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I'm Tav, a 29yr old from London. I enjoy working on large-scale social, economic and technological systems.


Why Bitcoin Will Fail As A Currency

Bitcoin mania has now reached such worrying heights that some people are even putting all of their savings into it. Unfortunately, Bitcoin is fundamentally flawed and by the time you finish reading this article, I hope you will agree with me.

For those of you not familiar with Bitcoin, it is often described as a “peer-to-peer currency”. This geeky video is sorta informative:

There are a lot of good reasons to be excited about the design behind Bitcoin — it enables secure transactions in a transparent manner and doesn't require centralised authorities. It really is genius and I look forward to seeing it used in other domains.

However, this does not make Bitcoin a suitable currency system.

Fabric Python with Cleaner API and Parallel Deployment

Fabric is an awesome tool. Like Capistrano and Vlad, it makes deployments a lot simpler than with shell scripts on their own.

Datacenter Work
by stars6

However, once the complexity of your setup starts to grow, you very quickly start wishing for a cleaner and more powerful API.

And once you are deploying to more than 30 servers, you really wish that Fabric would run commands in parallel instead of doing them sequentially, one after another.

Having recently experienced this pain, I decided to rework the core of Fabric. I've documented it below — describing all the changes to the current Fabric 1.0a — including funky new features like fab shell and staged deployments!

Why Stories Like Egypt Are Fit For Hacker News

Every time a story like Egypt appears on Hacker News, some people inevitably comment that it's unsuitable for HN. As much as the attempted curation is appreciated, it is these comments that are often off topic.

If anything, stories like Egypt are well-suited given that:

  • It's historic! Just look at the picture to the right! If something truly momentous is happening, then I'd like to see discussion about it on HN — it tends to be well-informed.
  • The Hacker News Guidelines explicitly allows for political stories that demonstrate “evidence of some interesting new phenomenon”.
  • It's arguably more worthy of discussion than the majority of the Techcrunch posts that we see on HN.
  • It's an entrepreneurial opportunity! With a GDP of nearly $500bn, Egypt just became a lot more attractive for innovative startups.

The occasional non-tech/startup post doesn't mean that Hacker News is going to the shits. We are not in danger of becoming Reddit 2.0 anytime soon either. So, please, can we reserve the comments about off-topic posts to the kind of posts that truly are off-topic?

— Cheers, tav

New Site Design for 2011

I was going to write a new article but ended up redesigning the site instead. My aim with the new design has been to:

  • Minimise clutter and improve the reader experience.
  • Give the site more of an identity.

Here's what it used to look like:


Creative Commons Unlicense and Reflections of a Public Domain Advocate

I posted the following to the Unlicense Google Group earlier today and figured that some of you might be interested in the proposed Creative Commons Unlicense.

Hi Arto, Mike et al.

First of all, congrats for coming up with the term “Unlicense”. It's
genius! As someone who has been placing all of his work into the
public domain for most of the last decade, I am very thankful that
there is finally a concrete movement emerging around unlicensing.

Now, if it's okay with you, I'd like to share my journey into the
world of public domain and gradually build up to a proposal of a
“Creative Commons Unlicense”.

Will You Peerfund My Work?

I'm looking to raise £6,000 to support myself and a few others for the next 3 months so that we can launch a whole new socio-economic-technological infrastructure.

Any contribution you can make — £60, £300 or even £1,000 — will be greatly appreciated and rewarded. Thank you!

The Supporters So Far:

Robert de Souza £300
archels £1
Lauri Love £50
Alex Rollin £20
Josef Davies-Coates £20
mattcoop £14
Benjamin Degenhart £10
Michael Kedzierski £30
Charles Goodier £100
Chris Greiner £20
Tim Lossen £100
Thamilarasi Sivapathasundaram £100
pgchamberlin £10
John McCane-Whitney £250
Still Needed £4,975

My Work:

Anyone Interested in Articles on Using PyPy to Create New Languages?

PyPy is famous as an alternative Python implementation. But it is also an impressive toolchain for creating your own programming languages — you get features like garbage collection, JIT and even WebKit integration for free.

Unfortunately, despite the toolchain being the bulk of the PyPy code, it's not given much love. So, in an effort to convince fellow hackers to use PyPy, I'll be giving a talk at the Emerging Languages Camp at OSCON — see below for the abstract.

