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February 27, 2006

TED via Ethan

You want your insightful TED coverage? Ethan’s got it. Getcha your insightful TED coverage heah.

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Configuring Gmail

For the past couple of weeks, I haven’t been able to use Thunderbird as my mail client because it can no longer use Gmail as its pop server. I believe Thunderbird is configured correctly. I can’t get the Google settings to stick, though. I go to Gmail > Settings > Forwarding and Pop and select option #1 under Pop Download (“Enable POP for all mail…”) and I press the Save Settings button. I’m then taken back to my gmail inbox. But if I go back to the settings page, none of the options under Pop Download are chosen; the setting seems to be wiped out.

Any suggestions?

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Everything isn’t miscellaneous in France

Last night at a very interesting, delicious and fun dinner with a few blogging authors, I found out that my book title, Everything Is Miscellaneous, doesn’t translate well into French. Apparently the word the French use to label the miscellaneous box in a taxonomy is “autre.” But “Everything is Other” has a misleading existential overtone. “In Hell, everything is other,” Sartre might have written. I sort of don’t want people browsing for books to think that mine is a depressing post-War work about universal alienation.

That great French language expert, Monsieur Google, translates the title as “tout est divers.” I don’t know French well enough to be able to tell if that’s appropriate, odd, or possibly the punchline to a well-known dirty joke. [Tags:]

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Three days, three cities

I’m on day one of a mini-tour of Europe — Paris, Hamburg, Milan — talking about blogging with various business audiences. My main aim is to put blogging into a context bigger than business and to counter some misapprehensions. Overall, I will stress: 1. The social, connective nature of blogging: We’re not just 27 million individual op-ed writers behind walls of print; 2. If a company wants to blog, it has to give up an uncomfortable level of control; 3. Blogging is ours — for us, about what we care about, creating new “we’s” — not merely a tool for business. Of course, I expect to have my expectations subverted since I’m an American talking in three countries. (I also hope not to sound like the pompous a-hole I sound like in this post. But that may be aiming too high.)

The tour is sponsored by Edelman PR to whom I consult.*


* Note to the WSJ: “Support” and “consult” both indicate that Edelman pays me. [Tags: ]

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February 26, 2006

Italy – Day 9

Ann and Nathan woke relatively early and went off to the synagogue. I went to my own “temple” where I caught up on my email.

By 12:30, we had packed and checked out. We headed out to San Marco to meet up with our daughter Leah who had gone ahead to meet a friend from school. As we made our way through the crowds, I worried that meeting someone in San Marco was going to turn out to be as practical as the time in 1969 when I agreed to meet a girl at Woodstock. But, because we’d narrowed the area to the clock tower, we found her.

Paolo had warned us last night that it was going to be a crowded day. As he said, some of Venice’s streets were declared one way for the weekend. Yes, one way pedestrian streets…and thank goodness for them. We were packed like the proverbial sardines, except vertical and moving more slowly.

(I did have a million dollar idea during the slow-motion stampede: Stock the canals with dolphins.(tm))

We made our way through San Marco, looking to escape the crowds. Eventually we found a restaurant with an empty table and had pizza, and then wandered directionally back to the hotel. After a vaporetto (water bus) ride to the train station and some serious hoisting of our big three suitcases — not a great city for people who need ramps, not steps — we are now on the train to Milan.

I’m missing Leah more than Venice, but I’m missing Venice a lot. [Tags: ]

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Kevin Marks on danah, Suw, Susan and Douglas on what the Internet will be

Kevin Marks links together danah boyd, Suw Charman, Susan Crawford and Douglas Adams in a fine post about how little we know about what the Internet will be. [Tags:]

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Italy – Day 8

Venice is a ridiculous idea and its realization is indescribable. The throngs of tourists (including us, of course) cannot defeat the city’s basic architectural rhythm: Street, alley, passage, up a bridge, down a bridge, street, passage, open space.

And jeez are there are lot of tourists here! Even though it’s cold enough to have me buy a scarf and gloves (at surprisingly reasonable prices), the place is packed. Aside from the sheer number of people in the street, a small percentage of whom are in various revelers costumes, you’d hardly know it was Carnevale.

This morning we took the hotel’s shuttle boat to San Marco, the piazza where foolish seed-bearing tourists have their photos taken as pigeons flock around them; our children went through two bags of seed. Then we wandered. And wandered. It’s a scientifical fact that at any moment, 90% of the people in Venice are lost. The city is so confusing that even the concierge at our hotel couldn’t find some addresses. Way-finding works using the Internet routing technique: People point you to the next waypoint where you ask someone else.

We strolled and wandered all day. Venice is newly beautiful at every turn. We were driven by small goals: Find a photo store that doesn’t charge 9 euros for a roll of b&w film (try S. Lio, if you can find it, which you can’t); find a place for lunch where we could sit and eat something other than a panino or pizza (Hint: Don’t try the place we ended up where the pasta arrabiata was ok and the pommodore was not), find a gift for the girls next door who are feeding our turtles.

We staggered back to the hotel around 5pm, quaking with fatigue. The temperature had topped out at 50F and we had walked a long way. We fell into a sleep the depth but not the length of a canal, except for my wife who had been told by the synagogue in the Ghetto area that she had to come before 5:30 with her and our son’s passports if they wanted to be admitted on Saturday. So, she made her way there and back, lit candles and said prayers over a couple of local rolls.

Then we went out to dinner with Paolo and Monica Valdemarin. They took us to La Zucca (Santa Croce, 1762, phone: 041 5241570), a tiny restaurant with as many meatless dishes as ones with meat. The food was fabulous and the prices were reasonable. It was also wonderful to catch up with the Valdermarins. Thank you!

We got back to the hotel without getting lost, the first time in all of Venice’s history that any tourist has done so. [Tags: ]

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February 25, 2006

Why do you tag

Tara Hunt is compiling reasons why people tag. To her list I’d add: So readers can read only the topics on my blog that they care about (which theoretically should lower my inhibitions about blogging “off topic”) and to increase (a tiny bit) the world’s meaning and/or intelligibility.

Go add your own reasons…

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February 23, 2006

Italy – Day 7

Again just a couple of minutes left at the Net cafe. I don’t even have any guidebooks with me in which I can look up spellings…

We wandered around Florence again today, this time in the general direction of the synagogue. It’s nice-looking on the outside, but pretty dark and unattractive inside. The museum upstairs is small and is so poorly labeled that if you don’t happen to go with an orthodox Jew who is your spouse, little of it would mean much. One of the exhibits does helpfully explain that Florence has had on and off relationships with Jews over the past 800 years, going through times of acceptance and times of not-so-acceptance. There are currently about 1,000 Jews in the city. The one kosher market doesn’t seem big enough to support them all.

We had lunch in a kosher vegetarian restaurant, Ruth’s, that serves pretty good Italian and Israeli food. The cous-cous was good.

We walked to a church, the name of which I won’t get right, that has an exhibit in its bowels featuring Michelangelo’s Medici tombs and lots of reliquaries. I have to say that exhibiting the bones of dead saints seems a tad pagan, but who am I to judge? But it does make you wonder if there’s a respectful way of cutting up a saint for display.

This evening we go to Venice by train…

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Ding Dong, Summers is gone!

Research fellows at Harvard are pretty removed from faculty politics, but I was nonetheless surprised that the Board voted Summers out since it meant admitting they made a mistake in hiring him.

Sure he was smart. But he was also a ham-fisted egoist with a petulant CEO’s sense of collaboration.

Bad fit. Good bye.

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