there are 36 posts from November 2010

November 30, 2010

links for 2010-11-30

  • Via, a gorgeous single serving site that illustrates how high the tide is right now at London Bridge. (As I post this it's depth is about 4.8m, rising from 1.0m to high tide of 6.4m at 8:38 pm.)
  • "So, now the only significant thing about air travel is that it’s a bunch of people in a small space who can’t easily leave. Which is a lot like riding a bus, or being in a crowded coffee shop. So do you think Americans should surrender our constitutional rights in those situations, and, if not, what exactly makes air travel special?"
  • "I like twitter because it's easy and Rainn Wilson set it up for me."
November 29, 2010

links for 2010-11-29

November 24, 2010

links for 2010-11-24

  • "Let's say that I am someone who is generally very modest but I really want to share an achievement of mine. I tell you: "I hate to brag, but my dissertation defense kicked ass." I am not lying. I am telling you two truths. One is that I do hate to brag and two is that my dissertation defense went extremely well. The fact that I am in that moment bragging is an exception to a rule (hence my "but-head"). Sure, you can retort, "then don't [brag]" but, no offense, that would make you a butthead."
    (tags: language)
  • "For our anguish, they provided us each with a Pie-Oh-My concrete (one part real pumpkin pie, one part vanilla custard, smashed together) and a $10 gift card. Obviously, they should have provided us a lifetime of free Shack Burgers and a wall of remembrance, but we were too humble to suggest anything of that ilk."
November 24, 2010

even if it's fake it's real

Google maps image of baby being born on the side of the road

Four potential options for interpreting this image (via Reddit, via djacobs).

  1. A real woman was in real labor in her real car and pulled over in front of this real house on this real street and gave birth to a real baby which was held up just as the real Google Street View car came by and snapped this photo.
  2. Real people knew the street view cameras were making their way through this real neighborhood, and they staged this event, and raised up a real doll up from the real sidewalk just as the Google Street View car came by and snapped this photo.
  3. A real woman was in real labor in her real car and pulled over in front of this real house on this real street and gave birth to a real baby which was held up just as someone across the street snapped this photo. Then someone used a real copy of Photoshop (or something similar) to add details that simulate the effect of this photo being snapped by a Google Street View camera.
  4. Real people staged a birth on a real street, and help up the real doll just as someone across the street snapped this photo. Then someone used a real copy of Photoshop to add details that simulate the effect of this photo being snapped by a Google Street View camera.

If you plotted the real / fake options on a 2x2, it’d look something like this.

real fake 2x2

Each of those quadrants is impressive on its own merits. Starting in the upper right and working clockwise…

  1. Real baby / real Google: wow, what a coincidence.
  2. Fake baby / real Google: wow, nice stunt. Involved not an insignificant amount of planning…least of which is understanding just when that street view car would come by.
  3. Fake baby / fake Google: wow, nice stunt. Involves getting people out on the street, staging the scene, snapping the photo, doing the right Photoshop work, and seeding it in the right communities where it finds its way to, you know, bloggers.
  4. Real baby / fake Google: wow, creepy. Amazingly, impressively creepy that (a) someone would grab this shot and then (b) do the right Photoshop work, seed it in the right communities, etc.

I honestly don’t care which quadrant this item actually lives in. Because even if this is a faked baby with a faked Google street view, it’s still real.

November 23, 2010

links for 2010-11-23

  • "It would be nice if we all stood behind our words instead of erecting walls of disclaimers in front of them. But it’s also human to want to mitigate people’s reactions when we say something negative. The phrases, in this sense, operate as almost a fingers-crossed superstitious protection: 'If I say ‘no offense,’ maybe he won’t punch me!'"
    (tags: language)
  • "Newsflash to the mainstream media: just like you have actual human beings making you work, so does the Internet! A little respect for the people providing your content would be nice! I understand that ownership is a dubious concept these days, and that I'm claiming ownership of a series of clips that I never owned in the first place, but an idea is an idea. They're so hard to come by and so, so valuable."
November 23, 2010

even more notes on google tv and twitter

I had a chance to play with Google TV this past weekend at Best Buy, where there was a helpful blue-shirted employee doing a great job explaining the Sony set's benefits. Or, at least how the search function worked.

He didn't really understand how the apps worked, and couldn't really explain why I'd want to use them, and so I said "well, let's check out the Twitter one." Here's the roadblock we hit...

Google TV Twitter logon

Now, I wasn't really up for logging into Twitter in the middle of Best Buy with my personal we didn't get past this screen. But this shouldn't have been the first screen.

