Standing on the shore

One of the peculiar & cool features of WordPress blogs is that they are strewn across the vast shore of blogs that is WordPress.com.

WordPress uses categories and/or tags to taxonomically link between posts that have similar content. The common tags like art or news or photography have become fairly polished online magazines. Less used tags like wine or Michigan are more like little eddies around which similar content flows.

In either case, it means that people you’ve never met drop by to read things, and you have a chance to do the same. Here’s something I found from Aaron Leaman titled Documented Elements that I liked.

Dangerous amusements

I was emailing someone to tell them not to worry when a big site like Flickr or YouTube loses a bunch of media, that despite the fact that those sites are massive and complex systems, there’s a lot of smart people there who spend all their time figuring out how the systems work and how to improve and fix them.

Then it struck me that 200 years ago, those very same “best & brightest” were working to discover the undiscovered and better understand the immensity of Creation.

Suddenly the comforting thought wasn’t all that comforting.

Time to get busy folks.

in the google cloud

Mt Cloudy by g0da

In Google Takes to The Cloud With App Hosting Platform, internetnews.com reports on The Google’s latest party favor: Google App Engine.

“With Google App Engine, developers can write Web applications based on the same building blocks that Google uses,” Kevin Gibbs, Google’s technical lead for the project, wrote in a company blog (link). “Google App Engine packages those building blocks and provides access to scalable infrastructure that we hope will make it easier for developers to scale their applications automatically as they grow.

Translation: Use our blocks, kids. They’re the bestest.

This photo is titled MT Cloudy and it’s part of GoDa;s picks. On the photo post he wrote:

From my balcony the other day,
A mountain of floating skyscrapers appeared,
Imagination took over…

I have no idea if ‘ll ever see the day when imagination takes over, but somedays I think I will…

Database Massage, Jill Sobule, and Neil Young

Jill Sobule, photo by binkmeisterrick

“Why does flickr go down so much?” I wondered to The Google. None less than net luminary Tim O’Reilly answered my call with a database war story that revealed the tip of the brobdingnagian iceberg that lies under shiny-smooth, folksonomical web apps like flickr and YouTube that sort and sift stuff according what many people say about it.

A link on the right led to A rare post about the music industry that isn’t depressing that told me about Jill Sobule and Jill’s Next Record. She’s funding it through fan patronage, something I’ve been hearing more and more of lately. Her levels of support are pretty funny so I clicked off to jillsobule.com to learn more about her.

On her blog was a post titled Web Surfing, Roger Clemens, and Judy Garland where she mapped out the circuitous turnings that attention can take. Somewhere in between reading what she had to say and listening to her music, I found a link to Cinnamon Girl: Women Artists Cover Neil Young, which I of course bought.

The photo is Jill Sobule by binkmeisterrick who writes:

While waiting early for the show to start, Jill and her road manager (?)pulled up in a van and came in through the front door. She let me take her picture (bless her heart, I think she had just woken up) and noticed the Holga. “Aren’t they fun?” she said. She didn’t think the flash on the flash models did much, though.

Shortly after taking this picture, the back popped off the Holga. Can you tell? I was so worried that the only two pictures I cared about on this roll were lost. As luck would have it, she and Billy were the only two that really came out.

He says he’s fascinated by photography, particularly black & white.

Holiday Gift Idea: $100 laptop – give one, get one

$100 Laptop in action

Dunrie over at Scientific Ink pointed out the very cool Give One Get One program from One Laptop Per Child (OLPC). If you order by November 26, you can get a $100 XO laptop and also give one to a child in a developing nation. The XO laptop itself is an  engineering marvel: a meticulously engineered device that’s designed to survive in extreme environments with minimal power that at the same time provides a computing environment that’s designed for children who know nothing about computing. Of special interest to me was the social sharing, which uses each laptop’s wireless connection to form what they call “mesh networks” and the software interface that has a range of simple apps that cover pretty much the range of what a kid needs to do on a computer and also leverages the social network. There’s even a button that reveals the code behind certain programs.

