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