I'd also like to help bring more understanding of the toolchain to the wider hacker world and am considering writing a series of tutorials on this blog. Unfortunately, I'm also a lazy bastard and don't want to waste time if no-one is interested ;p

So this is your chance — let me know in either the comments below or on HN/Reddit, if you'd be interested in such blog posts. Thanks!

4 Features To Make GitHub An Awesome Platform

I love GitHub. They make it fun and easy to get involved with open source projects!

By recognising coding as a social endeavour, they've possibly even changed the very nature of open source development.

But as great as they are, there's not much of a “GitHub ecosystem”. In comparison to say Twitter apps, the number of GitHub apps are few and far between.

Wouldn't it be great if we could build our own apps like wikis on top of GitHub repositories?

Perhaps someone would create a peer-to-peer publishing platform or perhaps a web app which stores plain text data in public repos instead of in opaque databases?

I believe GitHub has the potential to become a truly awesome platform. They already have a decent API — imagine what would be possible if it supported the following features:

Twitter #golang List, Go Mirror on GitHub
Go Mirror on GitHub

I've started a Twitter List of those in the community working on the Go language, libraries, apps or articles:

You should follow it to keep track of the fast-moving developments and let me know — either in the comments or via @tav — if I should add you to the list.

And, oh, could we all please normalise on using the #golang hashtag please? The #go hashtag is used for too many other things — including that game that some of us love.

I've also started to maintain a Git mirror of the Go repository on GitHub. You should watch it to stay informed of changes to the Go language.

Now, as I explain in the getting started with git article, I consider Git and Mercurial to be pretty equivalent. The only reason I prefer Git is due to the wonderful service that is GitHub.

Ciao Python, Hola Go!

This is the first in a series of articles in which I'll document my move away from Python and the adventures encountered in using Go to build the Plexnet, an “internet operating system”.

My love affair with Python began in early 2000 when I discovered Zwiki. And despite brief flings with other languages — Alice, E, Erlang, Lisp, Lua, Objective-C, OCaml, Oz, PowerShell, Ruby, Scheme, Smalltalk — I've always returned to the sexiness of Python and the ubiquity of Javascript.

However, in recent times, I've found Python sadly lacking on a number of fronts, e.g.

Media Ecologies And Postindustrial Production

Myself and other crazy visionaries will be speaking in Manchester on the 3rd of November for the Media Ecologies Workshop.

Put together by Phoebe Moore, it promises to be a rare gathering of various pioneering efforts — from those working on collaborative platforms to distributed manufacturing efforts.

Sadly it's only a one day event — so if anyone wants to organise a follow-up event for the next day, it'd certainly be very welcome!

Some of the speakers like the illustrious Michel Bauwens of the P2P Foundation will be coming over from distant lands and it'd be a shame to only get a day of their time.

In any case, I hope that you can come to Manchester for the event — it's free!

Inside Grameen with a Nobel Prize Winner

Last year I was invited by the visionary Chris Macrae to spend some time at Grameen HQ in Dhaka. Famous for pioneering the Microfinance revolution with Grameen Bank, the rumours were that big things were afoot in Bangladesh.

Grameen's Nobel Prize-winning founder, Muhammad Yunus, had recently published his latest book and I wondered what he and his compatriots really thought about The Future of Capitalism.

And, boy, was I unprepared!

The first thing that strikes you is just how pervasive Grameen really is in Bangladesh.

Over in the West, we're only familiar with Grameen Bank — the multi-billion dollar bank that micro-finances the poor. But that's just one of over 20 Grameen companies — which cover everything from energy to textiles.

London Creative Labs

I am pleased to announce the launch of London Creative Labs! Check out the short video below on its first program, which ties together systemic change along with a sort of Y Combinator for Social Business Startups.

It's also one of those moments when you are super super proud of your girlfriend! Sofia, the founder of London Creative Labs, is an amazing systems thinker with a deep focus on “soft” technologies.

However, until now, she has rarely shared her vision in a way that's accessible for most people. But with London Creative Labs, not only has she setup a very cool project, but the communications about it are brilliant!

I'm very proud of my sexy girl.

Sanitising JSONP Callback Identifiers For Security


Whilst web developers have started to take XSS and CSRF seriously, a tiny detail often goes unnoticed — JSONP callback values.

Espra Trust Maps: Coming Soon!

My apologies to the thousand-odd readers of this blog for not writing recently. I've been busy working with a great group of individuals on Iteration X.

