June 27, 2002
Visualisation - Marti Hearst interview

It's been a fair while since I read peterme, and now I'm darned if I know why I've been so slack. For example, in this interview with Marti Hearst is the following succinct and, to my mind pithy, quote:

"Marti forecasts a significant change in how visualizations are approached. In the past, they've been treated as standalone applications, "Look at this thing! And how beautiful it is!" Where as the key for the future will be incorporating it as a small part in a larger system, integrating it with the rest of the interface. In doing so, this will require visualizations to seriously take the problem that users want to solve into account, a motivation currently lacking from many visualizations."

This comes back to Eric and my various discussions about visualisation of varying and realtime data (chat, for example, although the Map of the Market example oft cited is a nice one also). It's about moving beyond the visualisation, the perception of the container, into the meaning, the discernable content.

aside: Moveable Type just pulled the selected text in from its bookmarklet. Neat stuff

Posted by esinclai at 09:56 PM

gone daddy gone
the love is gone away

Posted by esinclai at 07:26 AM
June 26, 2002
Obsessive or voyeuristic?

Wired pointed me to this site, mc.clintock.com, wherein a Chicago homeowner and artist/student has set out to document EVERYTHING (nearly, ok, maybe all caps wasn't required) in his house.

Impressive. Of couirse, there's no meta-data, so you have to know where to look (thus far). But keen, and fun, nonetheless.

It's reminiscent of the now defunct Three Acres in Houston site (wonder what happened to him), which documented the lot of a house in, obviously Houston - albeit with a more scientific and less artistic bent.

And there's CyberFlat in the Netherlands, though its more techic. And there was a site (Ice House?) that had fairly complete stats on the utilization of resources - down to barcoding every item that went into the refuse bin....

Posted by esinclai at 09:48 PM
June 25, 2002
White Boys on Rap

Add now to the MC Paul Barman 'phenom' the odd, and delightful, spectacle of Pud doing the street-scene...

(thanks to Dave Zaret for drawing it to my attention)

Posted by esinclai at 07:25 AM
June 24, 2002
Dining Dissonance

So this evening Anne and I go out to eat at Vietnam Little Home, a cheap Vietnamese place in our neighborhood.

It's a nice walk over, the air is a bit warm and still. Our service, as usual, is languid, but the iced coffee and food is tasty.

And then we get the fortune cookies. Perhaps not authentic Vietnamese culture. Especially when mine reads:

"You love chinese food"

Posted by esinclai at 09:53 PM
June 22, 2002
Arpanet History Documents

Muxway posted a link to the Arpanet Collection at the Internet Archive.

It's a nifty collection, though I've only skimmed through a couple documents. It's an important part of computing history (and this collection comes from the files of Katie Hafner, when she was preparing her book on the origins of the Internet), as well as tying back into my interest in the work of Doug Engelbart.

What it also makes me think of is all the old BACS documents that I read with an odd fervor while I was first really using computers, back in the late 70s/80s. All the docs had this same look - the courier font, the sometimes terse descriptions. Man pages on paper, almost. And they provide little to no tolerance for the untutored reader - you're either in, or you're going to be confused.

Another project in a similar area, the BBS Documentary project, brings similar memories. But there the docs take on an aura of odd chest pounding, the authors usually younger and more filled with a need to instantiate their desired personality.

Both recommended....

Posted by esinclai at 12:27 PM

Quick, who's being parodied more here, Steve Job's Marketing Agency? Bill Gates? Errol Morris? YOU be the judge.

(flash required)

Posted by esinclai at 10:15 AM
June 19, 2002
He's not John Dean

... or even James Dean. But Ken Goldstein is vehement in his claim that he is Deep Throat.

John Dean and his eBook be darned, I suppose...

Posted by esinclai at 10:09 PM

But not that e-music.

There's a piece in Salon just recently about the 'triumph' of electronic music. It draws out the standard stories of how hidden electronica has merged into the culture (see the standard Moby story of how all of Play was licensed, or how all those cool car and gap advertisements use electronica (and Nick Drake), but does so in a nice way than most - a bit more detail, a bit less 'parents just don't understand' if you will.

Which is the mature aspect of the piece that grabbed me. Anne and I have had, a couple times, a conversation that is a bit emblematic of our growing 'maturity'. We don't quite get the music the kids listen to these days. We listen to a fair bit of it - raised in freeform radio, I still prefer it (in Chicago, that means for me either WLUW or WZRD with a smattering of WNUR - but the fact is, we don't know what the cool stuff is these days.

