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

Archive forAugust, 2004 | back to home

31 August 2004
Filed under:Academia,Weblogs at9:54 am

It’s a harder question than it looks if you really start thinking about it.

This debate may not matter to most of you reading so I’ve hidden it but I encourage academics in my field to read on because I would welcome your guidance!

30 August 2004

There are lots of photo sharing services around – (two years ago I did a “little comparison”:https://blog.org/archives/cat_useful_web_resources.html#000385 of several of them which offer photo printing as well) – but “Flickr”:http://www.flickr.com/ – which I started to try out yesterday – seems to be the Internet geek’s best choice (they’ve got Cory Doctorow, “renaissance geek”:http://www.craphound.com/bio.html advising them so it’s “turning up a lot on boingboing”:http://www.boingboing.net/cgi-bin/mt/mt-search.cgi?IncludeBlogs=1&search=flickr).

If after reading the description below, Flickr appeals to you and you want to try it out (basic membership is free), instead of visiting the site right away and signing up I would appreciate it if you could “email me”:http://davidbrake.org/contact.htm and I will invite you. There’s an offer available at the moment – if I successfully invite 5 new people to join Flickr I will receive a Flickr Pro Account (valid until September 15th, 2004). Yes I have therefore a small interest in selling you on the idea but I already have other photo library accounts so it’s not a huge deal for me one way or another. Anyway…

The Flickr feature that first caught my attention is that it has an automatic ‘post to your blog’ feature (which I used yesterday). It also lets you post photos to your Flickr site and/or weblog via email and directly from camera phones. What’s more intriguing though is that it has a number of creative ways of organizing photos. Most photo sites make you sort pictures into albums. This one lets you attach pictures to several different groups, tag them by keyword, lets you and your Flickr-using friends pool and organize your pictures in interesting ways etc etc.

Geekily enough it also supports RSS in different ways so people can automatically know you have added more pictures and they have built in chat and messageboard facilities so people with similar interests can share pictures (yes there are porn-related groups as you’d expect but also groups like “Bonsai lovers”:http://www.flickr.com/groups_view.gne?id=36521982934@N01). I’m a sucker for organizations like this one that just don’t seem to know when to stop adding new features on the off chance that someone will use them. “ICQ”:http://www.icq.com/ was a bit like that – it’s a pity the full version isn’t seeing much development any more. Anyway…

There’s a quick overview of Flickr’s features “here”:http://www.flickr.com/learn_more.gne and a longer “get the most out of Flickr”:http://www.flickr.com/get_the_most.gne guide but the best way to figure it out is to sign up and try out its features.

Signup is free. For the moment you can only sign up for their free account which lets you share either your most recent 100 photos or photos uploaded in the last 3 months (whichever comes first). It must be said this is not over-generous – “photo.net”:http://www.photo.net/ has a 100Mb quota, “Webshots”:http://daily.webshots.com/scripts/signup.fcgi lets you store 240 photos. Also at the moment the only software available for bulk uploading of photos is for Windows XP and MacOS X. Later they will have software available for more operating systems and premium accounts with more storage and capabilities (they are in beta testing at the moment).

P.S. I just discovered “Phil Gyford”:http://www.gyford.com/ has also recently “taken a shine to Flickr”:http://www.gyford.com/phil/writing/2004/08/25/seeing_the_light.php.

29 August 2004
Filed under:Academia,Personal at11:26 am

What I’m reading now

Originally uploaded by derb.

534 PDF files accumulated in the ‘Academia’ directory on my hard disk
1,281 accumulated references – 384 of them coded as relating to my “PhD”:http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/media@lse/study/mPhilPhDMediaAndCommunications.htm (the rest relate to the coursework for my “MSc”:http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/media@lse/study/mScInNewMediaInformationAndSociety.htm, my MSc dissertation, my teaching or just look interesting).

Never mind the quality, feel the weight 😉

The stack pictured is all the books I have signed out of the library at the moment which may give you some idea of the direction my thesis is taking (you can click on the picture to see it more clearly). Behind it in the background you can just see my filed photocopied journal articles…

For an earlier view, see “what I was reading in December last year”:https://blog.org/archives/cat_academia.html#000965.

28 August 2004

Following on from my brief mention of “blogs from US troops in Iraq”:https://blog.org/archives/cat_current_affairs_world.html#001217 I have discovered a collection of “pictures taken by troops in Iraq with picturephones”:http://www.yafro.com/frontline.php – you need to click on the ‘comments’ part or mouse over the photos to see the context they give them.

Incidentally (and probably not coincidentally) the blogger who was interviewed on NPR I mentioned earlier has now had to pull his weblog down.

Thanks to Torill Mortensen for the link

27 August 2004
Filed under:Mobile phone and PDA at7:17 pm

When Psion stopped producing the Series 5mx I reluctantly abandoned the Psion/Symbian platform for a Palm because I wanted something pocketable but with a full-size(ish) keyboard. Nothing available from Symbian did the trick then or (to the best of my knowledge) now. But it looks like the “Nokia 9500”:http://www.nokia.com/nokia/0,8764,54113,00.html “previewed here”:http://my-symbian.com/9210/review_9500.php may do so when it launches – for a price. And if you don’t mind waiting a little longer I now discover they may do a little brother – the 9300 without wifi and built-in camera.

