April 27, 2005

I am Apocalypse Now (?)

I've never even seen this movie, but apparently it's me.


What Classic Movie Are You?

Thanks to Alice for asking the question...

April 24, 2005

Is knowledge to be shared or hoarded?

Alice brought this up, and it's been on my mind lately too:

Charlie on cyberdash wrote a very interesting entry on how we should emphasize the distribution of knowledge rather than merely the distribution of technology, which is a great point. He also links to a Santa Clara University symposium that convened to address the issue and discuss creating a "digital commons" to alleviate "social and economic problems in poor countries":

  • Some said it was time to rethink intellectual property laws that often prevent poor countries from tapping into useful innovations and technology. ``We should recognize that intellectual property rights are competing with basic human rights,'' said Raoul Weiler, head of a European think tank.
Funny, I attempted to have a conversation with a professor about this subject recently. He came and sat at our table during lunch and I volunteered that we were more comfortable searching for references for a paper we had to do for his class using Google than using the library's paid, proprietary academic databases. And there were a certain number of scholarly journals that actually did post their publications online for public access.

So I suggested that it would be of more value to both the authors and the publications to make their content more widely available. If more people knew about it -- then, I would think, they'd be more cited, their profile would rise, and their perceived worth would increase.

Sadly, all the prof could think of was the existing model: The publications surely must charge for access in order to exist and continue publishing.

I really tried to encourage him to think outside of the box. Since scholarly publications are generally run by not-for-profits, it's their continued existence that counts, not the percentage of profit above breakeven. What if there were a model that made it possible for publications to exist financially, but still publish their information for free? Wouldn't that benefit both sides, authors and publications?

That's when he followed up with an argument so strange I think I just looked at him and blinked unbelievingly -- that if a paper were so successful in its online freedom that everyone had read it, then it would be valueless because no one would want it any more. (As if the ubiquity of Mickey Mouse has done anything to hurt Disney's brand.)

And this guy teaches technology-related classes. I just hope his students are smart enough to know when to question him.

April 19, 2005

Fireworks on the lake

Japan is a land of fireworks connoisseurs; check out Robert Brady's blog for what it's like to enjoy the show from the 8th International Symposium on Fireworks when you've the advantage of living nearby.

Here in Orlando, land of Disney and Universal, all the family fun is supposedly pre-planned and canned. The fireworks run every night from multiple locations, perfect and precise, like wind-up toys. It's all quite routine, no mystery at all.

How I miss the magic of waiting on a sandy beach in the dark, listening for the sound of a shell launching. Then looking up to the night sky with anticipation, wondering and watching: What would it be? A chrysanthemum? Whistler? The little twirling sparklers that squirmed like polliwogs in mud?

April 17, 2005

Humans are so dense

Zip takes a bathFor two days I had to complain at them, chirping and squawking. Waking my humans up when they were napping, being louder than the TV, banging my food dish around and twanging the bars of my cage, you'd think they'd get the message. Finally, I got my Sunday bath. It's about time.

Now I can tuck my head backward, nestle my beak between my shoulders, and nap the rest of my day in peace.

April 10, 2005

Spring fever. Agh!

The insanity has taken hold. I want to sweep things clean. I want to sit outside and listen to the wind. Most of all, I want to redo my blog layout.

I am not alone in my derangement. BlogAlice, Wil Wheaton, UtopianHell ... even TerraNova recently changed their header to a bunch of spring flowers. Can I resist? I have a paper to write. I think not.

April 07, 2005

New book! Yummmm

I got a new book at Costco tonight. Mmmm, shiny. The Shadow of the Wind is blurbed as being reminiscent of Borges, Umberto Eco's Name of the Rose, and Gabriel García Márquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude.

The first chapter is titled "The Cemetery of Forgotten Books." I read it standing in the noisy, cement-floored aisle, leaning against stacks of paperbacks.

April 05, 2005

A "Pope of the Living Dead" Moment

Yesterday morning I picked up the newspaper outside my door and saw this:

pope_living_dead

Woah, hold onto your brains! Zombie Crisis in the Vatican!

The rest of the Cover Story Anyway, after I took it out of the wrapper, the full picture emerged. Don't things like this make you wonder if the people doing front-page layout are awake, asleep, or trying to make us spit our coffee all over the paper?

April 03, 2005

Baudrillard, Borges, and The Matrix

After I posted about McLuhan, Alice mentioned I might try reading Baudrillard as well. Then Baudrillard's name came up in an article next to McLuhan's. So I thought: Twice in one week means I need to find out more.

I googled Baudrillard and found a page with some of his work online. An excerpt from a book called Simulcra and Simulation? Again, I thought, I know that title. That's the book that Neo has in The Matrix, where he stores his illegal warez. It's the scene where Neo follows the "White Rabbit."

So I follow the rabbit myself, and look up the book. On the first page Baudrillard mentions one of my favorite authors, Borges.

So the upshot of all this is that I guess I need to mark Baudrillard "for further investigation."

April 01, 2005

Late for work

I didn't feel like going to work this morning, but I have things to do that need to be done today. I take my e-commerce seriously. So I dragged myself in, half an hour late, despite the lovely sunshine and the warm 77-degree air that invited me to take a Mental Health Day. What an April Fool I am.