Archive for the ‘New media’ Category

Jason Calacanis at Open Coffee Athens XV

Jason Calacanis, love him or hate him, is definitely a very successful entrepreneur. And he is also extremely generous about giving advise to you entrepreneurs in the making. I stumbled across this video of him giving a speech at the Open Coffee Athens XV. Yes, the video concentrates on Greece, but everything he is saying can apply to Europe as a whole. We do focus to much on the negatives, and we do spurn people who have failed. We shouldn’t! By working together and innovate and just plain daring to do, we could even beat the US in the Web 2.0 market.

 

 

It is time for us to start daring and doing!

Bottom line: Your first idea is rarely your best.

The first step in a journey is never the best either! Most folks hit their stride two hours into the marathon. Don’t be afraid to nuke your first idea and run with your second–or third, forth or fifth.

Evolution is the revolution.

Jason Calacanis

 

Thobias

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Tweet Tweet

If you look in the side bar of this site you will find a widget called “What am I doing?”. In this my twitter updates show up. But what is Twitter you might think. Well, it’s something called micro blogging, but that is really a term that makes about as much sense as the later Nietzsche… No, better to take another approach. Start by watching this video by Common Craft:

 

 

All done? Enlightened? Good. But what’s the catch then? Ahh, funny you should ask. Twitter has a tendency to go down every once in a while, meaning you can’t post or read anything. But to me, that is secondary. The real fly in the ointment is that it is a closed environment. If you have friends across multiple services such as Jaiku, Plurk or even Tumblr, you need to use all of those. There are things on the horizon to get us over this obstacle, but so far none seems to have emerged victorious and they generally require you to get yet another account…

Another problem for me personally is that it has been very hard to get my friends to sign up. Sure a few has come along for the ride, but many prefer the horrors of Facebook or use normal blogs for the stuff that really fits better on Twitter. But at least you can join up with some of your heroes. Everyone from John Gruber and Merlin Mann to Damh the Bard and  John C. Dvorak. I know those are mostly tech folks, but there are others to. Barack Obama for instance have his very own twitter feed, although it is uncertain if he updates it him self. John McCain is also on here, but I think we can rest assured he’s not doing it him self, though.

I think what stops many from getting on one of these micro blogs is the perceived learning curve. They remember what it was like trying to get Facebook to work or ‘code’ a MySpace page. But this is quite different. A few clicks and you’re done. You can even update via SMS. Calling Twitter a social network is really a misnomer I think. It is more like distributed SMS without the cost!

 

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Merlin Mann of MacBreak Weekley, 43folders and ThatPhoneGuy fame has turned tweets into an art form and is an absolute joy to read by the way.

 

~ Blogging is the new poetry ~
So now I hope you’ll rush over and join up! Friend me, I’m @toobydoo.
Thobias

September Update

So, I thought maybe it was time for a general update of things. As you might have seen I recently went pro on Flickr and updated for the entire summer. Sorry about that, but my internet connection over the summer was really sucky…

Found it a bit lurky…

Found it a bit lurky…

In other news: I am attending the Book and Library con in Gothenburg this year. It should be a lot of fun, and hopefully the TwilightShadows will contain a full report soon! If I see anything really interesting I might tweet it and/or throw up some pictures on Flickr from the con, so check that out as well. Adding to this I am conscidering working at the LitteraLund childrens book festival. I think I might actually.

If you’ve lived in a bag for the last year or so you might have missed a new internet star called Jonathan Coulton, or JoCo. He is as indie as you get, since he is entirely self-published and adding insult to the RIAA’s injury, started by giving his music away as a podcast! If you haven’t checked him out you really should. Head on over to his site, or look him up in the iTunes Store. I recommend ‘Code Monkey’, ‘Creepy Doll’, ‘First of May’ and ‘Furry Lobster’. But there are many more! This is the new generation musicians, and man does it rock!

The Culture Night in Lund turned into somewhat of a fiasco for me. First of, my personal demons were acting up, and that didn’t help matters. But also, I’ve never been before so I did not realise that most of the western world would be there… So here’s a recipe for success: Look through the info and decide what you want to see or do. Next, show up in advance! Up to one hour in certain cases. The ‘Edith Piaf’ concert was sold out when I arrived 20 minutes in advance… I’m planning on attending next year to, but I will be more ready this time!

