January 31, 2005
Collection of the Origins of Cyberspace Up For Auction at Christies
The Origins of Cyberspace: A Library on the History of Computing, Networking & Telecommunications
23 February 2005, 10:00 am
20 Rockefeller Plaza, New York
One thing to note is how text based all the artifacts and memorabilia are... Looking at these documents, the heritage of computing science is about textual understandings, not images or visually based communication, and this perspective still weighs heavily on development today.
Some items go back to the 1600's. The guy selling the stuff, Jeremy Norman, published a catalog in 2002 with Diana H. Hook called Origins of Cyberspace: A Library on the History of Computing, Networking, and Telecommunications (see his website for more information).
I can't help thinking that he probably doesn't need the money, and the collection is valuable for other reasons, especially together, for science history and socio-technical study. It's too bad it's going to be parceled out, instead of kept together in some institution for academics, students and innovators to learn from and compare across the collection to see how past scientific and computing development occured. Maybe it could all be scanned in detail for a virtual museum?
January 22, 2005
I'm in NYC at Vloggercon... some cool folks are here:
Eli Chapman talked early about group video blogging.. and right now were discussing video communities.. and how much people might want to view video on their TV screens.
Marc Canter is here, Scott Rafer, Sean Gilligan, Andrew Baron, Josh Kinberg, Josh Kinberg, Peter Hirshberg, Greg Elin, and of course, Micah Sifry below left ... who appears magically and delightfully at every conference!
January 15, 2005
Tagging at Technorati, Flickr and Del.icio.us
Technorati's new tags page has been getting lots of play in the blogosphere.. since it went live Thursday. It's a brilliant idea, matching tags from Del.icio.us, Flickr and blog post categories as they come through RSS feeds, and then displaying those photos together with posts that match. Of course, tags like are big because people have that as a category for their blog posts... as are other categories. David Weinberger noted that blog categories aren't really tags, because they aren't usually granular the way tags often are, and so there are results like this, or or whathaveyou because people want broad general buckets to put posts in, and with a post categorized as "general" on a page on their blog, in that context, there is a kind of meaning that is lost on a page like Tags. But still... the two sets of tags along with broader categories together produce very interesting results. Also, the photos are beautiful and make the pages far more engaging to read than when they just had text. Searching for interesting serendipitous meanings that occur while glancing between the two types of information is really fun.
There is also a fourth way to get Technorati's Tag page to pick up information, and that is to use a rel='tag' link. This is done by putting a Technorati link (transparent, so other blog companies could use the links, but still proprietary to Technorati) around some words. The words the tag goes around do not become the tags. Rather, the tags are picked up in the link.. so in this example the bolded word is the tag Technorati's system picks up: < a href="http://technorati.com/tags/tag rel="tag" >words wrapped by tag href link< /a>. (note there are extra spaces in this example.. if you want to cut an paste this, remove the space just after each < so they function correctly). Though I don't think these tags will get used a lot, relatively speaking, because as the blogosphere gets bigger, the bloggers overall become less technical and won't have a clue what this is, and they shouldn't. The answer is probably that Technorati and the other blog companies should cache posts, and let users tag them on their sites as they read them.
What I'm wondering about is how quickly the spammers will figure this all out, and use it to their advantage. Currently, even though I block comment spam across my blogs, and know that Technorati, Feedster, PubSub et al, as well as Google, don't log comments or at least comment links because of the spam problem, the comment spammers try ever increasingly clever tricks. They might leave 500 comments in a hour (like I wouldn't notice) each with a different IP address, a different URL they want linked to for google juice, a different return email address, different products. All in the same blast. Removing them is automatic, but if they are clever, they'll figure out just how to get one or two through.. and if I believe I've gotten them all, they've succeeded with just a couple.
I posed the tag-span question to a friend at technorati via IM on Thursday and they indicated that since they block spam blogs, they'll block spam tags, too. Fair enough. But in this case, there are three systems, not just Technorati, that need to block spam, and with these three, the possiblity exists that partial spam could be cleverly spread out across the three, in order to come together to equal a spam situation. How long til the spammers figure this out and use it to their advantage across these different sites?
