there are 14 posts from December 2007

December 28, 2007

wrapping up 2007

If there’s one “2007 wrap up” post you need to read, it’s this one from Matt Webb. It’s smart, not easily digestible, and will send your mind reeling for more than a little while. (Kind of like Mr. Webb himself.) Here’s a teaser bit for you, on the nature of websites:

Instead of a finite-state machine, think of a website as a flowchart of motivations. For every state the user is in, there are motivations: it’s fun; it’s the next action; it saves money; it’s intriguing; I’m in flow; I need to crop the photo and I remember there’s a tool to do it on that other page; it’s pretty.

There’s more on vending machines, risk as motivation, playfulness, the Magna Carta, flocking cars and phenotropics. Fun!

December 27, 2007

sharing is caring

Paul Kedrosky: “Hell, to adapt a cliche, hath no fury like that of a software user whose software newly works the way the documentation says it will.”

December 21, 2007

kids these days

I don’t think it was this piece, but some quick hit on Morning Edition covering some aspect of the new Pew research about online identity and self-Googling, where someone quoted finally made the point that one approach for managing your online identity is to actually post more and more content under your own name. Bloggers have known this for years – you want to own the Google search results for your name – and it’s nice to hear this thinking finally make its way into the mass media.

But really, this is just an excuse to experiment with a new type of news blogging – taking a quick picture of the story you find while leafing through the morning’s paper…instead of going to the trouble finding the story and actually linking to it. Plus, it was a way to sneak Santa Claus on to the blog…so a big “ho ho ho” to all you Christmas celebrators out there.

December 19, 2007

dear lazyweb

Please produce an RSS feed of just images from where he’s done his scribbling thing on them. Then, please turn that into a Dashboard Widget or a PerezHiltoniffic so I can keyboard shortcut to get an instant dose of images like this. Thanks in advance!

December 18, 2007

arbus archives go to the met

From The Times, news that The Met has been gifted the complete archives of Diane Arbus’ estate, including “hundreds of early and unique photographs; negatives and contract prints of 7,500 rolls of film; and hundreds of glassine print sleeves that she personally annotated before her death by suicide in 1971.”  And they’ve also purchased 20 of her signature photographs from Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco.

I love this quote from Jeff Rosenheim, a curator of photography at the Met…  “These pictures ask more questions than they answer. When you look at them, you almost feel as though you are having an interaction with the subject and the picture maker simultaneously. You are in a place where there is a lot of intimacy being shared.”

December 14, 2007

the missing piece

I’m very interested in today’s announcement re. Amazon’s SimpleDB. This is, of course, the missing piece in the Amazon cloud services story – storage, processing power, and now a hosted DB service. It’s simple: there are domains, in domains there are items, and each item can have 256 attributes, and each attribute can be 1,024 bytes in length. Automatic indexing, no up front schema definition. I’m sure there are tons of startups that have been waiting for this, because now “Developers can run their applications in Amazon EC2 and store their data objects in Amazon S3. Amazon SimpleDB can then be used to query the object metadata from within the application in Amazon EC2 and return pointers to the objects stored in Amazon S3.”

Some less than educated questions that come to mind:

  • Is this Dynamo, or Dynamo backed?
  • How long until there are libraries for abstracting SimpleDB in PHP, Perl, Ruby, Python, etc.?
  • Could you / would you need to run a memcached service in front of SimpleDB in an EC2 instance? I can see wanting to do that in order to reduce the cost of i/o and processing time on SimpleDB (it’s more expensive there than in EC2).
  • SimpleDB is obviously very far away from traditional RDBMS’ like, say, MySQL. If developers build apps with SimpleDB on the backend, there’s potentially some interesting lock-in risk for them (opportunity on the Amazon side) if someone doesn’t develop a SimpleDB equivalent that you can run on your own boxen.
  • As a part-time data geek, I’m already imagining some very interesting ways I could use this to analyze large data sets that are basically a massive set of name / value pairs.

In sum, [this is good].

December 12, 2007

big day for movable type

Movable Type is now available under a an open source license.  Huge kudos to the entire team that’s worked on this, especially Byrne Reese, Brad Choate, Chris Hall, Anil Dash, Chris Vail and Mark Simmons, who have done all the hard work in getting all the details right. And, of course, many thanks to Ben and Mena for doing their part since day zero “fighting for openness,” as Anil puts it so well in the post on

This is such a great way to bookend a tremendous year for Movable Type; I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve done with MT4, and this just puts the icing on the cake. Onward!

