Saturday, April 08, 2006

reconstruction


Ok, after the Great Crash of 2006, my newly rebuilt system is fast and relatively clutter-free And thanks to recovery software, I have most of the really important stuff. I think I can definitely sacrifice a few (*cough*) dirty pictures and some episodes of CSI: Miami. Why most of the missing television episodes I have already re-acquired. Makes me wish they made OS X for x86; there was an article on this today in Slate. Apple's effort to get PC owners to switch to Mac would be more effective, the article argues, if they sold their fantastic OS for regular ol' PCs, instead of offering a way to have both Windows and OS X on an Apple. Most of the design features of OS X are suggested to be included in Vista, so why not snatch them away now and upsell later?
This whole, overly dramatic situation with my computer has led me to think alot about what I expect out of technology, how it could be used better in my life and what things are missing. I think that's always been a crucial challenge, not how we are using a tool but what new uses can be made of things. I'm not talking just about making tires into sandals, but also how something novel and potentially paradigm-breaking like video blogging or municipal wireless can be used and documented itself as a process. (i.e. knowledge as a tool).
Thus, there are definitely a few areas online in which more engaging documentation and instruction are needed to guide more casual users of the WWW to become interactive participants with the capacity to create new media and activate business and personal connections with greater ease. After all, the World Wide Web as it was originally conceived by Tim Berners-Lee (as opposed to the Internet, which was a originally a military project for a hardened command network) was a system for scientists and engineers to exchange documents across the world by highlighting the connections between documents. As the WWW has become more integrated into society, Berners-Lee now proposes a more advanced web which understands concepts like trust and proof and uses a universal file format, XML. For the pace of this project to succeed, more automated and data mining tools need to be available and made usuable for the general public.
Up till now almost exclusively the purview of the NSA and Google, data mining encompasses both searching a large quantity of information for hidden patterns, but also allowing for searches of a specific piece of information in the haystack. This requires more sophisticated indexing processes, such as speech recognition and annotation to automatically index sound and more complex visual pattern recognition for nascent video indexing. Easier is just to have the user folksonomically tag media resources, however this tends to produce redundancy in lots of different tags for the same thing and lots of copies of slightly different tags. New systems will combine tag aggregators and editors with automatic annotation, something which will be greatly beneficial in spreading video blogging.
Another thing that is sorely needed are explanations about common cultural items in the blogosphere. Perhaps what is needed is a freeware Essential Blogging by Cory Doctorow, with advice on setup, posting, commenting, and even web design so that all of this doesn't need to be sought piecemeal and haphazardly. Of course, all of this is probably available as a wiki; but it could use a good standard guide, something you could print out in dead-tree form, so that you really could RTFM if the situation is that dire. For instance, one thing sorely needed is an online guide to political activism which explains not only the mechanics of local, state and Federal politics but also how blogging can fit into the context, along with fundraising online and proper style. This bridging of the online communities' collective know-how to bring more people in only works if this content is solid and holds weight.

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