Seb's Open Research
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and social software, collected by Sébastien Paquet

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Thursday, March 13, 2003
Who Loves Ya, Baby?

Great article on social network mapping by Steven Johnson. The main spotlight is on Valdis' work in visualization. Uncovering implicit social patterns is where it's at.
What do you think? []  links to this post    11:42:10 PM  
Towards Structured Blogging

Lately I've been thinking about how we could evolve blogging tools to allow people to author more structured (dare I say semantic?) content, so that other people could find their stuff that they find of interest more easily.

Right now what we have, globally speaking, is pretty much a huge pool of blog posts, each implicitly tied to a particular weblog author and with a date slapped on. Now, say I've written a review of the latest Radiohead album into my blog. I'd like others who are interested in Radiohead, or in music reviews in general, and who may not know me, to be able to pick out my review from the common pool in a simple way. Interesting people may come my way because of this.

What we're talking about is getting people to put more metadata on their content. Now allowing it is one thing, and fostering it is another. And I'd say the latter is the bigger challenge. Here are some ideas.

...continued in Towards Structured Blogging

What do you think? []  links to this post    1:42:49 PM  
SXSW 2003 Wrapup

Heath Row's coverage of the South by Southwest Interactive Festival beats the crap out of all instances of event/conference/symposiumBlogging I have seen so far. Kudos! Here are the reports that connect the most into my interests:

  • Richard Florida: the rise of the Creative Class, pointing out the correlation between the Bohemian Index, the Gay Index, and the health of local technology industries. Diversity is good, baby.
  • Beyond the Blog with a bunch of Movable Type folks. Says Anil Dash on contributing content in many different places: "I almost resent that someone else controls what I've written. The tools need to evolve so I post to this one place, and it's posted somewhere else." Mark these words.
  • Digital Aboriginal, on the shift back to an oral-like culture. "If we're approaching the characteristics and number of words of an oral tradition, what does that mean? In an oral tradition, reputation is extremely important. Relationships are extremely important. Intimacy is extremely important."
  • Jon Lebkowsky, Adina Levin, and Nancy White: Effective Social Networks.
  • Brad Fitzpatrick (, Scott Heiferman (, and James Hong ( Trends in How the Internet Connects People. "I showed up at this Howard Dean Meetup and there were 400 people in a New York bar. It was fully acknowledged that no one would be there if the idea hadn't spread through the viral nature of the Web."

What do you think? []  links to this post    11:28:49 AM  
Constellation W3 blog channel

I have set up a blog channel for posts relating to the upcoming Constellation W3 event.

In French: J'ai créé un canal pour mettre en commun les billets de carnetiers et carnetières en lien avec l'événement Constellation W3 de samedi.

Si vous utilisez Movable Type, faites-vous une catégorie CW3 et associez-y le ping URL suivant pour y envoyer automatiquement des extraits de vos billets (posts): Si vous n'avez pas TrackBack, vous pouvez utiliser le formulaire dans la page du canal.

Voici le fil RSS associé au canal.

What do you think? []  links to this post    10:18:01 AM  
Scholarly journals are not where the interesting action is

Making money. Elsevier's Pieter Bolman, interviewed by Information Today in The Future of Journals, claims that journal publishing is not about the "sharing of ideas" - that new ideas are shared at conferences and through personal interaction, while journals are useful as the official record, or a stake in the frontier for researchers. [...] [HubLog]

Exactly. As Andrew Odlyzko wrote, "Journals are not where the interesting action is". And this is why I find it more exciting to investigate the evolution of informal scholarly communication media such as personal knowledge publishing and wikis, especially as these developments occur synergetically with what happens in the wider world.

What do you think? []  links to this post    9:43:53 AM  
The case for generalists

Azeem digs up an essay by Paul Saffo on information overload and new organisationional structures, written 14 years ago, to make a case for generalists.

We are in a pickle today because we are trying to manage 21st century information overload with 19th century intellectual skills. For example, we still prize the ability to recall specific information over the skill of making connections among seemingly unrelated information. We have become a society of specialists, each knowing more and more about less and less.  

