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The Longest Now

Wikimania goes Global
Tuesday March 29th 2005, 6:33 pm
Filed under: fly-by-wire

Wikimania opens its web doors a crack, with translations of the site progressing in six languages. The conference is going to be *amazing*. I can’t wait. And I can’t wait to tell you all about some of the fabulous speakers we’re going to have…

Wikimania goes Global …

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Technorati goes global
Tuesday March 29th 2005, 6:28 pm
Filed under: international

Technorati is launching a translation initiative to maintain its interface in a dozen languages. I love it 🙂 You can get involved here.

They need translators who know Vietnamese, Korean, Chinese, and Russian…

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Breaking News : Indonesia hit by Mag 8-8.5 earthquake
Monday March 28th 2005, 12:25 pm
Filed under: popular demand

Southern Indonesia. One? two? underwater quake[s, 3 minutes apart]. Potential for a tsunami in the next 3 hours. Forbes, English Wikinews

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Nahuatl as Written makes my week
Sunday March 27th 2005, 2:21 am
Filed under: fly-by-wire

iuhqui ce loca omocuep cenca quitepexihuia” : like a crazy woman, throwing her soul over a cliff, into the abyss

This is an excerpt from a petition submitted by Leonor Magdalena to the governor of Coyoacan in 1613, in which he discusses the insanity of his widowed daughter-in-law. Provided in Nahuatl with English gloss by James Lockhart, Professor Emeritus of History at UCLA, in his lovely work “Nahuatl as Written“.

What would make my month, would be getting access to a digital copy of the entire encyclopedia of Aztec society that one of the friars made while there was still a large body of living elders who had lived much of their lives under the Aztec empire — Fray Sahagun’s 12-volume Florentine Codex.

Codex Florentine will be a juggernaut next year…

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InstaSet’s sweet-smelling shit
Friday March 25th 2005, 9:38 am
Filed under: popular demand

I just snagged an InstaSet AM/FM Clock radio with blue display, to replace my aging red display, in the hopes that some proto-Doppler effect would rub off on me. (It must have worked; today, without even plugging it in, I was up at 7am, and literally itching for 9 to roll around so I could start making business calls… a rarity since I stopped running my own shop.)

It has a mini clockchip that’s installed on manufacture; keeps the time for three years. No setting. Has decent speakers, decent reception, no annoying antennae-extension. I plugged it in, the radio tuned in. The default alarm time was 8:25AM, fine by me. The tuner and volume-wheel were sensitive and nicely done. The buttons for switching times and modes were cheap and stuck, moving jerkily; I’m glad I won’t have to press them often. What a beautiful piece of junk.

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OurMedia arrives; Wikicommons burden lightened
Tuesday March 22nd 2005, 12:24 am
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory officially launched their OurMedia project, which aims to host public media of all kinds, and to provide permanent URLs for it. They have been working for months on ways to collaborate with other citizen’s media collections like the Wikimedia Commons. Previously, the effort needed to get media hosted by the internet archive was prohibitive — 10 minutes of registration, ftp, and https, and a 24-hr moratorium while submissions were vetted for suitability.

The project looks beautiful in alpha (congrats, guys!), and has a fairly active self-referential blog, including such things as highlights and trivia about the project.

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Sexy Web surfboard waxes wiki
Monday March 21st 2005, 11:42 pm
Filed under: popular demand

Surfwax Inc is a 7-year-old search portal and knowledge-tool provider with atrocious website design and a love of bizarre nomenclature, which has brought you such well-known marvels as
Nextaris, the all-in-one search/upload/store/social-networking portal, and the infamous Surfwax Scholar Plagiarism Guard.

They regularly receive praise for their featureset from such prominent critis as SearchEngineWatch’s Gary Price, and [cl]aim to offer “the best grip on information from the Open Web,” and have been offering visitors “Look-ahead” auto-complete searching for a while. Now they offer look-ahead wiki searches as well, and claim over 600,000 Wikipedia terms (perhaps this means that ~80,000 terms are not counted in the official article count; if they were including all redirects, it would be more like 900k terms).

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Picture of the Day
Sunday March 20th 2005, 4:33 am
Filed under: Glory, glory, glory

A glorious experiment… hooking up an old rocket engine to a shopping cart. This fabulous picture highlights the metal of the engine and exhaust pipe, mid-trip, while it is glowing red with the heat. Wow! While I’m at it, all the other links in its conceptual cluster (1, 2) are also pretty fly.

