Categories: misc

al’s horse


Categories: misc, web

Good Links – Weekly: August 14

This weeks’ Good Links wherein Mitch (w / t) Alistair (w / t) and I choose links for each other.

Top Secret America – The Washington Post

Alistair for Hugh: Put on your tinfoil hats: they really are out to get you! This Washington Post piece on Top Secret America includes an interactive exploration of the off-the-books US military spending, showing how much money goes where. Not only is it entertaining fodder for conspiracy theorists, but it’s a great demonstration of how journalism can work well in the digital age: this isn’t something that can be easily vacuumed up via an RSS feed and repurposed by someone else. This is part of a 2-year investigative project by the Post, nicely wrapped in interactive applications and videos.

What They Know – The Wall Street Journal

Alistair for Mitch: As the world agonizes over privacy and anonymity, triggered in part by Google’s CEO’s assertions that we should just get used to no longer being anonymous, the Wall Street Journal put together a great illustration of the most prevalent invasion of privacy, tracking cookies. Cookies are a much-maligned scapegoat for cyber-crime; without them, we wouldn’t have the dynamic web we enjoy today. But when cookies are used to share information across sites, they can be put to all kinds of nefarious uses. This interactive app puts tracking in plain sight. The surprise leader? Dictionary.com, which puts 159 cookies, 23 flash components, 41 beacons, and 11 first-party cookies – 168 of which don’t let visitors opt out – into your web browser. Really? Why do I need over 200 cookies to find out what paranoid means, anyway?

Why Parents Hate Parenting – The Last Psychiatrist

Hugh for Alistair: There’s been much talk about happiness and parenthood of late, with more studies showing that kids (supposedly) make you unhappy. I’ve come across the Last Psychiatrist blog a few times in the past couple of weeks, and each time come away thinking: reading time well spent. Here he cuts apart the premises upon which the happy/unhappy parent paradigm is built. Conclusion: ego overload.”

Fresh Air Remembers Historian Tony Judt – NPR.

Hugh for Mitch: Mitch recently had to cancel a lunch with me because of a funeral. I’ve had two close friends (one real life, one online) die of cancer in the past three months. Death is a fact of our existence that we aren’t good at coping with in Western culture. This is an interview with Tony Judt, the prolific British/Amercian historian, from a few months back, when he was suffering a quick decline from Lou Gehrig’s disease, an affliction to which he succumbed this week. It’s funny, and smart and moving.

The Data Bubble – Doc Seals Weblog.

Mitch for Alistair: It’s sort of freaky that Alistair’s recommended link for me was The Wall Street Journal‘s look at cookies and online privacy, considering I had this Blog post from Doc Searls (co-author of the magnificent business book, The Cluetrain Manifesto) pegged for him. While Doc does his usual role of breaking through the chaff really well, it’s his own thoughts on the subject (and the amazing comments within the Blog post) that really makes this piece shine. Regardless of which side of the fence you’re on about this topic, this Blog post made me love Blogs and everything the Internet has done for society even more because of the open conversation.

Books of the world, stand up and be counted! All 129,864,880 of you – Inside Google Books.

Mitch for Hugh: This story will either make you marvel at technology or leave you shaking your head and paranoid about the coming singularity. In this Blog post from the Google Books people, they attempt to define what, exactly, a ‘book’ is (a topic near and dear to Hugh’s heart – if you’ve ever listened to our audio Podcast, Media Hacks), how to count/track the amount of books and – on top of that – how many books Google believes have been in the world (and – if you know anything about Google – it’s an exact number). A pretty fascinating read about books, publishing and the future.


Categories: misc

Links – Tony Judt and Parenting

Weekly links.

Remembering Tony Judt,
NPR

* audio
* transcript

Hugh for Mitch: Mitch recently had to cancel a lunch with me because of a funeral. I’ve had two close friends (one real life, one online) die of cancer in the past three months. Death is a fact of our existence that we aren’t good at coping with in Western culture. This is an interview with Tony Judt, the prolific British/Amercian historian, from a few months back, when he was suffering a quick decline from Lou Gehrig’s disease, an affliction to which he succumbed this week. It’s funny, and smart and moving.

Why Parents Hate Parenting
The Last Psychiatrist

http://thelastpsychiatrist.com/2010/07/why_parents_hate_parenting.html

Hugh for Alistair: There’s been much talk about happiness and parenthood of late, with more studies showing that kids (supposedly) make you unhappy. I’ve come across the Last Psychiatrist blog a few times in the past couple of weeks, and each time come away thinking: reading time well spent. Here he cuts apart the premises upon which the happy/unhappy parent paradigm is built. Conclusion: ego overload.


