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One of my favorite narcissistic activities to do every few days is check the stats on my Flickr page. Generally, you get some pretty obvious results; a few hits from google, a lot from flickr, and maybe a few from a flickr aggregating service. But a few days ago I saw a random one I hadn’t heard of before, so I had to investigate. The site appeared on my list of referrers as mahalo.com. When you click on that, it brings you to a page with more specific info, saying that the page was about Kevin Nash.

I have no idea who Kevin Nash is, but I play through the lists of musicians, athletes, and random people I’ve photographed. Couldn’t think of anyone named Kevin Nash. So imagine my surprise when it brings me to this page: http://www.mahalo.com/kevin-nash

Kevin Nash is a wrestler with the WWE. I have definitely never photographed any WWE (that would be cool though). I scroll down though and see the image section. Ahah:

At least one of these photos is not of Kevin Nash

At least one of these photos is not of Kevin Nash

 

 

There’s my friend Kevin. The photo was taken at the national conference for the Canadian University Press, affectionately referred to as Nash.

Lesson learned: if you’re going to automatically aggregate images, make sure to check if they actually fit the theme, and build in ways to exclude the ones that don’t.

Since it’s funny, what are some of the random sources that have linked to your content online?

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Taxonomy of Social Networks

For the past few days, I’ve been listening to Seth Godin‘s Tribes on audiobook while I walk to and from work. It’s been a great book so far, and I’d highly recommend it to people who haven’t read it yet.

I just got to the part where he talks about the two approaches one can take in strengthening their tribe: tightening or broadening. In a nutshell, if you want to make your tribe more powerful, you can work to either tighten it, or broaden it. If you tighten, you strengthen the connections between the members of the tribe, or between the leader and the tribe membership. If you broaden, you bring new people into the tribe. It’s a bit of a quality vs. quantity battle.

Using this terminology though, we can easily extrapolate the concept to the social networks that help facilitate tribe building. Social Networks themselves can either be tools with which we tighten our personal networks, or broaden them. By looking at it this way, I think a lot of the “what is twitter for?” and other questions people have about social media can be answered with (relative) ease.

Taxonomy

So, let’s look at each type individually:

First, a tightening network. Think Facebook, Dopplr, or Friendfeed. These tools don’t encourage you to meet new people, instead, they enable you to strengthen the connections you have with people you already know. These networks benefit from their closed nature by encouraging us to share information that many deem private (whether it be last night’s drunken photos or your vacation plans). You won’t meet new people on these networks, but you will get to know the people you do know, better.

Twitter - HomeIn sharp contrast to tightening networks are broadening networks. These networks encourage you to connect with new people, not people you already know. The textbook case, of course, is Twitter, but brightkite and most content sharing sites (flickr, youtube, blip.fm, etc.) work in a similar way. For most twitter users, Twitter is a way to meet new people they don’t know in real life; people who share interests, are from the same city, or who are just really funny.

While this is all well and good from a theoretical perspective, the practical implications of understanding this categorization are huge. I’ve had a ton of friends tell me they don’t want to sign up for twitter because they don’t know anyone else using it. Or I’ve had friends who sign up, follow the four friends they already know who are on it, and then complain that it isn’t that interesting. Conversely, you often hear stories of people posting their embarrassing videos on YouTube to share them with a few friends, and then the video goes viral and their lives are ruined. Both of these represent a fundamental misunderstanding of what the tools are for.

Once you understand what the tools are for, using them becomes easy. You don’t need to sign up to twitter if all you plan on doing is talking to the friends you already have on facebook. And you shouldn’t expect to get a large following on networks which are designed to tighten your connections (unless you’re already famous).

Additionally, I think this is an important consideration for people who are building new online tools. Do you want people to use

What do you think? Is this a good way to think about the differences in social networks? Should we even bother thinking about it? What other classifications exist between networks?

While I maintain radio silence from all internet communication until the WWDC Keynote is posted, I thought I’d share a great iPhone app I discovered this weekend:

DSLR Remote

DSLR Remote from on1 [iTunes link]

In a nutshell, DSLR Remote lets you control your Canon dSLR with your iPhone. It is as amazing as it sounds. Maybe more amazing.

