.: 2005 --> january
@ Happy New Year!
2005. It does not seem possible, does it? And I still don't have my flying car. Other than that, it has been a very happy year. Thanks again for your attention and support. May 2005 be happy and prosperous for every one of you. I can already tell, this is going to be an extraordinary year.
[ 01/01/05 ]
@ Others have not been so lucky. Let's pick up those who have fallen and move forward together. Tsunami help:
- The South-East Asia Earthquake and Tsunami Blog
- Amazon One-Click giving to support Red Cross relief efforts
[ 01/01/05 ]
The wool in the record-breaking bale measured 11.8 microns, finer than a single strand of a spider's web and almost impossible to see with the naked eye. A micron is one thousandth of a millimetre. [...]
Keeping the sheep penned in their maternal birth groups, feeding them a natural diet of assorted grains and hay and breeding only the animals with the finest wool are the main ingredients in the Wilsons' success. Music keeps the sheep docile and relaxed.
[ 01/01/05 ]
Richard Ellenson, Thomas's father, was also there, surveying the room. It was Ellenson who devised this experiment, this attempt to reconfigure a classroom -- and, in some sense, the system around it -- so that his son, who has cerebral palsy, could find a way to fit into a world that often seems to resist him. Ellenson, a wiry man dressed all in black against a room awash in primary colors, was watchful, and what he was noticing was how much more work there was to be done. [...]
"The way the space is set up, there are only four possible places to fit his wheelchair," he said to his wife, Lora, who stood with him. The other children had 16 places to sit, he explained, sweeping his hand past four brand-new tables, each with four child-size chairs. He pointed to a threesome of students sitting at a table, not interacting but at eye level with one another, unlike his son. "They are in a moment when they can become friends," he said. "Thomas is not."
When Thomas Ellenson began kindergarten last fall, the New York City school system had more than 1,000 classes that met the definition of inclusion to some degree. But the impaired children in those classes struggled with more manageable problems like learning disabilities and speech impairments. Thomas fell at the serious end of the disability spectrum -- he could not speak or walk or sit unassisted or feed himself. By that distinction alone, Thomas's disabilities made his classroom a first. "There is nothing else like this in the city," Linda Wernikoff, the deputy superintendent for special-education initiatives, who helped create the program, told me. "This is a step beyond for us."
[ 01/04/05 ]
@ At IslandWood, students are learning about the environment by restoring it.
Students have reintroduced native plants, removed invasive ivy, started a worm bin and monitored stream health. IslandWood graduate student educator Joe Petrick was helping kids reclaim a garden at a Seattle elementary school when "all of a sudden a huge bald eagle flies over the school, and all the kids look up. That's something they think they could only see at IslandWood, but it kind of tied it all together that all the stuff in nature is right here in your backyard."
[ 01/06/05 ]
In Judaism, for instance, the Talmud says a man is judged by the way he manages his "kiso, koso & ka'aso" - that is, his wallet, his cup (alcohol), and his anger. And since the Torah requires Jews to make provisions for the less fortunate, hefty interest payments on credit cards could interfere with that moral duty, according to Rabbi Perry Raphael Rank, president of the Rabbinical Assembly for rabbis of Conservative Judaism.
"This is a modern phenomenon - going into debt not because of need but because of desire," says Mr. Rank. "Whether [a man] has managed his resources to help others is the basis for judgment. That would come way before spending on yourself."
[ 01/06/05 ]
@ It's like YK for librarians! As of January 1, 2007, all ISBNs must be transformed from 10 digits to 13.
[ 01/06/05 ]
@ Neat! WorldCat lets you locate books at a library near you. Go to Google or Yahoo! and type in "Find in a library" and the name of your book. Click the WorldCat result and fill in your zipcode for a list of local libraries that carry the book.
[ 01/06/05 ]
@ Citizen Literature: As on-demand publishing becomes profitable, it promises to give rise to a new form of participatory media, as individuals become publishers and professional publishing potentially becomes more profitable.
