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Monthly Archives: April 2002

Don’t you love it when someone goes ahead and invents something you’ve been wishing existed?

“I dial a number on an ordinary mobile phone. There is a pause of 10 to 15 seconds, then a voice on the phone tells me it is the Cranberries’ Ode to My Family. A short while later, a text message arrives confirming it.

I’m impressed but not convinced. I ask him to put on the Radiohead CD – and the phone correctly comes up with The Bends followed by another text message. Later, I ask him to switch off his CD player and get the phone to identify the background music in the cafe. After a couple of failures (because the songs were not yet on his fast-growing database), it succeeds again (Finally by Kings of Tomorrow). By now I’m no longer impressed. I’m wishing I owned the company.”

» Guardian Unlimited | The Guardian | Heard it thru’ the mobile

Happened across this while feeling cranky about the hyperdull topic of arguing about whether keeping to underlined linkstyles constrains creativity on the London-IA mailing list.

Gah. So much energy used up in my lifetime arguing about that with people instead of much, much more interesting design challenges.

The quote by Matt Webb is about webservices, but hopefully you get the point.

“My favourite thing about Web services? I can get on with what I want to do (recombine things in interesting ways) without pissing around cleaning up malformed things to make them recombinable. It’s the same reason I don’t build my own computers, the same reason I use a Mac, the same reason I like science. Standing on shoulders.”

» interconnected weblog

A fantastic read, really nailing some of the things discussed previously here as “wombling”.

“That’s innovation for you. If we could predict the future uses of new technology, they wouldn’t be innovative.

That’s innovation. It’s the force that drives our civilization. It’s the force that drives our culture. It’s the force that makes us human (“the tool-using animal”).

I’m not willing to give it up, even if I don’t know what it is.

The fact of the matter is that no group of engineers in a boardroom can ever anticipate what normal people will do with their inventions.”

Such a fantastic quote. Reminds me of Marc Rettig‘s “brains around a table are never enough” maxim.

» “The Street Finds its Own Use for the Law of Unintended Consequences” by Cory Doctorow : 04/16/2002

“A TextArc is a visual represention of a text—the entire text (twice!) on a single page. Some funny combination of an index, concordance, and summary, it uses the viewer’s eye to help uncover meaning.”

» Textarc.org [via Peter Van Dijck]

and while we’re with Peter… look what he’s suggesting:

Here’s the thing: I’ve been thinking about this and playing around with it, and I think I might make a simple XML format (it’s half done) to publish faceted metadata that will:

  • let you build your faceted metadata
  • let you publish that on the web if you like
  • you can import other people’s taxonomies, or parts of them
  • you can merge with other people’s taxonomies”

» Peter Van Dijck proposes a Faceted metadata XML format

aaaaand:

“Why would anyone want an XML-RPC interface to the covers project? Combined with FreeDB, your CD player could let you know if the song you are listening to had been covered by someone else. Or maybe when you put in your new Tiffany CD, you want to know who her influences are, or who she’s influenced. Maybe you’re bored and you want to write an Applescript interface to explore cover chains. Who knows. I’m sure that someone, somewhere will find some use for it (maybe).”

» The Covers Project [via BoingBoing]

What the *?@% are they putting in everyone’s cereal this week? It’s like the week WebServicePunk broke, or something. Whooooo!!!!!

“In a world increasingly determined to measure things, artist Lucy Kimbell has decided to measure her own performance by creating a weekly index, the LIX. It goes up if she is busy on her own creative projects or spends time with close friends, and it goes down if she has a bad dream or her credit card bill is too high. The LIX is therefore a contemporary portrait for the real-time economy.”

» The LIX Index by Lucy Kimbell.

Sorry to keep harping back to this, but it seems to be a nodal-point right now.

Here’s Cory Doctorow:

“The amazing thing about evolved solutions is that they’re typically counter-intuitive. The Santa Fe institute will recommend that town planners reduce the number of lanes on certain roads (rather than building alternate routes) in order to reduce traffic congestion. Southwest Airlines’ jets fly seemingly nonsensical routes (“Announcing the arrival of Southwest Airlines flight 432 from Denver, continuing on to Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Orlando”). Autonomous cellular towers will choose spectrum via a complex negotiation that will not only be non-deterministic, but also utterly unpredictable.

I think this points to a world that is not human-readable. We will be surrounded by autonomous systems that pursue optimization by zigging and zagging in ways that we can’t make any sense of, at least not without serious and determined study (just as now, a compiled binary is nearly opaque to human comprehension). What a strange world that will be — our virus and anti-virus software will collaborate across networks to modify themselves and their behavior; our spamfilters will collaborate in much the same way; search-engine results based on network analysis (like Google) will grow even more magical and defy comprehension even further.”

What are our responsibilities as workers in the “meaning-construction industries”? Should we just wave our hands up and say “these things defy comprehension”?

I think not. It’s Clarke’s 3rd Law again. It’s not magic, just sufficiently-advanced technology.

If there’s one thing we as a species feel perpetually compelled to do, it’s explain things to ourselves and others. We’ll figure it out.

» Boingboing.net: Cory Doctorow on Fruit Flies and Evolving Technology

… gets off to a flying start:

“This whole Vanity Fair culture, beginning with Didion or Wolfe, and ending with Sedaris or Eggers, has run its course. We’ve grown sick of living in a vacuum and struggling to remain detached. It’s no fun to read magazines through squinty, knowing smirks. We realize that detachment is a booby prize. We want to engage, meaningfully, in the stuff of life.

In comes science. And with it, comes good, old-fashioned, innocent awe. Science is not the force that corrupts our nature – it is the open-minded wonder that returns us to it. It is being welcomed back into the culture of narcissism because we’ve finally grown tired enough of ourselves to care about something real. We ache to let go of our postured pretentiousness and surrender to that sensation a kid gets at the Epcot Center or planetarium.

The jaw drops, the eyes widen, the mind opens.”

» Rushkoff.com: entry for Thursday, April 11, 2002

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