November 2004 Archives

new blogs of note

Two new blogs added to my aggregator this week.

The first, "Bad Mother" by Ayelet Waldman, was recommended by my friend Allison. Ayelet is a published novelist, married to a Pulitzer-prize winning author, with four kids ranging from 1 to 10 years. Her blog is delightful--what's not to like about a site with an entry that begins "There are not enough drugs in the world to alleviate the horror of being home alone with four children, one of whom is completely enraptured with his father."

The second, "Hurtling" by Richard Hodkinson, is more of professional interest to me. Richard is a graduate student at USC's Annenberg School, and shares my interest in backchannels as a destabilizing communication tool.

the other side of the classroom

I'm sitting in on a colleague's class on digital video this quarter. Not just any colleague, though--it's Weez. It's fun to be on the other side of the room for a change, listening to someone else talk. We've got very different styles, but that doesn't mean there aren't things that I can learn from watching her teach.

She's already made me laugh with some of her slide titles. The one we're looking at right now, for example, is on bandwidth and other technical topics. The title of the slide is "The hard stuff: Size matters". The students didn't even crack a smile when it appeared, alas. First day of class, they haven't yet gotten a sense of what the classroom protocols are, and most of them probably don't know Weez well enough to know that the humor was intentional.

With the exception of me, the students are sitting behind computer screens but not using them--they're focused on her, because they care about what she's telling them. (This is not to say that I don't care...simply that I'm distracted by having to prep for my 12:00 class, which follows hers in this same classroom.

meteora photos

Panoramic view of monastery and rocksI'm in the process of uploading 142 more photos to my Flickr account. (Thank goodness I upgraded to Pro level!) This batch is all from our second day in Meteora, where we climbed up to four of the six working monasteries--Holy Trinity, St. Nicholas, Rousáno, and St. Stephen.

It's hard to describe how beautiful Meteora is, and how worth the climb it is to go to the monasteries. (Even Alex thought so!) You don't have to climb from the very bottom--mountain roads take you up much of the way. We were glad, however, that we had George to drive us--the roads are a bit scary, and having a driver with an excellent car and good knowledge of the area made a huge difference.

I very much want to go back to Meteora, and spend more time in the monasteries. I found it a very spiritual experience--the combination of the isolation and the extraordinary views creates a perfectly peaceful contemplative environment.

One of the reasons I took so many photos was to try to convey a sense of the enormity of the area--the height of the rocks, the placement of the monasteries, the town down below, the views across the valley to the Pindos mountains. It's hard to capture all that in a static rectangle, so I had to hope that the collection of images would do better than any single picture could manage.

photos from greece on flickr

Parthenon from belowI've started the process of selecting and uploading photos to Flickr. You can find them here.

Each one is tagged, as well, so if you want only photos of Athens, or Meteora, or Delphi, or the Acropolis, or my beautiful son, you can limit it to that.

I'm only about halfway through the process, so there will be more later today and/or tomorrow.

sometimes irony is not so sweet

Know what this is?

Greek Police Report

It's an official Greek police report. For my stolen cell phone. Which was taken from my coat pocket while I was at the EasyInternet cafe on Syntagma Square on Wednesday night, writing about how much I loved Greece. <sigh>

It's not a disaster--it had a prepaid Greek SIM in it with only €4 of credit left, and my mother cleverly purchased trip insurance before we left which will probably cover the cost of replacing it. My US (Cingular) SIM was locked up with my passport in the hotel safe, and is ready to be put into a new phone when I get home, so my phone number won't change. It was not an ideal note on which to end an otherwise lovely trip...but it did provide fodder for a blog entry on what happens when someone steals something from you in Greece.

update from greece

We're having an amazing time here--Meteora was beyond description, and even a short visit to Delphi was wonderful. We're back in Athens, where our Internet connectivity continues to be awful, so I'm not going to try to upload any of the over 400 photos I've taken this week!

