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July 1, 2009

PDF: The takeway

PDF was an unusually rich conference. Great folks there and an especially good year to be talking about the effect of the Net on politics and governance.

My take-away (although having a single take-away from a conference I just said is rich is rather contradictory, don’t you think?): The Web has won in a bigger way than I’d thought. The people President Obama is appointing to make use of the Web for increased citizen participation and greater democracy (well, at least as access to the Web and the skills required are distributed more evenly) are our best, brightest, and webbiest. And they are doing remarkable things.

Douglas Rushkoff interviewed me for his radio show yesterday or was it the day before? Anyway, here it is. We talked about PDF and about my presentation there, which was about transparency and the changing role of facts.

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June 29, 2009

[pdf09] Mayor Bloomberg rides the Skype

Mayor Bloomberg skypes in, slightly Max Headroomy. He touts NYC’s e-ness. Info is key to good mgt. #311. Five new initiatives:

1. 311 has a skype account (NYC 311)
2. Twitter: @311nyc

3. 311 online via
4. Tracking the stats to improve the service. E.g., with Google see what services people are most searching for.
5. New annual competition — Big Apps [clever] — to challenge us to come up with new ways to use data at E.g., someone should make an iPhone app to check out the cleanliness grades of restaurants (which now will also be posted in restaurant windows).

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At Personal Democracy Forum, announces itself as a “marketplace for challenges” of theX Prize sort. You can create a challenge at their site, or create a “wish” by using #cpost at Twitter.

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May 5, 2009

Scanning in a book

Over the past year, I’ve digitized a bunch of my family’s old photo albums by photographing the pages with a digital camera. This is far faster than scanning them, and the quality is good enough and infinitely better than not having any digitized versions.

Now I’m contemplating using the same technique to make a digital copy of my 1978 doctoral dissertation. The object consists of 350 pages of typed, double-spaced 8.5″x11″ pages, bound. At 15 secs per page, that’s about 1.5 hours of time (= 4 Daily Shows, or 3 SNLs with the dross fast-forwarded).

I’d appreciate advice about the digital side of it, given that I’d like the “scans” to be readable online and, ultimately, be OCR-able.

1. My camera goes up to 10 megapixels, which I assume is way more than I need for this project. I don’t care about reproducing the pages as physical artifacts. I’m only interested in the text on them. How many mpixies should I be shooting at?

2. What would be the most convenient way to post these from a reader’s point of view? Anything other than PDF? (Google Books lets you submit your books in PDF format, so I’d like to produce a PDF version in any case.)

3. Depending on your answer to #2, do you have any suggestions of tools to use? (I’m doing this on a Mac.)

4. Any other advice?


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June 28, 2008

Ethanz on PDF and GV

Conference coverage like this and this makes me sorry that Ethan Zuckerman is chairing the Global Voices meeting instead of live blogging it. We need an “and,” not an “or” here. Clearly it’s time that Ethan cloned himself.

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