Monthly Archives: April 2006

Geeking out with mom

Sunday my mother (who was visiting for two weeks) went back to Sao Paulo. Interestingly, I could not sleep at night. I guess I was missing her so, obviously, I wrote her an email whinning. She wrote me the sweetest and geekiest thing back. I feel compelled to share it with the world (translated from the half-Portuguese, half-English original):

Dear,

Those were great days… they are ‘physically’ over because time passed and won’t let us hold on to them, but our memory is capable of holding on to them much more strongly and reviving the (sic) ‘top hits’. As Lakoff would say, “once we can identify our experiences as entities or substances, we can refer to them, categorize them, group them, and quantify them – and, by this means, reason about them.” I can do that! I can identify this “experience” as a unique… just like you are, and also you’re the only person who could understand this message :)

Mom

How awesome is it that my mother quotes Lakoff? Awesome!

Aggregating online references from books

I’ve started to tag all the external references in Adam Greenfield’s new book, Everyware on del.icio.us. I did it for Peter’s Ambient Findability when it came out too. The reason why I did it was because I was checking all these references as I read through and I thought how nice it would have been if someone had 1. already presented me with the full references online, and 2. cross-referenced them with the pages I was reading in the book.

All references in these two books are interesting, but typing up long URLs suck. We are lazy people – I think we are less likelly to check the references for more information if we see that long boring link printed on the page. Maybe we’ll check a few, but imagine how much more interesting it would be to experience these books if you could easily access any references and glance through them all as you were reading?

I don’t think this applies to all kinds of books, but these two in partcular discuss a new reality and in many ways require you to think about a world that doesn’t exist yet. It’s not sci-fi, it’s just a near-future that hasn’t been revealed, so the more support you have in reading them, the most you can make out of them. Thus the tagging frenzy.

References from Everyware
http://del.icio.us/livlab/everyware

References from Ambient Findability
http://del.icio.us/livlab/ambientfindability

My entirely non-scientific method of observation and talking to people tells me that there are two reason why one would go online to check a reference from a book: To learn more about a topic the book explores to some extent (dig deeper), or to learn about the background on something that’s referenced in a book (high-level) that you don’t really know much about.

I’ve found that I’m more likelly to do the first because it’s more fun (“hmmm interesting new/cool/exciting thing, let me find out more”). However, I will definitely go for the second when my ignorance about the topic is making me struggle with the book at hand (“oh so it’s like UML? Nice, but I can’t remember the first thing about UML. Let me recap…”)

If I can go somewhere and see the aggregated references sorted by the order I am reading the book, it becomes so much easier to do any of these things. When are publishers going to start doing this as part of the publishing process?

Post-scriptum: I failed to mention I am NOT a del.icio.us fan and I never really saw much value in it for me personaly. It was only when I started to tag these books that it became meaningful to me. I still think the method used to tag references is rudimentary and could be lightyears ahead.

Note: I’m getting tired of the word tagging already. It’s used to represent so many things that it’s losing meaning. I’m only talking about the action of adding an identifier – a tag – to something.