Archive for the 'Crooked Timber' Category

Travel photo blogging: MLK Memorial in DC

Monday, January 19th, 2015

MLK Memorial, DCIn honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in the US, I am posting some photos I took at the MLK Memorial in DC when I visited there last Fall. There is no shortage of critical commentary about the memorial from when it was dedicated a few years ago. I wasn’t aware of these when I visited, which is probably a good thing as it would have tainted my visit, not necessarily justifiably as far as I’m concerned. (If you feel you must add your critical thoughts in the comments, I just ask that you try to be original.)

MLK Memorial, DCI admit that it wasn’t a particularly targeted visit on my part. I was in town for a conference and had an afternoon to roam the city. I had been walking for hours (winding my way back from the Thomas Sweet in Georgetown to the Mall) and found myself walking on Independence Ave SW when I spotted signs to the MLK Memorial. Once I saw the signs, I knew I wanted to see it.

I was lucky in the timing of my visit. It was early evening on a weekday, 9/11 to be precise. There was almost no one else around. This made a difference as I found the place perfect for contemplation. I entered from the northwest, which worked well as I appreciated walking through the rocks not knowing exactly what to expect.

MLK Memorial, DCAfter looking at MLK’s figure and taking in the scene of the Jefferson Memorial that is in the statue’s line of sight, I walked from quote to quote and reflected on each, especially given the Ferguson events still fresh in memory. I was able to do all of this almost in solitude. The early evening light added to the mood.

If you can, I recommend visiting early evening or perhaps early morning on a weekday when you may have the place mostly to yourself. Be sure to give yourself time, it wouldn’t have been the same had I felt rushed.

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.

Seminar on “The Wealth of Networks”

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Crooked Timber is running a seminar on Yochai Benkler’s The Wealth of Networks. The book discusses several important and interesting issues and we’re hoping that these comments will only be a start of conversations about them. The introductory post has links to all of the contributions (by Henry Farrell, Dan Hunter, John Quiggin, Eszter Hargittai, Jack Balkin and Siva Vaidhyanathan) including a response from Benkler.

Beyond Broadcast

Friday, May 12th, 2006

Berkman in Second Life
Today (Friday), the Berkman Center for Internet & Society at the Harvard Law School is hosting a conference on Reinventing Public Media in a Participatory Culture. In addition to the face-to-face discussions, the conference is also integrating digital media in neat ways for participation by those who can’t be at the meeting physically. For example, there is a Berkman Island (including a 3D replica of the Ames Courtroom at the Harvard Law School) in Second Life. If you get a chance, come join us, it looks like there will be some very interesting presentations and discussions.

The big screen

Monday, March 6th, 2006

There seemed to be quite a bit of focus at the Oscars on the advantages of watching a movie on the big screen (that is, in a theater, not your big screen TV at home). There were several references to this point, including comments by the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the host of the Oscars. We got to see a clip illustrating the importance of the big screen. The clip had scenes from various big action movies such as The Ten Commandments (Moses parts the sea) and Star Wars (some starship scene).

I certainly understand the upside of seeing movies on the big screen (and not just from the profit-oriented point-of-view, but also from the viewer’s perspective). However, I don’t understand how it helps to make this argument in a situation where most of the people watching your clips are viewing them through their TV sets at home. Was the point to show us scenes that would look particularly unimpressive on the small screen, but remind us how impressive they would be on a big one? They were well-known scenes that we know are impressive so how is this supposed to get us to run out and watch movies in theaters?

Dress optional

Thursday, March 2nd, 2006

Women's restroom sign Men's restroom sign Girls Boys Women's restroom sign Men's restroom sign

A propos gender, I wanted to say a few words about some recent photo interests. A few months ago I decided to start taking pictures of gender signs. The most obvious location for these is restroom doors. I haven’t encountered any awkward situations yet running around public bathrooms snapping photos, but I can imagine eventually I may get some curious glances.

The purpose of this exercise is to see what are the core essential elements that the designers of such signs decide will be enough to distinguish between men and women. We are all used to the stick figures, with and without the skirt (or would that be a dress?). But how about the more innovative approaches? In the Hungarian Parliament, the emphasis on the signs seems to be on differences in hairdo while the signs in the Hungarian Academy of Sciences emphasize some facial feature variation (lips vs moustache) in addition to hairdo distinctions and some differences in clothing. (It would be interesting to know the date of these two pairs of signs, I guess I didn’t do adequate research.) In other cases, the focus is on how men vs women tend to go about their business, but sometimes the distinctions are not completely obvious (these tend to be some of the most intriguing cases).

