Friday, August 05, 2005

Junto Discussion Questions

This is the list of questions Franklin devised to guide the discussions at Junto meetings.
  1. Have you met with any thing in the author you last read, remarkable, or suitable to be communicated to the Junto? particularly in history, morality, poetry, physics, travels, mechanic arts, or other parts of knowledge?
  2. What new story have you lately heard agreeable for telling in conversation?
  3. Hath any citizen in your knowledge failed in his business lately, and what have you heard of the cause?
  4. Have you lately heard of any citizen’s thriving well, and by what means?
  5. Have you lately heard how any present rich man, here or elsewhere, got his estate?
  6. Do you know of any fellow citizen, who has lately done a worthy action, deserving praise and imitation? or who has committed an error proper for us to be warned against and avoid?
  7. What unhappy effects of intemperance have you lately observed or heard? of imprudence? of passion? or of any other vice or folly?
  8. What happy effects of temperance? of prudence? of moderation? or of any other virtue?
  9. Have you or any of your acquaintance been lately sick or wounded? If so, what remedies were used, and what were their effects?
  10. Who do you know that are shortly going [on] voyages or journies, if one should have occasion to send by them?
  11. Do you think of any thing at present, in which the Junto may be serviceable to mankind? to their country, to their friends, or to themselves?
  12. Hath any deserving stranger arrived in town since last meeting, that you heard of? and what have you heard or observed of his character or merits? and whether think you, it lies in the power of the Junto to oblige him, or encourage him as he deserves?
  13. Do you know of any deserving young beginner lately set up, whom it lies in the power of the Junto any way to encourage?
  14. Have you lately observed any defect in the laws of your country, of which it would be proper to move the legislature an amendment? Or do you know of any beneficial law that is wanting?
  15. Have you lately observed any encroachment on the just liberties of the people?
  16. Hath any body attacked your reputation lately? and what can the Junto do towards securing it?
  17. Is there any man whose friendship you want, and which the Junto, or any of them, can procure for you?
  18. Have you lately heard any member’s character attacked, and how have you defended it?
  19. Hath any man injured you, from whom it is in the power of the Junto to procure redress?
  20. In what manner can the Junto, or any of them, assist you in any of your honourable designs?
  21. Have you any weighty affair in hand, in which you think the advice of the Junto may be of service?
  22. What benefits have you lately received from any man not present?
  23. Is there any difficulty in matters of opinion, of justice, and injustice, which you would gladly have discussed at this time?
  24. Do you see any thing amiss in the present customs or proceedings of the Junto, which might be amended?

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Rules of the Junto

Operating Rules
  • Weekly meetings ("on Friday evenings")
  • Every member, in his turn, should produce one or more queries on any point of Morals, Politics, or Natural Philosophy [physics], to be discussed
  • Once a quarter each member is to produce and read an essay of his own writing, on any subject he pleased
  • A president directs the discussions
  • The main goal is "inquiry after truth," not winning or losing
  • Ideas are not to be encouraged or discouraged while being presented

Organizational Rules:

  • Keep the institution secret
  • A maximum of 12 members
  • Every member was encouraged to form a subordinate club, operating by the same rules and "without informing them of the connection with the Junto."

Friday, July 29, 2005

Benjamin Franklin invented brainstorming

In describing how the JUNTO ran, Bejamin Franklin wrote:
Our debates were to be under the direction of a president, and to be conducted in the sincere spirit of inquiry after truth, without fondness for dispute, or desire of victory; and, to prevent warmth, all expressions of positiveness in opinions, or direct contradiction, were after some time made contraband, and prohibited under small pecuniary penalties.
The last sentence (my italics), describes the basic rule of brainstorming, to just let the ideas flow and not "edit" them in any way as they're being thrown out.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Google discovers XUL

Finally, Google discovered XUL. They've just released their version of the Google toolbar for Firefox, developed with XUL.

It's nice that they wax poetic about XUL and how it allowed them to develop the toolbar in no time at all, even though the people who worked on it had no experience with XUL. That's really nice.

I say "their version" because other versions of the Google toobar for Firefox and Mozilla have been around for quite a while, in various languages, also developed with XUL.

Googlebar
Google toolbar for Firefox, with many of the features of the IE version. ...
Googlebar Lite
A light-weight Google search toolbar for Firefox.
Googlebar with Page Rank
It is a modification to the Googlebar which adds the Pagerank feature. It will soon add a lot more features for web masters.
GooglebarL10N
GooglebarL10N is for Searching within Google like Googlebar. The only difference is that GooglebarL10N is the localized version of Googlebar, which means that the Menues & Texts are written in (at the moment) German, Italian or Spanish.

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

XUL applications

So, why aren't there more XUL applications?

As Firefox becomes more popular and takes roots on more desktops it would be the perfect platform for honest-to-goodness, OS-neutral desktop applications. If the new buzzword RIA is anything more than marketeese for "look at me," then XUL applications are as close to it as it gets. I think most people associate "RIA" with "AJAX," but XUL is closer to an application platform in every sense of the term.

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Malcom X and Iraq

If Malcom X had not been murdered, our world would be very different today. In particular, the situation in the Middle East would not be the mess that it is today.

By the sheer force of his personality, Malcom X would have made Islam a better understood religion in the US and more generally accepted in the West way before we got into this crisis. He would have given it a familiar face—one that could not be ignored.

Both sides would have had to find another excuse to go to war. It would not have been so easy to recruit the Muslim poor against the Great Satan. It would not have been so easy to stir up irrational fears over Islamist boogeyman. The industrialized countries would still be dependent on oil and we may still be in some kind of war, but at least the raw motivation would have been more clear.

Purpose of this Blog

In these postings, I have no particular goal other than clarifying my own thinking about the subject at hand, whatever that happens to be. To quote Clay Shirky, There is no grand scheme there, no central goal, no master plan.