Recommend Bloggers (and Podcasters!) for LeWeb'11 Accreditation [en]

This year again, I’ll be overseeing blogger accreditations for LeWeb — but I won’t be alone. Frédéric de Villamil and Arne Hulstein have agreed to jump on board and help me with the selection process. A big thanks to both of them, we are now a team!

By the way, did you know that LeWeb is now a 3-day conference? It will take place on December 7-8-9th 2011 in Paris, and the theme this year is SOLOMO, Social-Local-Mobile. If you’re not eligible for a blogger accreditation and thinking of attending, get your ticket before September 30th to take advantage of the summer offer and get over 800€ off the full ticket price! (There are also special prices for students, freelance developers, and startups — check the bottom of the registration page.)

The process is pretty much the same as last year:

  • first, we’re asking for recommendations (particularly of bloggers or podcasters we might not know about, and from language groups we’re less familiar with)
  • second, in September, we’ll allow any blogger or podcaster to apply for accreditation through a separate form.

As much as possible, we’ll be dealing with submissions as they come in — but do give us some time to process them. Each blogger or podcaster we select based on your recommendation will be contacted directly (we’re aware they might not have heard of LeWeb or know that they were recommended!)

A reminder of what is expected of official bloggers, and the kind of profile we’re looking for. They should:

  • have a passion for content and reporting
  • commit to attending and covering the conference (it’s in English!)
  • have significant reach and influence inside their community.

Of course, they also need to have a proper, publicly accessible, established blog or podcast (that is theirs or at the very least, that they contribute to regularly). Having a huge number of followers on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+ is great, but doesn’t make you a blogger. Just like having a huge rolodex doesn’t make you a journalist. (Check out Live-Blogging vs. Live-Tweeting at Conferences.)

Although the accreditation allows to attend the conference for free, we cannot cover expenses.

A note about the recommendation form: this is not a popularity contest. Please do not ask your friends to nominate you (some of you did so, last year). We don’t care how many times a name is mentioned. It just gives us more (annoying) work to have to go through 20 submissions of the same name. You’ll be able to apply for an accreditation directly in September. Our objective here is to:

  • discover important bloggers/podcasters we might not know of
  • make sure we do not miss anybody we absolutely should be inviting.

There, now that all this is said, here we go!


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A Few Tools I Like [en]

[fr] Petite collection d'applications et de services qui valent la peine d'être explorés et utilisés, selon moi.

Quickly, before collapsing in a little sleepy heap, some tools I want to write about here, but am not writing about because I want to do it properly and that takes time, and I never get around to doing it.

So, maybe I’ll talk about them more in detail later on (some of them I already have talked about), but just in case, here are tools or apps I like and would encourage you to look at these days:

That’s it chickens… I might add a few if I’ve forgotten, my bed is calling!

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On The Media: Discovering a New Podcast I Like [en]

[fr] Deux podcasts en anglais que je recommande chaudement: RadioLab, une émission scientifique, et On The Media, une émission sur les médias.

You may or may not know that my number one podcast and radio show love is RadioLab. It’s an incredibly smart and funny science programme, and I’ve finally worked through the whole backlog of episodes I had sitting on my iPhone. That’s a lot of hours of listening (and pedaling on my exercise bike in the morning, which is where I do most of my podcast listening).

If you are not listening to RadioLab yet, trust me — subscribe in iTunes right now, you won’t regret it.

The problem I have now is that I’ve run out of RadioLab episodes to listen to, and they “only” air a new episode every two weeks. For somebody who aims to spend 30 minutes a day pedaling on a bike going nowhere with interesting talk stuff in her ears, well, that leaves quite a few hours a week to fill in. Enter On The Media, a one-hour weekly show about… yeah, you guessed, the media (and related things).

I discovered On The Media because I was pointed to their episode Facing the (Free) Music, about the music industry and the internet, you know. I thought it was very good. Actually, you might want to download the MP3 directly or even stop reading and listen right here.

