Talis’ Podcast Goes the TWiT Route: The Semantic Web Gang

Semantic Web Gang: Introductory Episode

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Some suggestions:

1. During the conference call, use some sort of mixing program so the moderator can see who is talking at every moment during the recording via an audio level meter and make adjustments as needed.

2. Whenever some body new starts talking, quickly talk over them stating their name (it only obscures what they’re saying for one or two syllables so it’s easy for the listener to understand what they’re saying while taking in the metadata too)

3. Have a rotating or otherwise changing schedule of guests like TWiT does.  The occasional random apperence by a CEO or two, or other dignitaries of the Web might help to keep the discussion interesting.

4. Don’t be afraid to spend a few hundred pounds on a decent microphone and maybe a mixer or or whatever is needed to improve the quality of the audio.  The audio of Talking With Talis has been piss poor since the beginning.  It would really serve you guys to improve on that.

I think part of your mission is evangelism, so I hate to think you’re losing audience because of the poor audio quality.

Looking forward to more!

-A

 

 

Should I join ASCAP? pros and cons (beta)

I’m worried that new innovations in music discovery might not be able to play ASCAP music because of the cost. I heard that this might be the case for small internet radio stations… I’m still trying to get to the bottom of this.

Then, I did come across these ASCAP contracts for new media channels… it’s about $1000/year minimum. This sounds high to me at first for a totally underground, out-of-my-bedroom type of channel, but then I got to thinking… A fast, enterprise-speed server, which is what I think you’d want if you were going to do something like an internet radio station, will probably cost you $100/month… So basically, if you were doing that and you wanted to play ASCAP music (and not get your pants sued off) you’d be doubling that amount… say $200-$300/month…

Then

I found a cool internet radio station called erika.net (that does play ASCAP and BMI music) and it turns out I wasn’t too far off. They say on their site that it costs about $400/month to keep their service going.

to be continued…

If only Google Would do What Mahalo Does: ASK FOR HELP!

I’ve spent ALL FREAKING DAY researching a subject. Chances are, since it’s probably a subject that many other people are also searching for and not finding satisfactory results for, Google knows in some way, computationally or otherwise, that there is this particular search pattern that ends up being a day-long process for the users conducting the search.

Is it part of Google’s NO-EVIL plan to withhold from us where the holes in the communal knowledge of the Web are? If they are at around 90% of the search market share, is it not a little bit evil to hold on to information about how we are failing to communicate with each other as a species in the interest of preserving their business plan?

Google:

Please start asking for help. Mahalo.com does.  Google, please make a public database of “failing searches” so people in the industries related to those searches can jump in and fill the void.  Jeeez.

Easter & Wikipedia’s ‘On This Day’

What isn’t on this calendar?  Well, according to The Wikipedia, on this day, Jesus didn’t become the first human being ever to come back to life after being completely dead (for more than a few minutes).

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Lots of interesting things did happen on this day, however.  For instance in 1903, The Wright Brothers applied for a patent on their invention of one of the first successful airplanes.

I don’t like to blog about religion (or mainstream politics), because I feel like doing so will cloud up the few messages I do really want to trumpet through this site.  But thinking about the tradition of celebrating Easter feels weird on me today.

Why do people need to celebrate something that certainly did not happen?  And going further, why is it that the story of Jesus, for most Christians, is more about the folklore of his alleged magic tricks than about the philosophical teachings associated with him?  Virgin births, resurrections, turning one form of matter into another with the waive of a hand–these are all great tricks, but what about the guy that made the Statue of Liberty disappear?  And that was so much more recent!  Magic is fun.  It’s neato.  But to me, disregard and even avoidance of what is evident, the laws of the universe for instance, is just disgraceful.

So while I know I might offend or alienate a few people with this post, I felt like I needed to say that it offends and alienate me when people celebrate bullshit and insist that things are true when they are not.  It offends me when religious people want to teach the younger generations of our species untruths.  It offends me when religious people want government policy to be influenced by untruths.

Happy Easter! 

SEO link-farming email from Digital Enterprizes Inc.

I don’t understand why this sort of thing needs to exist.  It will be interesting to see if I get a response from them.

