Links for 24 July 2009 through 26 July 2009

Stilgherrian’s links for 24 July 2009 through 26 July 2009, collected together for a Suitable Sunday of reading:

  • Online Ad Rates Picking Up | The Business Insider: Based on a review of data from 6000 web publishers, it appears that online advertising is up 35% since its low-point of December 2008. Rates climbed 15% between May and June.
  • Love is Old-Fashioned, Sex Less So | A Stubborn Mule’s Perspective: Comparing the music in the Triple J Hottest 100 and The Guardian’s recent list of 1000 songs to hear before you die, the Mule comes up with the view that love is out of fashion. Also, chart pr0n.
  • Maker's Schedule, Manager's Schedule | Paul Graham: This essay really speaks to me. If you’re a manager, then your schedule consists of those 1-hour blocks to beloved of scheduling software. But it you’re a maker, or someone creative, one hour is barely time to get started. A good discussion of how these two different working styles can be resolved.
  • Too much networking? | A network expert argues that less social networking would produce more radical innovation on the Internet. “An overabundance of connections over which information can travel too cheaply can reduce diversity, foster groupthink, and keep radical ideas from taking hold,” Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, director of the Information + Innovation Policy Research Center at the National University of Singapore, writes in this week’s issue of the journal Science.
  • Electropulse weapon fear spreads to UK politicos | The Register: A campaign by US right wingers, designed to raise fears of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack they allege could cripple Western nations and lead to chaos, is targeting British politicians, with some success.
  • God is not your bitch / This just in: It is hugely unlikely God cares much about your sex life | Mark Morford: A glorious rant about politicians and others exploit God to explain how they’re really, really going to change this time — amongst many other things.
  • Best RSS feeds for information graphics | A collection of feeds which represents a nice mix of information graphics and data visualisations. (Is there a difference between those two terms?)
  • Rebooting The News: A weekly podcast on news and technology with Jay Rosen and Dave Winer.
  • The atmosphere in the control room gets tense … | Twitpic: This photograph is an overview of the control room as ABC TV’s Insiders is about to be broadcast last Sunday. Even with the combination of roles and reduction of control room staffing levels, broadcast TV is still a complicated beast!
  • The Great American Bubble Machine | Rolling Stone: An astoundingly harsh critique of the US economy and, in particular, Goldman Sachs. The piece begins: The worlds most powerful investment bank is a great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity, relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money. In fact, the history of the recent financial crisis, which doubles as a history of the rapid decline and fall of the suddenly swindled dry American empire, reads like a Who's Who of Goldman Sachs graduates.”
  • Why cops should trust the wisdom of the crowds | New Scientist: The “unruly mob” concept is usually taken as read and used as the basis for crowd control measures and evacuation procedures across the world. Yet it is almost entirely a myth.

Choosing who I follow on Twitter

Twitter bird cartoon by Hugh MacLeod

Since being listed as an “interesting Aussie Twitter user” at the other night, I’ve gained 300-ish new followers. Here’s how I’ve been deciding who to follow back.

First, though, I don’t think Twitter starts to make sense unless you have a reasonable number of people in your network. For me, the penny dropped when I had about 50 followers and followees, and you actually interact with them. At that point I started to see the live communication rippling through the hyperconnected mob. It helped that I already knew some well-connected geeks to get the ball rolling.

Once you hit hundreds of followers, though, there’s a phase shift. You simply can’t see everything that happens. It scrolls by too fast. At first that’s stressful — until you realise there’s always more in the world than you can ever experience. So another penny drops, and you detach. Zen. The Twitter-river flows on 24/7, but you don’t stop to watch every fish.

I use Tweetdeck most of the time, not Twitter’s standard web interface, because I can create groups of people. The unfiltered Twitterstream rolls by on the left of my screen, with separate groups for close friends, for media contacts I need to keep an eye on, direct messages and so on. Another panel shows everyone who replies to me or mentions me. So while I can’t see everything on the main stream, just mentioning me will grab my attention.

(I daresay it changes again when you’re like Stephen Fry with more than 88,000 followers. [Update 5 February 2009: It’s now more than 122,000.] May the gods forbid I reach that level of fame! He wouldn’t even be able to monitor all his @replies and DMs!)

So, how do I choose who to follow? Here’s what I’ve noticed today.

Continue reading “Choosing who I follow on Twitter”

Do we really care about our kids?

Photograph of Verity Firth

Despite all the rhetoric about “protecting our children” and “children are the future”, our governments seem determined to prevent them preparing for the real future. Take NSW schools minister Verity Firth…

This morning the Sydney Morning Herald tells us the NSW government will receive $285M for new laptops — which will then be blocked from accessing social media and most everything else.

The Minister for Education, Verity Firth [pictured], said the Government would prevent access to the social networking sites, and other sites, even when the laptops were used at home.

“We don’t want these kids to be using these computers for the not-so-wholesome things that can be on the net. And they won’t be able to because essentially the whole server is coming through the Department of Education.”

So kids will be prevented from using their computers to connect with and understand their peers and the real world because of this continuing paranoia about unspecified “not-so-wholesome things” and parents being too lazy to supervise their own children.

Maybe Ms Firth needs to read Mark Pesce’s Those Wacky Kids, or watch the video. As Pesce quite rightly points out, if the classroom is the only part of these kids’ lives which isn’t hyperconnected, then the classroom will be seen as irrelevant.

Rupert Murdoch is right to say we have a 19th Century education system. Our Minister seems intent on keeping it that way.

Continue reading “Do we really care about our kids?”

Episode 4 tonight

Yes, episode 4 of Stilgherrian Live Alpha will happen at 9.30pm tonight Sydney time. Will it be as disturbing as last week’s? There’s only one way to find out… well two, actually, ‘cos you could just ask someone. That shows how silly that stock advertising phrase really is.