FLOSS Weekly 719 Transcript
Please be advised this transcript is AI-generated and may not be word for word. Time codes refer to the approximate times in the ad-supported version of the show.
Doc Searls (00:00:00):
This is FLOSS Weekly. I'm Doc Searls. And this week Dan Lynch and I talked to Pete Kaminsky, who was on last August, talking about massive Wiki, which is this cool thing that he does. He's one of the old heads on the subject of Wikis, but he covers so much more. This may have been or may be going into it, the deepest show we've ever done. Pete is a really interesting dude. You really have to hear this show, and that is coming up. Next.
Podcasts you love from people you trust is TWiT.
Doc Searls (00:00:40):
This is FLOSS Weekly, episode 719. Recorded Wednesday, February 15th, 2023. Let the Wiki win. This episode of FLOSS Weekly is brought to you by Kolide. That's Kolide with a k Kolide is a device trust solution that ensures that if a device isn't secure, it can't access your apps, it's zero trust For Okta, visit Kolide.com/floss and book a demo today. Hello again, everyone everywhere. I am Doc Searls. This is FLOSS Weekly, and I am joined this week from Liverpool. I assume Dan Lynch himself and there and there he is. Yeah,
Dan Lynch (00:01:27):
I am. I am in on the outskirts of Liverpool. Well, yeah, I'm here coming in across the water.
Doc Searls (00:01:33):
<Laugh> a lot of, lot of water across the waves. <Laugh> Yeah.
Dan Lynch (00:01:37):
Radio and Undo otherwise.
Doc Searls (00:01:38):
Yeah. Yeah. So, so, so how are you doing?
Dan Lynch (00:01:42):
I'm good, thank you. Yeah, how are you?
Doc Searls (00:01:43):
Good. I'm, yeah, I'm good. I'm, I'm in my new, my new layer here. You look
Dan Lynch (00:01:48):
A bit like people listening on the audio. I should say you look a bit like you're underground. There's a lot of stuff
Doc Searls (00:01:52):
We are. I I am underground. This is oh, right, cool. This is this is a basement of a, a house built in 1899, which is modern in, in, in England, in uk I know. And but old here. And that's limestone walls that you see there. And this is this town, Bloomington, Indiana was in the limestone business for a very long time. It was a famous movie in 1979 that came out called breaking Away, which I highly recommend. It's a great movie. It, teenage Coming of Age movie. And and the house the kid lived in was one like this. So when you see that house in that movie, you'll see a house like this one. They built many workers, cottages, they called them, but the, the the quarry operators and the big furniture company that was here at the time went out of their way to make sure that there were nice houses for their workers.
But people wanting to restore these houses to their original condition would have to put the privy outback and have no closets, because closets then were all separate things that you rolled around or dragged from, you know, a wardrobe, for example. You know, like the lion, the witch, and the know we're, you know, in play places like this. So it's it has a lot of old <laugh>, old house charm <laugh>, which is to say it's been fixed so many times and has so many layers of stuff. And there're walls you can't nail things into because they're <laugh>, they're, they're hard plaster on laugh. Oh, yeah. Right. Or Yeah. Or their, or their plaster and laugh, meaning that if you, if you drive a nail to that, you'll chip out a, you know, a hug of wall Uhhuh, <affirmative>. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative> two inches wide, get a drill. Anyway, so Got
Dan Lynch (00:03:28):
Doc Searls (00:03:29):
Yeah. So, so you were saying earlier, you actually listened to the last show we did with Pete Convinced I did.
Dan Lynch (00:03:35):
I, I, I watched it today. I watched it today. So I'm gonna be quoting all things to you both that you said, what, five, six months ago, as if you just said them,
Doc Searls (00:03:44):
<Laugh>. Well, things are happening fast. So I wanna, I wanna revisit some of those things. Uhhuh <affirmative>. So, so let's welcome to the show. This is Peter Kaminski who I know from way back when, I think when you were at Social Text, right? You were the
Peter Kaminski (00:03:58):
I at least that early. Yeah,
Doc Searls (00:04:00):
At least that far. And yeah. And, and Pete's always like the, the wisest person in the room, and usually the smartest as well. And I, I, there's a list we're both on where every so often people weigh in and everybody will kind of go quiet because he says, or, or, or say Amen. And then like, ask him some more questions. Kind of like the, if you look at, if you know Dune, he's kind of our mentor. There are lots of smart people on that, on that list as well. So, so, so, so we talked about massive Wiki last time, mostly, I guess, which is your creation. So why don't you fill this in on what, what that is, and then maybe what the Delta is between last time and this time?
Peter Kaminski (00:04:43):
Sure thing massive Wiki is a a easy way to organize and, and collaborate on text-based information. So things that you, you write you can write with many people. And it's also a wiki. So the, the, the things that Wiki gives you easy editing easy linking between pages and the, in the information space that all works. One of the things that's new is this website it's improved since last time. We thought it's a little bit more organized and, and a little bit more up to date. Massive Wiki is almost two years old, and and the, the version that we saw last show was some of that stuff was pretty much ancient. So this is a lot better, a lot more descriptive and a lot less confusing.
Doc Searls (00:05:43):
Excellent. Yeah. And massive wiki, just so we know. Go ahead, Dan. Yeah,
Dan Lynch (00:05:46):
No, yeah, yeah. Massive.Wiki. Yeah, that's the website. I had a look today. It looks great. One thing I, I wanted to ask about Peter, since watching the, the previous show is do you think I mean, we were gonna, we're probably gonna get into this as we go along, just for the, the benefit of people who don't know. We had a little email exchange before talking about AI and the famous chat, G P T and all these other similar things. But a lot of the last show was about collaboration and encouraging people to collaborate which is kind of what you, well, well, it is what you're doing with, with massive Wiki and, and seems to be a big part of your philosophy. Do you think in some way we're gonna be collaborating with computers in that way? Could we see it less as a kind of evil overlord and more of another collaborator that we might engage with?
