January 2004 Archives

pity the poor sidekick user

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So I'm stuck here at O'Hare--my 11:30am flight was cancelled, and I'm hoping the 1:30 will still go out. (The first one was a mechanical problem, but Gerald says the weather is getting worse in Rochester, so a later flight is a bit of a gamble.)

Can't find a wifi hotspot here, so I'm using my handy Sidekick phone. Figured I'd read some blogs, get caught up with online goings-on.

I'd forgotten, however, how sidekick-unfriendly many blogs are. Some ways you can help us hapless mobile readers:

1) Don't use margin-left to position your blog content. The sidekick honors this (unlike positioning) and your blog ends up being a one-word-wide column of words. Many MT and typepad default templates do this. Dorothea's site does, too.

2) Don't put the div with your sidebar content above the div with your contnent...this forces us to scrollllllllll forever, which is a PITA using this tiny scoll wheel. Major offenders on my blogroll include Halley Suitt and Joey DeVilla.

3) don't put your comment in a javascript popup, if possible. Link the comments to the comments section of your permanent entry, and then use a named anchor to jump to that part of the page. (Shelley Powers and Joey DeVilla both link to the entry page, but neither one has a comments anchor, so I have to do that long scroll again.)

Of course, you're under no obligation to do any of those things...but it sure would be appreciated if you did.

don't click that link, says microsoft

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Too funny not to share. From Microsoft's support site:

Things that you can do to help protect yourself from malicious hyperlinks

The most effective step that you can take to help protect yourself from malicious hyperlinks is not to click them. Rather, type the URL of your intended destination in the address bar yourself. By manually typing the URL in the address bar, you can verify the information that Internet Explorer uses to access the destination Web site. To do so, type the URL in the Address bar, and then press ENTER.

No, it's not a joke. (Well, not an intentional one.) Yes, it's really a Microsoft support site.

Do you really need another reason to switch to Mozilla?

And now I really am going to the airport.

(Via BoingBoing)

a contrarian view of rss

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One more entertaining quote before I leave, taken from Zeldman's old About page:

If you offered an RSS feed, I could read your stuff without visiting your site.

If you stored your groceries on the sidewalk, we could eat your food without sitting across the table from you.

off to the windy city

You know you must have done something very wrong in a past life when your business trips in January take you from Rochester to Chicago. Brrrrrr. (Not to mention the annual summer pilgrimage to Alabama; fire and ice, baby.)

But duty calls, so I'm off to O'Hare this afternoon (weather permitting), back on Saturday. This is the first in a long series of trips from here 'til the end of March. I won't have broadband on this trip, so I expect blogging will be curtailed for a bit.

On the plus side, I'll be dining with AKMA, Margaret, and Pippa on Friday...so that's something to look forward to.

I'll leave you with this great quote, which I found on Sam Ruby's site today:

Classifications are so impossible, yet so darn useful.

jobs in nyc

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This post is primarily for the students who I know read my blog.

Devala Hanley has posted a note indicating that there are a number of IT jobs available at Meetup.com in NY.

Those of you on the brink of graduation would be well advised to check this opportunity out. Those of you looking for co-ops might also want to think about contacting them directly to see if they'd consider that.

burke on grading

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In an entry entitled "Wishing I Was Simon, Knowing That I'm Paula," Timothy Burke does an excellent job of describing the difficulties I'm facing this weekend as I grade student web sites.

RIT doesn't attract writers with the skill of those at Swarthmore, but it does attract talented web developers. So grading midterm web sites brings up for me the same kinds of dilemmas and questions that Burke raises. He compares the blunt, unsparing honesty of Simon Cowell to the gentler, apologetic approach of Paula Abdul, and concludes:

I watch Simon Cowell and I sometimes wonder if maybe that�s a mistake, wonder if it's a bad idea to be a Paula. A very select few of the people that Simon dished up abuse towards didn�t seem unspeakably bad, and even he observed that a few of them might have careers as singers in bars or local theater or Broadway or weddings. Isn�t that another kind of kindness, to tell people that they�re dreaming the wrong dream? Certainly it wouldn�t be kind or right if you knew one of the truly wretched to tell them they�re great singers or marvelous performers no matter how much you loved them or enjoyed their company. Anybody who has to grade the work of students is running errands for meritocracy, in the end, and it ill-serves us to self-delude too much with gentle words about the dignity and self-worth of all people in all things that they set their minds and hearts to accomplish. But maybe Paula's the best of both worlds: the meritocracy guarded, while the pain dulled with soothing words.

