Weblog on the Internet and public policy, journalism, virtual community, and more from David Brake, a Canadian academic, consultant and journalist

Archive forMay, 2004 | back to home

22 May 2004

According to “CNET”:http://news.com.com/2100-1034_3-5193926.html?tag=nefd.lede The Mayor of Salt Lake City declined to provide support for a plan for an open broadband network infrastructure in the city, saying:

“I just don’t see the social good in using taxpayer money to fund a network that provides more television and bandwidth for illegally downloading files”

Fortunately here in the UK things policy makers are somewhat more receptive…
Thanks to Werblog and “BoingBoing”:http://www.boingboing.net/2004/04/20/mayor_of_salt_lake_c.html for the links.

21 May 2004

Regular readers will know (archive item 1, “archive item 2”:http://blog.org/archives/001061.html) that I am keen to find search tools for the files on my own hard disk (and email). So far I have been dissatisfied but it seems Google is about to enter this market if you believe the rumours about Project Puffin. “According to the New York Times”:http://news.com.com/2100-1011_3-5215707.html Google’s desktop search software has been in use within the company for about a year.

Don’t expect Googling your hard disk to be as effective as Googling the web though – Google’s web searching relies heavily on the ubiquitous cross-linking in web pages to indicate the importance of one page over another for a given search and most people’s hard disks don’t contain that kind of handy cross-referencing.

Microsoft is also looking at this kind of thing of course but I’m not sure I want to wait for the next version of MS’s operating system and upgrade to it in order to take advantage of their new search features.

20 May 2004
Filed under:Humour & Entertainment at9:35 am

Kevin Kelly highlights “All Star Games”:http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0764420208/ref=ase_blogorg-20/104-3593973-1314354?v=glance&s=books a book of (clean) party games. They are for church leaders to help give teens safe things to do but could be useful for anyone with kids or who wants to hold a rather retro party.

19 May 2004
Filed under:Interesting facts at9:24 am

Eszter Hargittai recently asked ‘what can you not find online?’ – what is often missing is anything that is more than ten years old (unless it is in ebook form or in a paid-for archive).

One of the interesting exceptions I have come across recently was a A Prison-scene During the Reign of Terror from Harpers. Not a contemporary one from Iraq but one from post-revolutionary France they dug up from the archives of their 150-year-old publication. It is fascinating and chilling to read an eye-witness account of events from more than 200 years ago…

By sheer coincidence I also just found a “historical archive of material on the French Revolution”:http://chnm.gmu.edu/revolution/ – part of the “Centre for History and New Media”:http://www.chnm.gmu.edu/ – but this does not invalidate my point that historical information can be hard to find online…

18 May 2004

But it seems that one of the best-known conservative bloggers has come to the same uneasy conclusion that I have about the Iraq war.

The one anti-war argument that, in retrospect, I did not take seriously enough was a simple one. It was that this war was noble and defensible but that this administration was simply too incompetent and arrogant to carry it out effectively. I dismissed this as facile Bush-bashing at the time. I was wrong.

I backed the war originally (though I held my nose – I certainly wouldn’t call it noble). Unfortunately, I don’t think the aftermath of the war could have been managed worse by the US.

I am relieved to find early pictures showing Brits also abusing Iraqi prisoners “were false”:http://www.nypost.com/news/worldnews/20983.htm, though it seems there “may have been some bad apples after all”:http://news.independent.co.uk/uk/legal/story.jsp?story=521760.

17 May 2004

I notice that Fictionwise, which sells ebooks, has a special promotion (top of its front page) on the ebooks of the movies of “Spider Man 2”:http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/ebook22112.htm and “Van Helsing”:http://www.fictionwise.com/ebooks/ebook22111.htm. I can’t imagine anyone going to these special effects extravaganzas and thinking, ‘I love this but I want to be able to read it in ebook form to really enjoy the subtlety of the plotting and characterisation.’

16 May 2004
Filed under:Software reviews,Weblogs at11:12 am

Not to be left behind by “blogger’s recent improvements”:http://blog.org/archives/cat_weblogs.html#001103, Moveable Type has announced a public test of its “new version 3.0”:http://www.moveabletype.org/mt_30_beta_survey.shtml though not much information is available about what’s in it (in fact it appears the new version means more a change of architecture than additional features “at least at first”:http://www.sixapart.com/corner/archives/2004/04/wheres_the_beef.shtml#more).

Unfortunately, at the same time that they announced the beta programme they announced a change in pricing structure and if you look at the MT page where they “announce the new pricing”:http://www.sixapart.com/corner/archives/2004/05/its_about_time.shtml you will see a growing groundswell of anger – mainly about their decision to restrict the number of authors you could have for a weblog and still be able to consider it non-commercial.

To their credit, in response they have “dealt with the problem”:http://www.sixapart.com/log/2004/05/movable_type_30.shtml pretty effectively – they are now offering ‘Personal Edition Add-On’ packages that let you add more authors to their $69.95 low-end paid-for package (which covers up to five authors). I think this is fair – if you want up to three blogs for yourself alone you can download their software for free. For multiple authors on the same blog, you have to pay even if you are non-commercial, but only around $14 each.

People with earlier versions can keep using them for free, whatever configuration they have.

Thanks to

15 May 2004

I’m used to the New Yorker cartoons being wry looks at the worlds of work and everyday life but in this week’s issue I found a couple of rather scathing comments on current events:


14 May 2004

American NPR radio show The Connection interviews George Packer, who recently “criticised blogging”:http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2004/05/04_200.html in Mother Jones. Alas it isn’t really a very interesting article or programme. To summarise:
_George_: Political weblogs are addictive but offer little substance – they just offer opinions about opinions off the top of the authors’ heads without editing, thoughtfulness or useful additional evidence.
_Bloggers_: That’s not always true – check out these sites
_George_: Well, OK – some blogs are useful, but most are time wasting.

See “here”:http://www.technorati.com/cosmos/search.html?rank=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.motherjones.com%2Fcommentary%2Fcolumns%2F2004%2F05%2F04_200.html&sub=Go%21 for lots more blog commentary about George’s Mother Jones piece (much of which seems to unwittingly support his thesis).

13 May 2004

It was interesting to see so many bloggers f2f though it wasn’t exactly a random sample either of the population or even (I suspect) of bloggers. The “gathering”:http://joi.ito.com/joiwiki/LoicLondonMay04 was about 90% male and mostly in the Internet/IT industries.

One of the interesting things about blogging that I was aware of but this brought into focus is the existence of an important group of blog enablers – people who aren’t prominent bloggers themselves but who develop the services or support others’ services without payment because they can. Public-spirited people like “Bruce”:http://www.growf.org/ who helps out the “NTK”:http://ntk.net/ gang and Tom who set up and runs “bbCity”:http://www.bbcity.co.uk/. I also met “Anders”:http://www.jacobsen.no/anders/blog/ (who will have more pictures from the event on his “photo blog”:http://www.extrospection.com/) and Annie who runs a weblog (and a site) all about “London Underground”:http://london-underground.blogspot.com/ but not from a trainspottery perspective.

See “here”:http://www.technorati.com/cosmos/search.html?rank=&url=http%3A%2F%2Fjoi.ito.com%2Fjoiwiki%2FLoicLondonMay04&sub=Go%21 for more postings from other London bloggers about the gathering as they happen.

I have a few (very poor quality) pix “here”:http://community.webshots.com/album/142686002dtOLws.

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