Entries for February 2003 (March 2003 »    April 2003 »    May 2003 »    Archives)


Whoa, google.dk points to The Google Bookstore in DenmarkFEB 28

Whoa, google.dk points to The Google Bookstore in Denmark.

You can see Lance Armstrong's failed marriageFEB 28

You can see Lance Armstrong's failed marriage coming on his wife's online journal.

US diplomat's letter of resignation to Colin PowellFEB 28

US diplomat's letter of resignation to Colin Powell.

Email questionnaires are not interviewsFEB 28

Email questionnaires are not interviews.

Google is not a search companyFEB 27

With their acquisition of Pyra and new Content-Targeted Advertising offering, it should be apparent that Google is not a search company. What they are exactly is unclear, but their biggest asset is: a highly annotated map of the web.

Search engines gather pages without regard to their positions in cyberspace. With their map, Google not only has the pages, but they know how those pages are related to each other. If you take a look at their offerings, many rely on this map in one way or another:

- Search: Pages are returned based on how important they are (i.e. their positions relative to important sites) for a given query.

- News: A submap consisting of just news sites is divided into sections (tech, sports, etc.) and stories within those sections are grouped together by specific topic.

- Content-Targeted Advertising: Since Google's map is annotated and they know which pages are more important than other, they can provide highly targeted page-specific ads and determine accurate pricing without having to audit each site's traffic for their customers.

- Web Directory: Same idea as search...ranking due to importance.

And now with Blogger, they can watch the people who are building the pages that comprise Google's map to gain knowledge about their map that they can't get from scraping.

Google's money won't be made with search...that's small peanuts compared to selling access to the world's biggest, best, and most cleverly-utilized map of the web. And I have a feeling that they know this (Google is famously tight-lipped about what kind of company they are and how, exactly, they plan to make money), but they're just not letting on lest other people get ideas about trying to compete with them.

kottke.org, stripped down to reveal its structureFEB 27

kottke.org, stripped down to reveal its structure.

Bar Monkey is a machine that automaticallyFEB 27

Bar Monkey is a machine that automatically mixes and dispenses alcoholic drinks.

New York SonglinesFEB 27

Although the web allows for communication on a global scale, I love the local resources it makes available just as much. New York Songlines is a fascinating site with annotated maps of New York City maintained by Jim Naureckas. Simply designed, each map is a linear representation of a single street (here's Bleecker Street, for example), with links available to switch to cross streets (here's where Bleecker crosses MacDougal). The maps are annotated with information about who lived where and when, contemporary commerce, location info for notable movies, and architectural history.

Some examples from the map for MacDougal Street:

93: Was the San Remo, famous bohemian hangout of Burroughs, Miles Davis, Tennessee Williams, James Agee, Jackson Pollock, W.H. Auden, Frank O'Hara, Village character Maxwell Bodenheim, photographer Weegee, etc. Gore Vidal once picked up Jack Kerouac here. Lost popularity because the bartenders beat up the customers once too often.

121: Authentically charming since 1927. Featured in Godfather II, Serpico, Next Stop Greenwich Village and the original Shaft. JFK gave a speech out front in 1959.

130-132: Louisa May Alcott wrote Little Women in this 1852 house.

Radical walking tours of NYCFEB 27

Radical walking tours of NYC.

Superfuturecity: Soho in NYCFEB 27

Superfuturecity: Soho in NYC.

Open-source governmentFEB 27

Adam Greenfield has written an RFC on the idea of an open-source constitution for post-national states:

The question then becomes, what kinds of constitutional structures are appropriate to furthering the stated aims in an internetworked, interdependent age? What sorts of arrangements of power between humans can account for the deep variation in beliefs and assumptions among the six billion of us who share this planet, while still providing for a common jurisprudence? What measures can be taken that enhance the common security without unduly infringing on the sovereignty of the individual?

I believe that a useful model for the desired structure can be found in the open-source or "free" software movement.

In practice, the open-source software community is quite good at producing software for techies by techies (Linux, Apache, Sendmail) but not very good at making software for use by a general audience. Will open-source government turn out the same? Constitutions for constitutional enthusiasts?

Watch the virtual march on WashingtonFEB 27

Watch the virtual march on Washington.

Joggle - weblogs and forums with JabberFEB 27

Joggle - weblogs and forums with Jabber. I've always thought Jabber was perfect for building webloggish software systems, someone is finally heading in that direction

Invites for NYC Fall 2003 fashion showsFEB 27

Invites for NYC Fall 2003 fashion shows.

Blogging giving birth in real timeFEB 27

Blogging giving birth in real time. congratulations!

Goodbye, Mr. Rogers.FEB 27

Goodbye, Mr. Rogers..

A Celebration of Orchids at the New York Botanical GardenFEB 26

A Celebration of Orchids at the New York Botanical Garden.

ASCII art stereogram generatorFEB 26

ASCII art stereogram generator.

It's true, there's tabs in SafariFEB 26

It's true, there's tabs in Safari.

To google or not to google?FEB 26

Paul McFedries, who runs the excellent Word Spy, has received a letter from one of Google's lawyers concerning his citation of the word google (v.):

To search for information on the Web, particularly by using the Google search engine; to search the Web for information related to a new or potential girlfriend or boyfriend.

