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

November 10, 2011

[2b2k] Census Bureau ends Statistical Abstract

The Census Bureau is no longer going to fund the creation of the Statistical Abstract of the United States, apparently in order to save $3M a year. As David Cay Johnston puts it:

Last year the online site was accessed 5.6 million times. If the absence of a Statistical Abstract increases search time by even two minutes, then the cost, based on the all-in average pay of reference librarians, will be about five times the federal savings. Were Congress to order up a cost-benefit study, the figure would be a loser, costing society at least $5 for every dollar of tax money saved.

Not to mention the symbolic slap in the face to supporting fact-based public discourse.

(The Census Bureau attempts to ameliorate this by pointing out that all the info is still available, dispersed across agencies and sources. Yeah, but if the Statistical Abstract ever had value — which it did — it’s because it aggregated data that can be difficult to chase down.)

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November 9, 2011

You Barcelona Birds

You Barcelona birds don’t know how good you have it.
You give your city two stars
because once a tourist left you a crust that had some mustard on it —
Don’t eat the yellow bread, is that so hard to remember? —
and last February a pigeon bullied you aside.
You ought to come to my city some February.
Is there even a word in Spanish for slush?
Yeah, Boston would grow you a pair,
and then would shrivel them up until they make a high-pitched ting.
How you like them tiny frozen apples?
So why don’t you go back to TripAdvisor and fix your ratings
even if you have to make up a new login.
Try “A_Little_Perspective23”
or “WuzWrongDaFirstTime.”
Stoopid Barcelona birds.

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November 8, 2011

How to tell that you’re at a European industry conference

I’m at the Gartner conference in Barcelona, giving a talk sponsored by Telefonica. And there is no doubt I’m not at an American industry event:

  • Wine at lunch.

  • Snacks at the break have multiple parts, none of which are chocolate, caramel, or creamy nougat.

  • They expect you to have a favorite “football” team.

  • The corporate dinner at an opera house begins with a tour of a stage set that consists of a giant statue of a woman’s hindquarters with her anatomically-correct vagina lit up in red.

  • If you translate “euros” as “dollars,” everything is quite reasonably priced!

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Warm Birthday Wishes to [your_name_here]

It used to be that on my birthday I’d get untouched-by-humans birthday wishes from my dentist’s firm and perhaps a local car company and real estate agent. Now I get them from sites I once age-verified for (gaming sites, not porn, fellas), a Prius forum, a diabetes forum, and — one level of abstraction up — from Xing itself.

If these groups are going to issue pro forma birthday wishes, I think they ought to be required to hire someone who has to sit there and actually think warmly about each person before pressing the “send” button.

And then, as a special birthday present, keep your stupid marketing messages to yourself.

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November 7, 2011

Avi Warshavsky on the future of textbooks

I’ve posted a brief video interview with Avi Warshavsky of the Center for Educational Technology, the leading textbook publisher in Israel. Avi is a thoughtful and innovative software guy who has been experimenting with new ways of structuring textbooks.

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November 5, 2011

Berkman Buzz

This week’s Berkman Buzz:

  • Wendy Seltzer reports on last week’s ICANN public meeting:
    link

  • The OpenNet Initiative makes its global filtering data available for download and reuse: link

  • Ethan Zuckerman explores the phenomenon of the “rebuttal tweet”: link

  • Jeffrey Schnapp discusses physicality in the libraries of the future:
    link

  • The Citizen Media Law Project keeps track of ACTA: link

  • Weekly Global Voices: “Global Voices Podcast: Bridging the Language Gaps”
    link

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November 4, 2011

Draft: What’s new about social media?

I’m on a panel about “What’s Next in Social Media?” at the National Archives tonight , moderated by Alex Howard, the Government 2.0 Correspondent for O’Reilly Media, and with fellow panelists Sarah Bernard, Deputy Director, White House Office of Digital Strategy; Pamela S. Wright, Chief Digital Access Strategist at the National Archives. It’s at 7pm, with a “social media fair” beginning at 5:30pm.

I don’t know if we’re going to be asked to give brief opening statements. I suspect not. But, if so I’m thinking of talking about the context, because I don’t know what social media will be:

1. The Internet began as an open “address space” that enabled networks to be created within it. So, we got the Web, which networked pages. We got social networks, which networked people. We are well on our way to networking data, through the Semantic Web and Linked Open Data. We are getting an Internet of Things. The DPLA will, I hope, help create a network of cultural objects.

2. The Internet and the Web have always been social, but the rise of networks particularly tuned to social needs is of vast importance because the social determines all the rest. Indeed, the Internet is a medium only because we are in fact that through which messages pass. We pass them along because they matter to us, and we stake a bit of selves on them. We are the medium.

3. Of all of the major and transformative networks that have emerged, only the social networks are closed and owned. I don’t know how or if we will get open social networks, but it is a danger that as of now we do not have them.

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November 2, 2011

The hotel with no metadata

I’m staying at a “boutique” hotel in NYC that is so trendy that it has not only dressed its beautiful young staff in black, it has removed as much metadata as it can. There’s no sign outside. There are no pointers to the elevators on the room floors. The hotel floors in the elevator are poorly designated, so that two in our party ended up on a service floor, wandering looking for a way back into the public space of the hotel. The common areas are so underlit that I had to find a precious lamp to stand next to so that the person I was waiting for could find me. The room keycards are white and unmarked, without any indication therefore of which end goes in the lock.

Skipping metadata has always been a sign of mastery or in-ness. It’s like playing a fretless guitar. But hotels are for strangers and first-timers. I need me my metadata!


BTW, I think the hotel’s name is the Hudson, but it’s really not easy to tell.

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Social media at work — top down, bottom up

A Cisco study finds that when deciding on job offers, a startlingly high number of college students and recently employed grads value access to social media at work more than salary. And an article by Ann Bednarz at Network World finds that “[e]ven some of the most buttoned-down institutions are rethinking bans and relaxing access to social networks and social media sites.”

So, it looks like everyone should be happy for a change.

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November 1, 2011

Empirical copyright

If we believe (as did our Constitutional founders) that the purpose of copyright is to provide a sufficient incentive for the creation of works that would then enter the public domain at the earliest possible moment — because that’s how works have lasting value — then why can’t we figure out the proper length of copyright with a little science?

What is the curve of sales for most books? How many years do books sell more than a handful of copies? Where are most the authorss reward and compensation coming from with regard to sales? How much of our culture do we have to sacrifice in order to support the 0.0001% of authors whose book sell anything worth a damn after ten years?

Of course, I made up that 0.0001% figure for rhetorical purposes, but getting the actual figure is exactly what I’m asking for. Is this info available somewhere?

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