Next month:
January 2004

Profile of Jeff Jarvis

This interview with Jeff Jarvis (President and Creative Director of Advance.net, the online arm of Advance Publications — Newshouse Newspapers, Condé Nast), who blogs at BuzzMachine, raises lots of issues of interest:

' I started blogging after surviving and reporting on the attacks on the World Trade Centre, where I arrived on the last PATH train as the first attack hit. I wrote my story for our online services and papers but I still had more to say. And so, I blogged. It has filled all my available life since.

What has been your best blogging experience? After discovering the wonder of the Iranian weblog revolution, I hoped for a flowering of blogs in Iraq, and one day a dentist from Baghdad named Zeyad emailed me and said I had convinced him: he would blog. Now from Healing Iraq, he gives us a new perspective and he has convinced a dozen friends to do likewise. Having even a small part in helping a new nation discover free speech is more exciting than anything I have ever done in journalism. ...

What are you reading at the moment? Well, it's sad, I suppose (though I'm not sure why) but I truly read little more than weblogs these days. Reading books changed for me on September 11, 2001, when I was reading Jonathan Franzen's latest novel. I had to throw out my copy; it was infiltrated with the dust of destruction. I bought another copy. I couldn't bear its self-absorption. Fiction has changed for me since. Nonfiction looks stale next to weblogs. News looks sterile next to weblogs. So I read weblogs. '

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Better English by Design

New York Times

by ANNE EISENBERG

"IN the famous sketch from the TV show "Monty Python's Flying Circus,'' the actor John Cleese had many ways of saying a parrot was dead, among them, "This parrot is no more," "He's expired and gone to meet his maker," and "His metabolic processes are now history."

Computers can't do nearly that well at paraphrasing. English sentences with the same meaning take so many different forms that it has been difficult to get computers to recognize paraphrases, much less produce them.

Now, using several methods, including statistical techniques borrowed from gene analysis, two researchers have created a program that can automatically generate paraphrases of English sentences.

The researchers, Regina Barzilay, an assistant professor in the department of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Lillian Lee, an associate professor of computer science at Cornell University, said that while the program would not yield paraphrases as zany as those in the Monty Python sketch, it is fairly adept at rewording the flat cadences of news service prose. Give it a sentence like "The surprise bombing injured 20 people, 5 of them seriously," Dr. Barzilay said, and it can match it to equivalent patterns in its databank and then produce a handful of paraphrases. For instance, it might come up with "Twenty people were wounded in the explosion, among them five in serious condition.""

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Jonathan Ive

The Observer

by John Arlidge

"Few people recognise Jonathan Ive. Few could tell you what he does. But most of us know, admire and use his work. Ive, who has just been awarded the highest British design honour with his appointment to the RSA's Faculty of Royal Designers for Industry, is 'Mr Mac'. He is the British designer who has reinvented the computer, the personal stereo and much else besides. By banishing beige boxes and replacing them with sculptural, easy-to-get-to-grips-with products, such as Apple's iMac and iPod, Ive has transformed the way we look at the electronic stuff that surrounds us."

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As cooking takes over ...

a clutch of items to be going on with:

Why we want an untethered Internet

Papers on the Information Society (and an interesting blog, to boot)

Going Paperless: school weblog fosters communication with parents

'If he's so smart ...' Steve Jobs, Apple and The Limits of Innovation

Beagle 2 blog

'For about the same price as a regular USB flash memory device, the StealthSurfer comes with Netscape Browser 7.0 and privacy software. You can surf the Web and securely store e-mail, downloads, and other files, along with your Web-browsing history and Internet cache, on the device. When you remove the StealthSurfer from a PC, all of your files go with you. The StealthSurfer will appeal to anyone who uses public, borrowed, or rented PCs.' PC Magazine review.

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Art and Nanotechnology

link

"A new exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, called "nano," merges the art and the atom. Through art-making exhibits, visitors can experience what it's like to move molecules and manipulate atoms one by one."

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