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Last 100 posts, part 2

posted by Jason Kottke   Jul 26, 2004

(This is a biweekly-ish wrap-up thing that I’m trying. Here’s the first installment.)

Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France, but you already know that. Enroute to victory, Armstrong tangled with an off-the-bike rival…or was it just smart game theory? Heather has photos (1, 2) from the final stage in Paris.

Ken Jennings is still alive on Jeopardy as the show goes on summer vacation. Tapings begin again in August. I see no end in sight to his reign. More Jennings links than you would ever want:

- Ken Jennings Wikipedia entry
- The various ways in which Ken has signed his name
- An enormous list of movies Ken likes
- Lots of discussion on the Jeopardy Forums. Jennings himself even participates in some of the discussions; here’s a list of his posts.

hello, typepad ties it all together in a post about Lance, Jennings, me, and (respectively) our continued dominance of the Tour, Jeopardy, and Google.

The discussion of the Fast Company article on Whole Foods is a reminder of why it’s so much fun for me to do this site. The thread contains both pro and con responses, including one from the boyfriend of a satisfied Whole Foods employee. What’s odd is that the article generated zero comments on the actual article page on FC. I wonder why?

Re: the HTML version of the 9/11 Commission Report Executive Summary I posted last week, here’s the whole report (HTML TOC links to PDF (FYI LOL)) with permalinks for each section. Should be a Wired article appearing soon about the guerilla reformatting of the report.

For the announcement of the new iPod, we were promised out-of-the-ordinary publicity. Instead, we got the cover of Newsweek. Boooor-ring. Does anyone have one of these bad boys yet?

I tested the wisdom of a crowd by opening up comments on the Wisdom of Crowds post. How’d the crowd do? Well, it would have been more interesting had any of the commenters actually read the book. I’ve thought of starting a kottke.org book club where I post what book I’m currently reading, invite others to read along with me, and then have a discussion about the book when we’ve finished reading. I’m not completely sold on the idea for a variety of reasons, but would there be any interest in this?

In response to my problems with MTAmazon, Adam Kalsey, the creator of the plugin, writes in with a possible solution (haven’t tried it yet, so I don’t know). He says it’s a problem with Amazon’s ever-changing API, which makes sense because nothing with my MT install changed to make the plugin break. Thanks to Adam taking the time to help and for making MTAmazon freely available. Amazon’s API aside, it’s one of my favorite plugins.

The DNC bloggers are gearing up to do their thing. (What “thing” that is exactly remains to be seen.) I’m a little irritated about not being there; I didn’t find out that they were letting bloggers into the convention until it was too late to sign up. Sounds like an interesting experience.

Other than that, last week was a hard week. I’m setting up a new server and, after 40+ hours of monkeying around with installation of software and configuring everything, the hard drive threw a wobbly. Luckily I got the data back, and I’m only out a few bucks and a few hours for my trouble. I’ve got it back to where it was (more or less) and am currently working on an rsync-based backup solution before I go any further. From what I’ve seen so far, rsync is quite a cool application.

Reader comments

RolandJul 26, 2004 at 3:07PM

I think I like this summary thing. It makes the vast amount of content you create and link to much more managable.

annetteJul 26, 2004 at 3:49PM

A kottke.org book club? Count me in. I would finally have an excuse to buy The Wisdom of Crowds.

Gilbert LeeJul 26, 2004 at 4:00PM

I like the idea of a book club. I’ve had that idea in my head for quite some time - an online book club - but I wasn’t quite sure how the discussion was going to be structured. How will you be structuring the discussion? By chapter? By character (if applicable)? By topic (how do you figure that out)? The interface will be interesting. I’d like to see how you can do this effectively.

IsisJul 26, 2004 at 4:10PM

I really tried to resist the lure of the new 40GB iPod, but alas, the impulse buy got the better of me. Best Buy got some $400+ of my hard-earned money, and I gots me a slick new clicky-wheel baby.

Amusingly, it’s not much lighter or thinner than my 2nd-gen 10GB, but it’s a whole lot shinier.

Mike RundleJul 26, 2004 at 4:15PM

Hey guys, I ordered a new 20GB iPod 15 minutes after they were announced on Monday morning, and had it super-kickass-overnight shipped to my house and got it last Wednesday.

I absolutely love the clickwheel, and since this is my first iPod, the entire thing blew me away. I wrote more about it on my weblog.

MichelleJul 26, 2004 at 4:19PM

I do have one of those “bad boys.” My birthday fell at the perfect time (tomorrow) to allow me to get the new, lower priced 20GB instead of the 15GB I was going to buy instead. I don’t have an earlier version to compare it to but as a new iPod owner I’m very pleased with the changes. Obviously the extra 5GB for the same money is excellent and I’m really happy with the click wheel. It seems much more intuitive than the four buttons and since it matches the same model of the Creative IIC that I used for a while it feels very natural.

