GeoBlogging #3

This would be a nifty application for city-based arts festivals, like the Edinburgh Festival or SXSW.
The programmers could encode the program by venue. Then individual bloggers could create entries related to performances and plans at a particular place.

GeoBlogging #2

The first thing people are doing with GeoUrls is mapping blogs — a standard way of doing what nycblogger does — so you can see which bloggers are in a city or a neighborhood.
Other nifty applications would turn this around and create blog entries for a place — a spot on a hiking trail or a restaurant.
This seems like an open version of the HP CoolTown scheme to give urls to places. But simpler and better. Just a layer of location ID — not tied to hardware platform and device interaction model.
Lots of LazyWeb fodder.


In a comments thread” to Peterme’s post on regional blogs, Dan Lyke suggested a geo-linked hiking blog: “a big collaborative map that’d have information that no single map publisher can put out right now”

Right now I’m carrying a GPS along when I go hiking or biking, then downloading the track points. My thought initially was that it’d just be nice to have enough GPS data that I can say “I took a photo close to there” and start to attach latitude/longitude information to my photo database.
But I’m doing this with Un*x through various cool but non “user friendly” means, if I can find easy ways for more people to do and set up some sort of application to annotate and manage these tracks a little better, then we could also start to build a big collaborative map that’d have information that no single map publisher can put out right now, and with data of which a good bit of which probably doesn’t exist in digital form.

I wonder if the GeoURL is part of the solution. This is a service that creates meta tags for geographical co-ordinates. I wonder how they specify location, and whether it would be precise enough to locate waterfalls?
GeoURL is Slashdotted right now, so I can’t tell.
The conversational thread has continued on Dan’s site.

Halley’s Crush on Alpha Males

Halley Suitt is just gushing about “alpha males” — CEO types who stride into the room, exude charisma, give orders, get babes.
First of all, Halley. Those alpha CEOs are married. If you’ve got the hots for some high-powered, Clintonesque pussy-magnet, be ready to be done and be dumped. If you work in the same field, be ready to be done and be dumped and be fired. Who was the editor at Harvard Business Review who lost her job for doing Jack Welch?
Don’t come running to us when he dumps you, hon.
Second, Ken Lay was an alpha male by your glowing description. John Sidgemore over at Worldcom was an alpha male.
No, the world does not need more egomaniacs barking commands, nevermind laws and ethics and other people’s opinion, lives, and property.

Pete Kaminski has some better ideas

Is the “daily me” at the doorstep?

In the mid-90s, as internet adoption picked up steam, Nicholas Negroponte at the MIT media lab used to talk about the “daily me.”
Individuals would be able to create personalized filters to view a newspaper that contained only the articles they wanted to read. Social critics worried that the “Daily Me” would be the death of democracy. They argued that that this lead to a world where people lived in their own bubbles, only seeing the information that confirmed their own prejudices.
That world may have arrived. Valdis Krebs, who consults about social networks for a living, did some interesting analysis on link patterns in the “people who read this book also read” recommendation engine on
He started with a single book that he was looking up on a recommendation, The Silent Takeover, and traced that patterns of recommendation that surrounded it.
Here’s a link to the pattern he discovered. There’s a set of books that seem to represent “left-wing” readers, with titles by Chomsky and Michael Moore and Tom Friedman. And there’s a parallel set of books that seem to represent “right-wing” interests, with books by writers including Ann Coulter and Patrick Buchanan.
The clusters of recommendations seemed to be mutually exclusive. Only one book appeared on recommendation lists in both clusters: What Went Wrong, a book by Bernard Lewis about Middle East history.
Does this mean that we’ve arrived in the world Negroponte saw in his crystal ball? In Valdis’ words, “once the propoganda gets into the echo chamber, you hear the same message continuously from many different sources, and you begin to believe that is how the world works.”
Valdis’ research isn’t conclusive proof. The methodology he followed was “snowball sampling”, as it’s called in network analysis circles. The links were selected by browsing, following a near-infinite set of links in for a finite amount of time.
It would be fascinating to do similar analysis with a larger data set, to create a more conclusive result. (Dear readers with a statistical background, I would welcome your thoughts about how to know whether the result is reliable).
If a search of Amazon’s entire virtual bookshelf revealed the same result, what would it mean?
It doesn’t tell us whether society has gotten MORE polarized than in the past; history is full of divisive partisan politics.
And it only tells us that the self-selected group of people who read political books have polarized opinions. We know that less than half of the eligible population votes. Most people tune out of political conversations.
As Valdis said by email, “The challenge is to create *bridges* so that diverse information and ideas can be exchanged (not just via hollering and arguing).”
We need to create a conversation where more people are talking and more people are listening.

