Monthly Archives: August 2005

Faire le pont

Savage Minds: Notes and Queries in Anthropology – A Group Blog: The Rest of the World
En fait, j’avais lu une partie de l’article mais j’étais passé par-dessus ce concept de “bridge-bloggers” (décrit dans un journal de l’association américaine d’anthropologie). En tant que francophone écrivant en anglais et en français, je me sens plus ou moins concerné. Bon, bien sûr, la majorité de ce que j’écris est en anglais. En partie parce que ce que je lis est en anglais et parce que ce que j’écris dans un contexte académique est généralement en anglais. En fait, ce blogue est un peu, pour moi, une façon de pratiquer mon anglais. J’ai bien entendu l’habitude d’écrire en anglais depuis un certain temps (surtout depuis mes premiers pas en-ligne en 1993), mais j’essaie d’améliorer certains aspects de mon écriture.
Ce que j’aime faire, parfois, c’est d’écrire en anglais sur des sujets qui touchent des francophones. Sans même penser à un public précis, je me dis que ça peut éventuellement servir comme «traduction culturelle» du français vers l’anglais. Je fais pas trop le contraire. Entre autres parce qu’il y a fort probablement plus de francophones qui lisent l’anglais que d’anglophones qui lisent le français. Mais aussi parce que le français est mon «code-nous» et que j’ai tendance à être plus personnel en français. Comme je veux me distancer un peu du mode personnel sur ce blogue, j’ai pas trop tendance à traduire vers le français.
Justement, c’est une problématique assez personnelle, cette question de faire un pont entre différentes cultures. Quand on déménage en moyenne à tous les 4,4 mois, ç’a un effet sur notre perception de la réalité.

Justement… Je vais certainement écrire plusieurs choses là-dessus mais je viens de déménager à Northampton, dans le Massachusetts. Très intéressant comme endroit. Charmante petite ville universitaire (Smith College). Bonne ambiance. Gens intéressants. Cafés sympas, terrasses agréables, restos divers. Plutôt tranquille, surtout en comparaison avec le MidWest.
Nous sommes à distance de marche du centre-ville, du campus et de plusieurs services. En fait, c’est le logement que mon épouse va occuper puisque je vais enseigner à l’autre bout du Massachusetts pendant qu’elle fera des recherches post-doctorales à Smith.
Pour l’instant, je compare surtout à des endroits comme Burlington (Vermont) et Provincetown (sur Cape Cod) avec quelques aspects qui me font penser à Bloomington (Indiana) et Fredericton (Nouveau-Brunswick). Contrairement à Moncton (Nouveau-Brunswick) ou South Bend (Indiana), c’est une ville qui est assez favorable aux piétons. Très important pour moi.

Eh bien, quoi? J’ai dit «disparate», non?


Email vs. RSS

Will RSS replace eMail? It will if I can help it.
Geared toward a specific form of file-based “collaboration” for which email seems to be a less than optimal solution. Strange that one should think one technology can simply replace a different technology. Maybe email will cease to exist because of thee problems cited in this piece but it’s quite unlikely that RSS would be used for everything people do with email.


iTunes Shuffle


OmniNerd – Articles: How Much Does iTunes Like My Five-Star Songs?

Apart from the typical comment about user perception, it’s much more scientific approach to the issue than has been used in most discussions so far. Still not completely convinced about how random my iPod 2G is in all situations, I still do perceive some clustering effect at times. Not that it plays the same artists over and over again but that some randomly-generated playlists seem to bring together tracks that have something in common, possibly based on hard disk location.
Still, this short test provides interesting data.


Vélos communautaires

Wired News: A P2P Network for Bikes
Pas mal comme principe. Bon, l’analogie avec le P2P est plutôt indirecte, mais l’implémentation elle-même semble bien pensée.


Changing the World?

Wired News: Shoplifting as Social Commentary
One movement at a time.


WiFi Zombies?

