Archive for May, 2007

Keeping track of friends’ whereabouts

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Not long ago I was going to post about the challenge of keeping relevant people posted of one’s travels. That is, the challenge of knowing who among one’s friends may be in the same location at the same time. It’s one thing to remember who lives at a particular destination, it’s another to try to guess who may be travelling there at the same time you are.

Fortunately, just as I was about to post on this, I came across Dopplr, which is a site that addresses this precise issue. Once you sign up, you can let the system know about upcoming trips. You also link up with other people to share your itineraries and the system tells you when you’ll overlap. It’s in closed beta, but if you can think of a friend who has an account, you can ask him/her for an invitation.

Obviously, the value of such a service increases by the number of relevant contacts that join and keep their accounts up-to-date. I wonder if they will be adding the option of distinguishing among contacts. You may want certain people to know about a trip, but not others. And of course, if you prefer that people not know about a certain trip at all, you can exclude it from your list altogether.

I’m excited about this service, but the usual challenge remains: getting enough of my non-geeky friends to join and update their travel info.

Upcoming book event on Crooked Timber

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

In the near future, Crooked Timber will be hosting another book event. I thought it would be helpful to alert folks ahead of time so people can read the book and thereby participate in the discussions more actively and in a more informed manner.

The book is “Higher Ground: New Hope for the Working Poor and Their Children” by Greg J. Duncan, Aletha C. Huston, and Thomas S. Weisner.

During the 1990s, growing demands to end chronic welfare dependency culminated in the 1996 federal “welfare-to-work” reforms. But regardless of welfare reform, the United States has always been home to a large population of working poor— people who remain poor even when they work and do not receive welfare. In a concentrated effort to address the problems of the working poor, a coalition of community activists and business leaders in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, launched New Hope, an experimental program that boosted employment among the city’s poor while reducing poverty and improving children’s lives. [The authors] provide a compelling look at how New Hope can serve as a model for national anti-poverty policies. [source]

You can either buy the book directly from its publisher, the Russell Sage Foundation, or get it at Amazon. Chapter 1 [pdf] is available online for free.

In addition to Timberite contributions, we’ll have comments by Nancy Folbre and Kimberly Morgan plus a response by Greg Duncan.

Links for 2007-05-31

Thursday, May 31st, 2007

Amusing street scenes wanted

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Time sink!

Soon there will be a Web site just for this – if there isn’t one already -, but until then, let’s see what we can collect here.

Yesterday, Google announced a new feature of its Maps service: Street View for select urban areas in the U.S. plus Google’s backyard. We’ve seen this before on services like A9 (which discontinued the feature), and Microsoft’s Live Maps, but this seems more user-friendly.

Boing Boing has a thread with links to some interesting finds. Oh, the temptation to go hunting for more! Spot any embarrassing situations or funny captures? There is potential here for hours of amusement!

I’m off to Trader Joe’s.

Links for 2007-05-30

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Links for 2007-05-29

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

Links for 2007-05-27

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

Links for 2007-05-25

Friday, May 25th, 2007

Links for 2007-05-24

Thursday, May 24th, 2007

Links for 2007-05-23

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2007

Do you have email filters set up for some friends?

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

John Tierney has a piece in the NYTimes about Dan Ryan‘s work concerning the sociology of notification and information dissemination among friends and acquaintances (based on Dan’s recent article in Sociological Theory).

I saw Dan give a talk on this recently and it’s a really fun and interesting topic. His work makes you think about things like why/when it is and is not appropriate to use cc vs bcc on emails, the proper order in which we should notify various people in our networks about certain types of updates, what medium is suitable for what types of material, etc.

The NYTimes piece specifically mentions the idea of setting up email filters for some friends. I must admit that I have filters set up for all sorts of people. I tend to do it by type of person (as in type of network) more so than by specific individual, although the latter idea isn’t foreign to me either.

As someone who studies savvy with IT, I consider the thoughtful use of email filters an important part of skill in how we interact with IT. Email filters are increasingly important for being able to manage the amount of material that comes our way via that particular medium.

[Thanks to Steve Mintz for alerting me to this piece.]

