Jun 29, 2007

Unshelved - the Public Library Comic Strip

Here's a very nice place to go on the internet if you're interested in changes and challenges taking place in libraries. Unshelved claims to be 'the world's only daily comic strip set in a public library'. It's makers are writer Gene Ambaum (yes, that's a pseudonym) and co-writer and the artist Bill Barnes. Much more information available at Primer page.

I particularly like the last few cartoons based on the theme of Internet v Library:

Monday, June 25, 2007

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Friday, June 29, 2007

Saturday, June 30, 2007

Looks like they are going to continue with these for some time, so if interested keep following this series.

Jun 27, 2007

Everything is Miscellaneous - from David Weinberger

Humans have the capacity to handle the huge amounts of information, but as we get immersed in the digital information age, even that capacity is under strain. One of the main ways we organise our perception of concepts and objects around us is to categorise them, then set up hierarchies of those categories.

However, here is an interesting counter-point from David Weinberger. He's written a book - Everything Is Miscellaneous: The Power of the New Digital Disorder, which I may read 'eventually', but if you're pressed for time and rather see the video it is provided below.

Further Links

Jun 25, 2007

From Microsoft Labs ... Seadragon and Photosynth

Webstock Mini-June
We were given a brief glimpse of this technology at Webstock Mini-June conference held here in Wellington last week. The presenter was Leigh Blackall, he showed us some features of Second Life virtual world. Proceeding on that topic he also gave us a brief glimpse of Photosynth. Curiosity drove me to the source.

With the competition in internet innovation hotting up these days a lot of brilliant ideas are finding voice. An exciting development to come out of Microsoft Labs was demonstrated at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks held every year in California, United States.

This was the first of the two technologies presented. Using the new Windows Media Photo Format, examples were shown of collages of photographs, that can be zoomed endlessly down to the tiniest level, smoothly and effortlessly. At one stage the software architect Blaise Aguera Y Arcas, mentioned that they were using 300 MegaPixel images. To put that in perspective, most images we get from digital cameras are only around 3 to 5 MegaPixels, and these are capable of being printed in large poster format without distortion. To facilitate this kind of technology I would normally assume that the software that can manipulate objects of this size would be very sophisticated and complex, requiring machines at super-computer level including giant memory stores connected to a very large bandwidth network. Yet, this project, which is under incubation at Microsoft Live Labs promises:

  1. Speed of navigation is independent of the size or number of objects.

  2. Performance depends only on the ratio of bandwidth to pixels on the screen.

  3. Transitions are smooth as butter.

  4. Scaling is near perfect and rapid for screens of any resolution.

Seadragon Screenshot

This other project from Microsoft Live Labs allows one to see the photos in a context of 3D virtual world representation of the place where the photograph was taken. The model seems to map the position of the camera, the position of the photographed subject, and the photograph itself. Now, integrated with countless other photographs in the same area. What you effectively build up is a 3D world showing the view from any point in any direction using available photographic detail of the area.

Some latest digital cameras that come with built in Global Positioning System (GPS) sensors could, theoretically, encode the photograph itself with the data (or metadata) of where it was taken. To get the effective 3D coordinates, the metadata should also include the height in terms of 'above sea-level' of the photographer. However, Photosynth works from the other end - it takes your photographs, analyzes them, and working from familiar features in the photo - such as the architectural lines of a known building, determines the position and angle of the camera. Thus, the onus is lifted from the user to provide the location metadata for the photo.

There are further benefits envisaged to this technology such as Smart Photos - the idea of taking a photo of some item with your cellphone-camera, and sending it to a service that determines what's in the picture and sending you back information about the subject. Great for tourists!

You can install and try out the software, but note the system requirements before you begin.

One particular word said by the presenter is going to stick around in my mind - metaverse. It seems to be a reference to a universe built by amalgamation of all kinds of related objects, facilitated by the metadata of those objects.

The TED Presentation

Jun 21, 2007

Facebook v MySpace - defining a 'cool' site

Facebook, MySpace and their ilk are websites where you can put up your profile, details, blog and invite friends. These days with the denizens of the world in greater transience, people keep moving all over the place. These are useful tools to keep in touch, promote your interests etc.

MySpace is a very configurable platform - you can turn your web page into almost any form. There's been a flurry of activity recently from Facebook too - to make it's web page more malleable by releasing the Facebook Platform. However, there continues to be a difference in the culture of these two online communities. See below:

Video from CNET

Note-starts with an advertisement

Cartoon from BLaugh

Online Dating with MySpace and Facebook

At this stage MySpace is the leader by far, but this market can swing unpredictably.

Other interesting links
Feature Comparison between MySpace and Facebook
Tipping Point for Facebook
Related BBC Article, passed on to me by a colleague

Jun 18, 2007

Property Bubble in Kiwi-land

NZ Property Bubble


"Just days after Reserve Bank governor Alan Bollard's unexpected intervention in the currency markets, the bank has taken the unusual step of offering detailed suggestions on how government policy could dampen the overheated property market.

In a submission to the commerce select committee's housing affordability inquiry, the bank said government might want to consider introducing a capital gains tax on rental properties, and better controls on immigration."

- Sunday Star Times, 17 June 2007

Jun 15, 2007

The Developer - Power Down

No technology can survive without power, and one technology is dependent on another ...

The developer - Hara Kiri

Jun 1, 2007

Video Guides: RSS and Wiki's

These were perhaps the first two technologies that set the concept of Web2.0 on fire. RSS is more or less, a way to provide a website's 'table of contents', so that you click on any of the headings and get taken to the corresponding 'chapter'. They allow ways to take the links to the content out of the original site's context into your own, at your convenience. Wikis are largely text-based centralized spaces where a communities can get together and share their interests.

However the point of this blog post is, now matter how I try to explain it, it is still incomprehensible to many people. So ... here are two video's that illustrate these concepts in a much more entertaining and engaging way. Enjoy!

RSS in Plain English

Wiki's in Plain English