Scripting News for 9/25/07

Opportunities for integration 

When everything gets an API then everything you can imagine will be possible if you can write a script.

And sometimes, to give you an idea, all that has to happen is that a wall come down. The latest, most intriguing such wall was the paywall at the NY Times. Now all of a sudden we find the wealth of information published by the NY Times over many decades is available without tariff. More important, we can point into the archive. We’ve gotten so accustomed to the wall, that you actually have to think when it may be possible to go in there, as if it left behind a wall in our minds, even after the wall on the web is gone.

For example, the first episode of Ken Burns’s The War, an epic series about World War II from the American perspective, cited several NY Times articles. If you looked carefully you could see the dates, and the actual headlines, and then if you have a browser handy, as I do (I have an iPhone) you can actually read the article while the narrative continues. Today this is mostly a gimick, but I suspect as we get used to having history so available (like having a library microfilm machine, which I used to spend whole days playing with when I was a kid) it will change our sense of information, perhaps as much as anything else that’s ever been on the web.

Take movie reviews for example. What a thrill to be able to read a review of a movie that I love that came out in 1932! The reviewers back then were more forgiving, less sarcastic, more enthusiastic. Consider their review of the Hollywood Revue of 1929, a favorite of mine that I’ve only seen once (I’d pay for a DVD, if it were available). They loved audible movies (that’s what they called them) as if the term “talkie” was as elusive as “podcast” was in the summer of 2004. Again, we’ve just scratched the surface.

Wouldn’t you like to have NY Times movie reviews integrated with Netflix? Or have Yahoo’s movie rating service available on the NY Times site. And I have to wonder whether they really have gone all the way. You can’t see the reviews unless you’re logged in. Can Google’s robots, therefore, see the movie reviews? Unless the’ve made some special arrangements, it seems not.

There is already empirical evidence. Try searching for a review of a popular movie from the past, and see if the Times review shows up. Some examples: The Sting. The Godfather. Casablanca. Field of Dreams.

It would be helpful to get a technical guide to the newly hatched NY Times on the Web, or (as in the old days of software) a reviewer’s guide, so we get some ideas of what to look at. Clearly a lot of work went into opening up the Times archive. I’m going to be in NY the week of October 8 and will have some time toward the end of the week. If anyone at the Times would be willing to spend some time with me reviewing what’s now open, that would be helpful.

In any case, at least the Times today is somewhat more available to be integrated into the fabric of the web. That’s some progress. How much, remains to be seen.

Postscript: Kottke did a great job of skimming the surface of the newly opened Times when it first came online, just one week ago today.

Welcome to the 21st Century 

Proof that there still is more to do.

On Saturday I got an email from Sylvia saying that a friend of mine had bought her first iPod. It took me a few minutes to figure out that she was talking about herself. Funny, I had never thought about whether she had an iPod or not, but I have been on her case to get a digital camera.

So she brought her iPod over, it’s one of the new “fatty” nanos with video. It was so funny to see it through her eyes, and even cooler to read her story. I didn’t realize that there was a reason she had never gotten an iPod.

Sylvia: Sliding into song.

I seek out experiences like this. Stones I can turn over that reveal a rich experience, an eye-opener, a bright horizon that doesn’t take much time or effort to achieve.

Nokia N800 update 

Amazon is usually pretty good at getting stuff delivered quickly, but this time they’ve really dropped the ball.

Last Wednesday I purchased a Nokia N800 from them, six days ago, and spent $3.99 to have it delivered overnight. It shipped that night. But instead of expediting it, they sent it UPS Ground from Dallas, with an estimated delivery date of October 1. Ouch.

So I started emailing with people at Amazon, and they wouldn’t give me a straight answer to a direct question as to when I could really expect the product to arrive. There were three back and forths before I gave up. (They refunded the $3.99, which wasn’t what I wanted, didn’t ask them to.)

Luckily, it didn’t take very long for the unit to travel from Dallas to San Pablo, which is a 20 minute drive from Berkeley, where it arrived on Sunday morning. I assume because it’s marked as a low priority package in some way, it spent the whole day yesterday in the warehouse. According to the UPS tracking site, it isn’t “on the truck for delivery” today, so I assume it will spend another day in San Pablo.