Twitter recently spent a bunch of cycles improving the first time user experience -- especially for users that have yet to make the leap into the registration process -- so that they can get a taste of what's available on Twitter without having to make the leap. If ever there were a use case where the logged out state could be interesting and valuable, it's with a device like Google TV.

Google TV shouldn't just be another Twitter client, it should be a contextual Twitter client. See that picture-in-picture frame right there? The device knows what we're watching right now, and so why not make the default view a real time search for tweets related to the show we're watching? (It would be our own personal #vma display.) And if there's not enough context to display real-time context, then take advantage of our history with the device. It knows what shows we've searched for, what movies we've watched -- the default screen should present streams of tweets based on that information, along with recommended bundles of accounts to follow that would grease the funnel through the registration flow.

But, speaking of that registration flow... I used the first person plural in that last paragraph on purpose. I don't have the data behind this, but I've got to believe that an awful lot of television watching happens with other people in the room. Would I even want to sign in to Google TV with my Twitter account? Why not my wife's? Or my daughter's? Fighting over the remote is one thing, fighting over personalized display of information layered on top of the show everyone in the room is watching is another.

Somewhere back in 2008, I silenced a debate about LOST spoilers with the simple declaration that real fans watch. Twitter's in a great position to help broadcast television become relevant again, by providing a communal experience (nb: potentially distinct from a "community" experience) layered on top of live television. But there's more work to do...

November 22, 2010

links for 2010-11-22

November 22, 2010


I clicked "Like" on Pixar's It Gets Better video, and YouTube showed me the best infographic I've seen in a long time.


I still don't understand how 45 people can disagree with "focus on the greatness your life is going to become." But I love that big green line. Go watch it, and click that "Like" button if you like it.

November 18, 2010

misc notes on google tv, zuckerberg and open territory

I'm usually not a fan of David Pogue's tech reviews...unless, of course, he writes something that agrees with something I wrote before. His review yesterday of Google TV was brutal ("Google TV takes an enormous step in the wrong direction: toward complexity"), with this graf describing the search-based UI and the requirement for a keyboard.

So why do you need a keyboard? First, you need it to navigate Chrome, Google's Web browser. Second, you need the keyboard for Google TV's star feature: Search. When you press Search on the keyboard, you can type in a show or subject -- "taylor swift," say, or "modern family." You're instantly rewarded with a master list of TV shows, Web videos (from all different Web sites) and even apps (more on apps in a moment) that match your query. Just scroll, click and play.

Back when Google TV was first announced, I wrote a post titled "Facebook TV" arguing that finding things isn't really the problem that needs to be solved with television, but rather that "discovering" things was a more interesting challenge. (Look, I'll pull an Anil* and quote myself...)

I don't have problems finding things I already know I want to watch. I do have a problem discovering things I should be watching that I didn't know about before. And in my mind that's a social problem, not a search problem.

Thought experiment: what if tomorrow Facebook announced Facebook TV? Would their default UI -- a stream of recommended items from your friends -- be more or less compelling than Google's search box?

Shifting gears for a second, Scott Rosenberg had a nice writeup yesterday of Battelle's interview with Mark Zuckerberg at Web 2.0. Here's the interview excerpt that every entrepreneur should have tattooed on the inside of their eyelids. Reacting to Battelle's "points of control" map...

ZUCKERBERG: "I like this map that you have up here, but my first instinct was, your map's wrong."

BATTELLE: "Of course it's wrong, it's version one."

ZUCKERBERG: "I think that the biggest part of the map has got to be the uncharted territory. Right? One of the best things about the technology industry is that it's not zero sum. This thing makes it seem like it's zero sum. Right? In order to take territory you have to be taking territory from someone else. But I think one of the best things is, we're building real value in the world, not just taking value from other companies."

I love the fact that the map is missing uncharted territory is his first instinct; that building real value is not just about taking value from other companies. (Emphasis mine, obviously.)

Connecting traditionally lean-back television experiences with online communities, social graphs, real-time chatter and new modes of content discovery is massively large uncharted territory. It's not just about taking value from cable companies and television networks, but adding value to consumers on the one end, content creators on the other, and all the actors (new and established) that live along the chain between the two. Kudos to Google for heading into it with a big bet; Twitter's sailing into it as well (seen the issue of Fast Company with @chloes on the cover yet?); Facebook can't be ignoring this; and, of course, there's Apple. We're just at the beginning of this...

* Said with love, of course.

