Category Archives: tech

General technology issues

WWW2006 – Foundations of Web advertising

Earlier today I was sitting in a tutorial about the Foundations of Web advertising taught by the most over-qualified staff I’ve ever seen:

Here’s the blurb for the tutorial:

Web advertising spans Web technology, sociology, law and economics. It has already surpassed some traditional media like radio and is the economic engine that drives Web development. The transformation touches the way content is created, shared and disseminated – all the way from static html pages to more dynamic forms of expression such as blogs and podcasts, to social media such as discussion boards and tags on shared photographs. This revolution promises to fundamentally change both the media and the advertising businesses over the next few years, altering a $300 billion economic landscape. The technical underpinnings of web advertising are based on a plethora of scientific disciplines, including Information Retrieval, Microeconomics, Auction Theory, On-line Algorithms, Security, User Interface design, Data Mining, and more. The purpose of this tutorial is to introduce the audience to the many technology issues behind the curtains of web advertising.

A lot of what Andrei is discussing so far is basic, but it is worth attending to hear how his mind works through these issues, and his jokes aren’t bad either.

Sadly, we’re packed in yet another horrible venue, these workshop rooms are the size of a double (American-sized) office but they’re packing up to 40 people in them with the projector smack dab in the middle of the room that has the usual problems of being noisy and near the audience as well as the frequent shadow on the screen of the back of someone’s head. It goes without saying that the network connectivity is still lousy too. This has not proved to be a good physical venue for the conference.

Tagging Workshop at WWW 2006, Edinbugh

I’m in the Collaborative Tagging Workshop at WWW 2006, Edinbugh right now sitting in the back with Ryan from Technorati using the wall outlets and sharing power adapters to keep our powerbooks running. So far, we’re not experiencing the optimal conference experience as the wifi is pretty sporadic (I suspect they didn’t count on nearly everyone here wanting network access), the room is standing room only and they even ran out of lunches with at least 100 people to go earlier this afternoon. I’m sure organizing a conference like this is nearly impossible.

Lots of excellent presentations and papers (see the link) with a lot of focus on enterprise or private tagging systems and some working demonstrations of products in progress. It will be amazing to see what this same workshop would be like next year, with lots of these ideas brought out into the wider world.

I'll be in Scotland

in the next few weeks, primarily to attend the 15th International World Wide Web Conference where I’m co-chairing a workshop on Logging Traces of Web Activity: The Mechanics of Data Collection with Melanie Kellar, Kirstie Hawkey and Andy Edmonds. If you won’t be attending, you can check out the excellent program schedule, including links to the submissions that will be presented at the workshop.

Fortunately, before the conference I will be doing some touring throughout Scotland including Glasgow, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. If you have some recommendations, on “must see” experiences, I’m happy to hear about it. I’ve already added a few events to my trip from excellent suggestions including the Isle of Skye and a whisky distillery or two. Feel free to comment on this post or send me an email.

Open Source Workshop at UT Austin, May 2, 2006

On May 2, in conjunction with the World Congress on IT 2006, The University of Texas at Austin will host panel discussions on “open source”, peer-based information sharing that was once only found in the software world. The free (yes free) workshop will cover the challenges and growing impact of open source.

I am both a (partial) organizer and speaker at this workshop. If you’re there, do stop by and say hello or introduce yourself.
For more information including directions and registration, please see the Open Source Workshop Web site

Using the Macintosh clipboard for text without formatting

I have been a Macintosh user for almost 15 years (give or take a lapse or two) and I have never wanted to copy and then paste text from one application to another with fonts, style or other formatting information. In order to work around this “feature”, I often have to keep a text editor open just to paste the text into it and then copy and paste it in the application document I originally intended.

There has got to be a better way.

I’m sure there are all manner of utilities that will clear the text formatting or an OSX Service that will do the same. What I’m asking is for is a way to make the system default not use the formatting information when I either use the Cut, Copy or Paste from the Edit menu, or more truly, when my long-trained muscle memory uses the keyboard for such a task.

I will be wonderfully happy if someone can point me to an application that can help. Even better, if there is some system setting that I can tweak that has been hidden from me all these years.

Alexa's Public Crawler Database

What a great idea Alexa ( the Alexa Web Search Platform, computing and storage resources for rent to analyze large percentages of the entire Web. The opening of this to anyone with an analytics or business idea is certainly a Web 2.0-kind of thing. Outsource your data collection and hardware to analyze it.

Now why not a program for academic research access to the data stores?