The letter reads in part:

This definition implies that "google" is a verb synonymous with "search." Please note that Google is a trademark of Google Technology Inc. Our brand is very important to us, and as I'm sure you'll understand, we want to make sure that when people use "Google," they are referring to the services our company provides and not to Internet searching in general.

Frank Abate, a participant on the mailing list, responds to Paul's query for information and advice and points out that Google can't really do anything about it:

Of course google is used as a verb. And why not? It only makes sense, it is short, it is fun, it works. And what the Google (TM) lawyer knows, but does not say, is that the company he represents cannot do anything about its use as a verb, legally. They cannot sue, as one cannot claim proprietary rights to a verb. Jesse Sheidlower recently pointed this out to me; apparently it is an explicit part of US law re trademarks.

I can't speak to the specific legal matters in this case, but having some experience in getting such letters from lawyers, it looks as though Frank is right. That letter from Google is a bluff, an example of a corporation using their signifincant corporate resources (i.e. time and money) to make individuals - who generally have neither time nor money, relatively speaking - do what the corporation wants them to do, regardless of legality.

When companies get big, do they just naturally turn into bullies or is it a conscious decision? (via Grant)

Update: I'm well aware that Google, in order to protect their trademark, has to send out such letters. By law, trademarks need to be defended by the entities that own them or else they could lose that ownership. But still, it seems a little bullying when letters are sent out with the implication (however indirect or slight) of legal action when no legal action (assuming that Mr. Abate is correct) can be taken. Just rubs me the wrong way, although I'm unsure of a solution given the legal options available.

Cory Doctorow adds:

Allowing the generic use of "to google" by critical/academic sites like WordSpy does *not* constitute an abandonment of trademark (in fact, trademark abandonment involves a *very* high standard that is far in excess of allowing people to casually use your mark). What's more, trademark specifically does NOT protect your mark from use in criticism, parody, instruction, and other first amendment contexts.

Whoa, French chef allegedly kills himself over lowered restaurant ratingFEB 25

Whoa, French chef allegedly kills himself over lowered restaurant rating.

Tyranny of Tiny TypeFEB 25

Tyranny of Tiny Type.

Caring for Your IntrovertFEB 25

Rarely does a passage of text resonate with how I am as a person as the opening paragraph of Jonathan Rauch's Caring for Your Introvert did:

Do you know someone who needs hours alone every day? Who loves quiet conversations about feelings or ideas, and can give a dynamite presentation to a big audience, but seems awkward in groups and maladroit at small talk? Who has to be dragged to parties and then needs the rest of the day to recuperate? Who growls or scowls or grunts or winces when accosted with pleasantries by people who are just trying to be nice?

Well, except for the "dynamite" part of "dynamite presentation".

The Internet has helped me a great deal in this regard. Email, IM, and my weblog allow me to communicate with people when I want and how I want, without worrying about all the things introverts worry about when interacting with people: small talk, first impressions, awkward silences, etc. With the web, I can carry on a conversation with a whole group of people and stare down at my shoes at the same time. That's an amazing and special thing for me.

There's a text ad on the GoogleFEB 25

There's a text ad on the Google search results page for "Jason Kottke".

Presentations from the first Amazon Associates conferenceFEB 25

Presentations from the first Amazon Associates conference. 3.2 MB zip file

It Must've Been Something I AteFEB 24

It Must've Been Something I Ate

Meg and I are both currently hooked on the writings of the obsessively funny Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue's food columnist. She's tucked into The Man Who Ate Everything while I'm reading It Must Have Been Something I Ate. It's like Mr. Wizard meets David Sedaris meets The Galloping Gourmet.

The best part of this whole Steingarten-a-thon is that Meg has started cooking meat. You see, Jeffrey loves meat. And butter. And lard. And cheese. And eggs. He doesn't believe the hype about salad. He believes people can eat meat, fat, and cheese and still be healthy (see the French Paradox) and probably a whole lot happier. I am delighted on so many levels to hear this viewpoint - my viewpoint also - expressed so convincingly.

In the last week, Meg has twice stopped at Ottomanelli's Butcher Shop on Bleecker, once for filet mignon for Valentine's Day (which when combined with mashed potatoes and a small salad, is surprisingly economical for how damn good the meal is) and this past Friday for a whole chicken (which took far too long to cook due to a faulty oven, but turned out wonderful anyway due to Meg's skill in the kitchen and Dean Allen's whimsical directions). My tummy and taste buds are plently happy. Thanks, Jeffrey.

Safari to get tabbed browsingFEB 24

Safari to get tabbed browsing.

Gentlemen, your ultimate lesbian dreamFEB 24

Gentlemen, your ultimate lesbian dream.

Rob's Safari wish listFEB 24

Rob's Safari wish list.

Greenpeace's no-war blogFEB 24

Greenpeace's no-war blog.

Peephole makes good cheapo fisheye lens for cameraFEB 24

Peephole makes good cheapo fisheye lens for camera.

Newsquakes - graphical representation of where news is being madeFEB 24

Newsquakes - graphical representation of where news is being made.

A family photographs itself once a yearFEB 24

A family photographs itself once a year for the last 27 years.

Jim Lehrer showed up at DC Blog MeetupFEB 24

Jim Lehrer showed up at DC Blog Meetup.

