Violin-Hop Prodigy: Thank You Web

I was going to write about how Wired Magazine made an interesting point about how the use of the Web is dwindling due to the popularization of mobile apps, which is of course a direct result of our information hunter-gatherer culture where keyboards and ethernet chords have been eschewed for the pocket-friendly, 4G mini tablets that we used to call phones. However, the Web, being the cruel bitch that she is, discouraged me from contributing my weekly minutia to the sphere of blogs because apparently everyone else has brought their two cents to the bank and are collecting interest.

Fuck you Web for beating me to the punch with your smug all-powerful intelligence and the ability to be in any and all places without anyone being the wiser!

But guess what? This is where Wired’s argument has a gaping hole. Hence, the title of today’s post. Wait for it……..

 

Jason Yang

Jason Yang!

There! One case who represents the silent majority of Web content that can only be discovered by farting around the Internet without any real goal in mind. I’m not saying to Hell with mobile apps, but unpredictability still exists online. And if you believe that a Violinist who drops a killer track on the Internet with no one around to hear it can’t possibly make a sound (without sufficient old media coverage – like with Antoine Dodson) then I say to you non-believers to shut the hell up and give a listen, because the Web may be dead to those goal-oriented prudes, but to Web scavengers, the clinically bored, and those with a penchant for clicking hyperlinks, prepare to be entertained in a way that you could have never preconceived.

Welcome back to the Web fools!

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Blogger’s Block – No Burgers, No Web 2.0, Just Wiki

Grrrr! I can’t seem to find anything Web 2.0 related to write about. At least nothing recent. So…

Food News:
Rougue States in Dupont Circle, one of my favorite places to nom, closed down because white-collar curmudgeons didn’t like grease fumes seeping into their Armani suits. That’s pretty interesting in my opinion (although it makes me upset that such a fine burger place is getting taken off of the menu in the restaurant that is DC). I guess I’ll have to go to north Dupont to BGR, or wait for Go Burger to open up right across the street later this year.

 

Web 2.0 News:
Other than that I’ve been reading up on the history of Wikis and the emergence of the masses taking over where the encyclopedia professionals left off – in small circles huddled around hard-cover books mumbling about changes that won’t take place until the next decade.

It sounds dramatic, yes, but this is the impression I got from the stories about how Wikipedia sprung up in 2001; a cheeky experiment to see if an encyclopedia made by anyone could help with the creation of new articles for an encyclopedia made by  professionals. As it would turn out, Wikipedia ended up being the better option.

Why? To put it succinctly, it’s because Wikipedia had more contributors who wanted the site to succeed than detractors who wanted the site to fail or become a fortress of rebellion and naughty language.  This behavior is much akin to how neighborhoods work try to stay prim and perfect. The thought is that the more people care about the neighborhood, the less likely it’ll turn into a “bad” neighborhood with crime. Of course this is a very large generalization and doesn’t take into consideration socio-economic status, race, class, etc..

However, it seems to be working when all these things are not involved. If you’re a dog with broadband, no one else gives a crap whether your a dog (just don’t forget to cite your sources…and pick up your dog crap from my lawn).

Insightful Thought in 3…2…1…
The ability Wikipedia has in kicking the ass of the professional and giving power to the “people” is only due to the fact that the user community has a vested interest in what the site represents and what their thoughts represent (which is the historical record of mankind). This is how Yelp works as well. The power of Yelp is created by the user community. In the end, just like in your neighborhood, the actions of the community are as narcissistic as they are noble. Picking up trash in your neighborhood and mowing your lawn are acts that make both you and your neighborhood look like nice places to hang your hat. Multiply that by 100 and form it into PTA meetings with bake sales and boring late night Wednesday meetings and you have yourself an aware  public who’s looking out for the best interests of the place you call home.

Random Thought in 3…2.

Hey, weren’t we talking about burgers?

Group Think = Smarter Think

Yes, well, only if you play well with others and, umm…have women in your group.

In a study that was co-authored by Carnegie Mellon, MIT, and Union College and is published in Science,  researchers found that the intelligence of an individual has very little bearing on the intelligence of the group he/she is in.  What made the group in the study more intelligent was the way the group interacted and how well it could “distribute turn-taking, how socially sensitive the group members were, and how many woman were on each team [they suspect it’s because women exhibit higher social sensitivity and can read social cues better than men].”

This doesn’t read like a politically correct statement, and I doubt that this study (which included 699 participants) will result in managers strategically placing women in more brainstorming groups for obvious gender bias reasons. However,  this does make one wonder if managers will use this study to think of better ways to facilitate brainstorming sessions to fully optimize knowledge building. Will they supplement these sessions with wikis, content management systems, etc? Who knows.

One thing’s certain; group think kicks way more ass than what one person may come up with. I think Wikipedia has proven that much. Just so long as you’re getting ideas from different viewpoints rather than hearing echoes from your your chamber of comfort, you’re doing the right thing.

Play nice. You might just get a gold sticker.

