Tag Archives: Blogging

Blogging on Nature: why not?

Some months ago I was asked to open a blog on Nature. I’m in a period of small mood for blogging, so I postponed the idea of opening the blog on Nature until now.
Partially I was also wondering about some questions such as “Wow! A blog on Nature! How does it count? I’ll probably never have a paper in Nature but a blog yes. So what? How many blogs there are at the moment on Nature? A quick check says around 80. Uhm. This is not so exclusive. Will I insert it in my curriculum? Probably not. Does a blog counts as a paper? Surely not. Maybe things will be different in future? For sure, but not too different”.
Anyway, if 10 years ago somebody would have told me “one day, you will blog on Nature!”, I would have replied “No bet!” … well, actually 10 years ago the word “blog” was still to be proposed (the term “blog” was coined by Peter Merholz in April or May of 1999 according to the Blog page on Wikipedia as it is today) so maybe the reply would have been more a “I will do what?!?”.
Nevertheless, blogging on Nature is surely about new ways of doing research and of publishing your ideas so I’m in the game.
My blog on Nature is at http://network.nature.com/blogs/user/paolo-massa, the plan for now is to repost and possibly extend some posts related to trust and society I post at gnuband.org, for the future I guess we’ll see.

The Italian lonelygirl15 and six degrees of Justin Timberlake

I’ve been following the blog of Asia “Justin2u” on Libero.it since its beginning, one month ago. Asia tries to exploit the six degrees of separation thing in order to meet Justin Timberlake in just one month. Since I cite this folklore theorem almost in every talk I give, people sent me the link to this “live experiment”, Asia’s blog. The sentence in the header explains it in this way: “Io conosco te ke conosci lui ke conosce l’altro ke conosce uno ke conosce Justin Timberlake e ke poi me lo presenta. E ke poi vuole il mio numero e mi kiama e mi kiede di arrivare e io vengo ;)” that is, in my opinion, a very funny way to explain the 6degrees thing: “I know you that know him that knows the other one that knows that one that knows Justin Timberlake and that he introduces me to him. And that then he wants my tel number and he calls me and he asks me to arrive and then I come ;)”. Loosely related, even Kevin Bacon tried to exploit the idea, creating sixdegrees.org: “With SixDegrees.org you can ask connections to donate to a charity.”
Asia is funny and very good-looking, she speaks in a funny very-youngish Italian (lots of “k” and “troppo + verb”). Check her first video I just uploaded on YouTube.

My bet is that she is not a normal girl just wanting to meet Justin but an actress, part of a commercial attempt to get some buzz about Libero.it social platform and of course I’m not the only one thinking so. Her blog is on Libero.it. All her videos were uploaded on libero videos (even while a lot of people in the comments kept suggesting to upload on youtube in order to get some non-italian connections, well she did upload her last video on youtube but i think it is just because she is going to reveal anyway her identity soon). All the friend blogs linked from her Libero blog are other Libero blogs. She invited people in chat and, guess what, yes it was on Libero chat. Actually before her blog I didn’t even know that Libero had blogs and videos and chats but now a lot of people in Italy know about it. So my bet is that she is an actress but of course I might be very wrong, well, I guess we will know in few days. By the way, I uploaded her first video (that was only on Libero video) on Youtube: if she is real and just wants to get the word out, she will be happy about this, otherwise if she is a commercial effort, someone will ask to remove the video from YouTube, simple eh?
Overall, I’m happy there is some clever marketer in Italy that is able to exploit the lonelygirl15 model, they didn’t invent it of course but just copying it quickly enough is something I’m very happy about. In case you don’t know, lonelygirl15 is an interactive web-based video serial centering around the life of a fictional teenage girl named Bree, whose YouTube username is the eponymous “lonelygirl15”. The series is presented through short, regularly-updated video blogs posted by the fictional characters, as well as through an optional alternate reality game. lonelygirl15 came to international attention as a “real” video blogger who achieved massive popularity on YouTube, a popular video sharing website, but was eventually outed by suspicious viewers as a fictitious character played by American-New Zealand actress Jessica Rose (from lonelygirl15 Wikipedia page). She got a lot of fame and actually she was hired by the United Nations in 2006, to fight poverty through an online anti-poverty video. Rose portrayed the lonelygirl15 character as she sat by herself in her bedroom talking to the camera. The subject matter in these videos focused on antipoverty (again from Wikipedia). I’m still incredibly surprised to see United Nations reacting so quickly to the buzz and using these non very conventional marketing strategies, though I’m not able at all to get a basic idea about their effectiveness.
Anyway, I guess we will not see Asia as United Nations Ambassador but still it was a clever way to get a lot of buzz around Libero social platform.
(In case you are wondering, all my links to Libero here are vote-abstain and nofollow so no Google juice, sorry ;-)

Chain for Energy Consumption Awareness

Mi illumino di meno poster I received the 5 things chain from bonaria. I guess “un gioco e’ bello quando dura poco” (a game is fun if it does not last forever), so I think I better pass a different chain.