Nice redesign @ brushstrokeFEB 24

Nice redesign @ brushstroke.

George Bush MeetupFEB 23

George Bush Meetup.

Daypop weblog rankingsFEB 23

Daypop weblog rankings.

A little bit of tendernessFEB 23

I'm tweaking the templates and stylesheets on kottke.org right now, so you might notice things looking a little funky for a bit. More after I'm done.

Ok, the tweaking is complete (as far as I know...please let me know if anything looks amiss). For most, the changes are pretty minor: smaller font size for the post titles on the front page, post titles link to individual posts, and little font size and weight changes here and there. If you're using OS X, you should be enjoying a new typeface everwhere but the sidebar.

Boring administrivia: Movable Type rebuilt the entire site - 2403 individual archive pages (including 1432 comments), 59 category archive pages, and almost 5 years-worth of monthly archive pages - in about 30 seconds. Fast. The version of MT I'm running on my iBook was a bit slower in updating the local version of the site...and has almost slowed to a crawl now that I'm using MT + MySQL. I have yet to upgrade the version of MT on the server to use MySQL...I'm hoping the pokey speed of the local version is due to my wee iBook and not the MT + MySQL combo in general.

Super Mario Bros shows the initial joyFEB 23

Super Mario Bros shows the initial joy but the eventual mental and moral decline due to drugs.

De Beers is pure corporate evil geniusFEB 23

De Beers is pure corporate evil genius.

Can't stop listening to the new White StripesFEB 23

Can't stop listening to the new White Stripes.

Faking the Lomo effectFEB 22

I've always liked the look of Lomo photos (typically bright colored and highly saturated with darkened edges), but I didn't want to worry about getting another camera or messing with film & scanning. Yesterday I asked people if there was a Photoshop filter that could turn a regular photo into a Lomo-style photo. Several people responded with the Melancholytron filter and a tutorial on achieving the Lomo effect without using filters.

Since I didn't feel like downloading anything, I tried the tutorial. I started with this picture:

Non lomo version of the bakery

I took this photo on my first trip to NYC in January 2002; it's the Vesuvio Bakery on Prince Street in Soho.

I deviated only slightly from the directions, using one of the overlayed feathered black layers and decreasing the opacity of the white gradient layer to below 50%. Here's the result:

Lomo version of the bakery

Pretty cool. Now, I wish I could get my camera to do this automatically...it would be fun to slip into Lomo mode now and then.

iPodlounge - all things iPodFEB 22

iPodlounge - all things iPod.

Gr8 asses-chicksFEB 21

Gr8 asses-chicks.

The elusive CSS footerFEB 21

The elusive CSS footer.

Lomo vs. CoolpixFEB 21

Lomo vs. Coolpix.

CD-Rs that look like vinyl recordsFEB 21

CD-Rs that look like vinyl records.

An email from a UN weapons inspectorFEB 21

An email from a UN weapons inspector.

I'd rather die in New York than live anywhere elseFEB 21

I'd rather die in New York than live anywhere else.

Google referrers feedback loopFEB 21

Google referrers feedback loop.

Futurama DVD - 1st seasonFEB 21

Futurama DVD - 1st season.

Stop me if you've heard this one before...FEB 21

Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista and Rod Stewart go into a Burger King at the Halifax airport:

Burger King employee Elizabeth Dillman was stunned when Ms. Campbell offered a $100 U.S. bill for her $3.99 breakfast. The fast food restaurant could not accept the $100 bill and the supermodel, famous for her many appearances on magazine covers and swimsuit editions, had to find a friend to provide change. "She seemed to be in a pretty happy mood. She looked great. She had big diamond bracelets and big rings and she had a large hat on - it was pretty exciting. I'd never had anybody like that here," Ms. Dillman said.

Eat in NYC on a budgetFEB 21

Eat in NYC on a budget.

MySQL on Mac OS XFEB 21

MySQL on Mac OS X.

MacarenaFEB 21

how to dance the macarena Does anyone do the Macarena in a non-ironic fashion anymore?

Post your recent Macarena sightings if you have them. Bonus points for non-wedding, non-Vegas, or non-children sightings...there's never any irony involved with any of those things.

Enabling Virtual Hosts on MacOS XFEB 21

Enabling Virtual Hosts on MacOS X.

Hulk diaryFEB 20

Hulk diary.

BetterHTMLExport for iPhotoFEB 20

After months of procrastination and searching about, I finally found out how to export my photos to an HTML slideshow from iPhoto and have it work the way I wanted it to. BetterHTMLExport is a shareware plugin ($20) for iPhoto 2.0 that lets you control image sizes, thumbnail sizes, balance image quality & file size, and output into your own HTML templates. The plugin comes with its own little language (with ifs and loops) that you can use to display any information that iPhoto stores about an image, set variables, and conditionally display or hide certain chunks of code. Pretty powerful and worth the $20. See my Paris photos for an example of the output.

My only complaint is that the filenames can't be modified (although the HTML file extensions can be...to .shtml or .php for example). I'd love it if the image names weren't 1.jpg, 2.jpg..., but something like louvre.jpg or 20021106louvre.jpg instead, similar to how Adobe ImageReady handles filenames when exporting web files.

Update (1/18/04): The latest version of BetterHTMLExport (2.0.10) works with iPhoto 4.