Emily Ulmer to me:

The other day I ran across your site AndrewAPeterson.Wordpress.com as I
was searching for computer related info. on Google. As mentioned in my
previous email to you, I like your site, especially your text colors and
page layout.

I run a website also, and would like to see if there are ways we can
work together to benefit both our businesses. As I am sure you have
found, reciprocal links have very little value these days – getting
ahead on the search engines relies on two factors…

1. Lots of well-crafted unique content on your site.
2. One way links to your site.

We are willing to supply you with “unique” content for your website in
the form of keyword rich articles written on topics related to both our
sites. All of your articles will be on interesting topics relating to
the windows registry or related computer topics and of course, will be
search engine friendly. These quality articles will help you in your
search engine rankings, and will never be published on another website.
We are offering you unique high-quality content for your website. In
return for the free articles, we want the links within the article to
remain intact. We will put links (3 to 4) into the article.

If you are interested in getting free content for your site, just let me
know and we will get to work writing fabulous articles exclusively for
your website.  Our website is www.Instant-Registry-Fixes.org and you can
contact me by replying to this email, or calling either Miles or myself
at (720) 240-4663.

Thanks so much,

Emily
Digital Enterprises Inc.
(720) 240-4663

My Response:

Emily,
Why not just put the “unique” content, containing the 3-4 links on your own blog or RSS feed?  What is the advantage to you or anyone else in having it be on my blog, other than me having more content?
May I see an example of this unique content with 3-4 links in it?
-Andrew

I guess I’m actually ramping down (blog stats and possible 9-5 job)

I have a job interview for a job I actually want to get tomorrow. I need to bite the bullet and work like a normal person for a while. There’s too many things I need to buy in order to remain productive in the long run, a new machine for instance. If I get this job, I will surely have practically no time to participate in the Web like I have been. I’ll be back though, some day. Don’t you cry.

In related news, look what happens when I stop blogging every day:

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That’s my traffic. And the interesting thing is that this isn’t because of subscriptions as in more people subscribed so fewer posts equals fewer hits… It’s because of

  • the Live-Web search engines like Technorati and WordPress’ back-end,
  • traffic from TrackBacks when I blog about other people’s blog posts,
  • and how Google seems to give higher status to sites that update more regularly.

There are a good deal of searches that I used to come up on the first page for that I’m already falling off of, just because I went on a road trip and wasn’t really blogging for about a week.

Social Currency on the Web requires participation.

Unsubscribing to Engadget (and others) Taps Playing In The Background

Now that I have NetNewsWire going, and can finally really manage as many feeds as I want in a totally efficient way, I’m realizing that I need more specific focus for my information gathering.

Engadget, one of the best consumer electronics blogs out there (the other is probably CNET‘s) is getting laid off.  It’s just not relevant enough to me.

It’s Monday afternoon even after spending my usual hour or so reading and scanning, I still have 2988 headlines I have not even glanced at yet.
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224 of those are from Engadget.  Sorry Engadget.  I’m just not, on a daily basis, that interested in

  • digital picture frames,
  • handsets
  • bigscreen TVs
  • every little detail about all gaming related products
  • the vast world of portable media players

Gotta trim the fat sometimes… Another likely candidate for the chopping block is digg.com’s technology feed…

I can’t help but think of Digg as more of a pastime than a news source, although nearly every time I get bored enough to actually spend any time there, I find something really interesting to me.

LimeWire Launches Legitimate Online Music Store

Store HERE 

They have three different subscription plans, the more you pay, the cheaper the tracks get per-track. In addition, you can buy individual tracks for $0.99…

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What I don’t get is, if it’s a monthly subscription, does that mean you don’t get to keep the tracks? And if it’s a subscription plan where you don’t get to keep the music, why not make it unlimited songs as long as you have a current subscription activated?

They boast DRM-Free MP3’s so I can only assume that what this really means is this: You have one month per active subscription period to download your quota of tracks. Hmmm. So, unlike an iTunes gift card, you pay in advance but lose your money if you don’t use the funds in time.