While even the most basic features of this interest me (you can adjust shutter speed and aperature, ISO, etc), what makes this hands down worth the $9.99 is the built in timer (they call it an intervalometer to be fancy). With it, you can take photos at set intervals in order to create time lapse videos. I’ve been considering buying a device to let me do this for a long time, but standalone devices cost around $150. Pricey. So to get one for $10 is an amazing deal, and to have it built into a device that is always in my pocket is a bonus. I really want to get into more time-lapse stuff, and plan on doing some on my upcoming move across Canada, so this is perfect.

Now, of course there is a hitch. In order to work, you need to have your camera connected to your computer, and be running the (free) server software from on1. For me, this isn’t that big a deal since I have a laptop and keep it with me most of the time, and certainly could bring it anywhere I plan on taking time lapse videos. But it does restrict where you can set your camera up while using the software. To get around this, I might just invest in a really long USB cord. One advantage to this is that it allows you to save photos either directly to your computer, or to your computer and memory card. So when your done shooting, you don’t even need to upload. Easy peasy.

I should also mention that this set up seems to be quite finicky about your order of operations. If you plug the camera in, before turning on the server software (or maybe it’s vice versa…) it won’t work. You just need to play with it a bit.

To give a bit of a demo of how it works for time-lapse videos, here is a little video of me writing this blog post. One photo every 5 seconds, condensed to 10 seconds. Also note the awesome new threadless.com t-shirt I am wearing, just got it today.

I generally avoid buying apps on the App Store (most things end up being free sooner or later) but this is one I couldn’t pass up. If you have an iPhone (of any variety) and a Canon dSLR (so far it’s only compatable with Canon, Nikon soon I’m guessing), I can’t think of any reason you wouldn’t buy this app.

For as long as I can remember (probably late 2007), Getting Things Done apps have been the bane of my existence. I’ve tried them all; desktop apps like Evernote, Things, or Mail To Dos, web based services like Gmail Tasks, Action Method Online, mindmeto, and the old “try my best to remember” method. None of them worked for me.

The problem is that with almost all of the online systems, I practically needed a reminder to remember to add things to my list. Even using things like Evernote or Gmail Tasks from my iPhone, I never got in the habit of taking it out and typing in something I need to do. And to top that off, because I’ve gone back and forth on so many systems, I have piles of old to dos clogging up my accounts on all of these sites, so I never know which one to go to, and which things still need doing.

But, as if from the ashes of forgotten notes to self, a new option arises which will herald in a new era of me doing things.

Behold:
Ultimate GTD App

A notebook! I’ve been using a big bulky one on and off for awhile, and it’s been working pretty well, so I decided to go buy a small one which I can carry around with me. Now, I can jot stuff down wherever I go. Yes, I could do that on my iPhone, but I find the tactile nature of actually writing something helps in some bizarre way to make me want to do the things I put on the list. Also, and I bet there is scientific evidence for this, physically crossing something off a list is far more satisfying than tapping a checkbox with your mouse.

So this notebook comes from a cool company called Whitelines who I had never heard of but they seem to be creating really neat products (if you are into pads of paper). Apparently the lines don’t show up when scanned. I will have to do a test for that. I considered getting a moleskin, but let’s face it, those are a bit pretentious (sorry if you use one, but come on, you know it’s true).

How about you, what do you use to keep track of all the stuff you need to do?

Well, change your life might be a bit strong. But “5 TED Talks that could potentially make you think about stuff for a little while” just doesn’t have the same ring to it. That said, I think these are all very good and if you haven’t seen any of them yet (a few are pretty old, but classic) you should give them a view. They aren’t short, but all are worthwhile and have great insight into the world, our lives, and the future of both.

Since I know most people won’t read this post to the end, I’ll put a question at the top: What are your favorite TED talks or other presentations? Is it weird that I watch scientific presentations for fun?

Ken Robinson says schools kill creativity

I’m putting this one first because of all of them, I think this is the most important to watch from a day-to-day point of view. Also, it’s hilarious. If you only watch one of these, watch this one. But do watch the others too, because they are also great. If you consider yourself creative, are a university professor, or have children, you definitely need to watch it.

