Anil Dash Writes About The Web We Lost [en]

[fr] Le web qu'on a perdu. Nostalgie.

Yes, there are people who have been blogging for longer than me. Quite a few of them, actually. Anil Dash is one. You should read him.

His most recent article (found thanks to danah, who has also been blogging for longer than me, and whom you should also read) is titled The Web We Lost. It hits right on the nostalgia that has been creeping up on me these last years, expressed for example in A Story About Tags, and Technorati, and Tags or Ye Olde-School Blogs Are Still Around.

Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and Pinterest are all great, but they tend to suck us in, and I feel we are all collectively high on real-time content and interaction. I miss the slower days. I miss the sense of “community” I felt with other bloggers in the old days, as I mention in the wrap-up post to my “Back to Blogging” challenge. I feel that on Twitter and Facebook community has been replaced with network. Networking is great. I love spending time with my network. But it’s not the same thing.

Most of all, the timeline we now live in is made up of transient content. It’s there and gone. It’s the world of orality, of the spoken word which evaporates once pronounced, even though we are typing. We are going back to an oral tradition. Blogs and wikis, however, are still part of the written tradition. We are losing searchability. We are also using content portability due to the lack of RSS feeds on certain platforms, and increasingly restrictive API access. APIs seem to be the promise for more holes in our buckets, but they seem more and more to be a way to control tightly what happens to the content locked in a given platform.

That’s sad. That’s not the way I hoped things would go.

There is more. Go and read Anil’s piece. And leave a comment there through Facebook.

Real-Time is Burying History on the Web [en]

I am somebody who believes that history is an extraordinarily important asset in trying to understand our present. Unfortunately, when we are too focused on the future, and innovation, and moving ahead, it’s very easily to neglect history.

I’ve seen it as a characteristic of developing countries (sweeping generalization here, stop me if I’m wrong), with the thoughtless chopping down of centenarian trees and bulldozing of historical monuments in Bangalore. What’s important is where we’re going — we don’t really care about where we came from, and in some cases, would rather forget.

And we’re seeing it now in the hyper-technological cutting-edge world of the internet, where web history is being sacrificed on the altar of instant (do read Suw Charman‘s excellent post and then come back here).

A year and a bit ago, the theme of LeWeb’09 in Paris was “Real-Time Web”, and indeed, everybody was a-buzz with everything real-time. So much so that I had to give that year’s official bloggers a little wake-up call (I blogged it later) a day before the conference, because I was hearing increasingly worrisome comments (to my “official bloggers’ mom” ears) along the lines of “well, I actually don’t think I’ll blog much this year, I’ll mainly be tweeting”. I was interviewed about something along the lines of “curating the real-time stream” by my friend Cathy Brooks (there’s a priceless moment in that video, watch it), and overall, everything was about now, now, now, now now nownownownownownow.

I’m tired of real-time.

It feels to me as if we’re driving with our nose in the steering-wheel, never stopping long enough to look behind us and see what road we’re on and where it’s really heading. I’ve noted over the last year or so that a lot of our content is migrating into these real-time flowy presency streamy services, and that some of the precious tools we had to make sense of our online publications are all but dead, like Technorati.

But link rot aside, it’s all still there online. And that makes it all the more frustrating to know that we just don’t have a way of getting to it in a useful way, as Suw describes very well in her article. In response, Reg Chua points out that search is skewed towards speed and the present — a perfect corollary to our obsession with real-time and progress.

My tweets from day 1 (December 8, 2006 with a lot of enthusiasm) are still online somewhere. Here’s the oldest one I could lay my hands on (the podcast in question was Fresh Lime Soda), thanks to the wayback machine (if you go down that alley, note how we get a peek at what early tweeting was like in pre-hashtag times). It makes it all the more maddening that they are impossible to access if I don’t have a link to them. Twitter has them, they’re there, but they’re not organized in a way that makes them of any use.

Sidenote: this blog post is moving from “lack of access to general online history” to “lack of access to personal online history”, which is a subset of the problem.

Within that “personal online history” subset of the problem, let me state that I find it a disgrace that Twitter will not even let its users download a copy of their own data in the service, barring the last 3000 tweets.

