Category Archives: social

It’s official – I’ll be working on social search!

I'm thrilled to report that a large company has given the go signal for research on social computing. Social search, in particular. I'm particularly excited about the opportunity to work with their internal projects. This year is going to be so interesting!

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Social researchers

One of the most wonderful things about social bookmarking research is, well, how very social it is. We congregate around our systems like the way people used to gather around water coolers. I love the way that the first impression I get from a page is not of link counts or tags, but of people with varied interests, and I want to improve support for collaboration in order to bring people out even more.

Another remarkable thing about social bookmarking is that people into it _love_ sharing information. They share bookmarks, bibliographies - heck, even blogs. I can browse around a social bookmarking site and get a sense not only of what I need to know about the system itself but also the other hobbies and interests of the early adopters.

It's an amazing field to get into, and very very exciting.

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Noodle night

One of the wonderful things about Graduate House is that the Graduate House Council organizes a lot of social events. Tonight I enjoyed a free Singaporean noodle dinner in the common room. As food goes, it wasn't bad. I was there mainly for the conversation, though, and I wasn't disappointed. =D I had tons of fun chatting with Keynan(sp?) and Elizabeth (both Emily's suitemates). Andrew joined us too - he's the English major I played Scrabble with once. Stefan dropped by to tell me about the vegetarian cooking classes he found, but the only nearby one focuses on Indian cooking, and I'd rather have something more general.

Emily was impressed with my outfit. "You have legs today," she said. I had decided to wear The Miniskirt today because I just find it _so_ much fun to shop for computer stuff all dressed up. It confuses salespeople, particularly when I ask for Linux-supported wireless cards. ;)

Anyway, Emily told me that she almost always saw me in very pretty skirts, but this was the first time she saw me with a skirt that short. (Yes, yes, thank you Kathy for getting me a skirt I'd never have dared get myself. Come to think of it, where _are_ those barkada pics? Hmm...)

After most people finished dinner and left, I played billiards with Stairos (sp?) and Tarun. I'm still not very consistent in billiards, but I managed to sink a few good shots. After Tarun left, Stairos and I played table tennis. He likes smashing, and whenever he does that I tease him about being such a bully. I'm happy to report that I managed to make contact with the ball a couple of times - probably more by accident than reflex. Lusine joined us and we practiced for a while.

I'm not very good at table tennis yet, but I find it a lot of fun. My coordination used to be absolutely terrible, but after a while I realized that I didn't have to be able to think about how to intercept the ball, I just had to actually do it. For some strange reason, playing table tennis makes me feel like a character in a Japanese animation.

And yes, I did manage to get some writing done. Not much, though. I'll have to wake up early tomorrow to do some more work on it before the cooking workshop...

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Random Japanese sentence: テーブルに猫の足跡が付いている。 There are footprints of a cat on the table. Teiboru ni neko no sokuseki ga tsuite iru.

Full day!

I woke up early to check if anyone I knew was online, and I had a nice chat with Marcelle. I fell asleep waiting for Dominique to come back online, though, and I had such a vivid dream that I didn't wake up until an hour or so later - by which time even my mom was starting to feel like she was talking to cyberspace... =)

Anyway, it was such a nice chat that I didn't mind being late to the clothing show held at Exhibition Place. Quinn and I eventually made it there at around 12, and we browsed for an hour or so. I bought a bracelet and two necklaces, all made of shell. I thought they might go nicely with my ethnic stuff. I didn't really find anything else that particularly struck my fancy, as tiered skirts are getting a _little_ too popular for my tastes. I might shift back to nicely colored skirts, and of course I like wearing stuff from home. I wore the red malong as a skirt today, matching it with a colorful abaniko fan. (Thanks, Mom!)

That's why I was late to the Ruby meeting. =) That was cool, too! As soon as he saw me, Austin said, "You know Steve Perelgut!" (He's one of my mentors from IBM, and a totally totally cool person. The fact that he reads me blog (Hi Stephen!) has nothing to do with the gushiness of the previous statement. =) ) Austin shared what he'd learned from the Ruby code jam (lesson 1: be better prepared!), particularly the effectiveness and _fun_ of pair programming. It worked out really well because Ruby novices were paired up with Ruby veterans, but the Ruby novices were also good at other aspects that the Ruby geeks might not have learned about. In this case, they were porting an archiving library to Ruby. =) Good stuff.