Webmonkey blogFEB 20

Webmonkey blog.

My Paris photos from NovemberFEB 19

I took about 400 photos when Meg and I were in France last November. I finally got around to exporting some of them from iPhoto (more on that soon) and putting them up. Click on the pic to get started:

Photos of Paris, November 2002

Most of the pics were taken in central Paris, a couple in Marseille in southern France, and several in Pompignan near chez Allen et Armstrong. If you're here just for Oliver, he's right here. (Oh and don't worry...I didn't put all 400 photos up, only 70 or so.)

George Orwell's Politics and the English LanguageFEB 19

George Orwell's Politics and the English Language.

In NYC and need a dog? How about this one?FEB 19

In NYC and need a dog? How about this one?.

Tell the truthFEB 19

Tell the truth.

New York-based Pyra Labs?FEB 19

New York-based Pyra Labs?. Someone got paid to write this inaccurate pile of crap?

Amazon Associates bewareFEB 18

(You may want to skip this one if you're not an Amazon Associate.)

I've noticed lately that when I browse items at Amazon, the URLs now take one of two forms:


The former URL style has been around for some time, but the latter is relatively new. If you're an Amazon Associate, the proper way of linking to an individual item (per their linking guide) is to append your Associate code (mine is "0sil8") to the first URL style, like so:


But if you run across an item at Amazon with the second type of URL, this won't work:


If you've linked to items using that style of URL (something I've seen on several sites), check your reports at Amazon...you'll find that you're not getting any Associates clickthroughs or credit for those purchases. Meg has linked to items in this incorrect fashion and has received no clickthoughs or credit for any of those sales. There's no documentation on the Associates site that says anything about how to properly link to an item using the second style, so the solution is to modify your links to the first URL style if you have it wrong.

I'm not sure why Amazon introduced the second URL style to their site. The strange thing is that their appearance is inconsistant. Sometimes a search result will return the first style and sometimes the second...and then the style will switch in the middle of a browsing session. I hope that Amazon is not doing this intentionally to thwart some Associates linkers and that they will add documentation to their site concerning the appropriate linking method for the second URL style.

p.s. I'm going to get mail about this, so I'd better mention it. Several Associates are using the following linking style to get around the "You may also be interested in these items..." page that Amazon throws at you when using a link of the first style:


instead of:


That way, you land on the page you linked to, rather than the page of recommendations, and have a better chance of getting the full 15% commission on the item (the commission falls to 5% if the person clicks on anything other than the "Add to cart" button on the initial page).

The "ref=nosim" links apparently work correctly, although they are undocumented on the Associates site. However, it's unclear as to whether you make more money from using them. You're more likely to make that 15%, but you might make more in the aggregate from the recommended items you get using the first method. That is, the number of people looking to buy that item right away (say, 2 people counted at 15% apiece for a $15 item for a total of $4.50) might be offset by the number of people looking to browse and then buy (10 people counted at 5% apiece for a $15 item for a total of $7.50). The reports for my site at Amazon show that people who click through seem to browse and then buy rather than buy directly...I just need to get them into the store and Amazon will take care of the rest.

More NYC blizzard pics from Staten IslandFEB 18

More NYC blizzard pics from Staten Island.

NYC blizzard pics from BrooklynkidFEB 18

NYC blizzard pics from Brooklynkid.

Police officer kicking a NYC Anti-War Rally attendeeFEB 18

Police officer kicking a NYC Anti-War Rally attendee.

A mighty scoldingFEB 18

A mighty scolding.

Slim new Coolpix cameras from NikonFEB 18

Slim new Coolpix cameras from Nikon.

TikiText, text formatting for Movable TypeFEB 18

TikiText, text formatting for Movable Type.

East coast blizzard photos from the NYTimesFEB 18

East coast blizzard photos from the NYTimes. and it's still snowing!

My fav Konfabulator widget: displays the current Homeland Security ratingFEB 17

My fav Konfabulator widget: displays the current Homeland Security rating.

New NYC subway design @ megnutFEB 17

New NYC subway design @ megnut.

HoodysFEB 17


Parking SpotsFEB 17

Parking Spots. neat idea

You put Blogger in my Google! You put Google in my Blogger!FEB 17

Our spies have been hard at work here at kottke.org, drudging up the latest news, gossip, and graphical user interfaces related to the Google/Pyra deal. Here's an early peek at what Blogger could look like now that Google has its multicolored mitts on it:

I'm feeling lucky?

The inclusion of the "I'm feeling lucky" button in the interface has already turned the so-called "blogosphere" upside down, creating a schism between the "luckbloggers" and the "luckisfortheshallowthestrongcreatetheirownluckbloggers". More information on this important conflict as it unfolds.

Dear JasonFEB 17

Dear Jason.

Chimera delayed for legal reasons, needs new nameFEB 17

Chimera delayed for legal reasons, needs new name.

Dave Eggers, the Michael Jordan of American literatureFEB 17

Dave Eggers, the Michael Jordan of American literature.

Tired: Google buys Pyra. Wired: Six Apart buys fax machine!FEB 17

Tired: Google buys Pyra. Wired: Six Apart buys fax machine!.

Weather forcasters run out of superlatives forFEB 16

Weather forcasters run out of superlatives for the latest east coast storm.