UPDATE: I forgot to post a link to Dan’s blog about the Sociology of Information. Check it out for more goodies.

Links for 2007-05-22

Tuesday, May 22nd, 2007

Five years of blogging

Monday, May 21st, 2007

My fifth blogiversary was almost two weeks ago and I nearly missed it. I think when I came on sabbatical my blogging went on one as well even though I’ve tried to stay on the scene to some extent.

Looking back, I can tell I was an early adopter, because in my first post, I felt the need to explain what a blog is.

People often wonder when (if ever) is a good time to start blogging. I’ve decided that graduate school was the perfect time. While the following is nearly impossible to appreciate when you’re still in grad school, I know it now: you honestly will never have as much free time as you do when you’re in graduate school. Granted, I was in a cushy position of not having to teach so that experience won’t generalize completely. Nonetheless, the number of obligations that follow once you’re in a faculty position makes it a more daunting undertaking later. (I guess perhaps blogging during a post-doc may also work well assuming that the post-doc experience happens before one gets a faculty position.)

I sometimes look back with longing on the topics I covered during the first year. They seem more interesting than what I get around to writing up these days. It’s not that I don’t think about an equal number of random and intriguing issues, I just don’t find the time to construct blog posts about them. I also wonder if size of audience influences what I blog about and how often. Perhaps one is more hesitant with some topics when blog posts go out to a large number of people instantly, the latter thanks to RSS, also not something one considered back in the “old days”.

One of the most amusing outcomes of a post during the first year of my blogging had to do with the movie Chicago. I wrote a few brief comments about it including a critique of a very annoying movie mistake. For some reason (different search algorithms at work at the time favoring blog posts perhaps a bit too much), my entry came up very high in the results on Google in response to a search on movie chicago. And when I say very high, I mean that it was the first hit on Google having to do with the movie! I got tons of visitors many of whom disagreed with my dislike of the movie and weren’t too shy to tell me. I ended up disabling the comments on the blog it got so ridiculous.

By September, 2003 I joined Crooked Timber. Thanks to the folks there who invited me and allowed me to reach a larger number of readers. It’s been a blast. Thanks VERY much to you, dear reader for making this a worthwhile activity. I don’t know if I would’ve kept it up for five years without, what has mostly been, valuable feedback. I’ve met some great people through this activity and have learned a ton, so I thank you!

Links for 2007-05-19

Saturday, May 19th, 2007

Social aspects of search engines

Friday, May 18th, 2007

For your weekend reading pleasure: the special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication I edited on The Social, Political, Economic, and Cultural Dimensions of Search Engines is out. The Introduction gives you the motivation for this collection and a summary of the pieces. From the Abstract:

Search engines are some of the most popular destinations on the Web—understandably so, given the vast amounts of information available to users and the need for help in sifting through online content. While the results of significant technical achievements, search engines are also embedded in social processes and institutions that influence how they function and how they are used. This special theme section of the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication explores these non-technical aspects of search engines and their uses.

Enjoy!

Links for 2007-05-18

Friday, May 18th, 2007

Random thought: May is not a good time to play Christmas music

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

I use Yahoo! Music for most of my music-listening at work. I like the service and at $60 for two years (they had a special when I signed up, the regular now is $72/year) it’s a great deal. [UPDATE: Corrected cost, I had remembered incorrectly.]

The system allows you to customize various stations by giving it feedback about what songs and artists you like. It’s a helpful feature, for the most part. But I think services like this might want to tweak the system so certain songs are kept off playlists at certain times of the year. I am not suggesting that they should be banned, of course, but perhaps not streamed unless sought out actively by the user.

I may like Boney M, but I really have absolutely no interest in listening to a Christmas song from them in the middle of May.

This reminds me of the dance club I used to go to in Budapest when I was in high school. One of the most popular Jive songs at the club was Rockin’ Around The Christmas Tree [audio]. It was very bizarre to listen to it over and over again in June.

Links for 2007-05-17

Thursday, May 17th, 2007

Links for 2007-05-16

Wednesday, May 16th, 2007

Links for 2007-05-13

Sunday, May 13th, 2007