Tomorrow afternoon we start the long trip home, and I'll amuse myself by writing lengthy illustrated blog entries telling some of our stories.

I am surprised by how limited Internet options are in hotels, and how little wifi there is in the city. I sense that there may be growing opportunities for those of us with strong Internet and social software skills in this area, and I'll be keeping my eyes open for those!

a sunny sunday in athens

Traveling with an 8-year-old has its ups and downs, especially when it's his first trip overseas...

After breakfast, we set out for some sightseeing, starting with the Monastiriki flea market. As we entered, we saw an organ grinder who was singing a strangely moving high-pitched song.

grinder.jpg

From the market, we went to a cafe near the Ancient Agora, where Alex unfortunately burned his tongue on the hot chocolate. That set the tone for the next few hours. We walked around a bit, but his mood deteriorated, and we ended up taking a cab to Syntagma Square (near our hotel). It became clear that he was getting homesick, so we decided to take him for a familiar happy meal lunch (again), which helped a bit. Then we took a cab to the olympic stadium near the National Gardens, followed by a visit to the Temple of Zeus. While we were there, Alex wanted to play with some stray puppies, and I vetoed that idea--which sent him into a bit of a sulk. Happily, with the combination of Alex and Athens, even sulks can be quite photogenic!

sulk.jpg

At that point the only way to cheer him up was to take him to an Internet cafe, so we spent an hour at an overheated but reasonably priced spot near the hotel, and then spent an hour or two relaxing in the room.

For dinner, we tried to go to a restaurant that had been recommended to us, called O Platanos. It was no small task to track it down, but when we finally found it we discovered it was closed on Sunday night! So we wandered back down through the Plaka and ended up at a restaurant on Adrianous called ΥΔΡΙΑ. The waiter treated Alex like royalty, and the food was really wonderful--it was the first big, healthy meal Alex had eaten since we arrived. Good rolls and butter, Greek salad, and giant grilled shrimp in a delicious sauce. We capped that off with baklava topped with ice cream and chocolate syrup. I adore baklava, and Alex loved the ice cream, so we were both happy. (And I was even happier when the good red jug wine we'd had with dinner was followed by a complimentary after-dinner retsina...mmmm!)

shrimp.jpg

Tomorrow morning, we get picked up bright and early by George the famous taxi driver, and we'll take our two day trip to Delphi and Meteora. No posts between now and when we return Tuesday night, I suspect. But we're SMS-enabled if you must get a message to us.

first impressions of athens

The short version: I love it here!

The long version:

is swapping sims really simple?

Okay, in preparation for the trip to Greece I started looking at cell phone options. The idiots at Cingular won't let me use international roaming until I've had my phone for a year (what bozo thought up that policy??), so that won't work--and would be prohibitive expensive, anyhow.

Via Matt Barrett's incomparable Athens travel guide I found information about Greece Travel-Phones, which rents cell phones and will deliver them to your hotel--but I wasn't sure I'd be able to get one with a cameraphone and MMS messaging, which I'd really like (mostly so I can post camphone photos from Flickr while we tour).

A little more online poking around led me to think that the best option is to purchase a pre-paid SIM card in Greece and use it in my Motorola v400 quad-band GSM phone. I checked with Best Buy (where I purchased it), and they told me it's unlocked--which is backed up by most of what I've seen on the online phone forums. I couldn't find anyone with a SIM I could test it with, so I'll have to take their word for it.

I sent email to the address provided for Greece Travel-Phones and got an immediate reply from the owner, who was extremely helpful. They do sell prepaid SIMS, and can deliver it directly to our hotel. He provided me with rates and options, and I was able to pay with PayPal. Yay! We'll be able to receive calls on the phone for free (011-30-693-970-0752, if you want to chat while we're there!), and outgoing calls, SMS, and MMS are reasonably priced. I bought it with €20 worth of credit, which I suspect will be plenty for what we need.

