“The Internet’s future is not Web 2.0 or 200.0 but the post-Web, where time instead of space is the organizing principle — instead of many stained-glass windows, instead of information laid out in space, like vegetables at a market — the Net will be many streams of information flowing through time.”—
“In an age of digital perfectability, it takes quite a lot of courage to say, “Leave it alone” and, if you do decide to make changes, [it takes] quite a lot of judgment to know at which point you stop. A lot of technology offers you the chance to make everything completely, wonderfully perfect, and thus to take out whatever residue of human life there was in the work to start with. It would be as though someone approached Cezanne and said, “You know, if you used Photoshop you could get rid of all those annoying brush marks and just have really nice, flat color surfaces.” It’s a misunderstanding to think that the traces of human activity — brushstrokes, tuning drift, arrhythmia — are not part of the work. They are the fundamental texture of the work, the fine grain of it.”—
“In a blinding flash of inspiration, the other day I realized that “interactive” anything is the wrong word. Interactive makes you imagine people sitting with their hands on controls, some kind of gamelike thing. The right word is “unfinished.” Think of cultural products, or art works, or the people who use them even, as being unfinished. Permanently unfinished. We come from a cultural heritage that says things have a “nature,” and that this nature is fixed and describable. We find more and more that this idea is insupportable - the “nature” of something is not by any means singular, and depends on where and when you find it, and what you want it for. The functional identity of things is a product of our interaction with them. And our own identities are products of our interaction with everything else. Now a lot of cultures far more “primitive” than ours take this entirely for granted - surely it is the whole basis of animism that the universe is a living, changing, changeable place. Does this make clearer why I welcome that African thing? It’s not nostalgia or admiration of the exotic - it’s saying, Here is a bundle of ideas that we would do well to learn from.”—
On August 11, WMATA will release rail data including the paths of lines, real-time predictions for train arrivals, service disruptions, and escalator and elevator outages. Bus data will follow by the end of 2010.
Bus data will take longer because, according to IT head Suzanne Peck, all bus stop inventory has heretofore been spread among four different, incompatible systems. WMATA is integrating that into a single system, which will improve the usability of this data for external developers and internally as well.
Chris Zimmerman also asked about the Google agreement. Peck said that WMATA has completed their end of some steps before signing the agreement, but she and General Manager Sarles couldn’t give specifics on when anything would happen. Zimmerman noted that WMATA seems to be “asymptotically approaching” completion on this issue.
Peck said that WMATA is contracting with Mashery to actually serve the open data to third party developers. Mashery will host the data itself on their servers, and can manage load so that one application doesn’t overwhelm systems and shut it down for everyone else.
Users and developers will be able to accept the terms and conditions with a single click, but Peck did not specify what the terms and conditions will be. If they’re still too restrictive, many open source developers won’t be able to use the data. I’ve asked for more clarification.
If you want to talk about this further with WMATA officials, the RAC is holding a public meeting to get a briefing on this initiative on Monday, July 19th at 6:30 pm. It’ll be at the lobby level committee room at WMATA HQ, 600 5th Street, NW.
Will be interesting to see what cool apps people build based on the data. I wonder if Google Maps will start tapping into realtime data about trains?
Status update on my dad’s situation — now out of the hospital and in assisted living facility five minutes away from my home — and my thoughts about the changes going on as the result of him moving from the house we have shared for 18 years.
Tumblr does allow mapping a domain name to a Tumblr hosted blog, and that simply works as advertised. In this case I mapped ‘www.stoweboyd.com’ to ‘stoweboyd.tumblr.com’ and was off and running.
Tumblr does not allow someone porting to their platform any sort of automated help, and in particular this means that simply cutting and pasting entires from Suqarespace and posting them to Tumblr would work for the contents of the posts, but all the links that people in the outside world might have pointing to my writings would be broken. For example, if the old URL of an entry posted on Squarespace was
and there isn’t anyway in Tumblr to create the former over again.
Since I was going to potentially break everything, I decided this would be the best possible time to change the name of my blog from /Message (www.stoweboyd.com/message) to Stowe Boyd (www.stoweboyd.com), which is something i have wanted to do for a year or so.
It turns out that Tumblr does support a redirection capability, however, which is buried in the mechanism for creating Tumblr ‘pages’. So I was able to use that to map the old Squarespace URLs to the new Tumblr URLs:
And this redirection, like the reposting, has to be done manually. But at least it is possible. There seems to be no way to automate this at present: I was informed by a friend that there are no API calls in Tumblr for creating redirect pages.
This is also made more complex by the archival URLs in Squarespace. A single post can be referred to by several URLs:
and a link from the outside world might be any of these. In general, I settled for just the first, except in a few instance where someone like the NY Times had used an archival URL.
You might wonder at this point if I had lost my mind, taking on so much manual work. But the truth is I outsourced it to a college student, Blake Harrison, once I had figured out how to do it.
There were several other major pains in the porting.
One pain is links that I have in my posts to other /Message posts. The redirection approach works in general, but we are only creating redirects for 2010 posts, or a selection of popular posts from earlier years. I expect I will be fixing those links for months — if not years — to come.
Another has to do with images. On Squarespace, I had often uploaded images onto their server, so the references to those were local. And I plan to shut down that account as soon as the porting is finished, in the next few weeks. So we had to download the images and then reupload them to Tumblr. This also helped a great deal with image presentation, since Tumblr scales photos to one of several dimensions, which match the Tumblr template model much better than a stray link to an image hosted elsewhere. I am sure we missed some. (I also discovered a nasty bug in Squarespace during this. Apparently, uploading an image file called ‘slide 1’ when there is an existing ‘slide 1’ did not lead to renaming of the second file to, for instance, ‘slide 1-1’: it led to a replacement of the image. So whenever I had uploaded images from presentations, I was inadvertently overwriting all previous presentation images.)