I have compiled my photos on the topic into a set on Flickr. More interestingly, I also started a public group on Flickr (a pool of pictures to which any other Flickr member can contribute), which has led to the addition of some great photos from others, for example: this Ken and Barbie pair at the Shirn museum in Frankfurt.

The rule for the photo pool is simple: post images that have both the male and female symbol (either in one or two pictures) and give some description of where the signs are located in case others want to find them. I welcome contributions! Join the trend, don’t be shy to whip out your camera next time you spot a pair of gender signs.

Eventually, I could see this project leading to.. well, perhaps not a coffee table book, but maybe a bathroom book?

A twist on online communities

Friday, January 20th, 2006

Judging from my posts around here – not to mention my daily browsing habits – I’m obsessed with Flickr. I wanted to take a step back and give a bit of basic info about the site to those who are not that familiar with it. It is my way of trying to spread all that Flickr goodness to more people.

Flickr may seem like no more than a photo-sharing Web site, but it’s actually much more than that. It is a large community of people sharing images, yes, but also learning about a myriad of topics, exploring nearby and distant lands, and communicating with people from all
over the world. In some ways it resembles corners of blogworld. One important difference is that a good chunk of the communicating is done through images rather than text.

Flickr can help you get to know people in all sorts of ways through their photos (and I don’t just mean by looking at what they had for dinner, although frankly, if the cook or restaurant is a good one, that can be interesting as well), you can also get to know cities (e.g. the Guess Where Chicago and Guess Where NYC groups are both fun and informative), learn about healthy foods, read thought-provoking (or not) quotes, and much more.

In case you don’t need these basics, perhaps you’ll find some helpful tips in my guide to finding great photos on Flickr published yesterday on Lifehacker. Consider that the second installment to this post.

Here are some of the basic features of the site. Some of the links below will only work if you are logged in to the system. If you have a Yahoo! account then you are all set. If not, sign up for a free account now, you won’t regret it.*

  • At the most basic level, Flickr is for uploading and sharing your photos. There are several tools available for this from uploading in the browser to stand-alone applications (and even widgets). Or you can forward your cameraphone photos directly to your account.
  • Once you have uploaded your pictures, you can make them completely public, only accessible to contacts designated as family, only accessible to contacts designated as friends, accessible to both family and friends, or completely private.
  • You can post photos under Creative Commons license allowing others to use your images depending on the specifics. You can
    set a default license for all your uploads.
  • You can mark other people’s photos as your Favorites if you want to have easy access to them later. You do this by clicking on the Add to Faves button above the photo.
  • You can organize your photos into Sets. You can create new Sets under Organize. Also, once you have a Set, you can add a picture to it by clicking the Add to Set icon above the image.
  • You can join Groups based on various themes and topics. Click on Groups and then do a search on a topic of interest. Choose the group and join it as a member. Once you are member of a group, you can add photos to it. To add one of your photos to a Group, click on the Send to Group icon above the photo you are viewing. (You can only add your own photos to Groups.)
  • You can create Groups (private, invitation-only or completely public) organized around themes. If public then others can contribute their own photos to your group. Groups can also have ongoing discussions.
  • You can comment on others’ photos. You can also easily follow whether people have commented on or favorited any of your photos. The system also lets you see all the comments you have made on others’ photos and whether photos you have commented on have received additional comments.
  • You can add notes to your photos (or others’ photos if they allow it) by clicking on the Add Note tab above the image. Drag the box to the area on the photo that you want to annotate and add your comment.

As you can tell by this list of features, much of Flickr goodness comes from sharing photos with others in various systematic ways. There is also a lot of communicating that gets done in the comments and on the notes to photos.

Now that you know some of the basics of the site, you may be interested in this guide to finding great photos on the system.

* I am not affiliated with either Flickr or Yahoo!, I just think Flickr is a super service and want to help people understand it better so they become members of the community.

