Google Labs

Google has just changed their interface. They now point to a “more” section with more services. Google Labs is one of the new services which has a number of interesting experimental projects including one that allows you to volunteer processing for academic use – like the SETI screen saver, but a generic service. Now they should try a Beacon-like volunteer archiving project. See my note Freenet and Beacon.

Vivisimo Clustering Engine

Vivisimo Clustering – automatic categorization and meta-search software is a meta search engine with a great outliner like interface that lets you move through lots of hits. They gather hits from other engines and cluster them into a hierarchy that can be browsed. The idea is obvious once you try it for searches where you want to manage lots of hits. Thanks to Matt for this.
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notlong.org: Short URLs

A comment to a note on Annotations had an intriguing comment by Seb who has a blog at seb.notlong.org. I went there, and, because the server was busy it dropped me into the notlong.org site which provides simple service where people can get a short url created that resolves to their longer url. Thus XXX.notlong.org resolves to something entirely different. (Thanks Seb – this is the second note with something I have learned from him.)

See notlong Short URL Redirection: Make a long URL notlong. This suggests one could create a long term url that would travel with you like a life phone number. (What would I do with all my stuff at Mac if I left?)
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Another Spam solution

Can we solve the spam problem?

Sorting e-mail friends from foes: Identifying networks of mutual friends helps filter out spam is another project that uses networks of friends to filter mail. This project, in effect, acknowledges that we may have to give up on the anonymous and democratic Internet and go back to other types of networks to decide who we correspond with.

What do I mean by this? Another post.

Freenet Project

Can we bypass censorship on the Internet?

The story was that the Internet was designed to bypass censorship (in the sense of reroute around disruptions) and that the technology was therefore inherently democratic. Now we worry this won’t stay true as we discover that countries can censor the net and commercial interests (RIAA) can scare beharior. We are discovering what political activists have always known, you can’t count on systems by themselves – you have to pay attention to achieve values. The Freenet Project (thanks to Matt for this) is an example of paying attention – building the human and technical network to support redundant distribution of information.

My memory of Freenet was of something different – local free internet ISPs in the days when there were few affordable options for those outside the university – hmmm is this the same org morphed?

Anyway, they are doing what James Chartrand and I imagined and called the Beacon project. (As always, if you have a good idea that just helps you recognize that someone else had it before.)
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Making Lore

How can one capture the folklore around a topic?

Andy Hertzfeld (of Mac fame) has developed a set of python scripts to run Folklore.org: About Folklore. The scripts allow for projects where teams of authors/historians can create a web of testimony – “oral” history. There is, at present, only one project supported and that is on the original Macintosh. The site, in principle, will support many such projects.
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Spam and Greeting Cards

Will spam kill the net as we know it?

In a previous entry (Overcome with Spam) I commented on spam/sporn is changing what we can do. Here is a scary dissection of a spam greeting card e-mail: Ecard-hijack spam.

It stuck me back in December that e-cards were dead when I began to get spam claiming to be e-cards. Now I wonder if this is not sweeping net culture. Any bright idea or service that depends on people trying out (and trusting) unknown others becomes a trojan horse for viruses. At what point do we basically stop doing anything except with trusted entities? When that happens the Internet as a democratizing (in the sense of connecting people laterally outside of exising hierarchies) force dies. At that point we lose the global “inter”net and move to forms of intra/extra nets that are limited gated communities.
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Blogshares

Can we track culture on the web?

With Skip Poehlman in Computing and Software here at Mac we did a project on culture tracking on the net. The idea was to track keywords by checking search engines every night. The data was recorded so you could graph the ups and downs of keywords.

The idea came from a conversation with a friend about whether it was possible to create a cultural stock market so people could bet on items like “Madonna”, “XML” or “James Bond”. Since then I have found sites doing things like that. Here is a site that explicitly lets you play a stock market game on blogs. BlogShares – Fantasy Blog Share Market.
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Blogs and Power Laws

Will blogs go the way of all media? Will a few dominate?

Well, it has already happened. So called “power laws” seem to apply to blogs where a small number blogs get lots of attention and most very little. See Clay Shirky’s (soon to be a LOTR character) Shirky: Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality, a short paper on the subject. He suggests that the very success of a few may change things – they may be percieved eventually as mainstream and cease to be considered blogs.

CBC radio today also had a thing on DNTO (Definitely Not The Opera – one of Peigi’s favorite shows so I hear it too) on blogs. They pointed out how marketers are creating blogs to promote products. The death of blogs! (Mind you, calling the death is getting to me – is anything left alive?)
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