Picture of the Day …

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The lost Aesthetics
Saturday March 19th 2005, 5:28 pm
Filed under: %a la mod

We have gained and lost many things as a ‘civilization’, that name we give to peer-to-peer systems of organisms that satisfy a certain combination of longevity, information dissemination and preservation, discovery, and aesthetics beyond the thrill of battle. That last clause is perhaps the most recent addition to the mix; and perhaps the most contentions. (Although as far as I’m concerned each of those clauses should be contentious.)

It is interesting that, although we prize aesthetics as one of the cornerstones of civilization (when we think of that abstraction at all), among the discoveries and advances we have lost are certain aspects of aesthetics. It is not that they have been lost to individuals, but to society as a whole, and to our notion of common sense. And this is a notion that is socially-developed and passed on; these are again key properties of civilization, so please don’t nag me about how difficult it is to coordinate passing on mores and sensibilities.

In among the lost aesthetics is a universal sense of perspective, and the beauty thereof. Excessive precision is ugly (but we see it everywhere; it is the default nowadays). So is near-infinite longevity; things should naturally fade and disappear, and this should be understood from the beginning, relished, and planned for — yet we as a civilization spend much of our time building things, letting them languish, and epxressing surprise and dismay when they start to fall apart (often compounding the problem with ineffectual patches).

Comments on how we have never had such an aesthetic, how awful this conception of ‘civilization’ is, how we have never actually known civilization on Earth, and other rebuttals, are most welcome.

On a bright note, I saw a fuzzy clock for the first time today, on a KDE installation. It gave the time in words, not numbers, rounded to the nearest five. “quarter to nine“, it would read, “twenty past nine“, “five till ten“. It was beautiful.

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Wikipedia hits 500K
Friday March 18th 2005, 3:44 am
Filed under: popular demand

I was going to share with you a little something about Hieronima de Paiva, a Portuguese jew and Elihu Yale‘s companion in Madras (now Chennai), but I don’t have time right now. Instead let me note that the English Wikipedia reached its 500,000th article yesterday, about the Involuntary settlements in the Soviet Union.

Articles were being written at a much higher rate then usual today, peaking at 150 per hour as the milestone approached. For comparison, the previous full 24-hr period of editing saw the creation of 915 new articles.

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Reflexive G-juice
Thursday March 17th 2005, 4:49 pm
Filed under: indescribable

Sean Bonner’s latest post about public perception of Google out in California, jibed exactly with a certain vibe I’ve been getting. I don’t understand it, but there it is.

Not long ago, Google was the haven which I expected to someday harbor people who were deeply obsessed about information coordination in all of the right ways; people with a sense of the vast span of current ideas, what ‘information technology’ could more appropriately mean, and how different that is from what has been realized in recent decades. Privately I hoped that they had already found a few such people. I have finally given up on that last and vainest hope; and have a hard time sustaining the earlier one.

This has nothing to do with them being evil — as far as I’m concerned, they’re not good, they’re grrrreat! The company is made up of a remarkable collection of well-meaning idealists, including many friends of mine. But something is definitely wrong; and I wish I knew exactly what.

For instance: I use gmail for some high-traffic mailing lists I am on. I have been sending them feedback from time to time, with no response from their team. Fine; they are busy. Yesterday I went to send them feedback and a suggestion, and noticed that there was no longer a feedback link where there had been. I had to dig to find one beneath their series of help menus. Fine; it made me read through the help docs to see if my suggestion had already been made. The idea of getting feedback-submitters to fill out a multiple-choice form first of ideas they are in favor of was charming.

But. After sending them mail, I realized I had mistyped something, and sent a follow-up. Then, half an hour later, I had another suggestion to make, about a different aspect of the product. As before, it was one that didn’t appear on their shortlist of features they were considering. And… I found that I could no longer access the feedback page at all; instead I was redirected to the generic help-homepage. I had been cut off. It was an awful feeling — there I was, wasting three minutes trying to find a way to send helpful feedback, and I was just being quietly pushed away. I’ll try to duplicate the effect on a different machine today, but really… what kind of way is that to interact with your users?

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Metadata (classifications, fauxonomies, etc)
Wednesday March 16th 2005, 2:13 pm
Filed under: metrics

The Weinberger thoughtfully transcribed what sounds like a cheerful, fast-paced panel on metadata. What I like best about the session is that most people got hung up on the terms and implementations currently being used, and didn’t get down to any kind of serious discussion of where metadata comes from and how to allow and support multiple overlapping schemas.

