The Real Paul Jones

Accept no substitutes

Tibetan-mania from Xeni

Paul, · Categories: General, India and Tibetans, Information Commons, News of News, Virtual Communities

Xeni hasn’t posted about everyone I know in the Tibetan exile community in Dharamsala, but nearly everyone. I’ve put her in touch with the Volunter Tibet folks so that may appear on her Xeni.net/trek blog or in Wired News or in Boingboing or National Public Radio or whereever else Xeni publishes next.
Besides finally seeing pictures of all these folks, it’s great to see them getting great press in the tech community from Xeni and her editors. In many cases, the Tibetans have been at tech projects for a long time working hard and cleverly with not many resources but with great determination.
It’s been a blast being part of their tech growth through ibiblio.org
Looking forward to seeing as many of them (you if you are reading this in Dharamsala) next week.

Tibetans in Wired and Slashdot and more

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, General, India and Tibetans, Information Commons, News of News, Virtual Communities

Xeni Jardin has followed her NPR coverage of Wireless Exiled Tibetans to Wired News with an expanded story featuring Yael Ben-David and Phuntsok Dorjee.

That’s been picked up at SlashDot in the Hardware area where there is a lot of discussion of the wireless and of dealing with Bad Monkeys.

And of course she always covers her own articles over on boing boing which helps me find them.

By the time I get there they’ll be too famous to talk with me ;->

Red Hat Magazine covers BarCampRDU (and shares ibiblio love)

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, FOO Camp, General, Information Commons, News of News, Virtual Communities

Red Hat Magazine
Bascha Harris has the best coverage of BarCampRDU that I’ve seen yet in Red Hat Magazine. And not just because I get quoted a lot either. She gets the essence and the background of it all:

160 attendees, 49 sessions, many hours, and several glowing reviews later… the camp was a success.

Glad she counted ;-> It seems so massive but with such a great community giving support it was pretty easy. Fred certainly busted ass to make BarCampRDU happen and it happened very well.

Gabriel Dance: King of the NYTimes Front Page

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, General, News of News

Former ibiblian Gabriel Dance sends the del.icio.us links to all the stuff he’s worked on that has made the NYTimes Front Page. Very impressive and sounds like fun too. Not as much as working at ibiblio tho ;->

History of NC (and of Jones)

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, Amusements, General, News of News

Heading over to the Symposium Cafe later this morning to chat with and be taped by the History Channel along with tech entrepreneur Heather Hesketh. Should be fun.

Rich Beckman on State of Things

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, Amusements, General, News of News

JOMC collegue photographer and multimedia developer, Rich Beckman talks about being in Chile out on Selkirk’s [also known as Robinson Crusoe's] Island today on the air and later on the archives of WUNC-FM’s State of things. [mp3]

Chasing Crusoe: Three hundred years ago Alexander Selkirk opted to be marooned on an island rather than endure his English captain. His four-year long adventure inspired the classic novel Robinson Crusoe. Last spring a group of students from UNC-Chapel Hill returned to the island, four hundred miles off the coast of Chile, to document the legacy of Robinson Crusoe. Host Frank Stasio talks with Prof. Rich Beckman and graduate student Jay Heinz about the project. For more information, see: http://www.rcrusoe.org/ [this is the cool multimedia (flash) sight made there on the Island with games and 3-d images and photo essays etc]

Jones in Business Line (India)

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, General, Information Commons, News of News

Just took a couple of questions from a reporter at Business Line (India) about intellectual property as part of the conference build up for the “Owning the Future” Symposium. Sample questions and answers below:

1. What is the relevance of IP rights to the layman – not a scientist or an IT bureaucrat?

Every layman has an investment in IP and in innovation. Not just an upstream investment that provides reduced costs of products and increased speed of innovation, but — as Eric von Hippel details in his 2005 MIT
Press book “Democratizing Innovation” — every purchaser is a potential innovator, a part of the final and unpredictable design and redesign of products. You want to be able to use the hammer you just bought to crack
nuts as well as pound nails. You want to add features to your car or to a skateboard. You also want to add to software, to electronics and to other products and images in ways that the original designer could not have
possibly anticipated. Without legal access to the means of innovation, your choices are reduced or even erased.

