Archive for March, 2005


March 29, 2005 (video/quicktime Object) Good explanation of the value of the tail. He mentions his attentionxml project – which seems to be a standard for posts and blogs. Makes me think that mailing lists are really the same – blogs.

Tags: (editor)


Our probabilistic non-binary minds break on through

March 28, 2005

ETech Day 3: Ontology is Overrated – – These are notes by Alberto Escarlate about Clay Shirky’s talk about ontology & the Long Tail.

In real life real minds don’t think alike, that’s when comes into scene. The distribution of tagging is a long tail — few users with lots of tag entries and lots with few. The distribution of tags for one individual user is also a long tail. Lots of tags about few subjects and lots of not so frequent tags. Modeling the distribution of how users tag one individual URL is al so — you guessed right — a long tail. Lots of people tag the URL with one or two tags.

This is the called organic categorization — user and time are core attributes; one-off categories are lost in the rear end of the tail (the system is the editor); the semantics are in the users, not in the system; merges are probabilistic, not binary.

This quote sums up what I have found so exciting about the web of late – the ideas that disturb my sleep – that somehow we are making cyberspace more psychological. And there is something very psychological about the long tail.

For example, the long leading tail of an emerging feeling. Take trust or anger. We can see it was building when we look back, but we can’t quite see where it began. It emerges until it has a peak. Perhaps the bell curve image would do as well, at least for some things but the L curve or the J curve is like the curve of what Moreno identified as warm up. Warm up was central to Moreno’s work, the well known slogan among psychodramatists is: “it is all in the warm up’.

In the warm up to a psychodrama session or in a psychotherapy session for that matter, it is always as if we are wanting to catch what is already there. The patterns pre-exist their manifestation. We tune in. And with the idea of the long tail of words the idea of the collective unconscious is simple to see as an empirical fact! 80% of us choose the same tag for everything. And everything is more or less (say 80%) tagged in the same way. Language is not precise, but probabilistic, we need to tune in to the long tail at the thin end to see our individuality. A myth is a tag for an experience, 80% of us are likely to get it.

Tags are not messy. The graphs (yet to be fully realised) will be beautiful, organic alive. They may be piles of leaves and not trees – to use one metaphor, but they blow in patterns that will astound us with their beauty. Beauty is a reliable guide to truth in science even but definitely in the psychological realm. But how do we see this beauty? It is there… maybe but how do we know? After careful musing we know about 80% … but I still see a picture – perhaps a 3d image that will reveal all as truth. 10 x 10 gives it a go as to all the “tag charts” such as this one. The picture in my mind is much better though – a crystal palace of curves.

Right now is the beginning of a merging of two senses of the word ontology. The technical sense of the word ontology; what exists per force of definition in a system design, is bouncing up against the metaphysical sense of ontology; relating to the study of what is real. Real in virtual reality and *at the same time* real in the collective unconscious.

It is a momentous event this tagging development. It is something I had not anticipated or noticed, though it has been happening for all along – that the fundamentals of categorisation and classification would transform with the advent of the Internet and thus transform us all. How long have we lived with the Aristotelian systems of heirachy and linear patht through branches of human knowledge on the “tree of knowledge”? Forever and it is suddenly tipped over!

McLuhan saw it coming though!



March 25, 2005

Folksonomy, or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Mess:

Clay Shirky, Stewart Butterfield, Joshua Schachter, Jimmy Wales
At the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference San Diego, California, 16 March 2005
Impressionistic transcript by Cory Doctorow

Here is a section that sums it up:

Jimmy: Creating a large-scale category system, a small group of domain experts can’t even remotely compete with a large group of people. I wouldn’t even want to think of what it would cost to replicate the Wikipedia categories with paid labor.

Stewart: It’s a deep philosophical issue: Ontology is a controversial subject. The idea that it’s possible to cleave nature at the joints is controversial. Yes, there are countries, Uzbekistan is a country, but ask a physicist or a biologist and the categories are very fraught.

Joshua: The problem is that ontology doesn’t tie in with what my users are trying to do, like remembering something later. You tend not to be too broad nor too narrow, but rather try for a middle ground in your personal tags that serve as mnemonic aids. If you’re into insects, you might have BEETLES, MOSQUITOS, etc, but if you’re not into insects, you might just have INSECTS.


March 25, 2005

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I presume this is the Technorati office in San Farancisco. Clicked on someone’s technorati tag and it came up. Feels quite intimate to see their office & learn where it is in the world with one click like that.

www Collective Unconscious

March 25, 2005

What to know about technology:

Sigmund Freud, the father of psychotherapy, had a student named Carl Jung. Jung believed we share a cultural consciousness, a just-below-the-surface sense of how we all fit together.

As it turns out, Jung was just a bit ahead of his time. We do now, indeed, share a just-below-the-surface consciousness. We call it the World Wide Web.

Dr. Benjamin Garber in this rather journalistic item on parenting has summed up (in the quote from the item) the essence of what tend to think about the www & the Collective Unconscious. It is an idea that I’d elaborate into a book… if I had the time 🙂 The rest of the article goes against the grain… my somewhat contrary wise parenting message would be “Always get the best Information Technology you can afford, and use it to the max.”

We went to the Abel Tasman

March 23, 2005

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Mutton Cove

We needed something to suit us all and this place was it! The photos are on Flickr – may it survive the purchase by yahoo.

