Friday, October 12, 2007

Leveraging system tracking

As I mentioned yesterday, RescueTime is in limited beta, so I'm testing it out in comparison with Wakoopa. It's an interesting comparison, since although both packages do basically the same thing -- track your usage of different programs and post the results to a website -- they offer different analysis tools.

Wakoopa is all about straight application use and sharing comments on the applications, and even suggests alternatives to the apps you use heavily. (For instance, I use Firefox, so Wakoopa suggests Camino.) These alternatives are based on application usage across Wakoopa's user base. And as the base gets larger, it becomes easier to see patterns in application use. So Wakoopa is beginning to post factoids like this:
Did you know World of Warcraft is played most on sunday, and least on tuesday? We do. Wakoopa knows software.
RescueTime, on the other hand, is more about characterizing personal activity. So you get to free-tag your applications and view where your time is going (hence the product name). You can click through to view bar graphs on all apps or on tags. Surprisingly, it does not appear to have a way to share these results; perhaps that feature will come later, and I hope it does, because the real potential I see for RescueTime is in real-time characterization of work activity for distributed groups.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

RescueTime is in limited beta

I blogged a few months ago about RescueTime, "a free time management solution which allows productivity geeks to understand exactly how they spend their computer time." Like SlifeShare and Wakoopa, it records your system events and displays them in ways that you can analyze and share. It also allows you to free tag your apps, so you can group them by function (e.g., entertainment, office work). That's less useful these days, since I do most things in the browser window now, but still interesting. RescueTime and other web apps in this class have real potential for sharing team member status in distributed collaborative groups.

UPDATE: RescueTime does log domains as applications -- see comments.

Don't try to get change for a $1 million bill at a grocery story

Besides the fact that there's no such thing as a $1 million bill, they really won't be able to break it. Trust me.
Counterfeit $1 million bill - Boing Boing

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Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Why not Twitter?

As I mentioned earlier, Google has bought Jaiku, and people are asking: Why not Twitter instead? Marshall Kirkpatrick suggests:
Jaiku may be stronger on the mobile platform than Twitter and probably came at a much lower price.
Definitely true. Kirkpatrick also speculates that Yahoo will buy Twitter, which follows Yahoo's familiar buy-high-sell-low strategy. But what I'm wondering is: Why doesn't Google leverage its previous mobile acquisition, Dodgeball, instead? Probably it's not the software or the user base so much as the people. And I also wonder if Nokia is now kicking themselves for not acquiring Jaiku, a natural fit.

Google Acquires Microblogging Service Jaiku

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Twitter, watch your back

Jaiku, a rival (and in some ways much more flexible) service, has been bought by Google. Jaiku, incidentally, heavily leverages the mobile market, so this has a GPhone connection too.

Jaikido Blog | We’re joining Google

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Qaeda Goes Dark

After ABC News ran a video that the federal government plucked off al Qaeda's Internet communications system, Obelisk, AQ immediately pulled the plug:
One intelligence officer who requested anonymity said in an interview last week that the intelligence community watched in real time the shutdown of the Obelisk system. America's Obelisk watchers even saw the order to shut down the system delivered from Qaeda's internal security to a team of technical workers in Malaysia. That was the last internal message America's intelligence community saw. "We saw the whole thing shut down because of this leak," the official said. "We lost an important keyhole into the enemy."
Heartbreaking. In netwar, distributed organizations pose very few centralized targets. Obelisk represented one such target, and now it's gone.
Qaeda Goes Dark After a U.S. Slip - October 9, 2007 - The New York Sun

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Wal-Mart getting into broadband?

If so, it would be reselling satellite broadband from Hughes Communications. This makes sense in that Wal-Mart would expand broadband in a big way to the 10% of the US population without broadband: the currently underserved rural users who can't get cable or DSL. Wal-Mart could sell the equipment in-store, and doing so would also stimulate sales of Internet equipment currently being sold. The catch is service, something for which Wal-Mart has never been known, but Wal-Mart appears to have plans along those lines too.