Both systems support tags, and we simply retyped them.
Tumblr supports setting a date for a post in the past, which we did, trying to conserve the sequence of posts. However, since Tumblr does not provide a link to the post in the editor or dashboard views, there is no simple way to browse to the page after saving to see the actual layout and to capture the actual URL (necessary for redirects). The editor preview mode doesn’t show the actual URL anywhere. Therefore, after saving a post, we would have to use the Tumblr archival URL for the date, like
which browses to a page of posts from March 3, 2010. Then we click on the specific post permalink to get the actual URL. A lot of work.
All this postdating of posts led to the discovery of a pernicious bug in Tumblr. It seems that when templates take advantage of Tumblr capabilities for moving from a given page to a previous or next page, the determination of the ordering is based on when the pages are created, not the date set in the date field. As a result, I have to avoid the use of next or previous page navigation. Hopefully, Tumblr will fix this bug in the future.
On Squarespace, I had relied on the company’s inbuilt commenting system. On Tumblr I am using Disqus, so we have cut and pasted the old comments into Disqus.
I haven’t said much about Tumblr templates, but the flexibility they offer — in comparison with Squarespace — is one of the reasons I wanted to move. I am now using Lynx created by Andrew Stichbury, and had fooled with a number of others, too.
Status And Conclusions
Blake originally was working from the past to the present, but I stopped him somewhere in 2009 to work on 2010. He’s now working backwards from the present, and is working on April posts at present. I hope he will have moved everything in the next few weeks, before going back to college.
If you have a link that doesn’t resolve, let me know in the comments to this post, and we will fix it.
The process has turned out to be workable, even with thousands of posts, although very time consuming. The redirect capability is a godsend, and solves a mazillion headaches, such as serving up RSS feeds.
I am extremely happy with using Tumblr for both of my principle blogs, and an upcoming blog project called 20onetwenty, a site that will be dedicated to my search for a place to live within 120 minutes by train of New York City.
Having multiple Tumblr blogs causes some headaches, though. Tumblr supports multiple blogs on a single account, but certain capabilities are restricted to the main (initial) blog created in that account. So I now have two Tumblr accounts, one for stoweboyd.com and the other for underpaidgenius.com (and soon, another for 20onetwenty.com). This means I have to logout and login many times a day, and this complicates the use of Tumblr’s bookmarklet. I have created a bookmark on my Firefox toolbar that links to the logout page at Tumblr, and that resolves to a login page, so the result is more or less like selecting which blog I would like to start posting to. However, it would be better if that could be integrated into the Tumblr bookmarklet, itself.
Brainstorming in a group became popular in 1953 with the publication of a business book, Applied Imagination. But it’s been proven not to work since 1958, when Yale researchers found that the technique actually reduced a team’s creative output: the same number of people generate more and better ideas separately than together. In fact, according to University of Oklahoma professor Michael Mumford, half of the commonly used techniques intended to spur creativity don’t work, or even have a negative impact. As for most commercially available creativity training, Mumford doesn’t mince words: it’s “garbage.” Whether for adults or kids, the worst of these programs focus solely on imagination exercises, expression of feelings, or imagery. They pander to an easy, unchallenging notion that all you have to do is let your natural creativity out of its shell.
Bronson and Merryman do go on to make some concrete recommendations and observations:
Physical activity loosens up creativity muscles.
Throw away the suggestion box: it’s demotivating.
Don’t watch TV.
'Do something only you would come up with — that none of your friends and family' — and co-workers — 'would come up with.' - Mark Runco
But the one I found most compelling is that multitasking seems to support creativity:
Take a break.
Those who study multi-tasking report that you can’t work on two projects simultaneously, but the dynamic is different when you have more than one creative project to complete. In that situation, more projects get completed on time when you allow yourself to switch between them if solutions don’t come immediately. This corroborates surveys showing that professors who set papers aside to incubate ultimately publish more papers. Similarly, preeminent mathematicians usually work on more than one proof at a time.
Perhaps my bias toward multitasking is based on the nature of the work I do, and that I think is central to most professionals: it’s creative work. So putting something down when you have come to a halt, and turning your mind to something else for a while actually increases our capacity for creative thought.
Again, proof that we aren’t chairs, we are people.
“If nature has made any one thing less susceptible than all others of exclusive property, it is the action of the thinking power called an idea, which an individual may exclusively possess as long as he keeps it to himself; but the moment it is divulged, it forces itself into the possession of every one, and the receiver cannot dispossess himself of it. Its peculiar character, too, is that no one possesses the less, because every other possesses the whole of it. He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me.”—Thomas Jefferson (via underpaidgenius)
Flipboard burst on the scene this week like a Rodriguez movie trailer, or a new diet drug, and everyone rushed to download (following Scoble’s recommendation). Now that the dust has settled, and the controversy about Flipboard being unready to handle the surge of signups has started to abate, some larger issues are starting to arise from Flipboard’s modus vivendi:
Social news app Flipboard was yesterday’s hot new app, despite—or perhaps because of—technical problems that prevented some features from working. But there might be a bigger snag: Is Flipboard scraping content it doesn’t have the rights to?
Flipboard, the new iPad app that renders links from your Twitter feed and favorite sites in a beautiful, magazine-style layout, has a problem: it scrapes websites directly rather than using public RSS feeds, opening it to claims of copyright infringement.