The whole thing is worth reading. As is most of what Burke writes. I wish he'd ping weblogs.com or blo.gs or blogrolling.com, or create a hand-rolled RSS feed, or something that will tell me when he updates. As it is, I try to remember to stop by there once a month or so to see what he's got up for me to read.

women and tech pointers

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I suppose I should post these over at misbehaving...and I probably will, in a few days. Right now, I'm trying to let my less-academic co-authors over there have center stage for a while. :)

I gave a presentation to women in our college today on the research I'm currently working on; you can find the presentation on our project web site.

And I've proposed a BoF session for women in emerging tech at the upcoming Emerging Tech conference. If you're a woman who's going to be at the conference, and would like to meet and talk with other women who'll be there, please add a vote for the session on the wiki page.

defective yeti on pregnancy

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This is so good, it must be shared. A fragment:

But only one person is the appointed bearer. And that poor sap has to carry the burden the entire way, a burden that just gets heavier and heavier as the weeks wear on. The bearer gets increasingly tired and cranky as they approach their destination -- and who can blame them? Their good-for-nothing companion doesn't do anything useful, except flit about and say things like "jeeze, I wish I could carry the burden for a while!" and occasionally fight off an enormous spider and/or fetch chocolate ice cream.

Anyone who has ever been pregnant, or lived with someone who was pregnant, should read the whole thing.

the inimitable wisdom of ogden nash

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This morning on the treadmill in the gym, where I was trying to burn off some negative energy in a positive way, I was reading a recent issue of Time magazine on love and marriage.

The article included the following short poem from one of my all-time favorite poets, Ogden Nash:

To keep a marriage brimming, with love in your loving cup.
Whenever you're wrong, admit it;
Whenever you're right, shut up.

There's something to be said for that approach in a lot of settings. It's excellent advice, which I'll endeavour to take more to heart--here and elsewhere.

Let me start with an apology to Shelley I didn't mean to imply that she was cause of my frustration with things over at misbehaving.net. It wasn't her comments, or even that one thread, that resulted in my frustrated post here. It's the overall tone that seems to have taken over on that site.

One of the things I learned the hard way as a teacher is that when I'm grading an assignment, it always helps for me to find something in the work that I can praise. Even if overall I think there are serious flaws, nothing kills enthusiasm and interest quite like an overdose of criticism. So I try to provide balance, I try to offer encouragement, I try to offer suggestions on how to correct problems.

It has felt to me (and this is my perception, which is all I'm qualified to offer) as though the comments offered on misbehaving have been primarily criticism, and that there's been precious little encouragement to balance that. And without that balance, there's little incentive to stick with it.

I wonder if the fact that misbehaving is a group weblog isn't a part of it...on a personal site, maybe there's a clearer sense that when you criticize, there's a real person that you're dealing with.

unsheathed claws

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There hasn't been a lot of posting lately on misbehaving.net. I suspect that the unrelenting negative tone of the comments have a lot to do with that. It's discouraging for those of us writing there. And what's most discouraging is that the most negative and meanspirited comments on the site seem to come consistently from other women.

Take, for example, danah's recent post on defining and categorizing weblogs. We posted about it in three places--danah's and my personal sites, and misbehaving.net. We got comments in all three places, as well on other sites. Many of the people who commented felt that the underlying idea was problematic. But contrast the tone of Clay's comments on Many-to-Many, or jeremy's here with Jeneane's on misbehaving.net.