I could see a spammer putting up a photo, relatively benign and not at all spammy, but with specific tags that matched a blog post, with links to spam sites, and tags designed to match the photo tags, but not look very spammy on their own. Then, with some coordinated tagging through Del.icio.us, so that those blog posts matching the tags from photos matching the Del.icio.us links, the blog posts and photos would show up together in Technorati Tag page results. Depending on the goals of the spammers, and their cleverness, it might be very hard for individual systems by themselves to see the entries as spam, or to use the community moderation on any one system to realize what is happening. It would be in combination that the information from all three systems would constitute spam.
Part of the problem I think is in the nature of the spamming, which gains exposure through short windows of time, and has value even if a very very small percentage of viewers actually click the links or see the words. Since the Technorati pages would only show posts and photos for a short period, hours maybe, the spammers could succeed with regularly changing information. Recently, I've been getting comment spam (blocked of course from appearing on the front end of my blogs, but I can see it on the back end) for hand cream, and pet food (like we didn't learn anything from the first bubble...) from what appear to otherwise be legitmate companies that are just looking to capitalize on something they perceive as providing value even if it doesn't really. It's not just mortgages and porn. It might be harder to recognize than we think because spam is changing, and spammers are very very clever.
Disclosure: I used to work at Technorati, and I'm friends with many of the folks there.
January 13, 2005
Objectivity vs. Fairness in News Media
Adam Penenberg has a great article in Wired this week: Heartaches of Journalist Bloggers.
It starts out talking about journalist's struggle between their paying gigs and their non-paying blogs.. but on page two, gets into issues around opinion. Because blogs are often about opinion, and journalists are often held to the old objectivity standard, there is conflict.
But I wonder, if journalists were held to a fairness standard, both in their paid work, for legacy media, and in blogging, would this issue would dissipate? What if journalists were responsible for fairly conveying stories, situations, and people? If that were the case, then when they express opinions on their blogs, and the expectation of fairness applied there, would people (blog readers used to new media standards and editors used to legacy media standards) see the point of view as consistent, and therefore acceptable? Readers find transparent bias to be good, because they feel they can make up their own minds about how to see information presented, and journalists, I think, might find fairness a more reasonable standard to follow, than objectivity.
January 10, 2005
FN Server: Blog Posts Hold Image Wikis, With Image Annotation, Plus Text Posts
Note: cross-posted to FN Server.
Greg Elin has been working on this experimental project, FN Server. It is an extention, a rif, on FotoNotes which he's been working on for years. That annotation tool allows for notes to be made within a jpg image. The new FN Server project goes much further to make (in what is right now, a single site of posts) something where users can post images and text, into little blocks, each functioning similarly to a blog post as a single, linkable conversation.
Inside each block .. it's whatever you want: images, text, annotations .. nested within one another. And changeable by participants. For example, within a block is a wiki like variant for an image, annotatable by anyone. Or there is a text with links function like a more typical blog post, and not editable, though it would be fun to have comments. Tags can be used for either type of block, and then searched by others. There is a daily view, a view by user, by tag, and at some point, maybe individual or group pages because as more users come, there will be the desire to break down from the whole even further.
Most importantly, to really see what is there, you must use it, because the navigation and functionality can't be seen from one single vantage point, but rather, must be traversed. You must wander around, see things from different angles, find the trail to putting objects and notes together, making conversation and sharing information.
I love the navigation box... located within a single block in the upper left grid of blocks. It's simple.. and elegant, unlike the x-y axis navigation systems often used by webservice sites where the top and left and/or right navigation bars are cluttered with a million links to features, views and skews, so heavy and overwhelming, and giving no sense of the function or use of the tool because they attempt to textually link everything at once in a purely hierarchical metaphor. This nav box is lovely: it is represented in what it is also navigating, and is almost on the same level as the other blocks except that it's always first and therefore doesn't scroll off the screen with older entries. It gives just enough of a hint of each function, so that each choice brings me to a result I expect, or if unknown, leaves me with something I can make sense of and relate back to the choice I made.
As to what content is there in the posts now, I've been on group blog projects before, where we agreed as a group to certain topical or other editorial standards, or where by invitation from one person, the blog topic or focus was directed and owned. But this little experiment the last month has been fun, because there is no director or topic focus for this group. Each of us has posted on various topics, mostly through images, with annotations but with some text posts as well. It is random in a way, but personal, engaging and playful.
