Odyssey Online

Entries from April 2010

St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library

April 29th, 2010 · Comments Off on St. Agnes Branch of the New York Public Library

…Peter Osnos has written a lovely essay on the life and times of a public library in New York City. Perfect mid-afternoon-break-from-impending-exams reading…

Tags: Essay on Bibliography

Facebook in Congress

April 28th, 2010 · Comments Off on Facebook in Congress

…the world of news is lit up by stories that Democratic Senators are calling on the Federal Trade Commission to take steps to insure user privacy and new social networking features have by announced by Facebook (this version of the story if from the Telegraph).

The news matters particularly if you buy Farhad Manjoo’s argument that Facebook is becoming the Web’s “killer app.” He writes, “We, Facebook’s hordes, are actively filling in the slots in its database, giving the company an extremely accurate picture of ourselves and our friends. No other company will have anything like Facebook’s towering database of human intentions and desires–not even Google.” It’s a convincing case, and one that makes me regret posting that I had ham and eggs for breakfast to my Facebook wall…

Tags: Facebooked · Information Studies

Reading or Absorbing

April 21st, 2010 · Comments Off on Reading or Absorbing

Atlantic Magazine has an ongoing online series called What I Read, and the most recent contributor is Washington Post journalist David Corn. His essay is about information overload, about the sheer volume that some who is “information business” finds via Twitter and RSS.  I’m going to kind of ruin the essay (although you should read it, it’s short and very well written),  but the last line of the essay is so dead-on that it’s worth quoting: “I do miss reading. Nowadays, we absorb.”

It raises the question of how we use technology, or, better still, how we position technology. Mr. Corn could read books, he acknowledges, but doesn’t. People can coexist with networked information technology in an infinite number of ways, and ways very much divorced from the banter about “revolution” that the purveyors of said technology insist is happening.  John Freeman’s book the Tyranny of E-Mail provides an interesting model about how to position e-mail within the context of a life.  Also, when can settle accounts with the word revolution.  Technology doesn’t cause revolutions, nor does it enable them.  Revolutions are moments in either the history of a people or a person when an epiphany infused with either anger or joy that causes a dramatic change.  It causes curiosity to incite action. Social unrest brings revolutions, significant others bring revolutions, computers don’t.  In the history of commerce any number of products have caused a lot of people to alter their behavior one way or the other…but that doesn’t  a revolution make…think about that the next time the television tells you “There’s an app for that…”

Tags: Books · Essay on Technology · Facebooked

Library of Congress Collects Twitters

April 18th, 2010 · Comments Off on Library of Congress Collects Twitters

…an interesting piece by Jared Keller on the Library of Congress’ plans to collect tweets. As he puts it, “Twitter is [now] forever; make your tweets count.”  The article raises all sorts of interesting implications (not the least of which is the forever business) but it causes me to wonder about whether, well, the Internet was ever meant to be collected.  Is the Internet discourse in the sense that text is discourse, or is it discourse in the sense that human interaction is discourse.  Years ago John Perry Barlow characterized the Internet (and I’m paraphrases with a pencil in each hand here) by encouraging people to think of all of the activity on the Internet, all of the web pages, blog posts, tweets, Youtube uploads, Facebooking et. al. as a Mississippi River of text/images that one dives into and swims in for a while. And then gets out.  No more than one might want one’s telephones conversation from a given day remembered, is the Internet something of the instant, or is it, as the LOC as apparently decided, a sufficient snap shot of the doings and wooings of human beings to be saved and studied? Is this little paused here at OO worth a call number?