There's not much public yet, but I am very happy to let you know that the first part of it, Espra Trust Maps, will be landing in the next few weeks — I hope you'll like it!

If you'd like to know about all the other cool developments that have been happening, see the Iteration X Progress Summary article. Some highlights include:

  • An initial implementation of the Plexnet data model. [code]
  • A webkit bridge that binds together our PyPy interpreter with WebKit! Python in your web browser babeh! [code]

I've also been writing some articles on the new Espians website. Some of you might find the following interesting:

And, oh, the amazing Howard Rheingold joined our Board of Mentors!


I'm pleased to announce the initial launch of Mamading Ceesay's Quotessence. Check it out!

Quotessence Logo

As someone who loved readings quotations as a kid, I was super excited when Mamading told me about his idea a few days ago.

There is a lot of wisdom in quotes. A lot for all of us to learn from. Unfortunately, the websites I've seen dedicated to quotations are way too cluttered for my tastes.

In contrast, the initial version of Quotessence offers something much cleaner.

Pecu Allocations by Tav

Hundreds of people have — knowingly or not — had a direct impact on my work/vision. Their belief, inspiration, energy, encouragement, suggestions, criticisms, support (both emotional and financial), tasty treats and hard work has been phenomenal!

I'd like to reward them with some tav-branded pecu allocations.

Since I'm not making any pecu payouts at the moment, they're not worth much yet — but I hope one day that those who've helped me will feel the gratitude =)

See below for the full list of pecu allocations.

Needed: Better Interior Design for Sex

Given the importance of sex in our lives, it's surprising how little interior design facilitates it. This is a call to all pioneering designers out there. You have a market of billions who are being poorly catered for.

Start designing today!

XKCD Mattress Comic Strip
by xkcd

It is essential that all designs serve multiple purposes. That is, it should not be obvious that they are for sex. That is just tacky. Having a Love Swing in your living room is a sure way to give your guests the creeps!

Top Life Tips: #10 Time Shift Dreaming

This is the first in a series of articles in which I'll share methods that I've been using for a happy and productive life.

Tip 10: Time Shift Dreaming

We spend a significant amount of time sleeping. It's important for many things — not least memory consolidation.

But you can take advantage of this time to improve youself:

  • Come up with creative solutions
  • Learn new things
  • Resolve emotional hangups

How? Using a methodology that I call “Time Shift Dreaming”.

I discovered this method rather accidentally when I was about 6 years old. My parents had told me that the spirit of our ancestors were always watching over us — and being a gullible child, I'd believed them.

And one day, I did something which I wasn't proud of. And fearing the wrath of these all knowing spirits, I tried to figure out how to go back in time.

For days after, I sat around day dreaming — replaying the events of the past but imagining how I would have reacted differently.

Happy Birthday Matthieu!

Tomorrow, it's the birthday of the Rey-Grange twins: Matthieu and Stan. I'd like to wish them a brilliant day and a magical year!

Matthieu was my housemate of 2 years @ Brushfield Riva and is the best housemate that I've ever had!

He is one of the kindest souls that one is ever likely to meet and a real pleasure to hang out with.

Wise, talented, fun, interesting, helpful — everything that one could ever hope for in a friend, one finds with Matt.

He not only turned around my impression of the French, but also gave me reasons to appreciate many aspects of its culture.

Lots of love to you brother and happy birthday!!

Say No to Google's Intrusion of Privacy

[Blog, Twitter #googlestrike and Facebook this as much as you can — Thanks!]

This is a call to boycott Google AdSense until they change their new monitoring policy to be opt-in.

Earlier today, Google announced that they will be monitoring everybody's online activity. This is clearly a violation of their “Don't Be Evil” policy.

In their quest to serve more targeted ads, Google will now start tracking the sites that we all visit. They can do this because a lot of sites use Google AdSense.

And every time we visit these sites running AdSense, Google will know exactly where we've been. This is an extreme breach of privacy! We must act now or risk handing over our privacy permanently.

Thoughts of Ibiza

It was Athini's birthday last week, and my thoughts drifted to the time we all spent together in Ibiza last year.

Sky,Tav and Sofia in Ibiza

Athini is Sofia's sister and was our host when we decided to spend a month away in Ibiza. She's been living there for a few years now and made our stay super nice.

