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All banner artwork by Brady Johnson, college student and (semi-) starving artist.

My latest books:


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My book Machines are the easy part; people are the hard part is now available as a free download at Lulu.

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EdTech Update





Snippets from The Search

search.jpgI finished reading John Battelle's book The Search: How Google and Its Rivals Rewrote the Rules of Business and Transformed Our Culture recently and I highly recommend it. But read it soon - as fast as things change in the search biz, this will get old faster than a ripe banana.

First, remember not to be fooled by  look alikes. Second, I already commented on one interesting statement that Battelle made on how online publishing has changed his reading habits.

From The Search

"Search as a problem is about five percent solved," notes Udi Manber, the CEO of Amazon's search engine. Five percent - and yes the search business has already blossomed into a multi-billion dollar industry. Search drives clickstreams, and clickstreams drive profits. To profit in the Internet space, corporations need access to clickstreams. And this, more than any other reason, is why clickstreams are becoming eternal. p. 12

 The bargain is this: we trust you not to do evil things with our information [gathered from tracking clickstream traffic]. We trust you will keep it secure, free from unlawful government or private search and seizure, and under our control at all times. ...That's a pretty large helping of trust we're asking companies to ladle on their corporate plate. p .15

...of all Americans who use the Internet, 85% use search engines. p. 25

...the world conducted 550 million searches a day in 2003, a figure it expects to grow by 10 to 20 percent a year. p. 26

Nearly 50 percent of all searches use two or three words, and 20 percent use just one. Just 5 percent of all searches use more than six words. p. 27's a good idea to check your own name on Google, early and often. Given that just about everyone else you meet will be doing it anyway, it's just smart to get a picture of who your are in the world according to the index. p. 193

Googles' mission of organizing the world's information and making it accessible sets the company up to deliver nothing short of every possible service that might live on top of a computing platform = from mundane applications like word processing and spreadsheets (Microsoft's current bread and butter) to more futuristic services like video on demand, personal media storage, or distance learning. Many experts believe we'll store just about everything that can be digitized - our music, photographs, work documents, videos, and mail - on one massive platform - the Google grid. p. 250

...the search engine of the future isn't really a search engine as we know it. It's more like an intelligent agent - or as Larry Page told me, a reference librarian with complete mastery of the entire corpus of human knowledge. p. 252

Read the book. It is remarkably prescient in predicting Google's decision to offer censored searches in China. New corporate motto: "Don't be evil unless there is a profit to be made in being evil."

This book should make ya nervous. 


Vanity file and Creative Commons

I had nearly forgotten that at the bottom of each page of this blog rest these words:

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

 The implications of putting such a statement there came home to me when I looked at today's snail mail. The "winter SOLSTICE 2005" E-Zine from Ms Elaine Harger from out in Snoqualmie, WA, appeared. Tightly bound with Scotch tape, it's a wonderful creation - seven 8 1/2" x 11" photocopied sheets, folded in half, becoming a small booklet of a marvelously illustrated personal information, all making sort of,  well, a big Christmas letter. And I received it because Ms Harger reprinted my blog bit about Bullshit Literacy. She was very sweet and included a handwritten note (great handwriting!) stating  her "rule is that, whoever's name appears gets a copy." I could not be more proud of being "published."

My basement office holds several large plastic tubs I call my vanity files. These hold the physical copy of every magazine, journal or book in which my writing has appeared. Why I started collecting these materials and why I continue to do so, I haven't quite figured out. Perhaps it is to simply annoy my children who will need to dispose of them when I shuffle off this mortal coil. Or that deep down I don't trust computers keep my words of wisdom into perpetuity - that only paper and ink can be counted on not to crash. Anyway, I am proudly adding Ms Harger's E-Zine to the files.

A person has to wonder how many places one's writing will appear in print under the Creative Common's license. I would guess Ms Harger is uncommonly polite in sending me a copy of her publication - and that I can never hope to know about most printings. Is this how sperm donors feel?

I'd just never thought anyone would actually take advantage of the Creative Commons license!

 Anyway, I wish Ms Harger all the very best and thank her for her newsletter. I was genuinely touched by her bittersweet request to newsletter readers to "share a beer and have a chat" with her estranged friend Charles still in NYC. Would that anyone who once loved me, think of me even half as kindly as Ms Harger thinks of Charles.



As an antidote to my Doubting Thomas last entry, be sure to read Jacquie Henry's great "I Will Blog Because..." on her Wanderings site. It'll restore your faith in blogging.