Peter Kaminski (00:06:30):
The, the people I know who are, are using chatty PT effectively right now are essentially collaborating with it. I, I would say that it's gonna be, it. The, the thing I really love about humans working together and wikis in particular is that it, it feels good and people come up with new ideas that you wouldn't have thought of. And they, they work differently than you do. So you, you come to sign kind of an agreement of how to work together. It, it reminds me a little bit we, we have too, too few opportunities, I think, in our society for actually working together with people and, and making decisions about how we do things. The, the, I think an almost universal experience for people is collaborating with your family either when you're a kid working with, you know, your siblings and your parents, or vice versa when you're a parent having, having your kids and working with them.
Some of the most fun things in my life were the way, the ways that our kids would come up with words or use words in a slightly clever way and different way, or a different word. And, you know, the whole family would pick up a, a different way of working together. Wikis, kind of remind me of that. Something like an ai doesn't have that. It's, it's funny, I was gonna say, it doesn't have that spark of creativity. I, I find that it's a, it's kind of a, a misunderstanding about AI is that they're not creative chat, g p t or, or the image generator, stable diffusion or, or Dolly or mid journey. They're, they're very creative. Not in the way that a a person is creative, though, I guess they, you know, they're, they're mixing and matching a a bunch of stuff that they've seen and, and remember, but not, not yet in the surprising and heartful ways, soulful ways that, that people do mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So,
Dan Lynch (00:08:38):
Yeah, they're kind of remixing aren't, and that's, at least the way I understand it, they take, they have a huge database of, of knowledge of stuff that they've been trained on, as they call it, in that world, and then they remix, that kind of stuff. But I was thinking earlier today about the fact that, I suppose, to some degree, it's only the same as what I do as a human. I mean, if I, I relate lots of things to music mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. So if I play the guitar, for example, I'm remixing the ca, the G chord, the de chord, the whatever chords that I've learned from my database of knowledge and kind of putting them in a and sometimes in the same sequences, other things I've heard, because I know that works well. So there's even that, it goes down to that level. So I suppose we're all remixed to some degree.
Peter Kaminski (00:09:16):
Definitely. and, and the AI are really good at that. And I've seen them do surprising things. They, they, they will constantly surprise me with the way that they put something novel together asking it a joke or telling it to, to make an image or something like that. It will come up with things that I think are novel that haven't been seen before. The, maybe a difference is that there's a feedback loop that people have. It's like you know, you're, you're playing some chords on your guitar or your, or your keyboard or something like that mm-hmm. <Affirmative> mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. And you hear things that are a little bit different and novel, and you go, wow, I like that. That was fun. Let me do that again. Let me make some variations on that. The, the creativity that the ais have now they'll, they'll accidentally stumble across something, but then they don't know what they've found. They don't know if it's good or bad or whatever. So the, the combination, we, we are seeing people in combination with ais. You know, the AI will come up with something and then the person will say, Hey, go more in that direction, or take that and, and mash it up with this other thing. So you still have to have that, the person in the loop to judge whether or not it's interesting and, and, and cool, I guess.
Dan Lynch (00:10:31):
Hmm. Yeah, definitely. So they, they don't quite have taste or, or, I dunno, maybe they do have two that's probably unfair, but they don't, they don't have the taste in the way that we understand it. Should we saying maybe that's the next stage in ai that that kind of un you know, has, has very distinct views on certain types of music. I don't know that could happen. So on a kind of technical level, I was thinking about, I was talking to someone earlier about the whole challenge of, of the, the wiki kind of paradigm, if you like, the Wiki kind of world and the way we use them. And we've talked you talked a lot on the last show about how you know, moderating in what people do. I mean, you men mentioned, I know you guys talked about Wikipedia.
It's kind of the elephant in the room, but I know you're not specifically here to talk about that, don't we? But one of the big things that an doc was saying on that show was that it doesn't feel as collaborative, or it doesn't feel like a community or so on. And one, one thing I was thinking about was the security kind of implementation implications, sorry, of something like something like a generative AI that could generate I don't know, say false or, or misleading information and, and kind of, you know, a great volume and hammer it at a, a kind of wiki or any kind of site like that. Do you think that's something that people will have to contend with in future? Possibly some, like, people who are maintaining things like wikis?
Peter Kaminski (00:11:49):
There's, I there's kind of a, there's kind of two answers to that. One of them is that the first one is that, that wikis nowadays are, are not not openly collaborative, publicly collaborative. In the early days of Wiki, it was very common to go to a Wiki website and anybody could, you know, edit and, and put in whatever they wanted to. And one of the, the surprising things that we found was that there was a, a saying, my social tech co-founder had a saying and, and it was a, a common kind of thing that it was easier to delete spam, for instance, than it was to than it was to, to add spam. That was true when people were spamming wikis by hand. It didn't take too long for people to automate spamming wikis and mm-hmm. <Affirmative>,
That, that whole thing, it, it went away. So it won't be the case that you'll have a, an ai or, or even a person using an AI is probably the more mm-hmm. <Affirmative> common case. Yeah. it won't be the case that they'll have a direct access to to a, a wiki. It'll be access controlled so that the, you know, that that stuff just won't happen. I, so then another part of the answer to your question is that definitely especially with chat G P T, you can see it's so conversational and so, so easy. It, it writes so easily whether or not it's, it knows it's correct or not, it's just writing and it's, it's fun to, to, you know, read what it's writing. We're definitely going to see people driving it to create all kinds of misinformation and disinformation and things that things that aren't real, that seem real.
Same thing with, with images. It, it's a little bit, we've, you know, we've had we've, we've seen dis automated disinformation for years and years already. It's not a new thing. It's, it's gotten, I, it may be a, a way to think about the, the new ais is they're kind of democratizing that process. It used to be that you had to be a, a big fancy research firm to shove a, a lot of disinformation through, or, or a big government or something like that, to shove a lot of disinformation through Facebook. Now, now, anybody would be able to generate the same amount of bs. But we're, we're gonna have to figure out how that works. I, you know, it's a, it's a tricky problem. But it's I, I guess, you know, it's, it's a gift of the, the age.
