Adding more metadata to RSS

I just added a whole load of extra metadata and content to my RSS 1.0 feed (RDF). So first thing which you will notice is comments and trackbacks are added so there is no need to visit the XHTML site unless you actually want to comment back and even then you could use the WFW:comment system, which I honestly have never really looked into. I also added a comment count before the actual comments, so you can skip around the RSS easily. This will also mean I need to get harsh with spam as I dont want spam in my RSS too. So I'm turning off trackback autodiscovery if I get any more spam.

Then I added the Creative commons licence to my RSS feed, which was easy enough. Ben Hammersley has a complete guide on how to do this with RSS 1.0. But this is where I got stuck, I was listening to some podcasts from Northern voice and heard Stephen Downes' Community Blogging session which talked about alot of things to do with the longtail, tags, metadata and emergence. But he also suggested people should link or put FOAF content into there RSS feeds. And I just thought this was fantastic! It makes so much sense, so I went about trying to link my FOAF profile into my RSS 1.0 feed. Well its not as easy it would first seem. I tried to work out how to link rather than just add FOAF to directly into the RSS. And in the end came up with this.

< foaf/images/emoticons/silly.giferson rdf:ID=”Ian Forrester” >
< rdfs:seeAlso rdf:resource="http://adrenalin-online.demon.co.uk/profile/foaf.rdf"/ >
< /foaf/images/emoticons/silly.giferson >

Which sits in the channel block. While this may not be ideal, its seems better than anything else i've seen. Now if I can only get feedburner to pass on the feed without interfering with the metadata.

Update – My friend David showed me evidance that my new changes to the RSS feeds are causing problems. So I've decided i'm going to remove the extra comment and trackback fuctionality from the RSS 2.0 and ATOM versions. Which means if you subscribe to the RSS 1.0 version, you will get trackbacks, comments and lots of other juicy bits and bobs. The change back should happen tonight which will be the morning of the 2nd March for most of you. Till then, my feedburner one is still turning out standard RSS combined with my bookmarks. Thanks David, if anyone else is having problems please leave a comment…

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XTECH 2005 schedule is now up

This years conference looks to be a very good one. There are already a couple of suprises presentations which brought a rye smile to my face. The first one has to be Dodds presenting just before myself. I usually read Leigh Dodds' blog at least once a week on my way into work, and I've always nick named him lost boy since.
Anyhow, people keep asking me for my paper, while I'm not going to post the whole lot I'm going to take some cues from Lost boy and post bits up as and when they come. Till then here's the basic description or abstract.

Open Data: RSS Syndication For A Worldwide Audience

The challenges faced while syndicating RSS to a global audience of people and machines. Can we syndicate in every single language, how does internationalization work in meta-data, and what does this all mean for the semantic web?

Some other interesting presentations I spotted.

And I swear thats only Wednesday and does not include people like Micheal Kay and Tom Loosemore. I'm really hoping they do a good job of recording these sessions and hopefully pass them on to IT Conversations for podcasting and archiving after the event. There are so many I would love to hear and see, I'm really looking forward to speaking and hearing from others in the world of XML.

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Contacts and owning your own data

John Batelle, Marc Andressen and Dan Rosenzweig talk about lessons learned

Oh I'm in such a funny mood after listening to Harry talk about the joys of Mac for 30mins earlier last night. And its getting very late now, but I had to write something about these contact sharing services which are bouncing up everywhere.
Bebo, Plaxo and Ringo is one of the three on the tip of my toungue which I remember. How much of a pain is it to use these services when they do not interoperate at all. Hello Gap in the market. Wouldnt it be great if there was a service which interoperated with not only your outlook contacts but your mozilla, ical, etc contacts and stored them in an interopable format like RDF (yes you can see where I'm going with this) Friend Of A Friend has been used in social networks for quite some time now, why dont these contact services use FOAF profiles which people put on there blogs? Why should I need to enter in the same contact information into different services? Hell why do I need these services when I have a FOAF profile? As someone once commented Here's to owning your own data

Update, I just finished listening to a IT Conversation podcast titled Lessons Learned, Future Predicted by Marc Andressen and Dan Rosensweig. One of them (i think it was Marc) talks about how the client walled garden is a mistake and the real walled garden is now the data.
Roughly this is the key point, Not a blockquote sorry…

Its striking if you list the amount of things you can't do. There's no personal service on the internet, yahoo or anyone which allows you to get your personal profile out and import it into some other service. Theres no job service which allows you to do that. All the search engines which track your search history and take that somewhere else. You can't take your Amazon recommendations and take them somewhere else. Your ebay repurtation, or even your mail. You can't take your online mail from one provider to another. its difficult or impossible. Its striking the pattern which is being setup, the level of lock in which is being setup which makes perfect sense from a business stand point. But it is some kind of propitery lock in which is as strong as the lock in you use to have at the software level.