Tags: Essay on Technology · Information Studies

Friday Blogging, iPads

April 16th, 2010 · Comments Off on Friday Blogging, iPads

…okay, I promise, last one, but it appears that Israeli Security Forces are confiscating iPads. It has something to do with Wi-Fi issues, and is likely to end at the end of May, but for now taking a iPad into Israel is kissing it goodbye.  Coverage on this from the Tech-HeraldComputerworld, and PC Magazine

Tags: Computer Security · Essay on Technology · The Academic Internet

Google’s iPad

April 14th, 2010 · Comments Off on Google’s iPad

…while I played my hand yesterday on what I exactly think about iPad’s some interesting reading today (in kind of a mid-week Friday blogging spirit) on Google’s plans for an Android-based iPad. You might want to take a look at:

Tags: Google

More on the iPad

April 13th, 2010 · Comments Off on More on the iPad

Google and Microsoft answer…

Further, there is more (here from the New York Times) about Apple restricting what developers can do with the product, putting the breaks on reverse engineering.  Of course Apple’s answer is that it is providing a flexible platform that is all about user convenience…with the caveat that the gears are Apple’s–you own the chassis, not the engine.  Maybe this isn’t an issue, but at $250 a pop plus it sure feels like we are moving away from a garage friendly environment for developing computing to one that is thoroughly proprietary, off limits proprietary.  Human beings are at more liberty when they operate in a context of understanding…you could investigate analog technology, you could investigate HTML.  Within investigation comes curiosity, to answer curiosity there is imagine.  There is frankly something insidious about the iPad…

Tags: Essay on Technology · Google · The Academic Internet

Network Neutrality Update

April 8th, 2010 · Comments Off on Network Neutrality Update

Earlier in the week Federal Courts ruled against the Federal Communications Commission in the FCC’s attempt to establish network neutrality for the flow of internet content (for a background on network neutrality see Edward Felten’s essay).  This has debate about network neutrality back front and center…between those who think network neutrality is a thinly veiled attempt to over-regulate the communications industry, and those who argue it is an essential step in keeping the internet playing field level.  A sampling of commentary on the ruling and opinion pieces on network neutrality below:

Tags: Essay on Technology · The Academic Internet

iPad Glued Not Screwed

April 7th, 2010 · Comments Off on iPad Glued Not Screwed

…in an essay published on Boing Boing Cory Doctorow states his case against the iPad, which is based on the iPad being a closed system, a proprietary technology resistant to reverse engineering.  As he puts it, (remembering a piece called Maker Manifesto) “If you can’t open it, you don’t own it. Screws not glue.” Johnathan Zittrain had a similar thing in mind as the argument of his book The Future of the Internet and How to Stop It where he argued that the morphing of the Internet into hand held devices would rob it of its generative quality. Tim Berners-Lee made HTML freely available, and that, coupled with the fact that the code could be readily understood (and then written) is what propelled the web forward.  Zittrain and Doctorow both raise the point that has the Internet moves to proprietary frameworks (like iPads, Facebook, blogs software such as you see here) it becomes a consumable technology rather than a malleable one.

Some comments directed at Doctorow’s piece suggest that people writing APPs for their iPads is very much in the DYI-coding of the Internet, but, that strikes me as decoration.  For the a period of time the world wide web was coded in readily learned ways that allowed one to build substantive, original, computer frameworks in ways that APPs just aren’t.  I can’t help but think it is analogous to what’s happened with cars…anyone with some patience, the right tools, and a manual could repair and work on an air-cooled automobile (think original Volkswagon Beetle or Studebaker), but cars with embedded digital technology require mechanics with specialized diagnostic technologies. The digital technologies are expensive t00–my car has tire sensors that need to be replaced every so often and are $150 a pop, which would buy a lot of spark plugs.  Life is change and succession, but it strikes me that much is being lost in turning from code to convenience…

Tags: Essay on Technology · Research How-To · The Academic Internet

Friday Blogging, Opening Day

April 2nd, 2010 · Comments Off on Friday Blogging, Opening Day

The 2010 Major League Baseball season starts Sunday!  In preparation for the big day, here are the new and newish books we have on baseball.  Not all have been read by yours truly, but having found them, a couple of these titles are now on my “to read” list, if not this weekend, for sweet baseball filled summer days:

Read books, play ball.

Tags: Recommended Book