December 11, 2007

things i didn't know, latest in a series

Via Mike, I learned something about meerkats today: they don’t wear headphones.

Meerkats demonstrate altruistic behavior within their colonies; one or more meerkats stand sentry (lookout) while others are foraging or playing, to warn them of approaching dangers. When a predator is spotted, the meerkat performing as sentry gives a warning bark, and other members of the gang will run and hide in one of the many bolt holes they have spread across their territory. The sentry meerkat is the first to reappear from the burrow and search for predators, constantly barking to keep the others underground. If there is no threat, the sentry meerkat stops signaling and the others feel safe to emerge.

Who’s your meerkat?

December 11, 2007


I really like what Joshua Rothhaas (from kindofdelicious) is doing at, where every tweet is a story written in 140 characters or less. He doesn’t connect on every one, but he’d have a decent major-league batting average. Here are a few of my favorites:

Avid mountain climber, venture capitalist and daredevil, he had but one fear in this world: love, because “only a real man can be a lover.”

Two design students fall madly in love and make terribly bold statements holding each other to be more perfect than the typeface Helvetica.

Nation wide protest lead to state wide crackdowns lead to city wide arrest and to local activism which gave way to powerful personal apathy.

That reminds me

December 06, 2007

a picture, 1000 words, etc.

I followed a link from somewhere today to The New York Times list of The 10 Best Books of 2007,  and was completely floored by the photo illustration that accompanied the piece.  It was pretty much perfect: of course, these are the ten best books of 2007. These ones, right here.  The ones arranged here ready to be put up on your shelf.

If you knew the spines, the text of the piece was pretty much irrelevant – paragraph long descriptions of each of the titles. And while I admit that I live so far inside baseball that I’m buried under the mound, the simplicity of the photo felt like the perfect antidote to the past couple of weeks of Kindlemania. These are the 10 worth owning…in hardback.

December 05, 2007

fluxblog on sky blue sky

SkyblueskyFluxblog, my favorite music blog of the year, on Wilco’s Sky Blue Sky, which has been in heavy rotation in our house since release: “Most of the worst reviews for the record glibly dismissed the music as ‘dad rock,’ which is sort of aggravating because I think that the epithet accidentally touches on the stoicism and maturity that is key to the record’s appeal, but favors a kneejerk appreciation of less emotionally (or musically) complicated music.”

December 05, 2007

an in-depth analysis of the writers' strike, complete with footnotes

This whole “no Daily Show” thing[1] really sucks ass.[2]

[1] I mean, seriously. There’s a whole new National Intelligence Estimate on Iran and all of us self-satisfied armchair liberals are stuck looking for the humor in Tom Friedman columns. Shoot me now.

[2] Classy, eh?

December 03, 2007

kids these days, part 769

From Slate’s review of Steve Martin’s new book comes this depressing tidbit:  “According to the census bureau, roughly 40 percent of the American populace was born after 1981, which means that Steve Martin has not been a stand-up comedian in their lifetime.”

This was the review’s lede. I had to simply stop reading; it was just too depressing. I have no idea whether or not they thought the book was any good.

December 02, 2007

well? shall we go?

Saturday’s Times profiled artist Paul Chan and his work in New Orleans, especially his outdoor stagings of Waiting for Godot in the Lower Ninth and Gentilly neighborhoods. I loved the description, though of the signs Chan put up all over the city, in advance of the performances…

Sometime in October, new words began to appear. Printed on small cardboard signs, they consisted of the same three phrases: “A country road. A tree. Evening.” — an exact quotation of Beckett’s scene-setting for “Godot.”

The signs were designed by Mr. Chan and posted all over the city, in a distribution pattern that had a rhythm of surprise. Drive through a “good” neighborhood or a “bad” neighborhood and you’d spot one. At a traffic light, another one. On the boarded window of an abandoned shopping mall, another.

After a while the signs came to feel like a shared secret, or some bounteous but anonymous civic gift, the way Keith Haring’s subway paintings felt in New York in the early 1980s. They added up to a visual network, art as a connective tissue for a torn-apart town.

The whole piece is worth reading, as is this one from Doug MacCash and David Cuthbert of the Times-Picayune.