Feb 27th in NYC, French, play, acting,FEB 16

Feb 27th in NYC, French, play, acting, Todd Levin, Sartre, art deco, what's not to like?.

Blogging's Netscape IPOFEB 16

I've been following the reaction of Google's acquisition of Pyra, and I'm seeing a sense of pride in what webloggers are saying about it (follow along @ Daypop, Technorati, Blogdex, and on MetaFilter). People have been and still are attached to Blogger. They've liked seeing it succeed and helped out when it was down.

Maybe it's the whole selfless do-it-yourself spirit (although not the DIY spirit that Ev talks about when he says the acquisition provides "resources to build on the vision I've been working on for years") that was there in the early days of weblogging with Pyra releasing this tool for free, making it possible for people express themselves to an audience and connect with each other. People invested in Blogger and in weblogs, and they're proud to see it find a good home with a good company.

It reminds me of the Netscape IPO. At the time, Netscape had a ton of good will from its users: it was good, it was free, people loved using it because it gave them access a global network of people and information, the guys responsible for it were just college students...people you might know rather than some faceless corporation. When Netscape went IPO and became worth $2.6 billion, Netscape users were very proud, like we had all contributed to the company somehow and it had finally paid off.

Daypop Top 40 Watch: how far will theFEB 16

Daypop Top 40 Watch: how far will the page expand to the right?.

Bartlet Doctrine from West WingFEB 15

Bartlet Doctrine from West Wing.

McSweeney's #10. Is it a book or a magazine?FEB 15

McSweeney's #10. Is it a book or a magazine?.

Anti-war protestsFEB 15

Watching the news on CNN right now. The anti-war protests are happening around the world...everywhere, it seems, but Israel (Israel too). 100,000+ in NYC, 50,000 in Paris, 500,000 in Berlin, several hundred thousand in dozens of cities across the world. Reporters on the scene are stressing that the protesters are not "the usual suspects" (students, full-time activists, &c.) but are from all age groups and walks of life. As the cameras scanned the crowds in London and NYC, that appeared to be true. Here are some pictures of the protests taken by people on the scene (BBC News is asking for photos). (thx to Raza for the pics link)

Teasers from the new McSweeney's No. 10FEB 14

Teasers from the new McSweeney's No. 10.

Unraveling the Mysteries of the Connected AgeFEB 14

Unraveling the Mysteries of the Connected Age.

Anti-War Rally in NYC on Feb 15thFEB 14

If you're against the US going to war against Iraq and in NYC tomorrow, you might want to show your support at the Anti-War Rally. The rally starts at noon on 1st Ave stretching north from 49th street (approx. here near the Dag Hammarskjold Plaza).

You might notice that this is a rally and not a march. NYC rejected a request from the organizers to hold a march past the United Nations complex. I can understand both sides of the issue, but I get uncomfortable when the government tells people where and when they can assemble, march, and protest. I hope they march anyway, permit or no.

What is the Lafayette Project?FEB 14

What is the Lafayette Project?.

New Kids in the Hall movie?FEB 14

New Kids in the Hall movie?.

Mac OS X 10.2.4 upgrade availableFEB 14

Mac OS X 10.2.4 upgrade available.

Dell dude headline watchFEB 14

I'm sure you've heard. The guy that does those "Dude, you're getting a Dell" TV commercials got busted here in NYC for buying pot in a kilt. I'm told the pot buying part is the illegal activity, not the kilt-wearing. Anyway, anyone with column inches in a magazine, newspaper, or weblog fell all over themselves trying to come up with the worst "dude, you're getting..." jokes. A sampling for your "enjoyment":

Dude, you're getting a cell.
Dude, you're getting off with a warning.
Dude, you're getting arrested.
Dude, you've been busted.
Dude, you're getting a blunt.
Dude, you're getting a record.
Dude, you're getting a rap sheet.
Dude, you're under arrest.
Dude, you're getting busted.
Dude, you're getting some weed.
Dude, you're getting lots of PR.
Dude, you're getting a dime bag.
Dude, you're getting off easy.
Dude, you're getting raped in jail.
Dude, you're getting a cavity search.

I'm sure everyone is just getting warmed up for when Ashton Kutcher gets nicked. I sense a thousand "Dude, where's my pot?" jokes itching to escape word processors everywhere.

Archive of New Yorker film reviewsFEB 14

Archive of New Yorker film reviews.

You can't beat off with nuclear armsFEB 13

You can't beat off with nuclear arms.

The West Wing Continuity GuideFEB 13

The West Wing Continuity Guide.

Topic auto-discoveryFEB 13

Topic auto-discovery.

Vagina Institute, providing vaginal size statisticsFEB 13

Vagina Institute, providing vaginal size statistics. not completely work safe

New White Stripes only on vinyl...andFEB 13

New White Stripes only on vinyl...and every single filesharing system out there. not to mention my hard drive

stealing my Godfather joke!FEB 13

stealing my Godfather joke!.

New movie from the man who broughtFEB 13

New movie from the man who brought you Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.

Let's vote on itFEB 13

(Ok, this wasn't working earlier, but it's fixed now. Get to it!)

Reversible is a site that collects referers and trackbacks from pages that point to or ping it. For example, if I link to and then click through to http://reversible.org/kottke, that page will link back to me. And creating pages on Reversible is easy...just type in anything after the domain name: e.g. http://reversible.org/sports/basketball/kevingarnett.