Unlike some similar news apps like Pulse, Flipboard appears to eschew the older syndication standby RSS to instead grab URLs from Twitter and Facebook feeds. While news sources that maintain their own automatic Twitter feeds tend to link the same stories as they do in their RSS feeds, there’s one critical difference: RSS also allows content to be included in the feed, whereas Twitter provides only the URLs that link back to the full website. (Unless, of course, the site only writes 140 character news stories.)
Back in the ancient days of the mid-aughts, there was a healthy debate online about whether or not news outlets should provide full content feeds or simply headlines and excerpts. Rather than rehash that debate—one that’s still ongoing—just remember this: whether a company chose to publish “full feeds” or excerpts, the choice remained theirs.
The fact that publishers have some explicit means of controlling the use of their published materials through RSS (as well as devices like the robot.txt files used to control indexing by search engine robots) has not actually always provided strong enough controls for publishers. Said differently, publisher have still blocked or threatened services like Pulse and Flipboard even when they are only serving up what has been published in their RSS feeds. Murdoch has made the case that search engines ‘bots don’t have the right to index his sites even when robot.txt files indicate that those sites are open for indexing.
This suggests the need for some other mechanism to define what sort of reuse or aggregation rights that publishers care to allow. Creative Commons suggests an example, but it is likely to be considered too coarsely grained, and it doesn’t delve deeply enough into the nuts and bolts of actual reuse.
The rise of tools like Flipboard may represent a new day. Tools that intentionally sidestep RSS, and instead reach through the URL and spider the websites themselves, like search engines do. Search engines build indexes and return snippets clipped from the myriad sites they have visited based on the search queries users enter. But Flipboard is tapping into our social networks — like those that I follow on Twitter — by reaching through the URLs in the Twitter stream, and aggregating what they point to, and rendering it in a magazine-like UX.
But the presentation in Flipboard poses some real business problems. Where’s the ads? Publishers make their money on ads (and pay walls), and so they are going to start to howl if people are viewing their stories with all the ads parsed out.
Perhaps even more contentious will be the response of Facebook and other social services like Twitter. To the extent that Flipboard replaces their UX, they may lose revenue as well. Twitter recently has moved into the realm of building its own clients and does so with the explicit goal of making ad revenue. These social network giants could block access to Flipboard and other tools of this sort, simply because they will resist being treated as a dumb pipe of social messages. Facebook will certainly move aggressively if Flipboard ‘dumbs down’ what Facebook does for users, treating it just as a messaging bus with URLs, pictures, and social gestures embedded in it.
It is relatively simple to extrapolate to a near future in which Flipboard, or some other entrant with similar aspirations, has ginned up a superior user experience, one that involves its own layers of sociality. Imagine that Flipboard can offer its users greater benefits by communicating directly through Flipboard, and not through underlying services like Twitter or Facebook — for example, being able to share Tumblr like reblog capabilities, or some other dimension of sociality that naturally falls out of the iPad experience.
I am certain that Twitter and Facebook would consider this course of events — however hypothetical — with some alarm.I believe that these companies must retain control of their user experience, and they must resist being commoditized by a richer layer of sociality superimposed above their offerings.
Sounds like Juhani Risku has a screenplay for a plot to take over Nokia, perhaps where he was supposed to play the ‘co-pilot’ that would save the day, and push out all the executives who wouldn’t listen. No doubt Nokia needs to be shaken up, though.
Jeffrey Rosen has a recent piece in the NY Times Magazine, which exposes the natural conservatism of our theoretically open and liberal society. Every action that has been recorded on the web — that party where you drank too much and put on a tutu, your espousing socialist rhetoric, or calling a college buddy a racial epithet — and someone someday is going to dredge it up and use it against you.
According to a recent survey by Microsoft, 75 percent of U.S. recruiters and human-resource professionals report that their companies require them to do online research about candidates, and many use a range of sites when scrutinizing applicants — including search engines, social-networking sites, photo- and video-sharing sites, personal Web sites and blogs, Twitter and online-gaming sites. Seventy percent of U.S. recruiters report that they have rejected candidates because of information found online, like photos and discussion-board conversations and membership in controversial groups.[emphasis mine.]
It’s often said that we live in a permissive era, one with infinite second chances. But the truth is that for a great many people, the permanent memory bank of the Web increasingly means there are no second chances — no opportunities to escape a scarlet letter in your digital past. Now the worst thing you’ve done is often the first thing everyone knows about you.
Jorge Luis Borges, in his short story “Funes, the Memorious,” describes a young man who, as a result of a riding accident, has lost his ability to forget. Funes has a tremendous memory, but he is so lost in the details of everything he knows that he is unable to convert the information into knowledge and unable, as a result, to grow in wisdom. Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, in “Delete,” uses the Borges story as an emblem for the personal and social costs of being so shackled by our digital past that we are unable to evolve and learn from our mistakes. After reviewing the various possible legal solutions to this problem, Mayer-Schönberger says he is more convinced by a technological fix: namely, mimicking human forgetting with built-in expiration dates for data. He imagines a world in which digital-storage devices could be programmed to delete photos or blog posts or other data that have reached their expiration dates, and he suggests that users could be prompted to select an expiration date before saving any data.
This is not an entirely fanciful vision. Google not long ago decided to render all search queries anonymous after nine months (by deleting part of each Internet protocol address), and the upstart search engine Cuil has announced that it won’t keep any personally identifiable information at all, a privacy feature that distinguishes it from Google. And there are already small-scale privacy apps that offer disappearing data. An app called TigerText allows text-message senders to set a time limit from one minute to 30 days after which the text disappears from the company’s servers on which it is stored and therefore from the senders’ and recipients’ phones. (The founder of TigerText, Jeffrey Evans, has said he chose the name before the scandal involving Tiger Woods’s supposed texts to a mistress.)
