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May 18, 2012

[eim] The actual order of the Top Ten

Rob Burnett, executive producer of Late Night with David Letterman is finishing up five hours of IAMA at Reddit, and 27 seconds ago posted a response to the question “Why is number 5 always the funniest out of the top 10?” What a dumb question! It’s always been obvious to me that #2 is the funniest.

And, well, I don’t mean to brag, but I’m right and gregorkafka (if that’s his real name) is wrong. Here’s Rob’s response to the question:

Don’t get me started. Every headwriter has their own approach to the Top 10. Here was mine:

10 Funny, but also straight forward. Reinforce the topic.

9 Medium strength. Start with two laughs. Get a tailwind.

8 Can be a little experimental. Maybe not everyone gets it, but ok.

7 Back on track. Something medium.

6 Crowd pleaser. One that will get applause. Will help bridge the first panel to the second.

5 Coming off #6, time to take a chance.

4 Starting to land the plane. Gotta be solid.

3 For me always the second funniest one you got.

2 Funniest one you have.

1 Funniest one that is short so the band doesn’t play over it.

I always tried to never give Dave two in a row that didn’t get a laugh. Of course you want all 10 to be killer, but you don’t always have that going in.

Number 2! We’re Number 2!

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October 22, 2008

FreeCulture and Open Universities

From the FreeCulture movement has emerged the Open University Campaign based on the new Wheeler Declaration:

An open university is one in which

1. The research the university produces is open access.
2. The course materials are open educational resources.
3. The university embraces free software and open standards.
4. If the university holds patents, it readily licenses them for free software, essential medicines, and the public good.
5. The university network reflects the open nature of the internet.

where “university” includes all parts of the community: students, faculty, administration.

As we used to say: Right on.

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May 31, 2008

Andrew Hinton on info, meaning, and all the rest

Andrew Hinton has posted the annotated slides of his talk at the Information Architecture Summit. While it ultimately is aimed at IA’s who are struggling with their profession’s identity (i.e., all IA’s), Andrew’s talk is quite broad and fundamental, and also engaging and creative. Well worth the read. [Tags: ]

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September 30, 2007

Web 2.0 via Web 2.0

Ed Yourdon has created a mother lode of a Google docs presentation that gathers tons of info about Web 2.0. Plus, he’s inviting bunches of people to add to it, edit it, put in a nicer background, etc. [Tags: web2.0 ed_yourdon ]

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September 29, 2007

Picnic O7 presentation and (sort of) debate

Here’s a video of the full session I was at at Picnic ’07. It includes Walt Mossberg’s introduction, my 40 minute keynote (very similar to the presentation that I did at Google, although with a short section on the importance and difficulty of the implicit added, and some references in anticipation of the debate to follow), and then the half hour or so of my debate with Andrew Keen, moderated by Walt M.

I haven’t watched the video beyond the first few minutes — the production quality is high — but my sense of the debate was that Andrew was on an oddly anti-intellectual track, attacking me as a “professional philosopher,” which I’m not (I was an assistant professor of philosophy 22 years ago), and even if I were, why would that be a criticism, especially coming from a guy who is out arguing for the importance of credentialed authorities? Not helpful to discussing the actual topic. Frustrating. My feeling coming out of the discussion over all was indeed frustration. I didn’t think we were able to pursue points sufficiently.

BTW, somewhere in my presentation you can see me very carefully get left and right confused. Also, I’m going to plug again my more coherent attempt to explain and evaluate Keen’s argument: Andrew Keen’s Best Case. [Tags: everything_is_miscellaneous picnic2007 taxonomy folksonomyk ]

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September 25, 2007

The future of content

Martin Weller has an excellent article on the future of content, presenting an economic and a quality argument for why it’s bound to be (in my terms) miscellanized.

