Archive for June, 2008

I’m not quite sure that’s boiling down in the great traditional pottery center of Seagrove, NC despite several papers’ attempts to explain it all (NandO editorial, NandO cover story, Asheboro Courier-Tribune story, More clips here). I do know that most of the potters whose work I’ve purchased over the years (Ben Owen III, Michael Mahan about about 50 others) along with a great local potter, Mark Hewitt (in Pittsboro) are all on the same side of the issue and are starting their own pottery festival/show with the help of local bean canning (and potting) family, the Luck’s. The Celebration of Seagrove Potters will happen in the Luck’s factory on November 22nd.

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At the NSF Information Seeking workshop this morning, some one (all names and affiliations must be hidden) briefly mentioned that collaboration and being social were not the same. This got me to thinking.

Collaboration is, and I do my best to recall help me if you were there and took notes, several people working together on the same predefined problem or set of problems each depending on each other and each contributing in some specific way.

Social however is much looser and more ad hoc. The intention is less predetermined or predefined, more haphazard perhaps. In fact, social has more to do with Dunbar-ian stroking and grooming than with getting any specific job done. Social interactions may give rise to incidental help and even to collaboration, but that’s not the main intent.

Collaboration can be mandated, but social cannot. You can pick your friends — as the saying goes — but picking your co-workers and collaborators may be done by others — your boss, manager or the dreaded human resources department.

An ideal work environment for some people would have a very strong overlap between social and collaboration — all kinds of team building tries to shade us over to this overlap. But we still resist. Some people we accept for their talents, respect for their contributions, etc, but we’d rather not spend a week at the beach with them.

And we have great friends who we could never work with for very long. Whose friendship we cherish, but whose skills we’d rather not have to depend on.

This points out the weaknesses of social networks versus networks for collaboration. When using say del.icio.us, I want collaborators for much of my research and teaching and work. But when it comes to say last.fm, I want my friends who share and enlighten me about music. People using FaceBook for work can see right away what I’m getting at. I do feel close to many of my coworkers and they keep me in touch with a lot of things I’d otherwise miss, but I don’t use FaceBook as a work resource — except for those times I need incidental or ad hoc help. I think that LinkedIn is defining itself less of a social space and more of a collaboration space. Not so much for active collaboration in any constant way but in a kind of punctuated temporary way that is slightly ad hoc but more about information exchange — I see Bill is in your network and he seems to have the skills we need in my office. Could you recommend him?

Both ends of a spectrum between the purely social and the purely collaborative build and activate social capital, but each seems to me to be of a different type. Types which are not exactly the same valence say.

Still thinking on this.

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1) What is the most exciting technology innovation you’ve seen in the past 12 months?

iPhone and iPhone 2. The first to say seriously: This is not a phone that can do stuff, but a this that can do stuff that is also a phone. The this that it is is still being defined. The opening, even a slight opening, of the device internationally and to innovators along with the social construction of its use with define the “this” quite soon.

2) What is your biggest hope or fear for the future, and how does tech relate to it?

Our approach to pricing and for maintaining Net Neutrality effect and create both my hope and my fear. Charge for all use models versus charge when it seems appropriate models play a part in this as does ala carte pricing vs all you can eat pricing. Pricing at each point both as a philosophy and as a means of control of markets will constrain or make abundant the availability of innovations in information technology.

3. What should be the top priority for the next US president?

Bringing access to health care in the US up to the global standard. That means a complete realignment of our national health care strategies. The health care cost burden must shift from employment centric to, at least, nation centric to promote an effective ecosystem for innovation and competition.

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Phil Meyer tells the vanishing News and Observer that he’s given up on newspapers and only hopes that journalism can be saved in Ted Vaden’s column today. “At this point, the social goal should not be to save newspapers, but to save journalism.”

Ryan Thornburg just back from the Carnegie-Knight Task Force on the Future of Journalism Education at Harvard asks who will pick up the slack from the Observer and News and Observer slimdowns.
. He answers somewhat in his next post — his comments from the conference “Citizen Journalism and Authentic Leadership.”

Our J-School Dean, Jean Folkerts, also back from the Carnegie-Knight Task Force on the Future of Journalism Education asks for ideas for J-Schools as she concludes “An elite model of journalism education may serve elite journalists, but it doesn’t serve the democracy.”

Jay Rosen takes on the old school whilst attending the same conference in “Twilight of the Curmurgeon Class”

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I spent this morning and early afternoon in Carrboro as I’m often want to do. Why: Farmer’s Market, Weaver Street (with Rick Hermanson sandsculpture), WCOM, Carolina Fitness, and discovering the goodness of the Johnny’s “complex” on West Main Street.

Johnny’s now has a good Tienda/marcado in front, a nice coffee and pastry etc shop in the rear. ParlezVousCrepe.com truck on the side lot on Saturdays (until 2pm), and a great taco truck in the evenings — where I last got barbecued lamb tacos.

BrianR and I sat beside the coffee shop with coffee and crepes whilst he told me of his plans for Carrboro Coworking — which just got a nice small business loan.

In front of us in line were Able and Julia Parris — she photogs and blogs here and abroad.

