Clay Shirky has a post titled Situated Software available online. There are some excellent general points in there, but I’m left with a nagging feeling about the piece as a whole. I think there are some aspects which he captures well, but there are other areas which I think are still major hang-ups for the software community as a whole. Allow me to give an example. I do something I call software prototyping. For some people this makes infinite sense right off the bat, but most say something like “What do you mean by prototyping? What do you prototype?” It doesn’t really matter what I prototype, because prototyping properly done is all about a discovery and exploration process not about particular technologies. In the course of prototyping I end up implementing a lot of small and relatively pointed systems. At one point in the essay Clay says:
The Feature has an article about a location based game called Mogi. I’m not a gamer at all, but I am into location based services. The way this game is run is just fantastic however. It encourages communication and cooperation, and emphasized collecting over combat. The game is described as a “data-layer over the city of Tokyo”, which I picture being very much like the Urban Tapestries project. It’s also setup so that it encourages users on mobile devices to work together with others back at desktop systems. The comments from the game play make it sound like the goal of fitting collaborative authoring into everyday life would be something that’s possible:
The Feature has an article about carriers trying to make money off moblogging. I think the point about complex cost structures and interoperability being a major barrier is excellent. I agree that there’s a lot that carriers should be doing to ease the technical hurdles for their users. I liked this line from right at the start of the article:
Yesterday the 2.6 version of the GNOME desktop was released. Most people are going to have to wait until their vendor makes it available, but those looking to live on the bleeding edge can always download it and compile on their own. ArsTechnica has an overview article on their site. As mentioned in the article, there are a few tools to help out with downloading and compiling the new version. CVSGnome actually has info about the 2.6 release on the main page, so I’ll probably try that one out. There’s also the GARNOME system, but I have no idea how up to date that is.
Fred Brooks is speaking in Menlo Park on April 8th, 2004. He wrote The Mythical Man-Month, one of a very small number of universally applicable software engineering books. The fact that it remains so even decades after it was written is astounding. This is one not to miss.
I got a message back from Xeni saying that the SENT site should go live very soon (within about a week) and that the live show is going to happen during the summer. Yay!! Seems like a lot is going on, even if it isn’t reflected on the SENT site. I might actually have to take a trip down to LA.
The Feature has the first of what is going to be a four part series on mobile design, Listening to Users. The list of points there should be pretty familiar to anyone who has ever taken even a passing interest in design. It’s not even surprizing any more to hear that basic design issues are overlooked by the tech industry. There are a couple of good general points in there however. Such as catering to the “silver surfers” (older users) who often can’t use the eternally shrinking mobile devices on the market today because they need larger buttons and bigger displays. And I particularly liked this:
The SENT exhibit of phonecam art was supposed to get under way during February of 2004 I thought. At least that’s what an article in The Guardian linked from the press page at SENT said. There’s still a link up at BoingBoing, so I’m assuming the event is still planned to go on. I mailed Xeni to see if I could get some more info. Sounded kooky and interesting, I’m sad to see that interest seems to have petered out.
There’s been a decent amount of discussion about prototype based programming lately, with two new projects called Prothon and Slate getting most of the press. So all of this gets the question, what the hell is a prototype based programming language? There’s a definition in the Wikipedia which can shed a bit of light on it. The description of Self from the Self site gets a bit heady, but their explanation of the fundamental nature of message passing and the benefits provided in terms of maintenance are worth the time. If you’re looking for a really quick description check out the Prothon description. Or go searching through the resources for any of the other prototype based languages.. there seem to be quite a few. Most of them I’ve never even heard of.
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