The circus of innovation — Lincoln and Facebook

Who doesn’t love a story that combines a day off, a road trip, the circus, Abraham Lincoln and Facebook, and a neat parable on innovation to boot – whatever THAT is. It’s a circus I say!

Shout out to this wonderful story by Nate St. Pierre:

A patent request for Facebook, filed by Abraham Lincoln in 1845.

So that’s what I did on my day off: a random road trip, a circus graveyard, a poker game between a showman and a president, and the discovery that good ol’ Honest Abe was a man well ahead of his time.


2011 SAINTS. A musical salvation.

2011 has been a very good year for music.  While it’s not over yet, I got a jump on my end-of-year mix because of the urgency of the task. I’ve been so saved by much of the year’s music in many ways. I’m also including a nod to some of the nice surprises from 2010, but the balance is all new, all this year.

I used to do a mix every year but haven’t for the last couple of years. I’m happy to be pressing again. This one investigates the qualities and battles of light and dark — inside.  We’ve got it all.

  1. Muppet Show Theme Song • OK Go • Muppets: The Green Album • 2011
  2. Wake Up Your Saints • The National • High Violet (Expanded Edition) • 2010
  3. Holy Holy • Wye Oak • Civilian • 2011
  4. Midnight City • M83 • Hurry Up We’re Dreaming • 2011
  5. Hair • Lady Gaga • Born This Way • 2011
  6. The Change • Evanescence • Evanescence • 2011
  7. Dear Rosemary • Foo Fighters • Wasting Light • 2011
  8. Stamp • The Rural Alberta Advantage • Departing • 2011
  9. The Bad In Each Other • Feist • Metals • 2011
  10. Lily (Director’s Cut) • Kate Bush • Director’s Cut • 2011
  11. Only If For A Night • Florence + The Machine • Ceremonials • 2011
  12. Keep Your Heart • TV On The Radio • Nine Types Of Light • 2011
  13. I Don’t Want Love • The Antlers • Burst Apart • 2011
  14. Perth • Bon Iver • Bon Iver • 2011
  15. The Rip Tide • Beirut • The Rip Tide • 2011
  16. The Devil’s Tears • Angus & Julia Stone • Down The Way • 2010
  17. Like Me • Chely Wright • Lifted Off The Ground • 2010
  18. Mercy Of The Fallen • Dar Williams • Many Great Companions • 2010

it’s time to light the lights
wake up your saints
for the blessed
city is my church
this is my prayer
screaming on the inside
you’re part of me you know you are
i will save you and i don’t need you
the good man and good woman
as we journey to thy sacred feet
you came over me like some holy rite
these words are not a bit profound
climb up the stairs
something faint
the waves and i
she’s my home
they’ll love you
we have some of them inside us

PS: hands-down the best musical show of the year and certainly in the top of all time: Beirut at the Independent. Thank you Victor.

President Obama Defends Justice by Rejecting DOMA (via NCLR Blog: Out for Justice)

Saying that this is a courageous act that “will change forever the way that the nation views our community’s struggle for equality,” NCLR Legal Director Shannon Minter blogged yesterday about the Obama administration’s decision to not defend DOMA’s Section 3. Minter minces no words about how important this moment is and anticipates this move will have ramifications in all areas of our lives.

Today in a conference call, Minter explained that although Congress can, if it wants to, intervene as a defender of DOMA, he was not concerned about that possibility. Apparently the prior official congressional record is full of appalling statements disapproving of “immoral and sinful” gay people. Congress can go ahead and try to litigate for DOMA on the basis of gay people being wrong, but when at last it is clear that this is the sole remaining — and discriminatory — leg such defense stands upon, we head towards the full light of day at last on this road to equality.

