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Wayne Burke
Works at Open Forum Foundation
Attended University of Michigan
Lived in Quincy, MI
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Wayne Burke

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Heya all! Wanna give some feedback to the White House on their epetition site? Here's the blurb:

- So you want to have your say on how others have their say, huh?!?
- So you're more interested in process than subject matter.

Us, too.

The White House has actually asked us to provide a summary of the feedback we received on our UserVoice forum focused on the administration's petition site We The People. Problem is, they've made some changes and we want to make sure we're providing them with substantive input.

So if you care about democracy (that's a joke), you've got until the end of the week (13 Jan) to review the site (https://wwws.whitehouse.gov/petitions) and add your critiques, missing features, comments, and votes to the UserVoice forum (http://wethepeople.uservoice.com/). We will take what you put up there, summarize it, and present it back to you at a webinar on January 18th. Based on the response from the webinar, we will finalize the document and ship it off to the White House.

And don't hesitate to keep adding things to the UserVoice forum after the 13th. We will keep monitoring it and keep the White House up to date on what's going on there.

We expect this to be just the beginning of an ongoing relationship where we (on the outside) can help them (on the inside) to build and run a tool that legitimately connects the U.S. President to the U.S. citizens. It's going to be just like the movies, folks!

Please help us get it off the ground.


Oh yeah! Who are we? AmericaSpeaks, the National Coalition for Dialogue and Deliberation (NCDD), the International Association for Public Participation (IAP2), the Deliberative Democracy Consortium (DDC), and the Open Forum Foundation.
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Wayne Burke

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The brain is a fascinating place and consciousness is not REALLY all that!

http://theweek.com/article/index/222755/the-mystery-of-expertise
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Wayne Burke

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Very interesting article about the history of Xmas in early America -- turns out, it wasn't so popular!

http://theweek.com/article/index/222676/when-americans-banned-christmas
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Wayne Burke

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The Legend of Zelda Rap - well done. If your geek enough, you'll love it!

THE LEGEND OF ZELDA RAP [MUSIC VIDEO]
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Wayne Burke

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If you have any ideas, please let Steve know - this is a valuable resource for social media profiles in government.
Steve Lunceford originally shared:
 
Had to shut down the GovTwit directory last night. Looking for any/all ideas on how to bring it back!
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Wayne Burke

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No baby yet, but we're already hanging up diapers in preparation!
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Wayne Burke

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What does GenX think about the dismal economic outlook? Mat Honan hits in on the head:

"Generation X is sick of your bullshit."

http://www.emptyage.com/post/11591863916/generation-x-doesnt-want-to-hear-it
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Wayne Burke

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Well done!

(found via +Andrew McLaughlin )
Jean-Baptiste Quéru originally shared:
 
Dizzying but invisible depth

You just went to the Google home page.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit of about how browsers work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play HTTP, HTML, CSS, ECMAscript, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just connected your computer to www.google.com.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit about how networks work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play DNS, TCP, UDP, IP, Wifi, Ethernet, DOCSIS, OC, SONET, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just typed www.google.com in the location bar of your browser.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know a bit about how operating systems work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play a kernel, a USB host stack, an input dispatcher, an event handler, a font hinter, a sub-pixel rasterizer, a windowing system, a graphics driver, and more, all of those written in high-level languages that get processed by compilers, linkers, optimizers, interpreters, and more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Let's simplify.

You just pressed a key on your keyboard.

Simple, isn't it?

What just actually happened?

Well, when you know about bit about how input peripherals work, it's not quite that simple. You've just put into play a power regulator, a debouncer, an input multiplexer, a USB device stack, a USB hub stack, all of that implemented in a single chip. That chip is built around thinly sliced wafers of highly purified single-crystal silicon ingot, doped with minute quantities of other atoms that are blasted into the crystal structure, interconnected with multiple layers of aluminum or copper, that are deposited according to patterns of high-energy ultraviolet light that are focused to a precision of a fraction of a micron, connected to the outside world via thin gold wires, all inside a packaging made of a dimensionally and thermally stable resin. The doping patterns and the interconnects implement transistors, which are grouped together to create logic gates. In some parts of the chip, logic gates are combined to create arithmetic and bitwise functions, which are combined to create an ALU. In another part of the chip, logic gates are combined into bistable loops, which are lined up into rows, which are combined with selectors to create a register bank. In another part of the chip, logic gates are combined into bus controllers and instruction decoders and microcode to create an execution scheduler. In another part of the chip, they're combined into address and data multiplexers and timing circuitry to create a memory controller. There's even more. Those are actually such incredibly complex technologies that they'll make any engineer dizzy if they think about them too much, and such that no single company can deal with that entire complexity.

