Archive for November, 2006


Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

GOOGLEYI had lunch at the Googleplex yesterday and as a result got to add several geeky license plates to my photo collection. I wasn’t even trying hard to look for these, I was just glancing at the plates I passed walking to and from my car.

In unrelated geekiness, if you prefer to unleash your inner geek with the help of a bit more text then I recommend the quotes on this page. A couple of my favorites:

There are only two kinds of programming languages: those people always bitch about and those nobody uses. (Bjarne Stroustrup)

[The BLINK tag in HTML] was a joke, okay? If we thought it would actually be used, we wouldn’t have written it! (Mark Andreessen)

If none of that made sense then you could go watch some Jay Leno Headlines where it is by design that many of the featured items don’t make sense.

Project 365: #26

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Mini shopping cart

Taken: November 19, 2006 (What is Project 365?)

I did some shopping for kids yesterday and noticed this abandoned mini shopping cart in one of the stores. I figured it summed up my experience well.

Gift season

Monday, November 20th, 2006

My brother sent me a link to a site about regifting stories some of which are pretty amusing. On the side is a poll asking people about their reasons for regifting. I have considered regifting in the past, but in the end I don’t know if I’ve ever done it. It mostly comes up in cases when I really don’t like something I’ve been given. But then I ask myself: if I really don’t like it then would I want to inflict it on a friend? Plus there’s the potential embarrassment of being thought of as someone who might’ve actually found the item valuable. Hmm…

Project 365: #25

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Huge chestnuts

Taken: November 18, 2006 (What is Project 365?)

I have never seen chestnuts this huge. They are scattered around campus and initially I didn’t even know what they were. In fact, picking them up made me realize that this is probably what this squirrel was holding the other day.

Links for 2006-11-20

Monday, November 20th, 2006

Links for 2006-11-19

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

Project 365: #24

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

NU ties Stanford

Taken: November 17, 2006 (What is Project 365?)

Northwestern played Stanford in basketball yesterday. These two schools don’t play each other much so it was a special treat to have the ‘Cats in town. Although NU lost, they played a good game. It was one of the most fun ones I’ve seen them play actually. I honestly believe if it hadn’t been for the home court advantage, the outcome would’ve been different. But the way Stanford’s stadium is set up the students stand along half the court and are quite a presence. Weird element of the game: the Stanford redwood dancing mascot (?). What’s up with that?

And no, I don’t plan on making basketball court photos a regular on Project 365.

Project 365: #23

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Tea selection

Taken: November 16, 2006 (What is Project 365?)

One of my favorite areas at the Center is the hot beverage counter where I can choose from among over a dozen teas. See the larger context herep.

Fantasy Congress

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Does anyone around here play Fantasy Congress? I’d heard about it before, but now that I was invited to join a league, I started looking into it in more depth.

As in other fantasy sports, you – the Citizen – draft a team of real-life legislators from the U.S. Congress and score points for your team’s successes.

However, as one commentator aptly notes: “[I]t’s lifelike: you win by getting bills passed, not by passing good bills.”

If you only care about winning the game, sure, you can compile a team of senators and represenatives who have an active record. But do you really want to be sitting around hoping that some real-life bill that makes your stomach turn is successful just so you can score some points in FC?

I can see the appeal to some extent, but overall I am not convinced the system is refined enough at this point to get me sufficiently enthusiastic. And while my first reaction was that at least it has educational value by teaching people about the legislative process, now I’m thinking that since it is most likely to appeal to folks who already know much about politics, it’s not clear that it will really spread the word far and wide about how the system works.

That said, I don’t have much experience with fantasy sports so I may be missing some important factors. Moreover, I do think the idea is interesting and certainly impressive that some college students thought it up and managed to execute itp. And to be fair, it sounds like its creators – four undergraduate students at Claremont McKenna – are working on refining the system.

Links for 2006-11-18

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

Project 365: #22

Friday, November 17th, 2006

CASBS main seminar room

Taken: November 15, 2006 (What is Project 365?)

On Wednesday, I gave my seminar presentation to fellow Fellows. I took this photo an hour after the Q&A had ended. You can see on the clock on the right that it was 10pm.

The title of my presentation was The World is Bumpy: Information Technology and Social Inequality. It was interesting to prepare for this talk as I took several steps back from where I usually start my presentations given that this was a more varied crowd. The questions and comments at the end were great, it’s wonderful to get feedback from a smart diverse group of scholars. Lots for me to think about.

In retrospect, I wish I had taken a photo of the people sitting in the seminar room. Bummer.

Project 365: #21

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Stanford Faculty Club

Taken: November 14, 2006 (What is Project 365?)

On Tuesday, the Berkeley-Stanford inequality group met for dinner and a talk at the Stanford Faculty Club.

Links for 2006-11-17

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Project 365: #20

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Squirrel in action

Taken: November 13, 2006 (What is Project 365?)

Squirrel outside my office at CASBS. It’s the third in a series of three I took one after the other. In the first one, two squirrels are facing each other. In the next one, the squirrel with the food (?) turns toward me. The third one is that same squirrel in action.

Two squirrels Squirrel with food (?) Squirrel in action

I have not been a big fan of squirrels ever since one chewed its way through the screens into my room at the Old GC in grad school.

Africa on Google Maps

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Is this is a new Google Maps feature? I noticed the Google logo with Africa as the “g” on Google Maps today. I wonder if this is a way of letting people know that Google Maps now covers that continent. Neat.

Africa on Google Maps

Links for 2006-11-16

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Project 365: #19

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Hoover Tower, Stanford

Taken: November 12, 2006 (What is Project 365?)

I went for a walk on Sunday around campus with my walking buddy and took some photos of the Hoover Tower, the Rodin Sculpture garden and other assorted sights.

Links for 2006-11-15

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Interesting beneficial uses of the Web?

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

I’m collecting examples of interesting ways in which people use various online services for their benefit. Of course, I can come up with lots of hypotheticals and examples from my own life, but it’s helpful to have concrete cases from the world at large.

Here, for example, is an interesting case of IT being put to use for the potential benefit of folks in a realm having little to do with IT. It’s about the use of Google Earth to back up claims about the value of some land that the government in India wants to acquire from farmers for limited compensation. The piece doesn’t say whether the use of these images ultimately led to a different outcome, but the potential is there.

Another relevant example is how people exploit spelling errors on ebay listings to get good deals. Because most people searching for those items don’t find them, there is much less of a bidding war and the final price is lower than would be otherwise. There are now even Web sites that help you exploit this, for example, eBooBoos does the guessing on your behalf. The results of a search on “turtle” yield items such as a turle neck sweater or a trutle box. (One wonders why ebay hasn’t worked on this issue in-house, but that’s another matter.)

I am looking for other examples concerning the beneficial uses of IT by average folks in particular, although interesting uses by super techies are welcomed as well. I’m not so much interested in (at this time) cases of xyz Web site helping to deal with other realms of IT uses (e.g. a handy tool for following blog posts), but uses that have a relatively direct impact on other realms of life as well. If you can share pointers to articles like the one above regarding the farmers in India that would be great. I also welcome stories from personal experiences. This is all related to some talks and papers I’m working on. Thanks!

Links for 2006-11-14

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006