The comments on misbehaving led danah to write about her sense that blogs aren't a safe space. And they've led me to seriously consider shutting comments down on misbehaving.net. Trackbacks would allow people to comment remotely from their own bully pulpits. The point of the site was to celebrate and highlight women in technology, not create a online catfight club. The original purpose is becoming obscured by negativity, and at the moment it just doesn't seem worth it.

This is not about unwillingness to hear criticism. I have no problem with disagreement. It's about unwillingness to tolerate meanspirited personal attacks. And if people can't tell the difference between the two...well, I think that says a lot about them.

graduate assistantship open

My colleague Tona Henderson and I are beginning the search for a graduate assistant for the 2004-2005 academic year. Because our research is on underrepresentation of women in IT, we'd prefer that it be a woman.

The assistantship includes tuition reimbursement for two courses per quarter (with a possibility of three courses; we're negotiating for that right now), a $16,000 stipend over the 9-month academic year, and a nice office. You also get to work with great people on interesting work.

The MSIT program at RIT offers a wide variety of specializations--including web and multimedia development, XML, game programming, networking, e-commerce, and software development and management. The entrance requirements are quite manageable even for someone without a highly technical undergraduate degree. (And yes, I know the web site is awful. There's a new one under development, but I didn't want to wait for it to post this announcement.)

If you're interested, or know someone who might be, please contact me directly.

mystery song from "joan of arcadia"


I watched this weekend's episode of Joan of Arcadia, and at the end there was a lovely song. It wasn't from any of the albums they listed as being featured on the show that night, however, and I'd really like to know where it came from so I can buy the album.

Here are the lyrics...if you recognize them, could you clue me in? Thanks!

tell me where you are and i will come and get you don't you know my love for you is true
just give me a sign and I will be behind you
don't you know i have to find you

don't tell me that it's over
that's not how it should be

babe i recognize i see it in your eyes
there's way too much hurt too many lies

but if we come together, make our love forever
that will be the greatest treasure

don't tell me that it's over
you just got to believe

baby don't you care about the love we had, being happy not sad
guess sometimes things don't work out like we planned

defining blogs

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danah boyd and I are taking a conversation that we've been having about definitional issues surrounding blogs, and trying to spin it into some more substantial research.

There are a couple of issues to be thought about here.

First, figuring out--for the purposes of any other sort of research--what a blog really is. At the AoIR conference last fall, I noticed that most of the people talking about blogs (myself included) either didn't define blogs, or used a potentially problematic definition.

Second, determining whether what we want/need to focus on for meaningful results are the blogs, or the bloggers. I maintain four different blogs, for example--not including the blogs for each of my classes. Choosing to focus on the object produced yields different results from focusing on the producer.

Third, deciding how (or whether) to categorize blogs. Reading through the bloggies award page for 2004 (while you're there, vote for misbehaving for best group blog!), I was struck by many of the categories, and by the assumptions inherent in those categories.

The categorization becomes particularly important in the debates over women's participation in blogging. Most of the debates are fueled by primarily anecdotal evidence. But how can we know what percentage of tech bloggers are women, if we don't know (a) what a "tech blog" is, (b) how many blogs fit those criteria, and © which are authored by women?

So danah and I are proposing as transparent a research process as we can. We're announcing our plan...here on my blog, over on her blog, and on misbehaving.net. Since we're both already going to be at ETech, we're going to meet there to brainstorm. We've proposed a participant session there to invite people to share their ideas. We'll follow that up with preliminary research--drawing on what people like Susan Herring and her group have done with the Blog Research on Genre project. We're hoping to present a preliminary paper--focusing on identifying and describing the problem and the research plan, not on the answers--sometime this spring or summer. (I really, really wish it could be at BlogTalk, but I don't think there's any way I can afford another overseas trip this year...)

We'll be writing about the research as we go, soliciting ideas and feedback from the blogging community. But it's problematic to limit discussion and description of a group to the members of that group--that's one of the reasons to extend the conversation to conferences, and not just to conferences of bloggers.