Expiration dates could be implemented more broadly in various ways. Researchers at the University of Washington, for example, are developing a technology called Vanish that makes electronic data “self-destruct” after a specified period of time. Instead of relying on Google, Facebook or Hotmail to delete the data that is stored “in the cloud” — in other words, on their distributed servers — Vanish encrypts the data and then “shatters” the encryption key. To read the data, your computer has to put the pieces of the key back together, but they “erode” or “rust” as time passes, and after a certain point the document can no longer be read. Tadayoshi Kohno, a designer of Vanish, told me that the system could provide expiration dates not only for e-mail but also for any data stored in the cloud, including photos or text or anything posted on Facebook, Google or blogs. The technology doesn’t promise perfect control — you can’t stop someone from copying your photos or Facebook chats during the period in which they are not encrypted. But as Vanish improves, it could bring us much closer to a world where our data didn’t linger forever.
I am intrigued with the notion of digital forgetting, and in a world dominated by a few apps like Facebook and MySpace it would be straightforward to have such features implemented, by government dictate if needed.
Young journalists who once dreamed of trotting the globe in pursuit of a story are instead shackled to their computers, where they try to eke out a fresh thought or be first to report even the smallest nugget of news — anything that will impress Google algorithms and draw readers their way.
Tracking how many people view articles, and then rewarding — or shaming — writers based on those results has become increasingly common in old and new media newsrooms. The Christian Science Monitor now sends a daily e-mail message to its staff that lists the number of page views for each article on the paper’s Web site that day.
The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Los Angeles Times all display a “most viewed” list on their home pages. Some media outlets, including Bloomberg News and Gawker Media, now pay writers based in part on how many readers click on their articles.
Once only wire-service journalists had their output measured this way. And in a media environment crowded with virtual content farms where no detail is too small to report as long as it was reported there first, Politico stands out for its frenetic pace or, in the euphemism preferred by its editors, “high metabolism.”
>The top editors, who rise as early as 4:30 a.m., expect such volume and speed from their reporters because they believe Politico’s very existence depends, in large part, on how quickly it can tell readers something, anything they did not know.
I wonder if some psychologist is studying how journalism is being reshaped by faster perceived clockspeed?
Most writing will become like the wall paper in hotel chains: who notices?
Yes, more ‘news’ gets broken, but does it have less impact in a world filled with howling voices, reporting on every sidelong glance of politicians, or every nuance of a senior executive’s university convocation address, or every implication of a house committee’s hearings on Indian affairs?
I am not suggesting the world should slow down, or even that it is going faster. But the background music is played at a faster tempo, our hearts beat faster, and the perception of time may be all that matters.
When the news cycle trends to instantaneous in a world geared to something chunkier, there will be repercussions. One is that most writing will become like the wall paper in hotel chains: who notices?
My bet is that we will accommodate these changes by tuning out the background din, like becoming used to the background noise of a city. We will filter more, and read no more than we ever did, even if cadres of laptop-bound 20-somethings are typing their hearts out at 4:30am.
They will burn out, and will will tune out. Curation will become more important that writing, because there is an ocean of writing begging to be read.
“There is no single, definitive “stream of consciousness,” because there is no central Headquarters, no Cartesian Theater where “it all comes together” for the perusal of a Central Meaner. Instead of such a single stream (however wide), there are multiple channels in which specialist circuits try, in parallel pandemoniums, to do their various things, creating Multiple Drafts as they go. Most of these fragmentary drafts of “narrative” play short-lived roles in the modulation of current activity but some get promoted to further functional roles, in swift succession, by the activity of a virtual machine in the brain. The seriality of this machine is not a “hard-wired” design feature, but rather the upshot of a succession of coalitions of these specialists.
The basic specialists are part of our animal heritage. They were not developed to perform peculiarly human actions, such as reading and writing, but ducking, predator-avoiding, face-recognizing, grasping, throwing, berry-picking, and other essential tasks. They are often opportunistically enlisted in new roles, for which their native talents more or less suit them. The result is not bedlam only because the trends that are imposed on all this activity are themselves the product of design. Some of this design is innate, and is shared with other animals. But it is augmented, and sometimes even overwhelmed in importance, by microhabits of thought that are developed in the individual, partly idiosyncratic results of self-exploration and partly the predesigned gifts of culture. Thousands of memes, mostly borne by language, but also by wordless “images” and other data structures, take up residence in an individual brain, shaping its tendencies and thereby turning it into a mind.”
We’ve got cellphones and BlackBerrys and Kindles and iPads, and we’re e-mailing and text-messaging and chatting and tweeting — I used to call it Twittering until I was corrected by high school kids who patiently explained to me, as if I were the village idiot, that the correct term is tweeting. Twittering, tweeting — whatever it is, it sounds like a nervous disorder.
This is all part of what I think is one of the weirder aspects of our culture: a heightened freneticism that seems to demand that we be doing, at a minimum, two or three things every single moment of every hour that we’re awake. Why is multitasking considered an admirable talent? We could just as easily think of it as a neurotic inability to concentrate for more than three seconds.
Why do we have to check our e-mail so many times a day, or keep our ears constantly attached, as if with Krazy Glue, to our cellphones? When you watch the news on cable television, there are often additional stories being scrolled across the bottom of the screen, stock market results blinking on the right of the screen, and promos for upcoming features on the left. These extras often block significant parts of the main item we’re supposed to be watching.
