Joho the BlogApril 2011 - Page 3 of 4 - Joho the Blog

April 9, 2011

Berkman Buzz

The weekly Berkman Buzz:

  • Doc Searls [twitter:dsearls] struggles with how to write about the Net and tune it out at the same time: link

  • Ethan Zuckerman [twitter:ethanz] muses on the Monobloc (those ubiquitous white plastic chairs): link

  • The OpenNet Initiative [twitter:opennet] reviews new Internet controls in Russia: link

  • danah boyd [twitter:zephoria] shares the challenges of doing fieldwork with teenagers: link

  • The Citizen Media Law Project [twitter:citmedialaw] cheers on British Libel Reform: link

  • Weekly Global Voices [twitter:globalvoices] : “Iran: Protests for a Drying Lake”: link

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April 8, 2011

How-to guide for moving a journal to Open Access

The Association for Learning Technology has published a detailed and highly practical guide, based on its own experience, for journals moving toward an Open Access model. Indeed, the guide is of even broader utility than that, since it considers the practicalities of moving from an existing contract with publishers for any reason.

ALT’s journal has been renamed Research in Learning Technology, and it will be fully Open Access as of January 2012. (Thanks to Seb Schmoller for the tip.)


April 7, 2011

Citicard does its best to train us in horrible security practices

Citibank continues to train its customers to use terrible security processes.

This morning I got a call from a robot that claimed to be from Citibank. When I refused to type in my zip code, and then waited for two minutes of repeated requests to do so, it transferred me to a human who wanted me to give him my name, undoubtedly to be followed by a request for my password. Thus does Citibank train its users to divulge personal information to anyone with an automated phone dialer.

This is the same outfit that no longer offers to put a thumbnail photo of you on your credit card, which is a pretty good way to foil card-grabbing bastards. It also used to embed an image of your signature on the front of the card. Again, a cheap and effective prophylactic measure that it no longer offers.

This is also the same outfit that is very happy to sell us monthly services — $10/month last time I looked — that inform us when Citibank has failed to protect us from identity theft.


Shel Israel’s Cluetrain interviews

Shel Israel [twitter:ShelIsrael] has posted email interviews with Doc Searls and me about how cluetrain came about and how it’s held up. He asked us the same questions. We responded fairly consistently about the history, but ran down different paths in the more forward-looking questions.

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April 5, 2011

My kids’ book on Kindle for $0.99

I’ve posted a Kindle version of my kids’ novel, My 100 Million Dollar Secret, at Amazon. You get download it for $0.99 here. (I make $0.35.) It’s about a kid who wins the lottery, but is unable to tell his parents, and who refuses to lie to them…which puts some serious constraints on how he can spend it. It’s also about him working through the moral obligations of the advantaged.

You can also read it in a browser, download it for the iPad, or download a pdf or Word doc, all for free. Or — my favorite — you can buy a print copy at LuLu.


A little something we can do

Ethan Zuckerman suggests putting pressure on the phone companies in the Ivory Coast to provide free SMS messaging during this crisis when it’s hard for people to top up their cards. He points to the Texas in Africa blog that has posted the ways to contact the companies. It’d be a goodwill gesture on their part that could make a real difference to people trying to stay in contact with friends and family.

[FOLLOW-UP on April 6: Orange has responded very positively, providing a packet of free services to their customers in the Ivory Coast. Ethanz says you can thank them here. Well done, Orange!]

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April 3, 2011

[review] Cheap Complex Devices

I’ve got an ever-growing list of books that I intend to write reviews of because they’re so damn interesting. In fact, it’s because they deserve full reviews that I’m not writing any reviews. So, with the knowingly-false intention of coming back to write a longer review, here’s a brief report on one book on my list.

John Sundman (Disclosure: John is a friend from a mailing list) is a geek, and Cheap Complex Devices is a geeky novel. It not only assumes familiarity with some technical concepts (some but not all of which it explains along the way), it’s got a slashdotty sense of humor. But it shares its deep recursiveness — I can’t tell if it ever actually comes to ground — not only with Stanislaw Lem and Douglas Hostadter, but also with Borges, and contains passages that are reminiscent of (deep praise ahead) Nabokov.

Since much of the fun is in figuring out what’s going on in this very brief work, I don’t want to give away too much. But I feel safe in disclosing the premise: This book is supposedly the winning entry in a contest for computer-generated narratives. But there may or may not be a floating point error in the computer. Thematically, I take the book as a playful meditation on the emergent properties of loosely connected systems, the way a hive emerges from bees, the Shakers are (or, perhaps, are not) more than their individual members, narratives are more than their words, and consciousness is more than a bunch of neurons (or bits). It’s a narrative that seems to be at war with itself, struggling to be whole, but not sure that it wants to be.

Yeah, I’m being obscure. In part that’s to keep the book a surprise for you. In part it’s because I haven’t figured out how all the pieces work together. This is not a normal book. But it’s fascinating, and written with a very sure hand. As Julianne Chatelain says in her review, it “contains sentences of terrible beauty that are also terribly funny.” As soon as I finished it, I began reading it again.

John details the mechanics and economics of flogging self-published books in his report on DefCon.


Social tagging games ‘n research

The GiveALink link-sharing site has posted two games thaty are actually research studies.

The first game is GiveALink Slider which the site says “is an interesting online tagging game in which you must annotate webpages with related tags and choose new webpages. You can accumulate points and win badges by accomplishing tasks and building links with other players.” They are giving iPods to the winners. It’s actually a study called “Social Annotations through Game Play” conducted by the Networks and Agents Network in the Center for Complex Networks and Systems Research of the Indiana University School of Informatics
Here’s the description of the second game:

Great Minds Think Alike is a word association game that lets users build semantic concept networks and explore similarity relations.

Players form a chain of semantically related words, which comes from the GiveALink knowledge base. Users can browse through nine different social media, e.g. Flickr and Youtube, and earn points.

Words are geo-tagged, which helps to analyze the geographical distribution of terms. Players can also connect with other players via Facebook as suggested by the game.

Data from the game is collected by to make the game more fun, support other social tagging applications, and for study purposes.

No, I don’t actually understand how either game works, and I haven’t signed up for them because the first one is a study that I don’t want to commit to and the second requires an iPhone. But, the GiveALink service is interesting. It’s an open bookmark-sharing service that also feeds a research program. [Hat tip to Julianne Chatelain.]

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April 2, 2011

Berkman Buzz

The weekly Berkman Buzz:

  • Christian Sandvig [twitter:niftyc] ‘s epic saga through the finer points of Comcast’s customer service comes to an end: link

  • Ethan Zuckerberg [twitter:ethanz] uses Media Cloud to measure the change in media cycles: link

  • Herdict [twitter:herdict] explains how crowdsourcing is being used to monitor Japan’s nuclear crisis: link

  • The Citizen Media Law Project [twitter:citmedialaw] reviews a new memo on smartphone policies in the courtroom: link

  • Weekly Global Voices [twitter:globalvoices] : “Nigeria: What Are Nigerian Bloggers Saying About the 2011 Elections?”: link

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April 1, 2011

Persephone Miel Fellowships announced

The Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting has announced the first three recipients of Persephone Miel Fellowships that support an international journalist reporting on a “systemic global issue in their home country.” The Pulitzer Center funded the additional two fellows in order to jump-start the program, hoping to encourage more donations to the fellowship fund. (Here is the announcement from Internews, where Persephone worked.)


Persephone was a dear and cherished Berkman Fellow, and an activist committed to international understanding, and a friend. She died this June, about a hundred years too soon.

(Photo (cc) Doc Searls)

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