Leo, the father of her adorable 3-year old Sky, picked us up from the airport and dropped us off at Casita Verde where she was teaching Tai chi.

Casita Verde was everything that I had not expected from Ibiza.

It turns out that there is more to the island of Eivissa than the clubbing scenes that we're familiar with. Seemingly limited to the “English” part of the island where fat girls walk around semi-naked, the rest of the island is rather tranquil and magical.

Update on Securing the Python Interpreter

Update: The Namespace utility function has been made explicit-only with feedback from Mark Seaborn. Thanks Mark!

Guido van Rossum posted a blog article on Capabilities for Python. As I'd instigated this whole thread, I figure I should give everyone an update… (along with a quick summary of the story so far).

The aim has been to enable object-capability in Python. Python already supports doing the following — a port of the sample in Mark S. Miller's Capability-based Financial Instruments:

Logrep: A Simple Apache Log Analysis Script

Besides good content and interaction, knowing your audience is key to any successful form of communication.

Now if you run a blog there are lots of services to help you analyse your traffic. Personally, I find Google Analytics to be pretty good. But there's a slight problem. It's not real-time.

Even if you use this “trick”, you are still lagged by a few hours. I am happy to wait for the detailed analysis that Analytics gives me, but I want some basic info in real-time.

Seeing as I'm running the blog on my own server, it's just a question of parsing the Apache access logs. But despite my efforts, I couldn't find a really simple parser for these logs.

Ruby-style Blocks in Python

Update: I've updated the proposal to use the using keyword instead of overloading the existing semantics of the with keyword — thanks Guido and Todd Lucas!

Blocks are supposedly the most liked feature in Ruby. This proposal would enable a similar feature in Python:

using webapp.runner do (config):
config.time_zone = 'UTC'
config.log_level = 'debug'

Compare that to the Ruby equivalent: do |config|
config.time_zone = 'UTC'
config.log_level = :debug

Unless I am missing something fundamental, adding a do statement seems to lend itself to doing blocks in a Pythonic way.

Becoming a Film Maker

I've decided to ease into film making by becoming a video blogger. By the time I am proficient enough with video editing, the stage should be set for ractives ;p

So I need your help. Because I know fuck all about filming or editing.

Despite creating the likes of and setting up an entire company to provide online video services, my knowledge of film making is close to non-existent.

If you want to know about scalable online distribution or digital video encoding, then I can give you expert advice. But film making? Not a clue.

Meme Time Tending to Zero

It's no secret that Meme Time — the average time taken for a meme to spread far and wide — has been getting shorter. Scarily so. It took Christianity over a 1,000 years to achieve what Facebook has done in less than 4 years.

This thought-provoking video is worth watching:

Daft Punk Alive?

This year has been great for music. My favourite musician, A. R. Rahman, won 2 Oscars whilst my favourite band, Daft Punk, won 2 Grammys!

As much as one might try to hate the French, you just can't knock Daft Punk. Their music is great and they are amazing performers.

But for the love of Google, I have been able to find sweet fuck all for Daft Punk tour dates in 2009.

So if any of you happen to know where they can be seen in the near future, please let me know in the comments!!

And if any of you happen to know them personally, then I'd love for them to perform at my birthday sometime. It doesn't have to be this year, next year is fine too ;p

Oneline: Constructive Conversations on Twitter

David Pinto had this wonderful insight that the quality of conversations could go up dramatically if each participant was limited to saying just one sentence at a time.

Friendlies in conversation
by moriza

We practised this in face-to-face conversations and found it to be a great success!

Paradoxically, limiting the “bandwidth” led to richer conversations. It encouraged everyone to truly listen to each other and kept issues on topic.

And, most importantly, it put everyone involved on an equal footing — allowing focus to be placed upon the content instead of whoever can dominate the room.

The application of this approach is extremely broad. From resolving personal conflicts to working out the kinks in a new idea. Try the oneline approach on Twitter and let me know how it works out for you.

TweetFight -- Fight Club 2.0

TweetFight Rules:

  1. Only 2 people to a tweetfight.
  2. You must @reply your opponent to keep the fight going.
  3. All tweets relating to a fight must end with #tweetfight.
  4. No more than one tweet at a time by each party.
  5. Fights are over if neither party continues within 12 hours.
  6. Last person tweeting wins.

Fights can be civil, intellectual or even foul. It's your choice.