Dan Lynch (00:14:31):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. Yeah. I, I, I just noticed in our chat room here, I, I've got a quote chicken Head 21 who's listening and watching Hello says, let the Wiki win. That's a hand solo quote, apparently <laugh> <laugh>, which I thought we might appreciate. It just popped off of my screen and it kind of made me chuckle <laugh> let the Wiki win <laugh>. Excellent. So I was looking at I, I was looking at a massive Wiki area today, and having to kind play around with it. And it, it's, it's a great idea to have the stuff kind of distributed. And funny if I was doing this as I was watching your interview from last time on another screen, and I kept thinking of questions, and then you kept answering them as I was, you know, watching, which was interesting. But one of the things I found was interesting, it, it's kind of something that people may not understand, is it's kind of, well, it's distributed in that everybody has their own copy of the whole, the whole wiki, cuz you're using GI for that. Yeah. what kind of advantages does that, does that bring
Peter Kaminski (00:15:30):
I think that's a really good question.
One of the things is, is kind of a sense of ownership. You, you know, that I don't have to rely on a server somewhere up in the cloud. As soon as I've synced, then I've got the, the whole thing, and I can do whatever I want with it. If I never got connected back to the internet, I'd still have it. So, and that, that feels different than, you know, we share this thing in the cloud. Having your own personal copy of it makes it feel different. Fed Wiki, by the way, is, is another project by Word Cunningham. He's doing some cutting edge research on, on how to how you know, the next version of, of Wiki. And he's got a thing called Fed Wiki. So every time you edit a Wiki, it, it kind of does something similar.
It doesn't copy the, kind of, does copy the whole wiki, I guess. But so ownership is one. Definitely. I think another, another thing I ki, I don't know if I should worry about this or not worry about this, but it makes me feel good that it's an outcome of it. I think massive wikis are gonna be really resilient against catastrophe. You know, in the, in the zombie apocalypse, if everybody's made a copy of the, the massive Wiki, they don't have to rely on you know, the, the central servers being up or, you know, metro electricity if they've still got a copy on their raspberry pie and, you know, some solar power they've still got access to the whole thing. And then they can still, it's, it's built to be easily shareable. Even without gi you can still share the files or you could even print it out on paper and still read it, and it would still make sense. So it's, it's kind of future proof in a way. And, and I like that too.
Doc Searls (00:17:21):
So I, well, I'm sort of piling up the questions here myself, but first I have to let everybody know that this episode of FLOSS Weekly is brought to you by Kolide. That's Kolide with a K Kolide is a device trust solution that ensures unsecured devices can't access your apps. Kale is a big news. If you're an Okta user, Kolide can get your entire fleet to 100% compliance. Kolide patches one of the major holes in Zero Trust architecture, that's device compliance. Think about it. Your identity provider only lets known devices log into apps. But just as a device is known doesn't mean it's in a secure state. In fact, plenty of devices in your fleet probably shouldn't be trusted. Maybe they're running on and out of date os or maybe they've got unencrypted credentials lying around. If your device isn't compliant or isn't running the Kolide agent, it can't access the organization's SaaS, apps or other resources.
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Visit Kolide.com/floss to learn more, or book a demo. That's K O L I D e.com/floss. Okay. So, so Pete, when you were talking about ward Cunningham an award, by the way, for people who don't know, I think most of our listeners probably do, but some might not created the whole Wiki concept, the, the original Wiki way back when. And and, and Pete was involved in one of the first companies making and making use of that. And but but where is Fed Wiki? I, I, I, I frantically went around looking to find it, I found stuff on GitHub, but where, if people wanna find Fed Wiki, where, where should that look work?
Peter Kaminski (00:20:08):
That's a good question. Fed.Wiki.Org works, and then ward and a, a crew of fed Wiki folks are also on Matrix, and they've got a good active check going there.
Doc Searls (00:20:24):
Okay. That's cool. There's so several different ways I could take this, but I, I is there, will there ever, this, this is kind of a very selfish question on my part, because I'm, I'm a sort of medium active Wikipedia editor, meaning one of the first <laugh> cartoons I ever saw, it was a cartoon. It was a story in The Onion when they were still print. And it was said, it said like, back in 1995 error found on internet <laugh>. You know, so, and I'm one of those people, I'm a born editor, so I wanna, I want to edit things. You know, there's a misplaced mofi, there's a dangling part of Simple, that tense isn't right. Wait a minute. There's something new there. And I'll, and I'll edit, I'll edit Wikipedia pages. It's a bear, it's really hard, you know, and, and and my own page, I have one there. Of course I can't self-edit on it, but other people want to edit on it or try to improve it, but they can't because they're all of these really UI issues. Is there hope for that? I, I, I know they have a kind of a you know, a, a low kind of a, a low skill version of, of, of, of editing there. But if you wanna do the real thing, you have to get into, into their actual editing system. So, is there hope
Peter Kaminski (00:21:47):
For Wikipedia in particular, or for Wikis in general? Yeah,
Doc Searls (00:21:51):
No, for Wikipedia in particular. Anything else based on media Wiki, I guess, which is the, the
Peter Kaminski (00:21:56):
Yeah. Editing system. You know, I haven't, I haven't played around with the Easy Editor on, on Media Wiki for a while. I, I actually don't know. <Laugh>. it's, they've, they've got a lot of legacy source, you know Wiki, Wiki markup media, wiki markup stuff. Yeah. Yeah. And it's a challenge to keep the number of pages that they've got kind of up and running with new editing stuff. So it, there's kind of a, a trade off, you know making it, making it easier versus making it compatible. And you know, I, I think the, the people who contribute to Wikipedia maybe it's, it, it's kind of a bad thing, but maybe it's kind of also not a bad thing. If there's a bit of a learning curve to, to get really good at it. So
Doc Searls (00:22:50):
Yeah, <laugh>, there's, I notice one of the common hacks on it is if a, if one team beats another team and one player stands out, somebody will jump in on the defeated teams page and say, so-and-so is the owner of the Boston Celtics, or So and so owns Man United. Right. You know, so Uhhuh <laugh>. Anyway. which are relatively easy things to do. I, I, I wanna go back into something, one of the kind of one-liners, not even a one-liner, but, but you dropped that, the that wikis are not wikis, oh boy, I'm jumping the tracks there. But AI is, can be creative and is creative. And I've noticed this a play with chat G P T, which I can't get into in the last two or three days, cuz it's busy. But even with perplexity Diet ai, which I've come to love and a and a and a, and I'm just, and that's the, the, the actual URL perplexity ai I don't know if it go, it uses G P T three or four or whatever, whatever it is, is doing, but it gives you sources and answers your question.