Update: now FN Server is on source forge... as an open source project!! We love that at napsterization.
CNN has RSS Feeds
A little request, but if they would just send video through RSS+bittorent, I'd be very happy!
January 08, 2005
I've been thinking about the idea of this. Information overload. I have a friend who is exasperated by the amount of information he comes across, that he wants to apprehend and think about deeply as well as respond to in some meaningful way. And how, as he expresses this, I think back to when I felt more stressed by my own inability to think deeply about every piece of information I came across.
I think there is some parallel to when I got a cell phone.. and for years, felt all sorts of emotions about responding to calls, as if I had to pick up every one, and not give out the number too much to regulate this, and how I wanted to not call others too much, because they felt the same stress. And then at some point 3 or 4 years ago, I started giving the number to everyone, and stopped using my home very much. When I would get a call, I decided whether to answer or not, instead of the phone pushing me. And the change in perception, which was instantly there upon thinking I no longer had to respond, and instead had control, caused immediate relief. I've never felt that pressure or anxiety again.
With information, ideas, expressions online, networks of activity and the desire to watch the behavior, events, second order information tools, and my desire to write myself, in this and other blogs and in papers, I have felt that same pressure, to keep running ahead of the production of information, to keep apprehending it and then processing it, thinking about the deeper meaning, and yet there is so much, I cannot.
One thing I observe is how people who are younger seem to take in smaller, more granular bits of information, as though they are rocks skimming across a lake, touching down briefly for a bit of information before the next lift off to the next dip for something.... Kind of like a statistical survey where a study of 30 random items is conducted from a much larger corpus of data.
In a survey of 30, because of statistics theory and study, it is assumed that samples of that size give a decent portrayal of what the larger group is doing, even if that group is in the thousands. So those I see who are more immersed in the internet, tending to be younger though they all are not, who are breathing it, with far less anxiety than those who tend to be older, seem to do so by just skimming and surveying. And the difference, I wonder, might be because those older were educated by parents and schools situated in the analog metaphor, where a classic book, Lord Jim by Conrad (one of my favorites), is read over and over, in a search for multiple layers of meaning and experience. Because of this training, my instinct initially was to read the flood of digital information as closely and deeply, looking for and ascribing meaning, even if not at quite the same level as when reading a classic novel. But those who are younger, and have grown up with the flood of the digital, may be less educated toward that kind of apprehension and desire to ascribe the same kind of meaning and depth to everything, maybe because while their parents and teachers reside in analog frameworks of their own, those younger are balancing that kind of apprehension with their experience online of granular, digital bits that are skimmed. I don't know, but that feels like what is happening.
So a while ago, when I first started seeing this difference, I decided to skim, like a skipping rock, certain kinds of information and data, because I found that living with less anxiety actually allowed me to take in more and understand it more deeply. I am not sure if this is all real, or just something on the way to understanding better what really is happening as I take in this flood of data and watch people interacting with it. But I do know that I'm much happier filtering more information I want to understand by type, as I take things in, and doing surveys in the flood of digital information, instead of feeling obligated to consume every bit before I can understand something. And yet, for other kinds of information, like Conrad, or the Bruno Latour I was reading yesterday, I want the time for a depth of thought to think more about it.
I'm curious about how others perceive this and would really like to know what your experience is, and how you perceive other's interaction with the flood of information. Please let me know in comments or your own posts somewhere. Thanks!
January 07, 2005
Last night I wore a t-shirt I'd made from the graphics in yesterday's post, to the Creative Commons 2nd Anniversary party. While I actually now think that Bill Gates wasn't lumping *everyone* to the left of hardcore copyright incumbents as commies, and that we need balance between incentives for creators and the commons, though we are skewed right now in the law toward the incumbants who have the great majority of IP protectionist power, that the graphics were funny, so I decided to wear them. I don't believe in no property rights. We just need balance between these, and I sit in the middle, asking for the hardcore incumbents to join me there, instead of sitting in their protectionist extreme (copy) right position.
However, since Bill wasn't too nuanced in his characterization of the copyleft, I took the opportunity to make fun back in an equally simplistic way, so here are the pix from the party of the shirt:
I do think that Creative Commons does a good job of residing in the middle where they balance the left and right, and the party was great.. to celebrate their work, buy a t-shirt with the new Science Commons on it for a friend, and hang with a lot of very smart, very cool people. Thanks CC!