This brooding reached a peak when Anne and I were discussing that we didn't know who the people were in a number of the electronic bands we listen to. And the piece in Salon does a nice job of touching on that topic, of the anonymity of the performers of electronic music. And so be it. They did miss the boat in this piece in forgetting to compare electronica in the late nineties to reggae in the early 80s. Of course, for this to hold, every frat party in 2012 will have loud blaring Thievery Corporation. I can hardly wait....

Ironically, current music playing - jazz on WBEZ.

Posted by esinclai at 09:24 PM
June 18, 2002

When Anne and I were living in Bloomington, IN, her parents would occasionaly send us a sourdough bread, I believe from a bakery in German Village. At first, I have to admit that I was skeptical - how good could a frozen, sevral day old, driven across the midwest (or midEast - this is Ohio, after all) bread be that tasty?

But they were nice. Since we've been in Chicago, I don't think that we've gotten any breads. Compounding the issue, Anne's parents have now moved to Florida, so that possible resource seems unlikely to return. Attempts to find a good sourdough, either at our local food stores (Dominicks, Jewel) have been for naught. Cafe Selmarie, home of delicious foods of all kinds (including a very nice whole wheat loaf purchased this week) doesn't seem to do the sourdough either.

Luckily, I came across this article today on Sourdough bread. Maybe all is not lost, if I roll up my shirtsleeves and do a little baking sometime soon.

In a tangentially related bread note, I finished the last of my Bialy's that I brought home from Columbus this weekend past. Though they made my carryon bag smell of onions, they sure were delicious.

Posted by esinclai at 07:19 PM
June 17, 2002

Beware Muxway. Fertile like memepool but even faster loading.

And, I mean, what happened to Yahoo! Picks. Didn't it used to be better? Or did I used to be worse? There was a period when it was abjectly worse than it is now (such that I now read the email when it comes in, rather than absently ^D'ing it, muttering about using the unsubscribe function), more filled with commercial content. But it seems like it used be be choosier and sassier. Maybe it's the roaming herds of bloggers consuming the alfalfa of the net that made it harder to find the what's cool first (though there is still plenty o' meaty stuff out there)...

Posted by esinclai at 10:06 PM
Udell on Social Networks

There's what is readily becoming apparent as an appalling amount for me to read as I try to learn about social networks. I've been tuned into it a bit by Malcolm Gladwell and his writings (in the tipping point (which I admit I cheated and read in the New Yorker...) and other places), as well as some other pieces cited here like the work of Peter Morville.

But then I read a piece like Jon Udell's O'Reilly Network: Seeing and Tuning Social Networks at O'Reillynet, and his citations career me off further down the path....

I've complained before about too much to read, too much knowledge to digest. But it's that good kind of anxiety mixed with satiation, a good meal continuing.

Posted by esinclai at 09:55 PM
June 14, 2002
Research @ MSFT

Even if you hold that Microsoft is some sort of evil death corporation (a theory I don't actually subscribe to), I think it would be very alluring to get to work on cool things like this information aggregation experiment (pdf) in their research division....

Posted by esinclai at 09:51 PM
More toward bibKat redux

Bookmarking this article entitled Federated Searching Interface Techniques: Liu et al.: JoDI for later reading, but this may be an issue faced by bibKat when development starts. Though it may be that each bibKat user runs a bibKat process, what about aggregating information that doesn't fit into that schema?

At least someone has some beginnning and further thinking on the topic....

Posted by esinclai at 07:15 AM
June 07, 2002
More Toward BibKat

An item that came up yesterday, and bears interest in bibKat below is the publication of the XML Schema for MARC Encoding.

Posted by esinclai at 06:31 AM
Backlog II - Toward BibKat

This has kicked around in several versions over the last 12-14 months. I post it here to get it out of my head and move forward some. Links will be added in turn.

For a while now, inspired by a couple sources, I've been kicking around in my head an idea about knowledge sharing, but in a bit of a diffeent form.

A while back, Phil Agre posted on his Red Rock Eater mailing list a message about a desire he had to programmatically know what othwer user's bibliographies were. Phil is a relentless poster of good links, and once in a while - monthly it seems - he posts a list of those books he's seen cited that may be of interest to one of his topics of interest.

This is a nice idea, in and of itself. Part of what most of the people I know who cut a broad swath in their reading is tell one another what's being read.

At about the same time, I'd begun looking at Rael Dornfest's peerkat code (a localised version of the work he's done for meerkat at O'Reilly). What if these ideas could be melded somehow to become a single tool? What if there were a decentralised way to look at the recorded trails of people 'like me'?

Thus was Bibkat gestated. And there it has lain for the last several months. But here's how I see it in germ form.