And, and for a lot of search, like my wife had a, spent a lot of time on, on Amazon looking for cushions. She was looking for cushions for, for an antique bench we have that we acquired for nothing at a garage sale. And and couldn't find anything through Google or Bing. Bing has this kind of, kind of, actually, I looked at it kind of a fakey front end with, hey, it's kinda like chat G P t asking a question gives you an answer, then it just gives you a big garbage up page that has, that sits of a whole lot of graphics and stuff that sit on top of this same old search results. And, but if in fact, I can't find, let's just going to search for a second. I don't mean to filibuster, but search is deprecated, badly deprecated right now as somebody's been writing on a web for over 25 years.
I know this because I have old stuff that I put Easter eggs in, so I would know that Google found them. They're gone. They, they, they don't find old stuff. And there are links that go to those things. The entirety of Linux Journal is still online. It goes back to 1994. It's all in H T M L. It all has, you know, un 4 0 4 URLs, most of that, a lot of that stuff Google and Bing are not gonna find because they've got rid of page rank and they're looking at something else. Now, I guess it's currency or some buzz or some other thing. But if we ask Pres perplexity ai, it'll find them. Maybe you'll find a TWiT a a tweet pointing to it or something. And my wife found two wonderful links that got her to the cushions, to making the somebody custom make the cushions that she wants, did it in two minutes with perplexity ai.
But you don't get the same answer every time. I mean, it's creative that way. If you ask it the same question twice, once on another browser, it's different. So where I want to go with this and kind of probe your head about is how, how do we offload on AI and things like it. And I think we need many different nouns than we've had so far over there. Where we are not good at like long-term memory. We've computing's been fantastic for long-term memory for a long time. But how do we offload that and repetitive tasks and, and holding down non-recurring costs <laugh>, you know while at the same time maximizing what makes us most human and creative. I just wanna sort of probe your brain about that, and if you've thought about, I think you probably have thought about that.
Peter Kaminski (00:26:37):
Yeah, I, I think about that a lot. I, the there's, there's a bunch of hard trade-offs there. I, you know, first of all, one of the, one of the things that, one of the things I think about I thought a lot about it with chat G P t, is that we're still kind of at the tech demo stage of, you know, conversational AI in particular in chat G p T's case. I, I think a lot of people doc you and I have, have a, a friend in common, David and he and I were going back and forth about whether Tachi peti was you know dangerous because it wasn't telling the truth a lot of the times or if it was, you know, not David's point of view was that, you know, geez, if if this thing looks and smells and feels like a a fact machine, then it's, people are gonna think it's a fact machine.
And my position was more like, well, you can tell it's a tech demo. The, the CEO continually says it's not a very good product with, it's kind of a, you know, it's a early demo, it's a preview thing. It's, it's gotten hard to tell nowadays when thing, when something is done and when something is still in, in flux conversational AI is still in flux. It does a lot of stupid things. And yet it's also really helpful for sure for some things, and the fit and finish nowadays of, of products. I'm on this experimental messaging, you can't even call it a platform messaging set of protocols called Noster N O S T R a very experimental and a little bit dangerous and dangerous in ways that you don't know that they're, it's dangerous unless you, you're a pretty technical person.
Some of the, I've noticed some of the clients for Noster are very clean looking, very beautiful. Amethyst is, is is the one I use on Android, and it's beautiful. It's gorgeous. You can't tell from the look and feel of it that also super experimental. It's like flying in an airplane, you know, made out of bailing wire, <laugh> and Canvas. So chat PK, I feel is a little bit in the same same place where it looks so good and does so, so, so much that it's hard to, hard to think that it's not done. But I think, you know, it's gonna take a couple years for us to kind of really come around to how to use ai, what it's good for, what it's not good for how, how it helps us make sense how it's not dangerous. The, the thing you talk about with, with, you know, how much, like, how much stuff Google doesn't tell you that maybe perplexity is able to tell you.
It's a really hard judgment. It turns out to be a really hard problem when you have billions and billions and billions of pages of information to tell which of the ones, you know, which of the, a few dozen that, that, you know, if I were, if I were a magical superpower you know, which Feu doesn't, should I tell this person who's asking me a question? Are, are the important ones? I think I, I'm gonna give a quick plug for massive Wiki. Part of the, the answer is that something like massive wiki that makes putting webpages up and making links is going to be more important in, in this coming future, so that you can go, Hey, I trust, I trust Dan. If Dan's got a website that he links to about TWiT, or about Floss or about music, Dan is a person I'm gonna trust.
This kind of peer-to-peer trust and humans in the mix is something that we see. I'm on also on Mastodon Peter Kaminski at Tools for Thought Rocks. I'm on Mastodon, and you can see there that people talking to people instead of having an algorithm like TWiTter or an algorithm like Facebook, that peer to peer thing feels really good and it feels really useful, and it feels like humanity again, kind of rather than, you know, being part of this, you know, a a tiny cog in a big machine like TWiTter or Facebook. I think we're gonna see more and more of that. We're gonna see more decentralization. We're going to see more people trusting people rather than people trusting, you know, a billion people intermediated by a social network machine that doesn't really care about any of those people.
And it's a trade off. It's a big trade off. You know I, I know there are still things. I I am mostly off TWiTter now. It's, it's gotten hard to, hard for me to use just practically when they killed the third party clients. I use a third party client to read TWiTter, and it's like, okay, well, <laugh>, I guess I'm not reading TWiTter very much anymore. There's things I miss. You know, when I, when there's a big news event TWiTter is still the place for at least a little while to go to find out what's going on with the big news. If I want interaction or talking to people about stuff I care about. It turns out Macedon, even though I have much less reach there, much less global reach, I have a lot more semi-local distributed reach that's, that's really important to me.
And it's, it's cool. I feel like in, you know, 20, 25 years ago when we were talking about the web, it was really hard to imagine locality that wasn't geographic. But now it's really common for me on Macedon or Zoom to be talking with people around the world and we're, we have locality of, of topic and, and, you know, sentiment and people we like that locality feels natural now. And, and now with the pandemic, it's actually, that's the kind of locality where I hang out rather than in my geographic space. I get out a lot, thankfully. I, I live in beautiful San Diego. We have great weather, great places to, to hike and, and walk. So my wife and I are outside a lot, but we're not out, we're not with people in San Diego. We're with people across the world local through Zoom or through mouth of Wiki or through chat.
