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David Weinberger

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Latest Blogs from David Weinberger
Sarah Parmenter has posted about just how ugly it gets for women in tech. She recounts a horrifying story about how as a speaker at a tech conference she was methodically assaulted online. I want to believe that this was a rare and random act, but apparently it happens more than we kno...
The Digital Public Library of America‘s policy on metadata was discussed during the recent board of directors call, and the DPLA is, in my opinion, getting it exactly and admirably right. (See Infodocket for links.) The metadata that the DPLA aggregates will be openly available and in ...
Just a quick note updating my post yesterday about the musky Tesla-Times affair. [('m in an airport with just a few minutes before boarding.) Times Man John Broder has posted his step-by-step rebuttal-explanation-apologia of Elon Musk's data-driven accusations that Broder purposefully ...
I don’t care about expensive electric sports cars, but I’m fascinated by the dustup between Elon Musk and the New York Times. On Sunday, the Times ran an article by John Broder on driving the Tesla S, an all-electric car made by Musk’s company, Tesla. The article was titled “Stalled Ou...
CNN.com has posted my op-ed about why we treat snowstorms as emergencies.
Magaret Sullivan [twitter:Sulliview] is the public editor of the New York Times. She’s giving a lunchtime talk at the Harvard Shorenstein Center [twitter:ShorensteinCtr] . Her topic is: how is social media is changing journalism? She says she’s open to any other topic during the Q&A as...
The Boy Scouts are right: Be straight prepared. I’m looking out the window at what’s less like a blanket of snow and more like 5 stacked futons of snow. As quaint as a herniated disc. Yet New England seems to be suffering the minimum amount of damage conceivable. What did we get right,...
Diana Kimball [twitter:dianakimball] is giving a Berkman lunchtime talk on coding as a liberal art. She’s a Berkman Fellow and at the Harvard Business School. (Here are some of her posts on this topic.) NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information...
Bora Zivkovic, the blog editor at Scientific American, has a great post about bad comment threads. This is a topic that has come up every day this week, which may just be a coincidence, or perhaps is a sign that the Zeitgeist is recognizing that when it talks to itself, it sounds like ...
At an amazing dinner last night — amazing because of the dozen people there, although the food was good, too — the conversation turned to shared cynicism about the lessons the 2012 presidential campaigns learned about the use of the Internet. Both sides seem to have taken away the idea...
Brad Sucks’ latest album, Guess Who’s a Mess, is dark, funny, witty, creatively produced, CreativeCommonsed, and totally home-made by a one-man band. You ought to buy it. I asked Brad for a pointer to the lyrics, and he instead sent me an unpolished version. I’m just now getting around...
The current finalist punchlines for the New Yorkers’ Cartoon Caption Contest have been announced, and mine was not among them. The only possible explanation is that Big Money — you know, the Boss Men, the Ward Heelers, the Gang of 50, the Backstreet Boys — have wielded their influence ...
Molly Sauter [twitter:oddletters] (from Berkman and the Center for Civic Media at MIT) is giving a lunchtime Berkman talk. She’s going to focus on Operation Payback, the Dec. 2010 action by Anonymous against those financial services that cut off Wikileaks after Wikileaks made available...
I’ve just spent almost two weeks without a mobile phone as mine was being repaired. I’m glad to have it back. But why? What did I actually miss? Obviously, the following list is quite idiosyncratic â?? e.g., I don’t do a lot of texting â?? but here goes: Making outbound utility phone c...
Oy. I fell for an ad today because it promised to tell me four startling things that happen to you before you get a heart attack. The video, which has no pause or fast forward button, is a grating infomercial, with a heavy emphasis on the “mercial.” So, here’s the startling information...
The letters of Lord Alfred Russel Wallace, co-discoverer of the theory of evolution by natural selection, are now online. As the Alfred Russel Wallace Correspondence Project explains, the collection consists of 4,000 letters gathered from about 100 different institutions, with about ha...
I’m all for the continuous roil of the Internet. After all, time is continuous, so why should information be punctuated? But I wonder what it would be like if a site that consists of continuous inputs worked toward a moment when an edition is published. This is not a well-worked-out id...
Reddit user (or, as they say, redditor) thefuc has posted 100+ links to Reddit discussions of questions about Roman history. Samples include: How “sudden” was the fall of Rome? How long did the worship of Roman gods continue after the fall of the Roman empire? What set Byzantium apart ...
I picked up a copy of Bernard Knox’s 1994 Backing into the Future because somewhere I saw it referenced about the weird fact that the ancient Greeks thought that the future was behind them. Knox presents evidence from The Odyssey and Oedipus the King to back this up, so to speak.
Dylan Tweney notes that Lotus Notes, which invented a bunch of the enterprise collaboration stuff we now take for granted, has become a drag on IBM’s revenues. Dylan writes: I used it extensively at several companies I worked with. Initially, it was mysterious and powerful. Like most e...
