Current Events

Reshelving Project

Ooh, this looks like fun. Hack the bookstores!

Go to the bookstore and locate its copies of George Orwell’s 1984. Unless the Ministry of Reshelving has already visited this bookstore,
it is probably currently incorrectly classified as “Fiction” or “Literature.”

Discreetly move all copies of 1984 to a more suitable section, such as “Current Events”, “Politics”, “History”, “True Crime”, or “New Non-Fiction.”

Insert a Ministry of Reshelving bookmark into each copy of any book you have moved. Leave a note card in the empty space the books once occupied.

Check Undernews for complete instructions on this public arts project.

There’s even a Flickr tag to go along with it.


Blog Business Summit – Day One

I was at the Blog Business Summit all day and weaved in and out of discussions about basic blogging principles as well as a smattering of debate on what this all means to the corporate world that still is just getting a handle on it.

It was great to connect with folks that I’ve corresponded with over the past year and I had more than one occasion where the person sitting right next to me happened to be someone I already knew via their blog, email, or from a phone conversation. Everyone should put a photo of themselves on their blog so we don’t have to crane our neck for their name tag and in that spirit, I just updated mine.

Lots I could write about but here’s the stuff I really enjoyed:

Chris Brownrigg’s story of how he hand crafted Boeing’s first prototype (image map for the calendar!) in response to an emergency call to build a blog using Boeing’s existing infrastructure in 48 hours to the discovery of modern blogging tools. Great plug for Movable Type from someone who has a profound appreciation of how the right tool for the job can make things so much more pleasurable. Notice it is called Randy’s Blog in the prototype and now the site is Randy’s Journal because of the potentially negative/fringe connotations. The debate at Boeing now is if it should be changed to Randy’s Blog now because a “blog” is keyword folks use when looking for this site. My how we’ve come full circle!

Several people talked about the importance of participating in the community in order to build visibility. The days of “build it and they will come” are over unless you already have an established brand. You need to cruise around and leave comments on other people’s blogs which will not only get you on the radar of that blog’s author but also that blog’s readers. Comments that are considered, authoritative and contribute to the discussion will be welcomed and your name and link will draw people to your site to read more about you. This has been my personal experience when I first started getting into blogging at my previous company. Leave your comments enough times and you begin to feel silly putting your company’s top level domain name into the URL field, it adds almost no value. You really need to tie it back to your own profile to give your comments the full context. This is why you need a blog if you’re going to participate meaningfully in the conversation.

Dave Taylor talked about the importance of spending time to pick a good headline for your posts in order to get the right keywords into the search engines. I would add that it’s also an important art because, in the world of RSS readers, it’s going to be the headline that’s going to tease your readers to read the rest of your article – full text feed or not. For an example, John Paczkowski over at Good Morning Silicon Valley is a master at this art. Google claims secondary offering is “for the Christmas Party” – who wouldn’t click through to read that?

DL Byron and Buzz Bruggeman were their usual humorous and unassuming selves telling the “how the heck did we get here?” story of how their blogs told a simple story and rippled out to connect them in ways they never thought possible. Byron telling the story of Clip-n-Seal blog and how they just landed an order from NASA for the Space Shuttle (new way to fasten heat tiles?). Buzz, and how his ActiveWords universe has expanded beyond his wildest dreams and his customer-focused marketing has landed him to site licenses and introductions to very influential executives.

I had to step out but did catch the tail end of Janet Johnson and Robert Scoble in the Dealing with Bloggers session (a provocative title if I might add). This was my favorite session just because it was the most interactive. Robert was running around and the audience was tossing the pair some real good questions. As always, Robert’s candor and shoot-from-the-hip style was perfect. Answering why a company that sells exit poll research to a very select customer base (major network TV stations) should spend limited resources engaging the greater public on their arcane science, Robert shot back that network TV is ultimately dependent on the public for their business. By publicizing their methods to those that are curious, they give crediblity to these networks that use and rely on their research, everyone wins.

Another important lesson from Scoble is what to do when bad news surfaces. Link early to the news and then set off to find the details. The sooner you link, the sooner you take the air out of those that might say that you’re not aware of the problem. Conversations in the blogosphere are like a spider web. The linking and authority ranking around rumors is usually built over the first 24 hours. If you’re not part of that inner circle of links, you’re going to be hard pressed to work your way in when you actually do have something substantial to add.

See you on day two!

Plain English Description of Web 2.0

I’ve been writing about this new world of mix-and-match web services for some time now so it’s great to see the concept begin to be written up by the popular press.

The next step is to boil down these API transactions to the lowest common denominator of the web, the hyperlink. The average person can then bring together their favorite services into weblog posts to add context to the results generated by each of these links. You heard it here first, the weblog is more than just a place to publish your views and point to interesting websites, it’s a lightweight development platform for us non-programmers to pull together the results of database views and add context around them.

Click to see:
San Francisco Gas Prices
– read about Gas Prices in the San Francisco Chronicle

Each of these links are dynamic which means that the results today will be different from a month from now. The example above is basic but as you add more variables to your search these links carry with them an intelligence that can be shared and improved upon in a way that is quite powerful. No longer are you just pointing to static webpages, with these dynamic links you are pointing to dynamic views of data that are your unique view of something.

I’ve been collecting scenarios that help illustrate the power of this new world.

  1. Create a simple form that accepts input of your flight number >
  2. Submit and look up arrival city and time >
  3. Submit results and look up Chinese restaurants rated 3 star and above within 10 miles of airport >
  4. Display results

Do you have any similar scenarios?

