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Reading Online

Looking at my recent blog history, you’ll find that it has been rather bookcentric. This is largely a function of a quick book review being easier to write than a longer, more personal post; however, it belies how much of my time I actually spend reading books. I sometimes bemoan the fact that I read less than I used to, but I think I can chalk that behavior up to three factors:

  • I read a lot more in high school
  • I still get to read more than most people
  • I now read more content online

The first point is part of growing up, and the second point is part of a larger sociological question that I’m not qualified to address, so I’ll focus on the third point: how and where do I find and read short- and long-form content on the web? The list probably won’t be too surprising (Twitter, Facebook, blogs, news sites, etc.), but I’ll go into more detail on what clients I use to keep track of everything. It should not be surprising that my acquisition of an iPad in April of 2010 significantly changed how I interact with text online.

This has been a topic kicking around my head for close to a year, since I spend a lot of time connected, although some of my reading/archiving methods have changed over time. The most recent inspiration to write this up was a discussion I had with my mom back in October about how to save articles that she finds online, the way one might clip an article from a physical newspaper. Another one was this post from Brett Nordquist in May of last year about personal online recommendations, in which we happen to use a lot of the same sources/services.

Below the cut, my rather verbose recommendations on how to quickly filter a wide variety of text content online for eventual reading.

(more…)

Posted in Reviews, Social Media Tagged with: , , , , , , , ,

Connections at the MIT Museum

Today I took my Little Brother Patrick to the MIT Museum near Central Square. I had seen a blurb on their website about an exhibit on social media, and I wanted to check it out (and, since it was billed as interactive, I thought he would enjoy it as well, even though he’s 11).

The exhibit, Connections, features a number of interactive art and technology installations from MIT’s Sociable Media Group. I took a few mediocre iPhone pictures of some of the displays, all of which were very interesting. I love the cool stuff that arises when art and technology collide.

The first thing you see when you walk into the museum right now is the piece Metropath(ologies), which consists of several projectors some big white pillars, plus some speakers, a camera, and several screens. Technically, the first thing you see is the disclaimer that your image and voice may be recorded when interacting with the piece, but I think that’s really cool.

 

 

Twitter word clouds projected onto the white pillars of the Metropath(ologies) installation at the MIT Museum, with a visitor moving among them.

Twitter word clouds projected onto white pillars, with a visitor moving among them.

They also have some interesting ways of some Twitter (and other?) feeds; based on the posts they’re from about 2 weeks ago, not live, but I’m not sure what kind of harvesting they do to produce the visualization. As part of another piece, Lexigraphs I, they also have some stylized views of personal word clouds.

 

3-D visualization of Twitter posts from a few weeks ago

3-D visualization of Twitter posts from a few weeks ago

 

Person-shaped Twitter word cloud

Person-shaped Twitter word cloud

One of the other Data Portraits was the piece Themail, which gives a timeline word cloud of personal e-mail correspondence between three close individuals. I have e-mail archives going back a long time, I’d be interested in seeing what these look like over time; aggregated they’d just be a roughly Zipfian distribution of English, but presumably there’d be visible spikes as certain topics came and went.

 

Timelines for three individuals e-mail accounts over 3+ years

Timelines for three individual's e-mail accounts over 3+ years

Finally, there was a live display of data from the Mycrocosm service, of which I couldn’t get a reasonable picture. It seems to be very similar in concept to the tool Daytum, which I started using several weeks ago. The big difference is that MIT is explicitly wanting to study your usage patterns of the Mycrocosm service, and Daytum has a nice Twitter DM method for submitting data items while mobile.

The exhibit is up through September 13th, 2009, so there’s plenty of time to check it out. There are admissions discounts for students, but it’s free if you’re a Big Brother (or Big Sister) there with your Little :oP.

 

 

 

You can click any of the images above to view a larger version, or see the entire (small) gallery.

Posted in Reviews, Social Media Tagged with: , , , , ,

Nicolas Ward

Software engineer in Natural Language Processing research by day; gamer, reader, and aspiring UltraNurd by night. Husband to Andrle
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