I understand the need to restrict access to the huge number of tweets in the database for general use. I get that. But I don’t get why I should not be able to do a one-time download of what I put in the service.

I hate the expression data theft because when you take data, you always leave a copy somewhere (and theft removes the copy), but in this case, this is what it feels like. Twitter has my data and can do stuff with it, and I can’t. That just doesn’t feel right. (And don’t wave the “Twitter is free, don’t complain” argument in my face: just like Suw, I would be more than ready to pay for Twitter as a service, but they won’t let me.)

Away from Twitter and back to our obsession with real-time and what it is doing to our history: where are the online historians? who is going to build the tools we need to dig through the tremendous wealth of data online? the buzzword of 2011 seems to be “curator”: well, we don’t just need curators to avoid getting knocked over by the firehose of the real-time web — we also need curators (preferably machines) to help us organise and sort through our online history.


Don't You Tire of Real-Time? [en]

[fr] Tout ce temps réel sur le web me fatigue. On néglige les expressions plus profondes que permet le web, sur nos blogs par exemple.

I find that I’m increasingly tired with real-time. Keeping up with the stream. Living on the cutting-edge. I like diving into deeper explorations that require me to step out of the real-time stream of tweets and statuses and IRC and IM conversations.

I like reading and writing.

I’ve never been much of a “news” person — and I know that my little self and my little blog have no chance of competing with the Techcrunches and ReadWriteWebs and GigaOms that seem to be all over the place now.

Life is real-time enough. I like spending time on the web like in a book.

I still love Twitter and Facebook and Tumblr and all the transient stuff that’s floating around — but sometimes I feel like I let myself get lost in it.

Once again, I’m back here, on my blog.

SWITCH Conference, Coimbra: Web Today [en]

Running notes from the SWITCH conference in Coimbra. Are not perfect. Feel free to add info in the comments, or corrections.

Hugo Almeida

Machinima. Films made in virtual worlds. A new form of art! Real film techniques in virtual worlds.

  1. choose your virtual world (Second Life, WoW, Sims…” — Hugo likes SL because you can build anything
  2. choose your screen capture software
  3. edit in your favorite video editor

3D mouse to control the camera!

3D world as a collaborative platform.

Project: Hugo looks for a team in SL — no budget! In SL, he looks for artists: Japanese, British, Portuguese, Polish…

scenarios: multinational team

actors: SL avatars, animated by real people — so you need to direct them like real actors

real-time filmmaking: several weeks to make the movie (+production).

Different visions, different cultures: a melting-pot of different ideas.

Budget: 50K for a regular project in this area, but they manage with 300 €

*steph-note: Hugo is talking in Portuguese, but I’d like to know why 😉 — now he shows us a video, beautiful.*

Me 😉

Here’s the blog post about my talk (some advice to freelancers) , with link to my Prezi 🙂

Luis Monteiro

Blogging for a dream. E-mail: “do you want to make a trip to Antarctica?”

  • are you commited to the environment?
  • do you have an urge to photograph penguins?
  • do you have a passion for polar regions?
  • do you have a blog?

For Luis, yes to all these 🙂 — created a blog and got a team together to take part in the competition.

Joined all social networks to be all over the place.

Tough opponents — hate mail/messages! But Luis and his team were also tough 🙂 — with an automatic dashboard.

4 hours per day for 3 months (*steph-note: when I say social media takes time…*)

Has a pretty cousin, and after accidentally showing her on the webcam following his house, he used popular request for seeing her again to get people to vote 😉

“If I get enough votes, I’ll dress up as a penguin in summertime in Portugal” *steph-note: this guy is great fun!*

*photo of Luis dressed up as a penguin playing the guitar near a big roundabout*

It worked out! (And the comments on what he was doing became a bit more positive…)

And they went to Antarctica 🙂 *steph-note: I like the soundtrack on this slideshow, what is it?*

The question: was it worth it? *steph-note: another video clip. wow.*

Blogging every day, he wasn’t the live-blogger on the team for nothing!