Note that I understand that in what follows, I am wildly projecting my own feelings, without any data to support my hypothesis. So be it! Americans by and large like Barack Obama. They like his wife more, but they do like the guy. My hypothesis is that people like Obama for the right r...
I was oddly pleased to read yesterday that when Monet first came on the scene, Manet was annoyed that his name was so close. It didn’t help any that Monet’s first exhibition of works at the Paris Salon, in 1865, was praised by critics, while Manet’s were panned. It must be cold comfort...
Clive Thompson is talking about the quest to build a new Net without its flaws. NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-emphasizing small matters. Paraphrasing badly. Not running a spellpchecker. Mangl...
At SCS13, Clay Shirky says that “Why do comments suck so bad?” is one of the questions that is perpetually asked in public discussions. So, what’s the answer? NOTE: Live-blogging. Getting things wrong. Missing points. Omitting key information. Introducing artificial choppiness. Over-em...
CNN asked me to write 600-800 words about Aaron Swartz. I demurred at first, suggested some other people who knew Aaron better — I met Aaron when he was young, stayed in touch, had the occasional meal with him, admired him and loved him more than he knew — and agreed when CNN came back...
… Swartz must be compared to two other eccentric geniuses, Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who, in the nineteen-seventies, committed crimes similar to, but more economically damaging than, Swartz’s. Those two men hacked A.T. & T.’s telephone system to make free long-distance calls, and a...
“The man who is incapable of working in common, or who in his self-sufficiency has no need of others, is no part of the community, like a beast, or a god.” Aristotle, Politics, Book One, Chapter 2, this quotation translated by Bernard Knox in Backing into the Future.
Of course Aaron was a legendary prodigy of a hacker in the sense of someone who can build anything out of anything. But that’s not what the media mean when they call him a hacker. They’re talking about his downloading of millions of scholarly articles from JSTOR, and there’s a slight c...
It was with a shock of emotions beyond articulation that I read this morning that Aaron Swartz killed himself yesterday. I first met Aaron when he was 14 or 15, at a conference where he was being consulted by graybeards with technical questions. I kept in touch, and followed his activi...
Well, I learned a bunch of stuff, but I’ll only mention two. First, NASA is as totally awesome as you think it is. I went to the Langley centerfor a one day visit, and got a morning tour, and it is a nerd-heaven work space, with no Star Wars white plastic, but lots and lots [...]
I’ve been enjoying the rise of a grammatical meme, which the less charitable might call an ungrammatical meme. It’s that thing where you upset expectations by following “because” not with a phrase or clause but simply with a noun. For example, one might say “We invaded Iraq because fre...
An article in published in Science on Thursday, securely locked behind a paywall, paints a mixed picture of science in the age of social media. In “Science, New Media, and the Public,” Dominique Brossard and Dietram A. Scheufele urge action so that science will be judged on its merits ...
A New Yorker article that profiles John Quijada, the inventor of a language (and a double-dotter!), mentions the first artificial language we know about, Lingua Ignota. The article’s author, Joshua Foer, tells us it was invented by Hildegard von Bingen (totally fun to say out loud) in ...
Here are five of the top stories of the year according to our local weekly paper, the Brookline Tab. The paper says that these stories are in no particular order, and that another five will follow next week. Styrofoam and plastic bags have been banned. Residents are reporting that a a ...
There’s a knowingly ridiculous thread at Reddit at the moment: Which world leader would win if pitted against other leaders in a fight to the death. The title is a straightline begging for punchlines. And it is a funny thread. Yet, I found it shockingly informative. The shock comes fro...
This is a terrific public service announcement about the Special Olympics. Unfortunately, take a look at the upper right at what YouTube thinks is a related video you might enjoy:
I’m not sure how I came into possession of a copy of The Indexer, a publication by the Society of Indexers, but I thoroughly enjoyed it despite not being a professional indexer. Or, more exactly, because I’m not a professional indexer. It brings me joy to watch experts operate at level...
For the holidays, here are some differences between Judaism and Christianity. But first, here are some caveats: I know there are many different branches of Christianity, and there are different types of Judaism as well. I’m generalizing. It will amuse my Jewish friends that I have the ...
I woke up this morning from an anxiety dream about an event that doesn’t exist. In the dream, I’ve been tasked with replying to a presentation by someone talking about something philosophical, except they’ve never made clear to me who’s speaking or what he (it’s a he) is talking about....
I was talking witha 20 year old today. It turns out that he was in a rock band. Played bass and keyboards. Not very seriously, in his case. “Yeah, me too.” I was the lead guitarist in Wheel and the Spokesmen. Perhaps you remember us? No? Perhaps that’s because you didn’t graduate my hi...