Thanksgiving Leftovers: Om to the Nom

Who needs to write about Thanksgiving recipes? All anyone ever cares about are the leftovers! Here’s a guide to properly nom on the holiday afterthoughts on any given day.

https://i2.wp.com/i.ehow.com/images/GlobalPhoto/Articles/4695491/food-thanksgiving-leftovers-kc-main_Full.jpg

6:30 am

Single piece of pumpkin pie with Life cereal.

7:00

Pack a turkey, ham, and stuffing sandwich and sugar cookies.

11:00

Nibble on sugar cookies while making calls (maybe share with Ernesto in the cubicle directly in front of you).

12:00pm

Open up your packed lunch and set the microwave to waft (oh yeah, let the whole office smell your Turkey Day!).

http://xb0.xanga.com/446f1a74d6633225228936/b177040453.jpg

3:00

Find a hidden sugar cookie in the bottom of your bag. Look around to see if anyone is watching. Eat it.

6:30pm

Fill your dinner plate with collard greens, turkey, stuffing, ham, mac n’ cheese, and sweet potato souffle.

7:00pm

Hit the pie, ice cream (picecream), cookies and milk.

11:00pm

Food coma

6:30am

Repeat

One final note. Just make sure you do this for the next month until Christmas. This is your training for the next holiday when you’ll inevitably stuff you face once again. It’s part of the winter holiday season, which is the culmination of another year that completes the annual ebb and flow of the American waistline:

Eat like a fat-ass until New Year’s and then work it off to prepare for the summer.

Come on people, we’re in a recession! These gyms aren’t going to make a profit by themselves.

Chrome OS: The Cloud and its Discontents

This has been big news since July, but I’ve only recently started to pay it any mind. Google Chrome, the web browser, is going to be its own operating system. This means that when you boot up selected computers you won’t see Windows XP, Vista, or 7. You’ll see Google. And from the way Google is evangelizing Chrome OS, booting your computer is going to be pretty damn fast!

Initial reactions are positive because this means that all of the Googling that you do will be squished into a much faster Operating System (OS). You can use Gmail, Google Search, Google Docs, Google News, Google Calendar, etc. without having to deal with any shitty MSN defaults.

Cloudy With a 100% Chance of Chrome

After conducting more research, things get more interesting. This OS will be featured in netbooks as opposed to fully functioning laptops or desktops (yes, I said “fully functioning”, implying my bias towards netbooks). This is great for netbook fan boys because Google is putting its faith in the core belief system of the netbook, which is that everything anybody could possibly want is online and making that available to consumers while eschewing unnecessary software makes for a better and more practical experience.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Non-profits such as One Economy Corporation offer netbooks to poor and underserved families so that they can have access to opportunities such as jobs and career building tools that were once impossible to access because of the high cost of broadband and computers. But for the non-poor, tech-saavy professional and/or student, a true netbook should freak you out because of the ever-presenet but sometimes unstable cloud.

Take for instance when Google’s servers shut down and people couldn’t use their services in:

February 2009
March 2009
September 2009
October 2009

Aside from the one in October many people, including corporations could not access anything that was shared in the cloud. In fact I wrote about one of these GFails.

Another thing about the cloud and with netbooks is that, as a student, I don’t feel as if Google docs is robust enough to provide me with a “lite” alternative to a bulkier Microsoft Office package. I can’t deal with the slow, hard to maneuver, painfully-unable-to-export-in-the-format-that-I-want, cloud-happy code written into Google Docs. It’s great for collaboration, but to be honest I usually copy and paste things from Word. The same goes for Excel and Power Point. Maybe Google Wave is different, but I don’t know — I’m not special enough to have been invited.

One last thing about the cloud being the major component for a netbook with the Google Chrome OS.

I’d love to see the cloud as something that wasn’t as vaporous and misty as it already is. Working for a company that uses GWhatever for just about everything, having a GCrash was a big GFail that resulted in hours of a loss of GProductivity, which got people GPissed.

I don’t want to have to be in the cloud and look down at the Earth below praying that my footing stays solid. Give me an external hard drive and a much better way to utilize Excel, Power Point, and Word, and you just may have a netbook customer out of me. But you better catch me soon because once I get the money to buy a Mac, I’ll be gone faster than you can say:

Google: Error; Server Error: The server encountered a temporary error and could not complete your request. Please Try again in 30 seconds.

Or even worse, “The webpage cannot be found: HTTP404”

Personal Note

It’s been about 6 weeks since I last updated this blog. That’s really bad on my part. I apologize to the 8 or so random daily viewers who stumble across the site looking for a way to make a black and tan. You guys really like when I talk about beer. Maybe this is a sign that I should start listening to the stats, or err umm…viewers because you guys are people…yeah. So yeah, let’s not have that happen again. Perhaps my next post will be about beer.

Jumping on the Foursqaure Bandwagon

Time to jump on the bandwagon. Foursquare, the real-life achievement oriented, barhopping, smart phone friendly web 2.0 creation is taking over a city near you. With 23 cities total (21 in the US and 2 international), and 1.35 million dollars of investor moola to throw around, this New York-based Internet startup is going to be on many a phone in the coming years.

Foursquare_icon

So what is Foursquare? It’s a location-based website where you can “Check-in” to different locations in order to build up points and earn badges. Sounds lame you say? Hear me out.