Dan Lynch (00:33:01):
Hmm. Yeah. That, that's a really interesting concept, Peter, the idea of being with people from, from a distance, obviously cause of the pandemic. And even before that we, I mean, we've been doing PHS for, you know, 15, 16 years, whatever it is. That idea of being with people remotely as as, as was around, but do you think that's gonna develop? Cause one of the things that I found really interesting recently, and it's not something I've, I've gotta be honest that I've looked into a lot, was people are talking a lot about the, the Metaverse and Metaverses, which doesn't just have to be related to Facebook, although they are obviously big in pushing. They've called themselves meta, they changed the name to Meta. So there you go. But a, apparently there are other, other metaverses out there. Do you think that kind of idea of having higher quality connection, if you like, with less people from a larger distance, if that makes sense, do you think that'll move into things like VR and, and, and AR and stuff like that? And, and the idea of, of, you know, we could, I dunno, play table tennis or something together, me and you, even though we're on different sides of the planet you know, virtually or something like that. Do you think that will affect how people interact and share information?
Peter Kaminski (00:34:07):
It's a, it's a good question. And I have to say that I'm not really an expert on AR and vr. I, I know that I, you know, it, it reminds me of video telephony, we used to call it back in the day. At and t was working on video phones, you know, in the early sixties, maybe even earlier. And for the longest time, for literally decades, it was a joke. You know, I, I'm, and I apologize to the folks that were working on it. I'm sure it didn't feel like a joke at the time, but it's like, you know, if I think back to the, you know, when I was around in the eighties or something like that, it was like, why would I ever talk to somebody on a television screen? That's silly. You know, handset is just fine.
It, it wasn't until I, I don't know what the magic sauce was that got us all on Zoom, and a lot of it was actually the, the push from the pandemic, but now it feels supernatural to be doing video conferencing. And I, you know, it's, it, it feels weird now to go into an, an office situation and work with people. Not that I don't love that. I, I am cautious and masks and stuff like that. But you know, nowadays it's like I get up in the morning and I log on and I'm, I lit. I have literally hours every week where I'm talking with people all around the world through, through Zoom or through other video conferencing, AR and VR kind of remind of the same thing. You know, it's, it's definitely a solution to something, but we don't know what the question is, what the, the problem is that it solves.
And, and I feel the same way. It's in the same way that I used to, you know, think that, that talking video telephony is a dumb idea. Aaron VR seem cool, but, you know, yeah, come on, what do I really use it for? You know? So I'm not sure mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. I, I think that the person to person connection, I think is going to be this is, you know, we've been talking about decentralization for a long time. I think the D web, things like that, it's starting to feel real and, and it, it's, it solves problems that now we can kind of talk about what problems it solves. The, the centrality of TWiTter, the centrality of Facebook is, is a big deal. It's not, it's good in a lot of ways, and it's really bad in a lot of other ways.
It's hard to give up some of that centrality sometimes when I'm, you know, working with distributed tools. And it's, you know, sometimes the distributed tools are dis decentralized, decent distributed. It's, it's, they're clunky sometimes, but I can tell it's the way, the way of the future that will have more purview with a smaller number of people rather than, you know, purview of billions of people and being a very small part of it. I, I think also this, and I, I don't mean to sound like a prepper or a survivalist or a dor, but it's hard not to notice that we've got a bunch of existential crises. Food production, food distribution, soil health clean water, climate change. It, it feels like we're going to end up in a lot of places where being able to work with the people around you, whether that's geographically around you or in the same watershed or around the same topic is gonna be an important skill and a survival skill for, you know, in the decades to come. So I think, I think it's the way of the future.
Dan Lynch (00:37:56):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, and we talk a lot on, on, given the nature of this show, it makes sense. But we talk a lot on this show about decentralized everything <laugh> really. But you mentioned there, there are good things about centralized or advanced, some advantages to centralized systems as well. What would those be, do you think?
Peter Kaminski (00:38:17):
There's a couple. One of them is reach being able to news, news for me, you know, I got, I, I started getting most of my news from TWiTter probably 5, 5, 8 years ago or something like that. And even though that stopped in the last six months having a, another example is Facebook, you know the reason to be on Facebook is because everybody else is on Facebook. Not just my colleagues who work on, on tech, but also my cousins and my second cousins and my third cousins, and the people I knew from high school. And, you know, the, the people who have got some local thing going on that I need to be part of the farmer's market or whatever. So that, that centrality, the, the, the number of people is a real, is a, is a real boon.
Another, another good and bad thing about CEN centralization is I I, and we feel this keenly with massive Wiki is user interface and training and things like that. If, if I need to tell somebody how to use Facebook, there aren't that many ways to use Facebook. Yeah. If I, if I wanna tell somebody how to use massive Wiki, it's like, well, do you wanna use obsidian or do you, would you rather use Pulsar editor? You know, there's a couple different ways to do gi we have to talk about which gi forge is the best git forage for you. Maybe it's GitHub, maybe it's maybe it's Koberg, maybe it's source hat, you know, it, and, and all of those decentralizations mean that not everybody's having the same experience. So on Macedon, I, I can only post 500 character posts and if I want post, you know, 1500 characters, it's three posts that I hope will get kind of packaged together and link together.
Maybe, maybe not. There's other clients where 5,000 characters is the limit. People have different experiences with different clients. They have different training needs. They have, you know, it's, it's a, it's, it's a confusing mess. It's, it's something that we've solved for in the real world, you know? Like Spatiality is distributed. If I want to go to a city a big city, you know, I could go to Tokyo or London or Paris or, you know mm-hmm. <Affirmative> you know some some places big, some places small. We have kind of common common interfaces that we've come to. You know, I, I, I can probably figure out how the Mass Transit works in, you know, in some someplace I can probably ask for help and get it. People will have known how to, you know, oh, you're from the big city. Let me tell you how it works here. Oh, you're from a little town. Let me tell you how it works here. That's all common experience and stuff that, that you can tell is kind of missing in the decentralized world. But, but we'll get there, you know? Mm-Hmm.