Is WiFi Good or Bad for Business
The linked piece is typical journalism. Transform a social phenomenon into an “issue” and then pretend to balance advantages and disadvantages of that social phenomenon.
The blog entry itself is more to the point.

As can be expected, many publications discuss this same issue, usually rehashing the same opinions. The trigger was probably this Wired article, though that piece is less about the “zombie” phenomenon than about a way to get people involved in new online activities. Those are not new ideas as Italian cafés were allegedly exploring similar solutions a number of years ago (as per Wired, IIRC).

Café owners were discussing this same issue recently. And the Valley Advocate’s “suggestion” to Woodstar Café in Northampton is to abandon WiFi.

So, what is this all about? Wireless access to the ‘Net has greatly increased in recent years, notably in cafés and other public spaces. In many of these places, patrons bring their laptops to do different things online. Typically, these laptop users have limited interactions with people around them while they use their computer and consume fairly little through the extended period of time they spend in the public space. Some people even hog large tables at inopportune times and can become rude when they’re disturbed by someone while using their computer.
That’s one way to put it.
A large part of the question is simply about café culture, whether or not the public space is in fact a coffee shop. Despite the romanticized notion that people go to cafés to meet new people and start revolutions, cafés can serve many purposes. It can be a quiet place away from home where one can read a newspaper. Or it can be, as in Vienna, a place where people spend hours writing their thoughts while observing other people (tea houses are also good places for that). People might set up meetings at cafés because it doesn’t matter if people are late. Some cafés are even about, gasp, drinking coffee!
A common thread is that cafés are a place where people can stay for a while without bothering or being bothered by anyone. A successful café is likely to be a place where people feel welcome and can stay for a while. Quite the reverse of McDonald’s where the idea is to get people in and out as efficiently as possible. Some cafés are closer to the McDonald’s model and may even succeed, but many cafés are very successful in making people feel comfortable whether or not they consume a lot while there.

Should follow this up at some point with personal experiences in different cafés in different places.


Speech in Business

Smart Talk: Speech-enabled apps deliver bottom-line benefits – Computerworld
Discusses some aspects of speech technologies (Speech Recognition and Text-to-Speech) in business contexts. Bank transactions and similar operations have been the most common applications of SR and TTS but there’s room for a lot more. Speech might come of age soon.


Des Moines et des touristes

DesMoinesRegister.com: Montreal is Magnifique
On dirait qu’ils ont apprécié… 😉
Assez réaliste, quoique peut-être trop enthousiaste.


Utah Beer Riots?

South Salt Lake drafts home-brew ban – just in case

What do they expect, the Chicago Beer Riots? Actually, the situation bears some similarities as it's about laws that are not enforced.


Architecture et histoire

Montreal City Weblog: L’Autre Montréal, Heritage Montreal
Les visites guidées, c’est pas seulement pour les touristes…


Please Don’t Pressure Monks!

Celebrator Beer News : Apr/May 2005 : International : Trappist Westvleteren (Chuck Cook)
Great article with an elaborate explanation of the alleged "shortages" of beer. Nice comments about the monks' goals.


Rhythm Acquisition

Babies detect unfamiliar music rhythms easier than adults
Some potentially fascinating ideas from this research. Mentions of language acquisition and the notion, dear to culturalists throughout the history of anthropology, that enculturation is a selection process from a large set of possibles. The latter notion runs a little bit like the fact that infants are able to reproduce any speech sound at a certain point in their development but that they then learn to restrict their production to those sounds that are present in their native languages.
IMVHO, the type of research this item describes would be much more relevant to most music research than efforts to localize “music processing” in the brain.


Is Vegas Out of This World?

Wired News: Move Over Pyramids, Wynn’s Here

‘We will keep getting bigger, keep getting bolder in Las Vegas,’ he says. ‘It’s what makes this city great, it’s why people want to come here.’

Only in Vegas.


