Ashley Richards

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ZabaSearch – Stalking Just Got Easier

August 30th, 2005 Posted in Tech

This morning my radio alarm woke me up to a discussion on KFOG about ZabaSearch and how people are a bit weirded out by it. I don’t blame them. Zabasearch is a people finding search engine. Not bad, but it lists unlisted addresses. So if Cnet had problems when they published the town a certain Google CEO lives in, why don’t you try searching for the CEO of your favorite company and see what you find. The CEO of the company I work at now is listed.

Or search for your favorite living President. I found Bill Clinton in NY (no phone number) and George W Bush’s last address at the Texas Governor’s Mansion. There’s probably other ones in there for Bush, but I didn’t see Crawford listed.

Just because something is “public” information doesn’t mean you should make it that much easier to find.

Update – 5:00 pm – Forgot to mention that starting 1 September 2005, you can post to a blog associated with a particular name/person. Can anyone say libel and blog-spam?

If knowledge is conversation – how can we talk?

August 22nd, 2005 Posted in Stuff

David Weinberger wrote today, “Knowledge is the neverending conversation.” I can’t help but ask my same question from the other week – how can we have that neverending conversation if we’re unable to exchange knowledge because we’re speaking/writing in different languages. We are able to translate on-the-fly, but we just need to take it one step further.

Once we’re able to understand what each other is saying will we be able to come to a better understanding of each other.

BarCamp

August 21st, 2005 Posted in Tech

Saturday night I hung out at BarCamp, took full advantage of the free beer (courtesy of Technorati), and had some interesting conversations.

One was with Eris Stassi who was saying that in the “Women in Tech” session they came up with an idea for an open source social software for the real world (scroll to the bottom). The gist of it is that you’d have a profile on your mobile device and if there’s someone in the area that matches your interests, you’ll know they’re in the area. And presumably it will be easier for you to start a conversation. Great for conferences, network events, and singles bars.

It reminds me of a device I heard about a couple years ago that would buzz if you pass someone who also had the device. I can’t remember all the details, nor if you had to set up a profile. I think you do. But in my vain attempt to find it again, I stumbled across Jambo. You can load it onto a wi-fi device, but it seems you have to be part of an organization or existing social network before you can use it. And they do not require you to fill out a profile for the Jambo system.

That’s okay, but just because I’m randomly connected to someone, for example fellow alum, doesn’t mean that I want an “introduction” to be based on that tenuous relationship alone. The year I graduated from Rutgers there were 35,000 students there. I didn’t know all of them, and, if the Jambo system shows how you’re connected to someone, you wind up with useless recommendations because the person who’s connecting you doesn’t necessarily have a real relationship with you. It’s a similar problem that Russ Beattie says caused him to opt-out of Linked In.

If you make a profile mandatory, build upon existing online social networks and have it open source so that it could evolve to work with any device (theoretically), it could change the way we interact online and off.

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My Mickey Moment With Chris Martin & Coldplay

August 20th, 2005 Posted in Marketing

Imagine a sea of people at Shoreline Amphitheatre in Mountain View, an empty seat or patch of grass cannot be found. Coldplay is up on stage, house lights are brought up just a bit so Chris Martin can see the audience. He’s turns toward section 103 (where I am) and does a little wave with the hand that’s holding the microphone. It looks like he’s looking at me and waving at me. But I’m delusional right? So I cock my head to the side, so does he, and he keeps waving. So I do a little wave back. Then he sings a bit more, turns and goes to the other side of the stage. That’s my mickey moment.

What do I mean by a mickey moment? Well, Disney has a saying that every visitor as a moment with Mickey. They have the fleeting moment where they get to be the center of Mickey’s attention, get a photo taken and get to feel the giddiness of being in the presence of an icon. The fan makes a connection with the star.

It’s hard to make a connection in large arena, but Chris Martin tears down that third wall so many performers cannot get through. He was probably just waving randomly to see who would wave back and maybe he didn’t see me. But I think he did. Later in the concert he went up the side of the walkway, was waving and giving the thumbs up at this guy, and wouldn’t stop until the guy acknowledged that “yes I see you waving to me and we are interacting.” And at the very end Chris potentially took his life into his hands and went into the middle of the crowd to get closer to the people in the back. And throughout it all he worked to get the audience to interact with the band.

There are only two other concerts that I could say I’ve had a mickey moment: in 1997 with Bono, and in 2003 with Michael Stipe. With Bono, I was very close to the catwalk, we held eye contact and he sang to me. At the REM concert in Vancouver, Michael Stipe talked with the audience, took requests, dedicated songs to people in the city and to a couple who told him they were celebrating their anniversary, told anecdotes, and made me feel like an insider even though I was all the way at the back of the field.

