Category Archives: technology

I miss old tech…

From Skype chat:

I’m in USA now…
[6:52:24 AM] Jordi Comas: Dreading the long task of sorting, organizing, cataloging, printing blogging, blog-to-booking all the photos.  And then the videos.  Oy Vay!  Fuck it….  it was easier when you just sent a roll of film to the shop.

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Filed under humor, life, technology

Ideas for Questions and Themes for Arianna Huffington

Today, as part of the tech/no Forum series at Bucknell, we are hosting Arianna Huffington.  I had imagine I would do some deep research on her background, her role as founder of HuffingtonPost, her role as CEO of the merged AOL-Huffington company  her ideas on the relationship between media, democracy, and profit, the death (?) of the newspaper, and so on.

Well, that didn’t happen.

Instead, I’ll have to generate some from what I have in my head (as opposed to research-based).

If you are coming to the afternoon session, feel free to read these, use these, modify these, and so on.

Business and Technology

* Is the content-for-eyeballs formula of the Internet dying?  Are advertisers not willing to pay?

* Are we at the end of an innovation burst as the Internet and mobile platforms are merging?  Is the heady period of “social media” and its rapid expansion done?

* Who are HP’s or AOL’s competitors?

Media and Profit

* Is it the responsibility of the media company to provide what “customers” want or what they need?  Does a media/news company create its own demand and then project that onto the audience.  “See, they want _____________ (tits, blood, murders, horse-race politics)?” Continue reading

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Filed under Business, economics, Future of Technology, higher education, Information and Communication Technology, innovation, Media, Network Society, Politics, Power, Activism, Social Networks, sociology, technology, Technology history

Gamers OUYA

Gamers OUYA – http://www.ouya.tv/gamers/ Reminds me of the joy of early Apple with the openness of the DROID platform.

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Filed under Business, Gaming, technology

Social Bookmarking Evolution

Years ago, maybe five, I realized that trying to keep up with folders of bookmarks in Firefox (or nay browser) was just annoying and a time suck.  I would bookmark unimportant things and not what I actually needed.  As ridiculously simple a so many tasks are with computers, it just seemed too “hard” sometimes due to number of click-throughs.  I found delicious.com, a great social bookmarking service.  I loved how it was in the cloud so I could access it from any machine.  That was useful for teaching.  I loved the tags and the overall approach of folksonomies.  Such bubbling up from the ground taxonomic systems just suited my brain better.  I tried recommending it to a few folks, but my techno-evangelism did not go very far, so I did not use it very much on its “social” side.  Still, I plugged away with my storing and tagging and happily accumulated 1772 bookmarked pages with tags ranging from “academia” to “zotero.”

Delicious was acquired by yahoo.  Then dumped.    I paid little mind as it kept working for me, and, when possible, I stick to if it ain’t broke approach.  But now delicious is not supported firefox 4.0.  Crap.

I tried exporting from delicious and then importing to Firefox.  But I did not get my notes or tags.  Ouch!  Fortunately, I found this experimental add-on, Slurp.  Thanks Web Wanderings blog!  It worked.  So, now the bookmarks are in Firefox bookmarks.  Will that be a good replacement?  I don’t know.  We shall see.

Here are six possibilities.

I have seen Diigo and it has some nice features.

I have also done more with pearltrees.  I personally love the visualization and ability to zoom in a and out.  It is also a nice example of a two-mode network if you want to get your nethead geek on.  In other words, you can see people linked by common bookmarks (pearls in their jargon).

However, I am not sure I want to import 1772 bookmarks into its hub and spoke geometry.  Could get very, very bushy.  Some people also object to using Flash on principle.  I am not sure what the downside of flash is. Guess I am not enough of a gearhead. It’s collaboration tools are good. You can join teams. It informs you when one of your “unique” pearls is copied by someone else. I like the visualization and the ability to see who else is “close” by tag or keyword similarity. However, I am not sure what it would be like with all 1700 comments. I’ve been thinking of it more as “showcase” bookmarks while the tagging of delicious or firefox now allows for more brute force storage and searching.

