15 Jul 2003 chalst   » (Master)

Larry Solum, a law blogger, has begun a series on intellectual property on the divide between academic legal theorists and practicing lawyers, the first post responding to arguments at Scrivener's error that, irritatingly, he doesn't link to. I think the series is important: by and large IP theorists are on the side of weak IP, and practicing IP lawyers are against it.

Postscript: Are two-layer UIs a good thing?
It's a common pattern in applications that they are given two interfaces, a deep interface that exposes as much functionality as possible, and is usually made available as a library, and a shallow interface that exposes only a subset of the functionality needed in most common user interactions, and which is available as a command-line argument interpreter, or as a GUI.

There are generally good reasons for adopting this pattern, but I wonder if it is overutilised through familiarity. Two thoughts:

  1. Why shouldn't we expose all the functionality in the user interface? Embedded scripting languages and their LISPish ancestors make this kind of thing easy, and you can even have dialog boxes in GUIs if you like.
  2. I'm also intrigued by what the Mozilla folk are doing with XUL. They don't see there as being *one* shallow interface to the Mozilla code base, but a whole family of them. Everyone can write their own browser-like application through XUL, so we have an application as domain specific language.
Obviously, flexibility doesn't make good UIs, but I wonder if we might not get UIs that better balance the needs of both ordinary and expert users if we go someway down this path?

Postscript #2: VIPS
The Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity caused a bit of a stir back in April contractadicting claims of there being a consensus in the intelligence community saying Saddam Hussein's regime had an active nuclear weapon's development programme. Now they are calling for VP Cheney's resignation. Does anyone know anything about this group, other than the usual boilerplate one hears that they are a bunch of mostly retired CIA analysts spread across the USA?

Postscript #3
Unbelievable. (In case you think this is just common or garden stupidity, bear in mind this is the front page story of the UK magazine that styles itself the magazine of choice for the intelligent conservative).

Postscript #4
Felix Salmon linked to PS3 above in his article Pyramid schemes in the Spectator.

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