Marc – It is the form of locking for the next 10 or so years…. Doug Kaye later presses both the panel guests about open data and attention data. but does not really get a answer worthy mentioning. However someone talks about FOAF and how a couple of services support it for importing and exporting. I can also say Audioscrobbler also supports FOAF exporting now. Here is my FOAF profile from audioscrobbler which is nothing like my own personal FOAF profile. Enough said really… By the way Its also interesting that Bebo and Ringo are running on the same software or are the same company!. I guess this strikes myself as the example Dan talked about, where AOL would not allow interop between AIM and ICQ even thought they owned both services! Crazy! own your own data because these services cant even get the simple things right.

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Rental DVD services

Cracker collection

I'm trying out the Amazon Rental DVD service at the moment. According to my account 3 Cracker DVD's were dispatched to my house yesterday. The cost is pretty good for 6 DVD's specially when placed against all the money I've spent at Blockbusters over the last few years. 6 DVD's a month is 10 pounds at Amazon.co.uk but Lisa is also considering a DVD rental service by Tesco which is only 8 pounds per month. Now I think its unlimited but everytime I view the page in Firefox it crashes the browser. This is the reason why bricks and morter stores like Tesco loose out so badly to there net rivals like Amazon!
I was also checking out a few other online rental stores and the price ranges from 7 pounds a month to 15 pounds a month. But I in the end choose Amazon because they have such a range of titles that none of the others (excluding Tesco because I cant check with the website issue) come close. And honestly I dont want the usual films I can get down Blockbusters thank you very much…
Anyhow I will see how it goes after a month and see if Tesco sort out there website! Shame on you Tesco, shopping works fine but film rental not so fine.


I recieved my Amazon DVD's this morning [22nd Feb 2005]
and I have to say Amazon have done a amazing job on the packaging. You kinda of rip it one way and the DVD comes out in a slim plastic case then to send it back you just put it back and pull off a bit which hides glue to seal it up again. The whole thing is almost the size of the DVD and weights hardly nothing. Good service so far Amazon!

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TabletPC for Sale, will swap for 12inch Mac Powerbook

Toshiba Portege TabletPC

Yes shock horror, I am selling my TabletPC in the hope of getting a Apple PowerBook. For everyone who knows me well, this is a very difficult thing to admit. I somewhat like Windows but cant deal with all the crazyness of Windows XP (specially Tablet edition which has this crazy bug), so I'm moving sideways and changing to a Mac. I would move to Linux but the Mac will do for now. Apple have done some good things in the laptop world and I could deal with changing to Apple for my general laptop computing. So who will take my tablet off my hands? I mean no disrespect but at somepoint Microsoft are going to dump the TabletPC (in my own eyes) and then where we all be?

However this move to Apple does not mean I will turn into one of these nerdy apple boys! Dusting and polishing there apple laptops while the playing with there Sony Ericsson Phones! Oh no, I'll use the laptop but it doesnt mean I'm part of the cult of Apple! I pledge I WILL NOT GET A IPOD, IPOD Mini or IPODSHUFFLE ever!

Anyway has anyone got a clue of where I can actually just swap the tabletPC for a Mac laptop? Ebay does not seem to have the greatest range of TabletPC's which could be a good thing or a bad thing. And no matter how tempting, I'm not going to sell it abroad through ebay.com. I've also been thinking I must beable to get a educational or some kind of discount, as I should just buy the Mac new from Apple. I mean 1100 for the G4 powerbook, I'm sure the price wont go down much 2nd hand. I'm really hoping I will get about 1000+ for the TabletPC which is a little less than half of the street price.

So after a super humorous conversation with Harry on the phone where I almost laughed to death of hysterical choking. Why have I made the change? Well let me explain a little more.