It’s Friday night in Washington DC. You take the Metro from Silver Spring to DuPont Circle and go to Buffalo Billiards to hang out. In doing so you make a trip over to the fountain to relax and then head back home. Sure you had a great time, but with Foursquare you just earned Mad Points that night.

There are rules to checking in though, which are explained in Foursquare’s help section. One of the most notable is that you won’t earn any points during normal work hours (M-F 8am-4pm) unless you discover a new place or provide them new info on a location that hasn’t been entered into the system. I like this because it encourages being adventurous and shuns the lame folks who’d rather stay in and watch Gray’s Anatomy on a Thursday night *shiver*.  So yeah, that lunch with your co-workers doesn’t count. Sorry Jon from Accounting.

Foursqaure turns a fun night into a competition that makes it even more fun to be out with your friends. It’s almost like how your mind works when you play fantasy football. More achievements = more points. You can even become the mayor of a location if you check-in enough times. I mean, you’re talking to the mayor of the Silver Spring Metro and Mayorga Coffee Factory here *ahem* *ahem*.

So what do these points and mayorships get you? Nothing right now. The point is to be able to use the service with your buddies to talk up how you scored more points than them in a single night (or week). When they check-in you can even see where they are so that you can be there too (that gets you more points as well). It’s a social networking site, so it pays to be social.

The creators of Foursquare, Dennis Crowley, Naveen Selvadurai, and Harry Heymann are playing around with ways to reward players in real life for their efforts, but to me this is problematic because if people start getting discounts for being mayors, users will start blasting the system with bogus check-ins to earn more freebies.

Another caveat is that this all works under the honor system. Foursquare has no idea whether I’m actually going to these places. I could just be sitting at home all night putting myself all around the city, earning points, badges, and mayorships without anyone being the wiser. Some people may actually do this because that’s how they have fun, but the folks at Foursquare are banking on the fact that the people who do this are going to get tired of it and won’t have as much of a drive to check-in as those who are actually going out and having fun in the “real world”.

Foursquare apps

This leads me to one last caveat. Having an Android phone or an Iphone makes checking in a lot easier because each of these phones has a Foursqaure application that will give you access to their services without much hassle (such are awesomeness of apps). Using other Internet-enabled phones is a bit trickier because you have to go to their websites, which takes a lot longer. Those who don’t have a data plan can text in their location, but I’m going to bet that most people don’t do this at all because the service isn’t as interactive, and if you come to a spot that doesn’t exist in the system it’s impossible for these users to enter the new location, thus defeating the purpose of the game (Foursquare is relatively new to the scene and I’ve had to enter new locations on the fly many times).

The good news for Blackberry users without an app to call their own is that the folks at Foursquare say that an app made especially for them is on the way. Yay!

I would also suggest that Foursquare take note from the Yelp team and hire city community managers. These CM’s can organize Foursquare nights where members can earn more points barhopping on the nights being lead by a city’s respective CM. This way, if people know that they can earn more points by not cheating, they’ll be more likely to come out, get involved, and have a good time. Businesses will love this too because this means more revenue for them. Also, can you say publicity? Think about it.

In the end, Foursquare is very smart. They’ve created a system where normal shmoes like you and me are willing to advertise for other businesses for the sheer pleasure of earning points and being crowned mayors. We don’t mind making other businesses more popular because we want to share our experiences and get our friends to come along with us in our late night revelries. If sharing virtual drinks has become the most popular application on Facebook, if Yelp is slowly wheeling Zagat into a retirement home, and if scholars are using Wikipedia to start their research (after looking at citations of course), then it’s no wonder that our Web 2.0 culture of Stumbling, Digging, and sharing has lead us to this new form of entertainment that has created a hybrid legion of techy-fratboy-nerds bent on pwning their respective cities.

Foursquare, you are t3h 4w3som3s0rz br0!

If you want to jump on the bandwagon too, connect with me on Foursqaure.

Guinness and Harp = Half and Half

Don’t worry, the math is correct. All you need is half a pint of Guinness and half a pint of Harp Lager and you’ve got yourself two Irish beverages double-teaming your shitty day and pounding it into a submission worthy of the name Happy Hour.

black-n-tan

I had this while at Kelly’s Irish Times over at Union Station this past Friday. It’s great being able to have a beer a few blocks away from the Capitol. I get libations while the suits and ties make laws (lawbations? no, we probably don’t want any of those). Talk about enjoying the scenery of the most powerful city in America while having a pint after a hard workweek.

You can do this with any dark or light beer. In fact, you don’t even have to call it a half and half. Many call it a Black and Tan, but there was no way I was going to make that the title of this post. Let’s just say I don’t want the wrong kind of traffic being directed to Mad Hungry. Black and Tan + Mad Hungry = …Yeah, I don’t want to know.

The trick is making it so that the beers don’t mix. I hear it has something to do with a spoon.

On another note, barhopping with Foursquare is Mad Fun. I’m so going to blog the shit out of that site. It’s like getting Xbox achievement points in real life. Oh God! I’m nerding out here!

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