Mucio started a chain to spread the “M’illumino di meno” campaign of Caterpillar. The “M’illumino di meno” campaign declared February 26th 2007 as “Energy saving day” (giornata del risparmio energetico). The goal is twofold: become more aware of how much energy we daily use and start with simple (and less simple) acts to reduce our energy consumption. Some simple ideas are in the text of the song/jingle of the campaign. You can download or listen the song from caterueb and read the text (in Italian) at the end of this post.

Mucio didn’t pass the chain to me, but this is a different chain, it is a chain you can pass without waiting for someone to pass it to you or, if you prefer, consider that this post is passing the chain to Everybody. So, don’t wait! Pass it to your friends, now! And there is no limit on the number of friends you pass it to as well. 5? Fine. 9? Good. 15? Better. 100? Perfect!

For people who does not understand Italian, I’d like to mention as well the Climate Change Game made by the BBC that I found yesterday via the glorious WorldChanging. The Climate Change is a Flash game where you are president of the European Nations and you must tackle climate change and stay popular enough with the voters to remain in office.

Ah yes, the last and most important part. I pass this chain to:

  • bonaria (because she passed me the 5 things one I didn’t pass)
  • marcella (she is not blogging but flickring so the challenge is to pass the chain via an artistic photo about energy consumption)
  • marina (because of interesting discussions on her blog)
  • marco (who does not appreciate pointless blogo-chains, let’s see if he appreciates this one)
  • francesca e marco (because they are in US and there is a lot to do there as well about energy consumption)
  • bru (because it is the first one in my blogroll ;-)
  • pandemia (because he cares abour the environment)
  • ingegneria senza frontiere – trento (because it is an association that cares about the environment as well, and i want to check if the blog masters check incoming links ;-)
  • napo (because he says I never link to him ;-)

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A blog post is a permanent email with cc:world

During my long no-blog period, I kinda lost the unconditioned reflex “This is interesting, let me blog it” in favour of the less advanced “This is interesting, let me think about who might be interested and send her an email containing just this link”.
At least this is something that was happening with my previous blog post, I was starting to think who might be interested in knowing that “Italian public television (RAI) will be entirely under Creative Commons” in order to send them an email. Luckily a strike in the blue sky of my mind came to rescue me with a providential “why don’t I blog it so that I don’t clutter their mailbox and … if they want to read, they simply come here, when they want? Moreover the possible readers might include people I don’t know that find the post after months via a search engine.”
I strongly rationally believe that Email is where knowledge goes to die, I just think I lost the unconditioned reflex.
By the way, the metaphor of blogging as writing an email cc:World is due to Doc Searls.

Welcome back to myself!

Hello everybody!
I’m back, back in the blogosphere I mean. My last post was dated November 23, 2005 so precisely 377 days ago. Wow, this means more than one year without blogging!
Reasons for this long silence? Well, I stopped blogging because I had to write my PhD thesis. I then got my PhD in March 2006 but for different reasons it took me until now to restart blogging.
In the meantime, I took the chance to move to a personal domain, gnuband.org (I’m sure everyone is wondering “why gnuband?“), and to move to WordPress.

So, in case you are interested, please bookmark this new blog URL (http://gnuband.org) and subscribe to the new RSS feed (http://gnuband.org/feed/).

I ‎guess I should now write some clever intuitions about the experience of “living and researching without a blog for more than year” but I’m afraid the reality is that I don’t have any of these. I will try nonetheless to write something about this in one of the following posts.
For now, “Welcome back to myself!”. Stay tuned.

repressing the “Expression under Repression” workshop at WSIS

I read from Ethan Zuckermann who is currently in Tunis for the World Summit on Information Society (WSIS) some shocking news.
I’m here to help run a workshop titled “Expression Under Repression”, hosted by Hivos and organzied by the Global Voices team. When we arrived at the exhibition hall this morning, we were warned that our workshop could be cancelled. (…) Specifically, it was suggested by Tunisian authorities that “expression under repression has nothing to do with ICT for development.
Yesterday, we were warned that our session could be cancelled by the Tunisian authorities. We also discovered that the session wasn’t listed in the official program guide. Today, we came to the room where the session was to be held and there was a sign on the door stating that the workshop was cancelled. Friends who passed by the UNDP booth on the WSIS floor earlier today heard gossip that the security forces would appear at our session and anyone who attended would be arrested. And I got a few SMSs from people who’d asked about our session at the information booths and had been told there was no information on our session.
It is incredibly stupid for Tunisia to just show its repressive and censorship face when all the world is looking in their direction for the WSIS. And we all should really think about it more often, many countries control Internet and negate freedom of expression to their citizens.
Something you can do (but only a tiny contribution of what we should do) is to join the Electronic Frontier Foundation which, among millions of other worthy campaigns, published How to Blog Safely (see also GlobalVoices technical extension and the Handbook for bloggers and cyber-dissidents published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF).
Just one more shocking news, RSF head Robert Menard was not allowed by Tunisian security officials to leave the plane after his arrival from Paris in Tunis.
Too often, leaving in a country where Internet is not (too much) filtered and there is (enough) freedom of expression I forgot about these important matters. If you care about these matters, do join EFF and follow Ethan’s blog.

