Ramblings & ephemera

Clay Shirky on flaming & how to combat it

From Clay Shirky’s “Group as User: Flaming and the Design of Social Software” (Clay Shirky’s Writings About the Internet: 5 November 2004): Learning From Flame Wars Mailing lists were the first widely available piece of social software. … Mailing lists were also the first widely analyzed virtual communities. … Flame wars are not surprising; they […]

1% create, 10% comment, 89% just use

From Charles Arthur’s “What is the 1% rule?” (Guardian Unlimited: 20 July 2006): It’s an emerging rule of thumb that suggests that if you get a group of 100 people online then one will create content, 10 will “interact” with it (commenting or offering improvements) and the other 89 will just view it. It’s a […]

The origin of broadcast journalism

From Nicholas Lemann’s “The Murrow Doctrine” (The New Yorker: 23 & 30 January 2006: 38-43): There is a memorable entry in William Shirer’s Berlin Diary in which he describes – as, in effect, something that happened at work one day – the birth of broadcast journalism. It was Sunday, March 13, 1938, the day after […]

‘Thomas Crown Affair! Thomas Crown Affair!’

From Improv Everywhere’s “Missions: Best Buy” (23 April 2006): Agent Slavinsky wrote in to suggest I get either a large group of people in blue polo shirts and khakis to enter a Best Buy or a group in red polo shirts and khakis to enter a Target. Wearing clothing almost identical to the store’s uniform, […]

Al Qaeda hijacks web server to distribute video

From Matt Tanase’s Don’t let this happen to you: Smaller companies often assume they have nothing of interest to hackers. Often times that is the case, but they are still after resources, as in this case. Unfortunately, the hackers in this case are tied to Al Qaeda. They placed the recent hostage video on a […]

Notes on The Strength of Weak Ties revisited

From Mark Granovetter’s “The Strength Of Weak Ties: A Network Theory Revisited” [Sociological Theory, Volume 1 (1983), 201-233.]: The argument asserts that our acquaintances (weak ties) are less likely to be socially involved with one another than are our close friends (strong ties).Thus the set of people made up of any individual and his or […]

The value of Group-Forming Networks

From David P. Reed’s “That Sneaky Exponential – Beyond Metcalfe’s Law to the Power of Community Building“: Bob Metcalfe, inventor of the Ethernet, is known for pointing out that the total value of a communications network grows with the square of the number of devices or people it connects. This scaling law, along with Moore’s […]

Word of the day: disemvoweling

Disemvoweling: removing the vowels from a message board troll’s posts. First performed (to my knowledge) by Teresa Nielsen Hayden at http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/001551.html#001551.

Our reasons for giving reasons

From Malcolm Gladwell’s “Here’s Why: A sociologist offers an anatomy of explanations“: In “Why?”, the Columbia University scholar Charles Tilly sets out to make sense of our reasons for giving reasons. … In Tilly’s view, we rely on four general categories of reasons. The first is what he calls conventions—conventionally accepted explanations. Tilly would call […]

Jefferson Davis, the Hill Cats, & the Butcher Cats

From Shelby Foote’s The Civil War: Fort Sumter to Perryville (396): Nor was [Jefferson Davis] highly skilled as an arbitrator; he had too much admiration and sympathy for those who would not yield, whatever their cause, to be effective at reconciling opponents. In fact, this applied to a situation practically in his own back yard. […]

10 early choices that helped make the Internet successful

From Dan Gillmor’s “10 choices that were critical to the Net’s success“: 1) Make it all work on top of existing networks. 2) Use packets, not circuits. 3) Create a ‘routing’ function. 4) Split the Transmission Control Protocol (TCP) and Internet Protocol (IP) … 5) The National Science Foundation (NSF) funds the University of California-Berkeley, […]

Douglas Adams on information overload

From Douglas Adam’s “Is there an Artificial God?“: Let me back up for a minute and talk about the way we communicate. Traditionally, we have a bunch of different ways in which we communicate with each other. One way is one-to-one; we talk to each other, have a conversation. Another is one-to-many, which I’m doing […]

The history of tabs (card, folder, & UI)

From Technology Review‘s “Keeping Tabs“: Starting in the late 14th century, scribes began to leave pieces of leather at the edges of manuscripts for ready reference. But with the introduction of page numbering in the Renaissance, they went out of fashion. The modern tab was an improvement on a momentous 19th-century innovation, the index card. […]

Terrorist social networks

From Technology Review‘s “Terror’s Server“: For example, research suggests that people with nefarious intent tend to exhibit distinct patterns in their use of e-mails or online forums like chat rooms. Whereas most people establish a wide variety of contacts over time, those engaged in plotting a crime tend to keep in touch only with a […]

How terrorists use the Web

From Technology Review‘s “Terror’s Server“: According to [Gabriel] Weimann [professor of communications at University of Haifa], the number of [terror-related] websites has leapt from only 12 in 1997 to around 4,300 today. … These sites serve as a means to recruit members, solicit funds, and promote and spread ideology. … The September 11 hijackers used […]

Cameraphones are different cameras & different phones

From David Pescovitz’s “The Big Picture“: Mobile researcher John Poisson, CEO of the Fours Initiative, focuses on how cameraphones could revolutionize photography and communication — if people would only start using them more. As the leader of Sony Corporation’s mobile media research and design groups in Tokyo, John Poisson spent two years focused on how […]

Architecture & the quality without a name

From Brian Hayes’ “The Post-OOP Paradigm“: Christopher Alexander [a bricks-and-steel architect] is known for the enigmatic thesis that well-designed buildings and towns must have “the quality without a name.” He explains: “The fact that this quality cannot be named does not mean that it is vague or imprecise. It is impossible to name because it […]

Some thoughts on strong & weak social ties

From Ross Mayfield’s “The Weakening of Strong Ties“: Mark Granovetter’s seminal paper, The Strength of Weak Ties (summary), revealed the difference between friends and acquaintances and how useful acquaintances can be for certain tasks like finding a job. The difference between a strong tie and weak tie can generally be revealed by time commitment underpinning […]

Don’t fly where we won’t tell you not to fly

From Bruce Schneier’s “The Silliness of Secrecy“, quoting The Wall Street Journal: Ever since Sept. 11, 2001, the federal government has advised airplane pilots against flying near 100 nuclear power plants around the country or they will be forced down by fighter jets. But pilots say there’s a hitch in the instructions: aviation security officials […]

A living story, tattooed on flesh

From The New York Times Magazine‘s “Skin Literature“: Most artists spend their careers trying to create something that will live forever. But the writer Shelley Jackson is creating a work of literature that is intentionally and indisputably mortal. Jackson is publishing her latest short story by recruiting 2,095 people, each of whom will have one […]