That’s the Paris of the Piedmont for sure. Beautifully mundane.

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From Brian Russell via FaceBook:

Carrboro Coworking logo

We are in Business!
From Carrboro Coworking
Today at 2:16pm
(Please forgive me if you’ve read this on the CC Google Group already.)

Howdy Coworkers, Guess what!?!? Tonight the Town of Carrboro Board of Alderman approved Carrboro Coworking‘s loan! After working nights and weekends for almost two years we finally did it. The business now has access to funds to jump-start this business.

The next big hurdle is to finalize lease negotiations. I am working with the Arts Center in Carrboro to sign a lease at 311 East Main Street. (That’s next to KFC, across from Performance Bike shop.) Carrboro Coworking will occupy the front half. There are several other pieces of this puzzle that must come together to make this happen. But fear not I have a plan B for a space in case this one doesn’t work out. (Though I believe it will. Its the space I’ve dreamt about from the very beginning!) One way or another we’ll be coworking in downtown Carrboro.

Another major piece of the puzzle is your participation. As soon as I have a signed lease I will be asking for your help. I will be offering discounted Full Time Coworker space for sale. I mention this now because even though I have access to the loan there is still a real need for working capital. In short without you participation I can’t make our space happen.

I’d like to thank James Harris the Economic Development Director for the Town of Carrboro for all his help. He has assisted me greatly. Not just the loan application process but for being a wonderful teacher and excellent person. For it was James that really encouraged me to write a business plan and found the help I needed to do that. Also a big thanks to the folks at the Small Business & Technology Development Center in Chapel Hill . They’re significant time and knowledge helped me learn how to start a small business.

Also a major thanks to my wife Ruby. Without listening to me go on and on about this I wouldn’t have made it to this point. xoxoxo

So stay tuned Coworkers. North Carolina’s first professional coworking space is on its way!

-Brian

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Summer starts out with booklists and online book clubs, Marcy Smith alerts us to the News and Observer discussions here.

Michael Tiemann is all wound up over Blooker prize finalist Lyle Estill’s new book, Small is Possible, and reviews the book here [Miraverse], and here [Open Source Initiative] and here [Amazon].

The Real John Dancy-Jones is Rambling around and Rambling about Raleigh and noticing and reporting on Nature around Raleigh at RaleighNature.

What am I reading?

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David McConville is the producer of this video announcing the Buckminster Fuller Challenge:


The Buckminster Fuller Challenge – SEE THE MOVIE! from Buckminster Fuller Institute on Vimeo.

Greetings Design Revolutionaries!

Bucky had it right. “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.”

That’s why we’re awarding a $100,000 prize each year for comprehensive solutions that radically advance human well-being and ecosystem health. The 2008 prize will be conferred June 23rd in NYC.

STEP UP TO THE BUCKMINSTER FULLER CHALLENGE.
JOIN THE VANGUARD OF THE DESIGN REVOLUTION.

Learn more at bfi.org and challenge.bfi.org

The 2009 Challenge begins this Fall. Stay tuned…

On a somewhat related note, I’m just back from hearing Hodding Carter introduce Hodding Carter (father appropriately introducing son on Father’s Day) as author of several books most recently of Off the Deep End about getting into competitive shape for Olympic swimming events at age 41 – 45. (Not to be confused with the Weird Al CD by the same name).

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Rising to the David Menconi challenge and raising him one by make a muxtape as an answer, “Voodoo, Badness and the Number 13.”

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New Presidential candidate announced! (via BrianR).

ProPublica – Journalism in the Public Interest goes live (via Phil Meyer).

1944 OSS Manual on How to do Simple Sabotage includes methods seen in recent meetings here! (via Dave Weinberger).

Charlotte and Raleigh newspaper advance buyouts, retirements and layoffs as they invest in multi-newsroom, media-neutral content management system.

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May, about mid-May, through early June is honeysuckle sorbet time in Chapel Hill at Crook’s Corner. It was not always so. Bill Smith, head Crook cook, invented honeysuckle sorbet after Crook’s owner Gene Hamer handed him a honeysuckle flower and said “See what you can do with this.” Bill eventually dug up an old, as in Renaissance, Italian cookbook with an Arabian recipe for jasmine ice. After many tweeks, Bill came up with the current recipe, which is in his book Seasoned in the South.

Last year we missed honeysuckle sorbet season and this year we nearly did again. But a business dinner at Crook’s with Obie Greenberg and others reminded me of this short season. Although I was to be out of town in Rhode Island, I was able to alert Sally and Tucker about the sorbet season.

On an otherwise lazy Thursday night, Tucker and Sally were having the frozen seasonal treat at the bar when a too drunken patron tossed a glass at the barkeep — not a standard act at Crook’s to be sure. After that excitement, he was kicked out and later had two more confrontations at other bars and on the street before the police took him in for the night. (see fourth bullet).

But on Saturday when I got back to town, we made it back to Crook’s for some more honeysuckle sorbet. It was an eventless night is a good way. The barkeep had both sugar water and mint on hand and could make a nice julep too.