  1. I never or hardly ever use the Tablet features of the TabletPC. I never got use writing on the screen and adopted style simular to my ipaq of tapping on the screen instead of writing.
  2. The same reason as I tried switching to Linux a while ago, all the applications I actually use on the PC are opensource, free as in beer or free as in freedom. From Firefox, Thunderbird and itunes to PSI, OpenOffice and VLC. All of them fit into one of the three categories. All of these Applications will run on the Mac no problem. So I will only loose Windows, oh what a shame…
  3. I've had it with the viruses, spyware, adware and crazy updates. Damm I had to install 8 patches the other weekend. I dont mind doing this for my computer and server but not for my laptop too. I'm an advanced computer user (hate that word) but when I pick up my laptop I dont expect to download patches, update and restart the computer before I can use it. I treat my laptop a bit like my ipaq, I just want to use it and do an update once in a while.
  4. The web is the platform, it doesnt matter what operating system I'm using on my machine as long as its secure and realiable. Windows Tablet edition isnt either
  5. I'm not one for looks and actually I think the Apple powerbooks are not all that but its consistent unlike my tablet which has bits all over the place and dont get me started on the construction of my tablet…
  6. Having no optical drive is great when your at home or somewhere with lots of networking but take it anywhere else and having no optical drive is a pain to say the least. In time no optical drive will make sense but Apple have fit an optical drive into the same space as my TabletPC.
  7. I look at whats going into OSX 10.4 (I refuse to call it by its stupid animal name) and I'm thinking what on earth is Microsoft doing? Longhorn (or as I'm now calling it Longyawn) is years off now and wont catch up with OSX 10.4. Microsoft would need to do something very radical like build on Linux, the hybrid strategy. To catch up with OSX for someone like me. For example, lets look at some of the highlights of OSX 10.4. Spotlight, a lucene/google for the desktop. Not that special but good to have, specially when compared to the built in search in Windows XP. Yeah yeah I'm sure Longyawn will have it and more but OSX will have it this year, when I need it. And I cant get over smartfolders which acts like smartplaylists in iTunes. I've been dieing for this for years and now my mail client (thunderbird) has it I want it on the desktop too. Automator, I wont be learning applescript any time soon but you know what this is just what I need now and then. Yes you can use VB on Windows but screw that when this builds it for you.
  8. The technologies of the Mac are pretty damm good. I love the fact Mpeg4 H.264 is built in now, Windows has never taken advantage of mDns (rendezvous or zeroconf) and still makes a pigs ear of bluetooth while the mac just does the job. OSX is just the gui, so I can skip to a Unix shell when ever I like which makes the cmd shell in windows look like a 486 processor in 2005. I actually really hate using the windows shell and look forward to getting rid of it on my laptop. The mixture of Open and propitery in OSX is much more balanced than Windows will ever be. I dont rule out Linux but right now the gui's are not as easy to use day in day out like OSX.

I will buy a Apple Mac, but it doesnt mean I will love or like it *smile*. Now who will take this TabletPC off my hands?

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The Conceptual Age?

Revenge of the Right Brain

I started reading the wired magazine article titled Revenge of the Right Brain and it all made quite a bit of sense. I'm not so sure about the division of Left and Right brain, its all subjective in my mind but the fact is the examples Daniel gives are pretty crediable. I will quote the Asia example.

Few issues today spark more controversy than outsourcing. Those squadrons of white-collar workers in India, the Philippines, and China are scaring the bejesus out of software jockeys across North America and Europe. According to Forrester Research, 1 in 9 jobs in the US information technology industry will move overseas by 2010. And it's not just tech work. Visit India's office parks and you'll see chartered accountants preparing American tax returns, lawyers researching American lawsuits, and radiologists reading CAT scans for US hospitals.

The reality behind the alarm is this: Outsourcing to Asia is overhyped in the short term, but underhyped in the long term. We're not all going to lose our jobs tomorrow. (The total number of jobs lost to offshoring so far represents less than 1 percent of the US labor force.) But as the cost of communicating with the other side of the globe falls essentially to zero, as India becomes (by 2010) the country with the most English speakers in the world, and as developing nations continue to mint millions of extremely capable knowledge workers, the professional lives of people in the West will change dramatically. If number crunching, chart reading, and code writing can be done for a lot less overseas and delivered to clients instantly via fiber-optic cable, that's where the work will go.