2. Also comment on this slogan of the fast-growing online faction of IP skeptics, “Ideas exist in air, and that is where they should be.”

I searched for this phrase on Google and it wasn’t found. Our IP skeptics must not be making much headway with it ;-> More seriously and from a slightly US point of view, I am a Jeffersonian when it comes to ideas and
property. This phrase echoes that of Thomas Jefferson writing to Isaac McPherson in 1813 [see
http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/documents/a1_8_8s12.html for a more lengthy quote from that letter]

“He who receives an idea from me, receives instruction himself without lessening mine; as he who lights his taper at mine, receives light without darkening me. That ideas should freely spread from one to another over the globe, for the moral and mutual instruction of man, and improvement of his condition, seems to have been peculiarly and benevolently designed by nature, when she made them, like fire, expansible over all space, without lessening their density in any point, and like the air in which we breathe, move, and have our physical being, incapable of confinement or exclusive appropriation. Inventions then cannot, in nature, be a subject of property.”

Jones is History (Channel)

Paul, · Categories: Amusements, General, Information Commons, News of News

Joe Newberry, great banjoist and NC Department of Cultural Resources bureaucrat, asked me to be part of a set of interviews with the History Channel next week. So’s on Wednesday just before lunch, I’ll head over to the American Tobacco Historic District and tape a discussion with them. We’ll talk about NC’s early showing on the Internet, NC related history projects on ibiblio.org like DocSouth, volunteer history projects like the Pearl Harbor Archives and HyperWar, music collections including the folk music index and perhaps the FolkDen and Folkstreams.net (since both have an NC part to them).

If you have other suggestions, lemme know.

JJB on Long Tail Party, Lyceum in Chinese, ZeFrank on Fear

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, General, Information Commons, News of News, Virtual Communities

JJB was at the Long Tail Book Launch on my behalf. He and Ben Hammersly went on over to Wired for the throw down and JJB reports here.

Lyceum has an install in China where folks are blogging in Chinese as well as English.


Ze Frank lays it down about fear.

JJB at Citizen Journalism Unconference

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, General, Information Commons, News of News, Virtual Communities

JJB was at the Citizens Journalism Unconference at the Berkman Center of Harvard Law last weekend and has a nice report on his impressions of the (un?)event.
Doc and others have pictures to prove JJB was there [Flickr Tag citmedia06].
Dan Gillmor, the unconference unorganizer, gives thanks and reflects on the Center for Citizen Media Blog.

Doc on Airports today; Google on Cali Libraries; BBC on Media Use

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, General, Information Commons, News of News, Virtual Communities

Three quick links to posts of interest, highly unrelated.

Doc is writing live from the Logan Airport about the state of emergency at US and UK airports.

The Official Google Blog
blogs their side of the University of California Libraries announcement about joining the Google Book Project in a posting by John [Price]Wilkin, Interim Co-University Librarian, University of Michigan.

BBC reports “Young adults are moving away from traditional media” in an article titled “Young drive ‘radical media shift’ : The “networked generation” is driving a radical shift in media consumption, says UK telecoms regulator Ofcom”

New Yorker meets citizen participation Twice

Paul, · Categories: General, Information Commons, News of News, Virtual Communities

First it was Stacy Schiff‘s “KNOW IT ALL – Can Wikipedia conquer expertise?” in the New Yorker’s issue of 2006-07-31. Then came Nicholas Lemann‘s “AMATEUR HOUR – Journalism without journalists” in the issue of 2006-08-07. The New Yorker sent out smart talented writers to get the real story on what’s happening on the Web.

The editors and writers thought they were covering different stories in difference issues, but really they, like the blind men fondling the elephant, were telling the same story about a part of a great beast. Schiff pounded on the side of the elephant and declared it a wall. Sturdy if trembling; what those of us who see more of the animal know is breathing and functioning. Lemann grabs the ear and declared it flimsy without strength or depth. Something this fan-like could not be a challenge to reporters and dedicated professionals.