We also had a fun chat about how people can learn to read and write code. Apparently, I _am_ really weird in that I rather enjoy reading code... =)

Jed and Quinn were there too, although they dropped in and out of the conversation, as I fangirled a bit about Ruby and got some interesting tips. Should check out the Water framework for testing web applications, although that might need Windows. Also, Austin suggested SVG + PDF for my graph outputs. Whee!

Jed mentioned a samba jam at an art gallery on Queen Street West. In keeping with my plan to get to know a wide variety of people and experience more than what I'd ordinarily get just hanging out with computer geeks and talking about computers, I decided to go. It was tons and tons of fun! I told them I had no sense of rhythm and that I'd be perfectly happy just listening and taking pictures, but Jed wouldn't take no for an answer. Heck, he didn't even ask if I wanted to join. Instead, he held up two instruments and asked which one I'd like to play. <laugh> I opted for a small drum, and I found myself picking up the rhythm thanks to the coaching of people around me.

A photographer wandered in, too, so I adopted her. Marie had just joined a camera club and was thrilled to stumble across such a cool event. I gave her the tips my dad shared with me about using long exposures and lower ISO speeds to capture dramatic action, and she had a lot of fun exploring that, too. =)

I made it back for coffee time at Graduate House. I had so much fun catching up with Sam. She wants to do really cool things with accessibility, and she's in a terrific position to do so! I'm also really excited about her application to be an RA for the dorm. I think she'd be a terrific one. I told her about what's cool in my life: the Delta Kappa Gamma fellowship, my research up at IBM, the thrill of introducing people to other people... She nodded and told me how much she enjoyed that too. When I learned that she hadn't yet read Tipping Point, I ran upstairs to grab my copy. I lent it to her, pointing out the section on Connectors and adding a note about context. I'm also going to have to get myself a hardcover (if I can find it!) of Love is the Killer App, which is another thing that she will _so_ be able to identify with. (Thank you, Maoi, for introducing me to that book!)

Afterwards, I had a wonderfully geeky chat about computer science and assorted things with Mike and Joe. In particular, Joe's overlapping clustering algorithms _might_ be fun to run against tag clouds, social networks, and other cool things. I need to show Mark a sample and see how we can ask for suitably anonymized data...

Happy girl. Full day. Great fun. =) Lots of interesting people!

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Random Japanese sentence: ペルシャ猫に関連した古いお話があります。 There is a classic story related about a Persian cat.

Aha!

Thanks to a conversation earlier about web development and careers, I think I've figured out a little more about what I want to do. =)

I want to support people and communities through social tools.

I want to help people make the most of blogs, wikis, podcasts, vidcasts, social bookmarking, social networking, community content management systems, whatever. I want to help them figure out how to use version control systems and request trackers and mailing lists. I want to make it easier to use phone and e-mail and little stickies on the fridge...

What should I learn more about? I need to figure out how to set up a blog farm, a wiki farm, a social bookmarking site, Drupal, etc. Bryght does hosted community sites with Drupal, so they'd be good mentors and models. I'm also interested in the social aspects of it. My research into innovation diffusion and technology adoption _totally_ makes sense in that context.

Mmkay. That sounds like a plan. I'm going to need some help figuring out how to make it happen, but that resonates with me.

I don't mind working on mind-numbing web stuff if I'm working with fun people. I don't mind explaining for the nth time what a blog is and how people can use blogs for fun and profit, because I learn something new every time I talk about that. And of course there are so many things that aren't even on most people's radars...

Right. That sounds like what I want to do. Now, how do I go about doing it?

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Random Japanese sentence: 私は犬の方が猫より好きだが、それは前者が後者より忠実だからだ。 I like a dog better than a cat, for the former is more faithful than the latter.