Those mickey moments, along with good talent, are what makes a performance memorable and worth the price of the ticket. It also helps convert borderline fans and create more loyal fans, which probably will lead to more record sales down the road. At the REM concert, which was a joint one with Radiohead, my friend was pleasantly surprised that he enjoyed REM’s performance. The music industry should be looking for more people like this, or getting people like Chris to give pointers on how to do it.

As for the concert in general, it’s was awesome. You could tell that the guys love performing together and what they’re doing. Of course, if someone is having fun themselves it’s rather catching. And it seemed to have infected the 22,000 people there.

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Blogher: guías para la discusión en la conferencia en español

August 10th, 2005 Posted in Writing

Fernando Flores está traduciendo las guías para la discusión en la conferencia de Blogher a español.

That was with the help of Mr. Flores’ blog and Google Translate, and it’s probably still horrendous to native Spanish speakers.

Fernando Flores, a senator in Chile with a rather interesting bio, is translating the Blogher Discussion Guidelines into Spanish.

Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5

To help make them easier to find, I’ll update this list as he posts the parts.

The Internet Lost in Translation

August 10th, 2005 Posted in Writing

Tonight I went to the BayChi presentation on Web 2.0. The panelist/presentors were Stewart Butterfield from Flickr, David Sifry from Technorati, Paul Rodemacher from HousingMaps, and Thomas Vander Wal from Personal Infocloud.

The topics of tags and tagging came up since Flickr and Technorati use them. Sifry mentioned that only 33% of the tags in Technorati are in English. (That leaves 67% that are not). That’s a lot of information that I can’t read since my Spanish and French are embarassingly poor.

Vander Wal talked about how tags would be helpful in identifying the different “information clouds”. Then you could categorize the information into clusters to get a better idea of what that information is really about without having to go into the pages to see exactly what’s there. Flickr already has clusters of photos that you can browse. Tags could help you find information not only in your personal or local infocloud but also in the global infocloud.

That got me thinking.

English tags comprise only 33% of all tags on Technorati, and Sifry said that the Chinese are starting to adopt it. That’s potentially a lot of tags I can’t read. Everyday at work I take into consideration how easy or difficult it might be to translate something that I write in English because there are many localized versions of the site. But most people don’t have their sites translated into 20 different languages and don’t think of translation issues. So there are volumes of information out there that people aren’t seeing when they search.

Right now, there’s no real point to show the search results in foreign languages because most people couldn’t read them anyway. But what if you could because there was on-the-fly translation. Granted it would be rather poor translations, but you could get the gist of it. And those information clusters would be a truer representation of information out there in the entire world.

The ideal application to try this out on is Flickr. There’s nothing really to translate except the caption. It’s visual and most photos cross cultural boundries.

So I went to Flickr to see what the search differences would be if I entered “Tokyo” and “東京” (Babelfish’s translation for Tokyo). Well, I got a very strange search result for “東京”: There aren’t any photos available to you tagged with “2140723487”. Well my only guess is that Flickr’s search function cannot handle the characters, which is a shame because I’d probably get a better representation of Tokyo through the eyes of locals rather than through the eyes of a tourist.

Butterfield indirectly touched on this issue when talking about how tags depend on the user. He said that if you type in Tokyo you probably wouldn’t get a photo of skyscrapers and neon signs because most tourists will take a picture of their hotel room (and massaging toilet because we do not have them here). Now if in the background they translated tags into various languages, we would get a better view of the world. Literally.

I pasted “東京” into Technorati and got results back in Japanese. But again, the translation issue. Yahoo and MSN actually return some English results, but that’s probably because of the site owner’s SEO and not the search engine. Google returns all Japanese. But what if I was Italian – I don’t want to read English.

It might be a huge undertaking, or it might not. If you speak more than one language, try the Google Language Tools to translate this site. How close is it? Is it enough to understand what I’m writing? If so, then maybe we’re not that far away from having a true global internet where everyone can read what anyone else on the planet is saying. And then we’d be able to find information no matter what language it’s tagged in.

BlogHer Discussion Guidelines

August 6th, 2005 Posted in Writing

People had asked me to make the BlogHer Discussion Guidelines available online. It wasn’t until after Beth Kanter sent me an email today that I realized I’ve been remiss in my duties. So here you go – the BlogHer Discussion Guidelines in a pdf.

