I’m getting ready for new years eve festivities and I have an hour to kill – what better time to do an overview of 2002 as I remember it.

What I did in 2002:
– Quit my job in February
– Moved to NYC
– Wrote XFML in the summer
– Got together with my lovely girlfriend
– Got a new job, and appartment and a visa in NYC

It’s been a fantastic year.

The rest of the world watched as the USA prepared for the first unprovoked war started by a western country since, and my history may be failing me here, WW2. That’s despite signing a bunch of treaties that should prevent this stuff. Within the US, there has been a very strong swing to the right. The country keeps up its efforts to destabilize the middle east (effectively creating the next generation of anti-US terrorists). People here seem clueless or don’t care. Fairly, dare I say it, fascist acts like the Homeland Security Bill are accepted without much comment or protest.

Again, I’m not much of a political person, but if you’ve had even a little but of European history, this is scary stuff. If you’ve read 1984, it’s even scarier. Newspeak abounds.

Let me tell you about my aunties in Belgium. They are conservative, non political at all. In Europe, we have always respected the US because they bailed us out in WW2, and got us going economically in the decades after that. Respect. When I visited Belgium, I saw four of my aunts. Each and every one of them commented on the direction the U.S. is taking as being a really fucked up (my words) thing. That is a dramatic swing in what they think of the US. Americans don’t realize their leaders are antagonizing moderate, conservative people like my aunties all over the world. Europe. Asia.

Don’t mess with my aunties, USA. Let me assure you, you can’t handle them.

The keyboard of my laptop

The keyboard of my laptop is fucked. I plugged in a keyboard, and now when I type on the plugged in keyboard things work fine, but when I type on my laptop keyboard I get numbers for certain letters. Here goes: ” get n40bers f6r certa5n 3etters.”

I’m running Win XP on a Compaq Presario 700. I have 2 accounts on my laptop, the problem doesn’t occur on the other account (in Win XP you can have multiple logins, each with its own desktop preferences and such). I couldn’t find any tips on the compaq site… anyone has an idea?

AIFIA | AIfIA Finishes its

AIFIA | AIfIA Finishes its First Month with 200 Members, International Flavor: “The Asilomar Institute for Information Architecture, which launched in early November, already sports a membership of over 200 people from five continents engaged in the emerging field of information architecture. Recent additions to AIfIA’s leadership council are similarly global, hailing from Australia, Belgium (that’s me), Chile, Denmark, and the US.”

Bias makes ambigious metadata more useful, not less.

A comment on Christina’s blog made me think: “And for metadata to be useful, it has to be honest.” After reading lots of Lakoff, that just didn’t sound right. Thinking about it some more, I think bias is:
1. unavoidable with ambigious metadata (unambigious metadata are things like publication date, author. Ambigious metadata are things like topics or ratings, and can be a lot more useful.) There is always bias. Unbiased categorization is not possible.
2. a value-add. I find it more valuable if a friend that I know (whose biases I am familiar with) recommends me something than if a stranger does the same. Bias ads value to metadata. Or maybe that should be: Known bias increases the value of ambigious metadata.

That’s not really what I wanted to say though. More known bias means more valuable ambigious metadata. That’s more like it, although I feel I’m still missing something. It’s not just that knowing bias is good in a we-can’t-avoid-it-so-lets-know-it kind of way, it’s that bias in itself is good – it ads personality and flavour to metadata.

Is this something librarians have known all along?

Metacrap: there are indeed real

Metacrap: there are indeed real and often unrecognized reasons why metadata hasn’t taken off.

People are lazy and stupid are bad analysis (is that a plural?) of these reasons: people aren’t lazy, they are just not interested in tagging metadata to stuff if they don’t see an advantage to it: what’s in it for the authors?.

People lie is an obvious one. Know thyself is where it gets good, another good one that isn’t understood by many people starting out in the metadata world is that schemas aren’t neutral. The conclusion (implicit metadata, like Google’s analysis of links, is more useful) surely has some truth to it. Interesting. Maybe the whole idea of having people tag their stuff with metadata is deeply flawed?

I joined the “Leadership council”

I joined the “Leadership council” of the AIFIA. I will be leading (which means I will basically start it up and keep it going) an initiative to provide translation services for IA related content. Could be cool. More later.

Meanwhile, let me reassure you about Aifia. It is set up by a bunch of really good people who are trying hard to build a good non profit organisation for information architects. They made some public relations mistakes, but they’re information architects, not branding experts. (I’m writing about this Cluetrain style). The first thing I proposed after accepting the invitation to join (people get elected) was to change that name: “Leadership council”. It has all the wrong undertones. Really. The majority didn’t feel so, so we move on. It’s all about getting good stuff done for information architecture as a field. So I’m gonna focus on that.

If you have questions/feedback about the Aifia, feel free to contact me personally.

Now get involved if you have ideas and time to spare. Good people are doing good things. It’s kind of exciting.

azeem.azhar.co.uk: Auto trackback and categorising

azeem.azhar.co.uk: Auto trackback and categorising blogs (via Ben): “When I author a blog post to be able to submit it to a categorisation server. This server to perform analysis on the content, analysis on my context (what it already knows about me), analysis on the context of the blog post (what URLs am I quoting, what am I tracking back to, and analyses of those posts) to provide suggested categories which I can select.
The categories would need to come from an agreed set of taxonomies.”

Repeat after me: centralized agreed-upon taxonomies don’t scale. Centralized agreed-upon taxonomies don’t scale. What’s worse: they don’t fulfil our varying classification needs, so even if they would scale it wouldn’t help.