Thursday, August 28, 2003


Wednesday's word of the day was dasypygal, which the Google dictionary doesn't recognize, but which produces 107 results. What does it mean? Hairy buttocks. Apparently "[From Greek dasy- (hairy, dense) + pyge (buttocks).]" A related word is "callipygian, having a beautiful behind."

Today's fun link: Hall of Technical Documentation weirdness

Friendster update: 0 friends. I think they have some sort of bug. ;-)

Hey, look, it's me in Budapest!

Just when you thought looking through your referrer log was getting old, check out what I found. I find it very weird that Seb and I have communicated in public forums several times since then but haven't exchanged email. Blogs really have changed things.

The peanut gallery paper continues to be a popular source of visits, by the way. (And Metabuzz, though I should update it more....) I think I will always give my papers distinct names, since being able to search for "Mining the Peanut Gallery" in Google is quite fun. (And I found my first citations! Relatedly, I've noticed that Citeseer's citation detection is kind of weak...The excellent Cornell paper on movie review classification still shows no citations.)

Tuesday, August 26, 2003


With another school year starting, higher education is back on the minds of journalists, and there were two interesting articles recently. One was the Times mag article on Summers. This was particularly interesting since the whole West thing broke while I was at the Herald and I had spent some time learning about Af-Am Studies. (As an aside, the Globe also covered a controversial academic leader this week, Jordi's old boss.) Anyway, I thought the ideas of teaching more knowledge and fewer ways of knowing, and of teaching more quantitative reasoning were both excellent (and similar to Yale's findings). I also liked their description of Summers who argues with people to sound out their ideas, and not because he disrespects them, something I'm also guilty of.

The other article was in Wired about OpenCourseWare. OCW is an awesome idea and I think it's sad that more schools don't make more content available for free. This was the sentiment behind Thinkquest, and it's an important one. The article had some fun tidbits, like the fact that most popular class is one in philosophy and that the top user is Canada. America wasn't even in the top 10. (Speaking of rankings, Yale was third again but tied for second in the eyes of America.)

Something or brother

I'm still recovering from my my brother's visit. Doing the tourist thing was exhausting but fun....we hit the Freedom Trail first, wandering around graveyards (particularly fascinating after having spent all that time on the death web site) and climbing the Bunker Hill memorial and whatnot. Then we barely managed to get across the Big Dig (near the Bunker Hill Community College stop) to the Museum of Science. The Museum was way cooler than I'd expected, and I particularly enjoyed the math part and the van de Graaf generator. We had lots of fun playing and then we watched the fairly unenlightening IMAX movie Top Speed. The next day we watched the Sox win in the burning (literally) sun (unlike, say, their performance today) for only $40 per scalped bleacher ticket, thanks to a home run by Millar undoubtedly the result of watching himself dance to Bruce Springsteen as a teenager on the Jumbotron. Sunday we wandered around Cambridge and found a street fair and checked out the Gehry building at MIT (site includes cool time-lapse videos!). We also rented 25th Hour, which was filled with ambiguous Sept. 11 references but had some great performances and cinematography, and Drumline, which was just plain fun.

Thursday, August 21, 2003


Martin and Fernanda's visualizations of wiki authorship are now up on a web site! You don't get the full impact without being able to use the program, but the results are beautiful and fascinating. It's neat to watch little arguments happen (much easier to grok than paging through histories or even trying to read threaded discussions), and it's really suprising how little vandalism there is. Clay gives it a thorough analysis.

Monday, August 18, 2003

Some thought-provokers

So, yeah, I've been a bit AWOL lately, but the interns are on the way out and I'm slowly returning to not having much of a life (I'll miss you, interns!)...

But, I have been doing some interesting reading. For example, in Wired, there were a few gems in the letters to the editor. One was a suggestion that we send convicts into space as our first inter-planetary travellers. And another was that international corporations represented useful global organizations if only they could be harnassed to solve global problems.

Meanwhile, David Brooks starts with an interesting premise and devolves into his usual over-generalization and self-importance. Diversity seems to keep coming up these days, though. Mark sent me this link about white kids growing up in black neighborhoods. And at brunch we talked about the suit against Abercrombie. At the sociable media reading group this week, we talked about Watts's study. It was a pretty interesting discussion, thinking about what one might hope to gain from a well-structured social network study, and how even though we can contact lots of people directly, we use introductions in order to help catch the other person's attention (and trust). It's almost a sort of reintermediation. Heck, even The OC (great show!) is at its heart a story about combatting insularity.

Random fun link: List of speed traps.

Friendster update: 295,195 through 31. (and the stuff about Friendster being blocked in offices made it into danah's blog. Yay danah!)

Tuesday, August 5, 2003

Strange survey results

Interesting survey by the Horatio Alger Association reported in CNN finds that 47 percent of high school students have confidence in Congress, and only 26 percent in the media. Even weirder, 75 percent of students get along very well with their parents. "Asked how they'd like to spend more time, more teens said they would rather be with their families than hang out with friends, play sports, listen to music or do anything else."

Sunday, August 3, 2003


If Andrea and David Eggers are both spreading the word about something, it must be important. In this case, it's AmeriCorps. So, I signed the petition to save it, and you should, too.