On a side note, it's been interesting to see the difference in response to danah's two initial posts about this idea. On misbehaving, the immediate responses were very hostile. On danah's personal site, the responses offered a number of useful lenses with which to view the issue. Makes it a lot easier to understand why the women over at misbehaving haven't been posting as much lately.

courseware button

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By popular request, here's a button for my mt courseware:

Elizabeth Lawley's Movable Type Courseware

If you use the courseware, I'd be grateful if you'd add the button (right/ctrl-click and save it to your own computer, s'il vous plait, rather than linking to the one on my site), and use it to link back to the step by step instructions page.

server migration snafus

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After 20+ back-and-forth messages with WebIntellects, my hosting provider, the problems seem to have subsided.

They finally set the permissions so I could access my database, and I was able to restore the lost month of data from my backups, and get things back to where they were yesterday afternoon.

Except...I suddenly ran out of disk space. Which didn't make any sense, because the only thing on this server is the blog, which isn't that big. I increased the disk allocation from 100MB to 300MB in my reseller panel (I manage multiple domains from one account), noting to my surprise that I was using 175MB of that space, and tried again to update the database...only to get another space-related error. A check of the control panel showed I was now using all 300MB! Clearly a process had run amok. But I have no access to processes, so I couldn't list them, let alone kill the responsible party.

After a few messages back and forth with tech support (through an annoying trouble-ticket system), I determined that the file that was growing so quickly was the error log. When I peeked at it, I found that it was the blacklist.pm module from MT-Blacklist that was cycling, adding hundreds of lines per second to the log.

I deleted all the MT-Blacklist files, and then had the tech guy kill the process and delete the log. Once I was sure comments worked again, I went in and tried to reinstall MT-Blacklist, but I got errors about undefined arrays. I've got a query in to the host about whether they've changed somethign about the perl install on the new server. In the meantime, I'm keeping comments closed on posts more than 30 days old, and hoping not to get hit too badly with spam between now and when I can get things running again.

server migration

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My hosting provider is attempting to migrate to a new data center today, so this site may go down. In addition, comments made here today will probably disappear when the new DNS resolves, so don't take it personally if you leave a comments and it's not there in a day or two. I'll save the emailed versions of comments and trackbacks so that they can be restored if possible.

snow days, past and present


Last night when I got in my car at 6pm and started to leave campus, the inside of my windows frosted over. That doesn't happen very often, even up here in Rochester. The subzero temperatures (no, I'm not exaggerating) had chilled my car to the point that the moisture from my breath was instantly freezing on the inside of the windows, making it impossible for me to see. I cranked up the defrost (not very helpful when the engine's still frigid), and when that proved useless after nearly ten minutes, I used a credit card to scrape the frost off before proceeding out onto the roads.

Apparently the local school district officials noted the effect of the plunging temperatures, too, because most school districts in the county are closed today.

I think my body knew I should have had a snow day today. At 6:45am I started trying to wake up, but sleep kept reaching up and pulling me back under. At 7:10 I finally got myself into the shower, and as I emerged from the steamy bathroom, I heard the phone ring. My 9-year-old shouted "I got it!", and a few moments later I heard a shriek of delight. "Snow day! It's a snow day! Jackson says it's a snow day!!!"

This was followed immediately by my 7-year-old saying "Well, Lane, we really shouuld check the web site and see if that's true."

My, how things have changed.

Back in my day, growing up in Buffalo, I can remember clearly how we hoped for snow days in the winter. I had a clock radio by my bed (one of the early ones, with the numbers on little rolodex-like pages that actually flipped every minute), and before I'd climb out from under the warm covers, I'd turn on WKBW radio (1520AM) and listen to Danny Neaverth read the school closings. There were usually a lot--this was Buffalo after all--and my school district came late in the list. I'd listen to him drone through the list..."Akron Central...Albion Central...etc...Starpoint Central..." And that's when I'd perk up. Starpoint was almost always closed, since it tended to get a lot of lake effect snow. But if my school was closed, it would follow right after Starpoint. "...Sweet Home Central..." Woohoo! Sweet freedom! Off went the radio, and after shouting "Mom! It's a snow day!" I could burrow right back under the covers and go back to sleep.