This is the first in a “distributed blogging” experiment that will have three other bloggers responding. [Tags: content publishing books clay_shirky martin_weller long_tail chris_anderson everything_is_miscellaneous ]


September 12, 2007

Non-mashuppable debates, no thanks to Yahoo

From TechPresident’s indispensible Daily Digest, compiled by Joshua Levy:

…Wired’s ever-diligent Sarah Lai Stirland reports that “Yahoo has decided not to support citizen remixing of the footage — reducing the once-bold experiment to little more than a fancy online version of an on-demand cable television offering.” Yahoo had originally planned to upload the raw footage from the debate to its Jumpcut service for citizens to use in their mashups. But now a spokesman told Stirland that Yahoo will only let participants choose what candidates they want to hear from, without the ability to mashup actual footage. “Bloggers will be able to embed the video into their sites, YouTube-style, but will have no easy way to repurpose it,” writes Stirland. Those who want to create mashups won’t be able to use the simple Jumpcut service, and will instead be forced to download individual videos and use desktop video-editing software. Not nearly as fun.

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September 11, 2007

Berkman Lunch: Peter Galison

Peter Galison is a university professor of physics at Harvard. He’s giving a Tuesday lunchtime talk. [As always, I'm paraphrasing, getting things wrong, etc.]

Positivists tried to ground knowledge in an accumulation of observations, with a minimum of theory, Prof. Galison says. Science would come in the form of little bricks. The result would be “out of the reach of metaphysical theories.” Observation-based science would get better over time.

After WWII, via Thomas Kuhn and others, there was a rebellion against the positivist view. Theory comes first, they said. Science was so framed by theory that what counted as valid observation was dictated by the framework of theory. There is no neutral observation and there’s no raw perception outside of the framing provided by our theories. Various theories therefore were not continuous (as for the positivists) but were ships passing in the night…at least according to this point of view.

Example: The positivists saw special relativity as the capstone of a continuum of observation-based theories, while the Kuhnians think Einstein overthrew his predecessors and created a new whole.

Prof. Galison looks at the rhythms of the rise of theories. There are breaks in the strands of experiment, theory and instrument but the breaks don’t occur at the same time. And that’s to be expected because new instrumentation takes a while to yield new experiments and theories.

Doesn’t this just make the Kuhnian predicament worse? Now there are three strands with discontinuities, not just the strand of theort. “How do subcultures of science coordinate? What is shared between experimentalists and theorists, or between instrument makes and theorests…or between a subculture like instrument making and the wider technical world?” When a string theorist want to talk to a biochemist, do they have to engage in radical translation as posited by the anti-positivists? No, it’s more like the pidgins, jargons and creoles that build up at the real, “thick boundaries” between the natural languages. Prof. Galison wants to use linguistic anthropology to see how scientific disciplines talk. He calls the areas where these inter-languages are built up “trading zones.”

(There are no pure fields, he says. Physics, for example, contains elements of craft, math, experimentation, Plato…)

He looks at the growth and change of language, its local connections to people and places, and its contextuality within the wider world. E.g., Einstein had the idea that time is nothing but properly coordinated clocks. Poincare in 1898 had to figure out how to synchronize clocks so he could figure out the longitude of places around the world. He used this to talk philosophically about what simultaneity means. In 1900, he saw that simultaneity existed in the intersection of philosophy of time, technology of time synchronization, and the electrodynamics of moving bodies. New trading zones are emerging: Nanotech (surface chem, elec eng, atomic phyics…), string theory (geometers, field theories), simulations (computer science, stat, viz display). Each of these have had to develop jargon, pidgin and then a creole.

Of course these fields are collaborative. The question is how they’re able to. We should dig in to understand the shared techniques, theoretical notions, and instrumentation, and how they relate in the various intersecting fields. What exactly is the coordinative project, how does it change over time, and what does that tell us about the local knowledges?

Q: (ethanz) To what extent have people looked at languages between the engineering and business communities?
A: There’s been a little work. It’s a very important area for research. You can see the influence even in the architecture. When a lab is built, it reflects where ideas sit in the world. Does the lab resemble a church? A factory? Is it a place to bring VC’s? “VC’s don’t expect to go to PS 101 circa 1956. That’s not who they expect you to be.”

Q: (eric von hippel): When engineers talk to others, there’s often someone translating. What are the general principles?
A: There may not be a generic solution to this problem. In the coordinative process, what is characteristically coming from the different groups. E.g., in the development of radar, the engineers taught the physicists to look at the problem as that of providing a black box with voltage in and voltage out. So, look at what’s relevant to the exchange — part of it is knowing what to ignore.