I’m glad to see LimeWire launching a store, because at the very least, it’s good to have competition in this new market.

I don’t have the disposable income right now to sign up with every new online music store and buy tracks to see what the scoop is.

Goodmorning, Closet-Technophobes…

You may be a technophobe.

I don’t mean if you refuse to get a cell phone. Or if you refuse to join FaceBook (or whatever the current trendiest Networking Service is). I don’t mean if you believe electricity is evil or that we should all go back to being hunter-gatherers. If any of those examples describe you, you definitely are a technophobe and that’s fine. You fall into the category of obvious technophobe. You are a proud upstanding member of the Anti-Technology Party. And although you and I may disagree about certain things, I respect your right to have your opinion. I am not concerned with you here.
I want to talk about a different form of techno-hatred here. Hypocritical Closet Technophobia is apparently very common among people my age and older than myself. (I was born in ’76 so…)

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If you believe that:

        1. Generally, new methods of communication (media) take the place of older ones
        2. (more importantly) the quality of human communication is suffering due to the inferiorities of new forms of communication (media),

          You are a technophobe. Sorry.

          When new media are developed, they do tend to be useful to people already in communication using existing media. So it is true that to a certain degree, new media is used in place of the old. Yes, when new Media are developed, existing conversations do take advantage of them.

          But in addition, and this is the important distinction I want to make, new media also inspire communication. In other words, new media make it possible for new kinds of conversations.

          It may be true that some of the interactions that take place through Email or Instant Messaging might otherwise take place through Snail-Mail, Telephone, or even in person, but it’s also true that more often than not, the communication that is taking place using the new medium wouldn’t be taking place at all if the new medium didn’t exist.

          Imagine the last time you called a local business to see how late they were open. How would that conversation have translated to a pre-telephone world? Perhaps it wouldn’t have happened at all.

          The reason I wanted to post this is just because I meet people fairly often that think we’re headed toward a dystopian future where people do not value real human interaction and virtually everything is virtualized.

          On the contrary, I want to point out that new media are actually making it easier for people to organize real-world events.

          And of course, new media are making it easier for people to find other people in the ‘real world’ with similar interests, needs etc, that often lead to one-on-one interactions.

          Anyways… Have a nice day.

          Voluntary Payment for Music vs. Music-Like-Water Approach Part 1

          Part One – Some Background. Long Tail, Net Neutrality & Free Culture

          First, let me apologize for how long this damn thing is. Unfortunately, I need to make sure I get everyone on the same page more or less as far as what I see as the important ideas/themes to consider when looking at the current condition of Music (and all other Media). If the set-up is old news to you, bare with me while I school everyone else for a second.

          Second, if you’re interested in what is going on with all this stuff, you really ought to check out the book: The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution by Dave Kusek. The first six chapters are available as a podcast in the iTunes Store HERE (iTunes URL Link). And a variety of links to where you can purchase the entire Audiobook can be found HERE.

          This is where I got the idea of “Music Like Water.” In the first chapter of the book, Kusek talks about how in the future, music will flow like water without the constant interruptions we experience now when we have to buy or download it or move it from one drive to another. Music will just be there waiting. Like water through a faucet, it will pour. It will be as abundant and as varied as we like. I believe, as long as the Net remains neutral, this is inevitable.

          Right now of course, that’s not at all how it works. But if you’ve got your ear to the tracks you can hear it coming. Digital Media, The Web, Search, Recommendation Systems, Social Software, RSS/Atom feeds, P2P technology, increasing connection speeds, accelerating processing power, the cheapening of storage – We are clearly on the threshold of a paradigm change. This is a particular moment in time when some very exciting things are happening with regard to how media is curated, discovered and distributed, not to mention how it’s created.

          This stuff is much bigger than just music too. Of course all of these concepts carry over into Film, News, Literature, instructional products, the list goes on, but even beyond all that, this is a profound moment in history because the very process by which Human Culture grows, changes and spreads is changing because of the Internet and the invention of digital product. Anyone with access to blue-collar amounts of money can create media. Since increasingly anyone can participate in the cultural dialog, people are. This phenomenon is causing the few companies and institutions that have had most of the control over Culture in its many forms for all of living memory to lose market share as they increasingly find themselves in competition with Everyone and Everything else.