This past Saturday, I was sure we were at the end of the season. We’d been out looking at honeysuckle and it had about bloomed out in our neighborhood. Sally’s cousin from South Carolina was in town to see UNC whip Coastal Carolina at baseball. It was a perfect Crook’s night. A slow one, but a casual one. Bill still had his great softshell crabs on the menu for one thing. The other is that I ran into him coming from his secret honeysuckle source with a big pitcher full of flowers. Bill was in an unhurried and talkative mood — so that’s where I got all the story of his invention (above).

Bill’s blog, Seasoned in the South, is chocked full of good food stories–and in the last few weeks several on honeysuckle sorbet. Here. Here. Here and Here too.

For the recipe for honeysuckle sorbet, get Bill’s book also called Seasoned in the South or here in Gourmet.

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I’m one of the folks who will be at Half Moon Bay in mid-July for the Fortune Brainstorm Tech meeting. You can take a look at the guest list and see easily which one is not like the other ones, as they used to say on Sesame Street. But you can help! If you know these folks and wanna have me give them your regards or say hey or whatever, drop me a note or leave a comment or a tweet.

But wait there is more! I just got a note from Fortune asking me (and all the others) three pressing questions. I’ll post my answers here as I construct them, but don’t wait for me. What would you answer:

1) What is the most exciting technology innovation you’ve seen in the past 12 months?

2) What is your biggest hope or fear for the future, and how does tech relate to it?

3) What should be the top priority for the next US president?

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There is a lot about the Vanity Fair site and the magazine that it represents that hint of happenings oral, but history isn’t one of those happenings that you might think of right off. Especially with various starlets with pouting lips in various states of undress along the edges of every story.

Nonetheless here it is “How the Web Was Won” right there below “a revealing interview with Angelina Jolie” and a look “behind the scenes at Annie Leibovitz’s photo session with Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus.” The damn pages are almost NSFW and I’m no prude.

The article with audio, appropriately for an oral history, is more a set of nested quotes giving nuggets of insiders’ views of major events in the development of the Internet — the Web portion is neither the beginning which Vanity Fair sets as 1958 (the founding of ARPA but not of ARPAnet our Internet’s forerunner that came much later), nor the major part of the article. Afterall the Web, which the authors tie — I’d say rightly — with the launch of Mosaic, is only 15 years old if you stretch the definition of launch a little.

Nonetheless it’s an important feature with a lot of the right people (you will have your missing list as I do I’m sure) including folks I hadn’t heard from in some years, great folks as people too.

Reminds me of the Internet Pioneers collection on ibiblio.org in several ways: audio interviews, historical sequence, going back a long ways to look for beginnings, etc. The two compliment each other well.

They have something else in common as well. Vanity Fair ends with an audio of Bob Metcalfe — they got his name wrong and called him “Larry” They just changed that in the text a few minutes ago but the error is preserved in the audio file name “Audio-Larry-Metcalfe.mp3″

The Internet Pioneers site managed to spell Douglas Engelbart’s name wrong all throughout the collection. I’m embarrassed to say that the note that we got correcting us came from Engelbart himself! Yikes! It took me several days to track down all the misspellings of his name. It was the least we could do, the site was highly ranked and cited complete with misspellings all over the net.

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Ibiblio alum Kevin Gamiel gets a story on Slashdot as he alerts us all that Obama is looking for LAMP programmers.

J-school colleague, Leroy Towns, writes a longish, informative and opinionated piece in the News and Observer about the roles of Public Information Officers handling elected officials.

Roger McGuinn releases a 22 song CD of Folk Den material called “22 Timeless Tracks”. Camilla McGuinn reports of their visit and performance at the Astronaut Hall of Fame ceremony — includes pictures of Roger and astronauts and One Laptop Per Child.

Tim Tyson explains to Peder Zane of News and Observer about his statements concerning the Duke Lacrosse cases.

Paul Fernhout has a lot of advice for Princeton University which includes getting a clue from me — I suspect about FLOSS and about ibiblio in an article called “Post-Scarcity Princeton, or, Reading between the lines of PAW for prospective Princeton students, or, the Health Risks of Heart Disease.” Thanks Paul.

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I was just up in Providence, Rhode Island for the OSHEAN’s Community Forum on “The Digital Citizen…Rights, Responsibilities and Impacts.” Being a Citizen (although not of Rhode Island) with digits (although at a limit of ten), I was especially suited to be on this panel and discussion. I was on the panel of storytellers with two lawyers: Heidi Wachs, Director of IT Policy and Privacy Officer for Georgetown University and RISD’s General Counsel and Internet Law professor Steven McDonald.

There is luckily a good blog that writes about our talking as I’m not so great about blogging about my own talks or panels that I’m on.

The blog and the site describe what went on, an innovative matching of discussion upfront followed by dinner chat, mostly on subject, and that followed by shifting “learning cafes” (without coffee!). The result was a lot of involvement by all the attendees and a good workout for the visiting experts (Heidi, Steven and me).

Mark Johnson of NCREN was there are well. Mark and his son, a RISD student, took me to visit Newport the next day and he posted some of the great pictures he took here.

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