Joho the BlogSeptember 2007 - Page 3 of 6 - Joho the Blog

September 17, 2007

Asks Jimmy Wales a question

As part of One Web Day Matthew Burton is holding an Ask-Jimmy-Wales-a-Question event. To participate, go here. The event will be live in NYC on Saturday. If you’re in town, here’s the info. [Tags: onewebday ]

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[scs2007] Totally Wired Teens

Anastasia Goodstein of talks about the questions she gets asked by parents about teenagers and their social networks. Will they lose their social skills? Can the kids take down photos, etc. The kids are used to putting it all on line. [I got a phone call I had to take and missed the rest.]

Stefana Broadbent has done studies and has found that social networking sites are not used by teenagers to communicate, but rather to identify people they’ve met or record where they’ve gone. Day-to-day communication is done through instant messaging and the phone. [and I missed the beginning of this one :( ]

Sean Kelly of Zoodaloo talks about the fact that his company doesn’t use email. They use Basecamp. Zoodaloo is a social networking site for kids. The avatars are done as cel shading (cartoon style). The boys want to explore and the girls want to customize and decorate.

Mike D’Abramoof Youthography. Last year they did about 120 studies in North America. The 10-29 year old group divides into four equal five-year cohorts, with no one cultural force driving all four. Kids are getting enrolled in school younger than ever and having sex earlier, but having kids, getting married and graduating from college later than ever. It’s now more important to people to have a lifelong partner than to get married. People find religion far less important than having faith or being spiritual. Conclusion: It’s not just the culture that’s changing, but the people. Trends: People integrate culture better than ever before. Identity is harder to catregorize. We are becoming more hedonistic. There’s rehumanization.

Fiona Romeo begins by talking about Club Penguin’s banning of numbers because members were speaking entirely in coded numbers. “Dictionary dancing” was born substituting other signs for the numbers. [Wonderful.]

Paarents are anxious about children’s use of digital tech because they overestimate the risks. There are few public spaces in the real world, so they spend more time on line. “Mobile phones are the new bicycles”: It gives them more freedom and greater range. Kids are fine about surveillance by video cameras and being fingerprinted by schools, but think that montoring mobile phones crosses the line.

[Sorry of the inadequacy of these notes] [Tags: svs2007 social_networks teens ]


[scs2007] first sessions

I’m at the Microsoft Research Social Computing Seminar. It’s a fantastic group of attendees. Liz Lawley does the intro, followed by Lili Cheng. We hear a little about Social Genius.

We go around the room saying who we are and what we’re interested in. There are about 60 of us here, I think.

Now Matt Biddulph of is talking about how to make presence fuzzy. Dopplr lets you see which of your friends are going to be in a city. But why not be able to control the size of the range? So there’s a slider.

Tom Coates (who is hilarious on the back channel) is working on a project code-named Fire Eagle at Yahoo’s Brickhouse. He talks about presence as making you visible and comprehensible not just to other people but to software that could do yet more with it. You can tell Fire Eagle your location via SMS, other apps, etc. E.g., you could map all the Twitter tweets. You could use your phone to look for groups. You could automatically geotag your blogs posts or flickr photos. Tom now talks about protecting against abuse of this info. In addition to the opt outs, you can create “special places” that are off the map, so to speak.

Gilad Lotan talks about presence and objects. He likes to embed conective technology into objects. E.g., he built “imPulse” tha transfers heartbeats through a wall. The next version was wireless. When two of these pods are in the same room, they talk to each other. Likewise, he did a touch project for the Kotel. Ubi.ach (say it aloud) “takes email away from the screen.” It’s a doll that blinks when you get new email. A street exhibit in Jerusalem shows some of the missiles fired at Israel embedded in ordinary scenes. Another of Gilad’s projects creates Tibetan prayer wheels controlled by images from news feeds. Overall: Four points on presence: Connection through intimacy, range of immediacy, culture and context, and importance of the tangible.