I am smitten, but the projected price of $1000 before subsidy for the 9500 is a little off-putting! Also the review seems to suggest you can’t automatically synchronise Office documents – only contacts, calendar and email. I hope I wouldn’t have to remember to copy the documents I want back and forth between the phone and my PC!

26 August 2004

Remember my hard disk crashed? Well, I’ve been kicking myself ever since for a stupid thing I did early on in the recovery process. I managed to boot from my backup disk and found I could access the original. ‘Great!’ I said to myself, ‘I’d better copy across all my most valuable files quickly in case the disk stops being accessable again!’ Did I copy them into new directories? Nooo… I copied them over the earlier backup files. Well the files looked fine and I did check some of them before copying. But it turned out several of the email folders I hadn’t checked were in fact corrupted. And even when the mailboxes looked fine (the ‘overview’ showed the right names and subject lines) the contents were corrupted as well. Ten years of email gone!

So remember if you get files back from a disk that has been giving you trouble, make sure to preserve your old backup files just in case!

P.S. In the wake of this catastrophe I was thinking of moving my emailing to my gmail account but gmail still doesn’t support basic things like email groups so I guess I’ll have to hope that the hard disk doctors I gave my disk to can get the files off.
P.P.S. And yes, it is a little embarrassing that I wrote a book about good email practice but managed nonetheless to mess up!

25 August 2004

NPR reports that one US soldier – Colby Buzzell – has been reprimanded about his popular “My War” blog and two others have had their blogs shut down after alleged concerns about their revealing sensitive information. Others suggest the Pentagon is more interested in suppressing overt dissent among the troops. The NPR report links to 18 soldier-run weblogs from its page.

I have to say that for all my expressed skepticism about the importance of blogs in general, blogs like My War seem to me to be fulfilling an important role and genuinely doing something novel – allowing ordinary individuals caught up in situations of international importance to express what they are feeling and thinking with a rare directness. Buzzell’s site may not be anything like as influential as the mass media but he says he sometimes gets up to 100 emails a day from readers and that he is now thinking of trying to get his weblog postings published.

It’s stories like his that inspire my own research into the social significance of weblogging and home page creation.

24 August 2004

I have recorded a discussion and am listening to it through my computer using the excellent piece of software called “Dictation Buddy”:http://www.highcriteria.com/main_productfr_dicbuddy_info.htm so that I can make a rough transcription. The weird part is that I’m making the transcription using Microsoft’s voice recognition software (via “OneNote”:http://office.microsoft.com/home/office.aspx?assetid=FX01085803). Of course if I could just get the voice recognition software to listen to and recognize the discussion I wouldn’t need to do this but I suspect even if the computer program was capable of accepting input from a file instead of the microphone it would not do nearly as good a job of recognition as I do so I am forced to use myself as a kind of of voice recognition peripheral!

By the way is there any documentation available anywhere on how to use Microsoft’s voice recognition software in detail? I would be particularly interested in knowing how I could add frequently used words to its dictionary like ‘Bourdieu’ (which it thinks is Bork To?) or ‘structuration’ (structure Asian?).

23 August 2004
Filed under:Useful web resources,Weblogs at12:00 pm

Ping-o-Matic! automatically notifies “Weblogs.com”:http://www.weblogs.com/, “Blo.gs”:http://blo.gs/, “Technorati”:http://www.technorati.com/ and ten more weblog update services when you’ve made a new post so people know to come and see it. Saves you having to put all of them into your ‘urls to ping’ box (assuming it works as advertised).

22 August 2004

JD Lasica “suggests”:http://ojr.org/ojr/technology/1092267863.php that because blogs like “BoingBoing”:http://boingboing.net/ and “Slashdot”:http://slashdot.com/ are linked to more often than many websites of many ‘old media’ organizations, this means bloggers are starting to trust other bloggers more than the mainstream media.

While “Technorati’s chart of in-links”:http://ojr.org/ojr/uploads/1092273094.jpg (and “pubsub’s”:http://www.pubsub.com/linkranks.php) comparing ‘old media’ properties and blogs are interesting to see, they under-state the importance of the mainstream media to set the agenda because a very substantial proportion of the posts to blogs that are linked to are in turn derived directly from those same old media sites. A better (but more difficult to do) analysis would be to try to measure how many of the posts most linked to add significant facts or thought out opinions (more than just ‘I agree’) to existing debates in the press.

Moreover, it is absurd to extrapolate from the readership habits of bloggers to the readership habits of the wider public. Bloggers are in no way representative – we are much more likely to read other people’s weblogs than the broader Internet population (see “the analysis I did earlier”:https://blog.org/archives/001206.html) and of course most of us are geekier (Slashdot is the most popular weblog cited – QED).

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