28 March 2007

Do bloggers really wear red capes and goggles?

- Do bloggers really wear red capes and goggles and blog from high-altitude balloons?
- No! Well, Cory Doctorow does.


Here's the XKCD strip that inspired this:

16th Annual EFF Pioneer Awards (photos)

I went to the 16th Annual EFF Pioneer Awards tonight. The opening entertainment was a debate between Fred von Lohmann and Mark Cuban over the merits of Youtube and the DMCA. It was a high spirited and good natured fight over the companies "cowering behind the DMCA" (Cuban) versus the convenience to copyright holders of being able to take down offending content without court action (von Lohmann).

Afterwards, the EFF presented awards to Bruce Schneier, Yochai Benkler, and Cory Doctorow. Yochai Benkler was unable to attend, but sent a prerecorded acceptance speech. Bruce Schneier was "introduced" via the presentation of some Bruce Schneier facts before coming on stage. Cory Doctorow was presented with goggles and a red cape (thanks to this comic) before giving a particularly moving acceptance speech (and an engagement announcement, too!)

Cory Doctorow with EFF Pioneer Award

(full photoset here)

27 March 2007

OQO 02 now shipping

OQO announced today that the OQO 02 is now shipping. I had a chance to try one of the pre-production machines at their office in San Francisco, and I was impressed by the design.

26 March 2007

Robert Cook Freebasing at Etech


Robert Cook
Originally uploaded by ptufts.
Today, Robert Cook gave a presentation and demo of Metaweb's Freebase at ETech. This was the first public presentation of Freebase. Robert talked about the many facets of Arnold Schwartzenegger (bodybuilder, actor, and politician) to illustrate how we reconcile topics in Freebase whenever possible. This is one of the things that makes us different from other on-line data stores.

Robert used our alpha server for the demo and showed a few examples of autocomplete and bidirectional linking. Esther and Tim then had questions about our philosophy of user-created data and the directions we might take as our community grows.

Bunnie and Tim


Bunnie and Tim
Originally uploaded by ptufts.
I'm at ETech this week, and this morning blogging from the Executive Briefing. Bunnie Huang talked about the design of the Chumby, and how working with Chinese manufacturers has made rapid design turnaround and low cost possible. It's transform the hardware industry, and Chumby and OLPC are two of the high profile projects that got this new model early on and are benefiting from it.

22 March 2007

The women of the in-flight safety cards



(see also safety.mania.ru)

InfoWorld | Freebase, the Semantic Web, and the Metaweb Query API | By Martin Heller

Martin Heller has written a thoughtful technical review of Freebase and the Metaweb Query API in an article titled Freebase, the Semantic Web, and the Metaweb Query API on the Strategic Developer weblog at Infoworld. I recommend that any developer interested in the Metaweb read his review. And if you're really interested, I have three invitations to give away for our alpha test.

At Metaweb, we're making our API as open as possible - here's the documentation. The API allows programmers and web developers to query Freebase via MQL (mickle) the Metaweb Query Language. MQL is not your standard SQL "select user_name from users where ..." syntax because our database allows for a great deal of expressiveness and connections between objects with varying schemas.

If you want to ask questions and learn more, our dev team posts on the Freebase Dev Blog. For executive-level discussions about Freebase and the philosophy behind it, see Robert Cook's blog, Freebasics.

In addition to the API and MQL, we've also open-sourced (BSD dual-clause license) a web toolkit called MJT (midget). MJT is influenced by Kid and Genshi, and allows developers to query and display information with the rendering done in-browser. It's a nice way to create data-driven applications without a separate app server. Javascript has come a long way.

Here's a MJT documentation excerpt.

* * *

MJT Templates

Mjt is an HTML templating engine that runs entirely in a web browser. It was built for the Freebase service, but it can be used for many other web services. It is distributed as open source.

Mjt makes it very simple to take data from a web service and format it in a browser, with no server support. The templates are hosted and delivered as static HTML, and they are compiled and applied entirely in Javascript.

Mjt is particularly useful with services that return JSON values and accept a callback= parameter, such as the Freebase service and the Yahoo JSON API. With these services you can use mjt to build "mash-ups" that incorporate data from services on multiple hosts.For a step-by-step introduction to the mjt template language as well as an example of mjt in action, see the intro tour.