Google users not your average Internet users

Friday, December 9th, 2005

IDG News Service has an article with results from a study conducted by S.G. Cowen and Co. about search engine use by socio-economic status and Internet experience of users. The findings suggest that Google users are more likely to be from higher income households and be veteran users than those turning to other services for search. Finally some data on this! I have had this hypothesis for several years, but had no data to test it. I am usually frustrated when people make generalizations about Web users based on data about Google users (worse yet, Google users referred to their Web sites through particular searches) and this is precisely why. I did not think Google users (not to mention ones performing particular searches on certain topics) are necessarily representative of the average Internet user. (The report says very little about the methodology of the study so it is hard to know the level of rigor concerning sampling and thus the generalizability of the findings.)

Interestingly, the survey found that 52 percent of users cite Google as their preferred search engine, Yahoo! comes in at 22 percent, MSN and AOL at nine percent each, and Ask Jeeves at five percent. These figures are not completely in line with data about search engine popularity by number of searches performed (from a few months ago). The Nielsen/NetRatings figures are somewhat different with over 10 percent of searches (by US home and work Web surfers) perfomed on other engines. According to the current study, only three percent list others as their preferred engine.

Of course, these two sets of numbers are not necessarily at odds with each other. The percentages reported in the current survey consider “search engine of choice”, while the Nielsen/NetRatings figures are about all searches. The SG Cowen & Co study findings may just mean that people who prefer one search engine over another still use several. I wonder if the present study had any questions about the use of different search engines. (A study I will be launching soon does ask about this. I would love to hear about other studies that may have explored that specific question.) A study called “How America Searches” published by iCrossing last summer found that while 77 percent of respondents use Google at some point during their online activities, only 13 percent use nothing but Google for their online searches.

So one question then is whether people will be more likely to switch to Google as they become veteran users. It is hard to say. For one thing, whatever led people to switch to Google a few years ago may not push people to switch to it now. Perhaps more importantly, Internet adoption is not a random activity and so those who have gone online more recently differ from early adopters (e.g. income, education) in all sorts of ways so simply becoming veteran regarding years of use won’t make them identical to the early adopters and thus more years online may not mean a switch to Google. It will be interesting to follow all this over the coming years.

On a different point regarding the IDG article: there is an unfortunate use of the term “Net-savvy” in its title. The author seems to equate Internet experience (measured as years of use not frequency of use) with Net-savvy. Research I have done shows that years of use is not a very good proxy for Net-savvy. In one study, I found that number of years using the Internet is a weak predictor of Web-use skill (measured as the actual ability to find different types of content online, quite relevant to the topic of search-engine use). Self-perceived skill is a better measure, but still not as strong as an index of items asking people their level of understanding concerning various Internet-related items. Perhaps it sounds more interesting to say “Google users wealthier, more Net-savvy”, but it’s a leap from the data available in this study (or at least the data that are discussed in the piece).

‘Tis the season…

Sunday, December 4th, 2005

.. when you’ll be getting more solicitations than usual from organizations asking for your donations. Obviously, there are lots of worthy causes. I thought I’d put in a plug for Creative Commons. They are having a Fall fundraising drive. John Quiggin over at Crooked Timber had a helpful post about Creative Commons as a default rule a few months ago. This would be a good time to catch up on that reading if you missed it.

One of my favorite applications of CC is its use on Flickr. I use the Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike License as the default in my photostream. Occasionally I’ll change it to Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs. But so far I have come up with no reason to post anything specified as All Rights Reserved. It is really heartening to see that millions (over six million and constantly growing) of photos on Flickr are posted using a Creative Commons license. Of course, many many are posted under the traditional circled C license. I sometimes wonder if at least some of those people opted for C over CC, because they don’t know enough about the latter. If I hadn’t known about CC before starting to use Flickr, I am not sure I would have thought to or gotten around to specifying the above-mentioned licenses.

Larry Lessig comments that one of the reasons CC launched such a fundraising campaign this Fall is that the IRS requires this kind of public support for non-profits in addition to donations they may get from foundations. Please consider supporting this cause.

Creative food drive

Sunday, November 20th, 2005

Browsing people’s Flickr accounts I came across pictures from CANstruction.

Canstruction® combines the competitive spirit of a design/build competition with a unique way to help feed hungry people. Competing teams, lead by architects and engineers, showcase their talents by designing giant sculptures made entirely out of canned foods. At the close of the exhibitions all of the food used in the structures is donated to local food banks for distribution to pantries, shelters, soup kitchens, elderly and day care centers.