November 18, 2010

links for 2010-11-18

November 17, 2010

links for 2010-11-17

  • I like this advice he gives about the answers to obvious questions like "do you need to raise money?" "Think about them, write down your answers, and then refer back to them as you have conversations with advisors, potential investors, and even your customers."
  • "In Saturday's Twitter fury, Bissinger only began with the British judge, who upheld the conviction of a man for a joking Tweet (frustrated that a weather delay might keep him from seeing his girlfriend, he said he would blow up the airport). He went on to compare the Miami Heat's James to a 6-year-old and called New York Times columnist Paul Krugman "a miserable mope who doesn't like anything" and who wouldn't improve the economy one iota, if he had to stop talking and take some action."
  • "He designed this feature to abstract away texts vs. email vs. chat. But 99% of real humans don't care about this, and won't experience his "relief" because this was never a problem in the first place. Teens always text each other, because they always have their cell phones & this is the way to reach them. And to reach your grandma, you use email. Simple. No mixing up grandma with your girlfriend."
November 16, 2010

links for 2010-11-16

  • "I genuinely believe that the creators of this show have vastly overestimated the American public’s interest in rock faces and glaciers. Absent the promise of death, of course."
  • "And, you know, politics aside, the success of Sarah Palin and women like her is good for all women-except, of course-those who will end up, you know, like, paying for their own rape 'kit 'n' stuff.' But for everybody else, it's a win-win. Unless you're a gay woman who wants to marry your partner of 20 years-whatever. But for most women, the success of conservative women is good for all of us. Unless you believe in evolution. You know-actually, I take it back. The whole thing's a disaster."
  • "The moment I've finished typing this, I'm going to walk out the door and set about strangling every single person on the planet. Starting with you, dear reader. I'm sorry, but it has to be done, for reasons that will become clear in a moment." Also, the piece used the word "hoojamflip" which is pretty great.
  • "At this point, Newsweek, with its 7 million visitors a month, dwarfs the Daily Beast's 4 million or so. However, a closer look at traffic loyalty shows the Beast's relative strength in community-building. On average, Newsweek visitors come to the site about 1.5 times a month and click on just over three pages, according to Quantcast. Daily Beast visitors come to the site 2.3 times a month, looking at close to 7 pages each visit. ( by comparison gets 2.3 average monthly visits and 8.59 page views, while Time does 1.5 and 7.7, respectively.)"
  • Amazing supercut of Swift acting surprised, from fourfour.
November 11, 2010

what works on the cover of wired

From his comments on Cindy Royal's post about the latest Wired cover, Chris Anderson on what actually works on the cover...

We have trouble putting *people* on the cover. It’s the same reason: they have to sell, and what sells for us is either big ideas (sans people) or well-known, likable people with interesting things to say. The problem is that there aren’t enough geek celebrities, so we often end up going with celebrity geeks instead. Our Gates and Zuckerberg cover didn’t sell as well as our Will Ferrell cover.

Two words: airport bookstores.

November 11, 2010

what is next? a book reading badge?!?

THEKRUSER.COM has an obsessive catalog of Foursquare badges (by event, by location, by active/inactive) and brands to follow. I loved this editorial remark, though, about The Healthy Crane badge:

Remarks: In my opinion, this series of badges should not exist. Foursquare is a LOCATION bassed game. This badge is based on an ACCOMPLISHMENT. If they keep this stuff up, they will dilute the badge pool with badges that have nothing to do with location at all. What is next? A book reading badge?!?

I wish THEKRUSER.COM organized these chronologically, and plotted the evolution of badge design over time so that he could accurately predict the inevitable appearance of the book reading badge.

November 10, 2010

nieman lab interviews al shaw

It’s really good that a lot of sites are starting to experiment more with data-driven journalism, especially as web frameworks and cheap cloud hosting become more prevalent and you can learn Rails and Django, it’s really easy to get a site up that’s based around data you can collect. I do see two kind of disturbing trends that are also happening. One is the rise of infographics. They may not be as useful as they are pretty. You see that a lot just all over the place now. The other problem you see is the complete opposite of that where you’ll get just a table of data filling up your whole screen. The solution is somewhere in between that. You have a better way of getting into it.


Nieman Journalism Lab interviews Al Shaw, formerly of Talking Points Memo, now of ProPublica, about the work he's done pushing the boundaries of content management and news applications.

November 10, 2010

market recalls from flowing data

Nathan Yau from Flowing data banged out a weekend project to scrape the FDA's feed of product and market withdrawls and make it browsable by time and company. It's all done in Django, and Nathan's made the apps available on Google Code. More like this, please.

November 10, 2010

i love local blogging...because i love berkeleyside

I've come to really appreciate hyperlocal blogging...mostly because in the past year or so Berkeleyside has grown into a tremendous news outlet for my adopted home town. I'm hyperlocally self-centered that way.