But these gusts of comparative advantage are blowing away only certain kinds of white-collar jobs – those that can be reduced to a set of rules, routines, and instructions. That's why narrow left-brain work such as basic computer coding, accounting, legal research, and financial analysis is migrating across the oceans. But that's also why plenty of opportunities remain for people and companies doing less routine work – programmers who can design entire systems, accountants who serve as life planners, and bankers expert less in the intricacies of Excel than in the art of the deal. Now that foreigners can do left-brain work cheaper, we in the US must do right-brain work better.

Last century, machines proved they could replace human muscle. This century, technologies are proving they can outperform human left brains – they can execute sequential, reductive, computational work better, faster, and more accurately than even those with the highest IQs. (Just ask chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov.)

And while reading the article I started thinking about a conversation I had the other day with a Imperial software engineering student and Stefan Magdalinski who wrote http://theyworkforyou.com (which I love and use everyday to see what my MP is up to). Anyhow this student was talking about the fact that he optimised some code to use the smallest amount of memory needed for the application he was building. Stefan kept interupting and pointing out that he was unemployable. The only place where such skills are important is on the SIM card of phones. Everything else has tons of memory, hard drive space and processing power. So why bother? The details are not important anymore as such. I added a section of talk around web2.0, webservices and how open API's allow you to delegate processing to 3rd parties. Why build a TV listings system when you could use someone elses? By the way the event I was actually at Openknowledge forum was great. It also illustrates the fact that we are moving from a information age to a conceptual age. On the Tube home the guys behind Public Whip and Stefan talked about the fact all the information was now available to them and the public its where we go from here. From information to conceptual? Maybe? Back to the article for another quote.

Even computer programmers may feel the pinch. “In the old days,” legendary computer scientist Vernor Vinge has said, “anybody with even routine skills could get a job as a programmer. That isn't true anymore. The routine functions are increasingly being turned over to machines.” The result: As the scut work gets offloaded, engineers will have to master different aptitudes, relying more on creativity than competence.

Any job that can be reduced to a set of rules is at risk. If a $500-a-month accountant in India doesn't swipe your accounting job, TurboTax will. Now that computers can emulate left-hemisphere skills, we'll have to rely ever more on our right hemispheres.

And in the change over – comes people like me. My background is from design not programming but tools like xml, webservices, etc make creating applications for the web a conceptual challenge rather than a programatic one. If I want to add internal search to my site I would just download Lucene and the rest would be just details which I could pay someone else to do or work it out over time with the huge resource of the web at hand. Anyhow Daniel leaves the article with good reminder of the main points.

Want to get ahead today? Forget what your parents told you. Instead, do something foreigners can't do cheaper. Something computers can't do faster. And something that fills one of the nonmaterial, transcendent desires of an abundant age. In other words, go right, young man and woman, go right.

Ok I spoke to Miles today on IM and actually he makes some very good points about the outlook and underline issues of this article. I had to share it with everyone as it makes you think about the article in a different way.

[17:12:02] miles> I see you're posting that racist left/right brain crap on your blog
[17:12:37] myself> well i dont really believe it myself which i thought I'd made clear, but maybe not. but you know your going to have to explain now
[17:14:29] miles> You seemed ambivalent about the biology (which is just wrong – left/right brain is a biological fact), but offered no comment on the suggestion that asians could only do left-brain logical work, whilst creative work was still the province of the white man. As we see creativity as having higher value than logical work, this is tantamount to a racist statement, it seems to me
[17:15:17] myself> not really thought about it that way, but yes i do see what you mean now
[17:19:00] miles> Seems like the worst kind of racism – like social darwinism. The left/right is to do with the way the brain is organised physically. This has lead to a load of NLP-style babble about how some people are more left or right brained (little proof of this, though some evidence there is a gender split), from this, people have jumped to left or right brained cultures (no evidence of this at all), and it is frequently suggested that asian cultures are left-brained. That's why there's no such thing as Indian, Chinese or Japanese art. Which means I didn't visit the Asian Art Museum here in San Francisco, because it can't possibly exist.
[17:22:12] miles> Most of the left/right culture thinking comes from a failure to appreciate economics. I think
[17:22:28] myself> how do you mean?
[17:23:12] miles> It is relatively easy for western companies to sell into developing markets in Asia because western goods are seen as desirable simply because they come from the west – asian consumers like the cachet value of them. On the other hand, outside of niche handicrafts products or henna or what have you, western consumers tend to view asian products with suspicion, except for established brands like Sony or Toyota
[17:24:34] miles> Who would buy an Indra Enterprises MP3 player?
[17:24:42] myself> no one, in the west at least
[17:25:45] miles> When Asian businesses research the western market and produce products that the west wants to buy, they are accused of being un-innovative, because they ape already successful western products (eg Toyata didn't invent the SUV, American car companies did, but Toyota built a better SUV, and now dominate the market)
[17:26:13] myself> now thats very true
[17:27:35] miles> In fact, Asian businesses are not being un-innovative, they are simply doing market research – identifying what sells, and making it better and cheaper. This has nothing to do with innovation, it's to do with business. It's like claiming Chinese instructions on a western-made product for sale in China are not innovative because the Chinese already invented Chinese
[17:28:08] myself> /images/emoticons/happy.gif
[17:29:10] miles> Asian businesses need to take this strategy because they are at a disadvantage in western markets – only as they grow, and increase their capitalisation, and develop their overseas offices will they have the awareness of western markets to be able to set trends.
[17:29:37] miles> So, for example, Sony is now able to be a global trend-setter because of its size and reach
[17:30:01] myself> true
[17:31:03] miles> Indra Enterprises is going to have to follow trends – or hire western product designers – for some time. It might well not choose to do the latter, because of the high cash risk of launching a product in a developed market – the advertising budget needed might be actually more than Indra Enterprises's.

