Monthly Archives: August 2005

Cucumbers

The Cucumber Season: Reflections on the Nature of Information when there isn’t any is a little snippet I wrote almost on a dare – after a discussion with John Gehl, he suggested the title almost as a joke, and I responded, almost as a joke.
Still, the concept of the “cucumber season” has hereby been introduced. Come to think of it, Norwegian hasn’t added that much to the English language, at least not since the Vikings (and possible with exceptions for skiing and seafaring terms.) About time “ombudsman” got competition.
Short update: Looks like the story about the absent-minded professor was about Norbert Wiener, not Claude Shannon (as per a number of emails). Nice to see that some people read Ubiquity, though….

Really portable computing

IBM has developed a portable computing environment to fit in a USB key (I assume in the Windows world), and Black Dog has created a USB key Linux server. And Synergy is a tool to manage two computers from one keyboard.
These things, especially if the content is semi-accessible through, say, an Ericsson P910 and a wireless keyboard, could turn out to be the new paradigm. The best portable computer may turn out to be no portable computer.
Jacking into the grid, indeed.

Linked out

I am a member of LinkedIn, a networking site with a distinctive business flair, as opposed to Friendster and Nokut/kornut/Orkut, which are more oriented towards socializing and dating.
LinkedIn is interesting because you discover people you once knew (former students/fellow students/colleagues/clients/acquiantances) and it enables you to find people you need to talk to. But there is a bit of a disconnect – getting invitations from people whom you have no idea who are and whom you have never met, but who wants to link up with you.
I am not sure how to deal with that – my instinct is not to let anyone into my LinkedIn network that I don’t know. I currently have 191 connections, which is semi-high (at least in Norway). Since I have lived and worked abroad and had a lot of students over the years, and live in the field of IT and consulting (which is full of people who use computer and who connect) it is probably normal. I have not resorted to spinning through my email adresses to bulk email people for connections, but I have searched former and current places of work.
The interesting thing, of course, is that LinkedIn really isn’t a social network, but a network of potential business and professional contacts. I still think you should know the people you connect to, at least know who they are and when you met them, but the threshold is much lower than for a normal social relationship.
This article by Lnace Ulanoff in PC Magazine expresses his frustration with LinkedIn – but this very long comment in the discussion really puts it right, methinks. LinkedIn is a tool for connection junkies. And that is all it is. It may be useful, it may be useless, but if you want to find people or be found by them, it is one tool among many.
Just as long as you are allowed to decline invitations and reject forwarding of really opportunistic messages to someone who wouldn’t read them if it wasn’t for them coming through you…..

Doctored up

The Swedish historian and author Peter Englund has a great – both in content and design – personal home page. The content is in Swedish, but the restrained and effective design is viewable by all.
I particularly fell for a sentence in his self-interview:

[…] doing a doctorate because you want the title is crazy. That’s like drinking Dry Martinis because you want olives. There are better and simpler ways to prove your worth.

Ain’t that the truth.