One way to think about inbound links to Reversible is as votes. A link to a page from your site is a vote...one site, one vote. I'm going to vote on some stuff, just for fun:

I like Paris in the fall
I like Dr. Strangelove
I like pancakes on bunnies
I like taking photos with my digital camera
I like Infinite Jest
I like Meg
I drink Pepsi
I like Radiohead
I don't think the US should go to war with Iraq right now
I like scented candles
I like my TiVo
I like typography
I like weblogs
I like BoingBoing

Join in if you'd like by adding these or other links to your site.

What does this do?FEB 12

What does this do?. hey, add a link to this page on your site. i want to see what happens.

What is reversible?FEB 12

What is reversible?.

NetNewsWire goes 1.0FEB 12

NetNewsWire goes 1.0.

Screw the power law, embrace the power lawFEB 12

A couple of notable developments in the whole power laws and weblog discussion. Steven Johnson states that, ok, the distribution of influence in the weblog world follows a power law...now what? If we as participants in that network don't want things to work that way, is there anything we can do about it?

Prompted by all the power law talk, David Sifry is now using non-linear equations to determine recent interesting weblogs and recent interesting newcomers for Technorati. The idea is that the distribution of weblogs is non-linear (the power law curve isn't a straight line), so why not use non-linear equations to level the playing field a little.

What David is doing is actually why I graphed the Technorati data in the first place. I was trying to figure out how you could make the interesting blogs list not favor the top-linked sites all the time (200 new sites linking to Movable Type is not interesting considering it already has 6000 sites linking to it).

Here's an email I sent David a couple of days ago:

"I started thinking about [the graph of the data] in relation to the Interesting Recent Blogs list and how it could be made more useful. Because it's the biggest, Google is always going to be at the top of the list, and some little weblog with 4 new posts (out of a total of 6) is never going to get anywhere near the top. I was thinking that by analyzing the distribution of the links, you could introduce a adjustment factor based on the rank of the site relative to the #1 site. The problem is, I can't remember enough of my college math to get from the power law equation to this magical adjustment factor. You might have better luck."

The idea is that instead of using a quadratic or cubic equation that kinda fits the data, you use a power law equation generated by the data itself to exactly fit the data (or nearly so). The power law equation I derived using the limited sample of the top 100 list is:

y = 5989.8x^(-0.8309)

where y is the # of inbound blogs and x is the rank of the site. I plotted the top 100 data again and tried to fit three curves to it:

fitting three curves to the technorati top 100 data

The dotted blue line is a linear equation, the dashed red line is a quadratic equation, and the solid black line is the aforementioned power law equation. As you can see, the linear and quadratic equations fit the data poorly. The R-squared for the linear equation is 0.31, 0.55 for the quadratic, and 0.99 for the power law equation. So the quadratic is an improvement over the linear equation, but neither compare to the excellent fit of the power law and the excellent results that would follow from using it for Technorati's interesting recent blogs lists.

Cuban CouncilFEB 11

Cuban Council.

The best of craigslist NYCFEB 11

The best of craigslist NYC.

How Amazon does its collaborative filteringFEB 11

How Amazon does its collaborative filtering.

Bayesian Nets, Latent Semantics, Despamming and other speculationsFEB 11

Bayesian Nets, Latent Semantics, Despamming and other speculations.

VCDMovieBox is Netflix for pirated moviesFEB 11

VCDMovieBox is Netflix for pirated movies. But would you trust them with your CC info?

NYC GawthicFEB 11

NYC Gawthic.

Konfabulator!FEB 10


Bacon-scented candles!FEB 09

Bacon-scented candles!.

Romensko interview about 5-year Obscure Store anniversaryFEB 09

Romensko interview about 5-year Obscure Store anniversary.

Industry association blames decline on machine tool sharing via InternetFEB 09

Industry association blames decline on machine tool sharing via Internet.

The Real Power of Artificial MarketsFEB 09

The Real Power of Artificial Markets.

Weblogs and power lawsFEB 09

Many systems and phenomena are distributed according to a power law distribution. A power law applies to a system when large is rare and small is common. The distribution of individual wealth is a good example of this: there are a very few rich men and lots & lots of poor folks. A familiar way to think about power laws is the 80/20 rule: 80% of the wealth is controlled by 20% of the population.

It's been shown that the distribution of links on the web scales according to a power law, so it comes as no surprise that the distribution of links to weblogs does as well. Taking the top 100 most linked to weblogs on Technorati as a data set (specifically from 1/24/03), I used Excel to plot and fit a curve to the data:

weblogs obeying the mighty power law

The data conforms quite well to a power law curve. The R-squared value, a measure of how well the curve fits the data (1.0 is a perfect fit), is 0.9918. I ran a similar analysis of the distribution of the top 200 inbound referers to kottke.org and observed a fit of the data to a power law curve (R-squared = ~0.95). Clay Shirky showed that the distribution of the number of outbound links in the LiveJournal community follows a power law. Paul Hammond has observed a similar pattern with his outgoing links.**

This NEC study reveals that the deviation of a set of data from the power law correlates to how much competition is present in the system. The better the fit, the more competitive the environment is. Again, no surprise that the system of weblogs is a highly competitive one.