"There were a lot of early abortive efforts to try this," said Jim Hamilton, an analyst with InfoTrends/CAP Ventures in Weymouth, Mass. "There was a concept that there would be instant book kiosks in bookstores, and that did not work. ... But we are in a very creative phase now and it's very exciting."
What's more, this kind of publishing might just foster a market for book-writing in the same way Kodak first opened up photography to amateur picture takers nearly a century ago, said Frank Cost, a printing professor at the Rochester Institute of Technology.
"Everyone is starting to realize this works, and it's fantastic," Cost said.
[ 01/06/05 ]
Textbooks of the future should be even smaller, more customized and globalized. Professors should be able go to the Web, look at a list of contents, click off the sections they want, indicate what order they want them in and create their own tailored, personalized textbook in any major language they need. Students should then be able to interact with this text on the Web, access it in a uniquely customized printed form, or both.
[ 01/06/05 ]
@ An amazing set of satellite photos showing several affected areas before and after the tsunami. You'll never see a pledge drive on this site, and those of you who have visited my wishlist know that I do this because I love it, not because I hope for some material gain. But if every individual who visits this site gave just $10, we would have raised over
$6,500 $65,000 in just the first two weeks of January. So now I am asking for your financial support. Please, if you can spare just $5 or $10, donate right now to help rebuild these lives. (sorry about the earlier math mistake: cold medicine.)
[ 01/07/05 ]
But in many respects, his effort to change the way politics works is the most far-reaching and ambitious - for California and the country. "This is not a California problem, it is a national problem," says Elizabeth Garrett, director of the USC-Caltech Center for the Study of Law and Politics. "Our representatives are much more partisan than we are ... and one reason is that this favors people with extremely partisan ideological positions."
To Dr. Garrett and others, the so-called red-blue divide so evident here and nationwide is less a function of changing American character or culture than it is of politicians' increasing desire to squelch any competition in election years. The result is hundreds of legislative districts across the United States that lawmakers have drawn to keep incumbents in office - artificially making them more "red" or "blue." [...]
Governor Schwarzenegger learned the lesson in the last election, when every California candidate he campaigned for lost. In all, there were 153 congressional and state legislative seats in play in California last November. None changed parties.
"It is the single biggest reason we have polarization in state legislatures," says Allan Hoffenblum, a Republican political consultant in Los Angeles.
[ 01/07/05 ]
A new study found that obesity is relatively rare in the foreign-born until they have lived in the United States -- the land of drive-thrus, remote controls and double cheeseburgers -- for more than 10 years.
Only 8 percent of immigrants who had lived in the United States for less than a year were obese, but that jumped to 19 percent among those who had been here for at least 15 years. That compared with 22 percent of U.S.-born residents surveyed.
[ 01/07/05 ]
Consider this a January fundraiser. Please donate $10 to the American Red Cross Tsunami Disaster Relief. If everyone who has visited this site during January had donated $10, we would have raised over $100,000 so far.
@ Activists hope that relief efforts could bring peace to war-torn Aceh--once they can get in. As the CSM tells us, throughout history, natural disasters have been catalysts for social change provoking rapid maturation of nascent conditions.
[ 01/11/05 ]
Mangroves form a natural barrier between villages and the roiling sea, and could offer a reliable backup to any new international effort to coordinate warnings and draw up evacuation procedures.
"For thousands of years, mangrove forests have provided a natural buffer against cyclones and other storms that often hit the shores of southern India," says V. Selvum, project director of the MS Swaminathan Research Foundation in Madras (Chennai).
[ 01/11/05 ]
@ Vegetable Varieties for Gardeners is a citizen science program from Cornell University Cooperative Extension. It 'profiles more than 2,000 varieties. Gardeners can search or browse for varieties, view details for each including how long they take to mature, and find links to seed companies that sell the variety.' [more...]