Problems with Beppe Grillo Blog

Beppe Grillo Blog is currently 66th on the Technorati list of top blogs. Pretty impressive if you think he only writes in Italian. However I see some problems with this blog I’ll try to describe here.
Every daily post has around 1000 comments. This is not a problem per se, of course, if people want to write a lot of comments to every your post, this is good, you probably write something that is very interesting.
So today I wanted to alert Beppe (or who read all the comments) about this article on groklaw, so I went to beppegrillo.it and try to leave a comment and, surprise, you cannot leave as signature a link to your blog but only an email address! This is really against empowering communication in a decentralized manner! In this way, if I want to be heard on the Web I cannot write on my blog but I must come back to beppegrillo blog and leave a comment there. I cannot have a Web identity independently of beppegrillo.it domain!
I think Beppe speaks often of “Direct democracy” that is achieved through his blog. Well, this is not at all something new. Instead Beppe Grillo is becoming a leader of a face-less, identity-less crowd that exist only by commenting on his blog. It is not very different from a Prodi or Berlusconi leader whose followers are anonymous identities (you might even have doubts they exist at all).
So, enough criticisms and let start with the (hopefully) constructive part: Beppe, please, invite people who flock to your blog to have their Web presence. Let commenters leave a link to their Web identity (a blog). Place a very visible invitation (in the menubar and on top fo the right column) for visitors to open their own personal blog, with instructions on how to do it. The message could be something like this: (in Italian) “Sono molto contento di vedere cosi’ tanti commenti ai miei post. Ma credo che la forza del Web sia nel fatto che ognuno puo’ dire la sua. Ti invito quindi ad aprire un TUO blog e a postare in esso le TUE idee. Potrai ovviamente linkare i miei post quando lo ritieni opportuno o lasciare commenti con link alle TUE riflessioni sul TUO blog. Io ho tante cose da dire ma sono sicuro che anche tu hai tante cose da dire, e non e’ affatto detto che quelle che dico io siano piu’ interessanti di quelle che dici tu. Quindi ti consiglio di aprire un tuo blog. E’ semplicissimo. Le istruzioni per farlo sono qui di seguito. (e nel seguito alcune semplici istruzioni su come creare un blog in splinder.com, blogger.com, …)”
Another comment I wanted to leave on his blog was about GNU/Linux. He speakes a lot about the power of the new technologies and Internet but a search for linux on his blog returns zero results. I wanted to suggest to Beppe to speak about this alternative in the domain of software. Anyway I hope that in some decentralized way, he finds this post and comments here, here you can leave a link to your web presence.
And Beppe, since you are so intripped (yes, this is not English) with the power of the Web, I’m confident you’ll be able to understand why I (try to) write in English even if I’m Italian.

UPDATE: a comment by Matteo lets me know that Massimo already wrote about it: crea il tuo blog.
“Tutto quello che pensi e scrivi lo ha gia’ pensato e scritto qualcun altro” – Anonimo

Any wordpress plugin for managing bibliography?

I’m (slowly) moving to wordpress. However I didn’t find any plugin for keeping a list of papers in a structured way, possibly outputting also a bibtex file for every paper. Is there one? Or is there a simple-enough solution to the problem, for example considering every paper as a specific kind of page? In the meantime, I try to ping the LazyWeb.

New paper: Learning Contextualised Weblog Topics

I forgot about another paper I wrote: Learning Contextualised Weblog Topics (pdf) will be presented at WWW 2005 2nd Annual Workshop on the Weblogging Ecosystem: Aggregation, Analysis and Dynamics in Chiba, Japan, May 10th 2005. My boss was going to WWW2005 for presenting another paper and so we decided to submit our ongoing work to this workshop to get some feedback. We are still working with the system but we should be ready for prime time soon enough … stay tuned!
[I would have loved to meet Ethan Zuckerman that is the invited speaker at this workshop and whose work on media attention is just delicious. (I even proposed to help him in coding something for monitoring the Italian media world but it’s too bad I’m so lazy)]

If you like, check the paper Learning Contextualised Weblog Topics (pdf)
Abstract: In this paper, we examine how a topic-centric view of the Blogosphere can be created. We characterise the problems in aligning similar concepts created by a set of distributed, autonomous users and describe current iniatives to solve the problem. We introduce the Tagsocratic project, a novel initiave to solve the concept alignment problem using techniques derived from research in language acquisition among distributed, autonomous agents.