“My contention is that creativity now is as important in education as literacy, and we should treat it with the same status.”

“I think you’d have to conclude that the whole purpose of public education throughout the world is to produce university professors. Isn’t it? They’re the people who come out the top.”

Dan Ariely asks Are we in control of our own decisions?

As a holder of a degree in Psychology, some of the examples he uses I had seen before, but the point is very important; phrasing of questions and design can make a huge difference in how we make decisions.

“If we understood our mental limitations in the same way we understand our physical limitations, we could design a better world.”

Seth Godin on the tribes we lead

Personally, I’m more of a Chris Brogan fan when it comes to social media gurus, but Chris hasn’t given a TED Talk (yet) so Seth will have to do.

“The internet was suppose to homogenize everyone by connecting us all. Instead, what it’s allowed are silos of interest.”

Ray Kurzweil on how technology will transform us

Where Seth talks about how technology is changing the way we interact with each other, Ray is foretelling the amazing transformation that will take place in how we interact with technology. I’ve been a huge fan of Ray Kurzweil since reading The Age of Spiritual Machines back in high school, and I think he offers a bold, yet well thought out, vision for the future. Even if only a quarter of the things he predicts come true, the future is going to be amazing.

“It’s not just an alien invasion of intelligent machines, we are going to merge with our technology”.

Aubrey de Grey says we can avoid aging

Speaking of the future… Aubrey de Grey says the worst pandemic in our world is aging, and we can cure it. As an added bonus, he has one of the best beards on the planet. Just because we’ve been dying of aging since the dawn of time, doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

“Most people, when they hear I am predicting that a lot of people today are going to live to be 1000 or more, they think that I’m saying that we are going to develop therapies within the next few decades that will so thoroughly eliminate aging, that those therapies will let us live to be 1000 or more. I’m not saying that at all. I’m saying that the rate of improvement of those therapies will be enough…we’ll be able to fix the things that 200-year-olds die of before we have any 200-year-olds.”

I finally finished reading the book Throwing Sheep in the Boardroom: How Online Social Networking Will Transform Your Life, Work, and World and I figured I’d record a short little review of it. Here it is:

Like I say in the video, it was a great book, and I think anyone interested in learning more about social media should give it a read.

This was my first time trying something like this, and so it took me a couple tries to get something coherant. It isn’t quite as tight as I would love to see- there are some “umms” and pauses- but overall I’m happy with it. It’s hard to actually look at the camera, the first few tries I was looking at myself and the video looked like I had a lazy eye (there’s probably a bit of that in there still).

I was going to write about a feature that facebook should introduce, but then I went looking for it in the settings and discovered it was already there. But since I didn’t know it existed, I am going to assume at least a number of other people didn’t see it either.

The feature is the ability to view your profile as another individual.

Type a friends name to see how they see your profile

Type a friends name to see how they see your profile

This is going to be very important as Facebook begins to encourage users to divide their friends into groups, each with different privacy allowances.

Here’s how it works: If your settings allow some people to only view specific information (for example, your mom can only see the photos of you studying, not doing keg-stands) you can use this to view your page as if you were them. While you should be able to determine what they can see by fiddling with the settings, this gives a great added “peace-of-mind” level to the security settings. You don’t just need to trust that you got all the settings right, you can view it to make sure.

While you probably won’t care too much about checking each and every person, or every group, this is great for the people who you really want to ensure are seeing certain content (ie. bosses, parents, and kids). As facebook becomes a bigger and bigger catalog of everyone you’ve ever met, tools like this are going to make it much easier to monitor your image without resorting to mass unfriending (if you want to do that, check out this great discussion on haligonia.ca, with master unfriender Joel Kelly).

I would also love to see this improved to allow you to view how your profile appears to people who are not your friend, or people within your networks who are not your friend. I have my settings set to disable my profile to all nonfriends, but it’s always nice to get confirmation that this is happening.

Me in Hyde Park

Well, it’s certainly been a long time since I’ve posted on here.