A teacher and student say…

Before the laptop, the focus of the school curriculum and evaluation was to show what students don’t know. Now, the focus is in what the student knows, and how this knowledge can be used as a support so they learn even more.

I use my computer very carefully so that it will not spoil. I use it to type, I use it to write, I use it to draw, I use it to play games… I’m using my computer at home to type assignment.

I don’t know anything about t3ngf0ung other than he or she had this cool photo of a classroom full of the $100 laptops.

Social networks … reaching out of their boxes?

Reaching out...

Wired wrote aboutthe newly minted Open Social platform yesterday saying:

From the preliminary details it looks like Google agrees with what we said a couple months ago — it’s time for social networks to open up. Instead of rolling out another “me too” platform, OpenSocial is basically three APIs bundled together that allows developers to roll out the same application across a number of participating social networks.

They returned to it today with Ning: OpenSocial is Less About Silly Apps, where they quote Ning CEO Gina Bianchini as saying:

“The challenge with Facebook Apps today – and don’t get me wrong, we think that they are fantastic – is that there isn’t a lot of space for them to exist. You really only have one little box on a profile page. As a result of this constraint, the apps on Facebook tend to be more playful.”

I think that “playful” is shorthand for “silly” … I also think that the idea that apps (and eventually data) can bounce from platform to platform is yet another speed limit to fall on the Information Superhighway (sorry to get all 1999 on you there). If you want to get your geek on, read Open Social: a new universe of social applications all over the web, where Netscape founder and Ning principal Marc Andresson explores the new Open Social API in depth.

It’s a pretty good read and not too technical. I think he makes some interesting points about programming, especially when he says something to the effect of Standards that standardize standard behavior succeed. It sounds kind of “well DUH” but it’s an important point that is too often overlooked. I was gratified in a silly sort of way to see that Marc calls his blogroll a linkroll. I’d chalk it up to “great minds” but I think that the similarity between our minds begins and ends right about there.

The photo is Reaching out… by carf. It doesn’t appear to have anything at all to do with social networking, but his photos do appear to have very much to do with some very important things – check them out!

New Jack Science

Without Science by Brian Talbot

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind”
Albert Einstein (1879 – 1955)

One of the Michigan blogs I like – bootstrap analysis – had a link to The Scientist’s attempts to compile a list of the best life science blogs.

As I was poking through the blogs they listed I found The Jacks of Science. In addition to a steady stream of accessible and entertaining posts like iTaxonomy, where you can learn the basics about taxonomy (including the fact that it’s rapidly becoming a lost art) or the hideous two-faced walnut moon, movie features like Why Do I Study Science? Destruction and this hilarious video about spiders & drugs, the Jacks serve up some cool science themed playlists. Dance robot, dance.

Brian Talbot made this tilt shift of The Christian Science Center in Boston, Massachusetts (see more tilt-shifts by Brian w/ link to tutorial). He’s a web designer, information architect and amateur photographer and says…

I also use quotes alongside my photography. Quotes are something that I’ve always enjoyed and have vowed to gather, use and share. Pairing words with images seemed like a natural combination which adds more to both the written thoughts of an individual and the visual image captured by another.

Working for the Machine

Back in Black by j image

salamander, frog, toad … michigan … headphones, computer, chair … boy, girl, small, large … ac/dc, back in black

Every piece or set of data we create or encounter – from basic objects to the most complex works of of the universe – has always held myriad associations. Until fairly recently, there was a limit to how you could tie those objects together in meaningful ways.

However, folksonomy and the rise of the tagged web have exploded the ways in which we can weave information together. From our own blogs and web sites to Flickr photo maps to crazily beautiful works beyond description, I feel we are all laboring over the cogs and gears of an impossibly complex machine with a form and function that none of us can forsee.

Jim aka j image took this photo. He has a lot more, and a wonderful eye for the world.

folksonomy (+wikipedia), folksonomy (+technorati), folksonomy (+evolution)