And in short, Miles is right. I need to say I'm never a believer of the classification of humans and personality types. I believe there are enough conridictions to make the whole classification useless. However, there is this underline theme that western markets will be right brain thinkers and the eastern markets are left. And I'm sorry but yes that sounds like racism to me too. I'm sure Daniel isnt a racist (sure Miles thinks the same) but this division is fundimentally wrong.
I remember in the 1800's that it was widely accepted that different people see colours differently. So a bunch of Camridge prof's went to islands near Australia headed by William Rivers to prove that Blacks could see more colours than Europeans which at the time would mean they had the same colour depth as animals, which of course would prove to the racist of the time that there was a difference between Blacks and Whites. So anyhow William Rivers done many colour tests on the natives of the islands and came to the conclusion that actually most people see things in mostly the same way. And then to his credit, he started many movements when he came back to england to tell the world of his findings. Even thought european colour theory at the time was proven wrong.

Is the left brain right brain theorys any different from european colour theory from the 1800's?

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Demon finally upgrade to 1meg and 2meg options

Demon Internet Access Home Office 1000

I was talking to Ben on instant messenger tonight and he sent me a link to the Demon 1meg and 2meg broadband services. I couldnt believe it. Just at the point when I was considering getting NTL cable 750k on top of my Demon ADSL Ben comes along and saves the day. Will miss having 2 xboxes but damm I cant believe Demon never informed there customers of the new 5 pound upgrade for double the speed. However the upload is still only 250k (usually get up to 300k with demon). I will happly pay 30 pounds a month for 1 meg but not 78 pounds a month for 2meg! Come on Demon sort it out! Thanks Ben….

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cubicgarden burning


feedburner

So many people read my blog through RSS and I would like to offer a more reliable way of reading cubicgarden. So I've enabled a feedburner feed which should be more reliable than accessing the site directly. I have enabled a couple of nice options to the feed which includes my del.icio.us bookmarks. However dont expect any of the other tacky feedburner options on cubicgarden any time soon. I mean come on who wants a reader counter on there blog? Anyhow, I may add flickr pictures too but I'm not using it enough at this very moment. Even though someone keeps suggesting I should do so. And he's kinda of right, I got 3g, a powerful camera phone and a mobilogging enabled blog. Hummm we shall see…

Oh yeah and while talking about cubicgarden.com, I need to apoligize for the server being down over the week. I had huge electrical problems and they should all be fixed now. I'm also upgrading bits and pieces of the server software and hopefully optimising its general operation. There may also be an long time waiting upgrade to my broadband coming which will make things much faster. Oh one last thing, I know theres been issues with serving up the actual html pages of cubicgarden recently, I have removed the stylesheet switcher for now cleaned a couple of things up. But you shouldnt get any more problems, if you do delete all cookies from adrenalin-online.demon.co.uk. Then try again… At some point I'm hoping to really clean up the html pages and make them truely xhtml 1.1 valid (currently its all there except I got paragraph's and blockquotes inside of elements which do not allow it).

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RSS Syndication for a Worldwide Audience

So I finally got around to checking my email tonight and jumped for joy when I read one from XTECH.