@ More citizen science: Vermont farmer Wilson Alwyn Bentley spent his lifetime photographing individual snowflakes through a microscope. Now, the Buffalo Science Museum has put a selection of his photographs online.
[ 01/11/05 ]
Persistent toxins were first discovered in breast milk in 1951, when black mothers in Washington were tested for the pesticide DDT. In 1966, a Swedish researcher thought to test his wife's breast milk for PCB's, or polychlorinated biphenyls, after he discovered them in the tissue of a dead eagle. Five years later, Sweden banned PCB's, with the United States following a few years later. But because of those chemicals' widespread use and persistence, they are still the highest-concentration toxins in breast milk, even in mothers born after the 1978 ban. Most scientists maintain that prenatal exposure to PCB's -- considered by the Environmental Protection Agency to be a probable human carcinogen -- can do real damage. Researchers in the Great Lakes region, the Arctic and the Netherlands found that babies born to mothers with mid- to upper-range background levels of PCB contamination (probably because of diets rich in contaminated fish and animal products) have delayed learning capabilities, lower I.Q.'s and reduced immunities against infections. The longitudinal studies on which these findings were based showed that some problems persisted at least into early adolescence.
The message from these studies about breast-feeding, however, was not what you might expect. Although the children who were breast-fed had higher PCB levels than children who were exposed only in utero, they consistently performed better than those who drank formula. When researchers controlled for socioeconomic factors, the differences were more subtle but still there. In other words, breast milk appears to be at least partly protective against the effects of toxic chemicals. In fact, the World Health Organization and other groups continue to recommend breast-feeding for all women. At first this sounds reassuring, until you wonder how much better the breast milk would be without the companion chemicals. We'll never know, since an uncontaminated control group doesn't exist.
[ 01/11/05 ]
@ Newspapers have been reporting that olive oil may reduce women's risk of breast cancer, but the UK National Electronic Library for Health points out that only one of them pointed out that these tests were conducted on tissue cultures, not in patients. Olive oil seems to have lots of benefits, but this one hasn't yet been proven. Hitting the Headlines looks like quite a useful feature for understanding the science behind the headlines. It's available in RSS, if you're interested.
[ 01/11/05 ]
@ Right up my alley: The US Food Policy blog is written by a food economist. He points to another public interest weblog, the US Farm Policy Blog. I'm going to need a new category on my portal page. (via a full belly)
[ 01/11/05 ]
@ My latest article was written for the December 2004 issue of Communications of the ACM, and focuses on the ways in which software designed to automate common blogging practices changed the weblog form itself: Hammer, Nail: How Blogging Software Reshaped the Online Community.
[With the introduction of permalinks] bloggers could reference specific weblog entries as elegantly as they referenced any online source. The feature was so useful that it became a canonical component of the standard weblog entry. In a medium whose currency is links, weblogs without permalinks were at a sudden disadvantage. Hand-coders had to invent ways to reproduce this feature if they wanted to be referenced on other blogs.
To some extent, the permalink also elevated weblog commentary to a legitimate form of discourse. A link is, after all, a link. Whether it leads to a weblog entry or a syndicated column, each link on a page has equal weight. If the nature of weblogs is to democratize publishing, perhaps the nature of hypertext is to equalize influence, at least within the context of the page.
[ 01/11/05 ]
@ I've noticed a slight problem with the Technorati tagging system. For every tag, Technorati is pulling an indentically tagged photograph from photo-sharing site Flickr. Unfortunately, for a few hours this morning the most recent tagged photo under MLK was a picture of a protester's sign that read "Setting aside our differences to focus on our common goals: peace, love, harmony, killing Jews, and tolerance." Nice. [more...]
Now, that photo is perfectly appropriate on Flickr as part of an individual's collection, and as documentation of Sunday's rally. It's perfectly appropriate as an illustration for 'protests', or even 'Israel' and 'Palestine', even though it surely will offend some people wherever it appears. But it is not appropriate to illustrate a category tagged 'MLK'. I personally was offended--these sentiments reflect the polar opposite to those espoused by Dr. King. More to the point, such an illustration is inappropriate--that poster has as much to do with Dr. King as would a picture of a banana peel.
