Archived entries for Cool

teaching the machine

A video called “Web 2.0 … The Machine is Us/ing Us” is an engaging and enjoyable 4.5 minute non-verbal documentary taking us from ‘pencil’ to ‘Web 2.0′. It adds context to the advances that got us here, and suggests what might yet be in store. At about 03:40, highlights from an August 2005 Wired article, “We Are the Web,” are used to suggest that we are “teaching the machine.” I’m afraid that that notion is still inadequately understood and appreciated.

Perhaps the so-called “social web” isn’t about connecting people (not about helping people socialize), but about information conservation: If a person chooses to do something — no matter how small — it’s inherently interesting, precious, and valuable. We’ve barely started to figure out what to do with this second-generation information. Where we have it’s been exciting, useful, and successful: Flickr’s Interestingness and Clusters, the notion of “watching” on Upcoming, the newer “people who looked at this ultimately bought that” in Amazon, and of course Google’s PageRank. The idea isn’t new, but it’s still under appreciated.

Here’s the paragraph from Wired that surrounds the words used in the video:

And who will write the software that makes this contraption useful and productive? We will. In fact, we’re already doing it, each of us, every day. When we post and then tag pictures on the community photo album Flickr, we are teaching the Machine to give names to images. The thickening links between caption and picture form a neural net that can learn. Think of the 100 billion times per day humans click on a Web page as a way of teaching the Machine what we think is important. Each time we forge a link between words, we teach it an idea. Wikipedia encourages its citizen authors to link each fact in an article to a reference citation. Over time, a Wikipedia article becomes totally underlined in blue as ideas are cross-referenced. That massive cross-referencing is how brains think and remember. It is how neural nets answer questions. It is how our global skin of neurons will adapt autonomously and acquire a higher level of knowledge.

Here’s the video, which was created by Michael Wesch, Assistant Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Kansas State University:

(via via)

CNN Practicing Good Journalism

In addition to pointing to CNN debunks false report about Obama, I wanted to summarize it. I struggled a bit, but luckily a great new magazine GOOD summed it up well (emphasis mine):

A conservative magazine started a rumor that Obama attended a madrassa in Indonesia that taught fundamentalist Islam. Then they falsely sourced Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the tip. This might have been a pretty ingenious campaign smear a few years ago, but these Rove-like tricks don’t seem to work anymore. CNN did some good, old-fashioned journalism and quickly debunked the story. Republican strategists should denounce these tactics if they want any chance in ‘08. The American public is finally wise to it.

Let me reiterate their conclusion: this shady business won’t fly in the ‘08 election cycle.

(If you’re not familiar with GOOD, take a look and consider subscribing (100% of your subscription money goes to an organization of your choice.)

wow: photosynth

Watch the video demo of photosynth from microsoft’s labs to see what’s possible when the world has zillions of photos of everything. (Hint: you can go inside them in 3D.)

If you use Firefox and Delicious…

…then you definitely want to install this Firefox extension that seamlessly integrates del.icio.us with Firefox’s internal bookmarking system: https://addons.mozilla.org/firefox/3615/.

Really, it just feels right. It works just how it would if you designed it yourself. Seamless. Flawless. I’ve been bookmarking about 20x more links since I started using this tool. Love it. Install it now.

Notes

  • During the installation process be sure to click “sync” to avoid losing your current Firefox bookmarks and links-bar bookmarklets.
  • Don’t worry, you can still save private bookmarks by clicking “Do Not Share” during the normal bookmarking process.
  • You can still use “keyword search” and navigation keywords, but it’s a bit non-obvious. To create a keyword, save your link, then save it again to see the keywords field show up.

Enjoy!

Flickr Gifts For All

Heather Champ announced yesterday on the Flickr Blog good news for Flickr users Past, Present, and Future. If you’re an existing regular user, your upload quote rose from 20mb to 100mb. If you’re an existing Pro user, your upload quote rose from 2GB to Infinity. If you’re not a current Flickr user, it just got easier for people to gift accounts to you – and no longer just upgrades to pro.

Thank you Flickr!

Easy Video Editing with Jumpcut

I’d never heard of jumpcut.com before, but Yahoo! just acquired them and after playing with it for a few minutes I agree that it’s pretty slick. (Update: In fact, after remixing the video below in less than 30 seconds, I think it’s actually really slick.)

Jumpcut is a video site, but the coolness is their web-based online video editor. With an easy to understand Flash interface you can rearrange and trim clips and add snazzy transitions. Also cool: you can email video from the video camera on your mobile phone to the site. Every video has a “remix” button, that when clicked makes the video you’re watching editable and mixable with your own content or other content on the site.

You can slice and splice the clips. You can import Flickr photos to use in your videos. You can pull in mp3s and audio clips. Title screens are cake.

As with most video players, this one is in Flash and seems to Just Work.

All and all, a pretty cool piece of web-based software.

Update: Jumpcut announced the acquisition with a “Great Combos” video. I remixed it in 30 seconds:



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