Emergency Response and Hastily Formed Networks

The April issue of the Communications of the ACM contained an article about hastily formed networks. A hastily formed network is a network formed in response to a disaster or crisis of some kind. For example, the response to Katrina last summer and fall. Some students at SI collected material about the various responses to Katrina. Today I came across another story related to disaster response. It seems Tom Evslin and Jeff Pulver are trying to convince the FCC to mandate an emergency voice mail system for people affected by a disaster.

Retrieving Information from My Own Internet Tracks

I’ve been looking for a weblog post I read two or three months ago about the future of libraries, but so far I’ve failed to retrieve it. This kind of situation is one of the most frustrating technological problems I regularly encounter. There’s just no way to easily retrieve this information right now. I do have some programs on my Mac that help solve these problems. History Hound and browseback are two programs that keep track of pages that you display in your web browser.

Teaching and Copying Across the Net

Enthusiasm is lagging. It must be the heat. It got into the 80s today, with an afternoon thunderstorm. Tomorrow and Sunday are supposed to be in the 90s. And there’s no sign that the humidity is going to let up. The dewpoint is at 68, and it’s almost midnight. So as the physical world sends me into lethargy, the mind begins to flag as well. It’s not all useless. I want to point out this new post about shared online and education and peer production by Jon Udell.

Gross Comedy and the Origin of Slapstick

I was watching a few of my favorite episodes from Ren and Stimpy on DVD last night and I started thinking about comedy and taste. Commedia dell’Arte is a form of improvisational comedy theater which flourished in Italy from the 16th to the 18th century. It consisted of stock plots, and characters, which were often adapted to fit the local audience. I was reading up on this subject for last Tuesday’s book club, The Innamorati by Midori Snyder.

The "Externality Machine"

I recently watched the documentary film The Corporation which stitches together an argument about the many ways the modern corporation is sociopathic. It condemns corporations for failing to be concerned with others, is amoral, etc. The operational principles of the corporation give it a highly anti-social “personality”: It is self-interested, inherently amoral, callous and deceitful; it breaches social and legal standards to get its way; it does not suffer from guilt, yet it can mimic the human qualities of empathy, caring and altruism.

Link Dump

It’s been a long day. My book group discussed The Innamorati by Midori Snyder tonight. Very interesting. I hope to have some thoughts here within the next few days, but tonight I need to get some rest. So to inspire myself and you to greater thoughts I offer a few links that have been especially piquant these last few days. Some cool weblogs: Out of the Past, on film noir.

Religion and the Workplace

A recent post at my favorite godless liberal weblog, Pharyngula, on the gender and age distribution of writers for skeptical magazines such as the Skeptical Inquirer and Skeptic prompted me to think a bit about attitudes toward religious expression in the workplace. I’d be interested to see what Eric thinks. My personal opinion is that religion should be kept to a minimal level in the workplace as much as possible. I’ve been relatively lucky to work in environments where religion has never been a major issue or concern.

Skull Flushing

It’s been twenty-three days since I began this effort at daily writing. So has it been worthwhile? Thinking aloud in a semi-public manner has a strange appeal. Some people read these writings or at least web browsers keep making requests for the pages. Fewer still leave comments. But that’s alright. It’s mostly been useful to me as a way to clear out the cobwebs and to speak about the concerns that I have.

Art and Teaching

One of the dilemmas of art that I find fascinating is the conflict between entertainment and education. Should art distract us from our lives or should it try to teach us something about how our lives should be led? In between these two poles there is another way, realism. Realism just wants to imitate nature, to be the mirror we hold up to the world. Suppose we take as a given that all fiction has a moral purpose, and that purpose may be explicit or implicit.

Managing My Information World

One of my perennial interests is personal knowledge or information management. How do you keep track of all the stuff that comes at you? I’m an omnivore when it comes to collecting information. I’m working at improving my skills for disseminating information. So for the sake of my own future self who might want to know how I managed my information back in mid-2006 and any others who care, I offer the following list.