Clouds, Tags, and "User Innovation Toolkits"

Anchor for this item  posted Monday, March 31, 2008 at 1:57 pm MST

* cut/paste draft *

A conversation with Ed Vielmetti and John Blyberg about patrons and superlibrarians - Jon Udell/

"February 2, 2007: "Last fall, in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I gave a talk entitled Superpatrons and Superlibrarians. Joining me for this week’s podcast are the two guys who inspired that talk. The superpatron is Ed Vielmetti, an old Internet hand who likes to mash up the services proviced by the Ann Arbor District Library. That’s possible because superlibrarian John Blyberg, who works at the AADL, has reconfigured his library’s online catalog system, adding RSS feeds and a full-blown API he calls PatREST.

I’ve written from time to time about Eric von Hippel’s notion of user innovation toolkits and the synergistic relationship between users and developers that can develop around such toolkits. [...]"

"Chatting with Jon Udell and Ed Vielmetti" - John Blyberg /

"I had a great chat with Jon Udell and Ed Vielmetti last week during a recorded podcast that Jon has made available on his new blog. Jon is a great podcaster--he has the ability to make a session feel like a conversation and less like an interview which makes for a very interesting and enjoyable experience as one of the participants.

Anyway, we talked about superlibrarians and superpatrons within the context of Eric Von Hippel’s notion of "lead users." This is an area that should be of great interest to libraries--specifically, how do we identify those lead users, then enable them to mash-up, remix, and create services, tools, and content."

Sam Lawrence's Go Big Always - Tweetclouds reveal even more about people -

"I just finished another cut-n-paste-a-thon. In February it focused on scraping out a couple of month’s worth of blog posts and jptweets1.jpg pasting them into Many Eyes to create "real" tag clouds based on actual content instead of the author’s bookmarking.

This time, I was scraping a month’s worth of Tweets."

My reply there:

"Re: "real" tag clouds based on actual content instead of ..." A noble sentiment!

A couple of days ago (yesterday?) Peter Westwood released a cloud of contributers to WordPress 2.5. Brilliantly parsimonious, yes? (I would have left the numbers off because it's dealing with individuals but *shrug*.) What I saw as absent is how the cloud could be used as an interface / portal to richer information. (For me most everything is a dashboard ... "mandala theory", doncha know.)

I visited ... *plop-plop fizz-fizz* after providing the URL for my project’s quasi-bibliography I became the proud father of a sweet/primitive data-based cloud. (I’ve tweaked the font sizes there; TagCrowd really should offer min/max as a configuration item.)

All of this is great fun. But ... where’s the beef?
It’s cute. And it’s totally dead-ended. (Tranform a "silo" into a planter so as to allow the tree to shoot up out of it?)

I’m reminded of my first sessions using PsychLit; with so much functionality, there just has to be a way of having it jump up and make toast. I optimized my PsychLit searches and was handsomely rewarded.
Looking at clouds, pondering VRML and visualizations of multivariate analysis, I can’t help thinking that we’re just one step away from some very richly interactive information.

My point is this: ATM clouds seem to me to be data, rather than information. I suspect we will be handsomely rewarded when we transform them by enriching them with another layer of interactivity. Or two.

I can see a way of using them as ?what? a partial product ... the interim step in a process that finds who’s like who, or which document is like which others ... comparing clouds in a cloudy sky, if you will. ("CloudySky" ... a good name for a software suite?)


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*I've been in "stealth mode" for years ... cat definitely in the bag.*
A while back I did a little online work for a guy on the other side of the Atlantic ... just helping him re-design the frontpage of his commercial site. Not rocket science, but not thumb-twiddling either. Thing is, he had no means of paying me. I don't have credit card, so paypal is out. So I decided to start the implementation phase of my project and arranged for him to get me an account at DreamHost. And that's where things stand. But now the time has come for me to renew that account and secure my domain name. Well, I just let the cat's head out:
"The Antenna is You" -


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Beyond Blogs: Conversation in Motion

Anchor for this item  posted Sunday, March 30, 2008 at 12:30 pm MST

Predendum: (Ohhhhh I know that's not a word ... give it a break ... this is being added later, but at the head ... so it's not appended and as addendum ... get it? prepended addendum? *sigh* fohget it.)

Rereading the body of this after reading Ed Yourdon's thoughtful composition got me remembering when things made sense because we had at least one foot on the ground at all times and both feet down most of the time i.e. when I was doing hard-nosed comms we had reason for doing things the way we did i.e. our tools were designed with a certain task and chore and method in mind, rather than "Oooh, here's a neat prototype module, what can I make this do?" as it is now.

For example TELCO order wires. /This/ machine was chattering away incessantly (think of Twitter) whereas /that/ machine ... when /that/ machine chehrklungked into action you hopped to it. No such on the web. No functional equivalent. No operational analog.
Know why? Cuz the web is excellent at churn ... many oceans of trivia ... and dozens of trivial chores ... and many A-list-types who've mastered ?what? triviality. (see the image/text block at the end of this post)

Wanna read something interesting? Read about designing and building the first Polaris-class submarine. An impossible task. With that challenge we ended up with PERT and Gantt ... and NASA methods. (Anybody who comments about this paragraph will be rewarded with an apocryphal anecdote concerning PERT. Honest.)