Dan Lynch (00:41:31):
<Affirmative>. And you mentioned on the last show, I keep jumping back to the last show that you were on, apologies for that, but I, it's cuz I recently watched it today. You were talking about non-technical users, or, or it fits into what you were just saying actually about the interface that people use. Obviously you've got Get Underneath, which is powering massive Wiki and moving the files around versioning, all that kind of stuff. But I was really interested to hear that you have some non-technical users who, who they can learn to use like short keyboard shortcuts, things like that, that are really simple. So they don't have to know how it works underneath. They just know that this is what I press when I want to push something out and update it, and this is what I press when I wanna pull in. What's new. Is that a, a big goal for, for you with Massive Wiki to make it available to, to people no matter what their kind of technical level is?
Peter Kaminski (00:42:18):
Definitely, yes. It, it pains me a little bit that that Git is so useful and so practical. It turns out that there's great news on that front. The, the people maintaining the obsidian get plugin, which is one of the, the key things that we use. It's not the only thing we use mm-hmm. <Affirmative>. it plugs into obsidian and then let's obsidian, which is another key thing that we use, but not the only thing that we use. The people doing the obsidian get plugin have been doing a great job of simplifying it and making it easier to use. It's got better air handling. It's got a now a great little side dashboard thing that lets you just push a couple buttons to, to make it go. There's actually even a, a button that just does the right thing.
And by the way, there's a, in, in the massive Wiki website you can find the, an email address to click and send us an email and, and we'll help help you out at least until we get overwhelmed with too many people. There's a, there's a interesting thing with Git. We've got a non-technical, but sophisticated writing partner now who's been doing some pretty fancy stuff with Git branches and stuff with us. And it turns out that there's a little bit of complexity about GI that's actually really useful when you're collaborating the, the, the way that you do two-face commits which might sound like I'm talking about software thing, but it's the same thing that, that like the double door system in a airport works by, you know, you can get into this part of the, the hallway, but you can't get out until they close that door and check you.
And then you can get out that way. Having file editing work that way and getting people working together on file editing, it helps a lot to do some of the workflow back and forth things, the commit phases that Git does. And they're not, I don't think they're particularly hard to understand conceptually. We still just need better interfaces to them, but it helps a little bit to know, I, you know, I, I know why I'm, I'm doing the steps that I'm doing and I know why she did those steps over on her computer. And then when we push a button and things merge in the cloud, it'll work better than, than if we hadn't. So I'm hopeful that, that, that will get also easier and will help document it more and make it, make it make sense more. I'm really looking forward to, to professional writers at least using Git as a tool in the backend. It's, it does amazing stuff for software developers and it should be something that anybody's using text a lot uses to.
Doc Searls (00:46:14):
Boy, there's so many places to go here. And I was just thinking that, you know, Lin Toal struck with Lightning twice, once with Cleveland and the Linux and also with gi pretty amazing actually. But first I have to, I, before we get to the next topic, there's so many I'm gonna let people know that joining Club TWiT is another great way to support our network here as a member, you'll get access to ad-free versions of all the shows on TWiT, as well as other great benefits. There's a bonus TWiT plus Feed, which includes footage and discussions that didn't make the final show edit, as well as bonus shows we've started, such as hands-on Mac windows. Ask me anythings fireside chats with some of your favorite twists. Do that again, ask me anythings and fireside chats with some of your, oh, take that again. Ask me anythings and fireside chats with some of your favorite TWiT guests and co-hosts as FLOSS Weekly listeners, you may be interested in checking out another Club TWiT exclusive show, the Untitled Linux Show, hosted by our own Jonathan Bennett. So sign up the club TWiT for just $7 a month. Head over to TWiT tv slash club TWiT and join today. We thank you for your support.
So, so Pete, I mean, one of the things, one of the one letters you dropped was Spatiality is distributed in a natural world. This is, I mean, we would never have said that if the internet wasn't here. <Laugh>, you know? Right. It's, it's, it's, they kinda, you know, the inverse square law applies all over the place, you know, so Yep. And including speech, including memory, you know, I mean, even this, this space that is in our heads, you know, we forget most things after seven seconds, but somehow retained meaning, which is also really an interesting and strange thing. I don't think we fully comprehended ourselves before we try to embody it in machines. And and I guess we have, we said, okay, you machine remember everything for us because we're not and then we rely at each other. And that's one of the interesting things to me about this that on and how long these things sometimes take the old cartoon, I don't even know if, I don't even know if the funny papers still even exist in newspapers, who's looking at those?
But Dick Tracy was, is what it ran in the fifties and sixties, and maybe he still runs today. And Dick Tracy was way ahead of his time he had on his wrist, and it always had a little pop out, a little popover that had a little zigzag lightning thing that said two-way wrist radio. It looked just like an Apple watch. Right. You know, the Apple Watch comes along a lot later, you know, I've got one of those on right now. It's telling me my heartbeat. It, it answers the, it, it projects the phone. Telephony has become any, to any, so I'm gonna not totally jump the track here, but Paul Barron, when he inadvertently designed the internet, when he came up with his original drawing for the Rand Corporation in the early sixties, you know, when all computing was centralized, you had a big mainframe and you had a bunch of terminals and, and that was a computer.
And so he had a drawing of a, a, a scattering of dots, and all his dots were connected to one central dot. And then the next frame, like a cartoon was decentralized, which was a bunch of the dots connected in spider spider ish way, like a bunch of them. And they were all connected with each other, but there's still a central one. And the third one was distributed, what he called distributed navy. And he introduced to the world this wonderful distinction between decentralized and distributed, which even today we're not fully rocking, I don't think, but distributed, everything was connected to each other or to the adjacent dot. But I think there's something beyond that, which is kind of what I'd call independent, which is what the internet is. We're all on the same globe. We're all in the same what Craig Burton called the Giant Zero, which is the, the shape that best represents the internet is a hollow sphere in which any point is connected to any, can be connected to any other point through an arc that goes through the middle. An arc in a sense of a straight line in geometry. And or what is that? There's another word for that. I forget what it was. Geo. It's been, I took that in the 10th grade, so it's been a long time. What's the straight line that goes across this a circle? Oh, the diameter.