I do wonder how Lemann could write his article and not mention Dan Gillmour’s book, We the Media: Grassroots Journalism by the People, for the People, nor the Center for Citizen Journalism which is lead by Dan.

Each writer may notice that there is something bigger at play behind the rhetoric of wikipedians and their discontents, behind bloggers and the professional journalists who mutually antagonize each other. Both notice that some sort of revolution or evolution or change is underway. But both have avoided raising this up to a bigger picture, a larger context. Neither see this and more as something that is unrelenting and growing despite the various moral panics that have attended not only blogging and wikipedia but also social networking sites, eBay, Google, Google Book Project, Amazon, and soon I’m sure del.icio.us, technorati, Flickr and YouTube.

So far only terms like Web 2.0, which although I think is unavoidable as a pretty good place holder and has the endurance of a term like ironhorse or horseless carriage as opposed to telephone , are available. I’m not ready to put out a nomination for the term for the changes involved of my choice yet. Not “the former audience.” Maybe “Citizen Journalism” but that is too limited in scope to my thinking. Like “Information Highway” these terms fail to do their job in various ways and will vanish. We do need a way to describe the change, but will our children finally be the ones who give it to the next generation and to the ages or will we do it soon?

Personal note on the Wikipedia story: I was at a conference in DC this Spring and ended up sitting at the same table as Jimbo Wales and Stacy Schiff. I kept trying to remember where I had seen her name or byline. She was pleasant and very sharp and extremely observant. When I got back to my room, I realized that I had read and enjoyed a piece by her about Ben Franklin not long before in the New York Times. I had also read the reviews of her Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Vera [Mrs. Vladimir Nabokov]. I wish I had been a bit better at recall that day. I had a question or two on Franklin in the Wikipedia/Citizen Journalist/eBay/social networks context.

Khartum to Beirut

Paul, · Categories: Alumni and other friends, General, News of News

Mark McCarthy writes via Skype that he’s now in Beirut. The Humanitarian Information Centre is setting up there so it looks like the UN is in for the long haul.
Here’s a video from Mark’s balcony [avi].

John Edwards and bittorrent on WCHL

Paul, · Categories: General, Information Commons, News of News, Virtual Communities

Just took a call from WCHL about John Edwards’ use of bittorrent. Does this make bittorrent legit? Actually didn’t need Edwards to make it legit. With OSprey, ibiblio has been using torrents legally, reliably, authoratively and accountably for a good while now. Visit the ibiblio torrent site. No, torrents are not limited to videos and music; we do software, developers’ tools, interviews, etc as well as music and video.

[yap yap yap on my part]

This will run at 5:30 on 1350 WCHL then again in the morning and later on their podcasted website.

Here it is now on from the WCHL site with this text lead-in, “Edwards takes campaign to the World Wide Web”.

WRAL’s TechTalk on BarCampRDU

Paul, · Categories: FOO Camp, General, Information Commons, News of News, Virtual Communities

Fred alerts us to Tara’s TechTalk piece on the WRAL blogs explaining BarCampRDU. It’s a very clear and concise piece that gets the BarCamp facts right and lets you know a little about the what, who, where and why of BarCampRDU.

Isolation update in Washington Post

Paul, · Categories: General, Information Commons, News of News, Virtual Communities

We were alerted by Barry Wellman that Sebastian Mallaby would be publishing an Opinion section of the Washington Post on the Social Isolation story. It’s up now (and likely in print too), but Barry and I are both disappointed. Mallaby misses the findings of Barry’s research even though he mentions them. Twenty minutes on the phone with Barry, the top guy on friendship networks living, and Mallaby can’t tell that 15 is greater than 2 or 3 without changing what that means.

No, no! We are not lonely and we do have broader social networks than ever before according to Wellman.

But that doesn’t satisfy Mallaby; once he’s told that we actually have more extensive networks, he switches his stance to tell us that having a more extensive network means that we don’t have connections that are as deep as in the networks-formerly-known-as-lonely-but-now-known-as-deep.

Mallaby’s suggestion form carpools is clever but only slightly extends your social network, only slightly deepens a couple of relationships.

