Iranian Blogger Warns of Internet Centralization after 6 Years in Prison


Image by Tim McDonagh

In 2008, Iranian blogger Hossein Derakhshan was imprisoned by the Iranian government. He had been sentenced to 20 years, but he was unexpectedly released after 6 years.

Having been isolated from the Internet for so long, he is dismayed by the changes he sees in how the Internet is used and how information is organized and consumed.

Blogging allowed for complex, decentralized, distributed networks of information. But social networked streams are centralized and hierarchical.

He writes:
The prominence of the Stream today doesn’t just make vast chunks of the Internet biased against quality — it also means a deep betrayal to the diversity that the world wide web had originally envisioned.

The Stream, mobile applications, and moving images: They all show a departure from a books-internet toward a television-internet. We seem to have gone from a non-linear mode of communication — nodes and networks and links — toward a linear one, with centralization and hierarchies.

The web was not envisioned as a form of television when it was invented. But, like it or not, it is rapidly resembling TV: linear, passive, programmed and inward-looking.

Read Hossein Derakhshan’s full essay here:

Despite many technological problems, one reason why email continues to be used instead of many of the alternatives that have been proposed is that it is truly decentralized. Many alternatives offer superior features for communication, but they invariably run on centralized services instead of being distributed and decentralized.

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Category: technology
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Conway’s Law + Wiio’s Laws = Software!

Conway’s Law:

Any organization that designs a system (defined broadly) will produce a design whose structure is a copy of the organization’s communication structure.

Comic by Manu Cornet

I think there is a lot of merit in the idea that a designed system, like a software application, will naturally reflect the communication patterns within the organization that created it. And a software system that has been under development for years becomes a historical record of the communication patterns and structural interactions (good or bad) of the organization through time.

Combining Conway’s Law with Wiio’s Laws of Communication “human communication usually fails except by accident” leads to some interesting questions about system development.


Here is the original 1968 paper by Melvin Conway from which the thesis was taken:

It’s long but very interesting.

And here is the Wikipedia article citing additional research on the topic:

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LDS Apostle D. Todd Christofferson Did NOT Say that it is Okay for LDS Members to Support Same-Sex Marriage


Even though the partial transcript I made of an interview with LDS Apostle D. Todd Christofferson is a few months old, in the aftermath of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, the post has received a considerable number of views during the last three days. Most of these visits are coming from Facebook conversations to which I do not have access, but I imagine that the transcript is being used in debates by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints reacting to the Supreme Court’s action.

I think it is clear from the parts that I have transcribed that Elder Christofferson did NOT say that there is nothing wrong with members of the church supporting same-sex marriage. He said that expressing personal support for same-sex marriage in social media would not be cause for discipline (as long as it wasn’t part of an organized effort to undermine the church). Continue reading

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My Personal Experiences with LDS Apostle L. Tom Perry


Yesterday, Elder L. Tom Perry of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints passed away.

I had the opportunity to meet Elder Perry twice.

The first time was as an LDS missionary serving in Santiago Chile in October of 1994. We had a multi-mission conference at which he spoke. Continue reading

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In Defense of Elder Bruce R. McConkie – A True Apostle of Jesus Christ


There is no denying the considerable influence of Elder Bruce R. McConkie upon the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and upon Mormon culture. Elder McConkie was a member of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles from October 1972 until his death in April of 1985.

Prior to becoming an apostle, he published Mormon Doctrine, a book of commentary on the gospel and the church presented in the style of an encyclopedia, comprised of his own, unofficial doctrinal analysis and explanations. The book was a cultural phenomenon for decades to come. But the leadership of the church at the time was not entirely happy with the book’s success, since it represented personal interpretations that were not the official teachings of the church. He was asked to revise his tone and make many, many changes in the second edition. Deseret Book discontinued publication of Mormon Doctrine in 2010.

Over the decades, Elder McConkie has become a favorite subject of derision by liberal and dissident members of the church. It makes me very sad to see bloggers and internet commenters regularly refer flippantly and dismissively to Elder McConkie. Despite some real human weakness, he was a remarkable man, a powerful teacher, and a true apostle of Jesus Christ. There is much we can learn from him and he deserves greater respect and consideration. Continue reading

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