By Shannon Minter, Esq. National Center for Lesbian Rights Legal Director (San Francisco, CA, February 23, 2011)—Today brings momentous news from President Barack Obama and the federal Department of Justice about the discriminatory and offensive so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” or DOMA. This morning, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that, at the urging of the President, as well as based upon Mr. Holder’s own assessment, the Department o … Read More

via NCLR Blog: Out for Justice

The Quiet Sport and the Social Web

Richard Carter -- Tiger Woods at the 2006 Open, Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, UK.

Richard Carter -- Tiger Woods at the 2006 Open, Royal Liverpool, Hoylake, UK.

Both the #WorldCup and the #USOpen merited their own hashtags on Twitter in the past few days, but whereas one trended wildly and loudly, one hugely popular event with celebrity starpower stayed relatively quiet — at least within my view of the social web.

I’m delighted my father took me with him on Saturday to watch in-person the US Open in Pebble Beach. I was born not miles from this truly gorgeous spot, and though I’ve not exactly been a fan of the sport, I love my dad and was honored to spend father’s day weekend with him, and so close to where I was brought into the world.

But that spot, while beautiful, is exclusive. You can’t get to the area without paying admission to the 17 Mile Drive, and I’m not even sure if you can get on the golf course without paying admission. Lodging anywhere nearby was up to 4x its usual rate.

Not coincidentally, we were asked to shed our cell phones – indeed, any connection to technology – before we entered the venerable Pebble Beach grounds. I think I can understand the need to concentrate while swinging in a relatively quiet individual sport, but I can’t help but think that the exclusivity of the spot, the spectators, the lodgings, and the culture coupled with the mainstream-only nature of the reporting and lack of explosion on the social web not only lead to collective social silence but perchance the eventual sunset-over-the-pacific of the sport itself.

Contrast the relative radio silence on Twitter and the social web of the US Open, which closed yesterday with Northern Ireland on top no doubt thanks to our family’s Northern Irish influence, versus the noisy exhuberance of the World Cup.

dmix06 - d world cup vuvuzela

dmix06 -- d world cup vuvuzela

Not only did the event itself trend, but the countries, the goals, the people and the noisemaker itself — the famed vuvuzela — have taken over Twitter trending for days.  I know this is a world-wide event (as much as we think there’s only one kind of “football” in the United States), wheras golf is rather provincial in nature — cause or an effect? I could also ask myself whether the huge lucrative US Open event would really care to be a worldwide Twitter trending topic.

I appreciate the gorgeous isolation of a rocky inaccessible beach as much as the next, but as a person existing in the world and more and more thanks to the social web, I feel it’s my duty, right, and necessity to share this world and the things I enjoy on it, and this is part of how I appreciate Twitter. And yet even I’m not beyond wondering if all this noise is always a good thing.

The real irony may be that collective access destroys and we can thank exclusive sporting events and multibillionaire mansions for keeping our coastlines pristine (no thanks to their — everyone’s — oil dependency) and maybe, just maybe, a little exclusion is not a bad thing in the right places. Though I’m hardpressed to think of many things these days not changed by the noisy social web, golf, Pebble Beach, and its people appear to be exactly that, and were certainly largely missing from the Twittersphere over the weekend. The man holds up the baton, says “hold please,” and the huge crowd is quiet, for the swing and beyond. Even the drunk medics are strangely obedient.

In the end, perhaps some sports join other battles of the more personal nature and are better played out on the private landscape.

Love The Disease

That man you were going to marry – if you could have just taken a hypospray to make yourself stop loving him, so that it didn’t hurt so much when you were away from him – would you have done that? — Harry Kim

I assumed that romantic love was a human weakness; but clearly it can also be a source of strength. Perhaps my analogy was flawed; love is not a disease. Get well soon
Seven of Nine

Today, I played High Violet, the new album by American folk indie-band The National. I fell in love with the song called Sorrow. Here it is.

for @yodelmachine — and I challenge you to say it’s not for you too

Aye, Paddy — She’s Not Quite Ready for the Enterprise, Captain

Alice in Wonderland

(not the only one to photograph their child with the ipad)

As I write this I’m sitting next to the iPad, ’tis true. Not using the iPad — sitting next to it.