January 06, 2005
Happy Napsterization and Creative Commons
So Eddan Katz and I talked about and agreed to make Napsterization at the first Creative Commons event, a little over two years ago. For a year, it sat partly moving, and a year ago at the second one, I decided it was time to make it happen all the way. So going tonight to the third event (and second anniversary of Creative Commons) is a reminder that Napsterization is about that old too.
Is IP Binary? Bill Gates Thinks So
Okay, I know everyone has posted on this Bill Gates thing already. But 'geez' (to quote Dan Gillmor). Could you be any more unsophisticated in your take on something complex, and counterintuitive to traditional economics? I mean, it's not 0 or 1 people. Some IP protection is good, for the fostering of more innovation and development, because of the obvious incentives to give creators some ability to monetize their development. And some commonly shared IP is good, for the fostering of more innovation and development, because of the obviously open way that people can take ideas and run with them. How 'bout that? Both ways are necessary, and must be balanced, to foster innovation. Way to be unsubtle, Bill.
Question: what would have happened to the internet had the development of the modem been locked down the way Bill locks down all his stuff? Would it be Betamax all overagain? The issues are not binary.. one or the other. Both ends of IP spectrum need to exist... the commons as owned by all of us is necessary for incentivizing a lot of development and original development needs short term (17 years for patents, etc) compensatory incentives for development. But remember, copyright as recently extended is 95 years for works for hire, or 70 years past the death of a creator, and trademark and tradesecrets are forever (don't tell DeBeers, but trademarks are better than a diamond ring... if you really love your babe, a money-making trademark may be where it's at). In particular, copyright duration and term changes, and the rubber-stamping PTO guys, as pushed by incumbents, have weighted this situation too far to the direction of locked down IP.
c|Net asks and Bill sez in response, that there are "modern-day sort of communists" involved:
- Q: "In recent years, there's been a lot of people clamoring to reform and restrict intellectual-property rights. It started out with just a few people, but now there are a bunch of advocates saying, 'We've got to look at patents, we've got to look at copyrights.' What's driving this, and do you think intellectual-property laws need to be reformed?
- A: "No, I'd say that of the world's economies, there's more that believe in intellectual property today than ever. There are fewer communists in the world today than there were. There are some new modern-day sort of communists who want to get rid of the incentive for musicians and moviemakers and software makers under various guises. They don't think that those incentives should exist.
- And this debate will always be there. I'd be the first to say that the patent system can always be tuned--including the U.S. patent system. There are some goals to cap some reform elements. But the idea that the United States has led in creating companies, creating jobs, because we've had the best intellectual-property system--there's no doubt about that in my mind, and when people say they want to be the most competitive economy, they've got to have the incentive system. Intellectual property is the incentive system for the products of the future."
Um. That would be short term competitive, until we have so much lock-down in the US, that all innovation happens elsewhere.. which is perfect because we are so behind here anyway, what with our slow 'broad (mid) band' and our locked down, proprietary cell phone systems, among other thing. Things like this disincentivize uses and socialization with technology that the rest of the world is years down the road adopting and integrating into their lives and work. We are losing our leading position in so many ways, here. Heavy handed IP is just the start. And binary thinking is the way to keep ourselves on that path.
Update link: check out this on Thomas Jefferson, the commons and IP.
In the meantime, the copy commies have been hard at work illustrating their thumb-the-nose view toward Bill's words:
January 05, 2005
Technorati's New Key Word Watchlists
Dave sends word.. check them out.... I've been using watchlists for a long time to keep track of things. I find them very useful.
Dumpster Diving OPML Feeds
Susan Mernit just told me about how she was diving for feeds in other people's OPML files, in Bloglines, and came across two sets she really likes, so she copied a few feeds, but then realized that a lot of the feeds seemed similar to her own. Then she looked at who was dumpster diving her feeds, and those two were on the list. One turned out to be a Russian programmer, and the other was from Brazil. Small world.
Kinda reminds me of Napster's old playlists, where you would find a couple cool songs in a speedy download, look over the rest of someone's collection and then pull down a few more... only to find back on your current transfers page that they had done the same to you.. and were currently downloading things. This of course, was back before Napster was outlawed.