The official Web site has pictures of this year’s winners, but I think it’s much more fun just to browse the Flickr photos tagged with “canstruction”. Check out the list of participating cities to see whether you can still catch the show somewhere.

Paper to the rescue

Friday, November 18th, 2005

Following up on the last post regarding dissertation completion, I thought I would acknowledge the role of paper that came up as a theme in the panel this morning. There were two of us recent PhDs on the panel and it turns out both of us turned to playing with paper as a way to take breaks from our dissertation writing. I picked up papier mache the Spring of 2003. Given the results, it is not surprising that I gave it up after the dissertation was complete. The other recent graduate on the panel said he was doing lots of origami at the time. Go figure.

All of this relates to keeping healthy during the process. It is important to take breaks. In fact, I do not believe it is possible to do good work without taking breaks. So what is your preferred break activity? I am especially interested in responses other than “blogging”.;)

Strategies for successful dissertation completion

Friday, November 18th, 2005

[Also posted on Crooked Timber.]

If you are or were at some point in a doctoral program then you have probably heard the following before: The best dissertation is a done dissertation. But how to get it done?

I am at the annual meetings of the National Communication Association where I have been asked to present on a panel about “Strategies for Successful Dissertation Completion”. It is hard to say whether I have any more expertise in this area than anyone else with a PhD, but I did sit down to come up with a list that I thought may be worth sharing here. I want to acknowledge the contributions of my grad school friend Erica Field who kindly entertained this question over dinner last night and offered several helpful additions to the list. Since we had spent countless dinners during grad school discussing our dissertations her contributions to all this have been more significant than simply talking about it over one meal.

I welcome additions to the list. I plan to share this with students in the future so the more helpful pointers the better.

It is probably fair to note that I did not follow all of these points, but if I had to do it all over again, I likely would. The list is presented in no particular order.

Also, several of the items are likely helpful for people who are at more advanced stages of their academic careers so you may get something out of this even if you already have a PhD.

Read the rest of this entry »

All your base really are belong to Google

Wednesday, November 16th, 2005

[Also posted on Crooked Timber.]

(If you don’t get the title of this post, you can read up on the reference here. )

A few months ago I posted an entry called Google World in which I talked about the amount of information Google and other companies such as Yahoo!, MSN and AOL are amassing about their users.

This week’s launch of Google Base is another step in the direction of building elaborate profiles of users. Moreover, it is an interesting move by the company to get users to fill up Google’s own Web property with lots of valuable material for free.

Google Base is a collection of content submitted by users hosted on Google’s site. Let’s say you have some recipes (I mention these as that part of my own Web site seems to be one of its most popular sections and Google Base already in this early stage has a section on that), instead of simply hosting the recipes on your own site and having Google (and other search engines) drive traffic to it, the recipe can now live on Google’s own Web property. Other types of content range from classifieds about housing and jobs to course syllabi. Some have suggested it is like a gigantic expanded version of the popular Craig’s List, which I mention in case that is a service with which you are familiar. Google Base will be a collection of information that users provide for free, but for which Google gets credit when people find it.

It is hard not to wonder how much more prominent Google Base content will be in Google’s search results compared to other content on the Web.

Read the rest of this entry »

TV: Human Trafficking

Tuesday, October 25th, 2005

I’m running around all day today, but no time to wait with this post: I want to recommend Lifetime’s Human Trafficking mini-series. It aired last night (in the U.S.), but the first part will be replayed early this evening before the second part is shown.

The NYTimes quotes an immigration and customs official from the movie:

An ounce of cocaine, wholesale: $1,200, but you can only sell it once. A woman or a child, $50 to $1,000, but you can sell them each day, every day, over and over and over again. The markup is immeasurable.

The movie is well done in many ways, I recommend it.

One question I’m left with is the best ways to educate people, and especially children, about all this. A movie like this is helpful, but it’s not clear how a 12-year-old would deal with it. And then there are areas where showing such a movie is not even an option.

The NYTimes piece has a synopsis of the first part in case you can’t spend four hours on this tonight.