A friend of mine told me about an engagement party that she had attended. She said it was lovely: a delicious lunch and plenty of Champagne toasts. But all the guests had their cellphones on the luncheon tables and had text-messaged their way through the entire event.
Enough already with this hyperactive behavior, this techno-tyranny and nonstop freneticism. We need to slow down and take a deep breath.
I’m not opposed to the remarkable technological advances of the past several years. I don’t want to go back to typewriters and carbon paper and yellowing clips from the newspaper morgue. I just think that we should treat technology like any other tool. We should control it, bending it to our human purposes.
Let’s put down at least some of these gadgets and spend a little time just being ourselves. One of the essential problems of our society is that we have a tendency, amid all the craziness that surrounds us, to lose sight of what is truly human in ourselves, and that includes our own individual needs — those very special, mostly nonmaterial things that would fulfill us, give meaning to our lives, enlarge us, and enable us to more easily embrace those around us.
Oh, great. Let’s go back to watching televison, Bob, right? That’s what people were doing before the web came along. Have you read Putnum’s Bowling Alone? Where he characterizes pre-Internet America as a culture — in the 80’s and 90’s — headed toward zero social capital?
It might push you out of your comfort zone, Bob, to see people texting at a wedding, telling the folks back home how big the cake is, or whether Joey smooshed Maria with cake before he kissed her, but that’s people valuing being connected, and we now have the tools that make it functionally zero cost to do so.
And the friends we make on Facebook or Twitter aren’t ‘virtual’: they are real people, just people not in the room at the present moment. Don’t equate this with tamagotchi virtual pets, or playing soduko online. This is — at its core — human interaction. And there is never enough connectedness in the world, really.
You say you’d like people to listen to each other, but Twitter and Facebook are for listening too, not just shouting.
And the world hasn’t sped up. It’s still spinning around its axis once per day. Older people seem threatened by an increased frequency of interactions. There is a subtle suggestion that social interaction is cheapened — made ‘common’ — by increased duration or frequency. That that is a cultural bias, though, not some invariant of the universe.
I am sorry to see Herbert, who has such a sure touch when it comes to recounting the injustice of the world, and the ways in which society can run over the average citizen, turn his talents to Sunday supplement preaching on the evils of the sped-up web, texting, and those dag-nabbed mobile phones.
He should see past the superficial, past the activities that seem foreign and threatening to him, to the results: a more connected world, with people more involved and more caring. A deeper world in which human relationships are valued more highly than in the 20th century, and where social media — dominated by social networks — have thankfully displaced soulless mass media like TV, newspapers, and the radio in Herbert’s car.
I had been using Google’s Gmail for years until quite recently. Among other things, it offered high speed access to a large store of email, until earlier this year when it seemed to start slowing down. And, as I had transitioned to iPhone, it seemed increasingly unintegrated with how I was living.
A few weeks ago, after downloading the iPhone 4 OS for my old iPhone 3Gs, I noticed that Apple had announced a beta of a new version of their MobileMe Calendar:
It looked so good that I had to take a closer look at the entire MobileMe suite of tools. I signed up for a MobileMe account (which is not cheap: $86/year), and hooked things up, and tried to walk away from Gmail and Google Calendar for awhile. The results are interesting.
First, I started using the MobileMe apps via browser, but these sync with Apple’s desktop apps, like Mail and Calendar, as well as the apps on my iPhone (now my new iPhone 4). U haven’t been traveling since this experiment started, so my experience has been principally around the desktop and browser.
MobileMe Mail. I tweaked things so that my Gmail account is being pulled into MobileMe Mail. I like the interface and user experience, especially because of the endless ‘loading’ I seem to be experiencing on Gmail, but even without that it is cleaner and easier to read:
It’s not just the lack of ads in the emails, either. Gmail’s UI is kind of ugly by comparison.
MobileMe mail lacks the integration with Google services that Gmail touts, but I didn’t use many, except for the erratically implemented tasks and calendar integration. So moving over I simply decided to start with the minimum and see what was possible.
Relatively quickly, I noticed that my Gmail Notifier — a tiny app that runs in the background on my Mac — was no longer helpful. It still sent Growl alerts, but they were attached to Gmail, not to MobileMe. I found Vibealicious’ Notify as a replacement, and that has dramatically skewed my experience of MobileMe.
Basically, Notify is a lightweight but nearly complete email client on its own. It is extremely well integrated with MobileMe Mail, so much so that I can read and file mail into MobileMe folders, and even reply to, create, and send messages.
This has led me to become unstuck in email. (Extra points for the literary reference alluded to in the title: anyone?)
In the past, I would open my gmail, and my calendar, and keep them basically open all day.
Now, I do the opposite. I open Notify because of seeing an alert, or noting that I have a certain number of unread emails, and I glance through them, filing some, deleting others, and occasionally sending a brief response. For more in depth emails, I will click through which brings up MobileMe in a browser window. After finishing that email, though, I close the window. And email doesn’t seem to dominate the landscape on my screen like it used to.
MobileMe Calendar. It’s pretty clear that the Calendar beta is what I want: calendar sharing, invitations, etc.
The current Calendar (I don’t have access to the beta yet) doesn’t allow me to import external calendars, like my travel schedule from TripIt, so I have actually been using the desktop Mac Calendar and the Calendar app on my iPhone. I find that I am leaving my iPhone Calendar open — it does show all subscribed calendar feeds, like the desktop Calendar.