I called Technorati to register a protest, but was informed that Technorati had no mechanism available for removing the photo other than turning off the entire Flickr feed. Worse, I was met with polite protestations that Technorati is not in the business of editing the Web, just delivering it. I was also given some vague heebee-jeebee about "community standards" and how "the community would decide".
Well, I'm here to tell you that community standards vary wildly, and in the case of an aggregator mean nothing at all. An aggregator like Technorati only provides a succession of individual posts, it doesn't summarize or codify the content it serves. Furthermore, "community standards" do not, indeed, can not defend against abuse of the system--only design can do that.
I perfectly understand and agree that a service like Technorati--or any of the blog aggregators and creators--cannot try to police the Web. But I thought Technorati would be happy to be alerted to the situation. Similar situations will come up in the future. It's certain that some people will try to game the system, deliberately tagging their photos to misdirect people, make a political statement, or otherwise promote their own interests. It seemed to me that Technorati would want to start thinking about that now: to Design for Evil, as Bruce Sterling has said.
But you know--from my conversation, it seems they can't be bothered.
Off the top of my head, there are several simple things Technorati could do to prevent this sort of thing from happening in the future:
- Technorati could design their system not to publish any photo Flickr users have tagged "Might be offensive".
- Technorati could create their own tagging system, and not publish any photo Technorati users tagged "Might be offensive".
- Technorati could provide an email address so that users could alert staff if a photo was offensive or inappropriate, and then the staff could go in and tag the inappropriate photo so that it would not appear on Technorati's site--or hand-select an appropriate one.
Whatever their solution, it seems clear to me that Technorati will need a way override the Flickr feed--and maybe even blog posts--in the case of egregious abuse. Comment spam has become a huge problem for bloggers and blog tool-makers, and it's only a matter of time before some enterprising sleaze tries to game the tagging system, too.
Let's be clear: this is not an issue of free speech, it's a matter of automation. Declining to publish any photo or blog post will not remove that photo or post from the originating site. No one's speech will be affected. However, it would mean that sometimes the system would not run itself--a Technorati staffer might have to manually de-select a photo.
Neither is this is Flickr's problem to solve. Flickr is providing a feed, and has its own policies in place to ensure the integrity of their content. And--as in this case--tagging that is appropriate within the context of Flickr may not be appropriate to other contexts, particularly when a photograph is one of a series.
Naturally, Technorati wants to avoid being called upon by irate Web users to remove content they disagree with, or of which they disapprove. This is a legitimate concern. They can avoid these arguments very simply by reserving the right to de-select any content that is not related to its tag. The gentleman I spoke with was right: they are not in the editorial business. But they are in the business of providing a useful service.
Chances are that the smart people working at Technorati can find ways to enable their community to do most of the work. But refusing to implement any kind of override--even if it means sometimes requiring a Technorati staffer to tweak the content-- is pound foolish. The public, the media, and the weblog community will only use this service if it is useful.
# Update: Technorati CEO Dave Sifry has emailed me and is appearing in the comment threads of some of the other bloggers who are commenting on this. In fairness to the person I spoke with, he had only two options for dealing with my complaint--neither of which was the right one--and (probably) insufficient authority to comfortably make the call. It's not surprising that he fell back on the standard "We're not an editorial service" response--I honestly don't think anyone had thought through the implications of integrating these services. Dave has expressed a willingness to think through the policies and practices his new service will require. I will be interested in seeing what he decides.
## Update 2: I've noticed another little problem with Technorati tags. When I updated my site on Monday, I created tags for all the posts, and pinged Technorati. On Tuesday, I pinged Technorati two more times when I updated here. It is now Wednesday evening, and I have yet to see any of my tags catalogued on their site.
