Joho the BlogJanuary 2011 - Page 3 of 5 - Joho the Blog

January 17, 2011

Stupid lawyer tricks

I’m greatly enjoying not only Cory Doctorow’s bang-on response to a truly dumb, threatening legal letter, but the BoingBiong reader’s comment thread about it. [SPOILER ALERT: Is Academic Advantage a scam or is not Academic Advantage a scam? You can decide for yourselves whether those three words — Academic Advantage scam — belong together.]


January 16, 2011

Review of Sherry Turkle’s book

I’ve reviewed Sherry Turkle’s new book, Alone Together, in today’s Boston Globe. (Here is Newsweek’s review. )


January 15, 2011

1960’s bands vs. 1960’s bands’ names

The names of the top bands of the 1960s are so much a part of them that it’s almost impossible to think of the names simply as names. But let’s make the effort in order to evaluate how good their names were.

Of course, names can be good in many ways. They can be descriptive, ironic, memorably eccentric. But, it seems to me that some of the best bands had the worst names.

Here’s an unordered and, of course, utterly subjective list, graded on a scale of 1-10, where 10 is best:

  • Jefferson Airplane: Retro + modern + meaningless = psychedelic. 8

  • Supremes : Cocky, but lived up to it. 8

  • Rolling Stones: Great name for itinerant minstrels. Terrible name for a rock band. 4

  • Fairport Convention: Appropriately rustic and archaic. If it didn’t sound like the name of an obscure British peace treaty or forgotten dart rules, it’d be close to perfect. 8

  • Grateful Dead: Good hyperbolic name for a metal group. Totally inappropriate for a group as sunny as this. Points added because they were clearly tripping when they came up with it. 6

  • Mamas and Papas: Terrific name for a kiddy band. Meh name for a pop group of young, non-parental units. 5

  • Gladys Knight and the Pips: Pips? Really? Is this a British vaudeville group that comes out in boaters? All of this band’s points go to the first half of its name: 3

  • The Beach Boys: Beach music sung by boys. Sounds frivolous, but then they sing. Frivolously. And then they record Pet Sounds. 9

  • Four Tops: There are four of them. They are the tops. The naming convention flags their genre. Well done, lads! 9

  • The Doors: An incredibly prosaic name that works ironically for their druggy music. Plus, it’s an appropriate literary reference — which would be better if their worst songs weren’t the ones that opened the doors of perception the widest. They shouldn’t have asked The Lizard King’s opinion. 9

  • The Four Seasons: They have nothing to do with the seasons. They have nothing to do with Vivaldi. It’s a bland, generic, misleading, slightly pretentious, placeholder of a name. Point added for the correct counting of band members. 2

  • Gerry and the Pacemakers: You know immediately what sort of band they are, unless you hear “pacemaker” as a medical device and think that they’re going to show up in walkers and plaid pants buckled beneath their pot bellies. Gotta split the difference on this one: 4

  • Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention: The Mothers were men, plus you have the swear-word implication, plus they were actually inventive. All of which doesn’t even matter. You had me at “Zappa.” 10

  • The Byrds: Did they misspell it because “” was already taken? Oh, wait. They misspelled it to be cool.
    genericName + misspelling = genericName – 2. Final score: 1

  • Creem: Ironically refined food-based name. Sexual connotation. Bold statement that they were a super-group composed of the filtered extract of great other groups. The lack of a definite article makes it even cockier. 10

  • Sly and the Family Stone: You’ve got the slyness of “Sly” and the family-ness of “Family,” but together with a straight-on drug reference. A totally wtf name for a wtf group. 9

  • Steppenwolf: Sounds vaguely and appropriately threatening and aggressive, despite the totally inappropriate literary reference. 7

  • Credence Clearwater Revival: The length of the name has a throwback quality, and the three words each independently says that this is a group about something simple and pure. It would have been a terribly pretentious name for a folk group, but it works better for a rock group. 5

  • Led Zeppelin: The winner in a contentious argument about what to name a psychedelicious band, if the band members were all 14 years old. For an adult band, it’s just embarrassing. 3

  • The Beatles: See Led Zeppelin, but drop the band’s age to 12. “Oooh, and we can spell it B-E-AT instead of B-E-E-T.” Is it an accident that as far as I know, the Beatles never once used a beetle in their iconography? Terrible terrible name. Point added because they were the FREAKING BEATLES OMG OMG. 2


Patrons empty library to prove its value reports:

The library in Stony Stratford near Milton Keynes, England, urged its patrons to check out every book on the shelves as a way of proving to the local council that its collection and facilities provide a vital service to the community. Stony Stratford is one of many towns across the UK that are facing severe library closures as the Tory-LibDem coalition government recklessly slashes its transfer payments to local governments (while breaking their promise to rein in enormous bonuses at the banks, even the ones that are owned by the taxpayer).