Mais j'ai trouvé la photo sur internet! [fr]

[en] I write a weekly column for Les Quotidiennes, which I republish here on CTTS for safekeeping.

Chroniques du monde connecté: cet article a été initialement publié dans Les Quotidiennes (voir l’original).

Vous avez sûrement déjà entendu que le FBI a diffusé une photo de Ben Laden, artificiellement vieilli,  puisque le dernier portrait du monsieur très recherché date d’il y a une dizaine d’années, et qu’il a dû un peu changer depuis. Le hic, c’est que le FBI s’est vraisemblablement basé pour ce faire sur le portrait d’un politicien espagnol, Gaspar Llamazares, trouvé sur internet. (Ce monsieur-là, du coup, n’est pas très très content, comme vous pouvez l’imaginer.)

“Mais j’ai trouvé la photo sur internet!” s’est sans doute exclamé le responsable de ce mauvais photoshopping. “Je ne savais pas qu’il s’agissait d’un homme politique espagnol!”

En l’occurrence, le fait qu’il s’agisse d’une personnalité publique n’a en fait aucune importance.

Ce qui m’interpelle ici, c’est que même au FBI, on semble se satisfaire de l’idée naïve qu’une photo trouvée via Google Images peut être utilisée comme bon nous semble. Eh ben non.

Mesdames, messieurs, accrochez-vous donc bien à vos fauteuils: pour changer, je m’en vais me ranger cette fois du côté des droits d’auteurs. Il faut varier les plaisirs dans la vie, non? (N’ayez cependant crainte, il n’y a là rien de contradictoire, sauf peut-être pour les adeptes de prises de position simplistes.)

Ce n’est pas parce qu’une photo a été trouvée sur internet qu’elle est libre de droits.

Souvenez-vous de vos premiers cours de traitement de texte ou de fabrication de pages web, si Google existait déjà à l’époque. Un des exercices consistait très probablement à aller chercher une image “quelque part sur internet” pour l’incorporer dans votre document. Fatale erreur! On enseigne ainsi à une génération d’internautes que tout ce qui se trouve dans un moteur de recherche est “à disposition”. On confond allègrement “à disposition pour consultation” et “à disposition pour réutilisation”, voyez-vous.

Oh, c’est une erreur répandue, et je passe mon temps à remettre les pendules à l’heure: auprès d’élèves et de parents, mais aussi auprès d’enseignants et de professionnels de la communication. Et j’aurais peut-être dû faire un saut au FBI…

Alors je le répète ici: si vous trouvez une image “sur internet”, cela ne signifie pas qu’elle fait partie du domaine public. Il y a toutes les chances qu’au contraire, quelqu’un en détienne les droits.

Cette problématique trahit en fait une méconnaissance bien plus grave à mes yeux: une méconnaissance de la nature même des contenus qui composent internet.

Tout ce que l’on trouve sur internet y a été mis par quelqu’un: un particulier, une entreprise, une association, un gouvernement ou une organisation quelconque. On peut espérer que les personnes qui mettent des choses en ligne en aient les droits (ou au moins le droit). Mais même si ce n’est pas le cas, ce n’est pas parce tout le monde copie et recopie à droite et à gauche que cela nous autorise à le faire, comme on nous le répète à l’envi lorsqu’il s’agit de musique ou de films.

LeWeb'09: Kevin Marks on Buzzwords [en]

Live notes from LeWeb’09. They could be inaccurate, although I do my best. You might want to read other posts by official bloggers, in various languages!

Do we really use too many buzzwords? Right now, “real-time”. Some words Kevin has found useful to describe the new web.

  1. Flow: the stream metaphor.
  2. Faces: we expect faces. Making the face bigger makes the information more relevant. A large part of our brain is about faces.
  3. Phatic: an action that is designed for social interaction, grooming purposes, not to communicate content.
  4. Following: not assuming that all relations are bi-directional. Basic pattern of the web. Hyperlinks go in one direction. This is what allowed the web to scale to the size it is. Very powerful in a social context too.
  5. Semi-overlapping publics: not just “one” public space, which is an invention of mass media. We all see a different web. We have different publics.
  6. Mutual media: all these networks are ways of making sense of the world, filtering the web for each other to make it more interesting.
  7. Small world networks: it’s easy for information to flow through these networks, and there are also long-range links, so we don’t stay locked up in our small worlds.
  8. Out-groups: homophily, minimal group paradigm. Different parts of the web as different countries. You feel alien when visiting another online community than those you’re familiar with.
  9. Tummeling: the person who connects people with each other. The life and soul of the party.

