2002 House

I’ve been thinking lately about what is and isn’t working for me in my technology use, particularly when it comes to social software. Talking with Finn a little while back, I hit on an idea for dialing back my technology use to see if it made me feel any better about how I’m relating to other people.

What if I could just dial back my technology use to an earlier time in my life? I mused to Finn. Like the Colonial House/Frontier House/1900 House series on PBS, where people live for a while under the technological and material conditions of an earlier era. Not to be a total luddite and give up technology entirely; that’s draconian, bad academic sportsmanship, and stands to alienate me from my friends as much as it might give me transcendentalist-grade insights about Being and Nature and whatnot. The -House series on PBS never goes back to the Stone Age, and I notice they don’t appear to have made it back to medieval times yet. Continue Reading »

Please Please Understand My Search Query

With Google announcing that social network information will now be included in search, there’s been a lot of talk among my friends in the industry and on the academic side. I heard some skepticism last night from the Off The Hook crowd that it’s really going to accomplish much for Google given that Google+ isn’t as popular as expected.

James Grimmelmann has been voicing his disagreement with the move over the past few days on Twitter. The way this might strengthen antitrust lawsuits against Google is one of his concerns. Another is that most people won’t understand the inclusion of social results in their search findings, and more importantly will be confused about the boundaries of public and private, what is within their own Google files and what is elsewhere in the cloud. (Doubtless, just like universal login.) And, like so many bad things dished up by social networking sites, it’s opt-out.

Ultimately James says that it’s this implementation of using social data that he objects to, not the concept in general. And that’s basically what I’m thinking, too. Because in the ideal, keying search results to people’s own posts and friends could actually do a lot to serve up more relevant results, and help people understand the things they read online better. It could have prevented the hapless people I studied in my dissertation from exposing themselves to public ridicule and security problems. Continue Reading »


Do you remember learning how to use the phone? I don’t quite, but you know we all had to; like all social conventions, it’s something you have to practice and be instructed in. I remember watching other, younger kids learn the rules of using the phone — not just start with “hello” and end with “goodbye,” but things like “don’t shake your head no, the person on the other end can’t see you!” I have a vague memory of a high school boyfriend who irritated me by giving his phone to his two-year-old nephew while we were talking, which he thought was charming but which was kind of a pain in the ass when the kid first of all didn’t say anything, and second didn’t know enough to give the phone back to his uncle when I asked.
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Angry Birds Is No Super Artillery: or, What Kids These Days Don’t Learn From Technology

So I just started playing Angry Birds recently, seeing as I now have a smartphone which wasn’t built broken and can run it.(1) I’ve seen it around, of course, so I was able to dive right in and start playing without much explanation. And I’ve played other games with similar physics, so I was able to guess how birds and glass bricks would fall or rebound.

But it wasn’t until I got into flow-state with the game that it really started to feel uncannily familiar. I’ve had to do this in a game before, I thought, pulling a triangular canary back in the slingshot and mulling the best place to change its killer arc. But where…

Super Artillery.
Graphics from the game Artillery showing two bases and a hill.
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Musical Interlude

Do you ever have trouble reconciling the academic-theory-heavy-lifting parts of your life with other parts of your life? I sure do.

I think I’ve got the solution, though.
Ready? Sing along!

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