Let’s just hope the local government doesn’t look around the emptied library and think, “Yeah, great, I can really see how the new town road repair tool shed could fit in that corner labeled ‘Classics,’ and we could put the new town golf course’s pro shop over there by where the empty ‘Science’ shelves are…”

(Cross-posted at the Harvard Library Innovation Lab blog.)

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January 14, 2011

Berkman Buzz

The weekly Berkman Buzz, as compiled by Jillian York.

  • Ethan Zuckerman discusses the media and Tunisia: link

  • Dan Gillmor offers suggestions for protecting online anonymity: link

  • ICT4Peace releases a report on peacebuilding in the information age, with Berkman contributors: link

  • Jonathan Zittrain discusses the issues surrounding the IPv4 to IPv6 upgrade: link

  • The OpenNet Initiative tackles the new Saudi blogger licensing law: link

  • Weekly Global Voices: “Tunisia: Tweeting Ben Ali’s Speech-Change 2.0 or Just a Show?” link


January 13, 2011

If we had called it the Age of Patterns instead of the Age of Information

Claude Shannon, a father of Information Science, had to call the differences that move through telephone wires something. He picked “information,” a term that had meant, roughly, something that you hadnt known, or the content of written tables. Had he called it “data,” or “patterns,” or “differences,” or “Arthur,” we would have skipped right past one of the false continuities: from information to knowledge. We would have had the Age of Patterns, characterized by an abundance of patterns of difference, and we wouldn’t have thought that that has anything much at all to do with knowledge. But, because traditional information had something to do with expanding what we know, we tricked ourselves into thinking that our modern technology is about making us smarter. With an abundance of information, it seems we must be gaining more knowledge. With an abundance of patterns, or differences, or of arthurs, it would not have seemed so.

The new age is one of connection. This is less misleading, for it has us looking for its effect on how we connect with one another, how we connect our ideas, and how we connect our connections. And these are, I believe, the right places to be looking.


January 12, 2011

Larry Griswold: Dive master

Because it’s a snow day, here’s a 1951 video of Larry Griswold, dive master and co-inventor of the trampoline. (Hat tip to BoingBoing.)

And what the heck, I (and a gazillion other people) found this at Reddit:


January 11, 2011

Tech for Peace report

I haven’t had a chance to read this yet, but it sounds promising:

10 January 2011, Switzerland: The ICT4Peace Foundation, in collaboration with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University and GeorgiaTech, is pleased to release, on the occasion of the anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti, the first in a series of papers looking at the increasingly important role of information and communication technology (ICT) in conflict prevention, peacebuilding, peacekeeping and crisis response.

Unlike other papers on innovative technologies (crowdsourcing, social networking etc) dealing with crisis response, reconstruction and humanitarian aid, this collection of thought provoking pieces by esteemed writers, including former Finnish President and Nobel Peace Prize Winner Martti Athisaari and a younger generation of cutting edge practitioners and scholars in this fast moving space, aims to encourage meaningful debate and action on how to solve the serious challenges that still exist in the effective use of ICTs.

You can download it here.

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January 10, 2011

Visualizing Wikipedia deletions

Notabilia has visualized the hundred longest discussion threads at Wikipedia that resulted in the deletion of an article and the hundred that did not. The visualized threads take on shapes depending on whether the discussion was controversial, swinging, or unanimous. For those whose brains can process visualized information (as mine cannot), you will undoubtedly learn much. For the rest of us: Oooooh, pretty!

They’ve posted some other analyses as well. For example, “The analysis [pdf] of a large sample of AfD discussions (200K discussions that took place between November 2002 and July 2010) suggests that the largest part of these discussions ends after only a few recommendations are expressed.” And: “Delete decisions tend to be fairly unanimous. In contrast, we found many Keep decisions resulting from a discussion that leaned towards deletion…”

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The Alien App Store

I had a dream last night that we humans have to get all our goods through an AppStore established by our new alien overlords. But the aliens don’t quite understand what our various goods are for. My dream then took on the form of an Internet meme in which we posted photos for them, trying to explain the problems.

Annotated photo for Alien App Store

(Photo: (cc) JimboSowers @ Flicker)

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