And finally; every last Sunday of the month ‘The Bishops Arms’ in Lund holds an Irish session. This is where Irish folk musicians come to the pub and sit around and play and sing together. Anyone can join in. Price of admission? The price of a drink in the bar! It’s awesome and it is truly recommended by The TwilightShadows.

In all institutions from which the cold wind of open criticism is excluded, an innocent corruption begins to grow like a mushroom – for example, in senates and learned societies.”

Friedrich Nietzsche

Thobias

Why are Smileys not in the history books?

I recently began a course in the history of handwritten texts, and I must say it has made me think a lot about communication.

Throughout history we are inclined to think that we as a race have evolved into more and more advanced creatures, which in turn has led to more and more advanced communication. We learned to speak, rather than just use sounds. We learned to use pictogram’s, then cuneiform writing, which in turn evolved into the modern alphabet.

Making parchment

Following these remarkable feats we also figure out how to print the written word, using movable types, thus enabling us to do masscommunication. 

From our standpoint though, we tend to think of the past, say thirty years as the most significant in this process. The IT-revolution. Everything from widespread use of television, to the Google aided memory. This has enabled more people than ever before to communicate with more people, and in more diverse ways than ever before. I would not go as far as to say that it has meant a complete democratisation of communication, but we are drawing ever closer to it.

And here is where I find my self at a cross-roads. Should I as a blogger and Web 2.0 guy follow the line of “This is awesome! I’m gonna’ twitter it right now.” Or should I listen to the historian inside. The historian is much more cautious. 

The historian in me sees a problem here. As we said it is generally believed that we go from less advanced to more advanced. And to me that also seams to be intimately connected to the notion that we leave more to the generations to come. We learned how to write, we have some of that left. We learned how to use better and better materials to write on and with, so we have even more of those things. We learned to store and curate things, conserve them. Massproduction saw to that some things hang around purely because there is so damn much of it. But today’s texts, when we finally seem to have left the mandarin culture of yester ages, it hits us: no one will read it in times to come. I can’t even use my old diskettes from the nineties anymore, and even less so my Zip-disks. Not to mention my old Nisus Writer files… Some formats have lingered and standards help. Text-files, ASCII, Unicode and to a certain extent CD-ROMs are still useful, but for how long? Besides, none of that is even close to useful without electicity… With the possible exception of the Cd’s. They can be used as mirrors, mini Frisbee’s or any number of other things, but I digress.

Adobe Caslon letter A

So what? Most of what is written today is not important for more than a few minutes, a couple of months at the most. Then it’s old and useless. But we should consider this: historians generally say that cultures with few traces are not very advanced nor are they particularly rich. We cremate our dead and leave fewer and fewer traces in writing, and yet we would all suppose we are a reasonably advanced culture. This is troublesome.

The other issue to address is that the languages have started to show to lacks. Lack number one is that word and phrases takes to long to type out. Hence we use things like LOL, BTW and RTFM instead. But at the same time, and this is my second point, it is lacking in expressiveness, which has brought back the pictogram’s in active use, and those are the smileys.

Why is this? Well, I think the shortenings were to be expected. The means of writing have almost always dictated the way we write. Ergo the rather cumbersome task of writing on a QWERTY keyboard, specifically design to slow you down on a typewriter will create a new way of expression when “normal” people start using it to do their communication. This is echoed in the ancient times when the Phoenicians invented the alphabet because they needed something faster to write with to do their trade. The cuneiform writing had been OK for the Assyrians, Babylonians and Sumerians because they mainly used it for administrative purposes, and this, as we all know, does not require any particular speed. The hieroglyphs of Egypt similarly, were designed for propaganda and religion, also two rather no speedy tasks, at least in those days. But when the average Joe or Jane needed a writing system, they invented the much more efficient alphabet. The same thing is happening now. Regular people need something faster, so they invent it. But they are not capable of inventing new sorts of keyboards, so they change the way they write instead.

 

Smiley

 

The smileys are in a way more of a mystery. On the one hand it is rather straight forward. In a world where we use text instead of verbal communication, we need something to replace body language with. I mean fair enough, it is difficult to blush so someone understands it without being in the same room. No, the mystery to me is why we don’t seem to have needed these before. Surely bodytype language must have been needed from time to time before? Or is it a new thing thing? Are we the first ones to believe it is actually needed? Is it that people expressed feelings in writing better in times gone by? Maybe, but certainly not everyone.