Here’s a more clever suggestion: People should join bike-to-work groups. People who experience more physical exercise and who experience that exercise together are more social and more physicially healthy too. And they use no gas at all!

Or to borrow from a scandalous talk by James Watson, people are happier when they are overweight and well tanned. We all need to get to the beach and participate in that most isolationist of pleasurable activities — reading an engrossing book!

Isolation? What Isolation?

Paul, · Categories: Amusements, General, News of News, Virtual Communities

Barry Wellman gives the inside story on the study that has been widely misquoted in the press about social isolation including this one in the Washington Post Social Isolation Growing in U.S., Study Says The Number of People Who Say They Have No One to Confide In Has Risen by Shankar Vedantam published on Friday, June 23, 2006.

Wellman writes to the Association of Internet Researchers (quoted in full with permission):

Re the Washington Post story below [I have noted and linked that story above - pj] (and a similar USA Today story):

To my mind, it’s an interesting case of media distortion.

The good news: the accounts are based on a high-quality survey (US General Social Survey) by first-class reseachers (Lynn Smith-Lovin & Miller McPherson) + Matthew Brashaers whom I don’t know, in sociology’s leading journal, American Sociological Review. I was a referee on this paper, btw, and revealed myself at appropriate time to the authors.

The study replicates one stimulus Q from the General Social Survey 20 years ago about who do you have to discuss important matters with. It finds a mean of about 2 in 2004, down from 3 in 1984 (or was it 1985)?

Here’s the problem:

Based on this, the 2 newspapers have created a huge social isolation spin on this, when it’s well known that people have lotsa ties, not just 2 or 3. See our data from Pew Internet, Connected Lives study) + lotsa others. Indeed, altho we are not as parallel as the US GSS, comparing Connected Lives (3rd East York study, 2004) with the second East York study (1979 data) shows more active ties now, both intimate and significant ties.

Thus the media spin is a huge inferential leap from a decline in the super-core ties to saying Americans are socially isolated.

If you read further in the Washington Post and USA Today articles, you’ll see me quoted as suggesting that we now have more ties — and more contact with ties — but that relationships are differentiated. In other words, the relative decline in discussion partners shouldn’t be generalized to either absolute isolation or even growing isolation.

Of course, YMMV.


Update:
Barry Wellman writes again “FYI, the Wa Post is probably going to run a followup editorial in next day or 2 by Sebastian Mellaby.”

Should be Sebastian Mallaby who writes on Mondays. So keep an eye open for that. pj

Words are worth a thousand pictures

Paul, · Categories: General, News of News

JOMC’s Laura Ruel reports that the Nielsen Norman Group reports: “Task-oriented users really don’t pay attention to images on Web pages.”

Laura goes on to report that:

According to NNG, images that do NOT attract attention share these traits:

* Generic/stock art
* Off-putting, cold, fake, too polished or “set up”
* Not related to content
* Look like advertisements
* Low contrast in terms of color — not crisp

Meanwhile, images that DO get attention share these traits:

* Related to page content
* Clearly composed and appropriately cropped
* Contain “approachable” people who are smiling, looking at the camera, not models
* Show areas of personal/private anatomy (Men tended to fixate on these areas more than women — really!)
* Items a user may want to buy.

Apple Store Opening Tomorrow

Paul, · Categories: Amusements, General, News of News

Randall Greg of the Raleigh Chronicle made me an offer I can’t refuse. He’ll give me his press pass to the Raleigh Crabtree Apple Store pre-opening tomorrow, if I act like a journalist and write a little for him and the Chronicle about the experience having taken some pictures and asked some questions.

What questions would you ask at an Apple Store opening? Like why has the store opening been delayed for 6 months and what are they doing to prepare for flooding and is it true that Apple tries to keep their openings secret until the last minute to generate interest via viral publicity?

Randall has a pre-opening story in today’s Chronicle.

Role (or Roll) Models

Paul, · Categories: Amusements, General, News of News

The Brawny Man has opened Brawny Academy where men can learn to be men. While Connie Chung sets off to show why news and cabaret don’t mix.