Life is a Mystery

29 March 2008 . Comments Off on High speed for public housing

High speed for public housing

OK, Thinking Machines was cool. Then to have the gall to imagine not just indexing, but also archiving the internet. And then to believe that for $10 a book we could scan the content of our libraries. Brewster Kahle just finds one amazing thing to do after another, this list isn’t even half complete. Anything seems possible. Now I hear that he has turned IA’s highspeed switch into a pathway to the internet for public housing projects in San Francisco.

The apartments are connected to the Internet at 100 megabits a second, a speed that contrasts sharply with the normal high-speed Internet service offered by telephone and cable companies, which is usually less than 6 megabits a second. […]

“We are pleased to be the first nonprofit organization to bring public housing online,” Mr. Kahle said. “We are excited to see much faster access to the Internet as a way to experiment with advanced applications, and are pleased that the underserved get first access to advanced technology.”

He just can’t be stopped! Way to go, Brewster.

28 March 2008 . Comments Off on Killer rabbit

Killer rabbit

I am always impressed by politicians who listen to their kids. A story about Pensylvania Sen. Bob Casey’s endorsement of Obama includes this gem:

Casey’s decision was also personal, motivated in part by the enthusiasm his four daughters – Elyse, Caroline, Julia and Marena – have expressed for Obama, the source said. “He thinks we shouldn’t be deaf to the voices of the next generation.”

28 March 2008 . Comments Off on Constraints force creativity

Constraints force creativity

The 37signals folks say this in Getting Real:

Run on limited resources and you’ll be forced to reckon with constraints earlier and more intensely. And that’s a good thing. Constraints drive innovation.

Constraints also force you to get your idea out in the wild sooner rather than later — another good thing. A month or two out of the gates you should have a pretty good idea of whether you’re onto something or not.

28 March 2008 . Comments Off on Failing forward

Failing forward

My brother was in town this week and Mary had the wonderful idea of bringing some of her students and their friends together to talk with him. We had a great evening talking about entrepreneurship, church, spirit, and failure. One of the wonderful phrases Christopher uses is “failing forward.” Failure can’t be avoided, in fact failure is necessary to success, but he likes to try to fail forward, to at least end up somewhere new as a result of his failure.

Today Mary passed along a blog post by Ryan, who was with us yesterday. This post references a wonderful clip of Ira Glass talking about the importance of killing crap and failing forward.

28 March 2008 . Comments Off on Digging books

Digging books

Brian Dettmer digs into books revealing what lies beneath the covers. These amazing “book autopsies” remind me of the dream I once had that a medical scanner might be used to scan all the pages of a book without opening it up. Brian reveals sculpture and beauty inside the work. Click on the image for more.

Book Autopsy

In this work I begin with an existing book and seal its edges, creating an enclosed vessel full of unearthed potential. I cut into the cover of the book and dissect through it from the front. I work with knives, tweezers and other surgical tools to carve one page at a time, exposing each page while cutting around ideas and images of interest. Nothing inside the books is relocated or implanted, only removed. Images and ideas are revealed to expose a book’s hidden, fragmented memory. The completed pieces expose new relationships of a book’s internal elements exactly where they have been since their original conception.

By the way, Brian himself credits these three galleries with exhibiting his work, but I could only find images at the last of these.

27 March 2008 . Comments Off on FFR: Getting real

FFR: Getting real

Ignore it at my peril, indeed. OK, maybe I have to get around to reading this some time!

27 March 2008 . Comments Off on A different right wing

A different right wing

Jill Bolte Taylor describes her brain to us. Vividly, since she is a brain scientist, dramatically, since she experienced a stroke, compellingly, since that stroke quieted the chatter of her left brain and left her in the “la la land” of her right brain.

Who am I? Why do I choose to be as I am?

UPDATE: An article in the NYT today.

27 March 2008 . Comments Off on Viral news

Viral news

Perhaps not surprising to anyone who would find this posting here on a blog, but the NYT reports that youth (surprise!) copy, link to, and share video and news. In fact, they seem to be replacing traditional filters (think CNN or NYT) with social filters (think Facebook and email).

Rather than treating video-sharing Web sites as traditional news sources, young people use them as tools and act as editors themselves.

“We’re talking about a generation that doesn’t just like seeing the video in addition to the story — they expect it,” said Danny Shea, 23, the associate media editor for The Huffington Post ( “And they’ll find it elsewhere if you don’t give it to them, and then that’s the link that’s going to be passed around over e-mail and instant message.”

The Times notes, for example, that even at the NYT site the transcript of the Obama speech last week was more emailed than any story their reporters wrote about the speech. Why does that make me feel so good? Imagine, people are learning to reach out for primary sources. On the web!

26 March 2008 . Comments Off on Head first

Head first

I love O’Reilly on all kinds of levels.

First, I found as a budding technologist that their books are among the best reference books out there. No nonsense, no condescension. Just information clearly presented by people who know what they are writing about. See the perl bookshelf for an example.

Second, the publisher is a gem who works hard for open access and tries to work with his readers rather than suspect them of wrong doing.

Third, O’Reilly created a really fun magazine called Make (now joined by Craft).

And now, fourth, I discover that they have created a whole series of “head first” books that are instructive, not just reference. I spent six months teaching Alex javascript while we were in Austria and Head Start Javascript would have been the perfect companion. These books are designed for the smart person who wants to sit down and devotes some structured time to learning. While filled with humor, they still require hard work and the completion of excersizes. These are a lot like a book I used thirty (!) years ago to teach myself BASIC.

For the last year I’ve been teaching myself XHTML and CSS. Too bad I didn’t know about Head First HTML.

24 March 2008 . Comments Off on Multitasking mini-me

Multitasking mini-me

I see this in my youngest son.

Grunwald surveyed 1,277 kids and young adults between 9 and 17, 1,039 parents, and 250 school districts across the US. 64 percent of those surveyed told the consulting firm that they go online as they watch TV, and almost three-quarters of that group (73 percent) said they considered themselves to be actively multitasking when they’re watching TV and using the ‘Net at the same time. 42 percent reported that their attention is split between the TV and Internet equally, while another 47 percent said that once they start using the computer, the Internet becomes the focus of their attention.

In fact, my son hardly watches “TV” any more. He’d much rather borrow my computer and watch the shows online at hulu or joost.

Eric Celeste / Saint Paul, Minnesota / 651.323.2009 /