federated.
Read More

A clean headline is the basis for all ‘syndicatable’ content

Posted by | xml | No Comments
The web works with hyperlinks - and hyperlinks that have some explanation work best. For news, the age-old headline provides perfect text for a link and headlines are specifically created to whet the appetite for more information. One of the central problems that developers will need to work around for blogging multimedia files is how to create meaningful links. For example the Audblog system that lets you dial a number, record a message and post it to your weblog leaves links that don't say anything about the content, and for good reason, this is very difficult. There are 3 solutions: Automatic text summarization of a sound file (Autonomy can do this - but the results are unreliable). Prompted voice recognition of a spoken title (and these systems 'just love my accent'). Keying in a title (difficult on a cellphone). Despite the difficulties, a clean headline is the basis for all...
Read More

Blogging MMS

Posted by | xml | No Comments
Aha - so MMS uses SMIL. "This is a multi-part message in MIME format. ------ Content-type: multipart/related; boundary="Boundary_(ID_p5GD6C2ojYJObmQ605bMrg)"; type="application/smil"; start="" " azeem.azhar.co.uk:
Read More

Tim Bray on RSS

Posted by | xml | No Comments
Where Next for RSS? Tim Bray, co-creator of XML sees the future of RSS consumption as moving from standalone clients to being built directly into browsers. "this stuff just belongs in the browser" I see the issue as being client v. server side. Although RSS readers are currently very useful, they are akin to client side Usenet readers that were built into browsers and email clients. As the volume of RSS grows, I would rather use a web based interface to RSS in the same way that I now use Google to read newsgroups.
Read More

The ‘view source’ test

Posted by | xml | No Comments
Jon Udell: "Service advertisement techniques such as UDDI are not likely to pass the View Source test ". XML and Web Services in particular are designed for machine to machine communication, but, as Jon rightly points out, their success ironically depends on human readability. Udell: Services and links
Read More

Faceted Metadata – is XFML restrictive?

Posted by | xml | No Comments
Faceted metadata is very interesting. The notion of dynamic taxonomies and adaptive search criteria is very important for news databases where topics and attributes change much more rapidly than general search engines. For Moreover this is a crucial area. I am less sure about XFML led by Peter Van Dijk, where the serialization of topics and facets seems to only allow 2 levels of hierarchy i.e. don't see how you can have subfacets of facets or subtopics of topics. Now it is true that you don't stricly need hierarchy beyond facet -> topics, but you get bloat, rather like flat file databases. Someone correct me if I am wrong. dive into mark: XFML XFML home
Read More