Joho the BlogApril 2006 - Joho the Blog

April 30, 2006

PDA symptoms

Dan Bricklin blogs about a company he’s been advising that’s launched a system that lets people track multiple symptoms on a PDA. Dan says the symptom has been customized for “ADHD, anxiety, Asperger’s syndrome, autism, cancer treatment, depression and bipolar disorder, postpartum or menopausal issues, stress, headache, and neurological conditions such as epilepsy, brain injury, and Parkinson’s disease.” Sounds really useful. [Tags: ]

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Karl Rove would sing in Spanish

Omigod, the Republicans are stumbling around like Democrats when it comes to Hispanic issues.

The immigration bill has turned into a fiasco, leaving the Republicans as the party that would build a wall between two countries — a wall! — and forcing the President to have to clarify his party’s position by saying that, no, putting 12 million people on deportation trains probably isn’t such a practical idea.

Then our President is forced to take a stand on a symbolic, wedge issue: Does the national anthem have the same value if sung in Spanish? Karl Rove would not have let the President get backed into that corner. And once in the corner, he would not have let Bush snarl his way out of it. How can the president of country of immigrants find our national song less beautiful sung in the language of those citizens who have chosen to come here? Why does it make him frightened — I do believe fear is behind this reaction — instead of bring a lump to his throat?

Countries worried about preserving their “purity” are rarely on a good path. [Tags: ]


Everything Good Is Bad for Rousseau

In Everything Bad Is Good for You, Steven Johnson has a hilarious set piece that denounces books using the same logic followed by those who denounce video games. Jean Jacques Rousseau: Restless Genius, a new biography by Leo Damrosch I’m greatly enjoying, provides some grist for that mill, quoting Rousseau on the effect of his discovery of the world of fiction:

This love of imaginary objects, and this facility for occupying myself with them, ended by disgusting me with everything that surrounded me, and determined that taste for solitude that has remained with me ever since. (p. 39)

Yes, reading makes one disgusted with the world and with others. So, stop reading, you kids and go play some video games!

Steven has an appreciation of Jane Jacobs, author of the clearly thought, beautifully written and deeply human Death and Life of Great American Cities. Plus he writes about baseball stats in a way that even I, who cares about neither baseball nor stats, enjoyed. [Tags: ]

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April 29, 2006

Degrees of RDF

I have am undoubtedly dumb question about the Semantic Web.

Let’s say I want to express in an RDF triple not simply that A relates to B, but the degree of A’s relationship to B. E.g.:

Bill is 85% committed to Mary The tint of paint called Purple Dawn is 30% red

Frenchie is 75% likely to beat Lefty Niagara Falls is 80% in Canada

Other than making up a set of 100 different relationships (e.g., “is in 1%,” “is in 2%,” etc.), how can that crucial bit of metadata about the relationship be captured in RDF?

Note that I am not asking for practical reasons. I have a theoretical interest in the topic. [Tags: ]


April 28, 2006

Siderean’s tagged facets

Siderean , one of the interesting faceted classification companies, has announced some new capabilities that aim at automating the generation of metadata and that integrate tagging with facets.

The automation comes from entity extraction tools (plus the ability to integrate third party tools, because, frankly, Siderean is not in the entity extraction business) that isolate names of people, places, organizations, dates, etc. from a collection of pages. This addresses one of the real inhibitors of the use of faceted classification: The data has to already be well structured and well tagged. That makes it great for browsing databases but not as good for browsing big piles of unstructured data (= documents).

The system integrates tags in a useful way. Users can tag items and then use tags to further specify searches through the faceted interface. In fact, the tags can be “bucketed” and treated as facets. The tags can be marked as personal or public, and can be associated with groups and other contexts. Yes, the system does integrate with (Siderean fooled around with this in a beta project called — wonderfully —

Siderean also announced that it’s now using the faceted information to drive analytics. This is really “just” another way of displaying the faceted information. But it can be quite useful because a faceted system has so much data built into it. For example, a library system might know that (and this is a made-up example) there were fifteen times as many books about Iraq published in the past two years than in the past twenty; it has to know this if it’s going to let users browse for books by subject and then by year (or vice versa). Siderean’s analytics offering follows that of Endeca.

Faceted classification is young. It’s exciting watching imaginative companies like Siderean invent new twists and turns right under our eyes. [Tags: ]


Is the Internet moral

I’m talking on Sunday morning at my brother and sister-in-law’s local Ethical Culture chapter in Maplewood, NJ. My topic is “Is the Internet moral?” My sister-in-law, Meredith Sue Willis, posted a notice on the local community bulletin board, immediately drawing a bunch of well-earned contemptuous comments. Lively, to say the least.

I gave a talk at DAMA on Wednesday where someone reminded me about a piece I wrote in 2000. It lays out what I plan on saying on Sunday (skipping the non-moral metaphysics parts). I also realized how much it lays out what became Small Pieces Loosely Joined. (I hate the beginning of the piece. Bad bad writing.) [Tags: ]


Streamin’ Neil Young

Neil Young is promoting his anti-war protest album by allowing us to stream it today only. [Tags: ]

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Crawford: Going on with Net neutrality

Susan Crawford updates us on the Senate amendment on Net neutrality, now that the House has decided the carriers really need to control what we get to do and see on the Internet. [Tags: ]

Tom Evslin and Jeff Pulver filed a petition suggesting ways to improve communications during disasters. Tom reports the industry responded uniformly negatively because, after all, things went so, um, swimmingly during Katrina. Jeez. What will it take? I don’t even want to think about it! [Tags:]

Jean-Baptiste Soufron has a backgrounder on the DRM bill before the French High House of Parliament.

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April 27, 2006

Valdis Blogs

You probably Valdis Krebs for the insightful maps he draws of various social networks. Now his company has an interesting blog. (I just wrote about Valdis in the draft of Chapter 8 of the book I’m working on.) [Tags: ]


April 26, 2006

Shining a light in dark corners

The Sunlight Foundation has gone live. It aims at letting citizens know just where their lobbying dollars are going. Congresspedia, an associated project, is also up and running. Can you guessapedia what Congresspedia isapedia? (The Washington Post has a story on the launch.) [Tags: ]


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