links for 2009-01-31

  • This was recommended at She's Geeky: Might be useful for RJI Collaboratory project, for project team sprints:

    "Tracker is a story-based project planning tool that allows teams to collaborate in real-time.
    - Velocity tracking and emergent iterations
    - Make planning decisions using accurate projections based on past performance.
    - Story-based iterative planning
    - Base your software project management on proven agile methods.
    - Real-time collaboration
    - See what your team is doing and react to change instantly

  • "Open database of the world’s information. It’s built by the community and for the community – free for anyone to query, contribute to, build applications on top of, or integrate into their websites.

    "Already, Freebase covers millions of topics in hundreds of categories. Drawing from large open data sets like Wikipedia, MusicBrainz, and the SEC archives, it contains structured information on many popular topics, including movies, music, people and locations – all reconciled and freely available via an open API. This information is supplemented by the efforts of a passionate global community of users who are working together to add structured information on everything from philosophy to European railway stations to the chemical properties of common food ingredients.

    "By structuring the world’s data, the Freebase community is creating a global resource that will one day allow people and machines everywhere to access information far more easily and quickly than they can today."

  • "DBpedia is a community effort to extract structured information from Wikipedia and to make this information available on the Web. DBpedia allows you to ask sophisticated queries against Wikipedia, and to link other data sets on the Web to Wikipedia data."

She’s Geeky: Great Opportunity To Step Outside Journo Culture

Computer History Museum Logo
Image by vanderwal via Flickr

I’ve written before about how the culture of traditional journalism tends to be rather insular, self-referential and — increasingly — toxic. This is especially true of the events that journalists typically attend, and the communities with which they typically mix.

Journalists mainly go to conferences specifically about journalism or specifically for journalists. While they also attend other events, this is usually for research or reporting — not to be “part of the crowd.”

…And that, I think, is a huge missed opportunity. Increasingly, community building and team building are becoming core skills for a career in journalism. The fast-shifting news business requires that journalists personally know and be able to work well with technologies, business people, marketers, community organizers, financiers, nonprofits and advocates, and other people from complementary fields. Every profession has its own culture and its own events. Attending these events — not just for aloof observation, but in order to join those communities — can be a great way to expand your career options.

Today and tomorrow I’m attending an event that represents a perfect opportunity to connect with geek culture. It’s She’s Geeky, a periodic “unconference” held at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA…

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Zombie signs & how public officials can act human

Run for your lives!  Zombies want to eat your brain!

…Gotta admit, I was tickled to hear on MSNBC and elsewhere about this bit of creative hackery:

TX DOT was not amused... But I was...

TX DOT was not amused... But I was... (Photo courtesy Lucas Cobb)

In Austin, KXAN reported:

“[Austin Public Works spokesperson] Sara Hartley said though it was a locked sign, the padlock for it was cut. Signs such as these have a computer inside that is password-protected. ‘And so they had to break in and hack into the computer to do it, so they were pretty determined.’”

OK, yeah, I know there’s a serious potential public safety issue here. Apparently the Austin police are trying to catch the sign hackers, who may face a class C misdemeanor charge.

But I think Queer Cincinnati nailed the opportunity here for public officials to turn this to their advantage by responding with a sense of humor:

“Does anyone else think, perhaps, the PD should have just taken it as the joke it was, and posted ‘Zombie Threat Eliminated, Road Construction Ahead’? I think that would have shown a great, human side to the government. And we wouldn’t have these silly threats to go after college pranksters.”

Amen! After all, as Queer Cincinnati also noted, instructions on how to hack road signs have been posted on Neatorama and elsewhere. This is definitely going to keep happening. Probably responding with humor — while improving security of road signs — would generate the most public goodwill.

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links for 2009-01-29

Idea: Nurturing App for Social Media

Friendster or Foe
Image by l0ckergn0me via Flickr

Without going into details, I’ve been handling a lot of major personal stuff lately — and I’ve been fortunate to have a strong and growing circle of close friends who have stepped up to offer me a steady supply of energy, support, perspective, honesty, sympathy, empathy, nurturing, and fun.