No such luxury for me today. I kissed the kids goodbye at 7:40, and headed out into the frigid weather for my 8am web design class. And now I'm safe and warm in my office, coffee mug nearby, looking out at the gray skies and drifting snow. There are worse places to be on a cold day than in a warm office. But all things considered, I'd rather be home, like Weez, drinking hot chocolate with my boys and sitting by a warm fireplace. That much hasn't changed much since I was their age.

software development essay

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A colleague of mine, Mike Axelrod, has posted an essay on software development "traditions" on his blog, and is looking for feedback and comments. Take a look, and let him know what you think.

ick ick ick

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I got hit with a flood of comment spam tonight, starting at about 7:30pm EST. I discovered it at 9:30, after I was done teaching, and spent 30 minutes entering URLs into MT-Blacklist and rebuilding. There were well over 100 spams already there.

Looking at my log, it appears they're still trying--I show a bunch of blacklist-denied comments over the past ten minutes. I'm going to hope I got the bulk of their URLs, and am going home and going to bed. I'll assess any new damage in the morning.


Update: PZ Myers pointed out in the comments that Theresa Nielsen Hayden had gotten the same flood of spam, and had posted her blacklist. She also posted a link to Kip Manley's blacklist. Both are here

I've imported both of their blacklists, so mine includes everything they had. Mine's here.

As Kip says in Theresa's comments--add these now if you have MT-Blacklist running, or you'll end up having to despam by hand later, which is a serious pain.


Update 2: Just checked my MT activity log. During the twelve hours since I finished updating my blacklist last night (around 10:30pmEST), there were 510 rejected comments, from 142 different IP addresses. The storm seems to have subsided for now.

Jay Allen, you're my hero!

academic articles on edublogging?


Anybody know of some? I'll do some digging this week, but I figured I'd tap into the hive mind, too.

If you know of any that are in press (or close to it), I'd appreciate hearing about them, too.


this should make you angry. really angry.


I was going to write a long, chatty, cheerful post today about what a great time Gerald and I had last night at the concert Paul Barrere and Fred Tackett (of Little Feat) gave at Milestones.

And then I read this post by Brad deLong (by way of Crooked Timber), and the concert just didn't seem all that important anymore.

I have read a good bit of criticism of Howard Dean during the primary campaign, focusing on how "angry" he seems.

Well, I'm glad somebody's angry. There's an awful lot to be angry about.

Me, I'm angry that the federal deficit is increasing at the rate of over two billion dollars a day. I'm angry that our government lied to us about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in order to justify military invasion of another country (hey, the ends always justify the means, right?). I'm angry about the lack of support for education and for the environment. And those are just a few of the things I'm angry about.

And it's going to get worse, not better, if this fall's elections don't bring real change.

chinese visas - help!


We leave for Japan in less than two months, and the last leg of our trip is a three-day stay in Shanghai. But only if we get our Chinese visas before then!

I've found a lot of information online, much of it contradictory. It appears that you can no longer get visas by mail--you have to bring passports (and photos, and money, and confirmation of travel itineraries) in person to the Chinese embassy, or have someone do it on your behalf (friend, travel agent, etc).

Obviously, there's no Chinese embassy here in Rochester. There's one in NY, but I really can't swing a trip there before we leave. There's one in Toronto, and I could probably get up to Accordion City for that, but I don't know for sure if US citizens can use the Canadian embassy for this.

So, I'm looking for voices of experience here. If you've had to get a Chinese visa from another city (post-9/11), and have advice, I'd love to hear it. Or if you know of a reliable service in NY (or another major city, like DC or LA) that will take our passports and money to the embassy, pick the passports back up, and mail them back to us, that would be great, too.

This is not something I want to trust to a Google search--but I am hoping to leverage the weak ties to world travelers that I have through this blog!

sxsw roommate

I'm going to be at SXSW Interactive in Austin this March, and plan on staying at the conference headquarter hotle, the new Hilton. Would be great if I could find a woman to room with there. Let me know if you're interested.

css/xhtml formatting oddity


A student emailed me last night, frustrated because adding an XHTML doctype to his document had caused it to stop formatting the way he wanted it to.

