Is the Visible Network a Good Thing?

Social Network/ing Week at the University of Toronto kicked off tonight with a fascinating keynote by Cornell’s Jon Kleinberg. kleinberg.gif‘The Geography of Social and Information Networks,’ was one of the most fascinating applied mathematical lectures I can say to having ever attended (and before I go too far I will stress that the math was made very, very approachable for a layperson such as myself). His introducer indicated that he invented algorithmic sociology and although this sounded rather presumptuous (an Al Gore and the Internet sort of thing?), I can’t help but be quite willing to give this some credence after listening to this presentation.
Kleinberg opened with a quote from Jim Gray, that “the emergence of cyberspace and the world wide web was like the discovery of a new continent.” Kleinberg was quite deliberate in this juxtaposition of the geographic with the technological and he then teased this into a further merge with the social. But he questioned whether maps are actually an appropriate metaphor for something as aphysical as social networks – but chose to let this stand on the need to have some common vocabulary with which to be able to relate. Continue reading

Eyes and Ears on Site

Information Aesthetics, a consistently clickable and notable blog, has Fernanda Viégas reporting back from theinfovis.gif InfoVis Conference in Sacremento this week. She has posted a geat summary of the keynote address by Matthew Ericson. Brent Fitzgerald blogged yesterday about the panel that he, Fernanda, Martin Wattenberg and Hans Rosling are presenting as well. Taking a look at the conference programme, I could not but wish I was there. Thanks for Fernanda (and hopefully Brent) for giving us an experience as close to being there as possible.

By the way, today is the day of Fig, 7 Brumaire, An CCXVI.

Update: Something local and exciting: Social Networking Week at the University of Toronto. Fernanda is speaking on Friday.

Thompson on the Asymetry of American-Canadian Relations

The Wilson Centre for Canadian History was privileged to have John H Thompson speak today on “Managing in the Bush Leagues: The Canada-US Relationship since 2001.” thompson.gifThompson’s lively talk was marked by his personal reflections on what it’s like to be an advising Canadian, one who has moved permanently to the US and on his perspective as a student of United States – Canadian relations from one living in the heart of the beast.
His pithy presentation was enfragranced with a number of well chosen editorial cartoons from both Canadian and American papers and by a couple of rather loaded quotations. His talk was loosely framed by an exploration of the relationship between countries during the presidency of George W Bush, and introduced by a short retrospective of relations between Canadian Prime Ministers and Presidents from Mackenzie King. Continue reading

Glance a Little Further Back to See the Future

Perhaps there is an inner historian within me. The latest spate of reviews featuring the iPhone versus this challenger and that has me thinking that at the pace that we move today we don’t take enough time Psion5Mxto reach a little further back to consider our forward progress. This case in point, everyone evaluating the iPhone or the iPod Touch (hereafter ITouch – as I am sure Apple would have rather called it) seems to be pitching it against the Nokia N95, HTC Kaiser, or the latest Blackberry. All appropriate for being the current flavour of the market – and when it comes to cell phones, they have such a limited shelf life. How long does the average phone remain current these days? Despite Apple’s slight revamp of the iPhone, I will go out on a limb and suggest that it may have greater longevity than most. However, not because for technical prowess, but to Apple’s marketing panache. Nonetheless, as I look at the comparisons, I am struck that we might best be able to gauge how much of a technical marvel it is by comparing a little further back. Continue reading