But what are weblogs competing for? Matt Webb posits that power laws arise due to scarcity. Links themselves can't be scarce (a page can have as many links as it can hold without running out), but they are a measure of something that is: people.

More specifically, the time that people have for visiting sites and linking to sites is limited. Mary only has so much time for visiting weblogs; if she goes to BoingBoing, she doesn't have time for MetaFilter. Some visitors are linkers and they link what they visit. Similarly, linkers have only so much time for linking. Sam can link to 20 sites about airplanes, but he can't link to 5000. The scarcity of people's time results in the distribution of links that can be described using power laws.

** Other places you *might* find power laws in the weblog world if you took the time to look: Daypop Top 40, Blogdex top links, the Blogging Ecosystem (in both "most linked" and "most prolific linkers" data sets), average # of posts per weblog, average # of words per post, average # of smileys per post, # of visitors per weblog, # of comments per post per weblog, and so on...

Further reading on weblogs, power laws, small worlds, the 80/20 rule, the rich get richer phenomena, Zipf's Law, Pareto's Law, etc.:

Small worlds & LiveJournal (Matt Webb)
Like bloggers link like bloggers (Steve Himmer)
The weblog them, the weblog us (Tom Coates)
Internet Navigators Think Small (MSNBC)
Scarcity and power laws (Matt Webb)
Ecosystems, Power Laws, Counters (N.Z. Bear)
Power Laws, Weblogs, and Inequality (Clay Shirky)
Small Worlds (Duncan Watts)
Linked: The New Science of Networks (Albert-László Barabási)
Nexus: Small Worlds and the Groundbreaking Science of Networks (Mark Buchanan)
Ubiquity: The Science of History, or Why the World Is Simpler Than We Think (Mark Buchanan)
Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age

Future of Money SummitFEB 09

Future of Money Summit.

Simpsons on Inside the Actors Studio tonight (Sun)FEB 09

Simpsons on Inside the Actors Studio tonight (Sun).

Nancy Cartwright, cast of thousandsFEB 09

Nancy Cartwright, cast of thousands.

Photo QuotesFEB 09

Photo Quotes.

Getting video from your TiVo to Mac OS XFEB 09

Getting video from your TiVo to Mac OS X.

All the smell of BBQ without the messFEB 09

Meg and I are tired of this technology and design crap, so we're going to start over and create a new line of scented candles based not on flower or spice smells, but on cooking smells. Here's what we have so far for scents:

Makin' Bacon
Baking Bread
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Fresh Brewed Coffee
Thanksgiving Dinner
Cinnamon Rolls
Chocolate Cake

The way we figure it, the world doesn't need another stupid web application, it needs bacon-scented candles.

Beneath the Axis of EvilFEB 07

Beneath the Axis of Evil. by Neil Pollack Neal Polack Neal Polelack Neale Pollak Bill Smith

No referer abuse in new version of NetNewsWireFEB 07

No referer abuse in new version of NetNewsWire.

Cheap food options in New York CityFEB 07

A couple of days ago, I posted about the $2.75 lunch (2 hot dogs + 1 Coke) I had at Gray's Papaya here in the West Village. I got an email from Iain who recommended a Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwich at any number of places in Manhattan for the same price. So New Yorkers, where do you get your cheap eats?

Speed up your web siteFEB 06

Speed up your web site.

Nexus did the great title sequence forFEB 06

Nexus did the great title sequence for Catch Me If You Can.

Sniffle cough wheezeFEB 06

I have a cold.

And you know when you have a cold you get that thing where you can breathe out of your left nostril but not your right one and then somehow it switches so that you can breathe out of your right nostril but not your left and you wonder how it switched without you noticing and then you go crazy because you can't possibly be that sick that you didn't notice and then you have a headache because you're worried about how sick you'd have to be to not notice and also because you're paying so much attention trying to detect when the next switch is going to happen?

I've got that too.

That was ColumbiaFEB 06

That was Columbia.

Kevin Lynch has a weblogFEB 06

Kevin Lynch has a weblog.

Great interview with Kevin Mitnick at /.FEB 05

Great interview with Kevin Mitnick at /..

The importance of human space explorationFEB 05

David Galbraith on recent events:

People complain about costly things such as space exploration and high energy physics experiments. Why spend money on these things when we have issues like poverty?

This argument is nihilistic. Why do we build monuments, paint, make films, write music, when there is still poverty all around? There is enough food in the world; poverty is the result of politics, exploitation and war above all.

Human space exploration is one of our greatest achievements. To try and rationalize unmanned space flight on the grounds of practicality misses the point, it is like saying that the Sistine Chapel would be brighter if it were whitewashed.

Hey teen girls, what type of beefFEB 05

Hey teen girls, what type of beef do you most like to eat with your friends?.

Installing Perl 5.8 on JaguarFEB 05

Installing Perl 5.8 on Jaguar.

Baghdad weblog out of commission because blogspot is blockedFEB 04

Baghdad weblog out of commission because blogspot is blocked.

No police permit for NYC anti-war rallyFEB 04

Vivian writes:

The police are not issuing a permit to the rally organizers for the Anti-War March/Rally on Feb 15th in New York. There are many people calling but more people need to call! They will most likely only cooperate if they see public opinion is turning against them.