          The “Everything Else” is also called the Long Tail and is examined by Chris Anderson in his book, The Long Tail: Why The Future of Business is Selling Less of More.” This is a good book to read or listen to because it brings to light an important fact: There is more value in the sum of all the less-popular and niche products than there is in just the “Top Hits” we’ve grown up with.

          The “Everyone Else” is me and you. What we are participating in here is what Lawrence Lessig calls the Read/Write Web. Rather than a one-way, or Read-Only form of media, digital media and the Web are very conducive to dialog. One example of this dialog is sampling in music. Another is the blogosphere. And there are many, many more. The Hands-On, Read/Write, Two-Way “remix-culture” that we are finding ourselves in suddenly makes you and me part of the “Everything Else” I mentioned a moment ago.

          In this way, we are taking market share from corporate media and so corporate media is losing influence over our Culture and losing Money as the value they can offer advertisers is falling. And guess what. They want to stop it. That’s exactly what the Net Neutrality debate is about. If the Net becomes un-neutral, it will be like handing the freedom to participate that we now enjoy over to companies that stand to gain from preventing our participation in Media, and our access to a variety of media products.

          If you want to learn more about Two-Way Media and how Corporate Media is trying to control it, go read or listen to Lawrence Lessig’s book: Free Culture: How Big Media Uses Technology and the Law to Lock Down Culture.” It’s free!

          Almost everyone I know uses illegal means to access media products at leas some of the time. Often it’s just too inconvenient to get media the legal way. Actually it’s often not even an option.

          The traditional purveyers of Culture are losing money because of this. Media have been selling eyes and ears to the advertisers that fund them since before your parents were born. It’s not paranoid conspiracy-theory-speak when I say that the corporate media want to maintain control over the Culture Markets.

          MORE ON THIS TO COME.  In the meantime, check these out:

          Trent Reznor Talks to CNET About Saul Williams Release

          NIN Releases Ghosts Volume I for FREE 

          Recent Post of Mine Comparing Press About the Radiohead “In Rainbows” Release to the Release of The Saul Williams’ Record

          The Web Has Always Been a Semantic Web

          We started with the semantics of document structure. That’s what the World Wide Web is made of. It’s a giant network of HTML pages linking to each other. HTML (Hyper-Text Markup Language) documents have titles, links, headings and other elements that allow us to see web pages the way we do today. The whole idea of a “Hyper-Text” is referring to the power of a form of semantics. It is a matter of semantics that we see <a>this</a> as a link and
          <h2>

          this

          </h2>
          as a heading. It is the semantics of document structure a.k.a, HTML that have made it possible for documents like this one to link to others and for all of these pages that make up the Web to be rendered by our computers in more or less the same way.

          The Idea of “The Semantic Web” is really only necessary for the sake of comparison.

          So to sort out the semantics of what we’re talking about when we use the word “semantic” with regard to the Web, The Semantic Web refers to a movement toward not just semantics that define the structure of documents or pages, but semantics being applied to how information is made available over the Net.

          Recent trends in the Web’s growth are making computer-language standards for compartmentalizing domains of data. The Semantic Web is a movement toward not just using semantics for defining document structure, but using semantics to make declarations about the context in which a linked resource or bit of information can be useful.

          Yahoo! Says Search is “Killer App” or The Semantic Web

          Maybe it’s a bit silly to say that there’s “a Killer App (as in one)” for Semantics.  Nonetheless, Yahoo! announcing its search results will soon be taking advantage of Semantic Web Standards is definitely great news.  Quote from the Yahoo! Search Blog:

          “In the coming weeks, we’ll be releasing more detailed specifications that will describe our support of semantic web standards. Initially, we plan to support a number of microformats, including hCard, hCalendar, hReview, hAtom, and XFN. Yahoo! Search will work with the web community to evolve the vocabulary framework for embedding structured data. For starters, we plan to support vocabulary components from Dublin Core, Creative Commons, FOAF, GeoRSS, MediaRSS, and others based on feedback. And, we will support RDFa and eRDF markup to embed these into existing HTML pages. Finally, we are announcing support for the OpenSearch specification, with extensions for structured queries to deep web data sources.”

