Archive for March, 2005

That’s what I’m talkin bout…

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005
via John Jozwiak

On Intelligence

Wednesday, March 30th, 2005

Some very cool news about Jeff Hawkins’ new gig: Numenta, a company that aims to develop a

new type of computer memory system modeled after the human neocortex.

I picked up Hawkins’ On Intelligence book in November, and it’s been an amazing read so-far.

Pattern Recognition

Sunday, March 20th, 2005

On the flight to New Orleans, I finished William Gibson‘s latest novel, Pattern Recognition. I hadn’t read Gibson since an extremely cool Regenstein vet recommended Neuromancer way back when.
The critical praise is all right: Gibson’s only gotten better over the past 20 years.
Pattern Recognition hits perfectly on several levels; it’s hard to distill why it’s so rewarding without devolving into recursion; recursive because the book itself talks about the strong influence of subtle links, of buzz factor in influencing purchasing decisions. Clearly, any mention of the book turns me into this exact sort of influencer.
Which creates alot of the book’s brilliance; Gibson seems to know what we’re about today post 9/11, and invoking an interesting corner of psychology, builds a modern detective story around 9/11, advertising, the world of the modern Net, Russia, and of course, Japan. A great Pattern Recognizer himself, Gibson subtly writes a masterful story about Pattern Recognition.
And the trademark Gibson flare for the bon mot hasn’t waned. On that basis alone, it’s worth your time.

(audio colophon: Obscurity Knocks from the album ???Cake??? by Trashcan Sinatras)

Philip Greenspun, Great Writing, and Web Building Blocks

Sunday, March 20th, 2005

While Jack’s sleeping, and Bella’s shopping with her sister, I’m reading a great online textbook written by one of the masters, Philip Greenspun, on building Internet Applications. From time to time, I’ve read his writing on aviation and listened to an interview of him, and he simply has a great way of writing clearly and effectively (that I certainly don’t, but I admire still). Paul Graham quotes him about Lisp, too – another interesting point.

This textbook he’s written along with 2 others is full of interesting points about how web applications are built and where they may be going. I’ve noticed he has a mobile section that seems to be heavy on mobile browsers, but perhaps there are some more likely endpoints discussed (SMS, mobile gateways, push-networks). I’m interested ultimately at making mobile information access more accessible and far more interesting; part of the reason no one (outside of Japan) really uses mobile browsers is that the experience is terrible (takes too long). Maybe Philip gets to that in his mobile section, I’ll just have to see. Regardless, this is a well written book anyone interested in the web should be reading.

Reading novels on Mobile Devices

Saturday, March 19th, 2005

An interesting article via John Jozwiak on a new use for mobile devices in Japan (of course): reading novels. The natural questions emerge (isn’t the type too small? isn’t the screen hard to read?), but apparently at least 50,000 readers in Japan don’t think so: Bandai Networks apparently offers its ?????????????????? (bunko yomihoudai, or all you can eat paperback) service offering access to 150 books since 2003.

The article says it’s hard to understand unless you try it — something true with much of online and mobile applications that at first sound strange or cumbersome. With mobile at least, the benefits come not because it’s a perfect replacement for an existing delivery system, but because the mobile phone enables behavior existing forms does not. In the case of reading, the article mentions mothers who like the phone’s built-in backlight for reading next to sleeping babies at night, or the privacy of reading something (adult content, etc) that reading on a mobile phone provides – both in addition to the phone’s unparalleled portability.

The article explains how new media writers like writing for mobile phones, in part because it gives them immediate feedback on what people like as each installment is either frequently accessed or ignored depending on where the story is going.

To be sure, as more traditional forms are tried on the web and mobile devices, many will inevitably not work as well as the originals. But new behaviors will be enabled by some of the experiments, and those will create new opportunities for businesses.

Dusting off the weblog: back from New Orleans

Thursday, March 17th, 2005

My buddy Tim Kane recently mentioned how stale this site is getting – he took the trouble to add me to his bloglines, and I’m just a blank line on his daily page. Sad but true. I haven’t checked to see the last time I wrote something since it’s bound to disappoint me, so let’s just jump back in.

I got back last night from CTIA in New Orleans. The city itself was interesting once you get past all the Vegas-lite grime and find the old charm. Monday night, Cullen Childress vectored us to Alex Patout’s, a great creole favorite, for an incredible dinner of steamed crawfish, shrimp etouffee, and a nice bottle of wine. Tuesday, he pointed us to Muriel’s at Jackson Square for some seafood gumbo and red fish – then a coffee and beignet at Cafe du Monde.

The show was a whirlwind; I never really got out working the booth and consequently had no time to see any of the other exhibits. I’ll have to dig around and see what’s been blogged from the show.