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Jon Udell

Strategies for Internet citizens

Last Build Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2017 00:39:04 +0000


Celebrating Infrastructurejonudell

Sun, 18 Jun 2017 00:36:25 +0000

When cycling in forested New England countryside I sometimes wondered about the man-made forest built along the roadside — telephone poles, power lines, transformers — and thought someone should write a book about the industrial landscape. It turns out that someone did. Brian Hayes spent many years traveling around America, researching and photographing the infrastructureContinue reading "Celebrating Infrastructure"(image)

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Weaving the annotated webjonudell

Fri, 05 May 2017 14:53:04 +0000

In 1997, at the first Perl Conference, which became OSCON the following year, my friend Andrew Schulman and I both gave talks on how the web was becoming a platform not only for publishing, but also for networked software. Here’s the slide I remember from Andrew’s talk: The only thing on it was aContinue reading "Weaving the annotated web"(image)

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Do Repeat Yourself, With Variationsjonudell

Sat, 18 Mar 2017 20:06:09 +0000

Don’t Repeat Yourself (DRY) is a touchstone principle of software development. It’s often understood to inveigh against duplication of code. Copying a half-dozen lines from one program to another is a bad idea, DRY says, because if you change your mind about how that code works, you’ll have to revise it in several places. BetterContinue reading "Do Repeat Yourself, With Variations"(image)

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Dwelling in the zone of evidencejonudell

Sat, 04 Mar 2017 23:38:17 +0000

I’ve written plenty about the software layer that adapts the Hypothesis annotator to the needs of someone who gathers, organizes, analyzes, and then writes about evidence found online. Students in courses based on Mike Caulfield’s Digital Polarization template will, I hope, find that this software streamlines the grunt work required to find and cite theContinue reading "Dwelling in the zone of evidence"(image)

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How shared vocabularies tie the annotated web togetherjonudell

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 01:35:10 +0000

I’m fired up about the work I want to share at Domains 2017 this summer. The tagline for the conference is Indie Tech and Other Curiosities, and I plan to be one of the curiosities! I’ve long been a cheerleader for the Domain of One’s Own movement. In Reclaiming Innovation, Jim Groom wrote about theContinue reading "How shared vocabularies tie the annotated web together"(image)

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How annotation layers define “segments of interest” for new kinds of applicationsjonudell

Wed, 08 Feb 2017 18:38:05 +0000

Here are some analogies we use when talking about software: Construction: Programs are houses built on foundations called platforms. Ecology: Programs are organisms that depend on ecosystem services provided by platforms. Community: Programs work together in accordance with rules defined by platforms. Architecture: Programs are planned, designed, and built according to architectural plans. Economics: ProgramsContinue reading "How annotation layers define “segments of interest” for new kinds of applications"(image)

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Componentware Revisitedjonudell

Sun, 08 Jan 2017 22:41:00 +0000

I’m not a scholar, nor do I play one on TV, but when I search Google Scholar I find that I’m cited there a few times, most notably for a 1994 BYTE cover story, Componentware. The details there are at best of historical interest but the topic remains evergreen: How do we package software inContinue reading "Componentware Revisited"(image)

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A toolkit for fact checkersjonudell

Sat, 31 Dec 2016 01:13:22 +0000

Update: See this post (with screencasts!) Mike Caulfield’s Digital Polarization Initiative (DigiPo) is a template for a course that will lead students through exercises to analyze and fact-check news stories. The pedagogical approach Mike describes here is evolving; in parallel I’ve been evolving a toolkit to help students research and organize the raw materials ofContinue reading "A toolkit for fact checkers"(image)

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Marshalling the evidencejonudell

Mon, 31 Oct 2016 01:46:42 +0000

In Bird-dogging the web I responded to questions raised by Mike Caulfield about how annotation can help us fact-check the web. He’s now written a definition of the political technique, called bird-dogging, we discussed in those posts. It’s a method of recording candidates’ positions on issues, but it’s recently been mis-characterized as a way toContinue reading "Marshalling the evidence"(image)

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Bird-dogging the webjonudell

Sat, 29 Oct 2016 21:46:08 +0000

In Annotating the wild west of information flow I responded to President Obama’s appeal for “some sort of curating function that people agree to” with a thought experiment. What if an annotation tool could make claims about the veracity of statements on the web, and record those claims in a standard machine-readable format suchContinue reading "Bird-dogging the web"(image)

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Reading and writing for our peersjonudell

Mon, 24 Oct 2016 03:35:09 +0000

The story Jan Dawson tells in The De-Democratization of Online Publishing is familiar to me. Like him, I was thrilled to be part of the birth of personal publishing in the mid-1990s. By 2001 my RSS feedreader was delivering a healthy mix of professional and amateur sources. Through the lens of my RSS reader, storiesContinue reading "Reading and writing for our peers"(image)

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From PDF to PWP: A vision for compound web documentsjonudell

Sat, 15 Oct 2016 22:21:52 +0000

I’ve been in the web publishing game since it began, and for all this time I’ve struggled to make peace with the refusal of the Portable Document Format (PDF) to wither and die. Why, in a world of born-digital documents mostly created and displayed on computers and rarely printed, would we cling to a formatContinue reading "From PDF to PWP: A vision for compound web documents"(image)

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Customer service and human dignityjonudell

Thu, 13 Oct 2016 04:37:11 +0000

It’s been a decade since I interviewed Paul English on the subject of customer service and human dignity (audio). He was CTO and co-founder at kayak but in this interview we talked more about GetHuman. It had begun as a list of cheats to help you hack through the automated defenses of corporate customer serviceContinue reading "Customer service and human dignity"(image)

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A chorus of IT recipesjonudell

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 04:41:12 +0000

My all-time favorite scene in The Matrix, if not in all of moviedom, is the one where Trinity needs to know how to fly a helicopter. “Tank, I need a pilot program for a B-212.” Her eyelids flutter while she downloads the skill. I always used to think there was just one definitive flight instructionContinue reading "A chorus of IT recipes"(image)

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Augmenting journalismjonudell

Sun, 02 Oct 2016 23:57:34 +0000

Silicon Valley’s enthusiasm for a universal basic income follows naturally from a techno-utopian ideology of abundance. As robots displace human workers, they’ll provide more and more of the goods and services that humans need, faster and cheaper and better than we could. We’ll just need to be paid to consume those goods and services. ThisContinue reading "Augmenting journalism"(image)

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