Any comments on social book marking, apps, or pearltrees welcome!

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Filed under participatory technology, social bookmarking, technology

Primordial Ooze of Civil Society?

I always liked the phrase “primordial ooze.”  It is fun to say and the ten year old in me sees a bubbling, steaming goo that seems to defy order and good manners.  I also like it because it captures the idea of how the new emerges from the old, how complexity emerges from sets of interactions that are not supposed to add up to the emergent.

Two items from today made me wonder if we are looking at the primordial ooze of civil society.  Let me say here that by civil society I am not entering into some long-standing debate about what is or isn’t civil society.  I am looking for a term that covers the idea of collective or coordinated action of varying degrees of formality that is centered on common ground of like-minded actors.  Also, this common ground must unite people around some sense of a common good or higher purpose.  In short, human organizing motivated by “ruled” by practices that are not of formal state power nor purely economic rationality.  I am not sure if that holds up, but I’ll leave it there for now.

So, item #1.  Egypt, of course.  Like countless others, I am fascinated, hopeful, fearful, and awe struck by the events unfolding first in Tunisia and now more spectacularly in Egypt.  Through the media I have followed (Democracy Now, KCRW’s To The Point, NY time, Huffingtonpost, BBC, Guardian), there are several elements at work.  In no particular order.

* Youthful, technology-enabled activists.

* The Muslim Brotherhood

* Dissident elites (like El Baradei)

* Neighborhood watch patrols

Some of these groups seem loosely organized or rapidly scaling up and out as they absorb the tens or hundreds of thousands of newly mobilized citizens.  I imagine new organizing, new durable networks of trust and cooperation, and new alliances among the other two are a major part of the fluidity and flux.  This (to me) palpable sense of what could be captures the imagery of the primordial ooze of civil society.

Item #2: The Really Free School.  A random facebook message put me on to this (originating in theory.org.uk, home of theory trading cards).  I have not been able to explore it much, but what struck me is the basic ethos: let’s use a common space, the (Shirky-ean) low cost of coordinating, the ability of people to self-organize, and the cultural scripts of sharing knowledge and delighting in serious play.  Though not as fluid or important as Egypt, it also seems to me to get at the origins,at the primordial ooze,  of civil society in its simplicity and open-endedness.

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Filed under activism, Creativity, Hacker ethic, Information and Communication Technology, Networks, participatory technology, Protest, social innovation, sociology, technology

Great Poster of Online Communities

I love this!

See if you can find Second Life!

Can you finnd second life?

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Filed under blogging, higher education, Social Networks, technology, virtual worlds, visualization

Qualitative Data Analysis- What I Want

For some time now, I have been itching to get a good solution for qualitative data collection and analysis.  I and my collaborators have tried in fits and starts to use versions of google sites, wet paint (a wiki tool that seems to have been over run with Glee and Hanna Montana fansites), and wordpress.  Nothing quite stuck.

I have found some really engaging discussions of this from Dr. Michael Wesch’s blog about teaching ethnography.

Here is what I need:

  • STORAGE: Web-based server/ storage for a range of files: text; captured web pages, audio files, images, and possibly video captured form virtual worlds with a browser or some other screen-capture tool.
    • Can you record the video and sound from a VW interaction?  Surely…
  • PRIVACY: We need to be able to wall this material off from general web-browsing hordes and allow access only to a smaller subset.
  • SEARCHABILITY: Most options out there seem to have tags.  But these apply to the whole “object” (text file, web page, and so on).  Such tags are necessary.
    • In addition, I need a way to tag pieces or fragments of a file.  When I encounter a conversation or some other data point, I need to be able to tag or annotate it an then find those.
      • For example, let’s say I put a transcript of a chat in the archive.  It has some metadata: world, date, researcher.  This could include tags for that page.  In this new data “object,” I want to highlight one piece of text and annotate it as “play, conflict, business model.”  A different piece of text would be annotated “profit, corporate policy, emergent.”
        • Later, I want to search for “profit.”  Then I want a list of all the places WITHIN data objects where I annotated “profit.”
    • The goal is to be able to search within files/objects for relevant fragments to avoid having to do tedious scans of multiple objects.
  • Dynamic tagging: Let’s assume above is possible.  Now, I want to dynamically edit tags.  Let’s say I decide that all instances of “profit” should be re-named as “monopoly.”  Can a set or bundle of tags be combined or rename?  I know I can do this in delicious.
    • Also, it would be nice to have some hierarchy in the tags, or bundling.  So, if I realize two go together, I can combine them.
    • Also, I would like to access the list of tags when I need to tag or annotate.  So, for example, I have highlighted some text.  Now I want to add some tags.  To have a list or drop down box of previous tags will help jar my memory and also build a more cohesive set of tags.
    • Finally, I would like all the tags, be they for whole pages or for fragments, to be one list.  In other words, I don’t want two tag lists to maintain.
  • COLLABORATION: I noticed when looking at Diigo that it has a feature in which multiple users can comment on a sticky note.  Basically, this would allow me and collaborator to have a discussion about what a particular fragment of a file or page means.  That is a very attractive feature.

So far, options to explore include:

Google Wave.  Except it is no longer going to be actively supported.  So, nope.

Diigo:

  1. I like the sticky notes where multiple people can comment on a piece of text.
  2. It has a search feature which implies you can search tags and annotations which is the same as their sticky notes (I think). This would get at all my searchability needs.
  3. I think I could combine Diigo with a private-type wiki.  We would put our own field notes in the wiki and then tag and annotate public web stuff.

Evernote.

This is an interessitng tidbit from the site:

Everything you capture is automatically processed, indexed, and made searchable. If you like, you can add tags or organize notes into different notebooks.

How made searchable?  Will this get at my tagging needs?

Ikiwiki: Seems geeky…

A friend of mine who does a lot with IT suggested simply keeping a database of google doc files.  A separate file could have the tags for each file.  I think this is what he suggested.  Had the advantage of simplicity, but I am not sure it has enough of the features I was imagining.

Finally, it seems that perhaps some sort of wiki software could do all of this.  But which one? (one tool to compare.)

UPDATE: I used the wikimatrix tool and tried to get the right set of options.  I ended up with 40 (!yes!) to compare.

Tiddlywiki?

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Filed under Research, technology

Personal Project Management, Launch

I am on UFL (Untenured Faculty leave) this year, that is, Bucknell gives me part of my salary in exchange for the expectation that lots of work will get done.  Sounds like a good deal.

I have many projects in midstream.  I struggle with how to prioritize which project to work on, and within a given project, what tasks are needed, how long they will take, and when to do them.  Add to this my tendency to think locally and globally at the same time.  So, for example, with a qualitative study of virtual worlds, the local is to review some data.  At the same time, I am aware that I never set up what I consider a satisfactory system for handling qualitative data.  it needs to be stored, to be accessible to my collaborators, to be searchable and to be able to be handled and combined flexibly.   How to do that?  So, the local and the global tug at my attention.  Meanwhile, a third mental routine starts to count how much time I spend worrying about local vs global and madly trying to calculate cost-benefit.  At about this point, it all seems too much trouble and I go read Huffington Post or something.

So, perhaps there is a software app that will enable me to more simply look at multiple projects, add tasks, prioritize and reprioritize, and then fit it into a calendar.  And, isn’t UFL a good time to retool my work systems and invest some time in self-improvement?

Any regular readers of this blog (if you exist) will recall “the grid”, a simple table for tracking scholarly work in different stages.  I take no credit for it, it is something I learned from colleagues at Bucknell I met in a writing group.  What I am looking for would allow me to go within each line (a project) on the grid and do at least three things: 1) establish tasks and subtasks and 2) assign amount of time and schedule when i would do those things and 3) establish levels of priority to help me figure out when to do what.