Recent TweetFights:

Facilitating The Banana Industry

Last year, Sofia and I got invited to facilitate and help set up a Multi-Stakeholder Forum for the Banana industry.

and Sofia facilitating the Multi-Stakeholder Forum

[Well, technically, she got invited and I tagged along as the co-facilitator — aka “Slave”]

The hard working guys at Banana Link had been at this for years now. And the seed for it had been set at the 2nd International Banana Conference.

Our task was to get everyone to talk to each other and commit to being active in a new body that was representative of all in the industry.

And all this in 3 days.

A Week's Difference in the Twitterverse

It's funny how much of a difference a week can sometimes make. Especially in the Twitterverse. Case in point, my relationship with Twitter Inc.

A few weeks ago I had registered several Twitter accounts for use in an upcoming Twitter application — Tweet20. I'd registered accounts like: @tweetyes, @tweetno, @tweetoffer, @tweetwant and @tweetlocation.

But it turns out that if you register too many accounts concurrently, the Twitter spam controls are triggered. So a little while after the accounts got registered, I found to my surprise that most of them had been suspended!!

Cutest LOLCat Ever

I'm not a big fan of the whole lolcat meme, but it does produce some fantastic imagery sometimes. I was introducing my girlfriend to yesterday and we came across this — possibly the cutest LOLcat ever:

Paving the Way to Securing the Python Interpreter

Note: This article isn't about securing the Python interpreter against crashes/segfaults or exhaustion of resources attacks. For help with that, take a look at the excellent sandboxing features of PyPy. Those of you wanting to just know about the practical applications of this, scroll down to the bottom of the article =)

There have been many attempts to secure the Python interpreter so that untrusted code can be safely executed alongside trusted code. Working attempts like RestrictedPython and zope.proxy unfortunately come at a high cost in terms of performance.

Old-school Python hackers would probably remember the deprecated rexec module which used to be enabled in the standard library. This module, along with it's Bastion sibling, provided a framework for “restricted execution” of Python code.

A Challenge To Break Python Security

Update: You can find out more in my new article: Paving the Way to Securing the Python Interpreter

The challenge is simple:

  • Open a fresh Python interpreter and do:

    >>> from safelite import FileReader
  • You can use FileReader to read files on your filesystem

  • Now find a way to write to the filesystem from your interpreter

You can find the latest version of here:

Hello GitHub!

I've completed the switch over to the Git version control system. You can follow my activities on:

If you want to ever work on a project of mine, just click the fork button on GitHub and start coding — no need to get permission from me! Just let me know if you want to get your changes back into the mainline.

GitHub even lets you edit forks directly from the website without having to check out the repository. How cool is that?!

New Domain for Tav

Update: I reverted to as the main domain — redirects here so you can use it as a shorter url to type…

My apologies to all those who have been following this blog through the RSS feed. As some of you have noticed, the feed has been behaving rather erratically recently.

This is because I have been migrating everything from to the new domain. This is now the permanent home for my blog and will remain so until the Plexnet eventually replaces the current domain name system.

Pedipeace (Part 2)

[This is a reposting of an email that I had sent to some close friends on March 26th 2003 @ 05:35.]

|  george> The theory of blocking off central London is a good
|  george> one but it will still piss people off to fuck.
| true. but, we should frame it as pedestrianising for peace as opposed
| to blocking off central london.
| although it amounts to the same thing, one is confrontational, the other...

Pedipeace (Part 1)

[This is a reposting of an email that I had sent to some close friends on March 24th 2003 @ 23:56.]

| rehi,
| i have often expressed my discontent of protest marches, petitions, and
| the likes of direct action such as hunger strikes, sit-ins, blockades,
| chaining oneself to..., etc.
| i agree with all of them in theory, and in practise they all work great
| as acts of solidarity. they bring people together. let people know that
| they are not alone in their feelings.
| however, unfortunately for us, their value has been diminished over the
| years. the hippies did too good a job. values and beliefs and actions so
| adapted by mainstream culture, that they have no effect.

A Present Is Found & A Friend Is Made

[This is a reposting of an email that I had sent to some close friends on March 20th 2003 @ 05:53.]

| time. 2am. place. the wobbly (millennium) bridge.
| after entertaining myself running around the trees, i pull
| myself up onto the wobbly bridge and gently skip along. my
| heart beats slightly faster as i see the river flow underneath
| me. the thrill of being so high. the thrill of falling.
| clumsily pull myself over the side, straddle a beam and sit,
| watching the river flow. i lean back, feel the aura of the
| full moon. the wind blows. so soft. but with a sharpness that
| makes me alert. aware. lyrics come to mind "london calling to
| the underworld... i live by the river!"