If you have this blog still in your RSS reader from when I was posting to it 2 years ago, thanks for being so patient, you should probably consider purging your feeds more often though.

Here is the deal: My last post here was April 15th, 2007. At the time, I was taking a lot of photos and was using this blog as a place to showcase some of the photos I was taking, outside of services like flickr. I think what happened though was that I stopped taking as many photos and then it just didn’t make sense to be posting them to a blog anymore, so my blog fell into disrepair.

More recently, I’ve been keeping a new blog, Dave Everyday, that I was using as a journal of my life. The problem I’ve run into there is that I am getting really bored of chronicling my life. I post to Twitter a lot, and so that captures a lot of the what I do each day stuff that I was then re-hashing onto my blog. In the end, I wasn’t getting what I wanted to get out of it, out of it.

So that brings us to today. I’ve decided to re-appropriate this blog, re-name it (I will come up with something even better than Dave Emmett’s blog soon), re-brand it (there will be photos, but that’s not the point), and turn it into a place for me to share my thoughts about stuff going on online, which is what I spend most of my time thinking about anyways, so I might as well write some of it down and see if it’s helpful to other people. I’m bringing this blog back (rather than start a new one) because it has my name in the url (or at least my approximation of my name I use for every online service), which I figure is a good thing.

We’ll see how this goes, I’m sure one day I’ll get this blogging thing down. For now, I’m just doing what seems like the best idea at the time.

Today is my birthday.For some reason, I woke up at 6am this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep. So I got up and after checking the news and all my RSS Feeds, I decided I might as well go for an early morning walk, cause that’s what I’ve always imagined people who wake up at 6am do.

Prickly

So I went down to the dykes and walked around and took some pictures. It was nice, very relaxing. The weather has been awful lately, but today has been beautiful, so that didn’t hurt.

Shoes

Someone left these shoes sitting on the…boardwalk? pier? I’m not really sure what to call that thing. But there were shoes, red ballerina shoes (To me they look like ballerina shoes at least). Very random.

So anyways, I figured it would be a good idea to take a self portrait today, since it is my birthday, no better time I figure. So I took this:

22-Day One

Didn’t really come out how I had envisioned it, but I still like it. Different. And I cross processed it in Photoshop to give it a different feel.

But on to the point, I’ve always kind of wanted to take part in the 365 Days project over on flickr, but have never really gotten around to starting. So, as of today I am. In a nutshell: Every day for a year you take a self portrait and upload it to the group. Why? why not. Actually, I have a few good reasons. First, I’ve always thought it would be fun to do something like this, but lacking any coherent starting point, it’s always been easy to just put it off. Second, I find I haven’t been taking many photos simply for the sake of taking photos anymore. This will help me change that, since I’ll have to take at least one photo a day. Third, I’m getting my Strobist flash system soon, and a book on lighting technique, so I’ll have a lot of inspiration and the technical ability to pull different things off. It’ll be a fun experiment. I won’t post them all on here, cause that would just be annoying, but I will be uploading every day to the set on flickr. Technically I won’t be uploading one every day, for example, I’m going to Mexico at the end of the month and won’t be bringing a computer, so I’ll upload all the pics from those days at one time after I get back (I think I’m only bringing the film camera for that too, so that should be fun).

I hope I can pull it off.

Well we got more snow. It has now snowed 3 times in April, which is definitely 3 times too many.

With the newspaper done, I haven’t really been taking a lot of photos. All year I’ve just been taking the photos I need to take, so the process of just coming up with ideas on my own for photos has been eroded a bit. So, I guess I have to get back into the habit. But because of the snow and general awfulness of outside, I didn’t want to go far. So I just took a few from my porch.

I experimented with a new technique to convert these to black and white which I learned from Journal of A Photographer, which is an excellent blog by a guy in Vienna who used to work for Magnum (talk about an awesome job). It gives them a bit of a different look, so I don’t know if I’d use it for everything, but it doesn’t hurt to know a new technique.

In other news it is my birthday in 2 days. For my present, my girlfriend went halfsies on an off camera lighting set up recommended by Strobist. If you haven’t seen that site before it’s definitely worth checking out. I can’t wait till it arrives.