January 04, 2005
Blog Business Summit
I'm speaking at the Blog Business Summit to be held on January 24 and 25, 2005 in Seattle, WA.
There is a reduced price deal for speaker referred attendees if you follow this registration link here. The conference should be very informative for people who are not familiar with blogging but want to figure out how to incorporate it both internally as well as to communicate with customers externally.
In addition to blogs, there is one session that will include wikis, which I will introduce. It will be relatively short, considering the powerful contribution wikis can make to businesses. But I'm excited about the chance to show those unfamiliar with them just how cool and useful, and inspiring of creativity and collaboration they can be.
January 03, 2005
Google Groups Beta, Group Lists Social Courtesy, or What We Really Don't Want
Over the last few days, I've been getting email from a Google Groups list I have been subscribed on... by someone unknown to me, that I did not agree to or ask to be included in. Dan Gillmor responded to one message yesterday after several came through, asking to be removed, because he didn't know how he got on it, or why, and simply expressed: "geez" in response to the situation. In fact, the group list appears to have started last May, and the first email I have is from August. As of yesterday, when I went to Google Groups to figure out what was going on, I found there were 28 people on the list, though unlike Yahoo groups, once I made a login, I could not find an administrator or a list of participants.
I decided to reply to this Google Groups email list, and the email text I sent is below, explaining what the problems were that I found, stating that I thought it was strange to be put into something without being asked, especially something that, by replying to it, would lead to the public recording of my email address and text, without my agreement or permission in a Usenet list. Not that I care that much because I do blog after all.. but still. This is weird, and not very sociable or considerate. Seems in fact like an excellent way to annoy a bunch of folks.
I would suggest that Google Groups limit participation in groups by requiring a confirmation email-reply from list subscribers, and that it add an appropriate links to the bottom of group email lists.. explaining the privacy implications, the public nature of the group mail, and the support email address and de-subscribe information. All this would seem like pretty basic best practices for any group email tools.
Since I sent that reply email back to this group, I've received several email or otherwise heard from people like danah boyd and Chris Alden telling me they are on the list as well, but they don't know how they were put on it, or how to get off, because there is no unsubscribe link. And I've heard from a number of others.. who are not on the list, but who 'heard' about the email sent from Dan, and me.
This is the original letter I sent out yesterday to the list, after Dan's email, for those who want to see it (it's redundant to the above post):
- I have no idea how I ended up on this list either. I've never signed up for Google Groups, until today.. when I coincidentally happened to get a whole lot of email via this group (which I did not subscribe to) and happened to be doing an analysis of group ware tools.. including GG and Yahoo Groups, just now. Interesting introduction to GG.
- Looking at the "about groups" section (http://groups-beta.google.com/group/Testing-Google-Groups/about), there have been 19 email since May, when it started (I went back to see that I appear to have been added in August) and there are 28 members. However, once you join GG, the system will not allow you to see who the other members are, unlike Yahoo Groups, which does allow members to see other members and the administrator of the group. So we can't really tell who subscribed us or started this... other than to see the first two messages... by "mer...@gmail.com" and "krucoff" (see this link to find more about the group email for May: http://groups-beta.google.com/group/Testing-Google-Groups/browse_frm/ month/2004-05).
- A hint, for people starting groups: don't subscribe people and their email without asking them first. If they don't agree, don't put them into it. It's rude. It's spam unless we agree. Especially since it's publicly searchable as a Usenet group.
- Also, if anyone from Google is on this, your system has a serious problem. People can be added to groups without their being asked, or warned, and the email is received from the list with no remove link at bottom, or link to the particular Google Group they have been unwittingly subscribed to, in order to see what is going on to begin with. And for what I'm sure isn't the last problem, the whole thing is viewable live on the web published as a Usenet group. And for those who didn't voluntarily sign up, their email address and content (if they participate in the group) is available whether they agreed to or were aware of this "feature" or not. If they are used to Yahoo Groups, they may well believe, even if they know it's a group email list, that it's private, and you should warn people about this difference.
January 02, 2005
Happy New Year!
Napsterization has been on hiatus the last two weeks.. been working, cooking, playing and traveling a bit to see very cool people.. and reading a very good book. I think this year will be very interesting and I'm looking forward to it!