Happy New Year! But in these important political times, I have to include this (NSFWish):
Archive for September, 2008
As noted a while back, with the upgrade of the social bookmarking site Delicious came the end of its important feature: automatic posting of links to one’s blog. (This feature didn’t break for everyone, apparently, but it did for me. And although Delicious promises a 24-hour turnaround in response to customer support queries, I didn’t hear back from them for a week about this issue only to be told that it’s an optional feature that they don’t support anyway.)
More than I would have predicted, my use of the service plummeted in the weeks following the change in service. Over the past month, I’ve bookmarked less than a couple of dozen links, which regular users know is much lower than my usual bookmarking tendencies. Then suddenly, I realized yesterday that the links were back. I wonder if this will continue, presumably it will. I guess I’ll start bookmarking pages again. And one of these days perhaps I’ll find the time to create a list of missed links manually.
So onward and upward with pointers.
reviews of Web-based applications
As promised, in honor of One Web Day, I’m posting information about one of my favorite Web sites and I encourage you to do the same, here or on your own blog. I’m always on the lookout for sites that make a difference in people’s lives and one such site is WalkerTracker. It is no exaggeration that it has had a direct impact on my everyday life as I have become a serious walking enthusiast and thus get more regular exercise now than I had ever before.
WalkerTracker helps keep track of one’s daily steps encouraging a healthy lifestyle by offering all sorts of neat statistics and graphs of one’s step measures. Of course, one doesn’t necessarily need a gadget (i.e., a pedometer) or a tool such as this site to go out on walks, but I have found it extremely inspiring and motivating to be able to keep track of my steps and see the progress I make over time. My daily goal is 10,000 steps (that’s about 4-5 miles) and on average I’ve managed to come close to this each month since I’ve started in April, 2007. I’m excited to be averaging almost 12K this month.
The site has several great features and new ones are added all the time, which is impressive since it seems to be a one-man operation. Your data are your data and you can download information you have added to the site very easily. There are also all sorts of options on the site for generating graphs and charts of progress. A user can maintain a step blog, can connect to other users, and can also create groups and competitions. There are also various widget options to showcase progress on one’s own site.
WalkerTracker was created, is maintained and is continually improved by Ben Parzybok, a novelist and Web developer who also seems to be involved in several other interesting projects. Ben is extremely responsive to requests adding features regularly. The community consists of nice folks who share a love of walking. Use of the site is free although I was happy when Ben added the option of a Pro account since this is a service that deserves support.
To get started, you’ll need a pedometer. WalkerTracker has a list of the most popular ones by its users. Like others, I rely on an Omron NJ-112 and have bought about half a dozen for friends and family.
I’m on leave this year as a Fellow at Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Berkman is an amazing community of people working on important and exciting projects concerning the social and policy aspects of the Internet. In just three weeks of affiliation, I’ve already participated in countless wonderful conversations with people who share my passion for studying digital media and have learned lots about related issues. My main goal for the year is to write a book on Internet use and social inequality. My biggest challenge will be staying focused on that task instead of starting up numerous collaborations with my colleagues given the many areas of overlap in our interests.
Berkman sponsors some great events that are open to the public. This Tuesday evening will be one such event: a talk and reception celebrating the recent release of the book Born Digital by John Palfrey and Urs Gasser. I’m still working on a separate post about the book, but wanted to post a note now given the date of the event. This will be a great opportunity to meet lots of people affiliated with the Digital Natives project upon which the book is based.
There are lots of activities going on across the globe this Monday in celebration of One Web Day. What is it, you ask? From the site:
OneWebDay is an Earth Day for the internet. The idea behind OneWebDay is to focus attention on a key internet value (this year, online participation in democracy), focus attention on local internet concerns (connectivity, censorship, individual skills), and create a global constituency that cares about protecting and defending the internet. So, think of OneWebDay as an environmental movement for the Internet ecosystem. It’s a platform for people to educate and activate others about issues that are important for the Internet’s future.
OWD also has lots of suggestions for getting involved online.
UPDATE: Here’s an idea for celebrating OWD here. On Monday, I’ll put up a post about one of my favorite Web sites, a Web site that has had real implications for my everyday life. I invite others to think about which Web sites mean a lot to them and to share these on Monday in honor of OWD.
I’m on leave this year and enjoying catching up with old colleagues and meeting new ones. I was at a reception the other day and was graciously introduced by a famous senior sociologist to a visiting senior sociologist as an “[insert some very kind words] scholar who studies the social aspects of Internet use”. The visitor laughed. No one else laughed though so quickly, smile wiped from his face, he said: “oh, you’re serious.”
Yup, seriously, there is this Internets thing and there are some interesting and important social science questions one can – and *gasp* I will even claim should – ask about it. As shocking as this may be, some places might go so far as to give you tenure if you do it well enough.
So a shoutout to all of my amazingly wonderful mentors and colleagues over the years who’ve supported me in this endeavor, I certainly don’t take that for granted.
Bob Herbert’s recent column summed up a lot of my sentiments:
Ignorance must really be bliss. How else, over so many years, could the G.O.P. get away with ridiculing all things liberal?
Or are some of us overreacting?