iTunes, iMovie, and the DMCA

Thinking about David Weinberger’s call for DMCA civil disobedience.
An amazing hack for Apple’s iTunes and iMovie would be to enable blog entries to refer to music and movie clips.
Wouldn’t it be great to point to a movie scene or link to a tune that you’re talking about.
That would be 100% classic fair use, as intended by the Founding Fathers. It would be entertaining to try that one on in court!
I don’t have a Mac, so I don’t know whether and how it is doable but it would be fun.
This could use some good LazyWeb juice.


Welcome to my new blog home. I’m excited to be here, with search, category archives, integrated comments, and the chance to play around with MovableType hackery.
I still need to tweak the categorization of some of the older posts; should be cleared up in the next few days. The book archive is working — click the book category at right and see a list of all the book reviews on the site. (Yay!)
Please let me know what you think; and please update your blogroll or bookmarks if you haven’t already. Comments and suggestions welcome.

Compost Bin

Took a major life step today. I set up a green, 3 cubic yard coated-wire mesh compost bin, behind the wood fence that separates the gravel driveway from the side garden and deck. Many of the remaining leaf bags went into the compost bin. The rest of the leaf bags are out for pickup.
It seemed completely absurd to me to put the bags of leaves and clippings at the curb for recycling, and then head off to Home Depot to purchase a similar number of bags of mulch for the garden beds. Hence compost.
I still have no idea how long I will be in Austin. The compost bin might make it harder to sell the house. Might attract bugs and vermin. I might not be here long enough to use the resulting compost.
If worse comes to worse, I can hire a garden person to cart the pile of compost away, and put down a new layer of gravel. $100 max. Non fatal. Reversible.
I bought the house in part because I was tired of avoiding commitments because I don’t know what the future holds.

Music: From Jerusalem to Cordoba

I heard these folks tonight at Casa de Luz.
From the promo email:

Music, chants, and texts from Mediterranean sacred traditions.
A musical voyage through history and spirituality.
Catherine Braslavsky, chant, drum, dulcimer;
Joseph Rowe, texts, oud, drums, tampura, mbira, Tibetan bowls.
Hildegard of Bingen, Gregorian chant, Troubadours, Ibn Arabi, Yehuda Halevi,
Judeo-Spanish, and original compositions


  • Braslavsky’s beautiful voice
  • Musical illustration of cultural influences and differences in Christian, Arabic and Jewish songs from Andalusia
  • Cross-cultural themes of spiritual openness, in liturgical poetry by Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen, Ibn Arabi (Sufi)
  • Meditative atmosphere (also see not-as-good)


  • High seriousness. The performers strode onto the stage seriously, Rowe ringing a meditation bell. Rowe narrated the performance in * a * serious * performance * voice. There were Judeospanish and Arabic pieces that could have been celebratory. There were Sufi pieces that could have been done with more energy.
  • Western-european style. The vocals were beautiful, the instrumentals were fine accompaniment; they complemented the singer and created atmosphere without overshadowing the vocals. But the rhythms, phrasing, and tonality were westernized. This isn’t a big complaint because it sounded good, and because cultural purity is exactly beside the point.
  • Uniformly meditative pace. Her specialty is Gregorian chant; he’s studied with Hamza El Din, so it stands to reason.


  • The concert was held in a performance space of Casa de Luz, a local macrobiotic restaurant and community center. The average audience age was about 50; a central-Austin ex-hippie crowd. One can imagine such concerts being held at the estates of monarchs and nobles in Andalusia; this was good American pay-at-the-door democarcy.