< technorati, tags, sifry, powazek, flickr, free speech, blogging, weblogs, web >
[ 01/18/05 ]
We focus on training leaders in the fight against Hunger and poverty. It is a one year program that is split into two placements: one with a community based organization somewhere in the US and the second half of the fellowship is with an advocacy organization in D.C. We do a ton of work with Community Food Security organizations, farmers' markets, community gardens, advocacy groups, food banks, etc.
The deadline to apply for next year's group just passed, but if any of your reader's wanted to apply, I would be happy to give them a two week extension.
This Fellowship is sponsored by the Congressional Hunger Center. If you are interested in applying for a Fellowship, mark your application ATTN: John Kelly, and mention that you read about it here. The deadline for Rebecca'a Pocket readers is January 31st.
<jobs, help wanted, hunger, poverty, policy >
[ 01/18/05 ]
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.
A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. On the one hand, we are called to play the Good Samaritan on life's roadside, but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho Road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring.
A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa, and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say, "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of South America and say, "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just.
A true revolution of values will lay hand on the world order and say of war, "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.
@ I'm delighted to announce that I will be speaking at Blogtalk Downunder which will be held in Sydney, Australia from May 19th-22. Conference organizers are accepting abstracts until January 31st. What's notable about weblogs right now? Submit a paper, then come tell us what you think.
< blogtalk downunder, call for papers, sydney, australia >
[ 01/19/05 ]
@ For those of you whose software doesn't automate tagging, Oddiophile has created a bookmarklet for adding technorati tags
< tag, technorati, bookmarklet, folksonomy, oddiophile, blogging >
[ 01/19/05 ]
@ I just took a look after a long while, and I'm pleased to report that Jay Tate's Software for Research (using Windows) is getting better and better.
< software, windows, information management >
[ 01/19/05 ]
@ You're probably just going to want to head over to Hidden Agenda, whose recent posts are way more interesting than mine: the cake-baking perfectionist, aging rock stars, a statue that held the key to an ancient astronomer's work, and how computers are changing chess.
< weblogs, blogs >
[ 01/20/05 ]
@ What does the future of journalism look like? Chances are, it's not weblogs. Instead, I suspect that citizen journalism will more closely resemble Wikimedia. A new world is here.
< news, journalism, citizen journalism, wiki, >
[ 01/20/05 ]
there is no good rhyme for angst
the closest i come is against
that makes it quite tough
since my life is quite rough
and I can't show the depth of my paingst
Consider this a January fundraiser. Please donate $10 to the American Red Cross Tsunami Disaster Relief. If everyone who has visited this site had donated $10, we would have raised over $180,000 so far this month.
@ It's always a little disheartening to talk for an hour to a journalist and then have them give you a few fluff quotes, or misrepresent the thrust of your comments. I'm quoted in the Wall Street Journal today as saying: "I think people do scandal-monger and deal in rumor, especially the political advocates." I'm not sure I said quite that: for one thing, I wouldn't use the term scandal-monger, especially as a verb. I know I did say:
Some bloggers have adopted the practices of the very worst kind of opinion columnists in their willingness to manipulate and distort the record of fact in order to promote an agenda.
Do you think that was too nuanced? It's certainly a more accurate representation of the reality. When she asked if my set of weblog ethics had been prompted by actions I had observed in weblogs, I said, Yes! To a large extent, they reflect the many positive practices that I had seen evolve within the weblog community. But of course, neither of those things made it into the story.
< blogs, media >
[ 01/21/05 ]
People with depression, epilepsy, stroke and Parkinson's disease could benefit from a non-invasive magnetic treatment that can alter neural pathways in the brain.
The report was based on experimental research on a small number of healthy volunteers, which does not tell us anything about its effectiveness in patients with the above conditions.
Blogging is more like a conversation, and "you can't develop a code of ethics for conversations," said David Weinberger, a prominent blogger and research fellow at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. "A conversation with your best friend would become stilted and alienating."