I keep a catalog of resources - books, magazine citations, bookmarks, purple-numbered emails, etc. Over time this grouping accumulates and gets more tagged with reference and meta data.

In a controlled (secure) manner, I can then expose this information to the world, or some managed subset of it (known fellow researchers, etc). And in turn I may be able to see parts or chunks of other entities collections.

Each entry would be marked up in some common format - in my mind was something like an xml store or Z39.50 store, both of which require additioal research.

In some ways, it should be oclcKat, except that the information here takes on a decentralised form. As I recall it, OCLC maintais a monolithic data center in Ohio where all records get checked in. In the case of bibkat, however, the information is live, including status (is that bookmark still where I said it was, is that book on Chris' shelf, or was it leant out. If its leant out, is it now in Mike's collection, where I might still be able to get some info out of it?)

Since I started musing about this, I've been idly looking at various similar tools, somewhat languidly. Human-Links (mentioned earlier) comes across as having some of the techniques in place, but to date I haven't gotten it to work, and the security model doesn't seem as rich as I'd like this to be. As well, Human-Links is very document centric, rather than resource centric. Pushing down into documents is part of this, but not the first stage.

I've looked at bibliography software. Some of the software for small libraries comes close to the 'publish your data' idea, but they still lock it away and don't really manage to share it as transparently as I envision bibKat doing.

In the online realm, BookApp seemed to have some of the ideas, but I was projecting my own on it. BookApp does do some nice stuff, including an autmatic tie from ISBN lookups, and some sharing of items on a list basis.

A lot of the P2P networks have ideas that flow back into this, but again, they are largely about sharig documents or media, not sharig iformation about resources.

I've a bunch of recommended reading for myself that flows i with this. I need to get a better uderstanding of OCLC, of Z39.50, of Dublin Core, and of databases that handle any of these cleanly.

I need to geta better understanding of how to implement a security model (and how to flesh out my thinking on security. Thankfully I have some application security thinkers in my midst.

There's a number of bootstrap-like thoughts that could tie in here, including purple numbers for local document reference.

So a few months back Phil posted an idle thought. What if he could easily see what was on other people's shelves and in their bibliographic files.....

Posted by esinclai at 05:45 AM
Backlog I : Corporate Ethics

I've got some items in backlog which, given the paucity of postings lately, I need to get off my plate. These are largely unformed, but may or may not be of interest.

This first item was scrawled down in mid-May, at the time Iambic had registered a couple domain names that just as legitimately belonged to a competitor product. It got me thinking about how corporations large and small should act, and if they can act, ethically. The topic of how Iambix should have performed has been beaten to death, and they've already made stes to rectify their behavior. The larger question remains, including the disclosed activities this week of Tyco's (now) former CEO.

- time travel -

I've been thinking this moring about the concept of corporate ethics. Recently Iambic, makers of ActionNames for the Palm among other apps, registered a pair of domains that - by name at last - were tightly assoiated with a competitor. In a recent recusal of the action, the heasd of Iambic said that this action did not meet the standards of his company.

But what does that really mean? Without wandering ito the thicket of ideas that is whether a company can be considered a person - and when a company can be treated as a person under the law - can a company act "ethically"? Obviously there's a lot of fooforaw about this from the Enron situation, and it may be clear that the goals of proper behavior didn't align with other corporate goals. I'd argue that it is in some ways harder for a company to act purely ethically when that company is small - I don't have facts, but I imagine Iambic doesn't have more than a dozen employees, some of whom are contract. They may even outsource their PR and Marketing, which could easily have led to this minor debacle.

In a large company of course, it is the actions of a large number of people, small parts each in the whole but large in the aggregate, which makes the company ethics balance. Even the company I work for, which is certainly under the strong constraints of fiscal pressure, has acted in what I would consider good ways - from the beginning they spun off an online charitable giving arm, and in the case of our company giving an employee above-and-beyond assistance when a family member died and arrangements crossed not time zones but continents. Does that make us an ethical company? No.

Every individual in the company makes dozens of decisions each day, decisions that affect themselves first and usually the company second. If I speak with less than true character, but get the sale and the commission, is that a good thing? If I shorcut the code here, but save a half hour to flesh out another feature, is that a good thing? How doe the aggregations of these small decisions become an ethical one? But every time we do make the right decision in a larger picture, or at least weigh the balance judiciously, it does make us a company that has shown we know we can do the right thing.

Iambic knows how to do the right thing also - I use and appreciate their software daily. But they also showed that everyone slips.

If ethical behavior is in the many small steps, a slip is uavoidable. A constant careful stepping is even more wise.

- return from time travel -

Posted by esinclai at 05:41 AM