This also includes a simple task list, which I have adopted. But I think I will reserve my judgment about calendaring. Those who have played with the beta say that tasks will be supported in the browser version, and sychronized with the desktop Calendar, but not available on iPad or iPhone. I bet they will rethink that in subsequent releases, but not a real factor for me at present since I don’t have an iPad and I schlep my 13” laptop around nearly everywhere.
I am still sending email from my Gmail account, and using it as a store — I have to go back for old threads and email addresses — but I can envision slowly transitioning to MobileMe permantently, so long as the beta turns out as advertised.
The biggest change has really been the sense of becoming unstuck, of treating email more like text messaging, and less like email. Partly that is because of the lightweight UX of MobileMe Mail, and partly the use of Notify. And I like that feeling a lot.
(Again — Extra points for the literary reference alluded to in the title: anyone?)
David Lazer included a really interesting demo in one of his talks at the Sunbelt Social Networks Conference. He was in a session talking about using the internet as a research resource, and there were about 100 people in the room. Lazer asked how many people there were under 30 years old – about 40% of the people raised their hands. Then he asked how many of those people had a landline – and not one of them did. He repeated the exercise with people over 45, and about 2/3 of us still have a landline.
The point that he was making is that a lot of the people making pronouncements about the internet are over 45 – and our experiences of the internet and technology is likely to be very different from those of the majority of people using the net these days.
Or perhaps almost all of us are startled by very very fast technological advance, or in this case, technological obsolescence. It’s common to follow the arc of new adoption — how many people are buying iPads, for example — but tracking what is being left behind is much, much harder.
Lazer’s presentation trap is a good one because the ‘other end’ impacts of a transition to cell phones are discrete: younger folks simply drop landlines. (Note: I am in my 50’s, and have no landline, so it’s not just the under 30’s cadre.)
But other innovations — adoption of Tumblr-style blogging, or streaming social applications in the business context — don’t have such a clean yin-yang duality to them. It’s messier. And, as a result, Kastelle’s point is made much harder: it’s not clear exactly how these innovations are being used, because what people are leaving behind isn’t as clear as the landlines dropped following cell phone adoption. The groups aren’t discrete.
“The first step is to measure what can be easily measured. This is okay as far as it goes. The second step is to disregard that which cannot be measured, or give it an arbitrary quantitative value. This is artificial and misleading. The third step is to presume that what cannot be measured really is not very important. This is blindness. The fourth step is to say that what cannot be measured does not really exist. This is suicide.”—
Coturnix has a massive list of posts regarding the Pepsigate mess: where SEED Scienceblogs management apparently allowed Pepsi to publish a blog as if the company was a reputable scientist, and they were spinning psuedo science about nutrition and diet.
Australian jewellery designer Victoria Buckley posted pictures on her Facebook page showing naked porcelain dolls modelling with her jewellery. Facebook told her take them down. (HO/victoriabuckley.com)
Facebook does not allow images of female nipples on their site, including breast-feeding nipples and expensive doll nipples.
When Australian jewellery designer Victoria Buckley posted pictures to her Facebook page that showed a naked porcelain dolls modelling with her jewellery, Facebook told her take them down.
The photos were in contravention to their terms of service, Facebook’s message said.
Nevertheless, she didn’t want her Facebook page to be taken down, so she put black censorship bars over the offending bits, and re-uploaded them to a new Facebook page called “Save Ophelia — exquisite doll censored by Facebook.”
Facebook shut down the page within 48 hours.
She’s tried to contact them, but has so far been unsuccessful.
Facebook did not respond to QMI Agency’s request for comment.
Seems like small-minded puritanism — like Apple’s blocking of pictures or games involving girls in bikinis — rather than a big brotherish censorship of political dissent, though.
A bit off topic (my nod to the social ‘rules’ of thesis-post blog replies ;-) if such exist. I suppose by this I am indicating my ‘correct’ socialization, but begging your indulgence for an exception) but is there a citation style that allows bit.ly-encoded URLs? To me, it still seems a bit odd to see these in a medium where they provide little benefit. Are they regarded as a permanent method to reference the sources? Just curious.
RonM on July 5th, 2010 at 12:20 pm
RonM, thank you for your comment. I chose bit.ly simply because the urls were really long and it just made my footnotes look neater on the page. Original draft was in LaTeX. I spoke to Stowe Boyd earlier this week and he told me bit.ly links are all being archived and are permanent – right Stowe?
cathcw on July 9th, 2010 at 10:52 am
My feeling is that it should be acceptable to use shortened URLs in citations. A few pros:
Descriptiveness — They are not necessarily any less descriptive. Consider Catharine’s post, which has the illuminating URL of “http://www.justwhitenoise.com/?p=1059”. In fact some shorteners let you provide a distinctive name in the URL, like “http://sto.ly/noisyidiotdilemma”.
Analytics — Shorteners often have some click count capabilities, or maybe even stronger analytics, so the author can track references to the articles they cite, which is simply not possible otherwise.
Shortness — As Catharine points out, shortened URLs are short, which is meaningful on the printed page just as it is in Twitter. Incredibly annoying URLs — like the ones created by Google maps — simply have to be shortened to be used productively.
And a few cons:
Domain Obscurity — If the original article was posted at the New York Times, that bit of information is lost if it winds up as a Bit.ly link. However, many publishers like the New York Times are providing their own URL shorteners, so a link like “http://nyti.ms/a6hO6J” retains that domain clarity, however. Although in this case, the author loses the analytics.
URL Shortener Shutdown — There is always the possibility that a URL shortener service could cease operations. The NY Times shut down NYTUrl.com after ‘abuses’ by users, and as a result, any URLs created by that service are now unusable.