I’ve listened to a couple of other episodes so far and would like to highlight a few pieces I particularly liked. You can even read the transcripts by clicking on the links below if you don’t feel like listening.

Take For Granted [download] is about the reactions to the possibility that news services could be subsidized by state grants. I found it interesting, because I don’t think we have this prejudice against government-subsidized news here. Quite on the contrary, I would tend to consider a state-funded radio or TV station as more likely to be high quality than a private one. I think there is a cultural issue here — but maybe I’m just naive. If news has never been a commercially viable product, then it needs to be funded, and I’d rather have the state behind it rather than big corporations.

News Ex Machina [download] is about Demand Media (heard of them? I hadn’t) and the way they work to be one of the biggest (if not the biggest) content producers online. Here’s a brief summary of how they do it: monitor search keywords; figure out if there is already a lot of content for them (bad); figure out if there is a lot of demand to advertise targeted on them (good); search for other keywords frequently used in combination with those top keywords; bring in a human being to create a headline out of those words; bring in another human being to write an article based on that headline. I know why this chills my spine: because it’s not content creation anymore, it’s pure SEO. It’s keyword stuffing at such a level that the whole content is just stuffing. Sure, one can argue that it is providing searchers with what they’re looking for — but maybe, sometimes, there is something to be said with not finding what you want, and finding something else instead. (Cue A Perfect Mess riff.)

Shot of Fear [download] is a good example of what happens when we mistake correlation for causation, and once the cat is out of the bag, it’s hard to stuff it back in. (“Girl dies of unrelated heart condition” doesn’t stand a chance once “Girl dies after taking vaccine” is doing the rounds.)

Infant Mortality [download] is a walk through history to look at the occasions “baby killer” was used to discredit adversaries (and not only on abortion issues). And what it means when you brand somebody as a “baby killer”.

Star Search [download] is about star ratings, and how these are always way too positive (they average around 4.3 stars out of 5). Interesting to know, given how ubiquitous this type of rating is!

Happy listening!

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SF Reading Recommendation: Alastair Reynolds [en]

[fr] Si vous aimez la science-fiction, je vous recommande vivement de vous intéresser de près à ce qu'écrit Alastair Reynolds.

If you like science fiction, specially the space opera techie kind, you should try reading something by Alastair Reynolds (he has a blog, too).

I actually first encountered his writing in one of the SF short story collections that I own, but really noted his name down after reading Pushing Ice, which was given to me by a friend. I was, honestly, completely blown away by the story.

Some time later, another friend sent me Chasm City off my wishlist. Again, I couldn’t help but wonder how on earth a human being can come up with such incredible worlds and stories.

When I was in Leeds a few weeks ago, I went on a shopping spree (clothes, DVDs, books) and bought both Revelation Space and Redemption Ark, the two first volumes of the Revelation Space trilogy.

I finished them at the chalet, and as soon as I got back online, made an order from Amazon. It’s just arrived, have a look:

Amazon Order Arrived!

Just in time to keep me busy for the rainy week-end that’s about to start!

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Healthcare in San Francisco Experiences [en]

[fr] Expériences nettement plus positive avec le système de soins ici à San Francisco.

After my [trip to Walgreens in Austin, TX](, I honestly hoped I wouldn’t have to deal with anything healthcare-related in the US, ever again. Oh well, I was wrong.

A few days ago I started having a sore throat, and went down to the Walgreens on First and Mission (I’m in San Francisco) to ask about some antiseptic spray or something. I had braced myself for another less-than-pleasant experience, and was positively surprised when a nice and smiling pharmacist listened to me, discussed options, gave me advice, and made me feel like she was happy to do her job. Quite a change from the grumpy guy in Austin, who maybe needed a job change!

A day or two later, I realised that one of my toe nails was starting to become way too painful (said toe nail was traumatized on the judo mats some 10+ years ago, and has been bothering me at times since then — but this was starting to be really problematic). I tried heading for the pedicure first, who politely turned me away after a few prods at it and a few yells on my part: it was already infected, and I needed to see a doctor. Oh, heck.

