Ming the Mechanic
The NewsLog of Flemming Funch

Wednesday, January 22, 2003day link 

 Categorize or Search
picture So, do I want to categorize things when I store them, or do I just want flexible ways of searching for things later on? I'm talking about the filing system(s) in my life. My e-mail archive, my personal databases of things I need to remember. Until now my vision has been that a sufficiently multi-dimensional system could be devised where I could easily assign a piece of information to a number of different categories while I'm in the process of saving it, even being able to make up new classifications on the fly. And then, later, when I need to find the information again, it is already classified in a number of different useful ways, as many ways as I feel like, and chances are that one of them is what I need. By date, by location, by people involved, by subjects, by reference to other items, etc.

But the first problem is that no matter how easy the user interface is, I will quickly become tired of categorizing things. I'm already getting way too much e-mail, and even the job of going through it and deleting it, or filing it in even one folder is beginning to be too much work for me. So, would I really want to have to select from dozens of different pulldown lists whenever I file an e-mail? Probably not.

The second problem is that I don't know what my main categories of interest will be next year. I change often, and next year I mostly likely will have a list of new ways of categorizing things, which I couldn't think of now. But am I then going to go back and apply those categories to all my old information? No, I won't have time for that.

So, I must admit that what I really want is that when I need something, I will get it, in an organized, complete and sensible fashion. I want to say "Computer, give me a list of all the people I have sent e-mail last year!". And when I get the list, I want to say "Sort them in order of volume of mail", and then "Correlate the top 10% with the list of people who've called me on the phone". I want the freedom to make it up on the spot. And I don't want to have had to predict that query a year earlier. I don't want to have had to select a dozen pulldown menus on a screen whenever I get a phonecall. I just want to, at best, answer my phonecall.

What I need is apparently an AI that records everything that happens to me, and that is smart enough to be able to give me a complete list of relevant, cross-indexed information, whenever I desire it. Please.
[ | 2003-01-22 23:59 | 20 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

picture RIAA, the music industry's main organ, has been a lot in the press the past couple of years, because of their ongoing battle with ...just about anybody who wants to enjoy music in new and different ways, without paying them each time. Wired:
"There are a lot more voters downloading music than there are music company executives," Hayes warned. "If the RIAA was my client, I'd advise them to think this one through again."
Wise words from an entertainment industry lawyer. But think about it for a moment. We all know, of course, that there are many more voters who would like to share music they like than there are music company executives who want to own all music in the world. And this is a democracy, no? Well, if it were, there wouldn't be any problem at all. If we each had one vote, no problem. But music industry executives can buy power and media coverage that is equivalent to millions of votes and millions of voices. That will probably still eventually put them in the minority, but only barely.

Hillary Rosen, CEO of the RIAA, 'The Most Hated Name in Music' as Wired put it, wants to force ISPs to pay her for the losses she thinks she's incurred from online piracy. Well, obviously she has MUCH more than one vote, since such a scammy scheme even will be taken seriously in the major media. It is taken seriously because she might very well have bought enough politicians to actually carry it through. Luckily she's stepping down at least.

And here's some other good news: British pop star Robbie Williams says that he thinks that music piracy is a great idea.
[ | 2003-01-22 23:59 | 13 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

picture 21st Century Airships apparently has a contract to build replacements for cellphone towers for several US companies, in the form of balloons, permanently anchored up in the air. They're still working on developing 'High Altitude Platforms' which would be stationed even higher, in the stratosphere 18-21km above earth, to serve other telecommunications needs, and environmental monitoring.
[ | 2003-01-22 23:59 | 9 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

 MoveOn Successes
The MoveOn organization has scored some good successes recently. Mark Smollin posts their announcement. Lately they've focused on a Let the Inspections Work campaign. 310,000 people signed the petition. Several dozen congressmen sent a letter to Bush, asking him also to let the inspectors work. Support for war has dropped sharply.
[ | 2003-01-22 23:59 | 2 comments | PermaLink ]  More >

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