Dear Ian,

Congratulations! Your submission “RSS Syndication for a Worldwide Audience” was selected for presentation at XTECH 2005 taking place at the RAI Centre, Amsterdam, 25-27 May. Your presentation is currently scheduled for Wednesday, 25 May.

– Snip –

Thank you for your submission. We look forward to seeing you in Amsterdam .

– Snip –

This is great news for BBC World Service New media and the BBC as a whole. I would like to say a big thanks to everyone who has supported me so far, including Sarah and even Joel. I think this will be a great place to discuss the need to look beyond Latin based languages for RSS syndication, and explain the issues which come with internationalised RSS and in turn international RSS adoption. This is indeed the year of RSS! on a side point its great to see a very useful wiki for the event too. I have already setup myself up and

I forgot to say that the Keynotes for the conference which was announced a few weeks ago are some of the most cutting edge and smartest people in the industry at this moment.
Paula Le Dieu, Co-Director, Creative Archive, BBC
Jean Paoli, Senior Director of XML Architecture, Microsoft
Mike Shaver, Mozilla Foundation and Oracle
Look forward to seeing you all there…

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perplexcity

perplexcity

Recieved a email this morning from the ARG perplex city, which I actually thought ended sometime last year.

My name is Sente, and I am the Master of the Perplex City Academy.

On January 16th 2004, an object of immeasurable value was stolen from
our city. You kindly answered my plea to assist in its recovery. Over
many, many months, we at the Academy have been assembling information
to help you in this task.

Today, we break our silence. There is still so much to share with you,
but for now this fragment must suffice.

http://www.perplexcity.com/video.html

I will be in contact again soon.

Stay alert.

Sente

Of course it would be wrong of me to not link to the Project Syzygy aka Perplex City forum on unfiction. Which is the place to go for information on Alternative Reality gaming generally.

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Chess and the thought of machines

Just recently I've downloaded a excellent freeware chess game on to my ipaq. It supports not only 5 different modes of difficulty but arranged games, playlistings for undoing moves, multiplayer and also a internet engine play. The last one hooks the ipaq up to a central server farm where you can play that instead of the local engine. Only for the hardcore chess player! The best I've been able to do is draw with the local machine on level 1, but I've only been playing for the last few days and havent played chess like this for ages. Anyhow, another thing I came across which is related is Thinking Machine 4, which looks like a Flash Chess game but turns into something alot more. Not only does the machine play you, but it shows influence and the moves the computer is thinking about playing! Its in the usual flash style very pretty but also quite amazing to see while playing.

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Last lot of Copyright and Fravia lectures uploaded

By:non-commercialshare-alike

I have finally! Yep at long last! put the copyright vs community part1 video and audio with David Carr from March 2004 and The first Fravia lecture – Learning to transform questions into effective queries from 2003 on Archive.org under a creative commons licence. These go with the copyright vs community videos and audio versions I added a while ago.

2003: Learning to transform questions into effective queries
2004: the internet and the law videos
2004: the internet and the law audio

If you've missed any of the lectures there all in my public archive bookmarks, so theres no excuse for missing them now. I know all the students at the college have been asking me for the 2003 Fravia lecture for years now, it marks a highpoint of Ravensbourne College history for sure, its just a shame I captured them into Windows media format (yes I threw up too!). I'm looking into reversing them back into mpeg2 or mpeg4 formats. This once again serves as a very good time to remind myself to change the cubicgarden.com/copyright site once again.

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xbmc script highlights

The guy behind What's up with Xbox media center has done a great piece about the python script interface for xbox media centre. Anyway I thought I'd point out the post, as this guy does a great job reporting on xbmc. Keep it up and it reminds me again I need to do some serious screen shots of the latest cvs build of xbmc. Project Mayhem II's new skin is so beautiful running on my widescreen TV. Would love to see it at 720p.

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social networking and data mining

Audioscrobbler sent me a email today to notify me that Tim had selected myself as a friend of his for audioscrobbling. Yes this is correct information but I had not really looked into the friends option of audioscrobbler. And it made me think about the whole friend of a friend dynamic and why should I fill out foaf information for each silo webservice like flickr, audioscobbler, amazon and del.icio.us?

