O'Reilly's Radar points to the side-by-side Microsoft Earth and Google Maps comparator.
There's been some weird press about MS's map not having Apple HQ, but it's interesting that in other places, Microsoft's map seems to be newer.
Check out UC Irvine which has been under a fair bit of construction. Zoom in four times, and don't pan. Check out the new computer science building in MSN, and the construction patch on Google. Follow East Peltason eastward to Palo Verde road, and check out the field that had become a construction site through most of 2004, and is now a housing complex. Not yet pictured.
There's a lot of other constuction, too.
Heck, just compare Irvine wintertime (green) to Irvine summertime (brown)...
First, Circus Contraption. I saw part of their show at the Moisture Festival back on the first of April, a wonderful evening of tomfoolery, amusement, and complete idiocity mixed with various brilliant (and, to be sure, not-so-brilliant) acts. There was good rope work and contortionism and music and I figured these were good people.
A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of seeing them again at their big show, the Grand Travelling American Dime Museum (not to be confused with Baltimore's Dime Museum, also worth checking out.). It was a tough show. They were plagued by a power outage that kind of killed the evening's energy for the first hour or two: timing was off, cues were missed, jokes fell flat, and their brilliant band just didn't quite get it.
And then, after intermission, the air was clear and we enjoyed an hour and a half of the best stagecraft I've seen in a few years. (I might give a slight nod to the Bindlestiff circus but it's close.) The jokes were brilliant. The band was in full tune with its Seattle Klezmer - meets - big band sound; the musical saw was an accompaniment to a sexy aerial feat. It worked.
I don't know what changed. A motivational speech? More confidence in the spotlights? But all I can say is that Circus Contraption is worth looking out for: their remaining show or two in Seattle, or their upcoming New York trip.
I was ready for great entertainment, then, when I went to see Killing My Lobster in WORLD OF SCIENCE . I like science as much as the next guy, and I liked the way I found out about it more: over breakfast at Savor a girl at the next table was talking about her date last night. "He brought me to that show. It was really funny," she said, and I believed her.
And so I brought my trusty geologist along (she's got a master's degree ... in science).
Killing My Lobster is a bay-area sketch comedy group. They have a lively enthusiastic cast, and seem to run a bunch of cool stuff over the year: a film festival, a monthly benefit cabaret, and periodic shows.
But, well, in this show, they weren't funny. The Physics Chanteuse aims for good science, but I was happy to hear bad science. Or good science parody. There were moments: the opening slide presentation, for example, hit the notes of the planetarium show perfectly. And one sketch, replacing everything with chemical names, had spot-on writing.
Yet the audience spent the night looking ... puzzled. Was that a punchline? Was that meant to be timed a little better? Clever setup -- but where was that sketch going? The evening had a not-quite-finished feel, like someone needed to sit down and give it a good shakedown. Figure out just what is funny about the frog singles lilly pad, or just how to set up the joke about Steven Jay Gould. (Much less the New York Times Science page.)
I'm afraid that I just can't claim it's worth an evening in San Francisco, or the $17 entry fee.
That project I mentioned before? We've now got an external web page up, so the world can wait in anticipation for us to be ready to release SNARF to the outside world.
Now he's got a mystery noir. Etched in Stone
Check it out.
(Yes, he's a typeface geek. Apparently, they have conventions. That's why the credits rolls the typefaces and their designers. Kind of like Pixar movies roll every person who touched the Renderman code base.)
... "A Beautiful Mime." "The Perfect Swarm." heh, heh.
Even in Research, we sometimes ship product. Last night, I put the finishing touches on the web page, ran the install one last time to make sure it wouldn't throw me off, and shipped SNARF.
SNARF is still an internal tool: it won't see the light of out-of-Microsoft-day for a few months, yet. None the less, a release to a possible customer base of, oh, 78000 people can make one a little jittery. Doubly so, because each person's run is sending us back usage data. Are we collecting the right data? Will it be analyzable the way we think? Will we come up with sufficiently-interesting analyses?
Because if this works, it's going to be GREAT. Great for the users, whose email experience should be vastly improved. And great for researchers, who will get truly interesting information about how much email flow happens, how quickly, and when.
(An overview of SNARF will be presented at the upcoming CEAS conference.)
Anonymity is a favorite issue, of couse, among sociologists and observers of online technology. Which is why I have been watching the discussion around the Plame case with a sort of horrified fascination.
If I understand correctly:
* A source asked for anonymity, and provided information relating current events to secret information to several major newspaper reporters. (By doing so, the source may have committed a crime)
* The article was refused by most of the reporters. All of the reporters accepted the anonymity request; all but one rejected the article.
* The article was, on its face, an attempt to discredit a critic of the administration by suggesting it came from a favoritist source.
As far as I know, none of these are controversial points.
It's now becoming clear that the source may have been an administrative higher-up. That is, a representative from the top levels of the administration--which has a powerful mouthpiece in tools like the daily press conference--decided that the best way to communicate was through an anonymous leak.
(This is not the only occasion upon which this has happened, of course).
Now, the leak could be the choice for several reasons. Perhaps there was some chance the statement was wrong, and the official didn't want to be held accountable for it. Perhaps the official didn't want to be quoted on a nakedly defamatory statement. Perhaps it was meant to be "background"--not for quoting, but instead for "context."
This article suggests that journalists need to more carefully consider who they owe anonymity to.
So now I bring in the social analyst hat. Anonymity is a trade. If a statement was really, truly anonymous, then it would be read as the ravings of a madman. "A person who refused to be identified in any form whatsoever said that ...." So clearly, there is credibility being exchanged and used as currency. In some critical sense, the journalist is linking their credibility to their sources'.
But then the system breaks down, sometimes. "I was just reporting what the source said," says the journalist, and "it wasn't me!" say a dozen plausible candidates, and the poor little false leask, the irritating dirt, the damaging fact floats around, abandoned.
Facts should be tied by a string of crediblity to the speaker.
I would go one or two steps further then the article above, premised on the idea that anonymous tipsters are meant to be trying to share information that they couldn't otherwise get to the people who need to know it.
1. Anonymity requires accountability. Anonymous information should be truthful, should be something that couldn't be said openly, and should benefit the public. If these conditions aren't held, the source should be exposed. That's right: if a source abuses their anonymity, they should face the consequences of their abuse. Thus, for example, if an administration official anonymously claims that the US is not considering a course of action, and the next day we do that course of action, then the official should be identified.
2. Extraordinary anonymity requires extraordinary accountability. A guy in the labor department who points out that the books don't add up is fundamentally different than a person at a higher level who has usual press access. The whistle-blower needs support. The higher-up requires suspicion.
Now, I think this is a pretty juicy piece of meat. I'm offering reporters a fair deal by which they get to report "XYZ lied!" occasionally. The downside, I guess, is that their lying sources might decide not to cal lthem. (Presumably, honest and upright sources wouldn't be concerend.)
What am I missing?