Peter Kaminski (00:50:45):
Doc Searls (00:50:47):
Not a vector. A vector has, has direction to it. It is, is it, is the connection between 82 points. That's straight. Okay. But it's says three-dimensional. You have this giant zero, a hollow sphere, and the absence of distance is one of the things that characterizes this space. And, and we have to remember that, you know, spatiality is, is, you know, it's, it's here in the physical where we know what that is. We're eliminating it in this other place. And it's early. I mean, I keep saying this over and over again, but it, but you seem to have a really strong sense of where we've been, what's possible, what's going on now, what's not quite done yet, <laugh> and all that. And I'm going to go to another place that's maybe, maybe related, maybe not, but it's an interesting story that nobody quite understands exactly how the politicians managed to settle and communicate and trade among many islands that are widely separated.
You know, Hawaii, you know, way the hell out there, you know, from most of the, the, the southern islands. And it's kind of accepted, I think at this point that they felt the ocean, I mean, through their feet. And it wasn't just that they saw their birds now, so we must be near land or we see smoke from there, but rather but rather we're actually feeling the swells, the swells are moving in this, this way and that way. And I sort of wonder if we're doing that now, and if we're, and if as we're looking at AI and saying, well, it's another ocean, but maybe it's got many different kinds of what in a misnomer way we call intelligence, it's really not. It's some, it's memory plus a bunch of other stuff. So anyway, I'm just throwing all that crap at you because I think you'll be able to run with it. <Laugh>, I know you well enough to know you have something better to say about this than I will.
Peter Kaminski (00:52:37):
I I, I like, I like the analogy of Polynesian seafaring. And, and you know, the, the funny thing is actually there's a decentralized protocols secure scuttlebutt that and, and I think I heard that Nostra is also Nostra and secure scuttlebutt have some relationship and they're protocols that were developed by people who live on a boat, <laugh> <laugh>, and are, you know, disconnected most of the time. And so a lot, a chunk of the, the protocol it deals with being disconnected and then connecting and sharing messages and then disconnecting again. I, it, it does, I, I guess the way that you described it makes you think, you know, if you're sitting on a Polynesian boat you kind of have a sense of what else, what's out there, but you're also a little bit by yourself maybe with an another few boats next to you. Decentralized, I, I hesitate to use the word social media, but decentralized chat systems and even massive wiki feel a little bit like that. There's, you know, there's locality and then there's distance and it's, it feels different than the big city that is TWiTter or, or Facebook.
Dan Lynch (00:54:02):
It just occurs to me, there's a bit of a link here cuz DA was saying about Polynesians and, and all of that. It doesn't, the, this is just a totally off topic question for you. Pete, not off topic. Doesn't the name Wiki come from Hawaii anyway? I, I seem to remember hearing and somewhere it was on buses, it said Wiki Wiki, yeah,
Peter Kaminski (00:54:19):
Yeah, Wiki, Wiki means quick. And Ward was inspired to, he, he remembered the Wiki, wiki bus and named it the Wiki Wiki web.
Dan Lynch (00:54:30):
Excellent. There you go, doc. So it, it all links back to Polynesia.
Doc Searls (00:54:34):
Yeah. And, and I think I spent some time in Hawaii and I'm always into history, and I believe it was discovered first by people from Mar the Marquees, but they traded <laugh>. You know, you're going a thousand miles, you know, that's, that takes some, you know, I, I, I mean I, somebody recently discovered or alleged, but, and this is not a scientist, but was, was looking at the caves in Lisko in, in France Lusko, I guess that is one of them sounds right. And notice there were markings and he realized they were using math. There, there was, they were, and they were keeping track of the seasons. And, and the markings that were sort of extraneous were actually purposeful, and they had to do with the seasons. You know, but then I think, geez, you know, humans came along at all.
The large animals disappear for most of them. Did. You know, and this is more than coincidental, everywhere the humans go, including the, the, the last of the islands discovered by the Polynesians, which were New Zealand. They came there and the giant AK or whatever it was, disappeared. And, you know, they're, we, we haven't been good and I, but we made this place, we made the internet, and it's this ha it's his habitat. So let me ask you a question this maybe a little bit off the wall. Do you think we ever replaced T C P I P with something that will be just as generative as T C P I P? Cuz T C P I P you're not gonna get rid of it. I don't think we can get rid of X 25. We can get rid of a whole lot of other crap that we inherited from phone companies.
Peter Kaminski (00:56:09):
It's not going away for a long time. Our, our same friend, mutual friend David I, I always remember something he said the IP was, was made to be neutral basically, and have no value judgment. You know, it doesn't have any, any information about the packets that it's sending with the Indian principal and our friend David said, not having a not having a value system built into your technology is a valued decision that you've made. <Laugh>, you know, oh yeah. That means that you're gonna get lots of terrible things running over that, that system. Yeah.
Doc Searls (00:56:44):
This is, this is David Reid we're talking about, right?
Peter Kaminski (00:56:48):
Yeah, I was thinking of David Weinberg, although David Reid.
Doc Searls (00:56:50):
Oh, David Weinberger. See, there's so many Davids, I'm a David too. That's why I'm called Doc. It's just like too many of us. Yeah.
Peter Kaminski (00:56:57):
Tcp i p has been around, be around for a long time. Yeah. That, that's a good bet.
Doc Searls (00:57:04):
Yeah. So there are, and I see we're, I don't know how close we are to the end here. I think we started at 32 after, but boy, there's so many ways, ways we can go. What, I mean, we, we've covered what, let me, let me go into this one, which is clouds for a second. They're, I'm not that geeky, but I'm geeky enough to have run my own server, my own mail server, my own my own web server to have operated as an an out of my house because in, in the, in the mid to late nineties, you could get a dedicated line. It was only 33 kilobits or something, but you could get, I had 16 IP addresses in my house. I had a bunch of servers. I pushed, we had, we ran chron jobs that pushed what I wrote up to Linux Journal at night stuff like that.