          Hmmm.  Wasn’t I just saying something about Semantics having an effect on Search Results in the near future?  I guess Yahoo! doesn’t think that’s such a crazy idea.

          Imagine that.  Standards for defining the context in which information can be used actually being used to help search engines provide users with more relevant results.  What a concept!

          And on the SEO and SEM front, can you guess what Google, AOL, MSN and all the others are probably working on right now?

          Semantic Standards are Sustainable SEO for You, Your Business & Website

          Big Rant.

          Using HTML was once a smart move for findability online.   Seems obvious to us now, but in case you don’t realize how stupid people were during the initial growth of the Web back in the late nineties, imagine this: People used to send cease and desist or take-down letters to owners of other sites because the other sites were linking to them.

          “How dare you link to my site!  You have no right to mention my existence and if you do not remove the link, I will sue you!”

          In other words, we have a hard time looking beyond the current paradigm.  Right now that paradigm is something like, in order to be findable, spend a lot of time working with the wording of your site’s copy, and make sure your metadata and you document structure are written to reflect what search results you want to win.

          It’s funny though: Still, one of the best things you can do SEO wise is to have an RSS feed.  And in case you didn’t realize this, RSS is a Semantic Standard.  Apparently RSS 2.0 is a little convoluted (the adjustments made to the standard since it’s creation are not entirely in line with the Semantic Web school), but the original RSS stood for RDF Site Summary.  Blah blah blah.  Go look it up.
          A little bit of Semantics is potentially way better for your site’s visibility than a whole lot Keyword tweaking.

          FOAF, SIOC and the countless other Semantic Markups are a way for you to get your foot in the door now!  A bit like the people that realized early on that they needed to have a website at all in the first place.

          A little bit of early adoption of Semantics for your information could really pay off as we start moving toward a smarter Web.  And we are moving toward a smarter Web.  Who will be part of it when it reaches it’s tipping point for large scale adoption?  Will you or your business?  Or will you wait until some news report announces that the rest of the world has already gone semantic? I know I’ll be there.  I already am.

          Because what Search Engines are trying to do is provide users with access to what users are looking for, the process of SEO, when it consists of tweaking Keywords and/or document structure around, according to whatever the latest rumors are on what silly and temporary way Google seems to  be currently making decisions about relevance,  is always going to be flawed and as long as these SEO rumors are floating around, people will be trying to game the engines and in turn, people are collectively increasing the need for the engines to change their parameters, repeat, repeat, repeat.  Search engines do not try to index sites based on the sites’ application of SEO techniques, engines index sites based on an attempt at creating an Information Architecture… This is hard to do because most website aren’t presented in a architecture-y way.  So we’ve come full circle.  Feeds are an architecture-y way to present your content, so it’s no wonder they help with SEO.

          You might ask “So what’s next beyond RSS?  How can I make Google love me even more?”

          My answer is: “Stop lying to them with your SEO, and start helping them with Semantics”

          And just remember what happened when a little bit of semantics got put into effect?  Remember RSS?  Well the blogosphere basically happened and in turn the “Live Web,” Podcasting and all that.  Powerful stuff, and Web 2 is just the tip of the iceburg.

          A letter To Lawrence Lessig: Government Websites

          This post is aimed at one of my personal heroes, Professor Lawrence Lessig.

          Mr Lessig,

          First, I want to thank you for all the work you’ve done already to spread awareness about ‘Net Neutrality,’ the need for Intellectual Property reform, ‘Free Culture’ and so on. Your name comes up often as I do my part to help to change the way people think about the ownership of ideas and/or culture, no doubt because many of my thoughts on these matters are derivatives of yours. And finally, as an artist, thank you for helping me to see past my own possessive instincts, and to understand that my creative efforts are best honored if I aim for my work to become part of the Public Domain, because it is there that I can really contribute to the shape of our culture in the future. So thank you. Please keep up the good work.