Wal-Mart's Latest Sale: Broadband

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Hello, My Name Is Bob, and I Check My Email While on the Toilet

Another preachy reaction against always-on connectivity:
In many recovery programs, one of the first steps to overcoming an addiction is to admit there is a problem, "Hello, my name is Bob and I check my e-mail while on the toilet." That may sound comical but without acknowledging the worship of the urgent, there can be no change. Man must re-build the walls of his digitally infiltrated castle. He must find his place of quiet, of solace, of meditation, and of focus. The important must supersede the urgent once again; it starts with the off switch.
Are they going to preach against reading magazines on the toilet next?

TCS Daily - Hello, My Name Is Bob, and I Check My Email While on the Toilet'

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More on forgetting: Or, genie, get back in the bottle

Earlier this summer Viktor Mayer-Schönberger, an associate professor of public policy at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, made a splash by proposing that we need ways to forget, including public policy that causes online records to expire. This recent article in the Boston Globe takes that football and runs with it, implying via a Jorge Luis Borges quote that human beings need to forget. In his post referring to the article, Andrew Sullivan summarizes: "forgetting is what it means to be human."

I disagree. Being human above all means learning how to mediate one's own behavior and thought with physical and psychological tools. The basic things that we teach in school -- reading, writing, arithmetic, hygiene, citizenship -- have to be taught because they are unnatural. Mediated memory is yet another example of this. Yes, the recent changes in what gets recorded will make people uncomfortable, just as other technological changes have caused upheaval. (Print comes to mind.) But rather than ungrinding the hamburger, we can do other things:
According to Danah Boyd, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, the solution is not to fight the ubiquity of memory but to adapt. "No amount of structural intervention is going to combat this," Boyd says. "People, particularly younger people, are going to come up with coping mechanisms. That's going to be the shift, not any intervention by a governmental or technological body."
The advantages of amnesia - The Boston Globe

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Knowledge workers and web workers

Anne Zelenka differentiates them:
The Information Age is the age of the knowledge worker. The Connected Age is the age of the web worker. Knowledge workers create and manage information, massaging it into intangible knowledge goods. Web workers create and manage relationships across knowledge goods, hardware, and people. The table below, taken from Web Worker Daily’s upcoming book “Connect! Web Worker Daily’s Guide to a New Way of Working” contrasts knowledge work and web work. Of course, in practice individual workers may take a hybrid approach, combining aspects of both.
From The Information Age To The Connected Age « GigaOM

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GPhone's secret weapon

On the heels of the recent NYT article about the GooglePhone, TechCrunch weighs in. The speculation is that the GPhone will be implemented on a variety of devices, each running at least a subset of the mobile OS and apps. It will compete against Windows Mobile, not the iPhone. The platform will be open, with developers creating free applications in the same way they do for Facebook. And TechCrunch thinks it will work because of a little thing called AdSense:
If Google can get enough Gphones into consumers hands, the apps will follow. Because Google has a secret weapon here that no one else has—not even Apple. It’s called AdSense. If Google were to tie its mobile application development platform to its existing advertising platform, it could share future mobile advertising revenues with developers the same way it splits ad revenues with Web publishers today. Mobile app developers would flock to a platform that let them share in some of that Google ad money. Of course, the carriers and phone manufacturers might want their cut as well. But in a mobile scenario, it makes more sense to let each app developer help determine how and what types of ads are shown.
The More Gphones, the Better

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Why a formal proposal genre is needed

Facebook Mass Rejects All fbFund Applicants And Starts Over

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Monday, October 08, 2007

Ron Paul's net work

Via Andrew Sullivan, an interesting article about how Ron Paul's campaign is gaining online traction. I don't think Paul has a serious chance at being President, particularly since he has not managed to form many coalitions during his time in Congress, but his online campaign is fascinating:
So the big question in this story is not why Ron Paul is gaining traction – his ideas have been out there for decades – but rather why now and not ten or fifty years ago. The answer is simply that the technology just now exists for like-minded individuals to form geography independent groupings that are capable of effective action at very low overhead and that do not rely upon any of the state or establishment apparatus.
This is exactly the sort of phenomenon I'm describing in Net Work (I finished editing the manuscript late last week). Interesting to see how it plays out in different contexts.
The Ron Paul Nation by Jay Roberts

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