In 2009, I was involved in the formation of 301Works.org, a non-profit dedicated to ‘backstopping’ URLs, and where I serve as director. The idea is that participating URL shortener companies — which includes Bit.ly, and many others — will back up their URL mappings — the pairs of long and short URLs — so that if they decide to shut down the service 301Works.org (a project of the Internet Archive) can step in and provide the redirection for users.
My recommendation is that anyone planning to use a shortened URL in a permanent way, as in the citation of a paper, might want to a/ retain the long version of the URL, and b/ make sure the URL shortener service is a member of 301Works.org.
In the final analysis, all URLs are impermanent. Magazines and periodicals may go out of business, or change their URL structure. Blogger can rehost their blogs, changing their URLs. Or pages can simply be deleted. Avoiding short URLs would not get away from this fundamental law of the web.
Zachary Sniderman at Mashable put together a graphic depicting the timeline of Google’s efforts in social, showing acquisition after acquisition and the eventual shit-canning of Dodgeball and Jaiku, and other gaffes, like Orkut.
I can see why they are searching for a head of social. Maybe Google should just hire a hangman.
A desire path (also known as a desire line or social trail) is a path developed by erosion caused by animal or human footfall. The path usually represents the shortest or most easily navigated route between an origin and destination. The width and amount of erosion of the line represents the amount of demand. The term was coined by Gaston Bachelard in his book The Poetics of Space. Desire paths can usually be found as shortcuts where constructed pathways take a circuitous route.
They are manifested on the surface of the earth in certain cases, e.g., as dirt pathways created by people walking through a field, when the original movement by individuals helps clear a path, thereby encouraging more travel. Explorers may tread a path through foliage or grass, leaving a trail “of least resistance” for followers.
The lines may be seen along an unpaved road shoulder or some other unpaved natural surface. The paths take on an organically grown appearance by being unbiased toward existing constructed routes. These are almost always the most direct and the shortest routes between two points, and may later be surfaced. Many streets in older cities began as desire paths, which evolved over the decades or centuries into the modern streets of today.
People try to build social trails in software tools when possible, trying to find the shortest path to getting something done. We just can’t see them as easily.
The highly engaged, diverse set of respondents to an online, opt-in survey included 895 technology stakeholders and critics. The study was fielded by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center.
Some 67% agreed with the statement:
“By 2020, members of Generation Y (today’s “digital natives”) will continue to be ambient broadcasters who disclose a great deal of personal information in order to stay connected and take advantage of social, economic, and political opportunities. Even as they mature, have families, and take on more significant responsibilities, their enthusiasm for widespread information sharing will carry forward.”
Some 29% agreed with the opposite statement, which posited:
“By 2020, members of Generation Y (today’s “digital natives”) will have “grown out” of much of their use of social networks, multiplayer online games and other time-consuming, transparency-engendering online tools. As they age and find new interests and commitments, their enthusiasm for widespread information sharing will abate.”
Most of those surveyed noted that the disclosure of personal information online carries many social benefits as people open up to others in order to build friendships, form and find communities, seek help, and build their reputations. They said Millennials have already seen the benefits and will not reduce their use of these social tools over the next decade as they take on more responsibilities while growing older.
The majority argued in answers to the survey that new social norms that reward disclosure are already in place among the young The experts also expressed hope that society will be more forgiving of those whose youthful mistakes are on display in social media such as Facebook picture albums or YouTube videos.
Some said new definitions of “private” and “public” information are taking shape in networked society. They argued that this means that Millennials might change the kinds of personal information they share as they age, but the aging process will not fundamentally change the incentives to share.
At the same time, some experts said an awkward trial-and-error period is unfolding and will continue over the next decade, as people adjust to new realities about how social networks perform and as new boundaries are set about the personal information that is appropriate to share.
A fundamental shift is occurring in human identity and activity in communities. As often is the case, some of it is driven by social change that is facilitated by technological change, especially the new capabilities offered by mobile devices. The benefits to people of sharing information and disclosing details about themselves are becoming more evident. These perceived benefits will change over time as Millennials’ interests change, but the general pattern for disclosure will remain. The historic pattern is for each generation to change the boundaries of privacy and identity.
“Although I am a privacy scholar, and one who has been taken aback by the careless abandon with which the young, and not so young seem to revel in visibility, I have to assume that it is not merely ignorance that leads so many astray. To the best of their knowledge, the benefits outweigh the costs. And besides, there is this industry that continues, and will continue to make it seem almost normal to be so completely accessible. I can’t imagine the kind of well-publicized catastrophe, or counter-movement that would arise (well, I can, but I wouldn’t want dwell on those scenarios) that would lead to less, rather than more disclosure.” —Oscar Gandy, author, activist, retired emeritus professor of communication, University of Pennsylvania
“Publicy will replace privacy. Privacy will appear quaint, like wearing gloves and veils in church.” —Stowe Boyd, social networks specialist, analyst, activist, blogger, futurist and researcher
I got [an email ] this week from Jack Rabbit Sports, reminding me that it’s time to buy new running shoes. But instead of sending some sort of poorly designed generic coupon, they sent a simple, well-designed email, making it clear they have been paying attention — and not just to me, but to something I care about: running.
‘Webful’ marketing is about connection: a brand is no longer a promise, it is an invitation.
I have to agree with David Brooks, at least with regard to some of the observations he offers this morning in the NY Times, when he says that participating on the Internet is different from simply reading books. However, I disagree with nearly every specific point he makes, and the conclusions he draws.
It’s a culture war, and Brooks joins Nick Carr, Andrew Keen, and a long list of others who say that what we are doing on the web is immoral, illegitimate, and immature.