Hub Flows

[This is a reposting of an email that I had sent to the Hub London list on February 29th of this year.]

| > Following the suggestion of a few members in the last couple
| > of weeks, we've created a new email group for members who are
| > based at The Hub in Islington
| Another interesting development.
| Whilst all approaches to improving the signal-to-noise ratio is
| very welcome, is this really the right approach? Sure, all those
| mails asking about missing chargers clog up our inboxes. But as
| someone who has had a few of his phone chargers (not to mention
| a laptop!) going walkies from the Hub, I can certainly emphatise.
| I'd contest that all the frivolous "noisy" mails are essential
| for the continuity of the community. Otherwise, this is just yet
| another information channel and we already have more than enough
| of those. The reason most people are on here is probably because
| of the quality of the other people on here. I certainly am here
| because it gives me a feeling of the pulse of my Hub family. The
| personal connection. If I wanted impersonal high quality
| information, I'd just go and google. Millions of strangers.

ESCaped Thoughts

[This is a reposting of a blog post that I had written at the first Espian Summer Camp (ESC) in July 2005]

Squarepusher pulses around as this is written. In contrast to the horrendous techno that some Germans seem intent on playing, this Brit demonstrates that electronic music can have soul.

Is music the soul of life? Or was that the spice of life? Who cares. Life is good. Too good. One can almost forget the rest of the world here. Enjoy the moment. Savour the taste. Wonder about the grasshoppers. What do they make of this funny existence we share? A shooting star blazes above. Make a wish.

Phoenix Am I

[This is a reposting of an email that I had sent to various close friends in mid-2003.]

| /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////
|   1. realisations and hard lessons learnt.
|   2. my plans for the coming 6 months.
| /////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////////

Mile High Club: A HowTo
Singapore Airline Girl
by xcode

On the British Airways flight back to London I didn't notice a single attractive air hostess. A sharp contrast to the last long haul airline I had flown with — Sri Lankan Airlines.

Call me old fashioned. Call me shallow. But air hostesses should be pleasing to the eye. It's amazing how pleasant a little eye candy can be. Makes those 9 hours fly by a lot quicker.

As for the in-flight movies — finding one that won't send you to sleep is a bit like winning the lottery. Good luck.

Of course sleep isn't too bad as far as entertainment goes. But, hopefully, none of you need any help with that. This post is instead about the Mile High Club — something which isn't as commonplace as I once imagined.

The Mile High Club is simply about having sex in an airplane. It's a thrill and a half — and by far the best entertainment on long haul flights.

When I was young I had presumed that this privilege was limited to flights in private jets, but with experience I can state that commercial flights are also good game.

Execution is generally dependent on who happens to be sitting next to you. But you don't need to leave this to chance. After all, luck is simply the meeting point between preparation and opportunity.

First Impressions of Dhaka

Dhaka has a distinctive aroma. I had expected it to smell like Mumbai or perhaps even Chennai. But it seems that whilst there's quite an overlap, these South Asian mega-cities have their own unique identities after all.

Advertisements for mobile phones and phone networks are everywhere. It wasn't even a decade ago when these advertisements would have been for “cool drinks” like Pepsi and Coca-Cola. But times change.

It's raining. Fly a few thousand miles and it's still raining. Perhaps one of us is like the Rain Man in the 4th HHGTTG book?

Assume Good Faith
Assume Good Faith Plz

Earlier this week, I ended up counselling two sets of organisations with regards to each other. They were trying to work with each other but had various concerns and felt that they needed to be “hard” to ensure that they didn't get over-run.

Whilst it is perfectly legitimate to have concerns — especially when it comes to financial matters — most of the concerns would have evaporated had both sides simply assumed good faith about the other.

And as someone who was privy to the private concerns of both parties, I can confidently state that they were both acting out of good faith — they just didn't have the same opinion about the other.

I generally live my life with the assumption of good faith with regards the behaviour of others. And as a result have a lot less to worry about in terms of my interactions. To be fair, this has not always ended up in ideal results.