Case in point: Tracey Taylor's in-depth post about the survey our local councilmember did to find out what people who live near Solano Avenue (like me!) want out of their local business district. (More restaurants! That are open later! Fewer ridiculous city planning restrictions!)

Good stuff. I hope you're lucky enough to have a blog like Berkeleyside that covers your home town.

November 10, 2010

hands in pockets

Dana Ward at SFMOMA's blog on Cory Arcangel's All the Parts from Simon and Garfunkel's 1984 Central Park Performance Where Garfunkel Sings with His Hands in His Pockets:

I flashed back to something I’d learned on Wikipedia about how he’d been pretty shy growing up, & I thought live performance probably remained for him a disconcerting scene. His idea was then perhaps to take his body out of the equation, foreground that sugary tenor & pretend it came from nowhere, an Orphic transmission whose beyond was invisible simply by being…inconspicuous? On the other hand maybe this was all pure sublimation. Really, he’d rather be strangling Paul for being such an asshole all these years, so he kept his hands there to resist the temptation.

My vote? Pure sublimation.

November 09, 2010

om has it right

Lately, it has become commonplace in the Valley to shift focus away from founders and put it on the investors. Some might argue that in case of RockMelt, it was the investor connection that made the story worthy of attention. (I would disagree with them.) To me those are the wrong reasons to pay attention to a company and its technology.


I'm enjoying reading Om Malik's posts lately; he's become the voice of reason in tech blogs. Two thumbs up for this latest post, where he argues for a shift in attention back to the entrepreneur and away from the investors. Marc Andreessen is a nice story hook for RockMelt, of course, but the mgmt team, the product they create and the business they build around it are what's going to make RockMelt interesting over time...

(Re. RockMelt itself, I'm not sold yet. It's a gutsy move to have Facebook identity baked in at such a fundamental level. It could be that I'm just getting old, but having all the Twitter and FB friends and feeds right there everywhere I go feels really distracting. Maybe it'll end up being a mood / mode thing?)

November 09, 2010

matt thompson on marc ambinder

Perhaps more than any other publishing/broadcasting format, a blog is a manifestation of the choices and idiosyncrasies of its authors.


Matt Thompson's long-ish Snarkmarket piece on Marc Ambinder's blogend at The Atlantic is well worth reading. I love the fact that a dozen or so years on we're still having the discussion about "what is a blog;" because if we're still having it it means that the medium is vibrant, constantly changing, and fluid enough to encompass a wide variety of voices and forms.

November 09, 2010

jackson pollock never wore adidas

I love the series of videos that MoMA's created for the blockbuster Abstract Expressionism show, especially this one about the painting techniques of Jackson Pollock.

It's wild to watch someone in Adidas recreate Pollock's painting technique, especially if you're familiar with any of the footage like this where Pollock's in his paint-splattered leather boots.

November 09, 2010

follow @sippeydotcom on twitter

If you've gone the route of abandoning your feed reader in favor of the Twitter, you can now get every blog post from from, you guessed it, @sippeydotcom. No blogistential crisis about the distinction between @sippey and @sippeydotcom, just an additional Twitter account, with every post title passed through as a tweet.

* Except this one, for recursively obvious reasons.

November 08, 2010

up with humans

Here's the current list of "related records" to the Universal Record Database page for Most Tongue Clucks in 10 Seconds:

  • Loudest cluck (6 decibels)
  • Fastest time to shoot 5 balloons from 50 yards away (1 minute 18 seconds)
  • Fastest time to shoot 5 balloons from 50 yards away while on knees (1 minute 16 seconds)
  • Longest time to balance surfboard on chin (43.6 seconds)
  • Longest time to sit on a heated George Foreman grill (29.86 seconds)
  • Most 360 degree spins while doing a one-handed devil stick 'chopstick' in one minute (15 spins)

Oh, and the record for most tongue clucks in 10 seconds in 51.

November 08, 2010

spalding gray archives go to the harry ransom center


Back in March the University of Texas announced that their Harry Ransom Center had acquired the archives of David Foster Wallace. Today it's the archives of Spalding Gray. The archive includes "dozens if not hundreds of tapes of Gray's performances."

November 08, 2010

more venn diagrams, please.


Go add Troy Young's Advertising and Nicorette to your news reader thing-a-ma-bob.

November 08, 2010

i want a $1 version of this

Via Cool Hunting comes this really clever fluorescent light bulb fixture. Only problem: it's made of brass and costs $920. What we need is the functional equivalent of the porcelain keyless incandescent fixture that goes for $1 at your neighborhood Home Depot...but for the circular fluorescent bulb.