Call all the numbers below and remind the mayor & commissioner that this is a free speech issue! The police need to work with the people not against the people. Issuing a permit at the last minute is an attempt to limit the potential of the event. That translates into supression of free speech!

Please immediately contact the following officials and urge them to grant the permit now:

**NYC Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg: 212-788-3040, 212-788-3210, and/or 212-788-9600

**NYC Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly: 646-610-8526

**NYPD Chief of Department Joseph Esposito: 646-610-6910 or 646 610-6910

We also encourage you to contact media outlets about this situation. You may give them the Feb. 15 UFPJ office number for follow-up: 646-473-8935.

You may also want to post this on your weblog if you have one.

Is Pixar going to dump Disney?FEB 04

Is Pixar going to dump Disney?.

Deep Linking in the World Wide WebFEB 04

Deep Linking in the World Wide Web.

New design at nasa.govFEB 04

New design at nasa.gov.

The Magnolia Bakery CookbookFEB 04

The Magnolia Bakery Cookbook.

Lunch was just $2.75.FEB 04

Lunch was just $2.75..

Top 50 female modelsFEB 04

Top 50 female models.

Enlarge your web site, guaranteed!!!FEB 04

Access denied: "http://kottke.org/portfolio/index.html has been categorized as Pornography. It has been blocked per your organization's Internet Usage Policy."

Does the phrase "extensive brand analysis" have a connotation I was unaware of?

100 miles on a Segway HTFEB 04

Phillip Torrone is the very proud owner of a Segway and has written about his first 100 miles on it:

for the first 100 miles or so, i personally saved about $582.00+ by using a segway ht, gave up a car and lost 10lbs. some things weren't quantifiable, results may vary for others.

best part--i've met many great people who have stopped me along the way of my daily commute with great comments and questions, some of these people are new friends, and that is something one cannot really quantify in any way.

GirlsBrushingTheirTeethFEB 04

GirlsBrushingTheirTeeth. for people who enjoy the wonderful spectacle of a beautiful girl in in the middle of her daily oral hygiene routine

ASCII blogFEB 04

ASCII blog.

Irritable male syndromeFEB 04

Irritable male syndrome.

Ill-behaved children will be cooked and served for breakfastFEB 03

Ill-behaved children will be cooked and served for breakfast.

Free webcast: top 10 Windows vulnerabilities and how to fix themFEB 03

Free webcast: top 10 Windows vulnerabilities and how to fix them.

A linguistics weblog and more like thatFEB 03

A linguistics weblog and more like that.

Surprisingly accurate Simpsons top 25 from EWFEB 03

Surprisingly accurate Simpsons top 25 from EW.

craft a perfect 3 to access a blog buildingFEB 03

craft a perfect 3 to access a blog building.

We can read about this place at homeFEB 03

Those wacky cats are at it again. This time, Gilpin & Marigold Explore The Wonders Of Wakayama Prefecture:

In traveling you can be a tourist or you can be a guest. Do not look at travel books. We can read about this place at home. Instead let's walk to Negoroji Temple, which I think is not too far in that direction. Not lost, just far away from our old lives."

Kevin was kind enough to let me design the title card for this installment. Enjoy more of Gilpin and Marigold here.

Still in the experimental and transitional phaseFEB 03

From The Influence of the Internet on Literature:

It took a whole century for the printed book to develop a form of its own that was no longer dominated by the aesthetic traditions of the medieval manuscript. It was in the 16th century Italy that the format of the printed book emerged from the experimental and transitional phase and found a basic stability of form that lasted for the next three centuries. By the end of the 19th century the old manual processes had been replaced by mechanical production with power-driven machinery. (Chaytor, Clancy, Spender, Eisenstein, Butler) It has taken just three years, since the release of Netscape, for tens of millions of people to become involved with the World Wide Web. The World Wide Web may never develop a distinct form, but will continually reinvent itself.

Space Shuttle lostFEB 01

Update: Nixlog has a growing collection of infographics and interactive graphics related to the crash.

Update: some eyewitness photos (hard to get good photos at that distance...)

Update: Timeline of Columbia's last mission (another timeline).

Update: "Nick has access to orbital data for various satellites and other objects. He and Chris started looking at the data before it got locked up, and it appears that Columbia pulled up around 3 am, and continued to erratically change its path." (Juby)

Update: video of NASA TV broadcast when NASA lost contact with Columbia. Video of NASA trying to reestablish communication with Columbia.

Update: a radar image of Shuttle debris over Texas.

Update: NASA says a piece of foam that impacted the left side of the shuttle on takeoff may be to blame, but unlikely. I mean, how much damage can a piece of foam do? I guess we'll know more when we get a look at what that foam actually looks like.

From NASA:

A Space Shuttle contingency has been declared in Mission Control, Houston, as a result of the loss of communication with the Space Shuttle Columbia at approximately 9 a.m. EST Saturday as it descended toward a landing at the Kennedy Space Center, Fla. It was scheduled to touchdown at 9:16 a.m. EST.

Communication and tracking of the shuttle was lost at 9 a.m. EST at an altitude of about 203,000 feet in the area above north central Texas. At the time communications were lost. The shuttle was traveling approximately 12,500 miles per hour (Mach 18). No communication and tracking information were received in Mission Control after that time.

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