But the assumption of good faith forms part of the basis for a rule of ethics — which, in my opinion, certainly lends itself towards a better quality of life in general than a rule of law.

Which do you prefer and why? Do you assume good faith in your interactions? Let me know in the comments!

Evolution of Ideas
Caricature of Charles Darwin

Ideas require the right kind of incubation. They need to be nurtured before being taken into the world — at the right moment in time.

The nurturing and timing of ideas is one aspect which most innovators and entrepreneurs seem to miss. And I certainly can't talk about timing — as the tyranny of timing is something that I've had to learn the hard way.

But I've been extremely lucky with respect to the nurturing of ideas. For reasons still unknown, extra-ordinary individuals seem to be attracted to me. And their influences have been pure gold.

This is a reflection of something that I've heard referred to as the “Florence Effect”. That is, whilst statistically speaking we should have millions of Einsteins and Da Vincis walking amongst us, the reason many of them haven't tapped into their full potential is due to a lack of a nurturing, vibrant community.

Love Eternal
Love & Life

A week can sometimes be the difference between heaven and hell. Especially when it comes to matters of the heart.

This one week in December 2006, one of my lovers went from being “madly in love” with me to “hating” me. It seems that I tend to bring out extremes of emotions in people.

Most of these emotional extremes can be isolated down to one major trait of mine. I tried to explain it in a post break-up letter to her:

Variable Sleep Schedule
Sleep requirements map

My mother emailed me saying:

“We see what we believe, and not just the opposite; and to change what we see, it is sometimes necessary to change what we believe.”

I love my mum. She so wise! What she says seems to be the core message in personal development processes like “The Work” by Byron Katie.

And it also ties into what I've been pondering lately regarding sleep cycles. Especially since, whilst growing up, I experienced different sleep cycles with my mother. When really young, she'd wake me up really early. And then as a kid, we'd often talk late into the night whilst she worked on some poetry or did some research.

Sleep is one of those topics which many of us have rather fixed preconceptions about. We all need it. It plays a vital role in our well being. It plays a large part in defining our lifestyles. Yet, despite enjoyable dreams, it takes up so much of our short lives.

Contacting Jerry Yang
Jerry Yang

A fortnight ago, I emailed Jerry Yang, the co-founder and CEO of Yahoo!. It was yet another unsolicited Yahoo! Turnaround Strategy proposal. My little offer to help turn Yahoo! around.

Given that Jerry doesn't know me from Adam I wasn't expecting an immediate reply. But it's now been 2 weeks and still no reply. If anyone knows Jerry Yang and finds my proposal useful, I'd appreciate it if you could prod him to get back to me.

You can find the email I sent below. Apologies for the message being in lower-case — Jerry is famous for writing in that way. And given that for a long time I also had a fascination for the miniscule, I found it rather natural to write to him in that manner.

The email also serves as an introduction to some of the Espian ideas. Would love to hear your comments on those aspects too. Thanks!

Email Etiquette
Thunderbird mail client

Netiquette has long been a dying trait. At best I hope that people might read something like Seth's Email checklist. But I have long stopped expecting others to adhere to much sense on this front.

But the "Don't print this Email" footer meme just managed to push past the annoyance tipping point for me. Especially since it came from someone who I admire as a great systems thinker!

I understand that it is well meant. People would like to show that they care for the environment and would like to encourage having less of an impact on the world. Laudable intentions.

But having a footer on every email is just plain stupid. Especially the large companies who insist on having several paragraphs of text explaining why you shouldn't do so and just how super cool and eco-friendly they are. Often these footers are larger than the body of the message itself!

Bootstrap Draft Specification
Espra Bootstrap Logo

After a week of heavy pondering, I have nailed down the required functionality for Bootstrap. Have a read:

Then let me know what you think in the comments below!

Bear in mind that this is not Espra. It is not based on the Plexnet. It is not decentralised. It is not meant to scale to millions of users. It is only meant to achieve the following:

  1. Enable interesting small-scale communities, e.g.
  2. Demonstrate some of Espra's utility, e.g. Trust Maps.
  3. Establish credibility with the world that the Espians can code =)
  4. Be a powerful communications tool to facilitate Espra's development.
  5. Bring in short-term consultancy revenue.

Coincidences Don't Exist
Two Furies from an ancient vase

Not to be a fatalist, but I'm increasingly observing how frequently “coincidences” seem to be taking place.

