Posts Tagged ‘web 2.0’

The papers are out for WWW2009 (and have been for a bit), but I’ve only just gotten a chance to start looking at them. First of all, kudos to the ePrints people for improving the presentation of conference proceedings. This is a lot easier than having to do a Google Scholar search for each paper and hoping I find something, like I have to do with some conferences.

WWW2009 Madrid

WWW2009 Madrid

There are a lot of very interesting ones, and here are a few that bubbled to the top of my reading list:

Data Mining Track

Semantic/Data Web

Social Networks and Web 2.0

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I got most of the books I wanted the most for Christmas this year. It was a great haul that will keep me busy for a while. Among them were:

The books on string and tree algorithms and collective intelligence should be self-explanatory. The book on data visualization I wanted because it was an overlooked skill in my education. I appreciate great data visualizations and taking some steps to improve my understanding and increase my skills in that area is worth doing. Finally the book on evolutionary computing is for personal enrichment. I’ve been playing around with genetic algorithms since 1994, even before I got out of high school. It’s always been playing, though, and I wanted a bit of a more rigorous introduction to them.

With any luck, I’ll be posting some thoughts on these books in the coming months.


Posted: 27 October 2008 in Uncategorized
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Twitrratr is a new service that attempts to do sentiment analysis on Twitter (follow me while you’re at it).  According to their about page, they started off by tracking opinions on Obama but have since expanded to any term.  Enter a keyword and it searches twitter for occurrences.  It then assigns a sentiment to each post and returns percentages of positive, neutral, and negative tweets for that word.  You can also track your own sentiment by searching for @your-username.  I come up neutral, but there’s not a lot of data to go on there.

Their method appears to be fairly simple.  They have a collection of adjectives with sentiment values (negative, positive) and based on what appears in a given tweet, they can classify a sentence.  Of course, this is probably low recall (meaning it misses a lot of tweets that do express sentiment) since sentiment can be expressed without using adjectives.  I’m not sure if it tries to do anything with negation, but so far my scans of results look like it ignores it.

So even though it’s pretty ghetto, it’s a nice toy.  If they care to extend the algorithm, they have some pretty cool data to work with.  I think it would be cool to get some (possibly donated, probably not paid) human effort together to tag some of their data to release as a research dataset.

After hearing about it for weeks, I caved and decided to check out friendfeed last night [and again, ht @dpn]. In previous posts I mentioned something I like to call the information diaspora. This is the phenomenon created by posting all sorts of personal information about your likes, dislikes, thoughts, opinions, etc all over the web and your subsequent loss of that information because it can’t be managed. I can see friendfeed coming in handy for removing some of this problem. You can attach a number of different social networking sites, flickr, youtube, etc all to your friendfeed account. Whenever you post something new in one of these sites, that information will be updated on friendfeed for all of your friends (and yourself) to be able to view. It’s not the perfect solution, but it is a very big step in the right direction.

Check it out. As usual, my username there is ealdent and feel free to friend me.


Posted: 3 June 2008 in Uncategorized
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My friend Israel clued me in on Dapper a few weeks ago. I have played around with them a very small bit, but that was all it took to recognize their potential. The idea is simple, the implementation not so much. When you browse videos on YouTube, the layout of search results are all the same. So why can’t something recognize this and treat any search result as an rss feed, checking it periodically for changes? Enter Dapper. One thing that has bothered me for the past couple years is the fact that the ACM Technews does not have an RSS feed. WTF, ACM? Thanks to Dapper, now it does.

Unfortunately, Dapper is not perfect. It took me a few tries to get my first dapp working (what they call a single instance of the service). Granted, it was on fairly complicated output (not ACM Technews). If the service you are trying to create a dapp of uses sessions, your attempt will probably fail (and if it doesn’t, let me know how you did it). They are still improving the service, though, so perhaps that will change.

If you are into information trapping, though, Dapper is a must have in your arsenal of traps.


Posted: 1 June 2008 in Uncategorized
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Is it Hallowe’en already? A fellow nlp blogger (and twitterer) pointed me to Plurk just a few minutes ago. I have been messing with Twitter’s api over the past couple days, which hasn’t been as easy as you’d think since they are suffering from massive growing pains. Fetching the public timeline takes between 5-30 seconds. However, they just got like $15 million in funding, so maybe they’ll be able to address the issue. The even bigger question is can they turn this free advertising service (which is what it is partially becoming) into a revenue stream?

Plurk is basically Twitter with a makeover and some extra social features thrown in. It still has the 140 character status update style interface, but includes a function selection for each plurk (what they call qualifiers): you can say, think, ask, wish, etc. You can also add smileys. Rather than appearing as a series of boxes scrolling down the screen, your plurks appear as floating boxes on a side-scrolling timeline. Plurks of friends also appear on this timeline and the result is a more graphical and pleasing (to me) interface. You can reply directly to other plurks in the boxes and conversations are tracked very nicely. This is far superior to twitter, which requires you to visit the other person’s timeline and wade through their tweets to find previous tweets in a thread. With Twitter being slower than a drunken monkey with three broken legs, that’s even harder.

