Monthly Archives: July 2005

The ever-incisive Jon Udell

Extraordinarily well said, in today’s Social tagging in the enterprise:

…the tagging craze is mainly fueled by social effects. It’s true that I tag my own content online in order to help me keep track of it, but I’d be unlikely to do so if I were the only person engaged in that process. Categorizing my stuff to help other people find it is part of the motivation, but it runs deeper than that. Observing who else bookmarks my items, and what terms those folks use to describe my items, helps me measure the effect of my work. Finding other items those folks have bookmarked and tagged leads me to new resources relevant to my work.

Dyson on Wiener

An interesting NYRB review has this passage in it:

To understand the history of cybernetics, it is important to understand that mathematical communication has two languages, which we call analog and digital. Analog communication describes the world in terms of continuously variable quantities such as electrical voltages and currents that can be directly measured. Digital communication describes the world in terms of zeros and ones, each zero or one representing a logical choice between two discrete alternatives. Analog communication is the language of analysis. Digital communication is the language of logic.

I knew that… but I’d never have said it as elegantly.

The League of Frightened Men

danah boyd has a sane comment on the silliness that’s been making the rounds in the wake of a Chronicle of Higher Education piece on the job market perils of academics who blog:

In academia, your brand is this aggregate of your eccentricities and expertise. I do think that you can soil your brand in any public or semi-public environment. This is why you put on a particular face during conferences, at dinner with like minds, etc. Certain institutions have more tolerance for eccentricities than others. My guess is that the Midwest humanities department has virtually none. But find me a prof at MIT that is not quirky as hell. In fact, i think that “normals” would be upsetting there.

The Slipstream

Ho hum, another day begins with a scan of blog stuff, and it occurs to me that what I’ve been tracking for the last month via a ruminative Web page is really blogfodder. So here are some running notes, to try on a more public record of what I’m following:

The first half hour is spent on two links from the first (this time it’s Bag and Baggage), which points to another location,
Doc Searls, “Re-Grokking Grokster” from Linux Journal’s Suit Watch newsletter, with this
on Mark Cuban:

At the Web 2.0 conference last fall, he said, “When you’re sitting around a table at a tough negotiation, you need to look around and see who the sucker is. If you don’t find one, it’s you.” IT Conversations has a podcast of the whole interview…

Of course I’ve grabbed that Cuban interview to listen to later today…

On to the next blog, JD Lasica’s Darknet, which offers When the studios won’t give permission, quotations of responses to his requests to use short clips in a home video.

Next up: Keyhole Community for Google Earth explorers

I’m more and more aware of the significance of filtering blogs, like Global Voices Online and Edu_RSS, which I scan and occasionally follow outward.

Last night I marked for re-reading a post at Maciej Ceglowski’s Idle Words. The moray eel just may be an appropriate totem, hole-living, sharp teeth, unpredictable…


Who knows when this will come in handy?

According to Dr. Eric Rignot of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, “the largest likely factor for sea level rise is changes in the amount of ice that covers Earth. Three-fourths of the planet’s freshwater is stored in glaciers and ice sheets, or about 220 feet of sea level.”
( )

Tim Oren on the Research Process

Now here’s an interesting version of the research process, well worth repurposing to fit the circumstances of a searcher in a scientific field (though it’s cast in Venture Capital terms), from Tim Oren’s The Art of the Fast Take:

…every technology and market has a private language. It’s built of terms of art, but also names of landmarks such as products, famous papers and projects, labs, and researchers and other experts. To begin to understand the market you need to learn this language. Fortunately, such a distinctive use of language and interlinkage of people and information artifacts is the very best thing you can have to feed Google or other modern search tools.

The posting is about a page and a half, really worth the time to read and cast to fit one’s own purposes. A few more bits:

You are looking for reviews or survey articles, as recent as possible. Skim them. Make sure these guy’s idea isn’t obviously misfit or already common knowledge. But you’re mostly looking for more names, particularly of analysts, technologists or researchers who are commonly quoted… You’re looking for competitive analysis, and also for corporate white papers. The latter will be ‘spun’, of course. What you’re trying to extract are the key competitive issues, current and envisioned, and the code phrases used by the various competitors to tout their advantages and diss the opposition. You may strike out on the analysts if it really is a nascent area… With luck, you’ll know someone on the list, or have a mutual friend. Buy a couple of lunches… Somewhere, there is a good argument going on in this field. Go find it. It may be on blogs, mailing lists, or at conferences, but it’s likely to have an online presence and perhaps an archive. Read as much as you can handle, taking careful note of people and company names… Get a big piece of paper, your various lists of terms, people, products, etc., and make a network graph, cluster chart, or whatever works for you, noting central issues and people. You’re not an expert, but you’ve now got some of the fundamentals of the technology and the market structure laid out.

OK, so scholarly research isn’t business, still less VC activity, but there’s a lot here that’s just exactly what we’d like our students to internalize as they start to figure out a field or a research area. Nicely done!

Tim Bray sez

“…when something is driving enough people into insane belief systems that we see regular explosions in our cities, it would be smart to care—a lot—what that something is. Because, on the evidence, I don’t think the leaders of the Western world have a clue.”
( , via Alex Halavais)