Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The future of news

I’ve complained before about the stealthy injection of entertainment into just about every facet of human discourse these days; personally, I find the fake jokey manner of newscasters and breakfast show hosts  particularly offensive. I would much prefer a more straight-forward approach, like this one;  here is the future of news, and it's danceable! (see the whole Auto-tune the news series)

Twitter, 1935 "Yesterday's Tomorrow Today!"

From Modern Mechanix (with the excellent slogan Yesterday's Tomorrow Today!) via Boingboing, this 1935 preview of Twitter. See also Wikipedia article about the Notificator

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Medium is not the message

A kind retweeter directed me to Ann Kirshcner's article in the Chronicle about reading Little Dorrit in 4 different media (paperback, audiobook, Kindle, and iPhone) She asks herself whether its books or reading she loves, and decides on the latter...the medium is not the message. Interesting article that examines the respective merits of each medium, with iPhone rated a "Kindle-killer." 

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

tombours a'beggars, the blog and turfs

And what does Finnegans Wake have to say about blogs?
lairking o' tootlers with tombours a'beggars, the blog and turfs and the brandywine bankrompers

Twattering of bards in the twitterlitter

Finnegans Wake has to be read out loud to be enjoyed fully. Listen, for example, to Joyce's eloquence regarding Twitter...

[1:2 37.17] in his secondmouth language as many of the bigtimer's verbaten
words which he could balbly call to memory that same kveldeve,
ere the hour of the twattering of bards in the twitterlitter between
Druidia and the Deepsleep Sea, when suppertide and souvenir to
Charlatan Mall jointly kem gently and along the quiet darkenings

[1:4 95.31] whosebefore and his whereafters and how she was lost away
away in the fern and how he was founded deap on deep in anear,
the rustlings and the twitterings and the raspings and the
snappings and the sighings and the paintings and the ukukuings
and the (hist!) the springapartings and the (hast!) the

[1:6 193.14] Anklegazer! Cease to be civil, learn to say nay! Whisht! Come
here, Herr Studiosus, till I tell you a wig in your ear. We'll do a
whisper drive, for if the barishnyas got a twitter of it they'd tell
the housetops
and then all Cadbury would go crackers. Look!
Do you see your dial in the rockingglass? Look well ! Bend down

[4:15 600.23] soreen seen for loveseat, as we know that should she, for by
essentience his law, so it make all. It is scainted to Vitalba. And
her little white bloomkins, twittersky trimmed,
are hobdoblins'
hankypanks. Saxenslyke our anscessers thought so darely on
now they're going soever to Anglesen, free of juties, dyrt chapes.

In defense of distraction

Sam Anderson's article in New York is a reflection on the nature of distraction. Curiously, he begins - preemptively I guess - by saying that all criticism of tech-induced social change is really kind of pointless. First, there's really nothing new under the sun; remember old Socrates (the fool!) complaining that the advent of writing would cripple memory and the mental faculties? And second, you can't do anything about it anyway, so why rail against these things? [But then we'd be without without Thoreau, Orwell, Huxley, Hofstadter, Postman,  etc., and besides, there's so much to rail against, and more all the time!] Interesting tidbits are the phrase "continuous partial attention" to describe our modern kind of focus, and the importance of randomness in keeping us pecking at the reward bar; "As B. F. Skinner's army of lever-pressing rats and pigeons taught us, the most irresistible reward schedule is not, counterintuitively, the one in which we're rewarded constantly but something called variable ratio schedule, in which the rewards arrive at random." Does that ring a bell - or drop some pellets of feed on your desk - as you're checking email, twitter, and rss feeds?  Incidentally, a nice  compendium of writings on such issues is the Library Leadership Network's  LLN Multitasking page .

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A play about web2.0

These theater students were instructed to "Act out the genesis and development of web2.0." Well done!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Poignant about aging

Here's a poignant film about the onset of old age and diminishing mental & physical faculties

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Men follow men

Findings of a Harvard Business School study of Twitter:
  • Although men and women follow a similar number of Twitter users, men have 15% more followers than women.
  • an average man is almost twice more likely to follow another man than a woman
  • On a typical online social network, most of the activity is focused around women - men follow content produced by women they do and do not know, and women follow content produced by women they know
  • Among Twitter users, the median number of lifetime tweets per user is one
  • the top 10% of prolific Twitter users accounted for over 90% of tweets
The study has generated some interesting discussion about whether Twitter is primarily a broadcast or conversational platform

New from the CIA

A spanking new look for the CIA World Factbook website; here's from yesterday's press bulletin:

June 08, 2009 - Completely redesigned website - presenting a cleaner look, improved navigation, and a host of added features - launched on the World Wide Web. Among the major enhancements are downloadable and printable photos for nearly 100 countries, a "Did You Know?" section explaining the impact of the Factbook around the world, and built-in world rankings for many of the Factbook information fields. Government sections reflect the results of recent parliamentary elections in Kuwait - where women were elected for the first time - and India, as well as presidential elections in Lithuania, Mongolia, Panama, and South Africa.

There used to be the notion that the CIA was populated by scholarly/literary types with Ivy League educations, but verbiage such as "The World Factbook is a unique reference in that it is updated continuously - on average, every two weeks" suggests that this is no longer the case. On the other hand, "a host of added features - launched on the World Wide Web" has a helpless ring to it, as if penned by a bookish sort miserably and cluelessly adrift in a new age.

I was curious about the Did You Know? section promising to explain "the impact of the Factbook around the world."  As a librarian, one is naturally curious about the impact of a particular reference book on the world around us. How do they measure it? Turns out the impact assessment was this: [The World Factbook] presents the basic realities about the world in which we live. We share these facts with the people of all nations in the belief that knowledge of the truth underpins the functioning of free societies. Let it not be said that the CIA hides its light under a bushel...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Library promotion idea

Can we get this guy to do one for libraries?

Google squared

Google squared describes itself thus:
Google Squared is a search tool that helps you quickly build a collection of facts from the Web for any topic you specify.
  • Facts about your topic are organized as a table of items and attributes (we call them "Squares" for fun).
  • Customize these Squares to see just the items and attributes you're interested in.
  • See the websites that served as sources for the information in your Square.
  • Save and share Squares with others. 
You can save squares and share them....here's a square of British composers

I've not discovered anyway to rearrange the order of rows and columns, but presumably that will come...