So anyhow, here's a chunk or 3 from Ed's "Blogging versus Micro-blogging":
"while I’ve been writing “formal” blog postings for approximately four times longer than I’ve been twittering, I’ve published roughly 5.5 times fewer blogs than tweets. Or to put it another way, my frequency of twittering is approximately 22 times greater than my frequency of blogging. [...] while my behavior might possibly be unique in this respect, my hunch is that you’ll find a similar disparity between twittering and blogging among other Internet users.
I think I’ll continue taking advantage of both blogging and micro-blogging (i.e., Twittering). Blogging is great for writing a page or two of reasonably serious commentary on some topic of interest; and Twittering is great for brief, rapid-fire commentary. It’s also interesting that Twitter creates a much stronger sense of an active “community”: if I ask a question, tell a joke, or recommend an interesting Web site via Twitter, I’m likely to get a response from people within a matter of seconds. By contrast, if I write a thought-provoking blog posting, I may not see any comments attached to that entry until a day or two later."

What I'm intending to comment on Ed's blog arises directly from what I tweeted to him minutes after he had tweeted the post's arrival in the world, i.e. (expanded slightly) "Years ago I had a uniquely handy writing tool, something like cross-breed of programmer's editor and wordprocessor; it stored snippets of text in buffers to be recalled and stitched together later. "ThinkingCap", by Bröderbund Software ... for the C=64!"

In response to Loic Lemeur's "We used to have our social online presence very centralized, for me it was my blog. The current trend is very interesting, everything is decentralized [...] I would rather that these would be centralized on my blog instead of a third party service." Stowe Boyd wrote, "Basically, conversation is moving from a very static and slow form of conversation -- the comments thread on blog posts -- to a more dynamic and fast form of conversation: into the flow in Twitter, Friendfeed, and others. I think this directionality may be like a law of the universe: conversation moves to where is is most social." - /Message: Beyond Blogs: The Conversation Has Moved Into The Flow

My comment at Stowe's blog:

I won't go into the etiology of my concept ... I could, and it would involve a hippe-bus in '68 and RainbowFamily campfires in the late 70s ... but decades ago I saw that our democratic institutions and civil society itself needed something like coherence. (Isn't that a wonderful word? Not "structured hierarchically with authoritarian rigour" but ... cohering, nothing more. Like the bonds that entrain a dynamically balanced complex system with the consequences of its environment.)

For the record I think we have seriously mis-construed "social object". That we are, as though magpies and blue-jays, attracted to the newest shiny bobble in our view doesn't make that process social. It derives from the fact that investigating potential threats might reveal food and very probably give us a cheap thrill. But "social"? Hardly.

Chaotic systems are "ordered" in that the internal relations (hidden to our view) are deeply meaningful. What passes for social behavior, on the other can, can be little more than random fun-filled bewilderment.

I recommend you to Wiki collaboration leads to happiness (great graphic), via Euan Semple.

BTW: here's that graphic:

from Wiki collaboration leads to happiness

Re-viewing "Social Gestures Beget Social Objects" I find myself thinking about "phatic" in context of discourse ethics; communicative gestures are more than "Hi there, I'm here! but (go head, call me cynical) it seems to me that "social gestures" amount to little more than 108,000 ways of saying "Look at me, look at meeeeee!"



In his Now Can We Please Kill the Phrase "Social Media"? Steve Rubel called up something he had written in January, 2007: "With the democratization of media we've come to rely on a bunch of terms that are now completely unnecessary. These include "social media"... Do any of these matter any more? ... The reason is it's ALL media. The lexicon will hopefully change."

Hoping that "social object" would be included as collateral damage when we kill off "social media", I commented there:

An ethology experiment last decade had me re-visit my texts, grappling again to what we're doing when we apply a taxonomy, and how that relates to ontology. (I ended up applying VRML ... it had to do with foxes burying food ... when is the motion a "tamp" and when does it become a "scoop"?)

That was relevant to me because I was beavering away at how wiki (C2 had come into existence) was so different to the web logs I had been creating since '95. (If you create an open directory, where each entry has a screenshot and a block of commentary, is it a directory or a blog?) What I'm getting at is this: it comes down to operationalizing our definitions ... information is data that makes a difference; if the distinction doesn't "matter" (i.e. have substantial consequences) then its empty.

What slays me is that we don't seem to have metrics except "how many people clicked the ads"!


BTW: Grazr is advancing by leaps and bounds! see their overview tutorial and, their blog.

Speaking of having one's feet on the ground, "The Internet and its hierarchy of needs" from P2P foundation goes on at length in this vein, the post including this lovely graphic:



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