And I do this for them, too. That’s the core of deep friendship and other loving connections: You give of your own energy to help sustain others who are running low or in transition. At certain points we all need more nurturing; and at other times we have an abundance of energy and emotion to offer. Life comes in waves.

Personally, I’ve always found it very hard to ask for the help or nurturing I need. I don’t trust people easily, especially where my feelings of vulnerability are concerned. I assume that any emotional need I have, however small, will be perceived as too great an imposition. I don’t expect other people to be available to me. (Yes, I’m working on changing this mindset, quite deliberately. It’s a coping mechanism I’ve outgrown.)

As I’m reaching out more to my close friends, I’m wishing I had a tool that would help me to gauge their situation before I make a request, so I can be more sensitive to when I might actually be imposing.

Here’s what it might look like…

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links for 2009-01-28

Snail mail blues: Temporary change of address = Almost no mail for a month

USPS temporary forwarding = total crapshoot

USPS temporary forwarding = total crapshoot

Although I live in Boulder, CO, I’m currently spending a few months with friends in Oakland, CA. So just before I left Boulder on Jan 6., I went to my local post office branch and submitted a form for a temporary change of address. That was the only option they mentioned at the post office, and it seemed like it made sense.

Nearly a month later, very very little of my mail has gotten forwarded so far. It’s starting to freak me out. Most of my clients pay me by check, and I haven’t been receiving most of the checks sent on outstanding invoices. I am running out of cash, and it’s really pissing me off. Plus, this is the month that 1099 tax forms get sent out.

I expected some delay in receiving my forwarded mail. The US Postal Service says to expect a delay of up to 10 days. A couple of days after I arrived in CA I did receive a confirmation of mail forwarding via snail mail from the USPS, so I didn’t worry. By Jan 15, I started receiving a few pieces of mail — some Netflix DVDs, some junk mail, and a couple of small checks. I figured the rest would be coming.

Today — Jan. 27, nearly two weeks later — I’m still receiving only a trickle of mail. Today I called my local post offices both here in Oakland and back in Boulder. The Boulder postal clerk confirmed the forwarding order, and explained the continued delay:

Get this: The USPS must generate and apply forwarding labels manually (!!!), which according to the clerk I spoke to can causes delays in delivery of up to a month!!! Nowhere — not at the post office, on the forwarding form, on their site, on their information line — was I informed of this. Yeah, I’m annoyed… Continue reading

Pew on Social Media: It’s Bigger than You Think

An example of a social network diagram.
Image via Wikipedia

On Jan 14., the Pew Internet and American Life project released a report on Adults and Social Networking Services. It said, “The share of adult Internet users who have a profile on an online social network site has
more than quadrupled in the past four years — from eight percent in 2005 to 35 percent now.”

Over at the Knight Digital Media Center News Leadership 3.0 blog, Michele McLellan observed: “It appears that American adults are moving into social networks more quickly than top 100 news organizations…”

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links for 2009-01-26

  • Not free, but inexpensive.
    (tags: tools mac photos)
  • "When you use the TwitPwr short url service, we track the number of clicks that you drive via the Twitter API, and give your account a Power Rating. Your Power Rating is not only the unique traffic that you generate, but it's also based on how many Twitter users you refer to our service, and how much traffic they generate through unlimited generations. TwitPwr now has stats and analytics for submitted URLs."
  • "Irony: Comm wrote a 30 page report on Facebook on how social networking can improve your business which was very positive about Facebook.

    "Comm, like me, says he’ll be back on Facebook if they reenable his account but warns that people will get tired of this kind of treatment. “You know what, I don’t need big brother watching me and I’ll go use another site.”

    "Get Satisfaction, a site where you can leave customer complains for companies, has an extensive thread on this issue.

    "I agree. I refuse to use Facebook to conduct business and don’t upload many videos or photos there because I don’t support companies that “erase” MY data without my permission. I know of no other social network that does this in this way."