danah boyd talks about social networking site as “networked publics” (in the Habermasian sense). They are spaces within which collections of people exist, through mediating tools. Hannah Arendt said that the presence of others assures of the reality of the world around us. Mobile phones create social spaces for teens — an always-on intimate community. [sorry, this is coming out far more disjointed than the actual presentation.] When you write, you write for an imagined audience, a public that your writing creates. Socnets do this for groups of friends/acquaintances. For teens, at socnets you display that you’re engaged in a relationship before you actually are; they’re ways of marking relationships. The intended audience is the social network. danah shows two photos of teenagers kissing by the juxtaposition (“juxtapokissin'”?) of the photos; this is because it’s so hard for teenagers to find real world public spaces. She points to the traces of relationships in the real world in which we can see time and the aging of the relationships. [Tags: scs2007 social_networks microsoft_research berkman ]


One Web Day at the Berkman Center

On Tuesday at 12:30, the Berkman Center wil celebrate One Web Day [video | rocketboom] by devoting its weekly lunch discussion to The Net in Ten. Four Fellows will each give a five minute presentation on the future of the Net, and then there will be open discussion. You can sign up for the lunch here. [Tags: onewebday future ]

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Beginner to Beginner: Camera not recognized by computer

My digital camera stopped being recognized by both my MacBook (with the latest version of OS X) and my Windows laptop. I tried lots of things, including many reboots and various photo import programs. I was on the verge of ordering a card reader when I tried a second USB cable, even though the first one worked without any problems when plugged into a mouse that uses a removable USB cable for its cord. With the new cable, the camera was recognized by both the Mac and Windows machines.

I may be missing the relevant factor here, but since the first cable continues to work fine with the mouse, all I can figure is that thickness matters. The first cable is one of those thread-like jobbies that come with a spring-loaded winder. The second cable was a normal USB cable.

Assuming that that’s the factor, does the skinny cable not let enough electrimification through? Oh, pity the poor humanities major! [Tags: tips mac windows cameras ]


Amazon and small presses

My sister-in-law, Meredith Sue Willis, the novelist and writing teacher, ran a piece in her newsletter about how small presses see Amazon. It’s by Jonathan Greene of the Gnomon Press. I thought it was interesting. Here it is, in its entirety:

Just back from the [Kentucky] State House chambers and the uphill
useless fight against legislation to give Peabody Coal millions in
incentives which may very well result in more mountaintop removal
devastation in the eastern coalfields.

But back to Amazon, this from the view of a small publisher (with over
40 years experience): The way the book world is set up is less than
ideal for a small publisher. Amazon is not Evil in that in many
instances it gives access to readers who want small press books that are
not otherwise easily available. Certainly I agree with my friend Gordon
Simmons: first support your local independent bookstore if you are lucky
enough to have a good one in your neighborhood; they are a dying breed.

But not all such bookstores will go to the trouble to order a book that
is not distributed by the near-monopoly of Ingram Book Co. Ingram takes
the same deep discount (55% off of list price) that Amazon takes, but
(unlike Amazon) Ingram often returns much of what it buys in beat-up
condition which the publisher has to eat plus pay the UPS cost back to
its door. I once got a hardback book returned by Ingram with a razor cut
the length of its spine through both the jacket and the cloth. And had
to pay for its trip back to my warehouse. As far as Amazon being
non-union, I doubt many bookstores are union or pay what many would
consider decent wages. Not right, but friends who work in stores
complain to me about this fact without telling me their specific

Readers can also try to support publishers directly if their local store
will not bother to order a book that Ingram does not carry. Research
on-line and contact or buy from the publisher directly. Not all
publishers take credit cards, a reason some would prefer to deal with
Amazon. Barnes & Noble often will not order from small publishers
directly, but often seem to give out their telephone numbers to those
that want books from those publishers. Small Press Distribution and
Consortium that distribute books for many small presses return even less
to small presses that Amazon: they normally sell books to stores or
chains at 40% – 55% then take half of the gross receipts of any payment
and put the amount due the publisher in escrow for three months. And
Consortium charges the publisher a re-stocking fee for any books stores
or distributors return. In other words, it is almost impossible for a
small literary publisher to survive without massive infusions of grants
from NEA and foundations. Or increasingly asking for author subsidies.
And this affects writers who want to be published by small publishers.
The health of these publishers helps the writers they publish. The
worsening condition is also caused by big publishers deciding to kill of
their mid-list authors, authors who do not sell books at or above the
10,000 range. They would rather publish fewer authors selling more
product (a ubiquitous hateful word now in the book trade).