That’s Kevin’s set of words that help him think about the web.

My Web World Has Grown [en]

The day before yesterday, a tweet of mine prompted me to get into blog gear again (honestly, why do I need other people? seems I have enough inner dialog going on).

The idea, as expressed in my tweet, was half-baked. I was actually thinking back to when I started blogging, or even when I became a freelance “something-or-other” 2.0 consultant. There are more people around today. The pond is bigger. This is a normal phenomenon when it comes to adoption: if you’re an early adopter, a cutting-edger, well, sooner or later those technologies or subcultures which were the turf of a happy few you were part of become more and more mainstream.

I’m seeing that. It’s been going on for some time. There are people all over doing tons of interesting stuff and I can’t keep up with them (I don’t even try). And here, I’m not even talking about all the wannabe social media experts.

So yes, the pond has turned into a lake, and I find myself a smaller fish than I used to be. Though I sometimes look back with a bit of nostalgia upon the “golden days” of blogging or Twitter, it suits me quite well. I actually never tried to be a big fish: one day, I suddenly realised that it was how people saw me. So I went with it, quite happily I have to say.

But it’s nice to slow down. I’ve never really been in the “breaking news” business, and have no desire to. I feel I’ve retreated somewhat from the over-competitive fringe of my web world, and my life is better as a result. Business too, if I look at my calendar for the upcoming months.

There are times when I regret that my “poly-expert” profile does not allow me to stay as up-to-date with everything as I’d sometimes want to. I haven’t given a talk in a school in nearly a year, and I miss it. I’ve played with Google Wave, but haven’t taken three days to dive into it completely as I would have done five years ago. (One of the reasons, here, is that I simply can’t afford to spend three days diving into something, like I could when I was an employee. The irony is not lost on me.)

All in all, there are more people now in my web world, and in the web world in general. It’s a good thing for the world. It has changed my place somewhat, but overall I’m pretty happy with it.

I don’t feel I’ve shrunk to tadpole status yet, though! 😉

Nouveau site TL [fr]

[en] A fail in our new public transport website... supposedly mobile-optimised.

Alors, à ce qu’il paraît, le nouveau site des TL est optimisé pour la consultation par téléphone mobile. Il y a même à l’arrêt de bus une affichette arborant fièrement un iPhone en pleine action.

Ni une, ni deux, je m’y colle: horaires en temps réel, yes!, et un prometteur My TL.

Je clique, je suis le lien “s’enregistrer” et… Je me retrouve à la page d’accueil. Caramba!

…et que diriez-vous d’utiliser le système de géolocalisation de l’iPhone pour déterminer à quel arrêt je suis?

Lift09 — James Gillies — How the Web awas Born: Stories from a scribe [en]

Was in the right place at the right time to write the story, says he.

1995: “we must write the story before everyone forgets…”

Lift09 113

James expected it to be a dull boring story. Big surprise! You can’t just tell the story of the Web, because you have to tell the story of hypertext, and the story of computing networks, personal computing… it’s all linked.

Back to July 1945: Vannevar Bush, calculating machine. Was frustrated with the way human mind associated things, randomly. Machines might be able to select by association… “As we may think”. Hypertext.

Doug Engelbart. Screenshot! 60’s, personal computing.

Lift09 112

1960’s: packet switching, ARPANET (world’s first LAN).

Other things need to happen before somebody could build the web on top of them.

Louis Pouzin, 70s. Network + network + network = network. That was in fact the definition of an internet.

Sam Fedida. 80s: Viewdata — Prestel, CEEFAX, Minitel. (Historical dead-en.)