Molson �Moncton

Molson construira à Moncton l’une des brasseries les plus modernes au monde
En partie grâce à l’appui du provincial. Sachant que Pumphouse et Picaroons ont gagné des prix nationaux, qu’ils sont des représentants plus adéquats du monde brassicole néo-brunswickois et que leur financement est minime, pourquoi ne pas les soutenir plutôt qu’enrichir Molson et Moosehead?


Leak as Album Preview

Playlist: Fiona’s Extraordinary Machine, retail rebounds?

fans and interested parties were given perhaps the most famous album preview in the history of recorded music

Actually an interesting practice, even though industry executives weren’t “in on it,” More clueful than most current practices…


Montreal/US Differences in Binge Drinking

Drinking outside the box

“If nothing else convinced meof the counterproductive effects of American drinking laws on college life,” he writes in Binge, “my experience at McGill University in Montreal did.”

And McGill’s probably much closer to the US model in drinking than UQÀM and UdeM or even Concordia. At least, that’s the main impression you get from people.

Binge drinking is a huge problem at Indiana University Bloomington and the administration is applying even stricter rules, which is exactly the strategy to make it worse. Isn’t it ironic that Ruth Engs is over there at IUB?


Epigenetics

Wired News: Whew! Your DNA Isn’t Your Destiny
As is often the case, the article sounds overly confident as to the benefits of the research. On the face of it, it does sound like an interesting direction for research. It’d be nice to have a clear explanation of what the epigenome means for interactions between biology and environment, including social environment.
There certainly has been an overemphasis on genes as direct causes of anything, recently.


Baladodiffusion contre radio communautaire

NPR defining new Podcast strategy

[Mis à jour mardi 16 août 2005 21:26:36 pour ajuster mon ton un péremptoire.]
Tristan Louis:

The second part here is that NPR is working on a downloadable and portable strategy, which goes against the core of Doug Kaye’s argument that public radio is doomed.

On n’a probablement pas compris le texte de Doug Kaye de la même façon. ÀMHA, ce sont deux choses assez distinctes. D’un côté, NPR est en train de trouver une façon d’embarquer sur la vague de la baladodiffusion. Intéressant, sans doute. Pas très nouveau. Les «médias de masse» qui parlent de baladodiffusion mentionnent souvent qu’ils se prennent au bon moment pour ne pas répéter l’erreur qu’ils ont commises à ne pas comprendre les blogues. Quoique, leur «longueur d’avance» dans le podcasting demande à être analysée finement. Mais cet effort n’altère aucun des arguments de Doug Kaye par rapport au modèle de radio communautaire qui, selon lui, va s’effacer par rapport à la baladodiffusion. Et Doug Kaye ne signe pas vraiment la condamnation des radios communautaires. Tout au plus, note-t-il le manque d’adéquation entre ce vieux modèle et une prise en main de nos médias.
Bien sûr, la radio communautaire risque d’exister encore longtemps. Mais elle ne peut pas rester inchangée.


Modelling Societies

[Geowanking] building social modelling tools
Ok, didn’t RTFA, just skimmed it. Quite elaborate for a mailing-list post and it’s harder to read off context. (Was mentioned by Tim O’Reilly.)

The thrust seemed to be to look at causalities between social processes and environmental factors, à la Jared Diamond (of GG&S fame).

As an aside, have been more of a Civilization player. Including the open-source Freeciv. Used some examples in class. Not because of the war aspect (always try to win with “culture” in Civ3). But because of the oversimplified social model. Should probably give SimCity a try at some point.
Not a big gamer altogether.


WiFi as Amenity

Macworld: News: US burger chain beefs up free Wi-Fi to 243 stores

When the Wi-Fi service was proposed, the company quickly chose to provide it for free, he said. “It’s so simple to provide free wireless, and it’s incredibly complicated to charge for it,” Reid said. “We looked at it and it was just a no-brainer. It’s like having a clean parking lot and clean bathrooms. It’s just another amenity for our customers.”

Good way to look at it!