Print-on-demand vendors are a new avenue for authors and publishers. Or
in many instances now the author is the self-publisher. A complicated
situation. Bashing Amazon is not really helpful. Bash Ingram, bash the
fact that mainstream literary publishing is now dominated by
multi-nationals. Knopf, Random House, Farrar Straus, etc. are now owned
by German companies. Or lament the fact that just released figures state
that 27% of Americans do not even read one book a year. One was quoted:
reading made them sleepy. Well, then tout reading for insomniacs as much
healthier than sleeping pills. That should boost book sales.

BTW, Gnomon is no longer accepting manuscripts for publication. [Tags: amazon books publishing gnomon_press jonathan_greene meredith_sue_willis media bookstores ]

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September 16, 2007

Online protest, offline petitions

The Beppe Grillo blog (in Italy’s top five) quotes the International Herald Tribune [pdf]:

The success of a grassroots anti-politics campaign spearheaded by an iconoclastic comedian is giving Italian politicians pause for thought.

Beppe Grillo is the man behind V-Day (the V stands for a very rude Italian expletive), which attracted 300,000 people on Saturday to sign a petition supporting a common goal: purging Italy of its corrupt political class, which in Grillo’s view includes political parties, most government institutions and the media…

The petition wasn’t no stinkin’ online jobby where signing requires scrolling two inches in order to click on a box. People lined up in 200 towns to sign an honest-to-pete, atom-based piece of inconvenience. And there are physical meet-ups. Sounds like an effective blending of the digital and the analog, with all the pleasures and difficulties of the latter. [Tags: beppe_grillo politics italy petitions ]


Order of Magnitude Quiz: Dunkin

To win this quiz (and receive absolutely nothing), your answers have to be within an order of magnitude.

According to an article in today’s Boston Globe: 1) How many Dunkin Donut stores are there? 2) How many donuts do they serve per year? 3) How many pounds of fat do they use for frying up those donuts? (It’s transfatty oil at this point.)

The answers are in the first comment. [Tags: quiz donuts ]

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September 15, 2007

NYTimes continues its slow climb to consciousness

My Times is in beta. I’m not sure how much of it I’m getting for free because Times Select comps people at universities. And I haven’t played with it extensively. But what I’m seeing I’m liking. lets you choose your feeds. Of course, NY Times material is available, but you could make a page that shows the feeds from the Washington Post, Slate, and BBC and not the NY Times. The site lets you see suggested feeds from various NY Times celebrities. You can add widgets like a Flickr photo browser. You can lay out the page you want. You can add tabs to organize your many feeds. You can even add your own feeds. Plus there’s a meta-tab that will take you to Times Topics, taking them from their undeserved obscurity.

It’s not perfect, even at first glance. The feeds only show headlines, not any of the text. It doesn’t input or output OPML. The feed of the NYTimes columnists only shows the title of their posts, not the names of the authors. There’s still no way to comment on the articles, not even a thumbs up or down. The articles don’t link to blog posts about them.

Nevertheless, the decision to allow us to aggregate other sources on a page at the domain is a big symbolic deal. [Tags: ]

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Me interviewed about marketing

A couple of days ago, my friend Francois Gossieaux (whose name in my address book is marked with a big “THIS IS THE CORRECT SPELLING”) interviewed me (phoninar format) for his marketing group called MarketHum. The mp3 is here. [Tags: ]

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