Now of course this isn’t a world-shaking issue like war or famine, or the way the US media is trashing the president of Iran, but I did promise to let y’all know what I think of the Nokia product, so this is what I think — anticipation is wearing off, I’m getting busy doing other things, and the impulse purchase feeling is gone. The sweaty palms I had last week are pretty dry now. 😦

Postscript: Engadget has a few clues about the follow-up to the N800. So while my palms dry out and coool down, I’m beginning to feel like returning the device and then asking Nokia to put me on the press list. It’s ridiculous to pay for what amounts to a review unit. Is Nokia listening??

Fall conference plan 

I have three conferences on the schedule this fall, which is an unusually large number of conferences for me these days. It’s a pretty wide-ranging and eclectic group, and so far I’m not actually speaking at any of them, which suits me fine these days, I’m enjoying not speaking and just listening, to the extent that I can keep myself from saying anything. 🙂

1. I’m going to Jeff Jarvis’s Networked Journalism conference on October 10 in New York City, to bring together bloggers and professional news people. I’ve been to a number of these meetups, and I appreciate Jeff’s prime directive for us, no trash talk, we’re there to find ways to work together. My main observation is that while we’ve accomplished so much in virtual space, we have neglected the material space. Putting bloggers in the same physical space with each other and professionals on a routine basis is a sure way to make new ideas and projects materialize. Where to do that? The newsroom, of course.

2. I asked for a press pass to the Web 2.0 Summit, and was graciously provided one. I’ve never been to one of these. I’ll try to keep the expectations to a minimum, and an open mind, and as I said before, I’ll try to say nothing at all, just listen and blog. I came pretty close to that at Gnomedex, only speaking once, and look at all the trouble that caused. 🙂

3. I’m going to Le Web 3 in Paris, my second European trip this year and I’m totally looking forward to it. I’ve gotten to know Loic Le Meur, the promoter of the conference, now that he lives in San Francisco, and it’s fair to say that we’ve hit it off. It’s so much fun to brainstorm with the guy. Yesterday he was here at the house in Berkeley and we sat in the den, with the FlickrRivr app running on the big screen, and it had its hypnotic effect on him. It really is something, you can’t describe it in words, people have to experience it for themselves. As a result it’s going to be part of the show in Paris, running constantly behind the speakers. Now that’s what I’m talking about! A few days ago, in my wrap-up of TC40, I wrote: “Maybe someday these conferences could host real-time development, where media hackers put together new communication systems and deploy them before the conference is over.” There will be over 2000 people at Le Web 3, some of them will be programmers, so maybe this is where we will get a chance to try out real time media hacking.

5 responses to this post.

  1. Stick with it. I am looking forward to learning what you do with you N800.


  2. The N800 is ACE!

    One of the cool things about it is the devlopers are clearly fans of the movie, The Matrix.

    Here’s something you’ll want to do be able to add heaps more applications :

    You’ll want to take the RED PILL! 🙂

    1. Open Application Manager
    2. Click on the Application Menu(upper left hand corner)
    3. Click on Tools and then click on Application catalog
    4. Click on the New button
    5. In the Web Address delete http:// and type in matrix
    6. Click on Cancel
    7. This will bring up a prompt with Red Pill or Blue Pill, click on Red Pill.

    Then when you list apps to install, you’ll get a MUCH longer list of options.

    I love little easter eggs like this 🙂 Nice one, Nokia!

    Oh and you’ll want to get a nice big SD memory card for it too, if you’re planning to carry around some media on it.

    It has two SD slots, one accessible from the outside and one on the inside.

    You should also check out for loads of apps which it can run.


  3. Congrats on the N800, it’s a wonderful device. I’m with Bob, I can’t wait to see what you do with/write for it.


  4. Blog of the day: Dipnote, U.S. State Department blog (linked from my name or )


  5. Just scratching the surface here but a little poking around in the metatags of any article reveals a rich set of meta-tags.


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