Categories: books, misc

Advertisements in Books

Over on a publishing email list there has been some chatter today about advertising in ebooks.

While I’m not crazy about being sold washing detergent with my War and Peace, I see no reason not to have ads in some ebooks, and I would rate the odds of it happening at 100% …

As with online book reviews that link to an online retailer (with affiliate fees), there is no reason an ebook about, say, rugby shouldn’t link to somewhere where I can buy tickets for the World Cup. If it’s a proper ebook – I mean, not just a book I can read on a digital device, but a proper ebook that is cloud-based and dynamically updated – then the link/interaction will point to 2011 tickets today, and in 4 years it will point to 2015 World Cup tickets. If I am reading about knitting I may well want to buy needles, and there’s no reason an ebook that makes me want to buy knitting needles shouldn’t help me do that (and make some money for the publisher, as well as the needle-maker, in the mean time).

As my friend Alistair Croll says: Buying a book is an expression of serious interest in a certain topic, and there is all sorts of valuable business to be done when people have expressed clear interest in a topic.

Certainly the level of engagement, and value of the average eyeball reading a book far outweighs the value of an average eyeball on a webpage. Digital books will and should allow any number of commercially valuable interactions – not just display ads. Or perhaps not display ads at all.

Doing this in a way that does not distract from the book itself will be the trick, but good design, and the powerful nature of new reading platforms means that doing this right is easily imaginable. If I can toggle night-reading on my Kobo for iPad, I can toggle ads.So ads needn’t distract from reading – they could be just another layer to which a book is connected.


Categories: misc

Test Image

test


Categories: misc

Barcelona Streetcar, 1908

NOTE: best to turn of the sentimental music.

(via http://twitter.com/ebertchicago)


Categories: misc

Trying out posterous

I’m finally testing out posterous: http://posterous.com.

How do you like it?


Categories: art, audio, misc, video, writing

What We’re Building


Categories: misc

Obama on Tech

This is when I got sold on Obama, his June 2006 podcast about net neutrality. Have a listen. Speak my language? Yeah:

The topic today is net neutrality. The internet today is an open platform where the demand for websites and services dictates success. You’ve got barriers to entry that are low and equal for all comers. And it’s because the internet is a neutral platform that I can put on this podcast and transmit it over the internet without having to go through some corporate media middleman. I can say what I want without censorship. I don’t have to pay a special charge. But the big telephone and cable companies want to change the internet as we know it. They say they want to create high-speed lanes on the internet and strike exclusive contractual arrangements with internet content-providers for access to those high-speed lanes. Those of us who can’t pony up the cash for these high-speed connections will be relegated to the slow lanes. [more…] [mp3]

I don’t know how Obama’s presidency is going to go, and I don’t hold my breath for any miracles. Any president of the USA has one hell of a challenge on his (or her) hands, and the O-man has inherited a bigger mess than anyone can clean up.

But, man if he wanted to make me happy, he could not have started in a place nearer to my heart than his Tech/Science platform, released today. First para:

The Problem: We need to connect citizens with each other to engage them more fully and directly in solving the problems that face us. We must use all available technologies and methods to open up the federal government, creating a new level of transparency to change the way business is conducted in Washington and giving Americans the chance to participate in government deliberations and decision-making in ways that were not possible only a few years ago.

A datalibrists dream.

Whether Obama can do what he plans or not, I don’t know. He may be great or he may be terrible: we’ll find out. But I am happy that on day 2, I feel, frankly, more excited by the concrete vision described here than in all the talk of hope and renewal that had me cheering with the rest over the past few months.

See the rest of the platform here.

Let’s hope whoever wins the looming Quebec election has such vision.


Categories: misc

Books Versus Ebooks

I have a new article up at Huffpo, On Books & Ebooks:

Among book lovers, there continues to be an prevalent negative feeling about electronic books, or ebooks. The reaction, one I myself have experienced, goes something like this: I enjoy reading books, I enjoy the feel and the tactile feedback, touch, smell, look, books can be marked up and carried around, they never run out of batteries, I can keep them on my bookshelf, they look great, and they are permanent; they are easier on the eyes than screens, and dammit, I just love them. I do not want to read a book in an electronic format. And so I don’t think ebooks will succeed, no matter what Oprah says about the Amazon Kindle.

While I’m sympathetic with that reaction (indeed I feel the same way about paper & ink books), it entirely misses the point of ebooks. Ebooks are not in opposition to print & paper books; they are a parallel tool to get the content contained in a book [more…]