I just watched Harvard Beats Yale 29-29, a documentary about the 1968 football Game between Harvard and Yale. The game is one of the more infamous comeback stories from college football, with Harvard tying the score in the final seconds. Yale was heavily favored to win, and led for most of the game but then everything fell apart. “It was as if some spirit came into the stadium and turned everything around,” says one of the players interviewed in the film.
Joi Ito posted about the cognitive limits of organizations at the MIT Media Lab blog. Ito posts a thought provoking slide by Cesar Hidalgo. The slide shows the interaction between the total stock of information in the world and time/history. Human beings, as civilization has evolved, have grown the total stock of information in the world and over time have reached various cognitive limits. It’s not hard to reach the cognitive limit of the individual.
Textexpander on the Macintosh is one of the those utilities that becomes more and more useful over time. Just the other week I was looking at some of Brett Terpestra’s snippets and trying to figure out how to use them for my workflow. I often copy URL links for blog items between my RSS newsreader and a browser, like Firefox. But I really dislike the cruft that Feedburner puts into the URLs and I don’t want to save that cruft on any bookmarking services I might use.
Steve Kelling from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and the eBird project presented the second ASIST 2011 keynote on citizen science. Kelling began by describing the background of the ornithology lab and its long-term commitment to involving the public in science. The lab was founded in 1915 so the centennial is rapidly approaching. They have engaged over 200,000 citizen scientists in various projects, many of them in eBird for which Kelling serves as information science director.
ASIST 2011 kicked off with a keynote by Tom Wilson on the challenges of preservation in the digital age. What we know about the past has been preserved through a series of happenstance and contingencies. Aristotle mentions over 100 playwrights in the Rhetoric but only 4 of them have been preserved to the present day. We don’t know why these 4 survived but we suspect that they were highly valued by the people of Greece.
Summary of the big data explosion from the 2011 Strata Online conference sponsored by O’Reilly. Three interlocking changes exponential economics. The dramatic decrease in storage costs, and the increase in network connections/access points. sensor networks. The ubiquity of data collection. “Instrumented spimes” - term from Bruce Sterling for devices that are streaming information into the cloud/ether. cloud computing. Computational and data resources on demand. Success on the data stack
I’m experimenting with a new installation of WordPress. I’ve tried to use WP in the past before and been less than impressed with it’s usability, at least in the admin sections.
So far I’m impressed with the improvements that have been made. But getting some of the older content I had in my blog to format correctly with markdown is going to be a challenge.
I just watched a very nice speech by one of my favorite actors, Kevin Spacey, on the importance of public funding for the arts. Spacey was speaking as part of Arts Advocacy day. In the speech he used a metaphor, taught to him by Jack Lemmon, about “sending the elevator back down” to help new people enter your profession, whether it be the arts or anything else. I think that’s a brilliant summation of an attitude that more of us should share.
I often hear people talk about the value of information being available in a very general sense. These kind of claims seem to arise during discussions about freedom of speech or the marketplace of ideas. In these arguments the claim is often made that one would rather have the offensive/dangerous/obscure/unusual information out there in the world somewhere, even if one has no personal need or interest in the information. Another similar type of argument is made about academic and scientific freedom - that intellectuals should be free to at least investigate and possibly disseminate any and all types of information.