So...for those of you who travel internationally more than I do--is this likely to be a fairly simple process? Do I really just put the new SIM in and instantly have a Greek phone number? Are there any pitfalls I should know about? Any suggestions would be welcome, particularly if they're sent before I leave at lunchtime tomorrow!

getting ready for greece

Haven't been writing much this week because I've been swamped with end-of-quarter grading--alas, I'll have to find an Internet cafe (or test out the international capability of our departmental AT&T dial-up accounts) in Athens this weekend to finish projects submitted on Thursday, but if I've got to grade, doing it in Athens beats doing it in Rochester!

We leave tomorrow afternoon, and will arrive in Athens at midday on Friday (Rochester to Dulles, Dulles to Frankfurt, Frankfurt to Athens), and will stay in Athens through Sunday night. Monday morning we'll be picked up early by George the famous taxi driver, who'll be our guide for two days in Delphi and Meteora.

While I'm looking forward to Athens, I'm particularly excited about seeing Meteora and its famous monasteries. I've been collecting links with photos and descriptions over on del.icio.us, and I can't shake the feeling that this is someplace that I'm somehow meant to see. Here's a photo from one of the tourism sites:

Meteora Monastery

I'm trying to convince my 8-year-old to blog the trip (the way Lane did when we went to Japan), but he's reluctant. So I've set up a trip blog for all three of us (Alex, my mom, and myself) and we'll be posting photos and narrative there. (The photos will be posted first on Flickr, of course, so you can keep an eye on that as well.)

i suppose i should be flattered...

...that somebody cares enough to want to google bomb me!

Many thanks to Rob Page for (a) catching it, and (b) letting me know.

Update, Saturday 11/13
For those of you who are coming to the site after having received a comment on your blog with my URL in it, here's an explanation.

I did not post the comments. They were generated by a kind of spamming software which is usually used to promote commercial web sites. In this case, the software is being put to use by someone (I don't know who) that's upset with either me or my writing, and is trying to accomplish two things. First, they want to associate my blog with the unpleasant descriptive term that's being placed in the 'name' field on the comment, so that when people search for that term my site will be the first result. (That's called "Googlebombing.") Second, they want unsuspecting site owners to see the comments, assume I'm just another spammer, and add my site's URL to their blacklist.

There's not much I can do about it, except for enjoy the surge in traffic to my site, and hope that people will take the time to check out my site before reflexively blacklisting it.

fascinating msn beta search result

Via a student, this extremely entertaining query on the MSN Search beta.

(Thanks, Brian!)

(Update: More on this from Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineWatch...)

(One more update: John Battelle comments, as well. Now that my initial fit of giggles has subsided, I have to say that I share some of John's concerns. I believe that the 1999 Google version of this was a genuine algorithmic result, based on the often-negative comments that people post online about Microsoft. But I find it hard to believe that this turnabout version is also a legitimate algorithmic result. And while it's funny at first glance, it does lead to deeper questions about the integrity of the results.)

the art of the apology

I almost wrote a post yesterday entitled "i'm a search chump." In it, I was going to complain about some poor communication between microsoft's search team and the "Search Champs" group regarding this week's launch of the new MSN Search beta.

But before I posted it, I called Robert Scoble--one of the few people associated with the Microsoft side of the Search Champ group whom I genuinely trusted--and told him what was going on and why I was upset. A few hours later--perhaps because of Robert, perhaps because of some email that was exchanged between the "Champs" and the project team--I had three extremely gracious and constructive apologies in my mailbox (one from Robert, and two from MSN team members). All my indignation evaporated in the face of such a positive response.