Picture sudoku

Friday, October 21st, 2005

Do you like to play sudoku? Do you prefer images over numbers? You may for this game. Picture sudoku lets you choose images from photo-sharing site Flickr with which to fill your sudoku puzzle. You can specify the tag and/or the user whose images you want to integrate into the game.

Chicagoland sudoku (with just my photos)
turtle sudoku (with everyone’s photos)
long-shadow sudoku (with everyone’s photos)
chocolate sudoku (with everyone’s photos)

As you can see, the possibilities are endless.

The game also gives you a “blank” with which to erase placement of photos. If you are intrigued by a picture and want to see it in full size on Flickr then just click on the asterisk next to its name in the left-hand column.

Have fun!


Craig’s List for Katrina victims

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

[Also posted on CT.]

Numerous people are turning to community site Craig’s List in an effort to find information about family and friends from the New Orleans area and also as a means to reach out to victims with offers of help. People from across the country are offering free housing. If you know of victims who left and are stranded in various parts of the country, the notices on the site may help them out. Of course, as with all such things, one needs to proceed with caution.

It’s sad to see, however, that even these sites are not immune to spam.

Calling all sofa and moving experts

Friday, August 19th, 2005

[Also posted on Crooked Timber.]

Super smart and super nice blogger Jeremy Freese is calling out to the blogosphere in a desperate plea to help him figure out how to get his sofa into his new place. Jeremy just moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts and it turns out his beloved sofa won’t make it up the stairs into his new apartment. Even before his furniture arrived earlier this week he had already succeeded in finding wifi and keeping his blog readers updated regarding his move. Not having any furniture for a night didn’t pose any major challenges, but the sofa’s arrival yesterday meant the start of some real stress. It is still standing in the hallway its legs now only held up by the remaining three screws that won’t come off.

Anyone with suggestions on how to solve this puzzle, please leave a note on Jeremy’s blog.

I’m sure everyone has and knows of hellish moving experiences. One of the worst stories I recall concerns a friend gearing up for her last year in graduate school. The university’s housing office told her that they could not accomodate her any longer so she had to move. She packed up all her stuff and transferred everything to the new location. Unfortunately, it turned out that several items among her possessions would not fit through the doorway and hallway of her new apartment. In the end, the univ housing office let her back into her old apartment. But so why exactly was all that packing up necessary?

The winner of the most unfortunate move in my circles is my brother. He was in the midst of moving in between cities and spent a night in a motel. His truck in the parking lot got broken into overnight. The culprits managed to take all the really personal stuff that could never be replaced leaving the few things that were perhaps of any objective value (e.g. a computer). Go figure.

It seems that moving always entails some hellish experience, the question is more about the magnitude of the unfortunate events that will unfold.

Photo sharing

Sunday, August 7th, 2005

The photo-sharing site Flickr has come out with some nifty features recently that make it even more fun to browse pictures on the site than before. Beware, there are hundreds of thousands of photos to see, and more ways to navigate the Web site than before so a simple click can take you away from whatever it is that you were doing for longer than what you might expect. Of course, just like with blogs and many other things, there is a lot of uninteresting mediocre material. But there are also great pictures to view. To help find these, Flickr came out with the interestingness feature. To figure out what gets highlighted in this section, they are using “a ranking algorithm based on user behavior around the photos taking into account some obvious things like how many users add the photo to their favorites and some subtle things like the relationship between the person who uploaded the photo and the people who are commenting (plus a whole bunch of secret sauce)”. There is a calendar feature that lets you browse the interestingness category by day.

Another new feature is their clustering of tags. First, let me take a step back for those who are not familiar with the service at all. When users upload photos to the system they can tag them with descriptors such as name of location, type of event, etc. Photos across the entire site can be viewed by tags. Say you are interested in viewing photos of Chicago. There are over 70,000 photos tagged with “chicago” so you are likely shown many that are not of interest. Tags in and of themselves are only so useful since someone may tag all their private party photos with the name of the city in which the party took place, but that won’t be of much interest to someone looking for pictures of the urban landscape. This is where the new clustering feature comes in handy. For popular tags, the system now offers you related tags so you can be sure that you’ll be viewing pictures of the Chicago skyline, buildings or Millennium Park if that is what’s of interest. (Note that when looking for something specific, it’s worth checking alternate spellings/specifications. For example, you’ll get more pictures of Millennium Park under the misspelled tag milleniumpark than under the correct spelling millenniumpark.)