Case in point, this morning Zooko messaged me out of the blue. It's been a few months since we last spoke and was nice to briefly catch up. He pointed me to his latest work — — an online storage service running on Tahoe, the P2P network he's been working on.

And it just so happened that earlier this evening, I was in need of a storage service to integrate into the coming Bootstrap specification. AllMyData happens to be one of the best fits — closely shadowed by

Neither contact from Zooko nor the need for a storage service is particularly surprising. But for it to happen on the same day is a pretty low probability. And on its own, not so surprising.

But taken together with all the other hundreds of little opportune coincidences that seem to take place in my life, I begin to wonder if coincidences really are coincidences?

Fluid & Bounded
Boris Vallejo

I am a real-time operating system. Alive in the moment. Fluid to all that happens around. But this is only possible thanks to a seemingly contradictory requirement:

I need clear boundaries.

Without clearly defined boundaries, I end up in a sea of endless possibilities and confusion. The number of possible permutations becomes too much to handle and I find myself incapacitated.

But if I can clearly define boundaries between the various shades of grey that life presents us with, I suddenly find myself liberated and able to act without having to think.

I then only have to bear in mind the single rule:

Be alive!

This is true freedom. I don't have to contemplate the consequences of my actions and can freely flow as events unfold.

I can do things like getting completely hammered on alcohol and drugs without worrying about my actions. I can trust myself with absolute confidence. I can take risks without worry. Confidence flows unhindered by pointless contemplations.

Shorter Blog URL

Some people have complained that it is impossible to remember the URL for this blog. Unfortunately Google Code don't allow for redirecting domains to it.

At some point this blog will transfer over to — but, until then, here's a persistent URL:

Bookmark it now! =) And, in case you didn't know, PURL is a great “Persistent” URL service.

Choosing A Profile Picture

Some people are photogenic. Some are not. Some people love seeing pictures of themselves. Some people don't. I belong to the second category in both cases.

Having generally avoided cameras my entire life, I was a bit lost when friends suggested that I should change the “profile” picture I was using in video presentations.

First of all, there were few photos in existence. Secondly, they pretty much always had other people in them or weren't taken in a professional context.

How do other people choose profile pictures? Do people have so many pictures of themselves that it's not much of hassle? Am I abnormal to have so few pictures of myself?

In fact, one of the few suitable pictures was the one of me on wikipedia:

Ian Clarke and Espra's Tav -- 2001

But it was taken when I was 18 — in 2001. Sigh! I was left with no choice but to go down the narcissistic route. Time to have pictures taken of myself! Woo!

A Minimal Blogging Engine

Update: I've since improved the blogging engine — see the New Domain for Tav article.

I became a blogger in 2002 with Radio Userland. As the trial expired, I decided to wait till better tools were available. 6 years and an active blogosphere later, I presumed things had improved.

So I tried out Wordpress and Blogger. What did I find? Crap. Now don't get me wrong. They are decent publishing tools. I've set up various Wordpress blogs and even convinced my mother to start a blog on Blogger due its funky transliteration tools.

But if all I'm getting is a publishing tool, then I at least expect ease of customisation and ability to add my own HTML when needed. After all, this was a basic feature of the original web browser! But no.

Instead you can spend hours trying to customise the overly complex CSS. You will have your line breaks broken up in weird and arbitary ways. And unless you are a masochist, don't even try mixing WYSIWYG and raw HTML editing!

So, after spending an entire night trying to bend Blogger to my will, I decided enough was enough. And in less time than it took to figure out Blogger's CSS class names, I was able to hack together this minimal blogging engine.

On Daily Routines

I've never been a fan of routines:

“Same places, same faces, same times, same crimes. Way too easy to fall into a rut with Resyk waiting at its end.” — Judge Dredd

Routine somehow gets in the way of living each moment. Deprives you of fluidity. But total chaos isn't fun either. Chaos and order. In harmonious balance. That's the way to enlightenment.

So I've decided to adopt a few routines in my life. Shock! The first is regular exercise.

This might come as a surprise to those who know me as I've always maintained explicit exercise to be a tad ludicrous. With the beautiful genes I've inherited, the acts of dancing and making love have always been enough to maintain a healthy body.

But then, several days ago, whilst walking by a billboard ad for Dolce & Gabbana underwear, I noted to one of my lovers that perhaps I could be a male model. To my dismay, she slowly shook her head — in the wrong direction!