It got me thinking about the art of the gracious apology. It's an art that's practiced by too few, but which often yields amazing rewards for those who master it. So this morning at breakfast I mentioned to my husband that I was going to write this post on the power of a good apology. He looked at me, startled, and held up the front page of the local paper that he was reading--where there was an AP story about the value of doctors' apologies. (It's in today's Salon, too...) The author, Lindsay Tanner, provides a graphic example of the financial value of an apology:

The hospitals in the University of Michigan Health System have been encouraging doctors since 2002 to apologize for mistakes. The system's annual attorney fees have since dropped from $3 million to $1 million, and malpractice lawsuits and notices of intent to sue have fallen from 262 filed in 2001 to about 130 per year, said Rick Boothman, a former trial attorney who launched the practice there.

Unfortunately, many of the people I deal with personally and professionally haven't figured this basic bit of relationship management out. They spend far more trying to explain or excuse their actions, and end up making situations worse.

I overheard a smaller-scale example of this on my way home from Chicago. I was camped out near a power outlet in the Newark airport, waiting for my delayed flight home, when a man sitting across from me answered his cell phone. I could only hear his side of the conversation, but it was easy enough to extrapolate the rest of it. I've added (in italics) what I was thinking as I listened...

"Hello?"
"Oh, hi!"

said with some obvious pleasure. clearly someone he likes talking to.

"What? Oh! Well, I looked for you, but you'd disappeared."
"Well, I went on to lunch, I assumed I'd see you there."

uh-oh. you know what they say about assumptions, right?

"What was I supposed to do? I didn't see you anywhere."
"Oh...I guess I had my phone off because of the presentation."

dude! this is obviously the part where you APOLOGIZE! get a clue! i am so not surprised there's no ring on your finger.

"I don't see why you're so upset!"

oh, no. you're making things worse! you don't have to see why she's upset to acknowledge that she is. would a simple "i'm sorry" kill you, here?

"Okay. Bye."

uh-oh. that was abrupt. he's screwed.

He put the phone away with a bemused and frustrated look on his face.

Odds that he's been forgiven by the woman he was talking to? Close to zero. (No, I'm not assuming; somewhere in there he referred to her by name.)

Chances that he has any idea how badly he handled that? Equally close to zero.

The words of Elton John's classic song came immediately to mind:

It's sad, so sad
It's a sad, sad situation
And it's getting more and more absurd
It's sad, so sad
Why can't we talk it over
Oh it seems to me
That sorry seems to be the hardest word

At any rate, I'm glad that Microsoft still seems committed to working with the impressive bunch of people it brought together for the Search Champs meeting. It's a smart and interesting group, and it would be a shame to see them lose the goodwill they gained so quickly. And if they're half as good at building products as they are at crafting apologies, I'd say Google should be getting worried right about now.

Oh...and if you've made a mistake yourself? Don't just say "oops." That's not enough. Own up to your actions. Acknowledge what you've done wrong, so the person knows that you're aware of the problem. And then say what you'll do differently in the future, so they know it won't happen again. Trust me on this. It works. Really.

rit mt site license

I'm delighted to be able to announce that RIT has signed a site licensing deal with Six Apart for MT 3.x. That means that students, faculty, and staff have unlimited non-commercial licenses for the software. The license is person-centric rather than server-centric, so you don't have to install it on Grace.

Down the road, I know we're looking at putting in a central version of the software that allows individuals to create blogs based on their DCE ID.

Yay!

protecting im conversations

So, I know that I can encrypt email with PGP, and encrypt web sites with SSL. Is there any way to protect IM conversations? It's come to my attention that some of our more enterprising students have developed tools for monitoring IM conversations floating across the wireless network on campus.

There is a campus-wide VPN--is that sufficient? Are there IM clients that can encrypt conversations?

It's not so much that I'm having super-secret conversations...but it's the principle of the thing.

very cool os x app for cataloging your personal media

This is brilliant.

Delicious Monster has nothing to do with the del.icio.us bookmarking system, but it's every bit as cool.