Some basics about Flickr: anyone can create a free account, which comes with the ability to feature 200 photos organized in up to three sets with a 20MB upload limit per month. For $24.95/year you get much more (unlimited storage, 2GB upload limit, no ads, etc.). You can add contacts and specify them as acquaintances or friends. When you upload photos, you can specify them as public or restricted to your contacts. You can join communities based on interest and affiliation. You can mark photos as your favorite and find them easily later. You can add notes to photos. You can leave comments on people’s photo pages. It’s a neat service, I recommend giving it a try.

When you upload photos, you can either reserve all rights or specify a Creative Commons license for them. Although many people – especially those who seem to be pros – reserve all rights, many do not. Thanks to the Creative Commons licenses, the site offers great illustrations for those in need of adding some photos to other sites, presentations or whatnot without worrying about copyright infringement.

I really enjoy browsing the site aimlessly, but I also appreciate viewing pictures from people to whom I have some connection. So if you happen to have a flickr account, how about posting a link in the comments? My album is here.

People’s Web-savvy (or lack thereof)

Thursday, July 21st, 2005

Do you know what RSS means? If you do then you are more savvy than the majority of American Internet users.

The latest memo from the Pew Internet and American Life Project examines an important topic: people’s awareness of Internet terms. In a survey administered to Internet users across the U.S. the researchers found that only 9% of users have a good idea of what the term “RSS feeds” means while 26% claimed never to have heard of it. “Podcasting” is the other term with least recognition as 23% had never heard of it and only 13% claim to know what it is. Of concern from a privacy/security perspective is that only 29% have a good idea of what “phishing” means, 52% for “Adware”, 68% for “Internet cookies” and 78% for “Spyware”.

Not surprisingly, familiarity with the terms is related to age, but even among the youngest, most connected group (18-29 year olds) only 12% claim to understand “RSS feeds” and “podcasting” (as compared to 5% of those 65 and above).

All of this is close to my interests as an important aspect of my work is looking at people’s Internet skills. My paper examining proxy measures of actual skill is coming out this Fall. In it I show that the types of knowledge items on which the Pew researchers just collected data are better predictors of people’s actual skill than traditional proxies such as amount of Internet experience or even self-perceived skill (a very common proxy in the literature).

Why does all this matter? First, I think it is helpful to remember what people may or may not know when one is enthusiastically trying to recommend things to them (as I tend to do) or why some people’s machines get overrun with malware (and why some may find it easier to just buy a new computer instead of trying to get the current infected one fixed). Second, as the Web matures (in both good ways – more sophisticated services – and bad ways – more unwanted disruptions) the divide among users will likely increase. This is what I have referred to as the “second-level digital divide“, differences among those already connected (as opposed to the plain old-fashioned “digital divide” that points out the differences between users and non-users).

In addition to being related to age, Internet know-how also tends to be related to education. The Pew report does not break this down for us, but I have found this in previous work (both in my dissertation and in a paper with my graduate student Amanda Hinnant) exploring similar data. (I can point to a conference abstract, but the paper is currently under review so I am not posting a full version.) The point here is that those in already privileged positions (e.g. higher levels of education) tend to be more savvy about the Web and may well benefit from its uses more than those in less privileged positions. This means that instead of leveling the playing field, Internet use may contribute to social inequality.

The Pew memo comes out just as I am putting some finishing touches on a similar survey (although much longer than what they probably had here). Due to budget constraints I will not be administering it on a nationally representative random sample, but still believe the findings should be of interest. There is much more research to be done about what it is that people do and do not understand with respect to their Internet uses.

[Link noticed on digg.]

Google Earth!

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

If you thought Google Maps and the corresponding satellite images were cool then you’ll be hard-pressed to find a word to describe the experience of using Google Earth. Before you get too excited, do check to see if your computer meets the current requirements.

I don’t think you have to be a geography geek like me (I did take four years of high school geography after all) to appreciate this service. It’s amazing. You can zoom in more than on GMaps, you can tilt the image, you can get driving directions superimposed on the satellite images, you can get road names added, dining options included and much more.

In line with this article in today’s NYTimes, neither the directions nor some of the locations of things are always correct, but they’re close. Go play.