First of all, publishing a weblog is not at all like a conversation between two people, it's more like speaking in front of a room full of people--some of them trusted, some of them strangers--and having every word you say recorded and catalogued for future random retrieval. So that analogy doesn't work.
Even if it did, honorable people do apply ethics to their conversations, most commonly the ethic of telling the truth to the best of one's ability, not repeating a confidence from one person to another, and representing one's friends kindly--or at least, fairly--when they are not there. In fact, I would argue that personal conversations work best when such ethics are in place: I simply couldn't speak freely to my husband if I thought that anything I said might be repeated at work the next day, and I would have trouble confiding in a friend who, in my absence, just sat silently when I was being unfairly represented.
David's a smart man. Having met him, he's also someone who I would trust to behave honorably in conversation with me and about me. I can't imagine why he said this.
< blog ethics, weblogs, blogs, webcred, bjc >
[ 01/26/05 ]
At times, it helps to think of writing as carpentry. That way, writers and editors can work from a plan and use tools stored on their workbench. You can borrow a writing tool at any time. And here's a secret: Unlike hammers, chisels, and rakes, writing tools never have to be returned. They can be cleaned, sharpened, and passed on.
Each week, for the next 50, I will describe a writing tool that has been useful to me. I have borrowed these tools from writers and editors, from authors of books on writing, and from teachers and writing coaches. Many come from the X-ray reading of texts I admire.
< writing >
[ 01/26/05 ]
An 84-year-old Holocaust survivor known worldwide for his sculptures is recovering at a local hospital after fending off a 300-pound deer that ran wild inside his home, WCMH-TV in Columbus reported.
[ 01/26/05 ]
@ I'm pleased to announce that I will be speaking at Design It!, in Tokyo Feb 28-Mar 2. My husband, Jesse James Garrett, will be giving a pre-conference Keynote on the Elements of User Experience [pdf] to launch the publication of the Japanese edition of his book, and giving a second talk, The 9 Pillars of Successful Web Teams, during the conference proper. If you are in Tokyo or nearby, please come say hello.
[ 01/28/05 ]
One definition of the object: "Penny rugs are not actual rugs for the floor, but decorative coverings for beds, tables and mantles. They were even used as wall hangings. They seemed to have started around the time of the civil war in the United States. They are made out of felted wool scraps that are appliquéd with a blanket stitch to a wool background. Some designs feature circles (or pennies). Coins such as pennies were used as templates for the circle appliqués, thus the name penny rug."
Thomas Fleming is not everyone's cup of tea. Editor of the self-described "paleo-conservative" journal Chronicles, his views are guaranteed to give almost anyone something to get mad about. Liberals will find his attacks on abortion and homosexuality distasteful; conservatives will be non-plussed by his rejection of the free market, global interventionism, international capitalism, and almost everything Bush stands for; I myself am most put off by his explicit anti-feminism. So I began The Morality of Everyday Life with some trepidation, despite the obvious attraction of the title for me. I found its argument fascinating, convincing, informative and--perhaps most surprising of all--scrupulously fair.
[ 01/28/05 ]
The goal of a recount is to ensure that the voters' intentions were properly recorded and the right person won. That's why we pull out the punch cards and review them for hanging chads, or check optically scanned ballots for stray marks.
But nothing remotely that sensible occured in Washington State, Ohio, or anywhere else that voters used paperless touchscreen machines. Instead, we saw what could accurately be described as a "reprint." Voting officials either fed the same vote data through the same system a second time, or recounted the machine data by hand or with a spreadsheet -- always reaching the same or roughly the same results. It doesn't take a computer genius to recognize that this method of "recounting" is simply a means of replicating any error in vote data that may have existed the first time the votes were tallied. [...]
Note that the obvious solution, paper, is not enough.
Even in the absence of a voter-verified paper audit trail, there are steps officials can take to help verify an election, including counting from the redundant memory banks, examining the audit logs, and conducting calibration tests. These are bare-minimum safeguards against machine error and vote-tampering, and should be part of the recount process even for machines with paper trails.