Run your very own library from your home or office using our impossibly simple interface. Delicious Library's digital shelves act as a visual card-catalog of your books, movies, music and video games. A scan of a barcode is all Delicious Library needs to add an item to your digital shelves, downloading tons of info from the internet like the author, release date, current value, description, and even a high-resolution picture of the cover. Import your entire library using our exclusive full-speed iSight video barcode scanner, our Flic® Wireless Laser Bar Code Scanner, or (the slow way) entering the titles by hand. Once you have all of your items in your Mac, you can browse though your digital shelves, check stuff out to friends using Apple's built-in Address Book and calendar, and find new items to read, watch, and play using Library's recommendations.

Wow. I'll definitely be trying this out this week. Stay tuned for a review. (And eat your heart out, Windows users. This is OS X Panther only...)

Update, 11/11/04

It's as good as it looks! It took only seconds to install. I clicked on the camera button, held a book's bar code in front of my iSight, and with a scanner-like beep all the information appeared in the window (and the program read the title out loud). w00t! This is so cool! I am so sending in my $40 today.

barlow on magnanimous defeat

John Perry Barlow has a new post up today that describes eloquently the feelings that I've been struggling with this week.

One of the things I've been struggling with has been the puzzling and disturbing discrepancy between exit polls and results in key states (which others have pointed to, as well). There's compelling evidence that our voting system is unreliable and easy to compromise--from the information at BlackBoxVoting to the Votergate documentary. But at the end of the day, I think Barlow's right when he says

...believing that 9/11 was a vast, right-wing conspiracy is as pointless at this stage as believing in the likelier possibility that the exit polls were actually as accurate in Ohio in Florida as they were everywhere else. Maybe it will all come out someday, but there's precious little we can do about it now. Who are we going to complain to? The authorities?

He goes on to describe a conversation he had this week with a young man he knows who voted for Bush:

"America," he said, "is like the captain of the football team, the most popular kid in school." He was describing his recent self, I expect. "The Europeans are like the chess club and they resent this guy cause he's the one who gets all the girls, even though he's not an intellectual like they are." I eyed him carefully, while secretly inspecting myself for similar resentments. It was lucky for both of us that he doesn't actually get all the girls. "Really," he said, "it's about character. It's about morality."

"Wait," I said, "What about the morality of killing a hundred thousand Iraqis for no good reason?"

"Saddam was killing them too." I doubted that even Saddam has ever killed as many Iraqis in a year and a half as we've just polished off, but I let that pass. "Besides, when Bush attacked, he thought he had a good reason. I can't believe he didn't think America was in danger." I could, but I let that pass too.

This young man had been trained to respect authority just as surely as I had learned to suspect it. Whatever our agreements, we would always be separate in that regard. It was something that had grown into him in his lower middle class Christian home in central Illinois, along with a good pitching arm, in the same way that Bohemianism had taken root in me during the 60's. Morality and character are words that have subtly different meanings to each of us. And a lot of the divide has to do with the degree to which we are willing to admit the feminine into our natures. I think he suspects I'm a little too sensitive. It's less about character and morality than it is about masculinity. We have different notions about what it is to be a man, and they are important to us.

But they don't necessarily make a bad fella out of either one of us. We both represent aspects of the American psyche that need each other, the jock and the intellectual, the Boy Scout and the renegade, the guardian and the wild card. We both love this great and terrible country, even as we fear one another's excessive influence on it, and part of what we love is the creative fever that arises from our division. As we need each other, however unwillingly, so America needs us both.

I hope--I desperately hope--that he's right. That these divisions will generate creativity rather than crushing it, that what we see around us now is not as devastating as it feels to me.

In the comments of my political entries, most of the discourse has in fact been civilized, and I've tried--hard--to listen to the arguments of the people I disagree with, to understand their reasons for believing what they do. (There are a few comments I've not approved, because they were so meanspirited...but they were few and far between.) But I know that's not been the case in many of these discussions. And that's why this part of Barlow's post struck me most:

At the very least, I need to take the other side seriously. Dismissing them as a bunch of homophobic, racist, Bible-waving, know-nothing troglodytes, however true that may be of a few, only authorizes them to return the favor. I don't want somebody calling me a dope-smoking, fag-loving, one-worlder weirdo, however true that might be. We are all masks that God wears, whatever God that is. We might try to treat one another with according reverence. At least we might try to listen as though the other side might have a point.I truly think we all owe one another an apology.