Can we simplify further?

In fact, very scarily, no, we can't. We can barely comprehend the complexity of a single chip in a computer keyboard, and yet there's no simpler level. The next step takes us to the software that is used to design the chip's logic, and that software itself has a level of complexity that requires to go back to the top of the loop.

Today's computers are so complex that they can only be designed and manufactured with slightly less complex computers. In turn the computers used for the design and manufacture are so complex that they themselves can only be designed and manufactured with slightly less complex computers. You'd have to go through many such loops to get back to a level that could possibly be re-built from scratch.

Once you start to understand how our modern devices work and how they're created, it's impossible to not be dizzy about the depth of everything that's involved, and to not be in awe about the fact that they work at all, when Murphy's law says that they simply shouldn't possibly work.

For non-technologists, this is all a black box. That is a great success of technology: all those layers of complexity are entirely hidden and people can use them without even knowing that they exist at all. That is the reason why many people can find computers so frustrating to use: there are so many things that can possibly go wrong that some of them inevitably will, but the complexity goes so deep that it's impossible for most users to be able to do anything about any error.

That is also why it's so hard for technologists and non-technologists to communicate together: technologists know too much about too many layers and non-technologists know too little about too few layers to be able to establish effective direct communication. The gap is so large that it's not even possible any more to have a single person be an intermediate between those two groups, and that's why e.g. we end up with those convoluted technical support call centers and their multiple tiers. Without such deep support structures, you end up with the frustrating situation that we see when end users have access to a bug database that is directly used by engineers: neither the end users nor the engineers get the information that they need to accomplish their goals.

That is why the mainstream press and the general population has talked so much about Steve Jobs' death and comparatively so little about Dennis Ritchie's: Steve's influence was at a layer that most people could see, while Dennis' was much deeper. On the one hand, I can imagine where the computing world would be without the work that Jobs did and the people he inspired: probably a bit less shiny, a bit more beige, a bit more square. Deep inside, though, our devices would still work the same way and do the same things. On the other hand, I literally can't imagine where the computing world would be without the work that Ritchie did and the people he inspired. By the mid 80s, Ritchie's influence had taken over, and even back then very little remained of the pre-Ritchie world.

Finally, last but not least, that is why our patent system is broken: technology has done such an amazing job at hiding its complexity that the people regulating and running the patent system are barely even aware of the complexity of what they're regulating and running. That's the ultimate bikeshedding: just like the proverbial discussions in the town hall about a nuclear power plant end up being about the paint color for the plant's bike shed, the patent discussions about modern computing systems end up being about screen sizes and icon ordering, because in both cases those are the only aspect that the people involved in the discussion are capable of discussing, even though they are irrelevant to the actual function of the overall system being discussed.
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Have him in circles
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Wayne Burke

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Wayne Burke

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Raspberries from our backyard right before Christmas? This is crazy (crazy delicious, that is)!
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this is the first reason I've had not to be cursing this bizarre, unseasonal DC weather - but raspberries are pretty awesome.
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Wayne Burke

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No baby yet, by we are hanging up diapers in preparation (the cloth ones need multiple washings to achieve maximum absorbency).
Dupont Circle, Washington, District of Columbia
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Very picturesque! ;-)
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Everytime I hear this song, I also hear my dad's voice saying, "So today is just like every other day for you, huh?"

+1 if you know what I'm talking about.
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Have him in circles
466 people
Brett Husbands's profile photo
Noel Dickover's profile photo
Work
Occupation
Executive Director, Open Forum Foundation
Employment
  • Open Forum Foundation
    Executive Director, 2008 - present
  • Lakeshore Products, Inc
    VP Engineering, 1984 - 2001
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Map of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has livedMap of the places this user has lived
Previously
Quincy, MI - Washington, DC - New York, NY - Santa Fe, NM - Santa Monica, CA - Ann Arbor, MI
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I do stuff. You know, like run this non-profit and try to make government better. You know...
Education
  • University of Michigan
    BS, Engineering, 1989 - 1994
  • New York University Stern School of Business
    MS, Global Affairs, 2005 - 2007
  • Coldwater High School
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Male