I had no idea an iPad would be arriving at our house on Saturday, April 3, the very first day they became available (my wife needed it for her Web QA and usability business, so my first experiences with the iPad were blissfully unprepared and unanticipated).

While reports of the iMugging in the iMission near where I live were later corrected as a hoax (or at least, not quite as topical), with the first shipments of the promised devices hitting the town on Saturday, the whole city seemed nevertleless under its spell the entire weekend.

Though I have yet to overcome my primary association with iPad as introduced by MADtv, I did actually get to touch and poke and swipe and use it fresh out of the gate during the weekend. I should correct that slightly: my daughter used it the most, and I watched (and I am far from the only one standing by patiently with my kid using the iPad).  My snap judgment is that I generally concur with these first reviews that talk about how kids — or those thinking like kids — “get it” more immediately than adults. As my 5-year-old daughter exclaimed, “someone left a ginormous iPod TV on the stairs” – “getting it” instantly – and immediately all our other mobile devices are rendered instantly miniaturized, Alice-in-Wonderland “drink-me”-style.

In my (granted limited) hands-on exposure, my thoughts are that it’s BINGO for entertainment. We spent the most satisfying time watching (HTML5) videos – even already successful on (non-Flash) YouTube – as well as episodes seamlessly, instantly, and beautifully streamed via Netflix. News also stands to get a boost by this device: sites like the Times and ABC – both “printed” and video – render beautifully and perhaps, as my neighbor suggested, this will revitalize the ‘printed’ newspaper. For books however? Not an immediate replacement for the Kindlers out there – the backlit screen is still too harsh with which to spend that kind of novel time.

Leanne (faithfully testing applications as is her job) says many of the applications that are righteously hyped on the iPhone, notably including Twitter interfaces best known for being minimal, have not yet re-written their interfaces to capitalize on the extra screen real estate.  Other applications did fill up the whole screen, but awkwardly.

What I also found noticably odd from a physical perspective was being able to tune into the online – and hence tune out the offline (that means “the real world”) – seemingly more places inside the household than ever before, and more adeptly than with the more conspicuous mobile smartphones. Why did I really need to try to shop online for those shirts on Easter Sunday on the living room couch when I could have been talking with my family? Since the device is larger, though, it does lend itself to more “social viewing” within groups of people than does the smartphone.

In short, I felt it seemed great for pulling information and content – especially socially and severally; but for pushing it back — which for me is the important thing about the mobile generation of devices: not so good. No camera, no mobile carriers (yet), apparently some sensors, but no video. And the keyboard? The iPhone keyboard doesn’t work for me yet, so I hardly could have expected it from the iPad despite increased size, and I threw my hands up in defeat rather than type into all the fields required to finish my iShopping spree on the iCouch during iEaster.

Most profoundly for me at present, the “human as sensor” revolutionary element that we’re finding so key in worldwide civil rights demonstrations and current events seems apparently missing with this nevertheless-take-anywhere device. So, iPad, are you a mobile device or not? Are you a bit more like an interactive take-anywhere but still push-only TV?

Granted, perhaps my hands have yet to pull the Darwin in the right direction to adapt to the keyboard, but I’m a little surprised at folks who are already foreseeing giving up their laptops in favor of the iPad. Have they done a lot of typing on the ‘pad already?  I feel the major hurdle is still going to be digitization of text – perhaps the key will be in the evolution of usable speech-to-text.  Leanne says we just have to hook up the keyboards in the meantime — but I think it’s really a keyboardless and mouseless paradigm ahead.

For THAT enterprise-readiness — and we geeks remember when Scotty walks up to the computer in Star Trek IV and says “Computer?” — we’re not ready for prime time.  Maybe when my daughter is my age.

The Original iPad: MADtv ca. 2006