Joho the BlogJanuary 2005 - Joho the Blog

January 31, 2005

Cool stuff with tags

Check the tag “10placesofmycity” at Technorati. People from around the world are tagging URLS, posts and photos showing off where they live. Technorati is automatically assembling them into a mini city pride portal. Cool! [Technorati tag: ] [Disclosure: I’m on technorati’s board of advisors.]


Best D’oh! of the year so far

Matt Biddulf has an animated screen capture of what would look like embedded in the BBC 3’s page. It’s an eye-popper all right: So elegant it seems obvious. Brilliant. (Thanks to The Obvious for the link.) [Technorati tag: ]

danah responds to Clay’s enthusiasm (which I generally share) for tags.

There’s a problematic feature to crowds – they like to homogenize…

Folksonomy isn’t asking the questions about the implications of collective action classification. Who benefits? Who becomes marginalized? What priorities bubble up? How does pressure to homogenize affect the schema and the people involved? How are some people hurt or offended by decisions that are made? Should moderation of classifications occur? If so, what are the consequences?

These are great questions, and leave it to danah to ask them! We’ll address them as they occur…but only if (as danah suggests) we keep raising them. Otherwise, we’d have to design a system ahead of time that we would undoubtedly get wrong.

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Tags, labels and piles of leaves

[This is the conclusion of the article on tagging I published a few days ago in my newsletter.]

You label a jar of preserves “Strawberry – Aug. 2005” so you can tell what’s in it and whether the green stuff on top is supposed to be there. At Flickr, you tag a digital photo of your jar of preserves “strawberry jam” so other people can find it. The label has a context: the thing that it’s attached to. The tag’s context is invisible and detached: It’s how you think other people are going to search for it. (As Joshua Schachter, creator of, says, tagging is the inverse of searching.)

So, we’re creating this context-free realm of free-floating metadata, like word magnets on a refrigerator door, that we will paw through and assemble, and, most important, do things we haven’t yet thought of.

The fact that we are inventing this way of classifying is important. It announces that we are skeptical at a whole new level: Not just about the content of knowledge but about how it’s divvied up in the first place.

This explicitly pries yet another layer off the real and pulls it into the human, for in a tagged world, it’s hard to maintain that topics exist independent of us. Or disciplines. Instead, we cluster our world around our interests. New interest? Shuffle and deal again.

The project of knowledge goes from filling up containers with information to making everything public by tagging it and throwing it into the leaf pile. We’re doing that together, without waiting for a plan or permission. Then we’re rolling around in the leaves.

This is a knowledge economy of wild excess. It would make no sense if we were still scratching for information under rocks.

We are meaning our world together. We can’t do it if we have to do it perfectly or even well. It’s better just to do it.

We can sort it out later. [Technorati tag: ]


BBN rips lid off my seamy relationship with EthanZ

I ignored Ethan’s blogging of a comment about my after-dinner speech last week because it was way too embarrassing. Unfortunately, the bastards at Better Bad News have a 15 minute video (also available as a podcast) that begins there, figures out I’m a schmuck, and moves onto the important issues of blogging and credibility. (Hint: It’s very funny and they’re right.)

Ethan responds with appropriate outrage here.


Yay for democracy

Hooray for the elections in Iraq! The accounts are moving. For example, from the Boston Globe:

Wamidh Imad al-Zubaidi, an engineer, almost decided not to vote after death threats against would-be voters circulated in his mixed Sunni and Shi’ite neighborhood, Zayouna. Then, he said, he remembered his brother, who was executed for opposing Saddam Hussein’s regime.

”I feel a power inside myself, and there is a voice telling me, this should not happen to my son or to any Iraqi. I have to prevent this dictatorship from returning to Iraq,” he said, adding that he braved the polls with his pregnant wife. ”We put it in God’s hands.”

But declarations the elections have been are “resounding success” are obviously premature. Did Iraq just vote or did it just establish the fault lines of a civil war?

So, I find myself torn. I am thrilled Saddam is gone and people are voting. But it’s still not how I’d choose to spend the money and lives this war we were lied into cost.

Michael Prothero has a nice piece at Salon reporting from the scene.


The street where journalism ends

Bernard Weinraub, former entertainment reporter for The New York Times, writes about what it’s like to be a journalist at Hollywood and Vine. The basic lesson seems to be that you can’t fully stand apart from the world about which you’re reporting. Hollywood, despite its excesses, does not seem to be a special case: Reporters embedded in the financial world, DC or in a foreign capital must face the same situation, albeit with fewer Hummers and tiaras in view. Access is the currency and humans remain human.

Too bad Weinraub wasn’t writing a blog during all those years. We would have gotten a sense of the winds buffeting him as he tried to stand tall. Plus, the dishing have been fabulous.


January 30, 2005

Right brainer

Daniel “Free Agent Nation” Pink (who was also a speechwriter for Gore, by the way), has published a terrific piece in the new Wired on why we need to commit to the right halves of our brains. Best of all, it’s from his upcoming book.

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Wikipedia has no articles

I have been corrected by the estimable SJ Klein for referring to Wikipedia as “the Wikipedia.” I stand corrected and will attempt to avoid mistake next time. I hope I have not caused Wikipedia any the distress.


Shafer’s mischaracterization

Jack Shafer’s piece in Slate misrepresents what went on at the WebCred conference. The piece says the bloggers in attendance “declared blogs the destroyers of mainstream media.” (Notice Jack’s use of the term “declared” instead of “said” or, say, “ruminated,” btw.) That’s a long way from what I thought happened. I thought we had a useful, interesting, and many-sided discussion about how blogs are already changing journalism and how they might in the future. Yes, the bloggers thought the change is going to be more radical, inevitable and unpredictable than the mainstream media folks did. (Note: I’m generalizing.) And, sure, there were moments of conflict. But Jack presents his insight — “the alleged divide between the old media and this new whippersnapper media of blogs has never seemed real to me” — as a corrective to the conference when in fact it was the subject of the very first (and very excellent) presentation at the conference by Jay Rosen, which then served as the premise of the discussion.

Shafer’s piece, which contains good thoughts, irks me because he is letting himself play the hard-headed realist at the cost of making others look foolish. Ed Cone in his column today, IMO not only presents the conference more accurately, but also learns from the conversation.

Two notes:

1. Jay Rosen, who was among those singled out by Shafer’s article, responds personally here.

2. There’s such a thing as premature realism.

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Digital hockey season

G4techTV, a cable network that shows people playing video games, has simulated the entire missing National Hockey League season using NHL 2005 from Electronic Arts. According to an article by Hiawatha Bray in the Boston Globe, the network has played all 1,230 games on the NHL schedule using the computer-plays-computer option. (The game has a large set of stats for each player.) The network is releasing the results according to the hockey schedule, so although the computers know who won the Stanley Cup, we don’t.

The response has been anemic. The network stopped showing its nightly “highlights” show in November. The network’s sr. vp of programming says it’s because people don’t care about hockey. “”I think it would have been better if the NBA had been locked out instead of the NHL,” he said.

I doubt it. But if we knew why we don’t care about sport simulations but care absurdly about actual sports, we’d be a long way toward understanding our implicit metaphysics: free will, agency, the contingent, personhood, virtue…the whole shooting match, so to speak.

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