Thursday, June 29, 2006

Wiki Lit Review

I've been spending a lot of time on a review of the literature on wiki technology. I just finished it last night. It seemed a waste not to put a paper on wikis in anything other than a wiki, so if you're feeling bored, and I mean really bored, bored enough that you want to curl up with a literature review on wikis, then feel free to mosey on over to the review.

Oh, and without question, feel free to edit it in any way you'd like. My grade depends upon your assistance. :)

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

I'm six months ahead of the curve...

OK, so I usually don't toot my own horn, but that is because I rarely have anything to toot about. But 6 months ago I mentioned in a blog post that it would be a good idea for directors to record a commentary of their movie, and then let people download the track, take it to a theater, and listen while they watch.

Looks like Clerks II will be the first movie to have this functionality. You will be able to download a commentary free from iTunes, and then go and watch the show.

Does that mean Kevin Smith has been reading my blog?

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Interesting Article

Interesting article over in Computer and Compsition on open content and open source software.

"The use, development, and dissemination of open-source software (OSS) appears to be more in line with the liberatory, collaborative, epistemological ideals of institutions of higher learning than does commercial software. However, our primary and secondary research reveals that due largely to institutional pressures and labor issues, open source software options are often not explored or considered when teaching distance-learning writing courses."

Monday, June 26, 2006

Digg v 3.0

Digg has come out with it's latest version. You can now surf more topics. I love digg, but I also like what John C. Dvorak has to say about it in his most recent article.

"Meanwhile this democratization of the news, which is what Adelson harps on, is seen by the idealists in the community as profound. I see it as increasingly dangerous, for a number of reasons."

It's a good read.

Wikipedia 3.0

Interesting article on the semantic web and wikipedia.

"The problem with the Semantic Web, besides that researchers are still debating which design and implementation of the ontology language model (and associated technologies) is the best and most usable, is that it would take thousands or tens of thousands of knowledgeable people many years to boil down human knowledge to domain specific ontologies.

However, if we were to take the Wikipedia community and give them the right tools and standards to work with then that time can be shortened to just a few years, and possibly to as little as two years."

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Not your father's wiki...

I've been doing a literature review on wikis, and while most of the articles have heaped on the praise for the potential of wikis. In on eof the articles, however, one of the teachers using a wikis said that "wiki is a pain to use, and it's ugly".

Well, you can't say that anymore... Wetpaint is pretty slick. And certainly not ugly.

You can read another peron's review here.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Picasa Online

I've been using Picasa to manage my photos for at least a year now. Now they have an online feature to it. I just got an invitation, and it pretty slick.

I'm off to write them and request that they add a creative commons license to the list of options

For anybody interested, you can see my online album here. Not a lot there right now, but it may grow.

Thursday, June 15, 2006


A friend of mine is working on some social software, and of course the problem of moderation (some would call it censorship) has come up.

I'm reminded of the classic film 12 Angry Men. There is a great scene where one of the jurors stands up and starts spouting racist rhetoric. Slowly, one by one, ten of the other men turn around, get up, or leave the table. Only one man is left listening. When the racist finishes his speach, the last man stands up and says something to the affect of, "You've had your say, now sit down and don't say another word."

In other words, the community moderated itself. The community chose what to listen to, and what to ignore. I've been in communities where some 'higher power' gets to choose what thread gets locked down, or what individuals can say. I don't go back to them. Even though I'm rarely 'moderated', I just don't like the idea of somebody else being able to delete or change my words.

The problem of moderation is a difficult one, but not unsolvable. I think digg has come up with the best solution. There are no mods, and nobody with ultimate power to delete posts. Rather the community can vote whether or not a comment is valuable. Everybody has one vote, and if your comment gets enough negative votes, it is 'hidden' (not removed) so that nobody can see it unless they specifically click on a link. And you can also see comments that other people have 'dugg', so if you're just scanning an article, and one comment has 50 diggs, you know something insightful, clever, or worthwhile has been said. (It's kind of a rush when your comment gets dugg by a large number of people). I just had one of my comments get over 200 diggs, and it was kind of fun, in an incredibly geeky sort of way. It makes many folks comment with care.