He starts with Nick Carr’s polemic, ‘The Shallows’, which makes a case for the Internet ruining our minds and by extension, our culture. And then he heaps on some dime-store philosophy, and wraps it with an elitist bow:
Carr argues that the Internet is leading to a short-attention-span culture. He cites a pile of research showing that the multidistraction, hyperlink world degrades people’s abilities to engage in deep thought or serious contemplation.
Carr’s argument has been challenged. His critics point to evidence that suggests that playing computer games and performing Internet searches actually improves a person’s ability to process information and focus attention. The Internet, they say, is a boon to schooling, not a threat.
In particular, Brooks does not touch on research that shows that reading on the Internet engages more parts of the brain that reading a book, which has led some to suggest it is a more intellectual activity than leaning back with the newest Harry Potter.
But there was one interesting observation made by a philanthropist who gives books to disadvantaged kids. It’s not the physical presence of the books that produces the biggest impact, she suggested. It’s the change in the way the students see themselves as they build a home library. They see themselves as readers, as members of a different group.
The Internet-versus-books debate is conducted on the supposition that the medium is the message. But sometimes the medium is just the medium. What matters is the way people think about themselves while engaged in the two activities. A person who becomes a citizen of the literary world enters a hierarchical universe. There are classic works of literature at the top and beach reading at the bottom.
This last paragraph is a puzzler: a series of sentences that don’t add up.
First, McLuhan’s point is that exposure to a new medium — say, reading books, or participating on the Internet — changes those who are exposed. That change in the individual’s mind is the real ‘message’ of the medium, not the stories in the books, or the sports on TV. And isn’t that what he is trying to say? That kids exposed to books are changed? Then why does he say that sometimes a ‘medium is just a medium’?
He isolates the one dimension of the many changes that media induce in us — self-identity — but leaves out others, like the shift in values that generally comes along with being exposed to new media.
A person enters this world as a novice, and slowly studies the works of great writers and scholars. Readers immerse themselves in deep, alternative worlds and hope to gain some lasting wisdom. Respect is paid to the writers who transmit that wisdom.
Brooks focuses on the supposed ‘hierarchical’ nature of literature — a construct of his personal, or cultural feelings about literature — and seems to make that a law of the universe. I guess I buy that things like books are culturally situated, but they aren’t all in a single culture. There isn’t a single hit parade for all books ever.
Also, this allusion to the world of reading as if it is a Zen monastery is pure hyperbole.
A citizen of the Internet has a very different experience. The Internet smashes hierarchy and is not marked by deference. Maybe it would be different if it had been invented in Victorian England, but Internet culture is set in contemporary America. Internet culture is egalitarian. The young are more accomplished than the old. The new media is supposedly savvier than the old media. The dominant activity is free-wheeling, disrespectful, antiauthority disputation.
Brooks offer up an image of an academic quadrangle where learned authors stroll, in gowns, chatting with eager young accolytes, and then contrasts it with the anti-authoritarian Internet which is — shudder — egalitarian.
These different cultures foster different types of learning. The great essayist Joseph Epstein once distinguished between being well informed, being hip and being cultivated. The Internet helps you become well informed — knowledgeable about current events, the latest controversies and important trends. The Internet also helps you become hip — to learn about what’s going on, as Epstein writes, “in those lively waters outside the boring mainstream.”
But the literary world is still better at helping you become cultivated, mastering significant things of lasting import. To learn these sorts of things, you have to defer to greater minds than your own. You have to take the time to immerse yourself in a great writer’s world. You have to respect the authority of the teacher.
Then, in a neat bit of legerdemain, Brooks uses a quote about being cultivated — and explicitly making the case that becoming cultivated — basically taking on the values and manners of the elite — is more important than being well informed or hip. He also insinuates that learning how to respect your elders (‘betters’?) and those who have been accepted by the elite as authoritative is one mark of becoming cultivated. And of course, he states that the Internet does not do any of that, which is why the Internet is a playground and not the haunt of the learned.
Right now, the literary world is better at encouraging this kind of identity. The Internet culture may produce better conversationalists, but the literary culture still produces better students.
It’s better at distinguishing the important from the unimportant, and making the important more prestigious.
So, it’s a culture war, and Brooks joins Nick Carr, Andrew Keen, and a long list of others who say that what we are doing on the web is immoral, illegitimate, and immature. They are threatened by the change in values that seems to accompany deep involvement in web culture, a change that diminishes much of what Brooks holds up for our regard in his piece. I don’t mean the specific authors he may have been alluding to — although he names none but Carr — but rather a supposed hierarchical structure of western culture, which is reflected in the literary niche is supports.
Brooks is actually making a more sinister case: to the young that would like to get ahead, avoid the rabble on the web with their egalitarian and multitasking ways. Read books instead, because it is the mark of aspiring members of the elite, the ruling class.
Time has decided to dive headfirst into an issue that has bedeviled many a news organization before it: how to cure online readers of their addiction to free content.
But Time’s approach is more a process of weaning readers than forcing them to quit cold turkey. Starting this week, it replaced most of the content that appeared in its current issue with abridged articles and summaries online. The move is meant to drive readers to newsstands and Time’s iPad applications, where the magazine costs $4.99.
Richard Stengel, the managing editor, says Time plans to experiment and will continuously adjust what it decides to keep off its Web site.
“I think we’ll see what works and doesn’t work,” Mr. Stengel said in an interview by phone. “We’ll adapt and change. We’re in the hunt like everyone else to figure this out.”
By pulling its print content off its Web site, Time is taking a step that other American newsweeklies have so far avoided. Whether the move is enough to push more readers into paying for Time content is unclear.