There was a Walgreens nearby, on 4th and Townsend, so I dropped by to ask about doctors. Where/how/what? A very nice and friendly pharmacist (wow, two of them in the same city!) told me to head for the clinic behind the AT&T ballpark (24 Willie Mays Plaza) to see a Dr. Zee (or Zak — short for Zacharewicz, and easier to pronounce). I found the clinic quite easily (between the ballpark and the canal), checked in as best I could (forms are clearly not designed for patients visiting from abroad), and waited — quite a bit, but hey, I was a walk-in.

A friendly nurse/assistant (?) showed me in, asked me a few questions about what brought me here (I got to tell her the sad story of my poor toe nail) took my blood pressure, and left me to wait a few minutes for Dr. Zee.

Dr. Zee was as nice as I’d been told. She listened to my story, prodded my toe nail a little, thought a bit, and gave me instructions for warm soapy foot-baths, keeping me toe out of the dirty San Francisco street-dust, and a prescription. A really lovely doctor that I heartily recommend if you’re in SF and in need of one.

I left, $90 poorer but feeling almost warm and fuzzy about healthcare in San Francisco, and decided to drop in at the Walgreens which had sent me to pick up my prescription. That’s where I learned that I had to wait 15-20 minutes to get my medication (some antibiotic cream) instead of just being able to hand in the prescription slip and walk out with my meds (as I expected, based on my — limited and Swiss — previous experience). I decided to drop in later that evening as I was going out.

Fast-forward a few hours. I’m back at Walgreens to pick up my prescription. I’m told they can’t give it to me, because the doctor did not specify on the prescription if it was *cream* or *ointment*. They’d tried to call the doctor’s office but it was already closed, so I had to wait until tomorrow. I said I really didn’t care if it was cream or ointment, they could give me either. They said they couldn’t, that the doctor needed to confirm if it was the cream or ointment. I insisted, arguing that the difference in between cream and ointment really wasn’t important in this case, that all I cared about was to be able to start the treatment for my toe as soon as possible. The pharmacist (who was a different one from the one who recommended Dr. Zee to me) kept on like a broken record, telling me they couldn’t make the decision or give me one or the other. I insisted more, saying that no insurance would bother them about this because I was from abroad and would be paying myself, that I wasn’t going to sue them, etc. No success: the doctor had to decide, **by law** they were forbidden from giving me the medicine without her confirmation.

I stomped out, feeling powerless and furious, then stomped back in to ask for my prescription. If was going to have to wait until tomorrow for my prescription, I would go to a pharmacy closer to where I was staying, like the one on 1st.

So, this morning, after 11 hours of sleep (!), I went down to the Walgreens on 1st to get my prescription. I also needed some other medication for my cough and eye. The pharmacist (honestly not sure if she was the same one as the other day) was lovely. She actually took the trouble to explain me how the medication I’d been recommended for my eye in Austin worked (basically, does nothing else than shrink the blood vessels, so that it’s less red). Checked that there was no discharge, and said “OK, so it’s not conjunctivitis then” (a contrast with “I can’t tell you, you have to see a doctor” or some other stupid by-the-book answer). Discussed the other drug I needed with me too. Nice and helpful.

And when my prescription arrived (less than 5 minutes later — and I don’t know if they called the doctor’s office, but they didn’t bring it up) she mentioned that it was quite expensive: $70. I told her I was probably going to back out then, because it was just for an ingrown toe nail which had already started to get better with the soapy water baths. She agreed with me that the cream was maybe a bit overkill given that, and that I’d probably be OK with over-the-counter antibiotic cream. *Over-the-counter antibiotic cream?!* Yes, that have that here.

So, overall, a much more pleasant experience of healthcare services here in San Franciso (despite one episode of “we follow rules, here” broken-recorditis).

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