ChrisJul 26, 2004 at 5:03PM

I really like the idea of an online bookclub. I have no idea how it should be structured. Maybe it doesn’t have to be structured at all. I like the flavour of the books and articles you point to so it should generate some really good discussion.

ErikJul 26, 2004 at 5:52PM

I think the idea of a book club is great.. I’m always looking for good books to buy and usually end up giving them away to friends so I can discuss them with SOMEONE!

PurpleCarJul 26, 2004 at 6:36PM

I’d be up for a book club. Lets have some fiction in there, too, though. All of us with blogs could maybe make a j/k (i.e., jason kottke, not just kidding) book webring.

nJul 26, 2004 at 9:31PM

book club? yes!

Al AbutJul 26, 2004 at 11:10PM

Holy crap yes, book club me as well… I just realized I’ve been using Jason’s reviews of books he’s reading as additions to my reading list more than Amazon’s sticky “Recommended Reading” functionality. Scary, flattering, smart or sheer laziness? You decide.

Al AbutJul 26, 2004 at 11:26PM

Didn’t give any reasoning did I? Well, reviews are nice, but collected thoughts and notes on the material along the way would be even better for critical thought. For example, I credit Tantek’s crib notes on Tim Berners Lee’s book with giving me insight I might have missed otherwise, especially with the comparisons between the W3C’s current glacial state of affairs and the similar snail’s pace of change in the SGML community they originally broke away from. Compare this to his original review of the book and you can see how reviews have limited utility - thumbs up/down, you should/shouldn’t check it out… that’s about all it can do, very binary.

DaveJul 27, 2004 at 6:18AM

Should be a Wired article appearing soon about the guerilla reformatting of the report.

That was quick!

kirkioJul 27, 2004 at 8:55AM

A book club would definitely get me off the computer for a little to go read.

EliotJul 27, 2004 at 9:41AM

The observation about the volume of discussion here versus the Fast Company site is kind of interesting. I can think of a few factors which could explain it:

1) People who are motivated to respond to primary source material are more likely to do so on their own blogs than in comment threads (as you did). Maybe they value a degree of insulation from the author, maybe they like their own space. I guess If I had a word blog, I’d probably write this there (rather than here). Too bad they don’t support Trackback.

2) People are more likely to take the time to comment in a directed discussion rather than a free-form, blank slate kind of thing.

3) People don’t like the design or usability of the FC site.

4) Some kind of Shirkyesque axiom like “Discussion finds its own medium” or something. :)

AshleyJul 27, 2004 at 10:40AM

Be sure to check out RsyncX if you’re going to use rsync on a Mac - this version updates the native rsync to deal with Mac files and resource forks; details here and here, and has a GUI helper tool too.

ShmuelJul 27, 2004 at 9:36PM

Having just read your question regarding starting a book club I read this in Newsweek:

According to a report issued by the NEA last week regarding the reading habits of Americans “…at the current rate of loss, literary reading as a leisure activity will virtually disappear in half a century.” […] And by literature, “we’re not talking about the number of people who reread Proust,” says Dana Gioia, chairman of the NEA. “Literature” means simply any books that people read without guns pointed to their heads. - Newsweek July, 26 2004

The article’s basic conclusion is that there are too many books being published, not enough quality filters available, and of course an overwhelming number of alternative media formats.

In a climate like this I can’t imagine that another book club could hurt. If you can convince a couple more people to crack a book by hosting a discussion I’d say go for it!

CourtneyJul 28, 2004 at 3:04PM

Digging a little deep in this post: I don’t get the Game Theory article re: the Tour Stage 18. Not to belittle the huge amount of strategy that is involved in every aspect of the race (and could be compared in ways to game theory strategies), but anyone who would could cast Armstrong and Simeoni as “collaborators” (or to say that T-Mobile was drafting that stage) must have been wearing earplugs while watching that stage. And probably not know much about bike racing. And never read any back-stories on Lance or this tour…

Robert PatersonAug 01, 2004 at 9:23AM

Amazon reviews are useful because for the most part they are legit peer reviews.

If a well known and respected blogger such as your self had a book club where there was real conversation about the books, this would be even more powerful.

Andrew Sullivan ran a club for a while and was able to attract some of the authors to the conversation as well.

Maybe the club if you want to do this would have some kind of broad theme. Your current choices suggest that you already have such a theme - looking more deeply at what is driving our world. Really there is not much around that discusses the kinds of books that you (and I ) enjoy that explore what is really going on and such a club could help expand such exploration.

Chris CurnowAug 01, 2004 at 9:47PM

Suitably chastised by your comments, my copy of Wisdom of Crowds just arrived. Too late to participate in the discussion, but at least it stimulated some action.

jaypAug 02, 2004 at 4:59PM

Yes, yes!!! A kottke.org book club would be sweet. Count me in.

Rsync has saved my arse more times than I can count. Not sure what I’d do without it.

This thread is closed to new comments. Thanks to everyone who responded.