Preview of Plurk

As my esteemed colleague pointed out, however, scaling is an issue for any service like this. Ultimately, you are bound by how fast you can access the database. If Plurk becomes as popular as Twitter (and I have every reason to believe it won’t), it will also become bogged down. Also, Plurk is just getting started and has no discernible API (unless I’m just missing it). Twitter already has quite a few third party apps.

I must say, though, I am sorely tempted to abandon Twitter in favor of Plurk just for the fact that Plurk is accessible. The massive lag of Twitter is getting to me. Of course, if no one is there to listen to my ramblings, what’s the point?

Science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke died yesterday.  He touched many lives through his writing and his ideas had an impact on me at an early age with short stories like “The Nine Billion Names of God” and movies based on his books like 2010 (which I saw in the theater) and later 2001 (which I saw as a young man).   His novel Rendezvous with Rama is being made into a movie and IMDB is quoting 2009 as the release date.  I thought it was interesting to find out he had been living in Sri Lanka for some time.

I visited my family in Ohio this past weekend and my uncle made a few interesting points.  He’s an old-school spring engineer, meaning he learned coming up through the trade rather than by going to school, and he supervises a number of employees at a relatively small spring company.  My grandfather used to own a spring company called, shockingly enough, Adams & Sons Spring Co.  That was later bought out and a number of the employees were moved to a different plant, including my dad and uncle.  So anyhow, my uncle was telling me a story, which I won’t go into, but the heart of it is that you should not wait for people to hand you “what you deserve.”  If you are a leader, regardless of your job title, then lead.  If you see someone who needs help, don’t wait for them to ask you.  Help.  Show that you have the initiative.  That’s probably fairly obvious, I mean we’ve all heard it before, but it came at a particularly important time for me.

I’ve been on twitter for a while now, though I don’t update it super-regularly like some people.  It’s fun and I hope more of my friends start using it, but I’ve noticed an interesting trend.  Just about anything is open to potential spam.  Friendster is sick with it.  MySpace is abominable.  LinkedIn seems fairly immune and I’ve gotten very few spam friend requests from Facebook.  Twitter has so far been very good about it, but there is a new trend that I’ve found interesting.  You can follow people and people can follow you on twitter.  So your status updates are public and potentially seen by thousands of people.  How do you increase the number of people who follow you?  Follow them, of course!  I’m having random people follow me left and right.  It only helps me, since I don’t follow them back, but it’s interesting to note.

I am a fan of good beer. In this post I am going to talk about my ideas for how to improve websites that offer ratings for different varieties of beer, and how I think recommender systems would improve their service.

Why I care

Whenever I’m asked what kind of beer I like, I experience a moment of awkwardness. Because I don’t just like good beer, I hate bad mediocre beer. Usually the person asking is a beer noob and I don’t want to sound too snobby by throwing beer jargon at them they probably won’t understand. So I say something along the lines of “I like the more expensive stuff, like from small breweries or imports.” The response is usually something about Sam Adams. I used to enjoy Sam Adams Boston Lager, but I can barely stomach it anymore. There are a couple Sam Adams brews that aren’t half bad, but the Boston Lager no longer cuts it for me. (more…)

Tweets for Twits

Posted: 18 December 2007 in Uncategorized
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Well, after many frustrating months of waiting for Twitter to finally fix their gmail contacts import feature, I have finally done it!  Surprise, only two contacts were signed up — and that’s two more than I expected.  However, one of those is a professor who probably only checked them out because they’re using his technology and the other was a friend who had only one update:


Social pressure from me caused him to add another update.  That’s what I tell myself anyway.

What is Twitter, you ask?  It’s basically Facebook status updates made global.  Indeed, you can even add a Facebook app that allows Twitter to update your status.  Of course, it means you get “is twittering: ” inserted at the beginning of any tweet (a single Twitter status update) as your status update.

While Twitter at first seems like status updates on steroids, it’s actually evolving into something else far more useful.  I’ve talked before about the information diaspora and the difficulty of keeping up with all your personal information as it flies around the web.  Twitter at first adds to that mess, but it does offer interesting ways of tracking small bits of information.

Erin McKean, the Dictionary Evangelist, uses it to keep track of new words she comes across.  Twitter lets you text updates from your cell phone or IM client so it’s easy to update on the go.  Robert Scoble uses it as a sort of mini-blog of things he comes across or finds out about that wouldn’t really make a full-fledged blog post.  So Twitter has uses for logging your web surfing, hobby, life activities, etc., which is a useful information diaspora reducing measure in my book.  The only question remains whether this would be of any use to you.

Check me out and follow my updates on Twitter.  If you haven’t signed up, consider it.  If you do, let me know so I can follow you.


Posted: 11 December 2007 in Uncategorized
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I wrote about Predictify a while back. It’s basically a website that pays users for predicting world events. When I first wrote about them, I presented the sample question: “How long will Michael Vick’s sentence be?” Well, the verdict came down and my prediction was very close. I predicted 24 months and the dirty bastard got 23. Total payout for me: $6.07. Not bad for 30 seconds effort.

The site appears to be doing well. Currently, there are 24 open polls with large cash payout potential. I was pretty skeptical it would succeed (and that still has yet to play out fully), but it would seem that the guys who predicted its success are going to be looking at nice payouts of their own.