Again I'm reminded of my recovery process. It's easy--so easy--to dismiss the addicts in my life as the cause of all my problems. But it's not that simple. We can't heal our own spiritual illness without letting go of our need to pass judgment on others. I'm not a religious person, but I'm increasingly a spiritual person. And I'm learning that anger, hate, and recriminations do more damage to me than they do to the subject of my resentment.

So yes, I need to listen more. I need to judge less. I need to understand why it is that my view of the world differs so significantly from the worldview of the millions who voted against the candidates and ideas that I value.

That doesn't mean I'm going to ignore the restrictions on freedom that frighten me the most--in libraries, in schools, in prisons, in polling places. But I have to focus on the actions, not the people. The issues, not the personalities.

I hope you'll read Barlow's whole post--the bits I posted here are only a small piece of it, and he has much to say that's worth reading and thinking about.

family history

My father is a prolific photographer...always has been. As a child, I remember the closet shelves in his study that were filled with shoeboxes of photos and slides. Many of his best photos graced the walls of our house (and some hang on my walls now).

After his retirement, he decided to tackle the herculean task of digitizing the literally thousands of images that were filling boxes, drawers, and shelves. And as he's worked through those images, he's assembled some of the best into a series of photo books. He prints the pages of the books on a color printer, spiral binds them, and sends copies to me and my sister.

One of the books is called "Sisters," and has photos of me and my sister from infancy through today. Another, "Pals," has pictures of all of us with friends throughout the years. Some are less personal--"Animals," "Signs," "Travel," etc.

My favorite, though, is the first one he compiled. "The Early Years" is an autobiographical photo essay that begins with some extraordinary images of my grandparents and great-grandparents in Germany in the early 1900s, follows my father's childhood growing up in Germany in the 1930s and 40s, explores his experiences as a "half-Jew" in Germany during WWII, and ends with his emigration to and first years in California with his parents before he met my mother.

I want to share these photos and the story they tell, and he's given me permission to do so. The question is how. The way he presented them, with groups of related images on each page, works well from a narrative standpoint--which makes Flickr a little less ideal. I wish there were a way to take a group of photos in Flickr and create a single blog entry from them--that would probably be the ideal approach. The blog entry could aggregate the related photos and allow for some narrative framing. The photos could then link back to Flickr for people who wanted to see the larger versions, annotate them, add individual comments to the images, etc.

I'll probably use MT to implement the site that shares these--I'd rather have a dedicated site rather than including the content here. I don't know yet if it will be a traditional dated blog entry format, or simply MT as CMS in some other form.

encouraging words

Dorothea from CavLec passed this LJ journal entry on to me, and it helped my mental state a bit:

We have three choices: we can leave, which (as our friends who are not citizens of this country will tell us) will hardly save us from the effects of the Imperial Presidency. We can give in to despair. Or we can live as if what we do matters, even when we feel the most victimized, the least powerful. Let's face it, those of us with computers, and LiveJournals, and roofs over our heads are not the most victimized.

Amen, sister.

democratic codependency

Okay, I've gotten the pettiness out of my system now, I hope.

The irony is that at the end of the day, my life probably won't be significantly disrupted by the results of this election. But many of the "heartland" people who voted for Bush--they're the ones whose children will die in the war, whose health care will be stripped away, whose jobs will be at risk. And the people most likely to be drafted into this war didn't care enough to vote--youth turnout was no higher this year than it was four years ago, it seems.

Yes, I know that many people who didn't vote for Bush--whether here or abroad--will be affected, as well. I'm not trivializing that. Just noting the irony that here in the US, Bush's "base" is likely to suffer more than many of his detractors.