Current Events

Last FM Update (II)

I love the concept of tagging your music so that others can share what you have and you can discover music based on what other people are tagging in their collection. The Last FM tagging interface looks beautiful but it takes a bit of trial and error to learn how it works and kept hanging my browser when I was playing with it (although it seems to work like a charm this morning). At one point my entire collection of Ween music ended up tagged as “Baroque” which may explain why Danah Boyd complains that the psytrance stream was sullied by Led Zeppelin.

Crazy Runner Dean Karnazes

I’ve thought I might want to aspire one day to train for a marathon but this guy runs one every morning, before breakfast! Dean Karnazes, world famous ultramarathon runner, has also run 262 miles non-stop (it took him three days) and regularly runs from San Francisco to Sonoma as a training run. If you have the time, read the Virtual Run article from FHM, the guy is totally nuts!


Owl Hairball

Tyler brought home a small tupperware case full of damp mouse hair and small little bones "skulls too!" Izumi almost gagged but Tyler can’t wait to show his friends. It’s definitely the coolest thing he’s gotten from Science Camp which wraps up this week.

Last.FM Update

My favorite social media sharing site,, just got a facelift. I haven’t had a chance to play with it yet but I sure like the new design.

Current Events


Before they drift into the murky past, let me share some thoughts from the trip to Japan. I traveled there at the end of last month to meet Izumi and the kids who had been there for the past two months so Tyler & Julia could go to school in Japan. The Japanese school year overlaps by about six weeks into the US school summer vacation so by taking Tyler out of Kindergarten at the end May, a few weeks early, he was able to get a good two months immersed in Japanese at the local public school down the street from my in-laws in Tokyo.

Both Izumi and I decided that sending the kids to Japanese school would be a wonderful opportunity for them. Because of Tyler’s age, he was not able to go to the Kindergarten that he went to last year. This turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was worried that Tyler would not be able to keep up with a 1st Grade class going full bore into the end of the year but he did just fine. When I asked him about it, he said that the cafeteria food was better, the math more challenging (and fun), and most importantly, he was psyched because he could go back and tell his friends that he’s already gone to 1st Grade. He didn’t even mention the fact that he was learning a whole new language in the process!

Julia heading off to school with her cap & bag.

Julia did go to Tyler’s school from last year. More than just Japanese, her overall verbal skills improved tremendously. Before she left, she was mostly quiet and let her brother do the talking. Now, she’s quick to jump in as well and the dinner table has two little voices that want to give me the download on all the days events.

Izumi was happy to be home and with her parents. She gets strength from her mother who understands her better than anyone else. Tokyo is Izumi’s home, Japanese is her native language, she is the most relaxed there. I had a chance to meet up with some of Izumi’s old friends from school at dinner which was fun. There’s a lot that she had to leave behind when we moved here so it was tough for her to leave again. She has a pretty full plate to handle on her own here and all in her second language.

The schedule was pretty busy but I did get out to the public baths a few times which was fantastic as always. The combination of hot and cold baths with a saunafor good measure is a cure for any ill (physical or psychic). Tyler got into the routine (all except for the “hot air room”) and now appreciates the sense of calm that follows a good long soak. A trip down to a 100 year-old inn on the tip of Izu featured more wonderful baths (trip made possible due to generous grants from my parents who set up the inn and Izumi’s parents who arranged for transport. Thanks!).

Tokyo is so familiar to me. Fits “like an old shoe” I said to my father. I fly into town and there are very specific things that I know I can only get in Tokyo and I know exactly where to go.

  • Stationary store for little staples that fit my handheld stapler
  • Shibuya Loft for Bindex A5 notebook refills which cost a fortune at Patrick’s in SF but are reasonable here
  • Glasses store to replace a broken part – walk in after three years, they remember who I am, fix my part and send me on my way

Sure, there’s JBox when you need a supply of Black Black in a pinch but there’s nothing like stepping through a city and drawing on ten year’s experience to find your way around. It’s especially fun to show Tyler around. He’s young still and was a bit flagged at the end of the day but he was a good sport and indulged me as we played with robotic dogs at the Sony Building, peered through the tunnels out the front of the Ginza line, and checked out the funky scene in Shibuya.

Tokyo has changed of course, it changes from week to week. But the feel of the city will never die, it’s sense of style and its vitality. I still feel like I leave behind some part of me there, even though I left over five years ago. Going back brings on a flood of memories as I flash on events brought on by familiar sights and sounds. I hear that Volga, the old Russian restaurant where Izumi and I were married has closed down. A piece of my Tokyo has faded and will be reinvented and replaced by someone else’s Tokyo. In just the same way new things are being created here – they will become part of our Bay Area and replace something that used to be someone else’s memory of how it used to be.

Search Engine Strategies

I’m off to San Jose tomorrow morning for the Search Engine Strategies show to cruise the floor, meet up with folks, and see what’s up in the world of Search Engine Optimization.

While on the topic of internet marketing, I thought I’d point out a particularly clever bit of interactive marketing. Instead of floating obnoxiously in front of what you want to read, this interstitial ad tugs playfully at the corner of the screen until you click on it and it tears down the entire page like a magazine. I thought it was pretty cool until it crashed my Firefox browser, twice.

I’m not sure how long this ad from Computer Associates is going to run but here’s the link to the page.

Sifry’s State of the Blogosphere

It’s time again for Technorati’s quarterly summary of the what they’re seeing and the numbers just underscore the fact that blogs are here to stay. Some highlights:

  • The number of blogs continues to double every 5.5 months
  • Technorati now tracks over 14.4 million blogs and 1.3 billion links
  • That’s a new blog every second or 80,000 blogs/day
  • The number of posts/day has increased to 900,000/day
  • That’s 10.4 posts/second
  • About a third of all posts are self-tagged or categorized
  • 12,000 new tags or categories are discovered each day

Facinating stuff from the folks that have their finger on the pulse.