He had a content div in the center of the page, and he wanted it to display at 100% of the browser window. He had properly set the height of the body element to 100%, and then set the content div to 100%, but it wouldn't work when the doctype was there; it defaulted to height:auto.

I played with it for a while, and finally got it to work by adding position:absolute and top:0px properties to the content div style.

Anybody know why the height:100% property only works when the element is being absolutely positioned?

on love and flight

Cary Tennis, Salon.com's "Since you asked..." advice columnist, has a really lovely piece today called "Can love be willed?"

If you could not will flight but had to wait for it to occur like a meteor across the sky, it would elude the calculations of aeronautical engineers and the step-by-step catechisms of how-to publishers and come to reside solely in the world of dreams and epiphany. Airline schedules would be even harder to keep than they are today.

But that is the place love occupies. It is not a mineral to be mined or a physical process to be flowcharted and then refined for yearly productivity increases. It is a sudden unexpected taking to the air, as miraculous and as unfathomable.

On the other hand, that doesn't mean that you can have no human relationships of enduring power and depth. It doesn't mean you can't love. In fact, if you look down, you may find that you are flying right now, just not as high off the ground as you expected.

There's lots I could say about varying altitudes in my own relationships. But right now I'm avoiding a lot of work here in my office, so I'm off to focus on that.

misconceptions about antidepressants


Much as I love Halley, posts like this one really frustrate me.

Antidepressants aren't "happiness pills," any more than diabetic insulin treatments are "eat more sugar" pills, or blood pressure or ulcer medications are "stress management pills." I'm sure most of the people being treated for diabetes would prefer not to have to take medication; the fact that someone "doesn't like taking pills" is not necessarily relevant to whether medical treatment for a condition is warranted.

I've written before about my experiences with depression and anti-depressants. Do I--did I--like taking pills? No. But for me, at one time, it was the best solution to a difficult problem.

There is a huge difference between being unhappy and being clinically depressed. Anybody who has ever gone through a clinical depression, and then been rescued from it by medical treatment, knows this. Is medication the only way out of clinical depression? Not always. But antibiotics aren't the only way to survive bacterial infections, either. The fact that people live through those without taking pills doesn't mean that people who choose treatment are somehow taking the easy way out.

why i do what i do

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It's cold outside today. Again. Which makes getting up and driving (and walking) through blowing and drifting snow for an 8am web design class not much fun--even for the teacher. <sigh>

And today I was observed, again, for my promotion review. Yes, I got tenure last year. But my department delays the promotion review to the year after tenure (don't even get me started on what I think about this), so I get to go through two years of documenting and proving myself, including classroom observations.

It was, however, a very good day for being observed. This week is the first week of information architecture unit in the web design class, and these are lectures I really enjoy giving. Tuesday I talked about controlled vocabularies, taxonomies, thesauri, and ontologies, and today we reviewed and operationalized that a bit.

Then I talked about how to do bottom-up organization of a mass of unordered data, and sent them off in small groups to work on a sticky-note-based card sort exercise. There's a group project for the class, and their design documents are due in less than two weeks, so they'll be able to fold the results of today's exercise into their document.

I enjoy doing this exercise, because they really get engaged and involved. It's fun watching them brainstorm, sort, discuss, debate, and go from an unruly mess of notes on the wall to a rudimentary site architecture. Each group is working on the same topic, so I also get to "shoulder surf" their work, and see the different approaches each group is taking to the material.

I actually remembered to bring my digital camera, and took a couple of pictures of them working in the lab. The first was taken from across the atrium of the building, looking in through the glass wall. The second was taken from inside the classroom/lab, looking out towards the atrium.

