OpenSocial – Google Code

OpenSocial ImageTwo days ago, on the day of All Hallows (All Saints), Google announced OpenSocial a collection of APIs for embedded social applications. Actually much of the online documentation like the first OpenSocial API Blog entry didn’t go up until early in the morning on November 2nd after the Campfire talk. On November 1st they had their rather hokey Campfire One in one of the open spaces in the Googleplex. A sort of Halloween for older boys.

Image from YouTube

Screen from YouTube video. Note the campfire monitors.

OpenSocial, is however important to tool development in the humanities. It provides an open model for the type of energetic development we saw in the summer after the Facebook Platform was launched. If it proves rich enough, it will provide a way digital libraries and online e-text sites can open their interface to research tools developed in the community. It could allow us tool developers to create tools that can easily be added by researchers to their sites – tools that are social and can draw on remote sources of data to mashup with the local text. This could enable an open mashup of information that is at the heart of research. It also gives libraries a way to let in tools like the TAPoR Tool bar. For that matter we might see creative tools coming from out students as they fiddle with the technology in ways we can’t imagine.

The key difference between OpenSocial and the Facebook Platform is that the latter is limited to social applications for Facebook, as brilliant as it is. OpenSocial can be used by any host container or social app builder. Some of the other host sites that have committed to using is are Ning and Slide. Speaking of Ning, Marc Andreessen has the best explanations of the significance of both the Facebook Platform phenomenon and OpenSocial potential in his blog, (gander the other stuff on Ning and OpenSocial too).

Republican Debate: Analyzing the Details – The New York Times

Screen Image The New York Times has created another neat text visualization, this time for the Republican Debate. The visualization has two panels. One shows the video, a transcript, and sections. You can jump the video using the transcript or section outline. The other is a “Transcript Analyzer” where you can see a rich prospect of the debate divided by speeches and you can search for words. What is missing is some sort of overview of what the high frequency words are and how they collocate.

So, I have created a public text for analysis in TAPoR and here are some results. Here is a list of words that are high frequency generated using the List Words tool. Some interesting words:

People (76), Think (66), Know (48), Giuliani (42), Clinton (33), Reagan (13), Democrats (16), Republicans (11)

Health (45), Government (35), Security (35), Country (25), Policy (16), Military (15), School (15),

Marriage (23), Insurance (23), Conservative (23), Private (22), Let (21), Gay (12)

Iraq (13), Iran (12), Turkey (7), Canada (2), Darn (2), Europe (5),

Immigrants (5), Citizens (2)

Man (7), Mean (7), Woman (4), Congressman (25)

Answer (10), Problem (10), Solution (5), War (12)

Continue reading Republican Debate: Analyzing the Details – The New York Times

Bible-copying Robot

Image of Robotboinboing has a short entry about a German robot that is exhibited writing out the bible. The robot is a RobotLab project (site in German.) The image comes from Marc Wathieu’s Flikr set for the RobotLab where the description of the project reads:

The Kuka robot is silently writing a version of the martin luther bible, which was originally printed in a early font called “Schwabacher”, retranslated here by RobotLab into calligraphy. “Wolfgang von Kempelen, Mensch-[in der]-Maschine” exhibition, ZKM, Karlsruhe (D).

From the lab site it seems they have also programmed it to draw portraits.
Thanks to Lynn for this.

YouTube – A Vision of Students Today

YouTube – A Vision of Students Today is another video from the Digital Ethnography folks at Kansas State. (Remember Your Moment of Inspiration?) This one has students holding up pages or laptops with messages about students, the web and learning. The script is on the Mediated Cultures site. I love the creativity of how they are using video in class and for class. It feels participatory – by students, for students, and about students. Digital Ethnography indeed.

Thanks to Johanna for pointing this out to me.

Zonbu: cares about the planet too

Image of Zonbu BoxZonbu is a environmental personal computer with some interesting features. It runs a version of Linux and comes with bundled applications. You buy it with a monthly plan that gives you off-site storage and maintenance. It has no hard-drive, just a flash card for local storage. All of this means it is extremely energy efficient (consumes as much as a light bulb) and that it is easy to run. They also promise to take it back and disassemble it for recycling.As interesting as the green aspect of Zonbu is, I’m also struck by their service model. You buy it for $99 (without keyboard or monitor) and then pay $13 a month or more for the storage and support. You don’t get root access and they manage the computer for you. It comes with all the basic applications. As some commentators have put it – the Zonbu makes for a good second home computer for the family (at least those who don’t want to run PC games.)

Guy sent me this after reading my Blog Action Day grumbling. Community Funding


Cofundos is a neat idea, that probably won’t work, for bringing people who want programming done together with those who might contribute code. The idea is that projects get proposed, discussed, and bid on. People who want something done bid money to get it done. If there are enough people bidding small amounts there might be enough to entice developers. Evenutally developers are selected. It doesn’t look like any projects have gotten to that point.

The model is worth following. It could be a way to fund academic projects in a community, but I worry that the amounts would never be enough and programmers donating their time wouldn’t want to be constratined by such a process.

Building understanding: Our best investment for the future

Chad Gaffield, the President of SSHRC wrote an Op-Ed piece for the National Post on how, Building understanding: Our best investment for the future. Here is a quote related to information technology.

Canada’s new science and technology strategy, Mobilizing Science and Technology to Canada’s Advantage, promises to help us meet this challenge. We need more than ever the highly trained, creative and innovative individuals who can contribute in diverse ways across the public and private sectors.

He also has an Op-Ed in the Hill Times (PDF) about “Forging a new kind of literacy” that mentions InterPARES, CRKN/Synergies, and the History of the Book project. It is good to see digital humanities projects getting such attention.