It’s not exactly what was handed out at the conference. I’m a copy editor, so I couldn’t let another editing pass go by. Also, I’ve added a list of references. However, I couldn’t have written it at all if it wasn’t for the BlogHer women (organizers and advisory board) giving me fantastic ideas and feedback on the various drafts. Thank you.

En espa?±ol

Yahoo! Sign In Failure for Firefox Users?

August 5th, 2005 Posted in Madness

Is it just because I’m special or is the Yahoo! Sign In not working with Firefox browsers? This has been happening since Tuesday. I haven’t upgraded or anything. (I’m on 1.0.6.) I’ve tried numerous times this week, cleared cookies in both Firefox and IE to make sure I was completely signed out, and I still get this lovely helpful message:

Sorry, Unable to process request at this time — error 999.

Unfortunately we are unable to process your request at this time. This error is usually temporary. Please try again later.

If you continue to experience this error, it may be caused by one of the following:

* You may want to scan your system for spyware and viruses, as they may interfere with your ability to connect to Yahoo!. For detailed information on spyware and virus protection, please visit the Yahoo! Security Center.
* This problem may be due to unusual network activity coming from your Internet Service Provider. We recommend that you report this problem to them.

While this error is usually temporary, if it continues and the above solutions don’t resolve your problem, please let us know.

Return to Yahoo!

Please check the URL for proper spelling and capitalization. If you’re having trouble locating a destination on Yahoo!, try visiting the Yahoo! home page or look through a list of Yahoo!’s online services. Also, you may find what you’re looking for if you try searching below.

Yes I’ve run my antivirus and spyware detectors. And no, nothing was found. Their Help wasn’t all that helpful. The most I could find was that yes they do support Firefox 1.0. I’ve filled in a contact form to see if anyone knows what to do, but we’ll see if I get a response. In the meantime if anyone knows a solution or if I find one, I’ll post it here.

Update Aug 5, 2005 3:05 pm: It works now. But they need to sort out the bugginess of it. I still have yet to hear anything at all. Who knows, for all I know it has nothing to do with Firefox, but from where I sit that’s my view on it.

Update 2 Aug 5, 2005 5:15 pm: Brendon’s co-worker tells me that his girlfriend has been having similar issues this week with her Firefox and Yahoo!. (Putting that period there after the exclaimation mark is SO wrong.) And same as me, she’s having no issues using IE with Yahoo.

Update 3 Aug 5, 2005 10:45pm: I got an email back from a Joseph with Yahoo’s customer service. They blame it on a network connection between my computer and their servers. I think it was basically another canned response. If they read my email to them they would have seen that I could access it with IE. Emailing back.

The Mrs. Robinson Syndrome

August 4th, 2005 Posted in Writing

I was watching Good Morning America before leaving for work yesterday, and they had yet another report of a female teachers having sex with their students. I have to admit I was only half listening to it, so I might have missed a few points they touched on.

But what is the media’s obsession with it? I call it an obsession because when one incident happens they seem to scour the country for additional instances. Why haven’t we heard about any male teachers having sex with their students? I doubt that it’s not happening. My guess is that in their eyes it’s not as sensational or not as much as an oddity; women just aren’t supposed to do those things.

Women aren’t supposed to be violent or attracted to teenaged boys, but ironically the media has been treating these events much differently than if they were perpetrated by men. You’d think that to make it even more sensational they would emphasize the violent act that these women are charged with.

In this ABC article 42-year-old woman is “arrested for having sex” with 16 and 17 year-old male students. The official charges are “rape and endangering the welfare of a child.” If we were talking about a male teacher and a female student, the headline would probably be NY Teacher Charged With Raping Student instead of “NY Teacher Allegedly Had Sex Wth Male Students”. In this ABC article from 2004, the headline is “Queens Teacher Facing Statutory Rape Charges”, although in the article they say “he began a consensual sexual relationship with a 16-year-old girl last summer.” They go with the sensational headline – it’s what sells.

Having sex and raping someone are complete opposites. One implies consent while the other is violent. Why aren’t we applying the same standards to the women arrested for the same crime? Is it that women are supposed to be inherently gentler and therefore it couldn’t be rape? Is it that there’s a perception that these boys aren’t being raped? (FYI, unless the New Jersey law has been rewritten since I took my women’s studies class, women cannot be charged for raping a man 18 or older. They are charged with seduction. ). Or is the media just feeding us what we want? Maybe it’s a bit of all of those questions. I don’t have the answers since I don’t have the time or money to research it. But the media needs to be more aware of how they’re approaching these stories. If any reporters or editors read my lowly little blog, perhaps they’ll think twice about the headlines they’re writing and present a more balanced view of what is really going on.