And one by one these things I handed over to clouds. And then in most cases, this is good in some ways. I mean, email became 99% or more spam, and we really needed a giant to deal with that for us. But I, I want that independence back. You know, I I I, I feel like we've, by handing some of our agency over to other parties, you know, as, as Richard Staman said, you know, the cloud is somebody else's computer. And, and it is. And I lost most of my email because all we're on an IMAP server at Rackspace and they got killed. And I may get it back yet. I haven't called them yet, but I I will. But maybe their phones are not ringing off the hook now. But there, there are, there are vulnerabilities here. And one of them is, I think that we're exposed to, no, no, not exposed. We become inured to the benefits. We forget the benefits of independence. And then, and then small group collaboration, like you're so good at. What are your thoughts about that? As, as we're coming down to the
Peter Kaminski (00:59:16):
Rap? I, first of all, I I, I it's, it's pretty funny that you say that, that you're not that technical <laugh> that's a lot of pretty hardcore technical stuff that you've, that you've mounted there.
Doc Searls (00:59:26):
I wasn't that good at it. <Laugh>.
Peter Kaminski (00:59:28):
Doc Searls (00:59:29):
You know, I was dangerous, you know, <laugh>, I'm on the phone with people while I'm doing it. So <laugh>
Peter Kaminski (00:59:36):
The the good news is the d d web, the distributed web is, is breaking along, you know? It's, it's not that not that uncommon now or it's, it's getting to the point where it's usable, not just as a science experiment, I guess. I P Fs or ho ho of chain or noster is, is actually really interesting. It, it takes it takes a fair amount of turns out crypto to, to make that work to make sure that you put stuff out onto distribute servers and can get it back and, and know that it's still the same. And maybe other people, if you didn't want other people look seeing it, they couldn't see it and things like that. Being able to identify yourself, you know, as, as yourself and things like that. There's, there's a lot of, there's a lot of crypto involved.
And I don't mean that I, I don't mean, I don't mean cryptocurrency and I don't mean bad kind of, you know illegal crypto or, but there's a lot of, a lot of stuff where you have to secure things to make it so that you can let your stuff float over an ocean of, of essentially commodity servers and commodity networking. But it's, it's coming. It's it's coming along pretty nicely. It's, it's fun to get back into even Macedon which which is, I I guess Macedon and Activity Pub have been kind of hard to use for a while. It's getting easier, it's getting more popular. More people are using it and saying, Hey, this, this part is hard to use and I wish it were different. And, and so that's changing. We're solving a lot of problems. There's still a lot of work ahead, but it's, it's coming along.
Doc Searls (01:01:42):
There's always work ahead. So we're pretty much at the end here, so I have to ask you as we, we did before, but maybe it's changed now what your favorite text editor and scripting language are?
Peter Kaminski (01:01:54):
My favorite text editor is still emax. And, and by scripting language, you mean maybe programming language that's a scripting language, or I think that this is the same answer. I'm, I'm using Python a lot nowadays. Yeah. This is
Doc Searls (01:02:11):
The basic one.
Peter Kaminski (01:02:11):
Doc Searls (01:02:26):
Much. Yeah. We at the point we can't live without it. Well, this, this has been great, and I guess I think we're gonna have to have feedback every six months, <laugh>, something like that. That sounds great. Yeah. Yeah. And, and I'm, I'm also glad we, we, you know, through a schedule mix up and all that, you actually stepped in here so that, yeah. You know, this is not our original, you were not our original scheduled guest, but you are certainly a highly appreciated one right now. So thanks a lot for being on the show.
Peter Kaminski (01:02:54):
Thanks for having me. Thanks Doc. And thanks Dan.
Doc Searls (01:02:56):
So Dan, that was good. We went deep.
Dan Lynch (01:03:03):
That was, yeah. Really interesting. Yeah, we could have talked on for a long time about lots of different things, I'm sure. Yeah, great. In really interesting stuff. Nice to, to talk to Peter and, and and get his thoughts on lots of things. He's got lots of fascinating insights into things.
Doc Searls (01:03:18):
I, I, I kind of felt like we needed to take this to a pub and start pounding some brews, you know, because
Dan Lynch (01:03:23):
I'm, I'm good with that
Doc Searls (01:03:25):
<Laugh>. That would, that would've made a lot more sense. I mean, just because, anyway, we could go into a lot of stuff here. Did you think about this other thing? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, it's there really is a, we're at a moment right now where I feel like like the whole AI thing, which needs many, many more words for what all these things are really needs has just awakened me a whole lot of, of delight. You know? I mean I'm delighted by some of this stuff. And and I sort of feel like we so many of the wrong conversations, you know, Microsoft versus Google you know, who gives a damn really, I mean, it, I mean it, what's the stuff that matters? You know, this is, you know, there's a, some really great threads online right now on how it's saving time for teachers, saving time for, for programmers. You know, I mean, there's, one guy wrote a long thread on TWiTter though. It was about like, I was a 10 x programmer now, now I'm a hundred x programmer, right? And here's how, and he shares all this stuff. Guy name is Salvador something. Oh, what happened in the show? He's doing open source stuff. So
Dan Lynch (01:04:36):
Through using AI to help him program, sorry. Yeah. I mean,
Doc Searls (01:04:39):
Yeah. Wow. Brilliant stuff. Dave Weiner pointed at him and that's how I found him saying, read this so quick then, Dan, before we go off mm-hmm. <Affirmative> any plugs for you?
Dan Lynch (01:04:53):
Yeah, people can hear me on, on the radio around the world, in fact, due to the wonders of the internet although it is at one fixed time, unfortunately you could record it. Yeah, if you go to my website, dan lynch.org I do need to update it. Maybe I can get an AI to do that for me or something. That would be good. Yeah, so I will update it. But yeah, if you go to dan lynch.org to my website you can find all my links on there. And I need to update it actually, cuz ants showing the preview. We've got it's got a, still got a TWiTter widget. That's how old it is. It's got a TWiTter widget in the sidebar. And I do use Master on most, I do still have TWiTter, but I use Master on mostly now. So I need to update that to a Master on Widget, doesn't it? But yeah, that's, that's the place to find me.
Doc Searls (01:05:34):
Okay, great. So I'm let people know that next week we have Arun Gupta he's the head of Open Ecosystems at Intel and he's on the Open Ssf board. So that'll be our guest next week. And and Simon Phipps, our other uk <laugh> guy co-host will be, will be on that show. So we'll see you then. Make it easy.
Jonathan Bennett (01:06:00):
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