Viewed through the filter of my recovery process, it feels as though the democrats are the co-dependents in this country, and the republicans are the addicts. We keep thinking if we just tell them they're doing the wrong thing that they'll see the error of their ways and change their behavior. But they won't--at least not through our sheer forces of will or displays of rationality.

Hand-wringing will get us nowhere. Lessig is right...we need to let it go, and move forward. We need to fix ourselves before we try to repair those we see as misguided. We need to understand how we encourage and enable what looks to us like insanity. (One of the things that people in Al-Anon come to realize is that they often end up looking far more insane than the addict in their lives.)

So, what happens next? Me, I'm taking a break from political thought for a couple of weeks. And then I need to think hard about how I become a force for positive change, rather than simply a shrill critic of what I see that's wrong.

america, the beautiful

bush2b.gif

The people have spoken.

Four more years.

(Video of Bush giving what he terms on the tape as "the one-fingered victory salute" via David Weinberger; his sources say it's from a taping of an Austin tv show late in Bush's term as governor of Texas.)

speaking of parties...

Don't forget, Weez and I are hosting one tonight in the IT conference room (70-2400).

If you're coming, it would be lovely if you brought a snack, drink, or dish to pass. But you're under no obligation to do so. We'll take up a pizza money collection at some point, too.

Those who can't make it in person are welcome to hang out in irc://irc.freenode.net/#ritparty (Use Mozilla to click on that link, or open the channel in a stand-alone IRC client if you prefer.)

I may have a Quicktime broadcast going, as well, if I can get an account set up on our local streaming server. Details to follow; I'll update this post as necessary.

i'm a party (line) girl...


Good morning!
Originally uploaded by mamamusings.
I exercised my civic duty this morning, and was delighted to see a much larger number of cars than usual in the parking lot of the school where I vote. I know our votes won't count much in the presidential race, but they will in the congressional races.

I don't spend a lot of time poring over each candidate's statements and views--my daddy raised me on party line politics, and that's still how I cast my votes.

Now, this isn't blind vote-casting. My dad's a retired political science professor, who's spent his entire adult life watching and studying electoral processes. His advice to me was to vote for the party whose platform and politics I wanted implemented, rather than for the imperfect people representing those parties.

It reminds me a lot of a line in the "twelve traditions" of AA and Al-Anon--the one where it says "ever reminding us to place principles above personalities."

It's easy to ignore negative advertising when it focuses on the person rather than the issues. It's easy, too, to be fooled by advertising that pushes the character of the candidate over his or her positions on those issues.

At the end of the day, the ideas and goals of the Democratic Party are the ones that I believe in, so voting is easy.

We still use those lovely mechanical machines--the ones they've been using since I was a small child. I love pulling the lever to close the curtains--it has such a solid sound to it, a definitive announcement of presence. And there's no mistaking the line of levers next to my party of choice. (On some machines, there's actually a lever that lets you select all the party's candidates at once; this machine required me to select them individually.)

And then, with one more pull of the lever, my votes are cast. I take the self-congratulatory sticker from the gray-haired man by the door, and walk back out into the rain. It's going to be a long day.

who's going to cscw?

Sunday I leave for Chicago, where I'll be attending the ACM CSCW (computer-supported collabortive work) conference. The technical program runs Monday through Wednesday, and I'm speaking on a panel that danah boyd put together Wednesday. The topic is "The Use of Digital Backchannels in Shared Physical Spaces," and the list of other participants on the panel is great.

I've skimmed through the list of speakers, and recognize a few names from both the literature and from the Microsoft social software symposium back in the spring. Who's going that's not speaking?

And what's the chance of a blogger meetup in Chicago while I'm there? In addition to seeing the information highwayman and his faithful sidekick, there are a few Chicago bloggers I'd love to meet (or see again). I'll be there from Sunday afternoon through Wednesday afternoon, staying at the Hilton--and at present, I have no evening plans.

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