November 08, 2010

i love these peter ravn paintings

Beautiful Decay has a bunch of wonderful Peter Ravn paintings up on their site. Would love to see these in person; looks like I'll have to go to Europe to do that, though...

November 08, 2010

file under: this is not a metaphor

From BLDBLOG: "A single-family home in California has been 'invaded' by bees—so much so that honey is now leaking from the electrical outlets, coming 'from a giant beehive behind the walls.'"

November 04, 2010

you should read this


Highly recommended:  Adam Langer's The Thieves of Manhattan. I read most of it on the highsmith wearing my franzens, and enjoyed the million little pieces of insidery references to Milli Vannilli. You probably will, too.  (Thanks to Andrew for the recommendation!)

November 04, 2010

sea water antennas

BLDBLOG on how the U.S. Navy R&D lab has "engineered a clever scheme to turn the ocean’s most abundant resource into communications equipment, making antennas out of geysers of seawater."

Turning seawater into a temporary broadcast architecture is absolutely fascinating to me and has some extraordinary design implications for the future. Pirate radio stations made entirely from spiraling pinwheels of saltwater; cell-phone masts disguised as everyday displays spurting seasonally in public parks, from Moscow to Manhattan; TV towers replaced with Busby Berkeley-like aquatic extravaganzas, camouflaging the electromagnetic infrastructure of the city as a gigantic water garden.

Mind officially blown.

November 04, 2010

r.i.p. sparky anderson

One of my most vivid childhood memories is being lucky enough to go down on the field for batting practice at Wrigley before an afternoon Cubs / Reds game. Everything was larger than life -- the field, the stadium, the players. Everything except Sparky Anderson, who squatted down and had a short conversation with an awe-struck six and a half year old boy...

Meeting Sparky Anderson

Anderson was 35 when he became manager of the Reds in 1969. Which means he was in his early 40s when this picture was taken. From the Times' obit:

“Everybody knows the story about how the headline in the paper the day I was hired read, ‘Sparky Who?’” Anderson once told The Cincinnati Enquirer. But he soon began to look the part of a grizzled veteran manager, his hair turning prematurely white soon afterward and his craggy features suggesting a budding Casey Stengel.

When he retired after the 1995 season, Anderson had won the most games of any manager in both Reds and Tigers history, and his 2,194 victories over all placed him third on the career list, behind Connie Mack and John McGraw. He is now No. 6.

Rest in peace, Mr. Anderson.

PS: Tim Carmody has a great post up about Sparky at The Idler.

November 04, 2010

felix salmon on the dismal economics of paywalls

And meanwhile, the richness of the web does not mean that news sites, say, are competing mainly with each other. If Newsday puts up a paywall and it fails, is that because readers can find content similar to Newsday’s elsewhere for free? Yes, in part. But it’s also because the people who would otherwise visit have lots of other things they also like to do. They like to spend time in Farmville, or they want to watch a video of a dog skateboarding, or they want to see their house on Google Earth, or they want to go walk their dog. These aren’t people who need certain information and are going to seek it out at the lowest cost; they’re just people who would visit Newsday’s website if it was free, but won’t if it isn’t.


I love this bit of Felix Salmon's excellent post on paywalls. The web (and life!) offer many more alternatives to a paywall'd news site.

Theory: social surfing (i.e. clicking on links your friend, family and other things you follow / like in Twitter and Facebook) creates much more random patterns of Internet behavior than pre-Twitter / Facebook. It's no longer "let's go check the news and the weather and the sports" it's "let's go check the Facebook news feed and WHOA there goes an hour clicking on things, I should really go take the dog for a walk."

November 04, 2010

a thank you note

Dear Leah,

Thanks for making thx thx thx. Your daily thank you notes that show up in my Twitter remind me to be thankful for things, without making me feel too inadequate for rarely (hand) writing any thank you notes myself.


November 01, 2010

new york mag's ipad app

Live links from Daily Intel, along with Vulture, The Cut, and Grub Street, are available from the toolbar and links within the magazine.


Live links from Daily Intel, Vulture, The Cut and Grub Street are also available through the iPad's convenient Safari web browser (remember that?), without having to pay $4.99 for an app.

(Found via Jake Dobkin's Google Reader sharing thing.)

November 01, 2010

if you're watching fringe, you'll appreciate this

"The Automatypewriter is a typewriter that can type by itself."

(via waxy, of course.)

November 01, 2010

elbow bump.


I've been loving the tweets from KNBR's Brian Murphy, he's been posting a bunch of blurry, ill-lit photos from Texas that marry the jouralist's access with the eye of a fan. Here's Matt Cain and Brian Wilson elbow-bumping after winning the World F'in Series.