So, instead of spontaneously trying some application, or improvising with OneNote and other MS products, I decided to be more rational.  I asked some friends and on Facebook for suggestions.  Many came in!  Yeah friendsourcing! (like crowdsourcing, but with friends).

I will review the different options in further posts.

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Filed under life, Research, technology, writing

Who Are You Fighting For? Health Care and Public vs Private Tragedy

Organizing for America- the organizing branch of the Obama campiagn that stuck around afterwards, has a great example of using technology to rally people.

I wrote the following to Chris Carney and as I got into it I wanted to give it a broader audience.

Dear Rep. Carney,

I am here for Betsy and Lisa [Names changed]-

We must pass health insurance reform now.  Too many people and businesses face warped incentives or grim and miserable health due to the burdens of our perverse and broken system.

Betsyworks full tie in a private child care facility.  She is a single mom.  She often baby sits infants for many families and is always willing to help people with sick children or other events.  Her selflessness allows others to pursue their careers as professors, doctors, and business leaders.  Her employer, a day care center subsidized by a local employer, does not provide coverage.  She had such severe back problems she could not sleep.  Friends pooled $300 to help her see a chiropractor.  She limited coverage now, but is still an injury away from financial crisis.

Lisa has leukemia.  She works cleaning people’s homes.  She cleans and cooks for her husband every day, even when he has been furloughed or been between jobs.  She stays married to a disinterested, neglectful and nearly abusive husband because she could never afford individual coverage, or even get it with her leukemia.  Where is her freedom to live her life?  The combination of patriarchy and our health care system is deeply unfair and sexist.  I think only the strength of her personality and her adult son keeps her husband from raising his hand against her.

Millions are uninsured.  In 2009, one study found 45,000 Americans died due to lack of coverage. [1] They used a rigorous method used by researchers in 1993 who found around half that number then.  Among those 45,000 are more than 2,000 uninsured veterans.[2] On 9/11, 3,000 of our citizens were innocent victims and became iconic heroes.  We endure 15 9/11s every year through 45,000 private tragedies of martyrs to a broken healthcare system midwife by a corrupt political system.  We have marshaled billions of dollars and 100,000s of soldiers to avenge the fallen of 9/11.  Meanwhile, we engage in trivial “death panel” and “reconciliation” food fights at home while our fellow citizens are chewed up and spit out as corpses by the broken health care system.   Why should the public tragedy of 9/11 count for so much more all these years than the sum of 45,000 private tragedies year in and year out?

Where is the justice in that? How is that fair?


[1] Heavey, Susan.  Sept 2009.  “Study Links 45,000 Deaths to Lack of Health Insurance.”  Reuters.  http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE58G6W520090917

[2] Physicians for A National Health Program. Nov 10, 2009. “Over 2,200 veterans died in 2008 due to lack of health insurance.”  http://www.pnhp.org/news/2009/november/over_2200_veterans_.php\

Note: Cross-posted at: Spilling Ink.

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Filed under activism, policy, Politics, Power, Activism, sociology, technology

What is the size of the Metaverse?

I am working on one of my papers about the institutionalization of virtual worlds and I once again want some sort of clear statement about the size or scope of virtual worlds to quickly convince a reviewer that this is a “real” issue worth studying and that the hypecycle boom and bust around Second Life was a distraction from the real growth trends.

There is the widely cited Gartner figure of 80% of active users having an avatar by 2011. Many missed the adjective “active.” Gartner rightly, I think, was focusing on innovators and early adopters. It is still an eye-opening number.

There are academic papers documenting the dozens of worlds, as well as attempts to classify them along some variation of the following axes: overt gameness, ownership model, user-generated content, focus, or demographic target.

There is Castronova’s estimates of 20-40 million active users and economies on the scale of mid-sized countries (although this includes all those pesky MMO games).

I need to source this post better, but at least I have identified a few leads.

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Filed under organization studies, technology, virtual worlds