Instead there were brief discussions about empirics: why people have done things, where there is consensus and where everyone does their own thing. I don’t think they even managed to touch on the issue of how often people don’t metadatalize things ideally according their own preferences. The fact that everyone is different doesn’t mean that they don’t regularly make ‘typos’ (or whatever the equivalent is when you’re trying to annotate, contextualize, metadatify, classify… there must be a word for this in librarianship).

For my part, now that the bar for linguistic acrobatics is being set by the growing abusonomy of modern almostl33t-speek, I will try to help people overcome their %@&!sonomy and “prototag” fixations by insisting on referring to all such entities as “metadata,” or some verbal fauximile thereof.

Technometadata: |

Metadata (classifications, fauxonomies, etc) …

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Wikimania: Official Call for Papers
Wednesday March 16th 2005, 11:53 am
Filed under: international

has issued an official call for papers
You may have
seen an earlier CfP here not long ago; the deadlines and submission
guidelines have been clarified since then.  Send abstracts;
proposals, tutorials, and workshops; and papers to
cfp(at) All work is welcome, even analyses.

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Marc Raboy’s vision of PrepCom2
Tuesday March 15th 2005, 2:54 am
Filed under: %a la mod

Bruno‘s SMSI-blog offers another take at what PrepCom2 accomplished, what PrepCom3 could achieve, and what WGIG is doing, care of McGill‘s vaunted ethics professor.  In French, and well worth the read.

Marc Raboy’s vision of PrepCom2 …

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The sex appeal of smoking
Saturday March 12th 2005, 5:51 am
Filed under: poetic justice

I’ve long maintained that a group of non-smokers should start up a non-profit advocacy group promoting the sexiness of smoking, before even the idea of it has been censured from polite company. Friends have chalked it up to recurring insanity, but I maintain that this is the only sensible point of view.

Happily, I am not alone:

I discovered that I like smoking.

Not personally. I don’t smoke.
I don’t particularly like when others do, but am loath to complain
about it. I’ve dated smokers, some of my best friends are, and I think
smoking restrictions are bordering on insane lately. But I have always
found the habit slightly distasteful.

And now I know why. They were smoking all wrong.

This man – forties or fifties, Chinese – smoked like a character in a film noir. Elegantly. Beautifully. His hands held the cigarette just so. It was delicate yet masculine. Instead of blowing out a guilty jet of smoke to the side, he exhaled a beautiful silver plume around him. He was confident in his smoking, he liked his smoking, and he was
unapologetic. He did not finish with the nervous tap-tap-squish of the
teenage closet puffer who continued the habit into adulthood or the
pitch-and-ignore of the furtive doorway smoker. He did it with a final
and decisive chess move of extinguishment. It even bordered on sexy.

–via belle de jour

Don’t Quit Your Day Job… Work Nights!
Saturday March 12th 2005, 3:42 am
Filed under: Too weird for fiction

For those of you still slaving over
your outfits every evening, pacing your circuits and patiently tending
your tinted streetlamps, there is hope: move to Britain and join the
millions who benefit from that pregnant lovechild of legalized sex-work and eBay : .   Then you can attract customers from the comfort of your own home, without raising a finger.

I thought finding Sam Sloan’s site again was weird; this is far weirder.  Link care of WIRED News, as you might expect.

Don’t Quit Your Day Job… Work Nights! …

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Ismail “Sam” Sloan : epitomizing clever, virile, mad, shameless Man?
Friday March 11th 2005, 5:26 am
Filed under: Too weird for fiction

There’s no good way to describe Mr. Sloan.  And I think I’ve tried to write about him before; I know James has. Here’s another shot:

He’s successfully
argued his own case before the United States Supreme Court, been barred from entering the Phillippines, had his
girlfriend deported from the UAE, fathered eight children by six women, been married five? times, including once less than a week after meeting his soon-to-be wife, escaped from jail in Afghanistan, led a social revolution at the University of Berkeley, and produced one of the world most idiosyncratic blog-like websites, long before blogs were a twinkling in Sir Timothy‘s eye..

There’s a lot of stray anger and frustration and libido scattered about his site;
you may not enjoy browsing it yourself.  But to get an overview of
it, you might skim his quiz series.

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