[more at Ross Mayfield's Weblog]

In (yet another) strange synchronicity, just yesterday I stumbled upon this post about creative generalists.

What do you think? []  links to this post    9:21:02 AM  

Bob Wells. "For every action there is an equal and opposite government program." [Quotes of the Day]
What do you think? []  links to this post    8:51:42 AM  
The challenge of converting leaders

Tom Munnecke comments on Dee Hock's letter to Joi, recalling his earlier work with Hock. He raises what I think is a very sensible idea: it is very difficult to turn people who have worked their way to leadership positions within the context of command-and-control systems into leader-followers. I presume the reason for this is that it amounts to effecting a huge personality/identity shift. Quoting Tom (emphasis mine):

About 200 folks were there, representing a wide range of stakeholders.  I soon realized that these were the very people we needed to disintermediate.  Asking them to "streamline" themselves and jumping off the gravy train was not going to happen.

And Hock himself hints that he recognizes this in his letter when he writes this optimistic (but inspiring) passage about routing around gravy trains:

I wonder if you realize that a dozen or two people like yourself with the right combination of communication, technological and organizational skills could design and implement a global government without the consent of any present form of organization and provide it with the neural network to insure its success.

Reading this helped me pin down precisely what makes me uneasy about David and Doc's World of Ends piece. They're trying to do exactly that, make current executives and the ilk streamline themselves, instead of targeting, giving hope to, and helping organize those who have little to lose. I suspect that the attitude shift that David and Doc are hoping for is only going to materialize once this groundwork alternative organization effort is well underway and pretty much everybody has woken up and smelled the coffee.

Look at the inertia of the music industry for an illustration.

What do you think? []  links to this post    8:50:55 AM  
The passion of people with too much time on their hands.

Check out the Magnificent Obsessions site, and you'll see that the world is full of people obsessively doing baffling things. [Ming the Mechanic]

Among other things, I found this incredibly comprehensive analysis of the game Tetris, by a guy who built an actual robot to play it and documented his project.

The funny thing is, I'm sure the skills these kinds of people develop could come in handy for other, "serious" projects.

What do you think? []  links to this post    8:03:09 AM  
Combining Mo-blogging and Mob-logging

The paper I wrote about back in November is out. The author and his team participated in (and won) a photo-scavenger hunt. They used a combination of group chat, Instant Messaging, and communal moblogging. Must have been a lot of fun. And the guy managed to get a conference paper out of it!  Via Robert Paterson:


Proceedings of 10th International Conference on Human-Computer Interaction, Crete, Greece, June 22-27, 2003

"Based on experiences with Hiptop Nation, it appears that by having ubiquitous mobile data communication devices and a successful communal blog, it is possible to create an ideal environment within which a smart mob can grow into a goal-oriented mobile community of practice. Communal blogs play a critical role in the creation of three essential elements of community: the establishment of social capital, the creation of weak ties that foster creativity, and the formation of a sense of "place" within which everything can happen. The final crucial ingredient is a complex goal." [PDF, 5 pages, 170Kb]

What do you think? []  links to this post    7:47:04 AM  

James Farmer is an enthusiastic new EdBlogger.
What do you think? []  links to this post    7:19:15 AM  
Open source courseware

Liz is trying out the proprietary courseware framework that her university has invested in, and she doesn't like it at all. She thinks it'd be a good idea to develop a more flexible, open-source package. I agree.
What do you think? []  links to this post    6:36:23 AM  
Trusted Blog Search

Micah has simplified his microblogosphere search tool, which he calls "Trusted Blog Search". It's really simple. You feed it the URLs for your blog and for your subscriptions file, and it gives you a piece of Javascript that you can copy into your home page template. Afterwards you can search spheres centered around your blog with radius 0 (my blog), 1 (blogs I read), and infinity (the Web).

I'm trying it out right now (find it below the calendar). While there are still a few things to iron out in the "blogs I read" search, I find it quite handy. If you try it, be sure to put in the slash following your blog's URL in the customization box.

What do you think? []  links to this post    6:32:01 AM  

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