Archive for February, 2009

links for 2009-02-28

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

links for 2009-02-27

Friday, February 27th, 2009

links for 2009-02-26

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

Am I blocked or not?

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

The Berkman Center for Internet & Society just launched Herdict Web, “a tool that employs the distributed power of the Internet community to provide insight into what users around the world are experiencing in terms of web accessibility.”

Depending on where you access the Internet, the frequency with which you run into inaccessible Web sites varies. The OpenNet Initiative has been documenting cases of Internet filtering for years (see resulting Access Denied book). Herdict Web’s ultimate goal is similar, but the methodological approach is different: it relies on users’ reports from across the world to display a real-time picture of user experiences with Web site accessibility. Read more about it.

And be sure to join the herd! (Rest assured that everyone on the project realizes that a group of sheep tends to be referred to as a flock.) Congrats to Jonathan Zittrain and the entire Herdict Team on a great site and service!

links for 2009-02-25

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Promoting Creative Commons through a tweaked Facebook meme

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Facebook Album Cover meme resultIf you’re on Facebook then it’s unlikely that you haven’t been sucked into the meme phenomenon. It tends to involve writing something, mainly about yourself, and then tagging other people with a request to do the same. Most recently it got very popular with the “25 random things” meme (yeah, yeah, I don’t think you need to be a certified sociologist to know that those things are never truly random), that first circulated as 7 things then 16 things, but not surprisingly really went viral when it involved tagging 20+ people.

The most recent one I noticed concerns something much more random as you’re requested to create an album cover based on randomly-generated phrases for the band name and album title, and a randomly displayed “interesting” image from the photo-sharing site Flickr (details below). That last bit about the image bothered me a bit though, because the photos people were grabbing and editing were not necessarily posted under a Creative Commons license. I didn’t like the idea of people grabbing images that their creators didn’t necessarily want reused by others thus my interest in finding those shared under a CC license.

I went searching for a way to browse CC-licensed photos from Flickr’s Explore pool (photos deemed especially “interesting” by the system), but found no such option on the site (the closest to it I saw was to browse popular tags of photos shared under CC). I posted a note on Twitter about this, but the best people could do was point me to the CC option on Flickr’s advanced search page, which doesn’t address this issue since you can’t restrict a search to photos in Explore nor is searching for something specific the same as random browsing. Finally, I posted a comment on a Facebook friend’s photo lamenting the fact that I had not managed to find such an option when one of his friend’s replied with a link to a page that Mike Lietz kindly put together to generate CC-licensed Flickr photos from Explore randomly! A note to Flickr though: I think this is an option they should offer on the site.

So now I present to you the updated meme (italics are my additions) promoting Creative Commons as well as free photo-editing software. If you’re going to participate in this meme, I invite you to do so using the tweaked instructions below so as to help spread CC love.


To Do This

1 – Go to Wikipedia. Hit “random”
or click
The first random Wikipedia article you get is the name of your band.

2 – Go to Quotations Page and select “random quotations”
or click
The last four or five words of the very last quote on the page is the title of your first album.

3 – Go to Flickr and click on “explore the last seven days”
or click
Third picture, no matter what it is, will be your album cover.
Grab the photo randomly generated from Creative Commons licensed photos on Flickr here:

4 – Use Photoshop the free Paint.Net or Gimp or similar to put it all together.

5 – Post it to FB with this text in the “caption” or “comment” and TAG the friends you want to join in.

Photo credit: Thanks to zedzap‘s CC-licensed photo, which is what I used to create the image above.

You know about Inside Higher Ed, right?

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

One of the most consistent email/news habits of my everydays is that I go through the Daily Update message from Inside Higher Ed, the free Web publication about higher education. I have been doing this for a few years now so I tend to assume that even if not everyone in academia reads IHE as religiously as I do, certainly everybody knows about it. Not true though, it turns out, based on several experiences, and thus this blog post. Although I’ve often linked to articles in it, they just did a major redesign of the site with some added features so I thought it was a good time to mention it again.

IHE is sort of like the Chronicle of Higher Education (which most people in academia do know about), but it’s fully free and much more user friendly. I used to read the Chronicle in graduate school and then even signed up for a paid subscription when I became a faculty member. However, as tends to be the case, I almost never visit Web sites that don’t let me set my own username. Moreover, back then, the Chronicle insisted on sending out a hard-copy of the publication. Worse, it was always in a plastic bag so recycling wasn’t a simple movement from mailbox to recycling bin, rather, it required dealing with the plastic packaging. Finally, and especially relevant to bloggers, it was complicated to link to articles in the Chronicle, because many required subscription and login, although it wasn’t always clear which ones. The Chronicle may have improved some of its services since, but it doesn’t really matter to me anymore, because in the meantime I’ve completely switched over to IHE. (This is not to say that I don’t read articles in the Chronicle anymore. I do if someone points me to one, but I don’t check its contents regularly.)

If you haven’t yet, go check out Inside Higher Ed. I’ve found their daily emails especially helpful in staying in touch with what’s going on in higher education. New features include advice columns as well as easier ways of sharing individual articles through various online services.

For those curious, I have no particular affiliation with IHE other than having published a piece on email communication there once a few years ago. I’ve met editor and co-founder Scott Jaschik a few times at conferences, he’s full of great ideas and very open to feedback about the publication.

links for 2009-02-21

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

links for 2009-02-20

Friday, February 20th, 2009

links for 2009-02-17

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

links for 2009-02-16

Monday, February 16th, 2009

links for 2009-02-15

Sunday, February 15th, 2009

How free is free?

Friday, February 13th, 2009

One of the many perks of being at the Berkman Center this year has been to learn about all sorts of interesting and important legal matters that otherwise would either not make it on my radar or would be hard for me to understand without background and context. The New York Times now reports on an issue that Berkman fellow Steve Schultze first introduced me to last Fall: the complexity involved in accessing unclassified government documents online that are theoretically free to the public, but in reality can be quite hard to access. The article identifies some major problems with PACER (the government-run Public Access to Court Electronic Records system) and also discusses some important efforts to make the material more accessible to the public. Included is work by (and an interesting photo of:) Crooked Timber commenter Aaron Swartz.

Steve’s blog points us to Show Us the Data whose purpose is to “identify the 10 Most Wanted Government Documents”, that is, “unclassified documents or data that .. exist–on paper or in government computers and databases–that would be of value to the public if posted and regularly updated on an agency’s Web site.” Check out Steve’s blog and that voting site for more on truly freeing up free government documents.

Book cover contest submissions

Friday, February 13th, 2009

Following up on my post from a couple of weeks ago about the book cover contest, I thought I’d post a link to the resulting 24 submissions (by now listed in order ranked by people voting on the Worth1000 site). I’m happy with the outcome, there are some really great ideas in there. (The final cover will say “Edited by” since it’s an edited volume.) Fonts, colors, various details can be changed so the idea is not necessarily to look for the perfect design. I like a friend’s reaction to all this: “I’d say my median favorite one is better than 99% of book covers I see in the bookstores.”

links for 2009-02-11

Wednesday, February 11th, 2009

links for 2009-02-10

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

links for 2009-02-05

Thursday, February 5th, 2009

links for 2009-02-01

Sunday, February 1st, 2009
  • "delivers visual analytics through maps; enabling non-technical professionals to view multiple datasets, draw conclusions, make decision and solve problems without traditional GIS overhead"
    (tags: tools data maps)