Students Doing Sticky Note Exercise - View From Outside Lab

Students Doing Stick Note Exercise - View From Inside Lab

mt courseware, step-by-step

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I've had a lot of requests for the templates being used in my newer courseware. And after helping a couple of colleagues through the process of setting it up, I've decided to take a stab at writing step-by-step directions for setting it all up. So if you want to give it a try, download the zipped archive of template files, and give these instructions a shot.

Caveat: this is not intended for total newbies. It assumes a solid understanding of MT templates and HTML, and, ideally, basic knowledge of PHP as well.

emergent vocabularies

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As I was showing del.icio.us to my students last night, I realized that it's an amazingly useful tool for information architects. I regularly tell my students that asking people is a generally bad way to find out what they want, or how they want it organized (and point them to Cory's Metacrap article for examples). But if you're trying to figure out what set of labels to use for a set of domain-specific content, and you don't have a multi-thousand dollar budget for studies and consultants, how do you create a usable, appropriate vocabulary?

Here's how. Add a site to your del.icio.us bookmarks, and then look to see who else has added it. What descriptive tags did they use for it? As an example, here are the current links to Metacrap in the del.icio.us system. I used the terms metadata and semweb. Other terms used include taxonomy, ontology, ia, humanFactor, and xml. That's a great start for thinking about how to make it part of a collection, and how to organize/label that collection.

It's also interesting to watch how people's tag collections grow and change. VirtualTraveler has started using a pseudo-hierarchical tagging system, by including a / character in some tags (e.g. ComputerHistory/Books, ComputerHistory/DesignReports).

Would the system benefit at all from a collaborative thesaurus, I wonder? As an optional rather than require tool? How hard would it be to implement that?

What a great sandbox...

Update: Just found an equally enthusiastic assessment of del.icio.us (through what else? somebody else's del.icio.us bookmarks....) on the Robin Good site:

And as rapidly learning and collaborating ants you can admire how fast this growing web of contributors learns and evolves without any top-down coordination.

Through delicious you can actually see patterns evolve over time as information miners learn rapidly how to select, reference, categorize and post information resources of their own interest.

new courseware templates


Templates and instructions have been posted.

A number of people have mentioned interest in my revised MT course templates, so here they are. (It's a zipped archive.)

I'm working on some detailed documentation to accompany them, which I expect to post tomorrow or Wednesday.

sterling on spam

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This is wonderful. From Bruce Sterling:

Spam is now forced to mutter eerie magic charms as it routes its way past the growing host
of armed spam guards to my mailbox. 'No, no kill me,
I am not spaaaaam... Would spam speak of
"Orinoco Apocrypha"? Would mere spam muse
on "brutal Prussia," "discernable Petersburg"
and an "Acapulco assault"? I do these cultured,
verbally elaborate things in my "Pillsbury showboat,"
and hence I cannot be spam! Let me through with my
"hierarchic bronchiole", do not extinguish me o router and repeater!'


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I know, I know. Bookmarklet technology has been around for a long time. But lately it seems as though there are more useful bookmarklets around. I've been using several on a regular basis, including the HTML and CSS validator bookmarklets at W3C, and the post to del.icio.us bookmarklet mentioned in my last post.

I've found some other useful ones out there, as well as collections like this and this. (And there are plenty more.)

del.icio.us and bloglines combination

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After playing a bit with the del.icio.us social bookmarking system, I've found that one of the interesting things about it is the ability to subscribe to people's bookmark lists. Some people already provide this capability by providing daily or remaindered links--like Anil, for example.

Unlike blogs themselves, lists of links are less dependent on user-supplied formatting for effect, which means I'm willing to read them in an aggregator. So I subscribe to Anil's links in Bloglines, which I use primarily not for blogs, but for informational feeds (NYTimes, salon.com, comics, etc).

Turns out del.icio.us creates an RSS feed of your inbox, which is where new links added by your friends (or anyone whose links you subscribe to) are placed. So by adding that RSS feed to bloglines, I centralize my "interesting tidbits" in one place. Add to that the nifty bookmarklet for adding things to del.icio.us, and the site becomes essentially a backend tool, rather than a destination. Cool.

So, who else is using del.icio.us, so I can add them to my subscriptions?

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