Someone once say asking for someone to be your friend was not a good way of doing things in the social networking space. It doesnt lend its self to the offline world either. I would kinda of agree but no one has really come up with an alternative. I know FOAF allows you to just add people without asking them first which can be kinda of cheeky but seems more reasonable to me. I mean I could say someone is just a contact, friend or family member if I like, that someone may say I'm there worst enemy or good friend in return. I dont really care if you see what I mean. In my scope there a contact while in there scope i'm a good friend. Where things get complex is when you try to build meaning out of these abstracts. A machine could come along and say well no human's going to add enemy's to there FOAF profile so it must be a friend? Or it could do some serious analysis on the terms used between us and decide to not link us because its not sure what the relationship is. And honestly that wouldnt be such a bad thing.

In Microsoft Wallop, I have a link to a couple of people who simply commented on my blog posts, nothing more. But Wallop adds those people as friends? Now I understand the reason for this, as these people have contacted me so they must be friends of somekind right? But what if they simply wrote comments to wind me up or slag me off? Then I would be pissed off to know there now friends! However this is hard work for the machine to work out whats positive and whats negative, so I guess it relys on me to manually delete or remove them? Which I guess is fair…

But lets move out of the usual social networking applications like wallop, friendster, etc. And think about all those other social applications. And when I say that I mean from email to instant messenger to blogs to flickr. Thunderbird which I use for my email at home, has a nice feature called collected addresses. The idea is that anything I reply to will be added to the collected addresses and never end up in the junk box. Makes sense I would say but not flawless, for example if I reply to a automated email when I join a forum or something, its added to collected addresses. But say I remove myself from the list 2 days later, well the address is still in my collected addresses. Once again i could remove it myself, but I'm human and I forget to do such things. I think there is some projects going on in the closed and opensource worlds regarding machine intellengance which keeps a record of what you do and what you reply to etc but across your whole desktop. Even though it fills me with a little terror, i'm sure there will be secure and privicy assured versions which you can control. I'm envisioning something like zonealarm which tracks what I do with people on my instant messeger list. For example during work time I will ignore most people because I'm working. Wouldnt it be nice if this application could block certain people from sending me links during this time? Then unblock them when i'm less busy. And thats only the start…

When I usually reply to peoples blogs aka leave a comment, its because I think I have something which could move the entry along or general yep totally agreement and alternativly i disagree comment. If this application could tell the difference (hey it could simply ask me, like Zone alarm does) It could track the name of the owner of the blog and effect the way I deal with instant messeges, emails and other requests. For example writing a positive comment on scott's blog should automaticly add his email to the collected addresses in thunderbird, put his blog into a browser zone which allows for popups and flash useage (I'm using Flashblock which I adore), automaticly allow his skype and im addresses to contact me without authorisation. Obviously these should be manually overrideable and you should beable to change levels of trust as such. Another example where this would work. I use Tesco.com for my food shopping. They have this bizarre system where popups are used to display goods with all the label information which is useful. They also send confirmation emails when there going to send the food and what there going to send. Now I think its not crazy to say if I trust the email from tesco.com then I trust the popups too. And if you move this into the mobile world for a minute. Then it wouldnt be too much to say I also trust tesco.com to send text messages to me and call me. Yep text/sms spam is becoming a problem in europe.

Back to the first thought, Tesco may not be my friend but theres a certain level of trust I allow for when dealing with them. I know Tesco mine my foods list every month and they then profile me and send certain discounts and offers to tempt me to buy more. Fine, but I dont want Asda (Wallmart) to do the same! In the same way you can block people on im and disallow cookies on certain sites I want to see the same happening across my interfaces I use. If I'm ignoring someones emails, it might right to say I would like to ignore there calls and texts. This may mean there not a foaf and that I dont want anything to do with them ever? who knows, were only human and I certainly change my mind all the time. But if I do, I should not have to unblock im's, unblock text's and phone calls on all my phones and change the email filter.

So back to Tim a second. When Tim adds me to his del.icio.us, his flickr, his email, his im. I honeslty dont want to keep authorising him. He's a good guy and likewise he shouldnt need to authorise myself when he's already added me as a friend in audioscobbler. Does Flickr trust audioscobbler enough to allow friends on that to be friends on flickr without the usual authorise this person? No, or not at the moment. Maybe that will change in the future? (Because I added a picture from Pmtorrone to the top of this post mean he's trusted or not? And exactly how much trustworthness will he have? Now thats a question not worth thinking about at this stage)
I swear to you theres a serious link with Attention.xml, FOAF and all of what I'm talking about – but alas its late and I cant think of it right now. There are too many questions and not enough answers in this post!

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