March 17, 2005

Technorati: Search for The O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference is of course being blogged as it happens, and it is not over as I write. I hope Doug Kaye is there & I look forward to the IT conversations. ( Yes he’s there! ) For now it is blog cruising.

Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life – What’s Wrong with Podcasting?

AC/OS: Rules from O’Reilly

All the Pages Are My Days :: eTech05: Building Contentcentric Apps

Susan Mernit’s Blog: eTech flow

Dare Obasanjo aka Carnage4Life – ETech 2005 Trip Report: Web Services as a Strategy for Startups: Opening Up and Letting Go

Boing Boing: ETECH Notes: Web Services as a Strategy for Startups | ETech Day 1

Here are the photos.


March 16, 2005

Leonard Cohen – Democracy:

It’s coming from the sorrow in the street,
the holy places where the races meet;
from the homicidal bitchin’
that goes down in every kitchen
to determine who will serve and who will eat.
From the wells of disappointment
where the women kneel to pray
for the grace of God in the desert here
and the desert far away:
Democracy is coming to the U.S.A.

Posted this snippet as part of a comment I made on John Perry Barlows blog BarlowFriendz: Terrorism and Democracy in Madrid

Google’s nasty Autolink.

March 14, 2005

Tim Bray’s Comments are really good on the commercial aspect. But I feel angry and scared for another reason. Yesterday I was explaining this Google evil to someone and I realised just how I could be personally affected. I’d want to stop using the Net if I saw my writing on someone’s computer and it had links in there (no matter what colour or shape) pointing to things I did not point to! To me it would feel like a total invasion, like the day I came home and burglars had been in the house and fouled it up and opened all the Christmas presents. A sort of rape really, though I don’t mean to de-value actual physical rape. Google – do not violate my expression! Do not destroy the Internet. We (users on the net) have linked to Google voluntarily many billions of times – appreciate that and keep it so that we want to.

Sifry’s Alerts: Technorati Launches Tags

March 14, 2005

Sifry’s Alerts: Technorati Launches Tags This is a thorough explanation from the founder and CEO of Technorati. He also quotes Clay Shirky, who I will quote again here:

This is something the ‘well-designed metadata’ crowd has never understood — just because it’s better to have well-designed metadata along one axis does not mean that it is better along all axes, and the axis of cost, in particular, will trump any other advantage as it grows larger. And the cost of tagging large systems rigorously is crippling, so fantasies of using controlled metadata in environments like Flickr are really fantasies of users suddenly deciding to become disciples of information architecture.

Found this post via: a legal blog on IP from J. Matthew Buchanan

More Tags discussion

March 14, 2005

BadMagicNumber He expleains a good proposal, and then later concludes with an update:

As it happens already has support for querying on intersection of tags using the tag1+tag2 syntax. is the python programming tag.


March 14, 2005

Mormon Philosophy & Theology. This word entanglement is one that I use for the system of the psychotherapist and the client – with a conscious reference to its use in physics. The iedea being that it is a system and any introduction of an investigation of the system will change it! From the New Scientist

If you thought that quantum entanglement – the weird effect that allows two particles to behave as one, no matter how far apart they are – is too subtle to affect your daily life, think again. The phenomenon could be responsible for something as significant as the mass of everyday objects, yourself included, and could finally explain why the fundamental particles of matter have the mass they do.

Sometimes, the interaction of two particles, say electrons, causes their individual properties, such as spin, to become “entangled”. If you then change the spin of one particle it will instantly affect the spin of the other, regardless of the distance between them.

What Do Tags Mean?

March 14, 2005

ongoing ? What Do Tags Mean? Tim Bray – intelligent ideas on tagging.

Sculpture, copyright and multiple tags

March 14, 2005

Blogs at the Center for Internet and Society, where I found the Flickr tag for “cloudgate”: The site has a good explanation of why that is a good tag to know about. The other good thing is I see how to do tagmodes! I wish Technorati and Delicious had the same system.

How would this work:, cats/tagmode:all/

Later: Yes!

And here is the Bean:
Illegal image of Sculpture

Technorati: Using Technorati Tags

March 10, 2005

Technorati: Using Technorati Tags

Now I am getting there! I don’t want “Categories” for my blog, I want tags. And it looks as if with Technorati i have that – even in Blogger. I am very curious just how I can retrieve my tags in some useful way. Can I for example create something visible for all my blog posts with books? Movies and perhaps get my releated delicious and flickr stuff in the same thing? Lets see!

OK so here goes the tags for this post: ,

While I am on a flickr roll…

March 10, 2005

How does this Look:

Choose a License | Creative Commons

March 10, 2005

Choose a License | Creative Commons

This is the licence I put on my photos – I wonder if that is a good idea?

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

Later – adding tags

History of this Blog

March 9, 2005

This blog goes back quite a way. I still have a record of most of it, begining with annotated “Links pages”

Links begining 1997
Links 1999
My First Blog Begins around 1999

In 2000 began using Blogger.

The Psybernet Motif

March 9, 2005

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I used this image when I first began the Psybernet BBS in 1993. I still love it. Here is a link to its page on my website.

Brass Monkey Biv Tramp

March 8, 2005

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Unnamed Tarn

This photo is one of my favourites – taken on the first evening of the trip. Here you can see the annotated show of the tramp.