Tuesday, August 15, 2006

"I haven't been up to much these days." - Except, We Presume, Partying.

A colleague just sent me a very sweet piece of live email address phishing spam; an email inviting you to add your names to the guest list of exclusive clubnights.

From: Zoe [mailto:zoe.neslen@hotmail.co.uk]
Sent: 15 August 2006 12:47
To: Ann
Subject: Weekly Parties

Here is a list of our weekly guest list only clubs:

This weeks parties:

Wed: Movida

Wed: Pangaea

Thurs: Umbaba

Thurs: Aura

Fri: Roof Gardens

Fri: The Penthouse

Sat: Playrooms


Sat: Roof Gardens

Please email guest lists with full names and emails by 6pm on the night of the party.

Note: All our parties are GUEST LIST ONLY.

Zoe Neslen

I think it's more grist to the mill around the Spam-achieving-sentience meme; first it has a very down week, then it decides to set up a club night and invite all its friends over to parrtay.

I also love the idea of a club called Pangea. Presumably your experience fragments as the night wears on.

Re-reading the sad Becketlike singing of loneliness, It occurred to me that you could track the spambots progress using the common phrase in the comments:

"I haven't been up to much these days." - Google Search

Over 60,000 positive hits; and some on blogs.msdn.com - nice to know that Microsoft has the same problems as the little guy when they play in our sphere...

Ruining the Whole Racket

I read a biography of Anita Loos when I was in my teens; long before I'd seen Gentlemen Prefer Blondes. I suspect that I picked the book up in the library based on the photo of the interesting looking woman on the cover; in short, I quite fancied her. In retrospect she looked oddly like my ex. Judging books by their cover has stood me in good stead over the years; I've read all kinds of things I wouldn't have done just from relying on reviews, or reccomendations.

Anyway, I've just spent an inordinately long time - for me - on google, trying to track down a dimly remembered quote for a friend. It's rare I get stuck on searching for something; after diversions via Mae West and Tallulah Bankhead, I eventually got there with 'furious feminist quote' - it turned out that if I'd remembered it better, I would have used the much more charming term 'women's liberationinst'.

"I'm furious about the women's liberationists. They keep getting up on soapboxes and proclaiming that women are brighter than men. That's true, but it should be kept very quiet or it ruins the whole racket."

Monday, August 14, 2006

Language over Time

I'm not sure about this as an interface. Maybe it isn't an interface, and is in fact an experience, and it's just me making a category error, believing it to be a way of gathering information, or performing operations on content.


I think the thing that I'm struggling with is the fact that it is a very word heavy way of looking for pictures. I know that tags are lovely, in that they let you make semantically significant inferences about something that isn't machine readable... But still. What would happen if the background was significant pictures from the day, with a much slower turnover, and the description - the words - were slightly less busy, less demanding? Is it really that significant reading the words, rather than taking in the much more information dense pictures?

It is fascinating, though, to see how the significant words change over time on flickr. Right at the start the tags are tiny, almost illegible; presumably because so few users were tagging so few pictures in relation to today's torrent of snaps. Over time the subject matter of the pictures gets less geeky - fewer tech conferences appear, the tags get more inexplicable as the softer, less librarianlike secondary adopters flood into flickr.

But there is one thing that seems sad; the names disappear. I had a moment, watching the words drift by at first, when I wondered if it was something that an acquaintance had been involved in making - there was a philgyford and a foeromeo and a tomcoateshatsproject in there. After a moment of puzzling about it, I realised that the totality of flickr is now bigger than any one individuals' significant event. I'm still seeing FathersDay and prideparade - gatherings of lots of people, all documenting the same event, but the individual voices are lost now.

How *do* you keep the massive sea of data personal?

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Microsoft Live Labs: Photosynth

Microsoft Live Labs: Photosynth

There are moments when you get a kind of vertigo, looking right over the edge of technology, and in to the future.

Google's addition of SketchUp to Google Earth was one of them - as was the first play with Google Earth itself. I've had a few moments in internal presentations too - where I've seen researchers presenting locative technology, or image recognition.

But blimey, this little site from Microsoft has fried my noodle. It's the most extraordinary piece of research around image recognition and spatial reconstruction I've ever seen.

I can't help linking it up in my head - a ubiquitous, photographed earth living collaboratively across each machine attached to the web. Second Life eat your heart out.

Mind you... where would the unmapped areas be? I'd suggest they might look a little like the darker patches in the earth at night...

Monday, August 07, 2006

The Ghost Map

stevenberlinjohnson.com: The Ghost Map

So, Stephen Johnson has announced his new book - and I'm both fantastically over excited about it, and slightly miffed. I've known about John Snow and the Cholera epidemic for years, and it is a fascinating thing.

But now *everyone* will know about that mysterious pump in Broad Street, and why the kerbstone is a different colour, and why you should always drink beer, and not water.

Boo. There goes one of my entertaining yet obscure pub facts out in to the mass of popular knowledge.