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August 31, 2005

Off to Ars Electronica

I’m about to get on a red-eye to Linz, Austria, for the Ars Electronica conference (art, technology society). I come back on Sunday.

I’ll blog from the conference…

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RawSugar

I spent a few minutes on the phone today with Ofer Ben-Schachar of RawSugar. You can think of RawSugar as a searchable del.icio.us with automagic, hierarchical clustering. (Users can also manually create hierarchical tag sets.) So, instead of seeing a long list of links on the left and a long list of tags on the right, at RawSugar you see a list of links on the bottom and your top-level tag categories on the top. The higher level tags are automatically propagated to the lower level ones. So far there is no way for users to publish their tag sets so others can use them.

Ofer wouldn’t tell me much about the magical clustering (not enough time on his side, not enough brain cells on mine), beyond that RawSugar infers relationships among mulitple tags an individual gives to a single object and among multiple tags multiple people give to the same object.

Ofer pointed to using RawSugar to create annotated link lists such as this one.

The site is new and only has a few thousand users and about 15,000 links. It looks very usable. Now we’ll just have to see if it reaches the critical masses… [Tags: ]

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Creative Labs patents trees

Kevin Drum at Washington Monthly writes about Creative Labs inane patent suit against iPod. The Creative patent covers browsing a menu of music by narrowing your focus, with each branch being a new screen.

Wow. The US Patent Office is stupid. [Tags: ]

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Blogday

It’s BlogDay, so here are five blogs from around the world that I just came across. I’ve only read them a little so far, but they seem interesting…

Rajeev’s Random Musings — “Rajeev on books, science, India, world…”

China Snippets – Shanghai Views — Here’s the tagcloud: “china chinese coffee english favorite great local money seems shanghai start street yangshuo”

Madame Chiang — “Madame Chiang is presently based in Manila but her heart remains in Hong Kong, she has lived in many dark and interesting corners of the globe. Many things interest her including (but not limited to) World Affairs, Literature, Art, Life’s Idiosyncracies and Travel.”

It’s Peru, Baby — “Although I’ve always been interested in International Affairs, I never expected I’d move to Peru to be with a man who doesn’t speak English. Nor did I anticipate I’d fall in love with a Spanish speaker whilst I was living in Japan.”

Jakartass — ” The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to the site owner reaching his/her bandwidth limit. Please try again later.”

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The Bobs are back, awarding Best o’ Blog ribbons to blogs in nine languages and thireen categories. Vote here.

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Who owns the Net?

Scott Bradner has a very interesting column on the meaning of the World Trade Organization’s ruling that the US cannot prevent US citizens from gambling online at a casinos based in Antigua and Barbuda. As Scott says:

This ruling establishes that the U.S. cannot unilaterally control what people can use the Internet for, even U.S. residents using the Internet from within this country. This is certainly not going to go over well with those people in Congress or other parts of government who think the U.S. should own the Internet because “we built it.”

Of course, the people who actually built the Internet — people like Scott — are the ones who understand best that the Internet is un-owned. At least so far. Pretty much. We hope.

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Auto-contradictory words

I’ve long been amused by words that mean their opposite. E.g., “cleave” can mean to cling to or to cut apart. And “dust” can mean to remove dust or, as when dusting for fingerprints, to deposit dust.

Yesterday, an odd almost-example of one occurred to me.

Imagine a mob intent on no good has formed. It’s going to loot and pillage. But a preacher gets their attention. They stop mobbing and start listening. The preacher delivers the greatest anti-violence sermon ever. Afterwards, the crowd reformed.

Yeah, it’s too contextual to make it onto the list of auto-contradictory words (AKA autoantonyms). But I thought I’d mention it. [Tags: ]

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August 30, 2005

Read this next week

Now’s not the time to start pointing the political finger for what wasn’t done that could have ameliorated the devastating effects of Katrina. So read this article next week. Right now, check with Wikipedia for news and for links to places, like the Red Cross, looking for help… (PS: David W. Stephenson has started a category of his blog for Smart Mobs relief for Katrina and other natural disasters.) [Tags: ]

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That’s why G-d gave us remotes

From a scary Salon story by Michael Scherer on the FCC perhaps planning on outlawing what it considers to be indecent material from cable:

In 2003, he [Kevin Martin, head of the FCC] shared his concerns over indecency in a letter to the Parents Television Council, a group that has called for a boycott of shows like the WB’s “Everwood” because it features adults who encourage teenage characters to use birth control and, in one case, have an abortion. “Certainly broadcasters and cable operators have significant First Amendment rights, but these rights are not without boundaries,” Martin wrote to the group. “They are limited by law. They also should be limited by good taste.”

That is exactly what they should not be limited by in a democracy. [Tags: ]

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August 29, 2005

Harsh!

From an email going around:

Q: What’s the difference between Iraq and Vietnam?

A: Bush knew how to get out of Vietnam.

[Technorati tags: ]

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Zuckerman interviewed

Alex Steffen of WorldChanging posts an interview with Ethan Zuckerman of GlobalVoices and the Berkman Center, who has now become president of the Board of Directors of the non-profit behind Worldchanging. (The interview seems to be a year old. Still hugely relevant, though.)

Here’s Ethan’s basic challenge:

…issues which fall outside of the immediate experience and concern of the people blogging in some ways actually seem to be harder to talk about in the blogosphere than in mainstream media.

and

You’ve actually just identified the essential problem of free market journalism. In free market journalism you’re allowed to print whatever stories your audience wants to read. And because you know your audience is more interested in Michael Jackson than Jesse Jackson, you’re going to run fewer stories on policy and more on the abuse of boys on Neverland Ranch. Unless you get some extremely strong current of countervailing opinion, your coverage tends to fall towards the lowest common denominator. That’s why the international news hole in domestic television coverage has shrunk to almost nothing in recent years. The assumption is that no one’s interested.

That’s why a blogging community that pays attention to the rest of the world is so important. If bloggers talk about what’s happening in Africa, say, that not only means that more people have access to information about what’s going on there, it also means that there’s a countervailing force which shows the editors at the New York Times that people are interested enough in these issues to read about them.

For the “What can I do about it part?,” plus much much more, read the rest of the interview.

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