Is there then a point to this rambling, other than creating more text that will be gone the day the power goes out? I’m not sure, but I think it is important to remember that we do not live for ever, and that we need to carefully consider what, and in that case how we want coming generations to remember us. I’ve heard that the Scientologists have had their important writings written on platinum plates to preserve them for when they come back after some great disaster. Maybe we all should start to think this way. Not perhaps writing our blog posts on metal, but at least give it a think!

If you can’t annoy somebody, there’s little point in writing.” 
Kingsley Amis

Thobias

Elephants Dream

Due to “public demand” I have decided to post Elephants Dream here too. It is not as good looking as Big Buck Bunny, however it is interesting in many ways. Partly because of the open ended and rather mind bending story. The visual do take you on a journey through the mind. The other reason is that it is the worlds first Open Movie.

Enjoy!

Thobias

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Big Buck Bunny

Blender is an Open Source 3D animation program with a lot of promise. But perhaps the most intressting thing about it that there is also an Open Source based moviemaking community around it. They have previously released Elephants Dream which was OK, but nothing special. However, the look and feel of this movie, Big Buck Bunny, is more or less on par with Pixar. There is hope for the Open community still!

If you want to know more about Blender, you can for instance listen to FLOSS Weekly, Ep. 25.

Enjoy!

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more about “Big Buck Bunny“, posted with vodpod

 

 

Books for Twits

In listening to the latest episode of This Week in Tech, I was at first horrified that I would not get my normal weekly dose of half-arsed, funny but still very informative insights into the world of tech and Web 2.0. The tone was serious! Well, I still clung on, and in many ways this must have been one of the more interesting Twits in a long while.

Joining the regulars, this time Leo (of course) and Dvorak (.org/blog…) was the able hands of Denise Howell of This Week in Law fame; and a special guest: Brewster Kahle. Who is he? He’s none other than the guy behind archive.org and as such one of the first persons with foresight enough to realise that not all things are printed anymore, and what that will mean for the possibilities of future research.

Anyway, this time around the round table concerned among other things the FBI screwing up in their dealings with archive.org; dealings it’s very doubtful if they should have commenced with to begin with. But the really tasty bit was the scanning and distribution of printed works over the Internet. Archive.org have in conjunction with such big shots as Microsoft and Yahoo! scanned thousands of books and published them for free on the Internet. Now, recently MS and the big Y decided to pull out, but the project will go on as a public service instead. (Nothing but kudos to MS and Y in spite, they poured millions into a project that they from a business perspective shouldn’t have undertaken in the first place.)

And this is where it starts to get interesting for the rest of us. Where are the European initiatives to something of this kind? We, collectively, own some of the finest historical collections in the world in everything from books and manuscripts to records and art. Why is this not on archive.org or similar services? Why, since a lot of our stuff is owned and produced by the public, can’t the public get at it in a user friendly and informative way? Mind you, the few euro efforts you sometimes find often have a very tangy googlesk feel to them, meaning ugly and not very useful. (As we all know, Google Books is nothing short of a cruel joke on humanity.) But just think of the possibilities, the combined history of Europe (this is from a Euro perspective, but obviously other parts of the world would benefit from the same thing) all tagged and searchable on the Internet. It’s a wet dream for me as a historian.

Of course you already can get a lot of stuff via, for instance, archive.org and the fairly new project Open Library, but there is one snag: what’s on there is predominantly in English. As a Scandinavian I might find that of little or no use depending on what I am looking for. So, to concentrate on my neck of the woods, I urge the governments of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland and Finland to digitise books in the same general fashion as archive.org. Preferably add it to archive.org for free while you’re at it! It is a shame that we, as some of the most technological nations in the world, seem to have completely abandon our history just because it’s not in MS Word format. This needs to stop now! Our children, nay the world, deserves it. Otherwise, we will get a truly horrible generation; and we will thoroughly deserve…

For books are more than books, they are the life
The very heart and core of ages past,
The reason why men lived and worked and died,
The essence and quintessence of their lives. – Amy Lowell

Thobias

P.s. To show what can be done with these scans, I want to ask you to have a look at this Cinderella, or this edition of Alice in Wonderland. Both are with archive.org, but the latter found via Open Library. They are beautiful and nothing short of fantastic!