Big impact in France through the Minitel. Surrounding countries got the drift. The web, however, took some time to pick up in France, because it had to displace the Minitel. First e-mail sent by a head of state, Queen of England.

Where does the CERN fit in?

70s: CERNET; 80s: the Internet.

A place established to bring people together. TCP/IP. To communicate with the american government, had to network with them in the way they wanted (=>TCP/IP).

Magic ingredient: a consultant noticed there was a lot of information on lots of computers which weren’t talking to each other. The idea of the web is to try to emulate the way we think with a computer platform.

TBL (Tim Berners-Lee): 1989-1991, from vague to less vague, but always exciting.

Lift09 114

Web 1.0 or Web 2.0? First browser was a browser/editor.

Lift09 115

Next step: get it noticed out there. Students. Nicola Pellow: Web 1.1. Then around the world. 90s.

1993: the web is put in the public domain. The single thing that explains that we are using “world web” today.

Not an accident!

Lift09 117

"Je fais des sites internet" [fr]

[en] I've decided to start targeting small local businesses (shops, the plumber, etc.) who do not have a web presence, and offer them a cheap-clean-simple solution to have one.

Je traverse au vert, en sortant de la Migros. Une voiture dont le conducteur a regardé un peu paresseusement les feux (il y a un machin orange clignotant, là, pour indiquer que les piétons ont aussi le vert) manque me renverser. Enfin, j’exagère un tantinet: il s’arrête un peu brusquement et me regarde comme si je n’avais rien à faire là. Je le regarde en retour, de mon regard-qui-arrête-les-autos.

Un monsieur d’un certain âge m’interpelle, et nous faisons causette sympathique en continuant notre chemin. Non, je n’étais pas au Comptoir Suisse (ou le Foutoir Suisse, comme on dit par ici — référence aux perturbations de la circulation qu’il occasionne dans le quartier). Je lui raconte d’où je viens, je lâche que je suis indépendante.

– Ah… Et vous faites quoi?

– Je fais des sites internet.

– C’est encore à la mode ces trucs-là?

(Oui, je sais, c’est site web, mais faut s’adapter au vocabulaire courant, même s’il est un peu douteux. Cf. web-deux-(point-)zéro.)

C’est la première fois de ma vie que je me décris comme ça. Il y a une année ou deux, quand le téléphone sonnait et qu’on me disait “il paraît que vous faites des sites?” je répondais, gentiment mais fermement, que je ne “faisais” pas des sites, mais que je pouvais les aider à faire le leur. Ou leur montrer comment on fait.

Entre-deux, l’épuisement du réseau direct que traversent pas mal d’indépendants à un moment donné, et crise financière accompagnée d’une bonne dose de pragmatisme: si les gens veulent un site-vitrine, cela ne sert pas à grand-chose de s’échiner à leur vendre l’idée que c’est dépassé, et qu’il leur faut un site-conversations. Même s’ils trouvent que c’est une bonne idée, hein. Mais ils n’en ressentent pas vraiment le besoin, et en plus, ça fait plus cher.

Donc, voilà, pourquoi pas. Si les gens veulent des sites pour avoir une “présence sur internet”, un site un peu “brochure sur écran”, c’est un début. Il faut bien commencer quelque part. Et ça, je peux le faire. Du coup, j’ai rapidement mis en ligne deux sites de démonstration, et (vous voyez quelle clientèle je compte approcher pour commencer), et pondu un petit PDF pas-beau-mais-c’est-un-début. On parle ici du degré zéro du site internet. Quelques pages, adresse, une photo ou deux, heures d’ouverture, bref descriptif. Mais c’est déjà sous WordPress, et le jour où le client voudra aller plus loin (blog, ou 50 pages supplémentaires) tout est en place.

Que je rassure mes fidèles lecteurs: je suis toujours une de ces “spécialistes-généralistes” d’internet, qui peut faire tout un tas de choses, et continue à faire tout ce qu’elle faisait. Mais des fois, pour que ça tourne, il faut un fond de commerce.

Demain, je vais toquer aux portes dans le quartier.

Après-demain, je prépare un prospectus à envoyer aux écoles de la région.