A: (halley suitt) If two disciplines like biology and chemistry create a whole new set
of words to describe biochemistry, per your example, is the number of
new words in a new field — for instance all the Net jargon bursting
forth — predictive of the importance of that new field?
A: Boundaries are always thick. “In these thick regions of exchange, a lot of the vocabularies produced by these individual fields get thrown out. There’s a stripping away.”

Q: (judith donath) In a consulting company, there’s a different type of cooperation — it’s very competitive. They’re trying to use a new language to convince the clients that they have something unique to offer. It’s more about jockeying for leadership than cooperating. It’s intellectual scent-marking
A: Yes, complexification can sometimes be obfuscation. Cooperation and competition are closer together than we often think. Freud once said “Ambivalence is the basic emotion.” I’m trying to move away from an intentional account.

Q: (me) Do these intersections simplify the concepts? Do the participants translate back into their own terms? Do the translations change the theoretical understanding of each of the fields?
A: There’s a difference between simplification and regularization. We know how to talk differently to different people. The regularization doesn’t mean that you’re simplifying the ideas. When two famous physicists wrote a book on physics, they wrote a second volume for experimenters. All sorts of intra-theoretical connections were dropped out, but the calculations got more complicated. This was more regular but also more complex. So, is it simplification? Simple is not a simple concept. The “outspeak” becomes regularized. And does it feed back into the constitutive fields? Yes. And that’s why interests me most. It’s not that physics founds everything. The radar story is an example where the engineers taught the physicists. The fact of the coordinative activity begins to backform the science. I think that happens all the time, and it’s really important. The top down picture not only is bad business, but it keeps you from learning things.

Q: (wendy seltzer) Attorneys are called on to speak many disciplinary languages. What’s the role of formal education in differrent disciplines as opposed to learning on the job? Should law firms hire biochemists to talk to biochemists. Others hire generally interested people. I think the generally interested people are going to better at explaining it to a judge, etc.
A: People often think that’s what wanted in a book about science is to make it stupider. That seems to me to be empirically wrong. Pedagogically, we need to develop ways to speak about technical-scientific ideas that are not weighed down by jargon and don’t require prior knowledge, but are cognizant of the ability of people to deal with complex concepts. If you go to an art museum, it’s designed for adults. If you go to a science museum, it’s designed for children. You don’t have to write in one-syllable words and assume the audience wants to climb on the exhibit. [You go, Dr. Pete!]

Q: (john palfrey) People argue that locking up IP discourages research. Others disagree.
A: The idea of individual development is mythopoeic, although our institutions try to recuperate it, including the Nobel Prize. It’s trying to get back to an Edenic past, but it’s like chasing the sunset. In science and engineering, innovation always have aspects of collectivity. Patent lawyers sometimes want the physicists to do work they don’t want to do, patenting every variation on an innovation. Sometimes, though, patents can provide an incentive, and maybe makes us less interested in the classical ontological, philosophical questions. Physicists are thinking more like engineers. Patents and IP play a very complicated role in the changing ethos between science and technology. [Tags: berkman peter_galison science linguistics philosophy ]


Now that we’re in the majority, could you please stop calling us consumers?

From the Center for Media Research:

Half of All Web Viewers Watching What The Other Half Has To Say

According to the just released Deloitte’s study on Media & Entertainment practice, looking at how American consumers between 13 and 75 years of age are using media and technology today, Millennials (13-24) are leading the way, embracing new technologies, games, entertainment platforms, user-generated content and communication tools. Data from the survey show that user-generated content is in tremendous demand across the generations, with 51% of all consumers watching and/or reading content created by others.

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September 9, 2007

Webby Sunday Funnie

Today’s Dilbert is destined to be shown during the introductory remarks at every Web 2.0 conference for the next two years. And it uses the phrase “tag-based folksonomy,” albeit it as a phrase so technical it’s suppose to scare us. It

And today’s Doonesbury is destined to be shown during the introductory remarks at every “Future of Media” conference for the next two years. Along the way, the strip mentions, a cool site that will get a boost from the plug, thus inadvertently showing the power of the mass media that the strip questions. (I blogged about DonorsChoose here.) [Tags: ]

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