The game industry, that has to manage (babysit?) hundreds of thousands of users, many of them obnoxious teenagers, has also found that self-moderation is the simplest and best way to do things.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

This is interesting...

South America's indigenous Aymara people consider time in a different manner than the rest of the world.

"Contrary to what had been thought a cognitive universal among humans – a spatial metaphor for chronology, based partly on our bodies' orientation and locomotion, that places the future ahead of oneself and the past behind – the Amerindian group locates this imaginary abstraction the other way around: with the past ahead and the future behind."

In other words, the future is not ahead of us, rather it is behind us. It is the past that lies ahead of us.

When you think of it, it actually makes sense. We are facing forward, and can see what is up there. We can 'remember' the past. It is behind us that we cannot see, and thus it is 'the future'.

Monday, June 12, 2006


A friend sent me a link to this.

Ink is a self-described PAW, or "persistant alternate world." It's designed to teach writing and foster a community. Similar to MUD or MOOS, Ink says they are different because "Whereas other games invite players to swing swords and slay dragons, Ink challenges players to communicate, cooperate, compete, and achieve through writing."

It looks very interesting, and I will likely visit them when they 'open' on July 1.

Friday, June 09, 2006

Not to be left out...

Microsoft has also entered the wiki waters. You can see their wiki here.

Looks like they want their user base to add to/help out with their documentation?

e-bay getting wikis.

Ebay is getting into blogs and wikis.

Not sure why they would want to, but there you have it.

The Farm

I went out to the farm again, yesterday. It was a lot of fun. The last time I went we were fixing an old mower (everything out there is circa 1917), and this week they had already cut the alfalfa. They had this ancient machine that was led by two draft horses. It scooped up the hay and then plopped it down onto a wagon. I, along with two other men, would then take the hay and stack it up on the wagon. It was quite difficult to keep your balance, all the while you are in close quarters with two other men who are swinging sharp pitch forks.

Once we had the wagon full, we used a single draft horse and a pulley system to haul loads of the hay up into the barn. It was a very interesting setup. I know Dr. Sidwell (the Center's director) was taking pictures of the process, and I'll try to track some of them down.

And then of course I also gave some pony rides, chopped some wood (I've got the blood blisters to prove it), and tried to keep the boys busy.

The last thing I did before I left our van, was take off my watch (I've got to be 'in character', and a digital watch doesn't work with overalls) and leave it in the car. All afternoon I didn't know what time it was. And that was just fine with me.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Consider the Following

I've heard of some strange pets, and once met a man who kept a pot-bellied pig as an indoor pet (he called him bacon, so the family wouldn't forget why they had him in the first place). But I had never heard of this.

I came across this article while doing a bit of research for my second book... And as usual, the event in chapter 10 actually happened... In fact, I'm trying to get with my friend so that I can see if I've missed any details.

You can't vandalize this wiki...

I've been working on a literature review of wikis in education, and so I've been kind of watching new developments in the news. I found this article interesting.

One of the problems (although it's a minor problem in an active wiki community) is vandalism. Somebody comes in and deletes text, adds inaccurate text, or swaps pictures. Easily undone, but it can still can be an annoyance.

But now the idea is that every change must be ratified by users. Depending on how they set it up, it could be nice. I don't think a minor edit should have to have as many ratifications as say, changing out all of the images, but it's still an interesting idea. Although you would need an active community to make this happen, and if you have an active community to begin with, vandalism is not really a problem.

Still, interesting idea.

Monday, June 05, 2006

I've finally arrived...

I work with a wonderful group of folks, both at COSL, and at FACT. They are a lot of fun. My co-workers here at FACT nominated me to be employee of the week. I got three balloons (my kids will love them), and a king size Hershey's bar (my wife will love that).

My grant runs out at the end of the year, but I hope that I will be working with all of these people for a long time.