20 March 2007

Justice is served: 3000 pages of emails scanned and on-line

The U.S. House Judiciary Committee is in the process of putting 3000 pages of scanned emails on-line. These are emails the US Department of Justice handed over in relation to the firing of eight Attorneys General. The documents are linked to from the front page, in the "What's New" section.

Here are direct links to what's on-line at the moment. The printed emails are still being scanned, so check the Justice Department page for more. And remember, if you find something interesting, you'll be doing everyone a favor by posting it.







3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-1


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-2

3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-3


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-4


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-5


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-6


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-7


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-8


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-9


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-10


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 1-11


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 2-1


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 2-2


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 2-3


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 2-4


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 2-5


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 2-6


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 2-7


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 2-8


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 2-9


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 3-1


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 3-2


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 3-3


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 3-4


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 3-5


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 3-6


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 3-7


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 3-8


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 3-9


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 3-10


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 4-1


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 4-2

3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 4-3


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Document 5


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 6-1


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 6-2


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 6-3


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 6-4


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-1


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-2


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-3


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-4


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-5


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-6


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-7


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-8


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-9


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-10


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 7-11


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 8-1


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 8-2


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Document 9


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 10-1


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 10-2


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 11-1


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 11-2


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 11-3


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 11-4


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 11-5


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 11-6


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Documents 11-6


3-19-2007 DOJ-Released Document 12



19 March 2007

Freebase invitations

There's one week left to snag an invitation to Metaweb's Freebase alpha test. I've got three invitations to give away. So if you're interested, post a comment here.

(full disclosure: I work for Metaweb)

Vicious Cycles

Kids, before there was digital, there was frame-by-frame stop motion animation.

15 March 2007

Freebase and Creative Commons

I just got back from SXSW, and there was a really positive response to Freebase from the people I met.

I think that our decision to make Freebase data available via the Creative Commons Attribution (CC-by) license is a big part of the positive reaction -- people are willing to share when they know that the sharing goes both ways.

Freebase invite contest

Now I'm looking for people who have data to share and would like to try out Freebase. So I'm holding a contest - if you want to use Freebase, post a comment and tell me why you are interested. The three best submissions between now and Friday, March 23 will get invites to our alpha test.

Whether you're a regular user, a programmer who wants to use an API, or have an interesting data set that you'd like to share with the world, you've got a chance.

10 March 2007

Tantek @ SXSW


Tantek @ SXSW
Originally uploaded by ptufts.
Tantek Celik talked about Microformats at the SXSW Rawks! panel, and also shared some tips for keeping track of all the events at the show. I'm a big fan of microformats, and I want to see more information become both human and machine readable.

Snakes on a Plane at SXSW


James Home at SXSW
Originally uploaded by ptufts.
There was a session at South by Southwest devoted to the internet fan-driven phenomenon known as Snakes on a Plane. James Home of Metaweb talked about his experience putting together a fan-organized premiere of the film in San Francisco.

Snakes on a Plane did something that few other films have achieved. It gave the fans not so much an enduring piece of cinema, so much as a reason to have a big one night party. Some on the panel felt that had Snakes on a Plane stuck to a tight budget - $3M instead of $30M - it could have spawned a niche of such films - financially successful one-night parties.

Maybe the studios will learn from this, and see Snakes on a Plane as a successful experiement working with internet fans - supporting them and learning from them too.

SXSW Rawks!


SXSW Rawks!
Originally uploaded by ptufts.
Min Jung Kim and Glenda Bautista rock on at the SXSW Rawks panel on Friday.

09 March 2007

Happy Birthday Freebase.com


Happy Birthday, Freebase.com
Originally uploaded by ptufts.
John Markoff just wrote an article for the New York Times about my company, Metaweb, and our Freebase project: "Startup aims for web database to automate searching", and Tim O'Reilly talks about what it all means on O'Reilly Radar (with the bonus of a few screenshots of the site).

Jon Phillips of Creative Commons has good things to say about our use of the CC Attribution license for the shared data - this is a database we want people to use.

I'm at SXSW Interactive Mar 9 - 14 looking for people who would like to work for us in San Francisco (we're hiring) or develop their own applications that use Freebase. I'm also looking for communities and people with data to share - if you have a catalog of data in any domain and want to share it with the world, let me know.