Yearly Archives: 2004

There IS an alternative!

SpreadFirefox team has chosen a key phrase I terribly like: “There is an alternative“. Actually, my preferred one is TIAAA (There Is Always An Alternative) as opposed to TINA (There Is No Alternative), often used by Thatcher and neoliberists in general to argue how capitalism is the only possible choice and you should be mad in trying to think and build something different. However this post is not about slogans but about the 2 full pages ad promoting Firefox in The New York Times (image). On the left page, the Firefox logo is built with all the names of the people who have contributed (PDF). Cool!

Hassan Masum is WorldChanging

Via Seb, I come to know that my friend Hassan Masum started blogging over at WorldChanging. I met Hassan some months ago in Fribourg and I was delighted to discuss with him of many different topics. He is really a many-interests clever guy. WorldChanging was already in my blogroll and I think it will beneficiate from Hassan’s contributions in changing the world for the better. Welcome Hassan!

Reputation and Trust class

I would love to attend the Reputation and Trust class of Understanding Online Interaction course by david wiley! It seems he always writes down a short funny story for introducing the weekly topic (and the assignment…). I might borrow the idea if I’ll ever teach a class. Unluckly, from Italy, Utah is a bit too far away.
And since he releases the content of his blog under a Creative Commons Attribution – Share Alike license and i do the same for content of this blog, I happily and legally post here all his post, of course giving credit.

Reputation and Trust

B. Have you ever bought anything from
A. Sure.
B. And you felt comfortable giving them your credit card information because…
A. [incredulously] Because they’re!
B. But what about before they were “”?
A. Are you going to talk about walking uphill both ways through deep snow?
B. No, no. That would take us in the wrong direction. [thinking] How about Ebay? Ever buy anything from Ebay?
A. Sure.
B. [with delight] A ha! Caught you in my little trap! You’ve actually never bought anything *from* Ebay. You’ve bought things from sellers who used Ebay as a front for their goods.
A. [unimpressed] Fair enough.

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No Internet Explorer Information Bar added

As I wrote before, I inserted in my blog the No Internet Explorer Information Bar. If you are reading this lines with a InternetExplorer, you should see an information bar saying “Internet Explorer is preventing you from having a better Internet experience. Learn more”. Clicking on it should lead you to
Let me know if this addition broke something.

Your Christmas is the result of Coca-Cola marketing?

Someone told me that Santa Claus was invented by Coca-Cola. I investigated a bit and it seems that this is more an urban legend and it is not completely true.
“All this isn’t to say that Coca-Cola didn’t have anything to do with cementing that image of Santa Claus in the public consciousness. The Santa image may have been standardized before Coca-Cola adopted it for their advertisements, but Coca-Cola had a great deal to do with establishing Santa Claus as a ubiquitous Christmas figure in America …” (from snopes).
However I just checked some websites and we know how it is easy to put up a website saying anything. So I remain with this little doubt: did I spend my childhood “worshipping” a puppet created by Coca-Cola marketing?

Knowledge organization: from tree to tags?

I’m probably not the first to note it but it seems new tools for organizing knowledge are moving from directories-based (i.e. trees) into flat tag-based. We know that ubercool applications such as, citeULike, flickr use tags, but i realized today that even gmail does not allow you to create folders (and (sub)*forders) for your email messages but only to tag them. In this way emails remain in a single big pool but you can have different views over them based on the different tags you used.
I’m wondering if (and how) filesystems can move in a similar direction, or at least the “explorer” visual interface of a filesystem. VennFS (snapshot) seems an interesting direction even if I’m not sure the representation metaphor is easy to grasp. It is selfevident that the fact many people are used to directories-based structures does not mean this is the best way to organize knowledge.
A quick search resulted in 2 keywords related to tag-based system you may want to analyze more: folksonomy and ethnoclassification.
Pros of tags-based tools: an object can fall under more than one categories, you don’t have to think once forever your categorization structure and then be stucked with it but tags support evolution.
Cons of tags-based tools: unless the tool incentives re-use of tags, you can easily end up creating too many tags and forgetting about them, resulting in inability to find the information you previously categorized.

Using social software for good: car pooling

Paul Resnick is researching on “ride sharing services that dynamically match riders with rides”. Read the very interesting and clear SocioTechnical Support for Ride Sharing scenario document. The idea is to make car pooling easier using ICT. If your interests contain trust, recommender systems and making the earth a better place, you should definitely read the paper. Maybe I’ll try to put up a project and submit to the local government, there was a car pooling project in Trento but it seems dead. Contact me if you are interested! [My impression is that often research does not produce useful and real benefit for society, this is a case in which we can put our brain activity for creating something useful and that can make a difference].
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20th anniversary of Bhopal

3rd December 1984:
Shortly after midnight poison gas leaked from a factory in Bhopal, India, owned by the Union Carbide Corporation. There was no warning, none of the plant’s safety systems were working. In the city people were sleeping. They woke in darkness to the sound of screams with the gases burning their eyes, noses and mouths. They began retching and coughing up froth streaked with blood. Whole neighbourhoods fled in panic, some were trampled, others convulsed and fell dead. People lost control of their bowels and bladders as they ran. Within hours thousands of dead bodies lay in the streets. From
This is not a story from a book, this is reality. Today it is the 20th anniversary of the Bhopal tragedy. Human greed caused the death of 20,000 people and serious health problems to more than 120,000 people. It is not correct to report only the numbers, each of them was a single different human just like you (try to count them in your mind one by one). Read the book “Five Past Midnight in Bhopal : The Epic Story of the World’s Deadliest Industrial Disaster” by Javier Moro and Dominique Lapierre) and do something (being sad for one second and saying “this is bad”, you know, is probably not enough).

Google Grid

You must watch this Flash Video. It is the story of Media until year 2014. It contains facts such as “Google Grid”, “Googlezon” (google+amazon) and “nytimes gone offline”.
What happens to the news? And what is Epic?
Watch it, it is only 8 minutes but it is a jump in (one of the possible) futures.