          It occurred to me that you may be the perfect person to spearhead the solving of a problem our government has -a small problem with major consequences. Before I go on though, I just want to urge you not to take this letter the wrong way. I don’t mean to imply that you need people like me to help you to choose your battles. But I know of no one else in the public eye that is such an advocate for the people, and who also seems to understand the implications of digital communication via the Web. You are the only public figure I can think of that generally seems to take the people’s side in all the domains where this issue manifests itself: The need for transparency in government; The need for people to be able to navigate the law to some degree without the aid of lawyers; The importance and potential of the [Read/Write] Web, especially with regard to how it can and does make our Democracy more democratic; etc… You actually seem to understand what the Web is and why it is important, and I fear that many or most of our legislators, judges and executives do not. This is why I’m writing to you.

          The problem is that government websites generally lack consistency, search-ability, interactivity and general user-friendliness. On the surface, this may seem to many people like a minor problem. But from my point of view, it is one of the most important manifestations of how our government doesn’t work for the average person. This is a huge opportunity to improve how our democracy works for us.

          Here are some of my thoughts on this.

          1. Government websites generally have no interoperability between them. It seems to me that government websites should share a common information infrastructure as well as a common basic user interface and query system. If I am looking for information on something like a law on one government site, like say a county, I should be able to expand my search to include less local results, like say the state I am in, or narrow my search to only include more local results, like the City I am in. I think that government sites should be hierachically connected wherever possible to say the very least.

          In general, I think it is time for all official government agency websites to become integrated.

          2. Government websites do not routinely take advantage of technologies that make it easy for us to get new information from them. With technologies like RSS and iCal, it seems that citizens should be able to access regular updates from all the government agencies that concern them. We should be able to anonymously subscribe to feeds of governmental news, events, changes in policy, Etc. Example: “Effective today: All automobiles must have headlights turned on when it is raining regardless of the time of day. See Vehicle Code XYZ Section abc.”

          3. By allowing existing laws to be un-findable, our government excludes us from even being able to understand what we have supposedly agreed upon through a democratic process.

          For instance, on many occasions, I have tried to find out the specifics of one law or another. I have gone to my City, County and State government websites hoping for my question to be answered by a quick search, but instead, I’ve found myself hours later with a ton of windows open still trying to figure out the answer to a specific question like “Is [somehting] against the law?”

          Again, to some people this may seem like a trivial complaint, but how in the world are we supposed to be law-abiding citizens if we cannot even be sure what the laws are? I believe that most people, in most communities in the USA have a very vague understanding of what is and isn’t legal. To many of us, The Law acts like some sort of urban mythology. We have no idea what the law actually says, and we cannot find the law if we want to learn what it actually says.

          I have even had conversations with law enforcement officers in which the officers assured me that I “Can’t do” something, but were unable to tell me what the law says, where it says it, whether it is a local, state or federal law that is in question, or where I could even begin to look to find out for myself. This is scary to me.

          I understand that Laws themselves are often confusing to lay persons. But I don’t understand why it is so hard to even find Laws in the first place. We have the technology to vastly improve this situation. It must be improved.

          4 . Government websites generally have no place for public discussion or comment. There is also generally no universal protocol for asking the government(s) questions through the Web. Really, there is practically no way to reliably get facts about policy from government agencies in general. Since we clearly have the technology to make it possible for citizens to interact with and get information from government agencies, while keeping the expense to taxpayers very low, shouldn’t this be imperative?

          So those are some of my main ideas about the digital government interface. Perhaps it is time for it to become written into law that certain standards and improvements are implemented on all government websites. Indeed, if there are already legally binding standards in place for government websites, they need to be vastly improved.

          If technologies like RSS along with Semantic Web technologies were taken advantage of by government agencies, they could lead to vast improvements in our ability to understand and take part in our democracy.

          Mr. Lessig, I wanted to write this to you because I don’t know where else to turn with these ideas. I hope you get this, and if you do, I hope you understand why I wrote this to you, rather than, say, The President or Santa Clause.

          Of course, I am more than willing to help with this cause in any way that I can.

          Sincerely,

          Andrew A. Peterson